Skipping Stones: Paying Homage to Vintage

Read the full post today on Junior Style London:

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Everything old is new again.  For us, this often rings true upon discovering a vintage gem that finds new life in our wardrobes.  Handcrafted garments from decades past satisfy cravings for one-of-a-kind pieces with timeless appeal.  There is a world of vintage and antique childrenswear that awaits discovery and repurpose but knowing where to look is often key.  Elise's Depression-era netting dress is one of many treasures you'll find in Mary Beth Hale's scrupulous collection of vintage apparel.  'In with the old' I say! 

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These vintage treasures find us immersed in nostalgia.  We're transported to simpler times, wading barefoot along the banks of Lake Champlain.  A hunt to find perfectly shaped shale ensues and we try our hand (rather unsuccessfully) at skipping stones along the water's edge.  I'm left to wonder if these garments could talk, might they tell a similar story?  One thing I'm certain, Mila's dress may actually hold such memories from my own childhood.  My Mother diligently cared for and saved a wonderful collection of clothing, now sprinkled throughout the girls' wardrobes.  

Thankfully we don't need to scour store racks or attics to find pieces like these.  Mary Beth Hale has done the work for us with a stunning collection of unique and pristine childrenswear from the past century and beyond.  From hand embroidered baby bonnets to velvet rompers and fur slippers, I can assure you, it won't be easy to browse without temptation.  But if you simply must, she's offering readers 10% off at purchase with the code BlakeAcres.  

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The Art of Gifting with CouCou and MineMine Kids

Imagine this.  Your lifelong childhood friend is having a baby.  It's been years since you both shared the same time zone but you still find her carefree spirit to be the perfect elixir on a gloomy day and you've always admired her bohemian taste.  And while you'll never grow apart, your style worlds have drifted.  Lucky for you, CouCou has launched customizable gift baskets for baby available through MineMine Kids.  Filled with a lust-worthy assortment of baby essentials and a special treat for the mother, they've taken all the guesswork out of gifting for a new arrival.  



We had the pleasure of visiting with CouCou's lovely owner (and mother herself), Astrid Motsenigos for a little Q&A.  We welcome you to get to know the face behind the boutique!

Q: What roles do design and culture play in raising your daughter?

A: They play a significant role.  We are a very dramatic/creative family and love to read, write, sing, dance, act, read poetry… My husband is Greek, I’m Spanish and German.  We love anything that is expressive, emotional, thoughtful, insightful, different - whether it be art, music, performance, culture, architecture or landscape, and we have fostered that same curiosity in our daughter. 

Q: How do you want your daughter to remember her childhood?  Are there any items she has been gifted with the hope of being passed down?

A: I want her to remember a huge amount of laughter and discovery.  It’s very important to me that she be a child as long as possible.  There are many items to pass down; a book my mother had as a child from which she got her nickname; her coming home from the hospital outfit was given to us from my mother’s best friend (who is like a second mother to me); jewelry belonging to both me and my mother before that.

Q: How do you juggle motherhood and building your business? 

A: Like anything else in life when you become a mother - early mornings and late nights! 

Q: What is the best piece of advice you were given when you began CouCou?

A: Two things: 1) It’s going to be so much harder than you are anticipating, but if you don’t do it, you’ll always regret it. 2) Talk to other businesses and ask as many questions as they will answer.

Q: Please tell us more about your gift baskets and how they can be customized.

A: Gift baskets are available through MineMine Kids and can be customized four ways:

  1. Size - Small or Large

  2. Mother's style - The "Polished" basket would best suit the classic/sophisticated mom while the "Natural" basket would be perfect for the easy going/natural/organic mother

  3. Gender - Girl, Boy, Unisex

  4. Toy Box - Two toy box options for each size (small or large)

Q: Are there any items at home that you can’t live without? 

A: As a matter of fact, the Rice Toy Box that was chosen for our gift baskets is a must have in our home.  They help to de-clutter toys and books, are beautiful to keep out and our daughter loves to play with them. 



We hope you’ve enjoyed this peek into the wonderful world of CouCou!

Palava in Bloom

Check the bottom of this post for a special Junior Style London competition!  Full details can also be found on the following pages:

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There is little I enjoy more in this life than a stroll through a garden (and perhaps a good garden shop).  Spring abounds, signalling an excitement that could only come from the world’s most prestigious flower show, an event that transforms the better part of Chelsea, London, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

You can imagine my excitement for Palava’s reincarnation of this floral wonderland with their spring “Chelsea Flower Show” collection.  Imagine your dream brand pays tribute to your favourite event in a collection of beautifully designed garments.  The storybook women’s’ and childrenswear brand, Palava, has long been revered in our closets.  Our love affair with their whimsical creations began when Elise was a newborn.  Palava’s uniquely illustrated frocks feel wonderfully cheerful and quickly found their way into her wardrobe.

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For this very special collection, Palava characters Poppy and Fred can be spotted on their Chelsea Flower Show adventures along the hem of select dresses.  And if that doesn’t satisfy your Palava cravings, each piece is accompanied by a wonderfully illustrated storybook of its own.

An equally beautiful selection of women’s dresses and skirts allows for a picture perfect family ensemble.  Easy to wear and a breeze to travel with, I’ve enjoyed countless adventures in my Irene Swallows Dress.  In turn, it has enjoyed just as many compliments.  And, might I add, the girls adore dressing like Mummy in our coordinating looks.

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Soon Chelsea storefronts will be blooming in eager anticipation for the flower show of all shows.  If you can’t make it to Chelsea’s display of garden artistry this year, channel its wonder and excitement with a Palava dress of your own (and one for your daughter of course)!

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We have teamed up with Palava and Junior Style to bring to you a fantastic competition.

To be in with your chance of winning a Palava girls outfit comprising of a dress, petticoat and pair of socks, worth £120.00……..

1. Follow @juniorstylelondon @palavaminifolk and Jessica Dickinson from the lifestyle blog @blakeacres on Instagram. (your vote will not count if you are not following all companies involved.)

2. Like the main competition image on the Junior Style Instagram page  (this is how we know you have entered).

3. Tag a friend you think would like to win this fantastic prize for an extra entry.

4. You can also gain an extra entry by reposting the original competition image from @JuniorStyleLondon and using #JrStylexPalavaMiniFolk

5. An Extra entry can be gained by commenting on my Palava Blog post below.

For terms and further details on the competition click here.

Growing Wild Things with Oaks of Acorn

In the depths of a New England winter, Elise and Mila were enchanted by a tropical oasis not far from home.  A secret garden welcomed us with blooming Camellias and pink flowering vines.  For these wild things, a game of hide-and-seek in the greenhouse was a welcome activity for this otherwise cold and snowy February day.  On this day, we couldn’t imagine ourselves anywhere else.  Together, mother and child, letting loose and having fun where we felt at home.

Join us today on Junior Style London for a peek at the beautifully crafted children’s wear brand, Oaks of Acorn.

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Blue Alma for Baby

When the stars align and you've found the perfect knitwear to complement your little one's wardrobe, dressing for winter becomes a joy.  Such was the case for us upon discovering the beautiful range of baby and children's knitwear from Blue Alma.

I welcome you to get to know this wonderful brand and the inspirational woman behind it!

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Owner and designer, Annemarie Shoemaker is dedicated to producing goods with a nod to tradition, the highest quality fibers, beautiful styling, and comfort.  Annemarie's collection of knitwear provides the perfect amount of warmth without unnecessary bulk or itch.  During her design process, a great deal of thought is given to a garment's functionality and the child's well-being without compromising on style.  When worn, these pieces pull together any outfit effortlessly.  Trust us, you'll be smitten.  

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For Annemarie, knitting runs deep.  A skill passed down through generations of family members, she pays homage to these traditions in each garment that is produced.  After graduating from fashion design school in Berlin, Annemarie, a German native, worked in various settings as a freelance designer, in a yarn store, and as a technical design assistant for a knitwear company.  Along the journey, true love eventually brought her overseas to live in Brooklyn, the birthplace of her handknit label, Blue Alma. 

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Yarns are thoughtfully chosen and made from pure natural fibers.  The current collection was produced using a cotton-alpaca blend, snuggly soft yet breathable with the ability to wear year-round.  

Annemarie was lucky to have found a team of talented artisans in Peru who help produce the knitwear while maintaining the brand's dedication to 'handmade.'  These women and men are highly skilled and detail oriented knitters who deserve a fair wage.  Feel good knowing that your Blue Alma purchase helps to support this collaboration of talent worlds away.  

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Museum of Wonder

We’ve taken to the halls of the Museum of Fine Arts for a stroll with the masters on this blustery winter day. Elise marvels at larger than life works of art and we are soon lost in wonder at the museum.  She’s determined to find pieces from thumbprint images in our guidebook and each discovery brings a moment of pride and excitement.  The wonderful brands, Valya Kids and Blue Alma Knits kept us cozy as we wandered exhibits on view at the MFA.  

Join us at the Museum on Junior Style London!

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Litcitar Hearts of Croatia

The magic of the winter season is everywhere these days.  As city dwellers, we've been serenaded by brass instruments while shopping and delighted by the grace of figure skaters in pop-up ice rinks.  An abundance of little white lights keeps us cheerful through progressively shorter days.  And when it gets too chilly outside for mitten-clad fingers, we gather in the kitchen to bake.  

Check us out today on the Junior Style Blog

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Clothing credits:

Elise's knit dress:  Misha & Puff

Mila's blouse: Soor Ploom

Elise’s apron: Fog Linen

Oven gloves: Thornback & Peel

Mila's hair bow: Pitchoun Designs

Elise's floral dress: Vintage

Dreaming in Wool with Merino Kids

The comfort that surrounds us during these cold winter months comes in many forms; a crackling fire, hot cocoa, freshly baked cookies, and cozy sleepwear.  And when it comes to what our children wear for nearly 12 hours a day, there are few brands that meet my requirements.  Fortunately, we discovered Merino Kids when Elise was an infant and since then, have relied on their 100% natural fiber garments to bring us countless hours of peaceful rest.  

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In my search for a natural fiber sleep bag over 3 years ago, I came across Merino Kids, a New Zealand-based company specializing in merino wool sleepwear.  Although wool is typically associated with the cooler months, many underestimate its body temperature regulating properties and ability to wick away moisture, keeping us dry in warmer weather.  

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A subtle stripe and simplistic cut gives Merino Kids sleepwear universal appeal.  Whats more, the girls can easily wear and grow into these pieces.  It appeals to our desire to live in synthetic-free clothing and is truly comfort at its best.   

I invite you to share in our coziness this winter and browse the beautiful selection of sleepwear from Merino Kids.  

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Falling for Selenita

Perhaps my favourite aspect of traveling is discovering makers and brands from around the globe.  Talented artisans and unique creations remind us of the time we spent in distant lands.  Our summer travels led us on an adventure in Edinburgh where we stumbled upon a hidden gem.  This enchanting city is home to the equally enchanting childrenswear brand, Selenita

Join us over on the Junior Style Blog for a journey to The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, a feast for the eyes this time of year.  We look forward to seeing you there!

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Discovering Plimoth Plantation in Devon's Drawer

The colorful and crisp New England fall is upon us and there is no better time to soak up the history and beginnings of our commonwealth state of Massachusetts.  Join us over on the Junior Style Blog as we journey back in time to the Plimoth Plantation.  The occasion called for precious fall dresses from the heirloom children's brand, Devon's Drawer.

We look forward to seeing you there!

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The Hundred Acre Wood featuring Sue Hill

The elusive Hundred Acre Wood has been on our list of must-see places this summer.  Nearing the end of our stay in England we ventured into the land of honey pots and Winnie-the-Pooh, retracing the footsteps of Christopher Robin.  Our adventures in Pooh Country with British chrildrenswear brand Sue Hill, can be found on the Junior Style blog today.

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"Inspired by Blake Acres," A Free Babes Collaboration

A summer of adventures in London wouldn't be complete without a special trip to the famed Liberty of London store, setting the stage for the "Inspired by Blake Acres" collection which goes live today at Free Babes Handmade

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Liberty of London is home to those sought-after floral prints we've all come to adore.  What fun we had choosing the perfect fabric for this collection from the Haberdashery floor of our favorite London store!

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Our travels have found us surrounded by enchanting English gardens and at the moment London is saturated by color and scents from roses to irises and lavender.  But perhaps my favorite sight this time of year are the summer vines which creep their way up building facades and trees, creating a romantic feel to a simple walk through the park.  These pleasure grounds we've enjoyed have further influenced the "Inspired by Blake Acres" bows and we selected favorite summertime Liberty florals as the perfect compliment to a garden adventure.

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British summers are synonymous with gardens yes, but we wouldn't have these lush spaces without a bit of rain!  And when it rains, there are no shortage of wonderful spots to explore but if I could be stuck indoors for a day, I'd choose the Liberty of London store, hands down.  The building dates back to 1924 and was built from the timbers of two ships.  The interior rooms have a homely feeling complete with fireplaces and nooks to explore.  But perhaps our favorite discovery is the rotating clock that chimes at each quarter hour and showcases a knight chasing a dragon.  So whimsical, so British, so very Liberty!

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