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?
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…
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!)
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!
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!
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!
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!)
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.)
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!
PS Sophie is now offering and exclusive 15% discount for Babyccino Kids readers. Check here for details!
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!
xxx Courtney, Emilie and Esther
PS Ava is wearing the cute bunny ears from last week’s The Little Things download.
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.
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.
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?
You 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!!
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!
We’ve known the talented French designer Virginie Dreyer for a while now. She has set up a few wonderful creative initiatives, for instance the charity project Tiny-Us, where you can download a selection of darling stationary. Virginie’s newest adventure is her most ambitious and wonderful to date : Tiny-Om, a gorgeous and meaningful line of precious jewellery.
Virginie’s unique designs, available in 18 carat rose or white gold, are all designed around her love for yoga. In her first Tiny-Om collection, she’s interpreting the lotus flower, which represents the seven chakras (the energy points within each person), aiming to create a link between worldly matters and the poetry of the soul. This results in a collection of fine designs, ranging from necklaces to earrings, in which each piece is provided with a protective nature.
The collection is made by hand with the utmost detail and care in the workshops of one of the most famous and celebrated jewellers of the Middle East, the Al Zain jewellery house in Virginie’s adoptive country, Bahrain. The level of craftsmanship of the pieces is remarkable — Virginie very kindly sent me a necklace to see by myself and I can witness — it is just so beautifully made. The level of detail is impressive! The presentation of the necklace is also admirable — it came in a specially made wooden box, amazing!
With Tiny-Om, Virginie is again giving a helping hand to ‘Présence’, a French charity helping handicapped adults and children, with varying degrees of developmental disabilities.
Luez Design and Play is a small New York-based design agency which is all about fun and simple design. The designer, Laura Rodriguez, creates products that appeal to both children and adults, and that will continue to add character to your home as your family grows. I love this little House Wall Hook, an adorable little decor piece by itself, but a useful hook at the same time. It is available in three pretty colours, and comes beautifully wrapped in a cardboard box, which includes screws and plugs to hang it. It would make such a cute gift (for a housewarming maybe?).
All items from Luez Design and Play are designed with love in New York City, and made with love in the USA.
Julie and Veit, the handsome couple behind German eco-brand Macarons, are some of the most detailed and dedicated founders of a children’s fashion brand we know. They go so much further than ‘simply’ creating a collection of very sweet clothes (although they do that too!). They actually keep their fingers on every aspect of the production process. First, they source only the best organic fibres from different places in the world, strictly according to the GOTS standards. Then, the rest of the production is entirely completed locally, in Germany and Austria — the spinning and dying of the yarn, the knitting and weaving process, the printing, boiling and cutting of the fabrics, to the sewing of the final product. All of this is done in impeccably managed, small family-run ateliers. This way, Julie and Veit truly know where all the materials for their garments come from (including tiny details like buttons and fasteners), how it was made, who made it, and where it was made. They can be sure that everything is free of chemicals, and that the production is completed with only the best work ethics for the staff.
The actual creation of the fabrics is something else. This is not just a matter of printing a lovely pattern on high quality, crisp and paper-like organic cotton (although they do that too!) — no, the way they create their fabrics is an extremely clever, innovative and technical process, and it results in the most beautiful three-dimensional patterns and structures. For instance, they create wonderfully soft fabrics by weaving two fabrics together at intervals. A bit like quilting, really. And after washing, the first fabric wrinkles into the other fabric, creating lovely ‘dunes’ on on side, and sweet fine dots on the other side. Another example: they combine two weaving techniques, resulting in a soft but strong seersucker cotton fabric that does not need to be ironed.
The design of the garments is also very well thought through — the way garments are cut, the way pleats suddenly reveal pockets or create special shapes, a button that is sewn on with a tread in a contrasting colour… The level of all of this is truly remarkable, and this is what really sets Macarons apart as a brand.
We’ve met the lovely Rebecca from the wonderful (online) boutique Ladida a few times at the Playtime trade fairs — in Paris and also in New York — and we always have such a blast. She’s usually attending the shows together with her BFF Estee, from the beautiful Brooklyn based brick-and-mortar children’s shoppe Posh, and they are such a happy and fun couple of friends. We always feel we want to hang out with them way more — if only we didn’t live across the ocean from each other!!
The new collections recently came in at Ladida, and I couldn’t resist the temptation of placing a little order with Rebecca. I got a few super adorable outfits for my kids (and took a couple of photos of them over the weekend). My girls are wearing their pretty dresses from Neige, and Pim his sporting the super cool indigo linen blazer from Anais & I. How lucky that the weather has been so amazing, so that they can immediately enjoy their fabulous new clothes!
One of the things I love about our job, is the wonderfully supportive online community in which we work, and the amazing friendships we have developed over the years. Bloggers (and professionals working in the children’s retail world) are such a friendly, supporting group of people, I feel it makes such a difference from the often competitive and political atmosphere in other fields of business.
One of the friends we have made over the years, is the lovely Pepi Nikolopoulou from the Greek online boutique and blog Alice on Board. Pepi wrote a Weekend Getaway about her beautiful city, Athens, a few years ago, and we’ve stayed in touch ever since.
Pepi is one of the five talented women who are organising the “Digital Neighborhood” event which will take place for the second time this year in Athens this coming Friday and Saturday. (She’s the cute blonde girl in the photo above!) The concept of this year’s event is “Growing towards the Future”, and it is open to everyone who is interested in creating a blog, would like to improve their existing blog, strengthen their Social Media presence, or is simply looking for inspiration. There will be tons of professionals walking around, like photographers, Social Media experts, journalists, portal owners, and bloggers of course, who will be there to offer knowledge, to exchange ideas, and to inspire with their success stories.
I’m so excited to be representing Babyccino Kids at the Digital Neighbourhood event this Saturday! I will be talking about how Babyccino Kids evolved from a friendship, to a blog, and then to an international business. I’ll speak about our growth, the structure of our business, our roles within the company, and our plans for the future. It will be so fun to share our story, and I’m so excited to meet some of our Greek readers and to learn from the other professionals at the event. And of course, I’m extremely thrilled at the prospect of hanging out with Pepi this weekend in her lovely city of Athens!
Who doesn’t love the wonderful quality of cashmere? It’s soft, warm, natural, and because of the warmth regulating characteristics of the material, it’s just perfectly snug and comfortable — both in winter and in summer. So we’re very happy with the discovery of the new Amsterdam based label La Petite V, which focusses entirely on gorgeously soft and cosy cashmere for babies.
I love the well thought through collection of products with which Vivien, the designer behind La Petite V, has launched her label. A hooded blanket (the perfect receiving blanket, just perfect for newborn babies). A scarf for mama that can be used to keep baby warm as well, or be used for breastfeeding. A sweet old-fashioned bonnet, and (my favourite), a darling hooded jumpsuit with clever openings that can be used in the carseat as well. Gorgeous!
Mormor is a Danish company with a collection of hand knit products that I adore. The concept behind Mormor is wonderful: to pass on the knowledge and skills that many elderly women possess. Mormor currently has a team of over 130 women who are passionately knitting sweet and fashionable designs for a younger generation. I love this thought!
I often think that if I lived 100 years ago, the ability to knit, sew and embroider would not just be a hobby, it would be a necessity. If one couldn’t knit, one would freeze! Quilts and patchwork blankets were not just for decoration, they were meant to keep the family warm and cosy after the fire went out. And embroidery was used to label bedlinen and restore holes. I love that Nina, the creative owner of Mormor, explores these thoughts and skills and used them to set up her succesfull business.
Mormor designs are fashionable yet timeless. See above Ava wearing the darling Ivar cardigan, and Casper sporting sweater Dan. Pieces are designed in a way they can be worn for years (you can fold the sleeves the first year), and then passed on to siblings or friends. The materials used are 100% natural and of high quality, like alpaca and merino wool, and they are very strong and durable. But most of all, I love the fact that these items are all handmade by master knitters, who knit with love for this younger generation.
Everybody who knows Ava knows her ‘BearBear’ — the Flatout Bear she’s been inseparable from for the first three years of her life. Everywhere she went, BearBear went! It’s one well traveled bear, that BearBear… (We once nearly missed an airplane to Turkey because BearBear was left behind in the train station, and we had to go back to find it — traveling to Turkey without BearBear simply wasn’t an option!)
Flatout Bears are made in Australia out of 100% pure Australian sheepskin, which is shaped like a teddy bear. The attraction of these bears is that they are super soft, and have an interesting tactile quality to them that most babies love — to touch the fury skin and to bury their fingers in it. And because they are so flat, they are easy to hold in little toddler arms, and to be carried around.
I recently got a Flatout Bear for Casper as well, and now take it with me whenever we are traveling. He also like to bury his little fingers into the sheepskin when he’s falling asleep!
(We got our Flatout Bears from VUPbaby)