Baby & Me Magazine, my favourite childhood items

childhood favourites at Baby & Me Magazine
This month’s issue of Baby & Me Magazine features the best and most stylish of children’s products in the 2014 Style Awards. They handed out awards to winners based on their criteria of iconic design, good looks and innovation (you can see the winners here).

This month they asked me to round up some of my personal favourite children’s products — the products we have used and loved in our family, ones that I hope to keep forever and pass down to my grandchildren. The products shown above are a few that made the cut. You can find my column in this month’s issue here.

x Courtney

 

Portable sleeper for newborns

 

fisher price sleeper

fisher price portable sleeper

portable sleeper, folded

We’re visiting my husband’s family in Lake Tahoe this week where the kids are having loads of fun playing with all their cousins.  My sister-in-law recently gave birth to her fourth baby, a little girl called Ruby, and we’ve been enjoying spending time with her and getting lots of newborn snuggle time. I can’t believe Marlow was ever that tiny! Or that sweet and calm for that matter. : )

My sister-in-law has a little portable baby bed she uses for the baby, and she told me it’s the number one thing she would recommend to anyone having a baby. I love recommendations like that!

Not only does the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper fold-up easily for travel or storage purposes (or simply for moving from room to room), but the cocooned shape and inclined position of the bed is perfect for keeping new babies feeling secure and comforted. I remember my babies always hated being put down to sleep on a flat mattress and they would often wake immediately after being put down, which is why I think this little bed looks like such a perfect solution.

The sleeper is available from Amazon (US and UK ).

x Courtney

Painting rocks!

ivy painting rocks
We’ve been staying at my family’s beach house on Bainbridge Island this week, where the water is cold and the beaches are rocky. The kids are in heaven! We have all spent the past few days collecting rocks on our beach walks, and today, while Marlow napped, we sat down in the shade to paint them. It was a fun afternoon activity and one that we all enjoyed.

The results from our rock-painting session were not overly impressive, so I thought it might be better to share some more inspiring images of other painted rocks, in case you are hoping for some inspiration beyond the typical painted ladybird! All images found on Pinterest:

painted rocks1
I love all the different faces in this image. (My boys were especially into painting faces – they wanted to make ‘pet rocks’.)

grid-cell-3344-1402697046-4

Love the bright colours and patterns here. (Image found here.)

abc painted rocks

Paint the alphabet! Fun and educational. (Image from here.)

f0738111637ae6ccba1648f1dc554472

Thought these were cute!

painted owls

Love these painted owls!

We used acrylic paints, and mixed our paints inside sea shells since we didn’t have paint palettes. It worked perfectly! Hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

x Courtney

GG* Crêpe Shop!

crepes for sale
GG* crepe game
Kukkia is a toy brand from Japan, which in my opinion is one of the best in the children’s market. The Kukkia toys are beautiful, yes, but what I love is that they are simple enough to allow children’s imaginations to do the work. Many of their toys are classic concepts (like building blocks, wooden cars or dominoes!) but they put a modern twist on everything, adding innovative details that really put the toys in a league of their own.

The GG* Crêpe Shop is a perfect example. They know that children like to play ‘cooking’ and ‘shop’. Many of us have little play kitchens for our kids with chef pans and fake food. But Kukkia have taken the concept a bit further, creating a set for children to make  their own crêpes and set up a little crêpe shop, all the while being encouraged to learn and develop their motor skills along the way.

ivy's crepe

making crepes

The Crêpe Shop set comes with three different fabric crêpes, each with a different fastening: velcro, tie or button. The idea is to encourage children to practice tying bows and fastening buttons in a fun way. So clever! The set also comes with wooden and fabric food toppings, a wooden spatula and a ‘hot plate’ that also doubles as a chalkboard sign when it comes time to ‘sell’ your crêpes. Again, so clever.

GG* crepe shop
quin's crepe

Ivy has been making crêpes for everyone in the family. Her favourite customer is Quin (who prefers the sweet ones over the savoury!). : ) The GG* Crêpe Shop and other Kukkia toys are available to purchase from Abacus Kids or from Sisters Guild.

x Courtney

* This post was sponsored by Kukkia, a brand we have loved for years (even before they ever reached out to us). Thanks for supporting the brands that help to support this blog! : )

Tortustick, a fun toy for kids of every age

tortustick

I popped into Eenymeeny yesterday to pick up a few craft/activity books for the kids (we have a 9-hour daytime flight on Friday!) and this Tortustick game was out on display. Marlow immediately sat down and started playing with it, and to my amazement she actually sat still for a good 45 seconds. : )

I ended up buying it because I figured that not only will she enjoy playing with it, but it will appeal to the bigger kids as well. The game comes with a set of cards with different patterns, and bigger kids can use the magnetic stick to drag the colourful balls around the maze to match the patterns on the cards.  A fun toy for kids of every age (around 2 and up)!

x Courtney

Wearing lipstick!

courtney-adamo-babyccino-lipstick-orange-nyc-

courtney-adamo-babyccino-lipstick-orange

Apart from playing dress-up with my mom’s lipstick when I was little, I have never been a lipstick girl. I tried lip gloss when I was in college, but I could never figure out how to keep my hair from getting stuck in my lips, especially in windy Chicago! (Is there a trick I’m not aware of?) And I’ve always felt that a bold coloured lipstick made my lips look even bigger, making me look a bit clown-like.

So when my friend Joanna from A Cup of Jo asked me to test out some lipsticks for a beauty tutorial on her blog, I laughed her off and told her I don’t look good in lipstick. But she persuaded me to try, and I must say I was pleasantly surprised when I tested them out. There is something about lipstick that makes you feel flirty and fun and can make you look instantly more put-together, even with messy hair and sleepy eyes. : )

The lipstick feature is up on A Cup of Jo. We tested out three different orangey colours. Which one is your favourite? Do you have others to recommend? (I still haven’t bought a lipstick yet so any suggestions you have are welcomed!)

x Courtney

p.s. How pretty is this dress by Ace & Jig?! The dress definitely steals the show.

Do (or would) your kids share a bed?

boys in their bed

I’ve posted a few photos over the years of my boys asleep in their bed, and usually when I do it raises some interesting comments and questions about my boys sharing a bed. Do they really share a bed? Have they always? How did you get them to sleep in the same bed? Do they wake each other up in the night? Do I recommend it?

It’s something I’ve been thinking about lately because Marlow is now starting to ask to sleep with Ivy, and while I don’t want to risk messing up her good sleep habits, I’m thinking I might get rid of Marlow’s cot and let her join Ivy in her bed.

I love that my boys share a bed. Perhaps it would be the same if they each had their own bed within the same room, but those two boys are so close and I really think it has a lot to do with the bond that is created by sharing a bed. I think there’s something magical about bedtime, a time when they know they have to be quiet and play peacefully, no tattle-telling or fighting over toys. Whatever quarrels they have during the day are completely tossed aside at bedtime. It’s like there’s a mutual understanding between them that at bedtime they join the same team: boys versus their parents. I’ve always put them to bed around 7:00 for this reason. I know it’s early, but I figure they’ll end up talking or playing quietly together anyway, so why not make the most of it?!  We often find them asleep, lying side by side under the same book. Or sometimes we find a whole heap of little toys under their covers, evidence of some cheeky playtime before they fell asleep.

We didn’t make the decision to put the boys in one bed; they decided all on their own. When Quin, the younger one, was 6 months old we moved him into the room with his older brother. By the time he was 18 months old, we gave him a matching toddler bed like his brother’s. We joked they had beds like Ernie and Bert from ‘Sesame Street’!

boys' old bedroom

But… Quin never slept in his own bed. We would tuck each of them into their own beds, but every night we would come upstairs to find them in the same bed together. Like this…

boys in one bed2

or like this…

boys in one bed

Every single night!!

So when it came time to move into our new house, I gave the boys a choice: they could each have their own beds, or they could have one big bed to share. And of course it was an obvious decision.

The boys sleep so well together. No complaints about bed hogging or snoring. It’s like they just figure out their little place in bed and know how to sleep together (Quin always likes the flatter pillows and Easton always sleeps on the left side of the bed. They’re like a couple of old men with their little quirky ways!) I’m sure at some point they will decide it’s no longer ‘cool’ to share a bed, but for now we are happy with this sweet bed sharing arrangement. Here are some other benefits worth noting:

  • It makes traveling easier because they always sleep together and can comfort each other in new places. (We have never heard either of them say they were scared.)
  • We’ve never had a problem with scary dreams or other sleep issues. They must feel comfort knowing they have each other so near.
  • Easton often reads books to Quin. It used to be simple picture books, but now Easton reads his chapter books to Quin and I can only imagine it is beneficial for both of them to be reading together like this.
  • When guests come to stay, we can use the boys’ bedroom as a guest bedroom because the bed is big enough for adults.
  • One big bed takes up less space than two single beds, so for space-saving reasons, it’s worked out nicely in their little bedroom.

We will definitely let the girls sleep together as well, and I really hope they’ll sleep as well together as the boys do, and hopefully it will strengthen their relationship even more. (They already have bedtime conversations from their separate beds, but I can’t wait until they’re snuggled into the same bed, reading the same books, and sneaking in a few minutes of extra play.)

So tell me, do your children share a bed? Would you consider it?

x Courtney

Sturdy summer sandals from Angulus

Angulus shoes
Angulus shoes for girls
Angulus shoes for babies
Marlow and I left the house the other day to pick the big kids up from school and only after we arrived to the school did I realise we had forgotten her shoes! I guess that is the sign of summertime. She ran around the entire afternoon with her bare feet and never complained!

Alas, there are times when shoes are required, and for this it’s a good thing for Angulus. The shoes are extremely well made, with sturdy straps and nice thick soles. Marlow has been wearing a pair of Angulus sandals passed down from Ivy and they’re still in really good shape.  And many of the styles are unisex, so they can be passed down from sibling to sibling, despite gender differences.

The Angulus site is in Danish (an English version coming soon!) but you can also buy them from UK-based Igloo Kids or Four Fairies and a Prince.

x Courtney

 

Simple Stone Fruit Tart

stone fruit tart
I stumbled upon this image on Pinterest a couple days ago and knew immediately what I wanted to do with the bowl full of peaches and nectarines on my kitchen counter and the ready-rolled puff pastry in my freezer. So easy! I quickly wrote down the  simple recipe and decided to make it that evening with all my little kitchen helpers. It was really a team effort – Easton helped fold the sides of the pastry and painted on the egg yolk, Quin sprinkled the sugar and helped cut the peaches, Ivy poured the honey and Marlow snuck bites of fruit while we worked. : )

Marlow making fruit tart

peaches, nectarines and apricots

Here’s the recipe:

-1 puff pastry sheet
-3 cups of stone fruit, sliced (we used peaches, nectarines, and apricots)
-3 tablespoons of honey
-1 tablespoon of lemon juice
-1 egg, lightly beaten
-granulated sugar for sprinkling

Heat oven to 190° C (375° F). Place baking sheet in oven to heat up. Place the puff pastry on parchment paper. Fold in edge of puff pastry towards center to create a half inch border; set aside. In a bowl toss fruit, honey and lemon juice. Remove heated baking sheet from oven. Place puff pastry on bake sheet. Pour fruit mixture on top. Brush border with lightly beaten egg and sprinkle sugar over the egg.
Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until puff pastry is golden brown. Enjoy!

fruit tart, eaten

We ended up eating the tart before dinner because none of us had the willpower to wait!

xx Courtney

p.s. Recipe based on this one found on Bakers Royale.

Five great European holiday destinations from Kid & Coe

Kid & Coe is a holiday rental site specifically for families.  It was launched last Autumn and it’s been great watching their site and inventory of properties grow. They offer family-friendly destinations all over the world — from beach houses in Brazil to city apartments in New York, or stylish flats in London to countryside retreats in Tuscany.  Most of the properties are personally owned by families, so they often come equipped with children’s toys, children’s beds, highchairs and other items to make your stay more comfortable and enjoyable.

With summer holidays so near, I thought it would be a great idea to ask the team at Kid & Coe to round up five of their favourite European destinations for summer. Here are their picks and a brief description of each place:

 

the vejer

1. The Vejer Residence, Spain
This whitewashed hippy-deluxe residence with plunge pool is in one of Andalucia’s lesser visited characterful white towns, Vejer de la Frontera, near Cadiz, and sleeps up to 6 adults and 1 child in 4 bedrooms. It’s full of rustic, romantic character, from the cobbled stone floors to the studded front door.
From £122 per night.

gumpendorfer

2. The Gumpendorfer Residence, Vienna
A city in summer? Well, if you like art, culture and even beaches along the Danube, Vienna is a great choice. There’s even a floating boat with a pool in it nearby if you need to cool off. We love this central apartment which sleeps up to 2 adults and 2 children and is well equipped for small children.
From €90 per night.

heerlijkheid van marrem residence

3. The Heerlijkheid Van Marrem Residence, Belgium
Don’t let anyone tell you that Belgium’s boring. This stunning and unique renovated carriage shed has been lovingly turned into rustic chic lodgings sleeping up to 23, and is perfect for a deluxe family celebration. Play in the flower-filled fields or day trip to Antwerp, Ghent, Bruges and Brussels. It’s ideal for a break with friends, too.
From €675 per night.

Karl Kunger residence

4. The Karl Kunger Residence, Berlin
Another great city and another great city pad: this loft apartment set in a former factory building sleeps up to 4 adults and 1 child and combines a sleek, modern interior with serious comfort. It’s close to a large park for sunny picnics, 10 minutes by S-Bahn from the city centre and near to the famous Badeschiff for yoga and days spent playing in the water.
Price on application.

the agrari2

5. The Agrari Residence, Greece
This stunning family villa with a pool, sleeping up to 14, is set on a hillside in the quiet south of Mykonos overlooking the Aegean Sea and Agrari beach. It’s a heavenly retreat for a family or two, with a main villa plus three separate guest studios. Grab some friends, pack the suncream and bring the kids!
Price on application.

Don’t they all look amazing? I’ll be spending the summer with family in the US, but I’m definitely taking note of these destinations for school holidays in the Autumn. I’m thinking the Heerlijkheid Van Marrem residence in Belgium would be so fun to book for a holiday with friends! Esther, Emilie are you in?!

xx Courtney

Easton’s favourite books (great for ages 6 to 12)

Manfish a story of Jacques Cousteau

Easton (aged 9) has always, since the time he could speak, been obsessed with nature and animals and especially sea life.  One of his first words was ‘dolphin’ and by the time we was three, he knew the names of all the different whales and sharks! As a result, some of his favourite books are ones about the sea.

While he now mostly reads chapter books, both for school reading and for pleasure, I still catch him reading some of his favourite picture books, especially the books about sea creatures and animals.  I thought I would split up his list of favourites into two groups: picture books and chapter books.

Here are some of his favourite picture books:

1. Manfish : This sweet and beautifully illustrated book tells the story of Jacques Cousteau from the time he was a young boy up through his adult life and film-making career.  Easton wants to be a marine biologist when he’s bigger, and I think he really relates to the young boy in this book.

2. Zoo-ology : I have now bought three different copies of this book because it’s one of the most read books in our house (I often find it under the covers in their bed!), and I keep replacing the book due to broken bindings or torn pages. The book features more than 300 animals, each page featuring a different type: feathered, nocturnal, large, small, underground, etc.

the red sea sharks

3. The Red Sea Sharks (The Adventures of Tintin) : Easton loves all the Tintin books, but told me this one is his favourite.

4. Down, Down, Down: A Journey to the Bottom of the Sea : This fact-filled book takes you down from the surface to the very bottom of the sea, showing you all the crazy sea creatures who live in each ‘layer’ of the sea.

5. Maps : I’ve written about this book before here. It is still probably my boys’ current favourite book!

6. Stuck : Another Oliver Jeffers favourite. My boys think it’s hilarious to see all the things that Floyd gets stuck up in the tree in the effort to get his kite down.

7. Small and Tall Tales of Extinct Animals : Easton is fascinated by extinct animals and by the thought that some of the animals on our planet will one day also become extinct. This is another great animal picture book that shows extinct animals and gives a brief description of each.

the terrible thing that happened to barnaby bracket

And here are some of his favourite chapter books:

1. The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket : I haven’t read this book, but Easton told me it’s very funny and it’s about a boy who floats and can’t control his floating, even when he wishes he could be normal and please his parents.

2 & 3. The BFG and James and the Giant Peach : Both by Roald Dahl, both brilliant and imaginative. What I love about the Roald Dahl books is that there is a teensy element of something slightly scary. I remember reading The BFG and The Witches when I was little, and being slightly scared but also totally intrigued.

4. You’re a Bad Man, Mr. Gum! : Again, I haven’t read this or any of the other Mr. Gum books , but Easton really likes them. I think it’s another funny, silly read.

5. The Harry Potter books: My mum reads these to my boys when she comes to visit. So far she’s read the first three books, and they have loved them. Quin (aged 7) can get slightly scared at times, but Easton can’t get enough.

6. Where the Red Fern Grows: I selfishly read this to the boys last summer because I wanted to re-read the story I loved as a child. It was one of my favourites! I will encourage Easton to read it again on his own, because it’s just one of those magical books, and probably best read on a sofa all alone, where tears can fall freely.

7. Tom’s Midnight Garden : I bought this book after receiving several reader recommendations to do so. We’ve only just started reading it, but Easton wanted to include it in his list and I have a strong feeling he won’t regret doing so.

Easton isn’t the most enthusiastic reader, especially when it comes to chapter books without pictures… but we’re getting there. He seems to be especially drawn to simple or silly stories, mostly featuring boys as the main character. If you have other book suggestions to share for this age group, please do so below.

x Courtney

p.s. You can see previous posts in this series here:

Thanks for your comments

What an unexpected and crazy ride this past week has been. I just wanted to thank everyone who has taken the time to leave comments both here and on my Instagram account. I have been overwhelmed by all the support but also by all the thoughtful and intelligent criticism. I wanted to let you know that your comments have really made me evaluate my own actions and beliefs, and I am thankful for a platform where we can discuss and debate parenting issues like this.

There has been a lot of media coverage highlighting both sides of this story, and while I think there are some important issues to be raised, I have also felt pretty exposed and vulnerable. A lot of stories have been very sensationalised, many of them have had incorrect facts, but this story from The Southland Times in New Zealand seemed to raise some interesting points (it is also one of the only papers I submitted quotes to). There is also a column in The Telegraph which, although mostly critical of my decisions, also highlights some interesting points, and for many reasons I enjoyed reading this editorial too.

Thank you again for all of your comments.

Courtney x

Sadness and outrage and gratitude all in one

I’m finding it really difficult to write this post and I think it’s because I have so many emotions swirling around in my head. But before the weekend starts, I wanted to share what’s happened and also wanted to thank you all for your encouraging comments. More than anything it is this overwhelming outpouring of support that has made me so emotional.

courtneyadamo_Instagram feed_screenshot

Yesterday evening my Instagram account was disabled due to ‘violating the community guidelines‘. After a bit of research I discovered that if you receive too many reports of ‘inappropriate’ images, it sends a red flag to the Instagram team and their automated service will disable your account entirely, without warning and without notice. Last week I received five different emails from Instagram to notify me of these reports and to tell me they had removed images from my feed. They don’t tell you which images they’re referring to, and even though I looked back through all my old photos, I was never able to decipher which photos were removed. I figured it must be incorrect — I have never violated any of the rules!  Earlier this week I received another couple emails from Instagram to tell me they had removed more images. And yet, still I could not find any missing images. Again, I thought it must have been an error.

CourtneyAdamo_Instagram photo

On Wednesday evening I posted the above photo of Marlow in her yellow rainboots and her ‘big girl undies’. I wrote about how, despite me trying to delay it, she had decided to be potty trained, and how she had kept her undies dry all day. I thought it was such a sweet photo of my baby girl and her gorgeous, round belly (and outie belly button). And I love that her pride is so evident in the photo – such a sweet and innocent shot of a successful day of potty-training. On Thursday morning the photo was gone from my feed and a another Instagram email was in my inbox. At least this time I knew which photo they had removed.

I went back to re-read the guidelines; I read the entire page twice and was positive that I had not violated any rules. Unless a baby’s belly is considered ‘nudity’…but surely it isn’t! She is a BABY!  It is no different than a photo of a baby wearing a nappy, or a little boy in swim trunks, and to entertain the idea that it is even remotely inappropriate is a disgusting thing in itself. Again, I was sure there was a mistake, so I reposted the photo. And by yesterday evening my account was disabled.

I never, ever, ever would have thought that posting this photo of Marlow would lead to this. Instagram has deleted four years of my family photos and memories: all the photos of our travels, my children’s birthdays, all my notes and comments about my children’s traits and milestones, all the comments from friends and family, the messages I received when Marlow was born, the hashtags I created to help organise my photos, and all the direct messages I shared and received from my siblings and family members whom I rarely see. All of it gone. I am sick just thinking about it.

The most infuriating thing is that there seems to be no recourse for the unilateral decisions Instagram makes to delete accounts. There is no contact information, no email or phone number. It seems that an automated system has deleted my account, and I can’t get a single human being to review the case.  If anyone has any ties to Instagram or knows anyone who can help, I would be hugely grateful if you could get in touch or leave a comment below.

In the meantime, I wanted to say just how much all of your support has meant to me. I have broken down in tears several times today, and not because of my deleted photos but because I have been so surprised by the outpour of support, the kind comments, the Instagram posts and re-posts, the emails I’ve received, and all the help I’ve been offered. More than anything this whole ordeal has confirmed for me how wonderful the IG community can be, and it has made it even more difficult to have been kicked out of it.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

xx Courtney

 

Stylish UV rash vests for girls from Rockley Cove

RockleyCove rashvests
UV rash vest from Rockley Cove
We first picked up on the importance of rash vests five years ago when we took our first family trip to Australia. We landed in sunny Sydney, packed our beach bag and headed for the beautiful sandy beach. When we arrived it was evident to us, and no doubt everyone else, that we were the naive Europeans! Our children were the only kids on the beach not wearing a rash vest, or ‘rashie’ as they’re called in Australia! The sun is so strong there, and because you’re in and out of the water so much, sun creams are only effective to a certain point. We bought the kids their first rash vests on our way home from the beach that first day, and they wore them every day for the rest of our month-long holiday.

While I’ll admit they’re quite useful, and certainly crucial for adequate sun protection in certain parts of the world, the aesthetic part of my brain has always found them to be quite unattractive, often featuring big logos and ugly colours.

Enter Rockley Cove. The Rockley Cove rash vests are both practical and stylish. They’re made from quick-drying UPF 50+ fabric and include a high neckline to protect the neck and back. Handy and quite cute as well. We got them for the girls and they wore them on our recent holiday in Italy. I must say, they were the only kids wearing them on the Italian beaches (people probably thought we were Australian! : )) but it’s a lot easier than slathering sunblock on them every hour! (If only they would design some for boys!)

x Courtney

Nori Goes to Bed

Nori Goes to Bed book
I’m back on a book kick, can you tell?! ; ) I think it has to do with Marlow suddenly becoming a little book worm. I’ve been re-discovering all the toddler books on our shelves and it’s so fun to watch Marlow as she ‘reads’ them for the first time.

Nori Goes to Bed is actually a new-to-us book my friend shared with us recently and it’s become a big favourite. It’s an adorable book about a little cat who’s getting ready for bed with fold-down flaps to reveal the actions on each page.

nori goes to bed book2

nori goes to bed

The book is not an easy one to get your hands on — I found a used copy on Amazon, but if you can get one it’s a great little book for this sweet toddler stage.

x Courtney

Quin’s favourite books (great for ages 4 to 8)

Quin (aged 7) had such a difficult time choosing his favourites! He wanted to choose practically everything on the book shelves, and had a hard time separating the books he loved as a young child from his current favourites now. He ended up narrowing it down… but still chose some of his longtime favourites, hence the wide age range. He has started reading beginner chapter books, and of course we’ve read some to him too, but when I asked him his favourite books he didn’t even think to choose those. I think he still prefers to read picture books if given the choice.

Here is the selection of books he chose:

 

Quin's favourite books

1. Bill and Pete, a funny little book about a crocodile and his bird friend, Pete, (who also happens to be his toothbrush). Quin also likes Bill and Pete Go Down the Nile and Bill and Pete to the Rescue. And I only just realised that this is the same author/illustrator who did Pancakes for Breakfast, which the girls really love.

2. Little Boat , a sweet story about a little boat in a big, wide world of water and adventures. Beautiful illustrations!

3.Derek the Deep-sea Doctor , a book that has remained a favourite for many years. (We love all the books by Leo Timmers .)

4. Amos & Boris , the most heartwarming story of a mouse and a whale (I have reviewed this book before here). We also love Sylvester and the Magic Pebble , also by William Steig – I remember reading it when I was a child!

5. Beware of the Frog . I think this might be Quin’s all-time favourite book. I remember bringing it into his classroom two years ago to read to his class and the entire classroom sat there mesmerised by this book – I even had parents come up to me, asking which book I had read because their children asked if they could get a copy!

6. Puff, the Magic Dragon , which comes with a free CD featuring the famous song by Peter, Paul and Mary. The illustrations are so beautiful, and I love that this is one of Quin’s favourite books because it was one of my favourite songs when I was little and I love singing him the song as we flip through the pages.

Quin's favourite books2

7. The Way Back Home and pretty much every book by Oliver Jeffers  (Quin literally selected them all – I had to force him to pick just one!).

8. Stone Soup by Marcia Brown. There are lots of versions of this story, but this one is my personal favourite and the only one my kids know. A favourite of everyone in the family.

9. Ira Sleeps Over , about a boy and his first sleepover with his nextdoor neighbour. Quin hasn’t had a sleepover yet, and I think this story appeals to him because it addresses the scared and insecure feelings you can have when you finally decide to do it.  (This is another book I remember reading and loving as a child!)

10. The Three Robbers : Quin was scared of this book for a while and then started asking me to read it to him recently (it’s funny how when something is a tad bit scary, it can really appeal to children because of the emotions they feel when they read it).

11. I Want My Hat Back , which is a silly book we all love!

12. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (not pictured), a story about a boy who has a really bad day for several reasons. A great book which really appeals to boys (I remember my little brothers loving this book as well).

Please feel free to share your children’s favourites below. It’s great for me to discover new books, but also handy for other readers too.

x Courtney

Emily Ulmer photography

four kids in tree_small

Our friend and talented photographer, Emily Ulmer, is in town from Los Angeles and came over on Sunday for a little visit and impromptu photoshoot. We walked over to the park and she snapped some photos of my crazy brood running wild and climbing trees. I never would have thoughts she would have gotten good photos of them — Marlow had just woken from a much-too-short nap and was cranky and tired, and the others would not sit still for a single second.

But…. she got some really cute ones!! I think it’s a testament to her photo-taking skills that she managed to get these shots, and I thought I would share some of my favourites with you…

Easton and Quin_small
mama and marlow2_small

mama and marlow_small

marlow_small

Ivy and Marlow_small

three kiddos_small

marlow in tree_small

easton in tree_small

Aren’t they fun?! I love that she managed to get a photo of all of my kids up in a tree!

Emily will be spending the summer in Europe, mostly in London and Paris (but happy to travel for jobs!). If you’re interested in booking her for your own family photoshoot, please email her to make an appointment. I think she takes such beautiful, natural photos.

x Courtney

Perludi furniture: a cot, junior bed & ottoman (all in one)

Perludi Otto crib
Perludi Otto junior bed
Perludi Otto Ottoman
We were given a hand-me-down cot from friends when our first baby was born and it’s the cot we still use for Marlow. I think it must be at least 15 years old now, and it’s one of those cots that is ONLY a cot, and nothing else.  If I were to buy a cot now I would definitely definitely invest in a cot that transforms from cotbed to junior bed. I’ve always thought this is a brilliant, cost-saving feature.

I love the look of the Perludi ‘OTTO in the MOON’ cot because it goes one step further and gives you the added option of flipping the junior bed over and using it as an ottoman/sofa (with storage space for toys or whatever underneath). So clever! I like the sleek, modern design and love that it’s made from organic materials and is 100% recyclable (none of which can be said for the old cot we have!).

The Perludi range is available to purchase from Little Bou and usually ships (for free!) within 7-10 working days.

x Courtney

Simple tomato pasta

tomatoes and basil
chopped tomotoes for pasta
One of my favourite things about summer time is how much easier it is to make dinner! I’m not a very good planner, so in the winter time when you need time to make soups and stews, I often fail to get dinner made on time.  In the summer, with fresh produce on hand, it’s so much easier to make simple, delicious meals.

One of the easiest summer meals we make is a simple pasta with fresh tomatoes and basil. The only actual ‘cooking’ required is to boil the pasta. Other than that, it’s a bit of chopping and that’s it. Here’s what you’ll need:

-fresh, ripe tomatoes (preferably vine ripened)
-fresh basil
-garlic (usually 3-4 cloves, and I like to use fresh garlic this time of year)
-olive oil
-sea salt & pepper
-pasta (spaghetti, linguine or something similar)
-parmesan cheese

tomato pasta

Chop the garlic finely. Sprinkle a bit of salt over the garlic and crush garlic a bit to make it more of a paste (the salt helps to do this). Add garlic to bowl. Chop tomatoes and basil and add to bowl. Add a bit of olive oil and stir tomatoes to create a sauce with the tomatoes, garlic and basil.  Boil pasta and drain. Add fresh tomatoes. Sprinkle with fresh parmesan cheese. Enjoy! (So easy, right?!)

x Courtney

 

Tocotò Vintage at Brebì Little Concept Store

tocoto vintage from brebi


I am absolutely loving the lightweight, summery pieces in the current Tocotò Vintage collection. The colours are all so pretty, and I love all the subtle details. I got this dress for Marlow a while ago, and it has the sweetest criss-cross straps on the back that have little ruffles over the shoulder. Such a darling detail.

Tocotò Vintage is available from Brebì Little Concept Store where you can now get 20% off the Tocotò Vintage collection with discount code: tocoto. The discount is valid until the end of the month. Enjoy!

x Courtney

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