Entries from October 2015

one love organics skin savior reviews

As the weather starts turning colder, I always find my skin getting dryer.  Especially the skin in those already dry places like heels, elbows and knees.  So a few weeks ago, I went looking for something that could help and I came across this organic skin saviour which I liked the sound of.  I bought it and haven’t stopped using it since the day i got it.  Whenever I come across a beauty product that I love, I share it here and this one is too good not to share.

This One Love Organics Skin Savior is the best smelling skin balm that I’ve tried – so natural and divine smelling yet the smell is very mild and gentle.  But more than the smell, I love it because I was so pleased to discover that this one little jar does so much:

1. Its a great cleanser to remove make-up and dirt and doesn’t leave your skin feeling dried out.  For a really good face cleanse I’ve started using this with my other favourite cleanser, the konjac sponge that I wrote about a while ago and still swear by.

2. Beyond your face, it works so well on those areas that always need extra moisture, especially in winter – think heels, elbows, knees and wherever else your body is needing a bit of tlc.  You can also use as an all over body moisturiser although it may prove a bit expensive.

3.  This One Love Organics Skin Savior is a fab lip balm too.  You just need to use the tiniest bit and your lips feel softer and moisturised.

4.  We’ve just returned from a beach holiday and while there I decided to use this skin saviour on my eyebrows and it worked a treat in making them look neat and tamed.  On holiday, especially in the sunshine, I prefer a much more natural make-up look and so experimented with this jar even putting a little on my eyelashes instead of mascara.  The result was gently glistening lashes that looked natural and perfect for a no make-up look.

5.  I used it as a hair tamer too, to control those flyaways.  Again just a tiny amount was all that was needed to smoothen out my straight hair and make it look neater.  I’ve read that it’s a great conditioner for hair too but so far I’ve only tried it to groom my hair.

one love organics skin savior

As mentioned, we’ve just returned from a fab holiday to Thailand and this little jar of One Love Organics Skin Savior was just the thing for a trip away – acting as a moisturiser, cleanser, conditioner and beauty aid – I don’t know how I managed without it before.  Hot weather or cold, this skin savior has so many uses and it’s all natural too so no nasty chemicals.  It’s definitely a product that is going to be a permanent fixture in my beauty bag for home and away.  I’ve only had it for a few weeks so I haven’t fully experimented with it but I suspect I’ll be finding even more uses for it.

P.S. This isn’t a featured post, just something I bought and loved and think you will too.

honey soy chicken skewers kids

As we are getting closer and closer to the party season, I wanted to share some of my favourite party food recipes.  Party food should always look as good as it tastes but for me shouldn’t involve too much last minute prep – you want to be able to spend time with your guests too.  Easy, tasty and pretty is my motto! Last week I shared my mini fish & chips recipe and this week it’s these delicious honey soy and ginger chicken skewers.  Small enough to be picked up by little or large hands, these chicken skewers are great for any kind of gathering – kids birthday parties, adult festive parties or mixed family gatherings. I usually serve them for mixed parties as it’s something everybody loves.  Always make more than you think you’ll need because believe me when I say that these chicken skewers are so more-ish that they disappear in minutes!

HONEY SOY AND GINGER CHICKEN SKEWERS
Makes: 20 skewers

20 mini chicken breast fillets (you can also use regular breasts sliced lengthways in to strips)
3 cloves garlic crushed
3 cm piece fresh ginger grated
3 tbs soya sauce
2 tbs honey
2 tsp soft brown sugar
2 tbs sesame seeds toasted
2 spring onions finely chopped (optional)

honey soy ginger chicken skewers

Put the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, honey and brown sugar in a large bowl and mix well.  Add the mini chicken breast fillets and stir well so that all the chicken pieces are well coated in the marinade.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours but preferably overnight.

Remove the chicken from the fridge about 30 minutes before you’re ready to cook.  In the meantime toast the sesame seeds on a hot, dry frying pan till they turn light golden brown.  Remove the chicken strips from the marinade and thread on to bamboo skewers – one strip per skewer.  Put under a hot grill for around 7-9 minutes, turning halfway through.  It’s really important not to overcook the chicken as it will get really hard so keep an eye on it at all times.  You want it so that the chicken is just cooked through and the honey/sugar caramelises to a nice golden brown colour.

make grilled chicken on a stick

Arrange the skewers on a platter or I sometimes like to stand them up in a jam jar, scatter with the toasted sesame seeds and chopped spring onions (if using) and watch them disappear!  I like to serve a bit of sweet chilli dipping sauce on the side but this isn’t essential.

how to encourage kids to read more

I’ve often wondered whether reading is a nature or nurture thing.  Are some kids born to be avid readers while others naturally shun books or can good reading habits be instilled in to kids?  I don’t know the scientific answer to this but I personally believe that kids can be encouraged to enjoy and love books.  And once you reach that magical place where you can’t live without books, there is no going back.  I’ve become conscious of this recently as I can see that Anya enjoys reading but she won’t go and pick up a book herself and start reading too often.  So as we’re on half-term holidays and we have more time, I’ve been thinking of ways to encourage her to read more.  My aim isn’t to develop her reading skills as that will naturally happen, but my goal  is very much to get her to fall in love with books.  I’ve been trying a few things and I thought I would share some of my tips on encouraging kids to read more:

1.  Lead by example – there is no better way.  Kids don’t do what they are told, they are much more likely to do what they see you do.  Since it’s the holidays, Anya’s bedtime is much later than normal (no routines here in the holidays!) so I sometimes go to bed with her and I lie next to her and read.  I read every single night anyway but she doesn’t see me do it so the holidays seem like the perfect opportunity to show her.  Now I’ve noticed that she asks if she can read too and often will get herself a book.

2.  We’ve started visiting the local and school library where Anya can look at the books and she will always sit down and start reading.  The best bit about the library is of course that she gets to choose which books she wants to take home and that encourages her to really check out the books on offer.  

3.  We spend a lot of time in bookshops – Even though bookshops are so much rarer these days (makes me so sad) you can usually find one.  We have a Waterstones near us so often go for lunch and then spend the afternoon at Waterstones.  It helps that our Waterstones has an area dedicated to kids with seating and lots of toys and books.  I could easily while away a whole day in a book shop and I’m glad Anya is enjoying spending time there too.

4. Read to them – Every.single.night.  No exceptions.  Of course we all have nights where we don’t feel like reading or have other pressing stuff to do or are just too tired.  But if you make it an absolute must do, you will do it every night.  I love our night reading time where Anya gets to choose the books, although to keep my sanity intact (at least what’s left of it) I have a rule of not reading the same book twice in the same week!  Besides, the years of reading to kids are so short so why not make the most of it.

5. Ask them to read to you – once your kids are at a reading age, they’re going to love reading to you.  Kids love pretending to be the adult so it becomes a little game.  Once in a while I ask Anya to read to me and she loves it.  And not just to me – when she has younger friends and cousins over, if I suggest it, she will happily read to them.  And when the older ones come, they love reading to her.  

6. Buy as many books as you can and involve your kids in the choosing of the books .  Even though kids books can be expensive, I would much rather spend the money on books than on those ridiculously priced kids magazines or cheap plastic toys.  I’ve started setting up a wish list on amazon for Anya and we go through the list together and she chooses the books she wants.  If you’re looking for recommendations, I usually share the best kids books I come across here, so you can browse my book section if you’d like to.

7.  Last, buy different kinds of books as you never know what will appeal most.  While fabulous fictional stories are a given, there are so many other types of books out there.  From biographies (there are some fab ones for kids out there), atlases, kids poetry books, art books, even joke books – the list goes on.  One of my absolute must have books is this kids atlas.  It’s something Anya keeps referring back to and really enjoys exploring and discovering more places.  And we have a Roald Dahl joke book which I think any kid would devour!

These are a few things I’m doing to encourage reading but I’d love to hear your tips too.

Have a wonderful weekend x

{photo by ebabee, t-shirts by wild boys & girls}

machine washable cashmerecashmere baby blanket with cable patternmachine washable cashmere cardigan

There’s something so lux and special about wearing cashmere.  Not only does it feel soft against the skin but it keeps you so so warm and toasty.   And that on a bitter, icy winter’s day is priceless.  I love a bit of cashmere for myself but also for kids and babies who need to be even toastier than us.  I’m not talking a cupboard full but just one or two key pieces that can be worn with anything and everything.  The one big drawback for me has been that you have to dry clean cashmere which just becomes a huge pain (not to mention cost) with kids.  So I was delighted to be introduced to Papa Lobster who make beautiful and practical cashmere for kids – cashmere that can be thrown in the washing machine endless times.

Papa Lobster make a range of baby and kids clothes in beautiful colours – from muted camels and greys (which are my favourites) to vibrant fuchsia’s and royal blues.  I especially love their soft cashmere pants with the contrasting coloured waist ties and the cute cashmere hoodies.  Next time I want to get a cashmere piece for Anya I will be looking to Papa Lobster not just because of their beautiful styles but you just can’t beat the practicality of machine washable cashmere for kids.  In the meantime, what a lovely gift these pieces would make for a newborn.  

{3rd photo by nynneetliloujos}

It’s been a while since I’ve shared one of my inspiring story interviews.  If you’ve read the last couple, you’ll know that these interviews are all about incredibly strong women and mums who have been through a lot – often more than most go through in a lifetime –  yet stayed positive and never stopped believing.  Each of these interviews is inspiring because they show us that even though life can throw the worst things at you, you can still come out the other side.  It kind of puts our little, everyday troubles in perspective and makes me realise that they are just not worth stressing about.   Today I wanted to share Elizabeth’s story – a mum, a blogger, a business woman and a wife. Her story is a little different to the others but definitely no less inspiring.

inspiring women entrepreneurs

Tell us a few words about you.
Hi.  I’m Elizabeth, mum to a three-year-old girl and wife to a Yorkshire lad living in London.  I’m a journalist, blogger and I have my own health and beauty business too.  A huge passion of mine is travel, so much that I set up a blog to record my family adventures.  As well as spending time with my family, one of my favourite things is hanging out with my mates, a glass of fizz in hand, chackling away.  And it really IS a loud chackle particularly for someone my size ( I’m 5’1).

family with new baby

But recently there hasn’t been much to laugh about, has there?
No.  The past three years have been full of extreme highs and lows.  The biggest high being the birth of my daughter and the low being my husband’s health.  It began three years ago shortly after Paul ran his third marathon.  Over the next three months he steadily felt more and more unwell with less and less energy.  Eventually, when he could barely stand, he was admitted to hospital and we discovered he had the lowest blood count doctors had ever seen on somebody still walking.  After many tests we were told he had lymphoma- a blood cancer.  It was a huge shock.

We had never expected something as serious as cancer especially in someone so fit and young – he was 33 at the time.  When the ‘big C’ is mentioned, it strikes fear into your bones.  It was aggressive and advanced at stage four.  I was then seven and a half months pregnant.  Instead of getting excited about our new arrival, buying cots and painting the nursery, Paul was preparing to have chemotherapy.  Just weeks earlier I had been diagnosed with a fairly rare complication in pregnancy, Obstetric Cholestatis so I was also in and out of another hospital.  It was a crazy time.

After various tests, it was confirmed that Paul had non-Hodgkin lymphoma and it was treatable.  He was put onto chemotherapy very quickly and was recovering from his first round when my daughter was born. She proved to be the best distraction and looking at the positives, he got to spend an extended amount of time with her, albeit not feeling very well, but time none the less. After eight rounds of chemo it was confirmed that the cancer had gone. It was a huge relief and we started to get on with our lives with a renewed perspective and appreciation for life.

Soon after you started getting back to normal life, tell us what happened?
At the start of 2015 my husband had been feeling a bit under the weather – a cough, cold, the usual winter ailments.  We didn’t think much of it; who doesn’t get ill in the UK in winter?  He went ahead on a planned business trip to Chicago but less than 24 hours after arriving he was rushed to hospital in a critical condition.  I received the phone call nobody wants to get – he had bacterial meningitis.

His father got the first flight out there and I later found out that doctors had told him that it was unlikely Paul would make it through the night.   That night I somehow managed to get some sleep and stay positive. I told his mum he would be alright.  He had to be!  After all he had beaten cancer, surely he could beat everything else?  I was 3,000 miles away in London, not being able to see him or speak to him (he was in a coma) and I was unable to talk at length with the doctors.  When I did, they weren’t painting a very rosy picture.  He was in a critical but stable condition and the doctors had no idea how he would be affected if and when he came out of the coma as often the virus can affect the brain.

A few days later I flew to Chicago with my little girl.  It was so good to finally see him even though he looked desperately ill and was in a coma with tubes coming out of every orifice.  I kept calm, held his hand and chatted to him about normal everyday things and tried to keep things light.  Even though he was asleep I didn’t want to make him anxious.  He’s a worrier so I knew he’d have been panicking about how we’d been coping.  I’ve never had such a one sided conversation – he’s not exactly the quiet, shy, retiring type!  Although under heavy sedation, he managed to open his eyes and nodded when I asked if he could recognise my voice.  It was a great sign!

A week later, when Paul came out of his coma, his brain scans came back clear but the bacteria had attacked his heart.  This was not the end – he was told he had to have heart surgery within the next 48 hours.  This was a lot for his hazy mind to take in as he couldn’t fathom where the last week had gone.  The bacteria had damaged two of his heart valves and he underwent an eight hour operation to replace them with metal ones.  He steadily recovered from the operation and was determined to get his physical strength back.  Defying doctor’s expectations, he was let out of hospital just over a week later.  Things were finally looking up and we started planning our trip home.

What happened next?
We tried to get back to some kind of normality even going on a dinner date in Chicago as a belated Valentines present.  But the relief and happiness did not last long.  A few days later Paul went back into hospital, struggling to breathe and they discovered fluid around his heart.  Little did we know that the worst was yet to come.  As he was being prepped for yet another surgery to remove the fluid he went into cardiac arrest.  He flat-lined right before my eyes and was clinically dead for 28 minutes.  It was the worst day of my life.

Someone must have been looking over us because the medical team miraculously brought him back to life. His heart restarted and he went into theatre to drain the blood from around his heart after he had suffered an internal bleed.  It was a success and he was back in intensive care, steadily making a recovery and beginning more rehabilitation.  We eventually flew home from Chicago after seven long weeks, our lives forever changed.

How and where did you find the strength to carry on functioning as a wife, a mother, a person – not once but twice?
I think you just have to!  The first time with the cancer it was all a bit of a haze as I was in the late stages of my pregnancy with complications but I had a strong network of people around me including doctor friends who could decipher all the medical chat.  When our daughter was born, she became the focus but also my husband’s strength and positivity helped us get through this time.  The second time was far worse –  I couldn’t even speak to him or see him!  But I always tried to keep a positive state of mind.  Sometimes it wasn’t easy.  He is a tough, positive person so I channeled a lot of him and I had belief in his strength and determination that he’d get over the meningitis and out of the coma.  I also wanted to keep things ‘normal’ for my daughter and that helped me put one foot in front of the other each day – I had to as I didn’t want her thinking anything was wrong.  The worst bit was when she would ask about her daddy.  Fighting back tears I told her he’d be back soon.

Before I went to Chicago I tried to keep as busy as I could – it was my way of coping – and I did all the jobs around the house we hadn’t got around to doing.  I wanted to make the home look as perfect as possible to welcome Paul home.  I had to believe he was coming home and that was what I focused on.  I kept reassuring myself that he had already beaten cancer so he would fight this too.  I would also think to myself ‘what would Paul do in this situation’ even for the small things like booking the flight.  It helped me find strength and feel like he was there with me.

My little girl helped so much especially when we were in Chicago.  She had no real idea what was going on.  She wanted to go to breakfast, have a play, read books.  She was the best distraction and when I was with her I gave her my full attention so that there was no dwelling on the ‘what if’s’.

Months after, every now and then, something will come back to haunt me – the enormity of what Paul went through, what I have seen and what he has survived.  Most of the time it is fleeting and I push it aside but it is there and always will be.  That however is the past and you have to look to the future.  We have learned a lot over the past few months with the biggest lesson being how fragile life can be and therefore it’s so important that we all live life to the full.  Everyday.

How did you get through the darkest moments and how did you cope with your worst fears?
As mentioned my daughter has been my absolute rock.  On the day my husband went into cardiac arrest, I went back to the waiting room and there she was.  I gave her a huge hug and focused on reading her a story and being strong for her, putting my trust in the medical team.  I knew there was nothing I could do for Paul at that moment but I could stay strong for others and be a positive and reassuring influence when he woke up.

My best friend Emma was also amazing.  She’s a surgeon and as soon as she heard my husband went into cardiac arrest, she came out to Chicago. She helped with my daughter and took my mind off things and assisted with all the medical language too.  I also got so many messages of support from friends and family which meant a lot.  But when it was just me and my thoughts I did all I could to shut out any negativity.  The mind is extremely powerful but we can have complete control over it if we choose.  In that moment when my husband was in a hospital room dying, I felt sick and was praying – a lot – but I never gave up on him.  I remember saying to myself over and over “he’s going to be ok, he’s going to be ok.”  I just kept repeating it over and over because for me there could be no other ending.

At the time I happened to be reading a book called The Secret by Rhonda Byrne (I recommend everyone read it at some point in their lives).  It was like I was supposed to read that book at that moment in my life.  It helped enormously in those dark days.  It’s all about the law of attraction and thinking positive thoughts, overcoming fears and attracting good things into your life.  The book really spoke to me and gave me solace.  Yes, it was an awful situation but I focused on it getting better and didn’t think too much about the why.  Why it happened.  Why us?  Why so many times?  After all what would that achieve?  You can drive yourself crazy.  I could not change what was happening but I could control how I dealt with it and how we moved forward as a family.  I am just so thankful that he is still with us.  Now, when I get annoyed with my hubby or he gets stressed about little things, it’s not hard to look at what has happened and have gratitude.  I usually just laugh at him and give him a big hug.  There are far bigger things in life.

One of the many things you do is blog.  Tell us a little about it?
Wander Mum is mainly a travel blog about my family adventures with a bit of mummy stuff thrown in and I have also documented some of what we have been through as a family over the years.  I got the traveling bug after going on a round the world trip on my own after university.  I did everything from skydiving to bungee jumping, climbing glaciers and jungle hiking.  I had a blast and it opened my eyes to the world.

Fortunately my husband shares my passion and now it seems my daughter does too.  She first flew when she was just nine weeks old and we haven’t looked back.  I set up Wander Mum because I wanted to show that you can still travel with children in tow.  I share my experiences and pass on advice to help inspire others to take the plunge and not be put off traveling as a family.  Traveling is the best education and I want to be able to expose my daughter to many different cultures and experiences.  It isn’t something I did a lot when I was a child (being one of four we stayed in the UK for our holidays) but you always want more for you children, don’t you?

What drew you to blogging?
My friend Emma suggested I do it.  I am not sure I would have thought to do it if it hadn’t been for her encouragement. Sometimes it’s the things you never imagined doing that become the best decisions you ever made so always stay open minded.  I love traveling and writing.  I would type out stories on my mum’s typewriter when I was little and make up magazines for my primary school friends.  I did an English degree and now I am a journalist so I guess blogging was the natural thing to do.  I love being able to write about anything, anywhere, without any restrictions and creating something totally unique.  I also find it’s a great therapy.  In fact, I am finding writing this very therapeutic.  I haven’t gone into too much detail about our ordeal on my blog –  yet.  Writing this makes it far more real!  So thanks for asking me to do this.  It has been a great help to me and I hope to others as well.

What has the blogging community meant to you?
When I was living through my husbands illnesses and blogging a bit about the experience I had so much support – so many lovely comments. I can’t thank people enough. To receive encouragement and reassurance is a huge boost.  And knowing that my words could have an impact and help other people find strength in similar situations is an incredible feeling.  At BritMums recently I had people like Vicki from Honest Mum checking how my husband was and that was really touching.  Thanks to you Nomita, for asking me to do this and assuring me that my words and my experience were inspiring.

Who are your favourite must-read bloggers and why?
There are so many great bloggers out there and every week I find another –  that’s the great thing about blogging, there’s room for all of us and each blog offers something different.  I am forever getting tips and knowledge from other parent bloggers and I really enjoy reading the adventures of other travel bloggers and learning about new places, some of which I haven’t even heard of before.

What’s your best piece of advice for any family or anybody going through some very difficult times?
Gosh, every family has different struggles and each one is very personal.  You never really know how you will react in situations until they happen.  My biggest suggestion is to dig deep inside and reach that determination and grit which I believe exists in everyone.  Forget what has gone before, let go of any blame and take responsibility for making things better and owning your future.  Believe in yourself and never give up on you or on life!  I also think it’s really important to have gratitude for all the good things you do have.  I live in a safe, first world country not a war zone as many people do.  For that alone, I feel blessed.

Would you change the past if you could?
It would obviously be great if my husband hadn’t had all these health issues, especially the heart surgery which means he will have to take medication for the rest of his life and has had to make a few lifestyle changes but it’s just a drop in the ocean in the grand scheme of things!  It has happened and I don’t like looking back – it’s not going to achieve anything.  You have to learn from what has happened, deal with it as best you can and carry on rather than dwell.  The bumpy road we have gone through has only helped make us stronger, more supportive and made us appreciate life, each other and what the world has to offer even more!

Life changing events like these really do help give perspective and put value on your life.  It sounds a bit morbid, but you never know what is around the corner or what is going to happen so always make the most of everyday.  I don’t sweat the small things half as much as I used to – there really are bigger things in life and unfortunately, as we get older, we are bound to come across more challenges.  I just remind myself that I am lucky to still have my husband and my daughter has her daddy.  On the flip side, although my husband was terribly unlucky he was also incredibly lucky to be in America, close to an excellent hospital and with quick thinking colleagues who got him there in time.  Things could have been a lot worse.

inspiring women interviews ebabee

What’s next for you – both professionally and personally?
Who knows what the future holds?  It’s kind of exciting in a way.  Paul is doing really well. He is getting his fitness back and planning to run an 8 mile race soon.  I’m looking forward to taking on any new opportunities which come my way.  You never know what is around the corner.  I will continue working on all my different interests: my journalism career, my business and keep growing and expanding my blog – there’s still so much I want to do with it!  As a family, we are looking forward to more travel, exploring new places and spending time together.  With any luck, we would like to grow our family at some point but one step at a time.  We have each other.  We are in a good place now and really looking forward to the future. But please, if my hubby could have no more health issues that would be perfect!

Wow. What can I say?  Elizabeth and Paul have been through so much and yet they have both remained so positive and determined to come out smiling the other side.  I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Elizabeth while interviewing her and I was so struck by her lack of self pity.  And more than that, in every difficult situation wallowing in grief was never an option – for Elizabeth it was always about staying positive and focusing on what she could do rather than dwelling on what she couldn’t change.  In the midst of it all Elizabeth even wrote a post on why she felt lucky.  Elizabeth’s words and attitude are so inspiring for any situation in life, no matter how small or big.  Be positive, be determined, look forward and most of all do what you can to make things better rather than wasting time and energy on what you cannot change. Thank you Elizabeth for sharing your inspiring story with us and if you want to read more, check out Elizabeth’s blog – Wander Mum.  

kids party food mini fish and chips

With the party season nearly here, over the coming weeks I’m going to share some of my favourite ‘go to’ easy party food recipes.  Some of the recipes will be for kids while others will be more for adults but even the kids recipes will work just as well for adults and the other way around.  Also all these recipes are great for any kind of party – festive parties, birthday parties, informal get togethers – anything at all.

To start my party food series, there is nothing yummier than mini fish and chips.  This is something I’ve often served at Anya’s parties and every kids adores it.  I always make extra as the adults can’t seem to resist picking either.  I’m not a big fan of battered fish, preferring breadcrumbed fish, so that’s what I go for.  Also, the advantage of breaded fish is that it can be fried in advance and gently heated in the oven just before serving so you’re not left slaving over a hot stove after your guests have arrived.

Party food needs to look as good as it tastes.  Of course it’s fun to make cute food sometimes – like animal shapes – but there are lots of ways to make your food look really fun and I hope to share a few of those ideas too along with my party food recipes.  The most important thing of all is that the food is fresh and wholesome and is something that people will genuinely enjoy eating, not just looking at.

children's party food presentation ideas

MINI FISH & CHIPS
Serves: 10 kids (as part of a bigger menu)

400 gms firm white fish fillets (haddock or lemon sole are my preferred ones)
breadcrumbs
3 eggs
2 tbs plain flour
salt & pepper
oil for shallow frying
chips (oven chips or your own home made ones)

kids birthday party food ideas easy

Cut your fish in to thin, long strips, like goujons but thinner – around 10cm/4in long pieces and 2cm/1in wide.  This kind of size makes them really easy to pick up and eat with fingers.  A great tip for cutting fish so that it doesn’t break is don’t cut it horizontally, but cut it lengthwise.  Put your flour on a plate, beat the eggs and place in a very shallow bowl and place the breadcrumbs in another shallow bowl.  Season the breadcrumbs with salt and pepper to your taste and then start breading – coat fish strips with flour, then dip in egg making sure they’re completely coated,  next dip in breadcrumbs, again making sure the fish is well covered.  Repeat till you’ve coated all the fish strips.

Pour oil in to a large frying pan (the oil should come up to about 1.5cms) and heat.  When it’s quite hot place your breaded fish strips in the oil and shallow fry till golden brown.  Drain on some kitchen towel and your mini breaded fish is ready.  As mentioned, these can be made a few hours in advance and heated in the oven just before serving.  Make some fries or chips to serve with the fish.

kids birthday party food ideas adults

I serve the fish & chips with ketchup and mayo for the kids and tartar sauce and lemon for the adults.  One of the ways I love serving this fish and chips is as pictured here – individual portions in mini paper party bags.   This is an easy party food recipe for kids and adults that goes down a treat for any kind of gathering. 

Feel like checking out another party food idea?  Here is my yummy honey, soy & ginger chicken recipe.

*I’ve linked up to Honest mum’s tasty Tuesdays.

buy Korean fashion online UK

I can’t believe I’m writing this but today my ebabee shop turns one.  How has it been one whole year since I launched it?!  It has been a year full of excitement and learning; a lot of learning.  Time has passed, collections have changed but I can honestly say that I am still very excited about the Korean kids clothes I bring you.  Each season see’s different styles and looks but still always true to the kind of kids clothes I believe in – sophisticated and stylish clothes that allow kids to be kids.  And because it’s my shops’ special day, I have a little something for you – keep reading to find out more.

I’ve picked a few of my favourite looks from the current season to share with you.  The highlight of the season so far has definitely been those hooded knit vests with their pixie hoods – have you seen anything cuter?  I especially love that the pixie hoods stay upright and pointy.  So many of you have bought the vest so I think you agree with me.  Worn here with bloomer shorts and knee high socks, they just make such an elfishly adorable outfit. 

kids knitted vest with hoodknitted baby vest with hoodknitted vest with hood

Two of my favourite tops are this frill neck tee and that ruffle neck blouse.  A simple long sleeved tee in the palest pink or soft beige with that sophisticated and stylish collar.  Its ideal for layering under sweaters and jackets too with just the collar peeping out.  And similarly the ruffle neck blouse – a bold yet understated lotus print in midnight blue with a stunning collar.  Wear it with jeans, shorts or skirts but we especially love it with our elegant wrinkle tutu to make a stylish outfit.

frill collar t-shirtfrill neck tshirtruffle neck blouse for girls

Last but not least, I have to mention these raccoon and bear knee high socks.  Cute doesn’t even begin to describe them.  They have been really popular and are almost all gone but I’m not surprised.  Don’t worry, we’re getting more and there’s even a new colour and a few more very cute accessories coming soon so stay tuned by signing up to our newsletter so you can be the first to know. 

raccoon knee high socks

To celebrate my shop’s first birthday, I couldn’t leave you without a ‘thank you for coming’ gift.  And also a thank you for your support over the last year.  So here it is – enjoy a cool 20% off all the new stuff using code HAPPY15 at checkout.  Valid from today until Sunday 18th October inclusive.

If you’d like to know about upcoming discounts, offers and more, do sign up to our shop newsletter and you will be the first to know. 

{photo’s by Syarifah McDonough for Little Revolution Mag where you can see the full feature of this Urban Adventures shoot}

Shelves are such a practical way of storing stuff and you can’t ever have enough of them.  You really don’t need to spend a packet on them either – there are plenty of very cheap and basic shelves out there.  But just because they’re basic doesn’t mean they have to be boring.  With a little imagination even the most basic of shelves can become features in any room but I especially love getting creative with shelves in a kids room. So here are five cool shelf ideas for a kids room that you can re-create using shelves bought from ikea. Each of these shelf spaces is unique and can be customised to your needs and tastes:

modern wall shelf ideas for kids room

This is such a cool shelf space for a kids room.  It makes a simple but striking feature wall while still providing good storage.  You can create similar using the ikea forhoja kitchen storage units.  All you need is a few of these storage boxes and a large piece of ply.  I like the natural wood look but you could also customise as much as you want using paint, wall stickers or wallpaper.

ikea hack bookcase

Backless shelves on a wallpapered wall look so stylish.  You can easily get this look with ikea’s ever popular billy bookcase by simply leaving out the back – I did this in my last home and it worked really well.  Add some colourful toys and artwork around the shelves and you’ve got a completely unique looking bookcase or shelf.

customize ikea furniture

In this shared boys room, those box shelves in various sizes and shades of green look great on the wall. Instead of being boring boxes, they’ve been turned in to a feature because of the unusual layout, the colours and also using a mix of open and closed shelves.  You can get the same look using ikea’s valje wall cabinets.  Paint them in any colour, combine a mix of square and rectangular and a mix of open and closed. They’ll end up looking custom made. 

creative organizing ideas for kids rooms

How pretty are these shelves?  I love the touch of pastel blue that has really made them look special.  Using ikea’s bekvan spice rack, you can create a similar look.  You don’t have to stick to the idea above, you could paint the whole shelf or you could go for two colours – whatever works for your kids room.   And for more storage, create a floor to ceiling wall of these gorgeous shelves. 

creative kids toy storage ideas

All shelves don’t have to be made of straight lines like this picture above shows us.  What a creative way of storing soft toys.  It adds so much charm to the room.  You can do similar with these ikea sinnerlig baskets. I’ve got one of these baskets which I love so I’m planning to get more and do this in Anya’s new room.  It’s a great way of making a feature of her soft toys while having a place to store them too.   And of course it saves floor space too especially useful in a small room. 

Image credits: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 

charlie and the chocolate factory

Last Friday night we were invited to Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, the musical.   Ever since reading the book as a child, I have been fascinated with Mr Willy Wonka and his incredible factory.  Years later, I was excited to re-live this fantastic tale with Anya and Richard.  As of this year, Anya has really gotten in to Roald Dahl books with her favourites being Charlie & the Chocolate Factory and George’s Marvellous Medicine.  We’ve read both at least twice already so Anya & I were really looking forward to the musical while Richard was less so as he can be a little cynical about musical theatre.

From the start, my companion sat gripped, eyes darting from one performer to another in anticipation of their next line or song, welling up as Charlie became the grateful recipient of the last golden ticket.  It came as a big surprise to me that those eyes belonged to Richard, who had clearly checked in his cynicism along with his coat!  But he wasn’t the only one – all three of us sat glued to our seats watching the incredible spectacle of Charlie & the Chocolate Factory unfold before us.

charlie and the chocolate factory the musical review

Visually, Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, the musical is an absolute treat for the eyes.  The sets and special effects are clever and quite stunning.  Imagine seeing Violet Beauregarde balloon in to a blueberry right in front of your eyes. Or the highly strung Mike Teavee transform in to a shrunken version of himself.   But it wasn’t just the amazing special effects that got me.  It was also the performers, each of whom were outstanding. 

charlie and the chocolate factory the musical

Mr Willy Wonka had the right amount of eccentricity without being frightening for kids.  Although personally for me, he could have been a bit more sinister.  Also worth a mention is the relationship between Grandpa Joe and Charlie which was very special and true to the book.  The musical brought tears to my eyes a few times but mostly I throughly enjoyed watching a dazzling show that I think any family with kids older than about 5 years will enjoy.  

charlie and chocolate factory oompa loompas

For the entire performance of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Anya sat forward in her seat, wide-eyed, never once taking her eyes off the stage.   As much as Richard and I found it hard to tear our eyes off the stage, we also delighted in seeing Anya’s little face changing expressions and reacting to this imaginative piece of theatre.

*We were given tickets in exchange for a review.  The review is in my own words and says what I genuinely thought about the show.  

DIY halloween treat bags

I’m so glad that Halloween is becoming more and more of a thing here in the UK and especially London.  If you have kids, what’s not to love about Halloween?  Anya loves the whole dressing up and trick or treating thing as so do all her little friends.  Sometimes the child in me feels so tempted to wear a costume and do the whole trick or treating with them – should I?  The other thing to love about Halloween is all the treats and candy.  Last year Anya came back with a haul so big, she couldn’t quite believe her eyes – I don’t think she had ever seen so much candy in her life!

DIY halloween treat bags for kids

Each year we are invited to a Halloween party so this year instead of taking just a bag of sweets or chocolates, I thought I would make some fun Halloween treat bags for all the kids.  While I don’t like the really scary Halloween stuff, I love a more playful take on the whole ghosts, ghouls and spookiness.  So with that in mind I thought about making mini witches hats that would hold a few small treats.  Here it is – my mini witches hats DIY Halloween treat bags:

What you’ll need:
black origami paper (One sheet per hat) – try and get double sided although I couldn’t find these
orange coloured card paper
glue
mini treats to fill the hats

I made these witches hats using an origami tutorial which you can find here.  At first it seemed a bit challenging but after making 2 or 3 , it became really easy so stick with it.  Make as many hats as you want and then take your orange card and cut out circles of 6.5cms diameter.  

Now fill your hats with mini treats – I used little round chocolates which proved a bit tricky as they were rolling all over the place.  It would be easier to fill them with a small bag of chocolates or sweets.  This will also help to hold the shape of the hat.  Finally glue the orange circles to the base of the hats and you’ve got your witches hat treat bags.  Don’t they look fun?  

DIY witches hat halloween treat boxes

Once you’ve made a load, you could also use the mini hats as decorations for a Halloween party – they’d look great dotted around a halloween party table table.  

P.S. You might like this collection of fun Halloween party decorations too.

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