Though of the month - May

May is one of those months filled with happy events and where, although not necessarily the case in hot places like Dubai, a lot of our counterparts in cooler climates in the Northern Hemisphere will spend more time intaking all that vitamin D, so important for our wellbeing and positivity in life.

Positivity is also an aspect I try to maintain in our children, no matter how much their enthusiasm for the little things might drive me insane at times. 

So I thought this hilarious thought by Herm Albright was pretty appropriate. Worth the effort ... LOL

Pantone colour of the year: Greenery and tropical interiors inspiration

With the oh-so-pretty Pantone colours of last year, Rose Quartz and Serenity, I could not help but writing a post with inspiration on how to use them. Then when Pantone announced Greenery in the December as the colour for 2017, I instantly loved it too! So I can see myself making it a tradition of talking about the colour of the year, as I do love colour and the huge impact it can have on spaces and ‘things’ and also our moods and feelings.

Greenery is not only a very vibrant and refreshing colour but also highly symbolic of how many of us are feeling in the current socio-political uncertainty. The Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute, Leatrice Eiseman, summed up the reasoning for their choice beautifully during the announcement: ‘Satisfying our growing desire to rejuvenate and revitalize, Greenery symbolizes the reconnection we seek with nature, one another and a larger purpose’.

It is a colour that is not everybody’s cup of tea though, but here are some images that will hopefully help the ‘Greenery’ case and hopefully make a good project for that old console or the IKEA sofa that needs to be given a second life. Besides, it is the perfect opportunity to recreate that island or tropical resort styled home, quite the trend at the moment, as the colour just screams tropical and exotic.

If you have a home with neutral colours, like us, and do not feel so inclined to buying green furniture, soft furnishings or accessories, or paint the walls indeed, you can always decorate with botanicals. It adds a huge tropical vibe to an interior and you can keep your mid-century or traditional furnishings. Plus the hot plants at the moment are, again, tropical indeed: Monstera, Bird of Paraside, Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree, Banana Leaf or any of the varieties of indoor palms. They are all available locally and relatively easy to care for (if I can, you can, believe me).

So, let us proceed with the bombardment of Greenery tropical ideas (please excuse the excess, I am quite obviously in love with the colour).

Thought of the Month - March

On International Women's Day I could not think of a better thought for the month; now more than ever.

Let us make sure that that our girls feel happy within and believe in themselves, that they follow their instincts, that we feed their curiosity, that they learn from their failures and we support them through it, that we encourage them to look for the humour in things, and always, ALWAYS aim for the stars, and yes, shatter those glass ceilings.

 

 

 

Thought of the month - January

Starting the year with optimism! 

Let us start the year fully charged with optimism!


It might not all look rosy out there, and our kids didn't sleep last night (and us neither, obviously!), and they won't eat the very breakfast they so much loved yesterday, and have just poured the entire contents of the bottle of ketchup on their last clean school uniform whilst looking for a better breakfast option, BUT ... you never know what every day is going to bring.


My youngest just surprised me last night tidying up, for the very first time ever, the usual huge mess she had made during the afternoon in the playroom!

Something different: Picture People

Have you heard of the Picture People? It is a family photography studio already operating very successfully in the USA, and launched in the UAE (first franchise outside the USA) by Emirati entrepreneur brothers Abdulla and Hamad Al Shirawi.  

Why are they different? Because they are as creative as it gets, and you get to take your final images with you on the day of the photoshoot! Personally, I find that after the build up of all that excitement leading to a photoshoot, I get very impatient during a post-event wait. Of course, I do love to get to see the sneak previews but I really want to see it all straight away! So this is exactly what Picture People do, they produce the digitals and prints on the day.

Recently they hosted an adorable event at their studio in Wasl Vita Mall on Al Wasl Road to officially launch the brand in the UAE although they had opened in September. Themed as a Garden Picnic, thought was given to every little detail - from fabulous hairstylists from eideal, to absolute deliciousness from The White Boutique, and none other than Magic Phil to keep the littlies entertained. And you will probably notice the garden too, just like I did. Would you like to know who did it? The highly talented and creative team at Picture People themselves!

And you will probably notice the garden too, just like I did. Would you like to know who did it? The highly talented and creative team at Picture People themselves!

With the UAE Mothers Day approaching, they also gave us the opportunity to have a mini ‘Mummy and Me’ photoshoot and this is the outcome: fresh and fun! My little Missie knows how to put up a challenge and did her very best to test the patience and humour of the ever so charming photographer who just knew how to motivate her!

This is the proposal from the Picture People for this Easter: do something different and have an ‘Egg Smash’, inspired by the ‘Cake Smash’! Priced at AED 495, the package includes a studio session using a chocolate egg filled with colourful smarties which your child or children can proceed to smash, shatter, break, demolish and destroy as they wish whilst the photographer captures all the fun and the huge smiles. With it, you then get to choose one image to be printed and framed on 4x6 format, and one ‘View & Share’ image. Additional to the package, you can also have the Egg Smash video filmed or you can choose further images for extra prints and canvases.

Offer is valid until 29 March, so hurry!

For more details on other packages and options, contact:

Picture People - Wasl Vita Mall - Al Wasl Road - Jumeirah 1 - Tel +971 4 343 4413

Mother's Day Competition - Lynda Marion Jewellery

At Christmas my husband bought me (meaning I bought on his behalf) a gorgeous personalised message circle pendant with two rings, each engraved with the name and date of birth of each of our children. Up to today I have been wearing them almost on a daily basis because I am so in love with them!

Where did I get them? At the Marina Souq in Dubai, from Lynda Marion Jewellery. The owner, Lynda, is a super charming South African lady who has been handcrafting jewellery for 7 years after having started as a hobby and enjoyed it so much that subsequently attended courses at Central Saint Martin’s School of Design in London.

Lynda specialises in sterling silver but sometimes also uses gemstones such as amethyst or opal, or 18-carat gold in her designs. The beauty of it all is that because they are handmade, no two pieces will be the same.

Living by the sea in Abu Dhabi, she draws her inspiration from the lovely sea views and the stunning sunsets she has from her home, and also the beautiful colours.

Lynda loves a challenge and accepts commissions, as she loves translating her clients’ ideas into beautiful pieces of jewellery that they will wear and enjoy.

Her next visit to Dubai is on 16 March for the Marina Souq at the Fishing Harbour in Umm Suqeim 1, but you can also find her once a month at the ArtE, The Makers Market in Times Square in Dubai and at the Ripe markets in Abu Dhabi. Check the Lynda Marion Jewellery Facebook page for the updates.

AND, for Mother’s Day, Lynda is offering one of the Little Sybarites readers the opportunity to win one of these pendants worth AED 350 that she will then engrave with the name and date of birth of your child/children.

All you need to do is:

1.     Like both Lynda Marion Jewellery and Little Sybarites on Facebook

2.     Share the Facebook post on your timeline

Existing 'Likes' also qualify. Entries close at midnight on Sunday 6 March and the winner will be announced on the Little Sybarites Facebook page on Monday 7 March.

Best of luck Mamas!!!

 

M xx

 

8 of my favourite brands at the Marina Souq

Since becoming a mum, leisure shopping (as opposed to necessity shopping, i.e. Supermarket!) has become a thing of the past. But there is one thing I indulge in on a monthly basis: the Marina Souq. They have recently moved to the Fishing Harbour behind the DOSC on Jumeirah Road so parking is always easy although it can be a short walk away (there is your bit of exercise for that morning) as it does get very busy early in the morning which is when I go, after school drop-off! Bonus is that after your girlie shopping, you can stop at the fish market and get the freshest for your dinner.

Most of the vendors are regulars at the RIPE or ArtE markets too, and some have their products for sale at places like The Change Initiative. But I love that once a month (normally a Wednesday) you can find them all under one roof - quite literally: one large marquee that gets buzzing with ladies and their bubbas or BFFs, doing what we know how to do best!

The brands change slightly from month to month but here are some (I repeat: SOME - too many to list all of them on here) of my favourites:

2Birds Dubai

Chic beachwear in all its forms, selected by 2 Australian birds, as the name rightly says: from floaty dresses and kaftans for that island holiday you can't wait till, to brightly coloured Turkish towels, and from beach jewellery to seriously handsome boho beach bags. This stand gets SO busy you need to get there early, otherwise it is almost impossible to get close enough to have a good look. 

If you miss them, they sell through Little Majlis too. On Facebook. On Instagram

Highlife Dubai

Clare Napper’s stand does not go unnoticed. When I walked past it, I had to look at the posters twice – they did make me chuckle! They are really quirky and hilarious vintage style travel posters that depict all the Dubai expat clichés, such as 'Friday Brunch', or 'Maids - how will we live without them?'. If you have a sense of humour, this could be a great addition to your walls. Clare keeps on adding new collections, so keep an eye out for the upcoming one too!

On Facebook. On Instagram.

Kariba Arts

Kathrin, the clever mind behind Kariba Arts, loves all things recycled and upcycled. So she walks the beaches of the UAE collecting pieces of driftwood to later give them a new life with her beautiful organic, one-of-a-kind creations. From Christmas decorations (which looked divine) to funky signage for the house or candle holders. All that stuff you thought only belonged to beach houses on Pinterest!

On FacebookOn Instagram

Shenouk

Who does not know Shenouk? You may have seen her gorgeous Jaipur artisanal block printed fabrics at friends’ garden tables or benches. The lady behind these gorgeous table linens, cushions, bedquilts and blankets in the most delicate and intricate designs is Sherine Freeth. And you can find her at the Marina Souq every second Wednesday of the month with new goodies every time. I want them all, I want them now!

If you are interested in learning all about blockprinting, she is so passionate about them that explains it quite in detail in her website.

On FacebookOn Instagram. 

The Linen Souk

Think gorgeous crisp linen, hemstitch, tassels, or embroidery in motifs of-the-moment (flamingoes, pineapples), funny (camel) or even beachy (coral). Think beautiful tea towels, lavender sachets, or monogrammed napkins. Think bespoke. Think ultra elegant.

It is not for nothing that The Linen Souk is being used for VIP dinners at some of the most sophisticated hotels in Dubai. It also makes a lovely traditional and thoughtful wedding gift, or (why not?!?) a special treat for yourself and your guests at your dinner parties.

On FacebookOn Instagram.

Tribe Dubai

Tribe Dubai is one of those heavenly places where I could just spend hours, going ‘ohhh … ahhh … look at that …’.

Are you after the hippest items from the 60s and 70s that have made a come back? Do you want to recreate the calm look of a beachside boutique hotel? Or are you all for supporting fair trade? All of that is Tribe Dubai.

They describe themselves as ‘global-chic bohemian with an essence of coastal elegance’, and, as much as I tried, I simply could not find a way to put it better.

We adore the Malawi chair, the Armadillo & Co rugs, the Byron Bay hanging chair, and the Mud chandelier, all handcrafted by artisans.

If you miss the Marina Souq, they have a showroom with all their goodies on display on 4th street in Al Quoz, above the Lexus showroom next to the Dubai Garden Centre. They are open in the mornings but afternoon visits can be arranged by appointment.

On FacebookOn Instagram.

Biddoo

OK, the last two for the kiddies.

Biddoo is an online store that has regular presence at the Marina Souq, and has become my new favourite stop for birthday gifts and travel toys.

They carry just 4 brands (Djeco, KEK Masterdam, seedling, and oskar & ellen), but the choice is enormous! With the never ending selection of educational and pretend play toys, all made of cardboard or wood, I know I will find something suitable for every occasion without having to go traipsing the malls or Amazon.

Check out the chalkboard wall stickers too!

On Facebook. On Instagram.

 

MarMarLand

It never struck me how short I am (!) until I met Maren Gerber, statuesque and elegant by nature. Her impeccable taste comes through in all of her carefully curated selection of 40 brands from Europe and Downunder that just ooze cool.

You name it, she has it (especially if you are looking at putting together one of those gorgeous monochromatic genre neutral rooms): books, bedding, lamps, rugs, wall stickers and decals, funky toys, wooden toys, cardboard toys, tableware, playhouses, tents and teepees, and the list goes on; but always high quality, stylish, organic and long lasting products.

We particularly love the 'Today I will be my own Superhero' quote decal by Wondermade, and the Jupiduu wooden kids slide that has got the seal of approval by none other than young Prince George, and ... can be gold plated on request (of course!).

On Facebook. On Instagram.

Also available in Little Majlis

 

As I said, these are just a few, but you will find other fabulous brands like Alma Fenicia, Birdsn'Bees Fairy Lights, Caramel & Sun, Heidesign, Jules & Juliette, Keen Bags, La Plage Dubai, Pure Candles Dubai, Twins Dubai amongst many others. Oh, and Baker & Spice have a pop-up restaurant to keep the energy going - bonus!!!

If you have not been yet, try and make it one morning now that the weather is so perfect, or an after-work shopping treat. The next editions are on 10 February, 27 February (special Saturday edition from 9am to 3pm), 16 March, 20 April, 11 May, 1 June, 15 June, from 8am to 9pm in the marquee at the Fishing Harbour in Umm Suqeim 1.  For directions, go to their Facebook page here.

Meet Mitera Collection: chic dresses for mums on the go

Have you heard of Mitera Collection yet? If you are a mum who has gone back to work after having children or currently pregnant and working, you might want to pay a visit to the DSF Market Outside The Box (OTB) in Downtown Dubai. There you will be able to view this newly launched brand in the Middle East and meet the inspiring and talented Yoko Shimada, founder. Mitera (meaning Mum in Greek) Collection may be new to the Middle East but these ultra elegant maternity/breastfeeding dresses are taking the United States by storm. From the high-powered lawyers in New York City to top media executives, new and not-so-new mums in the US seem to have adopted the ‘dress’ dresscode when going back to work.

Relaxed chic dresses cut out of luxury yet easy-to-care-for fabrics (machine washable and no need to iron!!) are Yoko’s speciality.  With her Japanese eye for detail and love for quality, combined with the sense of practicality of the Americans, these dresses are music to the ears of working mums. Her philosophy is simple: ‘Happy Mum = Happy Baby’.

Having been a child and maternity specialist in her days prior to Mitera Collection, her job took her on extensive travels. A true advocate of breastfeeding, Yoko would pump her breast milk, freeze it and Fedex it from the most remote areas of the world to her precious first born in NYC. Now, that is the definition of a super mum!

We love Mitera Collection not just because of the contemporary elegant designs but also love how they endorse ethical practices and supports organisations who work to improve maternal, newborn and childcare both in the United States and the less privileged countries.

Of her brand, Yoko says:  ‘We want to return the spotlight to those gorgeous, intelligent, and successful women who are experiencing the magic of motherhood’.  The beauty of the Mitera Collection dresses is that they can take women from pregnancy, to breastfeeding, to the years beyond, due to the smart design and versatility.  The brand is based in NYC where the dresses are made by professionals with working experience in brands like Alexander Wang or Zac Posen, the fabrics are sourced from Japan and collections conceptualised by Yoko jointly with her team of designers, taking into account her theory of motherhood: ‘You are not just a mother. You are everything else AND a mother’. There you have it: it takes a mum to know what mums need and want.

Click on here for a peek at the gorgeous Mitera Collection.

All purchases made during the MOTB at the Mitera Collection booth will benefit from a promotional launch discount of 20% on the regular prices!!!

The Market Outside The Box also features lots of beautiful homegrown brands and is open from 21 to 30 January 2016, from 4pm to 10pm Sunday to Thursdays and 10am to 10pm in the weekends. Best parking is at Emaar Boulevard (P1, P2, P3), Souk Al Bahar and Dubai Mall. Lots to do for the littlies too, so you can shop while they play!

Happy shopping Mums!

Why we will celebrating Thanksgiving (although we are not American)

We are regularly invited to friends' of ours that are from the US and every year play hosts on Thanksgiving. As their children are one year younger than our eldest, it has been more of a playdate for him and another occasion to eat and be merry. 

But this year has been filled with global events that have touched everyone's hearts and have served as a reminder of how fortunate we are, and this year we have decided to introduce Thanksgiving to our growing list of family traditions. I want to make it a point to at least once a year, as a family, stop to breathe and realise how very privileged we are and reflect on how much we take for granted in our busy lives. The uber-amazing nursery our son attended last year, the HomeGrown Eco Nursery, already covered the subject of being grateful, which was a brilliant introduction for him. But now that he is four and able to understand more of the world around him, it just seems appropriate to do something that although is not customary in either of our two home countries, we feel will help him appreciate everything including the small things.

This week during our drive to school in the mornings I have been talking to him about how fortunate he is, what other children like him do not have, and why he should be thankful for what he has. I have asked him to think of 3 things that he is grateful for and this is his list:

  1. Our new house (he loves our new home, to which he refers as 'the big house', versus 'the little house' aka our much beloved beachfront apartment in Dubai Marina)
  2. TOYS
  3. Mummy, Papa and his Little Sister (OK, we come last but at least made it into the list!)

As for me, I have by now made it into a habit to be thankful for one thing every evening before bedtime ... when I do not pass out on the couch with our post-dinner TV entertainment. With this, my list is ever so long but these are my top 3 of the moment:

  1. My gorgeous children. They are my absolute sunshine, well ... most of the time, and they will always be at the tip of my list. None of my two pregnancies were easy but every long minute of the bedrest, the frustration, the nervousness, the lack of normalcy were well worth it. Despite the circumstances, I did manage to feel the magic that I knew I would only be able to experience at that point in my life. And now that I have met them and am privileged enough to enjoy them every day, despite all the madness that parenthood implies, I would not change my life for a second.
  2. A place to call home. Not just a physical roof over our heads, but a home country/countries whose leaders (whether I/we agree with their policies or not) respect human rights and freedom. A place where we could go home to one day if we had to leave our privileged expat lives in Dubai.
  3. Weekends!!! They are all-in-one: small sleep-ins, morning cuddles with the entire family in our bed, long big breakfasts where we all eat from everyone else's plates, all-day PJ days a lot of the times, movie and lounging time, family lunches where mummy does not have to cook (hooray!), family pool time, sometimes entire days out of the house just running endless errands as I have hubby to help, special outings. Whatever they may turn out to be, but time to 'play' and recharge, and somehow maintain partial sanity.

So looking at my son's list and mine, I realise that there really are quite a few similarities between the two. So does this prove Maslow's theory (well, somewhat modified), or does it prove that we never really grow up?

Oh and for those of you who have decided to have a lastminute.com Thanksgiving, here is a easy-going yet delicious looking menu: mlovesm

Happy Thanksgiving!

Image source: Anthony Peoples

Back to School series - MORE Lunchbox Recipes by Sophie Grace Jones

Back by popular demand: MORE of Sophie Grace Jones' lunchbox ideas. All on my list to try over the next few days :)

Image source: www.lisastorms.typepad.com

Couscous and halloumi salad

Cook 1 cup of couscous, add 1 tbsp of butter and use a fork to fluff up. Leave to cool. In a separate bowl add half a tin of washed and drained chickpeas and 1 grated carrot. Mix well and add to the couscous. Meanwhile dry fry half a pack of halloumi cut into small chunks until browned and add to the couscous. My daughter loves a spoon of mayonnaise on top or pesto (pesto not for lunchbox though, as it contains nuts).

Sausage and cheese breakfast bagel

Slice a bagel in half and toast under the grill. Place slices of Cheddar cheese over the top for a minute until melted. Meanwhile cook your child favourite sausage (we like the Quorn vegetarian ones!) once cool slice into long strips and place inside the bagel. Cut into easy child size pieces. You could also use mashed avocado and cream cheese.

Egg fried rice

Boil 100gr brown rice, drain and set aside. Meanwhile in a saucepan heat a little olive oil and add 1 chopped carrot, 1 chopped courgette, 5 chopped mushrooms and stir-fry until soft for a few minutes. Add in the rice and 1 egg and cook, always stirring, for 1-2 minutes or until the egg has browned.

Tuna and black olive pockets

Drain a tin of tuna and put into a bowl with 1 tbsp of mayonnaise, 6 chopped black olives, 1 small cucumber diced finely, a squeeze of lemon juice and mix well. Use Arabic bread or pitta breads and fill.

Banana and blueberry smoothie

In a blender add 1 banana, 1 cup of milk, half a cup of frozen blueberries, 2 tbsp of natural yoghurt and blend well. When my daughter is not taking this to school I would use almond milk or add in a large spoon of peanut butter for protein. 

 

Thanks again, Sophie! xx

If you would like to see more of the 'Back to school' recipes, click HERE.

Sophie Grace Jones

Sophie enjoyed working as a professional nanny in London and Dubai working with high profile clients. After having a daughter of her own, she decided to reach out to parents offering support, advice and to share her experiences through her online community Facebook page: Right Routine. Sophie has studied nutrition and has a huge passion for healthy eating and exercise, incorporating her learning into the recipes and ideas that she shares.

Back to School series - Lunchbox Recipes by Sophie Grace Jones

I am super excited! Sophie Grace Jones, a nutrition specialist mum, will be contributing to the blog with her tons of ideas on recipes for children, especially the type where you can 'hide' the unpopular vegetables (at our house, that is anything that resembles any shade of orange - one exception though: mandarins & family). At every mums gathering over the past two weeks, the lunchbox topic has come up again and again, and everyone including me seems to be in need of inspiration, so here are a few suggestions from Sophie:

Images source: Pinterest

Oat, banana, cranberry and apricot bars

In a large bowl mash 3 ripe bananas, and add in 150g oats, 4 tbsp flax seed, 8 finely chopped apricots, 80g dried cranberries, 3 tbsp agave syrup and 5 tbsp of apple purée. Mix well and pour into a lined baking tray and bake for 10 minutes at 180C. Leave to cool and cut into bars.

Mini broccoli and cheese quiche