A simple recipe for Madeleines

I don’t know if you are like me, but I sometimes have a favourite recipe that I make almost every day and then totally forget about it. I was recently tidying up a kitchen shelf and on it I found a long forgotten Madeleine pan ! Violette and I got straight to work and the results were delicious.

My Madeleine recipe is possibly one of the simplest I know:

-125 g of sugar
-125 g of butter
-150 g of flour
-2 eggs

Pre-heat the oven to 180° C. Butter the Madeleine tray. Cream the butter with the sugar until it becomes light, then mix in the eggs and the flour alternating. Fill up your Madeleine tray and cook until light brown.

Voila, there is nothing better with a cup of tea!


Beautiful textiles and easy-to-wear pieces from Little Lelia

Little Lelia was started in 2013 by two sisters with a shared knowledge of design and a passion for beautiful textiles. Having grown up in Mexico, Spain and Germany, the sisters were influenced by this multicultural background, combining the vibrancy of a Latin lifestyle with the attention to detail typical of German design. I love stories like this! I’m always secretly jealous when sisters get to work together in this capacity. I wish my sister and I could do the same!

Their wonderful children’s line is all about beautiful, patterned textiles and easy-to-wear pieces. Beautiful but also pragmatic, designed to grow with your child and be suitable for every day play or for more special occasions.  I got the Moon Playsuit for Marlow and it’s so adorable (you can see a photo of Marlow and her chunky little legs here). I’m also impressed with the quality, which I suppose should come as no surprise, as all the pieces are handmade by discerning manufacturers in Germany.

x Courtney

Beautifully designed Little Quote Jars, by Make History!

Ava will be four in less than two weeks! I can’t believe my baby girl is getting so big so fast… She went through a huge growth spurt the last half year, both physically and intellectually, and she’s rapidly developing into a little school girl. Sweet!

I love having conversations with her. She’s talking so maturely at times, but at the same time keeps making adorable grammatical mistakes, or is combining two words into one (my favourite Ava word at the moment is ‘clapplause’ — which she requests every night after she’s finished her plate).

Make History!, the company we know from the gorgeous Time Capsules, has recently come up with another beautifully designed product, the Little Quote Jar. A simple glass jar with an oversized cork top, with enough space to hold the (included) notebooks and pencil, and a slot in the top to ‘post’ your quote. I’m loving it! It permanently lives on our table, in close reach to us all,  so we can immediately write down all the funny things we say. (And it looks beautiful!)

xxx Esther

PS I loved reading Joanna‘s post of the sweet things her son Toby says. Toby is the exact same age as Ava!

New collections from Marie Puce

I think that the month of May is possibly my favourite month of the year, and the good news is we are still at the beginning of it. May means tidying away bulky coats and jumpers and making room for dresses and shorts!

The lovely Camille from Marie Puce sent us this beautiful dress a while back and it is finally warm enough to wear it! It is so sweet and summery and good for twirling, which is a VERY importing factor in choosing dresses in our our house. The new collection at Marie Puce is so cute! And, if like me, you’re hoping to pick up some new summery pieces, you can benefit from a generous 15% discount plus free shipping this weekend only! Enter code FSE14 at check-out!

– Emilie

Pim’s seventh birthday party — an adventurous treasure hunt

For his seventh birthday party, Pim wanted to organise a treasure hunt. I love treasure hunts at this age, because children are just learning to read and write and they love practising their new skills. But we wanted to take the concept of a treasure hunt a bit further and make it a bit more adventurous. So here is what we came up with…

Each of the invitees received a letter from the ‘Club of the White Lion’, along with a card with a few letters on it. The letter was addressed to the children personally, and explained the history of the Club, which had been around for centuries and had always consisted of a group of talented children, who each owned a necklace with a special secret badge. Sadly, the club had been dismantled in the ’50s of the last century, and had for the last time been seen in action in the neighbourhood we live in. The last member of the club had thankfully been able to hide the badges in a secret location, sixty years ago, and had now written this letter to a group of selected children, with the assignment to fulfil a range of missions which would lead them to discover the hiding place of the special badges. And to re-instate the Club of the White Lion! The receivers of the letters were summoned to gather at our address at the time and date of the birthday party, and bring the special letter card with them which would help them solve the first mission.

The concept of the letter was derived from the house we bought next door (and which is currently being renovated; we will hopeful move in this summer) — it was built in the ’50s, and had two white lion statues at the garden gate. We figured we could use the house as the place where the badges were hidden 60 years ago! The letter itself was written in adult language, to make it extra serious, and to involve the parents as well. We even developed a logo for the club! (Our babysitter Maria is a talented illustrator, she made a great lion drawing.)

And this is what happened the day of the party:

– While the kids were busy eating cake and handing out their presents, our neighbour (he’s in his 70s) dropped off little bags we had made for the children and a letter. We briefly explained the concept of the party beforehand and he was so into it! He had put on his long coat, a hat and his sunglasses. He said he had something for the children out of the name of the Club of the White Lion, which he of course remembered from his youth ; ), and handed over the letter and the bags. The children were so impressed! Pim didn’t even recognise our neighbour!

– In the bags, we put some items to help the children solve the assignments: A keyring with a key and a steel washer. A laminated card with secret coding. A little notebook and a pencil. Two strong magnets. A small candle. (We had sewn the bags the evening before and used fabric pens to write the name of the children on the bags).

– The letter which the neighbour brought asked the children to line up the cards they had received with their ‘invite’. The cards together spelled the name of a book they had to allocate in our bookcase. Inside the book, we had created a secret space by cutting away part of the pages.

– Inside the book, there were letters in code for each of the children. They could use the laminated code cards in their bags to figure out the next mission.

– The next assignment for the children was to find the treasure chest upstairs (my dad once made this treasure chest for Pim). We had put 11 padlocks around the locks of the treasure chest — each of the kids had to try the key they had found in their bags on each of the locks, until they had opened all the locks and the treasure chest would reveal the next letter.

– This time there were two letters, splitting the group in two subgroups. One group had to go to the flower stand around the corner and ask for the South African Lion’s Tail Flower. The other group had to go to our local hotel and ask if they were hosting a special guest, mr. Vanderlion. Each group received an envelope at their location after asking their mystery questions (and a lollipop of course). In these envelopes, there were scratch cards for each of the kids. They could use the washer on their keyring to scratch the card, and each card would reveal a word, together forming a sentence, urging them to go to a specific statue in our local park where they would find the next assignment.

– In the park we let them kick a ball around, gave them a drink and a candy, and meanwhile, suddenly the next letter of the Club of the White Lion was revealed. The group was split in two again, and each group had to go to a specific address (of friends) where they would be handed a special package.

– Each package revealed one of the two lion statues that once lined the gate to our new house. The accompanying letter asked the children to return the lions to their old spot, where they had been guarding the special badges for 60 years, and to enter the house to look for the next envelope.

– The next envelope contained a handful of white papers written on with invisible ink! The children had to carefully hold the paper above a flame (with adult supervision of course), which would reveal the next tip.

– We had hidden the next envelope behind the plaster of the house, and they had to use a hammer to demolish the plaster and to reveal this next envelope. (At this point, even Sara was convinced the whole story was true!)

– Now, the children had to find a key which was hidden underneath the floor…. In the hallway, there’s a hatch which gives way to the crawlspace underneath the house… (and where the gas meters etc are). The children could see a key through the latch, but couldn’t reach it! They had to combine all of the magnets in their bags to form a magnetic stick and use it to grab the key!

– And now, finally, the last step… Upstairs, there was the old safe, 60 years old… And inside, there were badges for all of the children. They had succeeded!

For days if not weeks, the children have been talking about this treasure hunt. I think this had been one of the most exciting things they had done in their lives! They wore their badges at school, and the parent said they talked so much about it at home… (Of course they heard snippets of the party — They had to demolish a wall? The had to unlock a gazzilion locks? They found lions? Etc. Funny!)

As usually the case with the parties we organise, this entire party was put together the day beforehand. We just came up with the concept the evening before that and wrote the letters/invites to the children so Pim could hand them out to his friends the next day (one day before the party).

Here’s a quick how-to for some of the activities (a big thank you to my sweet friend Erika from Mikodesign for her many ideas!)

– I created the secret code cards by laminating a code alphabet I printed from the internet (you can laminate in most copy/print places)

– For the scratch cards, we painted a few layers of black paint mixed with a bit of dishwashing liquid over laminated word cards.

– The ‘invisible ink pages’ were made by writing on them with lemon juice. The text will magically show up once the paper is put above a flame!

– The badges were made using good old shrink plastic — I traced the Club logo, cut it out, punched a hole and shrunk them in the oven.

We had so much fun putting this party together! And by all the feedback we received later, the kids had a great time as well. I think Pim will remember this day for the rest of his life!

xxx Esther

Dear Mom, Dear Dad — sweet activity books

Dear Mom and Dear Dad are two adorable arts & craft workbooks for children that encourage them to think carefully about their mom or their dad… and answer a bunch of funny, sweet and delightfully clever questions. Kids can choose, draw or write the correct answer to queries like ‘what is your mum amazingly good at?’ (in my case the answer was: cooking, baking cakes, playing on my iPhone, drawing and sewing), ‘what does she say when she is angry?’ (‘do I have to do everything myself?!?’), ‘what does dad do when he’s at work’ (read messages / glue stuff / play games / fire people / work on the computer / etc).

Your child will create an honest and adorable mirror that will make you chuckle, feel loved, and — thankfully — feel like a very stereotype parent at times as well!

These books make wonderful gifts to both children as their parents. Sara has been working on her ‘Dear Mom’ book, and I love the results: how touching is this portrait she drew of me? (She sees me SO much more beautiful than I really am!!)

Dear Mom and Dear Dad have recently been brought out in English, but the original books are in Dutch and available through SNOR publishers. There’s a German version in store as well! And age-wise… I think these books are best for 6-plus. Unless your child can read and write before that, of course!

xxx Esther

PS It’s Mother’s Day this Sunday (best to gently remind your family ASAP if you haven’t done so already!), and Father’s Day is coming up as well. (Hint!)

The Littles, handmade accessories for little girls

I’ve recently discovered this sweet range of handmade hairclips and accessories from The Littles. I love the bright colours and beautiful materials like pompoms, leather and tulle, and I like that they are simple in design but bursting with fun! Also, they’re incredibly well made with leather lining around the clip to prevent slipping and extra thread to secure everything. Ivy has even slept in the hairclips and they’ve stayed in place and survived the pillow thrashing.

All hairclips are designed and made by hand in a little studio in Brooklyn, NY. Accessories designer, Kirsten Yadouga-Schwinn, created the range after searching for hairclips for her own daughter that were super cute and super cool… but not super embellished with little beads, sparkles and rhinestones. The result is a wonderful selection of bright and fun accessories which are non-toxic and safe for babies and children.

x Courtney

p.s. Ivy’s wearing one of the hairclips in the photo of her in yesterday’s Peanut Butter Cookie post.

World’s easiest peanut butter cookies!

My mother-in-law made these peanut butter cookies for us when we were visiting over Easter, and I think I ate five in one go. They are delicious! So moist and chewy and crazily addictive. And the best bit? They consist of only THREE INGREDIENTS! How simple is that?!


-1 cup of peanut butter
-1 cup of brown sugar
-1 egg

In a large bowl, mix the three ingredients together until you have a smooth, consistent dough. Using your hands, roll dough into small balls and place on a baking tray, evenly spaced. Press a fork into the dough balls in opposite directions making a criss-cross pattern. Then bake at 350° F (175° C) for 8-10 minutes. And that’s it. So easy!! I’m planning on making them for my mom when she comes to visit — she can’t eat gluten, but loves cookies. She is going to be so excited about this recipe!

And here’s a photo of sneaky Ivy stealing a warm cookie straight off the tray! Yummmm….

x Courtney

Pretty girls clothing from Robe of Feathers

I love the easy breezy, beautiful girls’ fashion from Robe of Feathers. So perfect for laid back summers and bare feet! I love that it’s relaxed but also so pretty with all the special details.

Ivy has the Rabbit Dress, which she wore on our recent holiday, and it’s SO sweet with the knotted ties at the shoulder. I know I’ve already shared so many photos from our holiday, but here are a couple more (I promise this is the last of them!).

Robe of Feathers is based in Germany where everything is designed and made with love in limited quantities.

x Courtney

I’m speaking at Blogtacular!

I’m sure, by now, you’ve heard of Blogtacular — the super cool blogging conference taking place in London next weekend?! With talented and inspiring speakers like Joy ChoNatalie Lue and many others, it’s shaping up to be a really informative, inspiring and FUN event. I’m really looking forward to it!

I am also thrilled to announce that I will be speaking alongside other successful bloggers (Joy Cho, Allison Sadler and Annabelle Beeforth), discussing the ins and outs of the blogging business. I am beyond excited to meet these women, and feel so honoured to share a panel with them! We’re speaking on the Saturday at 1:30 (you can see the full Blogtacular schedule here) and would love for you to come!

Tickets for the conference are still available if you haven’t signed up yet. The event takes place next Friday and Saturday the 9th and 10th at the Royal Institution of Great Britain.  I would love to see you there! (Let me know in the comments below if you’re coming so we can try to meet up!)

xx Courtney

Our visit to Germany, and fashion from Macarons

We’ve just come back from a little mini break which we spent in Germany — such a wonderful country to travel through with children! I love how you can drive just for a few hours, and find yet another beautiful town, castle, park, palace, or museum to visit. There are plenty of lovely hotels around with convenient family rooms and great restaurants (always with a high chair, a kids menu, and plenty of friendly staff available). Everything is so well organised and clean, and people are so welcoming and kind. We will definitely be back, because there is so much more to discover in Germany!

One of our stops brought us to Stuttgart, where we stayed with Julie and Veit of the German eco-brand Macarons and their two sweet little daughters Cléo and Cécile. It was so nice to spend time in their lovely city, and hang out with them, of course. They really spoiled us! I also loved visiting their new offices, so nice to see all of their wonderful pieces together in one place. And to see all of the hard work in progress!

I recently posted about Macarons amazing fabrics and the 100% organic and ecological production process, which is really admirable and special. But they also create lovely fashion, with adorable shapes and patterns. One of my favourite pieces of this current collection is this limited edition skirt SARA, made from a vintage double woven Japanese Ikat fabric on one side and fully reversible to show the Macarons seersucker fabric on the other side. My sweet Sara received one namesake skirt as a gift from Julie and it looks just absolutely adorable on her! (Wouldn’t this skirt be wonderful in an adult version as well??)

And here are some photos I took of Ava a few weeks ago, wearing skirt Sara as well. And Casper is wearing sunhat Henni and pullover Paula, which is just perfect for summer! (And the way the stripes all come together in the pattern of the hat once again shows the level of detail of the works of Macarons.)

xxx Esther

Sweet yellow dresses from Ilovegorgeous

During our road trip from Las Vegas out to the Valley of Fire last week, we stopped along the way for a quick bathroom and diaper change break. The kids were excited to get out and stretch their legs, and they ran out to the road-side desert to pick some wildflowers. I couldn’t help but snap a few photos of the girls in their yellow dresses among all the pretty flowers!

The girls’ dresses are from Ilovegorgeous, which offers a large selection of clothes just for girls, including dresses for every party occasion (or, of course, for the occasional flower picking in the middle of the desert!).

Happy May Day everyone!
xx Courtney

Mabel Playsuit, the cutest thing ever!

Isn’t this Mabel Playsuit from Mabo Kids about the cutest thing you’ve ever laid eyes on?! There’s also a floral version which is equally sweet. Mabo Kids is one of my very favourite children’s brands, both for babies and bigger kids, and I am always happy with the pieces I get from them.

Anyway, I’m about to place an order and just thought I would share the cuteness with you. : )

xx Courtney

Our desert holiday

We’ve just returned from our holiday in the US and despite the dreaded jet lag (which always seems much worse when traveling back home in this direction), we are all beaming from a really wonderful time together in the sunny, warm desert. It’s incredible what a change of scenery (and weather!) can do for you! We spent 10 days visiting Michael’s family in Las Vegas, and managed to make some really great day trips out of town to explore the natural wonders of the surrounding area. It’s amazing how much the landscape can change in just a one-hour drive — how you can drive out of sprawling Las Vegas and within 30 minutes you’re out in the middle of nowhere with nothing but desert in every direction. I thought I would share our adventures in case you feel inspired to go on a little desert holiday of your own. Who knew a holiday in Vegas could be so much more about the great outdoors than the casinos and hotel pools?! (I hope you don’t mind all the photos…)

Our first adventure was a local one: Red Rock Canyon is just outside of Las Vegas and only about ten minutes from Michael’s parents’ house. I was so impressed by how the desert goes from dusty browns to vibrant reds in an instant. We hiked around the rock formations and the boys had fun chasing after lizards. We even saw some wild burrows at the base of the canyon!

Next, we drove an hour outside of Las Vegas to the Valley of Fire State Park. It was like nothing I have ever seen before! Giant rock formations in crazy shapes and in the brightest fire-red colour you can imagine. There are also areas with petrified wood and 3,000-year-old Indian petroglyphs. We spent some time at the visitor center which has some nice child-friendly exhibits on the geology, ecology and history of the park, and then we went for a walk out to ‘Balancing Rock’ as you can see in the photos above.

From the Valley of Fire we drove over to the Hoover Dam. We underestimated the distance to the dam so it ended up being quite a long day, but it was really cool to see the dam and the newly built bypass bridge that goes over it (900 feet above the Colorado River!). I was also so surprised by how low the water level is — if you look at the photos, you can see the white bits of the cliffs where the water level once was. I also loved the Art Deco design style of the dam – even the bathrooms were beautifully designed!

Our last excursion was my favourite: we drove 2½ hours out of Vegas to Zion National Park in Utah. After the long drive, we parked at the visitor center and took the shuttle bus deep into the canyon. We got off the bus at the last stop where the river flows out of the canyon and you can walk along the riverbank. We were all excited to get out and stretch our legs so we went for a long walk along the river. The sun was setting and casting a glow along the steep red cliffs above us, the air was still warm, the kids were all happy to have their feet in the water, and as we walked along we saw deer in the meadow next to us (which then inspired us to break out in an endless rendition of ‘Doe a Deer’ from ‘The Sound of Music’). It was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. I just kept thinking how lucky I was to be there with my family, surrounded by so much natural beauty. It turned out that the entire park has that effect – it’s just SO stunning, you almost can’t help but feel overwhelmed by it all.

We stayed overnight in a cabin at the Zion Mountain Ranch, which is a really charming little ranch with a great kid-friendly restaurant. The kids went on a horse-back ride in the morning before we drove back into Zion for more hiking. We then hiked the Canyon Overlook Trail which led us up to a viewpoint with incredible views over the canyon (see the last photo), so incredible that we just sat there staring for the longest time.

We had such a great trip and I’m so happy we were able to get out and explore a bit. We didn’t make it to the Grand Canyon like we had hoped, but it will be high on our list for our next trip. And at some point I really want to visit Joshua Tree as well, so if you have tips on either of these places (or any other great places in the area to visit) please share!

xx Courtney

Motion Factory

If you happen to be in Paris in the next few months and if you happen to like animation, do have a quick peek at the lovely little exhibition on at La Gaîté Lyrique, one of Paris’ newest museums.

La Gaîté Lyrique is the museum of digital art, but in this case, the exhibition is actually about the very opposite: hand made animation. It is a showing how stop frame animation is made and created in really cool way. I love it because it showcases the craftiness behind it all.

It is a perfect family outing, especially if your little offspring is a budding animator!

– Emilie

Cute collars from Mes Minis Muses

Sometimes it is the little touches that make an outfit come together. Take the sweet little collars from Mes Minis Muses, which are the perfect little accessory to make the simplest t-shirt or top look special, and I love the sweet nostalgic element they bring to my girls’ outfits.

Over here in Paris, we have been adding them to t-shirts and pairing the look with skirts and jeans. And I have been so very tempted to borrow them myself!

– Emilie

Louis le Sec, adorable and waterproof bed sheets

Sophie Remy, a mother of 3 children, developed Louis Le Sec — a classy range of bed linen that doesn’t only look adorable, but is also very functional. All children (and some longer than others), go through phases where nightly disasters are more likely to occur. During potty training, or when suffering from childhood illnesses, or simply when thirsty and helping themselves clumsily to a drink!

Louis Le Sec offers a waterproof, soundless and breathable protection that keeps your child’s bedding safe and dry and makes wet and dirty sheets easier to deal with. (And that’s a bonus in the middle of the night!) It is made from polyurethane, an organic molecule widely used in the medical world, which breathes, is elastic and extensible, absorbs liquids and also provides a cooling effect. It allows vapor molecules to pass but not large water molecules. So it is not only an extremely useful protection against liquids, but also a handy barrier against dust mites — perfect in case of allergies!

Colours and patterns of the bedding are really darling — unisex and simple, they would look lovely in any interior!

xxx Esther

PS Sophie is now offering and exclusive 15% discount for Babyccino Kids readers. Check here for details!

At the Same Moment Around The World…

We are currently on holiday in the US, where we are 8 hours behind London time… and suffering from jet lag as a result! The kids keep asking what time it is in London and if we would be sleeping yet. The concept of time zones must be such a tricky one for kids to understand.  It must seem so crazy to think that while it’s daytime in one part of the world, our friends on the other side are sleeping!

Which is why I immediately loved the look of this book! At the Same Moment, Around the World is a cute new children’s book which takes readers eastward from the Greenwich meridian around the world to the 24 different time zones. You’ll see Benedict drinking hot chocolate in Paris, Mitko chasing after the school bus in Bulgaria, and Khanh having a little nap in Hanoi, Vietnam. The book does a full circle and ends up back at the first scene having gone one full day forward. The illustrations are really sweet, and it sparks some interesting discussions not just about the different time zones but about the different people and and the things they do around the world. The book is available from Amazon (UK and US ).

x Courtney

Just say No?

In a recent parent-teacher meeting at my girls’ school, the teachers brought up some interesting points. They were not worried about the lack of support coming from parents, but interestingly were more concerned that, in the last few years, it appears parents want to be friends with their children rather than an authority figure. In short: parents just want to be liked by their children! While it makes sense to want your child to like you, the teachers were noticing that discipline was becoming less important to parents than being the child’s buddy. One example they gave was a parent dropping her child off inappropriately dressed for the weather. When the teacher mentioned this to the parent, the answer was: “But she really didn’t want to wear a coat, so….”. Another example was a kid throwing sand into another kid’s face. When the teacher mentioned this to the parent, the comment was: “But he really likes to throw sand”.

Courtney and I were talking about this a few days ago and we starting wondering: are parents of our generation getting a bit too soft on our children and is it getting harder and harder for us to use the dreaded word “no”? If so, what is the affect this is having on our children and the way they interact with others and respond to their teachers?

This is just a personal observation, but I am interested to hear if you have experienced this too, especially in other countries? I am not feeling in any way nostalgic towards the good old days when discipline was enforced with a ruler and a dunce cap, but I do believe there is a happy medium, where children don’t consider parents their equal but know which line not to cross.

– Emilie
PS Above are a couple of very old photos of Violette’s reaction when I once told her “No”. She did not take it too well!

Bob & Blossom

Ivy’s 5th birthday is coming up and I’m hoping to create party invites with a photo of her wearing the cool number 5 tee from Bob & Blossom.  Aren’t those number tees so cute with the bright stripes and bold numbers?! Ivy is so excited to boast a big number five across her front.

Bob & Blossom specialises in cute cotton tees for babies and kids, all-in-one suits for babies, stripy cotton dresses for girls and a vibrant selection of tutus to add a bit of frill and flair! Their new collection is especially cheerful with the sunny yellow stripes and bunting designs.

x Courtney

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