Visually. Beautifully, Simply. Vibrantly.

In Germany we have a saying, which goes along the lines “eat with your eyes” and Erin Gleeson’s cookbook and her amazing artistic illustrations are a perfect proof for it. She has an incredible talent to arrange food in a way that it looks like a painted still life turned into easy to understand and execute recipes.  She lives in a cabin in the woods of Nothern California (after many years in New York City), which is just a plain beautiful setting for her photography. Watercolor illustrations and handwriting are frequently added to her recipes. I originally fell in love with her when I discovered this recipe (which is great with cherries too by the way). So, if you love delicious, quick meals (and who doesn't?), then check out this little video to get a feel for Erin's work & cookbook full of fresh, wholesome, and tasty recipes your kids will love too.

Her cookbook is my go-to-book when looking for great finger food, eye catching bites for parties and when we have company over but also great treats for Mila. If you have kids age 4 or older, this book is probably great to have your kids pick a recipe and follow the very visual instructions almost on their own with little help here and there. Her recipes are sooo easy, well illustrated, quick and straightforward. Most of them have only a few ingredients (3-4) and require only a few steps and are great for anyone who believes he/she does not belong in the kitchen. All recipes are vegetarian, which I welcome so much (although we do eat (and love) fish, we usually have no meat at the house), and most recipes can be made gluten-free or vegan. I usually like to replace cows milk products with goat milk cheese, cashew cream (so easy to make in 2 min.) or almond milk. I swear her crispy carrots will turn any kids into carrot lovers. Erin has a lot of great recipes to make kids eat and love their vegetables. She has a little baby herself so maybe we can just hope she will launch a kids cookbook someday soon.

If you have a CSA subscription this is your cookbook to try easy to make recipes with familiar and less familiar goodies you have in your next basket! And Erin shares my love for Maldon sea salt.

Available at your local bookstore or on Amazon US or Germany (written in German!).

All photos by Erin Gleeson.


A cozy hoodie with spikes

We probably won’t need any hoodies ever in Panama with year around temperatures around 30 °C (90 °F) so I won’t be able to try them myself but they are so damn cute, they need to be shared, right?

They are all made by hand by Gazel Goh in Australia and you can get them via Etsy @ ShopPiccolo. The material is a mix of cotton, felt, fleece and jersey. It’s not just for those Jurassic Park fans.

We are traveling this week to California and will take a mini break from posting on the blog. The next post is coming in the following week. You can follow us on Instagram though….

Photo credits by ShopPiccolo


A timeless, simple and beautiful baby gift

When a very good friend of ours here in Panama told us she was pregnant (with her first baby), my dear friend France and I knew we had to come up with a unique gift. One of the gifts we picked was The Birth Poster.

It’s basically an abstract drawing that has been adapted to the baby’s actual size when born (scale 1:1). There are 4 design illustrations you can choose from. If you like Scandinavian design (The Birth Poster is a Swedish company) as much as I do, this is for you. My friend and I loved the simplicity and clean aesthetics of the poster right away and felt it was cute as a baby gift but also something more sophisticated and totally suitable for a living room as well (which you can’t say about most baby gifts). And it is very personal. No poster will be alike.

It’s a gift though that you have to wait till the baby is born as you are printing the name as well as all the birth data such as length, weight and date & time on it at the bottom.

Good to know: Each poster measures 50 x 70 cm (20” x 27.5”) and is printed on high quality, heavier (200 g) Schneidler Poster Paper. Contact them and they even make the posters in your preferred language. Worldwide shipping. It's €10 (around $12), anywhere in the world. We received our poster in a thick, heavy paper tube, very protected.  

DIY – Unwanted dad's button down shirt turned into adorable girls dress

Photo by

Photo by

Giving old clothes new purpose

A while ago I found this idea on Pinterest and my husband finally sorted out a few pieces in his closet. I took two of his shirts, he sorted out for a local charity organization, and decided to bring this idea to life. If you have a shirt, which is like brand new but got an ugly stain, it’s also perfect for this DIY project.

In our case the shirts had chest pockets, which I removed with small scissors. I gave the tailor sample dresses to make sure the new dresses will fit her well. The buttons on the front of the shirt can be the buttons on the back of the new dress or a decorational piece if you want to keep them in the front. You can just add simple elastic on the neck- and sleeve lines and the new dress is done. We went a step further and added little details such as ruffled arms or embroidery on the front. Endless possibilities! Oh, and please do not look to closely at the above pictures, my ironing skills definitely need some work.

Thinking about it, if you are into sewing yourself you can turn the shirts into doll dresses too. What is your favorite DIY project? Are you upcycling clothes? Love to hear about your projects.

THE OPEN OCEAN – by Francesco Pittau and Bernadette Gervais

Gorgeous pop-up book in XXL format

Today is a rainy cloudy day in Pedasi, a little beach town on Panama’s Pacific coast. So we got cozy on the sofa and grabbed [ again ] the book: THE OPEN OCEAN and started browsing. We have the German version “Rate, wer versteckt sich hier? Das grosse Buch der Meerestiere”. Its huge! Almost the size of Mila.

So, in THE OPEN OCEAN kids can discover more than 50 sea animals, from mammals, fish to mussels and mollusks. But it’s not your average picture book. Its illustrations are beautiful, engaging and impressive. From the outside you don’t see much more than 4 pages, but don’t be irritated by this. When you first open the book you will be “welcomed” by an over dimensional starfish. You can unfold its 2 pages - to the left and to the right. Now you have 4 pages filled with black and white silhouettes of all kinds of marine life – great for kids to guess the animals behind each flap. Flap the silhouettes up and you see the creatures in colors and how they look in real life, skillfully illustrated.

On other pages you can flap mussels and shells open and see how they look inside. Another double page is dedicated to the different skins and shells of sea animals by showing kids a close up of those. Once you flip up the flap the animal behind sits itself up. At the end of the book is a fish puzzle (almost like a real adventure playground), in which readers can pull up or down different tabs. By doing this they can create and put together different fantasy animals or the correct fish. There is even one big whale covering all 4 tabs.

Living in Panama – we actually have a lot of the featured animals in the 2 oceans here: Atlantic & Pacific around us, which makes this book even more interesting and real for Mila. She is a little on the young side to flip through it herself but mostly because if its (fun!) size and the little flip parts which can be a bit delicate for little rougher hands.

Available at your local bookstore or Amazon (US and Germany). The authors also have 2 similar books: BIRD OF A FEATHER and OUT OF SIGHT.

NELLO – The magic ring toy

Roll, swing, spin, throw and catch it

Moluk, a creative and fun Swiss toy manufacturer (we wrote about their BILIBO before), came out recently with a new goodie: Nello. Nello is essentially 3 pieces, if you would describe it plain and simple it consists of 2 rings in different sizes and a little half ball / cup. But it is so much more than that. It’s a little magic object, so versatile, it entertains kids for hours and is such an open-ended toy and just great for imaginative playing all around and outside the house. So far we have come up with:

  • bath time entertainer, foam catcher and floating island(s)
  • great dress-up props (think halo, clown nose, crown etc)
  • hula-hoop for the arms
  • bowl/ storage for treasure hunting goodies
  • snack bowls
  • fabulous shampoo rinse cup
  • sand molds for beach time (I guess also for snow? – Can’t test it here in tropical Panama)
  • flying saucer

And we have had Nello only for a few weeks. It’s great for educational and sensory learning and its made all eco/ kids-friendly: high-quality, food-grade HD-PE, free of BPA, phthalate and latex. It is also 100% recyclable.

It comes in 3 different color combinations and you will be surprised upon delivery, which colors you will receive. You can’t pick them! Available at Fat Brain Toys or Amazon.

Steiff – friends for life

Soft & cuddly stuffed animals



When I grew up I was fortunate enough to receive a few Steiff stuffed animals over the years. In Europe they are pretty well-known (they have been around since 1880!) and you might have seen their famous teddy bear here and there (Steiff actually invented the teddy bear). You can detect any Steiff animal by their “button in ear”. Recognize that?


Children just love their friendly faces, cuddly fur, and realistic designs. Their quality is really extra ordinary – thankfully my parents kept all of my Steiff animals and not only did all my younger sisters (3 of them!) got to cuddle and play with them but also now my daughter Mila. She especially took the big pig (it has her size and is fantastic to cuddle with) into her heart. Each one of my “old” Steiff plush animals look like new. Most of the fur is made of fabrics such as mohair, alpaca, cotton velvet, and woven fur. They take their quality control serious and actually – still to this day - each Steiff animal is hand-sewn and hand-finished by talented artisans in Germany.  Probably most of the animals you can think of, or your kids love, Steiff has done the plush version of it at some point. There is also a huge collectors market for Steiff products out there.

Sure, this quality has its price but there are always special occasions and I believe that Steiffis another example of a high quality multi-generational product and it’s better to have one of those than five other mediocre toys that won’t last but a few months.

MUMBRELLA – a hands-free umbrella for the stroller

Rain and sun protection for moms while pushing a stroller

We have all been there, struggling to get AND keep an umbrella over our heads while pushing a stroller in the rain at the same time. Kids usually have a cozy cover all over them to protect them from any down pouring rain, or if the sun is shining too bright or too high in the sky we just unfold the little roof which comes with any stroller. But the person pushing the stroller, that person has to juggle keeping the stroller moving AND holding on to an umbrella, along with the usual shopping bag, a bottle, keys and maybe even a phone to hold on to.

Not any longer. Mumbrella is here. A brand new umbrella you can attach to almost any stroller, adjustable in 2 points including a bendable area to get protection from sun or rain and still pushing a stroller, hands free. The Mumbrella doesn’t have the usual umbrella shape but is rather asymmetric with a vented canopy style for better adjustments and protection depending on the rain or sun’s direction.

They have a fun little video too. Visit their shop and you have the choice of 3 colors.

Mumbrella on the go

A bracelet to remember someone you love

Initials stamped in a gold-filled heart, strung on a silk cord bracelet

Last year, when we traveled to Valencia I saw a beautiful bracelet for kids, which I would have loved to wear myself too (but unfortunately only came in a kid size). I bought it for Mila but after wearing it for only a few minutes (while still in the store) she figured out how to take it off. Since she was still in that infant stage where she put almost anything in her mouth, it was a bit too risky to keep on her at all times (including naps), so we sadly had to leave it behind at the store.

A few months ago I came across the Etsy store SoulSilk, which makes beautiful adjustable bracelets made of silk cord. With a minimalistic aesthetic touch. They come with a 14k gold-filled heart, which you can get stamped with your initials. I loved the simplicity and bought two, one for Mila, one for myself. I love the matching approach on this one. We each have a “M” stamped on it. Hers stands for “MAMA”, mine stands for “MILA”. I asked the store owner, Robyn Wheatley, if she could add a little pearl at the end of each string for us to add a little details. It can also be a great friendship bracelet. SoulSilk also offers rose gold-filled or sterling silver hearts as an alternative and Robyn has plenty of colors to choose from for the bracelet: red, coral (my choice), gold, yellow, sage, green, light turquoise, blue, pink, lavender, purple, white, sand, grey, brown and black.

Do you have a matching bracelet or some sort of jewelry with your kids?

Children’s Museum of the Arts

Inspires the art in every kid



We just came back from a trip in the US visiting my husband’s family and combined it with a long-due visit to one of my favorite cities: New York City. It was our first time in NYC with a child and it was new territory finding fun kid-friendly activities for Mila. So, one morning we headed out west towards the Hudson river in Soho to hit the Children’s Museum of the Arts.

A hands-on art museum dedicated to engaging young artists (from 0 to 15 years) in viewing, making, and sharing art. It’s a wonderful, bright place filled with creativity, talented staff and inspiration EVERYWHERE. We came for the WEE arts class, a drop-in class for families with artists under five years old who can explore creative materials and techniques, be free and curious - all in a stimulating environment.  The WEE at class room is a big room divided into different art stations, each focused on different materials and activities. Some of them were:          

  • PINCH-SQUOOCH-ROLL - table filled with homemade play dough in all possible colors and fun materials to combine with play dough
  • DOT, DOT, LINE - at this station kids are using markers etc on colored papers to allow for the natural progression from scribbling, to mastering shapes, to creating the human face
  • FLUBBER - my hands down favorite discovery: Think of a stretchy, weird, gooey material you can throw against a canvas and which creates new shapes and art once dried. It feels fresh and cooling in your hand. You can’t stop playing with it. Contact me for the recipe.
  • BLOCKS - huge building blocks to engage the three-dimensional thinking
  • PAINT - Red, Yellow, Blue and You: All sessions include the joys of mixing colors, brushing, smooshing, and paint play.
  • GLUE - Gluing shapes, textures, found materials, sparkly objects, buttons and more…or just watch it drip (Mila’s favorite part!)
    The class ended with 20 minutes filled with music, drumming and story-time. After each WEE art class the kids are allowed to go to the BALL POND, to let out some more energy.

Some regular info on the museum: The CMA is a nonprofit arts space comprised of a fine arts studio, early childhood studio and Media Lab, an art gallery, two classrooms; and a ball pond. Depending on the age of the kids you are visiting the museum with they have a MEDIA LAB (families can learn how to animate or watch a short film made by CMA students), a CLAY BAR (mould creatures–real or imaginary–out of modeling clay), a SOUND BOOTH (record a song, speech, or score a soundtrack) or the FINE ARTS STUDIO (paint, draw, sculpt, or sew an original masterpiece) – all besides the regular gallery space for exhibits etc.

The CMA offers a big selection of other classes and after school programs, which are some of the best in the city. Check their website for the day’s activity, many of them are even free.

THE BIG BOOK OF ART by Herve Tullet

An ingenious, beautiful and interactive first book of art



We recently received this art book by Herve Tullet (New York Times bestselling author of Press Here and many other art books for kids) and we have been flipping through it every since. It never gets boring: Straight lines, squiggly lines, thick lines, thin lines, blobs, circles, splashes, cutouts. It’s not just only plain beautiful but kids can actually be artists themselves simply by turning the pages and recreating new pieces of art. Some pages are cut in half horizontally and allow for colorful, abstract mixing and matching.

Imagine, with a flip of a half page, what was a page filled with squiggly lines changes into a half page of curvy lines joining a half page of straight lines. Or, a section with rectangular cutouts becomes a double layer of obscure die-cut lattice designs covering up the crosses, which were just on the other page blinking through the cutouts. So there is always some sort of new constellation going on which makes it engaging and super fun.

This book is teaching young minds to think imaginatively, independently and creatively. And with all its colors it’s great even for kids as young as 2 years. I also got a few ideas from it myself for new DIY and arts projects at the house for the coming months.

Available through Amazon.


Versatile furniture for kids
[ anywhere in the house ]



While flipping through a design magazine the other day I discovered SMALL DESIGN, a Danish furniture design company that combines modern and playful so well.

So far they launched 3 major lines: CIRCLE – CUBE & LINK. The CIRCLE includes a table and set of 4 chairs. It’s pretty, clean and functional but also thoughtful: If chairs are not in use, just hide them under the table. It’s great for saving space and easy cleaning. Chairs are also stackable.

The CUBE is a 2-in-1 kind of piece: It can be a chair or a table. It’s so simple and aesthetic yet very functional. They are easy to turn and move, which makes them perfect for the children to use however they want.

The LINK can fit easily anywhere in the house [ think hallway to slip in and out of shoes, children’s corner in the living room etc ] and can be used as a table or grow with the child and can later also be used as a bench.

We love the beautiful contemporary design with its simple geometric shapes and functional forms and the bright playful colors make it easy for kids to fall in love too. All pieces are made of birch plywood with laminate - manufactured locally in Denmark to ensure quality.