Tarte à la tomate et à la moutarde

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I recently got back in touch with a friend who I lost sight of for a few years, and in the meantime she divorced her Dutch husband and married a lovely French man, moved to another part of town, and is pregnant with their first (her second) baby. Things can change! Anyway, the reason I’m telling you this is that when we went over to their lovely house for lunch last week, we were served a ‘Tarte à la Tomato et à la Moutarde’, an utterly delicious quiche made with only 4 ingredients: puff pastry, mustard, tomatoes, and herbs. Apparently every self-respecting French housewife knows how to make this tarte, and takes pride in perfecting it to the sublime. Funny I had never heard of it before!

Tarte à la tomate et à la moutarde

Yesterday I was preparing a picnic with my girls, and we decided to try to make the Tarte à la tomato et à la moutarde — and it was indeed so super simple to make and just as delicious as the week before. Here’s the how-to:

  • Puff pastry
  • Mustard (Maille original works great)
  • About 5 ripe tomatoes
  • Herbs Provençal (a mixture of dried thyme, oregano, basil, sage, rosemary, and savory)

Cover a greased quiche bottom with puff pastry and pre-bake about 10 minutes on 175ºC (450ºF). In the meantime, slice your tomatoes thinly. Take crust out of oven and cover royally with mustard (they say you shouldn’t see the puff pastry anymore but I used a bit less, about 2 to 3 tablespoons). Layer the tomatoes over the mustard and sprinkle the herbs on top, together with a bit of sea salt and a sprinkle of olive oil.  Bake in oven for 45 minutes (cover with aluminium foil halfway).

Bon appétit!

xxx Esther

Floatsuits and sibling swimwear from Sunuva

I’m a big fan of the so called ‘floatsuits‘ for my littlest ones. Not only are they super cute to look at, but also, they have a built in buoyancy system which gives children a feeling of added security in the water. They are nearly impossible to take off by little ones themselves (at least, my kids are not able to do so), so if they wear them in and around the pool, it gives me an added feeling of security, too. (Of course, I still keep my eyes on them at all times!)

Sunuva does a sweet range of floatsuits, and as a bonus, they do matching siblings wear as well. Which I think is such a cute idea! When I got Casper a float suit for the summer, I couldn’t resist getting matching swim shorts for his big brother…

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Last week I took Casper and Pim over to the swimming pool for a special brothers’ outing, and to test out their new matching Sunuva swimwear. At first, Casper wasn’t so sure about the whole thing. (But I thought he looked SO adorable in his floatie suit! I could eat him up!)

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Pim, being the very sweet big brother he is, quickly made Casper feel more secure and convinced him to come in the pool with him…

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The moment Casper figured out that a swimming pool really is just a very big bath in which you can splish and splash unlimitedly, he started to lose his reservations and really got into this swimming thing. He also quickly discovered the added benefit of his swimsuit, which kept him floating, giving him enough confidence in the water to start moving around a bit. Sweet!

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An added bonus of the Sunuva swim- and beachwear is that it’s made from UPF 50+ fabric, which blocks out 97% of the sun’s harmful rays. Not at all relevant in the indoor swimming pool I took the boys, but absolutely perfect for our upcoming summer holidays on the beach and around the pool (less than four weeks to go!). There are protective rash vests available as well, and to top it off, a lovely collection of summery fashion for both boys and girls, all perfect for beach and beyond…

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xxx Esther

p.s. This post is sponsored by Sunuva, Kids UV Swimwear & Beachwear, a brand we highly respect and recommend, and one of the members of our shopping portal.

Family tradition: the birthday crown

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In the Netherlands, it’s a tradition to give a child a birthday crown for the day when it’s his or her birthday. Typically it’s a home-made, simple crown made of thick paper, decorated with some curls and colours and usually there’s the number with the child’s age glued on it. When the child is old enough to go to school, the teacher in class will make the birthday crown for the child, who will be so proud to wear it during the day!

A long time ago in a little shop in Antwerp, Courtney and I bought sweet fabric crowns with a plastic sleeve in which (felt) numbers can be inserted. These crowns have really become part of our families’ birthday traditions. The morning of the birthday, the crown with the correct number will be waiting next to the presents and a decorated chair. It’s become so much a part of the party!

Do you have any special birthday traditions in your family or in your country? Maybe you know the birthday crown as well? I would love to know — I love family traditions!

xxx Esther

Le Carrousel de Paris

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetLast weekend, we spent entirely in our garden — there is just so much work to be done! We’ve been sewing seeds, weeding weeds, trimming trees… and the children were ever so helpful, collecting worms and snails and whatever else needed to be done. ; )

I took the opportunity to take a few quick snapshots of Ava wearing her sweet linen dress from the Parisian brand Le Carrousel. I love this dress — it’s just perfect for weekends, for parties or gardening alike!

Le Carrousel has a super sweet collection of classic French, stylish fashion. Cuts are very timeless and fabrics in sweet flowery patterns or fresh stripes make for a modern, simple silhouette. Sizes go up to age 10, and there’s an adorable baby collection too!

xxx Esther

 

 

l’Asitcot, sustainable fashion from Switzerland

LASTICOT2 lasticot3The last few trade shows I’ve been to, I’ve been eying the cool collections of Swiss brand l’Asticot. The darling and original prints, the bold colours and the easy-going and comfortable designs are so original and fun. How sweet are the fish on Casper’s summery playsuit above?

lasticotl’Asticot prides itself to use only organic materials, and the clothes are designed to last a long time. They are mostly unisex (there are a few sweet dresses and skirts in the collection), and timeless enough to be passed down to siblings or friends. Also — the colours, designs and prints of the l’Asticot pieces appeal to children a lot. Pim’s summer coat from l’Asticot (pictured) is definitely his most favourite piece of clothing!

As a little extra, a complimentary string bag made from surplus materials from previous collections is included with every purchase made at l’Asticot. Perfect for gym clothes, nappies, snacks — you name it!

xxx Esther

Fantastic food from Mikodesign

Screen Shot 2014-05-30 at 10.52.44 Screen Shot 2014-05-30 at 10.52.23I’ve raved about the boundless creativity of my friend Erika from Mikodesign before. Her dolls are simply beautiful (and so fun to put together yourself if you like sewing). But the surprise food plates she creates for her two teenage daughters are something else!

Check out the ‘fast food’ lunch above: with mango french fries, a peanut butter sandwich ‘cheese burger’, strawberry ketchup, and a strawberry banana smoothie milkshake. Or don’t you love the fun summery afternoon vegetable snack with googly eyes?

Mikodesign_flowersHere’s a flower themed surprise breakfast with mango flowers, a boiled egg with a flower garland, a pink smoothie, and a peanut butter sandwich flowerpot with a real mint plant… A day started with a breakfast like this can only bring smiles!

Mikodesign_cats mikodesign_kahlo Above a ‘cats’ surprise breakfast made with a peanut butter sandwich, fresh mango, pink smoothie, egg and edible paper. And a ‘Viva Frida’ surprise breakfast with a Frida Kahlo pancake, strawberry margarita smoothie and an apple/peanut butter sandwich cactus. (I think this one is my all-time Mikodesign Breakfast favourite!!)

Screen Shot 2014-05-30 at 17.23.53 Screen Shot 2014-05-30 at 17.24.04How cool is this Instagram snack? Or the surprise breakfast with a hardboiled egg-face on a stick (the eyes are made with simple black sesame seeds), apple, peanut butter sandwich, green smoothie and a chocolate cookie for dessert…. Amazing, right?

I find Erika to be one of the most inspirational people I follow on Instagram. I can definitely recommend her feed – all she does is simply amazing!

xxx Esther

 

Kids on the Moon

Screen Shot 2014-05-21 at 10.16.14 Screen Shot 2014-05-21 at 10.17.31Kids on the Moon is a fashion label from Warsaw, Poland, with a collection of children’s clothing that is bursting with originality and creativity. For instance, graphics and illustrations are used in imaginative ways, and the patterns that are chosen for some pieces are somehow unexpected. Interesting cuts and pleats in unconventional places define shapes that are original and refreshing. But best of all: yes, these clothes are fashionable and cool, but at the same time they are highly wearable and extremely comfortable, due to the cotton jersey that is used in the majority of the collection.

Screen Shot 2014-05-21 at 10.16.51 Screen Shot 2014-05-21 at 10.17.18What I really appreciate about the Kids on the Moon collection too, is the fact that the boys’ pieces are as original as those for the girls.

xxx Esther

Sweet summer PJs from ILoveGorgeous

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We’re having a little heatwave here in Amsterdam and we’re enjoying every minute of it. The BBQ has been on every evening, we’ve been having loads of picnics in the park, the children even organised a full on pool party in our back yard! 
Isn’t everything just so much easier when the weather is so agreeable? There’s less cooking to do, less laundry to wash, less money to spend on heat and lighting…

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Also — mornings are so, so much more relaxed when it’s warm and light out. (Even I don’t mind getting up early as much these days!) Last weekend, we were having such a lovely, lazy morning, and our girls were so sweet together, reading books on our bed in their summery pyjamas. I just had to take a few quick photos (and I hope you don’t mind that I’m sharing them here with you)…

xxx Esther

(The girls are wearing the Cherub PJ’s in white from Ilovegorgeous.)

Upside down plants!

Plants in your interior must be back in fashion! I see them everywhere (we’ve been pinning plants on our Pinterest board too if you’re interested). I’m really enjoying the greens that I’ve been collecting in our home — it just makes things look so nice and ‘fresh’.

One of the new additions I got for our house recently is this fun upside down ‘Skyplanter‘ from Boskke. I love the concept behind it, and it is so amazing to witness that plants really like to grow this way! You can see a list of plants that especially love to live in the Boskke planter here. Amazing, don’t you think?

xxx Esther

Plae shoes

Plae shoes are a newly designed sports shoe for children that is all about engineering, comfort, and fun. Shoe designer Ryan Ringholz launched Plae after becoming a dad, and took on the mission to use the biometric science reserved for athletes to develop a children’s sports shoe. What is especially great about these shoes is that they are engineered to follow the natural contour of children’s feet, leaving the bones enough room to grow their own way. But there’s more. The shoes are washable. The insoles are made from anti-bacterial material, and can even be washed separately. All materials used are eco-friendly, some are even made from recycled PET bottles! Production takes place in a solar powered factory. The shock absorption is great and the toe guard protects shoes and feet against toe drag (I don’t know about yours, but my kids love to toe drag!).

And then, last but not least: the shoes are customizable! Due to an ingenious, simple system of interchangeable tabs, children can play around with their Plae shoes and make them their own. How fun is that? My kids surely love it. I ordered a pair of white Plae shoes for Sara and Pim has been wearing them because he loves them so much — 2 sizes too big! I definitely have to get him his own pair…

xxx Esther

Beautifully designed Little Quote Jars, by Make History!

Ava will be four in less than two weeks! I can’t believe my baby girl is getting so big so fast… She went through a huge growth spurt the last half year, both physically and intellectually, and she’s rapidly developing into a little school girl. Sweet!

I love having conversations with her. She’s talking so maturely at times, but at the same time keeps making adorable grammatical mistakes, or is combining two words into one (my favourite Ava word at the moment is ‘clapplause’ — which she requests every night after she’s finished her plate).

Make History!, the company we know from the gorgeous Time Capsules, has recently come up with another beautifully designed product, the Little Quote Jar. A simple glass jar with an oversized cork top, with enough space to hold the (included) notebooks and pencil, and a slot in the top to ‘post’ your quote. I’m loving it! It permanently lives on our table, in close reach to us all,  so we can immediately write down all the funny things we say. (And it looks beautiful!)

xxx Esther

PS I loved reading Joanna‘s post of the sweet things her son Toby says. Toby is the exact same age as Ava!

Pim’s seventh birthday party — an adventurous treasure hunt

For his seventh birthday party, Pim wanted to organise a treasure hunt. I love treasure hunts at this age, because children are just learning to read and write and they love practising their new skills. But we wanted to take the concept of a treasure hunt a bit further and make it a bit more adventurous. So here is what we came up with…

Each of the invitees received a letter from the ‘Club of the White Lion’, along with a card with a few letters on it. The letter was addressed to the children personally, and explained the history of the Club, which had been around for centuries and had always consisted of a group of talented children, who each owned a necklace with a special secret badge. Sadly, the club had been dismantled in the ’50s of the last century, and had for the last time been seen in action in the neighbourhood we live in. The last member of the club had thankfully been able to hide the badges in a secret location, sixty years ago, and had now written this letter to a group of selected children, with the assignment to fulfil a range of missions which would lead them to discover the hiding place of the special badges. And to re-instate the Club of the White Lion! The receivers of the letters were summoned to gather at our address at the time and date of the birthday party, and bring the special letter card with them which would help them solve the first mission.

The concept of the letter was derived from the house we bought next door (and which is currently being renovated; we will hopeful move in this summer) — it was built in the ’50s, and had two white lion statues at the garden gate. We figured we could use the house as the place where the badges were hidden 60 years ago! The letter itself was written in adult language, to make it extra serious, and to involve the parents as well. We even developed a logo for the club! (Our babysitter Maria is a talented illustrator, she made a great lion drawing.)

And this is what happened the day of the party:

- While the kids were busy eating cake and handing out their presents, our neighbour (he’s in his 70s) dropped off little bags we had made for the children and a letter. We briefly explained the concept of the party beforehand and he was so into it! He had put on his long coat, a hat and his sunglasses. He said he had something for the children out of the name of the Club of the White Lion, which he of course remembered from his youth ; ), and handed over the letter and the bags. The children were so impressed! Pim didn’t even recognise our neighbour!

- In the bags, we put some items to help the children solve the assignments: A keyring with a key and a steel washer. A laminated card with secret coding. A little notebook and a pencil. Two strong magnets. A small candle. (We had sewn the bags the evening before and used fabric pens to write the name of the children on the bags).

- The letter which the neighbour brought asked the children to line up the cards they had received with their ‘invite’. The cards together spelled the name of a book they had to allocate in our bookcase. Inside the book, we had created a secret space by cutting away part of the pages.

- Inside the book, there were letters in code for each of the children. They could use the laminated code cards in their bags to figure out the next mission.

- The next assignment for the children was to find the treasure chest upstairs (my dad once made this treasure chest for Pim). We had put 11 padlocks around the locks of the treasure chest — each of the kids had to try the key they had found in their bags on each of the locks, until they had opened all the locks and the treasure chest would reveal the next letter.

- This time there were two letters, splitting the group in two subgroups. One group had to go to the flower stand around the corner and ask for the South African Lion’s Tail Flower. The other group had to go to our local hotel and ask if they were hosting a special guest, mr. Vanderlion. Each group received an envelope at their location after asking their mystery questions (and a lollipop of course). In these envelopes, there were scratch cards for each of the kids. They could use the washer on their keyring to scratch the card, and each card would reveal a word, together forming a sentence, urging them to go to a specific statue in our local park where they would find the next assignment.

- In the park we let them kick a ball around, gave them a drink and a candy, and meanwhile, suddenly the next letter of the Club of the White Lion was revealed. The group was split in two again, and each group had to go to a specific address (of friends) where they would be handed a special package.

- Each package revealed one of the two lion statues that once lined the gate to our new house. The accompanying letter asked the children to return the lions to their old spot, where they had been guarding the special badges for 60 years, and to enter the house to look for the next envelope.

- The next envelope contained a handful of white papers written on with invisible ink! The children had to carefully hold the paper above a flame (with adult supervision of course), which would reveal the next tip.

- We had hidden the next envelope behind the plaster of the house, and they had to use a hammer to demolish the plaster and to reveal this next envelope. (At this point, even Sara was convinced the whole story was true!)

- Now, the children had to find a key which was hidden underneath the floor…. In the hallway, there’s a hatch which gives way to the crawlspace underneath the house… (and where the gas meters etc are). The children could see a key through the latch, but couldn’t reach it! They had to combine all of the magnets in their bags to form a magnetic stick and use it to grab the key!

- And now, finally, the last step… Upstairs, there was the old safe, 60 years old… And inside, there were badges for all of the children. They had succeeded!

For days if not weeks, the children have been talking about this treasure hunt. I think this had been one of the most exciting things they had done in their lives! They wore their badges at school, and the parent said they talked so much about it at home… (Of course they heard snippets of the party — They had to demolish a wall? The had to unlock a gazzilion locks? They found lions? Etc. Funny!)

As usually the case with the parties we organise, this entire party was put together the day beforehand. We just came up with the concept the evening before that and wrote the letters/invites to the children so Pim could hand them out to his friends the next day (one day before the party).

Here’s a quick how-to for some of the activities (a big thank you to my sweet friend Erika from Mikodesign for her many ideas!)

- I created the secret code cards by laminating a code alphabet I printed from the internet (you can laminate in most copy/print places)

- For the scratch cards, we painted a few layers of black paint mixed with a bit of dishwashing liquid over laminated word cards.

- The ‘invisible ink pages’ were made by writing on them with lemon juice. The text will magically show up once the paper is put above a flame!

- The badges were made using good old shrink plastic — I traced the Club logo, cut it out, punched a hole and shrunk them in the oven.

We had so much fun putting this party together! And by all the feedback we received later, the kids had a great time as well. I think Pim will remember this day for the rest of his life!

xxx Esther

Dear Mom, Dear Dad — sweet activity books

Dear Mom and Dear Dad are two adorable arts & craft workbooks for children that encourage them to think carefully about their mom or their dad… and answer a bunch of funny, sweet and delightfully clever questions. Kids can choose, draw or write the correct answer to queries like ‘what is your mum amazingly good at?’ (in my case the answer was: cooking, baking cakes, playing on my iPhone, drawing and sewing), ‘what does she say when she is angry?’ (‘do I have to do everything myself?!?’), ‘what does dad do when he’s at work’ (read messages / glue stuff / play games / fire people / work on the computer / etc).

Your child will create an honest and adorable mirror that will make you chuckle, feel loved, and — thankfully — feel like a very stereotype parent at times as well!

These books make wonderful gifts to both children as their parents. Sara has been working on her ‘Dear Mom’ book, and I love the results: how touching is this portrait she drew of me? (She sees me SO much more beautiful than I really am!!)

Dear Mom and Dear Dad have recently been brought out in English, but the original books are in Dutch and available through SNOR publishers. There’s a German version in store as well! And age-wise… I think these books are best for 6-plus. Unless your child can read and write before that, of course!

xxx Esther

PS It’s Mother’s Day this Sunday (best to gently remind your family ASAP if you haven’t done so already!), and Father’s Day is coming up as well. (Hint!)

Our visit to Germany, and fashion from Macarons

We’ve just come back from a little mini break which we spent in Germany — such a wonderful country to travel through with children! I love how you can drive just for a few hours, and find yet another beautiful town, castle, park, palace, or museum to visit. There are plenty of lovely hotels around with convenient family rooms and great restaurants (always with a high chair, a kids menu, and plenty of friendly staff available). Everything is so well organised and clean, and people are so welcoming and kind. We will definitely be back, because there is so much more to discover in Germany!

One of our stops brought us to Stuttgart, where we stayed with Julie and Veit of the German eco-brand Macarons and their two sweet little daughters Cléo and Cécile. It was so nice to spend time in their lovely city, and hang out with them, of course. They really spoiled us! I also loved visiting their new offices, so nice to see all of their wonderful pieces together in one place. And to see all of the hard work in progress!

I recently posted about Macarons amazing fabrics and the 100% organic and ecological production process, which is really admirable and special. But they also create lovely fashion, with adorable shapes and patterns. One of my favourite pieces of this current collection is this limited edition skirt SARA, made from a vintage double woven Japanese Ikat fabric on one side and fully reversible to show the Macarons seersucker fabric on the other side. My sweet Sara received one namesake skirt as a gift from Julie and it looks just absolutely adorable on her! (Wouldn’t this skirt be wonderful in an adult version as well??)

And here are some photos I took of Ava a few weeks ago, wearing skirt Sara as well. And Casper is wearing sunhat Henni and pullover Paula, which is just perfect for summer! (And the way the stripes all come together in the pattern of the hat once again shows the level of detail of the works of Macarons.)

xxx Esther

Louis le Sec, adorable and waterproof bed sheets

Sophie Remy, a mother of 3 children, developed Louis Le Sec — a classy range of bed linen that doesn’t only look adorable, but is also very functional. All children (and some longer than others), go through phases where nightly disasters are more likely to occur. During potty training, or when suffering from childhood illnesses, or simply when thirsty and helping themselves clumsily to a drink!

Louis Le Sec offers a waterproof, soundless and breathable protection that keeps your child’s bedding safe and dry and makes wet and dirty sheets easier to deal with. (And that’s a bonus in the middle of the night!) It is made from polyurethane, an organic molecule widely used in the medical world, which breathes, is elastic and extensible, absorbs liquids and also provides a cooling effect. It allows vapor molecules to pass but not large water molecules. So it is not only an extremely useful protection against liquids, but also a handy barrier against dust mites — perfect in case of allergies!

Colours and patterns of the bedding are really darling — unisex and simple, they would look lovely in any interior!

xxx Esther

PS Sophie is now offering and exclusive 15% discount for Babyccino Kids readers. Check here for details!

The tulip fields

The tulips are in full bloom here in the Netherlands, and last week we went on a little tour with the children to take a look at them. Such an amazing view! The kids loved running through the endless beds of flowers. And the smell!!

Have you ever been to the tulip fields? I’ve heard nowadays a lot of the tulips are grown in Africa. And there are also beautiful fields in the US, near Seattle — Courtney’s dad owns one of them!

Of course we couldn’t leave without picking a bunch to take home. (Picking is only allowed from special flower picking fields!)

xxx Esther

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter! We hope you’re all having a wonderful weekend!!

xxx Courtney, Emilie and Esther

PS Ava is wearing the cute bunny ears from last week’s The Little Things download.

Darling, luxurious blankets from Sture & Folke


Karin Stenmarck is a Swedish designer living in Switzerland, who makes her collection of Sture & Folke blankets entirely by hand, using only the most high quality materials like Liberty fabrics, cotton velvet and natural linen. Her blankets are really beautiful; they are the kind of baby product that you just love to keep around in your house — baby, or not! The toddler comforter has a wonderful, generous size (I use it as a lap blanket myself all the time), and the different little ribbons on the front are not only stylish decoration, they are also great for babies who love to play with them.

xxx Esther

Easter Picks from the Shan and Toad website

I had so much fun picking a few Easter favourites from the amazing Shan and Toad website. The new collections are just wonderful! There’s a perfect mix of trendy, classic and chic fashion available, and I love the great colours that Shana, the owner, selected this year.

1. Isn’t this little Denim Blue Vintage Dress just adorable?
2. Gorgeous Tunic with woven dots and mandarin collar. So handsome!
3. Darling Dotty Bibi Hairband, perfect to spruce up any outfit.
4. Super fresh, these Festa Lemon socks.
5. Got to love these leopard Mary-Janes!
6. Classic Skinny Jeans in an amazing colour.
7. Navy stripes never disappoint! Love this sweet Colombe top.
8. Cool Tricolour moccasins in summery colours.
9. Swoon! This Clémentine Navy Romper is just lovely — both for baby boys as girls!
10. Gorgelous green Otto baby booties.
11. On trend Festa Coral socks.

xxx Esther

The Little Things… Playing the Easter bunny!

Easter is one of my favourite holidays. The celebration of spring, the prelude to summer… And, I happen to love eggs! For this week’s post in The Little Things series, Ava and her friend Juul (Maud Fontein‘s cute daughter!) dressed up as the sweetest little Easter bunnies. Aren’t they so cute?

BC_download_bunny_ears-1You can make similar bunny ears by printing the above PDF — didn’t Sara Musch again do a great job? I love this week’s download! Just cut out the ears and fold and glue them around a simple headband. Easy!

And… most little children just love face paint. Mine do! But I’ve never been very keen to have them play around with it. Shop-bought, artificial face paint can have high levels of toxic nickel and chrome. So nasty! A much better alternative is to make your own face paint — it’s really simple, and so easy! And it is super safe — without any of the harmful chemicals.

Homemade face paint:

3 teaspoons corn starch
1/2 teaspoon flour
2 teaspoons baby body lotion (or honey if you want it to be edible!)
1 teaspoon water
Activated charcoal (for black), and natural food colouring

The tulips in front of the Rijksmuseum here in Amsterdam are in full bloom. A perfect spot to hide some eggs!! :)

xxx Esther

PS –  This is the newest post in a series which is called ‘The Little Things’. Thank you Maud Fontein for taking these beautiful photos, and Sara Musch for the cool download. The girls’ jumpers are from Macarons!

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