Aether Cone, a Thinking Music Player

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

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

casper dancing on cone music player dancing children

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

dance2 dance3

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

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

xxx Esther

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

Super cool art therapy colouring book

colour1 colour2

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

Learning to weave on a peg loom

ivy weaving

weaving loom

My sister just gave Ivy a Peg Loom weaving kit and it’s been really sweet watching Ivy learn to weave this summer. She’s intent on making herself a little handbag, which is one of the projects recommended in the loom kit. I’m kind of hoping we can buy some pretty yarns and make some weaved wall hangings, perhaps with some driftwood found on the beach (I was feeling inspired yesterday when I saw this photo on Instagram). In either case, it’s a great summertime project (for both of us).  The PegLoom kit comes with everything you need to get started, including yarn and a weaving needle.

x Courtney

Knitting loom

Have you ever heard of a knitting loom? Well, I had not, at least until recently, when I had the chance to catch up with Erika from Miko Design. She told me how she discovered knitting again, thanks to these nifty little things.They are sold at HEMA over here in France and in the Netherlands. You can also get them off Amazon.
Since then we have been looming away at our house – it is seriously easy and strangely addictive. Both my girls now have a new pair of leg warmers and we are in the process of making a poncho. Hilariously, we have no idea what size it is going to be, so it might become a present for baby Marlow or fit Coco perfectly, who is now 8.

As you can tell, we are weaving loom novices, but YouTube is full of knitting loom tutorials, as, for example, this one or this one on how to knit a hat.


Have fun, it is a great way to get back into knitting or, in fact, learn how to knit!

– Emilie
P.S. The lovely jumpers the girls are wearing were not knitted on a knitting loom but are from Babaa Knitwear.

The Little Tings… baking Pepernoten!

This week for The Little Things, Ava and her cute little friend Juul are showing you how easy and fun it is to make your own pepernoten, and how tasty they are to eat afterwards! Pepernoten (the literal translation is ‘peppernuts’) are a typically Dutch delicacy that traditionally is eaten this time of year, when Sinterklaas is in the country. They are actually crunchy mini cookies, and taste a bit like gingerbread… Super delicious!

Here is a wonderful how-to recipe card for you, drawn by Sara Mush, and which of course can be downloaded for free here. Making pepernoten is a perfect afternoon activity for children of all ages — it’s fun and easy to do, with fast and delicious results!

xxx Esther

PS –  This is the fourth post in a series which is called ‘The Little Things’. Thank you Maud Fontein for taking beautiful photos in your wonderful house, and Sara Musch for the beautiful download. Ava’s dress is from La Coqueta, and the aprons are made from a dishtowel, check the recent post here for the how-to.

The ShopUp – fun activities for kids!

We’ve told you about all the fabulous shops you’ll find at The ShopUp, and it is surely going to be THE shopping event of the year!! But we also wanted to share all the fun activities we’ve lined up to keep your kiddos entertained and to ensure a super fun family day out. Here’s what we’ve lined up:

  • Free children’s manicures from Little BU
  • Fun and festive music from a variety of musicians
  • A colouring wall and crafting corner by Anorak Magazine
  • Free temporary tattoos from Tattyoo, including our very own ShopUp puppy dog design (see above)!
  • A reading corner and book nook by Big Picture Press (they’re even bringing in some of their talented illustrators to offer cute craft ideas and drawing sessions for children, and of course you can buy all of their great books too)
  • Ruby Violet will have their famous 1960s ice cream van parked outside, selling their delicious homemade ice creams and desserts!
  • The talented children’s portrait photographer, Maud Fontein,  will set up a festive photo booth and will be taking family photos (the perfect opportunity to get your holiday photos taken!).

Doesn’t it sound like so much fun?! We can’t wait to see you and your little ones there! (For location address and opening times, click here.)

xx Courtney & Esther

Giant colouring picture from KEK Amsterdam

Last week, when we were spending the week together in the Belgian Ardennes, the kids had a lot of fun with the giant colouring picture from KEK Amsterdam. These super sized colouring pictures (91.4 x 150 cm, or 3′ x 5′) come in three varieties: ‘In the Forest’ with beautiful images of trees, birdhouses and hummingbirds, ‘In the City’ with many facades, roofs, traffic and signs, and ‘To the Stars’ with robots and space ships and tons of technical details.

Even though we were so, so lucky with the weather last week (at times it felt like summer, and we even had two barbecues!), the kids spent countless hours around their colouring poster, sometimes by themselves, sometimes all together (see photo below).

These posters are such a great present idea, I’m sure they will definitely keep a lot of kids entertained in the cold and dark months to come! (Also, they come folded and sealed in A4 size, so they’re super easy to send as presents by post).

xxx Esther

TA DA at the Centre Pompidou

Last weekend Esther and co were in town, which was a serious amount of fun! It was so great catching up, though at the end of the weekend we did start wondering what we should do, as it was literally pouring with rain the whole time. That being said, finding things to do in Paris is not very hard…. We all wrapped up and headed over to the Pompidou Centre, specifically the Children’s Gallery, which is hosting a brilliant, interactive exhibition: Ta-Da!

The artist Navid Nuur wants kids to learn again about how to play and create with everyday objects and see the beauty in them. It is really well done — I think everyone’s favourite was the 3 columns filled with play dough or the machine that made medals out of a 5 cent piece.

The Centre Pompidou is, by the way, one of my favourite places to take visitors. It has such a great view over Paris, the permanent exhibition is amazing, as are more of the temporary ones, and, not to forget, the gift and book shop are full of beautiful bits and pieces. (I do love a good museum shop!)

– Emilie

The photo is of little Ava arriving into the Centre, complete with rain coat and umbrella.


Way back when, we lived in the USA. I was around 8 years old and I still remember it as clear as day, it made such a huge impression on me. I mean, the ice cream shop carried 33 different flavours of ice-cream and we got to eat our lunch at school wrapped up in a brown paper bag!

But I do think my most favourite memory is the trip we took around the US in a big old Chevy and went camping everywhere from Dakota to Colorado. It was so much fun (the first night we put up our tents, the family in the next tent heard us jabbering away in French and invited us over to eat our first ever smores!).

Anyway, my brother and I spent a lot of time in the back of the car on that journey and there were exactly two things that kept us from skinning each other alive: Uno and Mastermind. Do you remember this game? It’s a great strategy game in which you need to guess your opponents code, so it is a bit like breaking the enigma code, but for 7 year olds. It is addictive and perfect for 2 siblings, especially those with a competitive streak in them!

– Emilie

Extra fun with ++PlusPlus

My kids have a new obsession and it’s called PlusPlus. PlusPlus consists of super simple puzzle-like building block shapes that can be combined to create an endless array of 2 and 3 dimensional creations, and seriously calls for hours and hours of building fun. PlusPlus is equally attractive to boys and girls, young and old — it can be played with alone, or with friends. My kids bring pieces of PlusPlus everywhere — they can’t stop playing with it!

PlusPlus is well known in Denmark but is still fairly new to the rest of the world. The distributer in the US is Geared for Imagination, and I’ve also spotted it in one of our new and very cool boutiques, The Kid Who. A real recommendation for a Christmas present!

xxx Esther

DIY: your own wrapping paper

The holidays are around the corner and with it loads of presents to wrap. This craft project is a good idea to spend an afternoon with and it sure gives a personal touch to gift giving.  Nico had a lovely time with such a big paper to draw on, all by himself!

And these papers make these presents!

Hope you like it!

– Maria

Our september project

Last week I wrote in escarabajos bichos y mariposas about the little project we have at home. The florist of our neighbourhood gave Nico a  plant as a present. That’s when we thought we were going to take care of it with love!. The florist told us it has to be watered once a week, so we decided to do it on Saturdays, and make a  note to remind us.

First we bought the pot in Ikea, and customized it with some washi tape and bakers twine.

Nico made a note to remind us about watering it on Saturday. At home we use wood lids painted with chalkboard paint as note pads. (I will write about them in another post because they are wonderful!)

It already has a corner in our house and we hope to take care of it really well!!.

– Maria Cañal

Shell Necklaces

We have made it to Ireland and back! Holidays in Northern Europe do mean un-spoilt empty beaches and spectacular scenery. They also mean a lot of rain and the need for creative parents to keep the younger family members occupied.

A classic rainy holiday activity: shell-necklace making. I think these have been made by every generation since pre-historic times. (I can actually imagine cave-dwelling mothers sighing while looking out of their cave at the rain outside and saying to their fur-clad kids: ”OK, why don’t we make shell necklaces as an activity today?”).

Anyway, it could not be easier, all you need are shells collected from the beach of all shapes and sizes, some nylon fishing thread and a tiny screwdriver/ drill to make holes in the shell (best left to the adults). A few shells might shatter whilst having a hole made in them, but the majority will stand up to the task and are ready to string onto the fishing thread.

Esther made some lovely shell necklaces last year mixing wooden beads with the shells, an idea I adopted as I got a little bit bored drilling holes after a while.

– Emilie

Summer Paints

My daughter’s first request when she walks in from her days at pre-school are invariably “May I have a popsicle?” or “May I paint in the backyard?”

I can easily distract her first request with a plum or some other lovely summer fruit, but I can rarely stave off her desire to paint (some days I just want to read books or do a puzzle with her, call me lazy!) Lately, she has been perfectly content putting on her bikini bottoms and painting her hands and feet, making the sweetest little prints for us.

Last year I invested in a wooden caddy with six glass jars and some watercolor paints and much prefer it to the messy little pans of paint we would run through. Plus, it just looks so much nicer. I’ll warn you now, the Nova Natural website is a little addictive, especially their dress-up and crafting sections!


Build your own erupting volcano!

We gave our oldest this Build Your Own Erupting Volcano set for his 7th birthday recently, and it was a huge, huge hit. What a like about it is that it was really a family activity and we spread it out over a couple weekends. The first weekend we built the volcano with the paper maché and then we let it dry over the week (the kids kept checking on it of course!). The second weekend we painted it, lacquered it, and then let it erupt! The anticipation had built up over the week, and it was so fun to watch the kids’ faces as it erupted.

The volcano kit is one of the fantastic craft/activity kits from the New Zealand-based company, Seedling. It’s available here in the UK from Little Scout or from Kid O in the US.

x Courtney

Little Puggle crafty activity kits

Little Puggle is a brand new website offering a monthly subscription service for craft activity boxes to be sent to your door. Each box is filled with crafty and cool activities, DIY art kits and all the necessary materials (scissors, paints, glue) for making your creations. When you sign up, you can fill out your child’s details and interests and receive boxes which tailor to your child’s interests (trains, animals, fairies, etc). I recently tested out the service and it’s fantastic — I spent an entire rainy afternoon with the kids making puppets, blowing up balloons and creating animal heads, painting, sticking, colouring, and playing.

I will say… that because I’m already quite a crafty mum (I was joking the other day with a friend that my craft cupboard is bigger than my  clothes closet!), this isn’t a service which I really need. But for busy mums who don’t have the time (or interest) in sourcing craft supplies and activities for their kids, this is the perfect solution. It offers craft inspiration as well as all the materials, so it takes the hard work out of being creative with your children. You can sign up to receive the Little Puggle boxes here. (I also think they make great gifts!)

x Courtney

PS – You can now receive 15% off at Little Puggle — details here.

Indoor driving fun

We were hit by a ‘weather bomb’ on Saturday!  I had never heard the term before and it turns out a ‘weather bomb’ is the name for very windy wet weather.  I’m not sure why they just don’t call it a storm….Anyway I’m not a meteorologist but I do know wet windy weather means the kids are going to be stuck inside all day.

My husband is fantastic at making things out of furniture, blankets, pillows and anything else laying around the house.  This weekend he put his building skills to use by making a car.  It kind of reminds me of Fred Flintstone’s car.  Its such a simple idea and the kids loved it.


Le Petit Theatre des Ombres

This past weekend Coco, Violette and I popped round to visit a new little theatre school and children’s bookshop right by our house called Attrape Nuages. I totally recommend it if you live in Paris — it is super cute! We picked up a really cool little shadow theatre, which has been the sole source of entertainment in our household for the last few days. I actually hadn’t the faintest clue how a shadow theatre works, but it is such a simple idea! Who knew?

The theatre comes with all the bits and pieces you need to replay Little Red Ridinghood, even with a little flashlight. If you get tired of Little Red Ridinghood, there are refills for other stories. I am going to try and make some of my own characters and backdrops with some of the girls drawings, I reckon it could be a fun craft project…

Check out this little YouTube video to show how the whole thing works.

– Emilie

The Obliteration Room at the Tate Modern

This weekend we made it to Obliteration Room at the Tate Modern and my kids loved it so much they’re still talking about it. What a cool idea! The Obliteration Room is the kid’s section of the bigger exhibition by Yayoi Kusama — the dot loving Japanese artist. It started out as a completely white room and then they allowed kids to come in and place colourful dot stickers wherever and however they chose.

It was interesting to watch my kids with their sheets of stickers. My daughter stuck all the stickers on her face, my son kept asking to put them on the ceiling, and my oldest went around creating crazy cyclops monster faces on the floor. What a fun activity (it’s on until the 18th of March)!

x Courtney

PS – Photos above are from the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art in Australia where the project started. Aren’t they so cool?!

Yoga Pretzels

My kids have been greatly enjoying the Yoga Pretzels cards they got from their babysitter for Christmas. It’s so cute to see them bend in all sorts of curves, or trying to keep their balance. There are 50 cards, each of them giving a suggestion for a pose. There are, for instance, balance poses, stretch poses, stand and bend poses, and, most popular with my children, the partner poses (they need each other to perform the pose!). There are also cards that give breathing or relax exercises, or suggestions for games that enhance teamwork and creativity. It’s great fun, and especially 6-year-old Sara has been able to really relax after her yoga. Pim (almost 5) loves it too, his favourite pose, of course, is the ‘Warrior’.
Yoga Pretzels is available through Amazon (UK or US ).

xxx Esther

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