If you live in Melbourne or are planning a visit, a fabulous (and totally cute) website to check out is Little Eats. Little Eats is the brainchild of Jemma Reynolds — a self confessed foodie, critique and ’super-mum’ to 2 pre-schoolers. Let’s face it — dining out with kids in tow can be fraught… fraught with fear, trepidation, anxiety and a host of other raging emotions. I have certainly had my fair share of cringe-worthy cafe moments. But it needn’t be so! Jemma profiles restaurants and cafes in and around Melbourne and rates them in relation to their ‘kid-friendliness’. Pram access? High chairs? Distraction apparatus like books or paper and crayons? Welcoming smiles? With her expert eye (and with the help of her 2 adorable pint-sized side-kicks) Jemma susses out the facilities, children’s menu, table and customer service. Of course she is also obligated to road-test the menu (all in the name of ‘field research’ she assures me.) Afterall we all know that pram access, high chairs, drawing supplies, babyccinos, choc-topped gingerbread men, great food and the perfect latte are important… in equal measure.
Recently, wonderful Spanish magazine Caos asked Babyccino if we could compile a list of the 10 top things to do when visiting the city of Melbourne. We were very excited to oblige! Here is the list written up which was of course then translated into Spanish (and which, most will agree, makes everything sound just so much more wonderful). (more…)
No matter the weather, every Friday after school my children and I head down to Igloo Zoo for a fix of creamy frozen yogurt. YUM-OH! We patiently wait behind the hoards of teenage schoolkids who are equally excited. It is pure decadence and relatively sinless (I figure) given that it is made with real yogurt (live cultures) is 99.5% fat-free, high in antioxidants and low in sugar. There are 4 flavors on offer — original, green tea, cocoa and pomegranate. As an incentive (not that we need one) they offer an array of amazing accoutrements like organic kaffir, lime biscotti, white chocolate, pomegranate seeds, passion fruit puree, halva (a middle eastern treat made from sesame seed), choc-covered goji berries, lychee and a host of other treats. Admittedly, I usually eschew the more exotic toppings in favor of good old triple choc crunch, passion fruit puree and coconut…beyond divine!
If you are visiting Melbourne, the Gold Coast or Sydney check out locations here ! If you live elsewhere in the world and you are hankering for your own sampling of Igloo Zoo — I apologize profusely for the tease!
One place I always recommend (sometimes even insist!) our visitors to Melbourne see is the picturesque town of Dayelsford. Dayelsford is a village in rural Victoria in the heart of the Wombat Forest; so pretty, so quaint, peaceful & dignified, just as a spar town should be, but with the hippest cafes, shops and restaurants you can imagine! There are several things you must do when visiting this adorable town — have your tarot read, take in the local markets, stroll through the forest, visit the mineral spas (the Shire boasts the highest concentration of mineral springs in the country together with an equally large array of therapists) AND stop by Lark to indulge in some retail therapy! (more…)
ONE YEAR AGO WE WROTE ABOUT:• Gift Elephant
Prolific Melbourne designer Miriam Bereson is the creator of these striking animal ‘collective nouns’ prints. Aren’t they fabulous? Strong punchy graphics is her signature style and combined with a quirky educational element I think they would make a gorgeous and effective addition to any playroom or nursery. Hmm… am I showing my ignorance by declaring that I had no idea these whimsical sounding ‘collective nouns’ even existed? ‘A Parliament of Owls’ — sounds so dignified! ‘A Memory of Elephants‘ — rather fanciful and poetic, don’t you think?
You can find Miriam Bereson’s products, including her equally stunning number frieze and alphabet frieze at stockists across Australia, NZ and online. You can also keep up-to-date on new products and musings on the Miriam Bereson blog.
I have long been an admirer of Jane Reiseger’s whimsical, child-like murals and illustrations. Whenever I take my children to our local burger joint Grill’d in Malvern I am positively drooling over them on the walls, the menus, the brown paper bags… (nevermind that the burgers are pretty average when the walls are so beautiful!! ). Chances are if you live in Melbourne or Sydney you have come across them too (At the Docklands on the huge billboards along the freeway? At Nest Homewares in South Melbourne? At the multitude of tramstops popping up around town? And her happy animal paintings are all over the walls of Royal Randwick Children’s Hospital in Sydney).
The good news is that by private commission, Jane will draw murals in homes like the one pictured here and these gorgeous examples. To see more of Jane’s stupendous work and to find out more about her private commissions, have a look at her shop Bee and Tree. Here you can also view some of her original artwork and canvases as well as her organic range of short sleeve onesies that feature sweet and simple motifs. Too cute to resist!
ONE YEAR AGO WE WROTE ABOUT:• Sewing Bee
Ooh La la!! Megan Park is a Melbourne designer who makes the most exquisite beaded and embellished dresses — sumptuous vintage styling with a modern edge! I tried to choose a favorite but it is impossible… I was lucky enough to face this choosing dilemma recently when a ‘garden party’ themed wedding invitation called for a pretty summery concoction for my daughter.
Megan Park began her career in textiles (and a long working stint in the UK), followed by women’s clothing, girl’s dresses and a range of beautiful handmade cushions and throws which are to die-for (just look at these gorgeous cushions). Megan’s inspiration comes from far and abroad — from the street markets in Old Delhi and Hong Kong to the flea markets in Paris…
Megan Park is available worldwide.
ONE YEAR AGO WE WROTE ABOUT:• Pizza atelier
When a baby is born in our family, they are always gifted with a unique creation from Maiike. Maiike is an eclectic collection of ‘soft things’ lovingly handmade by Melbourne-based Aly Peel who sources old woolen and cashmere jumpers from second-hand and vintage stores and then transforms them into precious patchwork squares for cushions, scarves and quilts. The leftover cut-offs she turns into the most adorable stuffed cats, bunnies and squirrels. So very clever! If you look really closely you can even make out some of the original pieces like the dimpled patterns of a baby’s cardigan or the brown plaid of a winter coat. I love the color palettes, patterns and different textures she combines to create these exquisite pieces. And each one is completely unique. They make beautiful keepsakes — true treasures for someone special… like a new baby!
You can see some of the progress of Aly’s toys in-the-making on her blog here.
I do appreciate a nice tea towel… and I’m fussy with mine. Perhaps it relates to my textile obsession. Nonetheless, I like them to be made of good quality linen, aesthetically pleasing… and generally I find, the more use they get, the better they look. Now, because of this ‘pseudo fetish’, much to my husband’s amusement, and at times sheer frustration, I am always scouring the shops for tea towels.
Recently looking out of the car window at the lovely window shop display, waiting for the traffic lights to change…
Me in passenger seat: ‘Wow, is that…are they…my goodness I think they are tea towels!’
Husband in driver seat: ‘No, no darling, that’s just a painting…’
Me: ‘No husband, I really don’t think so… they look like linen… I’m sure they are tea towels. Yes, yes they ARE tea towels! Quick…STOP! I’ll be really quick!’
Husband rolls eyes and pulls over. And that was how I came to acquire 3 tea towels from Third Drawer Down. (more…)
Winter fashion is starting to hit our stores! Even though it is a ridiculous 40 degrees celcius today and the thought of wool coats is utterly unfathomable, I was just a little bit curious… I do have to concede that once upon a time my kids’ wardrobes were largely imports (with the ridiculous price tags that I choked on every time), but Australian kids fashion is incredible these days and just keeps getting better.
Here are a few of my top Aussie label picks (thus far!) for Autumn/Winter 2010.
Fred Bare : I can’t wait for my daughter to wear this coat (pictured) – nor can she which is fortunate as these days it doesn’t happen often that we agree on her fashion choices. And the rest of the Fred Bare range? I love!
Cried Wolf : This marle sweatshirt for a bit of fun and humour and as you can see, I really love grey especially when it is marle. This brand does the most fantastic casual sweatshirts – perfect for kindergarten and for the weekends. (more…)
With a steady stream of visiting friends over the Christmas holidays, and many with young children, we have been busy! Whilst we treated them to the hedonistic pleasures of the Aussie beach culture, we also spent a great deal of time indoors appreciating the ‘higher arts’. This can be tricky with young kids in tow, especially those who are jet-lagged and tantrum prone, but Melbourne has some fabulous museums and galleries, several of which are especially wonderful for children. Here are my top 3.
1. Melbourne Museum – This fabulous museum, located on the northern border of the Carlton Gardens behind the Royal Exhibition Building, is futuristic and interactive and connects architecture and nature – in the middle of the museum, you can walk through a forest! The Children’s Gallery is designed for children 3 to 8 but I would think it would delight even the younger toddler. The children’s exhibition, entitled 1,2,3 Grow, explores the many ways things, including humans, grow. Activities, children’s art, stories, an indoor sandpit with fossils beneath the sand which children are encouraged to discover, a kids puppet theatre and an outside play/picnic area including games such as skittles for the whole family, are just some of the attractions. It doesn’t matter how often we visit (we try to put our membership to good use after all) my children are always stimulated and engaged. Young children particularly love the insect section and the Forest gallery. Click here for more details. (more…)
Another fabulous interactive colouring book just begging to be illustrated! They seem to be popping up everywhere these days and with good reason too. Created by talented Melbournian Nicole Mandile, in the first of her My Picture Storybooks series, The Magical Milky Way’s Super Galactic Zoo kept my rambunctious 4-year-old son in check on a long-haul airplane flight recently. So naturally I am a big fan. He was totally engrossed in creating, drawing and pasting away, each page providing the perfect canvas for his masterpiece. It helps that he has a complete fascination with all things galaxy-related.
The book is created using uncoated paper, a great surface to sketch on and is staple bound so the pages open flat. It is printed in Australia on 100% recycled paper. It isn’t too long or too short — just perfect to capture their little attention spans.
Available through weheartbooks for local and international shipment.
ONE YEAR AGO WE WROTE ABOUT:• Kid-friendly restaurants
Is this little girl not absolutely adorable? That face! That hat! The vest…! I could practically eat her up! Luna Ninos is an Australian brand I discovered when my son was a baby. They design and knit their products in Melbourne without linking, sewing or seams… making their beanies and bonnets, booties, baby blankets and cardigans comfortable and lightweight. They use only the finest natural fibers — pure cotton or extrafine merino wool, and each season offer an array of delectable colours, from the more muted (mouse, spinach, bamboo…) to the very bright (aqua, rosa and tomato….). Luxurious yet practical — everything is machine-washable (fortunately as I have absolutely no patience for hand-washing!). I especially love their tree blankets — not only visually superb, but proceeds from their sale support the Wilderness Society of Australia, saving our beautiful old growth forests, which is a really good thing…
To view their stunning collection and for online orders, click here!
If I had to name one wardrobe staple that my kids and I cannot live without, it would have to be our denim jeans. Sure, there are items I love more but I doubt there is an item of clothing more durable, more versatile or more enduring than a pair of well constructed denim jeans.
And so, when I discovered a cute little pop-up store in King Street, Prahran that specializes exclusively in children’s jeans, I couldn’t wait to spread the word.
Little Rivet Jeans is a gorgeous shop offering a seasonally relevant denim range for boys and girls aged 1-6 years where the focus is on fit, construction and quality – but without the ridiculously expensive price tag that we have come to expect from premium denim. The jeans are soft and simple, just as children’s jeans should be, in a really impressive range of fits and finishes — including a vibrant coloured range for the girls. And whilst they have a ‘vintage’ feel about them, they are still modern and trendy. (more…)
With Valentine’s Day approaching I am thinking that a trip to the Suga Candy Kitchen might be on the cards. This lolly shop is my kids’ version of heaven. What can be more exciting, more mesmerizing than handmade, delicious rock candy made right before your eyes (to be honest, I can think of many things but my kids, I’m sure, they can’t!). The lolliologists (highly trained lolly makers… really… I’m not kidding) stretch, pull and twist the hot molten candy, then chop it into jewel-sized bites. Yum! Fresh from the cooling slab they then generously hand out samples, and if you want to you can personalize your lollies with names or cute messages like ‘I love you’ and ‘you are sweet’ and ‘be mine’.
Oh….in case you were wondering, here in Australia we call a piece of what is called candy in the States, or sweets in the UK, as ’lollies’.
It is a fun place to go and I seriously defy anyone, sugar devotee or otherwise, to leave without having bought a bag or jar of some type of hard rock confection… A great Valentine’s treat for the children or a loved one. For more mouth watering details and Suga Candy Kitchen locations click here.
Most parents discover fairly early on that if they want to meet in a cafe with friends and have any hope of conversation (one that spans more than 10 seconds), then a distraction for the children in the form of a book/toy is imperative. It allows at least some semblance of communication between the adults whilst in the company of young children — where you can form a full sentence… in one go!!
Many cafes in Melbourne answer this need, providing crayons and butcher paper to occupy the kids. And that certainly helps! But Family Life Home & Café in Grattan Street, Prahran goes one step further. Not only is it a divine Balinese inspired space, incorporating a cafe and boutique, but it has a gorgeous imaginative play area for the children. (more…)
ONE YEAR AGO WE WROTE ABOUT:• Natural History Museum
It is the 17th book in the ‘This is…’ series and Sasek is visiting down under! This is Australia is a wonderful book to add to the classic travel series, first published in the ’70s, which Courtney posted about here!
In line with the later books in the series, the colours are slightly vintage and the images are retro and whimsical. And Sasek’s mode of travel to the land down under? Not in chains like the first British colonists, but on a Qantas big bird!! (which incidentally, ‘flies very well’, unlike the Australian penguin and emu!) I absolutely love these books — they introduce children to the people, customs and places of interest in cities around the world, captivating young readers with gorgeous illustrations and a witty narrative. I also think it’s fascinating to see each city from a 1960’s perspective. And…needless to say, in my family we just love the Aussie edition!
Available for worldwide delivery at Amazon.
ps. Courtney, this is the perfect souvenir for your children and will remind them for years to come of their great Aussie adventure!!
Nestled in a bend of the Yarra River, amongst the river red gum and paperbark trees (a very typical Australian setting!) is the Collingwood Children’s Farm…. a little slice of country life right in the heart of Melbourne, only 4 kilometres from the CBD. It’s a magical place for city children (and adults) and an absolute favorite with family and friends.
Here, children can get up close and personal with all the typical farmyard animals and immerse themselves in farm chores. They can get their hands dirty milking the cows, bottle feeding the lambs, waddling with the ducks, patting the rabbits, feeding grass to the horses and all the while marvel at the sight and smell of the pigs. They can also look for eggs — a great way to teach them that eggs and milk don’t come out of cartons (as I am lead to believe some ‘other’ children think is the case… not mine, of course! ) (more…)
My family is in the grip of ‘Masterchef’ fever! My kids are so enthused by this reality television program that I practically have my youngest deriding me for not making the terrine for his school lunch. And while the downside for me is that the bar has been raised (my rather unspectacular cooking now looks even more… unspectacular), the show has reinforced the value of good eating, team-building and the importance of accepting constructive criticism. My daughter particularly has been caught by the cooking bug. This morning she made us a lovely, albeit slightly burnt dish of scrambled eggs, grilled tomato, and baby spinach — we devoured it… every char-grilled morsel!
A friend recently introduced me to a great children’s cooking website called Wholesome Productions which creates a fabulous range of children’s cooking kits. They also sell party cooking kits for those brave enough to host their own kid’s cooking party. (more…)
ONE YEAR AGO WE WROTE ABOUT:• Beach chic at Christmas
These baby loafers and ballet slippers by Australian-based company Czarque are exquisite and so, so chic. My only gripe is that they were not around when my children were babies!!
They are delicate and soft, understated and …. just so very adorable! Not to mention, they come in the most gorgeous of textures (honestly, I’m not sure that these pictures do them justice). They are perfect for the special occasions in life or ‘just because’. After all, there is nothing more frustrating than spending money on something special for your children only to have them outgrow it after two wears. What a waste!
Czarque baby shoes are handcrafted in Australia in the finest quality Australian leather and they all feature soft, flexible brushed suede soles that are perfect for babies’ delicate feet (from newborn size to age 2). As a first shoe I think that they would make the sweetest keepsake.
They are available at Bon Bon Tresor for both local and international shipment.