Lékué Steam Case

Dinner ready in 20 minutes

 

 

Our Spanish friends Judit & Ignacio, who live on a sail boat here in the islands of San Blas, on the Caribbean coast off Panama introduced us to this genius cooking tool: A silicone steam case by Lekue, so easy to handle and clean. You literally can have a healthy meal on the table in less than 20-25 minutes. Including prep work.

So, the other I chopped up some onions, garlic and zucchinis. Poured some water in the bottom of the tray of the Lekue steam case, laid the vegetables on top of the tray, added 3 fish filets and topped it all with fresh herbs, sliced olives and a little bit of olive oil. Put it in the oven (also suitable for the microwave) and 15 minutes later.... Voila. Lunch served. It’s so easy and flavorful as the food basically cooks in its own juice and steam enhances the flavors and aromas. It locks in all the moisture and the food won’t dry out. You can add broth or wine as well and since it comes with a tray, the food doesn’t sit in the liquid and gets soggy but rather soaks up the flavors of the steam coming from the bottom. I have not tried it but it also cooks pasta, rice and stews and even desserts (think of warm peaches with a spiced honey syrup etc).

It couldn’t be easier. And so was the clean up. You can also throw it in the dishwasher. Here is a little product video. They come in 2 sizes and different colors. Available on their website or Amazon. Check out their other clever kitchen products.

SO AWESOME WALLET CARDS

The play credit cards for kids

 

 

SO AWESOME makes super durable plastic cards with educational purpose. Currently they feature 5 different sets of cards:

  • “Alphabet” wallet cards feature 26 illustrations of fascinating objects to learn the ABC
  • “Numbers” wallet cards are designed to aid children ages 3 to 6 in learning to count quantities of items, and to recognize and read written numerals. 
  • “Go” wallet card set features paper-cut images of people moving in exciting ways  – on skateboards, in hang-gliders, on skis!
  • “Color & Shape” set comes with 12 watercolor and ink illustrations of colorful shapes. The back side displays a solo colored shape, the color and shape’s name are written in English, Spanish and French.
  • They recently launched the “House” cards – illustrations of rooms in the house to expand the kids' vocabulary.

I just love them as they are light, fit right into my purse, are easy to clean but most importantly they are a guaranteed entertainment toy for Mila. Oh, and did I mention they are beautifully illustrated too?

They are Montessori-inspired, definitely a big plus. It’s the perfect toy to pick up if you are in need of the little something, which engages your kids while traveling. The cards are hole punched in the top corners and are lined up on a re-closable ring (loosing a card is difficult as long as you keep them on the ring at least). So a great toy to tag along on long boring airplane & car trips and last weekend I just attached it to the shopping cart while doing the weekly groceries.

Perfect for curious 0 to 6 year olds! Oh and they ship worldwide! They also sell a Super Bundle (4 decks + nice discount) and a “GET 1, GIVE 1” Super Bundle where you get your Super Bundle and you are donating a matching set to a nonprofit, which they change every quarter.

 

The Great Lakes Goods

I SEE YOU

 

 

Recently I went to a fun girls-only trip to NYC – my first time away from Mila – and we got lost @ ABC Carpet. This store is way too huge, way too many Ohhhh & Ahhh things, way too good and unfortunately no small price tags. But I did pick up this hand-painted eye by The Great Lakes Goods. How adorable are those eye lashes? I couldn’t resist and got this “ward off bad things” wall charm for Mila’s room. And it fits perfectly! Those wood diecuts also come in a cobalt blue and seafoam.

The Great Lakes Goods also make this super cute WINK set – with more eyes. If you are into random objects check out their online store. And they also make beautiful greeting cards!

TREE-BOOK-TREE

A sprouting book with an educational message

 

 

A small Argentinean children’s book publisher - Pequeño Editor - just launched a new children’s book, which comes with a great new twist. It is part of a project called Tree-Book-Tree and the seed embedded book grows back into a tree after reading the story. Basically kids can plant the book in soil and it will grow into a tree. The book's title is "Mi papá estuvo en la selva" (My dad was in the jungle), by Gusti Llimpi and Anne Decis and talks about a rainforest and promotes the respect for all living things.

It’s also beautifully made, hand-stitched and contains only acid-free paper with ecological inks. I also like that it transmits another message to all the young readers and gives them a valuable hands-on learning experience to give back to the environment. The book is for kids ages 8-12. It looks like for now the book is only available to educational institutions in Argentina.

But.... How great would it be to have drawing paper that can be planted and grow a tree? Or birthday invitations? As Pequeño Editor puts it “Books come from trees. Today, a tree comes from a book.” This can be applied to many different paper goods. So, maybe we have a new DIY project to embed seeds into homemade paper products?

* photos by Pequeño Editor - screenshots of their product video

THE ONE-ONE TRICK

Heart Of Fruits And Vegetables

Feeding tip for toddlers & kids

 

 

Feeding kids can be a tricky and sometimes a time consuming daily activity. Some kids just eat it all, happily and could always eat more, but some are a bit more tricky. Although Mila is eating pretty well, we have had to come up with our fare shares of little tricks. Mostly, because we put an emphasis on the healthy ingredients… which are not always welcomed with open arms with a 2-year old.

But… My genius husband came up with that simple, yet so effective trick of ONE-ONE. Basically it means, ONE spoon of the “favored” food, and ONE spoon of the “not so favored” food (but the one which makes the parent happy and the kid strong & healthy). And just like that it works like a charm… in our household at least. She hears the word ONE-ONE and all the fuss is over and we continue happily to finish our meals.

Give it a try! Let me know how it works for you. Or if you have a different trick, please do share! Would love to hear from you!

 

ANIMAL ALPHABET POSTER

Beautiful artwork not just for the nursery

 

 

I recently stumbled upon this art print featuring an illustration for each letter of the alphabet. Isn’t it beautiful? It was created from an original gouache painting by the very talented Anna Bond. Together with her husband Nathan Bond, they started Rifle Paper Co, a stationery and gift brand based in Florida back in 2009.  It started as a small stationary business, which quickly grew into something much bigger. They now have over 120 employees and were named to the Inc 500 list of fastest-growing companies.

Despite their fast growth, to this day they print all of their paper products in the USA and assemble them by hand in their studio to ensure every product is inspected before packaging and shipping.

Kids will have fun getting to know the alphabet and animals at the same time with this super cute animal alphabet poster. Anna Bond definitely didn’t choose only the obvious animals kids can find in alphabet books such as zebra, bear and elephant. Love it, that she includes the not so common but quirky ones too like jellyfish, xerus (to be quiet honest I wasn't familiar with this African squirrel right away) or urchin.

Want your child to learn the alphabet the cute way? Stop by at their online shop @ Rifle Paper Co. They also make lovely personalized stationary, invitations (planning a birthday party any time soon?), wallpapers and recently they even did a collection for LESPORTSAC. Also don’t miss their beautiful city art prints. I just love anything travel related....

ATELIER FROU FROU – A little dream for a little girl

Deep in the land of fairytales and mystics

 

 

Once your little girl turns two, you enter the magical world of imaginary beings and romance and elves and tutus. I have a thing for anything small-scale, unique, different and personal. So, to no surprise I am a sucker for small boutique hotels, tiny restaurants, artesianal food products and the same also goes for small labels such as ATELIER FROU FROU. A label in Cologne, Germany, which believes strongly in ethical production and they are designing and making all their collection pieces by hand right there. They bring you straight, non-stop, to this whimsical world all little girls are longing for. Once they turn 2. Or 3.

Anyways, their cloths are so creative and you can see and feel their love for details. Beautiful fabrics, colors and unique designs that make a piece stand out. Different and yet with a modern style retaining a fairytale. FROU FROU obscures the line between clothing and costume - it’s imaginative play clothes and everyday wearable luxury.

My favorite is the playsuit “Suzanne” and I love all of their adorable headbands. The photos (credit to Jessica Sidenros) above are from the new Fall/ Winter collection, available by preorder and online starting in September.

You can shop at their own online shop (worldwide shipping), and I have also seen FROU FROU on minikin and Land of Small carries their headbands.

SPINNING TOPS

Too pretty to hide in the toy bin

The spinning top is one of the oldest toys in the world, and one of the most facet-rich ones. No wonder you’ll find historical tops in various toy museums all over the world.  I grew up with a bigger sized one, made out of metal/ tin. It was beautiful and colorful but recently I am falling more for the smaller, more delicate ones, made out of wood. The old school way.

Most spinning tops come in lots of colors and shapes to attract little hands and brains. They are great to engage children in taking an active role in the process of playing, creating their own imaginative stories. Some can spin for minutes.  One of my favorite designers, Charles Eames, who was also an avid toy collector once said "Toys are not really as innocent as they look. Toys and games are preludes to serious ideas."

Above are a few of my favorite spinning tops. So beautiful you won’t mind if your kids leave them laying all around the house.

Photo #1: Austrian team Klaus and Margit Mader's tops are beautifully handcrafted from hardwoods native to their region. You can easily recognize them by the mark of all of their models: the burned-in stripe at the spinning top´s equator. From classic & colorful to long & spindly. An endless selection.

Photo #2: Designed and made by hand in Greece by The Wandering Workshop. Created to encourage creative play. Each wooden top has a distinct combination of colors and form making for a unique personality and way of spinning!

Photo #3: Talented “woodturner” with an ETSY shop who creates spinning watermelons to lollipops, besides the more classic shapes.

Photo #4: Inspired by Charles Eames and designed by Kleinreid, these spinning tops by Herman Miller are here to “inspire work through play”. Each limited-edition top is crafted from a solid piece of walnut.

Photo #5: A very creative approach on spinning tops by designer Catherine Stolarski. Nothing short of fringes, 3D printed polyamid, polyurethane foam and classic materials such as wood and fabric. Her online shop will be available soon.

Check out ebay as well for some amazing vintage finds.

BRAND PROFILE | MOTORETA

Manufactured in Spain for kids

 

 

Motoreta is a young, small-scale brand from Spain with a fast growing group of little and big fans all over the world. The pieces from the current collection (summer 2015) are all looking pretty stylish without being over the top to me. Sophisticated, yet functional come to mind. I love their brand video – Check it out to see kids in action wearing Motoreta pieces.

The lookbook shows kids being kids… playing with their bikes and balls. I feel, a piece by Motoreta will fit right into your kids’ existing closet, adding a simple but stunning statement. They use a lot of breezy linen fabrics for the summer months, combined with clean & straightforward shapes and cuts. But never missing a little touch of uniqueness. My favorite piece is the Vega dress confetti – how adorable is the big bow in the back?

Two architects, Cristina and Maria, who emphasize on sustainable sourcing & production, founded the label. What I love about it: It’s a true local brand that, against the low-quality of mass production processes, believes in local production and therefore produces 100% n Andalusia.

Visit their online store here, they ship worldwide (free for orders over 150 EUR).

Ko-Ko-Ko Cloud Pillow

Come rain or  shine

 

 

I love decorative pieces for Mila’s room, adding character, color and a statement but when they are also functional I love them even more.  This smiling cloud pillow with pink cheeks is one of those pieces.

You just have to smile looking at this friendly cloud face. And that can only brighten up any day. The cloud measure about 18” (48 cm), is ultra soft, fluffy, and a perfect cuddly pillow. But I can also imagine it on a sofa to lighten up a space. A pillow has some powers to easily and cost-effective update or adding the finishing touches to decorate a (kids) room.

The cloud pillows are handmade in Russia by Ko-Ko-Ko and they can be purchased at these online retailers LittleCircus, My Munchkin Mall and Le Petit Organic.

Side info: The cloud pillow is made of 50% wool and 50% acrylic. It's stuffed with Hypo-allergenic synthetic (filled dense and resilient). Hand wash only.

 

Tegu

Magnetic Wooden Toys to Change a Nation

 

 

Tegu wood blocks have been a round for a few years now but a friend just recently introduced them to me. And it was love at first sight. I am a big fan and believer of wooden toys in general. And Tegu takes this concept a bit further. But let me start from the beginning.

When Tegu was developed the founders, brothers Chris and Will Haughey, wanted to help a nation and its people but didn’t have the intentions of creating a kids toy right away. After traveling to Honduras they were wondering how to address poverty in a more sustainable way and they quickly discovered that Honduras was home to beautiful tropical hardwoods (which could be sustainably harvested).  A few months later, while traveling in Germany, they came across the crafty wood toys and their idea was born.

They researched and developed for a year and came up with the genius idea to switch up the regular wooden building blocks by adding strong magnets to them. In the inside. Basically, they put a bit of new life into a favored classic.

So no more falling down towers, but rather animals, buildings, objects in a more 3D way while freely standing up on any flat surface. Also working with the polarity of magnets is something different for a child and a fun way to learn how to work around challenges. One of the founder says “Tegu comes to life through the imagination of the kids using them and not with batteries or on/off switches”. Just love that.

So you can spark a kid’s imagination and also make a difference in Honduras. So, when you purchase a Tegu toy, you are given the opportunity to direct a portion of the proceeds to two Tegu initiatives:
1.    Reforestation – So 1 tree makes about 500 Tegu sets and with each purchased toy you can choose to replant 12 trees in Honduras OR
2.    Education - Giving a kid an education by funding one day of school for a child who would otherwise work on a trash dump.

Check out their gallery website where parents and kids from around the world upload their Tegu photos. Receive a coupon code for 10% off and free US shipping.

Nice to know: All of their blocks are designed to work together. Oh, and the name Tegu comes from the capital of Hunduras Tegucigalpa.

Bilibo

VERSATILE. DIFFERENT. OPEN-ENDED TOY.

 

 

We are just starting to discover the Bilibo in the last few weeks and we are already having so much fun with it. It really is a super versatile toy and I believe it can grow with the kids age and imagination. Another inspiring toy which goes against the common trend towards more electronic gadgets.  Its a toy that gets children to move and explore.

So, the Bilibo is basically a hard-shelled plastic “bowl” with a curved edge, and a size and weight a little toddler can handle easily. It’s a very unique shape, which allows for curiosity. On one edge it has 2 little holes, perfect for playing ghost (Booooo) or grabbing it easily by putting 2 fingers through the holes.

It’s unique shape can be used in a multitude of ways. It’s seems super durable too. So far, we have used it for spinning (I even fit into it and spun around the living room), rocking, sitting and sliding. It served as a crib for a little siesta of Mila’s toys, as a bathtub for her toys, as a drum (not my favorite part!) and her favorite usage is as a ”messing up any room with water” toy. It’s for in– and outdoors. And as a design conscious parent I love that its not an obvious toy at first sight, well designed and therefore ok when it is just laying around the house. Kids imaginations are being stimulated to invent their own games while learning, exploring and discovering.

To no surprise, it has won multiple awards, all around the world.  They also offer it at the MoMa in NYC in the PLAY & LEARN section.  It’s made by the Swiss company MOLUK. You can get your Bilibo for unlimited play possibilities at Amazon. There is also a mini version available. And it comes in a variety of colors.

Good to know: Bilibos are non-toxic, BPA, phthalate, and latex free and is 100% recyclable. Each one is made from high-density polyethylene, making it resistant to shock at low temperatures and light.