Happy Holidays shoot by Maud Fontein (again at the ShopUp!)

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MaudFontein_2
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!).

MaudFontein_3 MaudFontein_4

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_Sara Maud_Pim Maud_Ava Maud_Casper

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. : )

MaudFontein_1

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!

xxx Esther

Our 2014 Gift Guides!

Screen Shot 2014-11-05 at 12.01.24It’s almost incredible that it’s that time of year again, but yes it is. Christmas is creeping up on us. Only 7 weeks to go!! Time to get organised…

We’ve tried to make selecting presents for the little ones in your life as easy as possible, by creating four Gift Guides filled with amazing gift ideas. There’s one for boys, one for girls, one for baby, and then there’s a super handy guide with adorable stocking stuffers as well.

So handy! (I’m the number one fan of these guides!) And If I can give you an idea —  you can also forward these guides to your family. Especially uncles love receiving these kind of emails ; ). Enjoy the guides!

xxx Esther

A new breed of ’boutique’ youth Hostels

13-generator-venice-exterior-waterfront-giudecca

As you might have noticed we do love travelling over here at Babyccino. Being based in Europe, especially Paris, makes it particularly easy to jump on a train, into a car or even a plane and discover new cities and countries. I try to take full advantage of this, but travelling is definitely not cheap, especially accommodation for a whole family. We’re lucky enough to have a lot of friends spread over Europe that we can stay with, but not every city in Europe has a friendly bed for us to crash in. So I have gone back to my roots and re-discovered youth hostels. Turns out that they are ideal places to pack in a group of children and grown-ups.

Now, I have to admit that the youth hostels I have discovered are very different from the ones I stayed in during my days of Inter-railing across Europe. Gone is the flaky paint on the walls, the nasty neon lights and the horrendously uncomfortable mattresses. There is now a new breed of youth hostel — let’s call them “boutique” hostels — that have sprung up all over Europe and they are the perfect solution for traveling in a larger group.
Casa Gracia
Casa Gracia kitchen
Last year we stayed in lovely Casa Gracia in Barcelona (pictured above). We were travelling with friends so we had a big room with a bathroom all to ourselves. It had all the advantages of a hotel (a great breakfast, a good inexpensive evening meal and a excellent tourist service) with addition to a kitchen that all guests were free to use. It was, of course, a lot cheaper than a hotel could have been (I believe it was around 27 euros per night per person).

This year we went to Venice and stayed at the Generator Hostel. Again we had a big room and bathroom that we shared between kids and friends.  The view from the room is across the lagoon over St Mark’s square, which is quite a breathtaking thing to see first thing in the morning. Again it was super child friendly, with a laundry room, inexpensive food and an excellent laid back bar and common area, great to relax and play in after a long day of sightseeing.

I also like the look of the Woodah Hostel in Copenhagen, the Plus Hostel in Berlin or the U Hostel in Madrid!

Have you ever stayed in a youth hostel with your family? Do you have any places to recommend? I would love to hear as I cannot wait to get our bags packed up again!

– Emilie

Advent Calendars. Time to start planning!

Ferm Living advent calnedar

December is still six weeks away, and I’m refusing to start thinking about Christmas just yet (I saw the Christmas decorations up on Oxford street earlier this week and it didn’t seem possible! Can it really be that time of year already?!). But… I do love Advent calendars — it’s one of my favourite Christmas traditions.

I saw this cool Ferm Living advent calendar (above) at Cissy Wears earlier this week and love it! (It’s actually what has inspired this post.)

Maileg advent calendar

We have the Maileg advent calendar (as shown above) and it’s a similar concept with little pockets for presents on each day. I start collecting little gifts and knick knacks around this time of year, and then come December 1st, the kids take turn unwrapping each day. It’s such a fun and exciting way to celebrate the run-up to Christmas.

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I also love the idea Meta wrote about, with little paper bags hanging along the stair railing. So fun and festive!

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And lastly, there’s the wonderful idea from Mo who wraps up christmas-themed books every year for a Christmas book Advent Calendar. Such a great idea!

Anyway, I thought I would share all these ideas now… before it’s too late to prepare. The next six weeks will zip by I’m sure!

Courtney x

Adorable Halloween costumes from Thumbelina

©Maya Havkin- Photographer
©Maya Havkin- Photographer
©Maya Havkin- Photographer
Halloween is around the corner, and I’m as unprepared as ever. Hmmm. !! I was feeling guilty about my tired stash of three-times worn Halloween costume options for Marlow and was needing a bit of inspiration… and these adorable costumes from Thumbelina have done the trick. How perfect are they?!  I love a good fleecey zip-up costume that is as cosy as it is cute.

Now… what to do for the bigger kids?!

Courtney x

 

Context Travel – Tours around Paris

Sacrée Coeur

This weekend we went for a little adventure around Paris — the sun was out and it was the perfect day to discover Montmartre. It is ironic how, when you live in a city, you sometimes know less about it than all the tourists who visit!

We were delighted when Context Travel invited us for a tour around Montmartre, one of my favourite parts of Paris. The tour was tailormade for children, full of entertaining scary stories and legends. Our personal tour guide, Anais, was lovely, bi-lingual and could answer every single question that we asked her and, believe me, she was asked a LOT of questions!

We followed the path that St Denis (patron saint of Paris) walked after he, unfortunately, had his head cut off by the Romans. The legend says he walked from the bottom of the hill right to the very top, holding his severed head in his hands. The Sacrée Coeur was built on top of his final resting place (I do hope I have remembered this correctly!).

rue de l'abavoir

Following the path of St Denis we discovered the houses that Picasso and Van Gogh lived in and and got a glimpse of what Montmartre was like in the late 1800s (there were a LOT of cafés, cabarets and drinking establishments as Coco noticed). We saw the vineyards, the cobbled streets that are so different from the rest of Paris, and the hidden gardens and artist lofts. We walked up and down hill for 2.5 hours and could have easily continued!

vineyard

At the end of the trip we sat on the steps of the Sacrée Coeur and drew pictures of all the things we had seen on our walk. On the steps we also had an amazing view of Paris and of a street artist dribbling a football whilst hanging off a lamp post (nothing unusual in that).

Sacréé Coeur View

We did finish off the journey with a little ride in the Funicular which is part of the Paris metro. It is such a cute, random little train, that it is well worth the metro ticket it costs to use it.

Funicular

Such a fun way to discover Paris, I highly recommend it!

– Emilie

 

A day trip from Paris – Versailles

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Living in this lovely city of Paris is great… but it is easy to forget all the great things to do and visit just outside the city. A couple of weekends ago we jumped with some friends on a commuter train (the RER B) and within 40 minutes we had arrived in front of the stunning chateau of Versailles, known for its beauty and also the over the top extravagance of the Kings and Queens of France who lived there.

The children were amazed by the opulence of their surroundings and how crazy it was that this whole chateau was built just for one man and his entourage to live in! Good old Louis the 14th sure knew how to live it up!

Versaillesfront

The main palace is amazing to visit, but with a whole gaggle of children in tow, we opted for a visit of the gardens surrounding the palace and a visit to the smaller Trianon Palace together with Marie-Antoinette’s domaine, which has been restored very recently.

It was a lovely day: we picnicked, played hide and seek between the manicured hedges, strolled through the different gardens, and had a good look around Marie-Antoinette’s retreat.
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neptun
We finished the trip with a boat ride on the Grand Canal, just like Marie Antoinette would have done, I am sure.

rowboat
These kind of day trips make me realise how lucky we are to have so much history right at our doorstep! Visiting Versailles is so easy, even if you are just visiting Paris for a week!

– Emilie

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter! We hope you’re all having a wonderful weekend!!

xxx Courtney, Emilie and Esther

PS Ava is wearing the cute bunny ears from last week’s The Little Things download.

Valentines craft — love birds

Happy Valentines Day! Our kids woke us up with the sweetest handmade Valentines cards this morning… But I had nothing prepared! So I quickly made these ‘lovebirds’, by folding a piece of paper in half and cutting it in a heart shape. A piece of masking tape keeps it closed and forms the beak. Inside I wrote little love message and poems. So when the kids come home from school they will have a little surprise waiting for them!

xxx Esther

Sweet and girly Valentines gifts from Fantaserini

It’s Valentines day soon! Here in the Netherlands it’s not a traditional holiday, but we’ve adopted it over the years — after all, who can resist a day dedicated to LOVE?

These cute necklaces and hairpins, from the gorgeous and stylish online shop Fantaserini, make the perfect little Valentines presents for girls. The necklaces from Twiggy and Lou are beautiful, handmade out of tiny, real glass beads, pretty brass charms and a little pink pompom. (There’s an adult version too! So pretty!)

I also love the hair clips from Atsuyo et Akiko. They are just so sweet. I actually got both the necklace and the bow clip for Ava and I just know she’s going to love them.

xxx Esther

Heart Origami notepaper from Lollipop


As a young child, growing up in America, we would hand out Valentine cards to every child in our class. We used to create our own Valentine’s Day letterboxes and tape them to our desks and everyone would go around sticking the Valentine cards into them. I remember taking home all of my Valentines cards and reading them at home (and eating the candy too!).  I was talking to my husband about this and he also used to do this in class, so I’m assuming it’s an American thing? Children here in the UK (or at least in my children’s school) don’t do this. In fact, I don’t think my kids have ever gotten a Valentine’s Day card from one of their classmates?!

When I saw these Heart Origami Notes from Lollipop it reminded me all about this. And I think it’s a fun tradition to bring back for my kids. Maybe not to all their classmates at school, but to special friends or family members they might want to send some hearts to!

xx Courtney

Happy Holidays from us to you!

We took advantage of Maud Fontein‘s photobooth set-up at The ShopUp and got a sneaky photo of the three of us so we could send you our very own holiday card! : )

Happy Holidays from the three of us! We hope you have a joyful and relaxing holiday season. We’ll be taking a bit of a blogging break, hoping for some rest and some cosy family time (including lots of cookie baking!) … but we’ll be back in January with gusto!

Lots of love to you all,

xx Courtney, Esther & Emilie

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays to all of you! We wish you a cosy and warm time together with your friends and family.

Love,
Courtney, Emilie and Esther

PS The talented Sarah Betz from Little Cube designed this Happy Holiday card for us, and she kindly made a matching postcard and gift tags for you to download for free here (for personal use only). Aren’t they just adorable? Thank you so much, Sarah!

Last minute DIY Christmas tree

Christmas is around the corner! I can’t believe it!  This past weekend we made a recycled and diy Christmas tree. It is easy and very fun to do with kids.

We are so happy with our tree. I think the next step will be to do some more, but little. And make a forest!!!. It will be fun.

Hope you like them and give it a try! And hope you have a very merry Christmas!!!

x Maria

P.S. To read more from Maria, visit her crafty and inspirational blog here.

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 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.

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

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

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

Raise the curtains for the 2013 Babyccino Kids Holiday Gift Guides!

We can’t believe it’s this time of year already! The days are getting shorter, the evenings are getting darker, and the holidays are approaching rapidly. Time to get ourselves organised — to make our houses cosy and festive, and organise the gift giving. (Let’s try to be in time this year!)

We have tried to make your holiday preparations a little bit easier by creating four wonderful Gift Guides, with a selection of our favourite gifts for boys, some wonderful gifts for girls and darling ideas for babies as well. And of course there is a Stocking Stuffer guide too!

There are so many cool ideas in the guides that our kids and their little friends will love! (Of course our first holiday purchases were made when preparing the guides…) We hope you will enjoy them as much as we do!

xxx Courtney, Emilie and Esther

PS Tip: send a link to the Babyccino Gift Guides to grandparents or aunts & uncles who are stuck for gift ideas!

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