3 Top, Free Things to Do with Kids in San Diego

September 6th, 2017

This guest post is by my friend, Beebe Hargrove, Illustrator/Designer Extraordinaire and Mom of beautiful kids. Check out her wonderful site here!

1.Beaches, beautiful beaches

San Diego has 33 of them and I’m listing only a few. Mission Bay has many small coves with little or no waves and long winding paths for bikes or blades. This is a great spot for families with littles because of ample free parking close to the beach and several playgrounds located next to the water.


If you want to spend a little, Mission Beach is close by and features Belmont Park, a colorful boardwalk with vintage games, shops, mini golf and an iconic wooden roller coaster.

 Free parking can also be found, with a little more difficulty, at Coronado, and La Jolla. La Jolla cove is home to hundreds of sea lions who swim and sunbath all day and don’t seem to mind at all sharing the beach with us. Stroll through the streets to enjoy beautiful art galleries, shopping and bites to eat.

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, although requiring a day pass for a small fee, has miles of beautiful coastal hikes, a free nature center and a beautiful stretch of sand to enjoy.

2. Balboa Park

We have had numerous outings to Balboa Park and have yet to see it all. Home to 17 museums, gardens, performing arts, an artist vilage, beautiful architecture and if you want to spend money – the amazing San Diego Zoo, it is defiantly worth a few visits. Parking is free and if you are a resident of California every Tuesday select Museums are free. Timken Museum of Art is always free and has a beautiful collection of Russian art. The Botanical Garden is free to walk through and has a colorful collection of orchids and other exotic plants. The Spanish Village Art Center is free to stroll through with many collections of local art to admire and purchase should you wish.

The Museum of Man at Balboa Park

The Spanish Village Art Center

Just a few of the jets at Waterfront Park


3. Waterfront Park 
A gorgeous modern park and play area, filled with beautiful sculptures and two large splash areas with jets located in the heart of the city. A view of the bay and eerily close flybys into the San Diego Airport make this a unique and exciting stop. A few dollars in metered parking gets you just enough hours to enjoy a fun afternoon.


A Thousand Billion Things

August 28th, 2017


We just got this really quirky book called A Thousand Billion Things (and some sheep) by Loic Clement and Anne Montel. And Solène just loves it. There are literally thousands of tiny illustrations in this book and we have noticed that not one of them is a copy of another.

Originally published in French, this is the charming story of a little girl’s day and the enormous amount of choices she makes in all the different scenarios. And each page has a search game where you have to find a particular item. So, there’s also something for the kiddies to do on each page. There is even an answer page at the back for all of those people who are not talented at find hidden images!

You can find it here on Amazon.


Trip to the Cincinnati Zoo and Joel Sartore Exhibition

August 18th, 2017


We were lucky enough to catch the National Geographic, Joel Sartore Exhibit of Animal photographs entitled Photo Ark on our trip to the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens. This exhibition is making the rounds of zoos all around the country and is quite frankly, stunning. Joel Sartore is on a mission to document species before they disappear. You can read more about it on the Photo Ark Site.


These fanciful and quirky photos of animals staged as if they were Hollywood icons were scattered all around the zoo.

The girls in front of the Red River Hog!

And then of course, there were the real animals. Cincinnati Zoo has wonderful habitats for the animals which are as close to natural as possible. The polar bear gave us a real show which was a treat because we usually just watch the polar bear nap at other zoos.

And you can see the elephants and a lot of other animals very close up in this zoo.

The girls had a ball feeding the giraffes which were at eye level.

Now, the sloth was the main attraction that day for us. He actually woke up and did a dance for us about five feet from our spot on the balcony. Quite a show off!

The flamingos do perform an actual show and you can sit about one foot from them.


Then they do the whole “napping on one leg” thing.

The most unexpectedly fascinating part of the zoo was the World of the Insect.

This is the fascinating journey of the Leaf Cutter Ants who travel through this tube with bits of leaves they cut from these little bushes and carry to the other side of the exhibition to their home below. We watched them for ages. Much better than reality TV.


Here is the where the Queen Ant lives. They bring the pieces of leaves and build up huge piles.

Check out this interesting video about these ants!

Frida and Fauna – New Zealand Fashion

August 11th, 2017


I just came across this adorable home grown New Zealand brand, Frida and Fauna, which is the brainchild of New Zealand Fashion Designer/Artist, Sophia Gardiner.

Frida and Fauna produces artistic one-off, hand made designer garments and accessories for children and babies. The unique thing about this label is that everything is by commission and each garment is designed and made by Sophia herself.

Frida and Fauna began in 2012 as a sewing project to dress Sophia’s young daughter Frida in a style loved by Sophia and her husband, Artist Mikaere Gardiner. Since then, the label has grown into what it is today – an artistic and original label with loads of charm and creativity.

Take a look at all the gorgeous pieces on the Flora and Fauna website, and if you would like to commission a piece you can contact them here.

Minakani Wallpaper from Paris

August 1st, 2017


I’m crazy about Minakani Wallpaper from Paris! I love every single one of their designs and could see myself putting their art all over our apartment. The black and white animal print above is one of my faves.

Minakani has been around since 2005, and has been designing knockout wall designs that are fresh and unique with a focus on strong and simple designs.

Minakani creates several collections a year and takes part in many international fairs.
They’ve partnered over the last 10 years with leading fashion companies, luxury and sports labels.

They have personalized service and encourage a bespoke approach and commission projects.  You can contact them if you would like to work with Minakani or if you want to see their latest collection.

Check out their beautiful little shop below at 28 rue Etienne Dolet 75020 Paris. Also a video of their best work!




Stella McCartney Kids Fall Winter 2017

July 24th, 2017

The Stella McCartney Kids Fall Winter 2017 covers babies in ever so cute penguin costumes to cooler-than-cool tweens.

This collection has the customary Stella McCartney animals in the mix and is a real “Swan Song” with swans featured in all sorts of prints, motifs, colors and situations! The collection features splashes of red, which is big for this coming season, mountains and American League Football helmets.

Animal prints feature heavily  and the whole range has a cool 70’s vibe.

And of course, the Stella McCartney label is still committed to being a responsible, sustainable brand. Throughout the new collection for kids and adults they use innovative and recycled materials such as organic cotton, sustainably-sourced viscose, recycled nylon and cruelty-free Skin-Free-Skin.

In fact, the Winter 2017 campaign focuses on waste. It is expected that plastic production will triple by 2050 when the population explodes to almost 10 billion, so the company is using the range as a vehicle to raise awareness of the issues of waste and overconsumption.

The styles for the women’s range are fairly futuristic as you can see by the designs below. The video is also pretty interesting. You can view it here. 

And click here to see the entire Stella McCartney Kids Fall Winter 2017,



Monkind Organic Kidswear – Summer 2017

July 17th, 2017


MONKIND Organic Kidswear – Summer 2017 collection is loosely inspired by Captain Cook’s journal of his first voyage around the world and seeing a new world through children’s eyes. So adventurous and lofty.

Monkind is a family-run kid’s wear brand based in Berlin that uses exclusively locally-sourced organic materials. Sustainability is their focus in all stages of development. They produce in both their flagship StudioStore in Berlin and a network of small, family-run GOTS-certified production facilities in Lithuania, Poland and Portugal

The designer and brainchild of MONKIND is Valeria. She was born in the former Soviet Union into a professional artistic family and was taught the importance of aesthetics and good composition. She originally ran her own women’s wear label and was involved in countless collaborations with photographers for art and styling projects. When Valeria had her baby boy about five years ago, she naturally began to make clothes for him, which culminated in the kid’s wear label MONKIND!

Take a look at all they have to offer on the Monkind site.



Awesome Zhongshuge Bookstore, Chengdu, China

July 12th, 2017

The Zhongshuge Bookstore, Chengdu, China is nothing short of awesome.

Bookstore owner and book publisher Jin Hao in Shanghai has been passionate about bookstores for more than two decades since he quit his teaching job and opened his very first bookstore.

By 2010, his chain had grown to 21 stores but had major challenges with the fierce competition from online stores and digital publishing.

So he realized he had to reimagine and reinvent the concept of what a bookstore can be and how it can be innovative. And he enlisted Shanghai-based designer Li Xiang of XL-Muse to help him recreate the book buying experience and environment.   

 As a result, Jin Hao opened his first three Zhongshuge bookstores in Shanghai, each with its own style, them and character.

The next step was the 10,000 square-foot (930 Square metres) store in a busy shopping mall in Hangzhou which featured vast spaces, mirrored ceilings, whimsical shelving, nature-inspired quirkiness. 

And the results are amazing.

In this store, both the lecture hall and the children’s area have mirrored ceilings which make the spaces look much larger and also create a slightly mad upside-down experience.

The kids are treated to whimsical, massive mushrooms, shelving in the shape of pandas and bamboo forests they can imagine all sorts of adventures happening in. This  jungle feel creates an expression of the magic of books and of their power to change our lives for the better. 

We can only hope that the demise of incredible bookstores is going to be just a hiccup and that more inspired spaces like this start to pop up everywhere!

And just in case you are going to be in Chengdu, the Zhongshuge Bookstore is located at Jinhui E Street, Quhou Qu, Chengdu.

Sweet and Cool Organics – KidsCase Summer 2017

July 11th, 2017


Sweet and Cool organics from KidsCase Summer 2017 rangeThis collection has the base of the characteristic minimalist look that we have come to love and expect from Kidscase. Throughout the range is the soft feel of certified organic cotton in understated tones, complemented by bold prints and splashes of bright colors, with a nod to the 60’s. And unexpected stripes and neat looking cardigans in a cool summer knit.

Kidscase is a small, indie company, founded in 2000 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, by Jacqueline van Nieuwkerk (designer) and marketer Merel Verbrugge (sales & publicity). Their aim is to design collections that fit the lifestyle of individualistic and modern parents and their children.

They also design lovely accessories and home decor, like cushions, blankets, and the cutest little simple organic toys! 

Check them out at Kidscase.com.