Monday, 18 April 2011

We Are Moving !

Dear Friends,

We have decided to move on....
We are moving somewhere better !
We have decided to close down this blog and move over to Wordpress.
After lots of going back and forth,we have finally decided to make the move, as it is so much more user-friendly and has so many more exciting functions.
Hope you like it.
Come over and see us and make sure to subscribe to our posts, so we can keep in touch !

Ps. we have also got a new Facebook page. Did you "like" us yet ?

Sunday, 10 April 2011

The Rosevine, Cornwall

For those that follow us on Twitter and Facebook, probably already know that we love The Rosevine.

It took a bit over 6 hours to drive to this wonderful white house by the sea. Luckily, the drive worked just as planned. Kids napped big part of the journey, the rest of the journey they were eating and happily chatting away.

Our rooms were just as nice as it looked on their website, if not even more so. Staff was very nice and friendly. All was very calm and welcoming.

Once we arrived, baby-sitter was arranged within minutes, and kids dinners ordered. Kids will all have dinner together in one of our rooms and play until it is bed-time.
We big people were left to relax with a drink in the lounge, until our dinner was ready in the restaurant. Duck salad, scallops, sea-bass, steak, risotto, chicken terrine....... it was all amazing. The Rosevine is incredibly child-friendly and the service and food is what you would expect to find in an exclusive boutique hotel.

Morning 1. After a refreshing swim in the heated swimming pool, we all had a hearty breakfast in the restaurant. Again, the food was brilliant. Kids finished theirs and went off to the play-room whilst we continued ours in peace.

First destination, St. Ives. but not until we had enjoyed some play-time in the lovely garden. Sun was shining, the sky was bright blue, as was the ocean..... we were all happy !

St. Ives was about 1h away from The Rosevine. Once we arrived, we parked at Park Avenue car Park, just a few minutes away from the centre. A short stroll and a bit of window shopping later, we arrived at the harbour. All kids charged straight down towards the beach and that was that, we didn't leave for the rest of the day. We were all having a great time. Lunch : Fish n' Chips and ice cream.

Sun-soaked and happy, we headed back to hotel. All kids ( + myself) napping all the way. Dinner in our room after a quick swim. Hotel provided us with prepared dinners that we could easily heat up in our room and wine. Chicken, mashed potatoes, chicken terrine, salad, apple crumble.....simple, basic and very nice. Early night for kids. Movie night in the lounge for mums.

Next was beach day. Well, we were supposed to just walk through the beach (Porth Curnick Beach, which is only a couple of minutes of walk from hotel) to get over to Port Scatho but ended up staying a bit longer than planned. The sun was beaming ! In fact, it was as hot as any British summers day. It was wonderful. We pretty much had the beach all to ourselves, apart from the one or two other families that were there. We even spotted some seals.The more skeptical of us think they were ducks....

Glorious sunshine. Fantastic beach. Buckets. Spades. A bunch of happy kids. Life was good and like that we stayed for several hours until hunger was sneaking up on us. With a bit of gentle persuasion, everyone agreed to leave our beloved spot and walk across to the other side of the beach to follow the scenic route to Port Scatho, a small fishing village in search of food.
Discovered some rather wonderful rock pools by the edge of the beach, filled with clear (very cold) water and living creatures. We spotted shrimps, crabs and even some fish in these beautiful "aquariums".

From the rock-pools to our feeding station (the one and only pub in Port Scatho), it took about 15-20 mins and that includes a few pit stops like, trouser changing, flower picking and photos.

Pub looked pretty old and average but food was surprising good. Mussels/chips, moussaka/salad, sausage/mash, fish/chips... and all washed down with Cornish cider.

The other place well worth a visit is a small vintage gift shop across the road, full of quaint crafts and wonderful vintage books, decorations and clothing. It was set-up by 3 local crafts-women that also have a small studio there where they make some of their own products,as well as hold workshops.

After lunch, comes the much anticipated afternoon nap for everyone. We were all happily full and tired.

Afternoon movie in playroom, out-door play and lots of pretend play with the toys provided by The Rosevine. It was all so easy ..... 4 toddlers and a baby can sometimes be quite stressful but not here ... they were all too busy having fun and playing/exploring to cause trouble.

This place is such a pleasure to stay at with kids, they think of everything ! Whilst the kids were in the playroom playing, one of the staff approached me to order kids dinners in advance, to ensure kids would get their food shortly after we all got seated at restaurant. In that way, they get to enjoy their dinner in our company while the adults then can continue to eat and chat long after kids finished and gone off back to playroom to enjoy one of the many DVDs and toys available.

After a long lie in, it was breakfast again.
There is something quite nice about waking up in the morning, making yourself some coffee, some toast... still in your pyjamas, so we decided to just get some breakfast food and have breakfast in one of our rooms in the mornings. There is a little kitchenette but to our disappointment, no hob.... we had 24 eggs and porridge to make ! So what to do .... use the microwave ?! None of us had really cooked in a microwave before but actually it worked quite well ! Porridge was just fine, as was the scrambled eggs (which strangely resembled the scrambled eggs provided on long-haul flights) but the boiled eggs.... we just couldn't figure out a way to make them soft-boiled. My kids will only eat "dippy" egg and not interested in hard-boiled, so saved a lot of eggs there ! I really enjoyed our breakfasts together, all of us in our pjs...

The 4 days that we spent there went way too quickly. Could do with perhaps another few days... or weeks ! We will definitely come back again.

If you are looking for a short family vacation in the UK, I recommend that you try The Rosevine.

We paid £495 for a suite, incl. 1 dinner in restaurant and 1 dinner in the room (ie. 4 dishes from the deli menu). Worth every penny.

Ps. One last thing I should mention . Although Wi-Fi is good at The Rosevine, mobile phone signal is not. So, just bear this in mind if you are expecting important phonecalls ! DH had to drive a couple of miles up the road to get good signals several times a day, to make sure there weren't any urgent messages left on his phone.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

What is best for our kids ??

Read a very interesting and somewhat disturbing article called "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior" earlier today.
Being Chinese myself, I found this article rather quite disturbing .... mainly because I know that this is the way The Chinese (generalization) Mother thinks.

Strict schedule. Grueling practice. Lots of shouting. Sometimes unrealistically high expectations (according to me). No hobbies, no play, all work. Unless the child is the best at everything, it is not good enough. There is no such thing as individual interests, the child learns what he/she is supposed to do (according to the parent....who mainly base their choice on what other parents say children are supposed to learn ie. piano/violin). Art is frowned upon. Sports is not really important. Learning is NOT supposed to be fun, it is supposed to be hard ! No questions asked, just do as you are told.

This is so opposite to how I chose to bring up my own children. They are still young (according to me, but many Chinese kids at this age already practice 2-3 hours of piano/violin a day !). They are in a small Montessori nursery close to our home, where it is all about the children's individuality and their own pace of learning. There is no structure as such in their day, the children all choose their own "work" that they want to focus on at any particular point of time. If they choose to go for a walk in the garden, they can do that too !
I believe learning should be fun ! The Montessori system is based on the child building up his/her own confidence by learning new work by himself/herself, without too much adult interference. The success in itself will become the "reward" and the child will not rely on other people's praise to feel like he has done well. The work in front of himself/herself will prove that. It is about the child wanting to learn without having to be forced to. If a child is enjoying to learn, he/she will....and the knowledge that the child learns will be more in-depth than any forced learning would be.

I don't think a child needs to be a genius or prodigy to have a good life and/or in deed happy, quite the opposite.

For me, enjoying life is by far more important than learning to recite Mozart, especially at a young age. Unless of course you really love playing Mozart of course....

Ok, a child needs discipline (how much depends on how unruly the child is of course). Our job as a parent is to teach them what is right or wrong and also to steer them away from potential danger but other than that, I believe if you give a child a chance, they will be able to (sooner or later) find their own path, the path that they truly enjoy being part of. I, as a parent, can not and should not choose whats is right for my child's future. Yes, I can prepare him for what the future may hold but ultimately, the finale choice has to be a confident one made by the child.

What is your view on this ? Do you believe it is right to demand and expect of your child to be the best at everything and if they are not, relentlessly push them to achieve the goals that you have set out for them ?

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Simple Art Display For your Childs Artwork

One of my favourite gifts to give away at the moment is this simple but very useful frame created by Articulate, a creative company based in Glasgow that aims to help artists find ways to showcase and celebrate their creativity.

Using these simple frames, you can simply slot your child (or your own) artwork, be it drawings, painting or 3d collages, in and create stunning art displays or gifts. It also works as great art work storage for some of your favourite pieces.

Talking about the frames, designer Eona Craig says: ‘Families have really warmed to this simple solution to the perennial problem of curly-edged artwork on the fridge door. The best thing about the frames is that children’s first works of art are featured in a positive way and can be changed often to become an imaginative and personal gallery. It’s a simple but stylish way to show your child how proud you are of them.’

They come in simple, double or triple frames in size A3 and A4.

Click here to buy single A3 frame and here to buy A4 frame.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Baking Chocolate Chip Cookies with Toddlers

What better way to spend an afternoon than at home baking, with the weather being so cold at the moment ?
We recently received our first shipment from "Kids Cooking" so I decided to put it to the test with the little ones. I got them an apron and hat set each, as well as matching cooking bowls and spoons. Then we got started with making some chocolate chip cookies, using a "Yummie's Mummy" kit. Two eggs and 400ml of water was all we needed to add to it.

The LOs love cooking and baking with me anyway but with their new aprons and hats on, they felt it was even more special and even more fun. They giggled and laughed so much that the flour went flying everywhere...... Having said that, they did pretty much manage to make the cookies all by themselves ! I had to help them with measuring out the water and a little bit of stirring right at the end but the rest they took care of themselves.

Luckily, after quite a few tasting sessions (no doubt because they wanted to make sure the flavouring was right) before the cookies went in the oven, we still managed to save some baked ones for our friends that came over for tea.

If you'd rather bake them from scratch, here is a superb recipe I found on "" that I normally use.

250g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
170g unsalted butter, melted
200g dark brown soft sugar
100g caster sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
325g chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 170 C / Gas mark 3. Grease baking trays or line with parchment.

Sift together the flour, bicarb and salt; set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and caster sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon. Drop cookie dough onto the prepared baking trays, with each cookie around 4 tablespoons of dough (for smaller cookies, drop 1 rounded tablespoonful and adjust baking time as necessary). Do not flatten the dough. Cookies should be about 8cm apart.

Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking trays for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Ps. What is your favourite baking/cooking "project" with your kids ?

Grab a good cleaning cloth, a vacuum cleaner, a bit of patience.... and Happy Baking !!!

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Finding Inspiration In London' s Museums and Galleries

As the days are getting darker and colder, I have been trying to get myself (and the LOs ) inspired by visiting a whole bunch of museums and galleries lately. Some were better than others but the most fun one was by far " Move: Choreograph You" at Hayward Gallery, which consists of a series of installations created by influential visual artists and choreographers. It explores the historical, as well as, current connection between art, movement and the public.

What made it so good ?? Well, never have I been at an exhibition where one is expected/allowed to touch the exhibits ! The kids had an amazing time running through the various installations, climb on rings and even enjoyed a bit of hula hooping ! Luckily, I had some friends with me that day so they could help me keep an eye on at least one of the LOs... Usually when we go to exhibitions, they are pretty much confined to the buggy (trying to keep two unruly toddlers from touching or breaking exhibits can otherwise become quite stressful) but this one was all about taking part, so I had to let them go and explore and have fun, which they enjoyed as much as me !

Another fabulous exhibition (maybe less so for the LOs) is Diaghilev and The Golden Age of The Ballet Russes at the Victoria and Albert Museum. It showcased the work produced by Diaghilev during the early part of the 20th century, the importance of his work both within the dance world and the whole art world during that time. Ballet Russes was the most important dance company of the 20th century with various collaborations with important artists, musicians and designers like, Stravinsky, Chanel, Picasso etc.
Amazing costumes were on display, as well as, huge theatre cloths and showcases of Diaghilev's most important productions. Interesting exhibition for sure, not only for dance enthusiasts but also for anyone that is interested in theatre, fashion and life of the early 20th century.

I recently also went to see the Peter Rabbit exhibition there. It was lovely ! However, as everything was on display quite high up, the LOs didn't actually get to see that much of it from their buggy... and trying to lift them both up through the exhibition would have just been too tiring (It is amazing how fast the LOs grow !!!) ! But if you have only one LO to look after and carry, I really recommend it, as the drawings are really sweet and each one has a little story attached to it so it would be like reading a story book to them.

A great day to go to Victoria and Albert is on Friday evenings, when the gallery is open until 10 ! It has a lovely and lively feel there on Fridays, as the main entrance transforms itself to a bar/lounge with DJ around 7 pm and you can sit down, relax with a nice cocktail, a glass of wine or maybe some water as you admire the interior and the Roman sculptures right off the main lobby. Or if you (and/or the LOs) are feeling a bit peckish, you could also head to the main restaurant/bar at the back of the museum, where they serve hot food, snacks, as well as delicious cakes. Beautiful setting, and often with a live jazz band playing.
Fantastic way to spend a late afternoon/early evening with LOs, enjoying a bit of culture.....and if you don't fancy the Ballet Russes exhibition, you could just wander through the museum, which is all free.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Competition Time Part 2

Our competition posters (see previous post) at Snappy Studios can now be found throughout London . If you happen to see one, please e-mail me a photo of yourselves next to it. The nicest photo of the week will win a £20 voucher to be spent at Monsters and Munchkins.
And as a thank you for taking part in the fun, you will get 10% off your next order.

Ps. Last week's winner has already received their voucher. Hurry up to win yours too !