The best places of all: The Coloma Rose Garden

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Gazing

New favorite location alert! I do love summer, ripe peaches, warm days, lazy afternoons and bright evenings. But photographically speaking, in Belgium, it can be a bit…green. Don’t get me wrong, I love a nice green forest but if you really want some color, it is necessary to go far afield to find some.

That is until the Coloma Rose Garden in Sint-Pieters-Leeuw popped up on my radar. Located just south of Brussels, this sprawling park has all the Brussels classics; long waterways, a beautiful 16th century manor home, extensive gardens and quirky features like a straight out of a fairytale wishing well. Home to more than 3,000 rose varieties from 26 countries. We spent the whole morning discovering one garden after the next.

You can cruise around, explore, and play. There is an interactive museum which was closed when we were there but I have read is very intereting. If you get tired or hungry there is a sweet looking Bistro called de Koetsier in the middle of the grounds. If you prefer something sweet then check out the Cremerie at Gaasbeek. Only 10 minutes further and hands down best ice cream in the greater Brussels region. Yum!

But I digress (sugar distracted much?)…this is a gorgeous photo location if you crave some summer colors, classic landscapes and romantic nooks to play and cuddle in. Perfect for engagement, maternity and family sessions.

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Facets
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Come on mom!
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Rosethorn
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Framed
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My little heart
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Magic
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I’m wishing…
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I’m wishing, for the one I love
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Wishing well
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Onlookers
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Leap
little man-2
Sweet
little man
Future flower lover
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Onward march!
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Things to do with a baby or kid in Brussels: Brunch, play and much more at La Tricoterie

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Les oeufs

Its no secret that Brunch is a cultural phenomenon close to my heart. Lazy Sunday mornings, yummy eats and if you throw in kid’s activities as well, I am sold. So its been pretty much ages that I have been meaning to get to La Tricoterie. Many a trusted source has touted this blend of local and fresh breakfast, event space and fun stuff explosion.

So finally last week we managed to get dressed and get into town lured by the additional sweetener of a Maker’s Market. La Tricoterie is located in the St Gilles neighborhood sandwiched between the questionable Gare Midi zone and the lovely Parc de Forest. Choose your parking wisely!

Upon entering, you discover a warm and open space with some intriguing remnants of its former industrial factory life. There are several seating spaces but we chose to sit in the Arches room which is where the kids play area is. Long tables line the open space and seating is open so no need to worry if you have a group coming.

The menu consists of several formula (Classic, Vegetarian, Children’s) and also an a la carte section. We chose the classic menu and children’s which for us meant a plate with several cheeses, bread, a small salad, soup and a seasonal crumble. Decidedly non-traditional brunch and it felt a bit expensive at 16 EUR.   The kid’s food was more of a hit with a soft boiled egg, bread and chocolate dipping sauce for 7 EUR (if memory serves!). In retrospect I wish I had chose the Eggs and Toast from the a la carte menu or even the intriguing “Croissant Perdu” as for me there is a strong emphasis on the “Br” aspect of Brunch foods.

While we chatted with friends in the surprisingly (welcomely) quiet space, the littles played in the kid’s zone which was fenced off and filled with fun activities of the creative sort. Blocks, drawing supplies, books, toy animals and a tunnel. Just a heads up, its also 3 EUR per child to join in on the fun.

Though we came for the brunch, I think the real Tricoterie magic comes from the many and varied activities they put on. As seen below, in addition to the Creator’s Market, also massage, painting, language conversation tables, etc. I would love to spend some time exploring these options.

I know I write many a gushing review but for La Tricoterie I say intriguing space for activities. Excellent to have a space for the kids to play while you chat but perhaps stick to the a la carte menu for a better value. Worth checking out to see if its your cup of tea. Brunch on.

 

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Things to do
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Service
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All things fresh and yummy
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Build
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Use your imagination
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Hearts and hearts
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Overhead

Things to do with a toddler or kids in Brussels: Have it your way at Kessel-Lo

Two seeking adventure
Two seeking adventure

Ages and ages ago, I took a walk with a friend and our new babies in Kessel-Lo. Taking in the monumental climbing areas and wood structures, I looked at my little bababoo and tried to imagine her big enough to take on some of these amazing adventures. Well today we set out to try our chops on the king of all local playsets.

Kessel-lo is situated in Leuven and about a 25 minute drive from Brussels. It is also possible to get there by bus. At Kessel-lo you really can have it your way. On the grounds you will find beautiful walking paths, lined with flowers, trees and ponds. If you care to venture out on the pond, there are some sweet little paddle boats on offer. Also a small animal park sporting donkeys, goats, and chickens. Yes, there is even a pool! But truly the highlight for us are the gorgeous and abundant play structures which cater to around ages 2 and up.

The play structures are mostly made out of wood and blend in with the forested surroundings. That makes it all the more fun as you get tired on one and then notice a castle or massive slide peaking out from behind the trees around the corner. There is so much to discover! It is a real paradise for the adventurous little one.

Though the pool was closed today, it looked really fun with a big slide and plenty of space for kids to play. We would return just for this as well, should the weather gods turn it up past 25 one of these days. 🙂

Not the adventure sort? There is plenty of space for a nice stroll and a picnic with lots of flowery fields, picnic tables and neat designed wooden seating.

So one of these warm early summer days, definitely check this place out! Though there are a number of parking areas, I recommend P1 which you can find by putting 203 Eénmeilaan, Leuven. Happy whatever you like. 🙂

King of the castle
King of the castle
My big girl now :)
My big girl now 🙂
Saving a seat for you
Saving a seat for you
Lean in
Lean in
Black diamond slide
Black diamond slide
Float
Float
A pool!
A pool!
Its the climb
Its the climb

Things to do with (or without) a baby in Belgium: Sample the world’s best beer – West Vleteren

Holy grail
Holy grail

According to my calendar it is March. Yes! And with our adopted adult family member, Uncle Johan, in tow, we made like adventurers and headed (finally!) to the beer holy grail, West Vleteren. You may not necessarily consider this to be a family destination per say but I would dispute that as long as you have a begrudging sober driver in tow and a willingness to head to the middle of nowhere to take part in a one of a kind Belgian experience.

I leave it to the fabulous Alison of Cheeseweb to explain the background here. Suffice to say, this is a very exclusive trappist beer than is scarcer than hen’s teeth outside of Belgium. A friend in Sweden recently reported seeing it on a menu for almost 60 EUR a bottle. Ouch.

So after a 90 minute drive, we arrived in said middle of nowhere. We wondered if it would be crowded on a Sunday but we were one of maybe 20 people in the whole of the In de Vrede cafe. Following Alison’s suggestions we tried the sandwich and ice cream a la maison. There were indeed fabulous!  We also sampled the three beers on offer. 🙂 The cafe was bigger than expected and beautiful. They did have a terrace and small playground. I can imagine it is a very nice place on long summer days or even crisp fall evenings. On our early spring morning the terrace was closed. :p

After lunch we walked around a bit and stepped in to the Pilgrimage Room at the Sint Sixtus Abbey. Truly an austere space and gave you a small slice of the monastic simplicity that rules the house.

If your littles can survive a bit of a drive, I think it is a great destination to get out of town. Out-of-town visitors are sure to enjoy the experience. Without a doubt West Vleteren is a must for any Brussels experience bucket list. Happy Drinking!

As close as you get to the brewery
As close as you get to the brewery
In peace
In peace
Gold
Gold
Three please!
Three please!
Hearty and delicious
Hearty and delicious
Heavenly
Heavenly
Off to play
Off to play
Darling buds of March
Darling buds of March
Saveur
Saveur
Path
Path
We are all pilgrims here
We are all pilgrims here
Mother
Mother
Darkest light
Darkest light
Time to go home
Time to go home

Out of the box: A little something special for the holidays

Comfort
Comfort

From time to time I get special requests that are out of my typical assignments. One of my favorites would have to be the special session I held with Chou & Chou nursing covers. Such a fun day with babies, models, sets and snacks all orchestrated by the lovely and talented Pam Chou. We had a blast and love the pictures that are now up on her website.

Christmas is just around the corner so if you know any nursing momma’s or mommas-to-be then I would definitely check out these beautiful nursing covers. Chic, versatile, and soft, they will save you from that less than glamorous “sitting under a tent” feeling when you are nursing out and about. So give some love to a fellow Brussels mom and entrepreneur!

Contact
Contact
Play!
Play!
The woman herself. Hi Pam!
The woman herself. Hi Pam!

Things to do with a toddler or child in Brussels: Harvest at Marie’s Garden

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Sprouts – obviously

If you have been following along with this blog, you might have noted my almost unhealthy preoccupation with the changing of seasons. Apart from the transitions of light quality, I would say the thing I look forward to the most is the coming and going of favorite seasonal fruits and veggies. After many a nudge, I finally managed to get myself and the littles out to Marie’s Garden in Overijse to get our hands dirty and take part in the bountiful harvest of fall.

A beautiful day and such a wonderful time wandering the 10 hectares of land. We discovered so many of our favorites. Butternut squash, late summer raspberries, rhubarb, leeks, gigantic sunflowers and of course PUMPKINS! When you arrive, you get a simple set of instructions: harvest where you see a sign, no eating in the fields (oops!) and off you go with your wheel barrow, bags and scissors.

In addition to having a great time in the fields, I was truly in awe of the beauty of the surroundings. So inspired that I am now in the process of confirming (fingers crossed) Marie’s Garden as a very special photo session location. It will likely be an upcoming Sunday this October. Drop me a note if you would like to take part.

Either way, either by bus or car, find your way to this slice of heaven and partake in the many splendors of fall.

Where: Marie’s Garden: Valkenweg 116, 3090 Overijse, Belgium (just 10 minutes outside of Brussels)

When:

– Mon : closed
– Tue : 13.30 – 17.00
– Wed : 13.30 – 17.00
– Thu : 13.30 – 17.00
– Fri : 13.30 – 17.00
– Sat : 10.30 – 17.00
– Sun : 10.30 – 16.00

Pumpkin girl
Pumpkin girl
Hard work
Hard work
Belgian gothic
Belgian gothic
A touch of home in the golden poppies
A touch of home in the golden poppies
Make a wish
Make a wish
Jewel
Jewel
Sunshine
Sunshine
My two

My two
A day's harvest
A day’s harvest

Brussels Family Resources: Antenatal and Baby

On your side
On your side

So you have found yourself living in Brussels and pregnant. Date is getting closer and you realize its time to figure out this whole giving birth thing. Where to start? Your doctor? Too busy. Your friends? Good but perhaps subjective. Mom? Well, you survived into adulthood but may be interested to hear about the latest developments in child birth. Time to call in the professionals.

From what I have found, there are really two resources out there that offer high quality support to would-be mommas and poppas, The BCT and Antenatal and Baby. Both special in their own right, BCT will be the subject of a later post but today I want to zero in on Jo Everatt at Antenatal and Baby.

After hearing the name from so many of my clients, I decided it was finally time to investigate myself. So I asked Jo to lunch and got to know her a little better. For those who have not had the pleasure, Jo is one of those people who seems to feel completely comfortable in their own skin. One who has seen it all and been left unruffled. Someone you would want on your side in the new show, Survivor: Pregnancy edition. She has been a practicing midwife for 26 years in many different settings. Around four years ago, she set up Antenatal and Baby and now focuses on offering antenatal courses, breastfeeding support and home visits as well as special topic classes and a mom and baby group.

As we talked more, we found that we had a shared core belief that if you do what you love and are passionate about it then you really can’t go wrong. As such, Jo has established a practice where she is able to offer exactly what she is best at; accessible, practical care based on extensive clinical expertise. Except for being present at birth, Jo is a one stop shop for support before and after birth. Based on what I learned, Jo’s “moms” have her cell number and free rein to call at any hour. And they do.

I could go on but her website explains it much better than I can. Suffice to say, I think Jo is someone to be trusted. If you are looking for someone to be by your side and set you up for success on your birth, I think she will do just that. The Mom & Baby group also seems like fun. 🙂

So what is the difference between BCT and Antenatal and Baby? This is a difficult question to answer and I can only give my opinion. The BCT has been like a second home for me and is amazing based on its network of committed Moms that share their experiences, lives and coffee on cozy afternoons and in fun play groups. I did attend the antenatal class there and enjoyed it. BCT also offers breastfeeding support as well as mom-to-mom after birth support, which is fabulous.

With Antenatal and Baby, there seems to be a bigger focus on the clinical side of setting up for a successful and realistic birth. Jo is really the backbone of the organization and if you want to benefit from her experience then she will be with you every step of the way. Antenatal is smaller and so in someways more flexible and personal. I suggest looking into both and deciding which fits your needs best. Either way, you win. 🙂

Disclaimer: I have not been paid in any way for this review. I just like writing about things I like. 🙂

A cozy space
A cozy space

Things to do with a baby or toddler in Brussels: Sip, shop and play at Haricot Magique

Stroller Cafe. Fabulous idea!
Stroller Cafe. Fabulous idea!

Somehow when I started maternity leave I envisioned myself frequenting cafes, sipping coffee and chatting with a friend while our little ones snoozed nearby. Much to my surprise, there is somewhat a lack of chic and yummy momma cafes. In Brussels? Really?! Strange! A while back I heard about Haricot Magique (Magic Bean) but it took me until now to make my way to Schaerbeek to check it out.

What a lovely place. Just as I imagined only better! It is as though they made a check list of all the ingredients that go into a great momming lunch and made it happen. You need a nice, fun place for kids to play while you sup? Check. Fresh healthy food (baby and adult) and free trade coffee? Sure. A bright bathroom with changing table, potty and real towels? Check, check, check. We had such a nice time here! I also learned that they have lots of fun sounding workshops, book readings, etc. We will be sure to check one soon. Maybe Introduction to Music on Saturday!

If you are in the vicinity of Parc Josephat, stop in! You won’t regret it. Cheers.

Where: Avenue Louis Bertrand 22, 1030 Bruxelles

When: Monday – Saturday, 9:30 – 18:00

Be welcome
Be welcome
Future birthday presents
Future birthday presents
Something for everyone
Something for everyone

 

Les Poussette
Les Poussette

A walk in in the Park with the Brussels Sprouts

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Way back in distant memory, I was medium pregnant with Bababoo and wondering how the heck I was going to manage to have and raise a baby in a foreign country. A Google search did not yield much but it did point me in the direction of the Bxl Sprouts blog by expat momma extraordinaire, Sandra Amorim. Lots of great stuff about local resources, child development and reflections on momming in a foreign land.

Fast forward two years and the thought occurred to me, what a great idea to invite the Brussels Sprouts for a photo session. Well we made it happen! Sandra was kind enough to write about our morning on her blog. You can read all about it here!

If you are not yet following the Bxl Sprouts, you should! Its a great read!