Sunday, 29 November 2015

Kids Christmas Present Ideas 2015 - Mini Micro Scooter Accessories

My son Ivo loves his mini micro-scooter. He wanted one almost as soon as he could walk, and we finally caved last Christmas - a few months before his second birthday. They're not cheap, but it's proved to be his most enduring toy, and until I ran over it this weekend, pretty hardwearing. Even that's proven to be something of a blessing, because it meant I stumbled upon the Micro Scooter Accessories website.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Perfect Montessori Knitted Vegetable Playfood Toys

Most of the time my children play with plastic toys, that I've bought second-hand. But I look in envy at my friends who've managed to keep their playrooms looking classy, with lovely handmade retro wooden toys. Maybe it's time for me to take a stand, and start buying better kit. These heavenly knitted vegetables would be the perfect start. Handmade by MapleApple, they're just a small selection of her amazing range. Imagine if your job was knitting veggies for kids - amazing!

{I want this!} Six Knitted Vegetable Toys, £32 by MapleApple

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Thursday, 19 November 2015

Scrummy Fairy-Tale Edible Christmas Decorations

Is anyone else already getting excited about Christmas? Twinkling fairy-lights, warming mulled-wine, snug scarves and rustling presents under the tree? It's all a bit different here in Dubai in the sunshine, but why not add a touch of fairy-tale to your Christmas with these adorable gingerbread house coffee biscuits by Cookie Art London. Aren't they just the perfect after-dinner treat? For the retro look, try their edible Christmas tree decorations, also available in festive red!

Gingerbread House Biscuits, £12 for 16 by Cookie Art London

Gingerbread Christmas Tree Decorations, £12 for 16 by Cookie Art London

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Thursday, 12 November 2015

The Perfect Woolly Christmas Stockings

Regular readers will know I have a slight obsession with giant woolly Christmas stockings. I lusted after the White Company socks for months, but I banned myself from spending so much money. Then - joy of joys - I discovered them in the sale for only £10 a stocking........and now I own eight *shame face*. I'm not sure what I had in mind, or who I had in mind when I bought so many, but with only two children in our family so far, I'm worried my husband is going to get the wrong idea. Suffice to say I won't be buying any more, but if you're in the market - it doesn't get better than these chunky hand-knitted wonders.....

{i want this!} Stockings, £45 by Prinku

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Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Buying the Best Cot for Your Baby

There’s a couple of big purchases all new mothers make – the cot and the pram. Luckily I'd already inherited my sister's son's old cot – a gorgeous Stokke Sleepi that my grandmother bought to celebrate her pregnancy. It's a stunning addition to any nursery, but it wasn't until I bought a normal cot for Arthur, that I realised why it's such a clever design.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Trying out Toddler Classes in Dubai

Apologies for my long break in blogging. We spent the summer in England, and spent a lot of time moving around, visiting family and friends. Blogging had to take a back seat. Then we got back to Dubai and Ivo started nursery and I started work, so it's only now that I'm getting back on track. I'm working three times a week, and while Ivo's off at nursery {a post on that to follow}, Arthur {now 15 months} is staying at home with his nanny. I'm feeling pretty guilty about my absences from home, but I've developed a strategy....

Monday, 29 June 2015

Top Tip for Taking Pictures of Your Kids

It's been nearly a year now since we bought a new camera. Arthur was due, and we realised we hardly had any decent photographs of Ivo’s first year. Luckily we had a portrait session done with Chloe from Caught the Light, but nearly all the other images we had were iPhone snaps. Our new camera takes brilliant pictures.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Flying with Kids: Best Holiday Travel Kit for Babies & Toddlers

There's not much you can do about the reality of a flight with babies and toddlers - it's going to get messy. But I'm a strong believer, that with a decent amount of prep, and the right kit, you can at least manage the misery to the bare minimum. I've been mugging up on the best travel prams and luggage, and I've come up with this list of best buys. See what you think, and keep me posted on your favourite purchase.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Flying with Kids: Top Toys to Keep a Toddler Entertained on a Flight

I don't think there's anything that fills me with more dread....the prospect of a flight with a toddler and a baby. We're flying back to the UK on holiday in a couple of weeks - Ivo will be two years old, and Arthur eleven months, and already taking his first steps {why couldn't he have waited till after the flight?!}. I fear it's going to be seven hours of hell. Thank goodness my husband is flying with me - two adults, two children, we're bigger - surely we can keep control? I've read a lot online about how to keep your kids entertained on a flight, and I've prepared a pack for both boys in advance. Here are my top toys to keep a toddler busy on a plane, I'll post the baby one tomorrow. Please chip in with comments - I'd love to hear your suggestions.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Jungle Theme Baby Clothes from M&S

There must be something exotic in the air - nearly all my favourite baby and toddler shops have gone wild with jungle prints. I particularly love Marks & Spencer's patterns - lots of cheetahs, chimps and lions. I'm a massive fan of M&S's baby clothes, their cotton onesies and sleepsuits are second-to-none - they're really soft and snuggly, wash brilliantly, and don't fade. For more jungle prints, try Mini-Boden.

{I want this!} Clockwise from top left 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7

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Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Toddler's Favourite Toys - Ivo aged nearly 2

I've always loved Lego, although I don't remember ever really having any as a child. I have a faint memory of a box of it at my grandmother's house, but we never had it at home. Now, it's all over my house! I found a couple of bits in the shower yesterday, and a train carriage in the fridge. Ever since Ivo's grandmother gave him this Duplo train set for Christmas, he's become obsessed. 

Monday, 8 June 2015

A Cheap & Easy Toy Storage Solution

The boys' toys have started to get pretty chaotic. We started small with one toy-box, but since Ivo's birthday, things have got slightly out of hand. We've also got dozens of books, after I bought tonnes at a second-hand sale. I was searching around for a cheap and cheerful way to store everything, and realised the answer was in my friends' houses! 

They've all got the Ikea Kallax bookshelves {Dubai Ikea link}, but turned on their sides. Add a cushion, and you've got a bench or a playing surface at the perfect toddler height. It's a brilliant solution. You can even buy Ikea baskets and boxes {Dubai link} in various designs to go inside the bookshelves - perfect for smaller toys like Duplo or train-tracks.

My next challenge is to try to paint our bookshelf blue. I've heard about Annie Sloan paint, which you can just slap on without any prep. Then you add wax, and it creates this amazing shabby chic effect. Have a look at my Pinterest page for more ideas.

P.S. The Kallax shelves and some boxes and baskets are currently on sale in Ikea Dubai until 4th July!

{Picture Credits} Top,  Bottom 1 / 2

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Sunday, 7 June 2015

New Pictures of The Royal Siblings

The Royal Family have released a sweet selection of photographs of little Prince George and Princess Charlotte. George looks sweetly impressed by his new sister - I wonder whether that will last, or whether he's started bashing her with his toys! Ivo was thrilled to meet Arthur at first - now he spends his whole time saying 'No Arthur', as Arthur tries to steal his toys.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Patriotic London Themed Baby Buys

Living in Dubai, I feel the urge to express our Britishness a bit more! I've always loved London iconography - the red buses, pillar boxes and black cabs are what makes the city stand out from the crowd. And they make for fantastic patterns on baby and toddler clothes. Here are a few fun purchases to show you're a true Brit, or at least a fan of the UK.

{I want this!} Clock wise from top left 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9

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Sunday, 31 May 2015

My Best Buys for Baby Bedtime

Sleep has become something of an obsession for me. Last night was my first decent night's sleep since Arthur was born. He finally slept through till 7am. No doubt tonight he'll be up every hour, but it's important to celebrate these small victories! We're still doing the dream feed, but now I can gradually start to decrease the amount, until maybe, just maybe, he'll go from 7am to 7pm. Making sure your baby is comfortable is the first step towards persuading them to sleep better, so here are my best buys for baby bedtime.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

How to Get into a Routine with Your Newborn

I thought everything would be much easier with my second baby, but it turned out to be just as difficult. I presumed Arthur would be the same as Ivo, a good sleeper and a good eater. But he's just the opposite! From day one, he'd wake up at the slightest noise, and he's still not sleeping through the night at 10 months. I've found with both my boys, that having a routine is the easiest way for us to get along. It's hard at first, but worth it in the long run. Here are a few techniques I learnt along the way that might help you out if you're keen to do the same....

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

A Fun Food Trend for Summer

Over on my wedding blog, I've been writing about a new micro trend for summer, and I realised it would work just as well for dinner parties and entertaining. Why not surprise your guests at your next soiree with edible flowers? I'm a terrible cook, and even I couldn't mess this up! Buy your flowers direct from First Leaf and Greens of Devon in the UK, or grow your own with these seeds. I'm loving these creative ideas {below} for pretty cocktails, popsicles, cakes and even cheeses.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Fantastic Summer Fashion for Kids from F&F

A few days ago I blogged about my exciting discovery.....Tesco's clothes brand Florence & Fred {F&F}, has a shop here in the UK. That post was all about fun, throwaway fashion for mums, but the kids stuff was amazing too! Just check out these cute little style boards for baby, toddler boys and girls - every item is under £8.


Clockwise from Top Left 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7


Clockwise from Top Left 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8

Baby Girls

{I want this!} Clockwise from Top Left 1. F&F Broderie Hat, £4 | 2. F&F 2 Pack of Dream Love Laugh Pyjamas, £6 | 3. F&F 3 Pair Pack of Cat Socks, £3 | 4. F&F Pineapple Print Harem Trousers, £4| 5. F&F 2 Pack of Crochet Trim Vests, £4 {other colours} | 6. F&F Fruit Print Swimsuit, £6 | 7. F&F Pineapple Playsuit, £6

Baby Boys

{I want this!} Clockwise from Top Left 1. F&F Fish Romper, £5 | 2. F&F Captain Slogan Pyjamas, SALE £3.50 | 3. F&F Canvas Cut-Out Sandals, £5 | 4. F&F 2 Pack of Fish Print Fisherman Bucket Hats, £4 | 5. F&F 2 Pack of Ocean Friends Rompers, £5 | 6. F&F Palm Tree Print Slip on Plimsoles, £5 | 7. F&F 5 Pair Pack of Nautical Socks, £4

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Friday, 22 May 2015

Family & Baby Portraits by Caught the Light

Are you any good at taking photographs? I find it really difficult to get decent shots of my boys, despite buying a really good digital camera. They just never sit still! And they change so quickly - I worry that I'm not capturing their little personalities on film. So I was thrilled when our lovely wedding photographer, Chloé from Caught the Light, started taking portrait pictures on film.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Cheap & Cheerful Clothes from Florence & Fred

While out shopping for a two-year old's birthday present, I made an amazing discovery today. Tesco's cheap and cheerful clothes brand, Florence & Fred {F&F}, has a store in Dubai! It's in the Oasis Centre, and although it's not quite as cheap as the UK, it's pretty kind on the pocket.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Eating Sushi Toddler Style

We're not very adventurous at home with our food choices. I'm basically dreadful at cooking, and with two children under two {until recently}, there hasn't been the time for me to get all Jamie Oliver. I cook for the children, thanks to Annabel Karmel's easy-to-follow recipes, but I'm not exactly whipping up Japanese food. So while Ivo has a very healthy appetite, he's never tried sushi. Well yesterday, all that changed, thanks to the lovely people at East Kitchen in Dubai.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Glamorous Gold Tattoos for Summer

There's a huge trend at the moment for glamorous body art. Personally I wouldn't ever want a permanent tattoo, but these temporary gold stencils are super-glamorous. They've got the feel of a wild summer holiday, and would look gorgeous on a tanned body. Keep it simple - less is more...... California-based store Creative Swirls Shop will create a bespoke design for you, but a simple love tattoo set is only £7. London stockists include Karizma and Awsm.Tattoo, and international postage is super-cheap!

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Thursday, 7 May 2015

Brilliant Box-Sets

Box-sets are the best thing that happened to our marriage. It started during pregnancy. I was too knackered to go out, but I didn't want to completely fall off the cultural and conversational map. Problem solved - I bought a couple of recent box-sets, and my evenings instantly felt full. No more watching re-runs of Come Dine With Me - yippee! Then, once Ivo was born, my husband and I got seriously into….

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

My Favourite UV Swimsuits

Writing about Ivo's swimming lessons has reminded me that we need to buy him, and Arthur some more swimsuits. Now that the weather's hotting up, we're going swimming nearly every day, and we need more UV outfits to protect the boys from the sun. I tend to buy these a size too big - it's not like the boys need to be streamline in the pool, they last longer, and they give more protection on the arms and legs. Next has a brilliant selection of reasonable rash vests and suits, and they deliver cheaply in both the UK and Dubai. Mini-Boden has a couple of goodies {particularly for girls}, and Florence & Fred at Tesco {who also deliver in Dubai} are cheap and cheerful. Have you seen any you like?

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Two under Two - Best Buys

After the Bank Holiday at home, Prince William and Kate Middleton will be settling into life with two under two. It's hectic!I remember having to deal with Ivo's jealousy of his little brother, while trying to relax enough to breastfeed, and all the while not being able to lift anything, because I had an emergency c-section. The best solution was to hide in bed with the baby, while my husband took Ivo out to the park. Nap-times were difficult, because our London flat was very open-plan and Ivo's noise woke up Arthur, and at night I was worried Arthur would wake up Ivo! Living with two young children is never going to be easy, but here are a few key items that helped us along the way.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Celebrating the New Princess

Britain's gone crazy for the new baby Princess, and all the shops have released cute little commemorative outfits and toys. Ivo was born the same year as Prince George, and we bought a few little pieces from Baby Gap. I don't think {a now fairly pudgy} Arthur will look quite as adorable in pink! I love this limited edition set of bodies from Mini-Boden, with their traditional collars - do you reckon any of Kate and William's friends will buy it for them?

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Sunday, 3 May 2015

A New Princess is Born

Did you keep track of the news yesterday? Even though we're over in Dubai, I got super-excited when I read that Kate had gone into labour, and turned on the BBC News Channel. We popped out to the beach, and by that time it was all over - a little Princess was born! I really feel for Kate having to go out and meet the press so shortly after giving birth. She was obviously super-keen to get home with her baby, but had to run the gauntlet of the world's press first. Doesn't she look amazing! I bet she couldn't wait to...

Friday, 1 May 2015

Toddler Swimming Lessons with Baby Splash

We're lucky enough to have a swimming pool in our compound, and most afternoons, you'll find me down there with both boys, particularly now it's getting hotter. Ivo had swimming lessons once a week, when we lived in Hackney at Ironmonger Row Baths {run by Better on behalf of the Council}, and he's always been pretty confident in the water. But he had nothing on the children who've grown up in Dubai, with daily access to a pool.

Friday, 24 April 2015

A Boat-Trip around The Palm, Dubai

Last weekend I left both children with their Daddy, and snuck off on a hen do for the day! As ever, it was chaos beforehand – the babysitter I’d arranged to help called in sick, and I’d completely failed to do any food shopping, so the boys had to eat beans on toast for lunch. But the moment I got onto the boat, I forgot about all the mummy-guilt and completely relaxed.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Ivo's Room - Decorating a Toddler's Bedroom

When we moved out to Dubai, we didn't bring any furniture with us, so it was something of a scramble to get our new four-bedroomed house furnished. We bought lots second-hand, but it means the boys' rooms are a bit of a mixture of various odd bits of furniture. I wish they were better decorated, but I'm not sure about the best way to go about it - particularly because I don't want to spend lots of money.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Digger Themed Party Decorations

I'm a big fan of DIY decorations and stationery, but with two under two, I have limited time on my hands. So this year, instead of designing everything myself, I bought a brilliant party pack from Gardella Global on Etsy. It includes a personalised invitation, a thank you note template and lots of decoration ideas, including cake toppers and water bottle wrappers. Aren't the little wheelbarrows sweet? And I love the dumper trucks.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

My Essentials for Baby Feeding On-the-Go

Now that Arthur's entered the wonderful world of weaning, I've had to renew my stocks of little pots, spoons and bibs. I've no idea where they all go - I bought tonnes when Ivo was this age. Here are just a few of my faves for feeding on the go. I haven't got the Thermos yet, but several of my girlfriends have this pink one, and I've been eyeing it up with envy!

{I want this!} Clockwise from top left 1. Tommee Tippee Bibs, £3.97 | 2. Nuby iMonster Snack Pot, £3.15 | 3. John Lewis Feeding Bowl Set, £8.95 | 4. John Lewis Spoon Set, £3.95 | 5. Annabel Karmel by NUK Mini Ice Lolly Set, £4.99 | 6. Nuby Flower Snack Pot, £3.15  |7. Thermos Stainless Steel Food Flask, £18.23

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Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Ivo's First Birthday - A Peter Rabbit Themed Party

With Ivo's second birthday fast approaching, I've decided it's finally time for me to blog about the party we held for his first birthday! I chose a Peter Rabbit theme, because his favourite toy is the classic Jellycat Bashful Bunny, plus the date of his birthday fell on Easter. I had such a good time planning all the details! I got into crafting in a big way for my wedding, and I definitely treated this party as another opportunity to DIY lots of decorations. All of this despite the fact that Ivo had no idea it was his birthday. Take a look at my Peter Rabbit Pinterest board for my sources of inspiration, and see what you think of the end result below!

Monday, 6 April 2015

An Unexpected Favourite for Baby Feeding

Before we started to wean Arthur, I'd forgotten what a hassle it was feeding food on-the-go. With milk it's just a bottle, some powder and a muslin and bingo, you've got a happy fed baby. With mush it's a whole different story. If there's no highchair available, the mess can be the thing of nightmares.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

The Perfect Summer Sandals for Your Toddler

Okay, so it might not feel like summer in Britain right now, but I'm all about feeling positive and being prepared. So it's definitely time to start getting your toddler's wardrobe sorted out. Here in Dubai, it's just starting to seriously warm up - it was 34 degrees and humid yesterday, a bit of a reminder of what's to come. Ivo lives in his Crocs at the moment, and I'm slightly concerned they're not all that good for his feet, so I've been on the search for an alternative, and I think I might have found it.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Best Children's Books by Kali Stileman

Ivo's a complete bookworm. We've always read to him, and I feel it's a serious parenting success {in amongst all the usual feelings of guilt and worry!}. There are all sorts of studies that say that reading a bedtime story is the best education you can give your child, and it's seriously heartwarming to hear him say 'Book mummy?' with a hopeful expression. He also says 'Peppa mummy?' and that's a whole different blog post - on TV and toddlers! His latest love are these gorgeous illustrated books....

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Planning a Digger Themed 2nd Birthday Party

Ivo's going to be two in a couple of weeks time, and I'm already getting way too exciting about planning it all. I got very into themes and decorations and stationery when I planned by wedding - so excited I started a blog about it all {Before the Big Day} - and now I treat every birthday party a bit like a mini-wedding. It's a bit sad in some ways, because he's got no idea what's going on - but it makes me happy to have a creative outlet!

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

A Dozen Non-Chocolate Presents for an Easter on a Budget

Easter is fast approaching - how did that happen? Living in Dubai makes you lose track of the seasons - I miss the daffodils of spring. How do you celebrate Easter? Guzzling chocolate, hot cross buns and roast lamb? We do something slightly different....

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

The Need for White Noise

With our first baby, we never really used white noise. But our home was pretty quiet. That was before Ivo grew into a toddler. Now it's rare for the house to be quiet during the day….which is a disaster for baby Arthur's naps. We cottoned on to the idea of white noise machines when Arthur was about four months old, and we have two options, which we sometimes use together {let me explain!}.

Monday, 23 March 2015

The Lost Chambers Aquarium, Dubai

There's not a great deal of activities you can do in Dubai with a newborn in September. When we moved here, it was 42 degrees every day - just too hot for Arthur at five weeks old. Essentially we just had to duck from air conditioned hotel room, to air conditioned taxi, and then into our air conditioned destination. I was really worried that Ivo wasn't getting enough running around time. The great thing about Dubai....

Saturday, 21 March 2015

The New Restaurants at the Kite Beach Kiosk, Dubai

When we moved to Dubai six months ago, they were doing up the beach nearest our house. Kite Beach is famous for being the only place in Dubai that you're allowed to kite surf, but it used to have very few facilities. That's all changed now.....

Sunday, 15 March 2015

On Mother's Day - An Honest Reflection

Ivo was born in April, so I missed my first Mother's Day by a month. As I waddled around on early maternity leave, I remember wondering when I'd used to being called mummy. Even 8 months pregnant I didn't feel like a mum, and I couldn't really imagine what it would be like.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Luxury Baby Books, Diaries & Photo Albums from Sloane Stationery

Every year, I allow myself the luxury of a smart Smythson diary. As a stationery lover, the gilt-edged, pale blue, featherweight paper, teamed with soft lambskin makes my heart melt. But this year, my husband's grumbling at the cost {£180!} encouraged me to look further afield. Surely there must be something suitably decadent available, but without the hefty price tag? Well I'm thrilled to say I found the answer! Sloane Stationery offers beautiful handcrafted notebooks in a variety of sizes and colours, and I am over the moon with my 2015 diary in aqua blue. All their products can be personalised, and they're the perfect birthday present or hostess gift. Take a look a these cute baby notebooks, and you can even design {and personalise} your own photo albums. Sloane Stationery notebooks are elegant yet fun, and start at just £9.99, with an average price of around £35. Check them out, you won't disappointed… I’ve certainly been converted!

Written by guest contributor Lou Marmabachi

{I want this!}
 Baby Notes Notebook from Sloane Stationery, £25

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Thursday, 5 March 2015

Celebrating World Book Day with Thomas

My Instagram feed is chock-a-block with children dressed up in adorable outfits for World Book Day. Ivo's still too young to need a costume, but he's already chosen his favourite books. Peppa Pig is hugely popular, but in keeping with the love for all things train, the Thomas the Tank Engine series is currently top dog. We have about 30 of the Thomas Story Library paperback books, and they're just the right length for a toddler's attention span. I bought a whole bunch of them second hand from eBay, and they sell them in Border's here in Dubai for 5.9 AED each {about £1}. In the UK, you can buy them individually, or the entire box-set for £40. Don't bother with Amazon, they're a shocking £2.99 each!

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