Tuesday Tips: photographing your children

say naughty words
Over the 10 years (!!) that we’ve been blogging, the quality of our photography has improved quite a bit. Cameras have gotten cheaper and better (can you believe there were no iPhones when we started blogging?), easy-to-use editing programs are readily available, and we may or may not have instinctively picked up a thing or two about photography.

Taking photos of our children is always a bit of a challenge though. There’s always someone who doesn’t want to sit still, who is not interested in smiling nicely (or not willing to look into the camera all together). Our friend Maud, a wonderful children’s photographer, has an amazing talent to set everyone at ease quickly and professionally, and take the most beautiful children’s portraits just like that! (Or so it seems.) So we thought we’d ask Maud to share her tips and tricks today. I really love these tips — fun and so easy to use:

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When capturing my own children in everyday life, I always ask myself: 1. Would I like to frame this scene just the way it is? Think about them playing together (without fighting!) and you actually don’t want to interrupt the scene. OR 2: Is this a beautiful setting and light and would I like to use this opportunity to get some nice portraits of my children in this nice scenery? Think about the beach, on vacation etc.

Scenario 1: uninterrupted scene.

When you’d just like to snap the scene, here are some tips to get some more exciting pictures than just you standing up with your camera/phone and clicking the scene from your point of view:
Get down on your knees. Get at the same level as where your kids are playing. This gives a much more interesting point of view. You can even lie down on your belly; get some floor/ grass in the foreground to create depth.
• Take a chair and take the picture from above. Sometimes the Babyccino ladies post pictures where it looks like they were floating above the scene – I love those photos.
• Snap just some details of their play. It’s very easy to just stay where you are and take a photo, but it’s much more interesting if you focus on a little hand trying to build a tower of blocks, or the hand writing their first words.

get to their level

details of play

So it’s all about YOU moving around and not kids! You change the point of view by moving around, making the photo more interesting AND move to get no disturbing elements in the picture.
• Always check your frame before clicking. Just a super quick check along the edges of the frame to see what will be in the photo. So you won’t regret the pile of laundry in the corner of the room later. Or when the kids are playing at the beach and the is a nice bright coloured litterbin behind them, YOU move to get the shot from another angle, without the bin. NEVER ask the kids to move, because than you disturb their play and they probable start acting weird around the camera!
• Also check the light. Where does it come from? Move around to get the best light. Close to a window, sun from behind (yes! Because otherwise they’ll squeeze their eyes and get big shadows under their eyes and noses, chin etc.).

Scenario 2: portraits

When you’re at a nice location and like to snap some photo’s of your kids, you preferably want them to act nice, listen to you and smile happily (dream on). Well, that almost never happens when a camera is around and a parent is the photographer. So here are some tips to let them have a good time while you click away.

light from behind
look mini mouse is my lens
• Try to look for something they can sit on. This way you won’t get weird height differences or the little ones start wondering off. To NOT let them pose you can try different fun things.
Play peek-a-boo: let them all cover their eyes with their hands and you’ll count 1-2-3. When you get to 3 they can remove their hands a scream peek-a-boo! You’ll have a cute photo of them covering their eyes + after peek-a-boo screaming, they all look happy cause it’s fun.
• Let them whisper a naughty word in the other ones ear. Giggles guaranteed! This also works really well when snapping a photo of the other parent with the child. Ask them to whisper ‘*naughty English word*’ in the parent’s ear and real smiles will follow!
• That’s also where the third person comes in: it’s super easy to get real smiles if someone stands next to the photographer doing silly dances, shaking their buts etc. Laughs for sure.
• If a child is fussy, propose to sing their favourite song. They almost all like that. But when singing you change a key word. So for example: marry had a little ELEPHANT. The kid will be surprised and starts laughing and say ‘nooooo not an elephant!’ and you say ‘oh I’m sorry! I know, mary had a little dog, right?’. And so on! The same you can apply by asking what animals live at a farm. After cow, chicken, sheep, you’ll say ‘and I know one: a giraffe!’. They love it!
• I love photos with bubbles in it. BUT be aware: little kids will always want to hold the blow thing themselves… so better not bring it or have them well instructed they can blow after daddy or someone else did.
• If you’d like to get a nice close-up of your child; get really close to them and keep the camera at your level and get them looking up a bit. Tell them peppa pig / spiderman / their fav character lives in your camera and they will stare straight in to your lens to look for it! To make sure they don’t look to serious or surprised tell them to look closely and listen good, because the character might let a fart (or something like that) and you do ‘pfffrrttff’. Haha I start laughing all ready writing this down!

 

The tips above are more general tips. We’ll share more technical camera tips in a follow-up post later. 

One Thousand Things, by Anna Kövecses

One Thousand Things 1

One Thousand Things 2

I knew as I approached the stand this was going to be a dangerous meeting. I had ‘eyed’ up the Wide Eyed Editions stand at last year’s Babyccino ShopUp event from across the room, and eventually gave in to temptation. I already had the Atlas of Adventures book and as soon as I looked through their catalogue I knew this would be the stand where I’d spend my Christmas presents budget.

One Thousand Things 3

One Thousand Things 4

Otto (aged 3) found One Thousand Things by Anna Kövecses in his stocking. I love books that simply help encourage first words and conversation with young children. Here a little mouse takes us on a journey to learn 1000 words – split into 7 sections. The images look almost like cut-out images with flat and bold colours which are very beautiful.

One Thousand Things 5
I have also found this book great for helping to teach my older daughter to read her first words and I have ordered this book a couple of times for new babies – I always like to buy a book for newborns and the simple graphics in this book make it a lovely book to look at with very young children. The book is available from Amazon (US and UK).

-Mo  x

Pretty Spanish dresses from La Coqueta

La Coqueta dresses
La Coqueta and flowers
La Coqueta spring dresses
La Coqueta headband
girls in La Coqueta
La Coqueta dresses and headbands
I was driving the kids to school the other day when out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a clan of the most beautiful children scootering down the pavement next to my car. From smallest to biggest, five small, smiling kids whizzed past me followed quickly by their mama, Celia Muños, the owner/designer of La Coqueta. I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself, because I’m sure she was frantically trying to get the kids to school, feeling frazzled from a busy morning (I’m only assuming), but from the outside, her sweet family looked so, so cute.

I think what I love most about La Coqueta, apart from the beautiful clothes of course, is that it is a brand started by a busy mother of five who designs every piece with an eye for timeless Spanish design, all the while knowing how important it is to find easy care clothes that will stand the test of time so they can be passed down from one child to the next.

Celia brought these dresses over for the girls when she came for tea last month, and with spring weather finally here, the girls have happily been able to wear them. (Oh, and cute cat-ear headbands too!)

Courtney x

All photos above are by Sarah Winborn who kindly agreed to snap some photos of the girls. This is not a sponsored post; I have chosen to write about a brand I know and love. 

Delicious Cantuccini (or almond biscotti)

cantuccini

My friend Erika from Mikodesign brought me a jar of homemade Cantuccini cookies recently, and they didn’t last longer than a day. They are SO good! She told me they are super easy to make, so I asked her for the recipe which thankfully she was happy to share. Here goes:

350 gram flour
3 eggs
200 gram castor sugar
2 t.sp. vanilla (or two sachets of vanilla sugar)
250 gram nuts and almonds (no peanuts), unsalted and not roasted
1 t.sp. baking powder
1/2 t.sp. salt
1/2 t.sp. baking soda
1 table sp. grated orange peel
2 table sp. liqueur, f.e. Grand Marnier

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with baking parchment.

Sift and mix the flour with baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium sized bowl. In a large bowl, mix the sugar, vanilla, the grated orange peel and the liqueur together with the eggs until slightly foamy.
Combine the dry and the wet ingredients to a heavy, sticky dough. Knead in the nuts.

Shape the dough into two logs and place them on the baking tray. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until lightly browned and still a little soft.
Take the logs of the baking tray and allow to cool (minimal 2 hours — it’s important for the logs to be cold enough in order to be able to slice them well!).

Now preheat the oven to 150°C. Cut the logs with a good bread-knife in 1 cm thick slices. Lay on an oven rack and dry for another 8-10 minutes until golden-brown.

You can (try to) keep these cookies in a closed jar for up to 3 to 4 weeks.

xxx Esther

PS this recipe originates from the Foods and Photos blog (in Dutch).

April give-aways!

April is nearly over but you’re still in time to enter to win the fabulous give-aways we have this month. These are really good, so give it a go if you haven’t done so already : )!

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Famille Summerbelle are offering one lucky winner both their choice of a paper cut map worth £80 (so beautiful!) AND a NYC birch wood tray worth £25.

little concept MR HR

Little Concept is offering a £100 voucher to spend on the cool new collection of one of their favourite brands – Mini Rodini! Enter below to win!

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Moccis slippers are made in Sweden using traditional craftsmanship, and this month they are giving away a family pack (2 adult and 2 children’s pairs) of funky, comfy moccasins! Will you match or will you each choose your own designs?

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VUPbaby are giving away a Beaba Babycook Solo to one lucky winner! This award winning 4-in-1 product steam cooks, blends, defrosts or reheats baby food – it’s an absolute favourite product for many, many parents!

For your chance to win, click over to our giveaway page to enter.

Picking daisies (and floral bloomers!)

Marlow and daisy
Billie Blooms bloomers 2
floral bloomers 2
marlow picking daisies 2
I recently signed up for a photography course with Lesley Colvin in an attempt to really learn how to use my camera. For years now I’ve taken decent photos in auto-mode (all thanks to a good camera and some good lenses), but lately I’ve become frustrated with the photos I’m getting and I decided I really, really need to learn how to use my camera in manual mode if I want better results. I’ve tried to learn by reading and taking online courses, but what I’ve learned about myself is that I learn best by doing and that I need someone to actually show me how to do it.

Ivy picking daisies
daisies

I’ve now taken one very enlightening class with Lesley (the first of a 3-part course) and I’ve been trying to practice with my camera all week. I took my camera to the park over the weekend and got some photos of the girls picking daisies — they were so focused on their daisy picking and crown making that they actually stayed still enough while I played around with my camera settings, and I managed to take a few photos I really like!

Also, can we talk about Marlow’s floral bloomers? Aren’t they so adorable? (This style is conveniently called ‘Marlowe’ so how could I resist?!) They’re available from Darling Clementine, and if you’re interested I curated some favourites from the shop this month and you can find them here.

Courtney x

The girls’ jumpers are from Babaà (Marlow’s is from this current season and is available online). 

Tuesday Tips: Teaching Multiplication Tables

teaching multiplication tables

After having finished with nappies, buggies, naps and mushy food, I have been confronted with a new challenge: homework, specifically multiplication tables!

Now, some children don’t seem to have to learn these by heart as they just know them (as someone helpfully pointed out to me), whilst other take a little bit longer, which is the case in my household. So I have become an expect of multiplication tables, though even I need to think a second when someone asks me 7×8 and 8×8 (they are the most annoying ones, aren’t they). Interestingly, I started trying to teach the logic around the multiplication table to my daughter until her teacher just told me that they need to be learned by heart, like a poem.

Here are some handy tips we’ve picked up along the way which have been helpful for us:

  • Tape the classic multiplication table up on the wall in front of the toilet and/or on the fridge (or other high frequency places in the home). I think everyone has one of these if they have a child around 8 years old. (Totally did not work for us, though it worked for some of our friends.)
  • Chanting and shouting the tables on the way to school. It’s fun and works really well, wether you are in the car or walking in the street.  The key is the rhythm, almost like singing a song!
  • That leads me to the most effective method I found: multiplication rap: We have been rapping ourselves through all the tables and with great success! I downloaded Multiplication Facts and Raps from iTunes but there are a ton of other options out there. The rhythm of rap and just the sheer fun of rapping, makes multiplication tables much more digestible. Again the rhythm is key.
  • Writing the table down, again and again and again. So painful, but if your child has a visual memory, it does help.
  • I also made a gird of 100 squares (10×10) and photocopied it a bunch of times. I then made my daughter fill in the squares (for the 3x table every third square and so on). With a child who has a visual memory it helps detect a pattern between all the numbers.
  • I explained that knowing and learning multiplication tables (and math in general) is just like solving puzzles or mysteries, just like a spy and an explorer. Somehow that helped ;)

That is all I came up with, but if you have any other tips on memorising, I would love to hear!

Emilie

Hair style: twisties

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Twisties (or side buns) have been my super-quick hairdo solution for my girls since Sara started to have hair long enough to work with (and that took years). They’re just so quick and easy and always look cute, even when they’re completely crooked (I actually like them better that way).

twisties_3 twisties_4 They’re so quick and easy to make. Just brush and divide the hair roughly in two (I personally don’t like the parting to be too straight). Then, start twisting the hair until it automatically starts to roll up.

twisties_5 twisties_6 twisites_8 Keep twisting and rolling up the hair until the ends. Secure with an elastic band. Same procedure for the other side, and voila!

twisties_2 twisties_1 It’s cute to add little clips with ribbons (the ones in Ava’s hair are from Analiv), or tie ribbons around the buns. If you have the time, of course.

xxx Esther

PS All the photos are taken by my talented friend Maud Fontein!

 

Oli&Carol natural rubber bath toys

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

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

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

xxx Esther

Pregnancy Yoga DVD by Nadia Narain

Nadia's pregnancy yoga

I’ve mentioned Nadia before (here), and in that post I wrote a little bit about how she supported me through my pregnancy with Marlow and how she transformed the way I view childbirth. I am certain it is because of her yoga classes and support that I was able to give birth in a way I had always dreamed about doing. Nadia’s classes are both empowering and beautiful, offering both the emotional tools as well as physical endurance to feel strong, grounded and capable of giving birth.

I’m actually just about to head over to one of her (non pregnancy) classes this evening (!), but I wanted to quickly write to let you know that her new pregnancy dvd is finally out and I’m so excited to share about it with all of you lucky pregnant mamas. Her Everyday Yoga dvd is awesome (my husband does 20 minutes of yoga with her dvd nearly every morning before work!), and is such an easy way to squeeze in yoga from your home whenever it is convenient. How wonderful for pregnant mothers to be able to practice yoga in the same way, from the comfort of your home and without having to pay for each class.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!
Courtney x

Room decór & accessories from Little Cloud

Little Cloud accessories
Marlow wearing headband
Marlow on her bed
The wall behind the girls’ bed was feeling a bit bare, and I was trying to think of what to hang there when I discovered these sweet name wire signs from Little Cloud. I ordered one for each of the girls and I think they look so sweet hanging on that wall. (It also, conveniently, put an end to the nightly arguments over which side of the bed they sleep on! Now they just want to sleep under their name!)

Little Cloud has the prettiest collection of bedroom decorations (cushions, garlands, mobiles…) which make really lovely baby gifts, as well as a sweet collection of hair accessories for girls. Marlow was playing on her bed yesterday morning and I happened to snap a few photos while she sat still enough to capture. I’m really relishing these mornings with just Marlow at home while the big kids are at school because I know these days are limited. (My other kids started nursery school at 2½, but I just can’t bring myself to sign her up yet… or ever! Haha!)

Courtney x

Marlow’s wearing the Liberty bow headband in the photos above, and her pretty chambray dress is from Velveteen

Aether Cone, a Thinking Music Player

Cone Thinking Music PlayerI’m sure every family is the same, but we love a bit of a swing in ours. Very often, after breakfast or dinner, we turn up the volume and dance in our living room. It’s crazy! We all join in, and it’s just so much fun. And very often, we end up with a big fat group hug in the end.

Also, sometimes when I’ve had a busy and difficult day, and I feel stressed and tired and my patience is low, it helps to get up and move, to be crazy, and sing along. Music surely is medication for the soul.

casper dancing on cone music player dancing children

It has recently become much easier for our children to initiate their own dancing because the awesome Aether Cone entered our house. The Aether Cone is not only a striking music player (in fact the most beautiful looking one I’ve ever seen), it’s also incredibly easy to understand and to work. Not only easy for me (too many buttons and screens put me off completely), but really handy for the kids as well! The only thing they need to do, is press the center button and ask out loud for any artist, song, or radio. Within seconds, the Cone will be playing their choice and our family will be in full swing!

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And last weekend, my dad was here, and he just had the best of times with the Cone as well. He kept thinking of song and artists from his childhood (the early sixties), and voila — the Cone followed his commands without fail. Just to indicate how simple and fun it is to work with!

I’ve also understood that the more we use the Cone, the better it will get at playing the songs we love. I’m currently writing this with some lovely random background music in the background — I just took the Cone into my office (it’s portable with an 8-hour rechargeable battery). On the associated app on my phone I read that right now I’m listening to Isobel Campbell, a Scottish singer-songwriter. Nice suggestion, I must say!

xxx Esther

PS This post is sponored by Aether, a company we respect for making beautifully crafted products that use powerful technology and simple, natural controls to make everyday moments nicer.

A personal uniform

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I just read this article about a woman who has decided to wear a “uniform” to work everyday, which was originally written for Harper’s Bazaar. I thought it would be fun to share, just because this morning I had yet again the work clothes panic: what should I wear? My daily morning routine involves getting the kids up and dressed and fed and getting myself ready for work. The amount of times I don’t know what to wear while I am standing in front of a cupboard full of clothes, seriously running out of time, is ridiculous.

I really fancy the idea of a work wardrobe that fits everything! How much easier would my life be? A girl I once worked with had a similar idea: she always wore a black top and a patterned skirt come rain or shine. She always looked so put together and it worked for every occasion.

My problem is that I worry I might get quite bored… but perhaps the practicality of the “uniform” would outweigh my boredom. What do you think? Do you have a work uniform that makes your day easier or do you just freestyle?

– Emilie

Sweet Smokks Summer Dresses (for mama and daughter)

smokks summer dresses

There’s something a little bit cheesy about matching mums and daughters outfits, but also something incredibly cute. Definitely cute. And especially these dresses from NYC based label Smokks. : )

smokks summer dresses smokks summer dresses

Hallie started Smokks a few years ago, after her husband dressed their daughter in her pyjamas for a ballet graduation, while she was away on vacation — because, as he said, he couldn’t deal with all of the buttons, zips and otherwise complicated dresses in his daughter’s wardrobe. I must say this sounds very familiar; my husband would totally do the same thing (or maybe, he would simply dress her in her jeans like he always does). Anyway — Hallie figured there was a market for effortless girls’  clothing: no zips, no buttons, no ribbons. Just a very cute and simple dress, a uniform, almost.

Smokks are, as the name implies, old-fashionedly smocked, but definitely have a modern feel to them. They are, as said, simple, but not actually as simple as it seems. I can tell that a lot of thought went into these dresses! There are deep pockets for treasures. The neckline is wide and comfortable, but flattering. The length (with royal hem) and the low arm hole means these dresses can be worn for years — layered with legging or tights and a cardigan for colder days. They are totally cute for everyday wear and play, but can definitely also be used for more formal occasions.

Hallie messengered over some dresses for our girls to try when we were in NY a few weeks ago. Since her biggest girls’ size is a size 9, she sent over a women’s size S for Sara, which is still a bit big on her… Haha, lucky me! I love it! : )

xxx Esther

PS I love Ava’s curled toes in the photos above. The photos were taken by Sara, by the way — roles reversed!

Tuesday Tips: Transitioning from one to two…

two boys

We’ve had lots of requests from readers to share tips on dealing with the transition from one child to two (or from two to three, etc.). It’s a tricky one for me to answer because it was 8 years ago that my second was born and my memory is foggy, but I wanted to raise the topic as a discusion and to try to gather tips from readers for readers.

I’ve said it before, but for me the most difficult period in the past ten years was the three months after my second was born. I found it so, so overwhelming to go from one baby to two — to have two small children with completely different needs, both of them needing me at the same time!  I just wasn’t prepared to be tugged in two directions like that and I think I cried nearly every single evening, both from pure exhaustion and from a sense of relief that I had survived another difficult day. I also remember wondering how anyone could possibly have more than two children! : )

My first two are only 22 months apart and my second was a colicky baby, so I think it was an especially tricky time. But I also think that there is something about this transition that is different from others, and that once you learn your way and master the multi-tasking, it’s actually not that much more difficult to go on to have a third or fourth baby. It’s a bit like juggling – once you learn how to juggle, it’s not that much more difficult to add another ball to the mix. (At least I found this to be the case — I would be interested to hear how others have found it.)

Here are some simple tips I can remember, but again I would really love to hear from mums who have done this more recently:

  • Cut yourself some slack. Don’t worry about how tidy your house is, don’t feel guilty if you cook scrambled eggs for dinner two nights in a row, don’t worry if your kids aren’t bathed every day — everything will be perfectly fine despite not being ‘perfect’.
  • Try not to feel guilty about the lack of time you give to your eldest child. Focus instead on how important it is to teach your child how to share the attention, and even more importantly on how wonderful it will be for him/her to have a sibling to play with as soon as the baby gets a bit older. (My second child started walking at 8 months and my boys were playing together from a really early stage. I remember seeing them playing together, or watching my eldest push the youngest one on the swings, and thinking that it was definitely ALL worth it!)
  • Use the baby feeding down-time to your advantage. Make good use of all that time on the sofa by reading books to your older child or just simply sitting still and talking to them, asking questions, or playing simple games while you feed the baby. (We had a stack of flash cards sitting next to our sofa and I taught Easton his letters while nursing Quin. It was something he really enjoyed, and it meant that nursing Quin didn’t have to mean time away from Easton.)
  • Allow your eldest to be as independent as possible. Velcro shoes and elastic trousers that your child can do and un-do himself are so smart. Also, keep toys in baskets on the floor, so they learn to access their toys on their own and tidy them up too. Buy step stools for the bathroom sinks so he can wash his own hands, etc.
  • Get out of the house, even though it’s difficult. I have always found that a simple walk around the block can do wonders for your mind, and that running small errands can make you feel like wonder woman! It might be tricky to get two small children out of the house and it might take twice as long as it did before, but once you do it, it feels so good and you feel so proud of yourself for putting in the effort.
  • Make friends with other mums who are in a similar boat. Esther lived just down the road from me when our second babies were born, and it was SO nice to be able to have someone to talk to and share tips and tricks.  Sometimes it’s just nice to admit to someone else that your day was really hard or that you’re feeling especially exhausted or that you haven’t been romantic with your husband in months, or whatever it might be. Most often, she’ll be feeling the same way and it’s nice to know you’re not alone.
  • Depending on the age of your older child, it’s probably a good idea to invest in a good double buggy, preferably one that isn’t too wide to fit into shop doors and one that folds easily to fit into your car/train/plane, etc. (We loved the Phil & Teds double buggy, but I’m sure there are loads of other great ones on the market now.)
  • Remind yourself how quickly time passes and try to enjoy those precious first months of babyhood. It took me until my third baby to really understand what my parents were saying all those years when they told me to stop willing away the time and to enjoy even the sleepless nights and busy days. It really is so true — you blink and they are big!

I hope these simple tips are helpful. Please, please share any tips you can add.

Courtney x

The photo above is of my boys when Quin was around six months old and  — the first time that Easton could push him on the swings. This was a turning point for me when things started to feel easier and when I could finally see the benefit of having two kids so close in age.

DIY: Dipped Wooden Spoons

Dipped Wooden Spoonds DIY

I’ve been eyeing the dipped wooden spoons for a while now and the penny pincher in me decided to make something similar on her own instead of buying them. And they turned out great, plus the feeling of making something with my own two hands is priceless (when it succeeds anyway).

This project is also one of the easiest but it takes a little more drying time. You can use some old wooden spoons lying around the kitchen already or buy new (I got a bunch of them from IKEA).

Dipped Wooden Spoonds DIY

The items you need are:

Wooden Spoons
Paint
Tape (I used Washi Tape)
Sealer
Medium (optional)

I wanted the make the paint as durable as possible so I used both the medium and the sealer. The medium I used is for textile and it worked great!

Dipped Wooden Spoonds DIY

1. Tape the line with a tape (I use washi tape because it’s the easiest to work with)

Dipped Wooden Spoonds DIY
2. Mix the paint with the medium (if you decided to use one) in 1:1 ratio and paint two coats (decide on weather you want to also paint the round end of the spoon) then wait for about 5 minutes and take the tape off before the second coat is completely dry – that prevents the paint to chip while taking off the tape!

Dipped Wooden Spoonds DIY

You can use a low jar or a glass to dry them in but put the spoon face down!

Dipped Wooden Spoonds DIY

3. Let them dry for a couple hours, put the tape on again and paint a coat or even two of sealer. And if you want the color to be really durable set the oven to about 150C and “bake” them for about 20 minutes. Turn the oven off and take them out only after the oven gets cold. Leave them rest over night before use.

Dipped Wooden Spoonds DIY

4. I decided to give the spoons a little facial as well and made them Beeswax Wood Polish after this recipe. That made all the difference! You simply rub on warm conditioner, let it sit for about an hour and wipe off the excess. You also don’t need to complicate as much as I tend to do and just buy one.

You can also do some stripes, dots, heart or other embellishments. I wanted to keep my first batch simple but will definitely play around more with the second one. Maybe a little bronze ends?

-Polona

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

New Spring/Summer collection at HATCH

HATCH maternity wear
The new spring/summer collection at HATCH has arrived and it’s as pretty as ever! So many pieces that are both stylish and comfortable. Whether you’re running errands or going out on the town, and in fact whether you’re pregnant or not, the clothes are easy to wear and flattering at the same time.
Hatch spring collection
The thing that’s brilliant about the HATCH maternity label is that it’s designed to suit and flatter a pregnant body, and yet the pieces work and look great even after pregnancy. Because let’s face it, our bodies change after we’ve had a baby (and, at least in my case, change forever) — our hips become wider, our bellies aren’t quite as flat, our breasts…. (sigh). The clothes from HATCH are designed to adapt and flatter with these changes in mind.
HATCH3
I’m especially loving the jumpsuits in this season’s collection as well as these comfortable-looking trousers. And, while I know it’s an investment, I really like the cool cocoon shape of the trench coat — a classic style that can be worn for years, pregnant or not.

Have a lovely weekend, everyone!

Courtney x

The sweetest hair bows from Free Babes

super cute hair bows
hair bows from FreeBabes
FreeBabes
Free Babes hair bows
Aren’t these just the prettiest hair bows? They’re all handmade by Etsy shop owner, Hillary Denham, who reached out to us recently from Colorado, USA. I just love all the different colours and fabrics, and I also love that the little schoolgirl bows come in two-packs, which is perfect for when your girls wear braids or little side buns (like the top photo).  So sweet!

Courtney x

Vriendenboek (A Friends’ Book)

Esther van de Paal vriendenboek Snor vriendenboek Esther van de Paal Julie Summerbelle Snor(All photo credits: Yvonne Eijkenduijn of Yvestown)

I’m super proud to announce a little project I’ve been working on with my friend Julie Marabelle (the super talented lady behind the well known brand Famille Summerbelle) and Snor, the coolest publishers here in the Netherlands: we made a Friends’ Book!

vriendenboek Esther van de PaalNow, if you’re not Dutch (or Belgian, or German) you probably have no idea what a Friends’ Book is… Our ‘Vriendenboek‘ (Friends’ Book) consists of 31 double pages with pre-printed questions — one to be filled out by the owner of the book (the ‘This is me’ section), the rest is meant for 30 friends and/or classmates. There are passport-like questions (like name, address, length, hobbies, sort hair, favourite school subject, etc), but also more creative questions such as ‘What is the nicest thing you and I did together’, ‘Draw your dream house’ or ‘This is what my bed looks like’. There’s  space for a photo, which is carried by a character in underwear that can be dressed with the cool clothes stickers that come with the book.

vriendenboek Esther van de PaalThe book is typically aimed at children of the age of 4 to 12 (primary school age), and the idea is that it’s a record of a specific year in your childhood, a record of your friends, but also of the zeitgeist of a specific era. My dad just emptied out his basement and he dropped of some boxes of stuff my mum had kept for me, and coincidentally I found my own friends’ book from 1984/85. It’s just brilliant reading the answers! Some examples: best film: Annie, E.T., Ghost Busters, First Blood (!). Best pop group: Wham, Duran Duran, UB40. What I want to be: Farmer, Housewife, Truckdriver, Horse Stall Cleaner. And goes on. So good! I wonder what has become of all of those childhood friends. I hope they are living their dreams! : )

vriendenboek friend's book vriendenboek06 vriendenboek friends' bookJulie and I have been brainstorming and designing to come up with a modern, cool and good-looking friendship book filled with fun and interesting questions, and it is finally here. And I’m so happy with how it turned out! The way the paper feels, the way the colours turned out, the quality of the stickers in the back — it’s all beautiful!

vriendenboek13 vriendenboek friends bookAt the moment, the Friends’ Book is only available in Dutch… You can get it here for shipment in the Netherlands, or here for international deliveries. And hopefully it will soon be available in English, and other languages as well!

xxx Esther

PS All the beautiful photos above are by my friend Yvonne from Yvestown. Thank you Yvonne (and your neighbours Josefien and Pauline, such sweet models)! And a big thank you to my Dutch blogging friends Bubbelmint, Oh Marie!, Moodkids and UrbanMoms for their lovely reviews. Julie also wrote a nice blogpost about our book, with great photos, here.

Bobo Choses — not just for kids!

Bobo Choses for mamas
Bobo Choses_jumping
Bobo Choses
I think by now we all know (and love!) Bobo Choses. Their collections every season are both fun and stylish with playful graphics and easy, wearable styles. But did you know they’ve recently come out with some pieces for women too?

I know it’s a little cheesy to match your children, but I have to admit that my girls think it’s really the coolest thing ever to match their mama. When we were in Portugal this past week the girls asked me every day to wear my yellow stripy skirt like theirs! So I finally gave in and we wore our matching outfits on the last day of our holiday, and it was really quite fun. Some silly photos here to show for it. : )

Courtney x

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