Happy 3rd Birthday to us!

This week we celebrate our third birthday of blogging! Can you believe we’re three already? In honour of our birthday, we will be devoting the week to all things birthday-related: party ideas, decoration, birthday gifts, birthday stationery, and other festive ideas. We will also each list our five favourite posts from the past year.

But before we begin, we thought we would remind you of some of the great birthday-themed posts we’ve already mentioned here on our site…

-Give good Karma — the best gift of all

-Mo’s cute ideas for a Toadstool Tea birthday party

-Cute decorative tape from Famille Summerbelle

-These super cute candle holders will make even the plainest cake look good

-Beautiful wrapping paper from Rice

-Make your own birthday cards with these great rubber stamps

-Birthdays are even better when there’s carrot cake involved

-These crocodile clothespins look great on top of goody bags

-Mo’s animal-themed birthday party and the matching goody bag idea

-Make your own birthday bunting, or if you can’t be bothered — just buy these!

-The best birthday crowns we’ve ever seen (we each have one!)

Babyccino Birthday — Kid O educational toys

Kid-O productsI went to a friend’s house recently and she had a large collection of the Kid O educational toys for her daughter, and I was so blown away by the beauty of the toys and also by the concepts behind them. Kid O is dedicated to ‘enriching the play and learning experiences of preschool children at home’.  They take a very Montessori approach in helping to create confident, life-long learners.

The Kid O collection includes beautiful wooden puzzles, stacking toys, sorting games and blocks. They’re the type of toys that look great on a coffee table, but are truly designed for the benefit of children.

Since we’re celebrating our second birthday this week, I thought I would mention these toys… they’re perfect for a 2-year-old!

-Courtney

Decorative tape from Famille Summerbelle

Famille Summerbelle tapeI just love these decorative tapes by Famille Summerbelle. I can see myself using them in so many ways… like wrapping up a basic gift box or package, creating cards or signs, or decorating a wall to make it more festive. I always like to keep stuff like this in my craft cupboard because with all the kiddie birthday parties we have these days, it seems I’m wrapping presents left and right. These tapes offer an easy and quick fix!

Famille Summerbelle also makes beautiful paper banners, good for party decoration, and of course loads of beautiful prints.

Aren’t those pink octopuses just so stinken’ cute?

-Courtney

Babyccino Birthday — Esther’s top 5

Of course ALL the posts were fantastic, but these I picked because of specific reasons:

1.) Real American Pancakes by Emilie, because we have been religiously cooking these pancakes for Sunday breakfast ever since Emilie posted about them. They’re the best!
2.) Poisson Rouge by Michela, because it’s just what I need when I want 15 minutes to myself — brilliant! My kids absolutely love this and so do I. Thanks, Michela!
3.) Crocodile Clothespins by Courtney. Such a wonderful idea and perfectly executed. I’m sure even Martha Stewart would be impressed. I am for sure.
4.) The Best Reward System by Sara, because I love this concept of a reward system in combination with (educational) family outings. A great idea!
5.) Paris Plage by Emilie, because we were in Paris this summer with the kids and followed all of Emilie’s tips from the Babyccino Paris city guide, and it was great! I just love the concept of our city guides!

Thanks for all your great posts, girls.

xxx Esther

Do all kids love birthday parties?

PartyI have two daughters, one who is 18 months old and just likes any old party, whether it’s hers or not, just as long as there is music, lots of kids to run around with and a general buzz in the air. She still prefers the wrapping paper as opposed to the present inside it and, in fact, is as happy to receive an empty egg carton wrapped up as she would be receiving an expensive gift. As long as she can make a mess, she is content… (you might be able to see that in the photo…).

My three-year-old is a completely different kettle of fish; her own birthday party is the event of the year. She has been talking about her 4th birthday party ever since she turned 3, so that means this party has been planned for a whole 12 months, which is longer then people have to organize the Oscars.

She invites random people on the street to her party if they are nice to her. If she’s upset at me, I am told, “You are not invited to my party anymore!” (there is no point in me pointing out that without me there is not going to be any party). I am so used to people not making a big deal about their birthday and even trying to hide their age, that this birthday party obsession has taken me a bit by surprise!

Are birthday parties this important to all kids?? Or am I related to the youngest party animal in the world?

-Emilie

Babyccino Birthday — Courtney’s top 5

It was so much fun to look back at all the posts from the past year.  And I have to say, I really fell in love with Babyccino all over again.  Here are my five favourites:

1.) The sound of silence by Dina, because we are planning a big ‘around the world’ trip this winter and I have a feeling those headphones are going to save our sanity.
2.) Merci by Emilie, because it just may be my new favorite shop in Paris, or the whole of Europe, for that matter.
3.) What did you do at school today? by Michela, because I have the same issue with my boys and that trick totally works!
4.) Easy tomato soup — from the cupboard by Esther, because it is THE easiest soup to make and it has come in handy so many times when I found myself with an empty fridge and a herd of hungry mouths to feed.
5.) Dream Big by Esther, because I really love discovering great new books for my kids, and this one is especially ‘awesome’.

-Courtney

Babyccino Birthday — Cheap and cheery decorations

lanternsI love a bargain. I always have. And so I was excited to discover the website (thanks to one of the stylists at work) Chinatown. It’s an online website that sells all things Chinese – such as lanterns, parasols and decorative boxes – for a great price. Plus, they deliver so you can shop during your lunch break. For Little C’s first birthday I bought white, aqua and red lanterns to hang from the ceiling ($7.95 each) and then filled party boxes with some of the smaller lanterns ($24.95 for 24 pieces) along with black paper, coloured chalk and lots of stickers and balloons. They were a huge hit.

-Natalie

Babyccino Birthday — Homemade Happiness, cute party supplies

homemade happinessOften we’re asked where one can find tasteful, cute party supplies.  Here in the Netherlands we are lucky to have Hema, which has a really good selection, but since it seems to be the only tasteful choice locally available, we seriously see the same decorations on nearly every birthday party we attend!
Then there’s Martha Stewart, who comes up with wonderful suggestions for homemade party decorations, but most of them involve complex and time-consuming craft projects which may eventually result in a well decorated house, but chances are that you’ll suffer a nervous breakdown simultaneously.

Now look at this: Homemade Happiness. Great downloadable deco kits for every birthday, holiday or other special occasion.  (more…)

Babyccino Birthday – Emilie’s Top 5

It has been really hard to choose my five favourite, but really fun to look through a year’s worth of posts! There were so many recipes and craft ideas I had forgotten about and will try to do soon. Here are my favourites…

1.) Carrot Cake by Courtney, because I have been searching for a good recipe for years and this whole time Courtney had the perfect recipe up her sleeve.
2.) Reuse your rubbish by Courtney, because since reading the post my girls and I have spent hours of fun crafting things out of our recycle bin.
3.) Do they always need a fig leaf by Michela, because I have just come back from a beach holiday in the South of France and I had forgotten to pack my youngest swimmers… it reminded me of this post.
4.) A quick quiche by Esther, as there really is nothing better in the world than a good quiche. I think even my kids would agree!
5.) Inspirational Ideas by Natalie, as I simply love the idea of drawing with water on concrete. It is simple, easy, free and fun. Just the kind of thing my kids love doing.

-Emilie

Cute candle holders

the small object candle holderI’m pretty sure I’ve never seen anything cuter! These wooden candle holders take the cake, literally.

They have a hole in the top for the birthday candle, and a stick in the bottom to place into the cake.  They’re ultra sealed to protect them from the frosting, and can be used year after year for every celebration.

The Small Object also makes the cutest wedding toppers, wooden magnets, and so many other cute things that I have just spent the past hour browsing and obsessing…

-Courtney

Babyccino Birthday – Michela’s Top 5

It was hard to choose as always, but it was also nice looking back! Here are my top five favourites…

1.) A tutu for you by Emilie, because I can just feel the relaxed atmosphere in that English cottage in the evening (and the tutu is great too).
2.) Homemade maracas by Courtney, because it’s such a great project, of the kind I never do with my children.
3.) Auto trash by Esther, because it made me discover such a smart product that all families travelling by car most likely need.
4.) Sidney’s little star by Natalie, because it’s great to discover that people all over the world share the same views and have the same problems!
5.) A walk in New York by Courtney, because I love this book and so does my son. It’s such a sweet adventure (and Courtney’s book suggestions are always great).

-Michela

Babyccino 2nd birthday!

second-birthdayIt’s hard to believe, but we’ve been going at this for two whole years now! What started as a private conversation between four good friends, four new mums with very little blogging experience or computer know-how (uh, ‘HTML’ you said??), has developed into an international blog and fun parenting reference. The four of us are still the best of friends, and we’ve added some great friends along the way (Sarah, our advertising expert, four new contributors in great cities, and not to forget all of you, our loyal readers!). We’ve learned so much these past years, met many talented people, discovered countless cool products and special places. Babyccino to us means having fun, having friends, and enjoying our families on a daily basis. We hope you feel this too!

So, in honour of our second blogging birthday we are devoting this week to everything birthday-related. We’ll also each share our top 5 favourite posts from the past year. We hope you enjoy!

Love, the Babyccino girls

Wooden stacker

Swedish Stacking Toy

I’ve been admiring this beautiful wooden stacking toy at my friend Kim’s house for the past two years. I love the simplicity of it, and the colors, and the fact that you can make so many differently-shaped objects.  When I asked her where she got it, she told me she picked it up in Moderna Museet — the modern art museum of Stockholm.  So I pretty much ruled out any chance of getting it… at least until my next trip to Stockholm.

Last week, however, I decided to investigate further… Perhaps the museum has an on-line gift shop? And maybe that gift shop would have those wooden stackers for sale AND ship them to London???  I really thought I was being overly optimistic, but I was wrong!  There is, in fact, an on-line gift shop which sells them! (more…)

Courtney’s favourite five!

It was so difficult to look back at the past year and choose only five!!  But here are my favourite posts from the last year…

1.) Why? by Esther, because I think she really hit the nail on its head with her description of the ‘why phase’. So funny and so true!

2.) Cash in the car by Emilie, because after reading her post about the Johnny Cash Children’s Album I ordered that CD immediately, and now it’s our absolute favorite thing to listen to in our car.  It even gets better the more you listen to it! It’s hilarious…

3.) Better than a bean bag… by me, because I really do LOVE that Karmameju cushion, and everything on their website is very sexy.  Plus- I just think it’s so handy for living in small spaces.

4.) A good investment by Michela,  because I love those Isabella Oliver wrap dresses. It’s like she said- they’re a good investment because you can wear them when you’re pregnant and also when you’re breastfeeding!

5.) Da Bike! by Esther, because it’s so, so funny, and because it’s so, so Dutch! It was also one of our very first posts, and so it reminds me of the very beginning.

Gift giving

Present1Of course I don’t remember my first birthday, nor do I remember my second or third one. A child’s third birthday is, however, a special affair, because the kid now knows what is going to happen: he/she has seen it happening to friends, and he/she knows it involves cake, a party, and more importantly: presents!
Also, he/she will not be merely focused on the wrapping anymore, but will have a profound interest in the actual inside!

I personally still love receiving gifts, and I also love choosing and giving gifts. You could say I am a very ‘gifted’ girl! (Just kidding!)

Thinking of gift-giving, I thought it might be interesting to mention how, in the Netherlands, we give gifts. It is different from other cultures, and it goes like this: (more…)

Michela’s favourite five!

Here are my favourites.  It was hard to choose — I learned so much this past year from these other three women!
Here we go:

1) Courtney’s “Book Binge” because that’s how I discovered Oliver Jeffers, and my son and I are very grateful for that.

2) Esther’s “Make a bus” because that’s one of the best kid’s projects ever.

3) Emilie’s “A Time and a Place“, because it made me laugh and made me realise I will have to explain a few things in the future.

4) Courtney’s “Kids and jet lag” because it took away some of the fears I have of crossing many time zones with my children.

5) Esther’s “Snow white“, because it made me cry and made me realise how poetic the view of an innocent child on death can be.

What a great year!

-Michela

Ideas for a party

martha steward

When I was little, my mum made sure my birthday parties ended up in ‘days to remember’. Although they were never overly organized and they never cost a whole lot of money, they were always great as they were primarily aimed at me and my friends (instead of my parents and their friends)!
I remember a homemade cake (helping my mum make the cake was already half of the fun), the obvious presents, and an afternoon spent in the garden with a small group of friends, playing simple games like ‘musical chairs’, ‘drop the handkerchief’ or ‘donkey’s tail’ — old fashioned games with little prizes as a reward for the proud winners! The grand finale would be a dinner just for kids, and it was always my choice of menu (I usually chose lasagne)!
I was talking to Emilie the other day, and her daughter’s third birthday is approaching rapidly (well, it’s in December but her daughter is already talking about nothing else). She was asking me for ‘third birthday tips’, or birthday tips in general.
Now, I prefer to have my kids’ birthday parties in my own house and prepare my own food and cake, but if your house is too small or you’re afraid of the mess (because a mess there will be, you can count on that!), it might be a safer bet to rent out a place, or to take the kids to an activity center of some sort. There are loads of great choices around these days!

For home birthday parties (for smaller kids), here are my tips: (more…)

Make your own Birthday Bunting

Bunting has had a serious revival in recent years. For me it evokes birthday parties, village fêtes, country weddings and general wholesomeness… and is so easy to make yourself!

To celebrate Babyccino’s 1st birthday my friend, Purvika Patel, who runs her own bunting making business, put me through a bunting master class. We spent a great evening putting together a simple bunting-making guide!

You will need:

-a piece of cardboard
-a pen
-scissors (pinking shears if you have them)
-scraps of fabric
-bias or ribbon

And here’s how to do it: (more…)

Eco My Party!

Eco My PartyI’ve already written before about my anxiety over the amount of waste we create with every birthday party… Can you imagine all those plastic cups, plates, cutlery, balloons, decorations, and party favors that end up in the bin with each party we throw? It really makes me sick to think how easy it is to be so wasteful.

It’s a good thing Helen Thomson, an English mom to two boys, decided to create a company which would make it easy to be eco.  Helen’s company, Eco My Party, is a no-fuss party supply shop which sells only eco-friendly products which will decompose in your compost bin after use.  It’s brilliant.

She sells everything you need to create the perfect party: balloons, candles, cups, plates, decorations, stationery, wrapping paper, etc.  All of it is biodegradable, and not to mention, also very stylish (think simple wooden cutlery, cute bamboo serving bowls, organic and fairtrade bunting, etc.).

This is one party supply store we should all be using.  After all, we want our kids to have many, many birthdays to come…

-Courtney

Crostata

crostata.jpgCrostata is a very simple, yet delicious, Italian cake. It has a base of pasta frolla which is similar to shortcrust pastry (but less buttery) and usually a top of jam, but you can also find it filled with apples, fresh fruit, custard cream and even nutella. You could consider it the equivalent of the American pie, and the many versions of it!
It is quite easy to make, not very messy to eat and all children love it – that’s probably why it is quite often the cake of choice at children’s parties.  My son is not into cakes at all, but he loves an apricot jam crostata.
You can find hundreds of recipes for crostata, all similar yet all different. They will vary in the amount of sugar and the number of eggs, and maybe also in the flavour you can add to the crust.
Just one warning: it’s a dessert that is nearly impossible to get wrong but is very difficult to get perfect. Like with all things simple.
What follows below is the recipe of my friend, Gianmaria (a man!), who has baked an incredible amount of delicious crostate. (more…)

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