This boy, and balls!

casper_ball5

Pim’s football (soccer) season has started and yesterday we went to the first training of the term. Pim really enjoys his weekly football, and Tamar and I always joke that he is a real team player, but certainly not a champ. Meaning, he loves to be in the company of his friends, chit-chatting with the boys and having a good time – and if in the meantime a ball happens to roll in front of his feet, he will happily give it a kick! Perfectly fine, of course. But now enter his baby brother Casper… This little boy is simply obsessed with balls. I took him to Pim’s training yesterday and he had the time of his life. He kept on running around for the full hour, kicking a ball behind the side lines (where I had trouble restraining him because this boy was ready to enter the fields!).

casper_ball6 casper_balls7

Fact is, Casper has been completely ball obsessed since he could even grab the concept of a ball. Crawling after them, wanting them. One of his first words was ‘ball’, and he would spot them everywhere. And get rather upset when we didn’t give them to him! For example the relatively large globe on top of the cabinet in the kids’ room — he would be SO angry with me that I didn’t give hime that ball! We have also seen him kick a fancy, decorative solid wooden ball over the floor of a restaurant… (Oops!)

casper_ball3 casper_ball2 casper_ball

We are convinced that his love for football was the trigger that made hime take his first steps. Before that, Caspie would crawl to a ball, stand up, and kick, but now he could get to the ball much quicker! And… he mastered some technique since. Of course I’m biased, but really, he does have technique – he can kick the ball really quite far and with an admirable aim!

It’s funny, because neither Tamar nor I ever had any real interest in football (until now, of course); we also don’t have a specific talent for ball-handling or anything. So we don’t know where it’s coming from, it was certainly not purposely encouraged, but it’s there nevertheless. A ball obsessed boy. Isn’t that funny? Sweet babe!

xxx Esther

 

Doodle books from Start Creative

Start Creative doodle books
We have one more week of summer holidays before heading back to London and diving straight into school and a busy Autumn schedule. I’m starting to psyche myself up for the routine that is coming… but first, I have a 9-hour flight with four kids to survive. I’ve been trying to convince one of my siblings to fly back with me to help with all the schlepping of children and luggage, but haven’t had any takers… so it looks like I will fly solo, just the kids and me. Eeeek!

Thankfully, a set of doodle books from Start Creative arrived this week for us to check out. The timing couldn’t be better.

product-lines-interior-2_f03b6997-5859-4966-b232-addb203d4adb_1024x1024
scribbles-inside-1_31efaa15-474d-4f28-b0ed-e4036632f626_1024x1024
Each little doodle book provides the start of a doodle on each page — a simple line, swirl or scribble, which the kids can use as the starting point for their drawing. All your kids will need is a pencil and a bit of imagination!

I also love that the books are perfectly sized for travel, small enough to fit into any carry-on tote or child’s backpack (I’ve already stashed some in our travel bag, ready for our flight!).

x Courtney

p.s. Last year, after surviving the long flight back to London with all the kids, I jotted down some simple tips for flying with kids. I’ll be studying these tips to prepare myself for next week’s flight, and if you have any other tips to share, please do!

To win this month!

We again have a few fabulous prizes to win this month! Did you enter yet?

thecarouselshopWe have The Carousel Show, the magic playground of every child’s imagination, where you will find everything and anything to turn your party into an effortless spectacular event. The Carousel Show are offering one lucky winner £100 worth of party supplies for a theme of their choice, plus they will work with the winner, getting everything together for a wonderful event. How perfect! Click here to enter!

Titou and Lili Babyccino win picThen there is Titou & Lili, the darling children’s lifestyle brand inspired by a Parisian pre-1950’s aesthetic. The beautiful illustrations, hand painted with eco-friendly water based paints, are featuring Titou, his sister Lili and their animal friends, and are so stylish and sweet. This month, Titou & Lili are offering one 12″ square wall artwork or one 4 piece wall art set, worth £120! Enter here!

babychinnocompetitionAnd then we have Scout & Co, the one-stop shop offering handpicked, design-led products that are selected with quality, longevity, and ethical production in mind. Plus, the playful design will definitely bring a smile to your face! Scout & Co is offering one lucky winner a £100 gift voucher to spend in their gorgeous shop. There is so much to choose from! Enter now!

Good luck!!

 

The ShopUp 2014!!

ShopUp website

We are beyond excited to finally announce this year’s ShopUp event! Following the success of last year’s event, we’ll be hosting another 2-day shopping fair in London this December where we will bring together more than 25 different boutiques all under one roof just in time for the holiday shopping period. We’re already soooo excited!

We’re also thrilled to announce a brand new dedicated ShopUp site. Introducing… www.theshopup.com! Here you will find all the important info, activities and, most importantly, the list of all participating shops. You can also watch the video and see all the photos from last year’s event.

We’ve already lined up a hot selection of amazing shops (don’t you want to go shopping already! so good!), and we’re excited to organise more shops and some sweet activities to keep your little ones entertained. Please stay tuned…

In the meantime, mark your calendars for December 3rd and 4th, and get your holiday shopping lists ready!! We hope to see you there!

xx Courtney, Esther & Emilie

Get organised! This month’s column in Baby&Me Magazine

Baby&Me mag

Every year I promise myself I’ll be organised come the first day of school. I’ll be ready for early morning wake-ups and prepared for the rush to school. But no matter my best intentions, I’m never ready.

We still have another two weeks until school starts for my kids, but this year I’m determined to be prepared for the inevitable routine that’s coming. This month for Baby & Me Magazine I’ve rounded up some of my favourite products to help get organised: notebooks, planners, pens, name labels and an office wall organiser I’ve coveted for years. You can find my selection in this month’s issue here.

x Courtney

Mabo Kids summer sale

DSC_5221
DSC_5217
DSC_5219
DSC_5239

When Mabo Kids announced their summer sale a couple weeks ago, I quickly scooped up a few adorable pieces for the kids, my favourite being this little chambray playsuit for Ivy. So sweet! I snapped a few photos of her earlier this week when we were out at Fort Casey near where my dad lives. I love how summery these photos are — the dried grass, the flower seeds blowing, her blonde wispy hair… and of course the cutest little summer outfit.

There are still some remaining pieces in the Mabo sale, and if you hurry on over you might get lucky with the right sizes, etc.

x Courtney

Back to school!

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetCan you imagine? My little Ava, who was born only yesterday, started school today! Sara and Pim are also in new classes (Sara is at the top level of the school already! Two stairs to climb!). It was pretty crazy this morning, preparing thee lunch boxes and having to bring three children to their new classes, but everything went well and Ava was a star. When I picked her up at the end of the day, her teacher told me she was ‘a natural scholar’. Funny girl! (Maybe she’ll be a professor one day!)

TopTenWith ‘Back to School’ on our minds, this week’s Top Ten is filled with a selection of 10 cute products which will make every (first) school day super fun. When are your children beginning school? It feels like we are the first ones to start!

xxx Esther

PS Ava’s cute ‘Doggy Bag‘ is from Nogaravin, and her dress from Kallio.

Old school boys look, and a new collection from La Coqueta

cas1 cas2

It’s been so-so with the weather in the Netherlands since we came back from France last week. Lots of rain, and often we’ve been wearing cardigans and socks to keep ourselves warm! It really seems that autumn is early this year… I’ve been dressing Casper (who, by the way, had a huge growth spurt the last few weeks!), in shorts and knee socks a lot and I can just eat him up. I love that old-fashioned boys look!

la_coqueta1 la_coqueta5 la_coqueta6

It seems like the new look book from La Coqueta came perfectly in time. Isn’t everything just so adorable? (Including the models!!)

la_coqueta4 la_coqueta2 la_coqueta_3 la_coqueta7The collection will launch today… I will definitely stock up on some old-school outfits for Casper for the coming season, because if the weather stays like this, he will definitely be getting lots of wear out of it!

xxx Esther

Little crochet money purses

crochet bag 3 crochet bag 4I always like to keep my hands busy during long car journeys, so I’ve started knitting and crocheting while my husband drives the way to our holiday destination. On the way to France last month, I started a (doll size) granny square blanket, which was really fun!

During our stay, there were a a few nights where we kept our children busy during dinners by asking them to make a collection of loom bands, and then selling them (by auction!) to friends and family. We had a good laugh and the kids earned a few cents, which made them proud and looking forward to the next ‘Vide Greniers’ (flee markets) we always like to visit during the weekends. To keep their earnings safe, I quickly crocheted a little purse for each of them, and they turned out really cute. Here’s how I made them (using cotton yarn with crochet needle 3,5):

crochet purse

First, chain 30.
Row 1: single crochet in all 30 chains. (30 sc)
Row 2: Change colour. Double crochet in first sc and in each sc across (30 dc)
Row 3: ch 1, turn. Double stitch in first dc and in each dc across (30 dc)
Row 4 & 5 and 6 & 7: repeat row 2 & 3

(For one colour: Row 2 – 7: chain 1, turn. Double stitch in first dc and in each dc across (30 dc) )

Begin flap:
Row 8 (same colour as row 7): Ch 1, turn. Double stitch in first dc and in the next 14 dc (15 dc)
Row 9: ch 1, turn. Double stitch in first dc and in each dc across (15 dc)
Row 10: change colour. Double stitch in first dc and in each dc across (15 dc)
Row 11: ch 1, turn. Double stitch in first dc and following 6 dc, skip one dc and ch 1 instead, dc in 8th dc and next 6 dc (15 dc)
Row 12: ch 1, turn. Single crochet in first dc and each dc (and ch) across (15 sc)

(For one colour: Row 8 – 11: chain one 1, turn. Double stitch in first dc and in the next 14 dc (15 dc). Row 12: sc like above. )

Fasten off and weave in ends.

Bag assembly: Fold purse, and starting at the lower left corner, slip stitch the sides together. Once you get to the top right corner, chain enough to form the strap, then attach to other side of bag and ‘faux’ slipstitch the other side as well. Fasten off and secure ends.

Finishing: Fold flap over front of bag to find placement of button. Sew on button and fasten through space formed between dc 6 and 8 in center of Row 11.

crochet bag 1 crochet bag 2Voila! I hope I explained everything correctly. They are really simple and quick to make!

xxx Esther

An easy way to transform a room

pim_bed_2We’re back from France, and we found our house renovation next door in full swing. Once again, I’m thinking of tiles patterns, paint colours, concrete floors and curtains. I even wake up in the middle of the night, trying to solve the most unimportant little design questions imaginable. Crazy! (And annoying!)

pim_bed

One of the things that came to mind in my nightly brainstorms, is that I should most definitely use the painted rectangle idea again. A few years ago, to define Pim’s part of the room he currently shares with his big sister Sara, we painted a blue rectangle above his bed. It was really quick and easy to do, and it had such a cool effect. This is how we did it:

We chose a paint colour from the local DIY store, and bought enough paint to cover about 2 m² of wall. With (painters) masking tape and a level, we defined a rectangle above Pim’s bed, approximately 2 meters wide and 1 meter tall. With a paint roller, we painted the rectangle (in our case, two layers of paint were enough). After about half an hour (before the paint dried out too much), we carefully removed the tape. The next day, when the paint was totally dry, we hung the Ferm Living houses on the square, the work light and the knitted garland from Oeuf. I’m still so pleased with how it turned out!

Our children will once again still be sharing rooms in the new house, but this time, Casper will move in with Pim, and Ava with Sara. So I’ll have a boys bedroom and a girls bedroom to decorate. Fun!

xxx Esther

Weekend Getaway: Budapest

budapest for kids

Have you every been to Budapest? I would love to go! I’m a little bit obsessed by old European capitals at the moment, so Budapest is right at the top of my list of places to visit. One of our lovely readers, Diane, visited Budapest recently and put together a little lists of things to do and see.

Diane and her husband John are avid travelers.  They began taking their daughter (now 4.5) abroad when she was 18 months old.  They now travel with two kids (their son is 2). Here is their list of things to see and places to play, eat and stay:

Family

SEE:

Castle District – Located on the Buda side of the Danube, the Castle District is a must see for three distinct reasons. First, the trip to the Castle District is a blast for kids as it includes riding in a funicular. Once there, you will be dazzled by a wide array of buildings including the Royal Palace and the Matthias Church. But before you explore the charming streets of the District, stop and look across the Danube for the third (and, in my opinion) best reason for visiting the District – the views of Pest. You will have stunningly perfect views of Hungary’s enormous Parliament (third largest in the world), its distinct bridges and the lovely Danube itself. This is the perfect place for a family photo, if I do say so myself.

Heroes’ Square and City Park – City Park is a little like New York’s Central Park in that it has a bit of everything on its grounds including Budapest’s zoo and Szechenyi Baths. We elected not to visit the baths with two small kids but did spend an afternoon at the zoo. As it is located in the middle of town (and is one of the oldest zoos in the world), Budapest’s zoo feels intimate and the animals don’t seem so far away. After spending part of the day at the zoo, it is worth taking a stroll through City Park to visit Vajdahunyad Castle, especially if, like me, you have a child obsessed with princesses and castles. On the way out of the park, stop in (closed-to-traffic) Heroes’ Square and take in the imposing monument and statues of Hungary’s most important national leaders.

Memento Park – The final resting place for communist statues, Memento Park allows you to imagine what life was like behind the iron curtain. Although the significance of the statues will be lost on smaller kids (as it should be), they will enjoy climbing on the larger than life statues and sitting in the old Trabant car parked near the entrance. Once they are older and learn about the Soviet bloc in school, you can pull out the old photos and show them just how close they got to history. Memento Park is a bit out of the way in outer Buda but there are several easy public transportation options. Our kids enjoyed the trip out there just as much as they did the statues.

DSC_2701

PLAY:

Mini Polisz – Located at Nyugati ter, near the train station and WestEnd City Center, Mini Polisz is the ultimate interactive and roleplaying museum for young children. The space is divided into different businesses, including a Tesco grocery store, bank, mechanic shop, hair salon and doctor’s office. Children can move from one location to the next, taking on the jobs required of each business. Among the more creative sections is a roadway where kids can practice obeying traffic rules while riding scooters and trikes. There also is a baby room for those under one and a snack counter. For a more substantial meal, head over to the WestEnd City Center mall which offers over 50 dining options.

Children’s Railway  – Operated by children (under adult supervision), the Children’s Railway is a fun way to see the hills high above Budapest. The train’s route takes you past a number of sites, including Challenge Land Adventure Park, an outdoor park with several different ropes courses for visitors 4 and up. As we had a little one with us who couldn’t participate, we opted to skip Challenge Land but a lot of people recommend it!

EAT:

Verne Restaurant  – Verne Restaurant is just one of a seeming endless row of restaurants located on the popular pedestrian shopping street, Vaci utca. What distinguishes Verne from other restaurants is the enormous playground located in the back of the restaurant. We had not seen a playground of that magnitude at a restaurant not called McDonald’s. It came equipped with a slide, playhouse, sandbox and plenty of shovels and buckets. Our kids did not want to leave. For the adults, the restaurant offers a varied menu including pizzas and traditional Hungarian dishes.

Pizza Eataliano  – With three locations in popular tourist areas of Budapest, you are never far away from an Eataliano outpost. As the name suggests, this is the place for pizza and also pasta, all at a reasonable price (especially if you dine off of the lunch menu). The children’s menu offers several pizza and pasta options and includes dessert (ice cream or chocolate cake).

Gelarto Rosa – Rumored to be the best ice cream in Budapest and it certainly lives up to its hype. This tiny shop scoops the ice cream into the shape of a perfect rose. As a bonus, they offer dairy-free and other allergen-free flavors. This meant that my son, who is allergic to several common foods, was able to enjoy a daily treat. As the shop is small, there is generally a line out the door but it is worth the wait. Plus, the shop is just a few storefronts down from Szent Istvan ter (St. Stephen’s Square) and its beautiful Szent Istvan Bazilika (St. Stephen’s Basilica). Take your ice cream over to the (car free) square and let your kids run around while you enjoy the view of the beautiful church.

Jegbufe  – Ever wonder what it must have been like to live in the Communist era? Jegbufe gives you a chance to step back in time. In business since 1952 (and apparently not renovated since them), Jegbufe is a Budapest institution serving pastries and drinks just as they did prior to the fall of the iron curtain. In addition to retaining the Soviet-era décor, Jegbufe has kept the communist system of ordering goods: first, you view the items you wish to purchase. Once you decide which you would like to buy, you get into a separate line to pay. Once payment is complete, bring your receipt back to the original counter and claim your treat. Not surprisingly, they only take cash, and it can be a bit of a challenge to use a stroller inside. No doubt just like in the communist days.

SHOP:

Játékvár  – If there is one item that makes a young child uniquely Hungarian it is their possession of an affordable, plastic ride on scooter. They ride them everywhere: in the mall, on the playground, at the zoo and on any and all pedestrian-only streets and squares. Naturally, we had to buy two for our own children (and find a way to get them home, but that’s another story). We bought ours at Játékvár at the Mammut I shopping mall, located near the Millenaris cultural center. However, these ubiquitous scooters can be found in various shops throughout town. If you have plans to tour the zoo, spend time in City Park or stroll down pedestrian-only Vaci utca., you can’t go wrong by investing in a riding scooter for your children. These scooters may just be the best souvenir we have ever brought back from Europe.

IMG_8397

Memories of Hungary  – There is no shortage of souvenir shops in Hungary selling cheap bags, magnets and other tchotchkes. However, for unique souvenirs of high quality, there is one shop that should be on everyone’s list. Memories of Hungary, located down the street from Szent Istvan Bazilika (St. Stephen’s Basilica), sells a wide array of beautifully crafted items including clothing, handbags and ceramics, as well as wine and food. For little ones, they have books, stuffed animals and beautiful hand puppets. The store’s employees speak perfect English and can help you find the right souvenir for that hard-to-shop-for friend or relative.

STAY:

Apartment Rentals –  We had great luck with Golden Stars Apartments  which offered an array of apartments of different sizes throughout Budapest. They also arranged for an airport transfer with car seats. We elected to rent an apartment on pedestrian-only Vaci utca. Vaci utca was the ideal location for a family with small children. We were a stone’s throw away from many food options, including the kids’ favorite, McDonald’s, and the kids rode their new riding scooters to dinner each night. When my son lost his right shoe (we only brought one pair with us), we had several options for purchasing a new pair. When the kids got a little restless during the witching hour (you parents know what I mean), we took them around the corner to a perfect playground set against the backdrop of the Danube. And when it was time to head out and sightsee, we had several public transportation options available to us within a five minute walk, including trams and the metro.

For those who prefer hotels, you can’t beat the family activities available at the Four Seasons Budapest, located on the banks of the Pest side of the Danube. The hotel offers both baby- and kid-sized amenities for their littlest guests, including baby toys and child-sized robes and slippers.

- Emilie

P.S. Diane hired a local photographer to take photos of the whole family in Budapest. Such a great idea, I never have a single photo of the whole family when we go on holiday. She used Brita Photography.

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

Blackberry season. Time for pie!

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
girls eating blackberries

And just like that… it’s blackberry season! In just the past week the blackberries on the island have ripened… and they are abundant! We’ve been picking blackberries daily and eating them for every meal.  Yummm. Last week the girls and I decided to make a blackberry pie. To be honest, Ivy decided she wanted to make a pie and I decided to be a good mama and help her make it. Pies are not my favourite thing to make — I’m always turned off by the trickiness of pie crust (the making, the rolling, the precision of pie crust pinching!). Cakes and cobblers are so much easier for this reason. But, Ivy wanted pie…

I’ve recently discovered the baking blog Bakers Royale, and the few recipes I’ve tried have been really good so we decided to make her Blackberry Lime Pie, despite my worries that it might be too sour for a little girl’s palette.

blackberry lime pie
blackberry lime pie, last piece

The pie turned out really well (despite the not-so-perfect pie crust design!). The blackberry and lime combination is really interesting, and the crust is a bit sweeter than most crusts so it’s the perfect combination of sweet pastry and slightly sour filling. Really yummy! We will definitely make it again.

x Courtney

MAPS Activity Book

MAPS activity book
colouring MAPS activity book
Remember the MAPS book we all love so much? Well, they’ve just come out with an activity book version which my kids are loving nearly as much as the book!! (Easton did make sure to tell me that he still loves the book more!)

colouring american states

The MAPS activity book is filled with loads of great activities, all based on encouraging children to learn and discover the different countries, continents and cultures around the world. There’s a page, for example, that encourages children to colour the 50 different states of America, using only four colours, and without letting any of the colours touch — a fun, yet challenging activity that my 9-year-old really enjoyed.

colour your own flag

Another page asks you to colour the different flags from countries around the world and then asks you to design and colour your own flag. Another fun activity! The book is available from Amazon (US and UK).

x Courtney

A yummy salad from green (Puy) lentils

green lentil salad

We’re currently staying in our family house in France, which is located in one of the most beautiful parts of France (if you ask me): the Cantal. Part of the Auvergne, it has a stunning nature, amazing architecture, and wonderful local food. I’ve been coming here for over 25 years, my husband for over 14 years, and now we bring our children here every year as well. We all love this part of the world so much! (I will share some photos of our vacation here soon.)

lentils lentils_1 lentils_3

The Auvergne is also home to the Puy green lentils — they have been produced on the volcanic grounds of this area for over 2000 years. They are very tasty, and super healthy as well. I make them quite often in summer, and always a royal amount as they easily keep for a few days and are super to have around as a side dish, for lunch or picnics. And usually everybody really likes them, including the children!

Here’s how I prepare them (please adjust all quantities to your taste — I never measure them myself!):

  • 250g green or blond (Puy) lentils
  • half an onion or one shallot, finely chopped
  • a royal cup fresh herbs, finely chopped (parsley, coriander, mint, basil, chives, etc — whatever you have handy)
  • 3 tbs. good olive oil
  • juice of half a lemon
  • fresh ground pepper and sea salt

Pick over and rinse the lentils, and cook them in salty water for about 20 to 25 minutes, until tender but still firm. Drain, run cold water over them, drain again and transfer to a large bowl. Mix the lentils with the rest of the ingredients. Stir gently to combine. Taste, and add more olive oil and lemon juice to taste. Eat lukewarm, or chilled from the fridge. They’re arguably even better the next day!

Bon appétit!

xxx Esther

Dinosaur / Skeleton Memory Game

dinosaur_memory_2Do you sometimes play memory games with your children? And do you win? I honestly have trouble beating my kids! I remember that as a child, I loved playing Memory with adults, because I could actually beat them. I wonder, is it true that children have a better (short term) memory than grown-ups?

dinosaur_memory1Anyway, I recently got this cool Dinosaur / Skeleton Memory game, and it’s so fun. We love playing (and of cours Pim beats me all the time) – and at the same time we learn the names of all the dinosaurs. Which is a crucial triviality, especially if you’re a mum of boys!

xxx Esther

PS Another game I love playing with my children (and they beat me all the time too)!

A few days in Portland

walking downtown portland

We’ve just finished a little road trip from Lake Tahoe, NV, where Michael’s parents have a home, back up to Seattle where we will spend the rest of our summer holiday with my family. We did some sightseeing along the way and really enjoyed exploring some new parts of California and Oregon we have never seen before. We decided to stop in Portland  on our way and spend a few days checking out the city. Despite having grown up in Seattle, I’ve never really spent much time in Portland… and we keep hearing such good things about it!

I can definitely say it is worth all the hype. Portland is such a great little city, so easy to navigate with all the wonderful shops and restaurants located downtown in an easily walkable grid. It’s a perfect destination for a weekend break because it’s small enough to explore, but still feels very much like a hip, happening city. We loved it!

Here’s a little recap of our visit and some photos too:

We arrived into Portland in time to check into our hotel and walk to dinner at Oven & Shaker in the Pearl District. We sat outside and enjoyed good pizza and beer. We then stopped by Ruby Jewel for ice cream on our way back to our hotel. Lots of people suggested to go to Salt & Straw for ice cream, but we never made it there. Apparently they serve delicious ice cream in the most unusual flavours (and it’s so popular they have a queue going around the block!).

marlow at Kenny & Zuke's

The next morning we enjoyed breakfast at Kenny & Zuke’s (I ate the gravlax salmon bagel and it was delicious!) and then good coffee from Stumptown. We then enjoyed a bit of window shopping in the new Union Way shopping arcade across the street. Quin was excited to find a candy shop named Quin (!!) while I was happy to take a quick stroll through Steven Alan.

Quin candy shop

kids in portland

After window shopping, we walked down to Portland Pedal Bike Tours where we rented bikes for the day. We put the girls in a trailer behind my bike, Quin rode tandem with Michael, and Easton rode his own bike. We had so much fun cycling around the city and exploring the various neighbourhoods (once I got the hang of riding a bike in a dress and pulling two heavy girls behind me! oh my!).

girls in bike trailer

During our bike ride around town, we stopped for lunch at Por Qué No?. The kids were hot and sweaty from cycling in the 90º heat and they loved getting iced cold prickly pear juice to cool them off. The tacos were yummy too!

kids at por que no

At the end of our cycle, we stopped for a while and let the kids run through the fountains at the waterfront park near the Hawthorne Bridge. The kids were so hot, they went in completely clothed (we didn’t have their swimsuits!). I nearly went in too – I was so beat from riding all over town with the girls in tow! ;)

portland water fountain

For dinner that night we met one of Michael’s college friends at one of Portland’s hot spots, Tasty & Alder. The food was again delicious! It was worth the hour long wait to get in (no reservations taken). And even though we were the only ones in there with kids, they were really friendly and accommodating to our big group.

The next day Michael had a few meetings so I was on my own with the kids. We started our day by hitting up the photobooth at the Ace Hotel. I’m a sucker for the old-school photobooths, and my kids loved them so much, they were nearly in tears when I told them we had to leave!

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset

We then walked over to Powell’s Books, which is a great (enormous!) bookstore selling both new and used books. We sat in the children’s section reading books to each other for a good porting of the morning, and I let the kids each pick out two books to take home with them. It was a great place to escape the heat, and would equally be a great place to escape the rain or cold if you visited during other seasons.

After the bookstore, we walked over to Jamison Square. We picked up pizza from Hot Lips (great name!) and ate lunch in the park, and then the kids ran around in the fountains for a couple hours! Phew! : )

jamison square water fountain

On our way back from the fountains I managed to squeeze in a little visit to Canoe, which is a shop I had been eyeing for the past couple days. I wanted to buy everything in store! So many pretty homewares! Alas, I did not buy everything in the shop. : )

canoe shop

That night, we had a quick dinner at Lardo. The kids got hot dogs, and I had a tasty sandwich. It was all I could manage with four exhausted kids, but it was pretty good for a sandwich joint. The next morning we grabbed breakfast at Mother’s before driving out of town and heading for Seattle. They served us waffles topped with juicy blackberries picked that morning!

That’s it! What a great little trip. I definitely recommend visiting Portland. We will go back for sure!

xx Courtney

p.s. Feel free to add tips in the comments below if you have any other recommendations for people visiting the city. Thank you!

Sweet vegetables from Mama Couture

mama_couture_veggies

How darling are these handmade vegetables from Mamma Couture? I love the different materials and shapes, and the sweet details like the little face on the peas. There are 13 different vegetables that come in their own fabric carrying bag, and the vegetables are available to buy separately as well. So pretty and so fun for the children! Ava loves cooking and grocery shopping for her doll family these days, and she agrees that these vegetables make a perfectly healthy dolls diet.

mama_couture_doll

Cambridge mum Eva, a passionate sewer and professional pattern cutter, is the creative wonder behind Mamma Couture. Eva collects materials from all over the world, creates her own original patterns, and sews every piece by hand. The production is always limited to a few exclusive pieces, and each piece is made individually, and thus unique. Besides her darling vegetables, she also makes adorable dolls, designed to bring comfort and be loved by children of all ages. So sweet!

xxx Esther

A day trip from Paris – Versailles

Louis14

Living in this lovely city of Paris is great… but it is easy to forget all the great things to do and visit just outside the city. A couple of weekends ago we jumped with some friends on a commuter train (the RER B) and within 40 minutes we had arrived in front of the stunning chateau of Versailles, known for its beauty and also the over the top extravagance of the Kings and Queens of France who lived there.

The children were amazed by the opulence of their surroundings and how crazy it was that this whole chateau was built just for one man and his entourage to live in! Good old Louis the 14th sure knew how to live it up!

Versaillesfront

The main palace is amazing to visit, but with a whole gaggle of children in tow, we opted for a visit of the gardens surrounding the palace and a visit to the smaller Trianon Palace together with Marie-Antoinette’s domaine, which has been restored very recently.

It was a lovely day: we picnicked, played hide and seek between the manicured hedges, strolled through the different gardens, and had a good look around Marie-Antoinette’s retreat.
kidsVersaillesGarden
neptun
We finished the trip with a boat ride on the Grand Canal, just like Marie Antoinette would have done, I am sure.

rowboat
These kind of day trips make me realise how lucky we are to have so much history right at our doorstep! Visiting Versailles is so easy, even if you are just visiting Paris for a week!

- Emilie

Kid Libs, Mad Libs for kids

mad libs

My kids discovered Mad Libs for the first time this holiday and now I’m wondering what took me so long to introduce them! The giggles coming from the kids’ table are so, so cute. Not to mention, they now know the difference between a verb and an adverb, a noun and a plural noun.

The kids have been playing with the Kid Libs version which are great for kids aged seven and up. And the nice thing about the game is that it can be played by as many people as you want. I’ve even caught Easton playing on his own and then laughing at his stories! We have a little road trip coming up this weekend and I’m planning on bringing a few Kid Libs with us in the car — I think it will be the perfect thing to entertain a captive car audience. You can buy Kid Libs Mad Libs from Amazon (US and UK ).

x Courtney

Older Posts »