Simple Stone Fruit Tart

stone fruit tart
I stumbled upon this image on Pinterest a couple days ago and knew immediately what I wanted to do with the bowl full of peaches and nectarines on my kitchen counter and the ready-rolled puff pastry in my freezer. So easy! I quickly wrote down the  simple recipe and decided to make it that evening with all my little kitchen helpers. It was really a team effort – Easton helped fold the sides of the pastry and painted on the egg yolk, Quin sprinkled the sugar and helped cut the peaches, Ivy poured the honey and Marlow snuck bites of fruit while we worked. : )

Marlow making fruit tart

peaches, nectarines and apricots

Here’s the recipe:

-1 puff pastry sheet
-3 cups of stone fruit, sliced (we used peaches, nectarines, and apricots)
-3 tablespoons of honey
-1 tablespoon of lemon juice
-1 egg, lightly beaten
-granulated sugar for sprinkling

Heat oven to 190° C (375° F). Place baking sheet in oven to heat up. Place the puff pastry on parchment paper. Fold in edge of puff pastry towards center to create a half inch border; set aside. In a bowl toss fruit, honey and lemon juice. Remove heated baking sheet from oven. Place puff pastry on bake sheet. Pour fruit mixture on top. Brush border with lightly beaten egg and sprinkle sugar over the egg.
Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until puff pastry is golden brown. Enjoy!

fruit tart, eaten

We ended up eating the tart before dinner because none of us had the willpower to wait!

xx Courtney

p.s. Recipe based on this one found on Bakers Royale.

Velib’ now for kids

velibThe Velib’ (the Parisian city council bicycle scheme) has had a huge impact on the city, more than anything I have ever seen. Bike paths have popped up all over the place and even the infamous Parisian taxi drivers seem to have gotten used to bikes on the road, at least they have stopped screaming at them or trying to run them down! Most people I know use a Velib’ on a daily basis, so Paris just might become another bike friendly European town — I am keeping my fingers crossed.

So now we need to get the future generation onto bikes, which is not that easy in Paris. It is quite daunting teaching a kid how to ride on a public, busy street and most family flats are too small to be able to fit bicycles in them. This is one of the reasons Paris town hall has just launched a Velib scheme called P’tit Velib’ just for kids with 4 locations in Paris. The little bicycles have the same minimalist chic look as their bigger counterparts and come in 4 different sizes from push bike to teenager bike. At the moment you can pick them up in the bois de Vincennes, bois de Boulogne and the Berge de Seine. I do hope this scheme grows and comes to other locations in Paris, it is such a great idea!

- Emilie

 

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

Easton’s favourite books (great for ages 6 to 12)

Manfish a story of Jacques Cousteau

Easton (aged 9) has always, since the time he could speak, been obsessed with nature and animals and especially sea life.  One of his first words was ‘dolphin’ and by the time we was three, he knew the names of all the different whales and sharks! As a result, some of his favourite books are ones about the sea.

While he now mostly reads chapter books, both for school reading and for pleasure, I still catch him reading some of his favourite picture books, especially the books about sea creatures and animals.  I thought I would split up his list of favourites into two groups: picture books and chapter books.

Here are some of his favourite picture books:

1. Manfish : This sweet and beautifully illustrated book tells the story of Jacques Cousteau from the time he was a young boy up through his adult life and film-making career.  Easton wants to be a marine biologist when he’s bigger, and I think he really relates to the young boy in this book.

2. Zoo-ology : I have now bought three different copies of this book because it’s one of the most read books in our house (I often find it under the covers in their bed!), and I keep replacing the book due to broken bindings or torn pages. The book features more than 300 animals, each page featuring a different type: feathered, nocturnal, large, small, underground, etc.

the red sea sharks

3. The Red Sea Sharks (The Adventures of Tintin) : Easton loves all the Tintin books, but told me this one is his favourite.

4. Down, Down, Down: A Journey to the Bottom of the Sea : This fact-filled book takes you down from the surface to the very bottom of the sea, showing you all the crazy sea creatures who live in each ‘layer’ of the sea.

5. Maps : I’ve written about this book before here. It is still probably my boys’ current favourite book!

6. Stuck : Another Oliver Jeffers favourite. My boys think it’s hilarious to see all the things that Floyd gets stuck up in the tree in the effort to get his kite down.

7. Small and Tall Tales of Extinct Animals : Easton is fascinated by extinct animals and by the thought that some of the animals on our planet will one day also become extinct. This is another great animal picture book that shows extinct animals and gives a brief description of each.

the terrible thing that happened to barnaby bracket

And here are some of his favourite chapter books:

1. The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket : I haven’t read this book, but Easton told me it’s very funny and it’s about a boy who floats and can’t control his floating, even when he wishes he could be normal and please his parents.

2 & 3. The BFG and James and the Giant Peach : Both by Roald Dahl, both brilliant and imaginative. What I love about the Roald Dahl books is that there is a teensy element of something slightly scary. I remember reading The BFG and The Witches when I was little, and being slightly scared but also totally intrigued.

4. You’re a Bad Man, Mr. Gum! : Again, I haven’t read this or any of the other Mr. Gum books , but Easton really likes them. I think it’s another funny, silly read.

5. The Harry Potter books: My mum reads these to my boys when she comes to visit. So far she’s read the first three books, and they have loved them. Quin (aged 7) can get slightly scared at times, but Easton can’t get enough.

6. Where the Red Fern Grows: I selfishly read this to the boys last summer because I wanted to re-read the story I loved as a child. It was one of my favourites! I will encourage Easton to read it again on his own, because it’s just one of those magical books, and probably best read on a sofa all alone, where tears can fall freely.

7. Tom’s Midnight Garden : I bought this book after receiving several reader recommendations to do so. We’ve only just started reading it, but Easton wanted to include it in his list and I have a strong feeling he won’t regret doing so.

Easton isn’t the most enthusiastic reader, especially when it comes to chapter books without pictures… but we’re getting there. He seems to be especially drawn to simple or silly stories, mostly featuring boys as the main character. If you have other book suggestions to share for this age group, please do so below.

x Courtney

p.s. You can see previous posts in this series here:

A recipe for pickled cucumber — so good!

pickled cucumbers by Babyccino KidsMy family has been making these pickled cucumber for as long as I remember. I used to LOVE them as a child, and now my kids (and all of our friends) eat them with relish too. They’re great as a side dish for dinner, but also wonderful to serve at cocktail hour. Plus, a homemade jar of pickles makes a nice present too!

pickled cucumberHere’s the recipe:

  • 3 kilo cucumbers
  • 0.75 l white wine, cider or herb vinegar
  • 0.25 l water
  • 1 kilo sugar
  • 2 sticks cinnamon (about 5 cm each), broken in pieces
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 or 2 cm fresh ginger, peeled and sliced thinly
  • grated zest of a lemon
  • 1 t.sp. white peppercorns
  • 2 t.sp. mustard seeds

Have sterilised jars and lids ready — depending on the size of the jars, I would say you need about 10 of them. (I like to use slightly bigger jars.) Peel and halve the cucumbers lengthwise and scoop out the seeds using a spoon. Cut in chunks of about 2 to 3 cm (1 inch). Pack the raw cucumber tightly into jars (you can really press them in!). Bring the rest of the ingredients to a boil an cook for about 3 minutes. Poor the hot liquid over the cucumbers using a funnel — fill jars to about 1 cm (1/2 inch) of the top. Screw lids on tightly.

pickled cucumbers

Now can your jars your preferred way. You can can by placing them in boiling water for 5 minutes, but I use the oven for canning: I put the jars on a roasting tin and place them in an oven of 150ºC. When the liquid in the jars is boiling (keep an eye on them!), I turn the oven off and let the jars cool down in the oven. There’s a lot of controversy on (oven) canning, but this is what I’ve been doing for ages and I’ve never had a problem with it. I use regular jars, but you can use special canning jars too. After canning, make sure the lids are closed well / popped down. If in doubt — eat those pickles first! You can keep the pickles at least for a year, but once opened you have to keep them in the fridge.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do — please let me know if you end up making them and if you find them delicious too!

xxx Esther

 

Hatch — layers and jeans

Hatch_layers

Hatch is one of my favourite maternity fashion brands — I love the way they design clothes that are wonderfully flattering and comfortable to wear during pregnancy, but also very much so beyond. I’m still wearing the pieces I bought when I was pregnant with Casper, and in fact, I just placed another little order from the Hatch Plage summer collection. (No, I’m not pregnant, nor planning to be!)

Hatch just came out with a new product called ‘layers‘, consisting of a basic black legging, a white tank and a long sleeved shirt. Designed to fit over your growing belly and made from the softest knit, it provides the perfect basic wardrobe foundation. Just throw over a trendy tunic, stylish dress or cool kaftan and you’re all set, in all comfort. It’s the perfect piece to invest in when you’re pregnant – I’m pretty sure you will wear it every day, even after your pregnancy.

Hatch_jeggingAlso — this Denim Legging looks perfect to me. This is the piece I’ve been (unsuccessfully) looking for throughout my pregnancies… so I’m glad to see Hatch decided to add it to their collection. So cool, pregnant or not!

xxx Esther

 

Thanks for your comments

What an unexpected and crazy ride this past week has been. I just wanted to thank everyone who has taken the time to leave comments both here and on my Instagram account. I have been overwhelmed by all the support but also by all the thoughtful and intelligent criticism. I wanted to let you know that your comments have really made me evaluate my own actions and beliefs, and I am thankful for a platform where we can discuss and debate parenting issues like this.

There has been a lot of media coverage highlighting both sides of this story, and while I think there are some important issues to be raised, I have also felt pretty exposed and vulnerable. A lot of stories have been very sensationalised, many of them have had incorrect facts, but this story from The Southland Times in New Zealand seemed to raise some interesting points (it is also one of the only papers I submitted quotes to). There is also a column in The Telegraph which, although mostly critical of my decisions, also highlights some interesting points, and for many reasons I enjoyed reading this editorial too.

Thank you again for all of your comments.

Courtney x

Loom bands

loom_bandsI’ve heard that loom bands have been around for a while already in other parts of the world, but here in the Netherlands they’ve suddenly made their appearance in the last few months. And now, they are everywhere.

If you’ve missed the fuss — loom bands basically are little elastic bands in a rainbow of colours, that are weaved together to form anything from simple bracelets to complex three dimensional creations. My children mostly use their fingers and different weaving techniques to make their bracelets, but there are crochet hooks and loom kits available as well. Little S or C shaped plastic clips keep the finished artwork together.

Both Sara as Pim are completely obsessed, and so are all of their friends. Pim has his entire arm covered in the plastic bracelets and is still collecting more! I do make him take them off in bed — I must admit that all of that plastic does gross me out a little. But then again, it keeps them entertained for hours, it’s creative, social, and fun. Plus, they can even be stylish – yesterday one of my cool friends was sporting a black loom band with neon details that she made herself, which made me want to get into my children’s loom band stock immediately and start weaving.

So, are your kids (or you!) on the loom band wagon yet?

xxx Esther

Marie Puce, for bigger and smaller children

Marie_Puce_tween

Marie Puce is a sweet and stylish French label, designed and ran by two sisters based in the heart of Paris. They have a lovely brick and mortar shop in the 6th arrondissement, and there’s an extensive (and newly revamped!) online store as well — for those of us not lucky enough to live around the corner from their sweet boutique.

* Beautiful sundress in a stunning bleu-grey colour, 100% cotton — hot pink Bensimon shoes — soft 100% wool scarf — simple yet stylish leather bag.

Marie_Puce_girl

What is so perfect about Marie Puce, is not just their good (French!) eye for stylish children’s fashion, but also — their sizing goes up to size 18 for most of the girls’ pieces.

It’s not always easy to find a good selection of clothes for older girls, so I’m super happy with the Marie Puce collections for older girls. (Sara just turned nine, but she’s so tall, she wears a size 12!)

* Cool jersey tee with raglan sleeves — flowery shorts with pockets and waistband — darling Liberty playsuit — red vichy check bikini in Liberty fabric

Marie_Puce_Boy

When I was browsing the renewed online Marie Puce boutique this morning, I just couldn’t resist the urge to make a few ‘my favourites’ boards for different age groups. Let’s call it a wish list. ; )

For the boys, there’s a smaller (but very simple and sweet) collection. Sizes go up to size 12.

* Braided leather belt — long sleeved and easy-to-wear Tunisian tee in 100% cotton — cotton shirt with a delicate pinstripe and Mao collar — orange 5 pocket bermudas – dotted 100% wool scarf – cool grey leather sandals

Marie-Puce_babyboyFor little baby boys up to two years of age (like Casper!), there are many perfect pieces… (Swoon!)

* Ensemble with shirt and linen bloomers – checked bib – darling sunsuit – easy jumper – classic shorts.

Marie_Puce_babygirl

And the collection for baby girls makes us very, very happy as well!

*Darling little Liberty dress – delicious bubble jumpsuit – traditional baby bonnet – flowery bib in Liberty rose.

Voila!

xxx Esther

A strawberry high-tea for Sara’s birthday

strawberry_high_tea strawberry_high_tea_13Sara turned nine (nine!!) a few weeks ago, so last week we organised a birthday party for her and her friends. I always ask what sort of birthday my kids would want (we’ve had themes like horses, knights, disco, cooking, sushi and a treasure hunt before), and this time, Sara came up with the idea of strawberries. A cute idea I thought!

So she invited 9 girl friends to come home with her after school, and we decorated the table for a sweet strawberry high tea. With finger sandwiches, cakes, strawberry tea, real cups and saucers, and lots of strawberries of course!

strawberry_high_tea_2 strawberry_high_tea_4As activities, we let the girls clean the strawberries for strawberry jam. They made labels for the jars, and together with Oma made the jam and filled their little jars.

strawberry_high_tea_5 strawberry_high_tea_9 strawberry_high_tea_6 strawberry_high_tea_11We also bought a terracotta pot and strawberry plant for each of the girls to decorate, plant, and take home.

strawberry_high_tea_7 strawberry_high_tea_8 strawberry_high_tea_10It was a lovely afternoon, and the girls (and Pim) had a wonderful time!

xxx Esther

Sadness and outrage and gratitude all in one

I’m finding it really difficult to write this post and I think it’s because I have so many emotions swirling around in my head. But before the weekend starts, I wanted to share what’s happened and also wanted to thank you all for your encouraging comments. More than anything it is this overwhelming outpouring of support that has made me so emotional.

courtneyadamo_Instagram feed_screenshot

Yesterday evening my Instagram account was disabled due to ‘violating the community guidelines‘. After a bit of research I discovered that if you receive too many reports of ‘inappropriate’ images, it sends a red flag to the Instagram team and their automated service will disable your account entirely, without warning and without notice. Last week I received five different emails from Instagram to notify me of these reports and to tell me they had removed images from my feed. They don’t tell you which images they’re referring to, and even though I looked back through all my old photos, I was never able to decipher which photos were removed. I figured it must be incorrect — I have never violated any of the rules!  Earlier this week I received another couple emails from Instagram to tell me they had removed more images. And yet, still I could not find any missing images. Again, I thought it must have been an error.

CourtneyAdamo_Instagram photo

On Wednesday evening I posted the above photo of Marlow in her yellow rainboots and her ‘big girl undies’. I wrote about how, despite me trying to delay it, she had decided to be potty trained, and how she had kept her undies dry all day. I thought it was such a sweet photo of my baby girl and her gorgeous, round belly (and outie belly button). And I love that her pride is so evident in the photo – such a sweet and innocent shot of a successful day of potty-training. On Thursday morning the photo was gone from my feed and a another Instagram email was in my inbox. At least this time I knew which photo they had removed.

I went back to re-read the guidelines; I read the entire page twice and was positive that I had not violated any rules. Unless a baby’s belly is considered ‘nudity’…but surely it isn’t! She is a BABY!  It is no different than a photo of a baby wearing a nappy, or a little boy in swim trunks, and to entertain the idea that it is even remotely inappropriate is a disgusting thing in itself. Again, I was sure there was a mistake, so I reposted the photo. And by yesterday evening my account was disabled.

I never, ever, ever would have thought that posting this photo of Marlow would lead to this. Instagram has deleted four years of my family photos and memories: all the photos of our travels, my children’s birthdays, all my notes and comments about my children’s traits and milestones, all the comments from friends and family, the messages I received when Marlow was born, the hashtags I created to help organise my photos, and all the direct messages I shared and received from my siblings and family members whom I rarely see. All of it gone. I am sick just thinking about it.

The most infuriating thing is that there seems to be no recourse for the unilateral decisions Instagram makes to delete accounts. There is no contact information, no email or phone number. It seems that an automated system has deleted my account, and I can’t get a single human being to review the case.  If anyone has any ties to Instagram or knows anyone who can help, I would be hugely grateful if you could get in touch or leave a comment below.

In the meantime, I wanted to say just how much all of your support has meant to me. I have broken down in tears several times today, and not because of my deleted photos but because I have been so surprised by the outpour of support, the kind comments, the Instagram posts and re-posts, the emails I’ve received, and all the help I’ve been offered. More than anything this whole ordeal has confirmed for me how wonderful the IG community can be, and it has made it even more difficult to have been kicked out of it.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

xx Courtney

 

Stylish UV rash vests for girls from Rockley Cove

RockleyCove rashvests
UV rash vest from Rockley Cove
We first picked up on the importance of rash vests five years ago when we took our first family trip to Australia. We landed in sunny Sydney, packed our beach bag and headed for the beautiful sandy beach. When we arrived it was evident to us, and no doubt everyone else, that we were the naive Europeans! Our children were the only kids on the beach not wearing a rash vest, or ‘rashie’ as they’re called in Australia! The sun is so strong there, and because you’re in and out of the water so much, sun creams are only effective to a certain point. We bought the kids their first rash vests on our way home from the beach that first day, and they wore them every day for the rest of our month-long holiday.

While I’ll admit they’re quite useful, and certainly crucial for adequate sun protection in certain parts of the world, the aesthetic part of my brain has always found them to be quite unattractive, often featuring big logos and ugly colours.

Enter Rockley Cove. The Rockley Cove rash vests are both practical and stylish. They’re made from quick-drying UPF 50+ fabric and include a high neckline to protect the neck and back. Handy and quite cute as well. We got them for the girls and they wore them on our recent holiday in Italy. I must say, they were the only kids wearing them on the Italian beaches (people probably thought we were Australian! : )) but it’s a lot easier than slathering sunblock on them every hour! (If only they would design some for boys!)

x Courtney

Nori Goes to Bed

Nori Goes to Bed book
I’m back on a book kick, can you tell?! ; ) I think it has to do with Marlow suddenly becoming a little book worm. I’ve been re-discovering all the toddler books on our shelves and it’s so fun to watch Marlow as she ‘reads’ them for the first time.

Nori Goes to Bed is actually a new-to-us book my friend shared with us recently and it’s become a big favourite. It’s an adorable book about a little cat who’s getting ready for bed with fold-down flaps to reveal the actions on each page.

nori goes to bed book2

nori goes to bed

The book is not an easy one to get your hands on — I found a used copy on Amazon, but if you can get one it’s a great little book for this sweet toddler stage.

x Courtney

Our little bath time zoo

zoocchini

It must have been over four years ago that I got cute animal towels for Sara and Pim, and we’ve been using them ever since, day after day. Sara the elephant and Pim the lion — it quickly became a tradition after each bath. So when Ava started to walk, we got her the zebra towel, and now we’ve gotten Casper the monkey — making our little zoo complete!

zoocchini2

I love how these towels (from Zoocchini) are so royal in size, made from thick cotton, and have adorable details like ears and tails. There are even little pouches in which the kids can stick their hands/paws.

Sara’s towel is sadly beginning to fall apart (not strange after all of these years of intensive use!), and when I told her it might be time to replace it, she said that she wasn’t sure it would be worth the investment — after all she might be getting too old to have an animal towel for bath time… Eeks! I figured it was time for an immediate  group photo before it’s too late!

xxx Esther

PS I might be getting the replacement elephant towel anyway, just in case. And otherwise it will be nice for the grandchildren! ; )

Quin’s favourite books (great for ages 4 to 8)

Quin (aged 7) had such a difficult time choosing his favourites! He wanted to choose practically everything on the book shelves, and had a hard time separating the books he loved as a young child from his current favourites now. He ended up narrowing it down… but still chose some of his longtime favourites, hence the wide age range. He has started reading beginner chapter books, and of course we’ve read some to him too, but when I asked him his favourite books he didn’t even think to choose those. I think he still prefers to read picture books if given the choice.

Here is the selection of books he chose:

 

Quin's favourite books

1. Bill and Pete, a funny little book about a crocodile and his bird friend, Pete, (who also happens to be his toothbrush). Quin also likes Bill and Pete Go Down the Nile and Bill and Pete to the Rescue. And I only just realised that this is the same author/illustrator who did Pancakes for Breakfast, which the girls really love.

2. Little Boat , a sweet story about a little boat in a big, wide world of water and adventures. Beautiful illustrations!

3.Derek the Deep-sea Doctor , a book that has remained a favourite for many years. (We love all the books by Leo Timmers .)

4. Amos & Boris , the most heartwarming story of a mouse and a whale (I have reviewed this book before here). We also love Sylvester and the Magic Pebble , also by William Steig – I remember reading it when I was a child!

5. Beware of the Frog . I think this might be Quin’s all-time favourite book. I remember bringing it into his classroom two years ago to read to his class and the entire classroom sat there mesmerised by this book – I even had parents come up to me, asking which book I had read because their children asked if they could get a copy!

6. Puff, the Magic Dragon , which comes with a free CD featuring the famous song by Peter, Paul and Mary. The illustrations are so beautiful, and I love that this is one of Quin’s favourite books because it was one of my favourite songs when I was little and I love singing him the song as we flip through the pages.

Quin's favourite books2

7. The Way Back Home and pretty much every book by Oliver Jeffers  (Quin literally selected them all – I had to force him to pick just one!).

8. Stone Soup by Marcia Brown. There are lots of versions of this story, but this one is my personal favourite and the only one my kids know. A favourite of everyone in the family.

9. Ira Sleeps Over , about a boy and his first sleepover with his nextdoor neighbour. Quin hasn’t had a sleepover yet, and I think this story appeals to him because it addresses the scared and insecure feelings you can have when you finally decide to do it.  (This is another book I remember reading and loving as a child!)

10. The Three Robbers : Quin was scared of this book for a while and then started asking me to read it to him recently (it’s funny how when something is a tad bit scary, it can really appeal to children because of the emotions they feel when they read it).

11. I Want My Hat Back , which is a silly book we all love!

12. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (not pictured), a story about a boy who has a really bad day for several reasons. A great book which really appeals to boys (I remember my little brothers loving this book as well).

Please feel free to share your children’s favourites below. It’s great for me to discover new books, but also handy for other readers too.

x 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

Perludi furniture: a cot, junior bed & ottoman (all in one)

Perludi Otto crib
Perludi Otto junior bed
Perludi Otto Ottoman
We were given a hand-me-down cot from friends when our first baby was born and it’s the cot we still use for Marlow. I think it must be at least 15 years old now, and it’s one of those cots that is ONLY a cot, and nothing else.  If I were to buy a cot now I would definitely definitely invest in a cot that transforms from cotbed to junior bed. I’ve always thought this is a brilliant, cost-saving feature.

I love the look of the Perludi ‘OTTO in the MOON’ cot because it goes one step further and gives you the added option of flipping the junior bed over and using it as an ottoman/sofa (with storage space for toys or whatever underneath). So clever! I like the sleek, modern design and love that it’s made from organic materials and is 100% recyclable (none of which can be said for the old cot we have!).

The Perludi range is available to purchase from Little Bou and usually ships (for free!) within 7-10 working days.

x Courtney

Simple tomato pasta

tomatoes and basil
chopped tomotoes for pasta
One of my favourite things about summer time is how much easier it is to make dinner! I’m not a very good planner, so in the winter time when you need time to make soups and stews, I often fail to get dinner made on time.  In the summer, with fresh produce on hand, it’s so much easier to make simple, delicious meals.

One of the easiest summer meals we make is a simple pasta with fresh tomatoes and basil. The only actual ‘cooking’ required is to boil the pasta. Other than that, it’s a bit of chopping and that’s it. Here’s what you’ll need:

-fresh, ripe tomatoes (preferably vine ripened)
-fresh basil
-garlic (usually 3-4 cloves, and I like to use fresh garlic this time of year)
-olive oil
-sea salt & pepper
-pasta (spaghetti, linguine or something similar)
-parmesan cheese

tomato pasta

Chop the garlic finely. Sprinkle a bit of salt over the garlic and crush garlic a bit to make it more of a paste (the salt helps to do this). Add garlic to bowl. Chop tomatoes and basil and add to bowl. Add a bit of olive oil and stir tomatoes to create a sauce with the tomatoes, garlic and basil.  Boil pasta and drain. Add fresh tomatoes. Sprinkle with fresh parmesan cheese. Enjoy! (So easy, right?!)

x Courtney

 

Win! This month’s great prizes:

Win

We have some amazing prizes to win this month. Did you already enter for your chance to scoop one up? Here’s what we have:

Famille Summerbelle is offering a bright pink laser cut map – an exact replica of the original hand paper cut of San Francisco. It shows all the interests and attractions of the City by the Bay, as well as some of the quirky side of San Francisco life. This map is beautiful, and worth £120!! Watch the making of the map of San Francisco here.

Tattyoo works in collaboration with renowned artists and emerging designers to create a super cool, diverse collection of unique temporary tattoos, so great for both adults and children. Tattyoo are offering a fab £150 worth of tattoos of your choice!

Toto Knits offer a super cute, fun collection of ethically made knits for babies and children. Their soft organic cotton is locally grown, spun and dyed to be bio-friendly and their adorable designs are hand-knitted by single mums in Kenya. Toto Knits are offering a $150 voucher to spend on their sweet collections!

Stuck on You offer a wide, super handy selection of labels for all your labeling needs. There’s also a handy personalised collection of items, like lunch boxes, personalised cups, bags, presents, etc. So handy, so fun — and so perfect for the new school year! Stuck on You is offering a £120 voucher to spend on their site!

Enter here for your chance to win one of these amazing prizes!

Tocotò Vintage at Brebì Little Concept Store

tocoto vintage from brebi


I am absolutely loving the lightweight, summery pieces in the current Tocotò Vintage collection. The colours are all so pretty, and I love all the subtle details. I got this dress for Marlow a while ago, and it has the sweetest criss-cross straps on the back that have little ruffles over the shoulder. Such a darling detail.

Tocotò Vintage is available from Brebì Little Concept Store where you can now get 20% off the Tocotò Vintage collection with discount code: tocoto. The discount is valid until the end of the month. Enjoy!

x Courtney

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