Growing up in Australia, I always thought I was a bit different at school to the Anglo-Saxon kids.
Apart from my last name and ethnic-looking olive skin, there were things I used to do as a kid that attracted strange reactions from my peers.
Growing up, my grandma, who was born in Croatia and came to Australia in her late teens, was a pivotal figure in my life. Most of my formative years were spent living with ‘baba’.
Baba would love to share her pearls of wisdom and remedies with me and I used to soak it up like she was a magician, because most of the time they worked.
The problem was a lot of my friends didn’t have a Croatian grandma at home so when I lived out some of her tips, like telling the other girls I can’t sit on the cold concrete as it is not healthy, I was semi-ostracised.
Looking back now as an adult, I am very grateful for all her ‘life hacks’ and words of wisdom as I am able to pass them on to my two kids.
Here are 10 of her tips or remedies which never left me.
Soup and least twice a week, more if you can. It doesn’t matter if it is a scorching hot summer’s day, you have to regularly have soup as it will keep you healthy. Also, if you do get sick a plate of soup will fix you.
For girls, baba used to tell us never to sit on cold concrete surfaces. Always put a cushion down first but she drilled this into us as I remember being so scared of cold surfaces as a kid.
I will always have a bottle in the house now. You never know when you need it. Growing up it had so many purposes in our house, from sore teeth to cuts to going in cake recipes.
Whenever we had a cough, baba would make us a mixture of caramalised sugar with milk. It always eased the pain in the throat.
Baba was big on toothpaste. Pimples – go put some toothpaste on it she would say. A burn, same thing, go put some toothpaste on it. It worked a treat.
Never sit on the corner of a table or you will never get married, baba used to tell us.
Baba wasn’t huge on the fear of the draft, or promaja as she called it, but if it was bad she would get us to close the window so we didn’t get neck or shoulder pain or the flu from it.
Baba was a big baking soda fan and I always make sure today I have it in the house. For unclogging drains just mix with boiling water and vinegar and pour it down the drain. Also great for removing stains on whites.
Leaving the house with wet hair was a big no-no in our house with baba on patrol. She would scare us to the point that we believed we would get an ‘instant’ cold the second we went out with wet hair from the shower.
Lick and fix
While we are talking about hair. This was not really a hack or wisdom as such but I wanted to throw it in because it is etched in my memory. Getting your hair fixed by baba with her saliva. If we were going out someone baba would love to lick or spit on her finger and fix my fringe.