Yesterday, I took our 4 children to the beach because it was hot and humid and the beaches in the Netherlands are windy and fresh. I met up with our friend Maud and her two children, and we were lounging and chatting and drinking fresh fruit juices and watching our children play. You get the gist. At some point, when Pim had asked me to play beach ball with him for the gazzilionest time, I finally got my lazy bum up from the deckchair for some tennis with my boy. After 3 minutes I looked around, and I noticed Ava was missing. Gone!
I started to walk around, looking for her. Nothing. I checked the water. Nothing. I went up to the beach club, nothing. And then I started to panic. I started to run around, calling her name. I called the alarm number, I went back to the beach club, where the part time manager was a police agent, and who took my calls from the coast guard (!). He tried to calm me, assuring me that she would be fine, she would get back. But the only thing I could focus on, is on that tiny chance that she wouldn’t be allright! I don’t think I have ever been so afraid in my life. In the meantime, there were loads of people (other mums) helping me search. Maud was running all over the beach and to the streets. But she was gone!
After a few minutes (in which I died a thousand deaths), my hero policeman finally got a call that she was found. Safely, further up on the beach. Quite a very far walk away!
Thankfully, she was safe. Tired, but safe. And I learned a few things, that I wanted to share with you here…
1. Beaches can be busy. In our case it was! Ava lost her way, and couldn’t find our spot again. So she started to walk, looking for us. What I usually do (and stupidly forgot this time), is to look for an anchor point — a certain flag, pole, bright umbrella, any reference that is noticeable enough for a child to find their way back to our spot.
2. Children should always wear a phone number on their arm. My other children were wearing their RingRings, but Ava had taken them off and I hadn’t checked / noticed. Stupid.
3. When children loose their way on the beach, they generally start walking away from the sun and the wind. So best to start looking in that direction. (So true — in our case, this is exactly the direction in which Ava went).
4. There’s an Amber alert app for your phone, in which you can save a current portrait photo of you child and other crucial information for when your child goes missing. I’ve had this app on my phone for a while now, but I never filled out my children’s details until now. Apparently, finding a decent photo of your missing child and recalling crucial information like length and eye colour is super difficult if you’re in a state of total stress and shock. So best to do this now.
Hopefully none of this is ever necessary, but I thought to tell you just in case. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
(Artwork by Andreas Gursky)
Last week our oldest daughter Sara and I visited the Kleine Fabriek, the children’s fashion and lifestyle trade fair here in Amsterdam, where we met our lovely Polish shop member Noga Ravin. I’ve always loved the look of Noga’s ‘Doggy Bags‘, but it was nice to discover her original and innovative range of products in person.
Her newest invention are these shadow puppets, made out of thick felt and so eminently simple. Sara and I were immediately playing with them at the fair! (And no, that’s not my hairy arm in the video above. ; ) ) There are five fun designs in six different colours, and a velcro closure ensures a fit for all sizes and ages. Cute, don’t you think? Family fun guaranteed!
Psst: find an exclusive 15% off to Nogaravin here, this month only.
I remember reviewing Bastida over four (!) years ago, and writing about how much I liked the concept behind this new brand from Barcelona. The idea of Bastida is that all of the clothes in store are adjustable by way of clever zippers, buttons and strings, so they can fit smaller size to bigger size — one piece, good for several years, and several children.
Alicia from Bastida recently contacted me again and I had a peek at her now expanded collection. It is still so innovative and clever, and so cute too! There are now pretty tie-up dresses, cool zip up hoodies, and ingenious onesies that fit newborn babies until they’re one! (I love this photo of Polona‘s baby boy Talan, featuring the Bastida onesie.)
It is so nice to see brands developing and companies expanding over the years. Definitely one of the highlights of our job! I can’t wait to see how Bastida is going to develop further…
My good friend Kim always brings the best gifts for my children. She recently visited us from London, and again managed to bring something awesome! She spoiled each of my kids with a Djeco Mini Game, and they are such a big hit. With the vacations around the corner, and so many of us traveling to faraway and exciting places, I thought they were just too good not to share.
Djeco Mini Games are a variety of 30 cards, all bundled in a pack, with each of them featuring yet another old-fashioned brain teaser. There are card packs with ‘spot the ten differences’, ‘find the missing piece’, ‘sudoko’, ‘maze’, ‘connect the dots’ etc etc — so much fun (also for adults)! And perfect entertainment for in the back of the car, on the plane, in the train, in a restaurant… You name it. I’m definitely going to pick up a few more (if indeed we manage to get away with our house renovations in full swing).
When we moved to Amsterdam 6 years ago, we thought we would leave after a few years, so we never ended up buying a place for ourselves. We found a nice little house for rent, in a nice little neighbourhood, with a nice little backyard which is connected to other nice little backyards by way of a romantic alleyway. So our children have direct and save access to heaps of nice little neighbouring kids! We fell in love with the house and the neighbourhood, but sadly our landlord told us a year ago that he wanted his house back. (We were also outgrowing the space since we had two more children after moving in here!) So we were preparing to move again and leave our beloved house and neighbourhood, until… our sweet 94-year-old neighbour told us she wanted to sell us her house!
She bought the house when it was being built in 1953, and had lived there ever since. First with her family, then alone after her three children left the house and her husband passed away. Until, at the end of last year, she lost her eyesight, broke her hip, and had to move to an elderly home. She loved her house, and wanted another family to love it as much as she did. And this is why she decided to sell it to us. So sweet!
We’ve been renovating the house for a few months now, and hope to move in later this summer. It’s such a big job and so exciting — it’s the first house we have ever owned! We’ve been designing, selecting materials, fittings, tiles… and of course I’ve been secretly looking around for some new ‘details’ as well. ; )
Home and Kids is one of our shop members and I particularly like their style. I found the black metal wire lamp in the photo above in their shop, and am so in love with it! I can’t wait to see it in our new house, but for now it looks perfect on that vintage side table next to our couch. I also am eying this mirror for our toilet, these wire trays and baskets for my new office (!!), and this Paris pillow for the couch.
There is also a wonderful children’s decor and gift selection, where you can’t go wrong with finding presents, toys, or other desirable little things like these cool Amy & Ivor mocassins that have Casper’s name on them.
In fact, I’m going to place a little order immediately, as sale is now on!
(Oh, in case you are interested — here are a few photos of our house renovation…)
My family has been making these pickled cucumber for as long as I remember. I used to LOVE them as a child, and now my kids (and all of our friends) eat them with relish too. They’re great as a side dish for dinner, but also wonderful to serve at cocktail hour. Plus, a homemade jar of pickles makes a nice present too!
- 3 kilo cucumbers
- 0.75 l white wine, cider or herb vinegar
- 0.25 l water
- 1 kilo sugar
- 2 sticks cinnamon (about 5 cm each), broken in pieces
- 6 cloves
- 1 or 2 cm fresh ginger, peeled and sliced thinly
- grated zest of a lemon
- 1 t.sp. white peppercorns
- 2 t.sp. mustard seeds
Have sterilised jars and lids ready — depending on the size of the jars, I would say you need about 10 of them. (I like to use slightly bigger jars.) Peel and halve the cucumbers lengthwise and scoop out the seeds using a spoon. Cut in chunks of about 2 to 3 cm (1 inch). Pack the raw cucumber tightly into jars (you can really press them in!). Bring the rest of the ingredients to a boil an cook for about 3 minutes. Poor the hot liquid over the cucumbers using a funnel — fill jars to about 1 cm (1/2 inch) of the top. Screw lids on tightly.
Now can your jars your preferred way. You can can by placing them in boiling water for 5 minutes, but I use the oven for canning: I put the jars on a roasting tin and place them in an oven of 150ºC. When the liquid in the jars is boiling (keep an eye on them!), I turn the oven off and let the jars cool down in the oven. There’s a lot of controversy on (oven) canning, but this is what I’ve been doing for ages and I’ve never had a problem with it. I use regular jars, but you can use special canning jars too. After canning, make sure the lids are closed well / popped down. If in doubt — eat those pickles first! You can keep the pickles at least for a year, but once opened you have to keep them in the fridge.
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do — please let me know if you end up making them and if you find them delicious too!
Hatch is one of my favourite maternity fashion brands — I love the way they design clothes that are wonderfully flattering and comfortable to wear during pregnancy, but also very much so beyond. I’m still wearing the pieces I bought when I was pregnant with Casper, and in fact, I just placed another little order from the Hatch Plage summer collection. (No, I’m not pregnant, nor planning to be!)
Hatch just came out with a new product called ‘layers‘, consisting of a basic black legging, a white tank and a long sleeved shirt. Designed to fit over your growing belly and made from the softest knit, it provides the perfect basic wardrobe foundation. Just throw over a trendy tunic, stylish dress or cool kaftan and you’re all set, in all comfort. It’s the perfect piece to invest in when you’re pregnant – I’m pretty sure you will wear it every day, even after your pregnancy.
Also — this Denim Legging looks perfect to me. This is the piece I’ve been (unsuccessfully) looking for throughout my pregnancies… so I’m glad to see Hatch decided to add it to their collection. So cool, pregnant or not!
I’ve heard that loom bands have been around for a while already in other parts of the world, but here in the Netherlands they’ve suddenly made their appearance in the last few months. And now, they are everywhere.
If you’ve missed the fuss — loom bands basically are little elastic bands in a rainbow of colours, that are weaved together to form anything from simple bracelets to complex three dimensional creations. My children mostly use their fingers and different weaving techniques to make their bracelets, but there are crochet hooks and loom kits available as well. Little S or C shaped plastic clips keep the finished artwork together.
Both Sara as Pim are completely obsessed, and so are all of their friends. Pim has his entire arm covered in the plastic bracelets and is still collecting more! I do make him take them off in bed — I must admit that all of that plastic does gross me out a little. But then again, it keeps them entertained for hours, it’s creative, social, and fun. Plus, they can even be stylish – yesterday one of my cool friends was sporting a black loom band with neon details that she made herself, which made me want to get into my children’s loom band stock immediately and start weaving.
So, are your kids (or you!) on the loom band wagon yet?
Marie Puce is a sweet and stylish French label, designed and ran by two sisters based in the heart of Paris. They have a lovely brick and mortar shop in the 6th arrondissement, and there’s an extensive (and newly revamped!) online store as well — for those of us not lucky enough to live around the corner from their sweet boutique.
What is so perfect about Marie Puce, is not just their good (French!) eye for stylish children’s fashion, but also — their sizing goes up to size 18 for most of the girls’ pieces.
It’s not always easy to find a good selection of clothes for older girls, so I’m super happy with the Marie Puce collections for older girls. (Sara just turned nine, but she’s so tall, she wears a size 12!)
When I was browsing the renewed online Marie Puce boutique this morning, I just couldn’t resist the urge to make a few ‘my favourites’ boards for different age groups. Let’s call it a wish list. ; )
For the boys, there’s a smaller (but very simple and sweet) collection. Sizes go up to size 12.
* Braided leather belt — long sleeved and easy-to-wear Tunisian tee in 100% cotton — cotton shirt with a delicate pinstripe and Mao collar — orange 5 pocket bermudas – dotted 100% wool scarf – cool grey leather sandals
And the collection for baby girls makes us very, very happy as well!
Sara turned nine (nine!!) a few weeks ago, so last week we organised a birthday party for her and her friends. I always ask what sort of birthday my kids would want (we’ve had themes like horses, knights, disco, cooking, sushi and a treasure hunt before), and this time, Sara came up with the idea of strawberries. A cute idea I thought!
So she invited 9 girl friends to come home with her after school, and we decorated the table for a sweet strawberry high tea. With finger sandwiches, cakes, strawberry tea, real cups and saucers, and lots of strawberries of course!
It must have been over four years ago that I got cute animal towels for Sara and Pim, and we’ve been using them ever since, day after day. Sara the elephant and Pim the lion — it quickly became a tradition after each bath. So when Ava started to walk, we got her the zebra towel, and now we’ve gotten Casper the monkey — making our little zoo complete!
I love how these towels (from Zoocchini) are so royal in size, made from thick cotton, and have adorable details like ears and tails. There are even little pouches in which the kids can stick their hands/paws.
Sara’s towel is sadly beginning to fall apart (not strange after all of these years of intensive use!), and when I told her it might be time to replace it, she said that she wasn’t sure it would be worth the investment — after all she might be getting too old to have an animal towel for bath time… Eeks! I figured it was time for an immediate group photo before it’s too late!
PS I might be getting the replacement elephant towel anyway, just in case. And otherwise it will be nice for the grandchildren! ; )
Famille Summerbelle is offering a bright pink laser cut map – an exact replica of the original hand paper cut of San Francisco. It shows all the interests and attractions of the City by the Bay, as well as some of the quirky side of San Francisco life. This map is beautiful, and worth £120!! Watch the making of the map of San Francisco here.
Tattyoo works in collaboration with renowned artists and emerging designers to create a super cool, diverse collection of unique temporary tattoos, so great for both adults and children. Tattyoo are offering a fab £150 worth of tattoos of your choice!
Toto Knits offer a super cute, fun collection of ethically made knits for babies and children. Their soft organic cotton is locally grown, spun and dyed to be bio-friendly and their adorable designs are hand-knitted by single mums in Kenya. Toto Knits are offering a $150 voucher to spend on their sweet collections!
Stuck on You offer a wide, super handy selection of labels for all your labeling needs. There’s also a handy personalised collection of items, like lunch boxes, personalised cups, bags, presents, etc. So handy, so fun — and so perfect for the new school year! Stuck on You is offering a £120 voucher to spend on their site!
Enter here for your chance to win one of these amazing prizes!
Jim Flora (1914-1998) was a mid-century artist known for his album covers and some fabulous children’s books (The Day the Cow Sneezed, for example), and his illustrations are truly wonderful. Recently, a series of wallpaper was brought out in cooperation with Flora’s estate, all using the original art and illustrations from his archival music images, paintings and abstract designs.
I just love these wallpapers! Jim Flora’s illustrations may date from around 70 years ago, but all of these wallpapers feel so incredibly fresh and modern… Also, they are sweet and playful, but wouldn’t be misplaced in rooms for bigger children (adults even). I’m contemplating getting the instruments wallpaper above for Pim’s room. I’m sure he would love that!
I recently got back in touch with a friend who I lost sight of for a few years, and in the meantime she divorced her Dutch husband and married a lovely French man, moved to another part of town, and is pregnant with their first (her second) baby. Things can change! Anyway, the reason I’m telling you this is that when we went over to their lovely house for lunch last week, we were served a ‘Tarte à la Tomato et à la Moutarde’, an utterly delicious quiche made with only 4 ingredients: puff pastry, mustard, tomatoes, and herbs. Apparently every self-respecting French housewife knows how to make this tarte, and takes pride in perfecting it to the sublime. Funny I had never heard of it before!
Yesterday I was preparing a picnic with my girls, and we decided to try to make the Tarte à la tomato et à la moutarde — and it was indeed so super simple to make and just as delicious as the week before. Here’s the how-to:
- Puff pastry
- Mustard (Maille original works great)
- About 5 ripe tomatoes
- Herbs Provençal (a mixture of dried thyme, oregano, basil, sage, rosemary, and savory)
Cover a greased quiche bottom with puff pastry and pre-bake about 10 minutes on 175ºC (450ºF). In the meantime, slice your tomatoes thinly. Take crust out of oven and cover royally with mustard (they say you shouldn’t see the puff pastry anymore but I used a bit less, about 2 to 3 tablespoons). Layer the tomatoes over the mustard and sprinkle the herbs on top, together with a bit of sea salt and a sprinkle of olive oil. Bake in oven for 45 minutes (cover with aluminium foil halfway).
I’m a big fan of the so called ‘floatsuits‘ for my littlest ones. Not only are they super cute to look at, but also, they have a built in buoyancy system which gives children a feeling of added security in the water. They are nearly impossible to take off by little ones themselves (at least, my kids are not able to do so), so if they wear them in and around the pool, it gives me an added feeling of security, too. (Of course, I still keep my eyes on them at all times!)
Sunuva does a sweet range of floatsuits, and as a bonus, they do matching siblings wear as well. Which I think is such a cute idea! When I got Casper a float suit for the summer, I couldn’t resist getting matching swim shorts for his big brother…
Last week I took Casper and Pim over to the swimming pool for a special brothers’ outing, and to test out their new matching Sunuva swimwear. At first, Casper wasn’t so sure about the whole thing. (But I thought he looked SO adorable in his floatie suit! I could eat him up!)
Pim, being the very sweet big brother he is, quickly made Casper feel more secure and convinced him to come in the pool with him…
The moment Casper figured out that a swimming pool really is just a very big bath in which you can splish and splash unlimitedly, he started to lose his reservations and really got into this swimming thing. He also quickly discovered the added benefit of his swimsuit, which kept him floating, giving him enough confidence in the water to start moving around a bit. Sweet!
An added bonus of the Sunuva swim- and beachwear is that it’s made from UPF 50+ fabric, which blocks out 97% of the sun’s harmful rays. Not at all relevant in the indoor swimming pool I took the boys, but absolutely perfect for our upcoming summer holidays on the beach and around the pool (less than four weeks to go!). There are protective rash vests available as well, and to top it off, a lovely collection of summery fashion for both boys and girls, all perfect for beach and beyond…
In the Netherlands, it’s a tradition to give a child a birthday crown for the day when it’s his or her birthday. Typically it’s a home-made, simple crown made of thick paper, decorated with some curls and colours and usually there’s the number with the child’s age glued on it. When the child is old enough to go to school, the teacher in class will make the birthday crown for the child, who will be so proud to wear it during the day!
A long time ago in a little shop in Antwerp, Courtney and I bought sweet fabric crowns with a plastic sleeve in which (felt) numbers can be inserted. These crowns have really become part of our families’ birthday traditions. The morning of the birthday, the crown with the correct number will be waiting next to the presents and a decorated chair. It’s become so much a part of the party!
Do you have any special birthday traditions in your family or in your country? Maybe you know the birthday crown as well? I would love to know — I love family traditions!
Last weekend, we spent entirely in our garden — there is just so much work to be done! We’ve been sewing seeds, weeding weeds, trimming trees… and the children were ever so helpful, collecting worms and snails and whatever else needed to be done. ; )
I took the opportunity to take a few quick snapshots of Ava wearing her sweet linen dress from the Parisian brand Le Carrousel. I love this dress — it’s just perfect for weekends, for parties or gardening alike!
Le Carrousel has a super sweet collection of classic French, stylish fashion. Cuts are very timeless and fabrics in sweet flowery patterns or fresh stripes make for a modern, simple silhouette. Sizes go up to age 10, and there’s an adorable baby collection too!
The last few trade shows I’ve been to, I’ve been eying the cool collections of Swiss brand l’Asticot. The darling and original prints, the bold colours and the easy-going and comfortable designs are so original and fun. How sweet are the fish on Casper’s summery playsuit above?
l’Asticot prides itself to use only organic materials, and the clothes are designed to last a long time. They are mostly unisex (there are a few sweet dresses and skirts in the collection), and timeless enough to be passed down to siblings or friends. Also — the colours, designs and prints of the l’Asticot pieces appeal to children a lot. Pim’s summer coat from l’Asticot (pictured) is definitely his most favourite piece of clothing!
As a little extra, a complimentary string bag made from surplus materials from previous collections is included with every purchase made at l’Asticot. Perfect for gym clothes, nappies, snacks — you name it!
I’ve raved about the boundless creativity of my friend Erika from Mikodesign before. Her dolls are simply beautiful (and so fun to put together yourself if you like sewing). But the surprise food plates she creates for her two teenage daughters are something else!
Check out the ‘fast food’ lunch above: with mango french fries, a peanut butter sandwich ‘cheese burger’, strawberry ketchup, and a strawberry banana smoothie milkshake. Or don’t you love the fun summery afternoon vegetable snack with googly eyes?
Here’s a flower themed surprise breakfast with mango flowers, a boiled egg with a flower garland, a pink smoothie, and a peanut butter sandwich flowerpot with a real mint plant… A day started with a breakfast like this can only bring smiles!
Above a ‘cats’ surprise breakfast made with a peanut butter sandwich, fresh mango, pink smoothie, egg and edible paper. And a ‘Viva Frida’ surprise breakfast with a Frida Kahlo pancake, strawberry margarita smoothie and an apple/peanut butter sandwich cactus. (I think this one is my all-time Mikodesign Breakfast favourite!!)
How cool is this Instagram snack? Or the surprise breakfast with a hardboiled egg-face on a stick (the eyes are made with simple black sesame seeds), apple, peanut butter sandwich, green smoothie and a chocolate cookie for dessert…. Amazing, right?
I find Erika to be one of the most inspirational people I follow on Instagram. I can definitely recommend her feed – all she does is simply amazing!
Kids on the Moon is a fashion label from Warsaw, Poland, with a collection of children’s clothing that is bursting with originality and creativity. For instance, graphics and illustrations are used in imaginative ways, and the patterns that are chosen for some pieces are somehow unexpected. Interesting cuts and pleats in unconventional places define shapes that are original and refreshing. But best of all: yes, these clothes are fashionable and cool, but at the same time they are highly wearable and extremely comfortable, due to the cotton jersey that is used in the majority of the collection.
What I really appreciate about the Kids on the Moon collection too, is the fact that the boys’ pieces are as original as those for the girls.