Picked With Love

March 24, 2017 • Kids

juliet’s second birthday is coming up, and as the meme goes… it’s making me feel all the feels. has it really been two years since we left for the hospital nervous and scared but also full of excitement and anxious to meet our little girl? 24 months have passed and every single day i have felt my love for this tiny person grow. before i start sounding like a diaper commercial, let me translate this to real life real quick – i can’t. stop. buying. stuff.

you know how people-before-they-become-parents go like ‘oh i’m not going to spoil my children with toys they don’t need’. yeah, i call bullshit. and even marie kondo is with me on this one, because everything i buy for juliet just gives me SO MUCH happiness. seeing her face light up when she opens a ‘dadootsj’ (her translation of cadeautje) makes my heart jump and smile. and don’t get me started on seeing her discover new things and loving them so badly she carries them with her everywhere she goes (the truth is this is becoming a little bit inconvenient as her collection of ‘unmissables’ grows).

i’m trying to reign in my capitalist, consumerist, materialistic tendencies as much as i can, by sticking to toys and objects of real value. i’d much rather buy her one thing that is perfect, than 10 fast-fun goodies she’d get sick of in five minutes. so i turn to shops and brands that have a heart and a soul, who put love in the development and production of their things – because you can simply feel the difference in every aspect.

belgian web shop ZOEN VOOR GUST shares the same philosophy. owners ingeborg and carol look for small, independent brands who produce small quantities of great products, and they gather their favorite selection in their beautifully curated boutique. the offer is not enormous, but that only emphasizes the fact that these ladies handpick every item and want only the best for their customers (and their littles).

when they asked me to share my personal ‘picked with love’ list, the only hard thing was narrowing it down to a top three. the GATHRE leather playmat had to be in there. ever since i encountered their account on instagram, it’s been on my wish list. the mat is beautiful, but it’s also surprisingly practical, and has already moved around our entire apartment. underneath juliet’s high chair to prevent damage to our wood floors from her enthusiastic eating ritual (stuff gets thrown around, y’all); inside of her teepee in our living room, because blankets and textile playmats gather a lot more dust and are a lot harder to keep clean on the floor; and underneath her new playing table in her room, because crayons and paint you guys. it gets everywhere VERY quickly.

also in my top three is the wood toy camera from FANNY & ALEXANDER – another instagram darling. again it is just such a beautiful object – i keep stealing it from juliet’s room to put it on display in our living room. but mostly juliet loves mimicking me in photographer mode. it took her a little while to figure out the right direction to hold the camera, but she’s now playing with the intractable lens like a pro. it’s the cutest. thing. ever.

the necklace from MISHONE is perhaps the riskiest little gift for a two-year-old, as it’s perhaps not entirely grabbing-and-pulling-hands-proof. but though i don’t dress her girly and her lack of hair generally makes people decide to address her as a boy, she’s definitely a girl’s girl. she loves to do all the things mama does – applying cream to her face, brushing her (little tufts of) hair, getting dressed and changing outfits multiple times a day (i wonder if i have somehow gravely affected her personality with my blogging antics), and last but not least – accessorizing. so even though it’s currently only being used under parental supervision, i’m pretty sure this necklace will get a lot of love from her.

as the pictures obviously show, i wasn’t able to keep these lovely things a surprise until her second birthday, and yes, i do have one more little gift all wrapped up for her to open on sunday. but i kinda like the fact that her birthday party will be less about opening gifts and more about sharing this celebratory moment with her (we’ve got balloons, chocolate cake, party costumes – THE WORKS). make sure to check in on my INSTAGRAM stories this weekend, as i’ll probably overshare the hell out of all of it.

FANNY AND ALEXANDER camera + MISHONE necklace + GATHRE playmat all via ZOEN VOOR GUST • juliet’s sweater came from STADTLANDKIND • her leopard leggings are from MARMAR • all photos by stephanie duval

Lake House Collective

February 21, 2017 • KidsLife

after living in geneva for a couple of years, i became convinced that despite its international allure, it really was a tiny, boring town where nothing cool ever really happened, and i’d never find a community of likeminded and creative people there like i have back at home. then i moved twenty minutes away, higher up in the hills and closer to the lake, but for a city girl like me, i could just as well have moved deep into the country side and i basically said goodbye to any kind of social life in switzerland.

then the most wonderful thing happened thanks to this crazy little app called instagram, and i met the wonderful NIENKE MULLER and MARTA VILLACAMPA. i realize how rare it is to meet people that you have an instant connection with, but it sure happened to the three of us. so much did we have in common that halfway our first coffee date we had already made plans to found a little collective for creative projects. each of us felt like we were on an island doing our own thing – marta starting her photography business and blog, nienke launching her interior design career in switzerland and me blogging away whenever i had a spare moment.

the thing is, between having juliet and starting a business, there seemed to be fewer and fewer moments to spend on blogging, and i often lacked the motivation to get behind the camera, shoot and edit photos and then share the stories behind the scenes of my life and the things i love. what i needed was friends who would encourage me to get creative again, and who i could meet up with to create together – enter nienke and marta, and so the story of the lake house collective began.

i already shared A TINY BIT of the first session we had before the holidays, and i’m so happy to finally share the rest of the photos marta took of juliet and i that day. i can’t really put into words how much fun it is to be able to play and laugh with juliet while someone is making sure you’ll have beautiful memories of that time. my husband is the sweetest, and he’s a decent photographer, but i am always directing him, worrying about whether he’ll capture a certain moment in the exact right way. i guess it’s the burden of being married to a blogger-perfectionist (if you’re reading this, i’m sorry matti!) but with marta i was able to let go of that, enjoy juliet showing off her entertaining skills and favorite toys, and just be in the moment.

needless to say, i love how these photos turned out. this is who we really are, messy bum balm accident on the carpet included. but besides lovely memories of a few mother-daughter moments, these photos are also a really nice reminder that it’s possible to find your tribe anywhere in the world, if only you look close enough.

my black shirt by LIVTHELABEL • juliet’s first outfit is CKS + veja sneakers • juliet’s second outfit is a dress from ARSENE ET LES PIPELETTES, cardigan from AYMARA and socks from TOCOTO • my green sweater and grey shirt underneath are from CKS • juliet’s final outfit is from MARMAR my glasses used as props by juliet are from DE WOLF OPTICIENS • all photos by MARTA VILLACAMPA


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my name is stephanie duval, and i am a storyteller. this blog is where i share my favorite stories about design, travel, fashion and the nice things in life.


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