Like us on Facebook!

It’s a joke! We swear! We promise we don’t actually feel this way! But really… please come like us on Facebook. We are just 100 likes shy of reaching our big goal of 10,000 likes. So close! And we promise, when we get there, we have an ENORMOUS giveaway up our sleeves! We can’t wait to announce it and tell you all the great prizes up for grabs (a total value of more than £5,000). So please, if you haven’t already, come and like our Facebook page.

xx Courtney

p.s. Image/joke found here.

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

Head Lice woes

Lice – they are the bane of my life! I even dream of them. I guess because we live in a big city, lice are unavoidable. I have tried lotions, potions, shampoos, some of them ecological, some of them positively radio-active! I even managed to spend a crazy amount of money on a real jar of Hellman’s mayonnaise (difficult to find in France) because I read somewhere on the internet that I could get rid of lice with it.

This weekend the schools in our area decided to organise a collective delousing campaign. We were all asked to delouse our children on the same weekend. The hope is that this will stop the lice circulating — at least for a while. I am interested to see if this is successful, but it is really nice to see how everyone got on board!

So here are some tips I have gotten to prevent lice. (Once you have them, I find that the only thing that really works is brushing the hair with a fine tooth comb in front of a good movie!)

Lavender essential oil: Lice seem to be sensible souls who do not like the smell of lavender, so I drop a couple of lavender essential oil drops onto the girls’ pillows. That way their hair smells good and I think it does help to keep the lice at bay. I have also been told that teatree oil helps.

Braids: I told my 93-year-old grandmother about my lice issues and she looked at me incredulously and asked why my girls’ hair was not braided at school. I had never figured out why, in the olden days, all the little girls had nice, tight braids… It prevented lice!

Cleaning linen, and everything in the house: It is such a pain, but it helps. Every time there is even an suspicion that someone might have lice, we wash and clean our bed linen and towels and spray the sofa and armchairs.

Apart from that, I just freeze when I see anyone scratching their heads and throw my hands up in despair! I am interested: Do other countries also have the lice problem? How do you deal with it?

- Emilie

P.S Above is a photo I took of Violette pretending to be scratching her head and having lice. She got a bit annoyed with me because she was in the middle of measuring something, but I think the annoyed expression goes with the theme…

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!

Klorane Dry Shampoo


I have been travelling a lot lately in planes, trains and automobiles… which has been a lot of fun, but the one thing that has suffered a little bit is my hair. Waking up in the early hours and getting my girls ready and out of the door to catch a train does not leave much time for styling and by the end of the day my hair looked distinctly lacklustre.

I read about Klorane Extra Gentle Dry Shampoo on a Cup of Jo a while ago and decided to give it a go without much conviction, but, seriously, it works! Now, my hair did not feel any cleaner, but it looked great, clean and with a bit of a bounce. This, in turn, made me feel a little bit less travel weary!

If you are in France you can pick up the dry shampoo in most Pharmacies, but you can also order it off Amazon.

- Emilie

Family life in Paris


I often am asked what it is like to bring children up in Paris and what I like and don’t like about it, so I thought it could be fun to write down some of my experiences! These are just random things that I have personally observed..

Playgrounds and Parks: There are not many and there is especially not a lot of green grass for the kids to play on. Most neighbourhood parks are small and consist of flowerbeds, a play structure with benches around it and no swings! Kids go play and the parents sit on the sidelines reading books. The Parisians are definitely not helicopter parents – children entertain themselves or play with their friends. It’s nice as the kids are really independent, but it is not so nice when they start throwing sand at each other’s faces and there are no grown-ups to intervene.

Schools: I do find the the school system of a country defines the country a lot. Like most French school children, my children go to the local French school around the corner. The standard of education is high, and the children are challenged and marked at a very young age (the word evaluation is used a lot). Interestingly this is not only something that the teachers impose on the children, but something that is actually being asked for by a lot of the parents. For example, teachers are not really supposed to give the children homework, but it is apparently often the parents who insist they do! Schools are also not a place for the whole family to socialise, but only the children. Parents drop their children off in the morning and rush of to work. At the end of the day, we pick up the children at the school gate, but there is not a lot of chatting going on… (My personal theory is that there is a belief in France that the education of children is responsibility of the state, not of the parents, so schools are not a place for parents to get involved). I might be wrong, but I do have the feeling that there are a lot more full-time working mothers in Paris than in other big European cities I know. This might also be the reason why there is less involvement from the family in school life.

Restaurants: Though it has improved a lot, Parisian restaurants do not cater toward children. Children are welcome though, as long as they tow the line and sit down and eat. Maybe I am mistaken, but not that many of my French friends take their kids out to eat. People cook a lot and have people over for dinner, even in the tiniest apartments.

Apéro: One of the favourite things to do over here is to have people over for apero (short for aperitif) which are pre-dinner drinks. My children have even been invited over by their friends over for an apero instead of a playdate! Usually there will be champagne or wine, beer, sparkling water and Champony (a sparkling apple juice in a champagne bottle) for the kids. Foodwise often you serve paté, foie gras and some good saucisson. It’s the perfect event to have with kids and parents, it starts relatively early and you are not required to serve real food for everyone.

Food Shopping: Parisians still go to the market on a Saturday or Sunday and buy their meat at the butchers, their bread at the bakers, their cheese at the cheese shop and their vegetables at the green grocers – it is one of the things I love about this city!

These are are just some personal observations. Other people might have had completely different experiences, which would be lovely to hear by the way!

- Emilie

Above, a photo of Place des Vosges, which is a typical Parisian park, which is beautifully landscaped, but definitely not full of rambling nature…

My house tour featured on Houzz

The lovely Lauren from Houzz asked to pop over a few weeks ago to take some photos of our home and do a little interview about our house renovation project. She and photographer, Noah Darnell, stopped by just as we were serving pancakes, the kiddos still in their pyjamas. They snapped these photos before taking photos of the rest of the house, and I love that they captured the Saturday pancake ritual in our home. (Usually I am in my pyjamas too, of course! But still!)

If you would like to see photos of our home on Houzz and read about our renovation, you can click here. Thank you Houzz for the feature!

x Courtney

(All photos by Noah Darnell)

Projecteo, the tiny Instagram projector

I recently came across Projecteo which is a tiny projector that projects instagram photos. My daughter runs around projecting them on every possible surface. This would make a great stocking stuffer or as a novel little present for a friend. I plan on making a little nature story to project on our wall as part of our night time ritual. So many creative possibilities!

x Elizabeth

Inspiring holiday ideas from Sweet Paul!

You probably have heard of the talented Paul Lowe Einlyng, better known to most people as ‘Sweet Paul‘. His blog and quarterly magazine are an accumulation of wonderful craft projects, yummy recipes and creative decor ideas, all photographed in the most stunning and inspiring way. I’m a big fan of Sweet Paul!

Sweet Paul is sharing some ideas below that were published in his 2013 Sweet Paul Holiday Kids issue. I’m pretty sure they will inspire you to do something crafty with your kids the coming weeks! (Or if not, you can just gaze at the pretty pictures.) The entire magazine, full to the brim with inspiring activities like the sneak peeks below, is available as a PDF download here (for iPad click here). And it’s beautiful!

xxx Esther

Cheese Sticks
These are amazing when served with eggs.

Makes 20 sticks
1 sheet puff pastry (I love to
use Dafour)
½ cup grated cheese of your choice

1. Preheat then oven to 375°F.
2. Cut the puff pastry into half-inch strips.
3. Twist them gently and place in a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.
4. Sprinkle with cheese.
5. Bake until golden. This will take about 10 minutes.

Mister Rabbit and Miss Cat
These are very simple toys to make. You can make fabric scraps, make sure they are a natural fiber so that you can watch them.

You need:
fabric
pen
needle and thread
cotton stuffing
sewing Maschine
1.Start by drawing your animal on the fabric.
2.Emboyder it using small stitches.
3.Cut around the animal so that it follows its shape, you need a front and a back.
4.Sew them together right side against right side, turn inside out and stuff with stuffing.
5.Sew up the hole.

And here are the instructions for the adorable Peanut Snowman at the top.

Peanut snowmen
This is a great kids project. Looks awesome on a small tree.

You need:
whole peanuts
white craft paint
marker
wool string
hot glue gun
acorn tops
1.Start by painting the peanuts white.
2.Once dry use a marker and make eyes and mouth.
3.Hot glue a acorn top to the top of the peanut and fasten a piece of wool string around the neck.

Thank you Sweet Paul!

The Milk anniversary book

Christmas came early! The Milk Anniversary Book landed on my doormat this morning and I’ve been busy admiring all of the beautiful photos inside…

Milk Magazine is celebrating its 10th birthday this year, and to celebrate the occasion they have published a gorgeous coffee table book full of the best fashion photos from the past decade. All the photos are absolutely stunning; the exceptional creativity of the Milk Magazine team combined with numerous talented photographers gives this book an immediate cult status. Truly inspirational! To purchase visit the Milk boutique here (quote code ‘babbyc’ for 5% exclusive discount).

xxx Esther

The Little Things… Gift (un)wrapping!

I love gift giving — there is something so wonderful about planning the perfect gift for someone special, wrapping it in the nicest possible way, the actual excitement of giving it, and finally seeing the joy on the face of the receiver…

This week for The Little Things, we’ve created simple holiday wrapping paper by stamping triangles on craft paper. It makes such a happy house to pile some presents in a corner of your house… And Casper and his little friend Mees had a ball opening the presents and playing with the awesome toys inside (all kindly lent to us by A Day with Kate).

It’s easy to create this simple holiday wrapping paper. Just make a triangular stamp by cutting a corner of a regular eraser. We made one bigger and one smaller stamp. The kids can help to stamp the paper!

Sara Musch made wonderful matching gift tags (just download for free here), and the ‘Pretty Things Inside‘ tape is also from A Day with Kate.

xxx Esther

PS –  This is the fifth post in a series which is called ‘The Little Things’. Thank you again Maud Fontein for taking beautiful photos in your awesome house, and Sara Musch for the cool download. All the toys are from Janod via wonderful webshop A Day with Kate, and the boys’ outfits are from Gray Label, also via A Day with Kate.

Sweet paper goods from Ekaterina Trukhan



I’ve written about her books before (here), but Ekaterina Trukhan recently got in touch to let us know about her new range of stationery and paper products in her newly launched shop. I love her sweet and cheery designs and think they really appeal both to kids and grown-ups alike. I love the new 2014 Calendar which features illustrated children appropriately dressed for the seasons of each month.

x Courtney

XL angels by Jurianne Matter

Jurianne Matter is a Dutch designer and I’m a big fan of her work. The clever ways she uses paper and patterns is just wonderful! These XL angels are new in her collection and are such a lovely way to decorate your house for the holidays.

If you don’t know Jurianne’s work yet, check out the rest of her designs here — the pop up posters are so beautiful, and many of her other products make cute little gifts to pop in the mail for far away friends… (All available through Bijzonder Mooi.)

xxx Esther

Timecapsules — capture the present & preserve for the future

Every now and then I have the feeling I have to stop time for a moment. To soak up my life, my kids who are still so little, my husband, our love and health and happiness. And I try to remember the little things, the smell of my baby’s hair, the sweet kisses from Ava, Pim and Sara kneeling over a game they are playing together. But it is nearly impossible to remember all those tiny details…

Enter TimeCapsules — a beautifully designed box designed to capture big and little things from certain moments in life, and keep them locked away until the date you have decided to open it up again. The box comes filled with all sorts of cool stickers, washi tape, tags and a journal, and lots of suggestions for what to store in your box.

We’ve been gradually collecting things to put in our box, and the children have written notes and made drawings for their future selves. We decided to open our TimeCapsules box in 20 years — Sara will be 28 years old, and Casper 21! What will our lives look like then, and who will we be?

TimeCapsules make perfect presents for a wedding, the birth of a baby, a graduation or for a friend who is moving far away… But I also like the idea of using it to simply capture everyday life, the little things we love. (If only I could capture the smell of my baby’s hair!) So I think these make a wonderful (holiday) gift for someone special as well.

xxx Esther

Baby Bear Shop organic bath!




Marlow still fits in our laundry room deep sink and it’s my favourite way to bathe her. No crouching over, no wasting water, and having her up at my level makes it easier to wash and rinse her. (I think it’s her favourite way to be bathed too – she always points at the sink asking to get in it!)

We have recently discovered the Baby Bear Shop range of organic bath products and love the Wishy Wash baby wash/shampoo and the natural Baby Bird bar soap. It has a very delicate, natural smell and a gentle sudsy-ness. Perfect for sensitive baby skin. I also love their gorgeous packaging (made from recycled paper!) and that they plant a tree with every order placed.

xx Courtney

Tutti Confetti, charming illustrations

I am so completely in love with the spanish ilustrator Tutti Confetti. I think they are not only lovely but the overall warmth and feel of them is just amazing.

Sooo nice. But my favourite are the personalized ilustrations she makes. You send her a picture and she does the most beautiful drawing full of emotions!  Nico and I already have ours. And I cannot stop looking at it.

Congratulations Tutti Confetti!!

Maria

p.s. To read more from Maria, visit her lovely blog here.

Christmas crackers from Toast

Our Christmas is a bit of a cultural melting pot. One of my brothers lives in Germany, the other in Ireland, my parents are based in Italy and we arrive from France. Of course we all like to bring along some traditions from all of our countries, so we have these hilarious meals where we start off with foie gras which we drink with German Sekt (sparkling wine) and finish up with mince pies and panatone topped off with a good port. The stilton lands on the cheese plate beside the parmesan and there are furious debates about whether Scottish oatcakes taste like sawdust and should never be eaten with gorgonzola or if this is the best fusion food ever.

One of the traditions I do miss from my time in London are Christmas crackers, which are really hard to get in France, not to mention Germany or Italy. They are so much fun to pop! Thanks to the wonderful world wide web, I have started ordering them online form the UK. This year I have decided on the Toast Christmas Crackers which come filled with a little hat, an old recipe and a little gift. Don’t they look lovely?

- Emilie

COATT Jewellery


COATT is a gorgeous jewellery line from Los Angeles we are very happy to have recently discovered. Designer Rebecca Coagan hand makes the jewellery using gold dots and dashes strung along beautiful silk threads, forming feminine morse coded words, names and phrases. We love the subtile way to carry around an almost secret message, like the first letters of your children’s names or a special message between lovers, sisters or best friends.

There are beautiful silk thread necklaces in different lengths & colours, and gorgeous bracelets strong enough to withstand grabbing toddler hands. Delicate but durable at the same time. And so stunning!

We are really excited to announce that COATT is joining us at The ShopUp this Sunday & Monday! We’re thrilled to be able to offer a shop specifically for mothers…. so you can treat yourselves… or send your husbands to pick something up for their very deserving wives! I will be dropping loads of hints to my husband for sure! : )

xx Courtney

Mikodesign — gorgeous screen prints and dolls!

I’ve written about Erika from Mikodesign before… I just love her creativity and her gorgeous range of screen-printed products. Her DIY doll kits are amazing, and so much fun to put together if you like sewing. Sara and I are in the process of making the new, special edition neon I Love Paris rabbit together — a lovely little project! It even comes with a little tote bag and a skirt with Paris print, plus an additional Eifeltower that can be turned into a really cool hanger. (In case sewing is not your thing, Erika also sells the dolls ready-made.)

And… I’m so happy that Erika is joining us for the ShopUp this weekend!! She’s told me she will bring a whole range of DIY kits and ready-made dolls, and darling clothing sets for the dolls as well. Plus tons of her adorable ornaments and accessories. All designed and handmade by Erika herself of course!
You’ll find me heading up the queue in front of her stand!! : )

xxx Esther

PS all photos are taken from Erika’s lovely Instagram feed.

Maud Fontein’s Happy Holiday Shoot — at the ShopUp!

Last week I took my four kids over to Maud Fontein to get them photographed at her newest creative idea, the Happy Holidays Shoot. With just a sledge and a black and white background (Elizabeth Dunker’s wonderful Spruce wallpaper for Photowall!), she created a wonderfully festive and modern setting for her shoot. And she managed to take a few really cute photos of my troops in no longer than ten minutes time! (Chapeau!)

I also picked up a box of the gorgeous cards that Vivian Dony from Donydesign designed in cooperation with Maud Fontein to house the photos of the Happy Holidays Shoot. Each box contains 20 very pretty cards, black envelopes and matching envelope seal stickers, cool masking tape and a white pen. Everything to make it super easy to create our own, personalised holiday cards with the contents of the box and the prints from Maud’s shoot. And I’m super pleased with the results! The cards look so cool and crafty and original.

If you’re coming to our ShopUp event in London this Sunday or Monday (we hope so!), do bring your kids! Maud will be there with her Happy Holidays setup, and Vivian will be selling the cool boxed card sets as well. The perfect opportunity to get cute family photos, and everything you need to make these cool holiday cards!! (And in case you’re not interested in specific holiday photos, Maud will also bring a more generic background, like the one you can see here.) It will be such fun!

xxx Esther

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