De Vries shoes

Autumn is definitely upon us here in Amsterdam, so it was about time to get new shoes for my kids! And I succeeded very well at the new Dutch children’s shoe brand De Vries. Lilian, the designer and owner behind the brand, came up with one of the most clever (and cool!) concepts I’ve heard about in a long time.

When doing research for her new business, she brought all existing shoe types back to 10 ‘archetypes’ of shoes. These shoe styles vary from number 0, the sandal, to number 4, and 5, the trainer and the desert shoe, to the low and tall boots, number 8 and 9. (You can see all the ten shoe styles she came up with here.) And very aptly, she stamped the shoe style number on the back of the shoe, with a wink to the old fashioned bowling shoe.

Reducing the collection to these 10 archetype shoe styles, assures the De Vries collection of shoes is no-nonsense and classic in essence. But the cool stamped number on the back, in combination with fun variations within each style (like cool coloured leather and funky details like bright coloured zippers, elastic and laces), make these shoes ever so hip and trendy.

A last word on quality: all the De Vries shoes are manufactured in Portugal and have stitched through crepe soles, sturdy leather on the outside and gentle, soft leather on the inside. The shoes have a good and stable fit and are designed to last long: both in style as in quality.

xxx Esther

PS Check out our ‘Shoes’ Top Ten here!

Cheeky Monkey Home

Cheeky Monkey Home has the cutest collection of pillows, floor cushions and murals, all made from 100% wool felt and available in fun, bright colours. The designer, Holly, makes each piece to order in her studio in Belmont, MA (USA) where she hand cuts the felt appliqués, hand embroiders all the details, and then machine stitches the products to ensure durability.

I was in touch with Holly earlier this summer and she kindly sent me one of her Dala Horse throw pillows as a gift for my children, complete with a hand embroidered message on the back. I squeezed it into my suitcase and lugged it back with us to London, and it’s now sitting proudly on the sofa in our playroom. We love it!

I also really like the whale design and love the look of the floor cushions – so cute! All her products are made-to-order and available from the Cheeky Monkey Home Etsy store.

x Courtney

The Big Questions on Pregnancy

Tila is deeply, strongly and firmly in the “WHY WHY WHYYYY and WHY?” stage. She just wants to know everything in great details. And recently she asked me two questions that made me clear my throat.
The first one was how did a baby get into my tummy and the second one was where exactly does it come out.
On the first one I simply answered that mommy and daddy love each other so much and wished for another baby so he decided to finally come. She raised her eyebrows and asked again (by touching and pushing against my tummy – demonstrating) – “but how did he get in?!” Then I just said I’m sorry sweetie but I’ll have to answer that when you get a little bigger it’s not the right time since this is a topic for older kids. She was ok with that.
I really try to always give her honest answers – her age appropriate of course. I still have trust issues with my mum because she didn’t do that while I was younger and I don’t want that to happen with us two.
Then when she asked where will the baby make its exit I took a moment and decided to tell her the real, bare and unembellished truth – from the vagina (well, we have a cuter name for it in Slovenian that all the kids use but it’s the same thing) and after I did it I was kind of confused for a while and wasn’t sure I did the right thing but after I saw she was satisfied with the truth, kind of proud to know it I was confident I did. I just hope it doesn’t bite me in my be-hind when she starts a conversation about it at the checkout line in the store.

What are your thoughts on this? How do you answer these kinds of questions? Are you straight forward and honest? Or do you change the topic and hope they don’t notice?

By the way – don’t you love the pregnant mommy doll on the photo? I’ve been meaning to get one for Tila for a while now and I think it’s the perfect time now. They are from Frida Tierchen and come with a baby that is united with an umbilical chord (a cotton string), and there are magnets in both of them that allow the representation of breast-feeding! Every doll also has a carrier to carry the baby in after the birth. And if that’s not cool enough the materials used are wool, cotton and polyester filling from recycled plastic bottles. Perfect or what?


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

This month’s give-aways are awesome!

This month, we have some amazing give-aways!

  • Koeka are celebrating their 15th birthday and we are so excited that they are are offering two of our readers the chance to win a very special hamper. Each hamper will include a limited edition pacifier cloth, a newly launched lycra bodysuit and a cosy waffle wrap towel.
  • Almondella are giving away a three month subscription package to their boxes specially packed with earth friendly goodies for the under 3’s.
  • Marie Puce is generously giving away a 100GBP gift voucher. Their new autumn/winter collection is divine and their clothes are perfectly chic with a French touch.
  • And last, but not least, we have two cool prints and a gorgeous bodysuit from Mengsel to give away as well!
So enter now here for a chance to win! Good Luck!!

New collection at La De Dah Kids

I love the new collection at La De Dah. The large crochet softies are amazing, aren’t they? That whale is so cool!!! (I think I need it to decorate my boys’ bed!)

We have some of their baby toys and crochet hand rattles, and Marlow loves them. They’re really so cute, and fit perfectly into little hands.

I also love the look of the new crochet storage baskets (I think I’ve got a basket obsession), and of course the bean bags too.

The new collection is available online at La De Dah.

xx Courtney

My tips for travelling with young children

After a wonderful, lazy summer in the Seattle area with my family, we have just returned this week back to London. Every summer my husband flies out there with us, but unfortunately can’t stay the entire time… which means that every year I end up flying back home solo with all the kids.  It’s the teensy price I pay for a nice, long, extended holiday with my family. Totally worth the trek!

Plus, I feel like I’m getting kind of good at it by now. Or maybe it’s that my kids are getting good at it and that makes an enormous difference. In any case, I thought I would share with you some of my simple tips for (long-haul) flying with young kids…

  • Try to avoid the ‘oh my gosh, I’m flying for 10 hours on a plane with my kids –  I must pack every single thing I have in the house to entertain/feed/care/clean/change them’ feeling, and pack as little as you can. I used to bring the kids their own headphones for the TVs, and those neck pillow thingies for sleeping, and a change of clothes, and an entire bag of snacks. But it meant that I was carrying on at least two enormous (and heavy bags!). It made the schlep through the airport tiresome, and we often ended up not using most things. This recent trip, I packed one bag and tried to keep it as lightweight as possible. (You can also give your kids their own backpack and ask them to tote around the things they need for the plane – toys, books, snacks, etc.)
  • Use a baby carrier instead of a buggy. It’s so much easier going through security and navigating a busy airport if you’re carrying your baby instead of pushing them in a buggy. You can go straight through security carrying your baby – no need to empty your buggy, fold it up, have it examined by the airport security, etc. It also means you have your hands free to hold other children’s hands, or carry bags, etc. My favourite right now is the Ergo Baby Carrier .
  • We always eat in the airport before boarding the plane and skip the first meal they serve on board. It’s not easy holding a baby and trying to eat off your little tray in front of you. And inevitably one of your kids will need his meal chopped up, or will spill his drink in his lap, and you’ll have to get up to help… and it will be extremely difficult if you have your food on a tray on your tray table in front of you. Just skip the meal entirely.
  • Make sure your kids use the toilet before boarding the plane to eliminate any extra trips to the bathroom on the plane. It seems like common sense, but I have forgotten before… and there’s nothing worse than your child telling you he has to go potty when the plane is taking off and the seatbelt sign is on! (Also make sure to change your baby’s nappy.)
  • Pack simple, non-messy snacks. I like raisins because it seems to occupy the kids for a while, trying to grab little raisins out of the box, and they’re not messy. I also like to pack nuts or trailmix, snack bars, dried mango, pretzels, fruit, etc. Before take-off, I always have a box of raisins ready for the baby in case she gets antsy sitting still on my lap when the seatbelt sign is on. (I also still nurse Marlow… and that is a big help for calming her down, and keeping her ears from popping during take-off and landing. Nursing is the easiest thing, but if you don’t nurse, you should have a prepared bottle on hand for the same reason.)
  • Dress (you and your children) in comfortable clothing. I never bother with changing them into their pyjamas – I just find that it’s an extra hassle. Instead, I dress them in normal, comfortable clothes, and make sure everyone has an extra layer (like a hoodie or a cardigan) in case it gets cold. I always bring a scarf for myself because I always get cold on planes.
  • Don’t bring too much, but make sure you have some simple entertainment on hand. I have always found that once kids get to the age of 4 or 5, they are much more independent on airplanes because they can watch TV or movies. My boys are so easy on airplanes now. I don’t even think they got up to use the toilet the entire time on our recent flight from Seattle to London – they were either watching movies or sleeping. So… for children under 4, you will need to have some entertainment on hand. Things like simple paper pads and a pen, sticker books and colouring books (you can often buy them in the airport bookshops), and paperback books (hardback books are too heavy – leave them at home!). If you have an ipad or iphone you should make sure you have children’s games or books on there (see here for ideas).
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. People are always so sympathetic to mothers travelling with small children. Ask the flight attendants to help if you need it. You can even ask for help when going through the airport. One time I had to ask for help getting my sleeping children and bags off the airplane and to over customs because I simply couldn’t carry everything. Someone came immediately to help me and got me all the way through the airport.

I hope these tips were somewhat helpful and not just redundant things everyone already knows. Please feel free to add any tips I may have forgotten below.  And lastly, I’ve written my tips for beating jet-lag here if you’re interested.

xx Courtney

p.s. Photo above is of my children on the ferry overlooking Seattle, and a photo of Marlow in the Ergo carrier.


My family comes from the Limousin region in France, which is known for 2 reasons: for being the name sake for big, long, black cars with darkened out windows and also for being the originator of the clafoutis, one of the most delicious desserts ever made in France!

Now, I have to admit that for the last few years I had pushed clafoutis to the back of my mind, possibly because of having reached a clafoutis overload after many years of abuse. I am happy to say that clafoutis is back in my life and so far I have rolled out a cherry version, a plum and a pear version and it only has been 2 weeks!

Here is the recipe which is based on my grandmother’s original recipe:

3 eggs
300 ml milk
75 g of sugar
75 g of flour
40g of melted butter
vanilla extract or a pack of vanilla sugar
around 600 g of whatever fruit you fancy (traditionally cherries are used and the stones are always left in. My guess is that it means that there is less fruit juice mixing in with the batter, as the cherries are still intact, but this is only a guess…)

I usually whisk together the eggs and the milk with the butter and then add in the sugar and the flour. I then, if I possibly can, let the batter rest for 30 minutes or so, as I read somewhere this lets the flour absorb the fluid. Meanwhile I heat up the oven to about 180 degrees and butter a dish. I then place the fruit in the dish pour the batter over and bake for about 30 minutes or until it is nice and golden. Enjoy!

– Emilie

PS in the Clafoutis for the photo above I used Mirabelle plums, which are some of my favourites

Long Leo (by Suussies)

We’re in love with Long Leo! His arms and legs are sooo very long, so he’s extra fun to play with!

Long Leo is handmade from unique vintage materials so he’s completely one-of-a-kind. He can sit on the couch next to you, gives really good hugs, ride on your back even… What is also nice to know, is that he’ll stick around for a long time — he can just be tied to anything, so that you won’t lose him very easily! What a great friend!

xxx Esther

New Hatch Fall collection!

We’re nearing the end of summer… and we will miss it! Those juicy watermelons, the long days on the beach and the perfect picnics in the park. But, drinking hot chocolate after a long walk in the forest, and curling up cosy with the kids in front of the fireplace also has its charm!

Seeing the new Hatch collection online today really gets me in the mood for autumn. I’m loving the cosy, comfortable pieces that are so stylish and easy to wear. The gorgeous tartan flannel, the luxurious warm and soft cashmere pieces, the fun overalls and jumpsuits… Perfect!

xxx Esther

Handmade shoes from Yaya Lala

Yaya Lala is a new, London-based web boutique and label of children’s shoes.  Their shoes are all designed in London and handmade by a small group of skilled artisans in Brazil. Their design ethos is to share their love of exquisite craftsmanship by striking a balance between old and new — offering a modern take on a vintage design, all the while being handcrafted every step of the way.

Adriana from Yaya Lala generously sent this pair for Ivy, and it really is something special to see them in person. I love the colour combination, and that they can be dressed up or worn more casually (like Ivy in the photo, paired with shorts and a top).

The Yaya Lala shoes can be found in their web boutique here.

xx Courtney

The VW Combi summer trip

We have just come back from holiday and it was one of the best ever! There was no internet and no TV and lots of books and adventures. It is such a treat to get out of the big city and out into nature and have some time to roam…

I will share our adventures in the next few days but I wanted to give you a sneak peek of our trip of one of the things we did: we rented a VW combi from the ’70s for a week! We named it Orangina and it was simply so much fun. The camper had a bed in the roof you could open so the girls slept upstairs, I slept downstairs and we were free to roam and park up for the night where we wanted. The freedom was incredible! We mostly spent our time in the Dordogne, which is the perfect place for this type of holiday. The camper does not go very fast, so it is worth being in an area where there are a lot of things close to each other. It is such a cool feeling driving around in such an old car, you get used to the slow rhythm pretty quickly and other drivers wave and honk their horns!

I rented the van from a company called WeDubYou and it came totally stocked with everything we could have needed and I absolutely recommend them!

– Emilie

PS Important tip, if you ever want to go on a roadtrip in a VW combi, bring as little as you can, a pair of shorts and a couple of T-shirts for everyone is more than enough!

ColorQuarry — original letterpress announcements

Sending birth announcements is a wonderful tradition. Here in the Netherlands, one of the first things we do after a baby is born is to let the printer know what the name, weight and time of birth of the baby is so that the birth announcement can be printed and sent out as soon as possible. I love receiving them from my friends and family!

Aren’t these custom designed birth announcements by ColorQuarry just gorgeous? Amanda McCorkle started designing them from scratch for clients around the time her little girl Ada was born in 2010. I think they are so, so lovely — there is so much detail and originality in each and every one of them.

Amanda designs beautiful wedding announcements too. Do take a look at her Etsy shop!

xxx Esther

An (attempt at an) organised entrance way

With 6 people in the house, we have to deal with a lot of coats, scarfs, hats, shoes and boots in our tiny little entrance area. It’s so difficult to keep this area in some sort of order! This is how we organise our entrance at the moment (suggestions are welcome of course!):

  • A coat rack installed on kid’s height — so they can hang their own coats.
  • A second coat rack installed above coat rack number one, with 4 baskets hanging from it. One for each child — for (sun)hats, scarfs, mittens, shinguards, helmets etc.
  • Underneath the coats — pull out shoe storage.
  • On the wall — chalkboard wall stickers with the children’s sports and music classes
  • I keep sunscreen and umbrellas next to the door as well as a mental reminder to bring them if necessary

xxx Esther

My workspace on the Babiekins blog

I’ve been away all summer… and while I am so sad that summer is slowly coming to an end, I will admit that I am a little bit ready to be back in my home, back in my office, back to a bit of organisation and routine.

Elizabeth from Babiekins Magazine recently asked me to share photos of my home office. Looking at these photos makes me actually miss it a little. : )
You can see the photos and read a little interview on the Babiekins blog here. Thanks, Elizabeth, for featuring me!

xx Courtney

Keecie — beautiful, pure leather accessories

Keecie is an Amsterdam based small company  focussing solely on handmade leather accessories like bags, pouches, wallets and sleeves. The designs are characterised by the lack of lining — instead, beautiful screen prints adorn the inside of the leather. Shapes are original and simple, and the leather used is soft and strong and will only get prettier with time.

I love the look of the bags and the fun animal cases (and have been eyeing the wallets for a while already)!

xxx Esther

Stuck on You name labels

One of my friends once admitted to me that she spent at least one session with her therapist discussing her frustration about her kids continuously losing their belongings at school. If I remember correctly — I think that even her husband was present in that session! And I can see where she’s coming from — clothes do continuously seem to disappear without a trace, never to be found again. Winter is especially bad — isn’t it a fact that mittens (like socks!) prefer to lead a single life instead of being one of a pair?

My friend’s therapist, by the way, simply advised that labelling her children’s clothes should eliminate (at least one of) her stress factors. I took note! So this school year, I have started to iron name labels in my kids’ bags and coats. The Stuck on You name labels were very easy to iron on, and my kids find their personalised coats and bags the coolest ever! (So let’s hope they will make a bigger effort at not losing them!)

xxx Esther

Top Ten Lunchtime Utensils

Some kids are already back at school, others will start next week. And of course, young ones are still home or will be starting at nursery. In any case, casual summer lunches are over and set lunchtimes will soon be happening in either a home or school setting. This week we’ve rounded up ten great products to make lunchtime a more stylish, eco, and efficient affair! Check out our selection here.

xx Courtney

Hatch — relaxed and stylish fashion for mamas

I loved wearing Hatch clothing when I was pregnant. It is such a cool and stylish collection, and the pieces are so easy to wear and care for. I loved it so much, that after my pregnancy I continued to wear the pieces, which made the initial investment of getting them so worth it! This is why I love Hatch, they work for pregnancy, and beyond. I even got myself some new pieces this summer (and I’m not planning to be pregnant ever again)!

A few weeks ago when we were still in France, we went out for dinner and I wore some Hatch pieces. I asked my husband to take some photos to show you — Hatch really works, also when you’re not pregnant!

The cut of the pieces, and the way they combine, are also very flattering for post-pregnancy bodies and so, so comfortable to wear. (I’m wearing the Everyday Pant and the Button Down in the photos above.) Right now, the summer collection is on sale, so it might be a good time to invest in some Hatch pieces… pregnant, or not!

xxx Esther

Guess Who? And other fun games from when we were young!

It’s such fun to have children old enough to play games! We’ve recently been playing a lot of  ‘Guess Who?‘ — do you remember this game from when you were young? It was one of my favourites! We also have been playing ‘Operation‘, that silly game where you have to put the bones in the right place and not touch the sides (or else the horrible sound will buzz and the guy’s nose will turn red!). Another game I re-discovered is Pim Pam Pet, an old Dutch game which I’m not sure exists in English? And, my kids are still too young, but do you remember Scotland Yard? Or what about Twister? And have you been playing Monopoly with your kids yet? (I haven’t, but I think they are probably old enough.) Sadly, in my opinion, the new editions don’t look as cool as they did in the eighties…

Tell me — which were your favourite games?

xxx Esther

This Week…

Our summer holidays are winding down! Didn’t summer seem to speed by?!! Esther’s kids already started school this week. We can’t believe it! Here is a look back at the past week.

1. Marlow, she’s become such a little talker
2. Esther, back on her bicycle with her kids (and a picnic basket) in her Bakfiets
3. Jumping high in the sky! Fun!
4. Daily catch. Caught right off the beach in front of Courtney’s summer beach house.
5. Courtney’s kids on the ferry back to Seattle
6. Esther spent the last day of summer holidays at The Herman Renz Circus, the largest circus in The Netherlands.
7. Emilie’s little farm house she hopes to renovate some day
8. Courtney and her girls on a beach walk at sunset
9. Emilie’s last day in the French countryside – they’re headed back to Paris today!
10. Vivi and some friends, sneaking chocolate!

Happy Weekend everyone!
xx Esther, Emilie & Courtney

P.S. If you would like to follow us on Instagram, we’re emiliebabyccino, courtneybabyccino and estherbabyccino.

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