You know it’s kind of a slow day at home when I am sitting here trying to write something creative about a thermos… but I must spread the word about this particular one as it will change your life. The ante for the lunch standard in New York City has changed quite a bit since the ’70s and a boring old sandwich is simply unacceptable. We now send our kids with “food jars” so that we can offer them variety. The Foogo thermos is perfect for packing pasta’s, soups, fruit, cheese, etc; and it keeps food hot or cold for up to five hours. It’s the perfect portion size and fits nicely into a backpack. Let’s just say it is a far cry from the Thermos from back in the olden days when I went to school. All I’m saying is that mine totally leaked, always smelled like rotting apple juice and rolled around in my lunchbox crushing my sandwich. Kids today….they don’t even know how good they have it.
I went to Ikea today to get some frames and came back with some frames (although I nearly forgot them), two Lidan laundry baskets, cute paper napkins, a plant for in the bathroom (Pogonatherum, an old favourite), two little stuffed mice for the children, a dish-washing brush, a set of three small wooden boxes with lids for in the bathroom (it desperately needs to be re-organized – as always), a selection of cool looking Swedish juices and knackerbröt, a wicker basket to keep my herbs on the balcony, and the apple slicer ‘Charm‘ (pictured), that I’ve already tested and I can truly recommend.
I kept myself from buying another Norrebo storage bench (on sale now), 4-for-the-price-of-one Daim chocolate bars, more hooded towels and the Plocka plates that have a space for a small bowl and would be super-cute for breakfast.
I might go back tomorrow…
You know all those seemingly useless gadgets that fill up crowded bookstore counters? Well, I think I’ve never bought any of them (and was proud of it), but I recently bought this (not very sexy) led booklight by Energizer and I’m quite happy with it!
I finally caved in to such a gadget because I love bedtime reading — it doesn’t matter how late it is or how tired I am I really love to read before falling asleep. From 10 minutes to a couple of hours (when I am close to finishing a book) I feel it’s a better way of ending the day. I’m not too bothered about disturbing my husband, who actually does not seem to mind, but these days I’m sharing the bedroom with my two children and the little one is a very light sleeper so I had to find a solution!
I have now been using it for a week and I’m so satisfied, I actually really like being able to read while surrounded by darkness and the soft noise of sleeping kids. It clips on the book cover and it produces a cool light that’s enough for reading, the arm is flexible so there is space for a bit of adjustment.
I’m sure there are better designed ones, and I will definitely be on the lookout for a cooler version because I’m telling you… I will never be without a booklight again!
It all started with a trip to my local kitchen/home-wares shop ‘Roost’ in Malvern where I was searching for a rocket-shaped cookie cutter. As I made my way to the counter I caught sight of the most gorgeously packaged apothecary style bottles of… something. I didn’t know what, all I knew was that whatever it was, I liked it. On closer inspection I realized that they were cleaning products. What’s more they were a ‘premium range of organic cleaning products’ and were ‘earth, food, child and pet safe’. I wasn’t disappointed. Actually, I was so excited! Not only am I BIG on cleaning (perhaps even verging on the neurotic) but I am always on the lookout for more eco-friendly cleaning options. (more…)
Every now and then a product comes along where you almost can’t fathom how on earth you ever functioned without it. Let’s face it — a home is simply not complete without a refrigerator cluttered in stuff – pics of the kids, a random to-do list, invitations, etc. The problem the modern day family has been running into for far too long is that magnets don’t stick to their cool stainless steel refrigerators!
The geniuses at Mayfair Lane have developed adorable, stylish clips, frames and notepads that stick to stainless steel, glass and metal! Yippie!!! I buy them as gifts for all of my friends who are always, like me, in shock that they have not seen anything like it before.
ONE YEAR AGO WE WROTE ABOUT:• De Taart van m’n Tante
As I contemplate the terrible task of packing for summer vacation, I’m making a mental checklist of all the baby necessities I’ll need to bring. One on the top on my list is my Diapees & Wipees case. I’ve had this thing for years now, and it has served me well– it holds a few diapers & a small pack of wipes. I’ve also managed to squeeze in a baggie or two for extra dirty diaper disposal and even an extra onesie for the inevitable accident, along with a disposable changing pad. Everything fits in a neat, cute, package — you have got to love the Eiffel Tower toile! (Other great fabrics are available too.) The case envelope is so compact that you can stash it easily in your purse and ditch the diaper bag. And it is great when you travel– leave hubby with the luggage, grab your Diapees & Wipees and make a quick trip to the bathroom. My daughter loves to play with it and gnaw on it when she is getting her diaper changed. If you check out the website, there is a whole list of international resellers for this super-handy mom-invented product.
A while ago I was sitting in my neighbour’s kitchen and spotted some brown bananas. Thinking of Courtney’s delicious banana bread recipe, I asked her if I could have the bananas if she was planning to throw them out (I knew she wouldn’t make banana bread herself – it’s not common at all here in the Netherlands)! She kindly refused, explaining that they had a family addiction to smoothies, so every over-ripe banana was very much needed!
Smoothies? It started to make me think:
- Smoothies are yummy
- Smoothies are healthy
- I finally found the excuse to buy one of those cool blenders!!!
So, the next weekend I convinced my husband that for the health of our family we needed a KitchenAid blender. (I admit, I completely went for the look of it; I didn’t read one review and didn’t compare prices!) And I love it.
Now, having just entered the world of smoothie making, I’ve discovered it’s an art by itself! There are a million recipes to find; you can use fruit, (soy)milk, yogurt, frozen berries, nuts, tofu, cereal, even egg whites!
Printing. Not only are we wasting paper (= trees), but we’re also using very earth-unfriendly ink! I agree, not printing at all is the best, but sometimes it just can’t be avoided (I have just printed a whole lot of invoices for my administration).
With this in mind, SPRANQ, a marketing and communications office here in the Netherlands, developed the Ecofont, a font that uses up to 20% less ink!!! They basically cut a whole lot of holes in the font, as they state: “After Dutch holey cheese, there now is a Dutch font with holes as well.”
Free to download — it’s Dutch, after all…
These little Piu Piu birds are meant for office use, where their main duty (due to their magnetic nature) is to hold paperclips. In our house however, these little birds are cute little companions to my children. I’m not really sure how it works (if it’s the movement of the hand or the warmth of the palm), but if you hold these little lovebirds in your hand they begin to sing! Very cute, and I’m actually very glad I got each of my children their own bird, because it’s one of those toys they will always fight over. And if they ever get tired of them? Then I’ll take them to the office! (The birds, not the kids.) Everybody happy!
Yesterday I bought myself a little present that, after immediate testing, has become one of those kitchen utensils you wonder how the rest of the world manages to live without! This garlic crusher by Dutch designer Ineke Hans for Royal VKB is super simple and at the same time incredibly ingenious.
Use the flat part to crush the garlic, skin and all. Remove the skin with your hands (much easier than trying to do it un-crushed). If desired, roll the ribbed part over the garlic to mince it even further. The garlic paste will of course stick between the ribs. Just use your fingers to get it out. Smelly hands by now? Don’t worry. Clean the stainless steel crusher under running water and, using the utensil as a bar of soap, the odor will disappear like magic. Magic! It’s brilliant. Available at Bijzonder Mooi!
ONE YEAR AGO WE WROTE ABOUT:• Breastfeeding in public (part2)
In our family we don’t travel anywhere without something we call an “important document folder”. We mostly travel with passports from 4 different countries (New Zealand for my husband, UK for my eldest daughter, France for my youngest daughter and Ireland for me). Then we have the livret de famille, a document you go nowhere without in France, as it proves that your children are in fact your children and your husband is in fact yours as well. On top of that we have tickets, different currencies, millions of different plastic cards and the list goes on and on… All this needs to be organised in an easily accessible manner — hence the “important document folder”.
Now, my important document folder is a beautiful vintage Hermés thing, but completely impractical for modern traveling. I inherited it from my grandmother and I love it. Problem is, I do get the feeling that in the ’50s travel documents were shaped differently and people definitely needed a lot less paper work.
So I have been perusing the internet and have fallen upon the wallet designers, Paris House. Ironically, though I am blogging from Paris, these fabulous travel wallets are actually designed on the other side of the world, in New Zealand. (more…)
ONE YEAR AGO WE WROTE ABOUT:• Snow & kids
Laptops are truly great because you can take them with you wherever you are, but that means you end up using the computer in very unsuitable places. I don’t know if this happens to you, but I often tap on the keyboard or browse the internet keeping the computer on the armrest of the couch and with my shoulders twisted and cramped. Not healthy at all!!!
Bräda the new laptop support from IKEA is doing wonders for my shoulders. It’s a moon shaped plastic board on top of a cloth bag that stays level on your laps or any uneven surface. It’s such a simple product and it does not even look that bad!
I truly recommend it to any computer addict!
ONE YEAR AGO WE WROTE ABOUT:• Donna Wilson’s creatures
When I worked in New York a long time ago, my office was literally around the corner from the MoMA. Every now and then, on a rare lunch break, I quickly walked into the museum store to have an inspirational browse through the fabulous designer products (although most often there was no such luxury as a lunch break; in NY everybody seems to always work, and never to need food at all!).
One of my favourite products in the MoMA store was this Sky Umbrella by Tibor Kalman. At the time I didn’t buy it, because the sky in NY is most of the time blue already, and anyway I thought I’d better spend my hard-earned money on a cocktail or two after work.
But now, here in Amsterdam, where the sky is grey more often than it is blue, the rain season seems to be never-ending and after-work cocktails are out of the question because there are a couple of hungry children anxiously waiting for their dinner, I can’t think of a better investment for my money than this fantastic umbrella!
Being ‘home’ with my mom for the past few weeks, I’ve learned a few new tips for the kitchen. Her new number one must-have kitchen utensil? The Norpro Multi Pot! This multi-purpose, stainless steel pot can be used for measuring, heating, and pouring. Say you need one cup of melted butter. Or, say you want to heat up some soup quickly and pour it into a bowl without spilling. Or, say you want to heat up some milk to make a cappuccino with your Aerolatte milk frother. Then you seriously must have this Norpro Multi Pot!
The thick, stainless steel tri-ply bottom protects the elements from burning, and allows for perfect heat conduction. The built in measuring table means you can use it to measure out the liquid, and the spout makes for mess-free pouring. Brilliant!
Before I came to Paris I thought that shopping trolleys (known in France as a ‘Caddie’) strictly existed for the over 70 market, and you would not have been able to pay me to be seen in public with one. When we got here I spotted someone close to my age with a caddie who was fairly normally dressed; I thought they were being ironic, but then I spotted another and another… everybody had one!!
The Caddie has had a revival in Paris and it makes complete sense! It is impossible to drive to the supermarket here, so why risk cutting off your circulation with plastic bag handles when you can load all your groceries into a trolley and gracefully pull them along behind you. It has also really cut down on the use of plastic bags; shopkeepers are now checking whether you have your caddies with you before bagging your groceries! The bigger supermarkets like Monoprix even loan out caddies if you happen to have bought more than you had planned for. (more…)
I am starting to be known for serving a good cappuccino: good, strong coffee with perfectly foamed milk on top. The coffee comes from Illy, and the foam is the quick work of a handy little gadget called the Aerolatte milk frother (another kitchen tool my mom bought for me)! It’s so brilliant that I always assume everyone must own one, but then I’ll have a friend come over who’s amazed by the foamy milk…
The Aerolatte is small, so it fits perfectly into the utensil drawer. It starts with one simple switch and takes about 2-3 minutes to froth the milk. (I use a stainless steal container to heat the milk on the stove.)
At-home cappuccinos have never been so easy.
Almost every time I sit down to breastfeed the telephone rings, and I can almost guarantee that it is lying on the other side of the flat. So I am running around following the ring, and the poor little thing is not really having a very enjoyable time, as running and feeding a newborn are not compatible, at least in my opinion.
This is where I have discovered the nifty little thing called a Pockaboo - a sort of tool belt for new moms. It is made out of 3 pockets in which you can stash all of your little bits and pieces. The pockets are big enough to store small water bottles, mobile phones etc., but also small enough that things cannot get lost at the bottom of the bag. The pockets are attached to a belt, so you can do a multitude of things with it: swing it round your waist, hang it from the back of a chair or a cot, or even when you (eventually) manage to get out, you can hang it from the back of your pram.
Ingenious, I think! Trust two moms to come up with the idea after they realized that there actually is a way out of the chaos of having a baby!
Sometimes the most useful things are also the simplest. These Happy Mummy Hook ‘n’ Stroll pram hooks belong to that category.
They have Velcro straps (so they will fit any pushchair bar), the big hook rotates, and they can hold up to 10kg… what else can you ask for?
I bought my set in London and am always stopped in Milan by other mums, and even shop owners, asking where to to get them. Unfortunately they are not yet for sale in Italy, but many websites carry them and some do not have high international shipping fees.
Just do not overload your stroller now!
My friend, Amanda, called yesterday and asked if I had any good recommendations for trainer chopsticks. I didn’t have any, but I figured Jenna from Babygadget would be the expert… after all, she is a trusted kiddie product reviewer, is in the food business, has two kids herself, AND is Korean. If that’s not expertise, I don’t know what is!
A search on Babygadget came up with a few different options. It seems the Edison Chopsticks are the best because the positioning loops help your kids know where to place their fingers. But because they are sourced directly from Korea, they’re apparently hard to get your hands on! The Chopstick Kids trainer chopsticks (pictured) are pretty cute and are made of dishwasher-safe, food grade silicone. And the Combi Trainers are good because they allow for a three-step training process. (more…)
To save on labour costs, many Italian supermarkets now allow regular customers to use a bar-code reader while shopping to scan their groceries. Once the shopping is done you return the reader to a dedicated till and pay. This helps reduce queues at the till and shopping trips become faster.
This whole process is made even easier, if you use the easyshopping bag from Reisenthel. This useful bag stretches across the entire width of the shopping trolley and hooks on both sides. After filling the bag with groceries you just un-hook it, shut the aluminium bars and carry it away!
They also come in different colours so you can easily separate your shopping while still in the supermarket. How cool is that?
They have many retailers all over the world and the Reisenthel online shop ships internationally.