Sunday, October 28, 2012

Apple delight or healthy crumble for all

Yesterday, when the first autumn snow covered Warsaw, I knew it called for some good old baking recipe. Something to warm up the house and fill it with the feel-good smell of apples and spice. 

As 'intolerant gourmets' (as Pippa Kendrick - one of my favorite cooking authors - beautifully put it), my son and I cannot enjoy all ingredients, so I was looking for an easy and healthy recipe, but without eggs or diary products. Apple crumble can be made this way and its beauty lies in simplicity and quality of ingredients, especially gorgeous seasonal apples. 

Many crumble recipes are rather too heavy and buttery for my liking, so I decided to try a variation (with only slight modifications) proposed by Am Mniam, an inspiring Polish website dedicated to healthy baby food. 
This recipe is suitable for kids 10m+, but please note that the age indication might differ depending on individuals. It is egg-free, diary-free and contains no added sugar or salt. If you want to make it also gluten-free, replace oat bran with ground sesame seeds. 

Best served warm, this crumble will surprise your little one's palate with soft, sweet, yet slightly acidulous apple bottom and crunchy, nutty top. Our baby boy loved it.

Below you can see the results of my baking (oh, so yummy!) and the recipe. 
Bon appétit!

Apple bottom:
sweet apples - 1 kilo or 4-5 medium sized apples
raisins - 3-4 spoons
cinnamon - 1/2 teaspoon
cardamom - 1/2 teaspoon
ginger powder - 1/2 teaspoon
water - 4-5 spoons

Crunchy top:
ground almonds - 100g
oat bran - 70g
agave syrup - 2 spoons
vanilla extract - a few drops
canola oil - 2 spoons

Peel, core and cut apples in 1cm dices, then place in a pan, adding water and spices. Let them simmer on low heat for 8-10 minutes, until apples become soft.
In a bowl, mix together all ingredients for the crunchy top and stir well. When ready, transfer the apples into ceramic or tart pan (I used a 22 cm pan), even the surface and cover with the top mixture.
Preheat the oven to 160ºC and bake for 25-30 minutes until the top is golden brown.
Serve warm and enjoy with all your senses. :)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Hiding (from) the toys

At the end of the day, when your apartment is flooded with toys big and small, colorful cubes, cups, duplo bricks, books, crayons, etc, you need a good place to hide the toys for the night. 

It would be best if the solution allowed your kid to easily access the toys, so she or he can take things out to play and then (hopefully) put them back. That's why regular furniture doesn't always come in handy. 
It would also be great if it blended well with the general look and feel of the playroom. And for that reason, I'm not a big fan of gigantic tupperware-style storage boxes.

So what are the alternatives? Below you will find some simple and pretty inventive ideas for storing toys that are practical, fun and easy to apply. And as you'll see, most of the will cost you next to nothing. Let me know which ones you like best!

This is a solution that I'm currently testing at home and I really like it. A straw basket can hide many toys, it is easy to access and safe for your kid. And once you decide it's not big enough for all the treasures to contain, you can always claim it back and use for storing your laundry, grocery shopping, etc.

Good old shelves + cookie boxes as treasure chests. Metal boxes are great for storing your kids' precious little items plus they blend well with other toys.

If you're lucky, you can assembly a similar wire storage from old metal crates or vintage shopping baskets. If you don't have those, but love this industrial look, why not buy it online.

An old fruit crate upcycled to a cool toy box. Easy, low-cost and fun. Since it is mobile, kids can move it around the house and place right where the fun is starting.
Source: Design Happens

Wooden boxes can be a good basis for a DIY module rack. I think I prefer the painted version, as it is both more dynamic and makes the toys stand out more. You can also decorate the boxes with wrapping paper or wallpaper.
Source: Petit Monde and Noosh Loves...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Perhaps it's the memory of a time spent in the womb, or maybe even the smallest creatures have the need for some privacy and their own separate space. Whatever the reason, even a-few-month-old kids enjoy playing in cardboard boxes or crawling through tunnels. Our 9m son loves hiding under the blanket with his daddy - there his toys suddenly become more interesting and he giggles frantically playing peek-a-boo. As kids grow more independent, they invent their own secret hiding spaces, where they can unleash their imagination and play for hours, immersed in the wonderland.

Below I would like to show you some inspiring examples of little indoor hideaways - from teepees to castles and rockets. Kids' imagination has no limits, so why not feed it in someplace creative.

When I first read that this play hut from Our Children's Gorilla is called a Skull Cave, it sounded a bit creepy to me. But then if you think of Indiana Jones' adventures, the idea becomes much more fun, not to mention that hidden inside it, your kid will become a true mastermind ;) 
Source: Weekday Carnival 

A curious fan of space travels will surely love this cardboard spaceship. You can buy it from Cox&Cox and invite your kid to give it a personal touch by assembling and decorating its walls. 
Source: Cox&Cox 

Add some magic to a simple bed and cover it with cozy bed curtains. Grab your toys and embark on a great trip under a map-printed fabric. 
Source: Pinjacolada 

A teepee that matches a minimal living room design. While it looks rather austere on the outside, the true magic awaits inside. 
Source: Mokkasin 

This colorful teepee was hand-made for little Rowan. It contains books, pillows and a cheetah - what a perfect reading nook. 
Source: Jen Loves Kev 

A rather conceptual hideaway house, but who said you can't imagine the walls are there. 
Source: Jenni Juurinen 

My home is my castle. And it has a guest bedroom too, so hop in. 
Source: Nicety 

A mobile hideaway. It can be a smart solution for smaller houses or shared rooms, allowing to rearrange the space in seconds and... move on a bohemian trip or a rock tour. 
Source: Designoform 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Wood, paper, metal

Today let's have a look at toys that can be a healthy alternative to those popular plastic toys that hurt eyes and - pretty often - ears. Examples collected below are made (mostly) of natural materials. They are simple, functional and support kids' development... as well as good taste. 

Perhaps next time you start looking for gifts for your little ones (Xmas is pretty close), this list might be of help. 

Children love imitating adults but we're not always willing to allow them to do so (you wouldn't want your little one to drool over your iPhone or detach random keys from the keyboard...). But if they saw you snapping photos with Instagram (well, surely!), they will love having their own version of it. This wooden Anagram toy camera is a cool invention from Etsy's Twig Creative and a great gift for future little photographers. As an avid Instagram user, I'm thinking of getting one already.

Shusha creates beautiful wooden learning toys that help kids develop motor skills, teach them logical thinking, as well as boost imagination and good taste. I especially like their wooden people's faces that allow to learn emotions by playing with tens of different expressions.
Source: Shusha Toys

FaceMaker wooden blocks from Miller Goodman offer the same kind of fun though the design is more universal, suiting anyone from 1 to 100 y.o. That's the power of simple form and unlimited imagination. Pure joy!
Source: Shhhop

 In hands (and eyes) of an imaginative child paper can be as inspiring as any other toy. Here are some unbelievably pretty paper creations from a Swedish artist Fideli Sundqvist that can take you places. 

Moving on! And what better way to combine the desire to do just like your parents and move around (after all, it's a recent skill that gives so much satisfaction) than riding your own bike, car or... animal?

As I've only learned recently, the best first bikes are those without pedals - or so called running bikes. There is a great variety of those, but I think I like most simple wooden bikes from Wishbone. And if they look too plain for you, perhaps Janod's Vespa-inspired wooden scooter would be a better choice? Both kinds are cute, stylish and guarantee great fun for kids.
Source: Lime Tree Kids and Wishbone

For interior use, you might consider ride ons. Wheely Bug offers great ride ons for kids as young as 1 y.o. Their cute creations are made of wood and offer a safe and fun way to zoom around the house or apartment (as the wheels can move in all directions, your little one won't get stuck meandering between pieces of furniture). It can also be used as a pusher when the child is learning to walk. I guess the only problem is choosing the perfect bug for your kiddo - will it be more fun to ride a pig, a lion or a ladybug? :)
Source: Wheely Bug

If you're not into cute animals, why not offer your child a (toy) car? My favorite little cars are Schylling's Speedster metal ride ons. The classic race car silhouette and vintage look guarantee the machine won't be limited to the kids room. And I guess the kids should enjoy it, too.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Wrap me pretty

Perhaps it's autumn that makes me love this earthy color palette so much, while during the summer I was all about contrasts, stripes and nautical themes.

I like how, without stronger color accents, those delicate clothes don't compete with their wearers, but accentuate kids beauty and personality. And how natural and effortless they look - no overdressing, just the kind of clothes I could imagine feeling comfortable in (and cool!) myself.

Below are some of my favorite findings from recent collections - simple, warm, vintage'y. And what are your favorites?

Denim hues and greys work great for kids and babies alike. The cut and choice of materials is different, but just look how cool all of them look. Bonus: the mustache theme, I love it!
Source: Idig Denim and Z8-baby

Polka dots make me think of innocence, youth and delicacy. This cool gentleman knows how to give them some edge - hand painted leggings turn the outfit into a vibrant, rock'n'roll set. On the other hand, this pouting little lady gets a softer look, more appropriate for her age, thanks to the dotted skirt - as the blacks alone would make it a rather serious outfit.
Source: Alisa Burke and browndresswithwhitedots

Graphic elements and patterns add new life to common pieces of clothing. Have I already said how much I love the mustache theme? 
Source: Bobo Choses and Kids On The Moon

Simplicity is the key - from the limited color palette to the cut. I really like how elegant they look, without being overdressed.
Source: Club Cinq and Kviddevitt

Simple pieces in softer tones - beige and salmon work great for girls and boys alike.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A beautiful nest

Before I had a child, I wasn't really into kids stuff. Basically, I believed that you cannot reconcile adult love for design with kids paraphernalia. At first glance, it all seemed vanilla to me - pale blue or sweet pink, ribbons, bears, flowers, hearts... Too much form, too little love and creativity.

Fortunately, once you start digging into the subject, you can happily discover many alternatives to mainstream pinks and blues, like the little bedrooms inspired by Scandinavian design, minimal or vintage style, that I'm presenting below.

Modern, joyful, light and serene thanks to neutral base palette (white, greys and, yes, black!), with occasional swatches of colour and artful design. Later this month, I will also show you some of my favorite kids clothes, toys and gadgets. Enjoy!

Multicolor swatches against pure white space bring joy and simplicity. I can imagine how kids must love playing in this room - you can feel the free-spirited, positive energy in the air.
Photo by Petra Bindel

Monochromatic, yet not boring, nor sad. Lively contrasting patterns liven up the space and make for a great background for the kids - either to play or sleep sound.
Source: Caisa K.

Monochromatic with just one strong graphic accent. Simple, vintage, warm - perfection. And I'd love to have this bedding myself!
Source: Kjerstis Lykke

Chill-out in whites. The monochromatic space feels soft and calm, perfect for a little bedroom.

Soft natural hues serve as background for colorful toys and books. Natural materials add warmth to the interior.
Source: Jelanie

Grey, black, white and yellow. The choice of colors is not obvious and it suits well both sexes, as well as different purposes of the room - from playtime to relaxation and sleep.
Source: Kesalla Kerran

A graphic grey wallpaper adds depth to the room and captures the imagination, inviting to dreamed-up travels and adventures.
Source: Mr Perswall

Black wall may not be the first choice for a child's bedroom, but here it works great, bringing out the colorful mobile, toys and accessories.

Yet another black wall, here in chalk paint, invites children to play. A contrasting wallpaper roll reminds us we're in a kids area and dotted lamp and bedding bring yet more light accents.
Source: Onszelf

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

One Tuesday afternoon...

One Tuesday afternoon my thirty-something life has changed rather dramatically. On becoming a mom, I have entered a previously unimaginable world of overwhelming baby cuteness, smelly diapers, tiny pretty outfits, belly aches, toothless smiles, elimination diet, baby gadget mania, sleep deprivation, losing hair and kilos. I am enjoying the blessings of having a joyful, user-friendly kid and gradually I have embraced most negatives as either inevitable or not that bad after all. I don't like bugging myself with trivial things, so I always prefer to move on to the good ones.

Here, I want to share some of the beautiful, fun, yummy and fascinating things that belong to the kids universe, and that are worth of an adult's attention. I hope you will enjoy them, too!

(c) Tove Jansson