Our Advent Activity Calendar

Advent calendar activity

I loved Esther’s post last year about an Advent Activity Calendar! We have done a similar idea for a few years now (unfortunately not so beautifully designed!). I bought a Maileg Advent garland (a little bit like this one) and in every pocket the children find a sweet treat and an Advent activity for us to do. Lots of our activities are similar to Esther’s – designed to enjoy this preparation time leading up to Christmas: gathering pine-cones, sticking cloves into oranges, baking, making decorations, thinking of those less fortunate, making (and eating) gingerbread, watching a Christmas movie together, etc. But I also try and book a couple of seasonal activities to enjoy with the kids during these days. For some of them you need to book early (in October!) but some you can still do – most are in or around London.

  • The National Trust: The National Trust usually have great festive activities at their sites leading up to Christmas – We’ve been to see Father Christmas and the Christmas animals at Hatchlands Park, we’ve listened to Christmas Jazz at Ham House, we’ve done Christmas trails, Christmas crafts and visited Christmas markets and fairs – all of which have left us with that warm festive glow. This year we’re planning to visit a Georgian Christmas at Osterley House & Park.
  • Christmas at Kew: We’re fortunate enough to live close to Kew and so have always made sure we visit – it gets better and better each year – especially as now there is the Christmas illuminations trail and market. The lights lighting up the magnificent trees and plants around the garden is spectacular – the walk takes about 45 minutes but there are stopping points throughout to warm up with a hot chocolate or mulled wine.
  • Christmas theatre: I always look out for a Christmas show to go and see with the kids – I particularly like small theatre productions – We saw a wonderful adaption of Father Christmas (Raymond Briggs) last year at The Lyric in Hammersmith (which is back this year if you are nearby) and I always check the children’s theatres for their Christmas program: The Polka in Wimbledon and The Unicorn on Southbank. We have also watched the fabulous adaption of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s Stickman (which is back on stage this year at The Leicester Square Theatre). This year we are going to see Slava’s Snow Show – which sounds pretty fab.
  • Christmas Carols: My absolute favourite place for singing carols is Hampton Court – the singers meet at the door to the palace at 6pm and then walk around the courtyards stopping to sing along with a brass band – it is literally my favourite Christmas Activity – we have done it for the last 6 years and every year it gets better organised; now there is a stopping point for a mince pie and a mulled wine (I think you are getting an impression of what good organisation means to me – food and drink!!). But despite having the ticket-opening date in my diary I missed tickets this year – you really need to book as soon as they go on sale. So I’m looking for a fun Christmas Caroling event, do you know any? We will take the kids to the family carol service at St. Paul’s, which is also lovely (but no mince pies or mulled wine …)

I’d love to know what Christmas activities you try and fit in during Advent time.

Mo. x

Workshops at The ShopUp!

Our London ShopUp opens a month from today on 10 December! The event runs both the 10th (Thursday) and 11th (Friday) at Chelsea Old Town Hall. This year, we have asked our well-connected friends at The Mamahood to organise some fun and festive workshops for you, and they look amazing! You can read more on The Mamahood website, but here is a quick look at what is on offer  (click the pictures to read more!):

Wreath making with Bloom and Wild:


Gingerbread making and decorating with Primrose Bakery (who will also be selling baked goods in our cafe!):

Purchase this image at http://www.stocksy.com/382372

Modern Calligraphy with Quill London:


Availability is limited, so we would recommend signing up as soon as possible if you want to join in the fun. Head over to The Mamahood to see detailed information on each workshop; signing up is easy via their (super cute) website!

We have also arranged to have a customisable letter press station with Prickel Press on Thursday and a hand painted customisable card station on Friday with Betty Etiquette in the cafe. (You can sign up for these when you arrive.) They will be conveniently located next to our charity, mothers2mothers who will be running our wrapping station to help raise money for their incredible organisation.

image (1)


Lastly, we are so very excited to announce that Santa himself will be visiting the ShopUp this year! He is bringing a listening ear, a Polaroid camera for photo ops, and sweet little toys for good boys and girls! Find more info on Santa’s visit here.


This year’s event is shaping up to be our best yet (we always say that, but it is always true!). Please sign up on our Facebook event page if you’ll be joining us! We’ll be posting more updates there! xx


A weekend in London with a nine-year-old



To celebrate Coco’s ninth birthday I had promised her a trip to London, just her and me, for a little weekend. Considering her birthday was last December and we are now in October, it was high time I made good on my promise and so we jumped on the train and away we went to London, the city she was born in.

It was so much fun, not only to show her the city, but also to appreciate some moments together. The main aim was to go to the Harry Potter studios (we are dealing here with a hard core Harry Potter fan) but we managed to pack so much more into our two-day trip.

Here is what we got up to:

We arrived on a Friday evening and went straight to China Town to my favourite restaurant, to meet up with some friends. By chance there was a lampion festival going on so London’s tiny China town look magical (and I forgot to take photos ooops!).


The next morning, we went straight to the Tower of London, to see the fortress, the crown jewels, the beef eaters and the guards. From there we had the most amazing view of Tower Bridge. Randomly some elderly gentlemen where reenacting a little battle on the lawn in front of the tower, so that got us straight in the mood.


From that we jumped straight onto a public boat and travelled down the Thames to jump onto a tube, a train and a bus straight to the Harry Potter Studios. Now I am not a big fan of entertainment parks to say the least, but the Harry Potter Studios are actually great (even for me)! You can see the making of the films from the tiniest to the hugest set, costumes and maquettes.


At the end of the day we were so tired we practically fell into our beds and started snoring! 😉


On Sunday we headed off to the Science Museum and the V&A, where we had a hot chocolate and scone in the lovely courtyard. We had a walk around Hyde Park and finally headed back to the station on a double decker bus. We actually tried to cram in as much iconic British things as possible from black cabs and red buses to a fry-up and a Flake ice cream!


It was such a wonderful weekend and a such a special treat to have my big girl all to myself (I think she also quite appreciated having her mom to herself too).


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


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

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

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!

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 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.

The ShopUp… is shaping up!

Whoop whoop!! We’re SO excited about all of these fabulous shops and brands that are joining us at the ShopUp! (For those of you who missed the announcement — we’re organising our first ever live shopping event in London at the beginning of December!) In addition to the great shopping, we’ll have superb entertainment to keep the little ones busy… mini family photo-shoots… little bits to eat and drink… and there’s a raffle with a fantastic prize!  It will be a such a fun day out, and such a perfectly easy way to buy sweet presents for all of the little lovelies in your life!

We can’t wait to go shopping at the ShopUp ourselves!! So… mark your diaries, tell your friends, invite your family, and we look forward to seeing you all there!!

xxx Courtney and Esther

Kid & Coe, a vacation rental website for families!

I am really, super excited about the recent launch of Kid & Coe, a vacation rental website featuring stylish family homes all over the world. Imagine travelling to New York, Paris, San Francisco, Copenhagen… Mexico even (!) and being able to stay in a family home, complete with child-sized beds, toys for your kids, a proper kitchen to cook meals, and other family-friendly features to really make you feel at home wherever you go.

Each Kid & Coe listing offers a great description of the property as well as a ‘good to know’ section of family-friendly considerations (closest parks, baby proof safety measures, dishwasher and washing machines, etc.). You can also read a description of the neighbourhood and surrounding area, and of course view loads of great photos of each property (truthfully, it’s like viewing the pages of Elle Decor – some of these homes are so beautiful and inspiring – it’s worth travelling just for the chance to stay in them!).

Not only is it a great place to find stylish family rentals, but you can also list your home with Kid & Coe if you’re interested in renting it out while you’re away. Registering your home is really easy, and the team at Kid & Coe is extremely helpful. It’s easy to enter the dates you’ll be away and manage your property listing and information. I know because I recently signed us up our home and it was really a piece of cake. I’m excited to see the process of booking and renting out our home… and I’m even more excited to stay in some of the other amazing homes around the world. I definitely have the travel bug just looking at this site!

xx Courtney

p.s. Here’s the link for the beautiful London-based home featured in these photos. (Don’t you just want to move straight in?!!)

Waterproof gear from Muddy Puddles

We recently took the kids out of London for an adventurous weekend day trip to Warwick Castle. It was one of those cold, drizzly September days that felt a bit more like winter than Autumn, and we were happy to be kitted out in waterproof jackets and wellies from Muddy Puddles.

My kids have the reversible jackets, which are fully waterproof on one side and lined with cosy fleece on the other — perfect for this time of year when the weather varies so much. They also have the matching rubber wellies, so they are both coordinated and cosy in their waterproof gear. My kids were able to run around the castle grounds braving all the elements of the blustery day.

Muddy Puddles has a wide selection of outdoor gear that is as fun as it is functional. Perfect for our unpredictable British weather and the cold, wet winter ahead of us. (It only took me 10 years to finally accept that in order to live happily in London, we just have to have appropriate warm & waterproof clothing!!)

p.s. Even on a grim day, Warwick Castle was really great! Loads of fun activities for the kids, and a really pretty setting for a lovely day out. I definitely recommend visiting.  (And the view from the tower is amazing!)

xx Courtney

Mark your diaries: Presenting The ShopUp!

We are really, really excited to announce some BIG news: we are organising our first ever LIVE shopping event!!  The ShopUp will be held in London this coming December and will bring together a selection of the finest shops and brands all under one roof! We’re thrilled to offer the chance to shop the good ‘old-fashioned’ way — to see and feel the products in person and fill up your shopping bag with wonderful gifts and goodies!

The ShopUp will take place on Sunday the 1st and Monday the 2nd of December, just in time for the holidays! The event will be held at the Cecil Sharp House in the trendy, family-friendly neighbourhood of Primrose Hill (a very short walk from the park, the London Zoo and the buzzing high street) — the perfect setting for a fun, family day out!  We are especially excited about the wonderful shops we’ve lined up so far! (You can see a list of the participating shops here.) We just can’t wait to go shopping ourselves!

We will also be offering a whole host of fun activities for children, and there is also a charming café located downstairs with a selection of hot drinks, snacks and nibbles. Shops will be offering discounts, prizes will be available to win, and canvas tote bags will be handed out to all visitors. So come shopping with us — we can’t wait to see you there!

Moving to London? A relocation service to help

My friend Lindsey from the London-based Urban Mums blog had the ingenious idea of creating a business to help families get settled when moving to London. I can’t tell you how many emails I’ve received from other mums who are planning a move to London. These mums have so many questions (as I’m sure I would if I were moving our family to a new city!). Questions about neighbourhoods, schools, renting a home/flat, finding childcare,  learning about healthcare, shopping, dining, etc. I have always answered those questions as best as I can… but I’m not an expert. And here is where Lindsey comes in handy.

She has created Urban Living, a relocation service to help ex-pats navigate life in London. Whether you’re visiting London to explore the idea of moving here, or whether you’ve moved here and would love a local’s tips and expertise, she has created tailored services for individual needs. Plus, she is such a sweet, hip, energetic woman (and mama to three!), that even I am thinking about booking her services just to get to the spend the day with her. : )

If you, or anyone you know, are moving or have recently moved to London, definitely get in touch with Lindsey!

x Courtney

La Coqueta, timeless clothing made in Spain

La Coqueta is a new London-based boutique with a gorgeous collection of clothing and shoes from Spain. I stopped into the boutique last week and was blown away by all the lovely details of the shop (see the clever window display below!) and of course the beautiful, timeless pieces in the collection. From the sweet cotton knitwear collection for babies to the adorable smock dresses for girls, and the smart shirts for boys to the colourful range of shoes.

I picked up the most gorgeous little outfit for Marlow (see below) as well as this sweet dress for Ivy.  What struck me most was the price point – quite reasonable considering how elegant everything is. I suppose, in that regard, it’s in keeping with traditional Spanish clothing: it is affordable, timeless clothing kids can wear to a party as well as to the playground. Because, from what I know from my travels to Spain, there is no distinction between playground and party wear. Spanish children are always well dressed.

If you live in London, it’s definitely worth a visit to the boutique. And if you don’t live in London, you can shop their collection online.

x Courtney

The Obliteration Room at the Tate Modern

This weekend we made it to Obliteration Room at the Tate Modern and my kids loved it so much they’re still talking about it. What a cool idea! The Obliteration Room is the kid’s section of the bigger exhibition by Yayoi Kusama — the dot loving Japanese artist. It started out as a completely white room and then they allowed kids to come in and place colourful dot stickers wherever and however they chose.

It was interesting to watch my kids with their sheets of stickers. My daughter stuck all the stickers on her face, my son kept asking to put them on the ceiling, and my oldest went around creating crazy cyclops monster faces on the floor. What a fun activity (it’s on until the 18th of March)!

x Courtney

PS – Photos above are from the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art in Australia where the project started. Aren’t they so cool?!

Introducing Morley at Couverture

Morley is the brand new label by Anouk Robyn, the former designer of cult childrenswear label, Quincy, and is launching this season with lovely, understated pieces for children aged 6 months to 12 years. I’m loving the washed-out cottons and summery pastel colours — it is all so effortlessly cute, so easy to wear (I suppose you would expect nothing else from the woman who spent more than ten years designing for Quincy!).

All of the pieces above (and more!) are available from Couverture, one of my favourite London-based boutiques. Have a look at the rest of the childrens collection — all SO cute! And then… if you can stand the temptation, take a look at their womens and homewear collection as well — flawless.


Jamie at Winter Wonderland

As children are starting to break up from nurseries, kindergartens and schools for the Christmas holidays, a typical London holiday attraction to visit is Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. We went last weekend and whilst crazy busy I was really impressed with the fairground — lots of really beautiful old-fashioned fairground rides, mixed up with more crazy modern ones.  Also there is Zippo’s circus and an ice-rink and of course a German Christmas Market to browse around.

Jamie Oliver even has a presence there (for those of you who don’t know Jamie — he is the UK’s culinary cheeky chappy).  He has taken over the band stand to offer some proper outdoor winter cuisine — Jamie’s Fabulous Feasts offers hot pork rolls, polenta chips and much much more, all of which looked delicious.

But the best bit of Jamie’s presence was the ‘decorate your own gingerbread man’ bit, set up for children.  For £5 my son and I gave it a go.  We got a naked man and tree and an egg box filled with various decorations — dolly mixture sweets, white and milk chocolate buttons, cranberries, apricots, dessicated coconut  and an icing tube (to act as glue).  We had a lot of fun jazzing our biscuits up and I have to admit, when we finally felt we had admired them enough, they tasted pretty good too.

Winter Wonderland is open in London’s Hyde Park until the 4th January.

Decorating a Kid’s Room — More posters

I really don’t want to become boring with my posts (you’d tell me wouldn’t you?) but I just keep finding great ideas for posters for kids rooms.  My latest finds are these fabulous vintage ‘Trooping the Colour’ posters from the (quite brilliant I must say) London Transport Museum.  I have long known about the wonderful archive of posters held by London Transport (I personally love this poster advertising the ‘Summer Sales‘) but I came about these in a funny way.  I spotted 4 different Trooping the Colour prints used on a gift-box of espresso cups and immediately thought that posters of the same would look great on my son’s bedroom wall, so I looked them up on the London Transport Museum poster website.

This poster from 1923 is my absolute favourite but I also love this one from 1922 and this one from 1930 — they’d make a great set together. (more…)

Babyccino kids on Ohdeedoh

Ohdeedoh featured our newly designed city-guides — check out what they say for some insider information on Paris, New York, London and Amsterdam!!

Older Posts »