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

 

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

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!

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

 

Unusual Creatures, a fascinating book

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Unusual Creatures  is a super cool book, written by Michael Hearst and published by Chronicle Kids. It carries the intriguing subtitle ‘A Mostly Accurate Account of Some of Earth’s Strangest Animals’, which is totally applicable because the fifty amazingly special animals which are described in the book are truly fascinating!

Did you know that the Humpback Anglerfish, which lives in the dark and cold ocean deeps, carries luminescent lanterns on his head to attract their prey (which they then devour with their long and sharp teeth)? Or have you heard of the Giant Gippsland Earthworm, which averages one meter (3 feet) in length but has been found as long as 6,5 meters (22 feet)!!! A worm! The Tardigrade on the other hand is tiny; it’s a microscopic animal which lives in water all over the planet and is considered one of the world’s toughest animals. It can survive 1000 times more radiation than any other animal as well as temperatures of over 150ºC (300ºF) and under -240ºC (400ºF). It even survived a 10 day trip in outer space, without spacesuit of course — in which it even managed to lay eggs!

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If you love trivial facts like these as much as we do (Pim is especially captivated by this book!), then this book is for you. Oh, and the Unusual Creatures website is also very cool. Have a look!

The book is available through Amazon UK  and US .

xxx Esther

Pillow stamping at the Snor Festival & Yvestown Fair this weekend!

pillow2I’ve known the fabulous Yvonne from Yvestown for a few years now and I just love everything she does. Her wonderful blog, her beautiful book, and her inspiring Yvestown Fair. Together with the wonderful girls from Snor Publishers (remember these cool activity books I blogged about), they’re organising a fun event this Sunday, and when they invited Babyccino Kids to join, of course we said yes!

pillow3 pillow4 Processed with VSCOcam with p5 presetI will be there, offering the opportunity to stamp pillow cases like these ones I made with my kids. Such a fun activity (and I love the results!!).

Snor_festivalI really hope to see you there if you have the opportunity to come? I have a limited amount of pillowcases with me, so if you want me to reserve a pillow-stamping-placement for you, just send me an email and I will save you one!

xxx Esther

 

In løv with this tea!

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When I was in Paris a while back I noticed this supercool shop in Le Marais, filled with beautiful candy-coloured tins filled with… tea! Løv Organic is a French tea brand, and offers beautiful tins filled with amazing tea blends, all certified organic.

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I’ve gotten so into this tea lately – the flavours are so exquisite and it’s just such a pleasure to go through the tea making ritual with such a beautiful product.

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We love the Apple Cinnamon Fruit Tea, the Vanilla Rooibos, the Løvely Night, and the Wild Berry Fruit Tea. The great thing about these teas is that they are tannin-free, so my kids can enjoy them safely — they really love drinking tea! Plus — these teas make wonderful iced tea too. Perfect for this time of year, when some days are cold and some days are hot!

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So, now back to work with a nice cup of Spicy Citrus Fruit Tea… : )

xxx Esther

This post was kindly sponsored by Løv Tea, a brand we have always loved and respected.

Cool 10 IS shoes

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My Little Square teamed up with cool shoe brand 10 IS and is offering these exclusive, limited edition (and super stylish!) velour shoes, printed with a patchwork of old persian rugs. I got a pair for Sara and she loves them!! Handy detail is that they open with a little zipper at the side of the shoe, so need to tie up all the laces every time. Snatch these great shoes up while you still can — they’re only going to be available for another two weeks, exclusively at My Little Square!

xxx Esther

Glasses for Sara!

sara_glassesWith two very nearsighted parents, it doesn’t come as a surprise that Sara started to complain about not being able to read the letters on the digiboard very well from the back of the classroom. So I took her to an optometrist, and sure thing: he measured a 1.25 nearsightedness.

I remember very well, that when I was about 10 years old, I had so much trouble reading the blackboard and the subtitles on the television that my mum scheduled an appointment with the schoolnurse for me. Admittedly, the whole aspect of having to wear glasses was appalling to me at the time — gosh, how I disliked that poor schoolnurse when she told me that I very much needed a pair of glasses. Glasses were definitely not as cool then as they are nowadays!

Thankfully, glasses are considered to be very fashionable and stylish these days and Sara was beyond excited when she was told she could pick out a pair. So we got her this darling purple beauty, which I think look so, so good on her. (But which also make her look so, so much more grown-up!)

When we picked up her glasses from the store last week and she put them on her nose for the very first time, she experienced that feeling that I remember so very well – the revelation! So much light, colour and detail to be seen! To be able to read the street signs! The pavement looks so much bigger! A whole new world! So sweet. Next day, she was so proud to show her glasses to her class, her teachers and her girlfriends. And I’m so very proud of her!

xxx Esther

The Dopper bottle

SONY DSCIn the Netherlands, schools don’t provide a cooked lunch so my children leave the house every day with a backpack with a packed lunch and a bottle of water. Recently, Sara has been complaining about her current water bottle making funny sounds when she drinks, so I’ve been on the lookout for a replacement. And I found it! The Dopper is a Dutch design water bottle, with an ingenious 2-in-1 function of bottle and cup: the cap becomes a cup when you turm it upside down.

The design and idea of the Dopper stems from the growing frustration of the founder of Dopper, Merijn Everaarts, with the enormous amounts of plastic waste (the ‘plastic soup’, floating in the ocean). Merijn organised a design competition and the clever idea of Rinke van Remortel was the rightful winner. The Dopper is produced following the principles of the Cradle to Cradle philosophy and consists of no harmful substances. It can easily be cleaned, and is dishwasher safe.

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Also – 10% of Dopper sales goes to the Dopper Foundation, which invests half of its proceeds in water projects in Nepal and the other half goes to water and plastic waste education projects.

An admirable bottle, don’t you think?

xxx Esther

Petit Bateau Rain Cape

PetitBateau_raincapeOh my, how adorable is this little Petit Bateau rain cape? And so practical for the coming months! We are a huge fan of the well known yellow rain coats (we have them for all of our kids!), and this new rain coat is just the perfect translation of this classic for any sweet little baby. (Do you think Casper would still fit in?)

xxx Esther

A market in France

market_viewWhen we stay in our house in France, we always make sure to make the trip to the local market which takes place in Maurs, every Thursday morning. The ride by itself is worth it — the beautiful hills with the fog still hanging over the valleys…

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The market is a ‘farmers market’ in the true sense of the word — there still are farmers who will come to town, display their wares on the grounds in front of the medieval church and sell their beautiful products like eggs, vegetables, flowers and tools made from wicker or carved out of wood.

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market_avaProduce are fresh and abundant, and local. We love all the different cheeses and sausages, the artisanal bread, the wonderful fruit and vegetables… There’s even a woman with a giant water bucket full of trouts — she will catch the one of your liking and, uhm, clean it on the spot (the kids find this especially intriguing)!

market_garlicAnd every summer, I stock up on purple garlic that lasts almost a full year!

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market_fountainThe market is very much a social affair as well — people come to town to buy fresh produce, but also meet up with friends and family in one of the cafés (and drink café au lait of course).

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market_mandelaMarket day is a busy cay, because back home, we have a great lunch, a productive afternoon… and a delicious dinner! ; ) Ah, summer holidays — I can’t wait until next year!

xxx Esther

PS Yummy Puy lentil salad

The Sticker Club

sticker_clubSara and Pim are really into ‘clubs’ recently. They have a Club with their neighbour friends, in which (according to the minutes of their last meeting) they set out to ‘make loom bands’, ‘find insects’, ‘write letters’ and ‘build huts’. They also have clubs with their class mates, varying from the ‘Lunchtime Break Football Club’ to the ‘We Love Nature Club’. So cute!

I guess all kids love clubs. There’s something so magically exciting about it! I remember that as a child, I was a member of all sorts of clubs — some of them were so secret I hid the club paperwork underneath the carpet in my room!

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Tapping into the Kids love Clubs idea, The Sticker Club is a new business idea launched by two creative dads who share 5 kids between them. The concept is simple — upon joining The Sticker Club, your child will receive a really cool looking parcel, addressed to them personally, on the doorstop each week, retaining 9 different sticker sheets designed by different up-and-coming, hip designers. Pim has been a member for a few weeks now, and he LOVES receiving his stickers every week!

The sheets are made from high-quality paper with non-toxic inks and non-marking glue, and are really happy and fun. You can subscribe to the club here — there are also some gift options available which is a super good idea!

xxx Esther

 

PS The secret ‘White Lion Club‘ for Pim’s 7th birthday party, and a chain letter Sticker Club.

New Hatch collection online!

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Every season here at Babyccino Kids we’re eager to see the new Hatch collection — just because we know it will be stylish, trendy, and oh so comfortable. I’ve first gotten to know Hatch when I was pregnant with Casper, and I’ve kept all their pieces after his birth and am still wearing them to this day. In fact, I even got some new pieces this spring (and I’m not pregnant nor planning to be!). I just love the relaxed style and fit of the collection – pregnant or not.
hatchAW14_2Anyway, just thought to share some of my favourites from the new collection. Like the 100% wool, collarless Hudson Shirt in plaid above. Adorable! (And BTW — I want those glasses!) And that perfectly little black Mercer Dress, so versatile. Great for during the day, but easy to dress up as evening wear as well.

hatch4 hatch5 hatch6How cute is this plaid Pull-Over? Just by itself or paired with that gorgeous long Ultimate Cardigan? And I love the denim leggings — such a handy staple in every (pregnant) girl’s wardrobe. (Oh, and that black Blazer is one of the Hatch items I actually have in my closet…)

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This gorgeous oversized Waffle Turtleneck jumper is one of my favourites! And how cool does it look paired with the Tuxedo Legging?

hatchAW14_3 hatchAW_1OK, last but not least: coats! The short Montagne is such an easy and handy throw-on and would be perfect on the bike here in Amsterdam. But the sculptural shape of the Topper Coat really appeals to me as well…

There are many more cute styles to be found on the Hatch website. So very tempting!

xxx Esther

A bit about our house in the Cantal, France

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cantal_mapEvery summer, we spend a few weeks in our family house in the Cantal, in France. The Cantal is an agrarian region located in the Auvergne, in the south-centre of France, with mountains, meandering rivers and the most picturesque little villages imaginable. It’s such a beautiful part of the world, and I thought it would be nice to give you a little tour of the neighbourhood! ; )

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house1Our house was built as a farm in 1789.  Inside, there was only one room with an enormous fireplace, where people used to cook and to keep warm in the harsh winters. The walls are super thick to protect against the heat in summer and the freezing cold in winter. Underneath the house, half in the rocks, were cellars that housed some smaller animals. Later, other buildings were built on the premises, enclosing the back of the house and forming a sweet little courtyard. My parents have lovingly restored and renovated the house, adding rooms in the attic and a modern bathroom. It’s such a unique and special place, with many memories for many people. (My mum passed away here 6 years ago, I wrote about it here, here and here.)

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cantal_spiderThe Sécadou is a little annex which used to have an open gable, allowing the wind to pass through and drying the chestnuts inside. Now, it is converted in a darling guesthouse. The horses and cows pass right by! Inside, those big beauties can sometimes be found. (They freak me out!!!)

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And this is the little playhouse that my dad made from an old cigar crate when Sara was little. All the kids love it! Plus, all the hostas in old copper pots (so the snails can’t get to them!).

cantal_tadpolesCatching tadpoles from the trough…

cantal_letterboxThe letter box. No joke!

cantal_atelierMy dad would get terribly bored if he wasn’t building something. So he’s converting the old bread oven into a new guesthouse/atelier.

cantal_chateauThis is the local chateau. It was built in the 12th century, and was inhabited until a few years ago. Sadly the roof of one of the big barns has recently collapsed… I’ve heard the community will start raising money to restore the buildings (which will be a huge effort given the fact that the village population counts only 194)!

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cantal)madeleinesA trip to the local bakery is mandatory every morning. Don’t you love the tiles, and the paper bag? (And children with a madeleine in their hands in the morning, are happy children!)

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cantal_treasuresGoing to ‘Vide Greniers’ (a kind of car-boot, or garage sales) are one of our favourite pass times over the weekends. Sometimes they are in stunning locations! And of course, I have ‘scored’ some treasures (amongst which a solid brass bed for Pim!). The children were getting into it as well, especially with the money they made selling loom bands, and the crochet purses I made for them — Ava bought a sweet doll, Pim bought Asterix and Obelix figurines and Sara bought more loom bands (smart girl).

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market_avaThe Cantal is known for its fabulous cheeses. There’s the famous Cantal, of course, the Salers, Fourme d’Ambert, Blue d’Auvergne, and (my favourite!) Saint-Nectaire. There are wonderful sausages and other local delicacies as well. We surely gain a few kilos each summer! (I’ll post more about the local market soon.)

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riverwalk4The nature around the house is stunning, and one of the activities we love undertaking is going for adventurous ‘river walks’. We descend to the brook in the vally, and walk upstream through the water — climbing waterfalls and all!

cantal_canoeWe took Sara and Pim for an 11 kilometer canoe trip on the river Lot and it was amazing.

cantal_colombierWe made a little trip to Château du Colombier, over 900 years old and in the same family for over 30 generations. There’s a park with a few wild animals like wolves, lions and brown bears. Pretty!

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cantal_conquesBeautiful towns and sights in the area include Aurillac, Rodez and Conques. But really, every little village is worth visiting, and just driving around the countryside is a spectacle by itself. (I also like going to Laguiole for knives, and the Potterie du Don for their beautiful plain oven dishes.)



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cantal_house8That’s it! I do hope you liked my little tour. If you’re ever thinking about visiting this part of France (it’s SO worth it!) and would like some tips, just let me know. I’m happy to help!

xxx Esther

This boy, and balls!

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Pim’s football (soccer) season has started and yesterday we went to the first training of the term. Pim really enjoys his weekly football, and Tamar and I always joke that he is a real team player, but certainly not a champ. Meaning, he loves to be in the company of his friends, chit-chatting with the boys and having a good time – and if in the meantime a ball happens to roll in front of his feet, he will happily give it a kick! Perfectly fine, of course. But now enter his baby brother Casper… This little boy is simply obsessed with balls. I took him to Pim’s training yesterday and he had the time of his life. He kept on running around for the full hour, kicking a ball behind the side lines (where I had trouble restraining him because this boy was ready to enter the fields!).

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Fact is, Casper has been completely ball obsessed since he could even grab the concept of a ball. Crawling after them, wanting them. One of his first words was ‘ball’, and he would spot them everywhere. And get rather upset when we didn’t give them to him! For example the relatively large globe on top of the cabinet in the kids’ room — he would be SO angry with me that I didn’t give hime that ball! We have also seen him kick a fancy, decorative solid wooden ball over the floor of a restaurant… (Oops!)

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We are convinced that his love for football was the trigger that made hime take his first steps. Before that, Caspie would crawl to a ball, stand up, and kick, but now he could get to the ball much quicker! And… he mastered some technique since. Of course I’m biased, but really, he does have technique – he can kick the ball really quite far and with an admirable aim!

It’s funny, because neither Tamar nor I ever had any real interest in football (until now, of course); we also don’t have a specific talent for ball-handling or anything. So we don’t know where it’s coming from, it was certainly not purposely encouraged, but it’s there nevertheless. A ball obsessed boy. Isn’t that funny? Sweet babe!

xxx Esther

 

To win this month!

We again have a few fabulous prizes to win this month! Did you enter yet?

thecarouselshopWe have The Carousel Show, the magic playground of every child’s imagination, where you will find everything and anything to turn your party into an effortless spectacular event. The Carousel Show are offering one lucky winner £100 worth of party supplies for a theme of their choice, plus they will work with the winner, getting everything together for a wonderful event. How perfect! Click here to enter!

Titou and Lili Babyccino win picThen there is Titou & Lili, the darling children’s lifestyle brand inspired by a Parisian pre-1950’s aesthetic. The beautiful illustrations, hand painted with eco-friendly water based paints, are featuring Titou, his sister Lili and their animal friends, and are so stylish and sweet. This month, Titou & Lili are offering one 12″ square wall artwork or one 4 piece wall art set, worth £120! Enter here!

babychinnocompetitionAnd then we have Scout & Co, the one-stop shop offering handpicked, design-led products that are selected with quality, longevity, and ethical production in mind. Plus, the playful design will definitely bring a smile to your face! Scout & Co is offering one lucky winner a £100 gift voucher to spend in their gorgeous shop. There is so much to choose from! Enter now!

Good luck!!

 

Back to school!

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetCan you imagine? My little Ava, who was born only yesterday, started school today! Sara and Pim are also in new classes (Sara is at the top level of the school already! Two stairs to climb!). It was pretty crazy this morning, preparing thee lunch boxes and having to bring three children to their new classes, but everything went well and Ava was a star. When I picked her up at the end of the day, her teacher told me she was ‘a natural scholar’. Funny girl! (Maybe she’ll be a professor one day!)

TopTenWith ‘Back to School’ on our minds, this week’s Top Ten is filled with a selection of 10 cute products which will make every (first) school day super fun. When are your children beginning school? It feels like we are the first ones to start!

xxx Esther

PS Ava’s cute ‘Doggy Bag‘ is from Nogaravin, and her dress from Kallio.

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