Design Mom’s book ‘How to live with Kids: A room-by-room guide’

Design Mom book How to live with kids

A few months ago my friend Gabrielle Blair, the famous Design Mom, asked me to share some photos of our home, for the use in the book she was working on. I was super flattered to be asked, because I have been a Design Mom fan from the moment we started blogging. Gabrielle is so incredibly talented, so entrepreneurial, so creative, so stylish, and so real. I love her down-to-earth style, her guts, and her drive to connect people. Also — I love how she shares her successes, as well as her difficulties. So you can imagine that for months I’ve been awaiting the highly anticipated launch of her book, and this week a preview copy of the book landed on my doormat… and it’s even better than I could have imagined!

Design Mom book How to live with kids
Design Mom book How to live with kids

‘How to Live with Kids: A Room-by-Room Guide’  is a family lifestyle book full of inspiration, with beautiful photos of real homes. It’s full of useful tips stemming from real life experience with 6 children. Gabrielle shares easy decor tips and doable DIY projects, lovely family traditions and sweet tips. (Like: keep a box of Band-Aids within children’s reach in the bathroom, to make children feel in control when they have an owie, plus, when a little friend needs a band-aid, your child can help and get a positive experience with empathy. Or, one of my favourite phrases from the book: ‘Ugly couches can make beautiful childhoods’. So true!)

Sometimes parenting, interior or DIY books can be so terribly overwhelming. What I like best about Design Mom’s ‘How to live with Kids’ is that’s it’s all so approachable, so doable and so real. Gabby shows us that it’s no about what to buy, it’s about working with what your already have, to make your house happy, and wonderful.

The book is available for pre-order on Amazon (US or UK ).

xxx Esther

Hattie the elephant (from Four Monkeys)

Hattie_1

When Pim was 2 years old, he pulled over a marble sculpture that my mum had made as our wedding gift and it broke in half. Thankfully we were able to restore it, but — better safe than sorry — we now keep our delicate sculptures in storage until our children are bigger. And I’ve been missing something cool on our floor ever since!

But then, I was browsing the super well curated collection of the awesome Austrian e-store Four Monkeys and my eye fell on Hattie the Elephant. And I couldn’t resist. Here we have a sculpture, a piece of art really, that is absolutely fine to display on the floor, within children’s reach, for children to play with, even. Because it is designed as a toy!

How cool is that?


Hattie the Elephant, heirloom toy from Four Monkeys (via Babyccino Kids) Hattie_3

Hattie the Elephant is made from beech wood and really royal in size, and it can be placed in different poses due to the elastic-band muscles, making it a fun and interesting toy that children will keep coming back to to play with. It is absolutely beautifully made and it is such a cool design element! (I also saw it on display in one of the world’s coolest shops, Hay House, when I was in Copenhagen recently.) Also, it is an extremely sturdy and durable sculpture, which makes the (steep) investment worth it, because this sculpture will survive generations of play in our living room. It probably will survive me! ; )

xxx Esther

Storytime Magazine

girls reading storytime magazine
My kids are really into the idea of receiving their own subscriptions in the mail, whether it’s a packet of stickers from a sticker club or the comic book magazine that arrives for the boys every Friday, they literally run home from school eager to get their mail. The girls were feeling slightly left out, so we recently signed them up for a subscription to Storytime Magazine, and now they receive their own mail once a month.

Storytime is a monthly magazine for kids filled with beautifully illustrated stories, fairytales, folk tales, fables and funny poems (and no adverts whatsoever!). Each issue also includes story-inspired games, puzzles and activities which appeal to kids of different ages. (The activities are a bit too old for Marlow, but she still really enjoys the stories and loves that the magazines come in HER name!)

Marlow reading Storytime
Ivy reading Storytime
Ivy reading Storytime magazine
Ivy_reading_storytime
Storytime Magazine_three little pigs
girls reading storytime

What I especially like about the magazine is the selection of different stories, some of them classics which I remember from my own childhood and others which are completely new to us, and they’re all written in a way that really appeals to kids (I was reading the girls some original fairytales by the Brothers Grimm recently, and the language was a bit too difficult for them to follow).

Storytime is now offering UK-based readers the chance to try out the magazine by calling up and ordering a magazine for free. All you have to do is call them on 0843 504 4183, mention you’re a Babyccino reader, and they’ll send you one issue for free (or the chance to get three issues for just £3!). So easy! And remember to put the subscription in your child’s name — so they get their own post in your letterbox!

Courtney x

 

This post was sponsored by Storytime Magazine, a longtime member of our portal and a company we love and recommend.

Where’s the Pair? by Britta Teckentrup

Where's the Pair
Where's The Pair 2

Courtney wrote about The Odd One Out by Britta Teckentrup and I bought it immediately – Otto loves ‘looking’ books and particularly ones where he can get involved. I love them too – these moments sitting and chatting to my 3-year-old over a book are all too precious. How they chat at this age is so great isn’t it? And these moments are made even more enjoyable when the book is as pleasing to the eye as with Ms. Teckentrup’s illustrations. That’s why I was happy to see this new book Where’s the Pair? released.

Where's The Pair 3
Where's The Pair 4

As with ‘The Odd One Out’ each page is adorned with a vibrant pattern of animals and a little rhyme questioning us to find the pair. And it’s not too easy — I even found the pairing a bit tricky. After Otto and I had read it I found him later sitting with his older sister trying to find the pairs – maybe she also enjoys these quiet moments and chats with our little one?

The book is available from Amazon (UK and US ).

-Mo x

Tuesday Tips: (trying to) raise good and healthy eaters

kids healthy eatingHow come some children are good, healthy eaters, and some are super picky and have a difficult relationship with food? Is it a matter of nature, or of nurture? I was recently chatting with my girls’ ballet teacher, a lovely lady of sixty-something, and she was telling me about her baby granddaughter, who basically refused to eat anything from the day she was born. She’s been in and out of hospitals, being fed with drips, feeding tubes in her nose, and all sorts of astronaut kinds of food. There doesn’t seem to be a physical reason that the baby is refusing to eat — the little girl simply has no interest, probably even an aversion, to food. (I can only imagine how difficult this must be for the baby’s parents.)

So we can’t say that difficult or picky eaters are always a product of their upbringing. I do however think that very often, our own attitude to and relationship with food is of an enormous influence on our children.

My own four children happen to be very good eaters. They are interested in food, they try new things, and are not overly picky or fussy. Probably my husband and I have partly been lucky, and we’ve partly been doing some things right.

Eating is a much debated and quite sensitive topic amongst parents. This weekend I was talking with some girlfriends after we just had lunch with our families. We were discussing how we raise our children, and what parenting choices we have made to help our children become the good eaters they are today. I thought this would be an interesting (but difficult) topic for our Tuesday Tips series, so I have made a list of tips that in my experience can help make eating a positive and fun part of the day. Here goes:

Involve the children in the dinner preparation. They can start helping at quite an early age. Tell them what you are doing, let them try the ingredients. Trust them with a knife — Ava has been making a really good Caprese Salad from the age of 4. Even Casper (2) chips in with cutting the mozzarella! Also: grow your own veggies if possible (even on the windowsill). Take your children shopping (f.e. to the (farmers) market), let them choose some food and prepare that food that evening. When your children have been actively involved in the dinner preparation, they will be more open to try and enjoy the food.

Eat with the children as often as you can. Sit at the table, and have a proper family dinner experience. Don’t turn the tv on (you could even argue to turn the music off). Dinner is a social experience, it’s about connecting with each other and sharing the pleasure of each other’s company and good food. Set the scene, make a nice table, use little bowls, napkins, light candles, etc

Don’t allow negativity about food, instead be positive and adventurous about food. Set the right example; don’t ‘dislike’ food yourself. If you love food, your children will love food. I’ve had children at my table who started to be negative as soon as I served the food on the table. ‘Oh, tomatoes! I hate those! Eeeks, I don’t eat brussels sprouts, they are disgusting!’ I personally don’t allow my children to use those kind of strong associations in connection with food. In general, I want my children to understand that the food that I buy, prepare and serve on our table, is good, healthy and delicious food. I don’t allow my children to be disrespectful to this food, or to the cook (me!) who has done her best to prepare a yummy meal.

Be relaxed about food. When introducing a new food — don’t overhype or over-react, be casual about it, make it a part of the regular eating experience. I also have experienced that some foods, which I expected my children not to like (sauerkraut, for instance, or olives), have been received with great enthusiasm. So instead of being doubtful (‘you can try, but you probably won’t like it’), be casual. You might be surprised!

Always encourage your child to try everything on the table. Don’t let them get away with ‘not liking’ something too easily. If my children, after positively trying the food, don’t like it, I ask them why they have difficulty with it — for instance, the food can be too spicy, too bitter, too salty, etc. I then try to get where they are coming from, and most often understand, but maybe we talk about how ‘too salty’ can also be good in combination with other things. Overall, this has made eating and trying food a more positive experience and a fun interaction.

If a certain food is disliked, just let it pass, but don’t ban it from your kitchen. Positively offer it to them again at other times. Encourage them to keep trying; their taste might change and chances are that at some point, they will (learn to) like it. Especially if they see other people enjoying that food!

When your kids don’t want to eat their dinner, that’s ok, but don’t offer a substitute.

Expose your children to different varieties of food from a young age. Don’t generally cook ‘child-friendly’ dishes for your children, serve them regular adult dishes with regular herbs and spices. (I personally believe that even during pregnancy it’s important to eat a variety of dishes!) Take your children to restaurants, and choose from the main menu (most restaurants will be happy to serve half of a main dish to a child, or split one main dish on two plates). Emilie told me that she encourages her children to be flexible in their eating so she can take them to friends places and she can travel with them and experience different cultures. She told me that she refuses to be a guest in someone’s house and have her child turn their nose up at a meal, so if her girls want to come, they will have to eat without making a fuss!

That’s it! I realise this is a tricky subject, so please remember that these are tips that stem from my own experience. I’m curious to find out what your family’s relationship with food is. What’s your attitude? What are your tips and routines?

xxx Esther

Triangular crayons!

Triangular crayons

Last week in New York we had dinner with the ever so sweet Annie from Brimful, and she brought us a few sweet and thoughtful gifts. One of them is a little container with crayons, which is nothing that special in theory, except for the fact that the crayons are triangular! How clever! Not only are they easier to hold for little toddler hands, but also, they won’t roll from the table to break on the floor. So simple, and yet such a major improvement. (The crayons Annie brought us are from P’kolino.)

xxx Esther

 

How to care for your tulips

adrem tulips

I grew up in a small farming town about half way between Seattle and Vancouver, Canada. The area is known for the wonderful produce that is grown there, including all the delicious berries in the summer, but is probably best known for the hundreds of acres of tulip fields that bloom each spring (I have previously shared photos of the tulip fields here and here. Isn’t it so pretty?!)

My father and his brothers are tulip farmers and run what is now one of the biggest (bulb) flower farms in the world, shipping flowers to people and businesses all over America (you can read a little bit about the family business here). I grew up on the tulip farm and remember how exciting it was every spring to watch the surrounding fields fill with colour. Our spring break from school always fell in the middle of tulip season and my dad always put me straight to work in the flower stalls selling tulips. I think, by the time I was eight, I knew all the different names for every tulip variety and I could answer any tulip question, no matter how random. (Of course I have since forgotten all those different varieties! My dad would be so disappointed.)

Every year at this time, as the flower stalls around London fill with tulips, I’m reminded of my childhood and the tulip farm back home. I spoke to my dad over the weekend and he told me that the tulips are blooming really early this year due to a really mild winter. So, now that it’s tulip season I thought I would share some tulip tips I’ve learned from my dad over the years. (Please forgive me if you’re a long-time reader. I posted a similar post back in 2008, but thought it was worth re-posting since it’s been so long!) Here are some handy tips for buying tulips and keeping them alive as long as possible:
tulip tips
cutting tulip stems

  • Try to buy the freshest tulips. Don’t buy tulips that are limp; make sure the stems are thick, plump and strong. (In general, the bigger the stem–the bigger the bulb– the healthier the flower).
  • Make sure the leaves are tight and curled inward toward the stem. If they are already bending outward, they are not very fresh.
  • The bud should be closed and on the tighter side, but you should still be able to see the color of the flower.
  • Cut ½ an inch from the bottom of the stem and place immediately in cold water. (Remember that the stems will continue to grow in the vase, so you can cut them down to be a bit on the shorter side).
  • If the tulips came in plastic wrap, you can leave the plastic on for the first couple hours. This will encourage the stems to stay straight instead of bending over. (As soon as you cut the bottom of the stem, the tulip ‘comes back to life’ and will begin to respond).
  • Leave the vase in a cool spot (not in direct sunlight or near a radiator). You can even place the vase outside during the night (unless it is freezing) for even longer ‘vase life’.

*Don’t ever mix daffodils and tulips in the same vase. The daffodil juice taints the water and will ‘poison’ the tulips!

And apparently all those silly things we’ve all been told about putting a penny in the water or adding sugar really don’t work!

 

The Little Things… making pompoms for a spring branches bouquet

The Little Things, making pompoms for a colourful spring branches bouquet
For this The Little Things post, we’ve been making pompoms for an Easter Tree-inspired, spring branches bouquet. The great thing about making pompoms, is that it appeals to different ages, and both boys and girls absolutely love making them.

The Little Things -- pompom spring branches The Little Things -- pompom spring branches
Isn’t there a magical attraction to wool? The moment I pull my suitcase with yarn leftovers out, my kids are in for a treat!

The Little Things, mocking pompoms for a spring branches bouquet The Little Things -- making pompoms for a spring tree The Little Things -- making popmpoms for spring easter branches The Little Things, making pompom spring branches The Little Things, making pompom spring branches The Little Things -- making popmpoms for spring easter branches
There are two easy ways to make pompoms. For bigger pompoms, we cut out two times two circles of thin cardboard. You can just use a cup and an egg cup for example, to determine the shape. Layer both cardboard circles, cut through them so they have an opening to the centre, and start winding the thread around. The talented Sara from SakaDesign made a super handy (and very cute!) tutorial for us, that you can easily print if you would like to:

pompom tutorial

The Little Things, making pompom spring branches The Little Things, making pompom spring branches The Little Things, making pompom spring branches The Little Things -- making pompoms for a spring tree
We gave Ava and Juul, both 4 years old, a thicker yarn so they saw quick results. Pim and Sara used a thinner thread, and they also liked to use different colours for their pompoms. (Just cut the first colour and start winding with the second one.)

The Little Things, making pompom spring branches Juul’s little brother Mees was too small to make pompoms, but he was super helpful on his messenger bike, delivering the yarn to whoever needed it!

The Little Things -- making pompom spring branches TLT10 TLT11 The Little Things, making pompom spring branches The Little Things, making pompom spring branches

Once there’s a thick layer of yarn around the cardboard shapes, you can cut through the sides, in between the two layers of cardboard. I took care of this part of the process, as it’s really a bit tricky to do.  It’s a kind of scary at first, but once I discovered that the cardboard keeps the yarn in place it was pretty easy. Then, secure the pompom by knotting a string of yarn around the middle, in between the two cardboards. Get rid of the cardboard. You can leave the ends of the yarn you used to knot the pompom together quite long so you can hang the pompom from the branches later.

The Little Things, making pompom spring branches The Little Things, making pompom spring branches The Little Things, making pompom spring branches The Little Things, making pompom spring branches

The second method we used, to make cute, tiny pompoms, is even easier. You just use a fork, wind some thread around, then secure it by knotting around the thread through the middle tines of the fork. Cut the edges, and done!

The Little Things, making pompom spring branches The Little Things, making pompom spring branches

You can make the pompoms more fluffy by holding them in the steam for a few seconds. (Be careful for the heat!)

The Little Things, making pompoms for a colourful spring branches bouquet The Little Things, making pompoms for a colourful spring branches bouquet The Little Things, making pompoms for a colourful spring branches bouquet

xxx Esther

PS – This is the newest post in a series which is called ‘The Little Things’. Thank you Maud Fontein for taking these beautiful photos, and Sara Musch for the handy download. Postman Mees’ adorable outfit is from La Coqueta, Ava’s dress is from Kallio, and Sara’s dress from Mabo Kids.

Our visit to Copenhagen, a few favourites

Copenhagen city tips copenhagen city trip tips

The last weekend of February, Tamar and I (without our kids!) spent a few days in Copenhagen, the beautiful capital of Denmark, and we loved discovering this wonderful city. There’s just so much to appreciate — the beautiful architecture, slightly austere and with deep, beautiful colours. The very kind and handsome people. The amount of bikes! The food culture (no surprise that the best restaurant in the world is located right here). The sea, right there. And, of course, the design, apparent in each and every detail of society.

Here are a few of our favourite discoveries. I definitely recommend visiting Copenhagen — we definitely want to go back soon with our kids!

Hay House Copenhagen Hay House Copenhagen (more…)

A Rock is Lively by Dianna Aston & Sylvia Long

A Rock is Lively

My eldest son, Elias, has a love for stones and rocks (or as he calls them, crystals). Our house is full of stones he has found outside of our house, in the garden or in the park – to me they are just stones but to him they are all wonderful – he looks at them for ages finding the sparkling bits or fossilized fragments. He cleans them and studies them and keeps them in boxes and old printing trays in his bedroom.

So when I found this book I knew it would make the perfect birthday present for him.

A rock is lively_inside
A rock is mixed up
A Rock is Lively book

The title itself captures the special thing that people like Elias see in ordinary stones: A Rock is Lively … well I was yet to be convinced but as Mother and Son sat down to read this book – this Mama slowly became a convert. It turns out that stones really rock (if you’ll excuse the pun).

The book is written in such a way that it opens up the world of Stones, rocks and crystals and demonstrates just how interesting they are with bite-size nuggets of facts and stunning drawings to illustrate.

I really loved reading the book with Elias and by the end of the book I was proud that he was so interested in such a subject. Never having been one for Geology as a kid, it was great for me to learn (or re-learn as I’m sure is the case) how different rocks are made up, how old they can be and just how beautiful they can be. Maybe as a result I will be more patient about the piles of stones I find in my washing machine after washing Elias’s trousers! Maybe ….

-Mo x

p.s. A sweet story for younger kids about a ‘special’ stone is the Shirley Hughes Alfie story, Bonting (found in The Big Alfie Out Of Doors Storybook ) – Elias loved that as a little boy – I should have known then that stones are special to some kids!

DIY: Brown Paper Flower Pots

Paper Flower Pots
A couple of weeks ago I spotted these cute flower pots (that were really brown paper bags) neatly set down the stairs in front of some shop in Stuttgart and I loved it so much I went to buy craft paper bags and a few flower the same day!
This is such a simple and inexpensive DIY perfect for this time of the year.
I need to say am the worst when it comes to flowers, herbs or any kind of plants in general – my husband even calls me “the plant serial killer” and I’m afraid he’s not that far from the truth! How do you people do it? I always either water too much or I forget they exist for a few days too many. But I don’t and won’t give up – one day I’ll get it. Right? But until I do I’m buying the least expensive kinds, like the ones on the photo – don’t know their names, I just know they smell good. Or at least they did for two more days after entering my house. But the good news is they are still alive!

Anyhow, the steps for making these cute paper pots are super easy and you only need three items:
Brown Craft Paper Bags (mine are 12 cm wide)
Plants (mine are in 10 cm pots)
Pot Trays

Paper Flower Pots
First fold the top of the bag down a few times (put the pot beside the bag to see how far down).

Paper Flower Pots
Now fold the edges backwards along the fold lines and insert the tray first, then the flower.

That simple!

-Polona

To read more from Polona, go to her cute blog Baby Jungle!

Tuesday Tips: Raising sensitive boys

Raising sensitve boys

sensitive boys

My father, one of ten children, was raised on a farm in rural America. His parents were Dutch immigrants who had lived through World War II and they were strict, no-nonsense types. They believed in hard work, discipline and obedience.  As a result, my father’s sensitive side was mostly ironed out of him at a young age and he only rediscovered it later in life.

I remember sitting in the back of the car with my little brother who, by nature, was a really sensitive boy. I remember him fighting back tears and wiping his cheeks with his sleeve as my father shouted from the front seat to stop crying. I don’t think my dad meant to cause any distress, but I do think he discouraged my brothers from being sensitive or emotional.  He parented the only way he knew how: the way he had been taught, which was to hide your emotions, dry your tears, be a man – not a mouse, shake it off, toughen up…

Thankfully, nowadays most of us can see the folly of this approach, but still… I’ll admit that I will occasionally say things like ‘there’s no need to cry’ or ‘come on, it’s not worth crying about’. I don’t say it in a ‘be a man’ type of way, but more in a ‘let’s move on so I can go back to cooking dinner’ type of way. This is especially true if they come to me crying about something that doesn’t seem very important (a missing Lego, a skipped turn in a board game, the smaller half of a shared biscuit, etc.).

I recently met up with Lydia Gard, editor of Mr Fox: the new online magazine for parents with boys (and mother of two boys), and she reminded me that even these innocuous types of comments are probably not healthy for our children, especially for our boys who already face societal pressure to ‘man up’. It led to an interesting discussion about raising boys and how important it is not to stifle their sensitive side. I asked Lydia to share some tips for raising boys in a way that doesn’t repress their sensitivity and she’s agreed. Here are her suggestions:

1. I firmly believe that telling a boy that he shouldn’t cry or shaming him when he does, won’t teach him to manage his emotions, only to suppress and ignore them. I want my boys to grow up confident that they can speak their minds or show their feelings openly, without being mocked or humiliated, and so I offer a safe space in which they can express themselves, without fear of judgment. I’m also careful not to let other family members use derogatory terms like ‘babyish’ or ‘man-up’ in response to my sons’ tears.

2. Habitual responses, like ‘It’s nothing to cry about’ are really commonplace among busy mothers and, frankly, they sound pretty rational to other grown-ups. But if someone were to say that to me when I’m weeping over a sad song or because I’m knackered after a week of sleepless nights, I would feel invalidated! I often think, would I say that to another grown-up? If it comes off as cruel or lacking empathy, then I shouldn’t say it to a child either.

3. When my children cry I always try to choose between empathy and action: they need to know that I’m either in their corner (a reassuring hug is often enough) or that I’m willing to fight for them if the tears are over some injustice – a sibling fracas or a school bully.

4. My boys are both prone to drama, so I take a few seconds to let them just cry, and then ask them to tell me the problem, in their words. Sometimes I have to wait patiently for the answer. Parenting guru Noel Janis-Norton believes that we need to teach and train boys to express their feelings and thoughts, their worries and their dreams. “It is important that boys become comfortable with describing their inner life. When feelings come out in words, they are much less likely to come out in misbehaviour.” It’s not always easy when the dinner is burning or the phone is ringing, but I always think it’s worth the investment of a few extra minutes to make sure they feel heard.

5. Why something triggers a tearful response is often unfathomable. Have they fallen over? No. Were they arguing? Don’t think so… Is it always a reasonable and rational reaction? The answer is probably no. And while I may not agree that his LEGO Chima Fire Temple is sacred and that missing one tiny little, grey speck of plastic warrants ten minutes of rib-wracking sobs, he does, and it’s my job to comfort him (and then crawl around for 2o minutes with a head torch trying to locate it). 

Photos above are of Lydia’s two boys. Thank you Lydia for your tips!

As always, please leave comments below if you have additional tips, thoughts or questions! xx

One Day Young by Jenny Lewis

One Day Young cover
I get goosebumps just thinking about it: those magical first days after your baby is born, when the rest of the world is fuzzy and the only thing in focus is your beautiful baby in your hands and your loving family surrounding you. The sweet smell of your baby, the little sounds of yawns and sneezes. The intense energy you feel followed by the sleepiness that overcomes you, the way that night and day blend together, the way that life just seems to stand still. A happiness like no other kind. Magic. If only we could bottle it up and save it forever.

HMP_JennyLewis_ODY_KarlaRiver
HMP_JennyLewis_ODY_XantheLouie
One Day Young book
HMP_JennyLewis_ODY_RebeccaOsiris
One Day Young by Jenny Lewis

In a sense, this is what Jenny Lewis has done in her new book, One Day Young, a stunning book featuring portraits of women and their newborn babies, all taken within 24 hours of birth. The book is a celebration of intimacy, joy and the resilience of new motherhood. It is both powerful and beautiful. I just can’t stop looking at all the photos.

I met Jenny last month and she excitedly showed me her about-to-be-launched book. She unwrapped it from a carefully bundled package and beamed when she showed me. I could not put the book down and have been looking forward to the launch ever since. The book is finally out now and available from Hoxton Mini Press with free shipping in the UK. Here’s to women, motherhood… and babies!

Courtney xx

Blueberry Breakfast Cake

eating cake

After eating delicious American breakfasts in NYC last week (pancakes, huevos rancheros, doughnuts, scones, bagels!) I came back inspired to spruce up our breakfasts a bit. Conveniently, I had pinned this buttermilk-blueberry breakfast cake on Pinterest a couple weeks ago so I already had in mind what I wanted to try first.

Marlow and I spent the morning trying out a couple new breakfast recipes, and this blueberry cake was definitely our favourite.  Here are some very grainy iPhone photos from this morning with my little blueberry snatcher…

blueberry thief
marlow sneaking blueberries
blueberries and lemon zest
buttermilk blueberry cake
blueberry breakfast cake
eating cake2

The recipe is from a website called Alexandra’s Kitchen which I discovered from Pinterest. The cake is delicious — moist and light at the same time, and I like the combination of the lemon zest and blueberries.

Perhaps something to try over the weekend? Have a good one, everyone! (And happy Mother’s Day to all in the UK.)

Courtney  xx

P.S. Marlow’s dress is from the new collection at Milou & Pilou! x

Matisse’s Garden by Samantha Friedman & Cristina Amodeo

Matties's garden
matisse's garden_inside
matisse's garden book

If you are anything like me you can’t resist a museum shop. I found this book on a recent trip to the Tate Modern and bought it as semi-compensation for missing their exhibition of Matisse’s Cut-Outs last year.

I really love taking my kids to art exhibitions, even if it is not always their bag yet. My eldest (who is nearly 8) is starting to be interested in his own perceptions of what he is looking at and I love those dialogues with him. My middle one (the girl) loves drawing and painting and is often inspired to do an art-project as the result of a visit, and my youngest (3) is … to be honest … really, really horrible to take to museums!!!

So we missed the exhibit but … we found this book! Surely the next best thing? The book, published by MOMA, unfolds the artistic process that Matisse went through to develop some of his famous Cut-Out works. Told, as a story, we learn about Matisse, the curiosity and experimental nature of artists and, of course, some of his most famous works.
The book has been illustrated in a cut-out style, which nods to Matisse but still has its own individual look and then the pages unfold to reveal some of Matisse’s finished work which example that part of his artistic journey.

Lioba doing Matisse art project
henri matisse art project
Lioba and art project

We really enjoyed the book and it was also fun to have a go at producing a cut-out ‘art-piece’ with my daughter (a few phone-pics here to see). You can pick up a copy of ‘Matisse’s Garden’ from Amazon (UK and US ).

-Mo x

A sunny new collection at Amy & Ivor

spring colours at Amy&Ivor
Amy & Ivor moccasins
Amy & Ivor leather shoes
Amy & Ivor shoes
Amy & Ivor leather moccasins
After spending a snowy week in NYC last week, I was relieved to come back home to London where spring is definitely in the air. Is it just me, or does it seem to be earlier this year than the past few years? It’s soooo nice!

In the week that I was away, the kids got out their canvas sneakers and summery t-shirts from the ‘summer stash’ and I came home to messy closets with wooly jumpers and summer dresses all thrown into the same pile! I think it’s time to do some spring cleaning… and spring shopping! Right?

I’m loving all the bright colours I’ve noticed cropping up for springtime, including the fun new collection of moccasins at Amy & Ivor. I’m also excited about the new designs, including a lace-up shoe and a sandal with a plaited ankle strap, both made from soft, vegetable-tanned leather just like their moccasins. So cute for the coming warmer months ahead. (Yippee!)

Courtney x

How often do you bathe your kids?

four kids in bath

Last night at dinner my husband and I started talking about how relaxed we’ve become about bathing our kids. We’ve become so relaxed, we sometimes can’t keep track of how long it’s been since we bathed them last! And the thing is, we’ve decided it’s perhaps not such a bad thing…

As a new mother, I remember reading somewhere that babies like routine — they like the predictability of an evening routine consisting of dinner, bath, bedtime and that this routine helps to create good going-to-bed habits.  So of course, like so many new mothers I knew, I bathed Easton every single day. When Quin was born, I still put Easton in the bath every evening. I even remember nursing Quin with one arm and washing Easton’s hair in with the other and feeling like superwoman at the end of every evening because I survived yet another gruelling day of essentially being torn in two directions and doing the whole dinner/bath/bedtime routine with two needy kids. My kids were bathed but I was absolutely shattered. (I’m pretty sure those days were the toughest in my parenting life! It definitely took me a while to learn how to juggle more than one child.)

how often do you bathe your kids

I don’t know if it’s because I’ve relaxed over time or if I’ve just become too busy to give the kids a bath every evening, but these days our kids are lucky if they get two baths a week!! And yet… they are completely fine. They’re all still healthy, happy, and relatively sweet-smelling. They still go to sleep when it’s bedtime despite the lack of routine… and just think how much water we’re saving by not filling our bathtub every evening!

More than anything, it’s made my life that much easier not to stress about bath time every day. I really wish I could go back to those days when I had two small boys and tell myself that it’s okay to skip a bath, it’s okay if they eat scrambled eggs for dinner, and that the kids will be okay if they don’t have the same routine every night. The beauty of hindsight, I guess!

So tell me, how often do you bathe your kids? Do you think it’s gross that my kids only get bathed twice a week? (When I was little, I think my siblings and I were only bathed once a week!!) Have you also become more relaxed over time? Thoughts?

Courtney xx

Find us in this month’s issue of Red Magazine

Adamo family in Red Magazine
Adamo famil in Red Magazine_outtake
We are super duper excited to be featured in this month’s issue of Red Magazine! The team from Red Mag came over last month for an interview and to snap some photos, and I’m excited to finally see the photos and read the article. I chat about family life, my views on TV, the pros and cons of social media, and how I’d feel about having more babies (I wish!).

Unfortunately, they don’t post the articles from the magazine on their website, so you’ll have to pick up a copy to read it… but I wanted to share a couple photos. They sent me an outtake (the second photo) and it’s my favourite! Marlow was refusing to sit still for the camera, so of course Michael had to do a little upside-down-child action on her. Haha!

Also, the team from Red Magazine have asked me to take over their Instagram feed this week. Each day I get to share some of my favourite things to do, read, decorate, wear and play. I’ll be there until Friday, so please head over and say hi!

Courtney xx

(Photos by the lovely and talented Jenny Lewis)

Tuesday Tips: visiting museums with children

Museum visit with kids

My husband and I love culture and history, and one of our favourite (weekend) activities is to go to museums. When traveling to new places, but also when we’re at home here in Amsterdam, we love to discover the information and inspiration that museums can offer us. Our love for museums has certainly rubbed off on our children — when on a Saturday morning we sit at the breakfast table and we’re making plans for the weekend, the first thing that all of our children will want to do is to visit a museum!

I think the reason that they have grown to love going to museums as much (or maybe even more) than we do, is that during a museum visit both my husband and I really engage 100% with our kids. We take the time to explain the artefacts, art and content. We read the titles and descriptions of the artwork together, talk about it, look at colours, shapes and subjects, discover the meaning, find the connection between one piece and another, or link them with travels we’ve made, books we’ve read, things we’ve seen, etcetera. I think that our own enthusiasm, passion and eagerness to learn makes our children as enthusiastic, passionate and eager to learn as we are!

kids at the museum

Sometimes, I hear from other parents that they are unsure to visit museums with their children, that they’re afraid they will misbehave, will be bored or uninterested. And yes, sometimes it is definitely not a good museum day. But in my experience, most of the time they love it! Be it a museum of history, art, nature, objects or culture — there is always something to discover in a museum.

I have tried to write down some tips that I think are relevant when taking your children to a museum. Of course these tips stem from my own experience, and some museums are certainly easier to visit with kids than others…

  •  We like to visit museums early in the day if possible. When you have children, chances are big that you’re up before other people, and you can make it to the museums when it’s still reasonably quiet.
  • Don’t overstay — make the visit long enough to enjoy it, but not too long as to bore your children. We have a yearly national museum membership, so we don’t have to pay the entrance fee for individual visits. This way, we can visit a part of a museum, without having the urge to see everything as to make worth for our money. I’d rather only visit one room of a museum and really take the time to discover a few pieces well, than to end up tired and annoyed, with tired and annoyed children.
  • Make sure the children are well fed before your museum visit! Unless, of course, you would like to start your visit in the museum restaurant.
  • Make use of the toilet when entering the museum. I also prefer to hang our coats and put bags away in the cloakroom, so I don’t have to schlep them around, making it easier to bend or kneel down next to my children.
  • I think no props, books or tools are specifically needed for a museum visit — we love the time we spend with our children and the interaction we have with them. Also, when you discover the museum together, you know what the other one has seen and learned, and can refer to the experience at other times and locations. I’m not always crazy about specific children’s museum tours — we recently went to a museum where the kids were given a ‘find the artwork’ children’s tour, which had our children running through the museum, looking for a few specific pieces to cross of their list, and not even properly looking at those paintings, let alone the rest of the art! Having said that, some museum books or tours are great, and can also be a good tool to prepare your visit at home. (I find that audio tours can be fun and informative for older children, but I don’t think they work well for younger ones. Plus — you will miss out on the special interaction you will have with your children when discovering the museum together.)
  • Although it’s definitely easier to visit the more child-friendly sort of museums, we try to to visit the more ‘serious’ museums as well. Museums are for everyone! Also, I feel that it’s fine to repeat the museum visit. Museums are like books — our children don’t mind reading them over and over again. : )
  • Adjust your visit to your children’s speed and needs. If you would like to see a specific exhibition and for instance have the time to spend 20 minutes in front of a Rothko, then it’s best to come back another time without kids. Having said that, I did take all four of my kids to a Rothko exhibition a few weeks ago, and found that they all had an interest in the pieces (well, except Casper, who preferred to run around, despairing the guards and his mama! Hurray to my Iphone apps to keep him entertained for long enough!). Pim especially reacted remarkably to Rothko: he felt the paintings were really embracing him, and drawing him in. I’m sure he understood the art better than me.
  • Let the children be your guide — you will find they will indicate what pieces they find specifically interesting and start to direct your tour. For instance, my mother-in-law told me that she visited the Rijksmuseum here in Amsterdam recently with Casper and Ava, and that Ava was enthralled by a 17th century painting depicting cows on a ship. She thought that was amazing — cows on a ship! The rest of the visit they spent searching for paintings with cows. : )

museums with kids

What do you think about visiting museums? Do your kids love it? Do you have any tips to share? And, what are your children’s favourite museums? I asked my children, and Sara’s favourite is the Open Air Museum (one of my favourite too!), Pim likes the National Maritime Museum here in Amsterdam, and Ava said she simply loves all the museums in the world.

xxx Esther

PS First two photos were taken in the Egyptian gallery in the British Museum in London, the third foto shows my children in front of Rembrandt’s famous painting the Nachtwacht, here in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, together with Claire of Thinkingmuseum.com.

Pelle’s new suit, and some thoughts on clothing production

Pelle's New Suit children's book by Elsa Beskow Pelle's New Suit Courtney and I just came back from a little trip to New York, where we scouted venues for a NY ShopUp event (more later!), where we had lots of meetings with friends in the business (we’re so lucky to call so many of the brands and boutiques we work with our friends!) and where we visited the US edition of the Playtime fair, where we met even more wonderful friends. It’s always so fun to spend time in this bustling, busy city — I came back feeling full of great memories and inspiration! One of the friends we met in New York was Kirsten Rickert, an amazingly talented lady originally from Australia, who now lives in the US with her husband and two beautiful daughters. Kirsten is such a beautiful, pure lady; just have a look at her blog and her Instagram account. It was Kirsten who recommended the darling book ‘Pelle’s New Suit’  to us.

Pelle's New Suit‘Pelle’s New Suit’ is written by Elsa Beskow and was first published in Sweden in 1912. It’s a simple and sweet story with beautiful illustrations, taking place in a time before ready-to-wear clothing existed. Pelle is a little boy who owns a little lamb, and one day shears off all its wool. He then visits different relatives and neighbours in his small community village, asking them to help him with the different steps that are needed to transfer the lamb’s wool into a new suit (carding, spinning, dying etc.). In return, he will help his friends with different chores. For example, when his grandmother cards the wool for Pelle, he pulls the weeds from her carrot patch. When his mother weaves the cloth, he takes care of his baby sister. And when the tailor finally makes his suit, Pelle rakes the hay, brings in the firewood and feeds the tailor’s pigs. At the end of the story, when wearing his new suit, Pelle visits his lamb to show it his new suit and to thank it.

Pelle's New SuitIn our modern, consumer society, a piece of clothing is often mass-produced and simply picked up from a store. Sometimes the amount of money that is paid for clothing is so impossibly little, or so incredibly high… and many times it is discarding after a season, after a certain fashion is over. Or it is just valued for the brand it displays on its front. Clothing is often taken for granted, and there’s no ‘respect‘ for it — no real knowledge of the effort it took and the actions that were needed to create that piece of clothing. I love how this book describes the various steps of making a wool garment, the understanding of where the clothing actually comes from. I also love how it shows that when you don’t have the specific skills that are needed to do something yourself, you can ask others in your community to help you, and offer your help or skills in return.

Pelle's New SuitI hope that with the help of this little book (and trying to sew and knit as much as possible with my kids, passing on the skills that my mother and grandmother taught me), one day my children will be able to make a sensible and conscious decision when they will buy their own clothing… and that they will respect it and use it for what it entails. Anyway — so many words about fashion, reflection and values, all because of this sweet, beautiful little book. Thanks Kirsten, for the tip!

xxx Esther

PS Available through Amazon UK or US . I couldn’t find a large edition of the book, but if you can get your hands on that, Kirsten told me it’s so much better!

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