Famliy Trip: Lecce, Italy

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This photo pretty much sums up our last day in Italy. Taking advantage of the good life and delicious Italian food. We drove to Lecce for the day—famous for it’s (Lecce baroque) architecture. We had a great day strolling the city’s centre and enjoying the cuisine!

Flora and Jaap always make a donation to churches we visit and light the candles. A little tradition that Oma and Opa have taught her. ūüôā

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Some of our best eats of the trip were at casual eateries. We ate lunch outside this Italian deli-like place and had a delicious meal. Good pizza and delicious orecchiette with this amazing burrata cheese. It was fantastic! Flora was eating a ham and cheese sandwich (!!??) and all were merry. After a stroll through a local park and a short nap for Thibault, we treated ourselves to the last (and best!) gelato of the trip. This shop is to die for.¬†If you’re ever in Lecce, stop at Natale! This place is heavenly and has so many delicious treats! Thibault approved. Our first family trip to Italy ended on a high note! Grazie, Salento!

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Family Trip: Matera, Italy

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Visiting Matera was an interesting day trip. What a unique place. It’s unlike anything I have ever seen before. This city has been inhabited for thousands of years. Continuously! It’s really incredible and the views are stunning. Once called the “shame of Italy” by an Italian Prime Minister in the 1950s, Matera is now a growing cultural site and tourist destination. These ancient cave dwellings, which are mostly hotels and B&Bs now, were once overcrowded and impoverished slums. The history is sad, but Matera has made quite a turn around in a short period of time.

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View of the gorge

My friend Teena had recommended we visit this place. We knew we’d have to carry Thibault in the Ergo and Flora would have to do a lot of walking because you can’t get very far without hiking some stairs. I was so proud of Flora. She walked everywhere and was so excited to learn about these cave dwellings.

We went to a ¬†museum that replicated what it was like to live in a cave dwelling. Things were going smoothly until Thibault cut his finger on some artifacts and started bleeding, which we couldn’t stop for about 20 minutes, so a little drama ensued. Mostly created by myself. We decided to abandon ship, our beautiful walk around Matera, and head for lunch. I guess when you’re in Matera you should eat at Soul Kitchen. It was recommended by my friend, our host at the trulli, and Lonely Planet. But alas, Thibault was injured, Flora was getting tired, and we needed something fast! Luckily we found this delicious focacceria right on the main street of Domenica Ridola. Delicious focaccias and sandwiches! Plus, the young baker was blasting Foo Fighters music. Even better!

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Our Week in France– V√©zelay

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Perhaps the most relaxing day of our week in Burgundy was our day trip to Vézelay. The Oma and Opa creche was up and running and we were off for a day without kids. My main goal was to have a relaxed lunch of yummy French food. Mission accomplished.

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We had a delicious menu for lunch outside on the main street. I just love how everything tastes better in France. It was so nice to chat with Jaap and Mieke and have a relaxed meal without having to entertain small children. My coffee and accompanying sweet treats was a great ending. These tiny homemade pink marshmallows were delicious!

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Afterwards we took in some sites, visiting the basilica and checking out the views.¬†V√©zelay is a tiny town situated on a top a large hill and the few from top was beautiful. I’m so grateful my in-laws were willing to give us this relaxation time. Whew.

The Elsa Cake

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On Friday we celebrated Flora’s 4th birthday. I can’t believe she is almost 4! To celebrate we had a small party with a few of her friends. Very small and simple….except the cake! Flora asked for an princess cake, so we started brainstorming. What could Mama actually create that wouldn’t turn out like a Cake Wreck?

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Great inspiration in this book!

As part of down time/ screen time, Flora and I sometimes watch baking channels on Youtube. It’s amazing what one can learn on Youtube! Her favourites to watch are of course Elsa cakes, but many of them are quite difficult. We found a video of a Princess Aurora cake that doesn’t require fondant and it was my inspiration for this cake.

I was so happy with the results and Flora was thrilled! I was so nervous this week leading up to this process. I was referencing this children’s cake book, various Youtube channels, cooking blogs, Pinterest, etc. This may sound ridiculous, but it was starting to stress me out a bit, but in an exciting way! I told Jaap my biggest fear was disappointing Flora because she thinks I can do anything. In the end it was a huge success. She loved it, it tasted great, and I felt so proud. Unfortunately, I believe I have now set the birthday cake bar pretty high for future birthdays. ūüôā Happy (early) birthday boo boo! We love you.

Our Youtube inspiration and recipes:

Princess Aurora Layer Cake from My Cupcake Addiction

Buttercream Frosting from Gemma Stafford

Vanilla Cake Recipe from The Joy of Baking

 

 

Mommy Reset

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Happy birthday to us! My husband and I had a 24+ hour getaway this weekend to celebrate our birthday togethers. This couldn’t have come at a better time.

I really struggled this week with the day to day life of being a mom. It was rough. It was filled with highs and lows. I love the days that we are together as a family of four. But on the days when I am alone with two kids, it can be a struggle. This week was one of those crazy weeks when the stars just did not align for me. This birthday getaway was my reset button.

I just needed to be alone with my husband and enjoy each others company and reconnect. It was exactly what we needed. So my amazing in-laws watched the kids for one night, Jaap and I escaped to this cute chateau in north Limburg, and had a fabulous time, complete with a delicious meal that I will never forget. Long conversations without interruptions, luxurious food and tasty wines, reading books on the tetras, sleeping in tip 8:45 (!!!) and spending quality time together. I feel like myself again. Amen.

If you’re in the neighbourhood, check out Aubergine. Absolutely amazing!

 

Baby Lead Weaning: Season 2 Episode 1

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Thibault’s introduction to solid foods has gotten off to a great start. We wanted to wait to introduce solids until he was 6 months, but he was not having it. From about 5 months on he was getting frustrated at dinner time that he did not have any food to eat at the dinner table. It got to the point to where he was trying to grab food off our our spoon and plates, so we thought it was time to get things started. He started solids at 5 1/2 months and things have been going very well.

We wanted to try the Baby Led Weaning approach again. We did this with Flora after hearing good things from a friend of mine. I truly believe this is the healthiest way to introduce babies to solid foods. Flora is a well balanced and healthy eater. She’ll pretty much try anything, meal times are fun, we never had to spoon feed her, her diet is well-balanced, and traveling is easy. We were hoping Thibault could benefit in a similar way. So far—success! He LOVES food. Watching him eat is hilarious, especially at dinner time (his favorite meal of the day). Maybe it’s a guy things, but he just takes food and shoves it in his mouth, squishing food between his fingers by the fist full, and double fisting his food. He picks up his sippy cup and chugs it like a beer. It’s fantastic! We love this meal time entertainment.

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Wheetabix breakfast

So for now, we’re happy with how he has begun the weaning process. I wish the process itself was less messy though. At the moment, he’s going through 2-3 changes of clothes per day, about 2 bibs per day, and our use of paper towels and laundry has increased ten fold! I remind myself how the beginning of BLW is slow. Lots of mess, preparing your own foods, finding good recipes, and laundry. But, the benefits will soon catch up and we’re hoping for another healthy and happy eater in this house.

Our Delft with Kids Trip

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We’re so blessed to have my mom staying with us for 2.5 months. She retired last month and is here enjoying an extended vacation with us in the Netherlands. We went off exploring Delft and Den Haag last weekend. Despite the winter temps we’ve been having, we had a great time. So proud of my kiddos for being happy little travellers. Here’s more about our quick trip to Holland and my Delft with Kids tips.

 

 

Tip #1 Visit Delft!

I love this city. It’s romantic, atmospheric, and small enough to walk to see the whole thing in a day. It’s truly a beautiful place. It was a good home base for us. Small, completely walkable, and manageable with two small children. Our Airbnb apartment was two minutes from the Markt. Delft is centrally located with Den Haag, Leiden, and Amsterdam close by.

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Tip #2 Eat a stroopwafel the size of your head

We asked the TI booth about finding the fresh stroopwafel stand and she told us exactly where to go. Off of Brabantse Turkmarkt and Burgwal is a stroopwafel stand where you can get the most delicious stroopwafel you have ever tasted. It’s not open everyday, perhaps just on Saturdays. Lekker!

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Tip #3 Take a Boat Cruise

My mom and I enjoyed a learning a little bit more about Delft history on the tour. I think Flora thought the ride was going to be a little more exciting than it was, but it was still worth the trip for us! Rondvaart Delft

Tip #4 Enjoy an early and casual dinner at Burgerz

We had a delicious dinner here at 17:00 on a Sunday evening in an empty restaurant. Perfect when traveling with baby and toddler! The food was delicious. Lots of veggie burgers and a kids menu to choose from, plus a salad for Grandma. I think my mother told the waitress the salad was delicious at least 5 times.

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Tip #5 Stroll along the canals and enjoy a coffee outside at Stads-Koffyhuys

While the kiddos napped, my mom and I sat outside near the the canal and enjoyed a yummy latte. This lunch spot also has a boat on the canal with seating as well. We sipped our coffee in the sunshine while admiring the leaning Oude Kerk.

 

 

 

Tip #6 Visit the Kinderboekenmuseum in Den Haag

I would recommend this museum for small children. We took the train from Delft to Den Haag CS, which was a fun activity for Flora in itself. It’s only a 20 minute ride, which is another toddler plus! The Kinderboekenmuseum¬†is a small children’s museum very close to Den Haag Central train station. Each room depicts famous Dutch children storybooks. I thought it was visually interesting. Lots of play on space, size, and perception. Very cool. Flora enjoyed hopping through the Hungry Caterpillar’s food and running around Kikker’s little world. It was fun to see these stories come alive. Thibault also had fun rolling around on the floor while my mom and Flora explored the rest.

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Tip #7 Take advantage of the Museumkaart

We truly lucked out on this one. I read the Maritshuis was closed on Mondays, but as we were walking by we saw that it was open most likely because of school vacations.¬†It was already 16:00, but my mother and I jumped at the opportunity. Both kids had fallen asleep and the employee outside said everything was accessible by elevator. I was so happy that mom got to see Vermeer’s The Girl with the Pearl Earring. It was kind of a drive-by visit because Thibault woke up and was making a little bit of a fuss, but this is what’s great about the Museumkaart. You can just hop in someplace for an hour and not feel like you are wasting your ticket money!

Well there it is. Our 3 night stay in Delft complete with my kiddo recommendations. Glad to be home now. Whew!