A baby play mat that’s modern and stylish (for a change)!

I remember how shocked I was with the playmats available on the market when my babies were born. I seriously didn’t know how fast I could hide them under the sofa once they were finished playing! Definitely not the case for mums who are the proud owner of one of the stylish mats designed by the cool girls from Deuz! Made from 100% organic cotton and full of energetic colors and exciting features like loops to grab, rings to hold and chew, and with a removable cover for easy wash-n-wear care, the Duez play mats will not necessarily need to leave the living room floor at all!

xxx Esther


We have been spending the summer in the fabulous French countryside. The not so fabulous thing about the French countryside is that sunny weather is by no means guaranteed. Temperatures can drop from 28 degrees to 18 degrees in a few hours, so it is wise to have some indoor activities close at hand.
My friend Heather came to visit up with a pack of UNO cards — a game I had completely forgotten about – and it  was a total hit. UNO is perfect to entertain the over 5 year olds and their parents for hours. I love it when the whole family can play together!
By the way, I had no idea UNO has been around for a such a long time, but it apparently just celebrated its 40th anniversary! Available through Amazon (UK or US ).

- Emilie


I was super excited last weekend when I saw a poster advertising the movie Arrietty on the London tube. The movie was released in France in January, but I have been waiting for the English version to come out before writing about it. (Unfortunately if you are US-based, you will have to wait a tiny bit longer. It is only going to be released early next year).

Arrietty is the latest release from the famed studio Ghibli, known for Ponyo, Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service and many more. It is not as fantastical as the other Ghibli films, but it is one of the most beautiful animated films I have seen in a long time. My girls were enchanted by it and we actually went to see it at the cinema two or three times (it was January after all).

The story is losely based on the book The Borrowers. Arrietty and her family are miniture people, secretly living in a house inhabited by humans. They have stayed hidden for years, until a young boy discovers Arrietty.

I really recommend it — it’s great for kids and parents, just a little bit different from the usual animated movie.

Dinosaurs — do you love them too?

I never had much with dinosaurs until I gave birth to a son 4 years ago. Really, I didn’t get the buzz. I loved excavations, it’s certainly not that, but more the cultural kind — think Tutank-Amon and Nefertiti, Pompeii and the like…
But now I have a son. And now I know the difference between a Tyrannosaurus, a Stegosaurus, and a Diplodocus! (Sounds familiar? Do you have a son?)
For this reason I love Priddy Books — because Priddy Books understands perfectly well that boys are boys, and they like dinosaurs, tractors, and, well, dinosaurs. We love their Activity Books in our house — full of fun facts, stickers, and educational questionnaires. In fact, I’m going to order some more for the upcoming summer break — perfect to keep the kids entertained for the long journeys ahead!

xxx Esther

Beautiful art kits from KicoKids

My daughter Sara is an avid art lover — she loves to build, create, draw, and paint. From the moment she could hold a pencil in her hands she’s been drawing, and I think her baby sister takes after her — Ava also likes to hold a pen and draw already. Our 4-year-old son Pim however, is just now at a level where his sister was when she was barely three (remember this craft project?). He’s slowly gaining an interest in drawing. It’s funny how differently children do develop!

Anyway, with our upcoming camping trip in mind, I’ve given Pim and Sara each one of the cool Art Kits pictured above. These art kits are great — the canvas cover is bright and strong, the pencils are soft to draw with, there’s a sharpener attached and there’s a notebook with thick, coloured paper. KicoKids makes them, do check out their shop — such wonderful, creative products and fun concepts, and I can tell you — the quality of it all is great.

xxx Esther

How to draw a penguin – by Oliver Jeffers

Oliver Jeffers must be one of my favourite illustrators, so I got a little bit excited about this tutorial (via the Guardian) on how to draw a penguin. It is so simple, so funny and so charming that it even makes me want to start getting out the crayons!

I know nothing about drawing, so I love the breakdown of all the different shapes which, once you put them all together, make a lovely little penguin. Hope your kids enjoy this one as much as mine did. Happy drawing!


Dinosaur Cookies (fun boys activity)

My son Pim just started school (here in the Netherlands school starts at the age of four), and he’s still getting used to the whole ordeal. He’s really exhausted when he gets home in the afternoon, and I can see (and imagine!) that the whole thing is a big change for him. Getting used to the bigger boys, making new friends, learning to learn and behave…
Anyway, he needed a bit of special attention so he and I made fun dinosaur cookies when his big sister was away on a play date the other day. We got these cute dinosaur cookie shapes for him when we were in London last month, and we made and ate a whole batch of them. I used the sand-cookie recipe that I’ve written about earlier, and which is great because it’s easy and children can be very involved in the process. Similar cookie cutters are available on Amazon (UK or US)…

xxx Esther

Taro Gomi’s Play All Day

I love Taro Gomi’s illustrations and we’ve always enjoyed his books (My Friends, Bus Stops and Everybody Poos) so I was really interested when I discovered Taro Gomi’s Play All Day activity book.  Since then, I have bought it for everyone I know — I feel like I’ve found treasure!  The book is basically the BEST book in the world for a rainy day (which we are prone to over here in Blighty).

It is cram-packed with things to make and pretty much everything you need is already in the book.  There are more then 100 innovative ‘punch-out’ pieces for making games, cities, landscapes, sculptures, hats, finger-puppets, picture frames and all in Gomi’s distinctive style.  All the ideas are simple enough for my 4-year-old to construct with a little bit of guidance.  But what I love (other then the end result actually looking good — unlike our ‘start-from-scratch’ craft ideas) is that all the ideas inspire play — we made the ring-toss game last night and once made my kids played with it for 45 minutes. It’s available from Amazon (UK and US ).

Mo. x

A high-tech classic

I don’t know about you but my i-phone is becoming an increasingly important tool in retaining my sanity as a parent. It now holds a dozen or so children’s Apps which get us through those boring, frustrating daily-life melt-down moments. As boredom levels peak whilst my 2-year-old is pushed around in the Supermarket trolley, I whip it out and let her paint pictures, guess the animals (in Peekaboo Barn or Peekaboo Wild which we wrote about here) or just blow up some balloons with the fabulous Balloonimals.

These games are perfect entertainment… but can a book work as an App?  I guess you all know by now that I love children’s books and don’t mind telling you I was a touch conservative about the idea of a book being on my phone or i-pad.  However Nosy Crow’s Three Little Pigs App has totally converted me and I’m now so excited what new technology can bring to brilliant stories. (more…)

William & Catherine fever!

I love a wedding as much as the next person but I have to say I must be one of the few who hasn’t quite got into our imminent Royal Wedding … yet, I’m sure I will.  And maybe this is the start for me.  I saw these in a card shop yesterday and couldn’t resist — the comedy photo opportunity was just too strong to resist.  And looking online for them I realise there is endless fun to be had — a mini Brad & Ange, Cheryl & Simon or how about John Travolta and Lady Gaga? Available here.

-Mo. x

Funny Face Sticker Book

I have spent the whole day filing away a pile of papers that was approximately as tall as I am. It is something I loathe doing, hence I let the papers pile up. It does feel  great though once the papers have dissapeared into their respective binders and order has been restored. To make the task slightly more pleasant, I popped over to Muji for some nice nutural binders and, of course, left the place with about 30 other things I had never planned to buy!

One of my new purchases is the brilliant coulouring and sticker book called Funny Face Sticker Book, which Courtney had introduced me to. This book can be a source of entertainment for literally hours. Lots of stickers, and shape faces, just waiting to be coloured in. I am stockpiling it for our next train trip.


Knitting set

I have been trawling the internet for presents as we have a ton of birthday parties coming up.  I’ve decided I’m going to stock up on nice presents to avoid a rushed, last-minute trip to a random supermarket which always results in buying something cheap and nasty. During my research I came across this lovely knitting set by Moulin Roty for little girls, and have been completely seduced by it. It is so cute and old-fashioned. I wonder if girls (and boys) are still learning how to knit, crochet and sew? I remember making wonky little sweaters and dresses for my dolls when I was young– I was no Coco Chanel, but it was a great way of keeping me occupied for hours.

Found on the lovely french site Madame La Marchande, and I also found it here in the UK.

Visit the zoo… from home!

Inspired by the rainy day project I saw on the Tokketok blog (via A Cup of Jo), I sat down with the kids this week to create a zoo scene! It was such a fun way to incorporate so many of their toys and interests. We used their Schleich animals , their Plan Toys Plan City cars and road signs, and their Lincoln Logs .  The kids also had fun writing the animal names and drawing the zoo setting on the paper. A fun activity for a rainy day!


Mini cardboard theatre

Cute, this mini theatre! Especially since it features the characters of Little Red Riding Hood — my kids’ favourite fairy tale and one they know by heart (I do too). It features four adorable woollen little finger puppets and a cardboard theatre. What a wonderful little gift (and it comes flat-packed so it’s perfect to send overseas as well). One for the gift drawer!

xxx Esther


Last weekend was Coco’s 5th birthday party, and you would have thought the Queen was coming over for tea. The excitement made the whole house shake. We had a pinata (a huge success), face painting, and a few party games — nothing outrageous but great for this age group.

As usual I racked my brain (and the internet) to find a good assortment of games to play with a dozen 5-6 year olds. The game that was the biggest hit this year was a pre-school form of charades. We drew pictures of different things or animals to act out onto little bits of cardboard and put them all in a hat. Each kid got to pick a piece and act out the object/ animal on their card. Most of the kids were great at coming up with ideas of how to play out their part — they were so imaginative. Sometimes we had to help them out a little bit, but everyone definetely derserved their little prize after their performance. (more…)

Natural Paint Kit from Shak-Shuka

The lovely Joslyn from Shak-Shuka recently sent this Natural Paint Kit for me to test out, and after spending over an hour today with the kids in an eco paint session, I can give it my full approval.  The kit comes with everything you need including 6 color packets, 6 compostable jars, and two bamboo paint brushes.  And everything is 100% natural and botanical — you can even smell the fruits and flowers in the paints. (You could probably even eat the stuff, which is what kept me from panicking when my daughter literally licked the paint from her fingers!)

My kids loved that they got to mix the paints themselves — and depending on how much water you add, the paints can be thick like finger paints or thin like watercolours. It was a huge hit.


Cyber Cupcakes!

After having come back from a recent vacation with the kids  I have developed a new-found love and appreciation for the I-Pad.   True — I was skeptical at first… but there are actually a bunch of really great applications you can download to thwart meltdowns, kill time on rainy days or simply to secure time when you just need a few minutes to yourself.   As a family, we have all became obsessed with Cupcakes! by Maverick Software.  It’s so simple yet so satisfying.  You can select your batter, tin liners and all the icing and toppings you can imagine (sprinkles, jelly beans, even bacon!) to build the most elaborately delicious cupcakes you can conjure up.  At the end you can even light birthday candles, blow them out, and “cyber eat” them.  It’s so oddly fun and engaging you have to check it out for yourself.   I am planning to get the rest of their delicious apps  — cookies, pizza and even grilling!


Homemade Mobile

During the holidays it is great to have the family together, but it always fun to have a couple of crafty projects up your sleeve, as sometimes it is necessary to entertain the young and restless. I found this post about how to make a mobile on the Famille Summerbelle blog and it is perfect for a craft afternoon. It looks really lovely, and it is a great family project — it could even be fun to let every member of the family design a shape or two and see what everyone comes up with.

I love Julie’s solution for balancing out the pieces of the mobile by using cut-out shapes, craft jewels and beads, as the mobiles I have built previously have always ended up a bit lopsided. I can’t wait to try this one out with my girls!


Favourite Toys: Momoll Wooden Kitchen

I think I might have two budding Gordon Ramseys on my hands. My girls love cooking and playing… so their number one favourite toy must be their Momoll toy kitchen. The amount of cups of coffee,  cups of tea, cakes and sandwiches that have been produced out of this kitchen are innumerable. The children’s dolls all have had birthday cakes baked in the kitchen and if I am really lucky, I get served a steak/frites — these girls know what their mother likes…

The thing I love about this particular kitchen is that, apart from the fact that is really cute and really easy to put together, it is so multifunctional. If you turn it around it becomes a puppet theatre, which again is a source of hours of fun and entertainment.

- Emilie

Favourite Toys : Just what the Doctor Ordered!

This classic doctor’s bag  has been, I am guessing, our most enduring, regularly used toy. Of course it helps that it is made of wood and not plastic and has withstood the test of time, over-zealous budding anesthetists included (that would be my son I am referring to!) My daughter was gifted her kit when she turned 3 and the role-playing is showing no signs of decline – it is just a little more sophisticated these days! She is now 9.  Over time we have added other items like cotton wool and bandaids, a pad and pencil for prescriptions and a real but broken mobile phone/pager… (more…)

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