Origami Fortune Teller Set by Djeco

fun with DjecoDo you remember playing the game paper fortune tellers when you were at school? I had such fun with my friends in the playground excitedly opening up the prediction to see what we had to do – we wrote simple challenges like hop on one foot 10 times, or say a joke, and then there were the fun predictions like kiss a boy, do the splits or make bunny ears behind the teacher’s back! Gosh it was such fun!

Djeco fortune teller 2We’ve been playing it quite regularly with the girls —  it’s a great after dinner game. They love folding the paper, adding the numbers and writing secret predictions under the flaps. So when I saw this pretty Djeco set when I was in London I knew it was the perfect little coming home gift from me.

Djeco fortune tellersThe set comes with delightfully patterned paper squares ready to fold, lovely stickers showing the challange and a colourful instruction booklet. The girls (and their friends) really enjoy this modernised set and there are new challenges for us all to do – like swap your shoes around, talk to the door or find an insect.

I bought this particular fortune teller set from Trotters in Chiswick but a similar set can be found here.

Have fun!
Vanessa x

Rola Bola

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We have a new favourite toy and it is called a Rola Bola! Do you know it? Vivi discovered it at her circus class and now we are all having turns at it. It is actually surprisingly difficult to keep your balance, so we all try to stay up for at least a minute. Apparently next we are going to learn how to juggle while standing up on it! Ha, not to sure when that is going to happen. ; )

We got ours from the great juggling shop in Paris called PassePasse but I found a similar one on Amazon.

Emilie x

PS Apologies for the bad quality photo, I just had my iphone at hand when we were practicing this morning…

A fun family word game

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writing words

choosing words

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When we were in Chile in December, we coincidentally (and luckily!) bumped into another travelling family whom I have been following on Instagram for the past year. This family of four (@ouropenroad) have been travelling around South America in their westy van for the past three years (what an adventure!), and happened to be passing through our little surfing village on their way up to Santiago. We spent three wonderful days with Adam, Emily and their two girls – sunny days on the beach followed by dinners back at our little cabin. After dinner one night, they taught us a really fun charades-type of game, which we played until late that night and which has since become a family favourite over the past couple of months.

We played nearly every evening when my sister was with us over Christmas – with daily requests from the kids to play the ‘letter game’, as it’s been coined in our family, and we’ve spent many rainy afternoons inside our camper van playing over the past couple weeks. We’ve played it so many times, that we’ve now covered off every letter in the alphabet, and we’re starting again encouraging the kids to come up with new words.

The game is great fun for adults and reading-age children alike, and it’s educational too – our kids have learned so many new words which have since become regular words in their vocabulary. It’s also great for travel as you don’t need anything but some paper and pens – and a bowl (or a hat!) to hold your words. You also need an even number of people with a minimum of four (breaking off into teams of two).

Here’s how to play:  (more…)

Play&Go play mat

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My friends seem to have baby in cycles – and, at the moment, I am back in the baby cycle with babies popping up everywhere around me – I love it! I do have a lot of fun finding the latest new baby presents and there is one clear winner. It is the Play&Go play mat –  and it is genius.

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Basically it is a pretty playmate that, in one movement, transforms into a bag with all the toys inside. I seriously wish it had been around when my kids were smaller. Perfect for when you have visitors and you need to quickly clean up!

Emilie

Moulin Roty rag doll

Marlow opening presents

Marlow and doll

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My sister flew to New Zealand to meet us for Christmas, arriving late on Christmas eve after the kids had already gone to bed.  The children woke extra early on Christmas morning because of the excitement of seeing her and were even more excited to see that she had brought them each a small present. Lucky kiddos.

Meaghan gave Marlow this soft rag doll from Moulin Roty, and it’s so, so cute. I love the pairing of the pretty fabrics of the dress and the bloomers, and the little knitted bonnet is so sweet. I also love that it’s cosy to sleep with and squishes up into a suitcase or backpack – perfect for travel.

I know the gift-giving season is over, but this is a good one to bookmark for upcoming birthdays or other occasions. There’s a similar version of the doll at Cottage Toys as well, equally cute. And a boy doll as well!

Courtney x

Llamas!

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My friend Lisa just sent me a link to Larry the Llama at Land of Nod with a note telling me it reminded her of the fluffy llamas we recently saw in Santa Cruz, Chile. Yes!! It’s so true! How cute is Larry?! The perfect little ride-on toy/decór object! It makes me wish I had children’s bedrooms to decorate right now.

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Speaking of llamas, there is also this cute wooden llama rattle from Brimful shop…

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This organic cotton shirt with llama print from Waddler

Waddler llama blouse

…and this buttoned vest from HBB Industria Argentina!

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Thank you, Lisa, for inspiring a bit of late-night random web searching for llamas! : ) (And woohoo for finally having wifi again after three weeks without it!) Happy almost Christmas everyone.

Courtney xx

Great gifting from Sarah and Bendrix

Sarah & BendrixI’m getting more and more excited about the London ShopUp this week! We have so many amazing brands joining us, I just can’t wait to fill that extra suitcase I’m bringing over : )!

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Sarah & Bendrix is one of the wonderful shops setting up their booth at our great venue, offering a selection of very simple but beautifully crafted gifts. I love the darling children’s collection, with some beautiful wooden toys and gorgeous watercolour games (check out this sweet video here for gift inspiration — so sweet!). Sarah & Bendrix also offers pretty cards and complete gift boxes, to make gifting even more easy.

xxx Esther

Mamma Couture, and the enchanted creatures

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We’ve been loving the beautiful products at Mamma Couture for a while now. You might remember the sweet bag of fabric vegetables, the cute rag dolls that come with different outfits, or the customisable dolls that we have shared with you in the past year — all lovingly handmade with the utmost attention to detail and safety.

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Eva very recently launched a new series of products that she designed in cooperation with the talented illustrator Laura Doff, and I just love how pretty and poetic they are. The enchanted creatures collection exists of three stick animals: a horse, a unicorn and a dragon. They are all made out of organic cotton and dipped wooden sticks, and put together by hand by Eva, who does that with so much care and love.

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Eva was so sweet to send us a stick unicorn last week just to see how we like it, and oh boy — we like it! The kids have totally adopted it as a part of their adventures in the last days. (Eva included some beautiful crowns, which are so darling and easy to wear with their elasticated ribbons). Also, the unicorn is such a good-looking toy, with that beautifully drawn head and the white dipped stick; I like having it in a corner of our living room as a fun design element!

Eva was one of the participating shops at our ShopUp event last year, and I’m so excited that she will be joining us again this year — with a whole lot of stick animals and other beautiful products of course!

xxx Esther

2015 Holiday Gift Guides now live!

Babyccino Kids holiday gift guides 2015

Can you believe we’re talking about the holidays already?!! I can hardly believe it’s November and time to start thinking about holiday gift-buying. Sinterklaas arrives in The Netherlands in just over a month’s time, Hannukah starts around that same time, and then Christmas comes just after that. It’s time to get busy!

The good news is that we’ve rounded up some super cute gift ideas to make it easy, and if you start now…. just think how easy next month will be! We’ve been working behind the scenes for the past month gathering a wonderful selection of gifts for boys, girls, babies and smaller gifts for stocking fillers, all from a selection of our favourite shops.

Check out this year’s Holiday Gift Guides here. Happy shopping!

3d Feel and Find game by Guide Craft

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Florence is nearly four and goes to pre-school three times a week. On the days she’s at home we organise play dates, we bake, we read and we play puzzles. I love our time together especially knowing how quickly she’s growing – this time together is precious.

 

 

 

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One of the games she really enjoys playing with me is the 3d Feel and Find game by Guide Craft. At first she played it like a regular puzzle i.e. we took all of the pieces out of the bag and she matched them with the correct tile. Now that the pieces are more familiar to her she plays it how it was designed – that is, by placing all of the tiles on the table and feeling in the bag for the correct piece.

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Once she has correctly matched all of the pieces I extend the game. For example, I ask her to group all of the animals together, all of the colours together and all of the shapes together.

The game also comes in a really handy drawstring bag so we’ll be able to take it away with us on our half term break too. Which I am so looking forward to!

The game is available from Amazon (US) and (UK).

Vanessa xx

Colourful Kapla

Colourful Kapla

I’ve written about Kapla before, and they are also on the list of evergreen toys we published for a Tuesday Tips in the beginning of the year. Kapla is such a beautiful and extremely creative toy — the simplicity of the wooden blocks, with their perfect dimensions, makes it possible to build all sorts of structures over and over again.

Colourful Kapla

My kids have had the basic set for quite some years, but a friend of mine recently gave them a set of colourful blocks, ‘Kapla Octocolor‘. The same blocks, but in 8 beautiful, natural colours. A perfect addition, as it really gives another dimension to their play!

xxx Esther

Cotton chalk books — great for travel

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Just before we left London, with the impending 9-hour flight to Seattle on my mind, I discovered these cool chalk books from one of our newest shops, Little Goldie. The ‘Chalk & Talk‘ books are great for travel because they fold or roll up easily into your carry-on bag (or daily tote) and can be pulled out whenever you need the perfect form of entertainment.
The books are screen-printed with chalkboard ink and include 4 chalks tucked in the back of the book. You can wipe the books clean with a damp cloth when you want to draw again – or simply pop them in the washing machine.

We’ll be taking this little book with us on our upcoming travels — handy to have on planes, trains and automobiles (camper vans, ahem), but also great for keeping little ones entertained in restaurants or whenever you need a bit of calm and quiet. ; )

Courtney x

See you next week!

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Esther's house in France

We’ve decided to take a little blogging break this week to enjoy some time away from our computers. We are each in our favourite summer spots enjoying slow, lazy days with our families, and we hope you won’t mind if we push the pause button this week and resume as normal next week? In the meantime, here are some of our favourite blog posts from the past year in case you missed them:

See you next week!

Courtney, Esther and Emilie xx

P.S. Photos above are from our Instagram feeds (Courtney, Emilie & Esther) where you can follow along this week if you miss us. ; )

Dream Car, by Huzi

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It’s always so great when children’s toys are not only great toys (encouraging kids to create, learn and be imaginative), but also when they look so good you’d rather display it on a shelf in the living room than hide it at the bottom of the toy box.

dreamcar_1 dreamcar_2 Dream Car by Huzi

The Dream Car, designed by Mike Mak for Huzi, is such a toy. Handcrafted from natural wood and finished with mat chalkboard paint, the dream car is certainly extremely handsome to look at. But it’s a clever toy too! It can be assembled and disassembled because of little magnets that make a fun clicking sound. It can also be drawn on — a pretty little box with chalk (and a clever eraser in the lid) comes with the car.

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Everything is packed in a beautifully designed gift box, proof of the designer’s eye for detail. A lovely toy, which will be played with for years and is sturdy enough to be passed down as a heirloom toy. It makes a wonderful gift, too!

xxx Esther

PS Casper’s PJs are from The Bright Company.

Design your own butterfly wings

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Ivy with butterfly wings
Ivy received this Design Your Own Butterfly Wings Kit for her birthday a couple months ago, and in my haste to tidy up after her party I stuck it in our craft cupboard, hidden away until we found it last week! She spent an afternoon carefully colouring and glittering her wings, and then spent the entire weekend fluttering around in them.

I swear I was stopped at least ten times this weekend (mainly by grandmothers looking to buy for their granddaughters!) asking where I found them. It really is the perfect gift — one that encourages creativity, imagination and then… butterfly role play! What better?!

The kit is made by Seedling and can be found in the UK at Conscious Craft.

Courtney x

Birthday gifts for a 10-year-old boy

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easton reading comics

I still can’t believe my baby is TEN!! It’s been an emotional year as I anticipated his birthday and reflected on the past decade, but then when the day finally arrived, it was happy and joyous (and I didn’t even shed a tear)! We celebrated our big boy with pancakes for breakfast, an afternoon spent at the school’s summer fair, pizza dinner with friends and then a sleepover party that evening. It was a happy day!

Following on from my post about what to buy a 6-year-old birthday girl, I’d love to share some of Easton’s favourite gifts he received last week. I’ll admit that I was really, really stumped for what to get him. And the sweet boy didn’t make it any easier, insisting he didn’t really need anything.

We only bought him a few small gifts, and the rest came from friends and grandparents. He ended up with the handsome selection of gifts below:

gifts for a 10-year-old boy

1. A simple Swiss Army Knife for carving sticks on the beach this summer.
2. A sweatshirt to celebrate double digits!!!
3. A subscription renewal of the Phoenix Comic magazine, because he SO looks forward to Fridays when his weekly comic magazine arrives.
4. A football from his favourite team
5. Adventure logs to encourage him to jot down all of his crazy outdoor adventures
6. A Swatch Watch!
7. A pack of playing cards because he’s really into playing cards right now (Crazy Eights, War, Go Fish, Concentration, etc.)
8. The Terrible Tales of the Teenytinysaurs, a comic book by the author of one of his current favourite books. (He’s really into comic books right now and I’m just happy he’s reading, so I’m going with it.)
9. A pair of swim trunks for the summer!

 

Please share in the comments below any other suggestions for what to buy a 10-year-old. I’m sure other readers would appreciate the tips!

Courtney x

Edible Gluten-Free Play Dough

Edible Play Dough dough

My 1.5-year-old absolutely adores playdough but he also loves to put it in his mouth so as I tried to find edible playdough I came across this recipe and it’s amazing. It’s not only edible but also gluten free! How great is that? The only thing about it is that it only keeps for about a week (refrigerated in a sealed container). But the fact that I don’t have to worry about our little one eating it is worth it. And also I used natural organic food coloring so the colors were not as pretty and as vibrant as I wanted, and I didn’t get as much variety as I wished for (the blue one turned its back on me and became greenish – how weird is that?) but the kids loved it anyway. It’s done super quick and if you have a toddler at home you almost surely have all the ingredients already in your kitchen. Let’s see:

Edible Play Dough Ingredients

You’ll need:

2 cups of Baby Rice Cereal
2 cups Corn Starch
1 cup unsweetened Apple Sauce
6 TBSP Vegetable Oil
Food Coloring

Edible Play Dough

All you need to do is throw these ingredients together, mix well and knead into a smooth, pliable dough. In case your dough is sticky gradually add more rice cereal and in the opposite case (if the dough is dry and cracking) just water your hands and knead on and if necessary repeat. Finally divide your dough into as many pieces as you wish and add food coloring to each one, knead.

Voila! That is it.

-Polona

To read more from Polona, go to her cute blog Baby Jungle!

Birthday gifts for a six-year-old girl

Ivy colouring chalk blocks

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Birthday season has just come to an end in our family, which consists of five birthdays in quick succession. Marlow is our odd one out with a birthday in November, but the rest of us all have birthdays in the springtime. Our birthday bunting literally goes up and down and up and down from April to June. It’s quite fun, but I’m always so relieved when it’s over.

Since it’s all fresh in my mind, I thought it might be useful to write down some of the favourite gifts each of my children received for their birthdays (not just gifts from us, but from friends and family too).  I’ll start with Ivy, who turned six in May, and who only asked for a compass for her birthday. : )

Gifts for a six-year-old

1. A pretty journal for writing down thoughts and discoveries (the same one her mama uses)
2. Cat ears headband — a fun accessory
3. A flower press to preserve her first 4-leaf clover and other pretty flowers and plants (a thoughtful gift from my sister!)
4. Eco-crayons that draw on paper AND glass! So fun!
5. A brass compass in its own leather pouch to learn her directions
6. An intricate and beautiful ‘Colour Therapy‘ colouring book
7. The ‘Little House on the Prairie‘ books because I remember how much I loved them when I was young (we also bought her audio books because she’s really into listening to stories while we’re in the car)
8. A blackboard blocks and chalk set to create her own houses, towers and towns

 

Please feel free to share other gift suggestions if you can think of them! (And obviously many of these gifts are great for boys too — I only specified a gender because it felt appropriate for some of the gifts.)

Courtney x

Woody knitting toy

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This past Christmas I discovered the ethical French toy brand Les Jouets Libres when looking for gifts to give my nieces and nephews. They make the most beautiful, old-fashioned wooden toys, the kind of toys you keep forever. I ended up buying this pretty stacking toy for one and this colourful blocks set for another, both which were made from sustainable wood and eco-friendly dyes.

Les Jouets Libres has come out with a new toy, this lovely wooden knitting sheep, and I recently picked it up for Ivy who has lately been showing interest in sewing and weaving. The concept is really simple — it’s a wooden sheep with little holes, and kids can thread the wool in and out of the holes to cover the sheep in a woolly coat. It’s a great way to teach kids the basics of sewing, encouraging them to learn dexterity and patience. Ivy has now covered her sheep in wool twice, and it was impressive how much better she was the second time she did it.

“Woody” is available from the Les Jouets Libres site in France or from EeenyMeeny Kids here in the UK.

Courtney x

Stitch ‘n Kids: the braid star

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I saw this braid star at my friend Elke’s house and went to buy one for my children as I’m always interested in these kind of simple crafting tools. And it has become an instant hit in our household! Simply a wooden disc with 8 slots, it’s the perfect entertainment for children aged 4 (depending on their motor skills) and up.

When we were visiting Courtney and co in London last April, I brought braiding stars for all of the kids. They all made each other friendship bracelets and it kept them busy and calm at the same time (exceptional!!).

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With the summer holiday rapidly approaching, I thought it would be a good idea to mention the braid star as it is such a perfect item to bring along while traveling. Small enough to keep in your handbag, and it will keep children perfectly entertained on an airplane, in the back of a car, on a train, etc. Plus — they can make presents for all the little friends they meet on their travels!

I picked up our braid stars at De Zaailing in Amsterdam, but I found similar items on Etsy, and here, in case you’re interested.

xxx Esther

PS I really like the thought of asking my children to weave their own colourful shoe laces with the braid star!

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