SALT WATER SANDALS

Simple, but so cute!

 

 

No newcomer, but an old classic goodie. Proven over decades, Salt Water shoes have been a summer staple. Sandals, available in all shades of bright and less bright colors, with flexible soles, durable leather straps and rust-proof buckles. Hence the name they withstand even harsh salt water. They adjust to the feet shape in a day and are super cozy and easy to slip in.

Since in Panama we have continuously summer temperatures all year around we are happy to wear them all 12 months of the year. There are so many colors and designs to choose from, it never gets boring when the next size is needed for Mila. Next color up: Yellow.

This online retailer carries sizes for babies, toddlers and youth. And did you know they also come in grown-up sizes?  I’m thinking about getting myself a pair! (Adult sizes available here.)

GREEN SMOOTHIE

Mila with 2 juices in Copenhagen

The liquid meal

 

 

Travel to any bigger city and its pretty much a guarantee that you will find a juice place, which offers healthy green juices. You know its good for you, you know it can be packed with so many nutrients it can replace a whole meal and give your digestive system a little well deserved break) once in a while. But the question is – how do you convince the little people to actually swallow down green liquids?

One of Mila’s favorite green smoothie recipes (makes 2 kids portions) is

Milas Favorite Green Smoothie

Blend all until smooth. Sprinkle with Chia seeds or grated coco if your kids like it. Any leftovers store in airtight container such as BALL glasses or recycled marmalade jars. Its pretty sweet and fruity and kids tend to like it too. Above is a snapshot of Mila the airport in Copenhagen a few weeks ago, not getting enough green juices.

The green part can be spinach (my favorite as it is mild and not very “grassy”), kale, chard, boy choy, lettuce, dandelion and another favorite is fresh moringa leaves or use romaine and even broccoli (which is surprisingly delicious). The golden rule is about 2 cups of leafy greens + 2 cups of liquid base + 3 cups of fruits. Now start playing with what your fridge and local market has to offer.

Green Smoothie Storage in Ball Glass

And a fancy, bright colored straw can only help to get kids excited to try it. Also if you are new to it, try freezing the juice first into popsicles and hand it to the kids as an afternoon treat. Do you have any good recipes to share?

SUGRU

A glue. Stick it, shape it and it will turn into rubber.

 

 

One of the coolest new discoveries I have made in a while: Sugru. A play dough type of material, which turns into durable rubber with endless possibilities of usage. Actually my husband discovered it and we have been playing with it all over the house since it came in [ photos above ].

So imagine a piece of soft, doughy-like material which you can form in any shape you can imagine, attach it to almost any surface, wait 24h and find it hardened into flexible smooth silicone rubber. Its an all round talent: water proof, dishwasher proof, temperature and UV resistant, removable and even electrically insulating.  Think of, fixing your kids wellies which got a little cut/ hole; make better or unique grips on ski sticks, bikes, knives, garden tools; fix a leaking water can or ripped flip flops etc but you can use Sugru for more than just those pragmatic fixes. For example turn Sugru into tactical buttons on household appliances so blind people can use them too, or turn driftwood into toilet paper holders, make flower pots and bowls or make an easy hook (no screws) on the wall in a bright color to hang your kids latest art work [ see more photos below from Sugru's website ].

They come in packages of black, white or 8 different colors. It comes with instructions of the percentages you have to mix the colors and you can match almost any color and achieve invisible fixes. Their online shop ships worldwide.

As the “not yet hardened” material can cause allergic reactions it might not be suitable to let your kids “play” with it but you can certainly create a lot of useful things, helpers and even toys for kids.

Ancient Greek Wing Sandals

Beautiful handmade shoes

 

 

For a while now I have had a pair of Ancient Greek Sandals with wings in my closet and love to wear these. On ETSY I recently discovered the account of Eleni Athini who sells the mini version (and the adult!) of these fabulous shoes so the little people in this world get to wear them too. The sandals are playful but not over the top and I specially love them in a neutral leather color for my daughter. And it pairs easily with almost any summer outfit & colors. They are very well done and solid.

This Greek designer who is based in Athens makes them all by hand. She is super responsive by email and lets you know as soon the sandals are on its way. They come in a variety of colors. Contact her for availability. Use the code SANDALS and get free shipping if you buy 2 pairs. Greek entrepreneurs could use a helping hand right now… Mila got her pair while we were in Europe this summer and even though they are still slightly too big, she loves wearing them already.

SEEDBOMBS

A pocket sized garden

 

 

Although I have heard about seedbombs a few years ago already I recently found them again in one of the most beautiful children stores in Munich, Germany and thought that needs to be shared.

Seedbombs are little innovative balls, usually made of clay, compost and seeds. Ready to be thrown or placed in deserted, empty & ugly places in your city to grow into beautiful and colorful flowers and plants. Just with rain and the nutrients in the ball. It’s that easy.  Actually the idea of seed bombs is not new at all. It’s an ancient way to sow crops in difficult to reach land using crop seeds, clay and sometimes manure formed into small balls. This technique was also often used in areas, which were burned down through fire and wiped out the vegetation.

I think it is not just fun for kids to get involved but a great act by planting more beauty in their neighborhood and food for bees. It also teaches them first hand to get involved and see something grow. Help them see how a once grey concrete space can actually be turned green and colorful. Kids will see and learn that they can make an impact.

What I love is that seedbombs are small enough so kids can carry them around in their pockets and “throw” them where they see need…. They make great little gifts and party favors too.

If you live in Germany check out Die Stadtgaernter for your local seedbomb supply. In the UK you can shop seedbombs here and in the US they are available at Anthropologie or at Seedles, which sells even colored seedbombs.

Get a kit to make your own seedbombs. Or turn it into a complete DIY project and follow instructions here. Shape them into hearts and give as a gift!

IMMI GO CAR SEAT

A great travel companion

 

 

The car seats for babies are bulky (I always hit my knees with it) but still their weight is ok to handle – even when traveling. But when your child outgrows it and is in need for the next car seat, things get even bulkier and much heavier. It’s fine if you leave it in your car and do not move it. But it’s not suitable for traveling by plane etc. If you travel a good amount with your kids, first those car seats provided by rental car companies can be nasty but they also add up if you are doing several trips a year.

So when I discovered the IMMI GO car seat I was super excited. Its light-weight (only 10 lbs/ 4.5 kgs), easy to install & store (comes with a storage bag), very portable (compare to the regular ones) and SAFE! IMMI, the company behind it, is known for innovative safety solutions like buckles, harnesses, restraints, etc.) They also offer the kids safety seats for school buses. So they know their business. They have installation videos for most vehicles to make it easy for the first time use. The IMMI GO seat is designed for kids with a height of 31” up to 52” (78-132 cm) and weighing between 22-55 lbs (10-25 kgs).

I should mention though that if you have a toddler and are driving for several hours your regular car seat might be more comfortable for your child as it provides more support for the head to rest on. But it’s totally fine for the vacation time.

Also this is the car seat of choice by UBER and by all emergency vehicles in the USA. If you are also done with lugging around your heavy car seat you can order an IMMI GO here.

 

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....