Saturday, February 28, 2015

New on the block … Saucette Concept Store

Today was the launch party of Saucette Concept boutique in Galleria Mall on Al Wasl Road. Such a cute event with super fun activities set up by TheHappyBox, delish from Fait Maison Cuisine, goodies to spoil the cool kiddos and DJ to keep us grooving. The team from S*uce delivered yet another amazing little party.







Check out Saucette, fabulous multi-brand concept store for the cool kids in town.

The Galleria Mall, Al Wasl Road 
+9714 3440012



Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Mille Rostock Scarf - Dubai homegrown

I'm loving those beautiful silk, cotton and cashmere printed scarfs from millerostock.com
Lovely mix of fabrics and techniques, using colorful and monochromes combinations with patchwork, fringes or panels applique. They come in different sizes, square, reversible, triangle… 
They are all unique and one of a kind.

It's an easy way to add fun and style to your outfit. Perfect for hectic mornings when you rush out the door looking less put together than you wish. Accessorizing with a cool scarf can really change your outfit - great for mom on the go.

Check out millerostock.com to view the full collection and meet up with the designer Mille Rostock at Ripe Market or keep track of future events via facebook.com/millerostock.




Sunday, February 22, 2015

Desert Islands Resort and Safari Experience with Anantara



Off we went to our desert island escapade, a lovely mid term family getaway close to home. Sir Bani Yas Island is s a natural island located 170 km southwest of Abu Dhabi and home to three Anantara Resorts. We stayed at Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara, a luxurious Abu Dhabi resorts in one of the region’s most spectacular destinations.

The journey from Dubai is a bit of drive. It took us 3.5hrs on a long stretch of relatively boring 2 lines road with loads of trucks to arrive at Jebel Dhanna Jetty to catch the boat to the island. Excitement is on again as we arrive at the Anantara check in point. Time to settle in the plush salon for a coffee and easy check in to the hotel and off we took the ferry boat. Less then 20 minutes later we arrived on Sir Bani Yas Island. Another 10 minutes ride in a coach bus and we FINALLY arrived to our remote island haven. It's all worth it!








For history, Sir Bani Yas island was originally home to Arabia's largest wildlife reserve, over 87 km2. The reserve was established in 1977 by Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who chose this island as a retreat. He passed a law prohibiting hunting on the island and started developing it as a wildlife preserve in his "Greening of the Desert" programme, which was designed to help make the deserts more suitable for human settlement and provide a haven for many of Arabia's endangered wildlife species. Several millions trees were planted and numerous animals species introduced to the island, including gazelle, oryx, giraffe, and ostrich. Once the reserve was established, Sheikh Zayed the man with a vision wanted to share the results with the world, hence it was opened to visitors.



The island landscape is a contrasting mix of dry sandy plains, natural salt domes, green and rocky hill tops, lush mangroves and shimmering water from the Arabian Gulf. A captivating exotic setting to discover through the range of hotel activities. Desert Islands Resort and Spa by Anantara is located on the beach, perfect display of natural and rugged beauty.

The resort is of Middle Eastern aesthetic and African lodge influence. A beautiful luxury without bling, an understated elegance in earthy tones. Artifacts lines the walls of the corridors and the restaurants to give a personal touch to the boutique hotel. We stayed in a spacious Delux Garden Room, on the ground floor open into the garden, just steps away from the swimming pool - recommended with children. The garden with it's many walkways and little paths is wonderful for afternoon promenades with the pram - little Josefin enjoyed napping this way. The infinity pool steps away from the beach is small but well appointed, perfect for lounging around and sipping cocktails. The beach is wild and offer little amenities just enough to keep things real, in a very lovely understated way - close to nature. We enjoyed our first diner at Amwaj - very good middle eastern restaurant on a rustic beach setting. Charming. Our second evening was more continental dining at The Palm where we also enjoyed our breakfasts on the terrace. There is also a fish restaurant called Samak and a snack bar by the swimming pool for easy lunch. Overall the food and the service was very good. The lovely staff was always ready to please.











The Wildlife Safari Drive is a must. We experience the sunrise drive with in a personal Jeep with our very friendly and knowledgeable guide. Schedule to meet in the lobby at 6.45 we were very excited to discover the beauty of the island and the many species, from Arabian oryx, gazelle, girafs and so many more… Nothing to be disappointed. The island is home to around 30 species of mammals, including a variety of antelopes and one of the world’s largest herd of endangered Arabian oryx. The Arabian oryx, a species of antelope, was formerly extinct in the wild, but Sir Bani Yas Island is home to a herd of over 400 who roam freely on the island. The Park houses some 13,000 animals indigenous to the Arabian Peninsula including the endangered Arabian Oryx, Sand Gazelle and Mountain Gazelle as well as free-roaming predators and scavengers such as cheetahs and hyenas. It was so interesting to hear our guide sharing is knowledge and passion about the island and the animals. The tour lasted about 1h45 along dirt tracks and offer many opportunity to see the animal up close. We enjoyed a quick breakfast on top of the majestic hilltops. A wonderful way to enjoy coffee and croissant at 7.30 am, surrounded by natural beauty and the rising sun.








A beautiful initiation to the wildness. I believe it was a perfect introduction to what is a safari. It opened up our mind to one day visiting Africa with the girls to see the full scale of what nature as to offer.




The resort offers a large selection of activities for the family from nature and wildlife experiences whether walking, kayaking, mountain biking or driving. There is also archery and a selection of water-sports activities including diving, snorkeling, deep sea fishing. An important part of Sir Bani Island is the Arabia’s rich equestrian culture, something to experience while visiting the stables and trying horse riding. Luella and I took a tour for novice rider. A lovely walk around the the stables and surrounding grounds while peeking at beautiful gazelles. It was Luella's first time on a horse, Sweetie the gentle horse was perfect and suited her ability as a new rider. Again, the staff was wonderful, pleasing, encouraging and guiding.

The good stuff:
- Good way to introduce children to a safari experience. It's impressive but not overwhelming.
- Lovely staff and good service contributed to make our stay a lovely experience
- Large selection of activities
- Loved the understated aesthetic of the resort and rugged beauty of the location
- An Eco Resort. Anantara consider the environment ‘recognises the importance of sustainable business practices that consider the environment and the use of energy and resources’. 
- Spacious room

Need to know and consider:
- It's a staycation because its located in the UAE but it does take 5 hours from Dubai to reach destination between the drive, the boat, the bus and in-between… You have the option to fly, using RotanaJet, worth considering.  It was fully booked on our traveling dates.
- Many of the activities are for children above 6 or 8 years old - check it here / here.
- The beach is wild, limited seating and service. Still beautiful and true to nature.

Thank you for having us Anantara Desert Island Resort and Spa. A wonderful trip with memories to cherish for years to come. Visit Antanara for full details, activities and to plan your family or romantic stay.


Monday, February 9, 2015

Healthy food initiative with Dubai Food Festival




This morning, after getting lost on my way to DubaiLand and arriving unfashionably late, I had the opportunity to take part in a great initiative as part of Dubai Food Festival. The #HandtoPlate campaign promote healthy eating choices. We had a lovely morning with the celebrity Chef Silvena Rowe at Victory Heights Primary School, talking to the children about different food group, portion size and healthy food choices.




Inspiring the children to eat healthy is not always an easy task but with this cool, engaging video and Chef Silvena Rowe enthusiastic attitude toward healthy food, it's a step forward. Now its our turn to teach our children about healthy portion sizes for each of the five food groups. Watch the video with the kiddos and share with friends. Spread some healthy love.




#HandtoPlate #DubaiFoodFest #DubaiFoodFest #dubai #children #cooking #UAE #Education #Culinary #HandtoPlate #mydubai #portion #healthy #food #foodie





Saturday, February 7, 2015

Sweet French Treat - La Serre Boulangerie


Another lovely time at LaSerre Boulangerie.
Downtown Dubai is close to our hood and we love the urban vibe to it.
Thursday morning, Little Jo and I had a spontaneous late breakfast with a friend.
A charming girly date over smooth coffee, freshly baked croissants  
with the most delicate and tasty eggs - scrambled with salmon and classic Benedict.

Boulangerie now has a lovely terrace. A perfect setting along the boulevard, the view over the Burj Khalifa and the palm trees to remind you, that you are in Dubai.

The newly installed Pétanque set up is a sweet touch, an entertaining kid friendly idea.
We loved!

On your way out, buy a crusty baguette and some flowers from Pretaflora, just like if you were in France on a side walk of a little café. 
Simple pleasure of life.



Monday, February 2, 2015

Today we make "Les Crêpes"

Today's blog post is a repost from 2012.
On February 2nd French people eat pancakes... Here's why and how to make.

Today is Pancake Day in the UK. For us in France we celebrated Crêpes Day - "Chandeleur" on February 2nd. Not only we eat a lot of crêpes on Chandeleur, but it is traditional to hold a coin in your hand and a crêpe pan in the other, and flip the crêpe into the air. If you manage to catch the crêpe in the pan, your family will be prosperous for the rest of the year. I like traditions...

Anyway... I am ready for more pancakes...

Pancake Day is also known as Shrove Tuesday in the Christian calendar, and is celebrated as Carnival and Mardi Gras elsewhere in the world. It falls just before Lent, and was traditionally a day of fun and feasting before the fasting during 40 days of Lent.

My favorite way to eat my crêpes is with lemon and sugar… Love it! See it here.



5 months - a grateful journey

Our little Jo is 5 months today!
So much has happened since September 2nd when she changed our world. It's been a beautiful journey with lots of little ups and downs. From hip dysplasia to screaming witching hours to not taking the bottle, to teething (yes, already!). I look back with a warm gaze and feel very grateful.

Below, is an article I wrote for TimeOut Kids, while Josefin was around 6 weeks old. It's was an  unsettled time - not so easy. Reading it back now, I realize everything, every difficulties are just a phase to go through. And it does get better… Here's my two words on being a new mum second time around.





Time Out Kids Dubai - Ups & Downs of a new mum (November 2014)

I am a new mom second time around! Five years since my last pregnancy, I am rediscovering the joy and surprises of motherhood. Being a new mama is a bit like being on a roller coaster. I easily hit some highs and a few lows everyday. I had forgotten about the constant mix of emotions from exhilarating pleasure to nail-biting frustration. But in the lowest moments you can always find sweet coos and little goodness to cheer you up.

The clichés are real! Here's some of my new realities...

♥ Little Josefin is the boss of me, when she wants something, she's gonna scream to get it, until all reddish in the face. And to make it more stressful, as we don't speak the same language, I am always trying to figure out what she's asking for. Usually, it's food!

♥ I am happy to be able to feed my baby the way nature intended but wow it takes up a lot of my day (and night). For a small person with apparently a little stomach she sure spend a lot of time eating.

♥ The new concept of time. It is always an issue… Time for myself has become a luxury. I have learnt to shower, wash and dry your hair, and get dressed in less than ten minutes. I say, it's a skill! Then you have frustration time when stuck in traffic to get home to your child or stuck in the car with a screaming baby. Schedule, another form of time dependency - I find myself always checking the clock in order to establish some kind of feeding and sleeping routine. Time is precious though, every moments count and should be remembered because in a blink of an eye, she will be 1 year old. Babies grow so fast.

♥ Sleep is another luxury, a far away concept that we'll eventually come back to you. Sleep deprivation can turn you into another kind of person - not a nice one!

♥ The guilty feeling creeps in. Suddenly, I am blaming myself for baby not sleeping well or her upset tummy. Did I drink coffee, ate something wrong? Did I keep her up too long? Am I spending enough time with Luella. The mommy guilt and the pressure to get 'things right' is another symptom of the new mom syndrome.

♥ I miss my wardrobe! Happy to be out of the maternity look, then eager to wear my jeans, high heels and fitted dresses… I am now stuck into the breastfeeding style challenge.

The truth is all the lows of a new mother are worth the blessing that come with motherhood. Just like with Luella our first daughter, I love the morning smiles and coos which make me forget about the long tiring nights. I am more relaxed this time around because I have done it once and somehow you just go with the flow. I even get used to how hubby, Luella, the dog or the doorbell "accidentally" wakes her up. I know how to count my blessing everyday, and enjoy seeing them grow and become little persons. I love being a member of the Mommy club. It's the best job in the world to me. Even if it's a 24/7/365 live-in job that required you to deal with poop and more… with no overtime, paid holiday or bonuses. It's actually a privilege to be in this "business"!





Sunday, February 1, 2015

Play, Built and Explore with KenziBox



Last week, I had the pleasure to meet with lovely mamas Shirin Benamadi and Leyla Lahsini, co-founder of KenziBox. Two inspiring moms who wanted to find a better way to inspire their kids and to share this journey with others. They started KenziBox with the goal of bringing the magic of crafts into all homes, without the hassle.

KenziBox, contains 4 craft projects under one theme per month, with instruction and material provided. Ready to use. Those activities boxes are a great idea because they allowed busy parents to easily make quality time with the children. It gives you the opportunity to spontaneously start some crafty projects without looking around for ideas and materials. It's less time consuming and more convenient.

It's a fantastic way to stimulate the imagination, engage the children and spend family time together. The projects are hands-on, enriching and fun to do. Older kids might be able to do the activity by themselves while younger ones will need a bit of help. Recommended for ages 3-8 years old.


On Friday morning, Luella and I set ourself up in the garden and got the big blue box. Luella was very excited to pick her first activity. She understood the concept and was looking forward to "make" something together, something to show pappa on his return. First choice: "Let’s Feed the Birds" - Build a Birdhouse and watch to see who comes over for a snack. Instructions are well designed and easy to follow, the materials are good quality (well-known brands from the USA, Canada and Europe) and the idea is fun and engaging. Success. We tied up the bird feeder in our frangipani and hope for birds to come say hello… Later on that afternoon, it was only half full, so we had guests… ;)

During the weekend, the excitement to do more activities was still on, we managed to do "Kenzi’s Flower Garden" - Create a beautiful and crafty indoor flower garden. We kept "My Own Greenhouse" - Design your Greenhouse and learn to sprout beans and "Grassy the Caterpillar" - Grow long grass to cut and style on this fun Caterpillar for after school fun. 




What I like: 
Easy and convenient, ready to use (even protection paper for your table is provided).
It took us around 20 / 30 min to do one activity… not too long just enough quality time.
Stirred some interesting questions and conversation for kids about birds, growing flowers, garden and recycling.

What Luella liked:
"Surprises in a box", "Time with maman", "Make stuff", "Take photos" and "showing my friends and pappa my cool homemade projects".

KenziBox will bring hours of fun in the house. Thumbs up! 

Check out www.kenzibox.com to view the different subscription package and  
Monthly Subscription, AED 185 /month
3 Months Subscription, AED 175 /month
6 Months Subscription, AED 155 /month


Friday brunch at Caravan Ritz Carlton JBR

This weekend, we got to experience Caravan newly launched brunch at The Ritz Carlton on JBR. Hubby and I, don't spend our friday brunching, it's not often on the agenda. The invitation to discover this new weekend brunch was a pleasant surprise and we looked forward to go with some friends and the children.



The Ritz Carlton is a beautiful beachfront resort with a Mediterranen feel to it. Caravan is set up on the ground floor by the lush garden with the Arabian Gulf in the distance. We were greeted by a pleasant staff. A friendly lady escorted us to our outdoor table on the terrace, after a quick introduction to the brunch set up.



The concept of the brunch: "experience and explore the tastes that were discovered and have evolved from the silk and spice trade routes which were once traveled by the men of the desert." The buffet style brunch is a culinary journey all the way to India, Arabia and the Mediterranean. The highlight of the set up is the impressive rotisserie: organic farm-to-table experiences that highlight seasonal ingredients and vegetables fresh from the country’s selected local farms. 



The good stuff:
The set up is of a classic Dubai brunch with some lovely food options from different corners of the world, with some appetizing live cooking stations, carving stations and rotisserie. I appreciated the size and the display of the food, a lovely variety without being overwhelming and intimidating.

The food was good, we all enjoyed our dishes and managed to sample a little of everything between us four adults. If you need inspiration in your choice, look at the little menu provide on the table - with must try signatures dishes.

Fresh organic products from local farms

Indoor and outdoor seating.

Live music

The atmosphere was elegant but casual, a relaxed friday brunch.


The disappointing stuff:
The drink selection felt limited for example, hubby was not so impresses with the beers on offer, only two kind: sol and budweiser.

Slightly over priced.
Oasis at AED 450 with non-alcoholic beverages and Caravan’s signature “Ginger Route”
Desert Springs at AED 560 with sparkling vintages and 2 signature cocktails
Mirage at AED 690 with unlimited French bubbly and signature cocktails.

Traffic to and out of JBR on a Friday.


What about the kids?
Friday brunch at Caravan is a relaxed and friendly setting for friends and family. But it's not one of those "kid brunch" where children feel free to run around. There is no food station dedicated to children or entertainment within the restaurant (like make your own mini pizza kinda thing). Little guests are very welcome to Caravan brunch, after enjoying their lunch with mum and dad, kiddos are escorted if desired to The Rizt Kids Club just off side to the left of the restaurant. Children could also take part in some activities and games on the lawn across the terrace while mom and dad enjoy 'adult time' and gourmet food. A good compromise to satisfy most family and couples dining, while keeping the venue sophisticated. It workout very well with our 5 months old baby and three girls aged above 5, not so sure with younger toddler. Children up to 4 years old eat for free, 5 to 12 years old are charged AED225, which I think is too expensive. 











Like us if you wanna enjoy a relaxed elegant gourmet brunch visit Caravan Ritz Carlton.
For reservations or inquiries, please contact 971 4 318 6150 or e-mail dine.dubai@ritzcarlton.com