A quick morning make-up solution

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With four children to get ready in the morning for their school and daycare, lunch boxes to prepare, gym bags to collect, my mornings are a bit hectic to say the very least.  Most of the time my husband drops the kids off to school on his way to work (all of them piled up on the bakfiets!), but when I do the school run, there’s not much time (like none) to apply any make-up before we run out the door. Enter Estée Lauder Daywear Sheer Tint Release Moisturiser, a one step morning solution I swear by. If there’s no time for anything else, this cream will make my skin look smoother and more radiant. It works a little like magic — it goes on without colour, but when you apply it the tint and glow will magically appear on your skin! That, and some lip balm, leaves me feeling just that little bit more pulled together. In less than ten seconds.

As always, I’m very curious to find out about great, easy-to-use beauty products that have a nice, natural effect. Please share your favourites?

xxx Esther

Brio labyrinth game, suitable for 6-99 years!

brio labyrinth toyThis labyrinth game by Brio was one of the presents we gave Pim for Christmas and it was such an immediate success. During the courses at our Christmas dinner that evening, the kids were literally fighting over it, together with their grandfather (see photo!). So the fact that Brio markets this toy as suitable ‘for 6 to 99 years’ is really spot on : ).

brio labyrinth game

The classic labyrinth game was introduced in 1946, and it’s all about fine motor skills, reactivity and… patience. The little ball is balanced by turning the two knobs at the side simultaneously to keep it from falling in one of the holes. Different levels can be chosen by inserting a different board.

It all sounds really easy, but it’s much, much harder than you think!

xxx Esther

Pim’s bed, and wonderful Jim Flora wallpaper

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Last weekend, my husband and I did something new for both of us: we wallpapered a wall. We learned a lot about measuring, cutting, and patience, and got to deeply respect the skills of professional wallpaperers. But after hard labour I’m proud to present the results: the wall behind Pim’s bed is covered in gorgeous blue wallpaper! Pim picked this design, featuring original drawings by the late Jim Flora, because he loves music and plays the trumpet. So it’s perfect.

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I love the quirkiness and originality of the wallpaper design, and the dark colour makes his bed really stand out. The bed is made of brass and antique, we found it in France last summer, stuck in a corner somewhere at a ‘Vide Grenier’. The plexiglass Star Wars sign was found on the street when we lived in New York 13 years ago, before we were married and had children. We stored it all this time, until we had sons who would appreciate it in their room! I found the bedside table on the streets here in Amsterdam, and it displays all of Pim’s little treasures. (He is such a hoarder!) The house shelves were an investment I made a few years ago for the old room, and we still love them. The badger rug is from Molly & the Wolf.

xxx Esther

Everyday is a party! Gorgeous leather crowns from hubble + duke.

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My kids had a little party on our bed this weekend (like most weekends), and they were being so cute, wearing their leather crowns from Hubble + Duke, that I just had to take a few photos. And then, I even got them to sit still just long enough for a portrait! Yay!

Hubble + Duke crowns

Hubble + Duke is an Australian company run by three creative mums, offering some gorgeous goodies like soft mocassins, sweet rompers, adorable bloomers, and beautiful handmade apron dresses. And then, of course, there are the before mentioned crowns, which are so beautifully made and so comfortably soft. To be worn for dress up, birthdays, or just any day, because everyday is a party, isn’t it?

xxx Esther

Pretty stamps from PSikhouvanjou

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As a child I always loved stamps, but I remember them as something that belonged to teachers, not really to children. These days, I’m free to play around with stamps as much as I want to and I’m loving it. My inner child released!

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These pretty stamps are from PSikhouvanjou, and designed by talented designers Ingela P Arrhenius and Andrea Maasen. They’re darling to use to create gift wrap, cards, tags, or just about anything that requires a special detail.

xxx Esther

A healthy and yummy start of the year, with brown rice and lentils

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This recipe has it all: it’s made from ingredients you can probably find in your pantry. Also, it’s super healthy, it’s extremely yummy (my kids love it!), and it’s super easy to make (albeit not extremely quick, unfortunately). I made this for Courtney & co when they visited us in Amsterdam last month, and she has practically been begging me for the recipe ever since. Instead, I just bought her the cookbook (Gwyneth Paltrow’s ‘It’s All Good ‘) but I thought I’d post the recipe here nevertheless, as it’s the perfect meal to start the new year healthily!

Here are the ingredients:

  • 1 cup of brown rice
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 4 cardamom pods, crushed
  • A cinnamon stick
  • 1/3 cup Puy green lentils
  • 2 yellow onions
  • olive oil, sea salt

Heat about 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet — add rice and spices and gently cook until the rice grains turn opaque, about 3 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and about 1 ¾ cups of water or vegetable stock. Turn heat low and let cook for about 45 minutes. Check regularly if you need to add more water! (You can also use quinoa, in that case, let cook for 20 minutes. I prefer the rice version though!)

In the meantime, cook the lentils in salted water for around 25 minutes. Drain and set aside. Peel the onion and slice thinly. Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring now and then, until totally soft and caramelised. This takes a good half hour. Set the onions aside as well.

When rice has cooked, turn off the heat and let mixture sit for 10 minutes. Uncover, fluff with fork and fold in the lentils and onions.

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I like to prepare a spicy vegetable / tomato dish along the side (this is where Gwyneth is loosing me — she doesn’t eat tomatoes!), for which I generally use:

  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 chilli pepper (or according to taste)
  • 5 small carrots, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 1/2 courgette, diced
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 1/2 yellow pepper, diced
  • 4 to 5 ripe fresh tomatoes, or one can of good plum tomatoes
  • (feel free to add aubergine, mushrooms, beans, leek, fennel, cabbage, etc etc)

Just sauté the onion, and chilli pepper and start adding the veggies one by one. Add the tin of tomatoes, bring to a boil and let simmer for around 20, 25 minutes. Add Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Bon appetite!

xxx Esther

PS The recipe for the kosheri is taken from Gwyneth Paltrow‘s book It’s All Good, a book I recommend! It’s available through Amazon (UK  or US ).

Super soft muslin swaddles from Bertie’s Blankets

Berties Blankets SwaddlesBertie’s Blankets are XL muslin swaddles, made by new mum Gemma Walker who decided big, soft swaddle blankets was what she wanted to make for her son Bertie — and for everyone else. Made from a special woven mix of cotton and bamboo rayon, Bertie’s Blankets are really incredibly soft. Not only that, they are also incredibly royal in size — so big, that I can still use them for Casper, and actually for Ava as well!

Bertie’s Blankets contain 30% cotton, and 70% rayon from natural bamboo fibres. Bamboo fibres are similar to those of cotton, but with many more advantages: thermal regulating (bamboo has amazing ability to regulate the body temperature), extremely absorbent (pulls moisture away from the skin), lightweight (open weave allows air to flow freely), quick to dry, naturally anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, and anti-static. Also, the blankets have less lint and a smoother weave, making them extremely soft and super comfortable — even for babies with delicate skin and for those with eczema.

Berties Blankets Swaddle

I think they make the perfect baby present — they come in a pretty gift box, with swaddle instructions inside and other suggestions for use as well — like as a towel, a nursing cover, a blanket, a sun shade… And when baby grows they will still be so useful (I love the suggestion of using them as a turban for mum’s wet hair)! They’re easy to wash, quick to dry, and will get even softer over time — to be used over and over and over again.

xxx Esther

Happy New Year! (And let’s get organised!)

babyccino kids weekly planner final web KopieHappy New Year everyone! Here’s to a splendid, happy and healthy 2015 for all of you! Only a few more days of vacation for us, and then, on Monday, the children will be back in school and we will be back behind our computers — and behind tons of laundry to catch up with, fridges to clean and fill, birthdays to prepare, dentist appointments to make, etc. etc. This year though, we’re going to be so organised, because together with the talented Sara Betz from Litte Cube, we designed a super cute weekly planner which will help you to organise everything! We’re so excited by this, and we can’t wait to start using it on Monday.

You can just download the PDF here, and print to use. Happy New Year!

xxx the Babyccino Kids team

This month’s fabulous give-aways!

win_decEvery month we run amazing give-aways on our shopping portal, and now is this year’s last chance to win fabulous prizes! Here’s what we have lined up for you this month:

  • We have £100 of sweet girls-wear from Ses Petites Mains to give away — timeless designs created in San Francisco, for girls aged 12 months to 14 years!
  • Dutch label Koeka are offering one winner the super functional and sweet Oslo Sleeping Bag AND Florence Maxi Cosi Cover, both in the popular waffle fabric. The winner can have their choice of colour for this set worth £100!
  • Pepa & Co offer elegant, contemporary and handmade Spanish clothing brands for babies and children aged 0-6. These are pieces you won’t find on the high street. One lucky winner may choose the perfect holiday outfit to the value of £100 for your baby, girl or boy!
  • Kallio take vintage shirts and gives them a new lease on life by turning them into unique and timeless styles for children. Each piece is exquisitely re-crafted by hand in Brooklyn, NY and in limited quantities. You can now win $160 worth of unique, stylish clothing!

You can enter for all of the give-aways here; good luck!!

A Berlin Christmas market

ChristmasMarket_Star ChristmasMarket_Smoked_Salomon ChristmasMarket_Candy ChristmasMarket_Nutcracker ChristmasMarket_Roasted_Almonds ChristmasMarket_Angels ChristmasMarket_WoodWorks ChristmasMarket_Toasted_Almonds2 ChristmasMarket_NativitySceneOur new Amsterdam team-member Nina just sent me some photos of her visit to the Christmas markets in Berlin, and I just had to share them with you here! I’ve never been to a German Christmas market, but now that I saw these photos I just know we’ll have to go next year. Aren’t they just amazing? Such an atmosphere, and I love the artisanal products, and the old-fashioned candy and nuts and traditional smoked fish. Thanks Nina, for sharing!

xxx Esther

A Bag Full of Goodness, and hearty soups

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It’s the last day of school for the children here in Amsterdam before the holidays! I just took them there, it was still dark, and so stormy and cold and wet. In two days it will be the shortest day of the year here in the Northern hemispheres, and then, we’ll be counting down again to warmth and light.

This Bag Full of Goodness will be transformed in hearty and warm soups over the weekend, and will keep us healthy and happy! I really desire soups this time of year, and I’m always on the lookout for new, delicious recipes. Here are some soup recipes we’ve posted over the years and that have become family favourites, but I would love to get your suggestions for your favourite recipes, so please share!

  • My minestrone — full of veggies, one of my favourite soups and super healthy.
  • Pumpkin soup — my favourite pumpkin soup, the recipe comes from Courtney’s grandmother.
  • Turkish Bulgur and Red Lentil Soup — a recipe from The Guardian, delicious and healthy and I can always find the ingredients in my pantry.
  • Simple Tomato Soup — again, from the cupboard. Great for lunch, or for an easy dinner with good bread or a toasted cheese sandwich.
  • Celeriac Soup — this soup is delicious and healthy and perfect for a cold winter day. And so easy to make!

xxx Esther

PS That perfect Bag Full of Goodness is from Children of the Tribe, a cool Australian based lifestyle shop.

l’Asticot waterproof coats

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I’ve been looking for a winter coat for Pim, and it’s not the easiest job. Plenty of cool choices around, sure… but I do have a little list of requirements.

Children here in the Netherlands are often exposed to rain — not only because of our wet climate, but also because (despite that wet climate) the Dutch like to cycle a lot. So when I’m looking for winter coats, I look for waterproof coats. Other characteristics I look for in the winter coats for my kids are: a simple silhouette, a neutral colour (so it can be passed down to siblings), warmth (obviously, but without being overly thick or puffy so it doesn’t restrict children in their movements), natural materials, and practicality. Also, the coat needs to be strong and durable (I bought a new winter coat for Pim last year and it’s full of holes already!), and, well, it has to have a certain ‘cool’ to it — of course!

Casper has already been wearing the above l’Asticot waterproof winter coat for a few weeks, and I really love it. It meets the above characteristics easily: it’s made of 100% organic materials, it’s warm (lined with organic polar fleece, and with a longer back, warm cuffs and high collar and hood), it’s not puffy, it’s machine washable, it’s durable, and it’s cool, with the contrasting stitching and lining. So… I actually just ordered Pim the exact same coat!

Now, I’m not saying it can now start raining (or snowing) here in Amsterdam, but if it does, the boys are ready for it!

xxx Esther

Wool and the Gang, cool knitting kits

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I’ve been feeling so much like knitting lately, so the Wool and the Gang kit I ordered came right in time! I’m going to be knitting the Mini Tartan Hula Hoop for Sara, and if I hurry a little I might just be able to finish it before Christmas.

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Do you know Wool and the Gang? It’s a super hip company, providing über cool knitting kits with everything one might need for one project — wool, needles, the pattern, and very easy-to-follow instructions. (If you love the Wool and the Gang designs but are not so into knitting, you can also purchase a ready-made piece, knit with love by one of the ‘Gangstas’, a global-wide team of knitters.)

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I love their branding, the quality of their materials, and their belief in handmade and sustainable fashion. Knitting their projects is so fun!

In spring, I made the Sailor Jumper (modeled by Pim below, after a rough and dirty game of football!) and I love how easy it was to knit that jumper and how nice it turned out when it was finished.

pim_WATGThe Wool and the Gang knitting kits make really great presents too — everything comes wrapped in a cool paper bag, and anyone who has an interest in knitting (even if they’ve never knit before!) I’m sure would love to receive a kit like this.

xxx Esther

Cosy house suits for my boys from Shampoodle

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It’s getting so chilly here in Amsterdam… It’s been warmer than usual for this time of year, but this weekend it was definitely time to get all of the woollens out of the storage boxes. Our house has big steel windows — very cool (but also very literally so)!

Speaking of staying warm… I recently ordered our boys each a Shampoodle ‘Home’ suit — a sweater and pants made of warm, organic knit cotton to keep them cosy and warm in the winter months. And they’ve been living in them! I have a lot of trouble convincing them to take them off for a wash. (My husband wondered if I could order him such a suit as well. A lot of the Shampoodle styles come in adult sizes, but sadly not these Home suits… I would have, otherwise!)

Shampoodle is a socially aware Swedish brand known for their comfortable clothes which are equally perfect for boys or girls, young and old. The clothes are are designed for an urban life style and are perfect for playing, inside or out.

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And of course… I couldn’t resist ordering this adorable teal coloured friendly Ghost romper for Casper — that was a given, right?? ; )

xxx Esther

 

Casper, potty training (and a sweet onesie from Piupia)

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Unlike his girlfriend Marlow, who basically potty trained herself when she was 1 ½ year old, Casper isn’t into the potty thing at all. When his daycare decided a few weeks ago that now that he’s 2, the time is ripe for him to be potty trained, I agreed to give it a go. We’ve potty trained all of our children between the age of 2 and 2 ½ so it sounded like the natural thing to do. But he clearly wasn’t ready — he hated the idea and didn’t like the potty at all! So we decided to try again in a little while…

Advantage of it all, is that I can dress my ‘baby’ in bodysuits just a little bit longer. I just love those skinny little boy’s legs sticking out of those nappy filled onesies!

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Piupia_4Here are a few photos that I took of Casper wearing his fox body from Piupia. Super soft and cosy, and made entirely out of certified organic cotton. And here’s a photo of Casper in a Piupia onesie a year ago. Sigh — what’s the deal with our babies growing up so quickly?

xxx Esther

More snaps from The ShopUp

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‘The day after’ has never felt so good! What a fabulous event it was… The ShopUp 2014 was buzzing, fun and wonderful and we’re still feeling the warmth of the amazing atmosphere of everyone and everything there. What an amazing selection of beautiful products and what a heartening gathering of inspirational people it was!

The ShopUp

We’ll be back with more photos later, but couldn’t wait to share these collages from some of our Instagram snapshots now. I think they do reflect the atmosphere of the event so well!

xxx Esther

 

Pim, in ABC123me

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When we were visiting Maud Fontein in her studio a few weeks ago, she took a few photos of Pim and I just love the way they turned out. They really show Pim the way he is — sweet, funny, and so at ease with himself. Also, I see a glimpse of a bigger Pim in there (and he’s a cutie)!

The cool corduroy jacket and trousers he is wearing is totally up his alley — he loves to wear things like that. Both are available from the new boys clothing brand ABC123me, which still offers a small but promising collection of high quality, easy-to-wear clothing. (Pim’s shoes are from Dutch shoe brand De Vries.)

xxx Esther

LileSADi, cool products with attitude

LileSadi_2 Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 15.25.46I recently discover Lile SADi, a Dutch (Rotterdam based) label with super cool and contemporary products. Founded by Dinah and Sarah a few years ago, Lile SADi’s collections cover graphic wallpapers and prints and wonderful kitchen and home accessories.  All products are manufactured here in Europe to keep craftsmanship and individuality alive.

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Dinah and Sarah recently came out with a children’s collection and I so like all of the wonderful patterns and prints! So pretty and detailed and fun, and still so in style with their other work. How cute are those rabbit leggings? (Ava loves them!!)

xxx Esther

 

Wonderful Weinreich wines (and a free taster at the ShopUp)

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My friend Nina (who I’ve only met quite recently but feel I’ve known forever) is not only one of the coolest and sweetest people I know, she also has an amazing occupation: together with the family of her husband Marc (whose last name, very suitable, is ‘Weinreich’ — ‘rich with wine’) she runs a vineyard in the Bechtheim region in Germany.

The Weinreich vineyards are located in the Wonnegau district of the Rheinhessen wine region, the largest German wine region located on the left bank of the river Rhine. Using the traditional methods already used by Marc’s grandfather, and respecting the natural conditions of the local soil and vineyard, the Weinreich family creates powerful Rieslings, Silvaner and Burgunder wines (without additives).

The Weinreich wines are really very very beautiful in their character, strong, individual, and full in their taste. I’m not at all an expert, but I love a good glass of wine and the Weinreich wines truly are amongst my favourites.

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Nina and Marc have two little boys, Henri and Toni, and they live a fairytale life surrounded by beautiful nature, the vineyards, and with super cool tractors to play with all day long. We visited our friends earlier this year and our kids loved it there so very much. We hope to be able to go back soon!

Sooo… If you would like to have a taster of these beautiful wines and fall in love with them like I did, then do come to the ShopUp tomorrow evening where we’ll be serving a complimentary glass of Weinreich Riesling Brut (festive bubbly bubbles!) to each visitor. Oh, and to compliment that glass of bubbles… we will also serve yummy macarons from La Dinette and cool crunchy cookies from Bee’s Bakery. Another fantastic reason to come to the King’s Road tomorrow, isn’t it? Hope to see you there!

xxx Esther

 

Last minute advent activity calendar

adventTomorrow is the start of advent — only 25 days to go ’til Christmas! We do have an advent tradition in our family — my mum always had an advent wreath on the table with 4 candles in a circle, and one candle was lit on every Sunday in the weeks leading up to Christmas, and then a fifth candle in the centre was lit on Christmas day. But we’re not accustomed to the advent calendar, the countdown calendar with 24 pockets filled with little presents or candy, counting down to Christmas day. I think this might have to do with Sinterklaas, who’s in the country till the 5th, overlapping the first days of advent and overdoing, possibly, the idea of giving.

Where I love the idea of getting ready for Christmas, slowing down and focussing on togetherness and goodness, I don’t really want to overflow our children with goodies after the feasts of St. Maarten (candy) and St. Nicolas (candy and presents). But I want them to experience extra warmth, fun, and also to comprehend the fact that they have a lucky position in the world.

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Yesterday I spent some time working on a super last-minute advent calendar without gifts, but with ideas for fun, sweet, and genuine activities to make the weeks before Christmas extra special. I printed everything on grey card stock paper, folded and closed them with round sticky dots on which I rubbed transfer numbers beforehand. It’s nothing super fancy or special at all, but the simplicity reflects what I would like our advent to be!

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Maybe you would like to play along? I’ve made the file I used into an advent activity calendar PDF. There are 29 activities, so you can choose the ones you like best. Just download, print, cut and fold, put a number on them and hang on the wall.

Enjoy, and happy first day of advent for tomorrow!

xxx Esther

 

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