Category Archives: Reviews

Bambina Babbles

When I found out I was expecting, one of the things I was most pleased about, other than the obvious stalk delivery, was that I was going to have a bi-lingual child.

I studied Spanish at school and university and my language skills got me out of no end of trouble when I was traveling South America (it also got me into trouble but we wont go there right now).

In today’s multi cultural world I think it’s imperative that children speak a second language to give them the best start. I didn’t set out on purpose to find a foreign husband but I’m so grateful now that I have one.

Unlike and gaelicmediummum who have very bravely set out to teach their children a second language that 1) is not their mother tongue and 2) they don’t even speak themselves, I feel very fortunate that the Italian is, well, Italian, so Bambina can talk and wave her hands at with him to her heart’s content.  You can catch their story here.

If I wasn’t married to a non-English, I’m not too sure how determined I would be to ensure that Bambina learns a new language.  If I am completely honest, I would probably leave it up the education system to sort out. I take my hat off to and gaelicmediummum for taking on such a mammoth task – and sticking to it!! Massive Kudos.

The Italian is also fluent in Spanish. Double whammy. With Italian, Spanish and maybe a bit of French and/or Cantonese thrown in for good measure when she goes to school, Bambina is set to be a very clever little girl. Either that or totally bamboozled and won’t be able to string a sentence together – well, a sentence that we understand!

But how and when do we speak to her in other languages than English? When does too much information become system overload?

Currently we are trying, but not yet perfecting, the one parent one language rule. I babble in English and he mutters in Italian.  Thanks to Skype, Bambina sees and converses with her grandparents (Nonni) in Italy everyday and at ten little months she can understand and responds to various phrases in both languages:

Clap your hands – Batti le Manine

How big are you? – Cuanto grande e?

Give me a kiss – Dame un bacino

On Easter day she said her first Italian word, “Nono!” (Granddad).

Italian as a second language is not as popular as French or Spanish so it’s quite difficult to find bi-lingual toys. I found a great one on eBay but that was it. I’ve tried to find them at Chicco, both in the UK and in Italy, but to no avail.  Considering Chicco is an Italian company, even they fall short on English/Italian toy availability.  It’s rather frustrating when most toys out there (Fisher Price and Leap Frog) only do mixed languages in English/French.  Thank goodness for Dora the Explorer because now at least we have Spanish too.

You can imagine my delight when by chance I came across Babyboomboom who make bi-lingual nursery rhyme CD’s for children.  They had an English/Italian version! Bravo! Bambina listens to it probably every day and it is the best tenner I’ve ever spent!

And so our varied vocabulary continues.  I am learning Italian along with my daughter and even know how say things like nappy, bottle, bum rash – not phrases I need when ordering a coffee or a double room in a hotel but hey ho.  I don’t ever want to be in a situation where I don’t know what my child is saying and for that reason, language lessons all round!

BabyBoomBoom have kindly offered to donate a few of their music bags to Tea&Biscotti for my very first *GiveAway*.  It’s an amazing gift for any parent wanting to assist their child in learning a new language and what better way to do that than with nursery rhymes?!

I will be posting *GiveAway* details later this week so do stay tuned (see what I did there? tuned…genius!) if you want to be the lucky owner of a BabyBoomBoom music goodie bag!

In the meantime, if anyone out there is a bi/tri-lingual parent, do leave me a comment on what approach you are taking and how it works, or doesn’t, for you and your little ones.  I would be interested to know how you are finding it.  Any advice is helpful advice, I appreciate it.

Until then… Ciao Ciao!



Posted by on April 11, 2012 in Reviews


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Independents Day: Carrieles de Colombia

I don’t think I’m alone when I say that sometimes I daydream about starting my own business.  It’s the ‘what to do’ that holds me back.  I just don’t think I have an eye for niche spotting.  That doesn’t stop me being interested in others that do and most probably, I look to them for inspiration in the hope that one day my daydreaming will pay off and I’ll have a Eureka moment.

So when I discovered that Karen from All About the Boys was holding a new linky I had to get involved.  Independents Day is a once a month shout out to support hard-working independent businesses.  So rather than feeling like a small fish in a big pond, Independents Day is aiming to make a splash and help get these businesses the recognition we think they deserve.

I know a lovely lady who had a Eureka moment.  She’s smart, she’s gutsy, she’s determined.  She also happens to be one of my closest friends.

So without further ado, let me introduce Carrieles de Colombia, the brainchild of Becky, born and bred right here in Blighty, and her Colombian husband Mauricio. Having been to Colombia three times myself, it is with heartfelt joy that I write this post, not only to alert the world about these amazing bags but also about from where they come. Colombia is a total surprise and long gone are its woes of the past. Colombia stands for totally fabulous people, food, dancing and style. It’s on the up but it is such a shame that more people don’t venture there. Forget Milan, forget Rome, Colombia has a style that the world is yet to witness and that is why Becky and Mauricio have done a fantastic job of bringing a little bit of Colombia to the UK!!

Every woman likes handbags, right? Well, let me tell you, every woman will LOVE these!!  I remember clearly the day I saw Becky’s bag.  A few years ago, a bunch of friends met at Embankment to watch the Marathon and there, on Becky’s left hand, sparkling in the sun was a beautiful Colombian emerald and diamond ring.  Mauricio had proposed the night before.  Hanging off her hip was an unusually trendy, cool bag that I had not seen before, “Congrats on the bling but WHERE did you get that bag??!”…

And so it seems I wasn’t the first and I definitely wont be the last to ask.  It is because of this that in 2011, Carrieles de Colombia was born.

The bags find their inspiration from the Colombian Carriel.  Dating back to over 400 years the Carriel is believed to be a version of a European bag that the Spanish colonisers would have taken with them to Colombia.  Best of all (and I love this bit!), in keeping with Colombian folkloric tradition, all of the Carriel bags contain a secret pocket which is used to keep a love letter from a sweetheart.

Becky discovered the bags on a visit to Cartagena and loved them so much that Mauricio bought one for her directly from the producer. Since stepping off the plane back in the UK, she has continuously received comments about the bag. It was this that led the couple to contact the producer in Medellin to discuss importing the bags to the UK. As well as their range of handbags, Carrieles have also honed in on the need for a unnique and original iPhone cover – I for one will be getting myself one of these little darlings!

After a few design tweaks they received the first batch of samples. The producer of the Carriel had never provided such an order as all bags are handmade and extremely intricate in design, some consisting of colourful stitching, animal hide and all are made of the highest quality leather.

The latest fashion statement in Medellín, Cali and Bogota, Becky used her background in PR to drum up some awareness of the bags and the result has been amazing!

To date, Carrieles have had press coverage in magazines such as In Style, Grazia and Elle with more due in Marie Claire.  Lest not forget that no other than Fearne Cotton is the proud owner of a Dona Becky Carriel! This is an outstanding accomplishment given that both Becky and Mauricio still have full-time jobs. They are working hard to push the brand forward and are planning a few pop-up events across London later this year.

They remain undefeated against their challenges (dealing with Colombians who don’t know British markets, shipping, taxes, generating publicity and generally finding the time) and are absolutely committed and dedicated to the belief in their company.  I’m sure it wont be long until they literally, have it in the bag!!

For more information on Carrieles de Colombia you can visit them at:



Twitter – @Carrielseuk


Posted by on March 29, 2012 in Reviews


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Italialicious: Pimp My Gift

Yesterday I had what started as a really rubbish day.

I took my daughter to the childminder for the first time and left her for a whole two hours. My goodness, what is that feeling called? I have never experienced such an emotion like it; heart wrenching emptiness. There she was all tucked up in her pram with that ‘you’re up to something mummy!’ look on her face. I tried not to make eye contact with her as I practically launched the pram into the hands of the childminder before hot footing it home whilst trying to look like I wasnt crying! Cry? in the street? in front of everyone? Oh yes I did, full on tears and snot, no tissue, no handkerchief, only a hand to wipe it all away. It was awful.

When I got home a blubbering wreck, I was greeted at the door by a UPS man.  No way!! It wasn’t a prank after all. I couldn’t believe it. I had half believed it might be true but the sceptic in me thought otherwise.  In my first few days as a blogger I was trying in vain to get to grips with Twitter and came across Italialicious,

“Top quality Italian food and wines delivered in luxury handcrafted boxes. A unique selection of the best Pasta, Desserts, Sauces, Olive Oils and Luxury Wines linked to an express delivery service able to cover the globe within 72 hours from the moment you place your order”

The Deluxe Dessert Gift Box

Lo and behold after a few back and forths, I had been promised a promo box. I couldn’t believe my luck as my blog was only about three days old!!  I had heard about bloggers getting free stuff but to be honest, that’s not why I started blogging.  I do it to explore my creative outlet (cue laughing fit!).

Italialicious just seemed like a cool thing to review.  I love Italy, I think it’s delicious…let’s crack on!  My UPS man handed over a rather large box which my husband, after almost rugby tackling me to the floor, grabbed to open.  I managed to leave the box in the kitchen,untouched, until after dinner.  Until after I had collected my daughter from the childminder, all happy and sleepy-eyed, after not having shed a single tear for the whole two hours!  Until I had cleaned the house. Until I had been to the shops to buy my principessa a pink bath seat.  Until I had a spare moment to sit down with a nice cup of Earl Grey and really enjoy my tea & biscotti!


The delivery – I was intrigued to see whether Italialicious delivered within 72hours from despatch date, even though it was a promo gift.  They did. Tick.

The gift box – I was immediately impressed by the box.  My husband, being the Italian, hadn’t even noticed that the box is created in the colours of Italy: a green box, lined in red with a red sleeve stating the Italialicious Think-click-Enjoy logo in white.  Clever I thought.  Tick.

Italialicious gift box & logo

The goods

Italialicious deluxe dessert gift box

One luxury bag of pear and chocolate biscotti – Although tasty, I think I made a slight error in tasting these biscuits.  I ate a few with a cup of tea.  I think they are much better suited to be eaten alongside an espresso because they are soft in texture – it has to be said, I do prefer a crunch to my biscotti.

Italialicious hazelnut balls & biscotti

One box of hazelnut chocolate fondants – I absolutely love any nut covered in chocolate so this was a total winner for me.  Small hazelnuts covered in a chocolate praline and covered again in a chocolate shell… YUM!!  Having made a school boy error with the biscotti I thought carefully on what to indulge in with the chocolate hazelnut balls.  I had the perfect thing hiding away in my drinks cabinet, a nice cold shot of Molinari Sambuca Café.  Rich and indulgent…double Yum! These would also go down well with a nice red grape grappa or a full-bodied red wine from the Italialicious deluxe wine range.  Tick.

One jar of blackberry jam – sounds simple eh? blackberry jam.  I tell you now, when I tasted this, I was transported to my in-laws terrace having an espresso and eating this jam on toast…crunch! This one really is delicious.  Winner. Tick.

A floral peg – I thought this was random until my husband pointed out it was probably to peg the bag of biscuits shut once you’d had a few. These guys really have thought of everything. BUT…as my will power forbids me to leave anything unfinished, I found a new use for the peg.  It’s now a fridge magnet holding in place a beautiful pic of my daughter when she was a week old.

Who for? – My honest opinion about Italialicious is that it is a service best aimed at the corporate market purely because the packaging is outstanding and extremely well thought through.  I mean, even the bid red tomato with the aeroplane logo – genius!  The gift boxes are beautifully presented and the products are great depending on your taste. If bought as a personal gift, the good things is that you can customise the contents.  For example, although nice, I wasn’t overly keen on the biscotti if I’m honest, but perhaps I might have preferred the chestnut jam or maybe even a rice instead?  The choices are endless and this is the advantage, you select what you want, everything else is done for you.

If you want to know more about Italialicious or would like to order or customise your own gift box, please pop along and visit them here.

I was sent an Italialicious gift box to review, all opinions are entirely my own (with a few cheeky interruptions from my husband!)


Posted by on February 23, 2012 in Reviews


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