My adventurous children (for the Waddler photography competition)

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Waddler has been one of our favourite children’s clothing brands — Philip and Marina started their brand after a wonderful stay (of a few years!) in South America, and they have put all of their sense of adventure, respect and amazement of the world around them, and their love for life in general, in Waddler.

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Courtney already shared the photography competition Waddler is holding in cooperation with Plan South America and in which they are challenging parents to photograph their children (dressed in Waddler) and show their individuality and adventurous nature. I accepted the challenge, especially since I’ve never been to South America and would love to go!

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Here are the photos I took of Casper and Ava having fun in the forest last week , and discovering the little wonders of this natural playground around them. What a joyful time we had! Of course I hope we win the competition, but in any case, I’m happy with these photos and the memories we created while making them.

xxx Esther

 

Blurb photo books

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I have a love/hate relationship with Instagram. Most of the time I love it and find the community there so wonderful and supportive and inspiring, but you know… there are days… ! : )

One of the biggest reasons why I do love it is how easy it is to make Instagram books over at Blurb.  You literally just sign in with your Instagram account and the photos in your feed will be automatically uploaded, making it super easy to pick and choose your photos for your book. Unlike some of the more complex systems where you have to download the book-making software to your computer, these little Instagram photo books can be made in less than five minutes! Nothing intimidating about it.

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We have a little collection of Instagram books from the past couple years and I’m currently in the process of creating one from our recent trip to Venice. It’s such a great way of documenting your travels or a special occasion and so fun to look at them and remember those happy family moments. My boys took the books to bed with them the other night and I found them scattered around inside their bed the next morning!

Summer 2014 instagram book
Last month I created a ‘Summer 2014′ photo book and it makes me so happy to look at those sunny summery photos! (Fast-forward to next summer, please!) I’m not sure if it’s a new feature, but I realised when I made this one that you can even add extra pages, so this book is a bit thicker than our others, and definitely one of our favourites.

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Blurb doesn’t just do Instagram books — they offer all sorts of wonderful book-making tools and different types of photo book options. You can even create your own magazine. How cool is that?! And I love their suggestion of making baby photo books and adding captions and comments to create a special book all about your baby. The possibilities are endless!

Courtney x

 

p.s. This post was sponsored by Blurb, a company I’ve used and trusted for a long time, and a new member of our shopping portal. 

Waddler photo competition

Waddler photo competition Patagonia
I don’t normally enter photo competitions, but here is one that I just can’t pass up. The prize is just too good! The chance to win a£1,000 shopping spree at Waddler plus a once-in-a-lifetime trip to South America?! I’m in. You too? Just look at that beautiful landscape above…

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Waddler is one of my very favourite children’s brands. Their fair trade collection is produced in Bolivia from 100% baby alpaca wool, one of nature’s finest natural fibers, and is incredibly soft. The pieces have something very sweet and simple about them, yet they are wild and adventurous. And the colours are so gorgeously rich and soft at the same time.

Waddler has teamed up with PlanSouthAmerica, a British-owned and operated travel company with offices in London and Buenos Aires, to offer a once-in-a-lifetime trip to South America, the birthplace of Waddler and the inspiration for their designs. They’re offering one very lucky winner the chance to £1,000 worth of beautiful clothes and £1,000 towards an amazing family holiday in South America.

Marlow and Ivy in Waddler
To enter, all you have to do is take a photo of your children wearing their Waddller clothing and mail it to serena@wadler.co.uk or upload them to Instagram using the hashtag #waddlercompetition by January 25th, 2015. (You can read more about the competition here.) I took this photo of my silly girls (above) when we were in Soho last weekend. Those little outfits are just too cute!

Courtney x
p.s. Waddler is one of 40 wonderful brands setting up shop at this year’s ShopUp event in December.  So if your kids don’t already have a piece from the collection, you’ll be able to shop their collection there!

p.p.s. This post was sponsored by Waddler, a brand we have loved for years and a longtime member of our shopping portal.

Sweet alpaca pixie hat from Nuvola Baby

Marlow in pixie hat from Nuvola Baby
pixie hat from nuvola baby
And just like that… it’s hat weather! Did you also find yourself rifling through boxes in your basement this week, looking for all of your scarves and hats and winter coats? I guess we’ve been lucky with all the mild weather we’ve had all Autumn, so much so that I was a bit caught off guard. It’s suddenly dark and cold, and there is no denying that winter is coming. Sigh.

Speaking of hats, how sweet is this vintage-inspired pixie hat from Nuvola Baby? Adorable. And not only super cute, but each hat sold will buy 10 nutritious meals for a malnourished baby in Burkina Faso. Nuvola Baby are donating 2 euros from every sale to the Dr. Elvire Engel Foundation, a Luxembourg based NGO that cares for women and children in need in Burkina Faso (you can read more about the campaign here).

Nuvola Baby is one of the 40 wonderful shops taking part in this year’s ShopUp event next month, so you can check them out in person then. I can’t wait to pay a little visit to their booth. Such cosy products!

Courtney x

SipSnap drinking lids

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Leave it to a duo of mums to come up with something so simple yet so useful. After launching the hugely successful Kickstarter campaign, two mums, Sativa Turner and Michelle Ivankovic, have come out with a range of BPA-free, spill-proof lids that fit any cup, any time. The SipSnap drinking lids are to be used at home so you can clear out all the plastic kiddie cups taking up valuable space in your kitchen cupboards, or to be used on-the-go so you always have a sippy cup with you at restaurants or friends’ houses, etc. So smart!

There are two types of lids — the SipSnap TOT with a sippy lid or the SipSnap KID with a hole that fits any sized straw. All the lids are dishwasher safe, fit over any sized cup, come with a handy case so you can easily throw in your handbag, and come in a variety of fun colours.

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We tested out the SipSnap lids at Esther’s house last week and they worked perfectly. I loved that we could just slip on a lid over any of Esther’s normal drinking glasses, and my kids were safe to drink away without spilling all over her beautiful new house. : )

Courtney x

Dressable rag dolls from Mamma Couture

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How cute are these rag dolls from Mamma Couture? They’re completely handmade and the faces are hand painted, giving them such sweet expressions on their little doll faces. All the dolls come with a few super sweet clothes, that can be combined in different ways to create cute outfits. They are also machine washable (practical!).

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Mamma Couture is one of the fabulous shops that will join us at the ShopUp this December 3rd and 4th. I can’t wait to discover her newest creations (and I think I will pick some stuff up for my kids for Christmas!).

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Also… Yesterday we mentioned the great give-aways we’re running over on our shopping portal, but did you know that we’re also having some great prizes to win over on our new ShopUp Instagram account? Right now, you can still enter to win one of these fabulous rag dolls from Mamma Couture (hurry, hurry!!), and there will be more fabulous prize to win soon. Check out the ShopUp Instagram account for details!

xxx Esther

Liberty print sweetness (and knee patches!) from Milou & Pilou

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We’ve just gotten home from a little trip to Venice, and I really can’t wait to share photos and a summary of our trip. I just looked through all of our photos on our camera (precisely 589 of them!) and don’t know how on earth I will ever narrow down a selection to share. That city is a photographer’s dream!

Quickly though, I wanted to share some photos of the girls wearing their little matching outfits from Milou & Pilou. They looked so sweet roaming the streets of Venice together, and I just can’t get over Marlow’s little knee patches. Adorable!

The best thing about Venice is that it’s completely car-free, which means kids can walk the streets, play in the squares, join other kids for a game of football, or colour the paving stones with chalk.  My kids had so much fun playing in the quiet streets — I wish London was like that!

More Venice photos to come…

Courtney xx

Handmade baby moccasins from Pepa & Co.

Baby moccasins from Pepa & Co

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Is it pouring down rain where you are too? Oh my gosh, the weather in London has been soooo grim! (Though I did sneak a peak at a fellow passenger’s newspaper on the tube yesterday and it did say that we’re getting another mini heat wave next week. So don’t get out your hats and scarves just yet!)

Anyway, here’s something to brighten up your grey day. How adorable are these handmade baby moccasins from Pepa & Co. I ordered the biggest size for Marlow and they were sadly too small. I guess that means she’s no longer a baby… sniff!  Instead of pouting about it, I’m going to focus on all the baby gift-giving I can do and I think these beauties would make the perfect present.

Courtney x

Smallish Magazine

Smallish and the ShopUp

I know it’s a bit of old news by now, but did you see that Baby & Me Magazine got a cool new name? Our favourite London-based magazine has relaunched and is now called Smallish.  No longer focused just on pregnancy and birth, the new magazine will include beautiful fashion shoots, issue-led features, inspiring parents, glossy interiors, up-and-coming brands and the best scoop on what’s new and cool for kids (and their parents). You can pick up a copy of the magazine at newsagents across the country, or download the digital version here.

And… best news for last….we’re really excited to announce that we’ve teamed up with Smallish Magazine for our big ShopUp event this December. Visitors to the event will be able to pick up their own copy of the magazine and discover the monthly goodness for themselves. They’ll also be helping us promote the event, ensuring this year’s ShopUp is a big, fat success. !! We could not be more excited! Have you marked your diaries yet?

Courtney xx

Indestructables, chew proof, rip proof… and machine washable!!

indestructables_baby_booksKate Merritt, an English illustrator living in Paris, recently emailed us about a range of books she’s been working on for Workman publishers in the US, called Indestructibles. I was sent a few of these books, and I’m really amazed by the innovation of them. Printed on a nontoxic paper-like, soft material, these books have the look and feel of ‘normal’ books, but… they are waterproof, tear-resistant, and completely machine washable! (I was a bit reluctant at first, throwing these books in the machine, but I did and they came out as if nothing had happened to them — except that they were wet! I tried the dishwasher as well — same story!)

I love how thin and light these books are, and the sweet and simple illustrations. They don’t take up any space in your bag, so are easy to bring along when you’re on the road. And they would make a cute little baby present as well!

Available on Amazon in the UK  and the US  (just look for indestructibles for more titles).

xxx Esther

New merino wool muslin products from Aden + Anais

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aden and anais merino wool blankets

I’m a huge fan (but really, who isn’t?!) of the Aden + Anais muslin swaddle blankets and sleeping bags and was excited to learn that they’ve created an innovative new range of merino wool muslin products. What’s cool about this new range is that it’s not just an ordinary merino wool blanket or another merino wool sleeping bag, but rather a merino wool muslin blanket and sleeping bag. It’s a new fabric that took years to perfect, one that combines the cosy, breathable qualities of merino wool with the stretchy & soft muslin fabric everyone loves, two simple luxuries woven into one.

I was invited to the UK launch event last week and it was so lovely to meet Raegan Moya-Jones, the founder (she’s adorable!) and also to see and feel all the new products in person. I asked Raegan how easy it is to wash these new wool products, and she answered like the experienced mama she is: all the Aden + Anais products are 100% machine washable and can also be tumble dried, because what new mother has time to hand wash her baby’s blankets?!

The new Aden + Anais merino wool collection is available online here and in stores soon! Perfect for the colder winter months ahead… (sigh).

Courtney x

Toto Knits, with a darling new Capsule Collection

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Slowly but steadily autumn is upon us here in Amsterdam. We’ve been super lucky with the weather so far (I’ve heard it’s been the same in other parts of the world), but leaves are falling and mushrooms are appearing. So it’s time to get ready for the cold season! I’ve been ordering socks and tights, shoes and boots, hats and scarfs. These cuties just arrived from Toto Knits, all the way from Africa, and even though I ordered them for Casper, Ava has been wearing them, aptly on top of her Indian summer dress!

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Toto Knits is a Kenya-based label, founded by Erin Brennan Allan, and offering a line of fun and funky knitwear, all handmade of organic cotton and dyed with bio-friendly dyes. Designs are always super cute (the Safari and Farm Animal Sweaters are so sweet!) and all of the products are ethically made by a group of single mothers in Kenya. I love this concept, encouraging trade not aid, and find it clever how Erin pays the knitters by the piece, so that they can decide how much they work, allowing them to make time for their families as much as needed. When a product is finished, the knitters sign the piece (the above hat and the scarf were made by Lucy and Serah), which is so nice — for the knitters because they can truly ‘sign’ their work and be proud of it, and for the client because every piece comes with a story behind it.

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Erin’s newest Capsule Collection, called Heart and Habit, is so stylish and with the muted colours so perfect for this time of year. Beautiful charcoal grey combined with burgundy red, emerald green and cream white are the basis for these pretty pieces. (Pim is wearing a cool Toto Knits striped hoodie in the photos above.) Even though we’re enjoying the favourable temperatures for as long as we can, it won’t be long before we’re all curled up on the couch!

xxx Esther

PS This post is sponsored by Toto Knits, a brand we highly respect and recommend and a longtime member of our shopping portal. Thank you for supporting the brands that support our blog!

Cool new products from Muddy Puddles

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A few years ago a Swedish friend told me: there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. That year I ran out and invested in a big, warm, waterproof parka, and I swear it changed my entire outlook on winter. Having proper outdoor clothing is really essential to making the most of the harsher wintery weather. (Can you tell I’m really trying to psych myself up?)

Muddy Puddles completely embraces the great outdoors, no matter the weather. They ensure that kids can be properly dressed for every outdoor adventure, come rain or shine or even snow! I’m loving their new collection of gender-neutral outdoor wear, and I’m so impressed with all the handy features like zip-out fleece inserts in jackets (no need to buy a rain coat AND a warm winter jacket!). And how great is that 3-in-1 waterproof suit? Perfect for rain or snow, and seriously cute with the pointy pixie hood. I picked one up for Marlow and I just know she’ll get so much use out of it in the coming months.

Muddy Puddles is one of 30 shops who will take part in this year’s ShopUp event. A great opportunity to check out all their great products in person!

x Courtney

New Autumn/Winter collection at Caramel Baby & Child

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Caramel Baby & Child was one of the very first children’s labels I discovered when I became pregnant with my first baby back in 2004. I used to sneak into their little boutique just to hold the beautiful baby clothes in my hands… and always walked out feeling extra excited for my baby to arrive!

Ten years later, the clothes at Caramel still excite me. Season after season, they come out with a collection that is more beautiful than the next. I always pop in to Caramel if I need a unique baby gift or to find an outfit for a special occassion.

How gorgeous is their new collection? As always, it is timeless and beautiful with charming details and a modern feel. Just perfect. I’ve chosen to share photos of the children’s collection, because my gosh – how beautiful are the little models?!, but their baby collection is equally stunning.

x Courtney

P.S. We’re excited to welcome Caramel Baby & Child to this year’s ShopUp event. If you came to last year’s event, you’ll remember how gorgeous their booth was! Mark your diaries (December 3rd & 4th) and look out for them there.

Bamboo baby clothing from Panda and the Sparrow

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We’ve moved Marlow out of her cot and into the big bed with Ivy. The girls started sleeping together this summer after Marlow started refusing to sleep in her travel cot, and it was working well so we decided to let them continue once we returned to London. It’s funny because I was excited to take the cot down and create more play space in their room, but once it was down and the space was cleared, I suddenly realised… that’s it! my baby is no longer a baby! Gosh it went so quickly. (Remember when she was sleeping in our bed?)

I don’t know if it’s her personality or if it’s because she has three older siblings to mimic, but Marlow seems to have skipped a few months of her babyhood. No more cot, no more diapers, no more sippy cups. I’m just waiting for her to hand over her dummies and tell me she’s too big for those as well. : )

Thank goodness she still fits into her little all-in-one baby pyjama from Panda and the Sparrow. I love a baby in a one-piece suit. So snuggly and sweet! The baby clothes from Panda and the Sparrow are made from bamboo and organic cotton, making them extra soft, hypoallergenic, breathable and thermal regulating. Not to mention, I love the stripy designs and great colours!

Panda and the Sparrow is a new brand created by two mothers earlier this year and we’re excited to welcome them to the ShopUp event in December. Mark your diaries (December 3rd & 4th) and look out for them there.

x Courtney

p.s. A previous post with my thoughts about bed sharing.

Petit Bateau Rain Cape

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

xxx Esther

Amy & Ivor handmade moccasins

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Amy & Ivor moccasins
leather moccasins

I’ve gotten moccasins for the kids before, but never ones this soft and supple! The moccasins from Amy & Ivor must be the closest thing to walking barefoot — perfect for babies and beginner walkers… and even busy toddlers who never sit still (as tested by Marlow).

Amy & Ivor moccasins are handmade to order and are made in England by a small team using high quality chrome-free and vegetable tanned leathers. The result is a wonderfully soft and absolutely beautiful shoe. (My size, please!)

x Courtney

p.s. Amy & Ivor is one of 25 amazing shops lined up to take part in this year’s ShopUp event here in London. Mark your diaries and look out for them there!

Last days of summer and the TULA baby carrier

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beach walk
Our final week of summer holiday has been a really wonderful one. I turned my phone off, stuck it in the bottom of my suitcase, and haven’t checked it even once! I wanted to disconnect a bit and soak up these carefree summer days before we return to London and the kids go back to school. I’ve made a point of spending quality time with each of my children, asking questions, really listening to their answers, just being more present.  We’ve gone on long walks, played games, read books, hung out in our pyjamas and have just been generally slow and lazy. It’s not going to be easy going back to our normal routines and early morning wake-ups (plus jet-lag! eeek!), but I’m so thankful for our long summer away.

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Speaking of long walks… I wanted to mention a new baby carrier I’ve discovered which has completely changed my life (or at least my walking-with-Marlow life).  Earlier this summer Marlow started to complain about being in the Ergo carrier. I would strap her in at the onset of our walks and within minutes she would ask to be put down. I started to wonder if perhaps she wasn’t comfortable in the Ergo anymore. (Sidenote: of all the baby carriers I’ve tried, the Ergo has been my favourite. I didn’t think it was possible to find a better option.)

Enter the Tula toddler carrier. I am convinced this is the best option for toddlers aged 18 months and over. The Tula is a lot like the Ergo, but it’s got a wider fabric body which is better for toddlers because it doesn’t dig into their little thighs. Also, the fabric is much softer and so it fits over their bigger body with ease and is really comfortable, both for the toddler and the mama.  Marlow has ridden comfortably in the Tula for several long walks without ever asking to be put down. It has made such a difference during the past couple weeks, especially since I haven’t had my husband to offer shoulder rides to tired children.

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I hope you don’t mind me sharing a few photos from a recent beach walk with my kids. I hid my phone away and haven’t taken any photos this past week, but my sister snapped these photos and I’m so happy to have them as a memory of our lazy late summer days.

x Courtney

p.s. I’ll be in London next time you hear from me. Wish me luck on that long flight back home. : )

This boy, and balls!

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

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

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

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

xxx Esther

 

Old school boys look, and a new collection from La Coqueta

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It’s been so-so with the weather in the Netherlands since we came back from France last week. Lots of rain, and often we’ve been wearing cardigans and socks to keep ourselves warm! It really seems that autumn is early this year… I’ve been dressing Casper (who, by the way, had a huge growth spurt the last few weeks!), in shorts and knee socks a lot and I can just eat him up. I love that old-fashioned boys look!

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It seems like the new look book from La Coqueta came perfectly in time. Isn’t everything just so adorable? (Including the models!!)

la_coqueta4 la_coqueta2 la_coqueta_3 la_coqueta7The collection will launch today… I will definitely stock up on some old-school outfits for Casper for the coming season, because if the weather stays like this, he will definitely be getting lots of wear out of it!

xxx Esther

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