Fabulous five: thrift store treasures

Thrift stores are my favorite place to go shopping. Me and my toddler each go on our own treasure hunt. My son looks for the best toy car, I look for supplies for a project or dinner party!

I believe everyone can score in the thrift store. Anyone can benefit from these items and ideas:


vaas1. Vintage porcelein – I have a soft spot for kitch china. My grandmother had such beautiful old teacups, they made every cup of tea special! I like using this china for:


  • Use tea cups or pretty glasses for serving a soup starter or for a high tea.


  • Use serving dishes as a gift wrapping for chocolates or home made cupcakes!

2. Vintage clothing – I like looking for dresses and tops. If they don’t fit nicely, I cut pieces of, or add some waist line with a belt.


The result of a recent thrift store treasure hunt.

3. Accessories – When you find that great dress, try finding accessories to match. After watching a documentary about Iris Apfel, I decided to have more fun with dressing up. This senior fashionista has so much fun and personality with using accessories, that it inspired me to stock up on necklaces, scarves, broches, sunglasses and more.

FondueSketchM4. Kitchen utensils – The thrift store is full of items people got bored of, or maybe the hype passed. I am thinking of fondue pans and bread makers. Use your fondue pan for cheese fondue or surprise your dinner guests with a chocolate fondue with fruit for desert.

5. Supplies for parties like:

  • High tea supplies – tea pots, cups, cake stands and beautiful table linnen.
  • A color themed party, just get table wear in your chosen color! Like getting pink or blue supplies for a baby shower!
  • Christmas dinner or Easter brunchHappyEaster2016.
  • Serving dishes, decorations and outfits for your seventies, eighties or nineties party.

Fabulous five: stews

In cool weather there is nothing better for winter than a stew. The other thing I love about stews is that they are easy to warm up and prepare in advance. I understand that to some people a stew seems way to much work, please consider that the stove top does most of the work, usually the actual preperations and cooking only take around 20 minutes. I also like to make large quantities of a stew, as they are a great dish to freeze or to serve to a group of people.

  1. Greek lamb stew – warm flavors and soft meat, what more could you ask for. GreekStew1
  2. Chickpea stew – even though my family thought a good stew always needs meat, with this recipe I proved them wrong.Pita
  3. My mother’s Malaysian chicken curry
  4. My mother-in-law’s oxtail stew
  5. South African tomato bredie

The recipes to the last 2 stews will follow soon.

Fabulous five: oven dishes

I love making oven dishes for my family. Here are some of the reasons why:

  • They fit in my busy schedule. You can often assemble the dish in advance, store it in your fridge or freezer, and warm and crisp it up in the oven when you want to eat it. This means I often make multiple oven dishes in the weekend which can be warmed up after a busy day in the office.
  • They are healthy. For my oven dishes I use lots of fresh veg and homemade sauces. All I do is warm the ingredients up. Oven baking a dish filled with fresh ingredient, in my mind, is a lot better than a microwaving or frying instant meals.
  • They are easy to prepare. Once your oven dish has been made, any family member that knows how the oven works can prepare dinner. While the dish cooks in the oven, we have time to relax or play, or the rest of the family can drive home from work.

These are our family favorites:

  1. Traditional lasagna with bolognese sauce and a bechamel and crusty top
  2. Moussaka – our tasty vegetarian version
  3. Spinache lasagnespinach
  4. Gnocchi bake
  5. Shepards pie – I like using leftovers from a stew and covering this with a layer of mashed potatoes.


Fabulous five! Fall activities

The days are getting shorter and the leaves are all turning lovely shades of yellow, red and brown. This colourful display combined with the November sun never fails to inspire me! These are my five favorite fall activities for me and my family:

  1. Walking in the park – is obviously the first thing that comes to mind. My pre-schooler loves foraging for beautiful leaves, rocks, nuts and sticks. He is obsessed with collecting these items. As I don’t always want this souvenirs in my home, I often have him display these in the garden.
  2. Getting creative with our finds – you can make beautiful creations with pine cones or stones.
  3. Drawing & coloring – the leaves are a great starting point for a coloring project. You can find and print a fall color project here.
  4. Baking – My little cookie monster and I love making MMMonster cookies on a rainy day.
  5. Visit the library – During the summer we tend to neglect our books but when it gets colder and the evenings get darker, I feel a strong urge to curl up on a couch with a book. I am currently still busy leafing through Home Made by Yvette van Boven.

Fabulous five Pinterest projects

In case you haven’t discovered Pinterest yet: Pinterest is a great website/app that lets you create you own “pin boards” of pictures that inspire you! Millions of creative people share and organize their pictures on this site. If you create an account you will be able to organize your own finds, but most importantly be inspired by others as well!

What I have discovered is that Pinterest gives you new ideas for cooking, crafts and activities with your kids. I often take elements of the idea of a creative mommy on the other side of the globe, tweak it for my own toddler and make it my own.

These are some of my latest (p)insired creations:

  1. Easy and healthy 3 ingredient cookies, for more baking ideas check out my Bake’nCake Pinterest board
  2. Mini veggie pizza’s, for more cooking ideas check out my Food4Thought Pinterest board
  3. Felt funny bunny, for more felt inspiration check out my Fuzzy felty figures Pinterest board
  4. Personalized coasters
  5. Magazine upcycling, for more gift wrapping ideas check out my Wrap-a-holic Pinterest board

Top tip! Get inspired for Christmas and Halloween and get an early start this year!

Fabulous five: jam jar re-use tips

As a mother that works 36 hours a week I like to think ahead. Making soups or sauces in the evenings, ready to warm up for dinner the next day, is a real time saver. I like serving homemade food, and by storing my creations properly I can feed my troops quickly.

Once my homemade food is packaged in a smart way, it can also be taken to work or on a picnic on the beach or in the park. This prevents us from buying greasy snacks, although we give in to our cravings every niw and then!

People often ask me how I manage this, upcycling jars is a big part of the answer. Here are my five ideas for storing and transporting in jam jars:

  1. Use jars  to store your home made jams, jelly’s, lemon curd or mayo.Mayo1
  2. Make and store batches of delicious sauces and dips in the barbecue season like tzatziki, rocket pesto and tomato sauceRocketPesto2
  3. Mix your favorite salad dressing inside a jar. Just add all ingredients, close and shake! I like making our Ceasar salad dressing this way.
  4. CeaserOne jam jar holds 1 (cold) soup serving, for a healthy lunch or afternoon snack! (like this my gourgette soup recipe, good warm or cold)Gsoup2
  5. Label your jars! This way you know what’s in them and when you made them. I use pretty labels when I plan on giving the jam away. That brings me to another perk of using a jar, unlike an (expensive) plastic container, I never worry about getting the container back from my friends….

Fabulous five BBQ recipes!

It’s summertime and we are crazy for barbecues. Here comes my list of favorites!

  1. Mustard chicken. Makes for sweet and succulent morsels of chicken every time! Tastes great with some potato salad and a flower salad!
  2. Fried sweet potatoes. I found a great recipe on www.theyummylife.com, still have to try it!
  3. I love having a good baked potato. I am the least patient cook in the world. So I pre-cook my potatoes in the microwave. Simply wash your potatoes and prick them all sides with a fork. Cook them in your microwave for 3 minutes, then turn them around, feel if they are soft as this means they’re cooked. If not blast them for another 2 minutes, then check them again. Wrap your potatoes in foil and crisp them up on your barbecue.
  4. Zucchini/courgette or aubergine are great for grilling too. Just slice in 5 mm slices. Sprinkle them with olive oil and thyme. Season to taste and grill on each side.
  5. Grilled asparagus, precook them if the stems are thicker. Just lightly coat them with olive oil. Season them after grilling and dress with a few drops of lemon.

For more great barbecue side dishes:

Fabulous five: magazine upcycling

I recently received such a well wrapped present from on of my friends! It inspired me to share with your my favorite ways of upcycling pages from a magazine.

  1. Fold a bow as a gift topper. You will find clear instructions here.


    The lovely gift from my friend

  2. Wrap gifts in magazine pages or Make gift bags using the magazine pagesPicsArt_1382533912671
  3. Use them for making a scrapbook with your toddler.
  4. Make beautiful party decorations
  5. Create some envelopes for sweet messages


Fabulous five: Cooking with toddlers

My toddler is always exploring the world and bursting with energy. From the moment he was born he has been observing me in the kitchen. From the moment he could, he has been my most eager little helper. I always indulge him and find a way for him to help me. I find it important he understands what he eats and he learns to appreciate how much work goes into making his dinner.

My toddler surprised me with his cooking. He loves to help create something, and he loves eating his creations. However grown-up I thought the recipes were, my son knows what he likes.

If you are wondering what your toddler can do in the kitchen here’s some things my toddler can do:

  • Knead, shape and roll out dough (as he has plenty of practice with play dough)
  • Cut soft food like mushrooms, cucumber, cheese with a table knife
  • Add ingredients and sprinkle seasoning
  • Pealing your boiled eggs
  • Stirring (although this does require lots of practice, my toddler toppled over the pancake batter once!)
  • Cleaning up afterwards, my toddler can really enjoy washing up, drying and placing utensils back in their right place.
  • Tasting and testing

A last and final warning for all young parents: lower your expectations. With their short attention span, toddlers help you for 5 minutes and leave a mess that might take you 10 minutes to clean up. Ironically, they will tell everyone they made this food (with no help what so ever, haha). With time, this will improve, and I promise you the pride on their faces when they get to eat their creations makes it all worth while!

These are our favorites recipes:

1. Pizza – my toddler gets to pick his own toppings. When his creation is done, he can’t wait till the pizza has finished baking. Find the recipe for pizza dough or our favorite topping.


2. Cookies – I make the dough beforehand (without my busy toddler slowing me down). The dough rests in the fridge until my son and I have a moment to make cookies together. We still want to make funfetti cookies together some day!

3. Pancakes – my toddler loves helping me mix the batter and we break eggs together, doesn’t any toddler love breaking stuff? He is in charge of ladling the batter in the pan, I am in charge of frying and flipping the pancakes in the air. Find my pancake recipe here.

4. Sushi – making simple sushi is perfect toddler fun. My toddler eats the (healthy) ingredients before they are even made into sushi! Molding the rice and placing the ingredients in the roll is his task and mommy rolls the sushi and we eat them together.

5. Bread – my toddler loves kneading dough with me. He gets to mold his own rolls, brush them and sprinkle them with his favorite seeds. You could also let your toddler make bread sticks.

Fabulous five! Mothersday

Mothers day is in exactly 1 week (in the Netherlands). My mom is getting a homemade gift, from the heart. Here are my top 5 picks;

  1. My mom loves reading. A personalized bookmark would be a good idea!
  2. A heartfelt sweet message on a board or a card
  3. Make an egg cosy with some felt! Perfect combined with a surprise breakfast in bed!!

    through Ariadne at home

  4. Say it with food! Bake a special apple pie
  5. Make a simple and personal card