Liberty print sweetness (and knee patches!) from Milou & Pilou

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We’ve just gotten home from a little trip to Venice, and I really can’t wait to share photos and a summary of our trip. I just looked through all of our photos on our camera (precisely 589 of them!) and don’t know how on earth I will ever narrow down a selection to share. That city is a photographer’s dream!

Quickly though, I wanted to share some photos of the girls wearing their little matching outfits from Milou & Pilou. They looked so sweet roaming the streets of Venice together, and I just can’t get over Marlow’s little knee patches. Adorable!

The best thing about Venice is that it’s completely car-free, which means kids can walk the streets, play in the squares, join other kids for a game of football, or colour the paving stones with chalk.  My kids had so much fun playing in the quiet streets — I wish London was like that!

More Venice photos to come…

Courtney xx

Arcachon

IMG_5146As the leaves on the trees here in Paris are slowly turning red, yellow and brown and summer is becoming a bit of a distant memory, I wanted to quickly jot down some notes about an area of France we discovered and completely fell in love with this summer. It is the Atlantic coast of the South West of France, just south of Arcachon.  A group of friends and us decided to go camping in an amazing campsite set in the middle of a pine forest with a view of the sea and Europe’s biggest sand dune, la Dune du Pyla. It was so beautiful and simple. I am not an avid camper and our little tent without any accessories looked a bit ridiculous compared to most people’s set up, but it was so much fun, no one cared (we often used the car as an extra room, picnic area and extra seating area).

Vivi back of car

I picked up one of these little gas stoves and pots and we came up with some of quite successful one pot meals.
(The grown ups did sometimes go pick up a little tray of oysters and a cheeky little bottle of cold rosé to enjoy after the kids had passed out, so we were not really roughing it).

Campers

Here are a few of the things we did: We stayed at the camping Panorama du Pyla, which is great with the most amazing view of the sand dune and the Atlantic. The bathrooms are spotless and there are a lovely couple of swimming pools and a little water slide. It is all very low key.

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We took a little boat over the water to the seaside resort of Cap Ferret and explored the Atlantic beaches and the still waters of the basin. We paddled around on these amazing little inflatable body boards we picked up at the local sports store.

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Finally we braved the big, though mellow waves down the road in Biscarosse and had some surf lessons with a nice guy called Paul. Even the youngest kids loved it. They looked so cute and felt like super heroes in their little wetsuits!

Surfers We will be back next year!

- Emilie

PS. my top tip for camping? Bring an eye mask! I think it made the difference between me being a very grumpy maman to someone waking up with a smile on my face!

oysters

DIY: London Bus Piggy Bank

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Hi there, remember me? The SHOPUP is coming up soon (are you coming?) and I thought I’d help out these three super busy bees a little bit by contributing a few posts. Hope you don’t mind.

I got an inspiration for this one last summer in Slovenia in a cute toy shop Vanila Park. The owner has this cardboard London Bus that she made together with her daughter on display and I immediately thought about doing a piggy bank similar to it. I love how it turned out and I thought you might like it too.

Like all my crafts it’s super easy and done in under an hour – Tila can’t stay still for longer.

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The things you’ll need are:

Cardboard box (mine was size 17,5 cm x 12 cm)
Some extra cardboard
Glue
Scissors
Craft knife (optional)
Ruler
Red, black, white and yellow acrylic paint

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First measure and cut a piece of cardboard to fit inside the bottom of the box to make it more sturdy (those coins can get really heavy).

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Cut an opening in the top of the box big enough to fit the widest coin (for 2 Euros a 2,5 cm x 0,5 cm opening should do) and paint the whole box bright red.

Now cut out four circles about 5 cm in diameter for the wheels (black), two with 2 cm in diameter for the lights (yellow), two 4-centimetre squares and one 9cm x 4 cm rectangle for the windows and paint the pieces (white).

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Glue them on like in the photo above and start saving.  ; )

-Polona

To read more from Polona, go to her cute blog Baby Jungle!

Custom watercolour portraits from Sophie & Lili

Sophie and Lili painting
sophie and lili custom watercolor portraits
Artist Jennifer Vallez from Sophie & Lili recently sent over these sweet watercolour portraits of my little family, and I love them so much. I love that she captured my children’s personalities so well, and all of it based on a couple Instagram photos I have recently posted. My kids are especially fond of them — Ivy has already asked to frame them and put them up in her room. So sweet.

Sophie & Lili offer a custom watercolour portrait service so if you would like her to paint your family, she’s your girl. I just love that she managed to capture my family at this special time when all my babies are still babies. What a wonderful keepsake!

Courtney x

p.s. Photos above are taken from the Sophie & Lili Instagram feed.

Gorgeous fall fashion from Wee Mondine

wee_mondine_1Fall is happening here in Amsterdam and tights are back on! Ava was wearing these adorable Emile et Ida Cat Tights today which I got from the super stylish shop Wee Mondine, and I just had to take a few snapshots. How cute are those embroidered cats on her knees?

wee_mondine_2The gorgeous chambray skirt is from Nico Nico, and the blue checked blouse is from Makie — both from Wee Mondine as well. I love this combination which I’m sure Ava is going to wear so much this fall (and beyond)!

xxx Esther

 

Advent Calendars. Time to start planning!

Ferm Living advent calnedar

December is still six weeks away, and I’m refusing to start thinking about Christmas just yet (I saw the Christmas decorations up on Oxford street earlier this week and it didn’t seem possible! Can it really be that time of year already?!). But… I do love Advent calendars — it’s one of my favourite Christmas traditions.

I saw this cool Ferm Living advent calendar (above) at Cissy Wears earlier this week and love it! (It’s actually what has inspired this post.)

Maileg advent calendar

We have the Maileg advent calendar (as shown above) and it’s a similar concept with little pockets for presents on each day. I start collecting little gifts and knick knacks around this time of year, and then come December 1st, the kids take turn unwrapping each day. It’s such a fun and exciting way to celebrate the run-up to Christmas.

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I also love the idea Meta wrote about, with little paper bags hanging along the stair railing. So fun and festive!

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And lastly, there’s the wonderful idea from Mo who wraps up christmas-themed books every year for a Christmas book Advent Calendar. Such a great idea!

Anyway, I thought I would share all these ideas now… before it’s too late to prepare. The next six weeks will zip by I’m sure!

Courtney x

What kids around the world eat for breakfast

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I am sure a lot of you have come across this article in the New York Times but I still wanted to post it, as I think it is so interesting to see how differently children eat. At my flat we are so used to eating sweet things in the morning, be it cereal, porridge (very unusual for France) or tartines – the idea of  miso soup and soy sauce for breakfast would not even cross our mind. And yet it would feel completely natural somewhere else…

I remember Esther staying with me one day and telling one of her kids off for having grabbed something sweet to eat before eating something savoury. Only then did she realise that there was nothing savoury on the table! It is funny how we all have our breakfast traditions. I think it is the meal that we are the least adventurous about, possibly because adventure is the last thing on our mind when we are still waking up.

I also love the photos in this post, the children look so cute, still sleepy with ruffled hair and preparing themselves for the day.

- Emilie

My First Opinel

h23143003-1My grandfather once told me that every good French woman had a pen knife in her handbag. Now, that might have been a slight exaggeration, but a lot of us do have a couple of Opinels, the ubiquitous French pen knife. I have a small one to slip into my handbag to slice apples and divide cakes for snacks. I also have a bigger one for picnics!

I think it is so cute that Opinel is now doing a pen knife for kids, with a rounded blade. It not a toy but a fully functioning knife that is relatively sharp and can be used to help out at picnics and possibly cut down a couple of twigs. I guess I am teaching my kids how to become good French woman from a young age. My grandfather would be proud. ; )

- Emile

Adorable Halloween costumes from Thumbelina

©Maya Havkin- Photographer
©Maya Havkin- Photographer
©Maya Havkin- Photographer
Halloween is around the corner, and I’m as unprepared as ever. Hmmm. !! I was feeling guilty about my tired stash of three-times worn Halloween costume options for Marlow and was needing a bit of inspiration… and these adorable costumes from Thumbelina have done the trick. How perfect are they?!  I love a good fleecey zip-up costume that is as cosy as it is cute.

Now… what to do for the bigger kids?!

Courtney x

 

Handmade baby moccasins from Pepa & Co.

Baby moccasins from Pepa & Co

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Is it pouring down rain where you are too? Oh my gosh, the weather in London has been soooo grim! (Though I did sneak a peak at a fellow passenger’s newspaper on the tube yesterday and it did say that we’re getting another mini heat wave next week. So don’t get out your hats and scarves just yet!)

Anyway, here’s something to brighten up your grey day. How adorable are these handmade baby moccasins from Pepa & Co. I ordered the biggest size for Marlow and they were sadly too small. I guess that means she’s no longer a baby… sniff!  Instead of pouting about it, I’m going to focus on all the baby gift-giving I can do and I think these beauties would make the perfect present.

Courtney x

Smallish Magazine

Smallish and the ShopUp

I know it’s a bit of old news by now, but did you see that Baby & Me Magazine got a cool new name? Our favourite London-based magazine has relaunched and is now called Smallish.  No longer focused just on pregnancy and birth, the new magazine will include beautiful fashion shoots, issue-led features, inspiring parents, glossy interiors, up-and-coming brands and the best scoop on what’s new and cool for kids (and their parents). You can pick up a copy of the magazine at newsagents across the country, or download the digital version here.

And… best news for last….we’re really excited to announce that we’ve teamed up with Smallish Magazine for our big ShopUp event this December. Visitors to the event will be able to pick up their own copy of the magazine and discover the monthly goodness for themselves. They’ll also be helping us promote the event, ensuring this year’s ShopUp is a big, fat success. !! We could not be more excited! Have you marked your diaries yet?

Courtney xx

Darling, handmade Waldorf dolls by Stellabyrosa

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When I was giving the pillowcase stamping workshop at the Yvestown Fair / Snor Festival a few weeks ago, my eyes kept wandering away to the Stellabyrosa stall next to me, full of the most delicate and wonderful Waldorf dolls. Rosa, the creator of the dolls, told me about how she couldn’t find the right kind of ‘natural’ dolls when her girls were little, and how she started making her own. I just completely fell in love with each and every doll at her stand — they are all so full of character!

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You can see how much work and love Rosa puts in to each doll. They come fully dressed and are made from 100% Dutch cotton jersey in the traditional Waldorf style. Eyes and mouths are hand embroidered, the hair is made of soft mohair and the doll is stuffed with cleaned and carded organic Dutch sheepwool. Cheeks are coloured with beeswax crayon. They have movable arms and legs, and come fully dressed (all the clothes are beautiful and handmade by Rosa). One doll takes her three days to make!

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I fell so deeply in love with the dolls, that I got one for each of my girls. I also couldn’t resist the beautiful dolls bed, which is made by hand by Rosa’s father and is dressed in gorgeous bedlinen and pillows made by by Rosa. It is all so perfect! My girls love their dolls, and Casper does too, so I just ordered one for him as well (he’s turing 2 on Tuesday!).

xxx Esther

 

Indestructables, chew proof, rip proof… and machine washable!!

indestructables_baby_booksKate Merritt, an English illustrator living in Paris, recently emailed us about a range of books she’s been working on for Workman publishers in the US, called Indestructibles. I was sent a few of these books, and I’m really amazed by the innovation of them. Printed on a nontoxic paper-like, soft material, these books have the look and feel of ‘normal’ books, but… they are waterproof, tear-resistant, and completely machine washable! (I was a bit reluctant at first, throwing these books in the machine, but I did and they came out as if nothing had happened to them — except that they were wet! I tried the dishwasher as well — same story!)

I love how thin and light these books are, and the sweet and simple illustrations. They don’t take up any space in your bag, so are easy to bring along when you’re on the road. And they would make a cute little baby present as well!

Available on Amazon in the UK  and the US  (just look for indestructibles for more titles).

xxx Esther

The Little Square Gallery — sweet snapshots in a cool frame

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I’m not very organised when it comes to using my digital photos – I just take a photo, post it to Instagram, and then it disappears in a virtual cloud somewhere. Actually, it wasn’t very different back when I took analog photos — instead of a virtual cloud, photos would disappear in a dusty box, waiting to be organised and glued into albums…

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Friends of my parents, whose house I visited often when I was little, used to frame a selection of their photos in big collages once every year. They would choose photos of birthdays, vacations, and life in general, photos of their family, mixed with dear friends. They cut out parts of photos, circles, triangles — whatever worked — and glued them without any order or organisation. But the collages looked so cool and I loved looking at them (and finding myself in the sea of faces)!

lsg3I recently commissioned Natalie from The Little Square Gallery to print a selection of my Instagram photos.  To create a moment in time, six months of snapshots, as a visual reminder of the things that happened and made us happy. The frame arrived a little while ago, and it is sitting on our new landing waiting for it’s final spot. And we love it! I see it many times a day, and am reminded of those sweet moments. The children love looking at it as well. Casper is especially intrigued — every day he studies the photos and calls out all of the names of his siblings… sweet boy!


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Working with Natalie was such a pleasure. She helped me pick the best photos, worked on them to make them perfect in colour, balancing light and contrast, and created a truly wonderful collage, framed beautifully in a solid wood frame. The photos are giclée printed on thick, cotton-rag fine art paper, creating a really cool floating effect that sets this collage apart! I will definitely work with Natalie again, creating more of these compilations — because I definitely like these moments in time much better in a frame, than in a virtual cloud!

xxx Esther

New merino wool muslin products from Aden + Anais

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aden and anais merino wool blankets

I’m a huge fan (but really, who isn’t?!) of the Aden + Anais muslin swaddle blankets and sleeping bags and was excited to learn that they’ve created an innovative new range of merino wool muslin products. What’s cool about this new range is that it’s not just an ordinary merino wool blanket or another merino wool sleeping bag, but rather a merino wool muslin blanket and sleeping bag. It’s a new fabric that took years to perfect, one that combines the cosy, breathable qualities of merino wool with the stretchy & soft muslin fabric everyone loves, two simple luxuries woven into one.

I was invited to the UK launch event last week and it was so lovely to meet Raegan Moya-Jones, the founder (she’s adorable!) and also to see and feel all the new products in person. I asked Raegan how easy it is to wash these new wool products, and she answered like the experienced mama she is: all the Aden + Anais products are 100% machine washable and can also be tumble dried, because what new mother has time to hand wash her baby’s blankets?!

The new Aden + Anais merino wool collection is available online here and in stores soon! Perfect for the colder winter months ahead… (sigh).

Courtney x

Atlas of Adventures, our new favourite book!

boys reading Atlas of Adventures
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Remember the lists of my children’s favourite books I posted earlier this year? Well, Easton and Quin just told me that they have a new favourite to top their lists. Atlas of Adventures is a brand new book out this week, and is every bit worthy of their praise. The book offers a ‘collection of wonders, exciting experiences and fun festivities from the four corners of the globe’. What I love about the book is that is doesn’t just show you a picture of a city or place, but it allows the reader to experience what it would be like to be there, to join the Carnival in Brazil, to river raft down the Grand Canyon, to visit the penguins in Antarctica, steer a gondola in Venice and a whole host of other fun activities. It’s also filled with fun and engaging illustrations and interesting facts about every destination.

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Atlas of Adventures
Atlas of Adventures is the first book out from a new imprint called Wide Eyed Editions which we are really excited about.  They create non-fiction books for children and believe books should encourage curiosity about the world we live in. So great! Wide Eyed Editions has signed on to be our bookseller at this year’s ShopUp event, and we’re thrilled to help them promote their first selection of books. (We’ve had a sneak peak at their new titles, and we just know you’re going to love them all!)

You can buy Atlas of Adventures from Amazon here . Hurry before they sell out!

Courtney x

Toto Knits, with a darling new Capsule Collection

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Slowly but steadily autumn is upon us here in Amsterdam. We’ve been super lucky with the weather so far (I’ve heard it’s been the same in other parts of the world), but leaves are falling and mushrooms are appearing. So it’s time to get ready for the cold season! I’ve been ordering socks and tights, shoes and boots, hats and scarfs. These cuties just arrived from Toto Knits, all the way from Africa, and even though I ordered them for Casper, Ava has been wearing them, aptly on top of her Indian summer dress!

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Toto Knits is a Kenya-based label, founded by Erin Brennan Allan, and offering a line of fun and funky knitwear, all handmade of organic cotton and dyed with bio-friendly dyes. Designs are always super cute (the Safari and Farm Animal Sweaters are so sweet!) and all of the products are ethically made by a group of single mothers in Kenya. I love this concept, encouraging trade not aid, and find it clever how Erin pays the knitters by the piece, so that they can decide how much they work, allowing them to make time for their families as much as needed. When a product is finished, the knitters sign the piece (the above hat and the scarf were made by Lucy and Serah), which is so nice — for the knitters because they can truly ‘sign’ their work and be proud of it, and for the client because every piece comes with a story behind it.

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Erin’s newest Capsule Collection, called Heart and Habit, is so stylish and with the muted colours so perfect for this time of year. Beautiful charcoal grey combined with burgundy red, emerald green and cream white are the basis for these pretty pieces. (Pim is wearing a cool Toto Knits striped hoodie in the photos above.) Even though we’re enjoying the favourable temperatures for as long as we can, it won’t be long before we’re all curled up on the couch!

xxx Esther

PS This post is sponsored by Toto Knits, a brand we highly respect and recommend and a longtime member of our shopping portal. Thank you for supporting the brands that support our blog!

Desert boots from De Vries

quin wearing De Vries shoes

I was rearranging our shoe shelf the other day, putting away summery sandals and bringing out our shoes for Autumn, and I realised I have a real thing for desert boots. I love them! Both for girls and for boys (and even for myself!). What I love about desert boots is that they’re gender neutral, so they can be passed down from one sibling to the next regardless of gender. (Last year, Ivy wore a pair that were passed down from her brothers!) This year I’ve gotten the boys new boots from De Vries, and we’re loving them. The quality is really great and I love the selection of colours and styles.

Devries Shoes
I got Quin these traditional ones (and I think they suit him so well!), but they also have ones with yellow or red laces which are really fun too.

Courtney x

p.s. Quin’s cute outfit comes from Caramel Baby. How cool are the trousers?! 

The Bee who Spoke

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ivy reading a bee who spoke
Our friend, Al MacCuish (who we’ve mentioned before here and here), has recently released his second children’s book, and this past weekend we finally got the chance to read it.  The Bee Who Spoke  is a beautifully illustrated story of a girl named Belle and her adventures in the French countryside, where she meets a talking bee and is introduced to the wonders of nature. Not only is it a charming and engaging story, but one that is educational and inspiring too.

I sat down on the sofa to read the story to Ivy, but a few pages in, I was surrounded by all four kids who had nudged their way into our story-telling session. And not only that, but the boys were so inspired by the story, they set out to make drawings of flowers using their spirographs (see below).

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It’s a true sign of a great children’s book when it inspires a good drawing session after you read it. Don’t you think?

Courtney x

Scones!

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Last week I was thinking of something new for breakfast (the children had a few days off from school), and suddenly the idea of scones came to mind. Scones are not a traditional Dutch dish, but I’ve learned to appreciate a good scone in the years I lived in London. Here’s the recipe I used (this BBC Good Food recipe but with a few modifications). A grand recipe, we all agreed on! (And it makes your kitchen smell heavenly, if anything!)

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Ingredients:

  • 350g flour, plus more for dusting
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 85g butter (cut into cubes — didn’t bother)
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • 175ml buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • beaten egg, to glaze

Heat oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7. Tip the flour into a large bowl with the salt and baking powder, then mix. Add the butter, use your fingers to rub the butter in the mix until it looks like fine crumbs.
Put the buttermilk into a jug and heat in the microwave for about 30 secs until warm. Add the vanilla and sugar, stir, then set aside for a moment. Put a baking sheet in the oven.
Make a well in the dry mix, then add the liquid and combine it quickly with your hands – it will seem pretty (really!) wet at first. Scatter a royal amount of flour onto the work surface and tip the dough out. Dredge the dough and your hands with a little more flour, then fold the dough over 2-3 times until it’s a little smoother. Pat into a round about 3 to 4 cm deep.
Take a 5cm cutter and dip it into some flour. Plunge into the dough, then repeat until you have four to six scones. By this point you’ll probably need to press what’s left of the dough back into a round to cut out another four. Brush the tops with beaten egg, then carefully place onto the hot baking tray.
Bake for 10 to 15 mins until risen and golden on the top. Eat just warm or cold on the day of baking, generously topped with jam and clotted cream (or butter).

Bon Appetite!

xxx Esther

 

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