One of the many advantages of living in a relatively small flat in Paris is that my storage space is limited, which in turn means that I don’t accumulate a lot of useless stuff. (BTW, this actually goes completely against my nature, so it has been an ‘interesting’ learning curve — to learn to think hard before buying!). Basically I have been trying to stick to quality rather than quantity.
I love, love, love this French website I discovered recently as it sells simple household items that have been around for generations and have one thing in common: quality. Most of the items are French-made or from neighbouring countries. Every single thing on the website has a story and is guaranteed to be useful for a very long time. Here are some of my favourites: the great Duralex glasses I wrote about a while ago, the cast iron “cocotte“, the swipping pan that actually looks nice just hanging in the kitchen.
My other favourite is the chestnut chair which is made in my region, the Limousin, so I have a little sentimental attachement to it! Unfortunately the website is only in French at the moment, but it is pretty easy to navigate, especially with google translator.
Summer means drinking a lot of water. I read somewhere that a grown-up should drink at least 1.5 litres of fluids a day. I tried it once and it did make me feel great, but it actually took a huge amount of effort and I have not done it since! One of my pet peeves are all the plastic bottles we use. Partly because they must be the worst thing for the environment and also because I can’t help thinking of all the plastic nastiness that must be seeping into the water itself (BTW I might be completely paranoid, as I don’t have any scientific evidence to prove said plastic nastiness).
Anyway, this brings me to my newest item I cannot live without: my Sigg bottle, a light-weight metal bottle that I fill up wherever I go. I have the 60 ml version, the kids each have the smaller version. Taking our bottles with us has so much become part of our routine now, that we rarely need to buy bottles while we are out and about. Hopefully this is a little helpful for the environment, to our health and also to my wallet!
I recently picked up some enamel pieces — I love enamel! I like the clean look of it and the timelessness of the pieces. Enamel is in fact metal with a thin layer of paint and glass over it. It is perfect for children, as it won’t scatter in pieces when it falls, but pieces of the glass and paint may chip off (showing the black metal underneath). When that happens don’t worry — the metal will naturally oxidise and is still safe to use. Enamel is also oven proof — I love the enamel oven dishes!
Here are where I found the above pieces:
Cachette is a new Anglo-French lifestyle concept store that has recently launched, and it is selling a gorgeous selection of homewares and children’s products. I love the artisan quality of it all, the simplicity which has a directness and honesty to it that reminds me of other times, without it being antique or scruffy at all — it’s a super fresh collection! All the finds are totally up my alley, and I’m pretty sure will be up yours as well…
We’re vacationing in France at the moment, and I came across these adorable bowls in a store yesterday. Of course I just couldn’t resist — thinking they would just be perfect for breakfast in the garden, or for serving summery dishes like blackberry cobbler! They are available online through the online store of Comptoir de Famille, or in the UK at Divertimenti.
Some people spend their life searching for the holy grail. I spend my life searching for the perfect mug. I was brought up with the belief that a cup of tea is a remedy to anything from a common cold to a broken heart. All the politicians out there take note: sitting down with a good cup of tea will pretty much solve the world’s problems!
So as you might be able to guess, I have tea making down to a fine art and I reckon the receptacle of the tea is almost as important as the tea itself! I don’t like fussy, little china cups or mugs with silly logos on them. My mugs need to be substantial but not too big — the result is cold tea. Check out these mugs from TG Green: Perfect! I love the colour twist on the classic cornish blue pottery. I think having a good cup of tea out of the bright yellow strippy mug is going to make me happy!
ONE YEAR AGO WE WROTE ABOUT:• Sweet for Baby: Travel Bag By Maud
• The Female Brain — Don’t blame me, blame the hormones…
I have visited Ikea quite a bit recently — something I both love & hate. I love that you can fill a trolley, spend a £100 and really feel like you’re getting your home in order. I hate that every time I go I lose someone (last time I lost my Mum for 45 minutes — imagine, if you will, a thirty-something woman approaching the info-desk with the words “I’ve lost my Mum!”).
Anyway, are they stepping up their bakeware or am I just slow on the uptake? I was really impressed with their baking accessories, cupcake papers and doilies. I couldn’t resist these Dala horse (Mama & Baby) bake tins – so cute! I baked Courtney’s famous carrot cake in them over the weekend, which has become a favourite recipe in our household. However, my only problem was getting the cake out in the end — does anyone have a great cake recipe that is meant to be baked in a tin like this and therefore slips out?
Unlike the UK and France, where I’ve been told kids get a warm and nutritious lunch at school, here in the Netherlands we send our children to school with the traditional lunchbox. Every morning I find myself in the kitchen preparing sandwiches for Pim and Sara, with some cold sides like fruit, cheese or vegetables (or whatever I find in the fridge). We don’t traditionally eat warm lunches here, and anyway there’s no means to warm up food in the school.
Because I’m quite often stuck in the morning for original ideas to fill the boxes, I’m thinking of creating a (printable) list of ‘ideas for the lunchbox’. Now I only have 10 minutes for this in the morning, so creating fresh sushi or sandwiches in the shape of an octopus is not for me (yes I know, my poor children). Do you have tips for me? Whether food items, easy recipes, good lunch boxes or shopping tips, I’m interested to hear. To be continued.
PS Unbreakable stainless steel Eco Lunchbox from GreenJump.nl
These gorgeous personalised lunchboxes by Feterie are high on my birthday list for my children this year. With a bit of a retro-cool vibe, they are of lightweight tin construction and as functional as they are stylish. I think they’d be great for toting around paper and coloured pencils too, or whatever knick-knacks it is kids love to drag around (footy cards in my son’s case). I can also imagine them being great for keeping all my daughter’s hair paraphernaila together — those elastics, clips and ribbons crop up all over the house, yet when we need to tie her hair each morning for school, there’s never one to be found! Feterie ship world-wide.
ONE YEAR AGO WE WROTE ABOUT:• Under Her Wing
I often get nostalgic for London — I spent 10 years there and it is one of my favourite cities in the world. I also like the look of London — it may not be as beautiful as Paris, but it’s much more interesting with so many different buildings from so many different eras. Paris is very homogenous, whilst London can surprise you at every corner you turn.
I found these mugs at the great shop Loulou Addict and could not resist getting a couple. They are designed by talented British designer Snowden Flood. I love the look of them — they are perfect for my morning coffee… and if I can’t come to London at least a tiny bit of London can come to me!
I have a bit of an obsession with baker’s twine. I ordered 4 huge spools of it a few months ago and I am looking around for more. Now I’m no crafty, but even I can think of a million uses. In fact, we seem to be using it in some shape or form at least once a day (yesterday my daughter used it to make some bunting for her dolls house). Great for gift wrapping instead of ribbon, just team with brown butcher paper… It is also beautiful for wrapping baked goods. It adds a nostalgic, rustic look that is simple and classic. Traditional red and white baker’s twine is perfect but I am totally smitten with these delicious, eye-popping colors from The Twinery.
One place I always recommend (sometimes even insist!) our visitors to Melbourne see is the picturesque town of Dayelsford. Dayelsford is a village in rural Victoria in the heart of the Wombat Forest; so pretty, so quaint, peaceful & dignified, just as a spar town should be, but with the hippest cafes, shops and restaurants you can imagine! There are several things you must do when visiting this adorable town — have your tarot read, take in the local markets, stroll through the forest, visit the mineral spas (the Shire boasts the highest concentration of mineral springs in the country together with an equally large array of therapists) AND stop by Lark to indulge in some retail therapy! (more…)
ONE YEAR AGO WE WROTE ABOUT:• Gift Elephant
Packed to the rafters with local designers and craftspeople, MadeIt is a virtual craft market containing a wealth of handmade housewares and goodies. It is my go-to source when I want something unique, affordable and hand-crafted. It is similar to Etsy but supports only local Australian talent.
What I love about the site, apart from the fact that everything is handmade and local, is that it brings you, in one spot, everything you can’t buy at your local shopping mall. It takes the legwork out of shopping for those unique, handmade goodies which I love to buy but can take me forever to look for. And of course there is something gratifying about buying a locally made gift, supporting your local economy. (more…)
I do appreciate a nice tea towel… and I’m fussy with mine. Perhaps it relates to my textile obsession. Nonetheless, I like them to be made of good quality linen, aesthetically pleasing… and generally I find, the more use they get, the better they look. Now, because of this ‘pseudo fetish’, much to my husband’s amusement, and at times sheer frustration, I am always scouring the shops for tea towels.
Recently looking out of the car window at the lovely window shop display, waiting for the traffic lights to change…
Me in passenger seat: ‘Wow, is that…are they…my goodness I think they are tea towels!’
Husband in driver seat: ‘No, no darling, that’s just a painting…’
Me: ‘No husband, I really don’t think so… they look like linen… I’m sure they are tea towels. Yes, yes they ARE tea towels! Quick…STOP! I’ll be really quick!’
Husband rolls eyes and pulls over. And that was how I came to acquire 3 tea towels from Third Drawer Down. (more…)
How cute are these cupcake kits!!!! What a simple solution to make you look like a baking rock star! Meri Meri has something for just about every occasion and the quality is just beautiful. Now that the coldest months are rolling into the city I like doing cooking projects in the afternoon to deal with those often painfully long hours between the “end-of-school” and the “start-of-dinner”. There are tons of other really adorable and creative things on the website as well — invitations, thank you cards and notepads. And speaking of cupcakes… I want one.
With Valentine’s Day approaching soon, I couldn’t resist purchasing this amazingly cool heart shaped frying pan. I’m not yet sure whether I’ll serve the pancakes or the eggs, or maybe both… But I’m positive my family will love them (and me)!
Like many households with children, we are the proud owner of an Ikea Bekvam step stool, which lives in our kitchen and is used all the time. It helps the kids reach the counter, it helps our Peruvian sitter to reach the upper cabinets (mounted extra high to accommodate tall Dutch genes), and it helps me to reach the upper, upper cabinets that even tall Dutch girls can’t reach!
A handy gadget, this Bekvam. It’s not, however, the most original piece of interior (hear the architect speaking?), and to be honest, mine is so much in need of a layer of paint that I hardly dare to display it in my kitchen!
Thankfully we now have the beautiful, modern, fresh, and well-designed Tess stool in the house. A lovely addition to our household! It’s being used in the bathroom to brush teeth, dragged to the kitchen when there’s a threat of a fight over the Bekvam, and used as a side table or stool where and whenever needed. (more…)
ONE YEAR AGO WE WROTE ABOUT:• Arty & Bella
My family is in the grip of ‘Masterchef’ fever! My kids are so enthused by this reality television program that I practically have my youngest deriding me for not making the terrine for his school lunch. And while the downside for me is that the bar has been raised (my rather unspectacular cooking now looks even more… unspectacular), the show has reinforced the value of good eating, team-building and the importance of accepting constructive criticism. My daughter particularly has been caught by the cooking bug. This morning she made us a lovely, albeit slightly burnt dish of scrambled eggs, grilled tomato, and baby spinach — we devoured it… every char-grilled morsel!
A friend recently introduced me to a great children’s cooking website called Wholesome Productions which creates a fabulous range of children’s cooking kits. They also sell party cooking kits for those brave enough to host their own kid’s cooking party. (more…)