Happy Holidays shoot by Maud Fontein (again at the ShopUp!)

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Here are my four babies photographed by Maud Fontein for this year’s Happy Holidays shoot. They’ve grown a bit since last year, haven’t they? I’m always impressed by how Maud can take such sweet photos of all my kids — she is so wonderful, makes children so quickly at ease. My kids actually look forward to going over to Maud’s — they know they’ll be in for a laugh (which does have to do with the fact that Maud lets me sit on a whoopee cushion!).

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Maud also (very quickly!) took some portraits of the kids individually. So sweet. I love how their personalities show so well, Sara already getting so big…

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Maud will be joining us this year again for the ShopUp, and she’s already taking bookings for her happy holidays shoots. I love this year’s theme! So if you’re in London on December 3rd or 4th, you can have your babies photographed this way as well. : )

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Also — Maud will again be bringing these great Christmas Cards Toolkits (designed by Vivian from de Liefdesfabriek) to London. Filled with 20 cards, black envelopes, masking tape, stickers and a white pen — everything you need to turn your photos into a beautiful holiday card. As you can see, I already started mine!

xxx Esther

Waddler photo competition

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I don’t normally enter photo competitions, but here is one that I just can’t pass up. The prize is just too good! The chance to win a£1,000 shopping spree at Waddler plus a once-in-a-lifetime trip to South America?! I’m in. You too? Just look at that beautiful landscape above…

Waddler

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Waddler is one of my very favourite children’s brands. Their fair trade collection is produced in Bolivia from 100% baby alpaca wool, one of nature’s finest natural fibers, and is incredibly soft. The pieces have something very sweet and simple about them, yet they are wild and adventurous. And the colours are so gorgeously rich and soft at the same time.

Waddler has teamed up with PlanSouthAmerica, a British-owned and operated travel company with offices in London and Buenos Aires, to offer a once-in-a-lifetime trip to South America, the birthplace of Waddler and the inspiration for their designs. They’re offering one very lucky winner the chance to £1,000 worth of beautiful clothes and £1,000 towards an amazing family holiday in South America.

Marlow and Ivy in Waddler
To enter, all you have to do is take a photo of your children wearing their Waddller clothing and mail it to serena@wadler.co.uk or upload them to Instagram using the hashtag #waddlercompetition by January 25th, 2015. (You can read more about the competition here.) I took this photo of my silly girls (above) when we were in Soho last weekend. Those little outfits are just too cute!

Courtney x
p.s. Waddler is one of 40 wonderful brands setting up shop at this year’s ShopUp event in December.  So if your kids don’t already have a piece from the collection, you’ll be able to shop their collection there!

p.p.s. This post was sponsored by Waddler, a brand we have loved for years and a longtime member of our shopping portal.

Sweet alpaca pixie hat from Nuvola Baby

Marlow in pixie hat from Nuvola Baby
pixie hat from nuvola baby
And just like that… it’s hat weather! Did you also find yourself rifling through boxes in your basement this week, looking for all of your scarves and hats and winter coats? I guess we’ve been lucky with all the mild weather we’ve had all Autumn, so much so that I was a bit caught off guard. It’s suddenly dark and cold, and there is no denying that winter is coming. Sigh.

Speaking of hats, how sweet is this vintage-inspired pixie hat from Nuvola Baby? Adorable. And not only super cute, but each hat sold will buy 10 nutritious meals for a malnourished baby in Burkina Faso. Nuvola Baby are donating 2 euros from every sale to the Dr. Elvire Engel Foundation, a Luxembourg based NGO that cares for women and children in need in Burkina Faso (you can read more about the campaign here).

Nuvola Baby is one of the 40 wonderful shops taking part in this year’s ShopUp event next month, so you can check them out in person then. I can’t wait to pay a little visit to their booth. Such cosy products!

Courtney x

SipSnap drinking lids

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Leave it to a duo of mums to come up with something so simple yet so useful. After launching the hugely successful Kickstarter campaign, two mums, Sativa Turner and Michelle Ivankovic, have come out with a range of BPA-free, spill-proof lids that fit any cup, any time. The SipSnap drinking lids are to be used at home so you can clear out all the plastic kiddie cups taking up valuable space in your kitchen cupboards, or to be used on-the-go so you always have a sippy cup with you at restaurants or friends’ houses, etc. So smart!

There are two types of lids — the SipSnap TOT with a sippy lid or the SipSnap KID with a hole that fits any sized straw. All the lids are dishwasher safe, fit over any sized cup, come with a handy case so you can easily throw in your handbag, and come in a variety of fun colours.

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We tested out the SipSnap lids at Esther’s house last week and they worked perfectly. I loved that we could just slip on a lid over any of Esther’s normal drinking glasses, and my kids were safe to drink away without spilling all over her beautiful new house. : )

Courtney x

Our 2014 Gift Guides!

Screen Shot 2014-11-05 at 12.01.24It’s almost incredible that it’s that time of year again, but yes it is. Christmas is creeping up on us. Only 7 weeks to go!! Time to get organised…

We’ve tried to make selecting presents for the little ones in your life as easy as possible, by creating four Gift Guides filled with amazing gift ideas. There’s one for boys, one for girls, one for baby, and then there’s a super handy guide with adorable stocking stuffers as well.

So handy! (I’m the number one fan of these guides!) And If I can give you an idea —  you can also forward these guides to your family. Especially uncles love receiving these kind of emails ; ). Enjoy the guides!

xxx Esther

A new breed of ’boutique’ youth Hostels

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As you might have noticed we do love travelling over here at Babyccino. Being based in Europe, especially Paris, makes it particularly easy to jump on a train, into a car or even a plane and discover new cities and countries. I try to take full advantage of this, but travelling is definitely not cheap, especially accommodation for a whole family. We’re lucky enough to have a lot of friends spread over Europe that we can stay with, but not every city in Europe has a friendly bed for us to crash in. So I have gone back to my roots and re-discovered youth hostels. Turns out that they are ideal places to pack in a group of children and grown-ups.

Now, I have to admit that the youth hostels I have discovered are very different from the ones I stayed in during my days of Inter-railing across Europe. Gone is the flaky paint on the walls, the nasty neon lights and the horrendously uncomfortable mattresses. There is now a new breed of youth hostel — let’s call them “boutique” hostels — that have sprung up all over Europe and they are the perfect solution for traveling in a larger group.
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Casa Gracia kitchen
Last year we stayed in lovely Casa Gracia in Barcelona (pictured above). We were travelling with friends so we had a big room with a bathroom all to ourselves. It had all the advantages of a hotel (a great breakfast, a good inexpensive evening meal and a excellent tourist service) with addition to a kitchen that all guests were free to use. It was, of course, a lot cheaper than a hotel could have been (I believe it was around 27 euros per night per person).

This year we went to Venice and stayed at the Generator Hostel. Again we had a big room and bathroom that we shared between kids and friends.  The view from the room is across the lagoon over St Mark’s square, which is quite a breathtaking thing to see first thing in the morning. Again it was super child friendly, with a laundry room, inexpensive food and an excellent laid back bar and common area, great to relax and play in after a long day of sightseeing.

I also like the look of the Woodah Hostel in Copenhagen, the Plus Hostel in Berlin or the U Hostel in Madrid!

Have you ever stayed in a youth hostel with your family? Do you have any places to recommend? I would love to hear as I cannot wait to get our bags packed up again!

– Emilie

Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery

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kiehl's midnight recovery
When it comes to the world of beauty products, I’ve been living on planet Mars. If you read my beauty uniform post on A Cup of Jo, you’ll already know that most of the beauty products I use are ones that I’ve used since I was a teenager. I hardly ever try anything new. So boring, I know.

But when I was staying at Esther’s house last week, I discovered this pretty blue glass bottle of Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery sitting on her bathroom counter and I decided to test it out. The bottle promises ‘younger looking skin by morning’. I mean, even a Martian alien would be intrigued by that. Right?

I loved the feeling of the essential oils on my skin (a bit oily, but not greasy or heavy) and the smell was so soothing and calming for bedtime. I’m sure it’s a bit of a placebo effect, but I woke up feeling like my skin was happier and healthier looking. I’m ordering my own bottle right now!

Courtney x

Super cool art therapy colouring book


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I recently picked up this really cool colouring book, ‘The Art Therapy Colouring Book‘ for my kids and it’s been a huge hit. It mostly consists of very intricate colouring sheets full of cool mandelas and geometrical designs, which give the most awesome results — even if you don’t stay within the lines : ). Adults too will love the therapeutic exercise of patiently colouring in the patterns in this book and creating something beautiful along the way. I think this book will make a lovely (holiday) present — for bigger and smaller kids!

Available from Amazon (US or UK ).

xxx Esther

Handknit jumpers and pompom hats from Babaà

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Marlow and Casper wearing Babaa jumpers
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wool jumpers from Babaa

We’ve just returned from a road trip to Amsterdam to see Esther and her family, and I’m having such a fun time looking at all the photos from our time together. Eight kids is a lot of little people to feed and bathe and entertain and clean up after… but it was so much fun! It’s really so sweet to see how well they all play together and how quickly they settle in with each other, especially considering they only see each other once or twice a year. They really are such loving little friends.

Marlow and Casper were not entirely sure of each other. I think Marlow’s big personality is a bit intimidating for sweet Casper… but of course we’re still certain they’ll marry each other one day! ; )

We did, however, manage to take some sweet snaps of them playing together (and even a photo of Casper stealing a kiss!). They were wearing their cosy, new hand-knit jumpers and coordinating pompom hats from Babaà, so they looked extra extra cute. Don’t you agree they’ll make the cutest couple?! Marlow just has to learn that stealing Casper’s food and forcing him to hug her is not quite the way to win his heart…

Courtney  x

Elias & Grace Treat Week (and early bird discount!)

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Each season Elias & Grace puts together the most stylish selection of children’s brands, offering key pieces which have been carefully considered from each collection to ensure that everything in store is so effortlessly stylish, easy to wear and perfect for every occasion. In short, Elias & Grace has done the hard work so that you can easily shop for your children. There’s even a ‘bestsellers‘ page on their website where you could pretty much shop blindfolded and still pick out cute items!

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I love popping into the Primrose Hill boutique every season — to check out new trends, gather inspiration and pick up a few cute seasonal staples for my kids. And I love it even more when they run the occasional ‘treat week’ with a generous 20% discount. Yesssss!

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The Elias & Grace ‘treat week’ begins on Monday but we’ve managed to secure an early bird discount just for our readers so you can scoop up the pieces before they fly off the shelves! The discount starts today and will run until the 10th. Use the code: TREATBC14 at check-out. Now get going!

Courtney x

Your house on Kid&Coe!

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Founded by Zoie Kingsbery Coe a few years ago, Kid&Coe is a booking service that lets families rent out their house when they are away, so that other families can have the convenience of traveling to interesting places while staying in a local family home. Instead of going though the trouble of booking an expensive hotel room, or (if you have several children) facing the difficulty of finding hotel rooms with connecting doors, Kid&Coe offers you the opportunity to stay in a family house with children’s beds, toys, books, a kitchen filled with everything a family needs, highchairs, washing machines, etc. It’s SO much more fun to stay in a family house than in an impersonal hotel room, and it is SO much more practical as well!

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We’ve written about Kid&Coe before here at Babyccino Kids, but I wanted to tell you how great it is to list your house there too. Our previous home was listed on the Kid&Coe website, and last May we had an inquiry from a family from Singapore who came to visit Amsterdam and was interested in renting our house during the spring break. We decided to rent out our house and make a little trip to Germany for those days, to visit our friends from Macarons and some other cool destinations along the way. It was a really great trip and we discovered so many wonderful places. And… the best thing — the money we made from renting out our house paid for our little holiday! When we came back, it was so nice to find a sweet letter from the family who stayed in our house, telling us how much they had enjoyed our house and how their little girl had loved playing with Ava’s toys.

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Listing your property on the Kid&Coe website is super easy to do. The application process is straight forward, and the Kid&Coe team is so great to work with. They write great things about your house, and make sure the photos look fantastic.

Because we just moved house our current place is not listed on the website, but this is the flat we always visit in Antwerp when we go there for a very important work weekend ; ). I really recommend listing your house with Kid&Coe — it’s so easy to do, and so worth it!

xxx Esther

PS The first five people to list their property on the Kid&Coe website though Babyccino Kids will get FREE professional photography!! 

PPS We’re excited for Kid&Coe to be the main sponsor of our ShopUp event in London this December — we look forward to seeing you there and if you have any questions about listing your property on the Kid&Coe website, their team will be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Dressable rag dolls from Mamma Couture

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How cute are these rag dolls from Mamma Couture? They’re completely handmade and the faces are hand painted, giving them such sweet expressions on their little doll faces. All the dolls come with a few super sweet clothes, that can be combined in different ways to create cute outfits. They are also machine washable (practical!).

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Mamma Couture is one of the fabulous shops that will join us at the ShopUp this December 3rd and 4th. I can’t wait to discover her newest creations (and I think I will pick some stuff up for my kids for Christmas!).

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Also… Yesterday we mentioned the great give-aways we’re running over on our shopping portal, but did you know that we’re also having some great prizes to win over on our new ShopUp Instagram account? Right now, you can still enter to win one of these fabulous rag dolls from Mamma Couture (hurry, hurry!!), and there will be more fabulous prize to win soon. Check out the ShopUp Instagram account for details!

xxx Esther

This month’s very cool items to win!

We again have a few fabulous prizes to win this month! Have you entered yet?

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La Coqueta offer timeless, vintage-inspired and high-quality clothing, shoes and accessories, covering newborns up to age 7 and proudly designed & manufactured in Spain. This month, La Coqueta is offering an amazing prize: one winter coat PLUS a pair of shoes: one lucky winner may choose between the Arrieta coat for girls and the Nardo coat for boys, AND have the pick of the sweet shoe selection! Enter now!

ladida

Ladida is an American shop carrying the coolest and most stylish brands from all over the world. You’ll find such a wide range of styles and brands here (covering newborns up to children aged 14) — surely the lucky winner of the $165 gift voucher won’t have an issue picking out some cool items from this great shop! Enter now to be the one with all this choice!

louislesecLouis Le Sec offer adorable, comfortable and highly functional bedlinen that keeps your child’s bedding safe and dry. The waterproof, soundless and breathable protection is not only a protection against liquids, but also a barrier against dust mites — perfect in case of allergies! This month, Louis le Sec is offering TWO winners a £50 voucher each to spend on the item of their choice. Enter here!

Sycamore Street PressSycamore Street Press was started by husband and wife duo, Eva and Kirk, in their studio tucked in the picturesque mountains of Utah. Eva and Kirk love the craft of letterpress, and create the most beautiful letterpress cards, art prints, gift wrap, and other pretty things. They love working with materials and techniques that are sustainable and good for us. This month, Sycamore Street Press are offering one lucky winner a £100 credit to spend in their superb shop. Click here to share the love and win!

Good luck!!!

A sweet sheep alarm clock

slaaptrainer-samThis cute little sheep SAM is not only an alarm clock and a nightlight, it is also a very cute and clever sleep trainer. Apparently, young children don’t have a sense of time like us adults — for them, the day starts when they open their eyes in the morning, and it ends when they are put to bed. Simple!

When you have a little child who persistently gets up way too early and then refuses to go to sleep until way too late, this sheep can help your child (and you) to get used to a more grown-up idea of time. SAM goes to sleep when your little one goes to bed. He will actually close his eyes and his screen will become blue, meaning ‘it is time to sleep’. Half an hour before get-up time he will open his eyes and the colour of his screen will turn green, meaning ‘it’s nearly time to get up’, and 12 stars on the screen will disappear one by one, counting down the 30 remaining minutes. By the time it is OK to get out of bed, SAM will open his eyes and his screen will become white, and the child will know that it is now ok to wake his parents up!

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Ava has had SAM the sheep in her bedroom for a while now, and especially now that she’s at ‘big school’, she’s totally in love with it. It’s truly her little friend, sitting at her nightstand next to her little bed!

xxx Esther

Our trip to Venice

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grand canal, Venice
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Venice has always been at the top of my holiday wish-list, and yet, in the 11 years we’ve lived in London, we’ve never managed to go. It’s either spring/summer when it’s too touristy and overcrowded, or late summer when it’s too hot and smelly, or winter when it’s apparently quite foggy and cold (although I’ve heard it’s quite magical like this). So… when it came time to book our October halfterm holiday, we decided it had to be Venice! And oh my gosh, it did not disappoint! I think this holiday might be one of my very favourites, which says a lot coming from a girl who likes a beach holiday more than anything. : )

The kids were absolutely intrigued by the concept of a city floating in water — that the buses and taxis (even ambulances!) are all boats, and that you’re completely surrounded by water at all times (even dead-end streets lead you straight into a canal!). I was so impressed by the beauty and colours of Venice — for some reason I didn’t expect it to be so colourful! I always pictured it to be quite grey, like the famous Canaletto paintings of Venice in the National Gallery. How naive was I?

Like I said in my previous post, the thing that impressed us the most is the fact that there are no cars. It makes it such a kid-friendly city, to be able to walk freely in the streets and play in the squares. At one point we were sitting at a sunny table at a pizzeria, finishing our glass of wine while Easton was playing football with a local Italian boy, Ivy and Quin were drawing with chalk in the street next to our table, and Marlow was sitting in the middle of the square playing with a little spinning top. All of them within eyesight, all of them completely safe to play in the street. Michael and I kept pinching ourselves.

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Anyway, here are a few photos (okay, loads! sorry! I hope you don’t mind?) and a list of some of the highlights…  (more…)

Liberty print sweetness (and knee patches!) from Milou & Pilou

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We’ve just gotten home from a little trip to Venice, and I really can’t wait to share photos and a summary of our trip. I just looked through all of our photos on our camera (precisely 589 of them!) and don’t know how on earth I will ever narrow down a selection to share. That city is a photographer’s dream!

Quickly though, I wanted to share some photos of the girls wearing their little matching outfits from Milou & Pilou. They looked so sweet roaming the streets of Venice together, and I just can’t get over Marlow’s little knee patches. Adorable!

The best thing about Venice is that it’s completely car-free, which means kids can walk the streets, play in the squares, join other kids for a game of football, or colour the paving stones with chalk.  My kids had so much fun playing in the quiet streets — I wish London was like that!

More Venice photos to come…

Courtney xx

Arcachon

IMG_5146As the leaves on the trees here in Paris are slowly turning red, yellow and brown and summer is becoming a bit of a distant memory, I wanted to quickly jot down some notes about an area of France we discovered and completely fell in love with this summer. It is the Atlantic coast of the South West of France, just south of Arcachon.  A group of friends and us decided to go camping in an amazing campsite set in the middle of a pine forest with a view of the sea and Europe’s biggest sand dune, la Dune du Pyla. It was so beautiful and simple. I am not an avid camper and our little tent without any accessories looked a bit ridiculous compared to most people’s set up, but it was so much fun, no one cared (we often used the car as an extra room, picnic area and extra seating area).

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I picked up one of these little gas stoves and pots and we came up with some of quite successful one pot meals.
(The grown ups did sometimes go pick up a little tray of oysters and a cheeky little bottle of cold rosé to enjoy after the kids had passed out, so we were not really roughing it).

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Here are a few of the things we did: We stayed at the camping Panorama du Pyla, which is great with the most amazing view of the sand dune and the Atlantic. The bathrooms are spotless and there are a lovely couple of swimming pools and a little water slide. It is all very low key.

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We took a little boat over the water to the seaside resort of Cap Ferret and explored the Atlantic beaches and the still waters of the basin. We paddled around on these amazing little inflatable body boards we picked up at the local sports store.

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Finally we braved the big, though mellow waves down the road in Biscarosse and had some surf lessons with a nice guy called Paul. Even the youngest kids loved it. They looked so cute and felt like super heroes in their little wetsuits!

Surfers We will be back next year!

– Emilie

PS. my top tip for camping? Bring an eye mask! I think it made the difference between me being a very grumpy maman to someone waking up with a smile on my face!

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DIY: London Bus Piggy Bank

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Hi there, remember me? The SHOPUP is coming up soon (are you coming?) and I thought I’d help out these three super busy bees a little bit by contributing a few posts. Hope you don’t mind.

I got an inspiration for this one last summer in Slovenia in a cute toy shop Vanila Park. The owner has this cardboard London Bus that she made together with her daughter on display and I immediately thought about doing a piggy bank similar to it. I love how it turned out and I thought you might like it too.

Like all my crafts it’s super easy and done in under an hour – Tila can’t stay still for longer.

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The things you’ll need are:

Cardboard box (mine was size 17,5 cm x 12 cm)
Some extra cardboard
Glue
Scissors
Craft knife (optional)
Ruler
Red, black, white and yellow acrylic paint

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First measure and cut a piece of cardboard to fit inside the bottom of the box to make it more sturdy (those coins can get really heavy).

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Cut an opening in the top of the box big enough to fit the widest coin (for 2 Euros a 2,5 cm x 0,5 cm opening should do) and paint the whole box bright red.

Now cut out four circles about 5 cm in diameter for the wheels (black), two with 2 cm in diameter for the lights (yellow), two 4-centimetre squares and one 9cm x 4 cm rectangle for the windows and paint the pieces (white).

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Glue them on like in the photo above and start saving.  ; )

-Polona

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

Custom watercolour portraits from Sophie & Lili

Sophie and Lili painting
sophie and lili custom watercolor portraits
Artist Jennifer Vallez from Sophie & Lili recently sent over these sweet watercolour portraits of my little family, and I love them so much. I love that she captured my children’s personalities so well, and all of it based on a couple Instagram photos I have recently posted. My kids are especially fond of them — Ivy has already asked to frame them and put them up in her room. So sweet.

Sophie & Lili offer a custom watercolour portrait service so if you would like her to paint your family, she’s your girl. I just love that she managed to capture my family at this special time when all my babies are still babies. What a wonderful keepsake!

Courtney x

p.s. Photos above are taken from the Sophie & Lili Instagram feed.

Gorgeous fall fashion from Wee Mondine

wee_mondine_1Fall is happening here in Amsterdam and tights are back on! Ava was wearing these adorable Emile et Ida Cat Tights today which I got from the super stylish shop Wee Mondine, and I just had to take a few snapshots. How cute are those embroidered cats on her knees?

wee_mondine_2The gorgeous chambray skirt is from Nico Nico, and the blue checked blouse is from Makie — both from Wee Mondine as well. I love this combination which I’m sure Ava is going to wear so much this fall (and beyond)!

xxx Esther

 

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