Tala’s first flight: A giveaway!

A baby’s life is full of firsts, and my daughter’s first flight was one that I was both nervous and excited about. Tala and I joined Marlon on a business trip to Berlin last week. I was thrilled to finally put that hard-won passport and return visa to good use. But nobody even looked at her passport! That’s flying within the Schengen states for you.

First time flying with baby

Having flown once with an infant doesn’t make me an expert, but I learned a lot from this trip. Here are some of the things Marlon and I did that really, really worked for us.

1) Ease into it. Our travel history is full of crazy transfers and photo finishes, but you don’t want baby’s first trip to be The Amazing Race. Flying time to Berlin was just one hour, no transfers, making it an easy first flight. We also chose a 12 noon departure, allowing ample time for our morning routines (for three now!) without rushing.

2) Plan your mode of baby transport around your itinerary. I didn’t have time to create a day-to-day itinerary as I used to, but I had a general idea of what I wanted to do in Berlin. I brought our Bugaboo Cameleon3 frame because I wanted to shop and be able to put Tala down somewhere while fitting clothes; a (borrowed) Maxi Cosi car seat and adapters for a weekend drive out of town; and the Ergobaby carrier as backup just in case.

Traveling with car seat, stroller and baby carrier

3) Factor in lots of time. We were at Schiphol a little over two hours in advance, which enabled us go through the airport at a relaxed pace. There will always be a need for feeding, changing and minor disasters.

4) Know that you can’t anticipate everything, so be ready to roll with the punches. Pre-baby, I would’ve put on my Google ninja suit and researched what to expect from the airline and airports. Now, I just don’t have the time. I only knew in advance that KLM allows strollers to be checked in free of charge. Beyond that, we had to improvise.

For example, we were allowed to take the Bugaboo all the way through Schiphol and check it in right before boarding the plane. But at Berlin Tegel, we had to dismantle it, wrap both parts in huge plastic bags, and drop them off at a separate bulky baggage terminal prior to security. This is where factoring in lots of pre-departure time makes a huge difference.

5) Nurse at takeoff. The only hiccup was that on our flight home, we were made to take Tala out of her nice, secure baby carrier—where she was sleeping peacefully—and sit her on my lap, facing forward, with an infant extension belt around her waist.

Wow, that was awful. Not only did she howl throughout takeoff and landing, but those flimsy belts don’t stay on (not even for a minute!), and are even banned in the US and Canada! Why the EU still enforces their use is truly beyond me.

It was definitely better on the flight out, when I had Tala on the boob. She had wriggled out of the belt, but at least she was quiet and calm. I’m definitely doing that again next time.

6) Document the flight! Doing all of the above should help make flying with a baby easier, but documenting the flight will make it special.

Tala and the Captain

Marlon and I made sure to deplane last so that we could take Tala’s picture with the pilot, who was super nice and friendly. But that’s not all!

We documented Tala’s first trip with a fun and cool souvenir that I want to share. So here comes my very first blog giveaway!

[Read more…]

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Old Manila notebooks by 23060

I seem to be in the mood for architectural drawings these days. After sending out my canal house Christmas cards, I rewarded myself by placing an order for these illustrated kraft paper notebooks by Kath Mitra of 23060.

I first saw them on Daphne’s blog and was immediately drawn to the line drawings of old Manila churches—I just love old buildings. I eventually found my way to Kath’s Facebook page and ordered a set of three notebooks (Php 559, or €10) to add to my little stationery collection. They will be sent to my mom’s house while I’m in Manila for the holidays, so yay!

An architect by profession, Kath draws buildings for a living and for fun. Fascinated by stories her history professors would tell about old Manila, Kath set out to create notebooks and products that bring Manila’s faded architectural treasures to life. She has a series of notebooks featuring Manila’s Art Deco cinemas such as the Metropolitan and Capitol Theaters, and is working on designs for mugs, cushions, coasters and more.

“I make notebooks so people will know about these buildings, and appreciate the fact that these beautiful structures are not found in Paris, Tokyo or wherever, but in the Philippines,” says Kath. “It makes me happy whenever people recognize the buildings printed on the things I sell. I get a sense of fulfilment whenever the architect behind the buildings I use is acknowledged or remembered. I guess I’m sentimental like that.”

With just a few days to go until I fly home for the holidays, Manila is very much on my mind. I know the heat will probably be torturous, but there’s nothing like Christmas in Manila. I can’t wait to be home!
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Notebooks from LikeStationery

Before things get lost in all the baby excitement, I wanted to show off a few goodies that I picked up from Kleine Fabriek. It was a trade event, so I couldn’t buy any of the adorable children’s clothes and things on display from the exhibitors. However, that doesn’t mean my wallet escaped scot-free!

Not when a funky pop-up shop from Dutch webstore LikeStationery was on site to tempt me with its irresistible wares. LikeStationery is the online store of Amsterdam-based graphic Sanne Dirkzwager, a.k.a. Strawberryblonde, who, as her shop name implies, has a passion for stationery. Something I’m sure lots of girls can relate to… like I do.

I love paper, but notebooks are my true weakness. My mom loves them too, and my growing collection of unused notebooks—which grows after every trip—is one of the things that makes me realize that perhaps we are all destined to turn into our mothers someday. (My penchant for red lipstick is another.)

So I just couldn’t resist picking up these adorable notebooks at LikeStationery’s pop-up store. I’ve been craving for color during this (mostly) drab gray summer. Since I couldn’t choose between something pastel or bright, I got both. The Swedish words on the pastel one pushed my wanderlust button.

I also couldn’t pass up this sunshiny yellow notebook with a library card slot in the front. This reminds me of a childhood pleasure: borrowing books from the school library! I was a voracious reader as a kid, a true librarian’s pet and nerd-in-the-making who always filled up several library cards each school year.

Aside from the notebooks, I also bought a smart little earphone winder. It’s just a simple strip of suede, but it keeps things tidy and (the most important thing) I have managed to somehow not lose it yet. Sometimes the simplest things work best.

LikeStationery offers worldwide shipping and has a fun, colorful blog chronicling the inspirations behind the shop’s wares, as well as Sanne’s own design work.

Do you find stationery irresistible too? What form of paper can you absolutely not resist?

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Mucha on my mind

How was your Easter weekend? Mine was quiet and laid-back, made all the better by the company of a wonderful guest from home.
Just one last Prague post before I move on. I couldn’t leave Prague without having paid a visit to the Mucha Museum, which houses the major works of one of my favorite artists, Alphonse Mucha.
One of my favorite coloring books when I was a kid was my Art Nouveau stained glass coloring book from Goodwill Bookstore. To this day, I love Art Nouveau, and Mucha is Art Nouveau.
When I started working at GMA, I considered it destiny that I ended up in an office where the glass walls of the pantry were plastered with a huge mural of Mucha’s Dance (above). I managed to transmit my Mucha fixation to my work partner Charlie, an insanely talented art director who also tended to obsession. Mucha’s Dance became the jump-off point for a slew of Art Nouveau-inspired outdoor and print materials for a big account that took over our lives. I wish I kept copies of Charlie’s work, it was all so gorgeous.

Mucha’s work is not high art, but it is beautiful. Though he painted, most of his work was fairly commercial: from theater posters to advertisements for champagne and milk to biscuit tins. Many examples of his work, like Spring, Grapes, the poster for Lorenzaccio, and The Slav Epic (all of which I saw at the museum) today are in the public domain.

It was amazing to come face to face with works that I had only seen as small pictures in books, and realize that they are actually HUGE. Unfortunately, pictures are not allowed inside the Mucha Museum. So I had to settle for taking photos outside. That day, I was in “simple girl” mode with the Longchamp bag and ponytail, although I would hope the Marni for H&M top elevates it somewhat.
I took home a few postcards of my favorite works.

My favorite souvenir, though, was this handmade notebook. I love notebooks, so this was perfect for me. But it was also very unusual in that it harbored a few hidden treasures. Click on through to peek inside…

Details from Mucha pieces are stencilled and printed inside.

Random quotes are stamped inside. This one about writing called to me, naturally.

What I really loved, though were the pages from old Czech books, together with vintage Czech photos, that were bound with the blank pages. And at the very end, snail mail from the sixties.

It was the perfect purchase: Mucha’s art and a trip to a Prague flea market all bound up in one neat, locally handmade package. If only more museum shop souvenirs were this creative!
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