Nosara Week Away Travel Guide

I called this post a Week Away Travel Guide as opposed to a Weekend Away Guide, as Nosara, Costa Rica is not the kind of place most of us can pop over for the weekend. But I can pretty much say with confidence that if I could pop over there quickly for a weekend, I would probably be there all the time! It looks so amazing and sounds like such a great place to take children on a wonderful adventure.

Now imagine after growing up in California, then living in Australia, you decided to call Costa Rica your home! How incredible does that sound? Shelly, the author of this post, did just that: She now lives in Nosara, Costa Rica and it sounds like the perfect place to travel to!

In her 40-something years of life, Shelly has been a world traveler, waitress, writer, magazine editor, non-profit founder, entrepreneur and artist. By sheer luck and twists of fate, these paths have led to and helped define her latest, greatest and most challenging role as wife and homemaker; mother and teacher to Pixel, Robert and Beckett; and hostess extraordinaire. Shelly is the author of The Book of Questions for New Parents and the blog Kitchen Ranch. Here is her guide to Nosara, Costa Rica:

Nosara, located on the Pacific side of Costa Rica, has recently enjoyed some very favorable press. National Geographic named Nosara as one of the top surf towns on the planet, a BBC Travel Segment included Nosara as the best beach in Costa Rica, and the New York Times raved about the world class waves in their travel section.

It is not surprising to me that this small and dusty jungle town is getting attention; Nosara is perfect. I know that is a bold statement, but after living here I feel confident in making it. The beaches, the ocean and the jungle backdrop are awe-inspiring. (more…)

Happy Easter!

Is it snowing for you outside as well? If you’re stuck inside like us, here are some last minute Easter craft ideas. Happy Easter!

xxx Courtney, Emilie and Esther

Bunny Masks

Bunny Egg Warmers

Chick Sugar Cookies

PomPom Easter chicks

Amsterdam!


We recently visited Esther and Family in Amsterdam, and it was a such a great trip! So great, that the whole train carriage on the way home had to listen to my kids’ lamentations about how Amsterdam is so great and Paris is not!

I know what they mean–  it is so nice discovering a new city and, as a tourist, you have the luck to only see the good sides of a city and Amsterdam has many, many good sides. It is beautiful and small, and super accessible with kids. You can rent bicycles all over the city and the choice of different bicycle types is incredible.

We stayed for four days during which time Esther and I put the world to rights, crafted and dreamt up some serious crafting projects for sometime in the future, the children got on famously and we visited some of Amsterdam’s sites. We visited the Artis Zoo and saw some lions, giraffes, wallabes, zebras and seals basking in the spring sunlight. We took a boat ride around the canals and learned all about the history of Amsterdam. We went to play in the Vondel Park which has some great play structures. We ate little pancakes and waffles fresh from a market stall. We did not even make it to the Nemo Science Museum, but check out Esther’s Amsterdam tips as she has some great ideas.

Above, the Vondel Park. And below, the giraffes at the zoo, which we stayed looking at for ages! I don’t think I have ever seen a giraffe as up close before.

Such a great trip and if you ask my daughters,(and 20 other people on our train), it’s the only place to be!

- Emilie

Pretty Spring party dresses by Millie Manu

Spring flowers are finally in bloom in our garden — I saw daffodils this morning! This means that Spring is around the corner, with all its positiveness. A sweet smell in the air, gorgeous flowers sprucing up everywhere, fresh green leaves on the trees, the first picnics on freshly mown lawns, little boys in shorts and stripy jumpers, little girls in their new spring dresses… I can get pretty excited about it all. (I would be perfectly happy skipping the first three months of the year — cold, wet, boring and depressing as far as I’m concerned!)

I think the above dresses of the newly launched party collection by Millie Manu are just so, so perfect for any kind of celebration this coming season. I just couldn’t resist the mint green Flo Dress for Ava — so gorgeous! It’s entirely made out of silk — chiffon on the outside, and lined with silk as well. It has lovely little details and is made beautifully.

She’ll be the queen of the ball with Easter this year — and we’re all so excited because Courtney and her family will join us in Amsterdam to celebrate together!

xxx Esther

Meri Meri Easter decorations

It’s hard to resist these insta-cute packaged Easter party decorations by Meri Meri. From paper plates to egg hunt bags to dressing up bunny ears! Everything you need for a festive Easter holiday! (Of course I had to pick up the bunny ears to bring with me when we visit Esther and family over Easter. Stay tuned for photos of all our kids dressed as bunnies!) And how fun are these cupcake kits?!

Meri Meri takes the hard work out of party prepping by offering coordinating themed party wear, all in the sweetest, most festive designs. Gotta love that. Available from Little Baby Company.

x Courtney

Easy Easter idea: Indian Chief eggs

These Indian eggs were quickly made using a black marker, some masking tape and a little feather or pipe cleaner. I put them in my kids’ lunch boxes as a surprise, but I thought it would also be fun to make them for Easter. So easy, and so cute!

xxx Esther

I love you more than…

We don’t have a Valentines Day tradition here in the Netherlands, and part of the idea I think is majorly over-commercialised, but the main thought — expressing and celebrating our love for our best friends and family — I think is important to emphasise. On Valentines day; every day!

These prints by This Many Design are so sweet. They are made by Kari Lazenby, who plays a game with her son every day where they say what they love the other more than — which gave her the idea for the I Love You More Than print (which you can personalise). Kari screen-prints the works by hand on beautiful French company paper, so each one is different, making them more unique than they already are.

xxx Esther

Easy Valentine’s Day cards

I sat down with the kids last week and we made the easiest Valentine’s Day cards. (Things have to be easy these days because I’m either carrying around a baby in the sling or feeding her with one hand and trying to multitask with the other!) Anyway, I thought I would share them in case you’re also juggling too much (which mother isn’t?!) and looking for an easy Valentine’s Day card to make with the kids…

All you need to do is cut a heart shape out of craft paper, fold the sides of the heart inward, turn the heart upside down and fold up the bottom, and then fold over the point of the heart. And voila! You have a little envelope! Seal with a sticker and send to someone you love! (Don’t forget to write your love message on the heart before you fold it.)

xx Courtney

Happy Holidays!

It is nearly the end of the year already! And what a year. We’ve lost, learned and loved, and beautiful babies have enriched our lives. We want to thank you once again for your support and all of your warm wishes!

For now, let’s press the pause button and rewind — time to spend a cosy and relaxing holiday with family and friends. We wish you a very happy time, and we look forward to an exciting new year ahead with you.

See you in the New Year!

Love,
Courtney, Emilie and Esther

A giant cookie!

Crystal, one of our readers, sent us this beautiful image of a giant cookie she made with her 2 children a few weeks ago. It’s a lemon poppy shortcake that was carved before baking, and the photo was used for their Christmas cards this year. What a great idea!

Crystal was so sweet to write down the recipe / method for us — so here we go. Thank you, Crystal!

Lemon-Poppy Seed Shortbread (from Claudia Fleming, The Last Course)

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until creamy and smooth, about two minutes. Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla and beat well. In a bowl, combine the flour, poppy seeds, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix until combined. Form the dough into a disk and, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 3 hours (and up to 3 days or freeze for up to 2 months.) Preheat oven to 170° C. Roll the dough between two sheets of wax paper to a 1/2-cm thick rectangle. Return dough to refrigerator for an additional 30 minutes.

For normal cookies: Cut the shortbread into shapes with a two-inch cookie cutter, or use a knife, and place 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. The original recipe says not to re-roll the scraps, but my kids didn’t want to stop, and it seemed like a waste of potential cookies, so we kept re-rolling and cutting until we had used everything up -to no noticeable effect on the baked cookies. Prick shortbread with a fork and bake until pale golden all over, 23 to 25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

For a giant cookie: After rolling it out to the rectangular shape I wanted, I popped it onto the baking tin, covered it with cling film and popped into the freezer for around 10 minutes. I kept doing this each time during the cutting to ensure that the cookie mixture was firm enough to carve/cut. I used a toothpick to sketch out the main shapes and then used a small sharp paring knife to cut out fuller shapes out around the toothpick lines. I then used a wooden chopstick dipped in water to smooth the inside of some of the cut lines that hadn’t cut so well. The cookie definitely cut better when it had just come out of the freezer, so I kept popping it in and out quite frequently during the process. I actually did this part while my kids were taking their afternoon nap -it would have been quite boring for them to watch this part. By the time they woke up, we gathered the scraps, ruled them into a few extra creatively shaped cookies, and the whole thing was ready to go into the oven! We kept a close eye on it’s cooking, and after about 25 minutes took it out when the edges were beginning to brown. Then we had to be really patient, (ok, maybe not that patient! There were a couple of the extra cookies to nibble on) while the giant cookie cooled down. It slipped off the tray perfectly, and we were able to photograph it right away. Finally we all had fun breaking up our giant cookie to lots of small irregular sizes and packing them away for tea later!

Madrid in Love

Last weekend Nico and I went to Madrid for a long weekend. It was so nice and one of the things we loved most was a pop-up store happening right now in Madrid (only december!). Madrid in Love.

A very special place, full of lovely things and lovely atmosphere. And really nice to visit with your kids!

After Madrid in Love, we went to a very nice place in Madrid. If you are looking for something sweet and tasty, Mama Framboise is the place. Amazing and super nice desserts.

If you happen to be in Madrid, I think they are a couple of lovely places to visit.

- Maria

Last minute Christmas decoration: a heart of light

This is a very easy DIY perfect for a last-minute decoration. I made it with some wire, wool, and christmas lights.

And here is the result. You could do diferent shapes with the wire. Maybe a star or a christmas tree, or you could even spell out words. I didnt have much time to do this, so I chose the heart, as it is the easiest thing to do ;-). After doing the shape you just twine the christmas lights and the wool in the end to cover the cord.

Hope you like it and give it a try. Christmas is just around the corner!

- Maria

Knitting Christmas balls


This year I have a new obsession: I’m knitting Christmas balls! My husband gave me the book ’55 Christmas Balls to Knit’ by Arne & Carlos for my birthday, and after initial scepticism about the exercise (I mean — knitting Christmas balls??), I have now finished my first ball and totally got the hang of it. So I immediately started the second one, with the eventual aim to knit four balls, one for each of my kids. Maybe I can make them a ball each year, so they can grow a Christmas ornament collection of their own…

xxx Esther

Advent calendar


Growing up with a German mother, celebrating advent was a big deal and magical to us children.  In our family I have so much fun putting together and collecting gifts for the advent calendar.  Henrik is now at such a wonderful age and gets really excited to open each advent. This year I found some great paper advent bags at Ikea and couldn’t pass them up.  I like to keep things simple and I just tied twine to the staircase.  I then attached the bags to the twine with wooden close  pins going up the stairs.

I rotate the gifts so that my two children get something every other day.  I usually give them small little gifts that range from $1-$4.  I also like to pick gifts that they can get a lot of play out of.  Because I have a 22-month-old that is into everything I only put one advent gift in at a time the night before.

It’s so great to see their excited faces when they open their advent bag.  I think it makes counting down till Christmas so much fun and bearable for children.

-Meta

Pretty party dresses at I Love Gorgeous

The holidays are around the corner, so time to get the party dresses sorted! I Love Gorgeous is a great place to find a wonderful collection of the best party dresses around. Sparkly, festive, romantic, rock — you will find all sorts of beautiful choices here! This year, I chose the Pippi dress for Ava. It’s absolutely adorable with the petticoat underskirt which makes it stand out extra wide. Sara, who is getting so tall and ‘tweeny’, will look great in the Vera dress. I love that lovely blue/green petrol colour that I Love Gorgeous does so well, but there are also great choices in pink, cream, red, grey — you name it.

xxx Esther

DIY: your own wrapping paper

The holidays are around the corner and with it loads of presents to wrap. This craft project is a good idea to spend an afternoon with and it sure gives a personal touch to gift giving.  Nico had a lovely time with such a big paper to draw on, all by himself!

And these papers make these presents!

Hope you like it!

- Maria

Get Away: Lanzarote


Here in Northern Europe we have one big problem: the weather! Even though we should be used to it by now, we all crave a bit of sunshine, especially since our summer are not quite the same as they use to be. Everyone dreams of escaping the grey European winters…. The closest destination we have to bask in the sunshine are probably the Canary Islands, which are part of Spain, though they are located off the coast of Africa.

Mitali, one of our lovely readers, who chronicles her life on her blog, Life with my Lovelies,  went on holiday to Lanzarote recently and kindly wrote down her tips on where to go on the island. Her holiday sounds a million miles away from the touristy, beer drinking, football watching experience I always imagined the Canaries to be.

STAY:

Finca Arrieta The eco retreat (with wind and solar power) is the most beautiful and special place. The atmosphere is very laid back and the owners and manger are lovely people. There is a range of different accommodations available: beautiful yurts and little stone houses. We picked the garden cottage and loved it. Every accommodation has its own outdoor space and most have kitchen facilities and barbeques. There is a shared pool and kitchen area and toys and books for everyone to enjoy. You can even borrow surfboards for free.
Our kids, age 7 and 17 months, enjoyed the playground with its great trampoline at the Finca very much. And collecting fresh eggs from the hens which live at the eco retreat was a special adventure. So was feeding Molly, the donkey and if kids want, they can even ride her.

SEE:

I recommend hiring a car in Lanzarote, so you can explore this extraordinary island.

Our son enjoyed visiting the Cueva de Los Verdes the most (people used to hide there from pirates, which he found especially exciting). This spectacular cave is only a short drive from Finca Arrieta and the guided tour (in Spanish and English) takes about 45 minutes. Take a carrier with you for smaller children since they won’t be able to walk through the cave.
In Tahiche is the artists Cesar Manriques house, the Fundacion Cesar Manrique. It is a magical place built into volcanic bubbles and there is a lot to explore.

The Mirador del Rio, also created by Manrique is a viewpoint high on top of a hill, only a short drive from Finca de Arrieta. Hidden in the rocks, the artist created a cafe with giant glass fronts from which you can enjoy the breath taking views around Lanzarote. You can also take a walk outside around the café and take great pictures of La Graciosa, a small island close to Lanzarote (the owner of Finca Arrieta offers tours to La Graciosa which are great fun).

Since our son is fascinated by volcanos we took the somewhat long drive (make sure you ask Sally at the finca for specific directions since there aren’t many signs on the way) to the Montagna del Fuego. Once you get there you can take a bus tour through the volcanic landscape, look into a crater and watch a branch catch fire when thrown into a whole into the ground.

PLAY

La Garita Beach is a ten minute walk from the retreat.  It is a pleasant, small beach with sandy and rocky parts . There are way more locals than tourists and especially on the weekends it can get quite busy. It is a popular surf spot and known for its peer where people jump off into the ocean.

Also try Famara beach. It is a beautiful, wide beach with soft, white sand – perfect for building sand castles and splashing about in the waves. Don´t go if it is too windy though or you will get sandblasted.

Another great beach is located between Arrieta and Orzola. Keep driving past the Cueva de Los Verdes and turned into a gravel road to your right at a small stop sign. This beach is great for smaller children since it offers easy access into the shallow water. We explored it during low tide and we were the only ones there. You can walk miles towards the sea, find little lagunes to bath and watch fish in and just enjoy this beautiful spot all to yourself.

EAT

Since we had our own kitchen at the Finca we self catered the whole time, but the staff at the retreat can recommend various restaurants.

We were all really sad when we had to leave Finca Arrieta and will surely return to this magical place as soon as we can!

Last Minute Halloween Costumes


This year for Halloween Henrik is going as a bat and Maja will be Red Riding Hood.  I like to keep Halloween costumes simple, something we have at home or they can wear over and over again as dress up.

Henrik has been talking about being a bat for Halloween for a long time now and I was happy to oblige (some of his other ideas sounded very complicated and involved).  His costume was so easy to make, for the bat body I bought a black long sleeve shirt and leggings in the girl’s section of the department store. To make the wings I cut two pieces of felt, black and gray, in the shape of bat wings.  I cut the black felt smaller and sewed it onto the gray felt.  I then sewed thick elastic at the ends of the wings as armbands for Henrik to slide his arms through.  I also tacked the top of the wings to his shirt in a few places like the neck and shoulders.  To make the mask I cut a thick band of black felt, cut out two eye holes, and attached the back onto a piece of thick black elastic.  I then cut the ears out of black and gray felt, sewed them together and attached them to the mask.

I used black washi tape to make the Haunted Castle and Henrik made the grave yard out of silver washi tape.  This was so easy to make, It only took about five minutes and Henrik and I had so much fun doing it.

Little Miss Red Riding Hood’s costume was even easier than the bat costume.  Luckily I had this darling red cape (One of the first things I bought after I found out I was having a girl!).  The rest of the outfit came from Maja’s wardrobe as well.  The wolf toy you can get here and the large log pouf here.  I bought most of my washi tape from Darly Bird, she has an amazing selection.

I hope you enjoy and have a happy Halloween!

-Meta

Weekend Getaway: Ibiza


Ibiza is a place I visited a long time ago in a different life. It is so easy to get to from mainland Europe and so full of life and excitement. I absolutely loved it, but it never occurred to me that it might also be a great place to visits with kids. Anne-Laure, a fellow Frenchy, has recently moved to Ibiza and kindly shares her favourite places to visit with kids. Turns out there are a ton of things to do for the whole family! Here’s her guide:

Have you ever thought of Ibiza as an Island Break for family? Well Ibiza is the perfect spot because this tiny little island has it all! Wonderful weather from Easter to mid-November, good flight connections with most European cities, small villages, beautiful beaches, incredible food and lots of fun for kids and adults.

I moved here last February and even though I already loved the island before moving, I can assure you that the more I know it the more I fall in love with Ibiza. The positive energy which captivates all its visitors will also charm you.

I am a French native, a natural cosmetic blogger and mother of 2 incredible sons, Gabriel (20 months) and Paul (4 months)… :) I can see you raising your eyebrows! Yes, it is a hell of a lot of work and organisation to be able to keep up with all the things you used to do before having children, like going out for lunch with friends, shopping, partying, etc… But with all the tips I have listed down here you will be able to do it in Ibiza. Here’s my list with all my favourite places to go around the island to enjoy the Ibiza Lifestyle with your children: (more…)

Mid-winter Christmas

We have a funny tradition here down under and thats having a second christmas in the middle of the year to give us a chance to enjoy all the traditional heavy christmas food in the correct season!  Since Christmas is usually stifling hot the last thing you really want to eat is a roast dinner with a hot pudding (although this is still what we traditionally eat at christmas!).  So someone came up with the idea many years ago to have another christmas in winter.  We invited a few friends over and enjoyed roast lamb with all the trimmings and lemon tart for dessert.  We exchanged small presents as well and of course we had to decorate the house to make it feel like christmas!  This is where my Kidsonroof Christmas tree came in very handy.  I bought it in Holland last christmas and I love it.  It’s made out of recycled cardboard so can be used over and over again.  Its not too big but not small enough that it doesn’t make a statement.

Merry mid-year christmas everyone!

Steph xo

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