The best places of all: The Coloma Rose Garden

Adventures in the rose garden blog-3
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
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Sweet
little man
Future flower lover
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Onward march!

2018 Adventure session: Botanical

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La dee da

I have fallen in love with the Botanical Gardens in Meise. Located just northwest of Brussels, the garden rolls out before you on this huge property. There is a castle (obviously!), walking paths lines with flowers and a huge range of plant life, a small cafe and of course the highlight, the green house. The greenhouse was built in 1853 and contains a huge variety of plant species. Over 18,000 which represents 6% of the world’s know plant species. The collection is one of the biggest in the world and is organized by geography and environments including the African Savana, the jungle, the desert and on and one. If you think you are just going to show up and look at plants then you are in for a pleasant surprise. It really is a joy to explore.

Being in this gorgeous surrounding I could not help but be inspired. With luck, I am now in the process of organizing a very special Adventure session inside the green house. Dates to come. 🙂 I am happy to share some of our images from out last little adventure there. Looking at these pictures nearly gave me a heart attack. My god how these children have grown!

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In the jewel house
Botanical-4
Sweet and spiky 😉
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Tropical
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The devilish one
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Mirror me
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Madame Butterfly
Botanical
Us three

 

Its that time again! Announcing the 2017 Bear & Dragon Adventures (mini sessions) line up

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Wood Sprite

Oh la la, things are coming up daffodils, snowdrops, crocuses and of course, bluebells all over the place. Sometimes the winter seems to drag on but somehow this year it arrived right on time. Warm days ahead. 🙂

It has been a wonderful fall and winter for me, getting to enjoy our littlest guy and see him grow now into a sweet and clever little six month old. It feels equally wonderful to balance this time with getting back to work a bit now. Just in time for some of my favorite spring Bear & Dragon Adventures. Why the name change? I am planning some true mini sessions in the future but these will be mainly holiday (Valentines, Mother’s and Father’s Day, Christmas), studio-based sessions offered at a great discount. In contrast, if the sessions are held in a fabulous and special location designed to capture the seasons at their height then voila, the will be called Bear & Dragon Adventures. I digress!

You never know when inspiration may strike so this many not be a complete list but without further adieu, I am excited to announce:

2017 Bear & Dragon Adventures 

  • Amongst the Apple Blossoms: Spring brings the blossoming of millions of apple, pear and cherry blossoms in the Belgian Haspengouw region. Not to be missed! Mid April. Check out last couple of years here and here.
  • Bluebells are Ringing: Capture the magical bluebell forest in Hallerbos. Our most popular spring session. Late April. You can see some examples here and of course below.
  • A Splendid Harvest (new!): A return to the Apple Orchards to capture the ripeness of summer and transition to fall.  August 26. Here is our family album.
  • La Vie est Belle (new!): Similar feeling to the Royals session, La Vie est Belle is set in another iconic Belgian property, Horta’s own country house in La Hulpe.  Come dressed to the nines for this very special art deco adventure. Check out Royals here.  Early October.
  • A Walk through Time: Set in the 13th century Abbey, Rouge Cloitre, this adventure offers up the height of fall colors in a timeless and stunning location. Mid October.
  • Sea of Leaves: Autumn finds the lawns of Parc Cinquintenaire ankle deep in an amazing sea of fall leaves and colors. Our most popular fall session. Check it out here and here. Early November.
  • Merry and bright (new!): A trip to the Christmas Tree farm just outside of Liege is about as merry as it gets. A bit early in the season to help you prepare your epic holiday card. Mid November

If you are not already excited, here is a look back at the fun we had at the Bluebells adventure last year.

If you haven’t signed up for the advance notice on mini sessions and adventures, what are you waiting for?! Sign up on the Say Hello page of my NEW website. Adventure on.

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Let’s go!
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Imagine
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Skip and hop
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Glow
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Peekabo
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Adventurers
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Happy days
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Swing
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Pathway
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Growing up boy
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In a sea of blue
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Spring kisses
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Touch
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Anticipation
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On we go

 

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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Arch
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Build
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Use your imagination
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Hearts and hearts
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Overhead

The light in the forest: An autumn love letter

 

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Feast

Its official. I am FREAKING OUT about this amazing fall light and colors. It is a gift to be home with our latest addition but part of me is already missing working with all my favorite families for gorgeous fall sessions. For sure my lovely little ones will soon tire of momma grabbing the camera and tracking them through the forest like mini photographic prey. I can’t help it!

Please get yourself out there for a autumn walk. The colors couldn’t be more beautiful. The air is crisp and the light soft and misty. Fabulous, fabulous fall.

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Rainbow
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Mushroom kingdom
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Road less travelled
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Glow
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Dance, dance
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Magic
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Glory, glory
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Reflection
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So he grows
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Pure heart
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Silly face
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These fall days

The 30 days of Beautiful grand finale!

dress up

Playing Dress Up: Its cold and scary outside so we are tucked in and playing a major league game of dress up in what else? Momma’s wedding dress! Doesn’t hurt to also test out my new zoom lens. May your day be dressy and bright.

How to you turn 30 days of beautiful into a 100? Put it in the hands of a busy photographer/mom of two fabulous mess makers/all around overcommiter, that’s how! Anyhow, just in time for the holidays, I present the wrap up of our 30 days of Beautiful. Cheers!

best friends

Spirit Animal: I can hardly think of a better best friend for this little girl. Fast and fierce she kept me on my toes for the whole session. Here settled in her perch, surveying the prey.

curls

Honest – Its a very busy time and I am loving it! Today is just because. This is just the sweetest little smile and it brightened my day

diverse

A big little world – Not only is this a beautiful family but they brought two new countries onto my map, Malaysia and Rwanda. Its a big little world out there and I love it. 🙂

Fall light

From a distance – There is something intriguing about seeing yourself from a distance. A silhouette in perfect fall light. This is life.

kisses

A rapture in color – One thing that draws me to a photo is the blend of color and texture. This beautiful family hit it out of the park in rose, teal, blue, golden yellow and a nice neutral. This handsome soon to be big brother offers a sweet kiss as the focal point of twirl of unconventional but perfect fall hues.

new

In this moment – This is a proud portrait of a momma on top of the world. She has her new baby, sweet husband and is surrounded by love. I chose this image because you can feel the happiness in her eyes and smile.

three

Three of a kind – It was one year ago when I first photographed this beautiful family upon the arrival of baby brother J. Though fall is winding down and we are digging in for a warm winter’s rest, it is wonderful to reflect on the colors of change, the growth of life and the passing of time.

you and me

You and me: The light in your eyes is an amazing thing. Its reflects perfectly what you see and in a focused picture, you can see amazing detail in the light in your eyes. The room, windows, the sky, and…me. They say there are two people in every photograph. The one being photographed and the photographer. I am so happy and proud to be a part of your pictures and a part of your lives. Cheers to 30 days of Beautiful!

zoe

Best friends – On this undeniably beautiful fall weekend we made for La Hulpe for a little adventure with my daughter’s best friend. It is lovely to see how already at this young age they have such a strong bond. And of course there is their favorite tagalong. : )

 

 

Things to do with a toddler or kid in Brussels: Blow your train lover’s mind at Train World

Chugga, chugga, choo, choo!
Chugga, chugga, choo, choo!

It is a stunning fall day and with an special Momma and Babatwo morning ahead we decided to get ourselves down to the new Train World in Schaerbeek. If you have a major train lover on your hands then you might want to think carefully before taking them to this over-the-top mecca of traindom because it is very possible that their heads might actually explode. As a medium train appreciator myself, I was still blown away by the sheer volume of the collection and impressive attention to detail. It is truly is a captivating experience.

We arrived around opening time (10 – 17:00 everyday except Monday) and walked right into the ticket office. Very well organized entrance where you pay the fee (10 EUR for adults and FREE for children under six) and receive a map, ticket which you scan to get entry to the different buildings and a handheld devise which provides commentary in English, German, French and Dutch.

The entry takes you into the oldest remaining train station in Brussels built in 1887. Here you can catch a glimpse of the evolution of the ticket office including original tickets, train conductor uniforms and some neat model trains. I have to admit, I was already pretty satisfied that my 10 EUR was well spent but truly we have not even scratched the surface.

Exiting from the rear you walk a bit to the right into the modern building constructed for the museum. We scanned our ticket, opened the door and were immediately engulfed in a whole new world. The first space is dark. Really very dark and the music is tense, suggesting a scary but bold adventure ahead. Looming in the darkness were six large and fully restored engines dating back to the 1830’s. For me this was good fun. I loved the little spine tingle of this foreign environment. For the little guy, not so much. Poor thing was scared nearly out of his wits and to be honest, never fully recovered until we exited to the bright sunshine of the outside world.

So needless to say, we beat a fairly quick path through the rest but I was both seriously impressed and mentally book marking all the things I wanted to more fully explore when I come again. The museum traces the history of train engines, train lifestyle and travel, track development, and yes, even has a train simulation which was a hit based on the number of pushable buttons alone. Each exhibit is thoughtfully put together, creating a fascinating and immersive environment. It really shows off the best of the best of modern museum experiences that can blow us away even when coming from a high tech and high information lifestyle.

Although it was a little scary for my almost two year old (he’s a little afraid of the dark to begin with), I would still recommend this experience for the toddler and kid set. It is beautiful, interesting and just enough hands-on to keep them going to the end. With friendly opening hours and excellent value for money, this is a spot you can visit again and again, each time finding new surprises. And how do you get there? By train of course. Choo, choo!

Where: Train World, Prinses Elisabethplein 5, 1030 Schaarbeek

When: 10:00 – 17:00 everyday except Monday. Be warned last tickets are sold before 15:45 so that you have time to enjoy the full experience.

How much: 10 EUR for adults and FREE for under six. 7.50 EUR for 7-26 and older than 65.

Ticket please
Ticket please
Plenty of running around and pointing in the old train station :)
Plenty of running around and pointing in the old train station 🙂
Me train!
Me train!
Handsome traveller
Handsome traveller
Silly boy!
Silly boy!
Open, open, open
Open, open, open
An intrepid adventure
An intrepid adventure
All aboard!
All aboard!
Glimpse the inner workings
Glimpse the inner workings
Now don't be late!
Now don’t be late
The simulator was a hit!
The simulator was a hit!
Passengers
Passengers

Things to do with a Baby or Toddler in Brussels: Check out a toy at the Ludothèque communale d’Ixelles

Helloooo up there
Helloooo up there

It is just too beautiful out today. Exactly the kind of day that you just want to spend outside. But this next baby and toddler hot spot will have you scanning the weather report for any hint of clouds. Just enough to give you an excuse to stay inside and play.

I have written before about the ludotheque in Etterbeek. Having lived in Etterbeek and with a tiny slice of Etterbeekois pride, it pains me to say that the ludtheque in Ixelles is seriously kicking our ass. Located in a breezy neighborhood a stone’s throw from Square Ferdinand Cocq, this ludotheque is chalk-full of new, bright and shiny toys. Lots of options for play from an extensive train collection, up and downstairs playhouse, loads of lovely frocks and dresses for make believe and the mother of all crawling tunnels (see happy face snail below). I was really impressed to say the least.

There is a bit of admin to get started. Upon proof of residence in Belgium, but not necessarily Ixelles, you can get your yearly membership card for 10 EUR. This card entitles you to as much free play time as you like as well as the right to borrow toys and games from the ludotheque for between 1 – 2,50 EUR. Don’t forget to return your toys within 1 – 3 weeks or you start accruing late fees. Also don’t put them away in your closet and forget about them for nine months and end up with a fine 10x the value of the toys (lesson learned the hard way, thank you…).

Next time the clouds descend, get yourself over to Ixelle, get a cookie at Sucre Sale and play play play. Cheers!

Where: Rue Mercelis, 13-1050 Brussels

When:

  • Tuesday from 10h to 12h and 13h to 17h
  • Wednesday from 13h to 18h
  • Thursday from 13h to 17h
  • Friday from 10h to 13h and 14h to 18h (for 10 years)
  • Saturday from 10h to 13h
Chevaliers, pirates and indians, oh my!
Chevaliers, pirates and indians, oh my!
Are you a mouse or a bee?
Are you a mouse or a bee?
My partner in crime <3
My partner in crime ❤
Self portrait
Self portrait
Happy faces
Happy faces

Things to do with a baby, toddler or kids in Brussels: Check out a book at the Children’s Library

Mooo
Mooo

I constantly get amazed at how many great resources and things to do with kids there are in Brussels. Especially when I get a hot tip on an English-language Children’s Library right in our very backyard in Woluwe Saint-Pierre. Thank you so much to Pippa for cluing us in!

Set back from the street a ways, the library is housed along with a ludotheque in an intriguing old home surrounded by a garden. Head up the stairs and to the left and sure enough, there it is. A 20 sq meter space packed floor to ceiling with loads of children’s book. Board books on the bottom all the way up to early teen novels near the top of the shelves. So many books and a nostalgic atmosphere of the children’s library section you visited growing up complete with little cards that get stamped with the date when you check them out.

With so many options we had a lengthy negotiation process but ultimately all left happy. To check out books, you have to sign up for a library card that is 4 EUR per year. Then you can check out up to three books for 50 cents. 50 cents! If you are addicted to acquiring children’s books like me, this is a real coup. 🙂 You can keep your books for two weeks and then the fun begins again.

The library is only open on Wednesdays and Saturdays so you have to plan things a bit. Saturday morning has story time every other week.

Happy reading

Where: Center Crousse, Rue au Bois, 11 — 1150 Brussels

When:

  • Wednesday 3-5.30 pm
  • Saturday 10-12.30 pm
  • Closed on public holidays
  • School Holidays – opening times may vary, changes will be posted on this site
The adventure begins
The adventure begins
Some magic
Some magic
Deep in thought. Is this my book?
Deep in thought. Is this my book?
Color
Color
Endless possibilities
Endless possibilities
Come for the books, stay for the storytime
Come for the books, stay for the storytime
Shadows and light
Shadows and light
There is magic everywhere
There is magic everywhere