Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Wrapped up or Christmas Eve!

As you can see from the photo above, we are now in Devon for Christmas. It took 21 hours of travelling, 2 flights, 1 taxi and 1 jaguar driven by a special grandad to get here!

I was preparing myself for freezing cold weather and chilling icy winds but it's not as bad as I thought it would be! It rained a lot yesterday and over night but today it  brightened up which meant we could have a lovey walk to the pub! A Christmas Eve tradition started by hubby's late grandad. 

Tomorrow will be a fairly chilled out day here, just 7 of us for Christmas dinner so relatively small. I hope you all enjoy time with your families over the winter holidays! Welcome to my new followers too! 

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Sweet corn fritters recipe

I got this recipe idea from my mother in law. I thought it would be a great way to sneak some veg in for William. 

They take just a few minutes to prepare. Just chuck all the ingredients in a bowl and mix it up. 

Then heat a little of the oil in a pan and spoon in dollops of the mixture, make sure to space them out a bit so they don't form one massive fritter (although that might be nice!) they should be about 1cm thick. 

Cook them for a few minutes on both sides. I served them with a blob of sweet chilli sauce. 

  • 30g plain flour
  • half tsp baking powder
  • quarter tsp salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 x 200g can sweetcorn, drained (drained weight 170g)
  • 1 large or 2 small spring onions, finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp sunflower or canola oil for frying
I added a handful if chopped carrots and peppers too. So feel free to add any veg you may have hiding in the fridge! 

William loved them. Especially when I called them mini pancakes!

Quick snowflake pattern

Time is ticking on... We are preparing for our journey back to the uk for the Christmas holidays and so looking forward to spending time with our families. We haven't seen most of them in about 4 months since we made the move to Dubai. 

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have been doing some Christmas crafts with William to take back to the uk. I made a few of these really quick and easy snowflakes to pop in the bag for a special lady who I know will appreciate them. 

So here is the pattern. I used a 3.5mm hook and double knitting yarn in white. Obviously you can be as adventurous as you like with these or keep them classic. Great little pattern for using up wool stashes and to pop in stockings or use as tags on presents. 

- Chain 4, slip stitch into first chain to make a circle. 
- chain 4, now working into the centre circle, hdc, ch 2 (5 times).  Join to 2nd chain of your first chain 4, creating 6 hdc and spaces. 
- slip stitch into space, chain 3, sl st into same space, chain 5, sl st into same space, chain 3, sl st into se space, chain 1. 
- repeat this in each space left, creating a 6 spoked snowflake design. When you have finished the last space, slip stitch into first sl st of the round. 

I made a few bigger ones by increasing the chains on the spokes to 5, 7, 5. 
it is best if you block these. If you want to hang them on your tree you could try coating them in a fine layer of pva glue to make them stiffer. 

There are loads of snowflake patterns about at the moment. I may make some to turn into bunting at some point. For a summery version I may mix coloured snowflakes with some flower ones! 

So about 10 days to go til Christmas so I hope you are all looking forward to enjoying your time with loved ones! 

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Christmas crafts

Obviously being in Dubai, there is not a massive Christmas vibe here. There is none of he build up that you usually get, no cold weather, no Christmas lights and decorations around, no scarves and wooly hats etc. 

But this week William and I have been tying to gear up for Christmas. We are flying back to the uk to spend two weeks per the holidays with our families. First stop is Christmas at the Inlaws in South Devon. I believe grandma and grandad are getting ready for our arrival with coats and gloves etc on hand! 

Last year while we were still living in the uk, William was spending 3 days a week with his childminder. She was awesome! I don't think I will ever forget her and the affect she had on him. She was so kind and patient and made such a huge effort with all the children she cared for. At chrisymas he came home with a massive bag of goodies. Including homemade cookies and decorations. 

So I have attempted to do the same with him again this year and to make a bag of
Little treasures to take back to the Gilbert family for Christmas. Now William will be two in a few weeks so probably doesn't remember much of Christmas last year. So it will be fun introducing him to the Christmas tree again! Here are a few of the decorations we have made to far. All made using paper, glue and a splash of glitter! 

First up, giant baubles! I cut out large circles out of card and let William decorate them as he wished. This mainly included scribbling and colouring and gluing in glitter! I also helped a bit by adding some designs with a sharpy pen. I also cut up bits of paper that William had already painted and used them to make nice shapes on the baubles. One of the items grana bought him a few weeks ago was some foam shapes so we at together, sticking them on too. He found this very fiddly ad sometimes got frustrated when they kept getting stuck to his fingers but it was a good activity for his fine motor skills. 

Use a hole punch to string ribbon through and voila! We decorated both sides of the card incase it spins around wherever it is hung. 

This next decoration is probably my favourite thig we have made together. As William can't use scissors yet this required quite a lot of help from me. Firstly I gave him some paints to paint some plain paper. He used a sponge for most of it which produced a nice delicate effect. (He then tried using a paint brush and splodged it on in a very boyish manner!) Once it was dry he also used some stamps that he was given by his great Aunty Beverley. It was a set with a snowman, Christmas tree, bauble and star and he absolutely loves using them!

Next step was for me cut circles out of the paper and back them onto some red card. I pouched a hole in the top of each one. William then went mental with a glue stick and we sprinkled glitter on them, I think this is his favourite part! I crocheted a chain of red yarn, 15 chains inbetween each bauble and did a single crochet into each hole of the baubles. I left a tail at either end to hang them up. If you cannot crochet then a piece of ribbon to string them on would do nicely!

Today we tried snow flakes! 

There are loads of patterns on the Internet or on Pinterest at the moment for these. We kinda just did random ones as William wanted to try and help cut. These are great with older kids but William enjoyed decorating the paper with glitter first, watching and waiting to see the final snow flake shape as it is opened up! I even started to get excited to see if our random snipping had made anything nice! 

I have no idea if these will survive the flight back to the uk but it was fun making them! 

We have less than two weeks before we start the horrendous journey back to the uk but am really looking forward to it. We haven't seen most of our family in 4 months so it will be great. I have done grown up crafting to post about soon and probably more of Williams art work too! 

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Crafting for gifts....

Before I start, SPOILER ALERT! ......

If you are a certain crafting mother in law of mine and don't want to ruin a little present I have made you then stop reading this post now! I wanted to write about it now while I had time before the crazy holidays begin and I won't see chalky til the 20th December. 


The past couple of days I have had a bit of quiet time at home and have managed to do a bit of sewing/crafting. I am totally addicted to Pinterest at the moment and kinda saw a version of this idea on there. 

I have been making some gift tags. As I have not long moved, I seem to have a stash of cardboard around. I knew there was a reason why I couldn't simply throw it away and now I have found a use for some of it! The idea I saw on Pinterest was to hand embroider very simple designs, like an x, onto a piece of card and punch a hole in it to attach to parcels and presents. I went a step further by glueing on designs made out of old wrapping paper and machine sewing round them. Some designs are obviously harder than others! The elephant was a tad tricky!

By using different wrapping papers and coloured threads it gave different effects. I deliberately chose to do the sewing in a rough, sketchy way to make them look original and 'shabby chic'. I also didn't want the pressure if having to do it all perfectly! Haha. 

This batch were my attempt at a stitched lined paper design. Each card had space for writing a message or just a name on. 

I think they are really cute and I guess you could make them with kids too. A way of introducing them to a sewing machine. There are so many designs, shapes and colours you could use. So next time you have a box lying around, save the cardboard! 

This lot just need a hole punched in them and I will tie them together as a gift for my mother in law. I know they are right up her street! 

Mushrif park

A stroll around a sanctuary of greenery was our mission yesterday. We chose mushrif park in mirdif as our destination. 

The park is huge and almost feels out of place in the desert and city landscape of Dubai. It's a great place for picnics and children's playgrounds. It has a swimming pool (didn't use it so can't comment on the state of it) and a small train for kids. The train only runs after 4pm so we missed this unfortunately. 

It also featured an 'international village', a collection of miniature houses from around the world. William enjoyed seeing these and especially liked sneaking in the English house. Some of the houses were a little rundown (I found some a little creepy but that's just me! Like seeing an old burnt down building ... Makes me shiver!) I did wonder if after visiting here, whether other nationalities think all us Brits live in Tudor houses with big wooden beams. Although I must say, it was a better attempt than that of global villages homage to the uk! That was just embarrassing! 

It cost AED 10 to enter with a car. The park is lovely to walk around and I would definitely go again in the afternoon with a picnic as William thoroughly enjoyed the playgrounds. As usual with Dubai, there was some work being done there. There were plenty of shady areas do even in the bright morning sunshine it was pleasant to go around. It's probably a good place to meet up with others, play dates etc as there are things for the kids I do while parents can chat while watching them. 

There are loads of park areas dotted around Dubai and I look forward to exploring them all!

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Al bastakiya

This morning we took a drive down to Bur Dubai and had a walk around Al Bastakiya. Al Bastakiya is a historic district in Dubai and is one of the oldest residential areas in the city. 

The buildings date back to 1690. In its prime it was capable of supporting 60 housing units, seperated by narrow, winding lanes. It features wind towers that create natural ventilation for the buildings. 

In the 1970s a lot of the area was destroyed to make way for the development of a new office complex for the emirates ruler. In 1989 Dubai municipality scheduled the remaining area of Bastakiya to be demolished. However British architect rayner otter, who had moved there and restored part of it, wrote to prince Charles who was due to visit dubai. Prince Charles visited al Bastakiya and suggested the area be preserved. Shorty after the plans for demolishing it was reversed. 

It is a beautiful place to wonder through. It is also spectacular at night with the lighting emphasising the architectural designs. 

On the outskirts of Bastakiya is a gorgeous cafe called the Arabian Tea House. As you walk through the small door it opens up to a quiet oasis of calm! 

Gorgeous trialling flowers and hanging baskets adorn the walls and the centre tree offers shade (and unusually for bur dubai, a splash of greenery)! 

You can sink into comfortable white cushioned chairs and enjoy a selection of sandwiches, jacket potatoes, salads and other yummy snacks. But their signature offerings are their selection of teas. 

As you can see, William enjoyed himself. And just to clarify so you don't think I'm a terrible mother, he didn't drink the whole of that cappuccino! :D 

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Dubai fountain show

Just a quickie today but thought I would share some photos from our dinner out at wafi in the Dubai mall. It was a pre birthday dinner for myself and my father in law. His sister and her husband happened to be on holiday in Dubai this week too so it was a perfect excuse to get together in such a wonderful location!!

Sorry the photos are a bit dark! We had a table outside next to the Dubai mall fountains which had a show that went off every half an hour! It was a magnificent setting and the food was lovely. Next to the fountains is the famous Burke kalifa, the worlds tallest building. 

It was a great evening with lovely people! Hopefully soon we will actually go up the burn kalifa which would be a fantastic experience. I can only imagine the views! 

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Palm jumeirah

This weekend we had a fantastic morning catching the monorail to the palm in Dubai. It is one of the most famous places in Dubai and we had to show grandma and grandad! So we boarded the monorail from the 'trunk' of the palm (hodge as well!). 

As the monorail travels fairly high up above the roads you get an amazing view and can actually see the posh houses and beaches. 

At the top of the palm, where the monorail ends is the very commanding Atlantis hotel. 

- it opened in 2008
- it was featured on the X factor a few years back when contestants were flewn out for judges houses with dani minogue
- price per night starts at around £450

Also at Atlantis is the adventure waterpark. We have been here before when on holiday about 5 years ago. It was a lot of fun! William is probably still too young to go here as the slides and rides are a bit extreme for him. Older children love it and it was pretty special going on the water slides that go through the shark tank!

You will have to forgive my slightly dodgey, fuzzy and reflective photos! They were taken with my phone through the monorail windows! 

In the picture below you can just about make out the road that goes down the center of each fond wihh houses either side that back onto the beaches. 

It was a great morning out. Once we got to Atlantis we had a drink and something to eat at Starbucks and had a wonder around. There is also a brilliant aquarium there with wonderful fish and rays but we are saving this for another day! There are shops and restaurants there to check out and obviously if you have more time (and money) the water park is great. 

We caught the monorail back down the park and it didn't take long before William was asleep in the car!

Friday, 8 November 2013

Dubai marina

This half term here in Dubai we have been trying to explore a bit and scout out places for the in laws to see when they visit next month. It's only a couple of weeks until chalky and the sporty one come to stay. 

One of the places we visited is dubai marina. It is on the coast in Dubai and as you will see in the pictures it is quite built up and developed. 

There are some awesome buildings in Dubai with great designs. I liked this twisted one in the marina. 

We caught a water bus from just outside the marina mall which took us down through the marina to marina walk. It only cost 2 dhs each (20p). The marina walk was lovely and there were quite a few restaurants and caf├ęs to eat in. There are some dancing fountains there that kids can play in but unfortunately they were not running the day we went. Hopefully when we go again with grandma and grandad they will be on. 

We decided to walk back to the mall instead of getting the water bus back which gave us a chance to try out the playgrounds that have been built underneath the bridges all along the marina. 

We had a great time in the marina and will definitely be going back there soon!