Monthly Archives: June 2014

29th June 2014

Space Invaders

Is your boy mad on aliens, rockets, planets, and all things space? I’ve compiled a shopping guide of things for their wardrobe, bedrooms, and toy boxes to send them into orbit. My favourite is the little astronaut outfit; one of the best costumes for little boys I’ve ever seen! So without further ado, here are my top picks.

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1. Solar System Wall Canvas, £65, Great Little Trading Company (click here)

2. Rocket Bag with attached lunch bag, £25, Babymel at John Lewis (click here)

3. Space Pyjamas, £24, Not on the Highstreet (click here)

4. Toy Story Alien Slippers, £22.50, Amazon.co.uk (click here)

5. Astronaut Costume, £45, Science Museum Shop (click here)

6. Eco Play Rocket, £27.67, Not on the Highstreet (click here)

7. LEGO Space Shuttle, £40, Amazon.co.uk (click here)

8. On the Moon Book, £4.76, Amazon.co.uk (click here)

9. Space Wall Clock, £19, Linen Store (click here)

10. Astronaut Ice Cream, £3.29, Space Kids (click here)

11. Rocket Onesie, £11, JoJo Maman Bebe (click here)

12. Alien Loves Underpants Book, £3.50, Amazon.co.uk (click here)

13. Rocket Cushion, £32, Etsy (click here)

14. Cosmic Rocket, £8.99, Argos (click here)

15. Glow in the Dark Stars, £1.75, Kidz Dens (click here)

16. Blue Space Ceiling Light, £26.21, Socket Store (click here)

17. Organic Rocket T-Shirt, £21.99, Toby Tiger at House of Fraser (click here)

18. Bespoke Rocket Wall Art, £40, The Dotty House (click here)



24th June 2014

Healthy Chocolate Mousse

Healthy chocolate mousse? How is that even possible? Well, it’s very possible with this genius (and  very, very easy) recipe.

Stanley and I first tasted this mousse at my friend Katie’s house – and I promptly went home and found the recipe online at The Healthy Chef. It contains just five ingredients and takes just five minutes to prepare, with a little time in the fridge to set before you serve.

OK I’ll admit that it doesn’t taste as good as the real stuff (how could it when the real stuff is packed with sugar?) but if you like chocolate, this is the perfect way to get your sweet fix in just a few mouthfuls. I find it quite rich and a few spoonfuls is enough to satisfy sweet cravings (but if you want to demolish the whole bowl in one sitting, at least you know it’s healthy!)

The best bit is that little people love it – they have no idea they are chomping on banana and avocado (we won’t tell if you don’t). Oh and you can use it as a healthy alternative to icing for cakes too. See, I told you it was genius!

So here’s what you need:

Ingredients

2 Ripe Avocados
1 Ripe Banana
1/4 Cup Honey
1/3 Cup Cocoa Powder (or Raw Cacao Powder to make it even healthier)
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

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Recipe

Cut the avocado and banana into chunks and throw into the blender with all the other ingredients. Whizz until smooth – this took me about 3 minutes on high speed.  Once smooth, move the mousse into a bowl and pop in the fridge for at least an hour to set it. The recipe makes 12 small portions and lasts in the fridge for a couple of days.

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So that’s it – it’s as simple as that! Enjoy – and let me know if you try it!



20th June 2014

The coolest shorts for little boys

I apologise in advance if this post jinxes the good weather, but I am declaring summer today with my pick of the coolest shorts for little boys. With prices ranging from £7 to £75, there’s a pair for every budget – and teamed with a T-Shirt or shirt, they will make stylish summer dressing a doddle.

Happy weekend everyone! Let’s hope for a sunny one.

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1 – Star Print Shorts, from £10, Next (click here)

2 – Green Chino Shorts, £16.99, Paul & Joe at TK Maxx (click here)

3 – Denim Triangle Shorts, £14, River Island (click here)

4 – Pirate Print Shorts, from £18, Boden (click here)

5 – Navy Blue Twill Shorts, £38.50, Little Marc by Marc Jacobs at House of Fraser (click here)

6 – Monster Denim Shorts, from £12, Next (click here)

7 – Royal Blue Twill Chino Shorts, £14, Jo Jo Maman Bebe (click here)

8 – Camouflage Rib Waist Shorts, from £7, F&F at Tesco (click here)

9 – Light Blue Chino Shorts, £7.99, H&M (click here)

10 – Palm Tree Grey Shorts, £17.95, GAP (click here)

11 – Denim Shorts, £34.30, DKNY at House of Fraser (click here)

12 – Green Cotton Twill Shorts, £13, La Redoute (click here)

13 – Sunglasses Print Shorts, £76, Paul Smith Junior at Alex and Alexa (click here)

14 – Elephant Print Shorts, £19.60, Mini Rodini at Cissy Wears (click here)

15 – Tiger Print Shorts, £16, Munster Kids at Alex and Alexa (click here)

16 – Distressed Denim Shorts, £75, Ralph Lauren at House of Fraser (click here)

17 – Denim Shorts with Waistband, from £16, John Rocha at Debenhams (click here)

18 – Ticking Stripe Shorts with Belt, from £8, George at Asda (click here)



17th June 2014

Show off your brood…

There are no medals for being a parent, which seems pretty unfair given the hours we put in. When I worked for magazines in London, I used to attend glitzy annual award dinners where gongs were handed out to the best writers, editors, and designers. Celebrities used to be drafted in to hand out the awards, champagne was free flowing, and it gave us all an excuse to shop for a new frock. So where’s my award ceremony now?

As always with this parenting lark, we have to look after ourselves. So I have rounded up a selection of purchases to celebrate the endless cycle of hard work. Wear or display them with pride, mamas – it’s time to  show off how good we are at our jobs!

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1. Name necklace, $55, including shipping to UK (about £32), Gage Huntley (click here)

2. Baby scan frame, £22, Not on the High Street (click here)

3. Bespoke photo tote bag, £250, Anya Hindmarch (click here)

4. Instagram iPhone Case, £21.99, Sticky9 (click here)

5. Personalised Beatrix Potter Print, £14.99, Art You Grew Up at Selfridges (click here)

6. Personalised Baby Birth Hoop Frame, £12.50, Not on the Highstreet (click here)

7. Name bunting, £20, Etsy (click here)

8. Photo cushions, £15, Asda (click here)

9. Initial stud earrings, £8.46, Etsy (click here)



14th June 2014

5 Of The Best Apps for Toddlers

I had a summer recipe planned for today, but right on cue, the sun has disappeared. So I’ve decided to do a round-up of the apps that kept Stanley occupied on our flight over instead.

I have to be honest; I don’t mind an overcast day. After such a long stint over in Dubai, it’s amazing to feel the sensation of cold on my skin when I step outside. It’s also a big relief to spend time putting the kids in and out the car – I had got it down to a rapid two minute routine to avoid leaving them in the 37’C of our carpark, but I felt like I’d swum 10 laps in the pool when I climbed back inside the car at breakneck speed.

Anyway, back to the point. We don’t let Stanley play on the iPad much at home, but save it for occasions when we really need it (although admittedly he did get to play quite a lot when I was feeding Wilfred during the very early newborn days – and it was a godsend for that). I feel Stanley has learnt a lot from the apps he plays – mainly alphabet, phonics, or related to stories we read at home. It’s definitely taught him things and improved his speech – and in a world where he will be surrounded by technology his entire life, I think it can only be a good thing to introduce it in moderation. When we travel, the iPad really does make life easier – and the below apps are the ones that kept him very happy on our 7-hour flight on Wednesday. If you are travelling soon, make sure you download!

1 – My PlayHome – £2.49

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This was recommended to me just before we flew and I was very happy I took her advice and downloaded it! It’s a huge interactive playhouse where a touch of the screen can fry an egg, close curtains, switch on a washing machine, get the family dressed, put the baby to bed, and much, much more. Stanley was transfixed and found new things every time he played it.

2 – CBeebies Playtime – Free

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This has to be the best free app available for toddlers. We don’t even watch CBeebies as it isn’t available in Dubai, but that didn’t affect Stanley’s enjoyment. He loves the dinosaur section where you adopt a dinosaur, change its colour, and make it move around. He also loved the painting and drawing section, especially the bit where they can pop bubbles over a canvas to splatter paint

3 - Nighty Night – £1.99

NIGHTY NIGHT

This app is so beautifully done and has to be my favourite app. Perfect for introducing before nap or bedtime, the child has to switch off the light for each animal before they fall asleep. I love the graphics and think the whole thing is very calming.

4 – Tally Tots Counting – £1.99

TALLY TOTS

This has been Stanley’s favourite since we downloaded it before our last set of flights back to the UK. It’s all about counting – and with each number, there are challenges (such as hatching eggs with a dab of the finger or picking apples with a swipe across the screen). It has really helped with his counting and he obviously loves the challenges too.

5 - The Hungry Caterpillar & Friends – £2.49

HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

This app makes one our favourite books interactive! The app is beautifully designed, in the form of a pop-up copy of The Hungry Caterpillar where the characters come to life. You can read the story or play different games.

Let me know what you think if you download!



10th June 2014

Flying with a toddler

We are flying back to the UK tomorrow to spend our summer in cooler climes (with temperatures in the mid 40′s every day in Dubai now, it’s not a pleasant place to be. Even the carpark is hitting 37′C and quite literally feels like a sauna as we’re dashing between air-conditioning and car – not fun!)

Tomorrow will be Stanley’s 15th long-haul flight at the age of two – and being such a seasoned little traveller, I am often asked about how we entertain him for such long stretches of time in a seat. My rule when flying with a toddler is the following: pack one new, exciting thing to read / get creative / play with for every hour of the journey. So here’s what we will be armed with tomorrow…

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Clockwise from top middle:

Mini Pots of Playdoh. This will only work if your child likes sorting the dough / isn’t too messy when they mould with it! Stanley is the former and likes to sort the colours by putting the dough in the pot with the coordinating colour lid. I bought him this Playdoh Party Pack (click here) that has 10 tiny tubs so he can sit and sort to his hearts content!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Colouring Book. This book has the full story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, with every page ready to be coloured in (click here). The double whammy of a story and a colouring book makes it great value as toddler entertainment goes!

New Pencil Case and Crayons. We are bringing crayons from home, but putting them into a brand new pencil case (this will excite Stanley; it’s the simple things!) He’ll probably spend some time putting the crayons in and out, doing up the zip, saying his colours, so the pencil case is entertainment in itself.

Sticker Book. Toddlers love stickers and this book contains colourful pages laid out to create pictures. However if he wants to stick them all over his face / the seat / the back of the seat intront, that is also fine; they are re-usable meaning that they peel off in a second.

Pocket Scribbler. I’ve found these magnetic scribblers to be great for flights, keeping him occupied for ages (it was invaluable when we had a delay of 4 hours with an 18-month old!) They are so small and lightweight – and cheap too! (click here)

Dettol Hand Wipes. Planes and airports are grimy places, so these will be well used by all of us.

Raisins. Take ages to eat a whole box, healthy, barely take up any room… I’ll have a few packs in my bag.

Sticker sheets. More stickers! They are such a good time waster for toddlers!

Fruit snacks. I’m packing a variety of snacks in colourful packaging that look like naughty sweets,  but are in fact made from nothing but fruit. He’ll have fun peeling, guessing the shapes, and scoffing (nb: hands get sticky so you do need those wipes!)

Interactive book. I always pack interactive books – whether he can lift up flaps, wind a clock, stroke textured areas, or (in this case) use a dry wipe pen to scrawl across the pages (under supervision as it won’t wipe so easily off the seat, hands, and other passengers). Stanley is obsessed with his alphabet, so this book should keep him very quiet (click here)

Cut and Play Fruit. This mini set of cut and play fruit will keep him happy for a while. Again, it depends on your child – if they play quietly or like to sort (like Stanley), it’s a good bet. If they hurl things, maybe leave this one out! (click here)

I will also pack a full charged iPad with lots of new apps (Stanley loves jolly phonics, so I will be hunting for geeky apps like that when I come to load it up tonight). There are also a few of his favourite TV shows uploaded so he can watch them on route (we don’t bother with earphones – I find the dull hum of the plane is enough to drown it out for other passengers – and most are wearing their earphones anyway). And I will probably throw in a few favourite books too.

This time, we are also rolling out his new Trunki for all his things – entertainment, snacks, wipes, spare change of clothes, nappies, and his bunny. He gets to pull it along in the airport (or catch  a ride if he’s feeling tired) and my bag can then be solely dedicated to Wilfred (I’m not making the mistake of ruling out a spare change of clothes for a baby through lack of space again – I did that once and he had to wear a blanket as a sarong the whole way home…)

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Once we’re home, I’ll write a post about the best apps for toddlers on flights, as I’m sure these will come in useful for anyone travelling this summer (we don’t use the iPad much at all at home, but it really does come into its own when we are flying. Thank god for technology).

See you all on the other side!



9th June 2014

Pandas, Gorillas and Bears – my pick of wild buys for boys

I never knew that I needed Rebecca Kiff’s cute panda-print blankets, pillow cases, and prints in my life until I set eyes on them for the first time last week – but now I can’t think of anything else. Wilfred has an imaginary nursery (still in the planning stages in my head) and I can’t help thinking that this imaginary nursery would look so much better if I splurged…

It’s not surprising that I’ve fallen head over heels, as we are big animal lovers in our house. Big dogs, fluffy bunnies, cheeky monkeys, scary sharks; we read about them and talk about them all the time. So to indulge my passion even further, I have picked out some alternative animal-themed buys for boys below. Keep scrolling – and prepare to be tempted…

Blanket, from £37

Blanket, from £37

Pillow case, £29.50

Pillow case, £29.50

Baby panda softie, £20

Baby panda softie, £20

Baby Panda poster, £20

Baby Panda poster, £20

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1. I like Animals Book, £11.99, Cissy Wears (click here)

2. Racoon T-Shirt, £25, DKNY at House of Fraser (click here)

3. Mopsy the Pug, £32, Steiff (click here)

4. Bear Leggings, £17.11, Etsy (click here)

5. Elephant Print, £15, I Love My Walls (click here)

6. Leopard Hoody, £45, Soft Gallery at Milo et Mimi (click here)

7. Gorilla Cushion, £18.50, Not On The Highstreet (click here)

8. Giraffe Sweatpants, £30, Latte Mama (click here)

9. Giraffe Backpack, £20.75, Skip Hop at Amazon (click here)



7th June 2014

Frozen yoghurt covered blueberries – a healthy summer snack!

This recipe popped up on my Facebook feed this week and I quickly bookmarked the page as it’s a genius idea for a summer snack! Much healthier than ice-cream but just as refreshing, it couldn’t be easier to prepare – and kids (and their hungry parents) love them!

So here’s what you need:

  • Blueberries
  • Greek Yoghurt (plain or flavoured)
  • Baking Parchment
  • Cocktail stick

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And here’s what to do:

1) Wash the blueberries

2) Cover a baking tray in a layer of parchment

3) Pop a blueberry on a cocktail stick and dip in greek yoghurt until it’s completely covered. Then lay it on the parchment paper. Repeat until all the blueberries are covered.

4) Put the baking tray in the freezer for an hour

5) Serve to hungry little people – and pop any extras in a freezer bag (and back in the freezer) for next time!

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Simple huh? Let me know if you try it!



5th June 2014

Hats for boys

One day back in September 2013, Stanley decided that hats were the enemy. Living in Dubai, where temperatures in the summer hit 50′C, this wasn’t the best news. But I wasn’t surprised, as lots of things have gone this way since he became a toddler. Peas, highchairs, flotation devices, sandals, haircuts, car washes; these are all the enemy.

Then recently, he spotted a pretty cool straw hat sat on the shelves of his best friend Raffy’s bedroom. And hats were suddenly cool again! I couldn’t get to the mall fast enough to buy one for him – just as summer hits Dubai, this was exceptionally good timing, protecting his blonde curls from the sun on the way to and from nursery.

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Don’t get me wrong; we are taking baby steps, introducing the hat for longer periods each day before he snatches it off his head, throws it away in anger and shouts NO! NO HAT! as if he is HORRIFIED that his mother could place such a thing on his head. But then the next day, he asks for it again. So I will win this battle.

And in celebration of hats being back in fashion in our house, here’s a round-up of my favourite hats for stylish little boys (number one modelled by Stanley above)…

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1. Straw hat with navy ribbon, £9.99, Zara Kids (click here)

2. Flat cap, £4, Florence & Fred at Tesco (click here)

3. Shark cap, £4.99, H&M (click here)

4. Monkey cap, £5.60, M&S (click here)

5. Los Angeles cap, from £8, Next (click here)

6. Star sun hat, £14, Toby Tiger at House of Fraser (click here)

7. Jaguar print cap, £25, Mini Rodini at Alex and Alexa (click here)

8. Straw hat, £8, Mothercare (click here)

9. NY Yankees cap, £10, Schuh (click here)



2nd June 2014

Little superheroes

I get why little boys like superheroes. I’d like to pull on an invisibility cloak at times (like when I creep in to check the boys are asleep and get clocked by two big blue eyes). I’d also like the ability to fly away from any situation with the snap of my fingers (like when the toddler decides to have a full-on meltdown in the supermarket over the fact I’ve chosen orange yoghurts and not pink). And superhero strength? I need that for the double buggy.

So in celebration of these enviable powers, I have compiled a list of bits and pieces to keep superhero-obsessed boys (and indeed girls) very happy. See you again soon; I’m off to find my cape.

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1. Mask T-Shirt, £24, Beau Loves at Cissy Wears (click here)

2. Superman Lego Clock, £19.99, John Lewis (click here)

3. Little Batman Print, £15, Notonthehighstreet.com (click here)

4. Superhero Pyjama Set, from £17 for two, Next (click here)

5. Boom! and Pow! Cushions, £12 each, Etsy (click here)

6. Notebook, £9.99, Notonthehighstreet.com (click here)

7. Superhero Hoody, £13, Baby Moos (click here)

8. Superhero Tights, £15.99, Little Titans (click here)

9. Decorate Your Own Cape And Mask Kit, £8, Early Learning Centre (click here)

10. Long-sleeved Superman Vest, £16, House of Fraser (click here)

11. Framed Comic Book, £39.95, Originalwall.co.uk (click here)

12. Baby Bib, £3.80, Baby Moos (click here)

13. Batman Lego Bedside Light, £29.99, Argos (click here)

14. Superhero in Training Mini Mug, £14.99, Sweet William (click here)

15. Batman Hoody, from £14, M&S (click here)

16. Superman Wooden Storage Box, £19.99, Truffle Shuffle (click here)

17. Bartman Converse, £40, Schuh (click here)

18. The Super Book for Superheroes, £6.87, Amazon.co.uk (click here)