A Few Things

April 29, 2011

Hello, Friends! It feels like such a fun weekend. I’m getting a kick out of all the royal wedding hype. Did you get up early to watch?

After work today, we are driving north for the second part of our Spring Break trip. We are staying tonight in Brugge, Belgium and then spending a few days in Amsterdam. I hope we’re not too late to see the tulips! Do have any Brugge/Amsterdam tips or recommendations? I’ve never visited either city and would love to know the don’t miss spots.

What about you? Any fun springtime plans?

While I make a packing list for our trip, here are a few things I’ve been wanting to share with you:
- Great vintage details.
- So cute!
- Excited for summer.
- Are you a candle addict? (Most are too strong for me — but they’re so pretty.)
- Dying laughing.
- Awakening joy.
- Layered house.

I write for Babble. Here are this week’s posts:
- On my wishlist for Mother’s Day.
- A smart new site.
- My new favorite baby book.
- A clothing line just for boys.
- This Mom Jeans card is hilarious!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend. I’ll meet you back here next week. I miss you already!


P.S. — At the Easter Egg Hunt, all of the guests brought thoughtful gifts (a surprise to us). Local apple juice, small toys for the children and fresh flowers — like the lovely lilies of the valley, pictured. These photos were shot after the party by Paul Ferney.

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{ 67 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Stephanie Grey April 29, 2011 at 10:12 am

Dear Gabrielle, How wonderful to hear about your travels and to read about the egg hunt! I just love Amsterdam and Holland in general, I lived there with my husband for a few years in Utrecht. It’s one of my favorite places on earth. A few recommendations…I’m sure your kids would love to try traditional pannekoeken (pancakes that come in savory or sweet!), and stroopwafels too. If you can get to Delft its ultra-charming (like Brugge). Taking the train from Amsterdam (through Haarlam) to see the tulips would be quite exciting.

Since you are a designer, I must recommend spending some time in the Nijhof and Lee bookstore in central Amsterdam. It’s a definite treat. http://www.nijhoflee.nl

enjoy yourselves!
Stephanie Grey


2 Maren April 29, 2011 at 10:28 am

I just love the MoMA comment!! That is TOO cute!! Have safe and fun travels this weekend!


3 sony April 29, 2011 at 10:43 am

Make sure you stop in at Madurodam in Den Haag (The Hague). Your kids will love and so will you!


4 AmyB April 29, 2011 at 10:51 am

Please post your fav’s for kids from Amsterdam! We are heading there in June with my 8 year old to visit my aunts uncles and cousins. My daughter has never been.



5 Ana April 29, 2011 at 11:00 am

That looks so gorgeous Gabrielle! Your links will keep my mind filled with loveliness for a while. Thank you.


6 amy April 29, 2011 at 11:13 am

I love your outfit and your shoes for the Easter party!

amy@ glass confetti


7 Elizabeth April 29, 2011 at 11:16 am

I remember Brugges as being one of the most beautiful cities I’d ever seen when I traveled there right after college with my girlfriends over twenty-five years ago! I remember that it was one of the few medieval cities left standing after both world wars. Have a wonderful time and thank you, as always, for all the links — I love clicking through and seeing your discoveries!


8 lindsay April 29, 2011 at 11:44 am

The Anne Frank House is a MUST to visit in Amsterdam. Truly inspiring.


9 emily April 29, 2011 at 11:44 am

that “i went to moma” link is the cutest thing ever!
oh, and i love your shoes…


10 adventures in babywearing April 29, 2011 at 12:12 pm

Lovely! And I DID watch the wedding this morning! I happened to be awake and turned on the tv. So glad I didn’t miss it.



11 Sharmyn April 29, 2011 at 12:19 pm

You must introduce your children to the adventures of Tintin and his trusty dog Milou. He is a wonderful character and the kids will get a kick out of learning all about him! Try this link for the store: http://www.yogoyo.com/belgium-travel-guide/brussels-city-photos/tintin-shop-brugge.htm


12 Jessica April 29, 2011 at 12:36 pm

My husband and I honeymooned in Brugge! It’s one of my favorite places in the world! Have a great trip!


13 Michelle April 29, 2011 at 12:43 pm

You must visit the apartment were Anne Frank and her family hid. It is such an amazing experience and has a great little museum at the end.


14 Emily April 29, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Tomorrow in Holland is Queen’s Day – their national holiday. I was there last year for it accidentally! I don’t think it’s a great place for kids (think millions of intoxicated 20′s-30′s peeps) and I think you might find the city covered in garbage for a few days afterward!

Just keep in mind Amsterdam doesn’t look like that any other time of the year! Right next to the Anne Frank House is the Westerkerk Church and you can climb to the top of the tower – would be great for your older kids if they’re not afraid of heights! I was terrified but it is the most amazing view of the city from the city’s tallest tower!


15 Pam April 29, 2011 at 12:54 pm

Your children will LOVE to visit The Hiding Place in Haarlam, just a short train ride from Amsterdam. It is a few blocks from the train station. It is the actual home of Corrie ten Boom and the curators let you stand in “the hiding place” in Corrie’s bedroom as they tell the story! It is unbelievably inspiring! Then they can read the book, The Hiding Place, and learn so much about life and wars and forgiveness.


16 Katie April 29, 2011 at 12:59 pm

Dumon Chocolates in Brugge are the BEST!


17 Di April 29, 2011 at 1:10 pm

Puccini Bomboni is the best chocolate shop in Amsterdam….there are 2 branches – at least one is at 184 Singel so close to the centre on a canal. Or try to find PapaBubble – they are a Spanish company – boiled sugar artisans (or caramels artisans on their website). It’s at Haarlemmerdijk 70 which is west of the main station – apparently renowned as an independent shopping street in Amsterdam. But to be honest just wandering the canals and looking at all the crooked buildings is fabulous! Enjoy!


18 Ale April 29, 2011 at 1:24 pm

You’ll love Bruges! And when you visit Amsterdam don’t forget to visit Het Schip, they have nice guided tours that you should book in advance ( http://www.hetschip.nl/hetschip/en ). Have fun!


19 CMN April 29, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Bruges… I second Sharmyn — Tin Tin store is a MUST! (Plus, there’s the Steven Spielberg movie coming this holiday season — so if your family isn’t already immersed in Tin Tin lore, the timing is perfect to get your family introduced! Something tells me Ralph and Mimi will be Huge Fans!)

Amsterdam… The Van Gogh Museum. It’s simply lovely – a wonderful focus and something that can easily be done in a few hours. I particularly like the way the collection is arranged so that you can see the progression of his skill from when he decided to be an artist up to 10 years later when he passed away. Lovely for a family and a great opportunity for learning to appreciate art. Stroll the canals and take a boat cruise for a lovely hour. And, pick a small cafe – any cafe! – and stop in for poffertjes (paw-fer-jez’. An ABSOLUTE MUST MUST MUST!! They’re like… little clouds of heaven! (Okay, so really, they’re bite sized puffed pancakes with butter and powdered sugar. = YUM!)


20 CMN April 29, 2011 at 2:38 pm

One more note for Amsterdam!

Go a little farther afield to Arnhem – about 60-90 minutes outside of Amsterdam – and visit the OpenLucht Museum. It’s like… Williamsburg, VA — only even cooler. A vintage train goes around the woodsy parkland, with stops at ‘villages’ filled with antique and restored houses from all over Holland. A variety of working Windmills, heritage-breed animals (sheep! cows! ponies! ducks!), heirloom arts & crafts… It’s simply fascinating and immensely fun for all ages. You’ll spend a fabulous day roaming the houses, woods, and village squares. So worth the time and entrance fee. It’s a time capsule look at everything we foreigners admire about Holland, and its all completely authentic. So delightful!


21 emeeks April 29, 2011 at 3:00 pm

As an art historian, I have to recommend the Rijks Museum in Amsterdam, and there’s a lovely Hans Memlinc Museum in Brugges. If you have the time, Ghent, Belgium isn’t too far from Brugges and has the magnificent Jan van Eyck Ghent Altarpiece in the back of the Cathedral. Brugges the city is just so much fun to walk around because it is almost exactly the same that it was in the 16th century, complete with a nunnery. There should be swans all over, and there are usually some beautiful daffodils in the spring if you’re not too late. Make sure to get some french fries (or frites) in Belgium, that’s where they were invented and they taste marvelous. In Belgium, a restaurant cannot legally be called a restaurant unless they serve frites. Cheese or potato croquettes are also delicious appetizers, most restaurants have them in Belgium.


22 Angela April 29, 2011 at 3:14 pm

It’s definitely a good time to visit the Netherlands. Tulips will be in full bloom. The Keukenhof is open (http://www.keukenhof.nl/#) but also in the surroundings you will definitely find lots of flower fields.
Don’t miss the windmills from Kinderdijk. It’s a whole lot of windmills, you can just drive by and admire the view or even visit one of the mills. The website (http://www.kinderdijk.com) gives more details.
Do buy some stroopwafels (flat caramel filled wafers), preferably on a market where they are made on the spot and are still warm!
Well, there is a lot to see, someone mentioned Madurodam in the Hague, its all about miniature buildings. It’s true that Saturday is a national holiday (queens birthday), make sure you wear something orange and you’ll blend in without a problem :)
Did I mention to go and see the ‘Nachtwacht’ ? Rembrandt’s most famous painting in the Rijksmuseum? And Anne Franks house.
Or the beautiful city of Delft and see some of the porcelain made there since ages. To much to choose from in our small country :)
Hope you have a good time, the weather forecast is sunny for the coming days!


23 Tawnee April 29, 2011 at 4:08 pm

I love how you can almost see your new hair cut in the photo. I cut my hair off to donate it! bad idea–I look horrible. Kudos to your for pulling short hair off now!


24 carola April 29, 2011 at 4:31 pm

first time here!!
Looove your blog! :)
have a great weekend !


25 Anne Grant-Anderson April 29, 2011 at 5:26 pm

My husband and I are living in Madrid, Spain for the year but just visited Amsterdam last week.

I highly recommend this charming cafe with plates so beautiful you can hardly touch them at completely reasonable prices! They also serve a traditional high tea that looked delicious. http://amsterdam.unlike.net/locations/304746-Greenwood-s

As an aspiring mom-to-be (sometime in the near future) I have loved following your blog and hearing of your adventures living abroad as a family.


26 Connie Z. April 29, 2011 at 6:09 pm

These have been mentioned , so I second the votes:

Haarlam is a lovely very manageable little town. Visit the Corrie Ten Boom House, and be sure to read The Hiding Place with the kids. This family hid Jews there and some were sent to concentration camps themselves because of it. A much more hopeful place then the Anne Frank House, in my opinion.

In Amsterdam, the Rijks Museum is a must, as is the Van Gogh Museum. They are ajoined by a lovely little park that would be great for a picnic.

And for art tour guides, I recommend Rick Steves’ Art History book. I’m an opinionated Art Teacher who is pretty picky about these things, but find that his self guided tours take you to some true high lights and give a great little history in layman language.

A canal ride would be fun too, or some similar way to record the wonderful dutch architecture! It could be fun to get the kids drawing by making a scavenger hunt of all the curious shapes of houses they see.


27 Cathy April 29, 2011 at 6:52 pm

We lived in Germany over 30 years ago and traveled with our 3 young children all over Europe in a small camper. Holland was our favorite destination and we visited there 6 times. Reading all the comments just like a walk down memory land… See the Night Watch at the Rjiks Museum….and also the Van Gogh museum is very close. Maduradam is a must…and the open air museum in Arnham is also amazing. So, guess I agree with all the other good comments. The Dutch are such warm friendly people. If you notice the large windows in every Dutch house’s front…well, they tax each window, so that is why there is usually one very large one (at least that is what I was told) Look forward to hearing of your travels. You cannot miss, whatever you decide to do.


28 Susan April 29, 2011 at 7:01 pm

Brugge is my favorite city for introducing children to Europe! It has everything; 3 languages, canals, windmills, Michelangelo, a fabulous market. And all in walking distance!! We took our four there for a week in 1998. Our oldest was 15, youngest was 4. We stayed in an apartment in a building that was built in the 1400′s. It was hands down the best international trip we did with the kids!!! Amsterdam was fun, but Brugge was MUCH better!


29 Susan April 29, 2011 at 7:02 pm

Oh, and don’t forget to get some street snacks–Belgian waffles and frites!!!!


30 Laura Mayes April 29, 2011 at 7:46 pm

Oh I love Brugge! It’s one of my favorite cities. No tips. Just eat a lot.


31 alli April 29, 2011 at 9:08 pm

I LOVE your shoes! I was really into the Royal wedding- I did get up at 4am and watch it all- it was beautiful! I had a little “princess party” with my little girls to celebrate — http://loveandtwentytoes.blogspot.com/2011/04/princess-party.html
Have a great weekend!!


32 Sarah Reinwand April 29, 2011 at 11:49 pm

Never, ever visit Amsterdam on the Queen’s birthday! I was stuck in a crowd that couldn’t move for 45 minutes. Yikes! That was during a layover on a trip somewhere. On the way back, my layover was much better. I hooked up with a local. She took me to the department stores to sample the expensive perfumes and she had me eat some chocolate. She said those were two things I must do while in Amsterdam. : )


33 Juliana Chan April 30, 2011 at 12:23 am

Oh, I LOVE Amsterdam, especially this time of year. The way the city is build with the river running through it, it’s amazing. Have a fantastic time and do post pictures.


34 Bobbi April 30, 2011 at 12:36 am

I concur with the comments to take a canal cruise in Ansterdam, see the Rijks Museum and the Van Gogh, and Madurodam. I thought my kids were 2 little to appreciate the art when we took them to many museums in Europe when we lived there, but 2 grew up to be art history majors, so I think it sank in. Just tell them a brief bit about Van Gogh’s life, and rent at least one of the headset tours (or download a Rick Steve’s tour). I don’t know about the Corrie Tem Boom house–maybe not as interesting as the Anne Frank House for kids. Bon Voyage!


35 Bobbi April 30, 2011 at 12:37 am

PS Keukenhof Gardens is where you want to go see the tulips. You can find out online if they are still blooming.


36 TN April 30, 2011 at 5:00 am

Lilies of the Valley are for May 1st as a sign of good luck! We have them already from my in-laws.

Bruges is beautiful! We went a few Christmas’s ago it is a lot of peoples favorite places to visit in Europe. Go to the old part of town. The pictures should be beautiful. Also, you can ride in boats on the canals (like in Venice). It was closed and too cold in December but still a beautiful sight!



37 Jona April 30, 2011 at 6:26 am

Hi Gabrelle!

Most of these have been mentioned, but for sure the Anne Frank house and climb to the top of the Westerkerk on the corner. If you go on the hour, you can actually watch them play the bells. The sound is deafening, but the views are amazing. Also, Corrie Ten Boom house in Haarlem (Haarlem is also very quaint and typical Dutch) and is a 30 minute train ride from Amsterdam. Also recommend Keukenhof – big gardens just outside of Amsterdam with hundreds of varieties of tulips and windmills you can go inside all set in a park-like setting. Here’s a link – http://www.keukenhof.nl/. They are open until the 20th of May. You can purchase bulbs from them and have them sent anywhere in the world. As far as museums go, Van Gogh was my favorite. Approachable and could take it all in in one visit. Lastly, make sure you get some suiker waffles from street venders. They are everywhere and you won’t have any trouble finding them. And if you see a Hemme, take a look inside. It’s like target, but much more unique.


38 Angela April 30, 2011 at 10:53 pm

So much lovely ideas, i hope you guys have fun!
Here a department store is mentioned, its not called Hemme but Hema. It’s very Dutch, most items they sell are actually made/designed for Hema so you won’t find the same stuff anywhere else. It’s not expensive and usually good quality. Favourite among the Dutch is a ‘broodje rookworst’ (a bun with a special sausage) sold usually at the street on one side of the (main) entrance.


39 Sherri April 30, 2011 at 8:31 am

Brugges is so pretty. Canals, gorgeous old buildings – and this time of year, all their flowers should be out.

Amsterdam is fun too. The drive through Holland will be truly storybook. You really will see tulips, windmills and rolling green meadows.

Have fun!


40 Amanda April 30, 2011 at 8:48 am

We’ve potted wild flower seeds and are tending to them each morning before breakfast. As the weather warms and the threat of frost abates, we’ll go and make fairy gardens in the yard.


41 Jennelle April 30, 2011 at 8:49 am

I wanted to add to the previous recommendations for you to try Pannenkoeken, poffertjes, and stroopwafels. Have fun!


42 Megan April 30, 2011 at 11:11 am

Enjoy a gopher (waffle treat) In Brugges, take a canal ride and visit Anne Franks house in Amsterdam. I was there last September and loved it all.


43 Marilyn April 30, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Have a wonderful weekend. What wonderful readers you have to give you so many good suggestions. I am writing them all down as I hope to go to Hollard soon.


44 ellen van manen April 30, 2011 at 3:33 pm

hi gabrielle
I hope you liked marqueyssac last week, great huh?
I would like to direct you to Haarlem (not with an a at the end) because I lived there for a longtime, had a shop, met my husband etc. it’s a great city!
and to the ” 9 straatjes” in amsterdam, 9 streets filled with cute shops you will definitely love
have fun


45 Lynda April 30, 2011 at 9:06 pm

We were royal wedding crazy around here and I even wore a tiara all day on Friday to celebrate the occasion. We visited the palace several summers ago (a big deal for a Canadian family) and you have to read about my son’s impressions of it! HAHA! I will link to it here.

Enjoy your vacation! I hope the tulips are still in bloom in Amsterdam! :D


46 Nora May 1, 2011 at 1:54 am

Hi Gabrielle, i follow your blog since my maternity leave last summer when my daughter Puck was birn. I am also a graphic designer and art director living and working in Amsterdam. So if you want some tips to visit our beautiful city let me know


47 Nora May 1, 2011 at 2:08 am

#stupid iPhone….
I can tell you that Anne Frank’s house is a real experience, but has endless queues; the Rijksmuseum (old masters) and het Stedelijk (contemporary) are both under construction so have limited acces; visit Nemo (museum special for kids) or Foam (photography!); the best high tea you get at Gartine, they make everything themselves (and have a wonderful cookbook ) from their own garden, but you need to make à reservation because the place is that small it won’t fit you all in ;-) atheneum has the most magazines and you will love the Amsterdam based childrensbrand imps&elfs, their store is just around my corner. So, if you want more tips or info… As i said, let me know. Have fun!


48 TN May 1, 2011 at 2:14 am


Also today is a holiday (too bad it falls on a Sunday this year or my hubby would have off work). May 1st if the French Labor Day and is the day you buy Lilies of the Valley for good luck.

There are tons of good luck things all year round. When they come up I’ll let you know as the in laws like to share their customs and teach me (and our son) ;-)


49 TN May 1, 2011 at 2:15 am

P.S. When we lived in the US they would mail a card with the lilies of the valley pressed in it…just because of tradition ;-)


50 Jennifer @ OrangePolkaDot May 1, 2011 at 5:01 am

My family and I just got back from a road trip from Barcelona (where we live), Paris and Amsterdam/Haarlem/Hilversum.

The tulips were in bloom and so radiant! From Haarlem we drove to Den Helder and took the ferry over to Texel. You can rent bikes on the Texel side or drive around the island. We stopped in a little cafe in a tiny village, Den Hoorn not far from the ferry port. On the street leading up to the cafe, there are little self service stands for potatoes and shells! Lot of tulip fields and lambs everywhere.

In Amsterdam, we rented bikes. It is a MUST DO! The highlight of the whole trip for the kids and parents too. There are these great parent/child tandems or bikes with low wooden boxes that carry two or three kids. Also bikes for kids, bikes with baby seats, everything. They even rent helmets. We rented from this shop, http://www.rentabike.nl/damstraat20-22rates.html (scroll down to see pictures of the cool bikes) easy to get to from Dam Square. We reserved the parent/kid bikes b/c they run out quickly. Getting the hang of the tank bike was hard at first, but it was easy driving around and people were helpful and friendly. We took the bikes on a free ferry behind Centraal Station for a couple minute boat ride and then rode through N. Amsterdam to a small town with a great waterside tavern, Oulde Tavern. The bike shop has maps and the trails are clearly marked. Usually, you are in your own bike lane. It is amazing how quickly you can be out of the city biking in the country.

Enjoy your trip!


51 Jennifer @ OrangePolkaDot May 1, 2011 at 5:11 am

Oh I forgot! You can’t forget some ice cream treats while traveling with kids. We loved Yscuypje, http://www.ijscuypje.nl/ (Prinsengracht 292 @ Berenstraat). I guess there are several about town.


52 natalie gingrich May 1, 2011 at 12:01 pm

brugges is MY MOST FAVORITE CITY IN THE WORLD! it’s a very casual city and one that you can walk in a day. we especially loved the market in old town square, riding bikes along the river and the amazing mussels. the fish market may be fun for the kids, minus the smell??? the lake of love is iconic and one not to be missed. the nunnery is beautiful, too. have a blast! grab some lace to frame upon your return!


53 juliagblair May 1, 2011 at 4:03 pm

I’m dying to see the beautiful face of the woman with the lovely outfits!

I think there is nothing more fun and liberating than taking on a new city!
Enjoy, laugh, walk, run, jump, skip. We’re praying for good weather for you!

And beautiful green parks that are kid-friendly!


54 Erin Defoyd May 1, 2011 at 6:04 pm

loved your egg hunt…so memorable!


55 Béa May 2, 2011 at 5:55 am

and trying goat cheese with coriander seeds.


56 mamafromamsterdam May 2, 2011 at 8:16 am

Nice that you’re visiting my lovely city!
Just a little tip for you:
After you have visited the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh-museum (must see’s!!) you should go to the Vondelpark (very close to the musuems) and visit the Groot Melkhuis. This is a restaurant that serves great pannekoeken and poffertjes and it has a great playground for your kids!

Enjoy Amsterdam, and who knows, maybe we’ll see eachother on the streets one of these days ;-)


57 mamafromamsterdam May 2, 2011 at 8:17 am

Oh, and don’t forget to make a canal cruise, it’s a great way to see the city!


58 Béa May 2, 2011 at 9:24 am

forgot the link : hema.nl! (or .be as well, style is bilingual french and flemish)
The dutch-est shop. full of adorable design yet affordable things for yourself, your kids and your home!


59 Kacy Faulconer May 2, 2011 at 10:30 am

Buy a lace blessing gown for Maud’s first baby. You’ll regret it if you don’t.


60 deap May 2, 2011 at 2:48 pm

gabrielle, thank you for writing about us on babble. my wife and i founded hopscout.com. we follow design mom very closely, and admire your class, your flare, and your writing.

take care!


61 edustory May 2, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Love to hear about your travels! If your kids are reading the Diary of Anne Frank in school at some point, there is the house where she was hiding in Amsterdam.


62 Matthew Wallace May 2, 2011 at 8:01 pm

Belgium is amazing! My wife and I honeymooned in Brussels and had an amazing time. We did a bit of tripping around and overnighted in Brugge. It’s gorgeous. We stayed in an Ibis hotel, they’re quite simple but super clean. You’ll have an amazing time!


63 From Belgium May 3, 2011 at 12:53 am

Have some chocolates in Brugges and take a tour on the canals. It is lovely. And visit the beginage (Begijnhof) wonderfully serene.


64 From Belgium May 3, 2011 at 12:55 am

Ahem, I wasn’t quite finished yet. Sorry.
Other great cities in Belgium are Lier and Mechelen, not very big. but quite charming.
In Amsterdam try eating at ‘Kantjil en de Tijger’ (Kantjil and the Tiger) it is an indonisian restaurant and very good.


65 Kate Coates May 3, 2011 at 11:45 am

oh my gosh the fabric business cards are to die for– go jessica— and the bulbous baby head card made my husband and i laugh hysterically. fabulous stuff, gab–



66 Terry May 3, 2011 at 8:22 pm

Everyone here has great suggestions on what to visit. Personally, I loved to just wander around and eat! I was too scared to try to ride a bike there. I do think the Rembrandt House was interesting, and, as the owner of a movie theater I had to visit the Tuschinski Theater. Our day at Haarlem and Zandvoort was sublime.


67 Bonny May 12, 2011 at 10:53 am

Ummmm…..I want your shoes!!!!!!! ;)


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