A big giveaway just for moms over at Puj!

moms are beautiful

The lovely team over at Puj have just announced an inspiring Moms are Beautiful campaign and a big giveaway just for moms! They recently asked a few mothers to take part by submitting a quote about motherhood to help to share the ‘moms are beautiful’ love. I was thrilled to be asked and so happy to take part! (Celebrating mothers is something we should all do more often, no?)

courtney adamo_quote

I sent over the above quote because it’s one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned as a mother, and something I continue to remind myself at different stages of my parenting path. It can sometimes feel like we mothers are constantly inundated with information and tips, whether it’s from the latest how-to books or whether it’s the advice we hear from other mums on the playground. (I, myself, am guilty of passing on advice and sharing opinions. I have also found myself on the receiving end of it too.) In any case, I think it’s important that we mothers give ourselves a bit more credit and that we trust our intuitions and be assured that we really do know what’s best for our children.

You can click over to Puj to read other quotes about motherhood, check out the great prizes to win and enter the giveaway here.

x Courtney

Peanut butter cookies dipped in chocolate

peanut butter cookies and chocolate
marlow making peanut butter cookies
chocolate covered peanut butter cookies
Remember the super easy peanut butter cookies I blogged about a few months ago? The recipe with only three ingredients?! Well, last week I decided to add one more ingredient… and oh my goodness it was a good decision! I melted down some dark chocolate and dipped the cookies half way in. Yummmm !!

x Courtney

p.s. Marlow’s cute skirt is from Lalé. Available here.

Smallable’s 6th Birthday! (And discounts to celebrate!)

smallable birthday
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I remember when Smallable announced their launch six years ago! It was an exciting time in children’s shopping — an online department store with hundreds of the best brands of children’s clothing, toys and decorations all in one place. It was one of the first shops to offer such a stylish, curated selection of brands, making it easy to find unique products for your kids. In fact, six years later, it remains one of the very best still.

It’s been really exciting to watch the growth of Smallable over the years — they started at a time when we were also quite new, so it feels a bit like we’ve grown together. We are thrilled to wish them a happy 6th birthday!

To celebrate, Smallable is offering some exciting discounts this week (see below) and are offering a free candle to the first 200 orders of £160 or more.

smallable discount codes

The perfect excuse to do a little back-to-school shopping! (The selection of winter coats and accessories have me (almost) excited for colder weather!)

xx Courtney

Bamboo baby clothing from Panda and the Sparrow

panda and the sparrow
We’ve moved Marlow out of her cot and into the big bed with Ivy. The girls started sleeping together this summer after Marlow started refusing to sleep in her travel cot, and it was working well so we decided to let them continue once we returned to London. It’s funny because I was excited to take the cot down and create more play space in their room, but once it was down and the space was cleared, I suddenly realised… that’s it! my baby is no longer a baby! Gosh it went so quickly. (Remember when she was sleeping in our bed?)

I don’t know if it’s her personality or if it’s because she has three older siblings to mimic, but Marlow seems to have skipped a few months of her babyhood. No more cot, no more diapers, no more sippy cups. I’m just waiting for her to hand over her dummies and tell me she’s too big for those as well. : )

Thank goodness she still fits into her little all-in-one baby pyjama from Panda and the Sparrow. I love a baby in a one-piece suit. So snuggly and sweet! The baby clothes from Panda and the Sparrow are made from bamboo and organic cotton, making them extra soft, hypoallergenic, breathable and thermal regulating. Not to mention, I love the stripy designs and great colours!

Panda and the Sparrow is a new brand created by two mothers earlier this year and we’re excited to welcome them to the ShopUp event in December. Mark your diaries (December 3rd & 4th) and look out for them there.

x Courtney

p.s. A previous post with my thoughts about bed sharing.

Amy & Ivor handmade moccasins

leather moccasins for kids
Amy & Ivor moccasins
leather moccasins

I’ve gotten moccasins for the kids before, but never ones this soft and supple! The moccasins from Amy & Ivor must be the closest thing to walking barefoot — perfect for babies and beginner walkers… and even busy toddlers who never sit still (as tested by Marlow).

Amy & Ivor moccasins are handmade to order and are made in England by a small team using high quality chrome-free and vegetable tanned leathers. The result is a wonderfully soft and absolutely beautiful shoe. (My size, please!)

x Courtney

p.s. Amy & Ivor is one of 25 amazing shops lined up to take part in this year’s ShopUp event here in London. Mark your diaries and look out for them there!

Last days of summer and the TULA baby carrier

beach walk with kids
beach walk
Our final week of summer holiday has been a really wonderful one. I turned my phone off, stuck it in the bottom of my suitcase, and haven’t checked it even once! I wanted to disconnect a bit and soak up these carefree summer days before we return to London and the kids go back to school. I’ve made a point of spending quality time with each of my children, asking questions, really listening to their answers, just being more present.  We’ve gone on long walks, played games, read books, hung out in our pyjamas and have just been generally slow and lazy. It’s not going to be easy going back to our normal routines and early morning wake-ups (plus jet-lag! eeek!), but I’m so thankful for our long summer away.

walking on the beach tula carrier
Speaking of long walks… I wanted to mention a new baby carrier I’ve discovered which has completely changed my life (or at least my walking-with-Marlow life).  Earlier this summer Marlow started to complain about being in the Ergo carrier. I would strap her in at the onset of our walks and within minutes she would ask to be put down. I started to wonder if perhaps she wasn’t comfortable in the Ergo anymore. (Sidenote: of all the baby carriers I’ve tried, the Ergo has been my favourite. I didn’t think it was possible to find a better option.)

Enter the Tula toddler carrier. I am convinced this is the best option for toddlers aged 18 months and over. The Tula is a lot like the Ergo, but it’s got a wider fabric body which is better for toddlers because it doesn’t dig into their little thighs. Also, the fabric is much softer and so it fits over their bigger body with ease and is really comfortable, both for the toddler and the mama.  Marlow has ridden comfortably in the Tula for several long walks without ever asking to be put down. It has made such a difference during the past couple weeks, especially since I haven’t had my husband to offer shoulder rides to tired children.

marlow in tula baby carrier
marlow laughin in carrier

I hope you don’t mind me sharing a few photos from a recent beach walk with my kids. I hid my phone away and haven’t taken any photos this past week, but my sister snapped these photos and I’m so happy to have them as a memory of our lazy late summer days.

x Courtney

p.s. I’ll be in London next time you hear from me. Wish me luck on that long flight back home. : )

Painting sand dollars

watercolour paints on sand dollars

We’ve been spending our final days of summer holiday at our little beach house on Bainbridge Island. The weather has cooled down in the past week and the days have become noticeably shorter.  Autumn is definitely in the air!

A couple days ago when the weather was cloudy and the kids were feeling a bit stir crazy, we decided to sit down for a little paint session. We’ve already painted rocks, so this time we decided to paint our collection of sand dollars. It was such a fun activity!

painting sand dollars
painted sand dollar

painted sand dollars

It was fun to see the different variations of painting techniques. Some of us chose to paint the star, while others decided the sand dollars should look like tie-dye! : ) In any case, it was a fun way to spend a cloudy afternoon.

x Courtney

Doodle books from Start Creative

Start Creative doodle books
We have one more week of summer holidays before heading back to London and diving straight into school and a busy Autumn schedule. I’m starting to psyche myself up for the routine that is coming… but first, I have a 9-hour flight with four kids to survive. I’ve been trying to convince one of my siblings to fly back with me to help with all the schlepping of children and luggage, but haven’t had any takers… so it looks like I will fly solo, just the kids and me. Eeeek!

Thankfully, a set of doodle books from Start Creative arrived this week for us to check out. The timing couldn’t be better.

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Each little doodle book provides the start of a doodle on each page — a simple line, swirl or scribble, which the kids can use as the starting point for their drawing. All your kids will need is a pencil and a bit of imagination!

I also love that the books are perfectly sized for travel, small enough to fit into any carry-on tote or child’s backpack (I’ve already stashed some in our travel bag, ready for our flight!).

x Courtney

p.s. Last year, after surviving the long flight back to London with all the kids, I jotted down some simple tips for flying with kids. I’ll be studying these tips to prepare myself for next week’s flight, and if you have any other tips to share, please do!

The ShopUp 2014!!

ShopUp website

We are beyond excited to finally announce this year’s ShopUp event! Following the success of last year’s event, we’ll be hosting another 2-day shopping fair in London this December where we will bring together more than 25 different boutiques all under one roof just in time for the holiday shopping period. We’re already soooo excited!

We’re also thrilled to announce a brand new dedicated ShopUp site. Introducing… www.theshopup.com! Here you will find all the important info, activities and, most importantly, the list of all participating shops. You can also watch the video and see all the photos from last year’s event.

We’ve already lined up a hot selection of amazing shops (don’t you want to go shopping already! so good!), and we’re excited to organise more shops and some sweet activities to keep your little ones entertained. Please stay tuned…

In the meantime, mark your calendars for December 3rd and 4th, and get your holiday shopping lists ready!! We hope to see you there!

xx Courtney, Esther & Emilie

Get organised! This month’s column in Baby&Me Magazine

Baby&Me mag

Every year I promise myself I’ll be organised come the first day of school. I’ll be ready for early morning wake-ups and prepared for the rush to school. But no matter my best intentions, I’m never ready.

We still have another two weeks until school starts for my kids, but this year I’m determined to be prepared for the inevitable routine that’s coming. This month for Baby & Me Magazine I’ve rounded up some of my favourite products to help get organised: notebooks, planners, pens, name labels and an office wall organiser I’ve coveted for years. You can find my selection in this month’s issue here.

x Courtney

Mabo Kids summer sale

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When Mabo Kids announced their summer sale a couple weeks ago, I quickly scooped up a few adorable pieces for the kids, my favourite being this little chambray playsuit for Ivy. So sweet! I snapped a few photos of her earlier this week when we were out at Fort Casey near where my dad lives. I love how summery these photos are — the dried grass, the flower seeds blowing, her blonde wispy hair… and of course the cutest little summer outfit.

There are still some remaining pieces in the Mabo sale, and if you hurry on over you might get lucky with the right sizes, etc.

x Courtney

Learning to weave on a peg loom

ivy weaving

weaving loom

My sister just gave Ivy a Peg Loom weaving kit and it’s been really sweet watching Ivy learn to weave this summer. She’s intent on making herself a little handbag, which is one of the projects recommended in the loom kit. I’m kind of hoping we can buy some pretty yarns and make some weaved wall hangings, perhaps with some driftwood found on the beach (I was feeling inspired yesterday when I saw this photo on Instagram). In either case, it’s a great summertime project (for both of us).  The PegLoom kit comes with everything you need to get started, including yarn and a weaving needle.

x Courtney

Blackberry season. Time for pie!

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girls eating blackberries

And just like that… it’s blackberry season! In just the past week the blackberries on the island have ripened… and they are abundant! We’ve been picking blackberries daily and eating them for every meal.  Yummm. Last week the girls and I decided to make a blackberry pie. To be honest, Ivy decided she wanted to make a pie and I decided to be a good mama and help her make it. Pies are not my favourite thing to make — I’m always turned off by the trickiness of pie crust (the making, the rolling, the precision of pie crust pinching!). Cakes and cobblers are so much easier for this reason. But, Ivy wanted pie…

I’ve recently discovered the baking blog Bakers Royale, and the few recipes I’ve tried have been really good so we decided to make her Blackberry Lime Pie, despite my worries that it might be too sour for a little girl’s palette.

blackberry lime pie
blackberry lime pie, last piece

The pie turned out really well (despite the not-so-perfect pie crust design!). The blackberry and lime combination is really interesting, and the crust is a bit sweeter than most crusts so it’s the perfect combination of sweet pastry and slightly sour filling. Really yummy! We will definitely make it again.

x Courtney

MAPS Activity Book

MAPS activity book
colouring MAPS activity book
Remember the MAPS book we all love so much? Well, they’ve just come out with an activity book version which my kids are loving nearly as much as the book!! (Easton did make sure to tell me that he still loves the book more!)

colouring american states

The MAPS activity book is filled with loads of great activities, all based on encouraging children to learn and discover the different countries, continents and cultures around the world. There’s a page, for example, that encourages children to colour the 50 different states of America, using only four colours, and without letting any of the colours touch — a fun, yet challenging activity that my 9-year-old really enjoyed.

colour your own flag

Another page asks you to colour the different flags from countries around the world and then asks you to design and colour your own flag. Another fun activity! The book is available from Amazon (US and UK).

x Courtney

A few days in Portland

walking downtown portland

We’ve just finished a little road trip from Lake Tahoe, NV, where Michael’s parents have a home, back up to Seattle where we will spend the rest of our summer holiday with my family. We did some sightseeing along the way and really enjoyed exploring some new parts of California and Oregon we have never seen before. We decided to stop in Portland  on our way and spend a few days checking out the city. Despite having grown up in Seattle, I’ve never really spent much time in Portland… and we keep hearing such good things about it!

I can definitely say it is worth all the hype. Portland is such a great little city, so easy to navigate with all the wonderful shops and restaurants located downtown in an easily walkable grid. It’s a perfect destination for a weekend break because it’s small enough to explore, but still feels very much like a hip, happening city. We loved it!

Here’s a little recap of our visit and some photos too:

We arrived into Portland in time to check into our hotel and walk to dinner at Oven & Shaker in the Pearl District. We sat outside and enjoyed good pizza and beer. We then stopped by Ruby Jewel for ice cream on our way back to our hotel. Lots of people suggested to go to Salt & Straw for ice cream, but we never made it there. Apparently they serve delicious ice cream in the most unusual flavours (and it’s so popular they have a queue going around the block!).

marlow at Kenny & Zuke's

The next morning we enjoyed breakfast at Kenny & Zuke’s (I ate the gravlax salmon bagel and it was delicious!) and then good coffee from Stumptown. We then enjoyed a bit of window shopping in the new Union Way shopping arcade across the street. Quin was excited to find a candy shop named Quin (!!) while I was happy to take a quick stroll through Steven Alan.

Quin candy shop

kids in portland

After window shopping, we walked down to Portland Pedal Bike Tours where we rented bikes for the day. We put the girls in a trailer behind my bike, Quin rode tandem with Michael, and Easton rode his own bike. We had so much fun cycling around the city and exploring the various neighbourhoods (once I got the hang of riding a bike in a dress and pulling two heavy girls behind me! oh my!).

girls in bike trailer

During our bike ride around town, we stopped for lunch at Por Qué No?. The kids were hot and sweaty from cycling in the 90º heat and they loved getting iced cold prickly pear juice to cool them off. The tacos were yummy too!

kids at por que no

At the end of our cycle, we stopped for a while and let the kids run through the fountains at the waterfront park near the Hawthorne Bridge. The kids were so hot, they went in completely clothed (we didn’t have their swimsuits!). I nearly went in too – I was so beat from riding all over town with the girls in tow! ;)

portland water fountain

For dinner that night we met one of Michael’s college friends at one of Portland’s hot spots, Tasty & Alder. The food was again delicious! It was worth the hour long wait to get in (no reservations taken). And even though we were the only ones in there with kids, they were really friendly and accommodating to our big group.

The next day Michael had a few meetings so I was on my own with the kids. We started our day by hitting up the photobooth at the Ace Hotel. I’m a sucker for the old-school photobooths, and my kids loved them so much, they were nearly in tears when I told them we had to leave!

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We then walked over to Powell’s Books, which is a great (enormous!) bookstore selling both new and used books. We sat in the children’s section reading books to each other for a good porting of the morning, and I let the kids each pick out two books to take home with them. It was a great place to escape the heat, and would equally be a great place to escape the rain or cold if you visited during other seasons.

After the bookstore, we walked over to Jamison Square. We picked up pizza from Hot Lips (great name!) and ate lunch in the park, and then the kids ran around in the fountains for a couple hours! Phew! : )

jamison square water fountain

On our way back from the fountains I managed to squeeze in a little visit to Canoe, which is a shop I had been eyeing for the past couple days. I wanted to buy everything in store! So many pretty homewares! Alas, I did not buy everything in the shop. : )

canoe shop

That night, we had a quick dinner at Lardo. The kids got hot dogs, and I had a tasty sandwich. It was all I could manage with four exhausted kids, but it was pretty good for a sandwich joint. The next morning we grabbed breakfast at Mother’s before driving out of town and heading for Seattle. They served us waffles topped with juicy blackberries picked that morning!

That’s it! What a great little trip. I definitely recommend visiting Portland. We will go back for sure!

xx Courtney

p.s. Feel free to add tips in the comments below if you have any other recommendations for people visiting the city. Thank you!

Kid Libs, Mad Libs for kids

mad libs

My kids discovered Mad Libs for the first time this holiday and now I’m wondering what took me so long to introduce them! The giggles coming from the kids’ table are so, so cute. Not to mention, they now know the difference between a verb and an adverb, a noun and a plural noun.

The kids have been playing with the Kid Libs version which are great for kids aged seven and up. And the nice thing about the game is that it can be played by as many people as you want. I’ve even caught Easton playing on his own and then laughing at his stories! We have a little road trip coming up this weekend and I’m planning on bringing a few Kid Libs with us in the car — I think it will be the perfect thing to entertain a captive car audience. You can buy Kid Libs Mad Libs from Amazon (US and UK ).

x Courtney

Baby & Me Magazine, my favourite childhood items

childhood favourites at Baby & Me Magazine
This month’s issue of Baby & Me Magazine features the best and most stylish of children’s products in the 2014 Style Awards. They handed out awards to winners based on their criteria of iconic design, good looks and innovation (you can see the winners here).

This month they asked me to round up some of my personal favourite children’s products — the products we have used and loved in our family, ones that I hope to keep forever and pass down to my grandchildren. The products shown above are a few that made the cut. You can find my column in this month’s issue here.

x Courtney

 

Portable sleeper for newborns

 

fisher price sleeper

fisher price portable sleeper

portable sleeper, folded

We’re visiting my husband’s family in Lake Tahoe this week where the kids are having loads of fun playing with all their cousins.  My sister-in-law recently gave birth to her fourth baby, a little girl called Ruby, and we’ve been enjoying spending time with her and getting lots of newborn snuggle time. I can’t believe Marlow was ever that tiny! Or that sweet and calm for that matter. : )

My sister-in-law has a little portable baby bed she uses for the baby, and she told me it’s the number one thing she would recommend to anyone having a baby. I love recommendations like that!

Not only does the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper fold-up easily for travel or storage purposes (or simply for moving from room to room), but the cocooned shape and inclined position of the bed is perfect for keeping new babies feeling secure and comforted. I remember my babies always hated being put down to sleep on a flat mattress and they would often wake immediately after being put down, which is why I think this little bed looks like such a perfect solution.

The sleeper is available from Amazon (US and UK ).

x Courtney

Painting rocks!

ivy painting rocks
We’ve been staying at my family’s beach house on Bainbridge Island this week, where the water is cold and the beaches are rocky. The kids are in heaven! We have all spent the past few days collecting rocks on our beach walks, and today, while Marlow napped, we sat down in the shade to paint them. It was a fun afternoon activity and one that we all enjoyed.

The results from our rock-painting session were not overly impressive, so I thought it might be better to share some more inspiring images of other painted rocks, in case you are hoping for some inspiration beyond the typical painted ladybird! All images found on Pinterest:

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I love all the different faces in this image. (My boys were especially into painting faces – they wanted to make ‘pet rocks’.)

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Love the bright colours and patterns here. (Image found here.)

abc painted rocks

Paint the alphabet! Fun and educational. (Image from here.)

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Thought these were cute!

painted owls

Love these painted owls!

We used acrylic paints, and mixed our paints inside sea shells since we didn’t have paint palettes. It worked perfectly! Hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

x Courtney

GG* Crêpe Shop!

crepes for sale
GG* crepe game
Kukkia is a toy brand from Japan, which in my opinion is one of the best in the children’s market. The Kukkia toys are beautiful, yes, but what I love is that they are simple enough to allow children’s imaginations to do the work. Many of their toys are classic concepts (like building blocks, wooden cars or dominoes!) but they put a modern twist on everything, adding innovative details that really put the toys in a league of their own.

The GG* Crêpe Shop is a perfect example. They know that children like to play ‘cooking’ and ‘shop’. Many of us have little play kitchens for our kids with chef pans and fake food. But Kukkia have taken the concept a bit further, creating a set for children to make  their own crêpes and set up a little crêpe shop, all the while being encouraged to learn and develop their motor skills along the way.

ivy's crepe

making crepes

The Crêpe Shop set comes with three different fabric crêpes, each with a different fastening: velcro, tie or button. The idea is to encourage children to practice tying bows and fastening buttons in a fun way. So clever! The set also comes with wooden and fabric food toppings, a wooden spatula and a ‘hot plate’ that also doubles as a chalkboard sign when it comes time to ‘sell’ your crêpes. Again, so clever.

GG* crepe shop
quin's crepe

Ivy has been making crêpes for everyone in the family. Her favourite customer is Quin (who prefers the sweet ones over the savoury!). : ) The GG* Crêpe Shop and other Kukkia toys are available to purchase from Abacus Kids or from Sisters Guild.

x Courtney

* This post was sponsored by Kukkia, a brand we have loved for years (even before they ever reached out to us). Thanks for supporting the brands that help to support this blog! : )

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