Mamma Couture, and the enchanted creatures

mamma couture

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.

mamma couture stickhorse mamma couture stick horse

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.

Mama couture mamma couture unicorn stick horse

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


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.





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.


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

Chalk book
Chalk book 2
chalk + talk
chalk in chalk book

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!

kids on bainbridge island

Emilie and vivi copy

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

dreamcar_3 Dream Car by Huzi

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.

dreamcar_8 dreamcar_7

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

Seedling butterfly wings
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


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.


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

Birthday gifts for a six-year-old girl

Ivy colouring chalk blocks

chalk blocks

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

woody sewing sheep Ivy with woody sheep
sewing woody sheep
wool and sheep
ivy sewing

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


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!!).


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!

Oli&Carol natural rubber bath toys

Oli&Carol natural rubber bath toys Over the years I’ve learned that bath toys should not have a hole. Even though you’re a clean person (which you are, of course), there will eventually grow a nasty, black substance inside that toy. Also, independent of their age it seems, children love to put everything they find in the bath into their mouth. So bath toys are best made of a natural rubber.

Enter the new label Oli&Carol, launched by two sisters from Barcelona aged 15 and 20 (15 and 20!!!), which offers the most darling rubber toys, without a hole, and made from 100% pure latex and painted with food grade, non-toxic dyes.

oli&carol natural rubber bath toys Oli&Carol natural rubber bath toys I really love the sweet, retro designs that the girls came up with — simple ‘paper’ boats, cool beetle cars, fruity teething rings, the original rubber ducks, etc. My personal favourites are the red toadstools — I love the look of them in our bathroom (and my kids love playing with them!).

xxx Esther

So Awesome Wallet cards

So Awesome wallet flash cards so awesome alphabet cards These So Awesome wallet cards don’t just looks beautiful, they’re also super practical. A selection of cards the size of a credit card, made from durable, easy-to-clean, biodegradable and kid-safe (non-toxic, food-safe) plastic, are kept together by a re-closable ring. The size makes them super easy to throw in your handbag or nappy bag. They can be kept together and read as a book, or they can also be played with individually. So fun! I have found them especially handy when we’re traveling, or in restaurants. Casper and I like to play with the Color and Shape cards — I ask, what colour, and he says ‘blue’. For all the colours. ; )

xxx Esther



Hattie the elephant (from Four Monkeys)


When Pim was 2 years old, he pulled over a marble sculpture that my mum had made as our wedding gift and it broke in half. Thankfully we were able to restore it, but — better safe than sorry — we now keep our delicate sculptures in storage until our children are bigger. And I’ve been missing something cool on our floor ever since!

But then, I was browsing the super well curated collection of the awesome Austrian e-store Four Monkeys and my eye fell on Hattie the Elephant. And I couldn’t resist. Here we have a sculpture, a piece of art really, that is absolutely fine to display on the floor, within children’s reach, for children to play with, even. Because it is designed as a toy!

How cool is that?

Hattie the Elephant, heirloom toy from Four Monkeys (via Babyccino Kids) Hattie_3

Hattie the Elephant is made from beech wood and really royal in size, and it can be placed in different poses due to the elastic-band muscles, making it a fun and interesting toy that children will keep coming back to to play with. It is absolutely beautifully made and it is such a cool design element! (I also saw it on display in one of the world’s coolest shops, Hay House, when I was in Copenhagen recently.) Also, it is an extremely sturdy and durable sculpture, which makes the (steep) investment worth it, because this sculpture will survive generations of play in our living room. It probably will survive me! ; )

xxx Esther

Triangular crayons!

Triangular crayons

Last week in New York we had dinner with the ever so sweet Annie from Brimful, and she brought us a few sweet and thoughtful gifts. One of them is a little container with crayons, which is nothing that special in theory, except for the fact that the crayons are triangular! How clever! Not only are they easier to hold for little toddler hands, but also, they won’t roll from the table to break on the floor. So simple, and yet such a major improvement. (The crayons Annie brought us are from P’kolino.)

xxx Esther


Tuesday tips: Open-ended play and evergreen toys

Evergreen Toys

Today for Tuesday Tips I would like to talk about toys. The kind of toys that I prefer in our house are the basic, evergreen kind of toys. I like toys that are well made, with a simple concept, that can be used and combined in different ways or played with in different settings. Toys that are beautiful to look at, as opposed to most plastic, brightly coloured and battery-operated toys.

I have always had a preference for these kind of toys; I remember telling my mum when I was pregnant with Sara ten years ago to please not give me any battery operated toys! Of course, plastic toys have occasionally entered the house… (and so has Hello Kitty!), but over the past nine years, I have really noticed that the toys my children play with most (if not exclusively) are those that encourage creative and social play, and are designed with ‘open ended play’ in mind. I just love watching my four kids play together, building houses, cities, and worlds, setting the stage for the different scenarios for their pretend play.

evergreen-toys-3 evergreen_toys1

I do agree that typical battery operated toys have great appeal to my children at first. They will love the sounds and colours and will be so easily entertained. Often, when the toy is first given to them, they will even fight over it (these toys are designed for the entertainment of the individual child, not with social play in mind!). However, very often my children will quickly lose interest in the toy, which consistently performs the same trick over and over again. So boring! The toy will end up standing in a corner somewhere until we decide to bring it to charity. Such a waste! Heirloom toys are not always the cheapest investments to make, but if you consider that they will be played with so much, for generations even, it’s all worth it. My children still play with some of my own childhood toys!

I thought it would be nice to write down a list of some tips for evergreen toys that have proven to be very successful in our household — toys that are played with by children of different ages and don’t lose their appeal, ever. I asked input from Emilie and Courtney and some of my friends, so this is very much their list as well. As always, I would love to hear your thoughts about toys in general, and please do share your children’s favourite toys!

Toys we like (for inside play):

  • Wooden marble track: the perfect toy for all ages. Small children will like to play with the blocks and start stacking them (without the marbles of course), bigger children will build intricate tracks (and parents will gladly help).
  • Building blocks: stacking and building structures, but also great to combine with other toys (f.e. Schleich animals – build compounds, zoo, etc.) or just line them up. Any ordinary blocks will do (we also like this blocks set).
  • Dolls: Kathe Kruse and handmade Waldorf dolls look beautiful, but any good quality doll is fine. And some dolls’ clothes.
  • Doll’s bed: a simple fruit crate with some small towels will do, but a baby needs a bed, of course.
  • A sturdy dolls’ pram with little pillows and blankets. Invest in a good, sturdy dolls buggy and it will be played with forever.
  • Schleich animals: wonderful quality toys, they look beautiful and will be played with a lot. Great for all sorts of adventures.
  • Wooden play barn /house /dollhouse /structure: to combine with Schleich animals, Playmobil, all other little characters that children will find or create and need a place to live.
  • Lego & Duplo: building and inventing, creating. We love the original, plain blocks.
  • Puzzles (educational ones or just the old-fashioned jigsaws!)
  • Playmobil: we love the old-fashioned characters, great to mix with all sorts of other toys (see above).
  • Kapla: some of our favourite blocks for super creative tower-building (see building blocks).
  • Dress up clothes: some old shawls, hats, dresses and sunglasses and some pieces of fabric will get you very far. Let the children be creative – no need to invest in expensive dress-up outfits, which are much less imaginative anyway.
  • Train track: a simple wooden train track (Ikea) is great for all ages – a puzzle first, then a road, then it becomes a landscape (enter Schleich and Playmobil for surroundings)
  • Garage and cars: a wooden garage appeals to most children and it a great space to store the cars.
  • Nesting dolls: my kids love these! And they make great decor too.
  • Play kitchen & kitchen toys: a wine crate on the side with circles drawn on top makes a good enough play kitchen. And a little set of pots and some mini kitchen utensils will be played with loads. (Regular kitchen utensils are just as successful, BTW!)
  • Stacking cups: babies love playing with them, and all my kids still love them in their bath!
  • Wooden spinning tops: fun for everyone and they look pretty on your coffee table.

PS Like I mentioned above, these toys are mostly for indoor play — maybe we can share some favourite toys for outdoor play and some great baby toys later.

Gommini Minigoms PlayScape

gommini minigoms playhouse gommini_2

Germany is in so many respects so much further with responsible and sustainable processing and production methods than many other countries here in Europe. There’s such a strong local manufacturing of eco products, with use of honest materials, but the research for new, innovative materials, which allow new product design and at the same time leave less of a footprint on this world, is a trend I’ve also been noticing in Germany. I’ve written about the admirable production processes of the German clothing label Macarons before, the wonderful eco-wines of Weinreich, but also toy manufacturer Gommini is such a company.
Gommini uses Valchromat for their toys, a high-quality, solvent free, wood-based material which contributes to an efficient and responsible environmental management and encourages sustainability. The products are then treated with a purely natural oil, resulting in a very smooth and pleasant feeling, ‘soft’ surface. I love the modern look of their products.

We gave our children the Minigoms play scene for Christmas — a selection of 2D buildings, landscapes and openings that can be assembled and combined in different ways. The toy is not offering a fixed scenario — it can be used in all sorts of manners, allowing for the input and creativity of the child. It can for instance be a stable for the Schleich animals, a garage for the cars, a city for the train track, a house for the Playmobil characters, etc. It’s been a grand success by all means — it’s easy to assemble, wonderful to play with for all ages, pleasant to look at, and easy (flat) to store.


If you’re ever looking for an evergreen kind of playhouse for your children that will stand the test of time, then this Gommini Minigoms playscape is certainly something to keep in mind.

xxx Esther

Beautiful, retro-style doll prams from The Tipi

dolls pram from The Tipi
retro dolls pram
grey dolls pram
We’re moving house this week (!!) and have spent the past month paring down our belongings and clearing out all of the stuff we’ve accumulated over the past four years. It’s really kind of appalling how much stuff one family can collect into one house. And I thought we lived quite minimally. Ha!

Anyway, we’ve made several trips to the charity shop giving away lots of toys that don’t get used or haven’t stood the test of time. This exercise has made it even more clear to me that kids really don’t need loads and loads of toys to be happy — just the basics: legos, Schleich animals, and Kapla blocks for the boys, and dress-up clothes, dolls and a doll’s pram for the girls. Their favourite things!

I wanted to quickly mention how much the girls love their retro-style dolls pram from The Tipi. Not only is it beautiful to look at, but it’s really well made and sturdy in design — something we will certainly be taking with us to the new place and hopefully something we’ll keep forever for future grandchildren to use!

Alright – back to packing!

Courtney xx

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