How darling are these handmade vegetables from Mamma Couture? I love the different materials and shapes, and the sweet details like the little face on the peas. There are 13 different vegetables that come in their own fabric carrying bag, and the vegetables are available to buy separately as well. So pretty and so fun for the children! Ava loves cooking and grocery shopping for her doll family these days, and she agrees that these vegetables make a perfectly healthy dolls diet.
Cambridge mum Eva, a passionate sewer and professional pattern cutter, is the creative wonder behind Mamma Couture. Eva collects materials from all over the world, creates her own original patterns, and sews every piece by hand. The production is always limited to a few exclusive pieces, and each piece is made individually, and thus unique. Besides her darling vegetables, she also makes adorable dolls, designed to bring comfort and be loved by children of all ages. So sweet!
My kids discovered Mad Libs for the first time this holiday and now I’m wondering what took me so long to introduce them! The giggles coming from the kids’ table are so, so cute. Not to mention, they now know the difference between a verb and an adverb, a noun and a plural noun.
The kids have been playing with the Kid Libs version which are great for kids aged seven and up. And the nice thing about the game is that it can be played by as many people as you want. I’ve even caught Easton playing on his own and then laughing at his stories! We have a little road trip coming up this weekend and I’m planning on bringing a few Kid Libs with us in the car — I think it will be the perfect thing to entertain a captive car audience. You can buy Kid Libs Mad Libs from Amazon (US and UK ).
This month’s issue of Baby & Me Magazine features the best and most stylish of children’s products in the 2014 Style Awards. They handed out awards to winners based on their criteria of iconic design, good looks and innovation (you can see the winners here).
This month they asked me to round up some of my personal favourite children’s products — the products we have used and loved in our family, ones that I hope to keep forever and pass down to my grandchildren. The products shown above are a few that made the cut. You can find my column in this month’s issue here.
Last week our oldest daughter Sara and I visited the Kleine Fabriek, the children’s fashion and lifestyle trade fair here in Amsterdam, where we met our lovely Polish shop member Noga Ravin. I’ve always loved the look of Noga’s ‘Doggy Bags‘, but it was nice to discover her original and innovative range of products in person.
Her newest invention are these shadow puppets, made out of thick felt and so eminently simple. Sara and I were immediately playing with them at the fair! (And no, that’s not my hairy arm in the video above. ; ) ) There are five fun designs in six different colours, and a velcro closure ensures a fit for all sizes and ages. Cute, don’t you think? Family fun guaranteed!
Psst: find an exclusive 15% off to Nogaravin here, this month only.
I have a new game obsession for this summer and it is… croquet! It was partly brought along by reading ‘Alice in Wonderland’, but also because it just looks like a lot of fun. Apparently it actually used to be an Olympic sport — back in 1900 and in only one Olympic competition — but still! It also makes me think of cucumber sandwiches, victoria sponges and afternoon tea on the lawn. Basically… summer in England!
It’s also the perfect game to play with the kids and adults, as long as no one takes it too seriously… It is pretty simple and you can always team up.
I picked up our set here!
Kukkia is a toy brand from Japan, which in my opinion is one of the best in the children’s market. The Kukkia toys are beautiful, yes, but what I love is that they are simple enough to allow children’s imaginations to do the work. Many of their toys are classic concepts (like building blocks, wooden cars or dominoes!) but they put a modern twist on everything, adding innovative details that really put the toys in a league of their own.
The GG* Crêpe Shop is a perfect example. They know that children like to play ‘cooking’ and ‘shop’. Many of us have little play kitchens for our kids with chef pans and fake food. But Kukkia have taken the concept a bit further, creating a set for children to make their own crêpes and set up a little crêpe shop, all the while being encouraged to learn and develop their motor skills along the way.
The Crêpe Shop set comes with three different fabric crêpes, each with a different fastening: velcro, tie or button. The idea is to encourage children to practice tying bows and fastening buttons in a fun way. So clever! The set also comes with wooden and fabric food toppings, a wooden spatula and a ‘hot plate’ that also doubles as a chalkboard sign when it comes time to ‘sell’ your crêpes. Again, so clever.
Ivy has been making crêpes for everyone in the family. Her favourite customer is Quin (who prefers the sweet ones over the savoury!). : ) The GG* Crêpe Shop and other Kukkia toys are available to purchase from Abacus Kids or from Sisters Guild.
* This post was sponsored by Kukkia, a brand we have loved for years (even before they ever reached out to us). Thanks for supporting the brands that help to support this blog! : )
My good friend Kim always brings the best gifts for my children. She recently visited us from London, and again managed to bring something awesome! She spoiled each of my kids with a Djeco Mini Game, and they are such a big hit. With the vacations around the corner, and so many of us traveling to faraway and exciting places, I thought they were just too good not to share.
Djeco Mini Games are a variety of 30 cards, all bundled in a pack, with each of them featuring yet another old-fashioned brain teaser. There are card packs with ‘spot the ten differences’, ‘find the missing piece’, ‘sudoko’, ‘maze’, ‘connect the dots’ etc etc — so much fun (also for adults)! And perfect entertainment for in the back of the car, on the plane, in the train, in a restaurant… You name it. I’m definitely going to pick up a few more (if indeed we manage to get away with our house renovations in full swing).
I popped into Eenymeeny yesterday to pick up a few craft/activity books for the kids (we have a 9-hour daytime flight on Friday!) and this Tortustick game was out on display. Marlow immediately sat down and started playing with it, and to my amazement she actually sat still for a good 45 seconds. : )
I ended up buying it because I figured that not only will she enjoy playing with it, but it will appeal to the bigger kids as well. The game comes with a set of cards with different patterns, and bigger kids can use the magnetic stick to drag the colourful balls around the maze to match the patterns on the cards. A fun toy for kids of every age (around 2 and up)!
We have great plans, ranging from the kids flying on their own to Italy (!) as unaccompanied minors, to holidays in the French countryside and possibly some beach time and surfing. We will see how plans pan out, all I know is that it is going to be fun! Do you have any fun plans for this summer? I am excited to hear!
Talking about traveling: we still have a couple of our Travel Kids left, which you can order via the (all renewed!) Lalé website. Our travel packs are made in collaboration with one of our favourite designers, Lalé, and we are so thrilled on how they turned out! They are perfect to throw in your bag to go on trips — be it planes, trains or automobiles. My kids are super excited to wear the eye mask and and neck cushion on the plane, just to have something cozy to snuggle up to!
I do hope you have a great summer!
We have recently become game addicts. Monopoly and Go Fish are both in the mix (I think it has something to do with having a competitive 6-year-old in the house). We have just added a new one: Suspend! Have you played this? It is so good. It is basically an arial Jenga and the crazier the structure gets the more exciting it is! You need to balance little metal hooks of various sizes and hang them from another. The person, who’s hook makes the structure collapse, loses.
The hilarious thing is to observe how different people play it. I have a tendency to try and build the craziest structures. Violette tries to be very careful, as that way she gets to win!
I am beyond excited to tell you about our first ever limited edition design made in collaboration with the very talented French designer Lalé. The Travel Kids sets are the ultimate little travel comfort kits especially designed for children — aimed to make traveling with little ones more comfortable and fun. They’re ideal to take on planes, trains and automobiles, even to bring to the park or to the beach! The Travel Kids sets include an eye mask, a neck cushion, a royally sized cotton voile sheet/scarf/blanket to use in multiple ways, and a darling little doudou – a cute companion for on the road. Everything can conveniently be stored and carried around in a practical and stylish canvas bag. Children will love to carry around and use these gorgeous products, and the quality of the set guarantees years and years of use and fun, traveling to amazing places and making memories along the way.
How did this little project come about? Let me take you back more than a year ago… Esther came over to Paris and we got to hang out for a weekend, chatting, eating, catching up and making stuff (which is possibly our favourite occupation).
We spent a fabulous day and evening designing and sewing a little travel kit for our kids, as we were both about to head out on our summer adventures around Europe. We wanted them to have something cute and comfortable to travel with: something they could carry around, and something they could use to make their own little ‘nest’ wherever they were. The final result was a drawstring bag with an eye mask and a little neck pillow made to fit little people. And to finish it all off, we added a sweet soft toy (or doudou as we call it in France) based on a much loved toy I got on my first ever flight when I must have been about 3 years old.
A few months later, when we started talking to the ever talented Lalé about a possible collaboration, the little travel pack popped back into our heads. It felt like the perfect project to work on together, as the whole concept of Lalé is built around nomad kids and moms, travel and adventure. We are such big fans of Lalé’s prints and designs and we could totally see our little travel kit come to life with her input. We honestly had some of the most fun and exciting meetings we have ever had in Lalé’s atelier in Paris, drinking tea, choosing fabrics, coming up with designs, adding little touches here and there until we felt it was perfect and ready to put into production.
Finally the final product has arrived in France and we could not be happier with the results. It is so exciting to finally be holding it in our hands! The Travel Kids are now available on the Lalé website ready for your little globe trotter for the summer holidays!
PS Lalé’s website is at the moment only in French, but it is pretty easy to navigate. But do let us know know if you have any questions whatsoever! We are more than happy to help. (There is a little box that needs to be clicked on called J’accepte les Conditions Générales de Vente - which means you accept the conditions, on the check out page, which is a little bit tricky to find. It is on the left hand side of the screen).
We’re really excited to announce a new partnership with Baby&Me magazine which has us contributing a little column in their magazine each month and rounding up a selection of cute products to fit our topic. Baby&Me is a super stylish, monthly glossy which keeps London parents updated on all the latest news, fashion, design and other interesting lifestyle topics. We are thrilled to be contributing each month and thought it would be fun to share our selection here with you as well.
In this month’s issue I wrote about getting out in our garden with the kids, sowing vegetable seeds and enjoying the onset of spring. I also rounded up some cute fruit & veg products I’m loving right now. Here they are:
- This cheerful Tomato Poster by Fine Little Day, available at Abacus Kids (I already have the ‘Pear‘ poster in Ivy’s room, but think I might need to get this one too!)
- The origami notepaper sets from Lollipop are SO fun! The new fruit-themed ones are especially cute.
- Giant crochet cherries to make a cheerful statement in any children’s space.
- Baby’s first foods: soft vegetable rattles of course!
I’m already excited for next month’s contribution! Stay tuned…
Everybody who knows Ava knows her ‘BearBear’ — the Flatout Bear she’s been inseparable from for the first three years of her life. Everywhere she went, BearBear went! It’s one well traveled bear, that BearBear… (We once nearly missed an airplane to Turkey because BearBear was left behind in the train station, and we had to go back to find it — traveling to Turkey without BearBear simply wasn’t an option!)
Flatout Bears are made in Australia out of 100% pure Australian sheepskin, which is shaped like a teddy bear. The attraction of these bears is that they are super soft, and have an interesting tactile quality to them that most babies love — to touch the fury skin and to bury their fingers in it. And because they are so flat, they are easy to hold in little toddler arms, and to be carried around.
I recently got a Flatout Bear for Casper as well, and now take it with me whenever we are traveling. He also like to bury his little fingers into the sheepskin when he’s falling asleep!
(We got our Flatout Bears from VUPbaby)
We’ve mentioned Shusha Toys here before, so you might remember how much we love them. At the time of our review last year, these toys weren’t available to purchase from any webshops yet… so it was nearly impossible to get your hands on them (unless, you begged and pleaded with the designers themselves, which of course I did!!!). : )
I got an email from Toyella today announcing that they’re now stocking a few of the toys, including the super cute Zoo Game, pictured above. The game comes with 24 magnetic beech wood shapes to make all sorts of cute animals, real or imaginary! They’re also stocking the Make a Portrait toy, which we have and really love.
I love the new penguin range at Esthex. How cute are Ned (who plays music!) and his little brother Georges? And that little Ned backpack is just adorable. They have so much character! (Esther, the designer behind Esthex, told me she went through so much effort to make sure her supplier had the eyes just right — and it really makes the difference.)
I also really like these doll sized bunk beds. Wouldn’t your children just love to play with these? I know mine would — my boys as much as my girls!
Ivy has now lost her two bottom teeth!! I think it’s really young to start losing them (she’s only 4½!), but it goes to show that no matter how hard I try to keep my babies little forever, they just insist on growing up! : )
Anyway, the tooth fairy has now come twice in the past couple weeks, each time leaving two £1 coins under her pillow. (What’s the going rate for the tooth fairy these days? I’m curious to know if £2 is normal?!) So… with £4 in her pocket, we decided to pay a little visit to Eeenymeeny to see what sort of toy she could buy herself.
The selection was so good, she had a difficult time choosing! She could buy:
- A sweet pack of handmade, earthenware marbles, painted in pretty colours
- A wooden pop gun like her brothers got for Christmas
- Fingernail stickers to decorate her nails
- Swirly whirly bouncy balls, because they’re always fun!
- Super cute knitted finger puppets
- Magical fluttering butterflies that you twist up and then release to let them fly
- A package of plastic daisies to create your own daisy chain bracelets (she needed a few extra pounds to buy this, but we were willing to chip in for the sake of how cool this was!)
- She ended up with this super cool little colouring book – with 32 pages of bunnies to draw outfits and dress up! She loves it and has nearly coloured in every page! (There’s also a ‘32 ways to dress a fox‘ version too, and I’m definitely going back to buy more for little gifts.)
We don’t normally take the kids shopping with us, for fear of turning them into little consumers. But, I did think it was an interesting exercise to show Ivy what her money could buy her. I also think she really appreciated her colouring book because she knew she bought it herself and had made the tough decision to choose it over the other interesting options.
Anyway, I thought I would share in case your kids are also hoping to spend their tooth fairy money!
One of my favourite gift shops in Amsterdam is called Klevering, and it is conveniently located right across the street from our dentist. So every time we have ‘survived’ a dentist visit, I treat my kids (and myself!) to a little present from across the street — a good excuse!
At our last visit to the dentist and thus Klevering, Pim chose a Giant Panda from the miniature building blocks ‘Nanoblock’ as his present, and it was such a good choice! He managed to build the panda all by himself, and I was so impressed by his fine motor skills and his patience. (I think he was pretty impressed himself as well!)
Next week is Pim’s 7th birthday, and I already ordered him his next Nanoblock challenge, this Eiffel Tower, which I’m sure he’s going to love.
Brimful is a US shop with the sweetest selection of toys and books for babies. Just browsing the shop you really get the sense that every single product has been carefully chosen to appeal to babies (and their picky mamas of course)– the perfect little wooden car to fit in small baby hands, the sweetest soft dolls to snuggle, the teether/toy you will want to take everywhere with you, etc.
Brimful is one of the very generous shops offering a prize in our big Facebook Giveaway. So if you fancy winning a $100 gift voucher to spend in store (plus LOADS of other great goodies!), pop over to our Facebook page to enter to win.
This portable set of checkers, ‘Mesdames et Messieurs‘, from the French company Les Jouets Libre, is a big hit in our house. Checkers is a fun (and very old) board game that can easily be played with fairly young children (I would say from the age of 6), and gets more strategic and challenging for bigger children and adults. Fun for the entire family!
I love how this Mesdames & Messieurs game is so easily packed away in the drawstring bag, which cleverly converts in the board while playing. Plus — so easy to take along when traveling!
The bag is made from organic cotton, so a minimum of packaging materials is used to present the game, and the wood for the game pieces is locally sourced in the French Yura. Very eco conscious, which I like as well.
This past weekend was finally dry and sunny so, despite still being cold, my kids asked to set up the teepee outside and play cowboys and indians! They looked so cute in their costumes from My Shiny Shop that I had to snap a few shots of them in their teepee. (Poor Ivy in her little indian dress must have been freezing cold, but she refused to wear a coat. I could only coax her into wearing leggings!)
My kids are constantly playing dress-up. It must be one of the most common play themes in our house and always inspires the most creative kind of play. They’ll dress up as kings and queens and then build castles, they’ll be pirates and sailors and sail off in their ships, they’ll be baddies and goodies and cowboys and indians and everything in between. I hope this innocent dress-up phase never ends!
p.s. More info about our teepee here.