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!



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.


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.


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.



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.





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.


Furniture with humor



How freakin’ cute are those petstools designed by Hanna Ernsting? She is a German-American designer who transforms the concept of a regular stool into a completely fun and cozy experience.

Her petstools look like your new pet at home. Ella, Fin and Daisy have padded bodies of quilted fabrics with a fold right at their “mouths” so you can snuggle your hands or feet right in for some extra coziness or plunge them into the soft material to warm them.

And don’t worry if your little ones get some ice cream on it, the cover is removable. Which animal will you adopt? I think I will go for Ella, the elephant….

You can adopt your petstool here.





Are you always looking for cool toys for on the go, too? The ones, which are easy to grab, fitting in your purse and not too heavy and that are just endlessly entertaining for the little ones? Check out the magnatab from KID O.

It’s a board with little magnetic balls enclosed, which you can pop up to the surface with the magnetic pen (which comes with the toy). Then you can simply erase with the tip of your finger. It’s that simple. Yet, kind of addictive.

My daughter, almost 2, is constantly playing with it since she got her hands on it. But also older kids love it, they play differently with it but with the same level of fun and enthusiasm. Drawing, learning shapes and numbers, even writing. It allows children to be creative in a different way. Mila’s favorite thing so far seems the erasing part, pushing the tiny balls back down. She loves to make music with it too. Kids are easily entertained for hours and its perfect for traveling and restaurant visits due to its size and weight.

My husband Drew loves it almost as much as Mila. Its relaxing and takes your mind off things. I might have to get a second one...

You can find it at these [ online ] retailers or at Amazon.


San Blas, paradise on a boat



San Blas is a group of 365 islands in the Atlantic, part of the Caribbean coast off Panama.  In Panama you’ll here it marketed as “An island for every day of the year,” and it’s true!  It’s the home of indigenous Kuna Indians, who inhabit the district called Kuna Yala (also called Guna Yala). Only 50 islands are inhabited. To get a clear idea of what it looks like, picture a children’s drawing of a sandy little island with a few palm trees on it – that’s a typical San Blas island. My dad and youngest sister were visiting us in Panama and we decided to discover the islands by boat.

I was kind of nervous prior to our departure how Mila would be reacting to the waves, the limited space on a boat, new foods & more. My mind was all about safety – how can we manage to watch her at all times, that she doesn’t fall off the boat or slip off or fall out of the bed at night – will she accept the swim vest? A 1,000 questions were running through my mind the days leading to our departure.

And I am so happy to report, that once you get there, all worries are forgotten. Mila was the happiest she’s been out in the Caribbean paradise. She slept perfectly, she loved the waves while on the boat (fell asleep on the “lancha” (small boat) ride bringing us to the sailing boat and back). She actually had some serious “sea legs” right off the start. San Blas is the home of millions of coconuts and coconut water is one of her favorite things in the world. So it was a perfect match.

This trip just confirmed to me again, that if your gut tells you something (sometimes only very deep down, covered by plenty of worries), go for it. Keep your mind open, take safety measures for sure, but go for it. Your kids are much more flexible, adaptable than you think.   If you give them the opportunity to surprise you with the adaptation, they will.

Some tips: bring your kids favorite snacks (to overcome some hunger till mealtimes (cooking on a boat can take longer than at home, patience is key), kids water bottle to keep refilling (lots of extra fluids needed out in the tropical heat), a few easy & quiet toys which can withstand salt water & sun, something familiar for bed time (favorite blanket or stuffed animal), and in our case a potty. Mila always had the best view while on the potty those days…. And of course a swim vest.

Infant Self Rescue Swimming

Starting as early as 6 months



Living in Panama comes with living close to water. Pool, ocean, waterfalls etc. So we decided early on that it would be great to introduce our daughter to water asap. We started looking at "swim classes" which were usually directed to getting the baby familiar with water and enjoying some play time. A horrible accident that happened to friends years ago still on our minds we were looking for something more. We wanted to be more at ease when being around the pool with her. We wanted her to gain the confidence when being in the water. We discovered there were actually lessons for babies as young as 6 months to teach them skills to potentially save themselves if they find themselves in the water alone. The program is called ISR - Infant Self Rescue.

For young babies between 6-12 months old they will learn how to roll onto their backs to float, rest and breathe. They learn to maintain this life saving position until help arrives.

When Mila was 9 months old we signed up for it and everything changed. Now, almost 2 years old and after 2 rounds of courses she is so confident and independent in the water, its astonishing. Each lessons is 10 intense minutes long, every day from Monday to Friday for 4-6 weeks. Its a time investment on the parents side too, but more worth than anything. It gives parents the peace of mind and children the confidence and first major accomplishment without the help of mom and dad.

I have to say though, that most babies, including our daughter, do not enjoy the lessons, at least the one for under 1 year olds. But as much they might cry in the water during lessons with the teacher, they usually never cry once when they practice with their parents. So, the lessons for under 1 year olds are straight up self rescue training and you won't use it much when spending time with your child in the pool (emergency only). But the second course is very much different as it gives the child the ability to be independent in the pool, move from A to B and totally doing its own "thing". When those little bodies manage to actually flip back into swimming position coming out of floating position, its so impressive to see and they really understand what they just learned and did.

Kids between the age of 1-6 years will learn the full ISR Self-Rescue® sequence of swimming (see first video at the top) until they need air, rotating onto the back to float, then rolling back over to continue swimming. ISR students are taught to repeat this sequence until they reach the safety of the steps, side of the pool, or the shoreline.

First video below is Mila's "check out" class (hence her wearing cloths to prep for real life situation) when she was 10 months old and the second video is her at 20 months - Sorry both are grainy iPhone videos only. But a special thanks to her amazing, talented, patient and motivating teacher for teaching her this amazing skill which has even further developed.