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Winter is coming...

Good Parsi Wife

And that means so are the colds, coughs, infections and fevers! We prefer using natural supplements and cooking healthy broths/drinks to keep our bodies fighting fit and ready to ward off any nasties, so here are my top 5 tips for attempting to stay healthy during winter:

1. Chicken Soup

Chicken Soup is thought to be extremely effective in reducing the severity of colds and flus. My Basic Chicken Stock recipe is the first thing I make upon seeing/hearing a sniffle, and can be consumed as a tasty hot drink, or used in my cooking for added flavour and health benefits. On days when the boys refuse to drink it straight, I use it religiously while preparing their meals (especially when boiling their rice, pasta or potatoes).

2. Hot herbal/natural teas

There’s nothing better than sipping on a nice hot cup of tea when you have a cold. I love to make my own using natural ingredients and a few of my favourite combinations added to boiling water are:

  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder + 1 tsp jaggery/honey 
  • Green tea (optional) + ½ tsp freshly grated ginger + fresh squeeze of lemon + 1 tsp honey 
  • Black tea + ½ tsp freshly frated ginger + 1 tsp honey

3. Oil pulling

Many believe ayurvedic oil pulling to be effective in drawing bacteria from the body through the mouth by swishing oil in your mouth, first thing in the morning. A few people are sceptical, but this was one thing I stuck with last year when I was pretty sick, and I personally believe it helped. I’ve been doing this again during the last fortnight and so far so good (touchwood)!

4. Natural supplements

We find Triple strength Garlic C + Horseradish tablets extremely effective in preventing colds and flus. I was advised not to take any Horseradish while pregnant or breastfeeding, so pure garlic tablets were also pretty effective.

5. REST!

Lack of sleep is the biggest thing affecting my health at the moment. When I have a few bad nights thanks to the kiddos, not only am I in a terrible mood, but a few autoimmune issues I have flare up.  Resting while you’re ill is one of the best ways for your body to heal, and by staying at home, the spread of viral colds and flus may also be reduced (although your kids may go crazy with boredom!).

Good luck, and may the force be with you to evade coughs and colds this winter season!


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Now I know why parents drink...

Good Parsi Wife

I met a lady while travelling in Singapore a few months ago. She had three children, close in age and so we had a bit of a chat - as Mum's love to do. The one thing I remember from this discussion was that she said the hardest time she ever had was when #1 was three years old, and #2 was one year old.  She was right. My 'Threenager's' irrational and illogical tantrums, constant need to defy, and obsessive compulsive behaviour, combined with my almost one year old's teething, severe attachment issues, and inability to give me more than 3 hours continual sleep at night, is driving me UP THE WALL! Now I know why so many parents have 'Wine O'Clock' once the kids are in bed.

After a terrible day yesterday, leaving me feeling frazzled and just wanting to sleep, I decided that I can either be the grown up and make changes, or I can have a cry and throw a tanty myself, which wouldn't really help the situation. So, here are a few things I am striving to improve on, and some tips for anyone in the same boat:

1. CHOOSE YOUR BATTLES WISELY. I don't like to cave in when making threats, so will try to come up with more reasonable and child friendly options like, "Eat this last mouthful and we can go build an ONZ (a big block tower)", as opposed to, "IF YOU DON'T EAT THIS LAST MOUTHFUL SO HELP ME GOD I WILL LEAVE YOU ALL AND RUN AWAY!", which doesn't go down too well with a three year old. #2 is my 'strong willed' child as they say, so when he's a bit older, I'll have reassess my threat technique, because he doesn't even bat and eyelid when I try to discipline him now. I just get the "And what are you going to do about me throwing food off my highchair?" glare as he throws some more food off his highchair. Sometimes you have to decide what's more important - sticking to your guns and fighting, or to, as Elsa sings, Let it Go.

2. SLEEP. One night I spent 3 am to 4 am battling to keep #2 in his cot, during five months of so called 'sleep training'. I made the Grouch on Sesame Street look like an angel the next day, and took it out on #1 who was a good boy, and has been sleeping through the night since 14 months. So shoot me if I bring #2 to the bed in the middle of the night because he'll stop wailing and let us sleep for a few hours. Sleep deprivation is a terrible thing, and can lead to all sorts of health and social issues. Until #2 sleeps through the night, I'm getting whatever sleep I can, however I can.

3. WALK AWAY AND ACCEPT HELP. Having the 'I'm an engineer, I can do it all' attitude with #1, I found myself going crazy dealing with everything by myself, and found #1 would feed off my unhealthy state of mind and behaviour. Now I've learned that if constant crying is making me want to throw my pillows across the room, I just walk out and send someone else in.  They say kids are something like 8 times worse when Mum is in the room, so often it helps when Mum is out of the room, and taking deep breaths in another room (and maybe drinking wine).

4. HAVE MORE 'ME TIME'. I'm guilty of saying I spend all my time feeding, washing, cleaning up after and getting the kids to sleep/nap - claiming to have no spare time to do anything for myself. At one point in my life I was working full time, studying two final units of my double degree, running the Social Club at work, planning a wedding, catching up with friends, visiting the families for dinner, building a house, painting, cooking and dancing twice a week after work. I'm pretty sure I can spend some time each day to do yoga/gardening/watch Suits/work on GPW (the things that make me happy and relaxed). The happier I am, the happier everything and everyone else in the house is - I can't take care of my family properly when I'm a not in a healthy frame of mind.

5. "DON'T PUT OFF TILL TOMORROW, WHAT YOU CAN DO TODAY". I find that whenever I plan to do something tomorrow, something else happens and I cant, leaving me irritated and complaining about it all day. So now if I have a free moment during child free/nap times, I will wash those dishes, hang those clothes, pick those clothes up off the floor, cook whatever I can, pay those bills, pull out those weeds, send that email, send that WhatsApp message I keep forgetting to send, etc etc.  You never know what could happen tomorrow, when you have kids - fevers and illness love to make themselves at home when you really don't have the time.

6. EXERCISE AND HEALTHY EATING. I've started tap dancing one night a week after almost four years. I sleep slightly better (#2 still wakes up several times a night, of course), feel rejuvenated, relaxed and much more patient with the family the next day. Fresh air and sunlight can also make all the difference. After #2's birth I found I have many vitamin deficiencies from not eating properly in the day (claiming to have no time) and from 11 months of breastfeeding. So it's really important to have a balanced diet, eat three proper meals, and for me, to take supplements on a short term basis (if you really need to - consult with your doctor on this point, don't take my word for it!).

7. TRY TO SAY 'NO' LESS, AND STOP YELLING. My hubby and I have a no yelling policy in our house (to me, a raised voice is yelling, ha), however I find myself screaming and saying no all the time to #1. Yelling 'NO' without an explanation as to why sitting on one's brother's head is not very nice, and hurts, doesn't make much sense for kids under 3 years old. Even though we think they behave like teenagers at times, their brains are not developed enough to understand many things which seem logical/common sense to us.

8. KEEP THINGS TIDY. Dealing with crying and tantrums all day can be mentally exhausting. I am trying to do myself a favour and at least have some breathing space walking around in a neat house. I know that things get trashed shortly after I tidy/clean, but it really does make a difference. As much as I hate spending hours on cleaning the house, this is one big change I'm trying to implement on a daily basis, to make things easier for me in the long run.

So, I can either be a crazy, sleep deprived, "NO" machine, or I can have a hilarious discussions, cuddles, kisses, play time with my kids and THOROUGHLY enjoy this precious time which everyone says goes in the blink of an eye. The choice is mine.



I feel an addiction starting...

Good Parsi Wife

For #1s first birthday I was busy packing for our move to Korea, so I bought him a cake. For his second birthday I was heavily pregnant and too tired, so I bought him a cake. No excuses this time, so I made him a decorated cake (my first time working with fondant) for his third birthday, and boy did I love making it! Now I know why so many people make fancy cakes - it was a lot of fun and came out surprisingly well for my first go.

My eldest's current obsession is Pink Panther - my hubby loves the feline character, so it's no surprise our kids do too. After doing a bit of research, chatting to friends experienced in the subject, and gaining advice from staff from my local cake store, I set out to make a fondant covered chocolate cake, with ganache and cream layers.  I needed to invest in some fondant icing, some fondant tools a cake tin and cake board. For the cake topper, I made a 3D figurine of Pink Panther on top. I'm very happy with how everything turned out, and have definitely learned a few lessons along the way.

I used this buttercake recipe I found online, and transformed it into a round 22cm chocolate cake by adding 2 tbl of cocoa powder as recommended in the comments section on the page. However, I found while cutting the cake into layers, the sides crumbled and broke off. Next time I think I'll make my Vanilla Buttercake instead, which is extremely moist and tasty. I made some basic chocolate ganache (equal parts dark chocolate and cream, plus a bit of cocoa powder) for the layers, along with chocolate whipped cream (thickened cream with a little bit of icing sugar and cocoa powder), and covered the top and sides with the same ganache. I made the cake Thursday afternoon, and assembled it Thursday night.

After cutting the cake into three 1.5cm thick circles, I swapped the layers around accidentally, so the sides of the cake were not very straight.  I should have neatened the sides so they were in line and straight, but I was too tired and didn't bother. The ganache was then spread around the sides and top of the cake as best I could to hide the unevenness. The ganache was initially too warm and dripped everywhere, so I left it in the fridge to cool down for 15 minutes or so, and then it was more manageable.

As you can see, the sides are a wee bit wonky. I managed to disguse it well with the ganache, but once the fondant was placed on the cake, you could notice some obvious bumps and bulges. I wasn't TOO bothered by this as this cake was just for the family brunch.

I made the Pink Panther topper using this awesome tutorial, and let that dry on some baking paper. That was another mistake as when I placed him on the cake, a few cracks formed on his legs, and his tail broke off. I also dried the number three and found it cracked as well when placed on the curved surface of the cake.  I made paws and stuck them on the sides while they were fresh and those came out nicely.   Next time I will have all figurines ready to go and placed in position before leaving in the fridge.

As I had used cream in the layers, the whole cake needed to stay refrigerated, which meant that when brought to room temperature, the fondant sweated slightly, and the chilled fondant wasn't as firm and dry as the figurines stuck on top (but that was not a huge deal taste wise).  On the Sunday morning of the brunch, I removed the cake from the refrigerator and stuck the toppers on top. Whilst cutting the cake the fondant wasn't very dry as it didn't get a chance to dry out at room temperature for days, but the layers inside the cake were beautifually moist and the cream was an excellent addition to the top layer.

Overall, I was quite happy with how things turned out, and am very happy with my choice to make instead of buy this year. I have learned a few things to improve for the next cake, and oh yes there will be another cake - I feel an addiction starting...