Monday, May 30, 2016

Top Chef Cooking Studio - things we LOVE

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to experience TOP CHEF Cooking Studio, and it was such a great afternoon! On the occasion of French Mother's Day, Luella and I took part in a cooking class with the lovely Chef Christina and three other families. We had a fantastic time and would recommend you to check out Top Chef.

The cooking studio is located on Jumeirah Beach Road, opposite Mercato in a stylish villa, well decorated with warm and friendly interior. Nadir Benaissa founder of the studio has a wonderful eye for details and home decor. It's bright, happy, inviting from the dining room to the kitchens.

After a quick introductions to the other mamas and children, we met Christina, our Chef for the afternoon. We loved her food knowledge, inspiring energy and little tips in the kitchen. We discussed the menu, put on our aprons, washed our hands and began the fun... Children got engaged quickly, showing interest in the ingredients and the cooking techniques. It was wonderful to watch. Mums had the option to stay and help or enjoy a coffee and chat in the dining room. We all decided to stay and contribute, making the afternoon a bonding experience.

What did the kids prepare? A delicious diner for their "mamans" on this special day, served beautifully in the dining room.

Peach Ice Tea 
Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce
Jasmine rice
Banana Chocolate Cake.

Eating all together, talking about food, travel and sharing stories. I love how food get people together. It's an opening to many new experiences and friendship. It's also very important for children to understand food quality & techniques, health benefits, culture and social power.

If you are looking to get into cooking or develop some new kitchen skills, you should try Top Chef Cooking Studio. The team is passionate about gourmet food, quality ingredients and seemed to genuinely love to share their knowledge and enthusiasm for the good stuff. They offer a nice range of tailor-made adult classes like " Culinary Art", "Vegetarian Cuisine", "An escape to Thailand", "Mexican Class". On top of that, birthday parties, corporate event and private diner are all fantastic options from Top Chef.

Just for kids...
"Mini Chef" and "Budding Chef" classes, where the kids will prepare and enjoy their diner together. Great opportunity to make new friends, learn and get creative!

Birthday Parties are tailored for children aged 7-12 and for groups of 10 to 20. One hour of fun in the kitchen, baking a large birthday cake and mouth-watering chocolate chip cookies, learning about the ingredients, preparing seasonal fruits to blend their smoothie and even making their own candy floss or mini-pizzas! In a lovely set up... Sounds perfect to me!

Kids Camp running from Sunday to Thursday from 9am to 1pm, these half day classes will cover basic cooking skills under the guidance of Top Chef’s professional team such as how to use age-appropriate kitchen equipment through to ensuring your kitchen’s always clean. Aside from cooking, there will be some fun activities so they’ll be able to work off that energy with an extra 1h activity that will be different everyday. More details soon to be announced. 

Thank you Top Chef Cooking Studio, for your hospitality! We loved your convivial space, friendly team, beautiful and well equipped facilities and delicious food. See you again soon!

More booking and all the infos visit:
Top Chef Cooking Studio
Villa 196, Jumeirah Beach Road
Jumeira 1

Friday, May 27, 2016

'Summer Must have' from So Chic girls and how to update your wardrobe

If like us, your wardrobe need a little revamp for the summer holidays, we might have some suggestions. Dubai our Sandbox asked the So Chic girls what's their favourite trends and must have items for your summer wardrobe. Emma and Alex share their french stylish effortless fashion top suggestions for the season. Here's the lowdown...

This summer is all about bohemian chic, with lots of flowy dresses, lace, appliqué, layers, frills in breathable fabrics and billowy silhouettes that will keep you looking very cool in the heat.


Blouse Bel Air, Short sweetie, sandales Petite Mendigote chez So Chic

Blouse Lynn Adler, short Gat Rimon et sac Petite Mendigote chez So Chic

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Photoshoot turned into a dress up party with friends - love

What were we up to last week? A fun photoshoot styled by super talented and fellow blogger friend Heidi Raeside from for Just Kidding and beautifully shot by

It was a hot but lovely afternoon with friends, playing dress up, munching on candy and ice cream in gorgeous dresses from Dutch clothing line Jottum. What not to like?!

Here's some of our favourite shots of Amelia and India Bruce, Sofia Viel, Luella and Josefin wearing the soon to launch in Dubai Jottum collection. A timeless yet contemporary line for children that mamas will love.

Love the beautiful clothing from Jottum, as much as we do? Mark your calendar and don't miss the FASHION SHOW AT THE JUST KIDDING GOLD AND DIAMOND PARK LAUNCH ON SATURDAY 4TH JUNE.

The gang at work... Good time with Edwina Viel, Lucy Bruce, Heidi Reside, the Just Kidding team and our wonderful girls.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Guest post from Travel Junkie Diary - travelling with children

Today's post is from my favourite travel blogger in Dubai, Michelle Karam. Travel Junkie Diary is a beautiful journey of inspiring experiences, amazing destinations, enlightening adventures and getaways and a valuable travel resource for families looking to explore the world.

With the summer holidays fast approaching and parents around the world planning their vacations, I wanted to share this insightful and inspiring article from Travel Junkie Diary: "How Traveling with Children Helps You Grow". Travelling with kids can be stressful but really it should not! Here's why and how!

How Traveling with Children Helps You Grow

There are numerous of articles out there helping you cope with ‘traveling with children’. Somehow all the articles you read are almost always the same. The truth of the matter is, that practice makes perfect. Even if your first time was a disaster. 

There is something we tend to forget, which is not the manual on ‘how to switch off kids potential bad behavior when traveling’, but, to remind ourselves how we, as parents, grow from each experience, every take off and landing with our children. 

It’s not just them that needs to adapt to change, It’s also us. The Parent… And if we have a little faith in them, we stop and realize on how traveling with children can actually help you grow. Both emotionally and mentally. 

Have we forgotten than it’s also us, the parent, that needs some adapting? 



Travel Junkie Diary 

In Collaboration with Le Méridien Hotels & Resorts
"How Traveling with Children Helps You Grow" by Michelle Karam 

1. You loosen up
If you are the type of parent that is anything like me, then you would understand the importance of your child being asleep by 7pm. Until one evening, while away, she was in bed at 8pm, broke the rule for the 1st time and gave us a whole hour to be out of the hotel a little longer. It made a drastic change to our itinerary and to the better. Traveling with children can help you start to loosen up a little on feeding schedules, sleeping routines and even on yourself, which affects a lot during a trip.
Learning to let go makes it all part of the growing process.

2. You bond in new and different ways
Not more of a different way but just new ways every trip. Sometimes while hiking or swimming or even stuck on a train. You bring in new experiences to yourself as much as your child and you learn to cuddle, talk or even listen more in new ways.

Le Méridien Hotels & Resorts for example has local discovery guides to help explore your destination in new and exciting, family-friendly ways. During those guides, you learn to discover new things together.

3. You learn how to take on red eye flights
If there were no morning flights, then I wouldn’t fly. Morning flights always ruin most of the traveling plan because it would take a full day to travel to and another full day back and had NO clue how to take red eye flights with a 3 year old, until one summer evening, I risked it all. I booked a 2am flight to Barcelona and arrived at 6am. How did I do it? I knew it was a learning curve for me, I told myself (Back to point 1) Loosen up and let it go. I tried not to wake her while taking her to the airport (of-course it didn’t work) but I kept it very calm, quiet and replicate the same as if we were in bed. On the plane, I learned to quickly set up her sleeping area, no TV, no snacks, no entertainment, just sleep. 4 hours later, I couldn’t believe I did it, and I learned now, it’s me who needed to adapt. Not her.

4. Your Packing skills multiply
From a solo traveler to one that travels now with a 4 year old from time to time, alone… you learn to pack the bare necessities, phone the hotel to find the amenities and just learn to share a suitcase if you are traveling alone together.

You will need all your hands free!

What truly helps is to also pick a hotel that is family friendly, for example , Le Méridien now gives out LEGOS amenities upon check in anywhere around the globe which is the first hotel brand to partner up with this innovative company.

5. Family First
You learn to grow as a family together more. Much more when you are away. You learn to pause and see that nothing else matters except for this moment now. This helps you accept the long nights, the messy kitchen and the chores as a parent.

6. Story-telling consists of history & culture rather than fairy-tales & make believe
It’s a fact! Your IQ in story telling grows in a surprising and very impressive kind of way! Watch their eyes glow as you talk about the Pharaohs in Egypt or why people climb mountain peaks and most importantly, why languages and cultures are different from one another.

7. Your patience level increases
You have no one else but each other. So you tend to (go back to point 1 again) Loosen up and start to accept few things that once back home, was never accepted because of the pressure of work or your daily routine life. When traveling with kids, you let go of work, routine and you are fully aware of your surroundings and feelings. Have a little faith in them.

8. You adapt to your own rhythm
There is no specific time to wake up, no specific time to sleep. No specific time to eat. No specific time for any routine and every day is different. You learn to listen to your heart and your mind what it wants to do and when. It’s all up to you.

(I would still keep a somewhat schedule to maintain stability)

9. Your self-confidence grows
Yes, sure, with time, you will be traveling with your children / child alone. You will learn and feel confident to do it all on your own, with practice. It only takes that one time!

10. You find out what you need more than what you want
Traveling with children can go both ways. But either way, you will find out exactly what you need out of a vacation and then decide whether to take them or not. If you need time out by yourself or whether you need to explore new destinations with the help of the hotel that has great kids activities. Your choices will become more rational than second guessing.

Le Méridien’s new family program (curating unique family-friendly offerings, etc.) is available at their 100+ hotels worldwide, curating family- friendly museums and cultural centers to landmarks, parks, and family-friendly restaurants. Traveling with children will educate you on picking exactly the right kind of travel holiday you need.

Le Méridien’s goal is to make family travel more inspiring, educational, engaging, and simply fun, no matter the destination.

Le Méridien Hotels & Resorts

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Family favourite : NY Style Cheesecake

On the occasion of my birthday... we are baking one of our favourite cake, a New York style Cheesecake. The smooth and creamy filing, crispy biscuit crust makes it a fantastic recipe, a must try if you are looking for a traditional New York City staple. I tasted some amazing cheesecakes while living in NY, this one is just about as good... And definitely brings back good memories of those years in America.

New York style Cheesecake
Serve about 12
Takes about 1.30

375g Hob-Nobs or Digestives biscuits
175g butter, melted
500g cream cheese, softened
220g caster sugar
3 eggs
1 tablespoon corn flour
2 teaspoons vanilla paste
480g sour cream
60ml lemon juice
icing sugar
mix berries

Preheat the oven to 150C (130C with fan)

Process the biscuits until fine.
Mix biscuits with butter until combined.
Press the biscuit mixture evenly over the base and side of a greased springform pan
Refrigerate while preparing the filing

Cream cheese, sour cream and eggs close to room temperature.
Beat cream cheese, 3/4 of sugar , egg yolks and cornflour with an electric mixer until smooth
Add vanilla, sour cream and lemon juice until well combined

Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.
Gradually add remaining sugar.
Fold carefully the egg whites into the cream cheese mixture

Spread the filing into the biscuits crust
Bake for about 1 hour, until just set
Switch off the oven, let it cool in the oven with door slightly open (prevent cracking)

I like to serve with mix berries sauce and icing sugar
Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

A morning with HSS about First Aid Paediatric

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to host a coffee morning with HSS- Health and Safety Solutions. The intimate event took place at RIVA Beach Club with a group of lovely Dubai mamas. I am really happy to get the chance to bring mothers togethers to socialise with the purpose. This time it was about bringing awareness on the importance of First Aid knowledge for parents and nannies. To show how a First Aid Paediatric course can give people the confidence and skills to save lives.

The event was a great opportunity to introduce Annie Browne Founder of Health & Safety Solutions Middle East. HSS is a high quality health and safety training and consultancy company based in Dubai that offer businesses, employers and individuals the incredible opportunity, knowledge, skills and confidence to do help save a life and know how to act in everyday medical emergencies. 

First Aid for Parents, Maids and Nannies is a course that Annie and the team are dedicated to raising awareness of this year and have made a pledge to train 500 parents and nannies throughout the Middle East by the end of August 2016. This course is a Paediatric First Aid course developed specifically for parents, maids and nannies and leads the way in providing the most up-to-date and essential first aid information. Meeting all of the specific guidelines set out for nannies in a simple six hour course, makes it an essential for anyone working with or around young children on a regular basis.

Annie is very passionated and dedicated about her work. She's a great speaker, her enthusiast is communicative. It was eye opening listening to her. “Tragically every week in the newspapers there are distressing stories of children who have died because of accidents in the home. These involve choking, falling from heights, drowning and poisoning. Only last week a 3 year old boy died of strangulation from blind cords. Ask yourself: If my child stopped breathing would I know what to do? Would my maid know what to do? They only have 3 minutes. Children are the most precious thing in our lives. Why would we put them at risk by leaving them with untrained people? The course is only 6 hours long – how long would you regret it if something really serious happened?”

Each of the variety of health and safety training courses are conducted by a talented team of qualified trainers and consultants originating from the UK, Middle East, and the Philippines. All courses are interactive and hands-on presenting real-life scenarios that are individually tailored to peoples or businesses specific needs.

The morning was well spent discussing the reality of home safety with children. Annie took us ladies on a theoretical and practical tour, showing us the basics of choking and CPR techniques that are specific to infants who are aged 0 to 1, and children aged from 1 year old to the onset of puberty. It was a good demonstration of what the First Aid for Parents, Maids and Nannies is about.

Thank you to the lovely moms who joined me - hope you will all take the time to consider HSS for your family safety and that your newly acquire knowledge will not be put in use.

Further information about HSS, the courses on offer and to make bookings, is available on
First Aid for Parents, Maids and Nannies : AED350
Follow HSS on Facebook and on Instagram @HSS_ME.

Monday, May 2, 2016


Happy to announce the arrival of JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH in the UAE this month! Art For All is a huge fan of the works of Roald Dahl, and they are bringing this children’s classic tale,  to life on stage by award-winning theatre company, Sell A Door, and has been adapted by renowned theatre director, David Woods.

The hero of the story is James; a little orphan boy who, after his parents are killed in a tragic rhinoceros accident, is sent to live near the White Cliffs of Dover in England, with his evil aunts Spiker and Sponge. Resigned to a life of misery, James’ fortunes change when he meets an old man who gives him a bag containing the ingredients for a potion. After stumbling accidentally in the garden, his magic potion spills onto the soil underneath the old peach tree, and the very next day a giant peach begins to grow. Initially Spiker and Sponge decide to capitalize on the fantastical fruit, forcing James to sell tickets to spectators, but then one night he hears someone calling from inside the peach and it’s time for the real fun to begin. From there it’s a cross-world adventure that takes James all the way to Central Park, New York, with hilarious results. 

Starring Ewan Goddard as James, Max Gallagher as Spike and Grace Bishop as Sponge, and with a musical score by Harry Sever this captivating show, which stays true to Dahl’s legendary story, is a must-see for the entire family. *Suitable for children aged 3+. Running time: 1:45 (including a 15-minute intermission)

When: 12th to 13th May
Location: DUCTAC

Abu Dhabi
When: 7th May
Location: Abu Dhabi Theatre

Public rate: Dhs140 to Dhs195
Special offers available for schools
Tickets are available from Ductac, Virgin Tickets and Ticketline
For general enquiries: Call 050 880 5074

Dubai our Sandbox and Art for All has teamed up to bring you the chance to WIN 2 TICKETS to the smash-hit show all you need to do is visit Dubai our Sandbox Facebook page.

All you need to do is:
1/ in the comment box answer to "Who's the author of James and the Giant Peach?"
2/ follow Dubai our Sandbox and Art For All on Facebook.
3/ share the link on Facebook and tag some friends

The winner will be announced on Thursday May 5th via Facebook.
Good luck.