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Sunday, December 9, 2012

Stained Glass Window Biscuits

A few days ago I smashed my food processor on the ground, I'd like to say it was a fit of pique, but it was simple clumsiness and poor luck. As a result my cooking repertoire has decreased significantly. Every Christmas I make my 9 cup gingerbread biscuits. Turns out they don't go well without a food processor.

This is what we got up to this year. But I'm not posting a recipe because they taste abominable.
[edit 10 December 2012]

Okay I have changed my mind. You deserve a recipe and here it is:

Sian’s 9 Cup Gingerbread Recipe.

Lasts 2-3 weeks in the fridge and can be baked up at any time.

In a food processor bowl add:

9 cups of standard flour

½ cup ground ginger

2 tablespoons cinnamon

1 grated nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1.5 cups soft brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

Slowly pulse this mix whilst adding:

1 block of butter chopped into squares or 2 cups of solid coconut oil

Once the mixture is well combined and ‘shreddy’ like breadcrumbs slowly incorporate the following whilst pulsing the processor

2 cups molasses or golden syrup

The mixture should come together in a ball, if it does this before the molasses is entirely incorporated then you can stop earlier.

These biscuits should bake in 7-12 minutes depending on oven heat, recommended baking temp is 160 degrees Celsius. I use baking paper on my trays and on my bottom try I double paper it to prevent brown bottoms.

What you don't do.

Melt the butter and syrup together and mix it into the dry ingredients hoping that this lazy method will somehow replicate the original recipe., then when you realise you have run out of syrup and the mixture is still dry add water in the vain hope to rescue your mixture. Then crumble with defeat when you taste the final baked item and it is horrible…

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The advent of Christmas and other things.

Every now and then I spend some time lurking on Pinterest and crafting blogs. I have a whole board dedicated to yule type crafts and ideas and every so often I open it up to look at all of the projects I could do… if I had unlimited time and unlimited money. In a perfect world my house would look like a playbook of perfect projects and perfect parenting. But I don’t have money, and I don’t have time, so seeing Pretty Polly’s Perfect Party Planning and Paper Project Post makes me feel a more than a little inadequate. In fact almost every project blog makes me feel slightly inadequate, I simply don’t have the time and money to reach those levels of achievement on a weekly basis. Let alone blog about it. Sometimes I wonder if these types of blog posts set the bar too high, and create an artificial sense of inadequacy to those parents who simply accomplish the basic day to day life necessities (me most days, still in my bathrobe right now). It’s so important to realise though that these blogs are just snapshots of someone’s endeavors. Simply the finished product shown in a flattering light, after all, photographs only show one angle. And that goes for my blogs too! The parents putting these blogs together aren’t their fancy crocheted toilet roll cover or their 5 year olds haute couture birthday party. They are creative people with cameras, who like to share their triumphs. So instead of feeling inadequate I need to realise that the people behind the blogs are human too and that the stuff we don’t see is just as integral to the finished item as the pretty pictures we do see, which tell one side of the story.

This year I set myself a challenge. I have wanted to make an advent calendar for the last few years. I see an advent calendar as a great way to engage with your kids if done properly. I want to make something a little special with activities, concepts and ideas. I see advent calendars as an excellent learning activity, both as a counting and a patience exercise. Given that I didn’t even start thinking about the calendar until 2 days before December 1 the deck was stacked against me.

After spending hours cutting up fabric and then realizing the idea of sewing all of the pockets was beyond me right then, I had a brainwave. A few years ago, I went to wedding that had pyramid boxes for the favours and from this sprung the idea of Christmas tree shaped boxes and from there the idea grew, so this is my Perfect Pinterest Project .

The pictures I took don’t show me spending too much money at spotlight or sitting up late until 2am with my almost deliriously sick and tired husband cutting out cardboard templates. It doesn’t show me facepalming because after making my own calendar to move away from the candy paradigm I ended up putting more candy in. They don’t show the wonky pencil lines or bad folding, they don’t show my half started fabric bunting calendar or the painstaking cross referencing of the little notes with my diary so the activities matched up with our work schedule and salary. They don’t show any of that, just the finished masterpiece photographed from a flattering angle. Looks great doesn’t it!

Late Night Picture when we finally finished

And what did I put in the boxes day by day?

1. Today is the first day of Christmas, lets find a tree and decorate it! Trees are a symbol of new life after winter. The idea comes from our northern hemisphere where it snows during Christmas time. In New Zealand we celebrate summer solstice and it is sunny. But we love the smell of Christmas trees anyway. MMmm

2. Here is some candy we can use to make some stained glass window biscuits, when we hang them in the window we can see the sun shine through them.

3. Lets draw a map for Santa so he can find your house. Here are some doubloons for your pirate treasure.

4. Today we’re going to the farmers market , we can look at the beeswax decorations and listen to the buskers play music. Here is a dollar to give the musicians. What is a Christmas song you know?

5. Christmas is a time to remember people who have less than us, lets get some food from the cupboards to take to the food bank. The food bank is a place that gives food to people who are hungry and don’t have money to buy food. They are very kind.

6. Here are some pine cones we can use to make beautiful decorations. Today we can also choose a special Christmas decoration for the tree from the trade aid store.

7. Here are some candy canes so you can make peppermint hot chocolate and wear your lovely new summer pyjamas.

8. Tonight we are going to go for a night picnic to look at the stars and see the Christmas lights on our way back home. We are going to look for Rehua (antares) which is the summer star. It symbolises summer fruit and summer heat.

9. Today is your nativity play, you get to dress up today, here is your costume. Grandma and grandpa are going to watch you sing!

10. Today you go to grandmas house, here is $20 so you can buy a present for mum and a present for dad. Have fun choosing!

11. Only 14 days until Christmas, lets going to the berry picking! Berries are the first harvest of the summer season. We like strawberries and raspberries but there are also lovely native berries likemakomako, konini and purple hinau berries.

12. Today mum makes the Christmas pudding, can you help her? Here are some lucky coins we can bake into the pudding to find!

13. Look under the tree, here is a Christmas story for you to read with dad tonight.

14. We’re going to the beach today, lets build a really big sandcastle and decorate it.

15. Here are some stickers so we can make a card for grandma and grandpa, who else do you want to make cards for?

16. Today we are going to make gifts for your teachers, homemade chocolates!

17. Movie night! You get to stay up late and watch a movie with mum and dad and eat popcorn. We have a special Christmas movie for you.

18. Let’s decorate biscuits and make a gingerbread house together

19. Here are some stamps we can use to make wrapping paper out of old newspapers and paper scraps. Now our presents can be beautiful under the tree.

20. Today is the longest day and the shortest night. It’s called summer solstice. We’re going to harvest our garlic today.

21. You have lots of toys you don’t play with any more, can you help me choose 3 of them to give away?

22. Today we are going to make cheese and have a pizza party with our new pizza oven.

23. Today is Christmas eve eve! We are going to plant a beautiful native tree to replace the one we cut down. This is the pohutukawa which is the New Zealand Christmas tree.

24. Tonight is Christmas eve, light the Christmas Candle, hang out your stockings and leave a biscuit for santa. Does he need a key to get in?

25. Christmas day today. Check your stockings!

A lot of these ideas come from my current favourite book ‘Celebrating the Southern Seasons’ by Juliet Batten. She has a blog about it here. Her book is a fabulous guide to seasonal celebrations relevant to those of us in the southern hemishphere and has great ideas for creating traditions related to New Zealand and the seasons. Themes for the Summer Solstice are the colours Gold and Red, harvest with freshly baked bread, honey and berries and the traditional story Kauri and the Whale or Demeter and Persephone. 

So far the advent calendar is going down a treat, and my sons don't care if I took pretty pictures and blogged about it or not.
Candy Cane Hot Chocolate

Friday, November 23, 2012

40 ways to Praise your child without Praising them

For most parents saying ‘Good job’ or ‘well done’ is automatic, it is considered a part of positive parenting and we very rarely even think about it when we say it. So many parenting advice books say ignore bad behaviour and reward good, so it’s something that is built into our parenting collective conscious. For me it was like an automatic tic, I said it whenever I could see my son had achieved something be it small or large. It required little thought and no follow through. It was easy.

Then I read some Alfie Kohn and some Teacher Tom and I reviewed my opinions.

I won’t go into a long spiel about why using non specific praise and positive feedback isn’t ideal, because there are many people who can speak more eloquently on this topic than I ever could. What I will say is that saying ‘good job’ and offering non specific praise does nothing to build confidence or let your child find their inner motivation. Using the carrot and the stick does not breed free thinking or critical thought; it breeds affirmation seeking and compliance. This is not me saying that praise is bad, there are times when it is totally appropriate and if you use one of those phrases inadvertently you are not damaging your child or destroying their independence forever. Parenting doesn’t work like that.

When I first heard about this whole inner motivation thing I was irritated because all of the blogs I read about it focussed on why it was wrong and had an overwhelming message of ‘tsk tsk don’t do it’. So I filed it under yet another way that I am Doing. It. Wrong. But, for all of that, these articles sung for me a little because I personally seek praise all of the time, and if someone criticises my ideas then I am easily brought down. It irritates me that I am so reliant on external feedback and it’s only later in life that I have built the confidence to be satisfied in my own right. Even now I struggle with criticism, so maybe this Alfie Kohn isn’t so wrong after all.

So in saying all of that, this blog is not about how you shouldn’t parent, we have enough of those. This blog is about what you CAN do. Here is a little tool kit of things you can say instead of ‘good job’ and even if you do say good job from time to time. It’s not a biggie, the parenting police won’t come and get you. I promise.

What to say when they’ve done something helpful.

Thank you for that

I really appreciate your help

That was really helpful

Because you did X we can now do Y

That was very kind

It really helps me when you do X

It’s really nice when you help me out

Doing X makes me feel good

I love helping you

When they achieved something great or they impress you

Look you did it
Did that feel good?

I am really impressed at how you (be specific)

I can see what you did there

I see that you did x y z

It looks like you thought really hard about that

I can see you put a lot of effort into that

Wow, look at all of those colours/shapes etc

I see that you did this and look what happened

You have been practicing that for a long time

You worked really hard on that and I can tell!

Wow, how many colours did you use?

How did you do that?

I’m impressed, how do you feel about that?

Tell me about what you did.


When they show empathy and kindness

I bet x felt really great when you shared that with them
It feels nice when your brother sister is smiles doesn’t it

Look at your brother smile, he loves playing with you

It makes me so happy when you share with me

That cuddle made me feel happy

That was very kind to share your x with y

General praise (for those little achievements in life)

I see you worked together to do this

I see you thought really hard about that

How exciting for you

I like to see you thinking about things

I really like to see you play

Seeing you enjoy your game makes me happy

I bet that feels much better now that you pooped/changed your clothes/wiped nose etc

Does that feel better?

Now that you’ve done x, y happened

If in doubt.

Be specific – if you’re going to praise make it very specific rather than a general ‘good job’
Don’t assign a grade or rating (good/bad etc)

Speak from the heart - if you are impressed then say it

Ask questions – people love it when you are interested in what they are doing

Make observations – just stating what you see can be perfect in itself

Talk about consequences – doing this resulted in this

Say nothing and just enjoy being in their creative space

It takes a bit of practice and sometimes I am lost for words, or my comments come out garbled. Sometimes I miss an opportunity to appeal to their inner motivation and fall back on old habits, but it doesn't matter. Sometimes parenting is just about enjoying each moment as it passes and then moving on to the next one. I have noticed a shift in my sons confidence levels since changing my language and that has been nice. It's like watching a flower unfold. Worth a shot?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Toddler First Aid

My youngest son is now on the move. Unlike his older brother who was walking at 9 months, he has remained a crawler, but he has mastered the art form! It won't be long before he is on his feet and we will be into the realm of bumps, bruises, scratches, grazes and boo boos of all shapes and sizes. Toddlers are accident prone, some more than others. In general they are pretty resilient but sometimes a day doesn’t go by when I have to soothe a sore child or apply a little home first aid for a variety of ills. Being trained in a first aid course is a big weight off of my mind as I know what to do in the immediate situation when something serious (or not so serious) happens. But how do we deal with the numerous small injuries that toddlers seems to collect on a daily basis?

Here is a little run down of the first aid items I have at home to help out with the daily battleground.

Hydrogen Peroxide.

This used to be a mainstay in our house for use on any wounds that resisted healing, I would no longer recommend it for anything and everything but it does have a very specific use. My brother also used it to give himself bleached tips, but that’s another story. Hydrogen peroxide is the best cleaning agent for deep puncture wounds as it naturally lifts dead material and debris in a cleaning action. It oxygenates the wound, preventing bad bacteria from replicating and taking over. It prevents anaerobic bacteria from being healed into a wound which means it is ideal for tetanus protection as the tetanus bacteria (Clostridium tetani) proliferates in an anaerobic environment.

What for: Deep wounds to prevent tetanus

How to use: Hydrogen peroxide is used to irrigate the wound with a syringe until it stops bubbling, repeat if the area closes over before the infection leaves. For shallower wounds it can be blotted on or used to bathe the area. For really deep wounds you want to soak the area in warm water to really clean the wound out at least twice a day and you can add epsom salts if you have it on hand. Hydrogen peroxide is like a one shot bullet, single use only. Used repeatedly on wounds it will actually inhibit healing as it inhibits granulation and lifts natural scabbing.

Where: Hydrogen peroxide at 6% strength can be purchased from most pharmacies for use you want to dilute it to 1.5% (1 part h2o2 to 3 parts h2o)

Home version: Some diluted cider vinegar will sub in for hydrogen peroxide at a pinch but it doesn't have the oxygenating effect.

Hydrogen Peroxide or h2o2
Calendula & Hypericum – Hypercal

Calendula and Hypericum are both excellent skin healers, you can buy them independently as salves or as a combination known as hypercal. Hypercal is the Porsche of wound healing. I have the tincture in my medicine cabinet and add a few drops to water before I cleanse wounds and scrapes. Calendula is a natural astringent and antibacterial, hypericum perforatum is also known as St Johns wort and is commonly used as an antidepressant however it is also excellent at healing skin lesions and ameliorating pain and swelling. So the combination of Hypericum and Calendula is really ideal for all of those common childhood war wounds.

What for: Cuts, grazes and scratches

How to use: Use the tincture diluted in water to clean wounds or apply to rashes and grazes. The lotion can be applied throughout healing process as required.

Where: I get my hypercal tincture from Similimum, one bottle lasts an AGE.

Home version:
If you have a calendula or pot marigold plant in the garden you can make a quick paste using a mortar and pestle out of the crushed petals and virgin coconut oil to apply to the wound.

St Johns wort, Hypericum perforatum
Pot marigold, Calendula officinalis


Children often get into mischief with plants or substances that cause irritation especially in spring when everything is blossoming and blooming. Chickweed is a common garden weed and is a marvellous antipruritic and vulnerary that can be applied to rashes, itchy bites, stings and hives. It soothes the skin and takes the heat and swelling out of any irritation.

What for: Rashes, hives, irritations, and itchy bites. Can be used for stings after the sting has been removed and a bentonite clay poultice has been applied.

How to use: Apply directly to skin as required to soothe itching.

Where to buy: Thymeheal do an excellent chickweed salve which has thyme, peppermint and lavender. If you are sensitive to peppermint and have a serious itch to scratch then my personal favourite is the Artemis Itch Calm which is a soothing lotion rather than a balm.

Home version: A handful of chickweed from the garden, crushed up before applying to the irritation is a fabulous instant cure for an itch.

Chickweed, Stellaria Media

Aloe vera is a succulent plant that has a gel in its leaves; this gel is incredibly soothing for burns and can be used topically, directly from the plant. It both soothes the skin as an emollient and encourages healing as a cell proliferant, as well as providing improved blood flow to the skin to promote healing. Be wary of commercial sunburn mixes as these are often for cosmetic purposes only and will contain alcohol which will sting when applied to burns.

What for: Burns of any type including sunburn.

How to use: First aid for burns is cool or tepid running water for 10 minutes. If you have a heat burn bigger than the size of your baby’s hand then call an ambulance. Once the burn has cooled you can apply aloe vera directly the area to aid healing.

Where: A handy healing spray on mist you can use is Lifestream Biogenic Aloe vera mist with Vitamin E, in addition to Vitamin E which assists in skin healing, it has chamomile and cucumber to soothe and witch hazel as a natural astringent.

Home version: Grab a leaf directly from the Aloe vera plant and peel once side before applying directly to the wound. If you don’t have a plant but do have some digestive aloe vera juice in the fridge you can use this as well.

Aloe vera, Aloevera Barbadensis

Clay powder (bentonite)

Bentonite clay is a powerful drawing substance, due to the shape of its molecular structure and it’s negative ionic charge it draws toxins and foreign substances out of the body when used as a poultice. Useful for stings and bug bites as it can draw organic substances out of the wound. Clays are tiny flakes of silicate rock weathered from glassy lava beds, calcium bentonite is useful as it specifically targets bacteria and has a strong ‘drawing’ effect. It is also used for facemasks and clay baths to detoxify and cleanse skin. It is great for acne as well as first aid.

What for: Splinters, boils, stings, bites, ingrown hairs, septic wounds, cysts and slow healing closed wounds.

How to use: Mix the clay with a little water until it is a paste and apply to the area required. While it dries it should draw the toxins out and bring splinters closer to the surface

Where to buy: Go native sell a really high quality bentonite clay suitable for detox and first aid purposes. It is a completely natural sun dried magnesium-rich, volcanic-origin smectite which is taken from the ground and milled to 325 mesh.
Home version: Making baking soda into a paste will have a similar effect but is not as powerful at drawing. 
Calcium Bentonite clay

Saline solution

Saline solution is basically a salt water mix that is used to flush wounds and clean mucosal membranes. You can make a homemade solution, but every first aid kit should have a few tubes of saline for emergency use.

What for: Flushing wounds

How to use: break the end off of the tube and use to rinse wounds

Where to buy: You can get saline from most pharmacies or first aid kit suppliers

Home version: Home made saline can be made by mixing 1 cup of boiling water with a teaspoon of salt and allowing to cool. This keeps for a few days in a sealed container or can be used immediately it reaches an appropriate temperature.

Saline solution

Witch hazel:

Despite its ominous name, Witch Hazel is a helpful plant and is a really handy thing to have on the shelf for big bleeds and swelling. It is highly astringent and applied directly to a profusely bleeding wound (scalps are notorious for this) or a quickly swelling limb, it can stop the bleeding much more quickly than usual. Witch hazel is also excellent for flushing eyes out when they have been injured but not if it is the alcoholic tincture. Understandably that would smart more than a little! If it is obvious to you that the bleeding is out of hand then you need to call an ambulance.

What for: Profuse bleeds and serious swelling

How to use: Pour some onto a sterile cloth or cotton pad and apply as a compress to a wound or swollen area.

Where to buy: Go native sell a certified organic witch hazel suitable for wound treatment.

Home version: Strong black tea is also rich in tannins and will have a similar effect. If you happen to have a witch hazel tree outside you can make your own decocotion from bark and leaves, this will only keep for a few days in the fridge but is excellent for rinsing out eyes.

Witch hazel, Hamamelis virginiana

Manuka honey with UMF

Active manuka honey is a powerful antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral. For it to be effective it must have a UMF(unique manuka factor) rating. The higher the rating the more effective the honey is (and the more expensive it is). Manuka honey has been shown to be particularly effective against staph infections and festering wounds. Excellent to put on boils and sores or anything that is taking a long time to heal. Manuka honey is also excellent to have in the kit to deal with serious blood sugar lows and to assist with painful procedures such as splinter removal because sweet things are shown to offer immediate pain relief for acute pain.

What for: Slow festering wounds and infections like Staph or MRSA

How to use: Apply liberally to the wound and then cover with a light bandage if it’s in a ‘high use’ area. Change the dressing at least twice a day gently washing the wound in between.

Where to buy: J.Friend and Co is a New Zealand artisan honey company that do a UMF 10+ and a UMF 15+ both suitable to include in a first aid kit. When you buy your honey you can see where it was collected and who owns the hives. What could be better than that?

Home version: If you don’t have any fancy Manuka honey then any honey will do as even standard honey has antimicrobial effects although not nearly as powerful as Manuka honey. The cheaper and more processed the honey is the less effective it is.

Manuka Honey

Rescue remedy

Rescue remedy is a bach flower remedy made with a combination of flower essences that are specifically helpful for moments of panic, anxiety and shock. These flowers are Rock Rose, Cherry plum, Clematis, Impatiens and Star of Bethlehem. Excellent for accidents or to soothe children before dressing a wound. Also handy to have for emotional storms and tantrums.

What for: Shock or fright

How to use: Spray 2 sprays to under the tongue. For very small infants and children you can spray it onto the back of their head.

Where to buy: Healthpost is my all time favourite one stop shop for most health products, it helps that they operate out of my old home town! They do a self branded Rescue Remedy which is great value for money. Many of the other remedies listed here can be purchased from Healthpost which makes setting up your own first aid kit much simpler!

Home version: A sweet lozenge or spoon full of honey can soothe a panicked child. Massage and acupressure can also be used to settle or relieve pain. Another trick is to bruise Rosemary between your palms and take a deep breath of it.

Rock rose, Clematis, Star of Bethlehem, Cherry plum, Impatiens


Arnica Montana is a plant that grows in the mountains, its healing properties were first identified when the local people noticed the wild mountain goats would consume it when they experienced falls but at no other time. Arnica is one of the most commonly used remedies for bumps and bruises. It works by stimulating the activity of white blood cells which process congested blood, and by dispersing trapped fluids from joints,muscles, and bruised tissue. It also has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial qualities and it is these that help to reduce pain and swelling as well as improving wound healing.

What for: Bumps and bruises

How to use: Apply the cream liberally to the bruised area as soon as possible after the accident occurs. Do not use on open wounds or broken skin. Homeopathic Arnica pilules can be taken internally and I often dose with both, the sweetness of the pilules certainly distract from any pain!

Where to buy: Simillimum homeopathic pharmacy do a 10% Arnica cream which is good value for money and very effective. They also supply arnica pilules in 30c strength which is suitable for most around the home bumps and bruises.

Home version: Use your R.I.C.E (rest, elevation, ice and compression) for bruised areas, a dilution of vinegar and water applied to the site as well as consuming lots of garlic can help the bruise fade more quickly.

Arnica Montana


Comfrey is a potent healer for ligaments, joints and bones, in fact its hedge name is ‘knit bone’ for it's ability to heal bones and tendons. It is a strong astringent so is excellent for resolving any internal bleeding or large bruises such as haematoma. Comfrey is rich in allantoin and is one of the best cell proliferants in the herbal kingdom which makes it the ideal remedy when there is any damage from strains and sprains that need to be healed. The leaves are also rich in mucilage which is a binding agent and a demulcent.

What for: Extended bruising and haematoma, strains, sprains and fractures.

How to use: Apply a comfrey cream or salve directly to the damaged area and repeat a few times a day. It's important to not apply comfrey to a bone that has not been set correctly as it can facilitate healing on a bad join. Most home use will be on smaller injuries anyway!

Where to buy: Kiwiherb are the foremost herbal dispensary in New Zealand and they do an excellent comfrey ointment made with certified organic sunflower oil.

Home version: A poultice made out of lightly steamed and chopped comfrey leaves is a powerful healer, and when you have some serious healing to do the roots can be mashed up and applied directly to the wounded region along with the leaves. Crushing the leaves releases a thick stringy goop which is the binding and healing agent. This component will also draw open wounds closed and bind it up. For large wounds I suggest seeing a Doctor before taking any action yourself, however once a wound has been treated conventionally you can still use comfrey during the healing process. Comfrey can also be taken internally but I would only recommend this under the supervision of a naturopath. Interestingly Comfrey leaves used to be battered and fried as an alternative to fish during the leaner years of the great depression as it has a similar flavour.

Comfrey, Symphytum offinalis


Lavender essential oil is a fabulous item to have in any first aid kid because of its versatility. It is a pain reliever, a healing agent, vulenary, antiseptic and even an antidepressant. The cicatrizant properties make lavender excellent for wound healing and helping to treat eczema and psoriasis where there is open weeping skin.
A few drops on a warm facecloth applied to the temples can relieve headache, a little massaged into the skin with some carrier oil can relieve pain and stress, applied neat to wounds it can relieve pain, itching as well as aid healing. Lavender oil is renowned for its ability to help heal burns. Once first aid has been used lavender oil can be applied to healing skin neat (do not use other carrier oils with it as they pull the heat into the wound)

What for: Burns, wounds, weeping rashes, eczema and tension.

How to use: Apply neat to skin (one of the only essential oils that can be used this way) or diluted with a little carrier oil. Even sniffing the bottle can relieve tension and stress.

Where: I use a specific genus of lavender oil call Pacific Blue from Arbordale Lavender farm. This is a very gentle and safe lavender oil which is low in camphor and can be used neat even on very small children. Cheap lavender oils are made in spike lavender which is not only high in camphor but low in healing properties. Many people find that spike lavender will give them headaches.  To order contact Arbordale Lavender Farm on 03  4896191

Home version: If you have a lavender bush then you can bruise a few flowers and inhale them or make a tea from the flower heads to bathe wounds and burns in (make sure the water is cool or tepid)

Lavender, Lavandula angustifolia

Manuka or teatree oil

Manuka oil is a powerful antifingal, anti septic, and anti microbial. I consider manuka oil to be the ‘big guns’ of infection management. Teatree oil is more commonly used but I like to use Manuka oil as it is a native to New Zealand and their properties are almost identical with Manuka oil actually being more powerful in the antifungal and antibacterial areas. The active component responsible for most of Manuka oil’s healing properties is the The β-triketone complex. This is a powerful complex and is currently being studied with great interest. Manuka oil has the ability to ability to fight all microorganisms including gram negative and gram positive bacteria. Manuka also comes with analgesic properties to ameliorate pain.

What for: Festering wounds that won’t heal or as a topical disinfectant for wounds after cleansing such as bedsores, festering splinters, abscesses and carbuncles. Because of its antifungal properties Manuka oil is also great for ringworm, athletes foot and impetigo.

How to use: This oil is powerful and should not be used neat. A few drops mixed in with warm water to bathe a wound or a few drops in some carrier oil is sufficient.

Where to get it: My favourite brand to use is New Zealand Coromandel Mountains Tea Tree oil which is made from a blend of Manuka and Kanuka oils in the Coromandel and is hand harvested. It is Biogrow certified organic and a top quality essential oil.

Home version: Not much matches up to the powerful nature of Manuka oil, if you have a Kanuka or Manuka tree in the garden then you can use the leaves and bark to make a decoction which can be used topically. Manuka tea also makes a great mouthwash to combat gingivitis.
Manuka, Leptospermum scoparium

Chamomile is a powerful pain reliever and mild sedative, Peter Rabbit was soothed with a cup of chamomile tea after over indulging and so chamomile tea is an excellent carminative and digestive aid for upset tummies. Chamomile tea can be used topically to relieve pain or internally for gastro upsets. It is also good for soothing grumpy children, for teething dramas and to aid in sleep and rest. Every first aid kit for children should have some dried chamomile in it for these reasons.

What for: Tantrums, tummies, teething and pain

How to use: If you have chamomile teabags you can dip them in warm water before applying directly to sore spot. For tummies, teething and tantrums it is best given as a tea and can be easily made up like any other tea. Giving children a small cloth bag of chamomile to sniff if they are having a grouchy day can help lift their mood and the same bag under a pillow will help with sleep and sweet dreams.

Where to buy: My absolute favourite chamomile tea is Artemis baby gripe tea as it also has the added benefits of aniseed, fennel, licorice, peppermint, dandelion and cinnamon. All of these ingredients aid digestion and soothe troubled minds. The plants used are processed to maintain full potency and not diluted with fillers such as fruit fragments or poor quality flowers. Note: if your baby has reflux then I would avoid this mixture and go straight to pure chamomile flowers as peppermint can relax the oesophageal valve worsening any reflux.

Home version: Any chamomile tea will do though most commercial brands are weak, if you have a plant out the back then so much the better. A handful of flowers in warm water makes a perfect panacea.

Chamomile, Matricaria recutita

First Aid Kit in a Jar

Pot of Gold Skin Balm made with Pine Rosin and Grapefruit peel extract is the perfect one stop shop for most Boo boos and is the perfect size to fit in a purse or nappy bag. The ingredients in Pot of Gold aid healing both internally and externally. It is also a great chapped lip balm and soother for skin issues. The ideal one stop shop.

Other useful things

Wheat bag – great for warming poultices and soothing sprains
Matches – used to sterilise needles and tweezers for splinter extraction
Needles – for splinter extraction
Sharp scissors – to cut bandages and remove clothes
Wound tape – to hold wounds closed
Physio tape – to strap a twisted or sore joint still
Tweezers – to help clean wounds and remove sforeign bodies
Gloves – to protect you from infection or damage
Wound dressing – to place over wounds once treated
Alcohol wipes – to sterilise the skin around a wound
Syringes – for use with irrigation and dosage
Reading glasses – any cheap high magnification ones are excellent for seeing small wounds and splinters
Crepe bandages - no first aid kit is complete without a crepe bandage
Large cloth - used for supporting limbs or making slings. A belt or scarf will also do

How to make a homemade poultice

Poultices warm or cool, drawing or healing are an excellent home tool to use for treating injuries with herbs from the garden. Every first aid kit should have half a dozen squares of clean cotton to use for poultices. An old sheet cut into 40cm squares is ideal but any hemmed cotton squares or rectangles will do. To make a poultice you simply encase the macerated herbs in the middle of the cloth and roll it up before placing on the injury. If the area harmed is a limb you can use the longer tails to tie the cloth on or secure it with some gladwrap. If you are using a liquid or decoction for the poultice you simply soak the cloth in the liquid before folding it up and placing it on the injury. To keep the poultice warm you can use a wheat bag or hot water bottle placed over the back of the poultice. Some poultices you can leave over night but ideally they will be changed every couple of hours, especially if it is a drawing poultice. A drawing poultice is designed to pull infection, foreign objects and toxins out of the body. A healing poultice is designed to bathe the injury in a healing medium. Most poultices will do both.

Product Key:

1. Lifestream Biogenic Aloe vera mist
2. Simillimum Hypercal tincture
3. Go Native Witch Hazel
4. J.Friend & Co Manuka Honey 10+ UMF

5. Artemis Itch Calm ointment
6. Simillimum Arnica cream
7. Kiwiherb Comfrey ointment
8. Simillimum Arnica pilules 30c
9. Arbordale Pacific Blue Lavender Essential Oil
10. Health Post Bach Flower Rescue Remedy
11. Go Native Calcium Bentonite Clay (packaging differs from standard retail)
12. New Zealand Coromandel Mountains Tea Tree - Manuka and Kanuka Essential oil
13. Thymeheal Chickweed cream
14. Artemis Baby Gripe tea

15.Home Essentials hydrogen peroxide

Not numbered: Pot of Gold Skin Balm

I have put together my ideal first aid kit based on the products I would use and consider to be the best for the job. If you like what you see then comment on this blog post before January 7 and you will be in to win this entire set. Entries are open world wide. Please note the final prize may differ from this image. Some items such as matches, tweezers and bandages may not be included in the final item. If you are an overseas winner it is your responsibility to ensure you check that all items will be allowed into the country and cleared through customs.

Terms and conditions:

1. By entering the competition or promotion each entrant will be deemed to have accepted these terms and conditions and to have agreed to be bound by them.

2. Failure to supply all requested personal information at the time of submitting an entry might result on the entry being invalid. 
3. No responsibility will be taken for late/lost/misdirected mail, incomplete entries or entries with incorrect postage. Entries will be deemed to be void if stolen, forged, mutilated or tampered with in any way.
4. Only one entry per person, placing a comment on this specific Blog post automatically enters you in the draw.
5. By entering the competition winners agree to their names being published and to be photographed and/or interviewed by Natural Mum on the Cheap or the promoter and that the promoter may use their names and such photographs and/or interviews for publicity purposes.
6. The prizes are not transferable or exchangeable, and cannot be redeemed for cash.
7. All prizes are subject to standard terms and conditions of the company supplying the prizes.
8. Full details of the prize items can be found on respective websites as detailed above9. Only entries received by the closing date 7 January 2013 will be accepted.
10. Winners will be drawn on in Dunedin, New Zealand on 31 January 2013
11. Winner will be notified by announcing on the Natural Mum on the Cheap Blog
12. If the prize winner cannot be contacted within 3 days, at The Press' option that winner will forfeit the prize with no right of compensation and the prize will be redrawn.
13. Subject to any applicable law which cannot be excluded,Natural Mum on the Cheap and their associates are are not responsible for any loss or damage whatsoever that is suffered (including but not limited to indirect or consequential loss) or for personal injury suffered or sustained during the course of accepting or using the prizes.
14. Entry is open worldwide15. The decision of judges in relation to any aspect of the competition is final and no correspondence will be entered into.