Birthday party: Decorating cupcakes

One of my childhood friends always had the best cake at her birthday parties. Her mum would make (or buy?) the most ordinary cupcakes, and set the table with different sort of custards, frostings and toppings. I loved to pile up my plate with candy, and create the most enormous cupcake possible.

For Sara’s birthday party last year, I did a similar thing. I made cupcakes, and cream cheese frosting (simply mix cream cheese, butter and powdered sugar), and used my vintage fondue plates for the table setting. Chocolate sprinkles, heart sprinkles, mini m&m’s, candy… It was all there. And it was funny to see how the children enjoyed themselves (and how in the end, lots of the candy was left un-eaten on the plates, but all of the raspberries, blueberries and strawberries were gone)!

xxx Esther

An 8th birthday party with a cooking theme

It was Pim’s 7th birthday last Monday so I’m planning a little birthday party for him, and I realised that I never posted about the cooking party we had for Sara’s birthday last year!

Sara has enjoyed food since she was a baby, and she loves helping me in the kitchen. So it was no surprise when she asked for a cooking party for her 8th birthday! She invited 8 of her girl friends, and like always, party preparations took place the day before the party (let’s just say, I’m at my best the very last minute).

I bought a huge pile of cheap, unbleached cotton at the market, and together with my mother-in-law sewed 11 aprons out of it (of course Pim and Ava were invited too). I also bought cutting boards, knives, notebooks and pencils. I made a triangular stamp out of a simple eraser, and decorated everything with triangles. I also stamped the children’s names on all of the items.

We set the table with the different veggies and toppings needed for the healthy Vietnamese Style Rice Paper Rolls I blogged about earlier. The children loved cutting everything on their own cutting boards, and writing down the ingredients and recipe in their little notebook. And even very picky eaters found ingredients on the table that they loved!

Afterwards, the notebooks and pencils came in handy for the treasure hunt we had organised in the neighbourhood. And of course, they could all take home a little party bag with the items we had made for them. It was a really fun party!

xxx Esther

Ellie Fun Day blankets

EllieFunDay produces gorgeous heirloom baby blankets, made from super soft organic muslin cotton and beautifully embroidered, all done so by hand by marginalised women in India. The company is the brainchild of Sarah Lin (and her husband Elton), who after spending some time in India a few years ago, fulfilled her dreams of designing a beautiful product that would make a lasting change in the world. She remembered her own much loved baby blanket, and designed a collection of gorgeous, modern blankies.

I love the darling designs of the EllieFunDay blankets and the importance of the story behind it. The blankets make wonderful gifts (they come beautifully labeled and in a drawstring muslin bag), and look gorgeous in any crib and interior. Casper loves his Fox & Forest blanket!

xxx Esther

Win! This month’s great giveaways:

Aside from the three gigantic give-aways we are running this month because of reaching a whopping 10,000 likes on Facebook, we also have three amazing prizes to give away on our Shopping Portal. Have you already entered? This is what you can win this month:

Enter here for your chance to win one of these amazing prizes!

Sycamore Street Press birthday cards

Sycamore Street Press is a family run paper company that you might remember from the exquisite Baby Milestones Cards I reviewed a while ago. It is run by husband and wife team Eva and Kirk Jorgensen, who raise their two gorgeous kids together and come up with the most beautiful letter-pressed and printed designs. I love their original birthday card collection — so playful and fun!

Sycamore Street Press is giving away a $100 gift voucher to the winner of our second gigantic give-away. What a great prize to win, together with 15 other awesome prizes! You can enter this give-away HERE. (If I were the winner, I know what I would choose from Sycamore Street Press: the citron, poire and pomme letterpress art prints — so pretty!)
xxx Esther

Rosie Revere, engineer

My kids (and I) love the book Iggy Peck, architect, so when Andrea Beaty wrote a sequence called Rosie Revere, engineer, expectations in our household were high. And Rosie did not disappoint! The main character, Rosie Revere, dreams of becoming an engineer, but is very insecure and practises her skills in secret in the attic. Until one day her great, great aunt Rose comes for a visit, a clever lady who used to build airplanes a long time ago. Together, they overcome Rosie’s insecurities…

Like Iggy Peck, architect, Rosie Revere, engineer is written in a fast-paced rhyme scheme, and is beautifully illustrated by David Roberts.

xxx Esther

Stitch ‘n kids: felt hand puppets

A few weeks ago I made these owl hand puppets with my kids, which was such a fun project that I thought I should share.

First, we designed the owl on paper. Then, we cut out the different shapes of felt, first the shape of the body (twice), then the details like the eyes, the ears and the wings. With blankets stitch and straight stitch we sewed the different details on to the body, and then we used the sewing machine to sew the two sides of the body together (leaving the bottom open as to create a hand puppet).

Pim, who is nearly seven years old, designed his own owl and cut out all of the different pieces of felt. He needed a bit of help with the hand stitching, although it was a good exercise and he was definitely getting the hang of it. I did the machine sewing part for him, but I would like to sit down with him soon and introduce him to machine sewing.

Sara, who is eight years old, is now skilled enough with needlework and the technicalities of her sewing machine, that except from making sure the ends of the thread were properly secured with the hand-stitching part, she could work completely independently. I loved how she discovered she could used the decorative stitch on her sewing machine to make feather details!

Ava, who is only three, chose her colours felt, and which buttons she should use for the eyes. And even though I pretty much did the rest for her, she still felt as if she had made her own owl.

It was such a fun and easy project for different ages!

xxx Esther

Nanoblock

One of my favourite gift shops in Amsterdam is called Klevering, and it is conveniently located right across the street from our dentist. So every time we have ’survived’ a dentist visit, I treat my kids (and myself!) to a little present from across the street — a good excuse!

At our last visit to the dentist and thus Klevering, Pim chose a Giant Panda from the miniature building blocks ‘Nanoblock’ as his present, and it was such a good choice! He managed to build the panda all by himself, and I was so impressed by his fine motor skills and his patience. (I think he was pretty impressed himself as well!)

Next week is Pim’s 7th birthday, and I already ordered him his next Nanoblock challenge, this Eiffel Tower, which I’m sure he’s going to love.

xxx Esther

Valentines craft — love birds

Happy Valentines Day! Our kids woke us up with the sweetest handmade Valentines cards this morning… But I had nothing prepared! So I quickly made these ‘lovebirds’, by folding a piece of paper in half and cutting it in a heart shape. A piece of masking tape keeps it closed and forms the beak. Inside I wrote little love message and poems. So when the kids come home from school they will have a little surprise waiting for them!

xxx Esther

Sweet and girly Valentines gifts from Fantaserini

It’s Valentines day soon! Here in the Netherlands it’s not a traditional holiday, but we’ve adopted it over the years — after all, who can resist a day dedicated to LOVE?

These cute necklaces and hairpins, from the gorgeous and stylish online shop Fantaserini, make the perfect little Valentines presents for girls. The necklaces from Twiggy and Lou are beautiful, handmade out of tiny, real glass beads, pretty brass charms and a little pink pompom. (There’s an adult version too! So pretty!)

I also love the hair clips from Atsuyo et Akiko. They are just so sweet. I actually got both the necklace and the bow clip for Ava and I just know she’s going to love them.

xxx Esther

Mesdames et messieurs, portable checkers game

This portable set of checkers, ‘Mesdames et Messieurs‘, from the French company Les Jouets Libre, is a big hit in our house. Checkers is a fun (and very old) board game that can easily be played with fairly young children (I would say from the age of 6), and gets more strategic and challenging for bigger children and adults. Fun for the entire family!

I love how this Mesdames & Messieurs game is so easily packed away in the drawstring bag, which cleverly converts in the board while playing. Plus — so easy to take along when traveling!

The bag is made from organic cotton, so a minimum of packaging materials is used to present the game, and the wood for the game pieces is locally sourced in the French Yura. Very eco conscious, which I like as well.

xxx Esther

Playtime Paris standout: Bla Bla Monkey

Bla Bla Monkey is a new French brand and their collections are just so super cool! The appliqué tigers, the printed geometrical graphics, and the quilted-through fabrics give this brand just that extra dimension… So spot-on stylish!

xxx Esther

Playtime Paris standout: April Eleven

Every gorgeous object in the stand of April Eleven is not only designed, but also entirely handmade by the sweet owner and designer Charline herself. We loved the no-nonsense design, the usability of the objects, the beautiful fabrics, and above all, that gorgeous little baby swing.

xxx Esther

Playtime Paris standout: As We Grow

When we passed the Playtime stand of As We Grow last week, we were immediately drawn to the striking colours of the alpaca yarn used for the beautiful knitwear. As We Grow is an Icelandic brand which executes ’slow fashion’, exclusively using raw materials, without harming the environment or practising any mass production. The pieces are simple yet luxurious, and are designed to grow with the child.

xxx Esther

Playtime Paris standout: Hilda.Henri

We loved discovering the Vienna-based fashion label Hilda.Henri at Playtime last weekend. The collection is made entirely out of boiled wool, the Alpine farming fabric we know so well from the traditional Austrian Alpine costumes. Designer Verena Wondrak has successfully shaken off the dusty image of boiled wool and created a fashionable and dreamy line of sustainable children’s clothing. We especially liked the pieces with the muted colours in combination with colourful details and funky cuts. All the boiled wool is locally made in Austria and processed from the highest quality pure new wool, without chemical additives. The collection is also manufactured regionally, following the century old rules of a traditional handcraft tradition.

xxx Esther

Playtime Paris 2014 — a recap in photos

We were organised this year and got to Playtime bright and early on the Sunday. We figured we would finally be able to see everything, take our time and not feel rushed. But nope. We have decided that no matter how much time you give yourself at Playtime, you will never be able to see it all. There are too many great brands packed into one place! We wish we could write about everything we saw and all the discoveries we made, but that too would be an impossible task. So here is our re-cap in photos (and very brief notes!):

1. MorMor – love the spotty jumpers and the bright coloured leggings!
2. Waddler – always a favourite – love the pastel colours and fun stars
3. Velveteen – a pretty collection
4. Motoreta – a great new discovery (more later!)
5. Veja – we love their trainers!


1. Sans Souci – a cool table/desk/dollhouse !
2. Nathalie Verlinden – the prettiest shoes, always
3. Indikidual – funky, colourful, and still featuring the banana print – yay!
4. HBB Industria Argentina – beautiful knitwear from Argentina (a standout for sure!)
5. Tinycottons – we loved their booth and all the little pops of neon


1. Bang Bang Kid – giant-sized cowboys & indians! they were the talk of the show!
2 & 3. Tootsa MacGinty – the little animals peeking their heads out of the back pockets of the trousers. too cute!
4. Elfie – we loved the little spider crawling down the shoulder of the cardigan!
5. Corby Tindersticks – quirky and cool


1 & 2. As We Grow – beautiful knitwear from Iceland featuring such nice colours
3. Little Cabari – so fun to see their gorgeous rugs in real life!
4. Hilda Henri – beautiful Austrian children’s clothing made from boiled wool
5. Everbloom – colourful accessories, clothing and new rabbit dolls


1. Milibe Copenhagen – stylish, comfortable, easy to wear. (they even make sweat pants look stylish!)
2. Miller – as effortlessly stylish as always
3. Elfie
4. Bob & Blossom – so many fun stripes and colourful tees
5. Macarons – we were so impressed by their new rain coat with detachable insert. they even demonstrated the waterproof quality by pouring water all over the fabric, and it’s amazing how well it works!


1. Boys & Girls – casual wear that’s colourful, bold and fun!
2. HBB Industria Argentina
3. Penfield – a new line for children that’s as stylish and functional as their adult collection
4. Esther and Emilie checking out all the brands in the press office
5. Apünktchen – new funky striped tees
6. Gro – we love the little badminton birdie print. So cute!


1. April Eleven – we loved the hanging indoor swing
2. Tattyoo – so many fun tattoos!
3. Bla Bla Monkey – fun colours and graphics
4. Sweetcase – such pretty products, such a cool concept!
5. Ketiketa – pretty, block-printed designs on clothing, bed linen and accessories
6. Chapter Two – a new brand run by husband and wife team, offering beautiful, handmade shoes & belts (more later!)

Fabelab origami blanket

Maybe it’s the architect in me, but I LOVE these Fabelab play-fold-birds, the idea of Copenhagen based architect (and mother of two), Michaela Weisskirchner-Barfod. Unfolded, you have a beautiful and softly padded play mat or blanket, perfectly detailed with gorgeous geometrical patchwork patterns in wonderful colour combinations. But then, thanks to an ingenious, origami style folding technique, the blanket can be transformed into a beautiful swan! And suddenly, you have an object that can be a toy, a pillow, or simply a pretty decor item.

But that’s not all — the blanket can also be transformed into a darling ‘lit d’ange’, a cosy nest for a buggy or crib to keep a newborn baby warm and snug. How sweet! And when the child gets bigger, at some point he or she will be able to practice his fine motor skills, folding and unfolding the bird, so it will become an interesting puzzle / play object as well.

I really admire this cleverly designed, beautiful product, and the attention to detail with which it has been thought through. I also respect Michaela’s no-waste policy. For example, with the cut-offs of the blankets, a new product has been created: a darling little bird mobile, which can be used as for instance a stroller toy. This way, all the material can be used and nothing goes to waste.

It’s available to purchase from one of our lovely shops, Scout and Co.

xxx Esther

Organic children’s shampoo and conditioner

My oldest daughter Sara was pretty much bald when she was born, and didn’t have much hair until she was two. But now that she’s eight, she has a head full of it — there is so, so much of it. (So don’t despair, mamas of bald baby girls!) Because detangling all of that hair after washing it is no fun, I have been on the lookout for an organic conditioner that is made especially for children, and I have finally found a great one.

Organic Children makes conditioner with smoothing plant oils and proteins which leaves hair silky soft and shiny and easy to detangle. It is gentle on delicate children’s skin (it is even suitable for children with eczema and psoriasis) and there are no nasty parabens, phthalates etc. I also love the Organic Children shampoo, with natural bubbles from Yucca. There are different natural fragrances available — we love ‘Berry Smoothie‘ which is perfect for fine and straight hair and smells so good you want to eat it up.

xxx Esther

Chickenpox

Here in the Netherlands (and I believe in most parts of Europe), no vaccine is given for chickenpox. Which means it is a very common childhood disease here, and all parents know that at one point their child will come down with it. At least, they hope they do, because apparently getting chickenpox as an adult is seriously no fun!

Ava still hadn’t had the chickenpox at the age of 3 ½, so when her little girl friend from across the street showed signs of the disease, I decided to let her go over for a playdate. As the virus is highly contagious, I deliberately exposed her to it, in the hope she would develop the disease and get it over with. (After having had the disease, you’re immune for the rest of your life). And sure thing — after an exact incubation period of two weeks, I discovered the first blisters on her back.

Chickenpox is mostly completely unharmful, but it is a very uncomfortable disease. First there’s a fever and flu-like symptoms, and then hundreds of tiny blisters develop all over the head and body, and they itch! The whole thing usually takes no longer than a week, and thankfully Ava was her usually happy self just before Christmas.

But then of course, again exactly two weeks later, Casper got it too! He was suffering for a week as well, and the worst part were the blisters on his nappy area — the poor boy. But now, after a month of dealing with the chickenpox, I am proud to say that our entire family is chickenpox immune.

Did your kids get a vaccine against chickenpox? Or did they get over it the natural way? (Or maybe they still need to get it?) Would you deliberately expose them like I did? I’m curious to find out!

xxx Esther

PS The photo is of Pim as a baby, just after he had the chickenpox at age one. Casper’s age!

Baby Milestones — the heirloom set

Gorgeous, these letterpress Baby Milestones cards from Sycamore Street Press. Stamped with real gold foil and printed by hand on a vintage letterpress in the company’s studio, they have an absolute exquisite appearance to them.

I love how the set is limited to six milestones (Introducing, First Smile, First Word, First Step, First Haircut, and First Tooth), so it is actually totally doable to make the cards and for instance create a sweet little corner in your baby’s nursery with them.

The Baby Milestones cards come in a keepsake box, beautifully wrapped with tissue paper and cotton ribbon, so they make a wonderful newborn gift as well.

xxx Esther

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