Cute crochet friends from Leggybuddy

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Leggybuddy is a Swiss company started by designer Suzanna Pezo Sommerfeld. She’s a mother of a little boy and co-owner of a young and very cool looking design agency in Zurich. As if that is not enough to keep someone busy, she recently launched Leggybuddy, a line of adorable hand-crochet animal characters with, as the name implies, beautiful long legs!

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Suzanne designs and makes all of the product samples herself in her Zurich-based studio, and then they’re hand-crocheted in Europe using all natural materials like cotton and wool. Leggybuddies come in a small and large size, and are often wearing adorable little costumes so they can be dressed and undressed. Outfits are also available separately, and they’re all beautifully hand-crocheted as well, with sweet details like contrasting stripes and little pockets.

leggybuddy_3 leggybuddy_5Casper and Ava love their Leggybudies — I find it so sweet that Dorian the mouse is easily transformed into a beautiful Christmas princess just by changing his cool crochet dungarees (with pocket) into a little red party dress with matching booties. There’s also a bottle (impressively crocheted as well!) and I’m also impressed by the amount of patience Ava is displaying towards feeding Prince Froggy and Dorian — she’ll be a good mama one day!

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It’s obvious my kids love their Leggybudies. And I really like to have them around too — they’re such cool looking toys to have on display in our living room!

xxx Esther

This post is sponsored by Leggybuddy, a wonderful European brand and also a member of our shopping portal. Thank you for supporting the brands that support our blog!

Marlow is two! A birthday photoshoot with Little Kin Photography

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My baby turned two a couple weeks ago and like a good mother I had organised a photoshoot with Polly Geal from Little Kin Photography for the day of her birthday. Actually, the honest truth is that I booked the photoshoot for November 12th because it was the only empty day in my diary… and coincidentally it turned out to be her birthday. (She’s my fourth child, after all. Tell me I’m not the only parent who forgets these things!)

But what a lucky coincidence! I’m so happy to have these photos of my birthday girl and our happy morning together. There was a notable excitement in the air that morning and Marlow was full of extra cheek and enthusiasm knowing it was her special day. It was really the perfect opportunity to capture her spunky little spirit on camera, and I think Polly did such a wonderful job (I’m so impressed any of these photos are in focus as Marlow did not stop moving the entire morning! A true testament of her photography skills!). Here are some of my favourite photos from the selection she sent over:

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Little Kin photos birthday hat
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I love that Polly captured the excitement in the air but also managed to snap some real everyday moments: Marlow closing the shutters even though we asked her to keep them open (cheeky girl!), me trying unsuccessfully to get Marlow to sit on my lap on my bed, putting Marlow’s tights back on after a trip to the potty, Marlow running around the kitchen refusing to stand still, etc. Ordinary moments on a not-so ordinary day. Just looking at these photos makes me want to smooch her sweet, smooshy face. Like this:
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Thank you so much, Polly, for spending Marlow’s birthday morning with us and for capturing these sweet moments. I’m thinking I might organise photo shoots for future birthdays! Clever idea that was. ; )

Courtney xx

Foxy felt slippers

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Loving these foxy felt slippers, created by shaping organic wool with soap, water and hand pressure. A traditional craft handed down over many generations, and here coming to life in such a darling, contemporary product! They are really lovely in every detail, with their little ears and sweet tail. The sole is made from suede so it’s anti slip and everything is sewn together with tiny little cross stitches. They are presented in a little drawstring bag made from organic cotton, so they make a perfect present. Adorable! And… the price is not bad! : )

Available from The Dandy Kid.

xxx Esther

 

My Minestrone soup recipe

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Minestrone soup is one of my favourite dishes for this time of year. It’s not the fastest thing to make, as it involves lots of cutting, but I always make loads so I have enough to feed two families or I have plenty of leftover for another day. It’s good to freeze portions as well!

I love the fact that it’s so entirely full of goodness (I took the above photo of all of the ingredients yesterday before I started cooking, just to show you how good!), and the little pasta shapes inside make it one of my kids’ favourite meals as well — Sara calls it ‘pasta soup’.

Here’s what you need:

  • 3 to 4 onions
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • A red chili pepper (you can use only half if you want to make sure it’s not too spicy for the kids)
  • 4 to 6 medium carrots (or a bunch of summer carrots without the green)
  • A bunch of celery
  • One fennel
  • Two medium courgettes (zucchini)
  • One large aubergine
  • A big handful of green beans
  • 3 to 4 peppers in different colours
  • 1 or 2 leeks depending on size
  • Mushrooms
  • One or two potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 white cabbage
  • Two tins of mixed beans (like kidney beans, boretti beans, I always like chickpeas as well), drained
  • Two tins of tomatoes (you can add some fresh tomatoes as well if you have them)
  • A squeeze of tomato puree
  • A few hands of small paste shapes (I use macaroni)
  • A bunch of (fresh) thyme
  • 3 large bay leaves
  • Olive oil
  • s&p

To serve / for topping:

  • A bunch of fresh basil, finely chopped
  • Fresh parmesan
  • Olive oil, s&p

Wash the celery, carrots, cabbage, leek, fennel. Cut of the ends — the parts you would normally throw away — and put them in a pot with water on the stove. Bring to a boil and let simmer while you’re chopping and slicing all the veggies. (This is part of my newest no-waste policy — I try to minimise waste and to use as much of the vegetables as I possible can. Our rabbit helps as well by eating the green of the carrots!)

Clean and finely chop the onions, garlic and the red chili pepper. Chop celery, slice carrots, slice leek, and chop fennel. Chop tomatoes, aubergine and courgette (zucchini). Clean beans and cut in pieces. Finely slice the cabbage. Peel and chop potatoes. Clean mushrooms and cut in pieces (you can leave the small ones in one piece).

In a (very!) large stock pot, heat a generous amount of olive oil over low heat and gently sauté the onion, garlic and chilipeper. After 10 minutes, turn the heat up to medium low and add the celery and carrots. After a few minutes, start adding the other vegetables one by one: the leek, the fennel and the cabbage, the potato and pepper, the aubergine and courgette and finally the mushrooms, the tomatoes, and the green beans. Each time let the new vegetable sauté for a few minutes before adding the next.

In the meantime, take the pot with the vegetable stock off the stove and remove and discard all off the vegetables with a slotted spoon. Pour the stock through a sieve in a bowl.

Add the tins of tomatoes, the tomato puree and the vegetable stock to the veggies. Add more water if necessary — the liquid has to cover all of the vegetables by a few cm’s (at least an inch). Add the beans and the pasta shapes to the pot, and the thyme and bay leaves. Add salt and pepper.

Bring everything to a boil and let simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the green beans, potatoes and carrots are soft and the pasta is cooked. Stir regularly and add water if necessary. I like it if the veggies still have a bite, but I also like it when it’s cooked a bit longer (or the the next day) when the veggies are all soft and the pasta is slightly overcooked. Yum.

Add more salt and pepper to taste, and to serve, sprinkle with good olive oil, basil and freshly grated parmesan. We always have crusty bread and salty butter on the table as well.

Bon appétit!

xxx Esther

 

The new issue of Smallish Magazine, and a feature on the ShopUp!

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Have you seen the gorgeous new December issue of Smallish Magazine? Admittedly, I’m a bit biased because it includes the most amazing double-page feature on the ShopUp, but all that aside, this might be my favourite issue yet.  What’s not to love about a festive issue filled with inspiring gift guides, exciting interviews about Christmas traditions, behind-the-scenes photos at the Royal Ballet and loads of stylish suggestions for the holiday season?

And… just look at this wonderful feature (!!!):

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Seeing all those pretty products on one page has me even more excited for our ShopUp event next week! Are you coming? It’s going to be SO good! We’ve lined up more than 40 beautiful, one-of-a-kind boutiques and a sweet selection of activities to keep your little ones entertained as well. If you’re looking for me there, I’ll be the one pushing around a giant trolley. My shopping list is long!

Also, if you haven’t yet seen this new issue of Smallish, you’ll be able to pick up a copy at the ShopUp. We’ll be giving away copies to the first visitors to arrive each day. So hurry on over (and bring a trolley!). ; )

Courtney x

Beautiful watercolour clutches from Rajovilla

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I’ve had my Rajovilla clutch since this past summer and I have been meaning to share about these pretty pieces for the past few months (how is it November already?). Thankfully I managed to get a couple photos with my clutch last week, and I’m so happy to share them with you. Check out these gorgeous clutches! Aren’t the prints so beautiful? And the colours! So good. The clutches are all handmade by designer, Joya Logue, and feature her original watercolor paintings inspired by her Indian heritage.

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Joya is an Instagram friend of mine who inspires me as much with her creative parenting as she does with her artistic talent and style. She’s one of those people who pours her heart and soul into her projects, and  even as an ‘outsider’ Instagram observer it’s evident. Don’t you love how we can have friends across the world whom we have never actually met, living in cities we’ve never actually been to, and yet these people are such an inspiring part of our lives? This is undeniably what I love most about Instagram!

Hopefully some day I’ll meet Joya and her sweet family. In the meantime, I’ll cherish my pretty clutch and, of course, will continue to be inspired by her work from afar.

Courtney x

p.s. Top two photos by my friend, Lesley Colvin. Thank you Lesley! x

November Giveaways!

Have you entered to win this month’s awesome giveaways yet? We’ve got four amazing prizes up for grabs:

KallioNYC giveaway
Kallio is giving away a $160 gift certificate to be spent on your choice from their fabulous collection. We adore this brand and their wonderful ethos, re-using vintage men’s shirts and turning them into stylish dresses and shirts for kids!

COATT giveaway
COATT, the beautiful and unique jewellery designer, is offering a 14 karat custom gold bracelet worth $280. What a gorgeous prize for us deserving mamas!

molly and the wolf giveaway
Molly and the Wolf has a fabulous collection of unique and inspiring gifts, and they’re offering one winner a £125 credit voucher to use in store. Just in time for holiday shopping!

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And last, but certainly not least, ilovegorgeous is offering a whopping £250 gift voucher to spend on their collection of gorgeous clothing for girls. Perfect for holiday party dresses or sought after Christmas presents!

Head over to our giveaways page to enter to win! Good luck!

Simple leaf print-splash art

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Did you ever splash drops of ink on paper using a toothbrush? My mum taught me this technique when I was a child and suddenly, when Ava and I were picking up pretty leaves the other day, I remembered how fun it was. All you need is an old toothbrush and some coloured ink. Dip the toothbrush in the ink lightly and use your thumb to spray little drops of ink on the paper. Don’t move the leaves when you’re doing it!

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When you’re done, carefully remove the leaves from the paper. Voila! So pretty!

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Your thumb will we coloured for the next few days. I think my mum used liquid water colour, ‘ecoline’ for this, which is probably a better idea if you have it handy. If not, a coloured thumb is actually pretty cool we thought : ).

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Pim and Ava made a few very pretty leaf print-splash paintings (or whatever you would call them), and they look really cool on the wall of my office. Simple is best, isn’t it?

xxx Esther

 

The Little Things… A Doll Hospital!

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For this post in the The Little Things series, we made something I think every little boy or girl will love: a doll hospital!

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This is such a fun project to make, and it’s really quite simple. Also, most of the materials we’ve used are recycled!

A trip to the local greengrocer provided us with the (future) hospital beds. With simple white paint (I used primer which was left over from our house renovation) I painted the vegetable boxes, and with red acrylic paint from the children’s craft box, I made a red cross on each bed.

From old pillowcases I made white mattresses, sheets and pillows for the beds. And I couldn’t resist painting a red cross on the sheets with fabric paint.



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And then — how ADORABLE are these free downloads for a DIY nurse cap and doctor’s prescriptions? Sara from SakaDesign made them for us again. She’s so talented!

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I painted a similar red cross on a simple white suitcase (which we bought), to create a doctor’s case. And, of course, every respectable doctor’s case needs some serious doctor’s necessities!

The pharmacy around the corner kindly gave us a syringe, some plastic containers, a measuring spoon and cup. The simple bandages and plasters came from our first aid kit. We glued a strip of paper in the lid of the doctor’s case to hold the prescriptions, and filled the plastic containers with colourful ‘pills’ (M&Ms!!). We also put a thermometer, a scissors and a stethoscope in the case.

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And here are Doctor Ava and Doctor Juul, ready to heal some very sick baby dolls! As you can see, they take their task rather seriously. ; )

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The girls played for hours with the doll hospital. It was such a huge succes! (And I’m thinking, wouldn’t it make a very sweet holiday gift as well?)

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xxx Esther

PS –  This is the newest post in a series which is called ‘The Little Things’. Thank you Maud Fontein for taking these beautiful photos, and Sara Musch for the adorable download. The girls’ outfits are from Mabo Kids!

 

Ace & Jig coming to Liberty of London!

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I feel a bit silly telling you to head over to A Cup of Jo, because surely you’ve already been, right? Most likely it was the first blog you visited today because it’s your favourite (it’s definitely  mine!).

Anyway, I was beyond flattered when Joanna asked me to share my four fall outfits and I’m sooo excited to be up on her blog today, sharing not only my fall outfits but my (somewhat embarrassing) fashion philosophy and getting-dressed tips.

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Ace and Jig dress

Of course an obvious outfit choice for me was this pretty dress from Ace & Jig. It’s no secret how much I love this brand and the talented designers behind it. I think everything they do is just so, so good. Their passion for textiles, their beautiful designs and pretty patterns, and their combination of earthy, rich colours… it’s all so effortlessly beautiful, and most importantly, comfortable.  More than any other brand, I feel most like myself wearing Ace & Jig — it unleashes my inner hippie while still being feminine and stylish.

Designers, Cary and Jenna, have just told me that Ace & Jig will be coming to Liberty at the end of this month and I am so excited that my favourite brand will soon be available in one of my favourite London shops! Perfect, right? Keep an eye out for their pieces to start arriving, including this dress and some other new pieces! I know Cary and Jenna are super excited to be stocked at Liberty, and secretly I’m hoping this means they’ll be making more trips to London (I’m dying to meet them in person!).

Courtney x

p.s. These photos were taken by my friend, Lesley Colvin, who is one of the nicest, most genuine people I know. She also happens to be a super talented photographer and one of the only people who makes me feel comfortable in front of a camera.  (More on her very soon!) xx

My adventurous children (for the Waddler photography competition)

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Waddler has been one of our favourite children’s clothing brands — Philip and Marina started their brand after a wonderful stay (of a few years!) in South America, and they have put all of their sense of adventure, respect and amazement of the world around them, and their love for life in general, in Waddler.

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Courtney already shared the photography competition Waddler is holding in cooperation with Plan South America and in which they are challenging parents to photograph their children (dressed in Waddler) and show their individuality and adventurous nature. I accepted the challenge, especially since I’ve never been to South America and would love to go!

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Here are the photos I took of Casper and Ava having fun in the forest last week , and discovering the little wonders of this natural playground around them. What a joyful time we had! Of course I hope we win the competition, but in any case, I’m happy with these photos and the memories we created while making them.

xxx Esther

 

Sticker crafting with Pipsticks

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My friend, Maureen, invited us over to her house last week for a sticker craft playdate for the little ones (and homemade soup for the mums! Yummm).  It was such a fun and inspiring morning in her gorgeous home, and Marlow loved making (and wearing) her sticker crown. What a sweet activity.

Maureen is the founder of Pipsticks, a sticker subscription service for kids (and sticker-loving grown-ups) that delivers a curated pack of stickers to your mailbox every month. Each month Maureen puts together an awesome, seasonal pack of stickers from global suppliers, choosing the most unique and useful stickers kids are sure to love. In addition to stickers, each pack includes a blank postcard and a few sheets of colourful paper to use for craft projects and general ‘stickering’.

I think what I love most about Maureen, in addition to her sticker expertise and, of course, her homemade soup (!), is that she comes up with the cutest ways to use the stickers and offers all sorts of sticker craft ideas on her site. From sticker crowns to pretty pencils to sticker mandalas… most projects are easy enough for kids to do on their own, and make it that much more exciting to receive a sticker pack in the post each month.

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Marlow and Ike were so cute making their crowns together, and as you can see Marlow got creative and decided to sticker her outfit too. : ) You can see the full sticker crown tutorial over on the Pipsticks website where you can sign up for your own sticker subscription as well. (Enter code BABY11 at check-out to receive one month free off any 6 or 12 month subscription!)

Courtney x

p.s. Pipsticks will have a booth at this year’s ShopUp event selling sticker gift boxes and other fun sticker packs — they’ll also have a little craft station for kids as well, so be sure to check them out there! Just TWO MORE WEEKS!!

New house storage boxes from Famille Summerbelle

PinkMustardHouseBoxesInsituSide BlackBlue2BoxesInsitu 4BoxesFamille Summerbelle just came out with these adorable house storage boxes. I just love how clever and decorative they are. Yes please for my office, which is in need of organisation!

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Plus — a perfect present for the holidays, don’t you think?

xxx Esther

Sara, growing up (and Marie Puce)

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Sara is now 9 1/2 — not long before we’ll have a teenager in the house! It’s crazy to think back to the moment when we first found out we were going to have a baby. Tamar and I were living in Brussels at the time, we had just gotten married a few months prior, and I vividly remember the moment we looked at that pregnancy test, first seeing nothing, but then slowly, that (wished for) stripe appeared.

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And now, 10 years later, here she is, our first born, a beautiful girl, with the most gentle and caring character. Realising how lucky we are to have her brings tears to my eyes! She, being the older sister, has as much influence on her little siblings as we have. She is always positive, sweet, looking after the little ones…

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I love seeing her grow up (and up she goes! She’s such a tall and skinny girl!), and to see her character evolve, to see her learn about life, taking it all in, being happy with the world around her, with her self, her family and her friends. Also, I love to still see the child in her, who loves to play, to build huts, and to climb trees. It’s such a wonderful age, these years between childhood and adolescence!

Last week we were visiting the pretty Park Middelheim in Antwerpen where I took these photos of Sara.  I think they capture that feeling of ‘mature childhood’ so perfectly: the understanding on her face in the first photo, but also the curiosity and the joy in the last photos.

xxx Esther

PS How perfect is that dress (one of Sara’s favourites) and those boots, both from Marie Puce — cool and fashionable, but still innocent and girly!

New in at Donna Wilson!

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I’m not very adventurous with tableware — I think it’s my OCD qualities (!) that likes my kitchen cupboards to be filled with big stacks of matching plates, bowls, mugs, etc. My kids use the same tableware as we do (this range from Ikea!), that way we don’t clutter up our cupboards with different stuff for the kids.

But… I just couldn’t resist these beautiful ceramic plates from Donna Wilson! I can’t decide whether to let the kids use them for meals (and hope they don’t break them!) or to hang them on the wall like in the photo below. Don’t they look so pretty like that?

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I love everything in the new Autumn collection at Donna Wilson: beautiful scarves and bags (how fun is this coin purse?), colourful lambswool cushions, and a whole range of playful items for kids.

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Donna Wilson scarves
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I love how the Donna Wilson products always have an element of playfulness about them. They’re always beautiful, but also quite quirky and fun too.

Courtney x

Are We There Yet?

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Have you been following the Rosetta mission on the news lately?  I have been a bit obsessed in the last few days to see if the mission of landing an unmanned space craft on a comet that is about 6bn kilometres away from earth was going to work, so improbably and yet, somehow it landed! It took the space craft 10 years to reach its destination; insane, right?

As we were listening to an update on the radio in the morning, my kids were asking probing questions about the mission, which I have actually been at a loss to answer. Because, how do you explain comets, space crafts, 6bn kilometres and the universe to a 6-year-old over a bowl of cereal at 8 am in the morning? Not my strong point, and many of the questions, I have to admit, I actually could not answer.  So I discovered this little animated video  called “Are We There Yet” made by the European Space Agency. It is super cute and very informative, even for adults!

– Emilie

Pretend and play with Fanny & Alexander

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Last week, Courtney and her family were visiting us in Amsterdam, and we had such a lovely time. Eight children, who have known each other all of their life, together in one house. You can imagine the amount of fun we all had!

Ivy and Ava are one year apart, but these girls are the best of friends. They bond over dolls, drawing, and mischievous behaviour in general. The sound of their girly giggles throughout the house was just wonderful!

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When a few toys arrived from the fabulous toy makers Fanny & Alexander, all the way from Argentina, the girls proved to be the perfect models. Ivy instantly fell in love with the wooden camera — taking photos of all of us (and showing them to us on the ‘preview screen’ on the back of the camera — pretending, of course!). Ava’s new canvas school satchel (which fits beautifully thanks to the adjustable straps) of course needed to be photographed immediately.

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Fanny & Alexander is a brand based in Argentina and aims to develop nostalgic toys and children’s accessories. They work with local artisans to produce objects that are simple yet beautiful and are made to stand the test of time. Their collection is about capturing that unique feeling that childhood is all about and to encourage pretend play and creativity. Ivy and Ava are big fans, and so are we!

The beautiful products of Fanny & Alexander are now available at Shak-Shuka, or check other retailers here.

xxx Esther

This post is sponsored by Fanny & Alexander, a brand we highly admire for their dedication to developing unique and durable children’s toys and accessories. 

Blurb photo books

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I have a love/hate relationship with Instagram. Most of the time I love it and find the community there so wonderful and supportive and inspiring, but you know… there are days… ! : )

One of the biggest reasons why I do love it is how easy it is to make Instagram books over at Blurb.  You literally just sign in with your Instagram account and the photos in your feed will be automatically uploaded, making it super easy to pick and choose your photos for your book. Unlike some of the more complex systems where you have to download the book-making software to your computer, these little Instagram photo books can be made in less than five minutes! Nothing intimidating about it.

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We have a little collection of Instagram books from the past couple years and I’m currently in the process of creating one from our recent trip to Venice. It’s such a great way of documenting your travels or a special occasion and so fun to look at them and remember those happy family moments. My boys took the books to bed with them the other night and I found them scattered around inside their bed the next morning!

Summer 2014 instagram book
Last month I created a ‘Summer 2014′ photo book and it makes me so happy to look at those sunny summery photos! (Fast-forward to next summer, please!) I’m not sure if it’s a new feature, but I realised when I made this one that you can even add extra pages, so this book is a bit thicker than our others, and definitely one of our favourites.

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Blurb doesn’t just do Instagram books — they offer all sorts of wonderful book-making tools and different types of photo book options. You can even create your own magazine. How cool is that?! And I love their suggestion of making baby photo books and adding captions and comments to create a special book all about your baby. The possibilities are endless!

Courtney x

 

p.s. This post was sponsored by Blurb, a company I’ve used and trusted for a long time, and a new member of our shopping portal. 

Rooftoppers

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Coco is at a stage now where she takes herself off to read her books and I am not part of that world anymore. It is kind of sad, but also such an important part of growing up and building her own world. I still remember the pleasure of getting lost in a book at her age and escaping reality and (occasionally) annoying siblings!

I also have to admit that a lot of books she reads frankly do not interest me at all! Let’s face it, a pack of mice solving mysteries is just not my thing…

There are some books though that she reads that are so well written and fun, that I sneak into her room at night to steal her book and read it myself. Her current read, Rooftoppers , is one of them. Written by 27-year-old Katherine Rundell, it is about a baby found floating in a cello case after a shipwreck in the English channel. The baby grows up to be a spirited little girl, who does not give up the search for her lost mother.

It is beautifully written and engaging and feels like a classic, even though it only came out earlier this year.

Both Coco and I highly recommend it! ;)

– Emilie

 

Sézane, a new label crush

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It is official, we are now heading into winter and I left home this morning with a wooly beanie on my head, yikes! For a couple of weeks now I have been obsessed with finding cozy kits and comfy coats — basically items to start hibernating in — and my latest label crush is the French online designer Sézane. They are starting to become a bit of a cult label over here in Paris.

 

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Austin boots

Have you heard of them? I love the simple designs and quality of the clothing. There are 4 collections per year (Autumn was launched in September and Winter will follow in December) and every week a couple of new pieces are added to the collection until the whole collection is available on the website. There is also Essential collection that is available all year round.

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If you happen to be in the USA I noticed that Sézane is doing a collaboration with Madewell, which looks amazing, but unfortunately it is not available in Europe!

– Emilie

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