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

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

Smallish Mag December cover
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!

ilovegorgeous give-away

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!

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.

Ace and Jig Coverlet dress
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

Sticker crafting with Pipsticks

sticker crafts with Pipsticks
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marlow crafting with stickers from Pipsticks
Pipsticks stickers

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.

Marlow and Ike
Ike sticker crafting
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 in at Donna Wilson!

donna wilson plates
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

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.

summer instagram blurb book
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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. 

Waddler photo competition

Waddler photo competition Patagonia
I don’t normally enter photo competitions, but here is one that I just can’t pass up. The prize is just too good! The chance to win a£1,000 shopping spree at Waddler plus a once-in-a-lifetime trip to South America?! I’m in. You too? Just look at that beautiful landscape above…

Waddler

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Waddler is one of my very favourite children’s brands. Their fair trade collection is produced in Bolivia from 100% baby alpaca wool, one of nature’s finest natural fibers, and is incredibly soft. The pieces have something very sweet and simple about them, yet they are wild and adventurous. And the colours are so gorgeously rich and soft at the same time.

Waddler has teamed up with PlanSouthAmerica, a British-owned and operated travel company with offices in London and Buenos Aires, to offer a once-in-a-lifetime trip to South America, the birthplace of Waddler and the inspiration for their designs. They’re offering one very lucky winner the chance to £1,000 worth of beautiful clothes and £1,000 towards an amazing family holiday in South America.

Marlow and Ivy in Waddler
To enter, all you have to do is take a photo of your children wearing their Waddller clothing and mail it to serena@wadler.co.uk or upload them to Instagram using the hashtag #waddlercompetition by January 25th, 2015. (You can read more about the competition here.) I took this photo of my silly girls (above) when we were in Soho last weekend. Those little outfits are just too cute!

Courtney x
p.s. Waddler is one of 40 wonderful brands setting up shop at this year’s ShopUp event in December.  So if your kids don’t already have a piece from the collection, you’ll be able to shop their collection there!

p.p.s. This post was sponsored by Waddler, a brand we have loved for years and a longtime member of our shopping portal.

Sweet alpaca pixie hat from Nuvola Baby

Marlow in pixie hat from Nuvola Baby
pixie hat from nuvola baby
And just like that… it’s hat weather! Did you also find yourself rifling through boxes in your basement this week, looking for all of your scarves and hats and winter coats? I guess we’ve been lucky with all the mild weather we’ve had all Autumn, so much so that I was a bit caught off guard. It’s suddenly dark and cold, and there is no denying that winter is coming. Sigh.

Speaking of hats, how sweet is this vintage-inspired pixie hat from Nuvola Baby? Adorable. And not only super cute, but each hat sold will buy 10 nutritious meals for a malnourished baby in Burkina Faso. Nuvola Baby are donating 2 euros from every sale to the Dr. Elvire Engel Foundation, a Luxembourg based NGO that cares for women and children in need in Burkina Faso (you can read more about the campaign here).

Nuvola Baby is one of the 40 wonderful shops taking part in this year’s ShopUp event next month, so you can check them out in person then. I can’t wait to pay a little visit to their booth. Such cosy products!

Courtney x

SipSnap drinking lids

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Leave it to a duo of mums to come up with something so simple yet so useful. After launching the hugely successful Kickstarter campaign, two mums, Sativa Turner and Michelle Ivankovic, have come out with a range of BPA-free, spill-proof lids that fit any cup, any time. The SipSnap drinking lids are to be used at home so you can clear out all the plastic kiddie cups taking up valuable space in your kitchen cupboards, or to be used on-the-go so you always have a sippy cup with you at restaurants or friends’ houses, etc. So smart!

There are two types of lids — the SipSnap TOT with a sippy lid or the SipSnap KID with a hole that fits any sized straw. All the lids are dishwasher safe, fit over any sized cup, come with a handy case so you can easily throw in your handbag, and come in a variety of fun colours.

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marlow with sippy cup
marlow drinking juice
We tested out the SipSnap lids at Esther’s house last week and they worked perfectly. I loved that we could just slip on a lid over any of Esther’s normal drinking glasses, and my kids were safe to drink away without spilling all over her beautiful new house. : )

Courtney x

Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery

Keihl's midnight recovery syrum
kiehl's midnight recovery
When it comes to the world of beauty products, I’ve been living on planet Mars. If you read my beauty uniform post on A Cup of Jo, you’ll already know that most of the beauty products I use are ones that I’ve used since I was a teenager. I hardly ever try anything new. So boring, I know.

But when I was staying at Esther’s house last week, I discovered this pretty blue glass bottle of Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery sitting on her bathroom counter and I decided to test it out. The bottle promises ‘younger looking skin by morning’. I mean, even a Martian alien would be intrigued by that. Right?

I loved the feeling of the essential oils on my skin (a bit oily, but not greasy or heavy) and the smell was so soothing and calming for bedtime. I’m sure it’s a bit of a placebo effect, but I woke up feeling like my skin was happier and healthier looking. I’m ordering my own bottle right now!

Courtney x

Handknit jumpers and pompom hats from Babaà

Casper kissing Marlow
Babaa wool hat
Marlow and Casper wearing Babaa jumpers
Marlow wearing Babaa jumper and hat
Casper wearing Babaa
wool jumpers from Babaa

We’ve just returned from a road trip to Amsterdam to see Esther and her family, and I’m having such a fun time looking at all the photos from our time together. Eight kids is a lot of little people to feed and bathe and entertain and clean up after… but it was so much fun! It’s really so sweet to see how well they all play together and how quickly they settle in with each other, especially considering they only see each other once or twice a year. They really are such loving little friends.

Marlow and Casper were not entirely sure of each other. I think Marlow’s big personality is a bit intimidating for sweet Casper… but of course we’re still certain they’ll marry each other one day! ; )

We did, however, manage to take some sweet snaps of them playing together (and even a photo of Casper stealing a kiss!). They were wearing their cosy, new hand-knit jumpers and coordinating pompom hats from Babaà, so they looked extra extra cute. Don’t you agree they’ll make the cutest couple?! Marlow just has to learn that stealing Casper’s food and forcing him to hug her is not quite the way to win his heart…

Courtney  x

Elias & Grace Treat Week (and early bird discount!)

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Each season Elias & Grace puts together the most stylish selection of children’s brands, offering key pieces which have been carefully considered from each collection to ensure that everything in store is so effortlessly stylish, easy to wear and perfect for every occasion. In short, Elias & Grace has done the hard work so that you can easily shop for your children. There’s even a ‘bestsellers‘ page on their website where you could pretty much shop blindfolded and still pick out cute items!

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I love popping into the Primrose Hill boutique every season — to check out new trends, gather inspiration and pick up a few cute seasonal staples for my kids. And I love it even more when they run the occasional ‘treat week’ with a generous 20% discount. Yesssss!

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The Elias & Grace ‘treat week’ begins on Monday but we’ve managed to secure an early bird discount just for our readers so you can scoop up the pieces before they fly off the shelves! The discount starts today and will run until the 10th. Use the code: TREATBC14 at check-out. Now get going!

Courtney x

Our trip to Venice

gondola ride in the grand canal
grand canal, Venice
rialto bridge
Venice has always been at the top of my holiday wish-list, and yet, in the 11 years we’ve lived in London, we’ve never managed to go. It’s either spring/summer when it’s too touristy and overcrowded, or late summer when it’s too hot and smelly, or winter when it’s apparently quite foggy and cold (although I’ve heard it’s quite magical like this). So… when it came time to book our October halfterm holiday, we decided it had to be Venice! And oh my gosh, it did not disappoint! I think this holiday might be one of my very favourites, which says a lot coming from a girl who likes a beach holiday more than anything. : )

The kids were absolutely intrigued by the concept of a city floating in water — that the buses and taxis (even ambulances!) are all boats, and that you’re completely surrounded by water at all times (even dead-end streets lead you straight into a canal!). I was so impressed by the beauty and colours of Venice — for some reason I didn’t expect it to be so colourful! I always pictured it to be quite grey, like the famous Canaletto paintings of Venice in the National Gallery. How naive was I?

Like I said in my previous post, the thing that impressed us the most is the fact that there are no cars. It makes it such a kid-friendly city, to be able to walk freely in the streets and play in the squares. At one point we were sitting at a sunny table at a pizzeria, finishing our glass of wine while Easton was playing football with a local Italian boy, Ivy and Quin were drawing with chalk in the street next to our table, and Marlow was sitting in the middle of the square playing with a little spinning top. All of them within eyesight, all of them completely safe to play in the street. Michael and I kept pinching ourselves.

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venice boats

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venice canal
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Anyway, here are a few photos (okay, loads! sorry! I hope you don’t mind?) and a list of some of the highlights…  (more…)

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

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.

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

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

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