Mouse House

As a child I received a custom made dollhouse for Christmas.  I loved playing with it and spent many hours re-arranging the furniture, and adding special little touches to it.  I still have a fascination with dollhouses and everything in miniature.

Several months ago I found a vintage dollhouse at a thrift store and I couldn’t pass it up.  Henrik and I decided it would be the perfect home for our Maileg Mice.  I added a couple of coats of paint and some paper to the house and it’s as good as new.  I then added a few pieces of furniture and a mouse portrait painted by Henrik to make our mouse family feel at home.

My children have enjoyed playing with their mouse house and Henrik is already talking about moving his claymation guys in…

-Meta

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…)

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

Weekend Get Away: Prague


Have you ever been to Prague? It is one of my top 5 European cities. It is relatively small and absolutely stunning and is one of these places where you feel surrounded by history! In short, a perfect European destination to spend a weekend with the family. Prague is yet again one of those cities I visited several times before having a kid and have not been to since. I was really happy when one of our readers Diane wanted to write about it who travels all over Europe with her family. Prague really stood out as a place that is very child friendly and fun for everyone no matter what age, so Diane has decided it was time to share her hard earned knowledge with all of us!

SEE:

Petrin Hill – Located above Mala Strana, Petrin Hill is a great place from which to view the city.  For even better views, take the elevator to the top of the mini Eiffel Tower located on its grounds.  Note that the elevator cannot accommodate strollers.  A mirror maze located on the grounds can be fun for kids of all ages.  Even getting to Petrin Hill can be fun for kids – take the funicular and enjoy the ride up.  Remember, you can’t spell funicular without fun!

Prague Castle – no trip to Prague would be complete without a visit to Prague Castle.  A whole afternoon can be spent wandering around the grounds.  Much of it may not interest your kids but stick around for the changing of the guards, as that should grab their attention.

Vysehrad Castle – Prague’s other, less visited castle has on its grounds a beautiful church, a cemetery containing the remains of famous Czechs like composers Dvorak and Smetana, and a well-stocked playground perfect for children bored by sightseeing.

Astronomical Clock – Located in the middle of Old Town (a must see as well) is the enormous astronomical clock.   It is worth sitting down in a nearby café for a snack and waiting for the top of the hour to see what happens.

PLAY:

Kralovstvi Zeleznic – Located in the basement of a building in Novy Smichov, this train museum offers lots of model train sets of different varieties whizzing by miniature cityscapes and countryside.  If your child even remotely likes trains, they will love this museum.  Plus, it is entirely indoors, so it is a great rainy (or snowy) day activity.  Your kids will recognize the Thomas train sets and older folks will appreciate the more historic trains, including the ones with “Czechoslovakia” written on the side.  For the youngest visitors, there is a room set aside with Thomas trains and other age appropriate toys.

Zoo Praha – Like most zoos, Zoo Praha offers a wide array of animals on display.  What makes this zoo stand out is its extensive children’s area complete with a petting zoo, playground and small train that children can ride (with parents, if necessary).  There is a café on the grounds.  The zoo is a bit off the beaten path but can be reached by taking the metro and then a bus.

Komunitni Centrum KAMPA – During our travels we always try to give our children an opportunity to interact with others their age by seeking out age appropriate classes and inquiring as to whether we can pay for one or two visits.  At the Komunitni Centrum KAMPA, we were able to pay for our daughter to attend a “Kids in Motion” class.  This English-speaking class involved music, movement and every toddler’s favorite, bubbles.  After class, everyone heads next door to Kampa Park for its playground and views of the Charles River. (more…)

Jugar i Jugar wooden toys

I have always been so fond of wooden toys. They look good and live with you for ever and ever. Jugar I Jugar is a Spanish brand selling all kinds of adorable toys.

But Jugar I jugar seems to be much more than a shop selling lovely toys. They have workshops, “tuppertoys”: they go to your house with a selection of toys and show you different ways to play. Brilliant! Their commitment with sustainable production, with quality human relations with their suppliers and their aim to have nice and gentle toys for our kids is something I really admire.

Lots of good reasons to take a look at jugar I jugar. It is such a pleasure to find people like Carmen and Claudia, fighting for what they believe.

-Maria

Antwerp

Greetings from sunny Antwerp! We are having such silly, girly fun this weekend and thought we would share some photos with you. (And if you happened to be in the Park Avenue Karaoke bar last night at 2am, will you please erase the image of three slightly tipsy girls singing ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ at the top of their lungs.) Oh my!

xxx Courtney, Esther and Emilie

A birthday celebration!


We’re all in sunny Antwerp together celebrating our birthday! And working very hard, of course. And shopping (shh… don’t tell our husbands!), and eating (chocolates!) and drinking (Belgian beer!). Such fun!

Kisses and enjoy your weekend!
xxx Esther, Emilie and Courtney

p.s. We’ll be updating our Facebook page from Antwerp regularly. So check in!

Emilie’s five favourite posts


Four years of blogging, discovering and evolving. It has been quite a ride and it has been great. I don’t think I really knew what blogging really was when we started… and look how far we’ve come! Here is my list of five favourite posts from the past year. I hope you enjoyed them as much as I did.

Courtney’s five favourite posts

How fun to look back at the past year of posts! It always reminds me how much I really do love our blog. As usual, it was really difficult to narrow down a list… but here are five of my favourites from the past year:

  • Three children is perfect (for us) because I share the feeling completely, and because Esther so eloquently writes about a sentiment every mother must feel, no matter how many children they have.
  • Cabbage and Flea – nicknames for children because it’s so funny to hear all the names we call our children!
  • Made by Joel it aint because it reminds us to stop trying to be perfect and that craft projects should be fun for the kids to do, rather than perfect for adults to admire (and I love that Brooke Reynolds left a comment making us all feel better about her reputation as being ‘perfect’).
  • Nettle Quiche because HOW COOL that you can eat stinging nettles! (And we made this dish for Easter this year and it was DELICIOUS!)
  • La Parisienne because Emilie gave me that book for my birthday, and I have since bought about ten copies as gifts for other girlfriends. It’s the perfect little ‘bible’ of all things chic.

How to make your own Pinatas

Who doesn’t love a piñata? They make great party decorations, they offer entertainment (if you decide to bash the beauty up), and they’re filled with candy!  Such fun! Jordan at Oh Happy Day has recently started a Piñata DIY series and offers all the tips and necessary steps for how to make them. It actually seems quite easy to do — I think I might give it a go for our next party… although I’m not sure I could stand watching it get destroyed after all that work, no matter how many sweets it bears.

Images from Oh Happy Day

-Courtney

Esther’s five favourite posts


It’s hard to believe it’s been four years since we first started Babyccino! SO much has happened in the meantime. Happy things, sad things, beautiful things, silly things… It’s been a bit of a challenge at times (and a lot of hard work!) to keep the blog going strong, but we’re happy and proud that we’re still blogging away (AND also that we launched the shopping portal this year as well).

Looking back through the posts of the last year I rediscovered so many cool things, and it was a hard job to pick five favourite posts, but here are some I thought were worth sharing again:

There are so many more… Maybe we should do a favourite five every month?

xxx Esther

Wrap it up!


Do you know that sentiment — to be almost more excited to give presents than you are to receive them? I especially have that feeling when I know I have found something spot-on perfect, which will most certainly be well received, and is wrapped with lots of love and care…
This wrapping paper from Lollipop is just perfect for such a present — so happy and stylish with the baubles, printed on 100% recycled paper with lovely veggie inks. (There are matching gift tags and labels available too!) I’m also loving the polka dot masking tape from Petite Alma — cute with the baubles paper, but also exquisite on plain white paper (readily available from your kids’ crafting corner!). More cool party ideas can be found in this week’s Top Ten!

xxx Esther

Super cute name labels from Mooo


Summer holidays are coming to an end (phew — I need a break from all the cleaning and washing a ’stayvacation’ entails). Aussie children are back to school, the start of a brand new school year. And that means labels. Lot’s of them. Especially for my son who starts his very first year of school (so exciting) and who would be prone to losing his beautiful head, were it not so well attached to his body. These adorable name labels are from Mooo. They also do the coolest personalised books which I have always intended to get for my children but which I have never got around to organizing. Also personalised bags, pencil cases, wooden puzzels, stationery, canvas art and an array of other personalised goodies, all of which make fabulous birthday present options.

- Sara

Another favourite toy: Bonz!

Apart from our collection of Schleich animals, these Bonz must be the toy(s) my boys play with most often.  We have both the Exo Bonz kit and the Sea Bonz set, and all the pieces have been thrown together into one big bin… meaning my kids can create the most unusual creatures! Every day I find at least one new creation in their bedroom — and it’s so fun to see how imaginative they can get.

The Bonz construction kits are great because each piece can be connected to the next, so the possibilities are endless. Plus, the sets come with cool pieces like eye balls, wings, jellyfish tentacles, and special connector pieces which pivot 180° to allow the creatures to pose, bend and move. Even I like playing with these!

Available from Amazon (US).

-Courtney

My daughter’s favourite toy — Baby Dolls

Again, no surprises here — my 22-month-old daughter loves ‘baby’ (currently it doesn’t matter which one). We have two babies in our house.  On your left you will see Winnie (the winker).  We bought Winnie from the Early Learning Centre for my son about a month before my daughter was born to get him into babies (which seemed to work quite well). On your right you will see Polly Dolly (for ease I have called most of my daughter’s soft-toys ‘Polly’ – we have a Polly Parrot, a Polly Princess, a Polly Polar (bear) and of course Polly Dolly).  My husband bought Polly Dolly for Lioba the Christmas before she was born.

Polly Dolly is a Kathe Kruse Bade-Puppe (bath doll).  Kathe Kruse is a wonderful German brand famous for dolls (but a brand I personally love for all their baby toys and music boxes*).   (more…)

My son’s favourite ‘toy’

For this theme week I asked my son, Elias, what his favourite toy is. Elias is 3 (nearly 4) and so it will come as no surprise to most mums with a 3 (nearly 4)-year-old boy that he answered, “my scooter”. Elias loves his blue Micro scooter and goes everywhere on it.  A boring trip to the shops can be turned into an exciting adventure if his scooter comes too.

However, the unoriginality of this choice brings me to tell you about another of Elias’s favourite toys (if it can be called that). Elias likes his ’stuff’ — everyday he carries around with him 3 – 4 random objects and can not be with out these ‘things’, whether they are tied to him in some fashion or stuffed in his pockets or in his back-pack.  He is lost without them, he goes to bed with them and they are always the first things he asks for the next morning.

I did find the whole ‘thing’ obsession a little strange for a while, but now I love it about him — all his ‘things’ form so many ideas for games and imaginative play throughout his day. So what are his typical ‘things’? Well I just checked his pockets (see picture for proof) — this is what I found: (more…)

Favourite Toy: Zingo!

Zingo was the first real board-game, so to speak, that we played at home on a regular basis.  The concept is simple — it’s “Bingo” but using pictures and words.  What I like about it is that it’s not only great for teaching visual recognition and learning first basic words but that it helps to plant the seeds for learning how to “take turns”, “help each other out”, and for one of my daughters, perfect the fine art of “cheating.”  It’s a game that young kids like and one that an adult won’t mind playing as well.  Available on Amazon (US and Europe).

Silver rattle (Ava’s favourite toy)


When we moved to our current house in the beginning of this year, we quickly found out that we had a very sweet, very old neighbour, who has lived here since our houses were built in the 1950s! She had her three children here, sadly lost her husband here, recently turned 90 here, and still enjoys living in this house, and hopefully she will be able to for a very long time.
When Ava was born, she gave us the most beautiful and thoughtful gift: a silver rattle with a teething ring, engraved with Ava’s name and date of birth. Such a timeless present, and something she will keep for the rest of her life.
And it is this silver rattle that is Ava’s most favourite toy. She loves playing with it, looking at the reflections on the silver, chewing on the ring, shaking it to hear the bell. It is easy for her to grasp and hold, and it is the one toy she looks for when we put her in her playpen. (Similar rattles can probably be found at your local jeweller, or in Europe here.)

xxx Esther

Favourite Toys : Just what the Doctor Ordered!


This classic doctor’s bag  has been, I am guessing, our most enduring, regularly used toy. Of course it helps that it is made of wood and not plastic and has withstood the test of time, over-zealous budding anesthetists included (that would be my son I am referring to!) My daughter was gifted her kit when she turned 3 and the role-playing is showing no signs of decline – it is just a little more sophisticated these days! She is now 9.  Over time we have added other items like cotton wool and bandaids, a pad and pencil for prescriptions and a real but broken mobile phone/pager… (more…)

Our Kids’ Favourite Toys

Can you believe we have less than 6 weeks until Christmas? Where did this year go? Suddenly it’s time to start thinking about holiday gifts! So… with the countdown to Christmas now on, we thought it would be a good idea to do a series on our kids’ favourite toys — the toys they play with every day, the toys that have lasted years and years, the ones they always go back to despite receiving something new…

So, if I had to pick one toy from my kids’ playroom, their absolute favourite toy of all time, it would have to be their collection of Schleich Animals. My boys take their Schleich animals with them into the bath, into their beds, to school in their coat pocket, to the park, to the beach, etc. etc. We always have at least a couple animals with us at all times, be it a dinosaur, a sea creature, or a farm animal

(Image found here.)

-Courtney

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