See You In September

Tags

,

The school year is coming to an end. I feel a bit sad, I loved my children’s teachers but at the same time I’m excited about next year. A new school for Mellow (will I meet some nice mums there? Will Mellow miss his old friends) and a new exciting year for Jed. Little T is also going to start nursery in January and that’s a big milestone of course.

This summer I’m torn between getting 1) the children to do a little bit of work (to make sure they don’t forget anything), particularly for Mellow, reading was really hard work this year so now that we have achieved to be able to enjoy the reading homework, I want to make it does not go away and 2) doing nothing and just enjoy the holidays!

I’m sure it will tend to be more of 2) as I always get too ambitious and then I’m too lazy myself!

Anyway we just wanted to wish a very good summer (yes yes it’s been summer for a few weeks now) and a very good holiday.

We’ll back in September with lots of ideas of what to do with children, recipes, tips and food for thought.

See you then.

Me. He & Them

Advertisements

Ah Paris ….So Beautiful…So Romantic….Almost Forget that I Am A Mum Now – Take 2

Tags

,

A while ago I wrote a post about what to do in Paris with (young) children. Well, thinking about it again, there are actually loads of things to do in Paris with children. Here are some more ideas:

The Eiffel tower from Musée du Quai Branly

The Eiffel tower from Musée du Quai Branly

La Tour Eiffel is definitively a must if you’re in Paris for the first time and children really enjoy the view from there but be prepared for a long long queue especially if like recently there’s been only one lift working (waiting time becomes more than 2 hours!) – you can prebooked tickets though to reduce waiting time. If you’re in the neighborhood you can go and visit the Musée du Quai Branly. It is really worth the visit: for the building itself and for what’s inside. They have special programs for family; We have already participated in 2 family workshops on week ends (booking mandatory, not sure they have them in English though), which includes in 1,5 to 2 hours a story telling, a focused guided tour of the musée and art&craft workshops in line with the story telling

Bonny and the river of words at Musée du Quai Branly

Bonny and the river of words at Musée du Quai Branly

Blondie at a art&craft workshop at Musée du Quai Branly

Blondie at a art&craft workshop at Musée du Quai Branly

A good alternative to the Eiffel Tower is the Arc de Triomphe. Did you know that you could climb on the top and enjoy a great view over Paris. If you are in the neighborhood you may decide to go north west and go to the Jardin d’acclimation (A huge playground with various attractions – go for the glass maze and a small zoo). I would recommend that you catch the “petit train” (little train) at Porte Maillot.

Blondie at Jardin d’Acclimatation

Blondie at Jardin d'Acclimatation

Le Jardin is 150 years old. You pay 3 euros and you can enjoy various free playgrounds, a city farm and a small zoo, a “paddling” pool, a muppet theater. There are additional games you can do for an extra cost around 3 euros each such as a glass maze, trampolines, etc.

Another must go with children in Paris is Cité des Enfants located within Cité des Sciences in the Parc of La Villette (Northeast of Paris). Booking is mandatory during summer break and school holiday season if you want to avoid long queues and choose the time slot that suits you best. Cité des Enfants is a place where I would go with Blondie and Bonny very regularly. Children can experience with their hands, brain and body or listen to story telling. They just love it. Blondie still remembers  the story about the Indian boy and the wolf 1 1/2 year later. Although she was the only one to find it very scary and we had to take her off the room in order to let the story teller do her job!

Parc de La Vilette is also very good place for the entire family with so many different things to do that I cannot describe them all. If it is a hot day/night you definitely must head to Parc de La Villette where you live enjoy loads of exhibitions, concerts, open air movies, some of these events are even free. You can picnic in the parc or if you do not like seating on the grass, you can go to some cafes/restaurant such as Hippoppotamus (I do not like to advertise for such chain restaurants but they are children friendly which is not always easy to find in Paris). If you want to visit Paris and live like a Parisian and avoid hords of tourists that’s the place you should go!

Finally if you visit Paris between July 20th and August 19th, you might have heard about Paris Plages. This is an annual event during which Seine riverside expressways are closed to traffic between Paris Town Hall and Pont Neuf and transformed into beaches with sand, beach cafes, deckchairs, concerts and a giant screen in front of Paris town Hall where you can watch the London Olympic Games! Another great opportunity to live like Parisians during summer time.

Hope you enjoy my city as much as I do did. Sigh!

Me & The Girls

Lost Paradise – Pain Perdu

Tags

, , , ,

The official name in English is French Bread and the reason why I call it Lost Paradise is because French Bread is typically the kind of dishes cooked by your mother or grand mother that you loved when you were little but that you never remember to do for your own children. Today was another good example when I heard a nanny saying to the 2 children she was taking care of “of course Pain Perdu how come I have not baked any to you yet. My mum used to bake some for me and I loved it” when I was feeding Blondie and Bonny with it for tea. Same thing happened a while ago when I served French Bread to some friends.

Here is the recipe.:

Old dry bread, any type cut into slices.

50 cl of warm milk in which I put fresh vanilla pod cut into 2, let them brew for a while.

A bit of sugar, some recipe will suggest to add 150g of sugar, I usually put only a few grams of sugar in the milk (see our post about damage of sugar in our society) and save it for the final product if requested.

2 raw eggs

stir the milk with the eggs, soak slices of bread in the mixture for as long as bread becomes softer.

In a pan melt butter and fry each slice of bread on both sides until they become golden.

I usuall serve French Bread for my girls tea or for our family dessert. In our family, Blue Eyes and the girls usually eat it with sugar spread on top. But my dream is to eat it with fresh berries on top and plain yogurt.

Me & The Girls

Belsize Music Academy

Tags

, , , ,

A friend of mine is getting herself into a new venture, a music school : Belsize Music Academy. The music school also organises classical music concerts given by emerging artists and musicians of standing.

They are starting the summer (or what we would normally call the summer) with a series of concerts this week-end, Saturday 7th (1pm and 7:30pm) and Sunday 8th (5pm).

Saturday at 7:30 will be the gala evening with drinks and nibbles afterwards. Worth trying!

My children and I will also be joining them on Sunday for the Belsize Chamber Orchestra, more appropriate for younger music lovers.

It would be nice to see St Peter’s church (on Belsize lane, tube : Belsize park or Swiss Cottage) full this week-end for those fantastic events.

I hope to see you there.

Me & The Boys.

Courgette Flower Beignets

Tags

, ,

Blue Eyes came back from the farmers’ market with a bag full of Courgette Flowers. Then I thought : what on earth am I going to do with courgette flower?

This brought me back 25 years earlier. I was a teen at the time and I spent one of my last summer holidays with my parents at their best friends’ summer house in the mountain near Nice. They had 2 sons a bit older than me and we had great fun (end of story, you won’t get any more from me). Anyway, G., my mum’s best friend cooked courgette flower beignets for us. It was delicious but it was the first and the last time I had some! To me this was the kind of cooking that was too difficult for a novice like me.

Well I was not going to throw away those beautiful courgette flowers so I gave it a go, and guess what, it is delicious but it is also very simple and quick to prepare. You just need to prepare the dough 1 hour ahead of baking because it needs to rest.

I took bits and pieces from various recipes on the internet and this is what I finally managed to do.

For 18 flowers

Remove the centre of the flower, wash and dry

Flour 150g

2 Eggs

10/15cl Beer (I did not have any yeast)

Salt

A spoon ful of olive oil

parsley

Mix flour, with eggs, oil, beer, salt and parsley, stir until you reach an homogeneous dough. Keep it covered for one hour (not in the fridge).

For more smoothness you can separate the yolks from the whites and add whisked whites.

In a pan, heat oil (Half a centimeter, I use a mix of rapeseed and sunflower oils). Plundge the flower in the dough and let them fry in the pan until the dough becomes golden. Once ready, place the beignet on several layers of tissue papers. Eat warm, not hot. With the rest of the dough I made dough balls, just drop a spoon of dough in the pan and fry it until it becomes golden.

It’s very good as an appetizer or as a main dish. Bonny loved them and Blondie liked the plain one. I wish we had have a nicer weather to complement them!

Me & The Girls

‘Pick Your Own’ Farm

Tags

, , ,

Do you want your children to understand where the fruits and veg they eat come from? Do you want to cook fresh and seasonal vegetable? Do you want to put your
wellies and pretend you are a farmer?

If you answer Yes to one or all of these questions, then head up to a ‘Pick Your Own’ farm this week-end.

The one we go to is Parkside farm (junction 23 on the M25), http://www.parksidefarmpyo.co.uk/ but there are a few around London. Please
see London timeout website for their selection of the best http://www.timeout.com/london/restaurants/features/10600/Londons_Best_Pick_Your_Own_Farms.html

We have been twice to Parkside Farm last year, once to get lots of strawberries and raspberries as well as spinach and a second time to get more strawberries but
also blackberries, green beans, courgettes, tomatoes, squash and corn. We are going next week-end to get some strawberries and maybe a few other bits as well.

The whole family enjoyed it, our wellies got really dirty and the children learnt
so much about fruits and vegetables. Now my older one recognises a corn field, both my older ones know more about these veg and it’s easier to get them to eat them. I did a big soup with the squashes last year and they were so proud to eat
it.

At Parkside farm, you don’t have to bring bags, they supplies them. You weight the
fruit and veg at the end and pay a price/kg (I can’t remember the different
prices but it comes up a lot cheaper than in the shop and you won’t find
fresher anywhere else) – you have to pay a minimum of £2 per person but that’s
easy. Both times we went, we ended up with about 5kg of strawberries and
raspberries/blackberries together (about £2.5/kg I think). They have a crop
calendar on their website so you know what you will find when you get there.

Try it this week-end.

Me & The Boys

Lentils My Way

Tags

,

We had lentils tonight. Lentils is not something I normally cook but I had this in mind for a while. I just wanted something new for the girls to experience and also because I like them!

I had some pancetta in the fridge and carrots we needed to eat before a long week end away. It was perfect!

In a pressure cooker, place puy lentils (or other lentils, sorry being French that is the only lentils I know!) with 4 times their water volume (you can also buy them precooked), add sea salt (a little), then a chopped onion and trunks of carrots and diced pancetta. Once the pressure is on, cook for 10 to 15 min. The look is so so but it tasted really good.

Me & The Girls

Poisoned By Plastic

Tags

, , ,

Go to your kitchen and look around you.

Count how many plastic things you have. A brita water jug, water bottles, food boxes, milk bottles, food packaging, plastic bags, maybe some plates and glasses or a baby bottle?

Well, plastic is everywhere. And plastic is convenient of course.

I recently read a Daily Mail article with the following title : Poisoned by plastic: Chemicals in water bottles and food packaging have been linked to infertility and birth defects. Scaremongering, or the truth?

Although i’m not the type who get scared by everything I read and I tend to think that everything is probably bad but a bit of everything is ok, I still found this article interesting.

Is there too much plastic around me? Plastic is full of chemicals and producing plastic goods is not good for the environment either so over the last few days, I’ve been thinking. My action plan is to try to not use my plastic boxes so much and also to never put them in the microwave. I’m also going to try to buy more fruits and veg that have not been pre-packed. In summary, go for natural products! It can only be good for the family but particularly for my 3 boys – and for the environment.

Let see how it goes.

Me & The Boys

Riverhill Himalayan Gardens

Tags

, , , , ,

Last week-end, we decided to go for a little adventure and try something new: Riverhill Himalayan Gardens in Kent.

These gardens are hundreds of years old and are beautiful. The owners – in the same family for four generations – have opened their garden to the public last year to try to make some money and restore the house.

They have done in great job in getting the kids imagination and creativity going.

We started with a tour of their grand gardens, to the top of the hill for the view and down. The kids did not stop walking to try and find the keys hidden in the gardens. A little booklet, sold at the entrance – not given unfortunately, £2.50 – with a map of the keys as well as a little explanation of the trees or plants next to it. We discovered some wonderful and very old trees which were imported from some exotic places in the 18th century, some from the Himalayas. We have picked up some leafs for our herbarium – a post soon on this.

On the way, we found a cute little playground, all in wood, with a tree house and a den. A bit further, a woodland of chestnut, the perfect tree to build a den, so we had to try. Then we came to meadow with a fantastic view , a picnic table and a maze. All children love mazes I think, they ran ahead of us and were very amused when getting to a dead end. The maze will probably be a lot nicer in a few years time when the trees have grown but the children did not care.

To give the visitors an Himalayan adventure, the centre of the maze has a yeti waiting. And in the afternoon, a second yeti comes to life and walks around the den building area, in the middle of the chestnuts. The kids had mixed feeling when they saw the yeti, scared but curious.

Every week-end, they organise a workshop. Last week-end it was paper plane workshop. The children made paper plane helped by a plane fanatic and had a fun time seeing them fly – and still do!

For lunch, you can bring your picnic or you can have lunch at their little cafe, where they serve homemade and organic food. The children had the Yeti’s bag with a Yeti’s feet (biscuit with white chocolate chips).

All in all, it was a great adventure, I think the children will ask to go again, and I will be happy to.

The Riverhill Himalayan Gardens is on the A21, in Kent, close to Sevenoaks and Tonbridge. Entrance is £6.5 for adults and £$.50 for children over 4. Open everyday but Monday and Tuesday until beginning of September.

Me & The Boys.

No Formula, No Dummies, No Cosleeping: Backpeddling !

Tags

,

Recent debate/hysteria over Time magazine’s recent cover image of a woman breastfeeding her three year old as part of its story about attachment parenting took me on a trip down memory (or mammary, anyone?!) lane. I distinctly remember being pregnant and, rather smugly, informing The Captain that we will not be subscribing to (amongst other things) the use of dummies, co-sleeping or formula. Fast forward a few months, 5 hospitalisations, and 1 very early baby through the sun roof; and it had all gone out the window…except co-sleeping. There is nothing I love more than the smell of a newborn baby (perhaps, my own!) but I refused to fall into the trap of having Little Miss A in bed with us. The sheer exhaustion and the mere thought of going back to work in a few months time gave me no choice but to stick to my guns. And what can I say, Little Miss A was quickly able to settle herself and was sleeping through the night at 8 weeks – result! But was it really? Little Miss A was almost too good of a sleeper: she refused to sleep with us; and boy did we try! On Friday nights, after a long week at work, one of us would bring her into our bed for a family snuggle. I could see her big brown eyes scanning the room, sucking away on her fingers or her dummy, wide awake. And just as I’d drift off to sleep, I would feel a poke…and open my eyes to her pointing at the door. Gluttons for punishment, this went on for a few years. Eventually, she could speak and would either tell us to take her back to her bed or simply protest. Or hang onto the bars of the crib as we tried to fish her out. Gesh – what’s a mother gotta do for a cuddle?!! The Captain and I kicked ourselves for being so militant about co-sleeping. That is until that brutal cold snap earlier this year, when the house was freezing and all we wanted to do was get under the duvet and watch the box set of “Downton Abbey”. It was so cold that Little Miss A didn’t kick up a fuss when we brought her into bed – woo hoo!

I’m now making up for lost time…

Me & Little Miss A