Knutsel Frutsel, for your creative needs

Nooo, this is not a candy store. It’s even better! At Knutsel Frutsel you will find everything you need for your children’s art & craft kit — or yours! Filled with the best products, from play-dough to paper, glitter to glue — you’ll find it in this shop. And the owners will give you expert advice on how to use the products (or get you inspired with a craft idea or two)! Oh, and if you think you’re done browsing and you’re getting ready to pay, a happy surprise will wait for you on the other side of the shop: wonderful toys, fun party-bag goodies, and the entire Schleich collection.

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Imagine — a very special toy shop

One of the most special children’s shops in Amsterdam is without a doubt the toy shop Imagine. This is the place to go if you’re looking for that special gift for that unique child, that cute present for that sweet baby, that handmade coat for that lovely girl or that stylish haircut for that cool boy. The collection at Imagine is ever so special, with lovely retro pieces, a good collection of French and German toys and some delightful Dutch brands (colourful, modern and fun). The staff is amazingly friendly, and will never annoyingly follow you around (not even in the cool basement where the toys for big girls and boys can be found). Truly a delightful shop!! (more…)

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Kid’s shoes from Meys & Co

My kiddie shoe shop of choice here in Amsterdam is Meys & Co. I’m picky with shoes for my children– they need to be strong, durable, cute (but plain), and slightly old-fashioned. I always find something to my taste at Meys & Co!
There’s a good selection of classic styles mixed with more fashionable footwear, and they also have a good range of hip sneakers and colourful wellies. The ladies in the shop are helpful and patient, and don’t mind kids climbing in the window display at all…
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MIFFY SHOPAmstelparkStrand Zuid

MIFFY SHOP

If you’re visiting Amsterdam and have little kids, you should definitely step into the Miffy store on the Scheldestraat. Miffy (‘Nijntje’ in Dutch) is the sweet little bunny designed by Dick Bruna in 1955 who quickly became a world famous character.
The wonderful collection of Miffy books, which discuss a large number of topics (amongst which art, school, childbirth, and death), have been translated to more than 50 languages. There’s a good selection available at the Miffy shop as well as other Miffy merchandise, like clothes, toys, cards and accessories — all great for presents.
Worth a visit!
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Amsterdam wall stickers from Zuuz

zuuzDon’t you love these wall decals? I mean, even if you don’t live in Amsterdam, you surely must like them!?!
These supercool stickers are made by Zuuz, and besides the fact that I really like the images of the typical Dutch canal houses, I love the fact that they are so big — my daughter can draw on them even when she’s standing up! We have a long hallway in our current apartment so we could fit both the crayon sticker set and the outlined houses set next to each other, and it really looks fantastic.
I never knew crayon stickers were so much fun for the kids — my daughter really loves drawing in the windows, the doors, and the people… Brilliant!

These (and other) fun wall decals are available through Dutch webshop Zuuz. (BTW, I love the combination of these wall decals and the pendant lampshade I wrote about earlier!)

xxx Esther

Amsterdam lamps from Hartendief

HartendiefLook how lovely this pendant lampshade is…  It’s very typical Amsterdam with its cute canal houses!  The scene you see on this lamp is called ‘Jordaan’, named after the picturesque neighbourhood in the centre of Amsterdam with its narrow streets, small houses and cute bridges.
Hylkia, the creative brain behind ‘Hartendief‘, originally studied fashion design but after the birth of her daughter started creating accessories for children’s rooms, eventually resulting in a series of these wonderful silhouette lamps. They are very stylish in their simplicity — plain when switched off, but when switched on the silver (or gold) silhouette on the inside of the shade creates a magical shadow world on the outside…
You can order these lamps through the Hartendief store, but if your Dutch is not so polished these days you can just email Hylkia with your questions and wishes in English. 

xxx Esther

Shabbies

Shabbies
Shabbies were originally designed in the seventies by Dutch shoe designer Fred de la Bretoniere and are the most comfortable, fashionable and beautiful boots I own. They’re the perfect mix between nonchalant and chic. Shabby chic!
The colours of the natural leather are seriously amazing, and I really like the fact that they look equally cool with skinny trousers, a skirt or a mini dress.  And of course they are much easier to chase kids with than 3 inch high heels!

If you’re interested in a pair of Shabbies of Amsterdam, make your way over to one of the three Fred de la Bretoniere shops. There’s one on the St. Luciensteeg 20; one on the Van Baerlestraat 34 or one on the Utrechtsestraat 77.

Utrechtsestraat

utrechtsestraat

If you happen to be in Amsterdam and have a few hours to spare for some coffee and shopping, Utrechtsestraat is a good place to go.
The Koffiesalon, a lovely coffee-shop (in the true meaning of the word), has good seating, great espresso, yummy cakes and sandwiches and you can help yourself to as much water as you like. I brought my daughter here for some mummy and daughter time before and we both greatly enjoyed it. It’s also a good place to meet friends or even have an informal meeting.
Not far up the road, at number 74, you’ll find one of my favourite shops in Amsterdam, Jan. The shop owner, Janna, who obviously has great taste, has gathered a fantastic selection of products. Lamps, cushions, dinnerware and cutlery are amongst the stock, but the shop also features fashion accessories such as bags, belts, jewelery and watches, and some lovely toys and kiddie books. If you need a present or want to treat your own family (= yourself), don’t miss it.
Next door you’ll find Bellerose (they have good kids’ clothes). Funky ladies fashion can be found at Jan Lensen, beautiful French and Italian ceramics at Kom, great interior pieces at Mobilia, and there are many, many more great shops and restaurants. Maybe you’ll need more than a few hours!

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HEMA

hema collage

HEMA is one of those shops (or concepts really), that is almost impossible to describe. If you’ve ever set foot in a HEMA, you understand. In fact, you get the concept immediately, and you’re a fan instantly – no denial possible! And you just understand why we, Dutchmen, are all raving about it, and why this chain of shops is what we miss most when we move abroad…
So, what is HEMA?
HEMA is a Dutch chain of shops that only sells HEMA-brand products. No luxury products, but products that are meant for daily use and that are functional yet fun. The assortment is wide and prices are low (we like that in the Netherlands), designs are trendy and fresh, simple and colourful. The quality is good, and overall the products are seriously so much fun that you can’t help bringing home yet another cool tea-towel, notebook or cute cookie-cutter set for the kids! (more…)

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La Savonnerie

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I love soap. And, much to my husband’s chagrin, I love soap shops! A beautiful soap shop here in Amsterdam is La Savonnerie, where soap is being made by hand, the traditional way — all with natural ingredients and all hand-stamped!

Many, many, many beautiful bars of soap can be found here, in the most gorgeous shapes, colours and scents. And, if you are you looking for a cute give-away for a birthday or other festive occasion — La Savonnerie can stamp any soap with your own special text!

A visit to this lovely shop is totally worth it (and it is very close to one of my favourite shopping areas in Amsterdam, the Nine Streets). Next to the soaps they also carry a nice selection of lovely bathroom articles and… they have a small collection of the cutest toys imaginable!

xxx Esther (more…)

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Keet in Huis

Keet

KNSM island used to be quite a rough and industrial part of the Amsterdam harbor before it was transformed into a very cool residential island, and nowadays, this is where you can find one of the finest kid’s lifestyle shops of Amsterdam: Keet in Huis.
Keet in Huis (‘Mess in the House’), sells everything from furniture, bed linen, interior accessories, baby buggies, toys and books, which, you might think, by itself is not so extra-ordinary at all, but if you consider the amazing taste levels of the owners, you would be sold like every other mother who has ever set foot in this shop. Wonderful!

I can spend hours in ‘Keet in Huis’, and have an especially hard time staying away of the downstairs bedding area. My kids don’t mind, because there is a lovely little play area where they can meet little friends whose mums are in a similar situation (stuck with the choice: which duvet cover to pick?).
Courtney, who has been a few times (it’s always on her list of things to do in Amsterdam), finds the bedding to be extremely Dutch. This means, according to her, that there are loads of very bright colours, and tons of gingham. This is probably true, as there are loads of bright colours in our kids’ bedroom – and loads of gingham! (more…)

Imps & Elfs

Imps visionair

Children are sometimes very naughty (Imp)… sometimes very sweet (Elf)… but mostly (unfortunately for us, poor parents) both at the same time: Imps & Elfs!
Imps & Elfs — one of the coolest kid’s clothing brands around, and it happens to be Dutch, like so many other cool things!
The philosophy behind the brand is ‘a child should be a child’. And this philosophy is present in every aspect of the clothing line.
I think what is so cool about Imps & Elfs is that their clothing is designed to be fitted, concentrating on the shape of the child’s body. That hollow back, that big belly with those tiny shoulders and that short neck… – isn’t that just what makes little children so adorable?
All clothes are no-nonsense, with no frills and fancies – nothing should take away from the emphasis on the child: hello, you’re looking at a KID – not an outfit!
If you’re in the neighbourhood, you just HAVE to stop by the flagship store here in Amsterdam. It is just as cool as the clothes (although they also sell shoes, toys and room accessories).
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Amsterdam toy warehouse

Warehouse

We got this wooden toy warehouse for my son’s first birthday and it’s a huge hit!  When he was little he loved opening and closing the doors and peeping through the windows, and his his big sister liked climbing into it very much (we went for the more expensive sturdy version with a bottom plate for this reason!).  And it’s still being played with on a daily basis, as a doll’s house, a shelter for the Schleich animals, or as part of a city.   And my husband and I like the fact that it looks really cool in our living room.  Very Amsterdam!
We got our warehouse at Sherwood on the Elandsgracht, but online it is sold at Spelmaterialen.nl.  Unfortunately they only ship to the NL, Belgium and Germany, but I also found a similar (and cheaper) warehouse at Toypost in the UK, and they will ship internationally.  Because I don’t think it will fit in your suitcase easily!

xxx Esther

A week in Amsterdam

amsterdam gracht

Monday:
Go out for breakfast in the Bakkerswinkel. A basket of different sorts of bread, muffins, scones and croissants makes way to your table accompanied by a much needed coffee and orange juice. Fancy jams can be found on the table. Open from 7AM – what a wonderful way to start the week!
After, take your children to the Amstelpark, where there is a lovely playground and a little city farm. A ‘real train’ can take you around the park – a sure hit with your little ones.
Had enough of the park? Go to the Scheldestraat where you can find the great kids’ shoe store Meys&Co (open from 1PM onwards), with Koter&Co across the street where they sell a big selection of the cool Dutch kiddie brand Imps&Elfs (and more).
Before going back home, don’t forget to visit Italian delicatessen Feduzzi for a cappuccino and one of their mouth-watering Panini. And don’t forget the babyccino for your little angel! You can pick up something for dinner here too – I promise you, the food is great and prices are reasonable.
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