A few days in Portland

walking downtown portland

We’ve just finished a little road trip from Lake Tahoe, NV, where Michael’s parents have a home, back up to Seattle where we will spend the rest of our summer holiday with my family. We did some sightseeing along the way and really enjoyed exploring some new parts of California and Oregon we have never seen before. We decided to stop in Portland  on our way and spend a few days checking out the city. Despite having grown up in Seattle, I’ve never really spent much time in Portland… and we keep hearing such good things about it!

I can definitely say it is worth all the hype. Portland is such a great little city, so easy to navigate with all the wonderful shops and restaurants located downtown in an easily walkable grid. It’s a perfect destination for a weekend break because it’s small enough to explore, but still feels very much like a hip, happening city. We loved it!

Here’s a little recap of our visit and some photos too:

We arrived into Portland in time to check into our hotel and walk to dinner at Oven & Shaker in the Pearl District. We sat outside and enjoyed good pizza and beer. We then stopped by Ruby Jewel for ice cream on our way back to our hotel. Lots of people suggested to go to Salt & Straw for ice cream, but we never made it there. Apparently they serve delicious ice cream in the most unusual flavours (and it’s so popular they have a queue going around the block!).

marlow at Kenny & Zuke's

The next morning we enjoyed breakfast at Kenny & Zuke’s (I ate the gravlax salmon bagel and it was delicious!) and then good coffee from Stumptown. We then enjoyed a bit of window shopping in the new Union Way shopping arcade across the street. Quin was excited to find a candy shop named Quin (!!) while I was happy to take a quick stroll through Steven Alan.

Quin candy shop

kids in portland

After window shopping, we walked down to Portland Pedal Bike Tours where we rented bikes for the day. We put the girls in a trailer behind my bike, Quin rode tandem with Michael, and Easton rode his own bike. We had so much fun cycling around the city and exploring the various neighbourhoods (once I got the hang of riding a bike in a dress and pulling two heavy girls behind me! oh my!).

girls in bike trailer

During our bike ride around town, we stopped for lunch at Por Qué No?. The kids were hot and sweaty from cycling in the 90º heat and they loved getting iced cold prickly pear juice to cool them off. The tacos were yummy too!

kids at por que no

At the end of our cycle, we stopped for a while and let the kids run through the fountains at the waterfront park near the Hawthorne Bridge. The kids were so hot, they went in completely clothed (we didn’t have their swimsuits!). I nearly went in too – I was so beat from riding all over town with the girls in tow! ;)

portland water fountain

For dinner that night we met one of Michael’s college friends at one of Portland’s hot spots, Tasty & Alder. The food was again delicious! It was worth the hour long wait to get in (no reservations taken). And even though we were the only ones in there with kids, they were really friendly and accommodating to our big group.

The next day Michael had a few meetings so I was on my own with the kids. We started our day by hitting up the photobooth at the Ace Hotel. I’m a sucker for the old-school photobooths, and my kids loved them so much, they were nearly in tears when I told them we had to leave!

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We then walked over to Powell’s Books, which is a great (enormous!) bookstore selling both new and used books. We sat in the children’s section reading books to each other for a good porting of the morning, and I let the kids each pick out two books to take home with them. It was a great place to escape the heat, and would equally be a great place to escape the rain or cold if you visited during other seasons.

After the bookstore, we walked over to Jamison Square. We picked up pizza from Hot Lips (great name!) and ate lunch in the park, and then the kids ran around in the fountains for a couple hours! Phew! : )

jamison square water fountain

On our way back from the fountains I managed to squeeze in a little visit to Canoe, which is a shop I had been eyeing for the past couple days. I wanted to buy everything in store! So many pretty homewares! Alas, I did not buy everything in the shop. : )

canoe shop

That night, we had a quick dinner at Lardo. The kids got hot dogs, and I had a tasty sandwich. It was all I could manage with four exhausted kids, but it was pretty good for a sandwich joint. The next morning we grabbed breakfast at Mother’s before driving out of town and heading for Seattle. They served us waffles topped with juicy blackberries picked that morning!

That’s it! What a great little trip. I definitely recommend visiting Portland. We will go back for sure!

xx Courtney

p.s. Feel free to add tips in the comments below if you have any other recommendations for people visiting the city. Thank you!

A day trip from Paris – Versailles

Louis14

Living in this lovely city of Paris is great… but it is easy to forget all the great things to do and visit just outside the city. A couple of weekends ago we jumped with some friends on a commuter train (the RER B) and within 40 minutes we had arrived in front of the stunning chateau of Versailles, known for its beauty and also the over the top extravagance of the Kings and Queens of France who lived there.

The children were amazed by the opulence of their surroundings and how crazy it was that this whole chateau was built just for one man and his entourage to live in! Good old Louis the 14th sure knew how to live it up!

Versaillesfront

The main palace is amazing to visit, but with a whole gaggle of children in tow, we opted for a visit of the gardens surrounding the palace and a visit to the smaller Trianon Palace together with Marie-Antoinette’s domaine, which has been restored very recently.

It was a lovely day: we picnicked, played hide and seek between the manicured hedges, strolled through the different gardens, and had a good look around Marie-Antoinette’s retreat.
kidsVersaillesGarden
neptun
We finished the trip with a boat ride on the Grand Canal, just like Marie Antoinette would have done, I am sure.

rowboat
These kind of day trips make me realise how lucky we are to have so much history right at our doorstep! Visiting Versailles is so easy, even if you are just visiting Paris for a week!

- Emilie

I lost Ava on the beach!

beach_gurski

Yesterday, I took our 4 children to the beach because it was hot and humid and the beaches in the Netherlands are windy and fresh. I met up with our friend Maud and her two children, and we were lounging and chatting and drinking fresh fruit juices and watching our children play. You get the gist. At some point, when Pim had asked me to play beach ball with him for the gazzilionest time, I finally got my lazy bum up from the deckchair for some tennis with my boy. After 3 minutes I looked around, and I noticed Ava was missing. Gone!

I started to walk around, looking for her. Nothing. I checked the water. Nothing. I went up to the beach club, nothing. And then I started to panic. I started to run around, calling her name. I called the alarm number, I went back to the beach club, where the part time manager was a police agent, and who took my calls from the coast guard (!). He tried to calm me, assuring me that she would be fine, she would get back. But the only thing I could focus on, is on that tiny chance that she wouldn’t be allright! I don’t think I have ever been so afraid in my life. In the meantime, there were loads of people (other mums) helping me search. Maud was running all over the beach and to the streets. But she was gone!

After a few minutes (in which I died a thousand deaths), my hero policeman finally got a call that she was found. Safely, further up on the beach. Quite a very far walk away!

Thankfully, she was safe. Tired, but safe. And I learned a few things, that I wanted to share with you here…

1. Beaches can be busy. In our case it was! Ava lost her way, and couldn’t find our spot again. So she started to walk, looking for us. What I usually do (and stupidly forgot this time), is to look for an anchor point — a certain flag, pole, bright umbrella, any reference that is noticeable enough for a child to find their way back to our spot.

2. Children should always wear a phone number on their arm. My other children were wearing their RingRings, but Ava had taken them off and I hadn’t checked / noticed. Stupid.

3. When children loose their way on the beach, they generally start walking away from the sun and the wind. So best to start looking in that direction. (So true — in our case, this is exactly the direction in which Ava went).

4. There’s an Amber alert app for your phone, in which you can save a current portrait photo of your child and other crucial information for when your child goes missing. I’ve had this app on my phone for a while now, but I never filled out my children’s details until now. Apparently, finding a decent photo of your missing child and recalling crucial information like length and eye colour is super difficult if you’re in a state of total stress and shock.  So best to do this now.

Hopefully none of this is ever necessary, but I thought to tell you just in case. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

xxx Esther

(Artwork by Andreas Gursky)

 

Djeco mini games (perfect for traveling!)

djeco_mini_games
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
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).

You can find a good variety of the Djeco Mini Games at PSikhouvanjou, Little Citizens Boutique, and My Little Day.

xxx Esther

Five great European holiday destinations from Kid & Coe

Kid & Coe is a holiday rental site specifically for families.  It was launched last Autumn and it’s been great watching their site and inventory of properties grow. They offer family-friendly destinations all over the world — from beach houses in Brazil to city apartments in New York, or stylish flats in London to countryside retreats in Tuscany.  Most of the properties are personally owned by families, so they often come equipped with children’s toys, children’s beds, highchairs and other items to make your stay more comfortable and enjoyable.

With summer holidays so near, I thought it would be a great idea to ask the team at Kid & Coe to round up five of their favourite European destinations for summer. Here are their picks and a brief description of each place:

 

the vejer

1. The Vejer Residence, Spain
This whitewashed hippy-deluxe residence with plunge pool is in one of Andalucia’s lesser visited characterful white towns, Vejer de la Frontera, near Cadiz, and sleeps up to 6 adults and 1 child in 4 bedrooms. It’s full of rustic, romantic character, from the cobbled stone floors to the studded front door.
From £122 per night.

gumpendorfer

2. The Gumpendorfer Residence, Vienna
A city in summer? Well, if you like art, culture and even beaches along the Danube, Vienna is a great choice. There’s even a floating boat with a pool in it nearby if you need to cool off. We love this central apartment which sleeps up to 2 adults and 2 children and is well equipped for small children.
From €90 per night.

heerlijkheid van marrem residence

3. The Heerlijkheid Van Marrem Residence, Belgium
Don’t let anyone tell you that Belgium’s boring. This stunning and unique renovated carriage shed has been lovingly turned into rustic chic lodgings sleeping up to 23, and is perfect for a deluxe family celebration. Play in the flower-filled fields or day trip to Antwerp, Ghent, Bruges and Brussels. It’s ideal for a break with friends, too.
From €675 per night.

Karl Kunger residence

4. The Karl Kunger Residence, Berlin
Another great city and another great city pad: this loft apartment set in a former factory building sleeps up to 4 adults and 1 child and combines a sleek, modern interior with serious comfort. It’s close to a large park for sunny picnics, 10 minutes by S-Bahn from the city centre and near to the famous Badeschiff for yoga and days spent playing in the water.
Price on application.

the agrari2

5. The Agrari Residence, Greece
This stunning family villa with a pool, sleeping up to 14, is set on a hillside in the quiet south of Mykonos overlooking the Aegean Sea and Agrari beach. It’s a heavenly retreat for a family or two, with a main villa plus three separate guest studios. Grab some friends, pack the suncream and bring the kids!
Price on application.

Don’t they all look amazing? I’ll be spending the summer with family in the US, but I’m definitely taking note of these destinations for school holidays in the Autumn. I’m thinking the Heerlijkheid Van Marrem residence in Belgium would be so fun to book for a holiday with friends! Esther, Emilie are you in?!

xx Courtney

Emily Ulmer photography

four kids in tree_small

Our friend and talented photographer, Emily Ulmer, is in town from Los Angeles and came over on Sunday for a little visit and impromptu photoshoot. We walked over to the park and she snapped some photos of my crazy brood running wild and climbing trees. I never would have thoughts she would have gotten good photos of them — Marlow had just woken from a much-too-short nap and was cranky and tired, and the others would not sit still for a single second.

But…. she got some really cute ones!! I think it’s a testament to her photo-taking skills that she managed to get these shots, and I thought I would share some of my favourites with you…

Easton and Quin_small
mama and marlow2_small

mama and marlow_small

marlow_small

Ivy and Marlow_small

three kiddos_small

marlow in tree_small

easton in tree_small

Aren’t they fun?! I love that she managed to get a photo of all of my kids up in a tree!

Emily will be spending the summer in Europe, mostly in London and Paris (but happy to travel for jobs!). If you’re interested in booking her for your own family photoshoot, please email her to make an appointment. I think she takes such beautiful, natural photos.

x Courtney

I’m speaking at Blogtacular!

I’m sure, by now, you’ve heard of Blogtacular — the super cool blogging conference taking place in London next weekend?! With talented and inspiring speakers like Joy ChoNatalie Lue and many others, it’s shaping up to be a really informative, inspiring and FUN event. I’m really looking forward to it!

I am also thrilled to announce that I will be speaking alongside other successful bloggers (Joy Cho, Allison Sadler and Annabelle Beeforth), discussing the ins and outs of the blogging business. I am beyond excited to meet these women, and feel so honoured to share a panel with them! We’re speaking on the Saturday at 1:30 (you can see the full Blogtacular schedule here) and would love for you to come!

Tickets for the conference are still available if you haven’t signed up yet. The event takes place next Friday and Saturday the 9th and 10th at the Royal Institution of Great Britain.  I would love to see you there! (Let me know in the comments below if you’re coming so we can try to meet up!)

xx Courtney

Our desert holiday

We’ve just returned from our holiday in the US and despite the dreaded jet lag (which always seems much worse when traveling back home in this direction), we are all beaming from a really wonderful time together in the sunny, warm desert. It’s incredible what a change of scenery (and weather!) can do for you! We spent 10 days visiting Michael’s family in Las Vegas, and managed to make some really great day trips out of town to explore the natural wonders of the surrounding area. It’s amazing how much the landscape can change in just a one-hour drive — how you can drive out of sprawling Las Vegas and within 30 minutes you’re out in the middle of nowhere with nothing but desert in every direction. I thought I would share our adventures in case you feel inspired to go on a little desert holiday of your own. Who knew a holiday in Vegas could be so much more about the great outdoors than the casinos and hotel pools?! (I hope you don’t mind all the photos…)


Our first adventure was a local one: Red Rock Canyon is just outside of Las Vegas and only about ten minutes from Michael’s parents’ house. I was so impressed by how the desert goes from dusty browns to vibrant reds in an instant. We hiked around the rock formations and the boys had fun chasing after lizards. We even saw some wild burrows at the base of the canyon!

Next, we drove an hour outside of Las Vegas to the Valley of Fire State Park. It was like nothing I have ever seen before! Giant rock formations in crazy shapes and in the brightest fire-red colour you can imagine. There are also areas with petrified wood and 3,000-year-old Indian petroglyphs. We spent some time at the visitor center which has some nice child-friendly exhibits on the geology, ecology and history of the park, and then we went for a walk out to ‘Balancing Rock’ as you can see in the photos above.


From the Valley of Fire we drove over to the Hoover Dam. We underestimated the distance to the dam so it ended up being quite a long day, but it was really cool to see the dam and the newly built bypass bridge that goes over it (900 feet above the Colorado River!). I was also so surprised by how low the water level is — if you look at the photos, you can see the white bits of the cliffs where the water level once was. I also loved the Art Deco design style of the dam – even the bathrooms were beautifully designed!



Our last excursion was my favourite: we drove 2½ hours out of Vegas to Zion National Park in Utah. After the long drive, we parked at the visitor center and took the shuttle bus deep into the canyon. We got off the bus at the last stop where the river flows out of the canyon and you can walk along the riverbank. We were all excited to get out and stretch our legs so we went for a long walk along the river. The sun was setting and casting a glow along the steep red cliffs above us, the air was still warm, the kids were all happy to have their feet in the water, and as we walked along we saw deer in the meadow next to us (which then inspired us to break out in an endless rendition of ‘Doe a Deer’ from ‘The Sound of Music’). It was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. I just kept thinking how lucky I was to be there with my family, surrounded by so much natural beauty. It turned out that the entire park has that effect – it’s just SO stunning, you almost can’t help but feel overwhelmed by it all.

We stayed overnight in a cabin at the Zion Mountain Ranch, which is a really charming little ranch with a great kid-friendly restaurant. The kids went on a horse-back ride in the morning before we drove back into Zion for more hiking. We then hiked the Canyon Overlook Trail which led us up to a viewpoint with incredible views over the canyon (see the last photo), so incredible that we just sat there staring for the longest time.

We had such a great trip and I’m so happy we were able to get out and explore a bit. We didn’t make it to the Grand Canyon like we had hoped, but it will be high on our list for our next trip. And at some point I really want to visit Joshua Tree as well, so if you have tips on either of these places (or any other great places in the area to visit) please share!

xx Courtney

Motion Factory

If you happen to be in Paris in the next few months and if you happen to like animation, do have a quick peek at the lovely little exhibition on at La Gaîté Lyrique, one of Paris’ newest museums.

La Gaîté Lyrique is the museum of digital art, but in this case, the exhibition is actually about the very opposite: hand made animation. It is a showing how stop frame animation is made and created in really cool way. I love it because it showcases the craftiness behind it all.

It is a perfect family outing, especially if your little offspring is a budding animator!

- Emilie

Paris for Teenagers

It is so nice receiving mails from readers with questions about Paris, as it gets me to discover new things about my city. It is soo easy to fall in a rut! I was recently contacted by a reader who is a German school teacher travelling to Paris with teenagers. Not at all my area of expertise! But it was fun trying to figure out what might interest teenagers in Paris, so here is the list I came up with. (I might be totally off the mark by the way, so do feel free to tell me if I am!):

The Batobus is run by the city of Paris and goes down the Seine and stops at all the important places. I like it as it is not as expensive as the rest of the tourist boats and you can get off at the major sites, walk a bit and jump on again at the next stop.

The Science Museum and the Music Museum are both in the Parc de la Villette. The Music Museum has a great exhibition on at the moment about black music and it’s history. The Parc de la Villette also has this great old 50′s submarine in it, which is fun to explore.

I love Monet’s water lily’s in the Orangerie; it is not too overwhelming and busy, like some of the Museums in Paris are. Alternatively there are also the Army Museum and the Catacombes. A walk around Montmartre is beautiful and shows a different side of Paris than the centre. The Pompidou is an amazing building and museum for any age group.

The left bank of the Seine is now closed down from the Eiffel Tower to the Musée d’Orsay, which is a great way to walk around Paris.

Just on the outskirts of Paris there is the chateau de Vincennes, a medieval fortress.

Or perhaps a fun day trip to see Versailles and Giverny, Monet’s home where he painted the famous waterlilies.

- Emilie

The above picture I found on a blog called Style Is Born. It made me laugh as this is exactly how I imagined a Parisian teenager would look like.

The tulip fields

The tulips are in full bloom here in the Netherlands, and last week we went on a little tour with the children to take a look at them. Such an amazing view! The kids loved running through the endless beds of flowers. And the smell!!

Have you ever been to the tulip fields? I’ve heard nowadays a lot of the tulips are grown in Africa. And there are also beautiful fields in the US, near Seattle — Courtney’s dad owns one of them!

Of course we couldn’t leave without picking a bunch to take home. (Picking is only allowed from special flower picking fields!)

xxx Esther

My Favourite Things at Baby&Me Magazine

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:

You can read the digital version of this month’s issue here. You can also download the Baby&Me app from iTunes here. And lastly, you can now buy the magazine at newsagents around town.

I’m already excited for next month’s contribution! Stay tuned…

x Courtney

Ten Kid-Friendly Hotels in Europe for 2014 from i-escape

As you probably know by now, we are big fans of i-escape and their wonderful selection of hand-picked hotels from all over the world. What I love about the i-escape site is that you can be totally inspired to try out new destinations and visit places you didn’t even have on your radar. I also love that you can enter your specific interests and requirements, and they’ll come up with a selection of awesome places that meet your needs. The only problem is choosing!!

To make your holiday planning easier and to narrow down the choices a bit, we’ve asked the team at i-escape to send over a list of their favourite kid-friendly hotels in Europe. I love this list! I’m so inspired to travel now! Which one is your favourite? (I think mine is the one in Puglia. We keep hearing so many nice things about Puglia and this hotel sounds amazing!)

Anassa, near Polis, Cyprus

Cascading down to a long safe private beach, this luxury resort appeals to children and parents in equal measure: kids delight in the plentiful array of toys, games and watersports provided in the all-ages kids clubs with daily changing activity schedules, while their parents enjoy the award-winning Thalassotherapy spa. There are oodles of facilities including heated kids’ pool, restaurants with kids’ menus, baby equipment to borrow and a small playground. Superb.

Borgo Egnazia, Puglia, Italy

A flawless family-friendly resort which offers great design and decoration as well as a fantastic free kids club and teens’ games room, all ages will rejoice staying here. There are tennis courts, English speaking babysitters, a creche with qualified child-minders, playground, kids restaurant (summer only) and a choice of cool pools – a worthy recipient of an i-escape Best for Kids Award.

Quinta Bouca d’Arques, Viano do Castelo, Portugal

Head north from Porto into the Minho coastal region which the Portuguese believe their most beautiful for its rolling forested hills, lush river valleys and long sandy beaches. Just 12km inland, this 300-year-old manor house has boutique B&B apartments in both traditional and modern designs. Kids will adore the big lawn, woods to explore, secret wooden house and saltwater pool. There are communal BBQs in the evening and all apartments bar one have kitchenettes.

Ekies All Senses Resort, Chalkidiki, Greece

With a funky playful design, a heated saltwater pool, playground and playhouse, this beach retreat set on a tranquil bay with shallow seas also has two restaurants and a spa. Kids will love the organic juice bar by the pool and going on boat trips. Paradise for families!

Liss Ard Estate, Co. Cork, Ireland

While the weather is famously unpredictable in Ireland, you’re guaranteed a warm Irish welcome and a magical time for outdoorsy children at this comfy country house hotel. There are 80 hectares of woodland, lake, lawns, ancient and modern earthworks plus bike trail to explore and a kids club operational during school holidays. If the weather does prove inclement, there’s a well-stocked kids’ room to play in. Best of all kids under 12 are free!

Azur Hotel, near Antalya, Turkey

Families on a budget will love this wonderfully unpretentious and friendly beach hotel set in idyllic shady gardens. There’s a large pool with a shallow end, you’re five minutes’ walk from the sandy beach, and there’s a small playground. Older kids will like going on boat trips, younger ones can toddle safely on large lawns. Bliss.

Le Portetta, Courchevel, France

Chic and ski are becoming synonymous terms these days, and this chalet-style hotel delivers on being family-friendly as well. There’s a children’s ski school opposite the hotel, you’re slap bang in the middle of Courchevel 1650 ski resort which is the most suited for beginners and small fry in the Trois Vallees, and there are Family Rooms with bunk beds or lofts with sofa beds to choose from.

Captain’s Club Hotel, Dorset, UK

Dorset has some of the best beaches in the South of England, and this contemporary hotel with nautical detailing has super views over the River Stour, and is close to both picturesque Christchurch Harbour and these lovely beaches. Children under 14 stay for free, there are 2 & 3-bedroom suites with their own kitchens plus a tasty children’s menu in the restaurant.

Portixol, Palma, Mallorca

This tranquil boutique hotel has simply uncluttered Scandinavian interiors and a lovely swimming pool, and is set right beside the coastal promenade in a cool barrio of Palma, and is just 15 minutes from the airport – a godsend for families. There’s heaps of baby equipment, a games room for older kids and there’s an outdoor playground and park close at hand.

Palmizana, Sveti Klement island, Croatia

This laid-back, friendly and bohemian 300-hectare retreat has fragrant botanical gardens and two pebbly beaches on a car-free island. There’s a choice of bungalows and villas, some with kitchenettes, and two restaurants serving kid-friendly fare, plus lots of watersports and two playgrounds nearby. What a find!

New York, New York!


We’re back from New York! And while we are processing the million impressions we got — from discovering great brands at the Playtime fair (recap to come, of course!), to meeting wonderful friends, to talking loads about new business ideas we’ve got — we thought it would be fun to share some snapshots we took while walking around this inspiring and buzzing city.


Beautiful Brooklyn! And yes, the sky was that blue and the shadows that sharp. This was the first warm and sunny weekend in New York in months!

The meatpacking, the Village, SoHo… we walked all the way!

Williamsburg! So cool. And so lovely to cuddle with Lindsay‘s baby Jack in the hip Wythe Hotel!

We squeezed in a bit of shopping, of course. These beautiful towels were hard to resist… (We did!)

We had so much fun — our throats are still hurting from laughing so much. We ? NY!

Courtney and Esther

The new Elias & Grace website!

Have you seen the shiny new Elias & Grace website?! They’ve given themselves an entirely new look and lots of great new features. You can now narrow down your search by category, gender and by child’s size (which is such a handy feature I think). You can shop new arrivals and see different trends (currently stripes and blue!). And of course, it goes without saying, that everything in store is so effortlessly stylish!

Elias & Grace is my go-to shop in London. They do such a great job of buying and always have the most stylish selection of brands. It’s always fun to stop in at the beginning of every season to see the latest trends and pick up some new pieces for the kids. It’s impossible for me to resist!

x Courtney

PS – Elias & Grace is now offering a £100 gift voucher in our BIG giveaway! So if you haven’t done so already, go enter to win!! Today is the last day!

Photos from Paris

We have just come back from a fun weekend together in Paris! We went for Playtime Paris, but also managed to squeeze in some meetings, visit some museums, walk from one end of Paris to the other, and laugh so hard our bellies are still sore. We’ll be sharing our re-cap of Playtime soon, but in the meantime wanted to share some photos from the rest of our weekend…


Esther and I stumbled upon the Musee de la Chasse et de la Nature and it was incredible! We weren’t going to go in but then a lady passed us on the street and told us we really must not walk past without seeing inside. It’s a museum of hunting and animals and nature, but done in the most beautiful way.  The lady said to us ‘I’m a vegetarian, been one my whole life, and I’m against hunting… and even still I think it’s a beautiful museum.” What a recommendation!  I’m so happy she persuaded us because we were so impressed with it and are hoping to go back with the kids soon.


Emilie having a meeting with the wonderfully talented Lalé. We’re working on an exciting project with her and can’t wait to tell you about it!


We decided to be tourists on Saturday, so Esther and I walked the whole of Paris from one end to the next. We walked through beautiful gardens, along the river, to the Louvre, over the bridge and all the way to the Eiffel Tower and back. Here we are outside the Louvre.

Even on a grey day Paris is beautiful. I love this photo Esther took of the Louvre Pyramid, which she says reminds her of her mum.

There I am, standing beneath the Eiffel Tower. I showed this photo to my kids and they were so impressed with how big the tower is, how small I look compared to it.

Esther and I were such tourists, asking random strangers to take our photo in front of the Eiffel Tower! (We walked all the way there, so we weren’t leaving without a photo, of course!)

Here’s a photo of the three of us on the metro after a long day at Playtime. Exhausted but still laughing to tears!

Vanessa Berberian, London photographer

Remember last week when I told you about our little family photo session in the park with Vanessa Berberian? And how I was so worried she wouldn’t get any cute photos because my children wouldn’t cooperate/sit still/smile/behave… etc.  Well, she just sent over the photos and I’m so so impressed with her! She managed to do it! And she also snuck in some really cute candid photos when we weren’t paying attention.  My heart literally bursts when I see the photos of Marlow giving me kisses! Oh, I could just eat her up. I’m so happy to have this sweet phase of hers captured. And I love the photos of my husband with the children. And… she even managed to get a photo of all six of us looking at the camera, all mostly smiling! Miracle I’m telling you.

Vanessa is a super experienced photographer who has worked in all areas of photography, from environmental portraiture to travel and food.  She is now focusing her work on intimate documentary portraiture and family photography in and around the London area. (You can read more about her here.) If you’re also looking for family portraits or photos of your children, I highly recommend getting in touch with her. Her website is also super easy to use — she will upload your photos onto a gallery on her site and you’ll be able to download them easily onto your computer to use and to print. So handy!

Thank you Vanessa for taking these sweet photos!

xx Courtney

The Bugaboo wool collection

Wool is known for its wonderful, temperature regulating properties. So this past summer, when it was hot and humid and sticky, I cut holes in a sheep skin and put it in my Bugaboo as a seat cover. Like this Casper was always on a soft, natural and breathable ‘mattress’, which kept him cool as well as comfortable.

So I was pleasantly surprised to hear that Bugaboo recently teamed up with Woolmark and created a beautiful woollen seat liner with exactly those same thoughts in mind! The seat liner is made from 100% pure wool and fits all Bugaboo models. It can be used all year long — in summer it will help to keep your baby cool and comfy, and in winter warm and cosy. It also has a pretty grey padded reverse side — so you can change your look every now and then.

Bugaboo also developed a super soft, 100% extra fine merino wool blanket in three pretty colours, and — this is so exciting for those mums currently expecting a winter baby — beginning of next year there will be a soft and natural merino woollen mattress cover for the Bugaboo carrycot available as well.

I love this line. So much prettier and easier-to-care-for than my home-made solution! (And Casper is ever so cosy and comfortable, as you can see!)

xxx Esther

A weekend trip to Barcelona

We just came back from a (long) weekend break in Barcelona, and I really wanted to jot down a few notes about our trip  - it was so great!

We took the night train from the centre of Paris down to the Spanish border and did one switch onto a train direct into the centre of Barcelona. It was cool – imagine falling asleep in Paris and waking up to the view of the Med. The train was certainly not the Orient Express – but it was a real adventure. l loved lying in my little berth listening to the train whistle through the night!

We stayed at possibly the best place in Barcelona to stay with kids – a boutique youth hostel. Casa Gracia is right in the centre of Barcelona, we were able to walk everywhere. It is beautifully decorated, the rooms have up to 6 beds which is perfect for a family and there is a kitchen if you feel like you want to quickly cook some pasta. If you don’t feel like cooking, you can join in on the evening buffet meal. A huge breakfast is included in the price of the room. It was so relaxed and easy!

We took the kids to the Parc Guell which was an instant hit. I had brought along some water colours so we spent the afternoon painting the view, the mosaics or whatever we felt like painting. The next day we spent the day wondering La Rambla and getting lost in the Bari Gothic with its tiny medieval streets. On the 3rd day we walked as fast as we could to the beach and soaked up the sun, the sand and the water. Wearing a bathing suit on a beach in Europe at the beginning of November is pretty special! We had a late lunch at a cute restaurant overlooking the beach, and then we picked up our bags, jumped on a train, had dinner in the very cute and sleepy town of Cerbère on the French/ Spanish boarder, jumped on another train and woke up in Paris again!

- Emilie

PS. I just found out there is a night train that goes directly from Paris to Venice, so there might be another trip soon on the cards…

PPS The photos above are: the view over Barcelona from the Parc Guell/ a house designed by Gaudi/ Violette concentrating very hard on a water colour in the Parc Guell/ jumping in the waves in Barcelonetta.

The ShopUp in London – the countdown begins!

The countdown has started! Our live shopping event will take place just one month from now!! Have you marked your diaries? Told all your friends? We can’t wait to see you there!

p.s. To see a list of all the fabulous shops & brands participating, click here.

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