As often as we can, my husband and I sneak away to a local restaurant to catch up over drinks before enjoying a quiet, child-free dinner. We are both so busy during the week, that we have to make our date nights a priority or they simply won’t happen! Focusing on each other (instead of the kids) allows us to reconnect and really listen to each other in a way that is difficult to do with all the distractions of day-to-day life.
My favourite dates involve a leisurely stroll to dinner at a local restaurant. We hold hands and flirt and it feels like we’re dating again! Every now and then we mix things up by going to a film or an event, but the goal is to focus on each other, so we try to keep it simple.
Given that our families live nearly five thousand miles from London, it isn’t always easy for us to find someone to watch the kids. In fact, we struggled for years to find babysitters who could accommodate our frequent date nights: local sitters were often unavailable, and trading babysitting with friends was too time consuming. Needless to say, I was thrilled when a friend recommended a babysitting website that solved my childcare woes. The site is childcare.co.uk.
You can use Childcare on your computer or via an app on your phone (I prefer the app). Families create a profile for potential sitters to browse, and sitters create profiles for families to browse. You can then easily message each other within the app to ask questions and set up interviews. We have used a variety of sitters through Childcare, and are beyond relieved to finally have a network of babysitters to call on. You can also use the service to find a nanny, childminder, au pair, tutor, or even a private midwife!
We managed to squeeze in date nights the last two weekends and we ended up doing the same thing both times (drinks and dinner at our favourite local spot). I would love to hear your favourite date night outings so I can mix things up for this weekend!
Childcare is a great service that I have tried, tested and love; we are happy to have Childcare on board as sponsors of our London ShopUp this December 10 and 11!
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE:
As I mentioned in an earlier post, we spent a week in LA back in September and stayed in the beautiful home owned by Peter James and Marisa Vitale. Marisa is a talented family photographer and offered to snap some photos of our family while we were in town. I jumped at the chance to get a rare photo of all six of us and to document the start of our family’s adventure, all of us so full of excitement… and admittedly a few jitters. We met Marisa at Temescal Gateway Park fresh from an afternoon at the beach (notice Ivy’s hair is still wet!), and went for a short walk under the big oak trees while she snapped photos. I’m so happy to have these photos and thought I would share some favourites here with you. My kids, especially the boys, are getting so big. It’s funny how sometimes you don’t notice until you see it in photos.
Also, a few of you have asked for LA tips so I thought I would share some of the things we did while we were in LA (mostly Venice beach). We spent a lot of time with Michael’s family in Pasadena so we didn’t have as much time to explore the city as tourists, and we were also on a budget so we didn’t eat out as often as we wanted to. : ) But in any case, here are the highlights:
- Temescal Gateway Park (where photos above were taken): A pretty park with lots of paths to explore. Just off Sunset Blvd.
- The beach! We spent a lot of time at nearby Venice Beach because it was within walking distance of our house. We also went to the beach near Temescal Canyon and Sunset Blvd which was less crowded.
- Boogie Boarding: you can rent boards from the beach-front vendors on the boardwalk. My kids loved this!
- Venice boardwalk: we spent an afternoon watching the skateboarders and street dancers. It was quite a scene with all the music and people!
- We also walked down Abbott Kinney Blvd just to check out how much it’s changed since we last lived in LA. We have a policy of not taking our children into shops if we can avoid it, so we didn’t go into any of the shops, but it was fun to see so many great new shops there. (Burro looked really cute from the outside, and there’s even now an Aesop on Abbott Kinney!) Speaking of shopping, I kept hoping to have the opportunity to sneak into General Store for a little peak around but I never made it in. It looks SO cute (and oh my goodness, the website! dangerous!!).
- We didn’t make it here, but Marisa suggested we check out Tonga Park in Santa Monica with cool native plants, water features, benches, etc. There’s also the nearby Santa Monica solar-panelled LED ferris wheel within walking distance.
- While I was in LA for the ShopUp, Michael took the kids to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles (which they loved) and the Arboretum (which, despite the heat, they found very interesting to see all the different plants and trees).
- Superba Food & Bread: This is located (dangerously) around the corner from the house we rented. Great for picking up bread and croissants (and coffee) in the morning, but they also have a wonderful menu for lunch and dinner.
- Whole Foods Market on Lincoln Blvd: We did most of our grocery shopping here. Just behind the store is Ozone park with two different playgrounds (for big and little kids) on opposite sides.
- Groundworks Coffee on Rose Ave: Great spot for coffee in a charming little spot.
- Cafe Gratitude: Unfortunately we never made it to this restaurant but I had so many friends tell me to eat here. It’s a well-known restaurant amongst those seeking organic, vegan and locally-sourced foods. Looks so good!
- We got a babysitter one evening and met Michael’s family downtown LA to celebrate his sister’s birthday at The Factory Kitchen for delicious Italian food.
That’s all I can remember, but please feel free to add more tips in the comments below. I’m sure families travelling to LA would appreciate all the recommendations!
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE:
My husband has given me flowers on the fourth of each month since our first kiss on 4th Feb, 2002. (So sweet, right?!) Over thirteen years of flowers later, I still find myself charmed when I receive them. Their fragile nature, and purely aesthetic function make flowers such a special, and luxurious gift.
Given my expert flower receiver status, I was intrigued to hear about a new flower delivery service that is changing the way we send and receive flowers. Bloom & Wild packages their flowers in a box that is just the right size to fit through your mail slot! Genius! I was lucky enough to be the recipient of one of their boxes of flowers, and I was truly impressed. The packaging was simple and beautiful, and the flowers were perfect. I was particularly impressed that they stayed fresh and perky for well over a week!
When my lovely friend Sarah (of the super cool shop, Archie’s Boutique) recently celebrated her birthday, I thought it would be fun to send her some pretty flowers for the occasion. She wasn’t home when they arrived, but when she returned, she found that they had been posted through her door! She was sweet enough to send me some pictures to share with you:
We are thrilled that Bloom & Wild has agreed to sponsor our London ShopUp this December 10th and 11th! Not only will some of their beautiful flowers decorate the event, but they will also be holding a flower arranging workshop on the evening of the 11th.
PS Bloom & Wild is now kindly giving our readers £10 off their first order — just use code BABYBLOOM10 on check-out (or pass on to your partner)!
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE:
We recently spent a sunny week in Los Angeles to mark the start of our year-long adventure. We had moved from LA to London twelve years ago, so it was nice to go back and spend some time exploring the city again, to spend time with friends and family and to get a feel for what it’s like to live there as a family.
After speaking with friends who live in LA, we decided to stay in the family-friendly neighbourhood of Venice beach, which was definitely the right decision. The neighbourhood has changed so much in the past 12 years, with so many great new restaurants and shops, but it still has a very artsy, laid-back bohemian vibe which we loved. It was great to be able to walk to shops and cafes, but more than anything it was so nice to be so close to the beach. My kids fell in love with boogie boarding and are now hoping to learn how to surf!
We rented the Superba Avenue Residence through Kid & Coe and it was the perfect place to stay. It’s such a cosy family home, filled with colourful knick-knacks and loads of fun toys and books in every corner. The kids loved the outside playroom with rope swings hanging from the rafters and spent so much time playing in the gated gardens surrounding the house. They even had a slide on the front porch! The kids never wanted to leave the house!
What is so nice about renting a home through Kid & Coe is that you can feel at home straight away and your children have all the comforts (toys, highchairs, beds, step stools) to feel settled immediately. I also love getting a glimpse of what it’s really like to live in the city you’re visiting, like stepping into another family’s shoes for a bit. After spending a week in Venice beach, I’m now dreaming of moving our family to LA!
It was also lovely to meet with the owner of the home, Marisa, who is a talented photographer. She offered to take some photos of our family to mark the start of our adventure and I quickly jumped at the opportunity. I am so happy with the photos she took and I’ll share some with you soon.
Kid & Coe offered us a press discount in return for coverage of our stay. Kid & Coe is a company I have used before and is a concept I really love. All views expressed are my own, and I’m happy to be able to support this growing company.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE:
Personal shopping — it sounds expensive and luxurious, doesn’t it? It makes me think of those slightly hidden areas on the top floors of high-end department stores. Luxurious… and definitely mysterious.
But fact is: parents are busy. Very busy. Although we love (virtual) shopping and browsing, we don’t always find the time to scout the high streets (or the internet) for the best buys and coolest finds… even though new outfits for the children are desperately needed. Wouldn’t it be ever so handy to have someone (with great taste, obviously!) doing most of the work for you? Who would suggest a few outfits for your child, narrowing down the endless amount of items available to some great quality pieces that you can actually see and feel, and even try on? With no strings attached? Enter Shortstitch — a personal shopping service for busy parents.
Shortstitch recently asked me to test their service, and I was intrigued by the concept and impressed by their cool, clean and professional looking website. So yes, sure! (Please!) Since Shortstitch focus their service on children aged 4 to 10 year, we decided to ‘pretend’ shop for Ava, who is 5 years old, and is developing quite a fun personal style.
After answering some inquiries on the website sign-in, I received a prompt email with a request to put a time in the agenda for a style consultation over the telephone. I was asked a range of specific questions about Ava — are there any particular items she is in need of this season? Does she practise any sports? Are there other occasions she needs clothes for? We also discussed sizing, colours and general style preferences. The consultation took around 10 minutes, and was quite fun (don’t all mothers love talking about their children?).
Within 2 days I got a notification that my ‘box of YAY!’ was on the way. And how fun it was to receive a big package on my doorstep shortly after!
Inside, there was a gorgeous selection of clothes, shoes and accessories, all put together with the utmost care in separate packages and carefully wrapped in tissue paper. There was an accompanying personal letter, written full of enthusiasm and confidence, explaining the selections and suggesting combinations that could work for an array of occasions: ‘The navy skirt with the brick polo neck and brown boots will be a great everyday staple for school.’ ‘The leggings are quite versatile too. She will look super stylish arriving at swim class in those.’
There were jackets to choose from, a pair of gorgeous shoes and sturdy boots, adorable tights and socks, hair accessories, and then, of course, a selection of clothes for different occasions. All of exquisite quality, all beautiful, fun and unique, and quite daring — as daring as one could get away with within the ‘style boundaries’ I had set (timeless pieces, muted colours, tasteful patterns, no logos, etc.). I would say, definitely more adventurous than I would have selected myself — which makes it actually really special!
The luxury of getting to see and feel the garments, trying them on, and returning them to the Shortstitch box if it’s a ‘no keep’ is truly great. Unwanted items can be returned to the box which will be collected by a courier by appointment and free of charge. (However, I can already tell you that it will be quite difficult to return anything in the box!).
Now… of course one wonders, what does this fabulous service cost? Well: nothing! Nothing extra, that is — you only pay (recommended retail prices) for the items you want to keep. The styling service, the delivery and collection are all on Shortstitch. Nothing mysterious about it. How cool is that?
This post is sponsored by Shortstitch, a personal shopping service I tested and loved.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE:
As part of the process of packing up our house I’ve come across all of the children’s art from the past ten years. I don’t save everything they make, but I do like to keep our favourite pieces, and of course I always keep the sweet love notes and cards. As a result, we have several big plastic Ikea boxes in our basement holding stacks and stacks of the children’s art.
But for what? Sometimes I wonder what the point is when they’re just down in the basement in a plastic box, hidden away for who knows how many years. We used to hang our favourite pieces in a gallery art wall in the hallway of our last house, but we took them all down when we moved and those too went into a storage. I needed to do something to preserve and display our favourite pieces, and that’s when I discovered Doodle Nest and their wonderful service.
Doodle Nest takes you children’s art and creates bespoke art books, collages, and gift cards for you to keep and treasure forever. All you have to do is gather up your favourite art and send it over to the team at Doodle Nest, and they do all the work to create your book (see photos below of all the art I sent over! I love getting this behind-the-scenes glimpse of founders, Andrea and Constanza, as they sort through it all).
Andrea and Constanza thought it would be fun to divide the book into chapters for each child, so they created a little profile page for each child with a photo and a self portrait. It is such a great way to view all the artwork on an individual basis, and I also love that they put the child’s age at the bottom of each piece, so that the kids know how old they were when they made each piece.
It really is such a beautiful book, and I’m so happy to have it.
Now… to find a special place to store it while we’re away for the next year… ! : )
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE:
I’m sure every family is the same, but we love a bit of a swing in ours. Very often, after breakfast or dinner, we turn up the volume and dance in our living room. It’s crazy! We all join in, and it’s just so much fun. And very often, we end up with a big fat group hug in the end.
Also, sometimes when I’ve had a busy and difficult day, and I feel stressed and tired and my patience is low, it helps to get up and move, to be crazy, and sing along. Music surely is medication for the soul.
It has recently become much easier for our children to initiate their own dancing because the awesome Aether Cone entered our house. The Aether Cone is not only a striking music player (in fact the most beautiful looking one I’ve ever seen), it’s also incredibly easy to understand and to work. Not only easy for me (too many buttons and screens put me off completely), but really handy for the kids as well! The only thing they need to do, is press the center button and ask out loud for any artist, song, or radio. Within seconds, the Cone will be playing their choice and our family will be in full swing!
And last weekend, my dad was here, and he just had the best of times with the Cone as well. He kept thinking of song and artists from his childhood (the early sixties), and voila — the Cone followed his commands without fail. Just to indicate how simple and fun it is to work with!
I’ve also understood that the more we use the Cone, the better it will get at playing the songs we love. I’m currently writing this with some lovely random background music in the background — I just took the Cone into my office (it’s portable with an 8-hour rechargeable battery). On the associated app on my phone I read that right now I’m listening to Isobel Campbell, a Scottish singer-songwriter. Nice suggestion, I must say!
PS This post is sponsored by Aether, a company we respect for making beautifully crafted products that use powerful technology and simple, natural controls to make everyday moments nicer.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE:
Last month at our ShopUp event, I had the pleasure of meeting fellow London mum, Louise Hannon. We started talking about children and life in London, and she told me her incredible story about her son’s illness, his life-threatening surgeries at Great Ormond Street Hospital and his heart transplant through organ donation. We spoke about organ donation and how important it is to spread the word about it. Did you know that, according to statistics, more than 90% of us would consider donating our organs and yet, here in the UK, only about 30% of us are registered? It all comes down to spreading awareness.
Here in the UK, more than 10,000 people need a transplant and three people die every single day waiting for one. In the US, there are more than 120,000 needing a transplant and 17 people die each day waiting for an organ. Also, one organ donor can save up to eight lives!
I was so moved by Louise’s story, we asked her to share her story with us and she very kindly agreed. Here is her story, a rather brief re-cap of a very tumultuous past 18 months:
On 28th January 2014, my six-year-old son Joe had a life saving heart transplant at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital. This was due to the amazing generosity of a lady who, through organ donation, chose to save other’s lives in the event of her death.
Up until summer 2013 he had been a non–stop little boy, full of energy, who loved being outdoors, playing football and climbing trees. We had just moved to South Australia when he suddenly became unwell, and Joe received a diagnosis of ‘Dilated Cardiomyopathy’ – serious heart failure that would most likely require transplant in order for him to survive. We were utterly devastated and struggled to deal with the news especially being on the other side of the world away from friends and family. Calling our parents back in the UK to tell them the news was incredibly hard and the first of many difficult phone calls we had to make to them over the following months.
After a month in Adelaide Women’s and Children’s Hospital Joe was repatriated back to London in a medical jet in the hope that he would receive a heart transplant more quickly in the UK. However, Joe’s heart transplant did not come as quickly as we had all hoped and he continued to decline despite the maximum IV drugs he was on. It was frightening to see how quickly his heart was giving up and the effect this had on him as he lost huge amounts of weight and would lie listlessly on the bed unable to really talk to us. We were desperate to get the phone call each day to say a heart was available. We were also aware though that when a heart did come that meant a family somewhere else would be experiencing tragedy and this was such a difficult process to reconcile ourselves with.
We were told his only option now was to undergo open heart surgery for a ‘Berlin heart machine’ to be fitted to keep him alive until transplant. He had a number of serious complications whilst on the machine requiring further surgery including pneumonia and bleeding into his lungs. There was a huge amount of uncertainty as to whether he would pull through and we literally held our breath for weeks willing him to fight and get better. Our four months in intensive care was an awful experience of watching him suffer horribly. I naively hoped that, though unconscious, he wouldn’t suffer pain. I hoped that it was only us suffering as we watched and waited to see if he would recover. The reality was that he was often conscious and very distressed, unable to speak or swallow due to the breathing tube in his throat. We would watch him cry and feel completely helpless. This was the hardest part of the entire ordeal.
His biggest complication arising from the Berlin heart machine was the severe stroke he suffered on Boxing Day, 2013, which is one of the most significant risks associated with the Berlin Heart machine. After the first brain surgery to relieve the bleed in his brain we were told he would not survive and we asked my parents to bring our three year old daughter up to the hospital to say goodbye. They operated for a second time as a last ditch attempt and he miraculously survived, but was left paralysed down his left side. A heart finally became available a month later and Joe had his long awaited transplant. We then began the arduous road to recovery, involving rehab to help him learn to walk again and use his left arm. Joe spent a total of six and a half months in hospital, enduring thirteen operations and a further six weeks in a children’s neurodisability rehab centre.
He is truly a living miracle and we are hugely proud of all that he has battled through at such a young age. We are slowly coming to terms with what has happened to our family in the last eighteen months and the far reaching effect this has had on all our lives. We never thought something like this would happen to us. We had coasted along in life ticking off our plans for career, children, and travelling, believing we were in control of our lives and future. As Christians, this experience has taught us we need to rely on God who is the only one who has ultimate control and it has been a hard test of our faith.
Joe takes lots of medicines every day and will do so for the rest of his life. He can now walk short distances and has returned to his old school part time. Day to day life holds lots of challenges for him that can leave him angry and depressed. He is much more volatile as a result of his stroke and tires easily. We also live each day knowing that a heart transplant is a palliative option, not a cure, with the average life expectancy being ten years. As we near the first anniversary of our son’s transplant we think about the woman who donated her heart to him and the family she left behind. To see our son in the garden kicking a football around again or playing with his sister reminds us of the incredible gift she gave us. (Below are some photos of Joe since coming home from the hospital.)
Please consider signing up online for organ donation, for yourself and your children that in the unfortunate event of an untimely death, a second chance at life for others can be brought out of tragedy. Signing up for organ donation costs nothing but could mean everything to another family facing their worst nightmare.
Louise, thank you so much for sharing your story with us, and we wish you all the best with your two beautiful children.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE:
My baby turned two a couple weeks ago and like a good mother I had organised a photoshoot with Polly Geal from Little Kin Photography for the day of her birthday. Actually, the honest truth is that I booked the photoshoot for November 12th because it was the only empty day in my diary… and coincidentally it turned out to be her birthday. (She’s my fourth child, after all. Tell me I’m not the only parent who forgets these things!)
But what a lucky coincidence! I’m so happy to have these photos of my birthday girl and our happy morning together. There was a notable excitement in the air that morning and Marlow was full of extra cheek and enthusiasm knowing it was her special day. It was really the perfect opportunity to capture her spunky little spirit on camera, and I think Polly did such a wonderful job (I’m so impressed any of these photos are in focus as Marlow did not stop moving the entire morning! A true testament of her photography skills!). Here are some of my favourite photos from the selection she sent over:
I love that Polly captured the excitement in the air but also managed to snap some real everyday moments: Marlow closing the shutters even though we asked her to keep them open (cheeky girl!), me trying unsuccessfully to get Marlow to sit on my lap on my bed, putting Marlow’s tights back on after a trip to the potty, Marlow running around the kitchen refusing to stand still, etc. Ordinary moments on a not-so ordinary day. Just looking at these photos makes me want to smooch her sweet, smooshy face. Like this:
Thank you so much, Polly, for spending Marlow’s birthday morning with us and for capturing these sweet moments. I’m thinking I might organise photo shoots for future birthdays! Clever idea that was. ; )
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE:
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE:
Here are my four babies photographed by Maud Fontein for this year’s Happy Holidays shoot. They’ve grown a bit since last year, haven’t they? I’m always impressed by how Maud can take such sweet photos of all my kids — she is so wonderful, makes children so quickly at ease. My kids actually look forward to going over to Maud’s — they know they’ll be in for a laugh (which does have to do with the fact that Maud lets me sit on a whoopee cushion!).
Maud also (very quickly!) took some portraits of the kids individually. So sweet. I love how their personalities show so well, Sara already getting so big…
Maud will be joining us this year again for the ShopUp, and she’s already taking bookings for her happy holidays shoots. I love this year’s theme! So if you’re in London on December 3rd or 4th, you can have your babies photographed this way as well. : )
Also — Maud will again be bringing these great Christmas Cards Toolkits (designed by Vivian from de Liefdesfabriek) to London. Filled with 20 cards, black envelopes, masking tape, stickers and a white pen — everything you need to turn your photos into a beautiful holiday card. As you can see, I already started mine!
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE:
Founded by Zoie Kingsbery Coe a few years ago, Kid&Coe is a booking service that lets families rent out their house when they are away, so that other families can have the convenience of traveling to interesting places while staying in a local family home. Instead of going though the trouble of booking an expensive hotel room, or (if you have several children) facing the difficulty of finding hotel rooms with connecting doors, Kid&Coe offers you the opportunity to stay in a family house with children’s beds, toys, books, a kitchen filled with everything a family needs, highchairs, washing machines, etc. It’s SO much more fun to stay in a family house than in an impersonal hotel room, and it is SO much more practical as well!
We’ve written about Kid&Coe before here at Babyccino Kids, but I wanted to tell you how great it is to list your house there too. Our previous home was listed on the Kid&Coe website, and last May we had an inquiry from a family from Singapore who came to visit Amsterdam and was interested in renting our house during the spring break. We decided to rent out our house and make a little trip to Germany for those days, to visit our friends from Macarons and some other cool destinations along the way. It was a really great trip and we discovered so many wonderful places. And… the best thing — the money we made from renting out our house paid for our little holiday! When we came back, it was so nice to find a sweet letter from the family who stayed in our house, telling us how much they had enjoyed our house and how their little girl had loved playing with Ava’s toys.
Listing your property on the Kid&Coe website is super easy to do. The application process is straight forward, and the Kid&Coe team is so great to work with. They write great things about your house, and make sure the photos look fantastic.
Because we just moved house our current place is not listed on the website, but this is the flat we always visit in Antwerp when we go there for a very important work weekend ; ). I really recommend listing your house with Kid&Coe — it’s so easy to do, and so worth it!
PS The first five people to list their property on the Kid&Coe website though Babyccino Kids will get FREE professional photography!!
PPS We’re excited for Kid&Coe to be the main sponsor of our ShopUp event in London this December — we look forward to seeing you there and if you have any questions about listing your property on the Kid&Coe website, their team will be happy to answer any questions you might have.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE:
Artist Jennifer Vallez from Sophie & Lili recently sent over these sweet watercolour portraits of my little family, and I love them so much. I love that she captured my children’s personalities so well, and all of it based on a couple Instagram photos I have recently posted. My kids are especially fond of them — Ivy has already asked to frame them and put them up in her room. So sweet.
Sophie & Lili offer a custom watercolour portrait service so if you would like her to paint your family, she’s your girl. I just love that she managed to capture my family at this special time when all my babies are still babies. What a wonderful keepsake!
p.s. Photos above are taken from the Sophie & Lili Instagram feed.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE:
I’m not very organised when it comes to using my digital photos — I just take a photo, post it to Instagram, and then it disappears in a virtual cloud somewhere. Actually, it wasn’t very different back when I took analog photos — instead of a virtual cloud, photos would disappear in a dusty box, waiting to be organised and glued into albums…
Friends of my parents, whose house I visited often when I was little, used to frame a selection of their photos in big collages once every year. They would choose photos of birthdays, vacations, and life in general, photos of their family, mixed with dear friends. They cut out parts of photos, circles, triangles — whatever worked — and glued them without any order or organisation. But the collages looked so cool and I loved looking at them (and finding myself in the sea of faces)!
I recently commissioned Natalie from The Little Square Gallery to print a selection of my Instagram photos. To create a moment in time, six months of snapshots, as a visual reminder of the things that happened and made us happy. The frame arrived a little while ago, and it is sitting on our new landing waiting for it’s final spot. And we love it! I see it many times a day, and am reminded of those sweet moments. The children love looking at it as well. Casper is especially intrigued — every day he studies the photos and calls out all of the names of his siblings… sweet boy!
Working with Natalie was such a pleasure. She helped me pick the best photos, worked on them to make them perfect in colour, balancing light and contrast, and created a truly wonderful collage, framed beautifully in a solid wood frame. The photos are giclée printed on thick, cotton-rag fine art paper, creating a really cool floating effect that sets this collage apart! I will definitely work with Natalie again, creating more of these compilations — because I definitely like these moments in time much better in a frame, than in a virtual cloud!
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE:
Kid & Coe is a holiday rental site specifically for families. It was launched last Autumn and it’s been great watching their site and inventory of properties grow. They offer family-friendly destinations all over the world — from beach houses in Brazil to city apartments in New York, or stylish flats in London to countryside retreats in Tuscany. Most of the properties are personally owned by families, so they often come equipped with children’s toys, children’s beds, highchairs and other items to make your stay more comfortable and enjoyable.
With summer holidays so near, I thought it would be a great idea to ask the team at Kid & Coe to round up five of their favourite European destinations for summer. Here are their picks and a brief description of each place:
1. The Vejer Residence, Spain
This whitewashed hippy-deluxe residence with plunge pool is in one of Andalucia’s lesser visited characterful white towns, Vejer de la Frontera, near Cadiz, and sleeps up to 6 adults and 1 child in 4 bedrooms. It’s full of rustic, romantic character, from the cobbled stone floors to the studded front door.
From £122 per night.
2. The Gumpendorfer Residence, Vienna
A city in summer? Well, if you like art, culture and even beaches along the Danube, Vienna is a great choice. There’s even a floating boat with a pool in it nearby if you need to cool off. We love this central apartment which sleeps up to 2 adults and 2 children and is well equipped for small children.
From €90 per night.
3. The Heerlijkheid Van Marrem Residence, Belgium
Don’t let anyone tell you that Belgium’s boring. This stunning and unique renovated carriage shed has been lovingly turned into rustic chic lodgings sleeping up to 23, and is perfect for a deluxe family celebration. Play in the flower-filled fields or day trip to Antwerp, Ghent, Bruges and Brussels. It’s ideal for a break with friends, too.
From €675 per night.
4. The Karl Kunger Residence, Berlin
Another great city and another great city pad: this loft apartment set in a former factory building sleeps up to 4 adults and 1 child and combines a sleek, modern interior with serious comfort. It’s close to a large park for sunny picnics, 10 minutes by S-Bahn from the city centre and near to the famous Badeschiff for yoga and days spent playing in the water.
Price on application.
5. The Agrari Residence, Greece
This stunning family villa with a pool, sleeping up to 14, is set on a hillside in the quiet south of Mykonos overlooking the Aegean Sea and Agrari beach. It’s a heavenly retreat for a family or two, with a main villa plus three separate guest studios. Grab some friends, pack the suncream and bring the kids!
Price on application.
Don’t they all look amazing? I’ll be spending the summer with family in the US, but I’m definitely taking note of these destinations for school holidays in the Autumn. I’m thinking the Heerlijkheid Van Marrem residence in Belgium would be so fun to book for a holiday with friends! Esther, Emilie are you in?!
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE:
Our friend and talented photographer, Emily Ulmer, is in town from Los Angeles and came over on Sunday for a little visit and impromptu photoshoot. We walked over to the park and she snapped some photos of my crazy brood running wild and climbing trees. I never would have thoughts she would have gotten good photos of them — Marlow had just woken from a much-too-short nap and was cranky and tired, and the others would not sit still for a single second.
But…. she got some really cute ones!! I think it’s a testament to her photo-taking skills that she managed to get these shots, and I thought I would share some of my favourites with you…
Aren’t they fun?! I love that she managed to get a photo of all of my kids up in a tree!
Emily will be spending the summer in Europe, mostly in London and Paris (but happy to travel for jobs!). If you’re interested in booking her for your own family photoshoot, please email her to make an appointment. I think she takes such beautiful, natural photos.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE:
Photographer and stylist, Emma Donnelly, sent over some photos from her recent photoshoot with Hucklebones and I think they perfectly capture how pretty the spring has been here in England with all the beautiful cherry blossoms, budding tulips and little girls in pretty dresses and bare legs!! Such gorgeous photos!
Of course you can’t go wrong when photographing Hucklebones clothing. It is just such a beautiful, timeless brand. And goodness, how cute is that little chambray romper?! There is something about Hucklebones that reminds me of springtime (and especially Easter!), and I think these photos capture both so perfectly.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE:
I was invited to try out the new Birdie London pop-up photo booth at Liberty last weekend, so the girls and I went over to check it out. We spent an hour in a pretty little private room in Liberty, playing dress up while they snapped some photos. It was such a fun time, and even Ivy (who hates having her photo taken) enjoyed it! I just got the photos back, and I LOVE them! I hope you don’t mind me sharing some with you? My favourite is the one where Marlow is crying! Such a perfect, imperfect photo! : )
Birdie London will be running pop-up photo booths in Liberty throughout the year, so it’s definitely worth checking their site and signing up for news on future dates. They offer one-hour photo sessions for £300, and then after the session they email you all the photos (for free) and you get to keep them, print them and use the files as you wish.
I’m definitely going to print some of these photos and hang them up in our house. And I’m already looking forward to the next session so I can get some photos with all my children!
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE:
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!
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE:
I take a lot of photos nowadays, as I always have my phone on me. I actually sometimes get told off by my kids for taking too many and told to put the phone down! Ha!
It is so easy nowadays to snap away, but telephone photos are just not the same as photos taken with a real camera. I was really excited when the lovely LA-based children’s photographer Emily Ulmer popped round the other day to take photos of the kids. She caught them so perfectly on camera and got some lovely shots of them, so much nicer than anything I could ever get with my little telephone. It just isn’t the same, is it?!
Emily is in London for the next 10 days and still has a few spots available. I highly recommend her!