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Visit to Ihlamur Kasiri (Palace & grounds)

An oasis  of calm in the busy Sisli/ Besiktas area! I recently went out with my 3 year old boy to spend the morning in nature and we both had a blast!  What’s to see?                                   Spectacular palace ( Entry to the palace for a separate fee)                                                   Beautiful peacocks always a pleasure to watch.                                              Ample space to walk around beautiful trees and flowers.                     Rabbit hatch - take along carrots and lettuce to feed the animals.                                                                            Two ponds, with ducks  & turtles  Look out on my Instagram account for the FULL video of the cute turtle trying to get up on the edge next to his turtle friend and not quite making it!  FOOD: Cafe /restaurant with full menu. It’s technically a museum so picnics aren’t allowed. Small snacks are ok. Flat, stroller friendly. Good for toddlers, but requires a watchful eye nea

Dinosaur Themed Garden Party for a Three Year Old

 ZAYD TURNED THREE!  Alhamdulillah  We hosted a simple dinosaur theme garden party at home. As always, I used smart ways to bring the theme alive that don’t break the bank. {Read my blog post for ideas on how I throw parties on budget with max fun!} Here are the elements for the party with a few close friends: Plates & matching crockery. This has a great impact. I bought a package this time including decor, so it was all in one no need to search for different items (and forget stuff!) Table setting and food :  We had roast beef sandwiches for hungry carnivores, savoury muffins, honey pancake rollups (made by my friend Ayesha- Martha Stewart recipe- yum) , dino eggs (grapes) for herbivores                                           Sugar free cake , iced with whipped cream (very tricky to work with as cream doesn’t whip stiff in Turkey!) Mom's Tea & treats: Sugar-full cupcakes for Mama saurus + tea/coffee Snacks: Selection of healthy-ish nibbles for pekish dinos Water Play:

How to see 3 museums and 2 masjids in Istanbul Old City in a day!

A few weeks ago, we were fortunate to have the opportunity to do some sightseeing in Istanbul, after months of staying local to home due to the pandemic. I had a few places on my bucket list and decided to tackle them all on 1 day as I couldn't be sure when I would get a chance like this again (given having the kids around during upcoming school holidays, various lockdown situations etc!) (Tip: don’t recommend this itinerary  if you’re a savour the moment kinda tourist! But if you have limited time like me then this itinerary may work as you get to taste all the sites mentioned just enough to satisfy your FOMO!!) but as I live here, I do also know I could return insha Allah if I didn't finish it all, so mindset is different. Also kids didn’t join us this time so super speed was possible!  Note: On a random weekday everywhere inside was super quiet and outside was not crowded at all therefore social distancing was always adhered to. Destination: Sultanahmet/Sirkeci Istanbul How

Travel: Discovering Balat and Fener

It’s been ages since I’ve travelled across the Golden Horn for good old fashioned sightseeing so on a rare mild weather day recently, we headed over to explore the historic neighbourhoods of: Balat & Fenner in Istanbul, Alhamdulillah. I had this on my bucket list as it's usually cited as the slightly lesser known tourist spots as well as being interested to see yet another different side to this rich, captivating city!  Situated near Eminonu, on the European side of Istanbul, there are several buses headed in that direction and we took the 99 Bus. Being a random Monday, there were tourists milling around but it was crowd free and restaurants were quiet making social distancing easy and feasible everywhere we went.  Equipped with a  guide book and Google maps on our phone, we walked around the area, stopping for breakfast and later snacks (Pancake house). Here’s the highlights from our 3 hour self tour: Breakfast at Balat Antik Cafe  - beautiful garden setting with a great menu

Our recent FOREST EXCURSION to Kemerburgaz Kent Ormani

FOREST EXCURSION: Alhamdulillah, we took a much needed nature break recently. It’s been a long winter holiday home so we enjoyed a day out in nature for fresh air and a welcome change of scenery!  šŸ“Kemerburgaz Kent Ormani We have been here before, but this time we discovered more as we went by car, whereas last time we went by taxi and therefore saw just what we could on foot! Check my previous post for details on that visit. This time we explored these areas:   Lake (Gol):  It's so beautiful to sit near and take in. There are just a few benches and tables near the lake to sit at for a picnic, as well as benches to sit on to view though its on a hill.  However there is a long pathway alongside the lake where you can probably find more places to sit. Forest : We drove along a little deeper into the forest this time, where it was super isolated. There are even playgrounds here- almost for our private personal use! We had our picnic  lunch here as well as nap and quiet time amongst

Lockdown Birthday : Family Zoom Party

PART TWO: FOURTH BIRTHDAY ZOOM PARTY  With our family split across 3 countries, the best way to have everyone join in our celebration was through a family zoom party! Never did I think I would get dressed for a screen appearance but there you go!  This was the covered pancake stack & party table (Remember to set up a great zoom backdrop! Pancake Stack cake Recipe-   #sugarfree  and  #colourfree   I used the recipe from  @tableforfivedubai  but left out the sugar. Use a large frying pan so there’s space to flip. Sandwich each pancake with unsweetened cream and fresh strawberries  The cream is coloured with natural beetroot powder (post coming soon) Decorate & eat! Stacking in progress! sandwich with cream and strawberries. Inside the stack once cut. Very exciting for the kids. Delicious treat for everyone. Since we had a cake for part one of her birthday (see previous post), it was great to do something different for this occasion- thanks to  @zaakira1  for the inspo and on the

How to throw a kid's birthday on budget- lockdown style

We recently had my pre-schoolers (ie no longer toddler!) fourth birthday celebration. Alhamdulillah Given the lockdown context, and observing social distancing we did it in two parts : a small party at home with 2 friends and a family zoom party during the weekend. Double the fun, double the cake!   We were sad not to have our usual bigger crowd to share in her happy day but given the cold weather we had to host indoors and therefore kept it safe with just 1 family to join us this time. And let’s face it, my two little ones make a party by themselves already! Having it at home also meant zero venue costs and fortunately I have the space to host this way. She chose the theme : Kitty cats which was cute and easy to work with. My aim is to keep costs low, and fun factor high! I enjoy the little touches to bring a theme together and have also realised that keeping it simple makes it more enjoyable for the kids as they can enjoy all the elements - and easier for me (to not get overwhelmed a