Cosy house suits for my boys from Shampoodle

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It’s getting so chilly here in Amsterdam… It’s been warmer than usual for this time of year, but this weekend it was definitely time to get all of the woollens out of the storage boxes. Our house has big steel windows — very cool (but also very literally so)!

Speaking of staying warm… I recently ordered our boys each a Shampoodle ‘Home’ suit — a sweater and pants made of warm, organic knit cotton to keep them cosy and warm in the winter months. And they’ve been living in them! I have a lot of trouble convincing them to take them off for a wash. (My husband wondered if I could order him such a suit as well. A lot of the Shampoodle styles come in adult sizes, but sadly not these Home suits… I would have, otherwise!)

Shampoodle is a socially aware Swedish brand known for their comfortable clothes which are equally perfect for boys or girls, young and old. The clothes are are designed for an urban life style and are perfect for playing, inside or out.

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And of course… I couldn’t resist ordering this adorable teal coloured friendly Ghost romper for Casper — that was a given, right?? ; )

xxx Esther

 

Scoot Basket

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Scooter basket

I don’t think I know a scooter-riding child who wouldn’t love one of these Scoot Baskets on their scooter! My girls each have one and they love filling their baskets with little nature finds on our walks in the park (lately they’ve been collecting pretty leaves, nuts, and sticks).

The Scoot Basket easily attaches to any scooter with two velcro straps and stays in place perfectly. It also looks quite cute on their little scooters, don’t you think? Available from Scoot ‘n Pull, which also sells the Scoot ‘n Pull strap.

Courtney xx

Pim, in ABC123me

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When we were visiting Maud Fontein in her studio a few weeks ago, she took a few photos of Pim and I just love the way they turned out. They really show Pim the way he is — sweet, funny, and so at ease with himself. Also, I see a glimpse of a bigger Pim in there (and he’s a cutie)!

The cool corduroy jacket and trousers he is wearing is totally up his alley — he loves to wear things like that. Both are available from the new boys clothing brand ABC123me, which still offers a small but promising collection of high quality, easy-to-wear clothing. (Pim’s shoes are from Dutch shoe brand De Vries.)

xxx Esther

LileSADi, cool products with attitude

LileSadi_2 Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 15.25.46I recently discover Lile SADi, a Dutch (Rotterdam based) label with super cool and contemporary products. Founded by Dinah and Sarah a few years ago, Lile SADi’s collections cover graphic wallpapers and prints and wonderful kitchen and home accessories.  All products are manufactured here in Europe to keep craftsmanship and individuality alive.

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Dinah and Sarah recently came out with a children’s collection and I so like all of the wonderful patterns and prints! So pretty and detailed and fun, and still so in style with their other work. How cute are those rabbit leggings? (Ava loves them!!)

xxx Esther

 

Cute crochet friends from Leggybuddy

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Leggybuddy is a Swiss company started by designer Suzanna Pezo Sommerfeld. She’s a mother of a little boy and co-owner of a young and very cool looking design agency in Zurich. As if that is not enough to keep someone busy, she recently launched Leggybuddy, a line of adorable hand-crochet animal characters with, as the name implies, beautiful long legs!

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Suzanne designs and makes all of the product samples herself in her Zurich-based studio, and then they’re hand-crocheted in Europe using all natural materials like cotton and wool. Leggybuddies come in a small and large size, and are often wearing adorable little costumes so they can be dressed and undressed. Outfits are also available separately, and they’re all beautifully hand-crocheted as well, with sweet details like contrasting stripes and little pockets.

leggybuddy_3 leggybuddy_5Casper and Ava love their Leggybudies — I find it so sweet that Dorian the mouse is easily transformed into a beautiful Christmas princess just by changing his cool crochet dungarees (with pocket) into a little red party dress with matching booties. There’s also a bottle (impressively crocheted as well!) and I’m also impressed by the amount of patience Ava is displaying towards feeding Prince Froggy and Dorian — she’ll be a good mama one day!

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It’s obvious my kids love their Leggybudies. And I really like to have them around too — they’re such cool looking toys to have on display in our living room!

xxx Esther

This post is sponsored by Leggybuddy, a wonderful European brand and also a member of our shopping portal. Thank you for supporting the brands that support our blog!

Foxy felt slippers

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Loving these foxy felt slippers, created by shaping organic wool with soap, water and hand pressure. A traditional craft handed down over many generations, and here coming to life in such a darling, contemporary product! They are really lovely in every detail, with their little ears and sweet tail. The sole is made from suede so it’s anti slip and everything is sewn together with tiny little cross stitches. They are presented in a little drawstring bag made from organic cotton, so they make a perfect present. Adorable! And… the price is not bad! : )

Available from The Dandy Kid.

xxx Esther

 

Simple leaf print-splash art

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Did you ever splash drops of ink on paper using a toothbrush? My mum taught me this technique when I was a child and suddenly, when Ava and I were picking up pretty leaves the other day, I remembered how fun it was. All you need is an old toothbrush and some coloured ink. Dip the toothbrush in the ink lightly and use your thumb to spray little drops of ink on the paper. Don’t move the leaves when you’re doing it!

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When you’re done, carefully remove the leaves from the paper. Voila! So pretty!

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Your thumb will we coloured for the next few days. I think my mum used liquid water colour, ‘ecoline’ for this, which is probably a better idea if you have it handy. If not, a coloured thumb is actually pretty cool we thought : ).

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Pim and Ava made a few very pretty leaf print-splash paintings (or whatever you would call them), and they look really cool on the wall of my office. Simple is best, isn’t it?

xxx Esther

 

The Little Things… A Doll Hospital!

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For this post in the The Little Things series, we made something I think every little boy or girl will love: a doll hospital!

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This is such a fun project to make, and it’s really quite simple. Also, most of the materials we’ve used are recycled!

A trip to the local greengrocer provided us with the (future) hospital beds. With simple white paint (I used primer which was left over from our house renovation) I painted the vegetable boxes, and with red acrylic paint from the children’s craft box, I made a red cross on each bed.

From old pillowcases I made white mattresses, sheets and pillows for the beds. And I couldn’t resist painting a red cross on the sheets with fabric paint.



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And then — how ADORABLE are these free downloads for a DIY nurse cap and doctor’s prescriptions? Sara from SakaDesign made them for us again. She’s so talented!

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I painted a similar red cross on a simple white suitcase (which we bought), to create a doctor’s case. And, of course, every respectable doctor’s case needs some serious doctor’s necessities!

The pharmacy around the corner kindly gave us a syringe, some plastic containers, a measuring spoon and cup. The simple bandages and plasters came from our first aid kit. We glued a strip of paper in the lid of the doctor’s case to hold the prescriptions, and filled the plastic containers with colourful ‘pills’ (M&Ms!!). We also put a thermometer, a scissors and a stethoscope in the case.

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And here are Doctor Ava and Doctor Juul, ready to heal some very sick baby dolls! As you can see, they take their task rather seriously. ; )

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The girls played for hours with the doll hospital. It was such a huge succes! (And I’m thinking, wouldn’t it make a very sweet holiday gift as well?)

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xxx Esther

PS –  This is the newest post in a series which is called ‘The Little Things’. Thank you Maud Fontein for taking these beautiful photos, and Sara Musch for the adorable download. The girls’ outfits are from Mabo Kids!

 

My adventurous children (for the Waddler photography competition)

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Waddler has been one of our favourite children’s clothing brands — Philip and Marina started their brand after a wonderful stay (of a few years!) in South America, and they have put all of their sense of adventure, respect and amazement of the world around them, and their love for life in general, in Waddler.

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Courtney already shared the photography competition Waddler is holding in cooperation with Plan South America and in which they are challenging parents to photograph their children (dressed in Waddler) and show their individuality and adventurous nature. I accepted the challenge, especially since I’ve never been to South America and would love to go!

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Here are the photos I took of Casper and Ava having fun in the forest last week , and discovering the little wonders of this natural playground around them. What a joyful time we had! Of course I hope we win the competition, but in any case, I’m happy with these photos and the memories we created while making them.

xxx Esther

 

Sticker crafting with Pipsticks

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My friend, Maureen, invited us over to her house last week for a sticker craft playdate for the little ones (and homemade soup for the mums! Yummm).  It was such a fun and inspiring morning in her gorgeous home, and Marlow loved making (and wearing) her sticker crown. What a sweet activity.

Maureen is the founder of Pipsticks, a sticker subscription service for kids (and sticker-loving grown-ups) that delivers a curated pack of stickers to your mailbox every month. Each month Maureen puts together an awesome, seasonal pack of stickers from global suppliers, choosing the most unique and useful stickers kids are sure to love. In addition to stickers, each pack includes a blank postcard and a few sheets of colourful paper to use for craft projects and general ‘stickering’.

I think what I love most about Maureen, in addition to her sticker expertise and, of course, her homemade soup (!), is that she comes up with the cutest ways to use the stickers and offers all sorts of sticker craft ideas on her site. From sticker crowns to pretty pencils to sticker mandalas… most projects are easy enough for kids to do on their own, and make it that much more exciting to receive a sticker pack in the post each month.

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Ike sticker crafting
Marlow and Ike were so cute making their crowns together, and as you can see Marlow got creative and decided to sticker her outfit too. : ) You can see the full sticker crown tutorial over on the Pipsticks website where you can sign up for your own sticker subscription as well. (Enter code BABY11 at check-out to receive one month free off any 6 or 12 month subscription!)

Courtney x

p.s. Pipsticks will have a booth at this year’s ShopUp event selling sticker gift boxes and other fun sticker packs — they’ll also have a little craft station for kids as well, so be sure to check them out there! Just TWO MORE WEEKS!!

New house storage boxes from Famille Summerbelle

PinkMustardHouseBoxesInsituSide BlackBlue2BoxesInsitu 4BoxesFamille Summerbelle just came out with these adorable house storage boxes. I just love how clever and decorative they are. Yes please for my office, which is in need of organisation!

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Plus — a perfect present for the holidays, don’t you think?

xxx Esther

Sara, growing up (and Marie Puce)

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Sara is now 9 1/2 — not long before we’ll have a teenager in the house! It’s crazy to think back to the moment when we first found out we were going to have a baby. Tamar and I were living in Brussels at the time, we had just gotten married a few months prior, and I vividly remember the moment we looked at that pregnancy test, first seeing nothing, but then slowly, that (wished for) stripe appeared.

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And now, 10 years later, here she is, our first born, a beautiful girl, with the most gentle and caring character. Realising how lucky we are to have her brings tears to my eyes! She, being the older sister, has as much influence on her little siblings as we have. She is always positive, sweet, looking after the little ones…

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I love seeing her grow up (and up she goes! She’s such a tall and skinny girl!), and to see her character evolve, to see her learn about life, taking it all in, being happy with the world around her, with her self, her family and her friends. Also, I love to still see the child in her, who loves to play, to build huts, and to climb trees. It’s such a wonderful age, these years between childhood and adolescence!

Last week we were visiting the pretty Park Middelheim in Antwerpen where I took these photos of Sara.  I think they capture that feeling of ‘mature childhood’ so perfectly: the understanding on her face in the first photo, but also the curiosity and the joy in the last photos.

xxx Esther

PS How perfect is that dress (one of Sara’s favourites) and those boots, both from Marie Puce — cool and fashionable, but still innocent and girly!

New in at Donna Wilson!

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I’m not very adventurous with tableware — I think it’s my OCD qualities (!) that likes my kitchen cupboards to be filled with big stacks of matching plates, bowls, mugs, etc. My kids use the same tableware as we do (this range from Ikea!), that way we don’t clutter up our cupboards with different stuff for the kids.

But… I just couldn’t resist these beautiful ceramic plates from Donna Wilson! I can’t decide whether to let the kids use them for meals (and hope they don’t break them!) or to hang them on the wall like in the photo below. Don’t they look so pretty like that?

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I love everything in the new Autumn collection at Donna Wilson: beautiful scarves and bags (how fun is this coin purse?), colourful lambswool cushions, and a whole range of playful items for kids.

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I love how the Donna Wilson products always have an element of playfulness about them. They’re always beautiful, but also quite quirky and fun too.

Courtney x

Are We There Yet?

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Have you been following the Rosetta mission on the news lately?  I have been a bit obsessed in the last few days to see if the mission of landing an unmanned space craft on a comet that is about 6bn kilometres away from earth was going to work, so improbably and yet, somehow it landed! It took the space craft 10 years to reach its destination; insane, right?

As we were listening to an update on the radio in the morning, my kids were asking probing questions about the mission, which I have actually been at a loss to answer. Because, how do you explain comets, space crafts, 6bn kilometres and the universe to a 6-year-old over a bowl of cereal at 8 am in the morning? Not my strong point, and many of the questions, I have to admit, I actually could not answer.  So I discovered this little animated video  called “Are We There Yet” made by the European Space Agency. It is super cute and very informative, even for adults!

– Emilie

Pretend and play with Fanny & Alexander

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Last week, Courtney and her family were visiting us in Amsterdam, and we had such a lovely time. Eight children, who have known each other all of their life, together in one house. You can imagine the amount of fun we all had!

Ivy and Ava are one year apart, but these girls are the best of friends. They bond over dolls, drawing, and mischievous behaviour in general. The sound of their girly giggles throughout the house was just wonderful!

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When a few toys arrived from the fabulous toy makers Fanny & Alexander, all the way from Argentina, the girls proved to be the perfect models. Ivy instantly fell in love with the wooden camera — taking photos of all of us (and showing them to us on the ‘preview screen’ on the back of the camera — pretending, of course!). Ava’s new canvas school satchel (which fits beautifully thanks to the adjustable straps) of course needed to be photographed immediately.

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Fanny & Alexander is a brand based in Argentina and aims to develop nostalgic toys and children’s accessories. They work with local artisans to produce objects that are simple yet beautiful and are made to stand the test of time. Their collection is about capturing that unique feeling that childhood is all about and to encourage pretend play and creativity. Ivy and Ava are big fans, and so are we!

The beautiful products of Fanny & Alexander are now available at Shak-Shuka, or check other retailers here.

xxx Esther

This post is sponsored by Fanny & Alexander, a brand we highly admire for their dedication to developing unique and durable children’s toys and accessories. 

Blurb photo books

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

Courtney x

 

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. 

Rooftoppers

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Coco is at a stage now where she takes herself off to read her books and I am not part of that world anymore. It is kind of sad, but also such an important part of growing up and building her own world. I still remember the pleasure of getting lost in a book at her age and escaping reality and (occasionally) annoying siblings!

I also have to admit that a lot of books she reads frankly do not interest me at all! Let’s face it, a pack of mice solving mysteries is just not my thing…

There are some books though that she reads that are so well written and fun, that I sneak into her room at night to steal her book and read it myself. Her current read, Rooftoppers , is one of them. Written by 27-year-old Katherine Rundell, it is about a baby found floating in a cello case after a shipwreck in the English channel. The baby grows up to be a spirited little girl, who does not give up the search for her lost mother.

It is beautifully written and engaging and feels like a classic, even though it only came out earlier this year.

Both Coco and I highly recommend it! ;)

– Emilie

 

Waddler photo competition

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I don’t normally enter photo competitions, but here is one that I just can’t pass up. The prize is just too good! The chance to win a£1,000 shopping spree at Waddler plus a once-in-a-lifetime trip to South America?! I’m in. You too? Just look at that beautiful landscape above…

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Waddler is one of my very favourite children’s brands. Their fair trade collection is produced in Bolivia from 100% baby alpaca wool, one of nature’s finest natural fibers, and is incredibly soft. The pieces have something very sweet and simple about them, yet they are wild and adventurous. And the colours are so gorgeously rich and soft at the same time.

Waddler has teamed up with PlanSouthAmerica, a British-owned and operated travel company with offices in London and Buenos Aires, to offer a once-in-a-lifetime trip to South America, the birthplace of Waddler and the inspiration for their designs. They’re offering one very lucky winner the chance to £1,000 worth of beautiful clothes and £1,000 towards an amazing family holiday in South America.

Marlow and Ivy in Waddler
To enter, all you have to do is take a photo of your children wearing their Waddller clothing and mail it to serena@wadler.co.uk or upload them to Instagram using the hashtag #waddlercompetition by January 25th, 2015. (You can read more about the competition here.) I took this photo of my silly girls (above) when we were in Soho last weekend. Those little outfits are just too cute!

Courtney x
p.s. Waddler is one of 40 wonderful brands setting up shop at this year’s ShopUp event in December.  So if your kids don’t already have a piece from the collection, you’ll be able to shop their collection there!

p.p.s. This post was sponsored by Waddler, a brand we have loved for years and a longtime member of our shopping portal.

SipSnap drinking lids

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Leave it to a duo of mums to come up with something so simple yet so useful. After launching the hugely successful Kickstarter campaign, two mums, Sativa Turner and Michelle Ivankovic, have come out with a range of BPA-free, spill-proof lids that fit any cup, any time. The SipSnap drinking lids are to be used at home so you can clear out all the plastic kiddie cups taking up valuable space in your kitchen cupboards, or to be used on-the-go so you always have a sippy cup with you at restaurants or friends’ houses, etc. So smart!

There are two types of lids — the SipSnap TOT with a sippy lid or the SipSnap KID with a hole that fits any sized straw. All the lids are dishwasher safe, fit over any sized cup, come with a handy case so you can easily throw in your handbag, and come in a variety of fun colours.

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We tested out the SipSnap lids at Esther’s house last week and they worked perfectly. I loved that we could just slip on a lid over any of Esther’s normal drinking glasses, and my kids were safe to drink away without spilling all over her beautiful new house. : )

Courtney x

Super cool art therapy colouring book


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I recently picked up this really cool colouring book, ‘The Art Therapy Colouring Book‘ for my kids and it’s been a huge hit. It mostly consists of very intricate colouring sheets full of cool mandelas and geometrical designs, which give the most awesome results — even if you don’t stay within the lines : ). Adults too will love the therapeutic exercise of patiently colouring in the patterns in this book and creating something beautiful along the way. I think this book will make a lovely (holiday) present — for bigger and smaller kids!

Available from Amazon (US or UK ).

xxx Esther

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