Now I know the French are known for their fancy pastries and cakes, but the English are hard to beat at simple, wholesome, easy-to-make desserts. One of my favourites is Apple Eve Pudding, a variation on Apple Crumble. Instead of crumble you add a sponge batter on top of the apples. I love the way the sponge slightly soaks up some of the juice from the apples. It makes it wonderfully moist.
The funny thing is, Apple Crumble is still being served all around the country, and I think Eve Pudding has almost been forgotten in England (correct me if I am wrong)! Here’s the recipe:
200 g of butter
150 g of sugar
200 g of flour
1 teaspoon baking power
1 slug of milk
Peel the apples and cut them into chunks and put them in a oven proof dish. Heat the oven to 180°C.
Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, add eggs one at a time. Fold in the flour with the baking powder to make a batter that can just about be dropped over the apples (it you think it is a bit too stiff and a slug of milk to get the right consistency). Drop over the apples making sure they are all covered and bake in the oven until the top of the pudding is golden. Serve warm – we usually add a good spoonful of vanilla ice cream.
P.S. different recipes call for raisins and cinnamon to be added to the apples, others for vanilla to be added to the batter. We like the simple version of the recipe but I think the variations are endless (blackberries mixed in with the apples? Could be delicious, no?)
P.S. Oh, I forgot to mention: best served with custard, ice cream or a good dose of single cream.
Playtime Paris is one of my top events of the year. Usually Esther, Courtney and I get together, talk, lounge, catch up, plan and do all the things you would normally do if you lived in the same city. This time the girls did not make it over and it made me miss my lovely girlfriends a lot — meeting up for Playtime has become a bit of a tradition.
But even without my partners in crime Playtime was still so much fun to visit. It is so much fun having a peek at what people have designed for next year. It is also great discovering new brands and having a good catch up with some of our collaborators and friends. There are such talented people out there and it is such a pleasure seeing their work.
Here are some of the highlights from the show:
1) Velveteen – this has become one of my favourite brands. Lovely, relaxed designs with a little twist to them that makes it stand out.
2) Hucklebones – the details going in these clothes are amazing and everything is so original and well crafted.
3) Bobo Choses – these guys just never get it wrong. Since we first discovered them 5 years ago every collection has been inspired and fun!
4) Macarons – talking to these guys makes me want to be a children’s clothes designer.
5) Elfie – these two girls are some of the nicest girls around and their collection is cute, whimsical and always full of little surprises in the details.
5) Milk and Biscuits – my favourite new discovery. The designer is the lovely Kate from England who now lives in Shanghai. She had some of the funkiest, spirited fabric designs I have seen in a long time.
Cannot wait for the next event.
I have a new game obsession for this summer and it is… croquet! It was partly brought along by reading ‘Alice in Wonderland’, but also because it just looks like a lot of fun. Apparently it actually used to be an Olympic sport — back in 1900 and in only one Olympic competition — but still! It also makes me think of cucumber sandwiches, victoria sponges and afternoon tea on the lawn. Basically… summer in England!
It’s also the perfect game to play with the kids and adults, as long as no one takes it too seriously… It is pretty simple and you can always team up.
I picked up our set here!
We have great plans, ranging from the kids flying on their own to Italy (!) as unaccompanied minors, to holidays in the French countryside and possibly some beach time and surfing. We will see how plans pan out, all I know is that it is going to be fun! Do you have any fun plans for this summer? I am excited to hear!
Talking about traveling: we still have a couple of our Travel Kids left, which you can order via the (all renewed!) Lalé website. Our travel packs are made in collaboration with one of our favourite designers, Lalé, and we are so thrilled on how they turned out! They are perfect to throw in your bag to go on trips — be it planes, trains or automobiles. My kids are super excited to wear the eye mask and and neck cushion on the plane, just to have something cozy to snuggle up to!
I do hope you have a great summer!
The Velib’ (the Parisian city council bicycle scheme) has had a huge impact on the city, more than anything I have ever seen. Bike paths have popped up all over the place and even the infamous Parisian taxi drivers seem to have gotten used to bikes on the road, at least they have stopped screaming at them or trying to run them down! Most people I know use a Velib’ on a daily basis, so Paris just might become another bike friendly European town — I am keeping my fingers crossed.
So now we need to get the future generation onto bikes, which is not that easy in Paris. It is quite daunting teaching a kid how to ride on a public, busy street and most family flats are too small to be able to fit bicycles in them. This is one of the reasons Paris town hall has just launched a Velib scheme called P’tit Velib’ just for kids with 4 locations in Paris. The little bicycles have the same minimalist chic look as their bigger counterparts and come in 4 different sizes from push bike to teenager bike. At the moment you can pick them up in the bois de Vincennes, bois de Boulogne and the Berge de Seine. I do hope this scheme grows and comes to other locations in Paris, it is such a great idea!
We have recently become game addicts. Monopoly and Go Fish are both in the mix (I think it has something to do with having a competitive 6-year-old in the house). We have just added a new one: Suspend! Have you played this? It is so good. It is basically an arial Jenga and the crazier the structure gets the more exciting it is! You need to balance little metal hooks of various sizes and hang them from another. The person, who’s hook makes the structure collapse, loses.
The hilarious thing is to observe how different people play it. I have a tendency to try and build the craziest structures. Violette tries to be very careful, as that way she gets to win!
I am beyond excited to tell you about our first ever limited edition design made in collaboration with the very talented French designer Lalé. The Travel Kids sets are the ultimate little travel comfort kits especially designed for children — aimed to make traveling with little ones more comfortable and fun. They’re ideal to take on planes, trains and automobiles, even to bring to the park or to the beach! The Travel Kids sets include an eye mask, a neck cushion, a royally sized cotton voile sheet/scarf/blanket to use in multiple ways, and a darling little doudou – a cute companion for on the road. Everything can conveniently be stored and carried around in a practical and stylish canvas bag. Children will love to carry around and use these gorgeous products, and the quality of the set guarantees years and years of use and fun, traveling to amazing places and making memories along the way.
How did this little project come about? Let me take you back more than a year ago… Esther came over to Paris and we got to hang out for a weekend, chatting, eating, catching up and making stuff (which is possibly our favourite occupation).
We spent a fabulous day and evening designing and sewing a little travel kit for our kids, as we were both about to head out on our summer adventures around Europe. We wanted them to have something cute and comfortable to travel with: something they could carry around, and something they could use to make their own little ‘nest’ wherever they were. The final result was a drawstring bag with an eye mask and a little neck pillow made to fit little people. And to finish it all off, we added a sweet soft toy (or doudou as we call it in France) based on a much loved toy I got on my first ever flight when I must have been about 3 years old.
A few months later, when we started talking to the ever talented Lalé about a possible collaboration, the little travel pack popped back into our heads. It felt like the perfect project to work on together, as the whole concept of Lalé is built around nomad kids and moms, travel and adventure. We are such big fans of Lalé’s prints and designs and we could totally see our little travel kit come to life with her input. We honestly had some of the most fun and exciting meetings we have ever had in Lalé’s atelier in Paris, drinking tea, choosing fabrics, coming up with designs, adding little touches here and there until we felt it was perfect and ready to put into production.
Finally the final product has arrived in France and we could not be happier with the results. It is so exciting to finally be holding it in our hands! The Travel Kids are now available on the Lalé website ready for your little globe trotter for the summer holidays!
PS Lalé’s website is at the moment only in French, but it is pretty easy to navigate. But do let us know know if you have any questions whatsoever! We are more than happy to help. (There is a little box that needs to be clicked on called J’accepte les Conditions Générales de Vente - which means you accept the conditions, on the check out page, which is a little bit tricky to find. It is on the left hand side of the screen).
I think that the month of May is possibly my favourite month of the year, and the good news is we are still at the beginning of it. May means tidying away bulky coats and jumpers and making room for dresses and shorts!
The lovely Camille from Marie Puce sent us this beautiful dress a while back and it is finally warm enough to wear it! It is so sweet and summery and good for twirling, which is a VERY importing factor in choosing dresses in our our house. The new collection at Marie Puce is so cute! And, if like me, you’re hoping to pick up some new summery pieces, you can benefit from a generous 15% discount plus free shipping this weekend only! Enter code FSE14 at check-out!
If you happen to be in Paris in the next few months and if you happen to like animation, do have a quick peek at the lovely little exhibition on at La Gaîté Lyrique, one of Paris’ newest museums.
La Gaîté Lyrique is the museum of digital art, but in this case, the exhibition is actually about the very opposite: hand made animation. It is a showing how stop frame animation is made and created in really cool way. I love it because it showcases the craftiness behind it all.
It is a perfect family outing, especially if your little offspring is a budding animator!
Sometimes it is the little touches that make an outfit come together. Take the sweet little collars from Mes Minis Muses, which are the perfect little accessory to make the simplest t-shirt or top look special, and I love the sweet nostalgic element they bring to my girls’ outfits.
Over here in Paris, we have been adding them to t-shirts and pairing the look with skirts and jeans. And I have been so very tempted to borrow them myself!
In a recent parent-teacher meeting at my girls’ school, the teachers brought up some interesting points. They were not worried about the lack of support coming from parents, but interestingly were more concerned that, in the last few years, it appears parents want to be friends with their children rather than an authority figure. In short: parents just want to be liked by their children! While it makes sense to want your child to like you, the teachers were noticing that discipline was becoming less important to parents than being the child’s buddy. One example they gave was a parent dropping her child off inappropriately dressed for the weather. When the teacher mentioned this to the parent, the answer was: “But she really didn’t want to wear a coat, so….”. Another example was a kid throwing sand into another kid’s face. When the teacher mentioned this to the parent, the comment was: “But he really likes to throw sand”.
Courtney and I were talking about this a few days ago and we starting wondering: are parents of our generation getting a bit too soft on our children and is it getting harder and harder for us to use the dreaded word “no”? If so, what is the affect this is having on our children and the way they interact with others and respond to their teachers?
This is just a personal observation, but I am interested to hear if you have experienced this too, especially in other countries? I am not feeling in any way nostalgic towards the good old days when discipline was enforced with a ruler and a dunce cap, but I do believe there is a happy medium, where children don’t consider parents their equal but know which line not to cross.
PS Above are a couple of very old photos of Violette’s reaction when I once told her “No”. She did not take it too well!
It is so nice receiving mails from readers with questions about Paris, as it gets me to discover new things about my city. It is soo easy to fall in a rut! I was recently contacted by a reader who is a German school teacher travelling to Paris with teenagers. Not at all my area of expertise! But it was fun trying to figure out what might interest teenagers in Paris, so here is the list I came up with. (I might be totally off the mark by the way, so do feel free to tell me if I am!):
The Batobus is run by the city of Paris and goes down the Seine and stops at all the important places. I like it as it is not as expensive as the rest of the tourist boats and you can get off at the major sites, walk a bit and jump on again at the next stop.
The Science Museum and the Music Museum are both in the Parc de la Villette. The Music Museum has a great exhibition on at the moment about black music and it’s history. The Parc de la Villette also has this great old 50′s submarine in it, which is fun to explore.
I love Monet’s water lily’s in the Orangerie; it is not too overwhelming and busy, like some of the Museums in Paris are. Alternatively there are also the Army Museum and the Catacombes. A walk around Montmartre is beautiful and shows a different side of Paris than the centre. The Pompidou is an amazing building and museum for any age group.
Just on the outskirts of Paris there is the chateau de Vincennes, a medieval fortress.
The above picture I found on a blog called Style Is Born. It made me laugh as this is exactly how I imagined a Parisian teenager would look like.
In my house, one of the first rules my children will quote is the famous ‘five second rule’. It is the rule that, if any food has fallen on the floor in the kitchen, it can possibly still be eaten f it is picked up very quickly. (They learned very quickly that the five second rule did not apply to the lovely streets and boulevards of Paris!)
I always thought the five second rule was a complete myth and just a good excuse for tired parents not to have to go fetch yet another cookie or throw away a sandwich with just one bite in it, but turns out I was possibly wrong. Scientist at a British University have found proof that the five second rule could actually be true! I love it!
Now I am wondering, is the five second rule just a European thing? Or even maybe just an English thing?
A few weeks ago Esther and I met up in Brussels to go to the new Little Fashion Week trade fair. One of the absolute highlights was meeting the super talented Italian designer Eloise Morandi. Esther had been following her and her brand Nina and the Little Things for a few years and I got to discover it for the first time. Such a treat!
Nina is a little girl who wears a red hat and a red dress, and who wanders around thinking about Little Things. Around this world Eloise has created cards, art, games, rag books, flip books and bags which you can have a look at in the online shop. I am sure there is much more to come! Have a peek at Eloise’s blog – it is so fun to see a designer having a great time playing around with her creations!
As you might have noticed Esther, Courtney and I quite like to blog. In fact, it was Courtney who introduced me to the concept of blogging way back when our eldest kids where only a couple of months old. Since then, we started Babyccino, but have also continued our personal blogs documenting all major events in our family lives for about 8 years now. It’s fun to browse through our personal blog, but I suddenly realised the other day that, though I had spent a lot of time documenting our lives, there was no physical photos for my kids to look at. Everything was virtually kept on the world wide web. What happens if suddenly blogspot ceases to exist? I literally would have nothing!
I did a bit of research and found that you can now print your blog and make it into a book, in my case all 8 years worth of photos. It was the best Christmas present for my children! They have spent hours looking through the book and discovering themselves as babies. The photos are not the greatest quality and I cringe at the silly little sentences I wrote to go with the blog posts, but this book really is special.
Lice – they are the bane of my life! I even dream of them. I guess because we live in a big city, lice are unavoidable. I have tried lotions, potions, shampoos, some of them ecological, some of them positively radio-active! I even managed to spend a crazy amount of money on a real jar of Hellman’s mayonnaise (difficult to find in France) because I read somewhere on the internet that I could get rid of lice with it.
This weekend the schools in our area decided to organise a collective delousing campaign. We were all asked to delouse our children on the same weekend. The hope is that this will stop the lice circulating — at least for a while. I am interested to see if this is successful, but it is really nice to see how everyone got on board!
So here are some tips I have gotten to prevent lice. (Once you have them, I find that the only thing that really works is brushing the hair with a fine tooth comb in front of a good movie!)
Lavender essential oil: Lice seem to be sensible souls who do not like the smell of lavender, so I drop a couple of lavender essential oil drops onto the girls’ pillows. That way their hair smells good and I think it does help to keep the lice at bay. I have also been told that teatree oil helps.
Braids: I told my 93-year-old grandmother about my lice issues and she looked at me incredulously and asked why my girls’ hair was not braided at school. I had never figured out why, in the olden days, all the little girls had nice, tight braids… It prevented lice!
Cleaning linen, and everything in the house: It is such a pain, but it helps. Every time there is even an suspicion that someone might have lice, we wash and clean our bed linen and towels and spray the sofa and armchairs.
Apart from that, I just freeze when I see anyone scratching their heads and throw my hands up in despair! I am interested: Do other countries also have the lice problem? How do you deal with it?
P.S Above is a photo I took of Violette pretending to be scratching her head and having lice. She got a bit annoyed with me because she was in the middle of measuring something, but I think the annoyed expression goes with the theme…
Sometimes I have slight nostalgia pangs to the days when my children were cute, cuddly little babies, but I do love seeing them grow up and start discovering new things all the time; books being one of them. We did a huge tidy up in the kids room over the holidays and gifted all the Peppa Pigs to my goddaughter and we’re now advancing onwards and upwards to chapter books.
Coco has really caught the reading bug and is plowing through books. It has been great discovering with her some new authors, one of them being Rupert Kingfisher and his book Madame Pamplemousse and Her Incredible Edibles , the first of a series of books. It tells the story of Madeleine who meets Madame Pamplemousse, the best cook in Paris and together they work to stop her evil uncle Monsieur Lard. Seriously fun to read, even for Mamas!
I have been travelling a lot lately in planes, trains and automobiles… which has been a lot of fun, but the one thing that has suffered a little bit is my hair. Waking up in the early hours and getting my girls ready and out of the door to catch a train does not leave much time for styling and by the end of the day my hair looked distinctly lacklustre.
I read about Klorane Extra Gentle Dry Shampoo on a Cup of Jo a while ago and decided to give it a go without much conviction, but, seriously, it works! Now, my hair did not feel any cleaner, but it looked great, clean and with a bit of a bounce. This, in turn, made me feel a little bit less travel weary!
If you are in France you can pick up the dry shampoo in most Pharmacies, but you can also order it off Amazon.