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New column :: Face-to-Face


Out of absolute curiosity how designers actually live themselves and how they decorate their own homes made me ask Sandra Jacobs from BijzonderMOOI* whether she could visit them for Bloesem and ask them questions about their work, passions and life in general.

Of course bringing a great photographer was an absolute must and who could be better than my dear friend Marjon Hoogervorst aka Vorstin  ... how thrilled was I when I found out they were just as excited about this idea as I was.

So with proud and happiness am I going to present to you today a new column

face-to-face: a designer’s profile ~

Real homes, beautiful images and a nice conversation with well-known designers from the Netherlands to start with but probably designers from other countries too. 

The first visit Sandra and Marjon made was at Klaartje de Hartog's home in Amsterdam. Klaartje is founder of designer accessory label Keecie

A special thank you to Nanette Watson aka xPattyCake, who helps us with the translations of the interviews. 


~ more images ~

face-to-face: a designer’s profile ~


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Bloesem on Ceramics - part 2

Update Vintage Ceramics

Inleiding_1Thank you very much for the many nice comments on the vintage ceramics weekend read! I am happy that so many of you also have a passion for ceramics and it is comforting to know that I am not the only one who flips over plates and cups to check for the manufacturer’s seal…I have updated the read with vintage enamel designs (not really ceramics… but very beautiful) and also added a few ceramics pieces that I especially like. Anna of red.house was kind enough to send me further information on Rörstrand, she actually grew up in the town of Lidköping where the company was located. I used her information to correct some mistakes in the history part of Rörstrand. And before I forget a special thanks to all the great websites who have helped me create this weekend read and allowed me use their beautiful pictures. At the bottom of the read I have made a list of all these sites. Have a great weekend and hope to see you back on Monday!

Grete Prytz Kittelsen for Cathrineholm


Grete Prytz Kittelsen was born 1917 in Oslo, Norway. She is renowned for her work with stainless steel and enamel for Cathrineholm. I am sure you have seen one or more of her designs. My first memory of these beautiful enamel pieces is from skiing trips in Austria where we the cheese fondue was served in Cathrineholm. Grete’s designs have won many prestigious awards. She was a major influence on Scandinavian design in the forties and fifties. In 2003, when she was already 86, Grete went on her first trip to China. During her stay, she visited one of the few traditional Chinese enamel factories still in operation and decided to start designing again. Chang & Biörck has acquired exclusive rights to reproduce some of her work, among which a bowl and a plate, that she designed using the same colors as her original 1950s designs. Cathrineholm of Norway started production of enamel in 1907.


Antti Nurmesniemi  

Antti Nurmesniemi is one of the pioneers in Finnish design industry. His products were manufactured over the decades and his designs are famous. Like the Jakkara Stool. I especially like his enamel designs and at auction prices for his coffee pots are in excess of 200 USD, a true classic. So if you have one these pots hold on to it!


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Bloesem on Ceramics

GustavsbergfishplaqueI have always been attracted to vintage ceramics. It combines all things I like about design: prints, colors, illustrations and functionality. Not that I know much about the technique of producing tableware, porcelain or ceramics in general. My only criterion is whether I think a particular piece is beautiful. The variety in vintage ceramics is overwhelming, and the jargon can be confusing: I just use the generic name ‘ceramics’ for all items made out of clay…(or similar material if that is even possible…). My own modest collection of vintage ceramics I found on flea markets and garage sales. Now and again you get lucky and find a really great designer piece… so far I managed to only find Scandinavian and Dutch pieces, so naturally my focus has been on designs from these regions. This read has the same focus. I realize that this is just uncovering a tiny bit of the vintage ceramics that are out there. Great names such as Bitossi or Rosenthal that have designed (and are still doing so) beautiful ceramics deserve attention and their work would easily take up one or more weekend reads… I am hoping to show you some of their beautiful items on Bloesem soon or perhaps in a next weekend read. Just a quick note of caution: the items I show here you cannot find on the companies’ official websites, I found these by looking in books, browsing the web, searching on-line stores and collectors’ websites, where possible I have of course included a link for your reference, but if you really want to find that special piece I encourage you to search for yourself, I am sure it is there waiting to be found!




What amazes me about a company such as Arabia that they have been in business for over a hundred years and have consistently produced high quality and unique pieces of porcelain, ceramics and other pottery. An incredible achievement for – at least initially - a small company established in 1874 in the outskirts of Helsinki. I wonder whether there are still some pieces left (without cracks…) from their first collections…Something that I didn’t know about Arabia is that it was part of Rörstrand for a long time until it became independent. The first Arabia tableware that I saw was at my stepmothers’ place maybe twenty years ago or so, she collects Arabia’s Ruska collection by Ulla Procopé, dark chocolate brown with black lining, a very simple design but absolutely gorgeous on a white table cloth…I had to get used to the dark colors which I didn’t particularly liked at first but  came to appreciate only years later when I noticed the timelessness of the design, it never gets boring. Some of the most famous and talented designers have collaborated with Arabia; to name just a few: Kaj Franck, Ulla Procopé, Toini Muona, Birger Kaipianen, Stefan Lindfors, Kati Tuominen-Niittyla and Harri Koskinen




Johan Jeremiassen established Porsgrunds Porselænsfabrik AS in 1885 in Porsgrund, Norway and started operations two years later. Since then not much has changed at Porsgrund, they use the same original production processes and even the factory looks the same. One thing has changed though: Porsgrund’s reputation has spread around the world fast… and has a loyal following of customers, including the Norwegian Royal Family, so I guess we’re in good company…Porsgrunds celebrates its 120th birthday this year with special birthday collections and offers available in all of their outlets, so keep an eye open to snatch up one of these collector’s items before the Royals beat you to it…




Figgjo was founded in 1941, and is located in Figgjo, near Stavanger, on the west coast of Norway. Figgjo’s delicately illustrated ceramics are characterized by the stories they tell. Collections have names as Saga, Viking, Lotte, Daisy and Corsica. When you put Figgjo on the dinner table your guests will never be out of conversation… the illustrations really fire up the imagination and you will never get bored looking at the amazing Norwegian craftsmanship. These are just some of my favorite designs, they are so colorful and just bring you in a good mood, thinking of a spring picnic or summer garden party…

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A true taste of Amsterdam


Truly amazing. Food is no longer just about eating. Sound, atmosphere, styling, an inspiring crowd and much more. Marije Vogelzang is food designer and invented Proef. Proef means 'taste' and gives new meaning to the word restaurant. A whole new eating sensation, stimulating all of your senses... Imagine eating your plate for desert, don’t worry it is made of sugar. Only eating stuff your body reacts favourably to. Seduced by colours, texture and design. A special breakfast that will ignite you with energy, pushing all the right buttons to get you started for your Amsterdam weekend escape. And it’s all healthy too. No more boring Dutch staple dishes (remember Van Gogh’s ‘potato eaters’…?). Proef gives a fresh impulse to both Dutch cuisine and design. Marije also did some marvellous projects for Droog Design and Hella Jongerius.


And it gets even better. Proef is located in the 'Westergasfabriek', a former industrial park which has transformed to Amsterdam’s newest signature piece. A creative and cultural melting pot. Merging artistic entrepreneurship with commercial enterprise. This is ‘New Amsterdam’, putting you right into our next ‘Golden Age’. You will find special events, theatres, bars and restaurants. The area is wrapped in a beautiful park. Take a sharp right when you leave Central Station (after visiting a new wing of the ‘Rijksmuseum’ which is located within the station). It is just a fifteen-minute walk away.



{ps. should you end up in Rotterdam by mistake, don’t panic, Proef also has a tasting oasis in the centre of this harbour city which is definitely worth a visit!}


When Analik opens her new Miauw suites this March there will only be one place for you to stay in Amsterdam. Analik is famous for her outspoken fashion designs but that is not all she has been up to lately…Check into Miauw, and you may never leave again… Beautifully located at the corner of ‘Keizersgracht’ and ‘Harte Straat’ in the heart of an area called ‘nine little streets’. The extremely spacious and modern styled suites (70 square meters!) are open concept, have a small kitchen and come with all sorts of complementary goodies. You will feel right at home. Overlooking one of the best parts of the canal area. Just pick a floor plan, make an on-line reservation, and you are all set for your spring visit.


Miauw combines suites with Miauw shops and projects. No ordinary hotel lobby. The ground floor is occupied by Analik's boutique where she shows her latest designs and some handpicked other labels. Special projects include photography exhibitions. Our lucky ‘Zuiderburen’ in Antwerp (a friendly nickname for our Belgian neighbours in the south) have enjoyed Miauw's hospitality since a few years already.


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Irene When I was little I used to say to people I am an ‘Amsterdammertje’ by which I meant that I was proud my first crib was overlooking the famous Museum quarter. Although I grew up in the east of the Netherlands (which is beautiful too, but nothing like Amsterdam and a world of its own with a different language or dialect actually… we spoke ‘tukkers’…). Moving back to Amsterdam was always on my mind. When I turned nineteen, I finally went back where I belonged. I admit it took me probably another ten years before I actually visited all of the incredible museums and other historic places that you literally find at every corner in Amsterdam. But I guess that this might be typical for most Dutch people, they should appreciate their heritage more... No more excuses. I hope to make up for this lack of patriotism a little bit with this weekend read… The read is not about historic stuff though. It is about places that I feel define Amsterdam and its people today, hopefully uncovering some beautiful spots you may have overlooked on your previous visits to this wonderful city. Quite a challenge I realize, as many of you are Amsterdam experts already...

Sugar + water + glucose = PapaBubble

But there is more to PapaBubble than just these three basic ingredients. It is what they do with them in their candy laboratory that makes sweets worthy to carry the PapaBubble name. From now on you will put your favorite lollypops in a vase rather than tulips. Offering a sweet to someone has never been this fashionable. You are basically giving away little pieces of edible art.



PapaBubble is strategically located around the world, so you can’t miss them on your city trips when you need to satisfy that sweet tooth…. Mark your map as follows: Amsterdam, Barcelona and Tokyo… a sweet triangle… PapaBubble teamed up with Comme des Garçons to create the ‘taste of Comme des Garçons’. It is a powder candy that matches the perfume. Can you imagine giving your date an actual taste of your perfume… talking about seduction techniques…Your first order is for free when you purchase a bottle of perfume. A sweet collaboration indeed…

Keet in Huis...


...means ‘party in the house’ and this is exactly what you will get when you set your kids (or yourself…) loose in Keet in Huis. It will be your kids’ favorite playground. So many beautiful colorful objects and an ever changing collection. You will find 'Pakhuis Oost' but also a wonderful series of KEET products for kids. I have a special place in my heart for  Keet in Huis as they were among the first to carry my collection of baby announcements and greeting cards.


Keet in Huis is located on ‘KNSM eiland’ in the heart of the ‘island district’ along the ‘IJ’ river. An area that used to be the old harbor and has developed rapidly as one of the city’s favorite places to live. Modern architecture and converted warehouses. It is where in the old days the ‘Holland America Line’ passenger ships would dock. Cruise ships still dock there, but now at a beautiful new terminal which basically drops you in the heart of the city (close to Central Station). It is only a five minute walk from your cabin to Keet in Huis


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Illustrators of Children’s Books

Freckle_3Sweet, sweet memories… Whenever I see my 10-month old son looking in amazement at his illustrated baby books, I start thinking about my own childhood and how crazy I was about illustrated books. For me these books were the ultimate escape to a world of fantasy and adventure. My mother tells me that I would sit on the couch for hours surrounded by books illustrated by Dick Bruna and Fiep Westendorp with a big blush on my cheeks of excitement. I still get excited about illustrations by Bruna, Fiep Westendorp and many other illustrators of children’s books. The variety and contrast in the work of these artists is incredible and create so many different worlds of wonder for children. The apparent ease with which Bruna creates his beautiful illustrations, only a few strokes of a pencil… and the detailed work of Fiep Westendorp never ceases to amaze me. Their illustrations are true works of art. Browsing the web I found it impressive to see how much knowledge and information the Japanese have in this area. There is an active trading market for collectors of illustrations and books and many Japanese websites are practically libraries of children books and illustrations. So… as you have guessed by now…this read is in honor of the two Dutch illustrators who made my childhood great fun and hopefully will have the same impact on generations to come… but also I would like to show you some of the fabulous illustrations for children’s books by Paul Rand and Stig Lindberg.
{image from Freckle Wonder, a great vintage store and Blog}


Fiep Westendorp


If someone would ask me to describe the work of Fiep Westendorp, I would say her work is full of humor. It is also very colorful and incredibly creative, she has such a great eye for detail… the illustrations tell their own story, there is almost no need to be able to read, just look at the illustrations and you will instantly make up your own fantasy… Sophia Maria Westendorp was born in Zaltbommel, the Netherlands on 17 December 1916 (for those of you familiar with the “low lands”, when you cross the bridge over the “Waal” river you will see the famous tower of the old Zaltbommel church  rising above the trees, a beautiful sight…). Fiep Westendorp has illustrated many books of which only a few were written by Annie M.G. Schmidt. However, in the minds of the Dutch the work of these two women is very much linked. They collaborated for more than forty years, starting in 1952 on the children's page of a Dutch newspaper with the adventures of “Yip and Yannika).


At that time, newspaper-printing techniques offered only limited possibilities to print illustrations.  Given these constraints Fiep had to figure out a way to create catching illustrations. She came up with the idea of black and white silhouettes. This distinctive style has characterized Yip and Yannika and has made them famous throughout the world. Interestingly, Yip and Yannika’s parents were only occasionally featured in Fiep’s illustrations. Fiep wanted her fans to create imagine their own versions of the parents.

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Bloggers’ Favorites

So finally… here is a new weekend read… I know it has been a while… but there are more in the making! This one is about bloggers’ favorites… I thought it would be nice to have people who spend their days thinking and writing about everything that has to do with design to share their ideas with us… so I asked some of my favorite bloggers to tell us more about their own favorites… I hope you enjoy this to start off the weekend!

...Elena's 5 favorites; Labour of heart*


...favorite flower: " When I think about flowers, I think about Bloom! The magazine edited by trends guru Li Edelkoort is inspiring for creative people and for everyone who likes nature."
...favorite furniture piece: "My favourite furniture piece is the Polder sofa by Hella Jongerius for Vitra. I love the asymmetric cushions, the different materials and colors of the upholstery, the buttons. In short, I love the Polder sofa because, in my opinion, it is the only boxy sofa that is not “cold”." 

...favorite pair of shoes: "I’ve recently found Galogaza. Petra Galogaza creates shoes, bags and accessories. I’ve fallen in love with white leather shoes collection from s/s 2006."
...favorite mid-century designers: "Charles and Ray Eames: I love the couple’s synergy in different creative fields: furniture design, exhibition design, film making, children toys, houses. In every field, they succeeded in creating something excellent. I love the photo above: it is simply fabulous!"
...favorite city: "My favourite cities are two: New York and Amsterdam. New York for the inspirations you can find everywhere. Amsterdam because it is a town with the mind of a big town, but with the way of life of a little town."


...Grace's 8 favorites; Design*Sponge


...favorite city: "This is an easy one for me: Savannah, Georgia. There's a line from the movie "Sleepless in Seattle" where Tom Hanks describes touching the hand of late-wife as, "...coming home, only to no home I'd ever known before." That's how I feel about Savannah. From the second I landed there everything felt l like home. The smell of jasmine in the air, the years of Southern history tucked behind every door- I knew it would be a city I called home at some point."
...favorite fabric or wallpaper artist: "Right now it's a tie between Madeline Weinrib and the Hable Construction girls. I love the femininity of their work and the way they each play with color and texture in their textiles."
...favorite fashion piece or shoes : "Loeffler Randall flats. Pref. in yellow. I've fully embraced my diminutive stature so flats are all I wear. Especially when you have to do so much walking in NY. Heels just won't do."
...favorite flower: "Peonies. No flower looks quite so happy to see you- all those layers and layers of pink fluffy petals. They're definitely the happiest flower around."


...favorite furniture piece: "This is another weekly change for me. But for right now I'd have to say I love this vintage Kofod Larsen rocking chair I got from Modhaus in Boston ( modhaus.com). The rocking chair has the sweetest wooden back that curves to meet you as you sit. I dressed it up with a bit of Hable Construction fabric called "Fig"."
...favorite interior design book: "Oh man- It's tough to choose a favorite design book. It's like a favorite color- they change with the week for me. But my favorite right now would have to be "20th Century Pattern Design". I find so much inspiration from pattern and this book has a really fantastic collection."
...favorite mid-century designers: " I know this is a boring answer but Charles and Ray Eames. But really, their influence over design can't be overstated. Well at least their influence over my personal taste can't. Their clean lines and simple forms really taught me to simplify things at home."
...favorite type house: " My favorite type of home? I'd have to say something old with lots of character. Whether that's a painted lady in San Francisco, an old bronwnstone in Brooklyn or a plantation home in Georgia- I don't care. I just like my homes to have some history to them. Clean and modern is beautiful but it never quite feels like home to me."

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Bloggers' Wish Gifts in 2008

Hope this read will give you some great tips for the coming Gift Season...thank you so much dear blogger friends for your wonderful input!


...Sia's Wish Gifts: Sia Grafica

...for my blog friend: A wish gift for my blog friend emma laiho from Helsinki {whom I finally met this Summer} would be a limited edition print by Betsy Walton. Via Julie Knoblock 's blog I discovered that Betsy is selling her prints on etsy... My guess is that Emma wouldn't mind getting the Winter Indoors print or the  Rain Drop Bird print as a gift, either for her birthday or just because she's a great blog friend!
...for my best friend: My best friend is chanelva and we've known each other since we were eighteen. Although we don't see each other often, we try to keep in touch through e-mails and text messages. I haven't seen her since July so my wish gift for her is this cute tea pot by Lola Goldstein from Argentina... so we can have tea and catch up on everything... {Lola Goldstein also made some cute salt and pepper shakers - you can buy them at the MoMA store}
....for my friend: For my friend anne I wish a large screen printed purse with cute owls by Melbourne based Megan. I met Anne a couple of years ago while studying Media & Culture at the University of Amsterdam. Although I quit studying almost two years ago, we are still seeing each other and she has become one of my closest friends. This cute screen printed purse would make a great Sinterklaas gift...


...for my friend: a gift for my friend kiki who moved to London last December. Not many girls with a large tattoo {...on their back!} manage to look as classy as Kiki does - I must add that her tattoo is beautiful! Therefore I think that any dress from the Morticia collection {autumn 2007} by Swedish designer duo mori & mimosa would look stunning on her. I had the chance to meet Christina Wemming {a fashion designer} and Sara Engberg {a jewelry artist} in their shop/studio when I was in Stockholm... they are very friendly and obviously put a lot of love and effort in their work!
...for my mother: My mother will be celebrating her birthday on September 7th...  I love the Bono mugs by Catharina Kippel - I saw them in Stockholm a couple of weeks ago and instantly fell in love with the 'rainy print' mug. I'm sure these coffee mugs would make a great gift.
...for my boyfriend: My boyfriend floris  would get a subscription to the thing. It is an art project and every three months a new "issue" is sent out to all subscribers - a household object that has been created or edited by an artist, writer, musician or film maker. Issue #1, created by Miranda July just came out... it is quite an exciting project and I'm sure that Floris would be thrilled to receive 'the thing' four times a year, simply wrapped in brown paper with a string...


...Marieke's Wish Gifts: Treats&Treasures


...for anybody: A gift that is perfect for anybody really is the Annotated Grimm. I bought it as a gift for myself and I just to browse through it in the evening, and enter the magical fairytale world. Great collection of illustrations too.
...for...: Last year I stumbled across one of the most charming shops in Paris, Le Petit Atelier de Paris. I bought a ceramic plate, a small vase and a porcelain leaf charm for a necklace. I am so very pleased with all three. They make excellent, precious and not so expensive gifts.
...for...: Though I love everything Sarah of The Small Object makes, the wooden needle case is especially cute and practicle too. I used to always lose needles between all the pins but not anymore.


...for...: Lomolitos are single use lomo cameras and are definitely on my wishlist but I think every (amateur) photographer (who isn’t one?) will have fun with these.
...for...: Some time ago the local supermarket in Holland gave away four leaf clover bulbs. I planted them and they just continue to make me happy. Even suitable for the person who has everything.
...for...: A mixtape, I had to put these on the list because they are my favorite wishgifts. Anything that is made/compiled especially for you got to be the best present you could get. At least for me! I have fond memories of the first mixtape I got, anxiously listening for special meaning and hidden messages. Ok, we’re no teenagers anymore but still. Illustrated ones are even better.


...Joy's Wish Gifts: OhJoy


...for family: Blurb book...turn your work into a coffee table-worthy book using your own photographs, words, and artwork. You can create cookbooks, document your travels, create an artist book, or show off your new baby's first year. Last holiday, my husband and I made weddings books for our parents using Blurb and they loved it. Prices are really affordable too. {images here from our Blurb wedding book}
...for friends:...small containers...i'm obsessed with small container, bowls, and cups. When I give jewelry or something that's small in size, it's the perfect opportunity to give them a unique little cup or bowl to house the gift. {You can find really great containers from bath collections like these from Anthropologie. I also love these log bowls from LoyalLoot.
...for the decorator: ...bird cages...i've always loved these bird cages from Horchow. They would be so pretty given to someone with a small plant inside {as shown} or a small piece of framed artwork.


...for the girl who has everything...: hair pins...these leather flower hairpins by Amy Rogers are so gorgeous and unique.
...for the eco chic girl on the go: ...reusable things...like a set of Envirosax bags for groceries and water bottles which hold hot and cold liquids and are great for every day use.
...for those who love to learn:...education...one of the greatest gifts one can give is feeding a passion or new hobby...for very special people, i love giving a class or set of classes for their new pursuit. whether it's cooking, art, pilates, or a wine and cheese class. This is obviously very specific to the location of the recipient, but I love unique classes like at Tria or the Fermentation School Flower Lab at Studio M Floral - both which are in Philadelphia where I live.

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Knitting Spree


I absolutely love knitting. I started knitting when I was eight, and still have my knitting box tugged under the bed where I keep all leftover yarn and many unfinished projects that proved too ambitious (but I am sure I will finish them some day…). Never mind colors and designs. In my early knitting days I was more concerned with volume than fashionable knits. Going through my old knits I can hardly believe some of my initial patterns, it is funny how your own taste changes over time.
During my pregnancy I developed an unstoppable urge to knit all sorts of baby stuff, but mostly ‘slofjes’ which is Dutch for half sock and half shoe, for my baby’s first steps. It is now a complete collection that I call ‘Cupcakes’.


Cupcakes are great presents for my pregnant friends. If you like them you can order a pair for your baby, just send me an email. The yellow ones remind me of Dutch wooden shoes. For me knitting is like yoga, the ideal day dreaming exercise. Basic knitting techniques are really easy to master, it is completely intuitive, and great fun too, so pick up those needles (if you haven’t already) and start knitting! Please keep me posted on your knitting projects, I would love to see your work (both finished and unfinished of course…)



Knits for the home

My absolute favorite. Caroline’s Bickett’s 'hand knits for the home' has great and easy to do patterns to make your home look even more fabulous. I like all of her designs and she combines everything I love about knitting. Her designs give a warm and finishing touch to your furniture. Start with a pillow, it is basically two big knitted squares sewn together, you can’t go wrong! If you feel more daring, put some beads on the yarn and create your own special design, fumbling with the beads can drive you mad but it looks really nice when it is done.



{beautiful images by Damian Russell are scanned from my own copy of the book, unfortunately no website}

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BloesemKids is live!

BloesemKids is open! Just about a year ago I wrote a similar line for Bloesem, the beginning of a rollercoaster year…both for me and my family…just moved to Toronto but already making plans to move to Asia….starting my own design blog…as I am sure I told you before…Bloesem brought together all my passions and is very much a part of who I am…ever since launching Bloesem…and just having become a mom myself…the idea of devoting a special blog to kids started to develop…I wasn’t quite sure yet what it should look like or the contents…just that it should be about cool stuff for kids…not a laundry list of products you can buy for your kids…but more like a carefully put together selection…cherry picking…among everything that is available which can be quite overwhelming sometimes…so B:Kids will set out to do just that…help you navigate and give inspiration….of course totally influenced by my own taste and ideas….
I am hoping that B:Kids will be the first thing on your mind when looking for an original gift for your friend’s first baby or just to browse… and day dream about redecorating your childs room…B:Kids should be a fun and colorful place to spend some on-line time…for me B:Kids will also very much be a learning experience… only having been a mom for just over a year… there is so much more to explore…and enjoy where it comes to kids’ products… and rest assure the posts on B:Kids will not be as longwinded as this one…but rather short introductions and some quick thoughts…so more space for beautiful images!

Needless to say…this Bloesem will of course continue…so Monday it will be business as usual so please come back for some great posts just before Christmas!

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