We are taking a little break today from the blog. Happy Thanksgiving to all our American friends. Wishing you a beautiful day with your families and loved ones and let's all be thankful for what is good & precious in our lives, especially all the little things we take for granted day in and day out.

See you all again on Tuesday. In the meantime you can follow us along on Instagram.

Advent calendar fillers

Some ideas to fill the little pockets in December

This year I am kind of late to the start. Usually by this time of year I have the advent calendar filled and it’s ready to be hung. Not so this year, and I don’t really have an excuse either. I just kind of forgot but made up for it over the weekend and did a little brain storming of fun fillers to stuff the little pockets of Mila’s advent calendar this year. We usually keep it very simple with only small little treats and surprises but I included below some bigger ones too, perfect for stocking stuffers such as the ones from Luna*Zorro.

We are using the same advent calendar as last year from Kaethe Kruse but this one is no longer available. I found this one which is similar. Here are some filler ideas to share with you. As always I am curious to hear your ideas too. Please feel free to share in the comments below.

Bananagrams” - Scrabble Light | $15


Petit Collage Puzzle - Different motives available | $5

Wooden fruits or vegetables – Split onto several advent calendar pockets | $18

Knitting Mushroom - A beautiful start into a new hobby | $9

Washi Tape - Everything looks better with it. Endless fun for kids too | $2

Spinning Tops - Something for every age | $10

Cute little wooden animal hooks to hang jackets, toys or bags | $20

Glowing in the dark stars -  Good for multiple pockets too | $5

A new toy car – Never a bad choice. Our favorite is the pull back one from kiko+ | $25

Seed Bombs - A pocket sized garden | $9

So Awesome wallet cards. This Saturday they have a sale ONE FOR ONE: With every set you purchase, they will help a person in need. | $8

Fun crayons such as these stack-able ones – Can be split onto several pockets | $15

Glux Glow Putty – Stretches + bounces + glows and when frozen shatters like ceramic | $7

Schleich animals - A classic, never out of style | $3

Tegu pocket pouch – Can also be split onto several advent calendar pockets | $25


Yoy-Yo – Always a good choice | $7

Wooden animals from Holztiger - Beauties for many generations to enjoy | $9

Fun toys for bath time available here | $12

Beautiful stickers – Or even a sticker club membership from Pipsticks | $15

YUME – Beautiful handmade hair accessories from Brooklyn | $12

This year I will mix in little cards saying “today there will be an extra dessert for you” or “today you pick one toy or book which you will donate to another child in need” or “tonight there will be dinner at a restaurant” or “today you get to pick the (Christmas) music and we will have a family dance party” or “tonight we are going to read an extra book” and so on. What are you filling your calendar(s) with?

Momoll – Handcrafted for little hands and a big curiosity

Sustainable wooden toys from Switzerland

Momoll is a world of wooden toys and children’s furniture, which are all manufactured by hand. I particularly like their modern aesthetics and clear colors – all toys are kind of minimal and reduced to their essentials, leaving extra room for imagination.

Their series of wooden animals ranges from turtle, penguin and crocodile to snail, llama, deer, giraffe and even a moose and dragon. The bodies, legs and ears or horns of all animals are interchangeable and can be endlessly recombined again and again. There is a wooden play barn available too.

Momoll is also known for their fresh and modern play kitchen, which can also be turned into a puppet theatre, a grocery store and even a diner. Unfortunately I found out about their kitchen after ordering our play kitchen for Mila (which is also nice, but not as nice and definitely not so versatile).

The coolest thing however is the multifunctional modular play tower. At first sight it seems a simple modern glass house, but it can be so much more. Ranging from dollhouse to garage, hospital, or worktstation. This expandable (almost no height limitations) play tower can grow with the kid’s imagination and it comes with a variety of materials incl plexiglas. Kids who are into cars will love the ramp option. There are sliding walls and sleek modern furniture for a contemporary look if the play tower is a doll house.

You can shop Momoll in their own online shop or visit one of their retailers.

Nice to know: All wood is from 100% sustainable managed forests.

DIY Cashmere leggings

Little warm legs

In a few weeks we are flying to Germany to be with family and friends during the holidays. Since we live in a tropical climate all year around, the number of warm items in Mila’s closet are all countable on one hand. Thankfully we have dear friends with kids with similar ages, but they are all boys. So usually Mila turns into a full on tomboy in Germany. 

Over the last few weeks adorable kids brands sending out their newsletters featuring their Fall/ Winter collections. I am loving the elegant coats (a favorite is this or this one) I am seeing, the tall knee socks, hoodies and hand knitted jumpers (these or these). I, myself love anything soft and warm on my skin during the cold months and cashmere is one of those favorite materials of mine. So when I discovered cashmere leggings for kids here and here I was hooked. I wanted Mila to feel this warm too but didn’t wanna buy a piece of clothing which she couldn’t wear for more than 2 weeks. So I had a look into our storage containers and found an old cashmere sweater with stains on the front. Drew had one he didn’t like anymore. So, we turned them both into 2 new tights/ leggings for Mila by using the sleeves of the sweaters and sewing them together. I found these detailed instructions online, in case you want to do a similar project to keep your little ones warm this winter. We had extra fabric and also made little leg warmers. All with the help of a local tailor. Have you upcycled cloths for your kids?

LITTLE WINNIE – a small but very special collection of kids sleepwear

Classic. Comfy. Conscious.

One of my favorite things is to watch Mila fall asleep and looking at her peaceful facial features. When you see this, everything around you quiets down and all seems good in the world - for those few moments. And if a cute PJ or nightgown is involved, its an extra sweet bonus.

So, I am always on the lookout for pretty sleepwear. One of those brands is Little Winnie from Australia. They do not only produce gorgeous sleepwear for kids but it’s also all organic and made with hand spun and hand woven fabrics. Not easy to find little details like that in the world these days. To top things off, they barely use electricity for their production. So besides the ethical & conscious production philosophy, I love the comfort & style of their pieces. The lovely family behind this small brand just welcomed their 4th daughter into the world. How fabulous is that (having 3 sisters myself...). What are your favorite sleepwear brands for kids?

You can visit their online shop here.

YUME - Handmade toys and accessories for babies and children

A fun imaginative world

This summer, during a visit to the beautiful store Sweet William in NYC, I discovered the adorable hair accessories by YUME. We have quiet a collection of hair accessories by now but these ones are very special. A beautiful craft with so much attention to detail.  A real unique piece. Yume means dreams in Japanese. And Maki, the designer behind the label, wants kids to have nice dreams every night. She also has an adorable collection of toys and decorative pieces for kids rooms like these soft sculptured trees and branch hangers made with linen and liberty fabric:

Or the adorable bunnies:

Everything is a bit mystical and creativity provoking. All handmade in Brooklyn.  Isn’t it lovely? You can find YUME at all these stockists.

Collegien – hugs for the feet

And the winter weather is coming

We try to stick to the habit – well, for the most part - and take off our shoes when we come home. Since we live in a tropical climate we tend to wear Birkenstocks or other open shoes and Mila wears some easy to slip on light moccasins. It's cozy and I feel it is a bit more hygienic doing it this way.

When we go home (Germany or the US) during the colder months I always long for warm slippers. Something light but still totally capable of making your feet warm, cozy and comfy. The French company Collegien does exactly that with their “socks with a sole”. It’s basically a sock with an ergonomic rubber sole to give extra support and safety.

A genius idea, which has been around for almost 70 years. So they know what they are talking about. Besides all its functional aspects (machine washable, breathable sole, no sweating) they produce some of the cutest things you can put on your kids (or your own) feet. You can go nuts with the variety of models and colors they have. They start with as little as size 18 and the non-slip sole is actually great for babies who slowly take their first steps. Some models go up all the way to the knee for extra warmth and comfort. How great is that?

Collegien makes some pretty glitter tights too – nice to brighten up the sometimes very dark winter hues. They ship worldwide and have an online store – here!

Homemade almond milk - A simple creamy treat

Much easier than it sounds

For a few years we have been making our own almond milk at home - but not always on a regular basis. We consume a lot of it so I still buy some cartons every week in the supermarket as well. But to top off breakfast bowls, for a nice rich afternoon treat or to go along with cookies, the homemade version is just a different level and so full of flavors. My husband, who likes his coffee usually black, actually started adding the fresh almond milk to his coffee. Although I only buy the unsweetened version at the store, I usually sweeten my homemade almond milk with honey or agave.

It might take you 15-20 min the first few times but I guarantee you once you have done a few batches, especially with little helping hands, you will be a pro in zero time. It usually takes me a max of 8 minutes from rinsing the soaked almonds to putting the pitcher filled with fresh homemade almond milk in the fridge including a cleaned blender. Mila absolutely loves helping and making “her own Mila milk”, and she’s so proud with the final product. So give it a try (with or without kids):

1 (very filled) cup almonds – soak in filtered water over night (if you are short on time, 4 hours is fine too) to get the enzyme inhibitors out of the almonds
4 cups of spring water (or filtered water)
Sweetener of choice: I prefer a mix of dates (2 pitted ones) and agave nectar (1-2 tbls). Sometimes I do a mix of dates and a few drops of stevia. Sometimes I just use good honey (app. 3 tbsp). Play around what you like best.
½ tsp cinnamon + 1 tsp vanilla (optional but so good)

Once the almonds are softened from soaking, rinse them with clean water. Fill up your blender (we have a high speed blender such as Blendtec and Vitamix) with spring water, add almonds, sweetener and spices if you like. Blend on high speed for a minute or two, depending on the strength of your blender. When you see only tiny speckles of the almonds floating in the milk, then you know its time to squeeze. Mila’s favorite part. Best is to use a nut milk bag (yes, those things really do exist and are worth the purchase if you plan on making more nut milks at home. I love this one) but you can also use very fine cheesecloth (might be a bit messier). Place the nut bag over a large bowl and pour in the milk. Gently squeeze out the milk, leaving only the almond pulp or “meal” behind. Use a funnel if you prefer and pour milk in a closable glass container and put it in the fridge.

Wait a few hours. Yes, I know it’s so tempting to try as it is, but it is worth the extra little wait. Because chilled almond milk is extra delicious. And I fell that the richness of the milk is more dominant when the milk is cold.  It will last 3-5 days in the fridge. But you probably will finish it before anyways.

On the photos you see the amount of whole almonds, which went in (a very filled cup plus extras) and after squeezing the nut milk we were left with about half of the original amount.  The grounded almonds, which stay behind after you squeezed out all the milk are called almond meal or pulp.

Next I will try to sweeten with maple syrup. Never done it. I am curious if you have made your own almond milk before? And what on earth do you do with all the left over almond meal? I have a few recipes but during the week I collect quiet a good amount of almond meal.

The Five-Minute Journal

A simple way to reflect, be more present and focus on the positive

When I was a teenager and even during college I have had various journals I started but the habit never lasted more than a few weeks. I think it was a lack of structure as well as life & business got in the way. And I stopped. Once in a while (usually when we move) I find one of those journals and get a lot of enjoyment reading my own thoughts and events, which happened so many years ago. Anyways, back to the “new” way of journaling. I discovered “The Five-Minute Journal” via the Tim Ferris Podcast and I was curious. So I ordered one. I started the very next day and have been pretty consistent over the last months. So what’s different?

In the introduction the creators Alex Ikonn and UJ Ramdas are making the comparison between our positive feelings & emotions when we look through old photos and feel the nostalgia and the smiles they are putting on our faces. They are saying “Imagine if you could have the same experience by just flipping to a certain day on a specific year in your life, you could zoom in on who you were, what you did and how you felt on that day. It’ll be your own chronicle of memories, ideas and dreams.” It is so true.

We all have busy lives and when children are coming into our lives it reaches a new level. So to lose focus and have increased feelings of being overwhelmed are not uncommon. A positive psychology and reflection is a great tool. This Five-Minute Journal does exactly this. It’s asking you the following questions and conditions you to think positively – just by filling in the blanks every morning:

“I am grateful for…” [ probably we all know the benefits of listing the things we are grateful for ]
“What would make today great?” [ my personal favorite ]
“Daily affirmations, I am …” [ still struggling with that one a bit ]

You are automatically focusing on the positive things and over time “you’re creating a new program in your mind that naturally learns to improve your happiness.” And at night, there is a grey shaded portion to fill out and answer:

“3 amazing things that happened today” [ my 2nd personal favorite ] and
“How could I have made today better” [ your own little time machine ]

Oh, and it really does only take 5 minutes a day. But I also say that it’s not always simple but a great exercise to put yourself through for self improvement. Step by step. For me it has been a great way to start and end a day reflecting and appreciating what is going on inside and around me. Also love the little quote featured at the top of each page/ day.

My journal is laying on my bedside table with a pen right next to it.  Ready when I wake up and usually as soon as I lay down in bed, before reading/ watching a TV show/ calming down at night and getting possibly too tired.

Get your own copy here.


Modern and yet marvelously festive

Longing for some new colors in your holiday decoration? Switching it up and bringing in a fresh look? Dreaming of a more modern holiday spirit around the house this year but don’t wanna miss out on tradition? Whatever it might be, look no further.

My super talented, creative and very sweet friend Molly has her own textile business Luna*Zorro (named after her 2 kids Hazel Moon and Joaquin Fox - the Spanish to English translation being Moon*Fox) where she works with traditional weavers in Guatemala to create unique pieces you do not want to miss in your home. For this years holiday season she came up with a one-of-a-kind stocking collection that is made to last for generations of holiday celebrations.

Each stocking is woven on a foot loom, topped with vintage huipils, and finished off with the Luna*Zorro’s signature zig zag hand stitch. My favorite part is the handmade tassels. So no stocking will be alike, that’s the beauty of them too. Stockings will be all unique and may vary slightly from the pictures. Stockings are $65 each (plus shipping) and will be hand selected for you by Luna*Zorro. By buying these beauties you are also doing good this holiday season, as it supports two incredible weavers, Lidia and Esperanza.

Nice to know: They do also make an ideal host gift for holiday parties as you can slip in a bottle of wine and still have room for other goodies.

Shop yours at Luna*Zorro.com. You can follow Molly, her current expat life in Guatemala and her amazing textile discoveries on her beautiful and inspiring Instagram account too. She also makes pretty (and useful and super versatile) baby blankets for baby girls and boys. A fabulous gift, too.

UNDER THE OCEAN | Pop-up book by Anouck Boisrobert and Louis Rigaud

The journey of the sailboat Oceano on an expedition around the world

My husband grew up in New England, right on the water and I don’t think he could ever live without being close to an ocean. It’s an essential part of his life. Fishing, spear fishing, boating, diving, you name it. So when I discovered this pop-up book I didn’t think twice. Plus it is in English, so it makes a perfect book for him to read to Mila. Since he only speaks to her in English, and I only speak to her in German – most of our books (besides the plain picture books) are divided into “Papa” and “Mama” books.

The format differs from the usual books, which makes it a bit more unique than others and it nicely stands out on Mila's book shelf. I particularly like the right mix of bold and pastel colors. And Mila is intrigued by the pop-up details of the book. As a reader you follow along a red sail boat on an adventure around the world and get to see the “usual” visible life above the ocean such as boats, commercial fishery boats, fins of fish sticking out, ice and islands. But you don’t only get to see the scenes above water, you also get to explore what’s happening underneath the water. Where the real surprises are laying. The stuff you would usually only see if you dive. Really deep. It is just such a great tool to show and explain the rich life under the ocean, in a more 3D way of art. The authors Anouck Boisrobert and Louis Rigaud take the readers with beautiful text, some rhymes here and there, to different climate and weather zones as well. It has so many little hidden details, it really is a little gem which doesn’t get boring.

Spectacular book, beautiful to look at and marvelous to learn at the same time. Available at your local bookstore or at Amazon. Nice to know: This book is printed with soy ink from sustainable managed forest, just another reason to support efforts as such and help the environment.

Do you have a favorite pop-up book to read with your kids? Would love to know what you and your kids are picking up from the book shelf, over and over.

The other Chocolate Milk

A protein-filled smoothie

So, I think I can safely say that most kids in fact do love chocolate, but not always beans. Right? But beans are packed with protein and even if you are not vegetarian it is a great & healthy protein boost for kids combined with extra fiber. Not always easy, I agree.

You might have seen some brownie recipes made with beans floating out there, but today we are talking about smoothies. So…. beans in a smoothie? Yep. I have been experimenting with some variations and I promise you won’t taste them at all and even your kids won’t notice what else you sneaked into their smoothie. Give it a try:

Black Bean Chocolate Smoothie [ makes 2-3 smoothies ]

1 cup black beans, cooked (I like Jyoti brand as they are organic and come in non-BPA lined bag)
3 cups milk (I used almond milk)
2 frozen bananas
3-4 tablespoons cacao powder
¼ cup nuts such as almonds, pecans or walnuts (chopped) or nut butter - more protein!
Sweetener of choice – I used 3 pitted dates and 1 tablespoon honey, but adjust to your liking
Vanilla and cinnamon, optional

Put all ingredients in high-speed blender until smooth. Adults might like to top it with some crunchy cacao nibs or bee pollen.

Good to know: 1 cup black beans are about 15g of protein. To compare 2 tablespoons peanut butter are 7g of protein. But beans are not just filled with protein; they are also a good source of fiber, folate, magnesium, vitamin B1, phosphorus, and iron. See below the protein needs for kids*.

*Livestrong.com (and other websites) states "Healthy toddlers between the ages of 1 and 3 need 0.55 grams of protein per pound of body weight. For a toddler weighing 30 pounds this translates to 16.5 grams of protein per day. As a child increases in age, protein needs decrease. Children between 4 and 6 need 0.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight and 7 – 14 year olds require 0.45 grams of protein per body weight."