Mint Rhapsody – gender neutral high quality acrylic products

It either blends in or pops like artwork, your choice

The creative team behind the Australian brand Mint Rhapsody is a husband and wife team whose passion is acrylic. Who can blame them. To their product range belongs a fantastic versatile “attic” house (comes in different sizes + fun and fresh colors) – not your average doll house, but rather a design piece for your living room as well as a fun and sturdy, imagination stirring toy for boys and girls.

My personal favorite is the invisible playpen. Don’t we all know those ugly huge things blocking the living room however you look at them? Their playpen is made of clear acrylic, blending in which ever environment you are putting it and will not “offend” at all. It has its price tag though.

They produce awesome shelves, which make books like floating objects or (hex) boxes you can hang up the wall to display favorite toys, cars, figurines or even perfume.

Just loving the clean lines and simple designs from Mint Rhapsody. Check out their online store here. Most items ship worldwide.

 

PRESS HERE by Herve Tullet

Colorful dots and their own lives

In our household we are big fans of the talented French illustrator and author Herve Tullet and wrote about one of his books “The big book of art” here before on the blog.

Today we are talking about his book “Press Here” a genius book filled with colors, entertainment and yet simplicity. Basically you, as a reader, will follow a funny little yellow dot and his instructions and you are on a fun journey through a world of colors, movements, and magic. You press, shake, turn, rub or tilt the book and its pages and a new surprise is waiting for you on the next page.

This book is so interactive, engaging and clever. A unique gift for any child and wonderful addition to any little library. No video games needed.

Chocolate Cinnamon Squares

An alternative to the usualY unhealthy

packaged breakfast cereals

It’s a fantastic recipe to make one afternoon together with your child(ren). It is really easy and kind of quick as well (15-20 min. tops). It’s a hands on recipe for kids and stores well in the fridge for up to a week. Those squares make great snacks and cookies as well.

My version of the recipe is adapted from the CLEAN EATS blog, which belongs to one of my all time favorite cookbooks CLEAN EATS by Alejando Junger.

INGREDIENTS
2 cups tapioca starch/ flour
½ cup almond butter
¼ cup peanut butter (if you have a peanut allergy just substitute with more almond butter)
¼ cup coconut oil
¼ cup coconut sugar or similar
¼ cup cacao powder or slightly more if you like dark chocolate
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoons pink Himalayan salt (or sea salt)

DIRECTIONS
Mix all ingredients together in one large bowl. Best to use a bowl with edges that are not too high & steep so little hands can get in there too. The final dough should not be overly wet, but also not too dry and falling apart. You might have to add a little extra flour or nut butter depending on the consistency. It should rather slightly be dry and not sticky.

Lightly dust countertop or cutting board and rolling pin with some of the tapioca flour. Roll out the dough as thin as possible (here you might have to help your little one a bit) and slice into squares. We prefer ours more on the smaller size, just about 1” (2.5 cm) so they fit in Mila’s mouth easily.

Turn on the oven to 160 C (325 Fahrenheit), no need to preheat the oven. Best to use a super flat, metal spatula and move squares to baking sheet.

We like them less crispy and bake ours for max of 20 minutes. Experiment with it and see what you like best. But they do get a little bit more crispy when fully cooled, so keep that in mind. And of course, as with cookies as well, the thinner the dough the quicker they bake and get crispy.

Enjoy with your favorite milk - We love homemade almond milk. Recipe here.

Photography below by Jenny Nelson from the CLEAN EATS team.

The LAMZAC Hangout Bag

A new pop-up sofa you can take anywhere with you

This new comfy pop-up sofa fills with air within seconds using a unique filling technique (see the video below for a quick demonstration). It’s lightweight and the high quality nylon ripstop makes it a strong and durable fabric. LamZac in Dutch, where the product was invented by Marijn Oomen, means lazy person or lazy inactive bag! Can’t you see yourself chilling on it with your kids during picnics, beach visits, concerts or just in the backyard?

God to know: It comes in 7 colors, can hold up to 200kg (440l bs) and weighs just over 1 kg.  The only tricky part so far: You have to wait till May to get yourself this new Hangout buddy – as it won’t be available before.

Lamzac Hangout demonstratie

Babaa x Bobo Choses

Two favorite brands combined

Today it’s all about Spain and the amazing design and quality, which certain brands stand for coming from Spain.

Babaa and Bobo Choses partnered up and created this super fun and colorful seamless jumper/ tee. It’s a classic shape from Babaa mixed with Bobo’s Pollack print. It just looks so cozy and light at the same time.

Bobo is a brand that tells a story like a children’s book with the launch of each new collection. Babaa stands for high quality, hardly processed materials and a close collaboration with Spanish artisans. Both brands care deeply what they produce and how they produce it and both support Spanish craftsmanship and cherish local partnerships. All aspects we love and value so much.

The 100% organic knitted tee is available on the Babaa website as well as the Bobo Choses Onlineshop. Its available for kids AND mommas too! FYI: There will be more products from this love story partnership launching next month.

Montessori for toddlers @ home

SMALL-MEDIUM-LARGE

Over the last few months I have been searching the web for more Montessori activities we can do at home. I came across this website,  which provides an enormous amount of great materials, downloadable right from your computer. There are also some bundle packages (sorted by art, geography, math, sensory play, language and toddler (and many many more). There are even some free ones.  I picked a few to start with, printed the pages and got them laminated in a local shop so they can last a bit longer and withstand Mila’s rough hands and treatments.

Mila LOVES to sort all kind of things around the house so it comes to no surprise that one of her favorite “materials” I printed from the website is the sorting game SMALL-MEDIUM-LARGE. She asks me to play it with her several times a week (as you can see the heavy usage in various bent corners etc).

It’s a great game while learning the concept of sorting and order. It teaches the child to see differences in sizes of objects or to recognize the same or similar sizes. Kids learn playfully some logic and reasoning skills all while having fun and also picking up new vocabulary.

“How does my garden grow” by Gerda Muller

One year in grandpa’s garden

A beautiful book for littler gardeners and those who wanna be one – soon. A lovely introduction to the wonders of a garden and for kids to understand where our food comes from. My grandma, Mila’s great grandma picked this book for her as a Christmas gift and it is a big hit with Mila.

The story of “How does my garden grow” is about a little girl who only knows veggies & co from the supermarket. But this year she is spending a lot of time at her grandparents’ farm where they grow lots of different veggies and herbs. Sophie learns what is all involved in getting a garden ready for the seasons, from planting the seeds, watering and mulching, to the different gardening tools and why bees are so essential and what insects do all day in the garden. The book starts with a sweet overview of the different veggie families and which veggie belongs to which family and who is related. Even a parent can learn a thing or two. The illustrations are beautiful and very appealing to children and lead them through the four seasons: spring, summer, fall and winter.

Come and learn with Sophie what her grandfather shows and teaches her all year long. The book also includes a few easy recipes for kids. Mila is probably on the young side of a reader but it is still capturing for her. The older the kid (5-10 years I would say is the best fit) the more they can actually learn and apply themselves in their garden or even just on a small balcony. Spring is coming, time to get a little garden ready.

Available at your local bookstore or on Amazon. We have the German version of the book (originally published in French) as you might have noticed in the photos above.

BIOBLO – A new sustainable building block

One type of block, but endless possibilities to place it

 

This year for Christmas, the first real one for Mila yet to kind of understand what is happening, was a special one. For the first time in history all my 3 sisters were together for Christmas Eve, the main holiday celebrated in Germany. Due to the patchwork family situation we have, that never happened before. My oldest sister picked out a wonderful gift for Mila: The Bioblo building blocks.

It’s a new product from Austria. And very different from most of the buildings blocks you have seen on the market. Because Bioblos are not (mainly) made of wood (as the traditional building blocks) but rather of a special organic, 100% renewable raw material which gives them unique optical and mechanical properties. The design reminds of honeycombs, which makes them extremely light but extremely durable & sturdy at the same time. This also opens up other possibilities unlike the traditional wooden ones. For example you can back light the stones and create lighting games etc. Combine them with other toys and build a farm fence, obstacles for the next horse tournament or a racing track.

You put the Bioblos on top, next or behind each other. Place them on the floor, learn them against each other. Pile them up or just balance them out. Kids can practice counting, color sorting, math exercises and even learn geometric and physical concepts. If you speak German the company put together a great PDF with lots of play & learn ideas for kids to play alone or in groups and gives detailed instructions for easy following. Mila and I have not tried it but supposingly you can even use the stones for blowing bubbles.

Good to know: Bioblo won the Green Product Award 2015, is 100% recyclable, CO₂-neutral and even washable with soap. They are also available in black, white, brown and beige. I should also mentioned there was a confusion with the shipping address and my sister got first class customer service and the team from Bioblo really went out of their way to ensure Mila’s gift will arrive in time for the big day.

Build something. Today!

Waterfall adventure with kids

No age restrictions

Yesterday we went on a tour with a guide to show us the waterfalls we have heard so much about since we got our little beach place a year ago. But we were told that It’s almost impossible to find, so we finally made the move and booked a guide.

It’s not a sort of around the corner location but a great day trip if you include a picnic. So yesterday morning we prepared the food, packed towels, hats and a camera and hopped in the car.  We met the guide half way and made our way through the most beautiful untouched landscape in the middle of the Azuero peninsula of Panama. Lush green covered mountains with flat lands and intense tropical vegetation. We passed many herds of cattle with he most beautiful patterns of fur.

Our first location we parked the 4x4’s and hiked down along the river till we got to a few river pools. Perfect spot for kids too. Below us was the waterfall, it was so loud you could barely keep up a conversation. Our friends were reminded of a landscape they have seen in the Alps, my husband was reminded of a hiking spot in New Hampshire. Just with lush tropical trees and plants around us. When you looked up the trees you could see most branches were full of beautiful airplants. Just too high for me too reach and to take some home, unfortunately. Just great to chill and take in the landscape. The guys went for some crazy tall jumps into the river as well. We had a picnic and never saw one soul. Pure peace. That’s the beauty of this country – Panama is still very undiscovered in most parts.

The next spot also was a real adventure to get too, as we passed the river bed by car, literally drove through the river, making waves and the kids were screaming of excitement. I was a bit worried but it worked out smoothly. Once we got to the final spot we all felt like we were in Jurassic Park. Simply incredible. Impressive really. We hiked further along the river through a forest when all the sudden the loudest noise appeared above us. I first thought of bears but quickly realized I am in Panama, there are no bears. We looked up and discovered a big family of howler monkeys. Including babies and all. They made their way through the forest and we noticed they all used the same route and branches to jump to the next tree. The river was enclosed by tall, mostly smooth, solid granite cliffs. Hanging bamboo growing down along the surfaces along with incredible vines. The gorge going further into land, becoming greener and more mysterious. The kids had an incredible day with lots of adventure, new experiences and discoveries ranging from new plants, insects (the guys got some painful bites from little mean wasps we have never seen before) and animals. Adventure is for all kids, even the babies. The locals at the second spot had several babies with them. Our kids were pushed out of their comfort zones and were so happy to do so. It was a beautiful day we will repeat in the future.

Thank you Panama for your beauty and endless surprises.

MESS FREE FINGER PAINTING

Sensory play without the mess, sometimes it's just needed

Kids feeling the paint between their fingers and experimenting with it is important. But sometimes, you just need a break from the mess painting can make at home. I think I first discovered this neat mess-free paint idea on Pinterest.

Now, we are with my cousin and her kids in Pedasi at the beach house, and her son can’t go in the water for a couple of days, so we decided painting would be a great alternative to keep them busy (although he opted out at the last minute – the girls were happy to do so alone).

What You’ll Need
Painter’s tape
White paper
Closable plastic bag
Finger paint/ liquid paint

Pick a sturdy table, lay the white paper down on the table (unless your table is already white), fill the plastic bag with paint, seal well and try your best to get all the air out. Then lay on table and tape paper and plastic bag to table. And go! Endless possibilities. Find some props such as stones and sticks with soft edges to make some patterns. Or just use your fingers, make handprints and keep drawing. Keep bags taped on table for a few days, as it invites kids to come back to it and make new art and patterns. You can also easily store bags for a rainy afternoon in the cabinets.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS

Image by Paperless Post

Image by Paperless Post

In Germany there is a saying that wishes come true during the holidays: Therefore we are wishing you a magic time during the holidays, a time to slow down and focus on what is really important in our lives: family. We are taking a little break from the blog and will be back with new ideas January 5th. Have a great start in the New Year, filled with health & happiness.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS and a HAPPY NEW YEAR.

Thank you for your support in 2015!

PS: For any last minute gift ideas go to one of our favorite online stores Smallable.com as they just announced a big sale (up to 50%).

 

ALL AROUND THE WORLD – a charming Sticker Album

Hours and hours of crafting fun with stickers

Yet another little gem to add to my WORLD & TRAVEL  obsession. This sticker book has eight foldout pages featuring different animal habitats and scenes. It takes children on a little journey around the world inviting them to place the hundreds of charming animal stickers into their environments and learn about the world, the different landscapes and animal habitats.  At the end of the book you will have traveled and met animals from the ocean, North American forest, tropical jungle, Sahara desert, and Arctic. The beautiful and quirky illustrations are by French artists Géraldine Cosneau.

When you are done you can rip each scene out and hang them up to the wall or left in the book to be used again. What’s neat also, is that on the back of each fold-out page, there are trace-able animals to color in.

For boys and girls, equally interesting. Mila might be still a bit on the young side to enjoy this book by herself because even though the stickers are reusable, they are delicate and have to be transferred with care.

It can be a great family activity together too moving the animals around in the different habitats and environments. Available from Amazon.