Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Little Chefs

Yummy looking ricotta cakes (above)

Kids have a natural interest in cooking and food – there’s nothing more exciting than helping Mum or Dad bake a cake. But with busier lifestyles and a generation of parents who often have fewer cooking skills and even less time to cook, cooking classes for kids have sprung up to fill the gap.

Cooking For Kids recently opened their doors in Balcombe Road, Beaumaris and offer a great range of classes for children, teenagers and adults.

Baysidemama talked to co-owner Marion Rispin.

Baysidemama: What benefit do children get from cooking classes?

We believe that children’s life long learning is enhanced when they actively participate in a positive and fun environment. Every day we are bombarded with confusing messages about the foods that we should or shouldn’t eat. At Cooking for Kids we provide children and families with skills and knowledge in the selection and preparation of healthy food. Just like learning how to swim or speaking a second language, learning how to cook is more effective if we learn it earlier in life and have fun at the same time.

Through their participation in classes, parties or workshops, children’s knowledge, skills and confidence can develop in many varied ways:

Sensory learning: Tasting, touching, smelling and seeing;

Motor skill development: Hand, eye, mind coordination;

Mathematic concepts: Counting, measuring, and following directions;

Safety: Using equipment safely and developing hygiene skills and knowledge;

Social skills: Working with others, sharing and learning to cooperate;

Language skills: Lots of new word experiences;

Why are children so attracted to cooking?

Children and indeed people of all ages are naturally inquisitive about the food they eat. As in all things there are quite large variations in children’s knowledge and confidence in talking about and handling food. Our groups like to get into the cooking as quickly as possible and love to discuss their understanding of where their food comes from and what they like to eat. The Cooking For Kids team has developed age appropriate activities that help children express their ideas about food as well as learn new skills.

Why are cooking classes for littlies becoming so popular?

There appears to be more interest and enthusiasm for food and cooking for children/young people and there are several factors behind this:

    • Many children are almost totally removed from the sources of their food and no longer see food as a vital life giving substance;
    • TV and popular media largely portray food as a way to relieve boredom or make you feel better but seldom relates food to nutrition or health. The messages are often mixed and negative;
    • Body image has become an alarming issue for many parents and this is a complex and often difficult subject to tackle. Linking young children to dependable information about their food and how to use it can be a good way into this subject;
    • Making time to prepare food and cook, as a family is very difficult for many families. Many parents also tell us that they would also like to take some classes to get back to the basics.

What can parents do to help fussy eaters?

There are many issues behind the so-called fussy eater. We need to consider each child/person individually and to work closely with the parents. What we have found is that all children are curious about food and we work with this curiosity. Colour, texture, taste, smell and fun are our key words. It is amazing to see children who won’t eat vegetables get stuck into grating a carrot, feeling the texture, experiencing the smell and taste. It often takes a bit of mess and lots of fun to introduce a new food. It also requires patience and persistence.

So what classes are on offer?

During school term classes are available for pre-school children at 10am or 1pm on most days of the week. School age groups are planned for 4 to 4.30pm and Teenage programs are run on a Saturday afternoon. Adult classes are planned either for a morning or evening. All of the timetables are available on our Web site or by contacting us. We also run special Easter classes, school holiday programs and cooking parties.

Tell us about the team’s background.

The Cooking for Kids team has over thirty years of teaching experience in health, nutrition and cooking. Geraldine Marsh, myself (Marion Rispin) and Ann Marsh bring a range of experiences from schools, pre-schools, health and community organizations. We are passionate about good health, nutrition and the preparation of nutritious food. We also know the enormous impact that the media and environment can have on how children view themselves and how this effects their level of confidence in tackling new experiences.

The Cooking For Kids team (above). Pictures: Courtesy Cooking For Kids.

Marion has supplied this recipe to try at home:

Fruity Muffins:

Sift together:

1 and 1/2 cups self raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/3rd cup raw sugar

Mix together:

4 tbs cooked apple/pie apple

1/3rd cup oil

1 egg (may be left out)

1/3rd cup milk

1 tsp vanilla essence

  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix thoroughly but don’t beat. Use two teaspoons to half fill 6/8 paper patty pans that have been placed into patty tins.
  • Bake at 180 degrees on the middle shelf of the oven for 10 – 12mins or until the muffins spring back when touched gently in the centre.
  • These are delicious just as they are or for a special occasion add your favourite topping (icing or muesli crumbs).
For more information, including timetables, contact details and holiday programs, visit:

Friday, 25 January 2008

Kayaking on the Bay

Forecast for this weekend: perfect beach weather. Great for a swim. But have you ever thought about kayaking along the Bay's beaches? Here's a feature on a business hiring kayaks at different points along the beach and if you're inspired to give it a go, there's a special offer for Baysidemama readers.

Words: Clare Kennedy. Pictures: Maia McKelvey.

This summer we've had a lovely time in Beaumaris during the school holidays: the beaches have been quiet, except for the pelicans – and the children have enjoyed paddling, boogie boarding and snorkelling in the clear waters of Dalgetty Rd and Ricketts Point beaches.

But every week, for a change of scenery, we’ve headed up to Elwood beach, where, to my delight, Steve Smith, (a relation, how convenient), has set up a kayak-hire business.

I was a little nervous the first time I hopped into a kayak, but after about five minutes I was in my element as I skirted the pier and headed out to sea.

Did I imagine it, or was my husband standing on the beach waving his arms telling me my time was up? (One does lose track of time, when one is enjoying herself). Afterwards, I rewarded myself with a coffee from Elwood Beach café. Bliss.

The jelly-bean coloured craft, lined up on the beach next to the OKA (Ocean Kayaking Australia) tent, are hard to miss. Kayaks are available for hire at four pretty locations: Elwood, St Kilda, Kerferd Rd beach and next to South Melbourne Life Saving Club at a cost of $20 per half hour or $35 per hour. Adult and child-sized life-jackets are available.

My husband took the children - eight and six years-old - for a paddle in the shallows. They loved it. Shortly after, a dolphin cruised by, causing great excitement on the beach - and a flurry of new paddlers.

Now the children have something to say at “show and tell” – how Mum almost paddled out to the Channel, sorry, I mean - how they went kayaking on the clear waters of Port Phillip Bay before the dredging began - but that’s another story.

There are trained OKA staff at each site to provide tips to kayaking novices.

For more information about group bookings and training phone: 0449 009541

A special offer: Mention baysidemamas to OKA staff until the end of February to hire two kayaks for the price of one.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

The look of the season: Autumn/winter style for children

Black is here for kids (above). Clothes by Willow and Finn: Kounia Bella

Denim and attitude: Sinc Kids

I don't know about you dear reader, but my efforts to dress my children seem to seesaw. When I had my first child I delighted in dressing her with care and careful planning in a range of beautiful little dresses and matching pieces. Then two things happened: she started demanding to dress herself in a garish array of pink polyesters and I had a second child - a little boy who, despite his mama's best efforts, seemed determined to sport food stains as an accessory, no matter how often I changed him.
Still, sometimes when I have the time, energy and motivation, I love to try and get them into the wonderful gear I want them to wear.

So for a bit of inspiration, here's the lowdown on childrenswear this autumn/winter:

While fashion for little ones has tended recently to follow adult trends, there have remained no go zones – and using black has been one of them.

But all that changes this season, with black becoming one of winter’s staple colours for kids. And let’s face it, apart from looking chic, it has many practical appeals – just think of how many toddler marks it will hide.

“In the pre-school age there is a lot of grunge (inspired fashion) with black coming in strongly,’’ says Helen from Hampton’s Kounia Bella.

“Every designer has a black story this season and the pieces are beautiful and can be matched nicely with a bright colour,’’ she says.

Helen says the trick with black is to work it with bright matching colours, like the red, charcoals and whites which will also be strong over winter.

Little by Little childrenswear in Black Rock, will also be stocking some great black pieces for autumn/winter. Store owner Helen says parents shouldn’t be apprenhensive about dark colours on kids.

“Black is great for basics - for instance the Metalicus basics in black sell out quicker than any other colour – or as a statement piece,’’ she says.

Helen says also expect to see a lot of great coats around this season, from the traditional duffle-coat from label Big to elegant Parisian inspired embroidered coats from Trelise Cooper.

“There are going to be lots of great prints around for boys…like spiderwebs, masks, cobras, motorbikes, dinosaurs, and of course stripes.

Hoodies are also back in a major way. Like the girls, the layered look is so big for boys. Sleeveless vests, long sleeve tees, cargo pants, beanies and scarves,’’ she said.

For girls, Helen says expect to see beautiful knits in the softest of wools. “Think tunic and smock tops in the most delicate designs. The same elegance will be seen in velours, lurex, cotton and silk. Fred Bare continue with their Parisian look with white, red and navy in culottes, knicker-bockers, mini skirts, striped tops and pintucked dresses.

“This winter will also see a terrific range of beanies, hats and scarfs,'' she says.

For rocker boy chic, head to Sinc Kids in Beaumaris, where boys will be dressed in bold geometric prints with heavy rock influences and lots of knits, jerseys and cardigans.

“These can be teamed with stretch stove pipe jeans in raw indigo and ramone black,’’ says Sarah from Sinc Kids.

“Slim jeans are in and just to complete the rock look, our latest boy accessory will be the striped knitted scarf,’’ she says.

Sinc Kids is introducing a new range this autumn – MUNSTER – inspired by rocker Joey Ramone.

In stock for girls will be bold prints with fabrics that shine and sparkle. For a more muted classic look, you’ll also find old English influences including tweeds and black velvet.

Layered look (above) for girls: Sinc Kids
Rocker attitude (above) and the new MUNSTER range: Sinc Kids
Bold prints for boys (above): Sinc Kids

What the kids will be wearing:

Dresses in fashion forward shapes, including waist bands, with leggings or fitted denim jeans underneath;

Coats in a range of styles;

Rocker chic with fitted denim and tops with attitude;

Lots of accessories including striped scarves, knits and great hats;

Try adding a little black to the mix – with some basics or a signature piece on wonderful textured wool or velvet;

Be inspired by Paris with white, charcoal and red;

Add some attitude with a bold print, especially for boys.

For babies, matching items are still very popular, with lots of floral patterns (both vintage and modern) and layers, including socks, bodysuits and puffer jackets.

Hoodies are huge for boys for autumn (above): Little by Little

Georgeous pintuck dresses for girls (above): Little by Little

Little by Little: http://www.littlebylittle.com.au/

18 Bluff Road, Black Rock. Phone: (03) 9589 0977

Sinc Kids: 36 East Concourse, Beaumaris. Phone: (03) 9589 0047.

Kounia Bella: http://www.kounia-bella.com.au/

406a Hampton Street, Hampton. Phone: (03) 9533 1200.

***Little by Little currently has 50 per cent off all summer stock. ***

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Just a reminder....for all local animal lovers

We posted about this recently on Baysidemama but just a reminder for any interested readers....the Australian Animal Protection Society (Keysborough Animal Shelter) is holding a special cat adoption event this weekend. It's a great cause and there is a whole shelter of very needy cats there in search of homes.
All the details are here: www.aaps.org.au

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Kids rooms: vintage decorating

Vintage boat shaped shelves, print, soldier and some boats
Old jewel box with ballerina which still works
Vintage rocker and toys (not market finds but four generations old)
Puss in boots vintage tin from Camberwell Market.

OK so often one person's delicious vintage find is another person's trash. When it comes to second-hand shopping, it really does come down to a matter of personal taste. But I for one love mixing vintage and market treasures with the new in children's rooms. It gives a space a warmth and originality. There are plenty of great markets in Melbourne worthy of a weekend wander in search of nice pieces and as well as something special for a child's room, you're pretty much guaranteed of coming home with some spare change.
I take a wander up to Camberwell market every now and again and always find great stuff however it is rare to feel like you've unearthed a great find at a great price. That pleasure is reserved for the far more suburban little markets and some of the best are in Bayside or close by. Bentleigh market, held every Sunday in the railway station carpark, is my favourite - as well as the occasional vintage piece, it is also a mecca for those searching for second-hand children's toys, books and clothes.
The Cheltenham market, held in the multi-storey carpark behind the main shops, is also worth a look.

Mickey mouse and Noddy collection from Bentleigh market

Sunday, 13 January 2008

What are your favourite books for kids?

Most of us find we return to the same books time and time again when it comes to reading to our children. We have our own favourites - often remembered from our own childhood- and kids quickly decide which stories they want to hear over and over. Where the Wild Things Are is one that fits this bill for me, and many others. Apart from the glorious illustrations, I love the way it celebrates adventure and imagination in children, but still provides that sense of place and warmth at the end of the story.

Many writers and childhood experts says this repetition is very important for development - the familiarity helps children with language and comprehension as well as helping them feel empowered by a familiar story.

Below, writer Clare Kennedy provides her top five favourite books and reviews Doodledum Dancing:

Clare's top five:
1./ Topping the list, the classic: Where the Wild Things are by Maurice Sendak

2./ The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

3./ The Potato People by Pamela Allen

4./ Doodledum Dancing by Pamela Allen

5./ Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson

(Also, anything by Jeannie Baker).

"My two-year-old constantly requests these favourites, and my 6 and 8-year-old still enjoy listening.''

Book Review: Doodledum Dancing by Meredith Costain and Pamela Allen

By Clare Kennedy

"Poetry for children doesn’t sell,'' said my local bookseller. But this book of fun rhymes, brought to life by Pamela Allen’s trademark characters that look real enough to poke and tickle, deserves to thrive against the odds.

Dogs, dancing and dinosaurs all feature in this collection; Costain tackles the topics that will engage her target audience. ‘Loose tooth’ is a favorite for my six-year old; that ‘snaggly tooth’ captures a watershed moment.

Humor is a strong element, too.’ Our new puppy’ is a funny poem about a new pet, that doubles as a tongue-twister, while ‘Snuggle Bug’ lends itself to ‘wild and wiggly’ tickles.

There are nonsense rhymes such as ‘A taipan in my frypan’ and seasonal ones, such as ‘Wintry Weather’, providing perfect inspiration for stamping in puddles. ‘The Pirate Song’ lends itself to rowdy singing and ‘The Merri Creek’ suggests a bike ride. You can actually hear the beat of a bicycle chain in motion. Clickety clack.

Many of these rhymes lend themselves to song; just make up your own tune.

This is a book to dip into when you want to have some fun with young kids, especially 3-8 year olds. And it’s a lovely way to introduce kids to poetry, without “the spinach” (doing the right thing) factor. It was short listed in the CBCA Awards in the Early Childhood category. Highly recommended.



ISBN 0-670-02822-3

Does your family have a list of favourites? Please let us know in the comments section below

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Can you give a cat a much needed home?




Some of the many cats awaiting adoption. Photos: courtesy AAPS.

A bit of a community post today. The Australian Animal Protection Society (Keysborough Animal Shelter) is handling a record number of abandoned adult cats and kittens this summer. The shelter services the south and south east of Melbourne. The situation is dire and they desperately need to find some cats homes over the next week. There are so many beautiful cats there, all patiently waiting for a much deserved home. Some of the stories are really heartbreaking and it would be just a wonderful New Year's event if some homes could be found. The Shelter does amazing work, mostly run by volunteers and receives no government assistance. If you have space in your home, there is a potentially very happy cat waiting for you.

Here is the link: http://www.aaps.org.au (there is also a link button on the right of this page under pets)
Keysborough Animal Shelter: Phone 9798 8044. The shelter is located at 10 Homleigh Road, Keysborough.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Coming up on Baysidemama: Autumn looks for children

Photo: childrenswear by Willow & Finn.

Coming up later this week: Childrenswear for autumn. Find out what will be in store in Bayside for babies, toddlers, pre-schoolers and more. The colours, textures and essential pieces.
Plus: where to shop.

Monday, 7 January 2008

German storytime at Brighton Library

Baysidemama has received the following information about a new German storytime, starting late January. For anyone interested, here are the details:

Zum ersten Mal - zur Bayside-Urauffuehrung sozusagen - wird die German Story Time Bestandteil des Sommerferien-Programms der Brighton Library sein. Zielgruppe sind deutschsprachige Kinder in der Altersgruppe von 3-5 Jahren (juengere und auch aeltere Geschwister sind natuerlich auch herzlich willkommen). Es werden Geschichten, Gedichte und Reime gelesen, Lieder gesungen, Musik gemacht und gebastelt. Ich hoffe, ihr koennt kommen am:
Mittwoch, 23. Januar 2008, 10.30 Uhr, Brighton Library Ein bisschen Lampenfieber habe ich schon .... aber ich freue mich darauf!

And remember, if you have any Bayside event you'd like shared, please email: baysidemama@gmail.com or post a comment

Web link: www.bayside.vic.gov.au/library_brighton_library

The long road south - how to relocate with style

Dendy Street - Bathing Boxes - 0275, originally uploaded by racka_roadrunner. Photo: courtesy Flickr.

SOMETIMES moving from one suburb to another can be a surprising culture shock. When it comes to moving country, you expect it to be a challenge, but often that doesn’t make it any easier.
In recent years, Bayside has become a hotspot for families moving to Melbourne from all corners of the globe. Just take a walk down to a playground like Black Rock’s beach park - very often the calls to children can be heard in Russian, Chinese, German or with a British or American accent.
But how do you settle in Bayside from a long way away and do it successfully?
Sue Ellson started a support and information service for relocaters after experiencing the process herself.
“I came from Adelaide and found this transition difficult so it made me realise what it must be like for people coming from overseas,’’ says Ellson, publisher of Newcomers Network.
Ellson says the key to a successful transition is to take a very strategic approach to it.
“Make sure you go through a proper organised process,’’ she says.
“Always contact your local council for a new residents kit.
“You are also far better off connecting to your local community in terms of services than running all over town.’’
Newcomers Network runs monthly social networking events in Melbourne for recent arrivals which attract up to 100 people a time and are a mix of couples, families and singles.
“Everyone is welcome and we encourage people to bring their children as often if you’ve just got here you don’t have ready access to babysitters,’’ she says.
Ellson thinks the lure of Bayside is often the homes themselves.
“Many expats find that the quality of accommodation in Melbourne is not as big as they were used to, particularly in the US, and in Bayside they can often find bigger homes.’’
A corporate relocation company is a popular way of smoothing the transition.
Karin Butterfield, co-director of BBL Relocation Services, places families all over Melbourne, including plenty in Bayside.
She will source lists of rental properties, help with the applications, research schools and even accompany families on school tours if they require.
She also helps with that most difficult of processes – trying to find childcare and pre-school places.
In terms of fitting in, Butterfield says look to your children’s school as a first step.
“If you have school-aged kids then this helps enormously as you can get involved in the school and parents groups,’’ she says.
Otherwise she suggests sporting groups and checking community information at local libraries.
Butterfield says she often has to manage people’s expectations in this part of town.
“We get a lot of people, especially from Europe, saying they want a four bedroom family home in Brighton because they have heard of it and it is close to the sea.’’
“Sometimes we have to talk to them about looking a little further afield or rethinking what they want in a house – like do they really need that fourth bedroom,’’ she says.

Tips from Bayside Mums who have moved here:
“Once in Bayside look around and immediately put your kids on wait lists for occasional care, daycare, playhouses, children’s classes, kinders and the like. These services book up very quickly for pre-schoolers.’’ – Evelyn.

“When I (was moving) to Bayside the best thing I did was contact the Maternal Health Centre months before I moved and was set up with a mums group. It was easy for me to drive down from Elsternwick to meet up for a few months before I moved here. We also had someone join our group when her daughter was about a year old so it was worthwhile contacting Maternal Health even when your child is no longer a real baby.’’ – Michelle.

Sue Ellson’s tips:
Collect local information;
Start new activities;
Expect it to be a challenge;
Develop new routines – try a new activity;
Be curious about your surroundings and culture;
Ask questions.
Source: Newcomers Network website.

Cultural issues to keep in mind when networking:
Other parents are often happy to chat at the local playground;
The school gate is a good place to network’
Having coffee or a park playdate is a good icebreaker;
Australians often like to entertain at home but it can often be very informal;
Join a mother’s group or a local children’s playhouse.

Relocation links:

(Check the right hand information panel for more sites of use)

Sunday, 6 January 2008

The day after....the big heat

summer colors, originally uploaded by Shahram Sharif.

The air conditioners are straining, the garden a wilted tarnished brown and children all over town are tired and restless. It's been one warm weekend.
This image from Flickr captures the essence of summer colour.

Stay tuned this week for lots of summer features. We've got a piece planned on relocating to Bayside and a look at the latest in fashion for kids. Plus later this month we tackle the big end of January issue - heading back to school and kinder. Baysidemama looks at what parents can expect and advice from education experts on making the transition easy. School's not that far away!

Also, if you have an event - be it regular or one off - for Bayside families, please leave a comment or email the details and we will profile it.

Friday, 4 January 2008

Savouring summer with little ones......

Up,Up and Away, originally uploaded by aussiegall.

It's really really hot in Melbourne at the moment, so Bayside Mama thought a bit of a guide to ideas to surviving the heat with little ones might go down a treat. Here are some ideas:

If you're a new Mum:

A newborn baby, breastfeeing and extreme heat do not make a comfortable mix.

*If you're breastfeeding, place a cool damp cloth between you and bub.

* Drink water, water and more water.

* Babies will often feed for shorter periods of time and more frequently in the heat. All is well if bub is still having regular wet nappies.

Keeping up with little ones:

* Lots of picnics in the backyard keep the little ones amused and mean Mum and Dad have less cleaning up in the heat. Think ribbon sandwiches, cucumber slices, fruit salad, dips and pita bread and cool fruity drinks.

* Tell them bedtime stories about your summers as a kid.

* Icy pole moulds are your best friend. It means regularly icy treats which are also healthy and guilt free.

* Create a small vegie patch. Choose plants which will attract butterflies and bird and have interesting shapes, like sunflowers, corn and pumpkin. Add some sweet smelling tomatoes. Broad beans are exciting to watch grow and you can tell the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk.

Tips for you:

* Nap when your kids do.

* Head out to the park and pool early.

* Store up on board games, books, a few good kids movies and of course, a powerful fan.

Your summer nappy bag essentials:

Sunhat, lotion, picnic rug, ball, swimsuits for all, extra wipes, small first aid kit, spade, towels, loose change, shade cloth for pram and change of clothes.

Finally, take a look at the lovely images above. They are from the Flickr site of aussiegal. Look at more of her inspiring images by clicking on the photos or following the aussiegal link below them.