Thursday, April 29, 2010

TagNCuddle Tag Comforter Review


A big thank you to Natalie at the Tiny & Little Blog for the very in-depth review she has written up on my TagNCuddle Tag Comforters. Plus a heap of really gorgeous photos!

Please pop over, have a read, & leave a comment :-)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Mock KFC Twisters

Today my boys and I discovered an extremely yummy version of a chicken wrap that surprising was so similar to a KFC chicken twister it wasn't funny.

This was all very unintentional, I had to take the boys grocery shopping this morning due to my other half working every day (which I normally just DREAD to do and in fact refuse to unless its a dire emergency). Actually one lady in the supermarket commented to me what a good job I was doing with them and how cool calm and collected I was (yup that certainly cracked me up not sure how she figured that one out).

So, walking through the bread section my 4 year old grabbed a packet of tortilla wraps and ever so nicely asked if we could have them for lunch... sure I said no problems. A few isles later I figured I had better get something to go with them (didn't fancy vegemite at all), and grabbed a packet of frozen chicken things. I'm sure nearly everyone that reads this will have done something like this at some time, but thought oh well I might as well share our method, as it was SUCH a hit with my kids I can tell this will be on the menu a fair bit here on in.

What I liked about this option rather than heading off to KFC is that it is heaps cheaper, and I bet has WAY less fat. (Ok, you got me, I don't mind an occasional fast food fix).

So here is the recipe (I am going to put down the brands I bought today - I'm sure substituting different products will work just as well).

Box Frozen Chicken Fingers
Packet Wraps
Mayonnaise (I use whole egg)
Grated cheese
Chopped Lettuce & tomato (+ any other salads you like)
Sweet chilli sauce - optional

Simply cook chicken fingers and the wraps as per packet instructions, then wrap all ingredients inside the wrap to suit each member of family. I allowed 2-3 chicken fingers per wrap.

Enjoy!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

ANZAC is for Remembrance

A Poem for Remembrance Day

"The inquisitive mind of a child"

poppyWhy are they selling poppies, Mummy?
Selling poppies in town today.
The poppies, child, are flowers of love.
For the men who marched away.

But why have they chosen a poppy, Mummy?
Why not a beautiful rose?
Because my child, men fought and died
In the fields where the poppies grow.

But why are the poppies so red, Mummy?
Why are the poppies so red?
Red is the colour of blood, my child.
The blood that our soldiers shed.

poppyThe heart of the poppy is black, Mummy.
Why does it have to be black?
Black, my child, is the symbol of grief.
For the men who never came back.

But why, Mummy are you crying so?
Your tears are giving you pain.
My tears are my fears for you my child.
For the world is forgetting again.

Author Unknown

This poem is from the website www.Anzacday.org.au

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Mothers Day Gift Ideas

The next big gift event on everyone's calendar is Mothers Day. Which is probably the most IMPORTANT day of the year, isn't it Mums??

Now that I am a Mum myself, the best Mothers Day gift to me is simply the gift of my children. A cuddle in bed and spending time with them is the best. This year Mothers Day is also our 6th wedding anniversary!

But even though we are Mums ourselves, we also have Mums we need to think about on the 9th of May. I thought I might post a couple of gift ideas for you that are not the boring run of the mill shop bought products. And the good thing about purchasing a gift online is that if your Mum lives a distance away and you need to post your gift to her, most small online businesses are more than happy to gift wrap and send direct to the destination (Your Cheeky Monkey included!).

I saw these gorgeous earrings on this post on the Annette Piper Jewelery Blog ~ what a special gift something like this would make for Mum!







And how about these beautiful Hemp Pashmina's from Sustainable Hemp Products... just divine, and available in a range of colours.










And lastly, I just had to throw in my handmade Kitchen Hand Towels - these can be so hard to find, but they are just so handy in the kitchen and everyone loves them. Available in a range of colours and patterns.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Meeting Australian Standards

During the last few weeks I have been doing many hours of research (and many telephone calls) into Australian Standards, how they apply to a business like Your Cheeky Monkey, and verifying that I do indeed meet those standards. I thought I would share with you my findings, not only for those other small Australian businesses that read my blog, but also from a consumers point of view.

The search for information has been rather frustrating. As a business owner or product manufacturer you are expected to meet Australian Standards, and your Business Insurance Policy will have a clause stating products are to meet Australian Standards. But finding out whether your product does meet those standards is not all that simple. Fair enough, you could ask a solicitor to look into it for you but not too many small businesses could afford that sort of expense.

So, I'm going to be nice and get to the crunch straight up. THE most important document in regards to Australian Standards is the Mandatory Standards List. This list completely covers an up to date list of all MANDATORY requirements your product has to meet in Australia. If you make a product that falls under this list, you need to read it carefully to make sure your product does not need to be professionally tested and approved. If you make a product that is NOT on this list, it does not need to be tested. For example, one of my bunny rugs meets Australian Standards because it has a care label attached and it does not have any other design features such as a button or pom pom attached.

The Product Safety Australia website is also a great source of information to explore. Or you can call the ACCC Infocentre on 1300 302 502.

There are many other departments and bodies you can also approach for information. The Product Safety Unit (a department of Fair Trading) was the best source of information I found. If you have any questions I recommend calling them. Fair Trading also has a small amount of information (I found they mostly dealt with products like prams and cots). There is also the 'Infant & Nursery Products Association of Australia', however they have not responded to my queries.

I also talked to Standards Australia for information about meeting Australian Standards. Standards Australia also were not much help, they only have standards in their organization in regards to prams, cots, dummies, etc.

Do you operate a business that only on-sells products? Do you think you are not liable for the products you sell because you do not make them? Well think again, it us up to you as the retailer to make sure the products you are sourcing meet Australian Standards. You need to ask your supplier if they do, because you can be held liable as well as the manufacturer or wholesaler.

These standards are in place for the safety of ourselves & our children. If you run a retail, wholesale, or manufacturing business I recommend you check you are meeting Australian Standards, and if you are a consumer you need to be aware not all products you may buy are meeting those mandatory standards.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Best Ever Zucchini Slice Recipe

Its been a while since I shared one of my recipes with you, so I thought I would post one of our absolute family favorites. As you probably know, I am a huge fan of recipes that have hidden vegetables, and this one is no exception. Zucchini slice is also fabulous because you can serve it for lunch or dinner, you can take it on a picnic lunch, its great hot or cold, and the left-overs are yum! So here is my fave recipe for Zucchini Slice:
 

BEST EVER ZUCCHINI SLICE

375g zucchini, grated (unpeeled)
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
3-6 rashers bacon, rind removed and chopped (omit for vegetarians)
1 cup grated tasty cheese
1 cup self raising flour
1/2 cup oil
5 eggs
pinch salt and freshly ground black pepper
 



Place all ingredients into a bowl and mix well.




Spread into a greased 22cm pie plate or 20 x 26cm lamington tin. Bake in a moderate oven 190 deg C for 35-40 minutes, or until set and golden brown. Serve in wedges, either hot or cold with a salad and/or bread. Great to take on picnics or in school lunches cold. Enjoy!  





Some other posts you might enjoy: 

Oh Baby
10 Things to do in the First Trimester
10 Things to do in the Second Trimester
What products do you really need for your newborn baby?
My top bathtime tips for a new baby
BubbaLog makes those first few weeks easy

Friday, April 16, 2010

Planes, Trains and Automobiles!

Yippeee!! One of my Bunny Rugs has made it into this weeks 'Planes, Trains and Automobiles' themed Handmade Cooperative - Australian Handmade for Kids Shopping Guide.

Pop on over there to check out all the fabulous kids products from a bunch of talented Aussie crafters - if you have a birthday or baby gift to buy for soon you just might find the perfect item!!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Article in Giftrap Magazine!!

Well its always very exciting to see yourself or your business in print!

I thought I would post an article here for you to read from the March/April 2010 issue of Giftrap Magazine that I was interviewed for about the baby and children's industries in relation to the current economy.



Sunday, April 11, 2010

Guest Post: Reducing Ecological Impact of Disposable Nappies

You'll Be Happy to Discover That Simple Changes Will Make a Big Difference in the Carbon Footprint of Your Baby.


By buying in bulk, purchasing some eco nappies, emptying your disposables into the compost, switching to using some washable nappies and practicing some baby pottying or infant potty training you can significantly reduce the environmental footprint of your baby. Disposable nappies are quite convenient, but they come at a cost - ecologically and financially. The good news is that you can help save the planet as you save money on this daily cost of having a baby or young toddler.


These 5 Tips Will Help You to Reduce the Ecological Impact of Using Disposable, One Use Nappies:


1. Precycle by Buying Your Disposable Nappies in Bulk 
Buying in bulk is called "Precycling" as you are preventing waste coming into the home and then needing to be managed. You'll reduce packaging waste, transport costs and financial costs.

2. Purchase A Packet of Eco Disposable Nappies 
Whichever type, they have a lower ecological impact. You can get compostable nappies and ones that you can flush, called hybrids that may be part washable and part disposable. You can reduce waste in landfill and help your garden by burying your eco nappies or flushing special types down the toilet.

3. Empty Disposable Nappies Into the Compost to Reduce Waste Bulk in the Bin and Landfill. 
By slicing open the top of a disposable with scissors and shaking the wet gel contents into your compost or a garden hole, you can reduce the volume of waste in your bin each week as you provide the garden with water-retaining crystals and other bio-degradable products. It takes a few seconds, and their bulk is reduced by heaps. 50% of household waste is nappies in a house with ONE child in full-time disposables. By emptying them, that volume and stinky mass will be greatly reduced.

4. Get A 1 Day Supply of Washable, Modern Cloth Nappies for Your Baby to Wear. 
With just 7 modern cloth nappies you'll prevent waste each time they are used. Think of them as an item of clothing in the wardrobe of your baby and buy one at a time. Modern Cloth Nappies are washed and re-used, saving you money as well. Use them all on one day of the week, or use one cloth nappy each day; your eco karma will rise each time your baby wears a washable nappy. Discover more at My Green Nappy... (http://www.mygreennappy.org/)

5. Begin to Practice Elimination Communication (EC) So Your Baby Wears Nappies Casually 
When your baby wears nappies part time, overall less nappies are used, them tossed or washed. This will reduce the environmental impact of any sort of nappy use. Baby Pottying is how baby hygiene was managed before disposable nappies made us lose these instinctive and cultural ways of helping our babies learn toilet skills gradually. Discover how to get started with infant potty training or EC at Part Time Nappy Free... (http://www.PartTimeNappyFree.com.au )


With these 5 tips you will significantly reduce the environmental impact of your baby. Best of all, you can do one at a time as you gradually reduce your eco footprint. One baby step at a time really adds up when lots of people are doing it. Keep the ideas in mind at the next nappy change - offer your baby a potty break, empty out that disposable you bought in bulk and then reach for a cloth nappy - the Earth will thank you and you'll set a wonderful example of sustainability for your family and friends.


Guest Post kindly contributed by Charndra Josling from My Green Nappy

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Some school holiday activity ideas

Well its school holidays Australia wide, and that means lots of kids at home with Mum (and Dad) looking for things to do... which is all just fine except most families can't afford to be out doing expensive activities every day. An unlimited budget would certainly mean a very exciting time during school holidays.

So, having said that I thought I would post a few ideas to keep the troupes happy for the next few days.

Melissa at the Business Mums Blog has suggested you look for free school holiday programs, which I think is a fabulous idea. You could try your local council, library, school, church, or PCYC for their offerings.

I have seen some pretty cool craft kits at places like Spotlight and Bunnings. One of these would keep your child occupied for perhaps a day - encourage them to really put some effort in and make it special.

Get your kids to help plan, shop for, and then cook dinner. Getting them involved means getting them interested - depending on their age, give them as much autonomy in the process as possible.

I am a real home-body so I always love things you can do at home. Why not pack a picnic lunch to have in your garden, or get some library books out on common Australian birds and bugs and plan a nature hunt. Kids are generally fascinated with anything nature, whether it is finding a worm or spotting a beautiful bird.

My sons spend absolutely hours looking for little bugs in the garden, then putting them inside a jar to watch them.


You could also adapt my blog post on making Easter Hats to a year round activity with any sort of crafts - for example, flowers for spring or a Christmas theme at Christmas!

So, there are some of my ideas for school holiday activities - feel free to post a comment to add to the discussion!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Young kids playing Scarface - Is it funny to you?



I actually saw a blurb for this You Tube video in my local paper. It is, apparently, a school play of Scarface. Many comments have been posted this is not a school play, but regardless of this or not there is still adults involved.

Now, I have to question whether I am living in the dark ages and if I am WAY behind the times, because I find this so inappropriate and disturbing. There are so many adult themes contained in this short 2 minute sketch. And I wonder why people think it is FUNNY to have young children re-enact this sort of thing.

Some of the issues to me include sexualization of young children, drugs, violence, swearing, and making criminals seem cool. Granted, a lot of it would be right over these kids heads but still that just makes you realise the adults have put them up to it. Because I really can't imagine kids of this age actually watching 'Scarface' let alone understanding it.

Why can't we let our children stay children? Why do they need to be exposed to these issues so early just for the humor of some idiotic adults?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

What products do you really need for your newborn baby?

For first time Mums, it is a very important and confusing issue to know just exactly what products what you need and what products you don’t need for your newborn baby. I would like to go through some of the products I found to be fantastic, and also some that I found you really don’t need to bother with.

First to consider is the large and most expensive purchases – cot/bassinette, pram, car seat, etc. The car seat is the most important, as it is a safety issue. A good option if you are on a budget is to hire a car capsule. We did this for our second son and it was just fantastic. It made it super easy to move the baby in and out of the car without disturbing him, and he was so comfy in it he didn’t even sleep in his cot the first few weeks, I just left him in the capsule to sleep.  To reiterate, I really think the child car seat is probably the most important purchase you will make for your baby - buy the best you can afford on your budget, & do not use a second hand one unless you are 100% sure it has never been involved in a car accident.

You need to consider whether you want to use a bassinette or cot when you arrive home from the hospital, or even whether you are going to co-sleep. It is completely a matter of personal choice, but remember a bassinette really only lasts a few months so unless you are given or lent one they are not a great investment. Going straight into a cot means you only need the one size of bedding too until your baby is about 2, or even older if you opt for a toddler bed before a larger size bed.

The pram also is a large purchase. I found a sling a great alternative for a new baby, and didn’t even really use our pram at first. It is a really good idea to thoroughly research pram types and price options early on, so even if you don’t buy one before the baby is born you have a good idea which one will best fit in with your lifestyle.

I also loved our baby bouncer. There are so many brands on the market, we had a Baby Bjorn and it was fantastic. These make it easy to have your baby with you no matter what room you are in around the house, or if you need your hands free to do something for a while. They are very portable too, perfect to pop in the car if you are going out visiting.

Clothing for your baby comes next. I recommend only buying a few all-in-ones or bodysuits, singlets, perhaps booties and a beanie depending on the season. You tend to get given a lot of baby clothes as gifts when your baby is born (especially your first)! Baby grows so fast, when you have too many 000 and 00 clothes they just don’t get used.

Buy (or make!) a baby bag ready for the birth, there are options ranging from well below $50 right up to the $100’s. They all do the job - in fact you can even just use a tote bag that you like. You can also use in conjunction with your baby bag a nice padded change mat, and keep your nappies etc in a nappy wallet – that way it is easy when just popping out for a while or going for a walk you only need the nappy wallet and not the whole nappy bag!

Other products I found essential for a newborn were lots of Bunny Rugs, flannelette wraps and burp cloths. Rattles, tag toys, etc you only really use after about the 3 month mark or so. A newborn baby really has very little needs for the first couple of months apart from feeding, sleeping and lots of contact with Mum (and Dad).  Bunny Rugs and Muslin Wraps are fantastic for lots of uses – wrapping for sleep, as a light cover in the pram or cot, to lay under baby, etc. (Have a read about my special handmade Heirloom Bunny Rugs & Wraps in a previous post). I also loved burp cloths as you do spend so much of your life those first few months burping your baby, and if you have a baby prone to lots of little up-chucks as I did you do get a bit sick of having baby spew all over your shoulder and back!

You can also consider a baby comforter / lovie / blankie to start using for your baby. Comforters are recommended by experts to be given to babies. You keep it close to your skin for a while to absorb your scent so when given to your baby it is very comforting to them. You can use either a specialised comforter such as a Cuski Baby Comforter or the Save Our Sleep Comforters, or you can use something like one of your flannelette or muslin wraps.

Bath products are also really a luxury – I recommend only using very pure, gentle, organic products if you do buy any. You can also consider just having a goat’s milk soap for babies, a little goes a long way and a bar will last a very long time. A nice soft washer and towel is also nice to have just for your new baby. For newborn babies, products like shampoo are really not needed at all.

The first few weeks with Bub are super busy, so a baby journal can be a good idea... I recommend the Bubbalog Baby Journal.

Lastly, depending on if you are bottle or breast-feeding, a few bibs will not go astray. Even if you don’t use them at first they get very well used when you start solids with your baby.

It really is easy to get so excited about buying things for your new baby, however there are really very few items that are an absolute necessity and you can even wait until after the baby is born to see if you really do need something or not. It can be a great idea to make a comprehensive list early on, list the things you have to buy, the “maybe” items, and the” luxury” items. Keep an eye out for specials and sales of the products you need to get, and don’t leave the vital things until the last minute just in case the baby arrives early.  Also get your Hospital Bag Checklist sorted out early in the third trimester.  And last but not least, the early months really do fly by so enjoy every minute with your gorgeous newborn!



Photography by Maureen Haynes 

Friday, April 2, 2010

Happy Easter from YCM Headquarters


From all of us here at Your Cheeky Monkey headquarters, wishing you a very safe and happy Easter with your friends and family. Monique xx

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Tag N Cuddle Reviewer

A big thank you to everyone that put their name down recently to do a review on one of my TagNCuddle Tag Comforters.

I have asked Natalie from Tiny and Little to do the review, so keep your eye out over there in the next few weeks for her comments! Thanks Natalie :-)