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.

SMALL DESIGN

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.


HELLO SHISO

The cutest, prettiest hair clips for little girls

Mila totally enjoys getting her hair “done” in the mornings before playgroup and hair clips are just a great, easy thing to bring some structure into her curly hair. Hair clips by Hello Shiso are just a perfect fit. They can add some color or make something pop in her outfit. The owner, Mimi Tsang, understood from an early age that the right accessory can make an outfit.  

Everything is made with lots of love in their small design studio in Berkeley, California. Check out their website and you’ll have a hard time choosing what to get. I know I did! Hello Shiso hair clips are filled with personality and are just pure fun. And did you see their metallic cork clips – I think I could share them with Mila….

BILLEDLEG

Billedleg Wooden Fishing Set

Danish craftsmanship and a new favorite toy: Wooden Fishing Set

 

 

On our recent trip to Copenhagen we discovered this beautiful co-op store DANSK HANDVÆRK, which sells the wooden kids toys made by Billedleg. How beautiful is their store front, right?

Copenhagen-Toy-Coop-Billedleg

We picked up a “fishing set": 6 brightly colored fish and one fishing rod with a little magnet build in. Each fish has a metal ring looped through a hole so you can “fish” it with the magnetic end of the fishing rod. It promotes fine-motor-skill development and boosts the eye/hand coordination as kids fish. I love it because it's great for independent and collaborative play when other kids are over! Mila just has so much fun collecting the fish over and over again. We even painted a little lake for the fish to swim in.

If you are not living near Copenhagen to visit the store yourself you can follow instructions here to make a DIY fishing set or check out one of these sets here, here and here.


GOOSE GREASE DOLLS

hand crafted products, made to last a lifetime

 

 

The team behind Goose Grease started out with hand-chiseled (on an electric lathe) and hand-painted dolls (we love their little faces they draw on) and expanded their line of products by also selling unpainted supplies, putting together kits of all kinds for people to paint themselves. And they are just so perfectly quirky - great for those of us looking for something a little different.

The kits come packed with everything you will need: From the dolls and paint to brushes, toothpick (for the eyes!), varnishes and even sandpaper for mistakes. All materials are completely kid safe.

Goose Grease DIY Family Set

For some inspiration watch their doll making video here and their step-by-step painting video here to get your own family portrait translated into wooden pegs dolls. Mila is still a bit young to paint her own but I can just see a whole line up of these down the road sitting on her shelf.

All of the products are fair trade – a cause we all like to support. Goose Grease established a fair trade relationship with a small carpenter in Bogotá, Colombia, who is making their doll bodies. Just around the corner from us here in Panama. All painted dolls are hand-painted in Brooklyn, NY.

Good to know: They even make Cake Toppers (think of birthdays, weddings etc)

Visit their ETSY shop here. If you are in NYC they are having "GOOSE GEAR ART CAMP" for kids age 5-10 August 17-21.

Studio delle Alpi

Amusing, playful and original

The design due Anne Kieffer and Arnaud Mouriamé are behind those original and simple objects by Studio dell Alpi. Not surprisingly have they been featured in design magazines such as AD, Wallpaper, HOME, and VOGUE.

Their first collection ‘Play-wood’ is dedicated to the world of little people: furniture and toys such as pull along toys. All made of plywood and silk-screened with stars, stripes, neon yellow and bright blue. It’s modern, it’s fun, its bright and you can't help but smile.

Nice to know: Everything is made in Italy and materials & production are eco. So it’s safe for even very little ones! You can find retailers on their website.

BOOK REVIEW “WHO DONE IT?” by Olivier Tallec

A seek-and-find call to action on every page

 

 

Olivier Tallec is a talented illustrator who recently launched a new children’s book called WHO DONE IT?. It’s whimsical, funny, beautiful, entertaining and colorful with still lots of white space to not overwhelm littler readers. WHO ate all the jam" WHO forgot the swimsuit? WHO didn't sleep enough? On each page the reader is asked one question and has to identify the correct character of the lined up ones below. There's only one right answer, and it's not always easy!

Mila picks it up again and again and is still intrigued and entertained to hunt for clues in the details of each character, their expressions and positions. With it’s distinctive horizontal format it makes it a bit more unique & interesting and sit ticks out not only on the kids book shelf but also on the grown-ups coffee table.

Above pictured is the German version "Wer war's" (we picked it up during our Summer visit to see friends & family this year). The US version will be launched October 13th. Its available for pre-order on Amazon.com.

WHO DONE IT by Olivier Tallec

ZoLo

The sculpturing toy for all generations

 

 

Funky. Wild. Different. Artistic. Silly.  Words, which come to mind when playing with ZoLO.  ZoLO – painted pieces of wood in the most creative shapes and colors - gets you even if you feel like you have no sense of creativity in you to say the least. You get to connect them in fun different ways to create quirky, random characters.

Its been around since 1986 and I clearly remember when my dad brought home a wooden box with the first ZoLO pieces. In fact those memories made me pick up a set for my daughter. The design aesthetic and  craftsmanship brought them into museums such as The Museum of Modern Art.

My favorite set is the ZoLO~ology box with over 100 pieces for an open-ended play and endless imagination. ZoLO’s motto is “to plant seeds of creative thinking, that sprout invaluable problem-solving skills, which are essential to growing a happier planet for all of us. ” – Not for nothing do I remember this toy from more than 2 decades ago!

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.