Tag: cna

Learning To Read : A Whole New Chapter

Learning To Read : A Whole New Chapter

There are many noteworthy milestones in a child’s life, but learning to read has to be right up there. The whole “learning to read” process is incredible and something that is so unique to each child. To see everything just slowly starting to click is wondrous, an entirely new world opens up and I cannot wait till we fully dive into it. My eldest (5) is learning phonics at school at the moment. When his class teach mentioned in the beginning of the year that me may even be able to read by the end of the year, I thought she was joking, he’s only in grade R, but let me tell you, phonics are an INCREDIBLE THING!

Each week they have a different “focus” letter at school, “curly kuh” or “kicking kuh”, “annie apple” or “harry hat man”. Activities are then related to that letter and each time they speak about the pronunciation of it. We have to duly cut out pictures being with that letter every weekend and art for the week is focused on it. Just a few weeks ago Aadam read his very first word! R-E-D, he saw it on TV and said “Rra – ehhh – daaa”, “RED mama” !! I want to pause that moment in time forever. My heart was so proud it could have exploded! We are far from reading properly and I am in no way going to force him, but since then he has “read” a few other words by himself as well, “sun” , “dog” and “mat”.

I am by no means a teacher, I’m not a professional in any way, but we’ve done a few activities over the years at home that have focused on letter recognition and I think at this age it all starts coming together. Reading and writing go hand in hand and by practicing letter recognition with some fun activities, reading can quickly follow.

Here are a few fun activities you can do at home to practice letter recognition. It’s all learning through playing so your child wont feel like they are “working” in any way.

Spray the letter

Write out letters randomly on an outside wall with some chalk and give your child a spray bottle or water pistol. Get them to “spray” out the letters from words such as their name or other simple 3 letter words.

Letter hunt

I purchased some crafty foam letters and flash cards from our favourite book and stationary store, CNA , and hid the foam letters in some rainbow rice. Place a flashcard out and get your little one to dig through the rice to find the matching letters. As they are matching the letters, sound them out individually. The 3 letter words are always an easy start.

Word Tubes

These are so ridiculously easy to make and such a fun way to learn. We have made 2 different kinds before. The first is done simply by taking two paper cups. On one of them write out common endings like “at”, “all” and “it” and on the other write out letters like “m”, “f”, and “s”. Cut a window through the outer cup and twist to form the words. It can also be easily done with plastic eggs (I told you those little guys are versatile). Again on one side write one letter and on the bottom write the common endings. Sit with your child as they twist the egg and sound out each word.

Read Read Read

As simple as it may sound, but reading to your children is the best way to teach them how to read themselves. Making books part of your daily life is so important. They watch your lips move and form words, improves language skills, shows them that words represent sounds and concepts, words are read from left to write, and stories continue when you flip the page. Start from as young as possible to foster a love for reading with bedtime stories or library time. CNA has some great phonics books, in additional to all their reading books for kids, if you are interested in diving deeper into a more structured learning approach at home.

Writing out letters

Whether its tracing them out in a wipe and erase book, or using more Montessori type activities such as writing them out in Sand, using a brush with rice or even shaping the letters out of playdough. Its all about recognition and muscle memory. Sounding out each letter as you go and then practice by linking the sounds.

Watching a child enter this whole new world of literacy is just so magical. I am in awe of how quickly children can pick up on things and how many doors of opportunity this will open. Though i know on the other hand its going to open up a whole new ball game in parenting. Newspaper and magazine headlines will bring numerous questions and conversations but I cannot wait! There are some fantastic resources available to help us on this journey as parents, free printables online or books and learning aids from stationary stores. Reading is truly one of the greatest gifts for a child to learn and one that every single child should have a chance to learn.

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by CNA

Back to School – Our Essentials List

Back to School – Our Essentials List

I couldn’t bear to post this earlier. Although schools are going back a whole week earlier this year, my mind would still not allow me to think about school (or work) until after the December Holiday.

I’m a “last-minute Minnie” on a normal day but thankfully I have some fantastic products to make my life a little easier.

This is our first year of receiving the dreaded “stationery” list, though with that the excitement around buying all new sets and labeling is still new and both my son and I have already packed his school bag. It brings back flash backs of my own childhood staying up the night before school started wrapping all my books in my favourite paper, insisting that I needed all new everything every year at school, with my mum ensuring me it didn’t all need to be brand new.

CNA has always and will always be my go to store for all things stationery. Whether it was matching purple files for me during my high school years or fresh jumbo crayons for my son about to start big boy school, they have always been my first point of call. It was only recently that I realised however, that they really do cover all back to school needs, from school bags and books to lunch tins and juice bottles! We were in and out of our local store within 30 minutes, with all items ticked off. All items are also available online and if you spend over R350, your delivery is free.

Here are some of my favourites from the back to school selection:

The ”Roamer” range at CNA offers a wide variety of durable and affordable school bags and lunch bags. The type that can be passed down year after year. Have a look at some of the options here.

We adore our bento style lunch boxes and I have been using them for the boys for well over a year now. CNA stocks a wide variety including the ever popular Sistema and Addis ranges. Whether your little ones are into cars, Spiderman, Barbie or something a little more refined, I’m confident you could find your choice in store. This year we have gone with the Sistema Bottles where you can freeze the inner part to keep your water cool throughout the day.

I couldn’t help but pick up a “space case” for my son, while he still let’s me choose his stationery. This is a nice flat one from Penflex and he can decorate it with whatever stickers he wants. It’s an absolute steal!

Talking about stickers …. I am so incredibly thankful that we have moved on a bit from the old “hand stitched” labels in clothes. I found an old ream of about 200 labels from my school days when I went home the other day. To think of the hours spent stitching those into school clothes sends shivers down my spine ! Tower labels has a brand new range of labels specifically designed for school, and making parents lives a little easier.  TOWER are Southern Africa’s largest office stationery and label supplier and pride themselves on delivering products of the broadest range and highest quality, and you can actually purchase a lot of their products at CNA, including their super cute “reward” and “lunchbox love note” stickers!

We received the standard and pre school pack to try out, though there are four new offerings,
including a Standard Pack (R225.00), Mini Pack (R125.00), Iron-On Pack (50 for R90.00) and Pre-School Pack (R150.00). You can customise your order online here, and can include everything from your child’s name to grade, subject and even their school logo if you wish!

The Standard Pack for Aadam literally contained everything we needed for his first year at big boy school, including:

  • 2 Bag Tags
  • 8 Shoe Labels
  • 44 mini labels
  • 30 Book Labels
  • 60 Wrap-Around Labels
  • 50 Iron-On Labels
  • 44 Stationery Labels

The Preschool Pack

We got this for Yusuf and I love the fact that it includes little Happy Birthday labels, I just wish you could add a little colour or a character to this one. The pack contained:

  • 1 Bag Tag
  • 21 Birthday Labels
  • 60 Wrap-Around Labels
  • 30 Book Labels
  • 44 Mini Labels
  • 50 Iron-On Labels
  • 44 Stationery Labels

The Mini Pack

This is also perfect for preschoolers or small playgroups. You can add your child’s name, grade and school logo to the stickers and the pack contains the following:

  • 1 Bag Tag
  • 4 Shoe Labels
  • 12 Book Labels
  • 42 Wrap-Around Labels
  • 30 Iron-On Labels
  • 22 Stationery Labels

The Iron-On Pack

With this package you can choose between 50 and 100 iron-on labels with your child’s name, grade and school logo.

The stationery labels as well as the Mini-labels are all dishwasher safe, goodness knows how many juice bottles we lost on the playground last year, so this is a real life saver! The shoe stickers are perfect for Yusuf just beginning to distinguish between his left and right feet. Top Tip: Cut the sticker in half and place half in each side of the shoe. That way your child can look at the shoe and “match up” the stickers to place on the correct foot!

I’ll definitely be ordering for years to come through MyTowerLabels, they offer a door to door courier service, affordable prices and a quick turn around time. In fact, if you choose to order your labels through TOWER, you can use a special “inthesestilettos” discount code to get 10% off your order

Simply visit their website at https://www.mytowerlabels.com/ make your selection and on checkout add in the “Inthesestilettos” code. Its valid until 30 June 2019.

There you have it, that’s how we have survived the “Back to School” rush. Bring on the 9th January, “Big School”, we are ready for you! Good Luck to all newbies starting out, its the first day of an incredibly exciting journey!

Do you have any back to school products or services that made your life easier? I’d love to hear about them!


*Sponsored post – however all thoughts and views expressed are my own.


Christmas Stocking Filler Ideas For Under R150

Christmas Stocking Filler Ideas For Under R150

I asked a question a while back on Instagram regarding stockings (no not the hosiery type), and your family traditions. Who gets in your family? Do you have a budget per item going into the stocking or the overall Christmas stocking itself? In some houses the stocking is the main present, and in others it’s an “extra”. I still receive a stocking from Santa when I am at my mum and dads, and both my mum and dad receive ones too. While the contents may have changed a little over the years, the thought that goes in and the excitement around it has not.

As a child we would wake to finding the stockings (normally pillow cases), stuffed full at the end of our beds on Christmas day. The contents of the stocking would keep us entertained for the morning as typically we would go to church first and then only after our main meal at lunch would we do the main “Christmas tree” presents.  As a younger child it was filled with Play-dough, colours, stickers, sweets and always, ALWAYS, a mandatory orange. As a I grew older the contents shifted more to make up, stationery, luxury bath products, chocolates and still the orange 🙂 I love the fact that when we are with my family the boys still get to share in the excitement of Christmas. It adds a little bit of magic in their lives which I think is so important for children.

I spoke a little in my previous post about how some of my favourite Christmas memories were funnily enough shaped by CNA, so in collaboration with South Africa’s leading Stationery Store, I have put together some of my favourite stocking filler items, all under R150. These are mostly for children (of all ages), but you may find some inspiration for the whole family here too. It’s the ultimate range of adorable gifts.


From top left to right:

How cute are these Novelty Pencils? At R29.90 they literally are the perfect stocking filler.

Playdough tubs are always a hit with younger kids – R49.90

These Christmas Activity Books are absolutely adorable! I’ve bought them for my boys and there is a whole range available from Christmas Sticker Books to carry along activity packs. R29.90.

PJ Masks has the perfect Christmas eve entertainment with their “Hello Christmas” DVD. R59.99

I kid you not, on the top of my sons wish list is a Rubix cube (he’s 5). You can find yours here for R139.90

Marvel Avengers Super Activity Case – For the superhero fans in your life, this pack contains over 700 Stickers! Hurry they are selling out fast . R129.90

Simba Art and Craft Bead Set – When I was growing up I would spend hours and hours making my own bracelets, earring and necklaces. This is the perfect introduction at R79.90

CNA’s adorable range of stockings this year starts at R29.90 and you can find one for everyone in your family, even your pet!


Stationery – An ever popular item from Santa in our family. These are some of my top selection :

GoGoPo has the cutest, most affordable range at CNA. Mini Silicon Purse – R34.90

These Highlighters  are a steal at R34.90

Glitter sticks, who doesn’t love glitter? A must for every craft box – R26.90

Cute 3 Pack BallPoint Pens – R39.90

How cute is this Aztec Printed Clipboard R49.90

My gold and rose gold obsession continues Notes 8 piece paper clips – R119.90

These glass fun crayons are perfect for younger kids, we use ours in the bath as well! Amos Colorix Glass Fun – R114.90

My love for glitter is known to all and this 2019 diary is sure to brighten up your year! R109.90

The Light up Water Pen and GoGoPo Neon Fluffy Pen – Perfect for the tweens in your life, you guessed it R34.90

I personally have this rose gold glitter pencil bag and its glorious! R49.90


Books in our family were another popular stocking filler and CNA has the most adorable Christmas books in stock. Starting from as low as R29.90 its something that everyone can afford !


From top left to right:

Playhouse box set – The Story Of Christmas – This incredible fold out book folds out like a carousel to create a 360-degree play scene. It contains little characters so that you can act out the nativity scene. R129.90

Felties: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Other Nursery Rhymes – Elanor Best, Shannon Hays (Board book) – A perfect touch and feel book for the babies in your life. R139.90

Reindeer’s Nosy Christmas: Kali Stlieman (Board Book) is the most gorgeous touch and feel book which tells a sweet rhyme about a lost reindeer who must follow his nose to find Santa. R109.90

Chalk Away – A little obsessed with this one – Discover the alphabet and doodle your ABCs with traceable, erasable chalkboard pages, perfect for first time learning. R129.90

Made with love from me at Christmas – The cutest art and craft book R99.90

Build up your own groovicorn palace and characters with this play model set and then act out the story. R99.90

If you ever meet a Groovicorn is a magical story for any little girl R109.90

Have Yourself a Hairy Little Christmas: Rosie Greening (Board Book) – Santa needs a new haircut and the elves offer to help! Why do I see this story ending in a bad way? 🙂 R129.90

Push and Play: Unicorn Dance ends off our magical theme with this adorable tale R109.90


Puzzles are some of my favourites and the educational range at CNA is second to none.

My best include, from top left to right:

Map of Africa (36 piece) – We are getting this as my eldest has been instructed to practice his puzzle skills, and what a perfect way to get to know our continent. R49.90

Zoo Wooden Puzzle (36 piece) – R49.90

Puzzles on the Go: Crosswords – R49.90

Map of South Africa (17 piece) – The perfect choice for little hands learning to fit pieces together. R49.90

Paw Patrol Match Game: My boys adore this memory game! R59.90

Farm Animals Peg Puzzle (6 Pieces) the best introduction into puzzles for little ones R49.90

World Map (50 piece) – We have been practicing this to see where all the family live. R49.90

Mermaid Puzzle (36 piece) – R49.90

Colour Wonder Puzzle – Comes in a range of Blaze and the Monster Machines, Cars, Barbie these are fantastic at R99.90


What would a wish-list be without making my own little list? Here are some super cute favourites that I just couldn’t leave off

From Top Left to Right:

Its not Christmas without some sort of crown or headpiece, I’m in love with these glitter antlers at R29.90.

Include your pet in the action with this gorgeous festive Pet Deluxe Bandana at R29.90.

“I need a Vacay” Tote Bag is perfect for the beach in my opinion and I adore those Pom Poms! R99.90.

I Love a good mug, this “working from home” mug would have been my perfect gift! R119.90.

For the budding chefs in your life, these mini Cooks Corner Cook Books are the perfect stocking filler. I own a few copies myself. They are an absolute steal at R39.90 and the series covers a wide range.

GoGoPo Selection of Washi Tapes – R34.90.

This Cat Bling Keyring would make sure I never lose my keys again! R59.90.

Who says crackers have to be just for the table? These mini novelty crackers are perfect for stockings! R39.90.

There are a huge selection of fashion notebooks available, I love this Cute Slim Flamingo Wiro Notebook R39.90.


So there you have it. That’s my ultimate stocking filler list, all done from one single shop, and all under R150 each!

I hope you found some inspiration here and I would love to hear about your favourites?




*This post was written in collaboration with CNA.

**All thoughts, opinions and selections are my own.




From Stockings To Stationery – What’s Your Story?

From Stockings To Stationery – What’s Your Story?

CNA has inspired my world for decades, and I’m pretty excited to share “My Story” and journey with one of South Africa’s most loved brands.


For me personally, being a small town girl, CNA was (and still is) our go to store for pretty much everything “stationary & gift” related. Whether it was Christmas presents, school stationery or the latest novels, it really was our one stop shop. I can remember as a child my excitement for the Christmas and “back to school” shopping trips we would do as a family at CNA.

Over Christmas, our stockings were filled to the brim with cute fashion stationery items and other quirky products from CNA. My sister and I would take out each item one by one comparing who had the best eraser or glitter pen. Evening entertainment over the holidays always entailed many a late night of board games with my extended family. We spent hours arguing over games such as Monopoly, Pictionary and even Cluedo (yes even Cluedo!).  These are family memories created that I will treasure forever, as we all grow up, move away and are all scattered across the globe.

The start of the new school year always brought the excitement of showing-off my new shiny stationery items. The first morning back at school always almost always revolved around who would whip out the coolest “space case”, or who had the best colour highlighters. A luxury that a lot of children in this world today don’t get, but all deserve. The years progressed and so did my love for stationery. CNA supported me throughout my university years, as I bought BIC pens and exam pads in bulk, maybe even picking up a few valentine cards while I was there 🙂

As a mother now, my favourite stationery is still there for me, it is my go to for all things arts and crafts for the boys, or the latest PlayStation games for my husband. It’s not secret that i have a love for educational toys and STEM related learning and the range that CNA offers is spot on, it doesn’t hurt that their latest fashion stationery range is right down mama’s alley 🙂

I love the fact that my boys share my same excitement when we walk into the store. They don’t know where to look, from books and stickers to craft supplies and toys. My eldest is developing a love of all things stationery like his mama and goes towards the latest notepad to create treasure maps on, or the brightest pen or stickers he can find.


It’s a special thing when you can share memories with your children and I look forward to creating many more arty/ “gamey” moments with my family and CNA.

Whats your Story?

Oh For The Love Of Books – Giveaway For Book Lovers Day

Oh For The Love Of Books – Giveaway For Book Lovers Day

I will take any excuse to snuggle in and read a good book. August the 9th is “Book Lovers Day”, an unofficial holiday that encourages people to pick up a book (or two) and spend the day reading. Thankfully here in South Africa it coincides with Woman’s Day and we all have the day off, it’s the perfect chance to tuck into a good novel.

Book stores to me, are places of magic, libraries are historical wonders. The smell of the paper pages as you walk through the doors instantly transports me to a place of calm and peace. I used to work right above a bookstore and would go down and least 4 times a month, walking away with a new treasure to devour. I’m what you may call a compulsive reader, when I finally get a chance to sit down with a book I enjoy I am fully immersed. I must finish the entire book then and there, forgetting about any of plans for the day. My mum and sister always tease me about my taste in books. I prefer “softer” books, books that take me to a happy place and leave me feeling good. They prefer deeper sci-fi styled books, or historical masterpieces.

Becoming a mother unfortunately put my love for reading on a back burner. For the first two years I didn’t even manage to pick up a book and certainly didn’t have time to browse the book stores either. Thankfully as the boys have gotten a bit older and I have been able to carve out a little more “me time” my love for reading as reignited and hopefully I can pass that onto my boys. Growing up we had a dedicated weekly slot at school for library. In primary school this involved getting a story read by the librarian and then browsing the gigantic library to find a book to take out for the week. It saddens me to think that this may not happen when my boys.

Some of my favourite authors include Nicky Pellegrino whose tales are set in Italy, her stories are about friendship and food, passion and family secrets. JK Rowling, because… Harry Potter, enough said. Sophie Kinsella, yes, I love me a little bit of the Shopaholic series. Not only do the main character and I share a name but we also share a certain penance for our love of shopping. Lastly Lesley Pearce focuses on mainly historical adventures and crime mysterious and writes about characters that are almost impossible to care about.

If you are feeling a bit detached from the literacy world, or even want to encourage reading in your children, here are a couple of ways to reignite your love for reading:

1) Visit your local library

In Johannesburg we are blessed with beautiful local library’s that are largely forgotten about. My favourites are Olivedale and Rivonia. Sign up or dig out your library card and get reacquainted with some lovingly read and best of all, free books!

2) Reread an old favourite

The Harry Potter Series will never get old for me, neither do Nicky Pellegrino’s Italian adventures. Books like this immediately transport me to another place.

3) Visit a literacy haunt

We spent hours on a trip to Rome hunting down a Caffe Greco. It’s not only the oldest café/ bar it Roma but it is famous for being a place where authors and poets used to go and sit for inspiration. Hans Christian Anderson, the famous poet Keats, all frequented this popular coffee house. Such an incredible feeling to enjoy a coffee in the very same spot.

4) Start a book club

Whether it’s done for social needs or to reignite your passion for reading, a book club is a great way to focus your goals, swap and exchange good reads or to just catch up on good gossip.

Together with CNA, One of South Africa’s oldest and most loved Book and Stationery stores, I’ll be giving away one set of books from International bestselling author Lesley Pearse. This set of 3 includes two of my personal favourites, “Belle” and “Dead to me”


To Enter:

Share this post

Comment below on your favourite book memory.

Winners will be announced Monday the 13th August.

Winners must be residents of South Africa and not have won any other “In These Stilettos” competitions in the last 3 months.

“Crafting for Mom: 3 DIY Gift Ideas”

“Crafting for Mom: 3 DIY Gift Ideas”

May to me is “Mothering Month”; Mothers Day of course, falls in May as well as my own mama’s birthday. While Mums special day may have come and gone, I’m always looking at unique gift ideas to give to the special ladies in my life. There’s something special about a homemade gift to me, the time and effort that goes into it and the fact that it was made just for you, it’s my favourite type of gift to give (and receive). Having two young kids to jump in and help with the crafting is just the cherry on top!

Here are 3 quick and easy DIY gift ideas to use for your next gift – ALL are kid friendly, in fact my boys did 70% of these and all take no longer than 5 minutes (apart from the drying process).

1.Popsicle Stick Picture Frame

You’ll need:

  1. 4 craft ice cream sticks, in colours of your choice (I got mine from CNA)
  2. Glue Gun
  3. A Magnet
  4. Various decorations of your choice (I used stickers and pom poms)
  5. A picture of your choice

I used a glue gun to stick all four sticks together, i wanted this to be strong so the kids didnt help me here as glue guns can get super hot! Attach the picture to the back of the ice cream sticks.

Using a good quality graft clue (for kids) or a glue gun (for mama), stick on any decor items of your choice. For the first frame i found a gorgeous paper butterfly that I wanted to utilise so I stuck that on the corner and then the kids went crazy with their stickers (a good compromise 🙂 ). For the second I hoped onto the pom pom trend and made another frame with a fiesta feel.

Lastly I took the glue gun again and just put a blob of glue on the back of the photo to attach the magnet to, so it can sit proudly on Grandma’s fridge!

Seriously one of the quickest and most heartfelt gifts you could give, and what kid doesn’t like decorating their own masterpiece?

2. Air Dry Clay Necklace

You’ll Need:

  1. A Packet of Air-Drying Clay (I also got this from CNA) – you could also use Salt Dough, see my previous recipe here – but the Air Dry Clay is easier and more time effective
  2. Paints of your choice
  3. Ribbon/Twine
  4. A straw

Get the kids to knead their clay to a nice soft consistency. Roll it out to the thickness you desire and take your mould, whatever shape it is ( I used cookie cutters). Cut it out and take a the straw or toothpick to make the hole for the chain to string through. Dry your pendants by placing them on a flat tray with some wax paper. Drying time varies, I gave mine 12 hours and it was perfect. Once the clay is dry let your kiddies paint away ! Its quite hard to tell from the picture but the purple heart has the boys thumbprints indented into it. I filled their thumbprints with glitter and now I’ll always remember their little thumbs at 4 and almost 3 years old.

The sky is the limit with this one. The versatility of air dry clay is endless and really with this idea your imagination can take you anywhere. I have seen so many options, you could add beads at each end, stamp an initial for a monogram charm, really do whatever your heart desires.

3. Personalised Mug

You’ll need:

  1. Plain porcelain mug of your choice (I feel white is most effective)
  2. Porcelain pens/oil-based pen markers (Any guesses where I found mine? Yup, CNA is my go to craft shop).
  3. Vinyl stickers – the thicker the better

To start off; make sure your mug is completely grease free. Take a little bit of vinegar on cotton and just wipe your mug down. Once that is prepped use your stickers to spell out whatever you want, or just use a monogram. Give your pen a good shake and press it down on a piece of paper a few times to get the liquid flowing. Next, make dots all around your stickers, you want your dots as close as possible at the start and you can gradually space them out as you move further away from your chosen word. The closer together they are initially, the better your word is formed. You can add in as many colours as you like, or you may even chose just one. You have to let the paint dry before peeling the stickers off. 4 hours is a safe bet. Once dry, preheat your oven to about 160 Degrees Celcious and “bake” your mug for 90 minutes. This sets the paint and ensures it wont come off in the wash. Its best to hand wash these mugs in any case.

Its that easy!! Your Eid/Christmas presents for this year are sorted ! You can personalise a mug for every member of the family. We have literally done this as teachers gifts, Christmas gifts as well as Mothers Day. The boys adore it and in a way, their designs are more effective (they have less patience with the dots and tend to scribble towards the end).

SO there you have it! 3 super quick and easy DIY gift options, perfect for the Mothering month of May.

My top educational gift list ideas

My top educational gift list ideas

With Christmas coming up in less than 34 days I thought it was a great time to do a round-up of some of my favourite educational toys.

Personally I prefer gifting educational toys, not that my boys don’t have a ton of cars and remote control gadgets but I prefer toys that allow them to Continue reading “My top educational gift list ideas”