Recently launched, Comfort Zones, is an anthology of essays written by a pool of women writers tackling unfamiliar grounds. Edited by Sonder & Tell and sold by Jigsaw all proceeds go to the charity Women for Women International.
Broken up into four areas: Learnings, Relationships, Works of Fiction and New Ground & Big Ideas you’ll find a meditation on motherhood from food writer Anna Jones, a short story on success by a journalist and a heartfelt letter of friendship from an international news editor. Pandora Sykes writes about books for her daughter and Mina Holland on her parents as she prepares to become a parent herself.
I have to say, I have devoured every single short story in this book. It’s been one of those ‘dip in and out of’ kind of books which I’ve loved as being a busy mama (like we all are). I’ve been finding lately reading a full on novel quite tiring in the evening. This has been a book which I have really connected with. One which has resonated with me and has touched me. It’s refreshing, it’s powerful and it’s a great book to curl up with.
I finally, by total accident, recently came across non-plastic beach toys for our summer adventures, and couldn’t help but share in case there are any other parents out there still on the hunt for the beach toys. A few weeks ago, I popped into one of my favorite shops, Port of Raleigh, for a birthday gift and couldn’t help but notice the playful shovel and bucket set on display by EKOBO. I love everything about these bamboo beach toys. The marine life-themed shovel set comes with a sifter and two scoops/shovels and they are so durable, holding up to waves and little scampering feet. The bucket is too, which is sold separately. I love that instead of weak handles that often break or pop off of beach buckets, this more heavy duty bucket just has a slot for carrying. My oldest traced the beach for hours filling the bucket up with shells and it held up just fine. You’ll see she is very into shell collecting and very proud of her findings.
This is honestly the only set of beach toys I’ve actually purchased and it’s well worth it. I try to bring as few toys with us wherever we go but this sweet little set has been a huge hit. For the curious, here is the link to the shovel set (or sand play set as it’s referred to on the site) and here is the link to the bucket. Also, this isn’t a sponsored post and I paid for these beach toys myself. We love them and thought you would too! -Addie
New Orleans! Oh I love this city even more now that I have children. Growing up less than an hour from New Orleans, with much of my extended living family still living there, I was lucky enough to be heavily influenced by the cities rich culture, strong tastes, sounds, and sights. New Orleans may be notoriously known for Bourbon St., Mardi Gras, and a place for drive-thru daiquiris and jambalaya but there is so much more to it. The historic homes, the architecture, the hospitality, the energy, the Spanish moss that hangs from the ancient live oak trees (what I miss the most living “north!”), the rotating smells of beignets, Tony’s Chachere’s or unwelcome sweat – I just love it all. I often find myself telling people I meet who have never been that they must go, so below I’ve mapped out some great non-touristy places to eat, and some fun places with kids. Looking at this random collection of photos I’ve taken of of our kids at various trips into the city got me so exited to head there in just a few weeks, when it’s the hottest time of year no doubt So without further ado, a few recommendations on where to eat, play, and explore below.
One thing that I’m most excited about is the burgeoning food scene (for non-traditional New Orleans food that is) that’s come to New Orleans in recent years. For certain you should definitely get beignets at Cafe Du Monde in the French Quarter, split a few po-boys at Mother’s, have a fancy meal at Brennan’s , and a jazz brunch at Court of Two Sisters, but for some lighter food, and perhaps less waiting/lines, try these options below:
Bearcat Cafe for breakfast–whatever you order make sure you order the potatoes as your side!
1000 Figs for Lunch is such a sweet, charming, authentic, Mediterranean cafe. The small space and light airy setting will make you feel like you’re at a friend’s for lunch.
James Cheese Company is a great place for lunch or just an afternoon snack. Well-curated salads and sandwiches, not to mention a varied selection of artisan cheese. The girls love getting their very own cheese board at this stop and it’s great to get some things to-go as well if you’re staying at a vacation rental.
Reginellis for pizza to-go is a great option if you’re ordering take-out, just make sure you call the location nearest to where you’re staying!
Auction House Market for Dinner is an awesome food hall in New Orleans where you can order a drink then choose from a variety of different dining options including Indian, sushi, empanadas, dessert and more. It has a great atmosphere with the sassiest bathroom I’ve ever seen. While I’ve never been to this one, St. Roch Market is another popular food hall in the city.
District Donuts is great for breakfast, lunch or just dessert-great sandwiches, biscuit concoctions and of coarse, donuts!
Cochon Butcher for lunch or gourmet food items to go. As a tip, it’s small and most of the seating options are high-top tables.
Dung Phuong in New Orleans East (or Little Vietnam) for French bread, pastries and a superb Banh Mi. This is a bit out of the way but has a scenic drive through marshland and sights of old fish camps, bridges, and the occasional alligator. The spot recently won a James Beard award and while I’m not thrilled about having to possibly wait in line for some take home French bread, I’m so happy this family-run, long-time New Orleans business got some much deserved recognition
Storyland at New Orleans City Park is essentially a storybook inspired playground so a kids dream come true. It’s filled with all sorts of huge interactive sculptures inspired by the classic fairy-tales like Mother Goose and Captain Hook. The park has loads more to offer as well- a nice sized playground, walking paths, beautiful grounds, and Morning Call, which is another option for some classic chicory coffee and beignets.
The Audubon Aquarium of the Americas is right along the river and a good place to explore indoors if you’re visiting in the summer. The rare white alligator will be a huge hit for the kids as well as all the other fascinating marine life. Our kids love the indoor garden.
Take the Riverfront Streetcar around different parts of the French Quarter and get wonderful views of the city-plus an old fashion streetcar is such fun to ride with kids! You can also take a streetcar through the Garden District too and enjoy the historic homes.
Explore Jackson Square in the French Quarter. This area is great for watching the artists, musicians and entertainers that set up in the French Quarter and there are some good play areas to just let kids run around too like in front of the Cathedral and along the river. You can also hit up Cafe Du Monde here and explore a few local shops!
Magazine St. is one of my favorite parts of New Orleans for it’s long strip of local shops, restaurants and galleries. I remember loving hitting up The Bead Shop as a child to make necklaces and bracelets with my sisters and cousin! Baru Bistro is a great stop for Caribbean food on Magazine St. There is also a Whole Foods if you need everyday items or food to cook say you’re staying at a vacation rental house.
Explore the vendors and local flavors of the open-air French Market (open all day, everyday)
I can’t speak to this all that well since we often stay with family, however the historic Hotel Monteleone is a gorgeous hotel with a great rooftop pool in a central location and the Carousel Bar (yes it spins like a carousel!) is a must for a parents/adults night out. It’s been around for decades and was where I ordered my first grown up cocktail as a new 21 year old The Roosevelt New Orleans is another iconic, historic beautiful hotel that accommodates children. Vacation rentals are also great options, just make sure you pick one that is in a safe neighborhood and pick a spot that’s in a good location-the Garden District is a great option!
I know I’ve hardly scratched the surface on all there is to do in this city and since I’ve never actually been to New Orleans as a vacationer, no doubt there are things I don’t know but I;m happy to answer questions anyone might have or if you have some favorite places to explore, restaurants to try, let me know so I can add them to our que. Thanks for reading!
A couple of months ago I was asked to become an ambassador for the Dutch agency against food waste (#verspillingsvrij). Which I was happy to accept — food waste, after all, is one of the most serious dangers to the health of our planet. A third of all food is thrown away! A big part of this happens in our kitchen — something we, as end-consumers, can avoid and work on to improve.
Since the campaign has started I definitely have become more aware of what we throw away. It actually has become a bit of a challenge to throw away as little as possible, and it’s been fun! For example, I found out that a pesto made from carrot or radish greens is delicious! Or that the stems of herbs can be used for cooking: if they are soft (like basil, coriander or parsley stems, or the soft part of mint stems), they can be chopped up finely and used just as you would use the leaves. And that something as blah and seemingly useless as potato skins become a delicious snack if you roast them in the oven with some olive oil and spices!
One of my own everlasting battles in the fight against food waste however is keeping an organised fridge. I can make an effort, but there are 6 other family members in our house! Surely without any bad intentions, jars with leftovers are pushed to the back and out of sight, and consequently forgotten. So that I have to throw the food away after all. Painful!!
I have made it my mission to work on a better fridge organisation. I have tried and tested different things the past months, and even though things are still not perfect, there is definitely much improvement.
Here are a few tips that I have learned along the way — small tips with a big effect, I hope!
Fridge organisation and tips to avoid foodwaste
Keep your fridge temperature at 4 degrees Celsius.
Organise your fridge! A well organised fridge is not only important for safe storage, but it will also help to minimise food waste.
Everything in your fridge should be covered or wrapped!
Use glass or see-through containers to cover or wrap things so you can see what’s inside. (Advantage of glass is that you can also put them in the oven or freezer as well!)
Have one or two ‘eat now’ shelves where you keep left-overs as well as fresh food (obviously keeping fresh food separated from prepared food). Make sure your family members know about this and respect your system.
A fridge needs to be tidied up as well. Do this daily so you can see what’s in there and what the shelf life is. Move products that are reaching the end of their shelf life to the ‘eat now’ department. (Open jars, with for example pesto or tomato sauce, which need to be eaten within a couple of days, also go to the eat-now department.)
You can keep leftovers for two days. In the morning, have a look at what you have sitting on your ‘eat now’ shelf and determine how you can incorporate that in your meal planning of the day. (I love using left-overs for the children’s lunch boxes: cold pasta, pizza, a piece of sausage, some salad in a wrap… My kids love it!)
Before you go grocery shopping, check your fridge and see what you have in there and how you can use that in your plans for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Once a week, have a left-over lunch or dinner. This can be fun! And easy of course :).
Once a month, wipe your fridge clean. Go through the collection of condiments, jams, etc. and move to the ‘eat now’ shelves if needed. Once a season, deep clean your fridge!
Every time I make this family friendly chicken teriyaki I am amazed at how delicious it is when there are only 4 ingredients involved! It’s a great way to introduce children to asian flavours and they love to get involved and mix everything together. The marinade itself is fantastic with beef, salmon or tofu so it’s a great sauce to have up your sleeve. I like to prepare a big batch of fresh ginger and store in the freeze so we can just pop it in marinades or curries whenever we need it.
We generally serve teriyaki with brown rice, stir-fried greens and some diced cucumber (marinated for 2 minutes in soy sauce) but it would be delicious with any of your family’s favourite vegetables. It’s also one of those meals that tastes even better the day after. I love it cold for lunch with diced avocado and noodles or stir-fried with some rice and leftover veggies.
Family Friendly Chicken Teriyaki
500g chicken thighs, cut into 2 cm pieces
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp honey
30g fresh ginger, grated (prepped weight)
Place the chicken in a bowl with the soy, honey and ginger and marinade for at least 2 hours or overnight.
When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 220oC and place a lined baking tray in the oven to heat up. After 10 minutes, carefully remove the hot tray and spread the chicken out in one layer with no overlaps. The chicken will sizzle when it comes in contact with the hot tray- this is a good sign! Place the tray back in the oven for 15-18 minutes or until golden and caramelised. Remove and serve immediately.
Let me start by saying that I have huge respect for parents with an endless (endless!!) patience; parents who can play silly games with their children and let them win over and over again. But I admit: when I play games with my children, I actually find myself to be quite competitive! I definitely enjoy myself more when I can play a game where I’m challenged a bit as well. Since this rather simple self assessment, I have had more fun playing games with my children!
Of course I do sometimes play the silly games, and I do let my children win at times — it is important to keep them entertained and motivated and I love seeing their cute little faces light up when they believe they have won. But, I admit I let them loose as well. Is that mean? I actually think is not necessarily a bad thing. Isn’t it an important life lesson, to learn how to loose, to be a good sport about it and try again until you win?
The games I like best are those where the child is an equal or even stronger opponent. I love it when there’s a real competition going on, and we both have an equal (fair!) chance in winning or loosing. This gets easier when the child gets older — naturally. But also younger children can win from adults with certain games!
For smaller children, for example, Bingo is nice, because it’s more about luck than strategy. Casper, who is 6, is super good at Memory. He beats me (and everyone else in our family!) all the time! Games like Ludo and Dobble are good ones to play with smaller children too.
With Ava (9), I love playing Set, Otrio and Uno. I like to witness how she’s becoming more strategic in her play. Pim (12), with his entrepreneurial mind, loves to play Monopoly. This is not my favourite game, possibly because I’m not great with money, and I always loose. (So frustrating!) Rummikub is a favourite too, we both like that game very much!
And lastly with Sara (14) I’ve started to play Scrabble. I used to play Scrabble with my mum and have fond memories of that.
Another good game to play with children is Yahtzee. It’s played open so it’s easy to help the little ones with their tactics, and nobody can control the dice, so it’s all about luck!
Tell me, what sort of parent are you? Can you play endlessly without winning, or are you secretly a bit competitive too? If so — what are your favourite games to play with your children?
This pesky vegan vanilla sponge cake recipe has taken me seven(!) attempts to perfect – I have been searching for the holy grail of ‘free-from’ baking for such a long time! The Victorian sponge cake recipes I’d settled for in the meantime, were temperamental, unreliable and ultimately, stress-inducing, and that’s not good enough.
This vegan vanilla sponge cake recipe is truly a reliable, tried-and-tested, easy-peasy and delicious vanilla sponge cake, that happens to be dairy free, vegan, and easy to make gluten free too. It’s also a one-bowl-wonder, and what could be better than that?
Makes two layers of 8 inch sponge approx. 1 inch thick.
390 g white, self raising flour (gluten free works too, try a blend of flours)
2 tsp of baking powder
2 tsp Xanthan gum (optional, will be crumblier without)
large pinch of salt
460 ml Good Hemp plant milk (or another of your choice, the paler in colour the better)
2 tsp white vinegar
120 ml groundnut oil (or another oil of your choice)
3 tsp Neilsen Massey vanilla bean extract (the thick stuff with speckles in it)
Preheat your oven to 175 degrees C.
Pour all your dry ingredients into one large bowl. Add in the wet ingredients as they’re ready, then mix everything together thoroughly, using a whisk if you need to break up any lumps. Leave to thicken for a few minutes while you line two round 8 inch baking tins with baking paper.
Pour equal amounts of batter into each tin, bake for around 30 –35 mins, until the tip of a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Allow to cool before filling with a great DF (dairy free) buttercream (recipe below!), and some roughly chopped fresh berries.
Vegan buttercream recipe
Makes enough to fill the above cake, with a thin layer for the top.
125 g white solid vegetable baking fat e.g. Crisco or Trex, at room temp
125 g solid dairy free baking block e.g., Naturli or Stork, at room temp
325 g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean extract
Using a food mixer or lots of bicep power, mix the two fats together until you have a smooth paste with no lumps. Add in the vanilla, then icing sugar in two goes, beating until smooth. If the mixture is too thick, add in a tbsp. at a time of plant milk e.g. Good Hemp.
Bram is now trotting steadily along, happy with his ability to carry things along with him. (And, consequently, leaving a mess everywhere!) He’s very cute with his penguin like walk and his determined little face, with those chubby cheeks and golden curls :).
With walking come the first walking shoes, to protect the feet against sharp objects outside. And Poco Nido has the perfect sweet shoes exactly made for this purpose!
The Mighty Shoes come in a size 20 to 26, are made from chrome-free leather with a thin, super flexible sole which protects little baby feet but doesn’t restrict growth and development. There are three styles (a desert boot, a Mary Jane and one with velcro closure) and 4 colours — a plain tan colour and a yellow, blue and red style which are etched with adorable circus, woodland or nautical illustrations!
Bram loves his little shoes, which proves to me that they are comfortable as much as they are practical. Plus, toddler shoes don’t come much cuter than these. Right?
These ice lollies are an absolute summer essential. Kids love to help you make them and it’s a great way to get them involved and experimenting with different flavours. Whatever combinations you choose, these lollies are packed full of amazing nutrients and purely natural sugars. You can even add some veggies — carrot and mango, spinach and pineapple and avocado adds a lovely creaminess to anything!
I pre-make little pouches of different variations at the beginning of the summer and then pop them in the freezer. Whenever the sun is shining you can just grab a pouch from the freezer and get blending!
Smoothie Ice Lollies
1 banana, thickly sliced
150g fresh fruit or veggies (berries, mango, peach, pineapple).
2 tbsp oats or desiccated coconut
300ml milk, apple juice or Greek Yoghurt
2 tbsp maple syrup or honey
For the pre-made pouches: just use small sealable freezer bags and divide the fruit evenly. Seal, fold tightly and pop in the freezer for at least 24hours (you can wash and reuse the bags throughout the summer).
To make the smoothie mix: simply remove a pouch from the freezer (one pouch will make 2-3 smoothies/ice pops) and empty the contents into a blender. Add your chosen liquid and sweetener and blend until completely smooth. Serve immediately as a smoothie or pour into ice pop containers and freeze for a further 24 hours. You can also make multicoloured rainbow lollies- make various different smoothie combinations and fill each ice lolly container a little, freeze for 1 hour and then add another flavour and repeat until you have filled the containers. When you remove the lollies you will have beautiful rings of the different flavours.