‘Out of the Blue’ birthday party

Quin turned seven this week and since his birthday fell during the school holidays, we were able to really make a day of it. We ate pancakes for breakfast, opened presents and enjoyed a slow and lazy morning. Emilie and her girls are in town, so it felt extra special to have friends to spend the day with. We took a double decker bus down to Camden, walked along the canal to Regent’s Park, had a picnic and spent the afternoon on the pedal boats in the ponds. We then came home in time for a little dinner/dance party followed by ice cream cake from Ruby Violet! It was such a fun day, and one that I think he will always remember.

Quin didn’t want a specific theme for his party, but he did request his favourite colour of blue. I spoke to Natalia from Little Lulubel and she helped me create the perfect decorations for a blue-themed party. She sent over the cutest party kit which included everything I needed (table settings, decorations, etc.), and Quin was SO excited to be surrounded by all the blue!

Little Lulubel specialises in party kits and decorations for all sorts of fun occassions. Beyond the simple colour themes, you can also find some really sweet and original ideas: a science party, a Snow White party, a pyjama party and many more fun ideas!

x Courtney

My Favourite Things at Baby&Me Magazine

We’re really excited to announce a new partnership with Baby&Me magazine which has us contributing a little column in their magazine each month and rounding up a selection of cute products to fit our topic. Baby&Me is a super stylish, monthly glossy which keeps London parents updated on all the latest news, fashion, design and other interesting lifestyle topics. We are thrilled to be contributing each month and thought it would be fun to share our selection here with you as well.

In this month’s issue I wrote about getting out in our garden with the kids, sowing vegetable seeds and enjoying the onset of spring. I also rounded up some cute fruit & veg products I’m loving right now. Here they are:

You can read the digital version of this month’s issue here. You can also download the Baby&Me app from iTunes here. And lastly, you can now buy the magazine at newsagents around town.

I’m already excited for next month’s contribution! Stay tuned…

x Courtney

Hucklebones and the Secret Garden




Photographer and stylist, Emma Donnelly, sent over some photos from her recent photoshoot with Hucklebones and I think they perfectly capture how pretty the spring has been here in England with all the beautiful cherry blossoms, budding tulips and little girls in pretty dresses and bare legs!! Such gorgeous photos!

Of course you can’t go wrong when photographing Hucklebones clothing. It is just such a beautiful, timeless brand. And goodness, how cute is that little chambray romper?! There is something about Hucklebones that reminds me of springtime (and especially Easter!), and I think these photos capture both so perfectly.

x Courtney

When your babies grow up…

You know that feeling you get when you look over at your daughter and she suddenly looks bigger? Like she must have grown a couple inches over night? Well that happened this weekend. I swear she went from squishy little toddler to tall young lady in the matter of seconds. My heart!!!

I have felt this way with the boys as well, but it seems especially quick with Ivy. Maybe it’s because she IS actually growing quickly — she’s one of the tallest in her class despite being one of the youngest, she was the first in her class to lose a tooth, and because she has older brothers she’s always playing with the big kids. (Such a contrast to me as a young girl — I was the oldest child in my family so I was incredibly naive and was always a late bloomer both emotionally and physically.) Ivy will turn five next month and those five years have sped by. I can’t believe it!

Is it just me, or does time seem to move more quickly with each passing year?!  Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just slow it down a notch?

xx Courtney

p.s. Ivy’s pretty dress is from Marmalade & Mash (currently offering 15% off), and the Saltwater Sandals are from EenyMeeny. x

Musgrove the Nanny of Notting Hill

I’ve discovered a few cute children’s books lately and I’m excited to start sharing them with you. The first is a recommendation from one of our readers, Sufi Sadigh, a fellow London-based mama. She wrote to share some of her favourite kiddie products, and of course I jumped on the book recommendations and immediately placed an Amazon order.

Musgrove the Nanny of Notting Hill is the sweetest little book about a girl called Hermione and her nanny rat, Musgrove. Musgrove wears giant green galoshes and reads out-of-date newspapers and together they hang around Notting Hill, go to the park, drink hot chocolate in the cafés and walk home along Kensington Park Road. Ivy and I love the silly little things they do, and I especially love that the whole thing is taking place in my very favourite London neighbourhood. : )

This is the first book in a series of other ‘Musgrove the Nanny’ books. I can’t wait to get the others! Thank you, Sufi, for the tip!

xx Courtney

Hokolo

Hokolo is a London-based design label started by Jen Taylor, who has set out to create a brand that represents the style of her two favourite cities: Hong Kong and London (hence the brand name). Her collection features a blend of iconic British objects with a bright & modern design aesthetic.
I love the English Breakfast collection which plays on strong graphic qualities of fried eggs, tomatoes, blueberries and orange slices set against colourful backdrops and gingham-inspired patterns. The designs are bright, modern and playful and can be found on soft, lambswool blankets, placemats and coasters, cotton tea towels and other homewares.

Jen is offering Babyccino readers 15% off the entire Hokolo collection. Click here for details.

x Courtney

Weekend brownie baking and cute aprons from Odette Williams


The lovely Odette Williams sent over a couple of her cute apron sets for my kids and they arrived just in time for some brownie baking over the weekend. I managed to snap a couple photos of my little helpers and thought I would share.

If you haven’t yet discovered the Smitten Kitchen brownie recipe, you should do so immediately. It’s my go-to recipe! And if your kids need some aprons to encourage them to help you in the kitchen, you should check out these great sets. (They also make good gifts I think!)

x Courtney

Let’s talk about electronics and our children

This is not your average Babyccino post but I wanted to speak openly about a topic I feel really passionate about. I want to talk about electronics and the way they are affecting our children.

I recently went on a school field trip with my 9-year-old son’s class to see the Vikings Exhibition at the British Museum. What lucky children to live in a city where they can take a short subway journey to one of the world’s best museums (and I must say, the Vikings Exhibit was incredible)! While in the museum, I noticed that some of the children had brought a Nintendo DS. The more I looked around, the more children I noticed who were playing games on iPhones, Nintendos and various other devices. I think my jaw must have touched the floor; I was absolutely shocked! Here we were, on a once-in-a-life time school field trip, in one of the world’s most fascinating museums, and these children were completely unengaged and uninterested in their surroundings. Some were sitting down against a wall with their little thumbs pounding against their device, others played as they walked around, bumping into people because they were so focused on the little machine in the palm of their hands.

When I asked the teachers if this was allowed, I was told that they weren’t supposed to be playing games, but that they were allowed to bring cameras on the field trip. It seems that nowadays iPhones and Nintendos are considered cameras because they all have photo-taking capabilities. So, the line between cameras and video games has become blurred, and to my astonishment, we now have children going on field trips with their video games in tow.

And not only this, but I am increasingly aware of young children sitting in restaurants with an iPhone, playing video games on the bus, watching DVDs on every car journey no matter how long.  It seems children aren’t being given the chance to be bored, they aren’t being encouraged to create their own fun or to be present in the moment. What ever happened to good old-fashioned conversation? Talking to our children over dinner? Encouraging them to talk to each other? Or just waiting patiently to eat? What ever happened to observation? Taking in your surroundings on the bus? Experiencing exhibits in a museum? Asking questions, sharing observations, making memories?

In a few weeks my eldest will be going on a 4-day school camping trip. In a meeting this week to brief the parents, I asked if electronics would be allowed. And I opened a big can of worms! The teachers explained that the children would be allowed to bring electronics because it ‘keeps them quiet while on the journey.’ Another teacher explained that he thinks it’s good for children to embrace modern technology and to learn how to use electronics from an early age.

This is rubbish, and I feel compelled to say so.

We did not have iPhones or iPads when we were young, but miraculously we all know how to use them. Even my technologically impaired father uses a laptop and an iPhone with ease. Is there really any advantage to be gained by letting our children play games on our iphones? No. And with regards to ‘keeping the children quiet on the bus’… Really?! Shouldn’t they be singing songs, chatting to each other, looking out their windows, making silly faces to the people in the cars they’re passing? That’s what we did when we were kids and the bus ride was often one of the best parts of school trips. Why would we give them a sedative dose of Nintendo?

Our children are only little for such a short time. The window for imaginative adventures and play is so small. They have the rest of their lives to be attached to a device. Why start now?

x Courtney

p.s. I very rarely share my parenting views on this blog. I am generally quite open minded about the decisions other parents make, and I know that I am by no means an expert. But for some reason, this feels different to me. I hope you too will share your thoughts and comments, in favour or against my view. I would love for this to become an open dialogue between us all. xx

(Image above found here)

Laviandbelle jewellery


Laviandbelle was started by two London-based mums who wanted to create handmade yet affordable jewellery for children and teens. Unlike the disposable mass-market jewellery you can find on the high street, they wanted to offer unique pieces, all handmade in their Notting Hill studio and only available in limited quantities.

I love that their jewellery is playful and fun, but also simple and tasteful. There’s an innocence to their jewellery that I find refreshing (it’s not trying to make kids look more grown up or glamorous, but rather just offering fun accessories for everyday, or pretty pieces for special occasions).

They sent over some sweet summery pieces for Ivy, and she was absolutely beside herself. How sweet is the glitter heart necklace? And I love the simple bracelets with neon accents and little charms. Of course she wants to wear everything at once!

x Courtney

Birdie London Photo Studio









I was invited to try out the new Birdie London pop-up photo booth at Liberty last weekend, so the girls and I went over to check it out. We spent an hour in a pretty little private room in Liberty, playing dress up while they snapped some photos. It was such a fun time, and even Ivy (who hates having her photo taken) enjoyed it!  I just got the photos back, and I LOVE them!  I hope you don’t mind me sharing some with you? My favourite is the one where Marlow is crying! Such a perfect, imperfect photo! : )

Birdie London will be running pop-up photo booths in Liberty throughout the year, so it’s definitely worth checking their site and signing up for news on future dates. They offer one-hour photo sessions for £300, and then after the session they email you all the photos (for free) and you get to keep them, print them and use the files as you wish.

I’m definitely going to print some of these photos and hang them up in our house. And I’m already looking forward to the next session so I can get some photos with all my children!

xx Courtney

p.s. Marlow is wearing this super cute outfit from La Coqueta.  Ivy is wearing this pretty coral dress from Marie Puce or this Liberty London floral dress which she borrowed for the shoot.

Happy UK Mother’s Day!

I get confused every year by all the different dates for Mother’s Day. I’ve never understood why the UK celebrates Mother’s Day in March, when the rest of Europe and America celebrate in May! I looked it up, and here’s the rule: while the majority of the world (including the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, China and the rest of Europe) celebrates Mother’s Day on the 2nd Sunday in May, the UK and Ireland celebrate on the 4th sunday in Lent, which is believed to go back to the 16th century when Christians would visit their ‘mother church’ annually, a day most mothers would be reunited with their children. Here in the UK, it’s also called ‘Mothering Sunday’. So… there you have it. The reason for all the confusion!

Anyway, a very happy Mother’s Day to all you mothers, grandmothers and mothers-to-be here in the UK and Ireland. Hope you’re having a wonderful, happy day surrounded by family and adoring children!  xx

Shusha Toys, available from Toyella

We’ve mentioned Shusha Toys here before, so you might remember how much we love them. At the time of our review last year, these toys weren’t available to purchase from any webshops yet… so it was nearly impossible to get your hands on them (unless, you begged and pleaded with the designers themselves, which of course I did!!!). : )

I got an email from Toyella today announcing that they’re now stocking a few of the toys, including the super cute Zoo Game, pictured above. The game comes with 24 magnetic beech wood shapes to make all sorts of cute animals, real or imaginary! They’re also stocking the Make a Portrait toy, which we have and really love.

x Courtney

Easter decorations from Little Lulubel

We’re coming up on ‘birthday season’ in our house, where 5 out of the 6 of us have springtime birthdays! It’s always a busy time in our family, and this year I have vowed to be a bit more organised than I was last year. (Last year all of my children’s birthday parties were planned and organised the morning of!) This year, at the very least, I need to buy the party supplies and tableware ahead of time.

In my attempt to be organised, I started browsing the party kits section over at Little Lulubel (they have such cute party theme ideas!), and I stumbled upon their Spring Party Kit which is so perfect for Easter celebrations.

I also love this Bunny Ears dress-up kit for kids to make and wear on Easter day. So cute! (Last year, we got similar ones, and it made for a very festive looking Easter with loads of little bunnies sitting around the table.)

Anyway… I’ve gotten a bit distracted thinking about Easter when I have a birthday party to plan first!!  But just wanted to share these with you before I forgot. Easter is less than a month away now!

x Courtney

p.s. Little Lulubel is currently offering Babyccino readers a 15% discount. Details here.

Denim Dress with iron-on patches, from Tootsa MacGinty


How cute is this denim dress from Tootsa MacGinty?! I love the simple faded denim smock style (coincidentally, I have a very similar dress for myself!), but I also love that it comes with a little pouch full of cute & colourful iron-on patches for kids to customise.

Leave it to Tootsa MacGinty to add a fun twist like that! I also love the clever pack-a-mac jacket which folds up into its own little handy bag, complete with smiley face. So cute!

x Courtney

ZUGS!


How fun are these children’s rugs?! And not only are they fun & cheerful, but completely 100% natural and handmade. And not only that, but extremely soft as well!

ZUGS is a new family-run boutique offering a selection of bright and colourful rugs, all made from natural wool and cut with deep piles to ensure a thick, soft surface: the perfect landing pad for jumping feet or a soft, natural surface for rolling babies. And there is something about the designs that makes me think even older children and tweens would like these rugs in their rooms. They’re funky and fun for all ages!

You can choose from eight different rugs, each one aptly named based on their colourful character (although we have Gracie the Ghost at home, and we all agree she is more of a squid than a ghost!!).

x Courtney

Harriet Hare bed linen & accessories

Harriet Hare is a new collection of beautiful bed linens and coordinating accessories. On first glance, it looks to be quite traditional with its pale blues and pinks, but I think it’s the details of this brand that really make it stand out. Like how incredibly silky soft the bed linens are! The fabrics are all woven rather than printed and the yarn dyed satin weave is made of compact and combed yarns, making it luxuriously soft and smooth to the touch. And all bed linens come in a reusable cotton drawstring bag which can be used as storage or bedroom decor.

I love the reversible duvet covers with the contrasting colour shades and the matching pillowcases in light or dark options, either to match or to contrast the duvet. Everything is so pretty and complimentary, and perfect for children of all ages.

x Courtney

Wreck This Journal!




My son came home from a play date at a friend’s house the other day and all he could talk about was how his friend had a super cool journal that you are meant to wreck (!!) with funny things to do on each page!! Luckily we tracked it down in our local art store, and now he’s the extremely proud owner of his very own copy. He loves it so much, he has taken it everywhere with him for the past week, and of course my younger son became so envious of his journal that we had to go back and get him one as well!

Wreck This Journal is the coolest arts & crafts book I think I’ve ever seen!  Author Keri Smith encourages kids to engage in “destructive” acts like poking holes through pages, adding photos and defacing them, painting with coffee, colouring outside the lines, sticking fruit stickers to a page, and loads of other funny and creative activities. My boys think they’re being so ‘naughty’ by following the book’s rules. It is hilarious!

I’m definitely ordering a whole bunch more for birthday gifts, and I’ve just seen that Keri Smith has loads of other similar type books as well.

x Courtney

Baby Degen

We LOVED meeting Lindsay Degen at Playtime last week! She’s so funky and creative and stylish (you should have seen her hair! she had one braid about half the length of the other!), and she’s one extremely talented lady too. She sat in her booth knitting the cutest pair of baby socks you’ve ever seen! After launching her adult unisex line in 2011, she has recently started a baby line called Baby Degen featuring hand-knit baby clothes and accessories in fun colours and with quirky details. She says she is trying to keep the ‘cute’ in children’s wear. I love that!

x Courtney

Playtime NY discoveries

Esther and I have just returned from a busy (and fun!) work trip to NYC. I always feel a little bit guilty calling it a ‘work weekend’ when we manage to enjoy it so much, but we did squeeze in some good meetings and spent an eventful day at Playtime NY. I was really reminded on this trip of what a lucky job we have — one that takes us to fun cities around the world for trade shows, where we get to scout out fun new brands and meet up with old favourites and where we get to meet other entrepreneurial parents who have started their own business and who are so passionate about what they do. It’s such a wonderfully supportive environment, and we feel really lucky to be a part of it.

Anyway, back to Playtime. We wanted to give you a little re-cap of the show, but this time we thought we would do things a little bit differently. Instead of mentioning all the brands we saw and loved (which is pretty much every single one!), we’ve decided to highlight just the new brands we discovered. I was actually quite surprised by how many new brands there were. Here were our favourites:

Moskiddos: Organic cotton, beautiful deep colours, easy-to-wear shapes.

AXL: A new line of super soft, organic cotton loungewear for babies. Lots of adorable baby suits, onesies and little leggings.



Home Grown Books: A new company dedicated to creating early reading content that is visually stimulating, respects the intelligence of young learners, and still engages moms and dads. They work with various artists to create different boxed sets, and we loved the beautiful designs of them all!

Odette Williams: We loved discovering these great cotton apron sets. Each set comes with apron, mitt, and three wooden utensils, and we think these would make the perfect gift for little kids!

Urban Infant: Clever backpacks with an attachable daycare nap mat and clever art cylinder. We loved the bamboo utensils pouch and the ’sidewalk not included’ crayons.

Bacabuche: If we were kids, we would want to wear these clothes! Organic baby clothing in natural colours of cream, greys and blacks featuring stylish and easy-to-wear cuts. And this kimono style baby gown!!

Muny: How cute is this skirt and these adorable Ikat pants?! We loved this brand and all the wonderful block-printed fabrics.

Rouxroo: Bold, vibrant prints that are engaging and also educational. The black and white graphic prints mixed with vibrant primary colours are meant to stimulate your baby’s brain. They’re also quite fun and stylish too.

Seesaw: A very cute Spanish brand featuring basic clothes all beautifully made. Just check out their website – how cute are those images?!

Solvej Swings: Wooden indoor/outdoor swings for babies and children 6 months to 6 years. We both want one in our gardens!

Baby Degen: A new baby line out from Lindsay Degan. We love the funky knitted socks, hats and trousers! Definitely fun and different!

Lille Huset: Cardboard doll houses that come flat-packed with all the accessories needed to decorate and play. Perfect for sending gifts in the post, or for taking with you on holiday. Our girls would love these!

Tuchinda: Gorgeous designs featuring beautiful European and Japanese fabrics and interesting textures. We especially loved the jackets!

Ten Kid-Friendly Hotels in Europe for 2014 from i-escape

As you probably know by now, we are big fans of i-escape and their wonderful selection of hand-picked hotels from all over the world. What I love about the i-escape site is that you can be totally inspired to try out new destinations and visit places you didn’t even have on your radar. I also love that you can enter your specific interests and requirements, and they’ll come up with a selection of awesome places that meet your needs. The only problem is choosing!!

To make your holiday planning easier and to narrow down the choices a bit, we’ve asked the team at i-escape to send over a list of their favourite kid-friendly hotels in Europe. I love this list! I’m so inspired to travel now! Which one is your favourite? (I think mine is the one in Puglia. We keep hearing so many nice things about Puglia and this hotel sounds amazing!)

Anassa, near Polis, Cyprus

Cascading down to a long safe private beach, this luxury resort appeals to children and parents in equal measure: kids delight in the plentiful array of toys, games and watersports provided in the all-ages kids clubs with daily changing activity schedules, while their parents enjoy the award-winning Thalassotherapy spa. There are oodles of facilities including heated kids’ pool, restaurants with kids’ menus, baby equipment to borrow and a small playground. Superb.

Borgo Egnazia, Puglia, Italy

A flawless family-friendly resort which offers great design and decoration as well as a fantastic free kids club and teens’ games room, all ages will rejoice staying here. There are tennis courts, English speaking babysitters, a creche with qualified child-minders, playground, kids restaurant (summer only) and a choice of cool pools – a worthy recipient of an i-escape Best for Kids Award.

Quinta Bouca d’Arques, Viano do Castelo, Portugal

Head north from Porto into the Minho coastal region which the Portuguese believe their most beautiful for its rolling forested hills, lush river valleys and long sandy beaches. Just 12km inland, this 300-year-old manor house has boutique B&B apartments in both traditional and modern designs. Kids will adore the big lawn, woods to explore, secret wooden house and saltwater pool. There are communal BBQs in the evening and all apartments bar one have kitchenettes.

Ekies All Senses Resort, Chalkidiki, Greece

With a funky playful design, a heated saltwater pool, playground and playhouse, this beach retreat set on a tranquil bay with shallow seas also has two restaurants and a spa. Kids will love the organic juice bar by the pool and going on boat trips. Paradise for families!

Liss Ard Estate, Co. Cork, Ireland

While the weather is famously unpredictable in Ireland, you’re guaranteed a warm Irish welcome and a magical time for outdoorsy children at this comfy country house hotel. There are 80 hectares of woodland, lake, lawns, ancient and modern earthworks plus bike trail to explore and a kids club operational during school holidays. If the weather does prove inclement, there’s a well-stocked kids’ room to play in. Best of all kids under 12 are free!

Azur Hotel, near Antalya, Turkey

Families on a budget will love this wonderfully unpretentious and friendly beach hotel set in idyllic shady gardens. There’s a large pool with a shallow end, you’re five minutes’ walk from the sandy beach, and there’s a small playground. Older kids will like going on boat trips, younger ones can toddle safely on large lawns. Bliss.

Le Portetta, Courchevel, France

Chic and ski are becoming synonymous terms these days, and this chalet-style hotel delivers on being family-friendly as well. There’s a children’s ski school opposite the hotel, you’re slap bang in the middle of Courchevel 1650 ski resort which is the most suited for beginners and small fry in the Trois Vallees, and there are Family Rooms with bunk beds or lofts with sofa beds to choose from.

Captain’s Club Hotel, Dorset, UK

Dorset has some of the best beaches in the South of England, and this contemporary hotel with nautical detailing has super views over the River Stour, and is close to both picturesque Christchurch Harbour and these lovely beaches. Children under 14 stay for free, there are 2 & 3-bedroom suites with their own kitchens plus a tasty children’s menu in the restaurant.

Portixol, Palma, Mallorca

This tranquil boutique hotel has simply uncluttered Scandinavian interiors and a lovely swimming pool, and is set right beside the coastal promenade in a cool barrio of Palma, and is just 15 minutes from the airport – a godsend for families. There’s heaps of baby equipment, a games room for older kids and there’s an outdoor playground and park close at hand.

Palmizana, Sveti Klement island, Croatia

This laid-back, friendly and bohemian 300-hectare retreat has fragrant botanical gardens and two pebbly beaches on a car-free island. There’s a choice of bungalows and villas, some with kitchenettes, and two restaurants serving kid-friendly fare, plus lots of watersports and two playgrounds nearby. What a find!

Older Posts »