kids playing in outdoor fountain

A couple of weeks ago Anya and I went shopping to buy a birthday gift for one of her friends.  Near our local shops, we have a large no-car square surrounded by shops with an outdoor play fountain in the middle that the kids adore.  I often see kids turning up in their swimsuits and playing in the fountain till they are drenched.  Playing outside with water is such a fun thing to do for kids and Anya loves it too.  On this day we visited the fountain and I saw at least three kids, aged between 2 and 6 years, playing without any clothes on at all.  I was quite bit taken aback.

I have no problem with kids taking their clothes off as kids, especially the littlest ones,  like to do that and there is absolutely no harm in a private garden or similar private space.  But in a public place in full view of thousands of people, I just didn’t think this was a good idea and I know I would not be comfortable letting Anya do it.  Also age is a factor here –  I mean five or six is just a bit too old to do something like this under any circumstances in public.  Obviously I’m also thinking about the darker side of life where we do live alongside a very small minority of people who may not have good intentions – you know what I mean.  So why put our kids in what could be a vulnerable position?  That’s how I feel but am I over-reacting?  Am I being too cautious and cynical?  I don’t know but it absolutely doesn’t feel right to me.  And even if you set aside any fears of the darker side of life, is it really appropriate to allow your kids to be naked in public?  I don’t think so.

Would you let your kids take off all their clothes in a busy, public place?  All it takes is that one wrong person to see them so I think even though it’s a very small risk, it’s a risk not worth taking.  Similarly I wouldn’t put pictures of my kids without clothes on this blog or any social media either.  But aside from any dangers, I still think there’s no reason for kids to take their clothes off in public.  What do you think?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Have a wonderful weekend full of lots of playtime in the sunshine!  And a very happy 4th of July to my American readers. x

spiced Lebanese rice with mince lamb

We are huge foodies in this house.  We LOVE to eat!  And we love to cook.  If you’ve been following this blog you’ll know that we were doing a huge house renovation project which meant we haven’t had a kitchen for six months!  But we do now and we’ve haven’t stopped cooking since.  I am all for experiencing and eating different foods, foods from around the world but also food that is family friendly.  In the past, I’ve often ended up cooking two meals in an evening – one for Anya and one for Richard and me.  That just takes the joy out of cooking and it starts to feel like a chore.  So I keep looking for new ideas and flavours that will feed us all and I thought I would share some of my favourties here too.

Even though Anya is a fussy eater, I’ve slowly been introducing her to new flavours and tastes and today I wanted to share my version of this delicious spiced Lebanese rice with mince lamb recipe.  This recipe has lots of spices which are exactly what gives this rice dish so much flavour but these spices are in no way spicy.  What’s more, this Lebanese rice is a one pot meal making it a convenient and quick mid-week meal without compromising on flavour.

lebanese rice with minced meat

Spiced Lebanese rice with minced lamb recipe:

Serves: 4
Ingredients:
500 gms minced lamb (I prefer 10% fat but up to 20% is fine)
basmati rice*
1 medium onion
¾ tsp all spice
½ tsp ground cinnamon
2 black cardamom pods (or ½ tsp ground cardamom)
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground clove
¼ tsp ground cumin
beef or chicken stock
1 tbs olive oil
large knob of butter
couple of handfuls of frozen peas
handful of coriander (optional)
*I measure my rice in a measuring jug so I know exactly how much liquid to add.  I put in rice up to the 300ml mark and then I put in a little over double the amount of water/stock – around 700-750ml.

lebanese rice with mince

Start by finely chopping the onion.  Then measure out your spices and keep them aside.

Next heat the olive oil in a fairly deep pan and add the chopped onions.  Stir the onions until they soften and turn a very light brown.  Add in the minced lamb to brown making sure that any clumps of meat are broken down.  (These steps can be done a few hours in advance so I usually do this in the afternoon making the dish even quicker to put together at dinner time.)

If you’ve browned the lamb mince in advance, just heat it up first.  Add the knob of butter and once melted throw in all your spices and really mix it well so that they are spread through the lamb.  Add the rice and peas and give it all another very good mix.  Add your hot stock, bring to the boil and let it all boil for a minute or two, turn down heat to low, cover and simmer for around 20 minutes.  Keep an eye on the rice as it’s done once the water has all evaporated.  But make sure all the water has gone and it’s dry – if the rice is even a little wet it will be soggy and not as enjoyable.  Often the rice at the bottom of the pan will burn a bit which makes that rice go crispy – this is the best bit of the dish so don’t throw it away, eat it!

minced lamb recipes for kids

I like to garnish with chopped coriander but that’s not essential.  I usually have this with a simple red onion salad.  Just thinly sliced red onions, sliced cucumbers and chopped coriander mixed together with a bit of salt, pepper and a ¾ teaspoon of vinegar.

lebanese minced lamb recipes

This spiced Lebanese rice with mince lamb is a yummy little dish.  If you give it a go, it may just become a weekly favourite as it’s become in our home.  And the best bit is that not only is it a quick mid-week family dinner to put together, but you also have everything in one pot.  This quantity comfortably feeds the three of us leaving a good amount leftover and this rice dish tastes even more delicious the next day.

P.S. If you want some more inspiration for tasty and easy mid-week family meals, take a look at my soba noodles recipe and my cheesy quesadillas.

Korean fashion UK sale

Half a year down already, where did it go?  The good news is that this time of year means it’s sale time at the ebabee shop.  If you haven’t yet discovered our beautiful and unusual kids clothes, now is the time.  We bring you hand selected Korean fashion for kids.  All our styles are playful, fun and comfortable and are designed to appeal to parents and kids alike.  And if you have already discovered our little shop, what better time to buy the clothes you’ve had your eye on because everything is on sale.  Yes, the whole shop!  It’s our biggest sale yet but stocks are limited.

And here’s a little secret – if you haven’t signed up to our shop newsletter, sign-up and you’ll get an extra 10% of sale prices.  Enjoy!

how to decorate with pastel coloursI know I’m usually a cool monochrome and minimal person but there is one colour trend that I am feeling very drawn to especially for a kids room or a nursery.  Extra bright or neon type colours can feel too overpowering for me so if I was going for a colourful kids room it would have to be beautiful soft pastel shades.  Pastel shades work so well for babies, boys or girls and they can even work for a shared unisex room.  The colours are soft and calming and that should help the kids sleep better (ok that maybe me being over optimistic!). Thinking about pastel kids rooms I went looking for some inspiration to put together a mood board that will hopefully inspire you too.  So if you’re thinking about pastels, keep reading for some tips on how to decorate with pastel colours.

I wanted a range of colours in the room because I think different pastel shades mix so well.  I wanted to create a feature wall or a focal point so I started with that abstract cloud wallpaper which has all the pastel shades mixed in so well.  This wallpaper is part of a range by Wallpapered that you can customise to your exact dimensions making it perfect for a feature wall.  But if you had a particular pastel image or print in mind, Wallpapered also offer a make your own wallpaper service so you can really use anything you like and make it absolutely unique to you. 

Next I picked out three shades within the wallpaper that I really liked which were a mix of pastel pink, green and blue.  I think three main colours is the perfect number to give a nice variety of shades without it becoming too much.  I kept the bed neutral as beds are a focal point in a room and a pastel bed would have been a bit of an overkill.  But while the bed is clean and neutral, you can always add pastel bedding like I’ve picked.  Also keeping lots of white in the room actually helps the pastel shades to stand out.  I then picked out accessories in my three chosen shades and lastly I added a garland that has all the pastel shades which makes it all come together.  Here’s where you’ll find all these pretty pastel things:

pink cloud cushion | dotty cloud cushion | apple and pear poster | striped soft toy | pink duvet set | white quilt | paint dipped storage baskets | pineapple night lights | pompom garland | pastel clouds wallpaper | natural toddler bed

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best makeup remover cleanser

Last weekend I treated myself to a new make-up remover and cleanser in one.  I decided to try something new as I wasn’t crazy about the one I was using.  With my old one I had to clean my face about 3-4 times to get all the traces of make-up off and another couple of times to ensure that all eye make-up was gone too.  One of the last things I do at night is remove my make-up – I force myself to do this even though the temptation is to just go to bed especially knowing that that school day alarm will go off, no matter, what at 6:30am.  With my last makeup remover this annoying end to the day was taking so long that occasionally I wouldn’t bother to completely remove my make-up.  I’d have a quick swipe and leave it at that.  Not a good idea so I decided that I needed to try something different that would hopefully be a lot quicker and easier to use.

quick makeup remover cleanser

I’ve used Ren products before and have liked them so decided to try their express all-in-one makeup remover.  I think I’ve found what I was looking for.  This creamy cleanser removes make-up so well and quickly.  I did have to cleanse a couple of times to remove all traces of my mascara and eye-liner but that was it – no going back several times.  I love the feel of this cleanser too – it’s really smooth and silky and made my skin feel soft and clean after using it.  And Ren use mostly natural products in their skin care range so there are no nasties like parabens, sulphates and other harsh chemicals.  I also love that Ren feels like a luxury brand but doesn’t cost the earth.  Anything that makes my beauty routine easier and quicker without compromising on my skin makes me happy and this Ren express make-up remover does just that.  So if you’re looking for quick make-up removal then this could be the answer for you too.

I should add that this isn’t a sponsored post – I bought the product and liked it so I thought you might enjoy hearing about it too. 

colour blocking and two tone dresses

Colour blocking is a trend that’s been around for ages and it’s thankfully not going nowhere.  It’s such a simple way to add so much style to a look.  Especially if you’re more of a minimalist and don’t want busy prints and patterns, a simple colour block dress or skirt is the answer.  Just like that blue and white shirt dress that pops so much more than if it was plain blue or plain white.  You can create your own look too by pairing two solid colours together.  I’m loving the colour block look for mums and babies and definitely will be wearing something similar over the Summer (if it ever comes!).

1. | 2. | 3. | 4. | 5. | 6. | 7.

flying-long-haul-with-children

With the Summer holidays coming up lots of us are planning a family holiday.  Even though we aren’t going away this Summer travel has always been a huge part of my childhood and adult life for as long as I can remember.  Even when Anya came along, we didn’t stop traveling.  In fact it was the opposite – we realised we just needed to plan a bit better but it was entirely doable.  We also didn’t let long-haul put us off.  She’s only six and has already been to places as far flung as Argentina and Uruguay, San Francisco, India and Nepal (lucky kid!).  Some of these journeys have involved 14-15 hour flights but we managed.

Some people have commented to me that it’s easier for us with only one child and in some ways it’s true – we don’t have squabbles to sort out, no one fights over which plane seat they’d like (except Richard and me who both always want the window seat!).  But on the other hand Anya has no one but us to entertain her.  And sometimes it’s been just her and me on long journeys so that has been a bit trickier but still entirely manageable with a little planning beforehand.

Having been through so many journeys and with the holidays coming up I thought I would share some of my best tips on flying long haul with children.  There are loads of tips out there for flying with toddlers and babies but not as many for slightly older kids who are around 4-7 years old.  I also wanted to share my own experiences of what’s worked and what hasn’t as I’ve tried so many little things to make long flights as bearable as possible.  Long flights can be trying with young children and in some ways a lot harder than flying with babies who don’t move.  So I hope these tips help you if you’re planning a long haul flight with children soon.  And if you’re still thinking about whether you should brave long haul or not,  I hope these tips inspire you and make you go for it!

1. Get them excited not just about the holiday but the journey too.  If they’ve never been on a plane before then this will be a huge excitement in itself.  Even if they have, planes are always exciting – I have taken thousands of flights and I’m still excited every time I get on a plane.  Tell them about what to expect at the airport and on the flight so they know what’s coming – include the good and the bad.

2. Let them pack a little back pack or mini stroller suitcase to take on the flight.  I use the words ‘let them pack’ very loosely.  What I mean is let them believe they are packing a case.  Left up to Anya she would cram the most random things in to her hand luggage (she once tried to pack her collection of pebbles that weigh a ton!) so I keep a sharp eye on what she’s putting in there and subtley guide her towards the things I know we will need.  Try and get the kids to pack their hand luggage a few days in advance of leaving because this not only builds up excitement but it gives you time to see what’s in there and to change things around if needed.   This way you can avoid any last minute panics and arguments.

3.  Buy a few cheap toys from the 99p/dollar store but don’t show it to the kids beforehand.  Keep it hidden away and surprise them with it when they are showing signs of boredom.  In addition to a few toys I also take along surprise snacks and treats which always work like magic.

4.  While I wholeheartedly suggest taking a few surprise toys and treats, you can’t go overboard with these as there is only so much you can carry in hand and you don’t want to end up lugging 50 kilos worth of hand luggage around with you with two tired and whiny children in tow!  The next best thing is an ipad or similar which is fully charged and loaded with games and movies.  I know a lot of parents are against screen time but believe me on a long flight it is a godsend!  If you have two kids and one device then be very clear in advance of the flight as to who get’s it when or let them both watch a movie together if that’s an option.  Besides occupying the kids, ipad’s are lot easier to carry around than toys.  This may sound a bit strange but I have a little calculation I use to decide what entertainment comes along and what doesn’t – minutes/hours of entertainment it can provide divided by weight/space it takes.  The ipad wins every time!

5.  Carry Calpol, iburpfen or similar in your handbag.  When Anya was five and we were flying to India, with no warning she developed a burning high temperature mid-flight.  She was so hot that there was even talk of an emergency landing.  Kids getting sick is bad enough at the best of times but at 30,000 feet above ground, it’s scary!  Luckily there was a doctor on board who checked her out and managed to get Calpol off another passenger.  The doctor suggested waiting to see if the Calpol helped before doing anything else.  Luckily it worked and I learned my lesson. (Even with the no liquid on board rules, you can still take medicines along ).

6.  When flying long haul with children, expect the unexpected like delays, lost luggage and extra long queues.  While you can’t plan for every eventuality, it helps to consider the things that can go wrong.  I tend to keep a spare set of clothes for Anya in her hand luggage which came in very handy when the airline lost our luggage when we landed in Buenos Aires after a 24 hour door to door journey.  Also spare underwear is handy as even at 5-6 years of age, accidents can happen especially if there are long queues to use the inflight loos.

7.  If you too have a fussy eater like Anya (and even if you don’t) it’s a good idea to get the children well fed before a long haul flight.  Meals can be delayed, they may not like the options available, their choice of meal may run out – so many reasons and the last thing you want is bored, tired and hungry kids.  We usually head to the airport early and let Anya have a full meal at one of the restaurants there.  That way she’s fed as late as possible which in theory should keep her full for several hours and then I give her the surprise snacks and treats on board as she won’t eat the airline meals.

8.  Keep the best for last.  In my experience, that last hour of a long haul flight is the most painful.  The last 60 minutes can feel longer than the entire flight!  By that time you’ve probably been traveling for several hours and the kids have just about had enough.  You’re probably tired too and I know I start to lose every bit of patience that I had at the start.  So I keep one special toy or treat, usually the best one for this last hour.  It really helps in taking Anya’s mind of her tiredness and boredom for a little while at least. And every minute of calm at this stage helps.

9.  Lastly, don’t forget to relax and enjoy the journey which is the first part of your holiday.  Once we step inside an airport we are in holiday mode and all normal at home rules are broken from the word go.  It really helps if you focus on the fun side of things and keep your sense of humour because after all if you’re relaxed, your kids will be too.

Have you checked out our ebabee shop recently?  We have a selection of some of the cutest fashion for Summer including this versatile bear tee.  This white bear t-shirt is quirky and cool, much like a lot of the Korean fashion we have on offer.  It can be mixed and matched with skirts, trousers, shorts and even bloomers.  Here are three looks we are loving with the bear tee:

Korean fashion for kids UK

First up, for a striking look pair the bear t-shirt with our feather print skirt and how about adding those fun fried egg knee socks to complete the look?

korean clothes UK

Next, we’re loving these cute green bloomers with the tee and those mustache knee socks just complete the look.  A sweet Summer look! 

peach pink girls tutu skirt

Last is the bear tee with our gorgeous peachy-pink tutu.  The subtle gold band of the tutu skirt perfectly compliments the gold crown on the t-shirt.  A stylish party look for any little girl.

What’s your favourite look?

Find the pieces here:  bear tee | feather print skirt | fried egg knee socks | green bloomers | mustache knee socks | peachy-pink tutu

junior bedding set yellow bluemix and match kids bedding ideascolourful quilts for kdisThe most exciting part of our house renovations is about to begin.  We are nearly done with all the building stuff and soon to come is the furnishing bit which is the part I have been waiting for.  One of the rooms I am most excited about doing up is Anya’s room.  Since I will be doing the room from scratch, I have a blank canvas and that both excites me and makes me nervous!  I have already got Anya one of these as I knew I wanted her to have some sort of play tent/hideout.  One of the things I am keen to get absolutely right for her room is bedding and recently I came across a beautiful new London based range that ticked all the boxes – comfort, style and natural materials. 

cotton nursery beddding pastelscotton nursery bedding UK

Camomile London’s range is so pretty!  So soft, natural and simple.  One of the things I like most about this range is that you can mix and match colours, textures and patterns to create your own look.  Mix a bit of pale ivory with bright coral or how about going bold with indigo and mustard?  Apart from the kids bedding, there is also a nursery bedding range which is equally gorgeous and some sweet little cushions and accessories to go with the bedding.  Camomile London has been newly created by a mother and daughter team whose simple, understated style I’m really loving.  Bedding like this is so cosy and inviting that I’m sure sweet dreams are almost guaranteed!

loft bedroom decorating ideas

Loft or attic rooms are the perfect space for kids.  If you’re short on space with a growing family then converting your loft in to a kids room or playroom is the answer.  It’s a lot cheaper than moving house and with a little thought, you can turn that unused loft space in to a super cool bedroom that the kids will be fighting over!  It doesn’t even matter if the loft space is very small, it can still make a single bedroom and sometimes even a small space can accommodate two kids as you’ll see from these loft bedroom decorating ideas.  Here are some awesome loft bedrooms to inspire you:

small loft conversion ideas

This loft bedroom is a tiny space but every inch of space has been used very well.  The cupboard under the eves is great for storing all those toys and by using light colours, this room looks gorgeous and cosy instead of small and cramped. 

decorating ideas for rooms with sloped ceilings

This kids attic room is a far bigger space and makes the perfect room for two.  It’s a boy and girl shared space and by placing the beds under the sloping parts of the ceiling, the space is maximised leaving lots of room for play.

how to paint a room with sloped ceilings ideas

This room is so striking!  I love how they’ve used contrasting black and white to accentuate the sloped ceilings which gives such a dramatic look.  And because the ceiling is so low, instead of wasting the space, they’ve cleverly put a mattress on the floor without a bed making such a cosy sleeping space for any kid.

decorating a small attic room

This is another small attic room which has used the space so well.  They’ve actually used the structure of the roof to make the bed area – how clever is that?  Many people would probably overlook a small space like this in their home  or use it as a room to dump stuff in but it makes such a lovely little bedroom for a child who after all doesn’t need the same headroom as adults.

loft room decorating ideas

The space under the sloping ceiling of a loft room is also a great space to put a desk as this room shows us.  It creates an intimate little space to do homework or any desk work.  If your loft room is going to be shared by two kids, this would be a great way of creating an individual little corner for each child.

loft bedroo decorating ideas

This is a bit of a blurry image but I still wanted to include it because this is another great space saving way to place beds in a shared loft room.  If you don’t have quite enough width to place beds side by side, this is the answer and will work so well in long and narrow loft spaces.  I also love that the beds are under a big window – lots of scope for star gazing at night!

ideas to decorate an attic

This adorable space is shared by two sisters.  It not a big space but it’s still perfect for a pair of sisters.  In a small loft room you can use a shared bedside table and then beyond the beds is a little play space.  I can just imagine the hours of fun the two little girls have hiding out and playing in their cosy room (when they’re not fighting of course!)

Loft rooms feel like a kind of hideout and that’s why they can make amazing rooms for kids.  Big or small, high ceilings or low any space in your loft can be turned in to an amazing kids space.  Unlike basements, loft rooms are always bright because you can add plenty of windows to let in lots of natural light as the rooms above show us.  And with such a wide range of roof windows available from places like VELUX you don’t even have to search too hard.  All you need is a little imagination and you can create such a cool space for your kids.  If not a bedroom then a think about creating a playroom to keep all those toys contained in one place.  If I had a loft I would definitely be converting it in to a useable space but I’m just not sure whether I could give it to the kids!

Image credits: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

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