The Lunchbox

Unlike the UK and France, where I’ve been told kids get a warm and nutritious lunch at school, here in the Netherlands we send our children to school with the traditional lunchbox. Every morning I find myself in the kitchen preparing sandwiches for Pim and Sara, with some cold sides like fruit, cheese or vegetables (or whatever I find in the fridge). We don’t traditionally eat warm lunches here, and anyway there’s no means to warm up food in the school.

Because I’m quite often stuck in the morning for original ideas to fill the boxes, I’m thinking of creating a (printable) list of ‘ideas for the lunchbox’. Now I only have 10 minutes for this in the morning, so creating fresh sushi or sandwiches in the shape of an octopus is not for me (yes I know, my poor children). Do you have tips for me? Whether food items, easy recipes, good lunch boxes or shopping tips, I’m interested to hear. To be continued.

xxx Esther

PS Unbreakable stainless steel Eco Lunchbox from

Acme Party Box Company

There are some really great blogs around of very talented designers who do nothing better than throw the most beautiful, picture-perfect parties. I love looking at these blogs and imagining that I too one day will be so organized that I can pull together such a feat — that I will be on time with printed invites (for once!), that the birthday cake will be made the day before (and perfect), that the table will be perfectly decorated, and that the favour bags are home sewn and filled with cute, usable objects that are earth friendly on top of it. And that I wear a pretty dress, my hair looks nice and I have some make-up on for crying out loud!
If you’re like me, and love a pretty party but are somehow too busy, un-organized, or maybe not creative enough to organize your own, I suggest you tun to Acme Party Box NOW. How cute, HOW CUTE, are these party supplies? I can’t get over it — if only I knew about them before!! Think about it — the only thing you need to do is order a box! Everything you need for a perfect party is included — the favours, the crowns, the table setting, decorations, invitations… And trust me, it’s all SO cute and thoughtfully put together, you can’t possibly not be impressed! Beautiful fabrics, Holtztiger animals for centre pieces, little jars with straws for glasses, soy wax candles for the cake, and so forth… And, unlike the many plastic party goods that end up in the trash, the Acme products can be re-used over and over again (or composted).
I think the woodland theme is my favourite…

xxx Esther

Klean Kanteen at VUPbaby

At the beginning of the school term, my son’s teacher asked that all kids bring in a water bottle to keep in the classroom. I sent my husband to the sports store next to his office to pick up a non-plastic water bottle… and he came back with a large, clunky thing with a screw-on lid that took about ten minutes to open. I’m not sure this is what the teacher had in mind for quick water breaks. So I turned to VUPbaby who specialize in BPA-free, non-toxic drinking products. I ended up with a Klean Kanteen bottle which is perfect. It’s a lightweight, stainless steel bottle with an easy-to-use sport cap, and it comes in cool colours that kids love (we got the orange!). Klean Kanteen also makes bottles for grown-ups and sippy cups for babies.


Retro-inspired Personalized Lunchboxes

These gorgeous personalised lunchboxes by Feterie are high on my birthday list for my children this year. With a bit of a retro-cool vibe, they are of lightweight tin construction and as functional as they are stylish. I think they’d be great for toting around paper and coloured pencils too, or whatever knick-knacks it is kids love to drag around (footy cards in my son’s case).  I can also imagine them being great for keeping all my daughter’s hair paraphernaila together — those elastics, clips and ribbons crop up all over the house, yet when we need to tie her hair each morning for school, there’s never one to be found! Feterie ship world-wide.

- Sara

WasteNot Sandwich Saks

With school now back in full swing (finally!), I must say I am quite happy to be back in the routine… and yet, on the flip side, I am not at all psyched about the part about making and packing the daily lunch.  That being said, I recently stumbled upon this Etsy site the other day and thought it was such a great idea, especially for those, like me, who have relied on the plastic “baggie” for my sandwich and snack packing needs as I didn’t really know of an alternative.

The WasteNot Saks are not only stylish and easy to open but are lined with water and stain-resistant nylon.  On the website it says “After using, you may simply shake out the crumbs, turn the bag inside-out and wipe the liner down, or if you have a particularly goopy PB&J that day just toss it in the washing machine and line dry.”  The other plus — they come in a variety of very cute and kid-friendly fabrics making lunch-time at least pleasurable for someone!


Tea Time for Tots

For the past few years my family has had the good fortune of spending a month living in London.   We are always quite sad to leave, but memories of London remain with us day to day via our much improved vocabulary, our deep appreciation for the BBC & Peppa Pig, and our proclivity for afternoon tea. You don’t often see children drinking tea in the states, however some of my friends love to serve their children chilled chamomile or herbal teas.  At first I thought it was a bit strange but now I think it’s a fantastic alternative for kids and at least one of my girls is catching on.   I found these German designed tea-bag cup loungers from Donkey Creative Labs and I think they are absolutely hilarious.  They come in all sorts of themes — mostly for adults — but I thought they were so cute I just had to share.


Let’s have a picnic!

How cool are these picnic suitcases? My kids were each given one so they could bring their own picnic to the park. They are filled with a melamine plate, a bowl, a cup and cutlery, and there’s enough space left over for food and drinks. We love them — they’re so practical and stylish! They’re made by the original French brand Minimo, and available through supercool website Peanut and Pip, where I noticed a lot of the Minimo goodies are for sale!(!!)

xxx Esther

A Non-Drippy Sippy

We built the pyramids. We sent a man to the moon. We even figured out how to get internet access on an airplane. And yet — someone STILL has not figured out how to design decent sippy cup for kids! While I am thankful every day that my girls drink out of a cup, the wounds are still fresh from those days of searching for the pieces to put one back together after running it through the wash — not to mention the never ending stench of rotting milk trapped in the straws, and the clutter in the cabinet of mismatched tops and bottoms.  I have tried MANY over the years and have never really been that happy with any of them. For a long time the front-runner was the sleek looking Sigg which was durable and only TWO pieces — but I found them to be too small and tough to open.   And now, although we are not quite there, the recently discovered CamelBak is the best one to date.  It is very kid-friendly, BPA free, does not leak, and is easy to clean (although three pieces.)  It holds up great after a lot of abuse and it is a nice size.  They also have great ones for adults and are available all over the web and at Whole Foods.


Lark in Dayelsford

One place I always recommend (sometimes even insist!) our visitors to Melbourne see is the picturesque town of Dayelsford. Dayelsford is a village in rural Victoria in the heart of the Wombat Forest; so pretty, so quaint, peaceful & dignified, just as a spar town should be, but with the hippest cafes, shops and restaurants you can imagine! There are several things you must do when visiting this adorable town — have  your tarot read, take in the local markets, stroll through the forest, visit the mineral spas (the Shire boasts the highest concentration of mineral springs in the country together with an equally large array of therapists) AND stop by Lark to indulge in some retail therapy! (more…)

Non-toxic baby teethers

I’ve already professed my love for Sophie the Giraffe — I think it is my all-time favourite baby toy because it’s easy for babies to hold, non-toxic to chew on, it squeaks when you squeeze it, and it’s cute.  However, when my daughter was born she received the Gnon teether, handmade in France by the famous Sophie creators, and I must say it outdid Sophie in the popularity contest. I think it’s the cute, round eyes and that little handle to hold/chew on. And like Sophie, it also squeaks when you squeeze it.

Both teethers are available in the UK from VUP Baby, a fantastic webshop specializing in non-toxic baby products… from baby bottles and sippy cups to toys and accessories.


MadeIt for unique handmade finds

madeit_header72dpi-newPacked to the rafters with local designers and craftspeople, MadeIt is a virtual craft market containing a wealth of handmade housewares and goodies. It is my go-to source when I want something unique, affordable and hand-crafted. It is similar to Etsy but supports only local Australian talent.

What I love about the site, apart from the fact that everything is handmade and local, is that it brings you, in one spot, everything you can’t buy at your local shopping mall. It takes the legwork out of shopping for those unique, handmade goodies which I  love to buy but can take me forever to look for.  And of course there is something gratifying about buying a locally made gift, supporting your local economy. (more…)

Smiling Planet — earth friendly dishes for kids

I’ve admired the lovely plates from Smiling Planet for months now, spotting them in a few of my favourite online shops… and I finally just got some for my kids and am so happy with them — they’re not only beautiful (I love the ‘white peace’ design, pictured), but they’re quite clever because they have an outer rim around the plate which keeps the food in place (a feature that is quite handy when you have a one-year-old who is just learning to feed herself!).

All the dishes are made from 100% recycled, high grade polypropylene plastic and contain no BPA, no lead, no toxic inks, etc. Unlike most plastic dishes, these are completely safe for your kids to use, and are also virtually unbreakable — even the designs are printed sub-surface so children can’t scratch them.

You can order them online from their website, or from Shak-Shuka if you’re here in Europe.


Vikings and things from Sandra Monat

herzensart - viking melamin plate - pattern 1LOVE these melamine plates from Sandra Monat!  Never knew that Vikings could actually be CUTE!

Sandra Monat lives in Germany and is a full time artist.  She uses fabric, paper and thread for her collage-like creations.  Her adorable, pillow-like puppets are one-of-a-kind, but she also produces some of her designs in small editions, like the plates, some correspondence cards and prints.  All of them are equally adorable and equally tempting to get your hands on them before they’re sold out…

Cool Dutch online store Zilu has a good collection of Sandra Monat products in stock — including the tents print (that I love).

xxx Esther

Egg Heads

DSC_0048Last Easter we decided to make some Egg Heads with the mustard & cress seeds we got in our lunchbox from Kew Gardens.  Now I’m not in any way saying this was an innovative idea — most of you probably grew some of these little men/women yourself as children.  But for some reason my childhood missed this particular activity… something I now plan to take up with my Mum and Dad as it is a reaallllllly cool thing to do!

I am not the slightest bit green-fingered and manage to kill all plants/greenery in my care (even cacti have a hard time living in our house and my husband doesn’t understand why I still buy herbs in pots as they always die within days), but mustard and cress are stubborn little plants and grow despite a lack of due care and attention.  And they grow very quickly so you see results on a daily basis — appealing to my impatient nature.

So if you never made egg-creatures as a child then I urge you to take this eggcellent (terrible – I know!) holiday as an opportunity to  redeem your deprived childhood just as I did. Your kids will love it too! Here’s how to make them: (more…)

The Toadstool Tea

DSC_0053I can’t believe my daughter has just turned one — time has flown. Now I know a one-year-old might not appreciate a proper birthday party, but I can’t resist one.  And in the spirit of being ‘girly’ there was nothing for it but a fairy tea-party, to be more specific The Toadstool Tea (for those of you unfamiliar with fairy-lore, The Toadstool Tea is a secret party for all the fairies, elves and imps to celebrate the Fairy Queen’s birthday.  It takes place under the thicket deep in the middle of the forest (according to Mo)).

Toadstools, it turns out, are not only a really great theme for a party but also rather fashionable.  In my month or so of preparation I saw them everywhere (I couldn’t resist adding a cute Toadstool money box from Cath Kidston (stores only) and this adorable Shinzi Katoh print to her presents). Toadstools also make for a fun theme because they are easy to draw and craft. Here are some other toadstool ideas… (more…)

Antoine et Lili

quai-de-valmy_3The Antoine and Lili flagship stores must be some of the cutest rows of shops I have ever seen. I was walking past them today and they were so bright and cheerful on a grey winter’s day!

They can be found along the canal St Martin, an area which, for a long time now, has been attracting lots of little shops and restaurants.  If the rumours are to be believed the Antoine et Lili shops were actually the first independent shops to open up in this area,  turning the area into a trendy little spot.

Anyway, if you are in Paris and like kitsch and bright colours, Antoine et Lili is a must. The kid’s store especially is a bright, bright space with great toys, presents and clothes from the world over. It is definitely not minimalist, but colourful and loud! I also love the homewares shop were you can find great Mexican waxcloths and fabulous melamine plates for the whole family. (more…)

Babyccino selection at Smallable

Rocking horse SmallableLike Mo said earlier, dragging the kids out to do holiday shopping is unbearable! And how are you supposed to buy gifts for your kids in front of your kids? Thank goodness for great webshops like Smallable — which has SUCH a lovely and wide selection of beautiful children’s gifts, toys and accessories.  Whether it’s something big like the Offi Rocking Horse, something crafty like the Mitik Mask’Animo Kit, or something beautiful like the Lalé Suitcases, there is something for everyone.

Smallable recently asked us to choose 8 of our favorite products for their Babyccino Chrstimas Selection (yes, only 8 — can you imagine how long it took to narrow it down?!).  And in return, they’re offering our readers 20% off the selected 8 items! Just enter discount code NOELBABYCCINO at check-out (offer good until Dec. 21st). Holiday shopping just got easier!


A tray for the Stokke highchair

playtrayWe have already sung the praises of the Stokke Tripp Trap chair here on Babyccino.  I think some of us have even admitted to owning two — one for each child. (And I’m even contemplating buying a third one!) I personally think it’s the best highchair on the market, especially considering how long it can be used.

I suppose the only qualm people have with the chair is that it doesn’t have a tray (where will you put the Cheerios? how do you keep your table from being destroyed? what if you want to use the highchair in the kitchen, away from your dining table? etc.).

The PlayTray is the perfect solution.  It’s a scratch-proof plastic tray which goes easily on and off the chair to be used whenever necessary.  The design is sleek yet functional, it easily wipes clean, and it has an outer edge to keep spills and messes at bay. It’s also free of phthalates, PVC and BPA. Brilliant!


Cookie Cutters

cookie cuttersCookie baking is big in our house, especially when the weather is grim like today, and as you can see from the picture we’ve started to collect quite a variety of cutters. My son loves picking out which ones to use (currently the bear and the lion are particular favourites). I pick cutters up from all sorts of places but I do find Cakes Cookies and Crafts Shop a corker — especially as they usually offer 4 for the price of 3. Cox & Cox also do some good ones (but more on them later as they definitely deserve their own post).
Today however we used our new kid-friendly cutters by Swiss cooking brand Kuhn Rikon. They are brilliant because they have handles for easy pressing, and the shapes are less fiddly for transferring from work-top to baking sheet. In fact the whole Kinderkitchen range is fantastic for young cooks and is a big feature in our letters to Father Christmas (I’m personally yearning after the Mouse Measuring Cups ).


Personalised plates

Aren’t these personalised plates just fabulous? My kids get a real thrill from seeing their name on things so I think they will be super excited when they receive theirs.  The perfect Christmas or birthday gift for someone special — personal, functional and a lovely keepsake for when they grow out of them. What’s more, they are BPA-free, made of a lightweight yet durable melamine and are dishwasher safe. So, they tick all the boxes in my opinion! I bet they could even entice the fussiest of eaters.

personalized plates

You can order them from BébéOnline or, if you are local to Melbourne, from ‘Bebe Boutique’ in South Yarra.

- Sara

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