Tips and Products that help reduce food waste

Tips and Products that help reduce food waste

The end of last year has challenged me to look for tips and products that help reduce food waste because, well…

I’m guilty, I’m guilty. Weekly I’ve been throwing out way too much stuff. It usually starts with the resolution that we are going to eat more healthily. And was we do have healthy meals, I convince myself that during the day I will eat a celery stalk or a radish when hungry…but I usually don’t. I currently have a celery in the fridge whose leaves have already become soft and soggy, so I know that I will be making a soup this afternoon (instead of using it as the snack I bought it for.)

So determined to make a change I have searched the web and my favourite Facebook mommy groups and came up with these tips and products that help reduce food waste.

Freezer marker and (wasi) tape

I freeze in left-overs that are usually enough for just one. This comes in handy for when my daughter of 25 is alone at home. However I realized that I didn’t really keep track of what I was putting in the freezer and when. Nameless meals, which turned out to be something else than what I though when defrosted. Suddenly we ate sweet potato soup with the pasta instead of tomato sauce. I used to stick post-its on the pasta, but they didn’t stick in the freezer. Stickers labels are not my thing as it’s hard to get off .

We have a chalk marker for writing notes on the mirrors or to make designs on the windows, so I though there must be a washable marker to use on containers. As a matter a fact there is, I found a freezer marker on Bol.com by the make of Edding. You can buy them apparently in most craft shops and office shops( I didn’t know).

I also have loads of wasi tape and together with the marker they now make the perfect combo for labelling all kinds of stuff. Scotch tape will do the job just as well by the way, I just like pretty things 🙂 It’s very easy to remove and leaves no residue. Both are standard in our kitchen drawer and are used almost daily. Because now I also put it on jars and packs that I open and that are not empty yet. We have an opening date on everything. You can call me neurotic.

Too Good To Go app

Tips and Products that help reduce food waste

Via the app Too Good To Go (iOS/ Android) you can buy a so-called Magic Box with products that have all reached the THT day. Don’t worry, it’s still safe to eat ! In the larger cities several shops, restaurants and even hotels participate. So I think that must be very interesting to do but in our village unfortunately only one supermarket. I did the test and bought a package for 4.95 EUR. The value of the package was 23.80 EUR, so good deal. But to be honest I found that there were quite a lot of luxury products, which I normally never buy. Also quite a lot of meat, while we as a family want to cut down. The contents were also quite kcal rich, I’ll say, and I missed vegetables, so you can make a full meal out of them. I still like the initiative, but doubt if I will do it again. When you buy products like that, which you don’t normally buy, is it really waste-free? Food for thought, shall we say…

Measuring buddy=Eetmaatje

“Eetmaatje” in Dutch as the one I have was created by the nutritional centre of the Netherlands.

It’s a measuring cup for rice, pasta and couscous. The measuring buddy makes it easier to measure portions. So you never have the tendency to cook too much and waste food. It also makes it easier to eat the recommended amount per person. Good for the environment, your health and your wallet! The Dining buddy is free. You only pay the shipping costs.

Living in Belgium I got it from Eco-Logish.

Food Huggers

Products that help reduce food waste food huggers
Food huggers

I only came to hear about them last year. Apparently I’ve been lying under a rock, because I had missed it completely. In 2013, a big crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter raised almost $84,000 in no-time. Now 7 years later, Food Huggers are still being sold. Food Huggers are an environmentally friendly alternative to cling film. They will last a lifetime. Made of safe silicone and free BPA and phthalates. The Huggers can be placed in the dishwasher, freezer and microwave.

The Food Huggers can be applied directly on food, but also indirectly as a lid. There are different sizes of sets.

In Belgium the eco-bio-fair webshop Kudzu sells them. I ordered them. Curious to see if the cling film really hugs the food!

TIP: I heard the other day that Ikea also sells them. Probably of a different quality, but if you are on a budget and want to make a difference why not. I love Ikea btw…LOVE!

Oxo Greensavers

Products that help reduce food waste Greensavers
OXO Good grips Greensavers

In my hunt for Food Huggers I heard about OXO greensavers on a sustainable mothering group I’m in on Facebook. Vegetables and fruit produce ethylene. Ethylene accelerates the ripening process. The Oxo Greensavers absorb the excess ethylene produced, keep the air around the food constantly moving and control the humidity. Oxo uses a (naturally) non-toxic carbon filter of coconut shell, which absorbs the ethylene gas. The active carbon filter lasts 3 months. An adjustable date slider indicates when it is time to replace it.

There are freshener boxes for sale and a freshener for in the vegetable drawer. I chose the latter. With the help of 2 suction cups you stick it in the vegetable drawer. Oxo claims that your fruit and vegetables stay fresh so much longer and you will recoup the investment of 9,95 euro for the holder + 1 carbon filter (or 12,95 euro for 4 refill filters) in no time. I’m going to test it! I’ll let you know!

If you are keen to get your hands on one of these products, keep an eye on my blog as I will soon be organizing my first giveaway! Yay!

Now please give me more tips and products that you know of that help reduce food waste.

Life by Mim

All products in the article have been purchased by myself.


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Longtail (cargo) bikes- Should I make the switch?

Longtail (cargo) bikes- Should I make the switch?

I am not a bicycle specialist or a child development expert. I’m a mom and cyclist. Talk to your pediatrician about when biking with your baby is appropriate and take your time at finding the right (Longtail cargo) bicycle for you and your family.

A Longtail bike what? And should I make the switch?

When a friend of mine posted a picture of their new longtail bike on Facebook I was instantly fascinated by it. I had never heard of it and quickly giving it a google I found that this has already been a big thing in the States. Weird that in a country where people bike a lot I hadn’t seen one already, but after doing some research it’s obvious that it is becoming quite popular.

What did I find out?

FROM WHAT AGE CAN YOUR CHILDREN RIDE ALONG?

The age at which you can start carrying your child on a bike is a contested issue. Basically your child needs to have the neck strength to comfortably sit-up on their seat. Usually, this is a skill that they learn between six and twelve months. Please note this does not mean that a child can sit up for hours at a time. If you are planning a cycling holiday with longer trips, stop regularly. Parents who are eager to start cycling with children this young can find themselves in a quandary as to what is safe, legal, and practical!

PROS AND CONS

PROS:

  • Depending on the model, a load capacity of +100 kg to +200 kg.
  • Possibility of comfortably transporting several children.
  • Possibility of mounting two bicycle seats at the rear.
  • Large bicycle bags so you can take a lot with you.
  • Light, narrow and maneuverable like an ordinary bicycle.
  • Your child (ren) is (are) close. That is a nice idea and also cozy.
  • Possibility to carry other bikes. This way, your child can cycle until he/she is tired and then take a seat at the back.
  • Many different options for accessorizing the bike.


CONS:

  • Although limited, this bike requires just a little more storage space.
  • Your child (ren) are also subject to the weather elements.
  • The children sit behind you, which makes communicating a bit more difficult than in the case of a bicycle seat in the front or a cargo bike, for example. But I still find it hard to converse with my while he is in the front carrying cargo bike and the top is on.
  • Most models have a high step.
  • Equipping the bike as required requires extra investment.
  • Choosing the right Longtail.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT LONGTAIL

There are different types of longtail bikes. What should you pay attention to during your purchase?

Weight

What do you want to use the bike for? How much weight do you plan to carry? Depending on the model you can carry more (+200 kg) or less (+100 kg) weight. Attention extra weight also requires extra pedaling power. Try to be realistic about this. Carrying 200 kg without extra support is a challenge anyway.

Small wheels

A number of models use smaller wheels in the front and / or rear. This is to lower the center of gravity and thus create a more stable driving experience. A lower luggage rack also makes it more accessible for children to step on their own. A disadvantage is that your load space becomes proportionally smaller.

Electric drive

Are you a mileage eater or do you have another reason why you can use extra pedal assistance? In the case of a longtail cargo bike, the extra weight that you can carry provides an extra reason to consider electrical support. But just like with other bicycles, electric drive is accompanied by an extra financial investment.

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#ebike #cargobikes #bike43 #longtailbike #bike43

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Extra accessories

Most longtail bikes are equipped as standard for transporting additional luggage. If you want to dress them up for the safe transport of children, then you are obliged to install additional accessories, which entails an additional cost. An advantage is that many different combinations are possible: Monkey Bars, two bicycle seats, one cushion, and one bicycle seat, an extra handlebar and footrests, and so on.

Gears

The different models available have a different range of gears. You need to be aware of the environment you will be biking in. If you cycle regularly through hilly terrain or over bridges, more gears can be useful. The more bicycle gears, the more cycling comfort.

Length

Measure well in advance how much space you have available to park your bike. The length of the different models can vary considerably.

Balanced

Be aware that the bicycle has a sound standard. The bicycle is intended to accumulate a reasonable amount of weight. For ease of use, it is therefore essential that the standard bears this weight when stationary.

Frame

Some models have a ‘one size fits all’ frame, others have different options. If it is intended that you and your partner both use the bicycle, this can help determine your choice.

 THE LAST TIP …

Always try the longtail bike! A round at the bicycle repair shop in front of the door is really insufficient. A serious bicycle mechanic will always give you the opportunity to take a test drive. If you are going to test, take your children with you. So you know what it feels like when the bike is loaded. By testing different bikes, you notice the differences in weight, stability, ease of use, etc. Is the distance between the handlebars and saddle comfortable for you? Can your children get on it easily? Is the bike stable?

WHAT WILL I DO?

Well, I’m still busy with my driver’s license and that will take at least another 10 months. But even if I would have one, I would still ride a bike most of the time as I believe that it is better for the environment and I just enjoy this time together with my son.

Whether I would buy a Longtail, I have to say that I am inclined to. I have been riding a ‘normal’ bike with my son on the back (because of a flat tire on my cargo bike) for the past week and it does ride easier than a cargo bike, it’s just a bit too small at the back for my almost 6-year-old. Easier to handle. I have testdrived a Yuba already and would like to try out a few others and so who knows.

LOOKING TO TEST DRIVE A LONGTAIL IN FLANDERS?

Fietsenwinkel de Geus / Marnixplaats 4, 2000 Antwerpen | Grote Steenweg 95, 2600 Berchem

Bakfiets & cargo bikes-festival./ ANTWERP- This is only once a year (next one is on the 14th of March 2020) but it’s a great way to see what’s out there, hear testimonials and have some great truck food. 😀

Up-Cycling bikeshop / GHENT

Life by Mim

The best 5 work-friendly​ coffee shops in Antwerp​

The top 5 work-friendly​ coffee shops in Antwerp​

The best work-friendly coffee shops in Antwerp? Why?

Have a big term paper due, studying for exams, or need a change of scenery while working from home? I asked my friends on social media where they love to go and I tried ALL the suggested coffee shops suitable for students and professionals alike. I grabbed some coffee and got down to business to find the top spots for (cold) brews, savory bites, free WiFi, and plenty of outlets. So order a beverage and look at my notes on Antwerp’s best coffee shops for studying or work. After all, espresso and efficiency go hand in hand, especially if your a mom like me, then you just need coffee to be efficiant.

Here are to my honest opinion, the best 5 work-friendly coffee shops in Antwerp.

The best 5 work-friendly​ coffee shops in Antwerp​

Viggo’s coffee

This is probably my number 1 favorite place to go to, “Viggo’s coffee”. Not only because it’s near to the Roosevelt Plaats where I take the bus home from but because the owner and staff are a-m-a-z-i-n-g, the coffee (ask to smell the choices) is extraordinary. Pastries are delicious! I used to have a cappuccino there with oat milk, but now I usually order a “Dirty Chai” Yum, yum!

The sitting area is clean, retro and comfy just as I like it, plus there is a long communal table if you feel like chatting with other customers, or you can just go and sit somewhere more private, it’s up to you. Free Wifi of course!

Visit here: Viggo’s coffee

Vitesse

Just behind the Central Station lies the quirky ‘Vitesse coffee shop.” I was drawn to it due to the weird combination of its slogan “coffee & cycling” — two things I LOVE! I was not disappointed. Vitesse is a pretty cool, cozy cafe where you can get some work done, read, do some people-watching, or just spend some quiet time over a cup of coffee. As its name suggests, the place has a cycling theme with some cycling-related gear artfully displayed throughout the shop. Most importantly, of course, is that the baristas here serve some really good coffee!

Visit here: Vitesse

Normo

This place is on my list of the top 5 work-friendly​ coffee shops in Antwerp​ because it serves the BEST coffee e-v-e-r! They roast the coffee beans themselves. That’s just so awesome and so yummy. You can imagine the smell while walking in.

The interior has pretty eclectic mismatched furniture and a shelves covered in coffee paraphernalia. The atmosphere is really cosy inside and out. Plus the staff are so welcoming and great at making you a good coffee.

I’m really a coffee snob and so when I’m craving some good quality coffee, this is the place I go to.

Visit here : Normo

Local Store 2000

Coming it to this place just made me happy. It had again the lovely retro feel to it that I like and that countertop!!! So Belgian, so inviting! A friend did comment that she found the coffee, so,so.

Located a few streets from the main shopping street, Meir, but located in a very nice shopping area also. Fresh, Bio, Local, Good and relaxing! It surely deserves a spot on the best work-friendly coffee shops in Antwerp list.

Visit here: Local Store 2000

22b

This place is a beat off track and located outside of the major touristic attractions.
It is mostly visited by locals and visitors from the nearby hospital.
You choose your food from the counter, and up you go. Food is fresh, delicious and healthy, there is plenty of choices, I highly recommend the “chili sin carne”. They have a large selection of coffee, tea and desserts or snacks. 
Finally, there is a nice courtyard out back to sit down and relax in the warm days.
Take care it is closed at 8pm and also on weekends. I would avoid it during lunchtime as it gets packed.

They also have some toys and books to keep little children occupied while eating. Yay!

Visit here : 22b

So these were my top 5 work-friendly​ coffee shops in Antwerp​. I’m a mom, who loves coffee and needs a break from home from time to time and who wants to write somewhere other than her bed.

What other places should I also check-out? Always looking for the newest trendiest and yummiest place to-be. Extra points if they are child friendly (as in healthy children’s menu’s and some toys/books to keep them occupied. Major points if they have a play area.)

The best 5 work-friendly​ coffee shops in Antwerp​

“Free” things to do with kids in Antwerp this summer.

Free things to do this summer with kids in Antwerp

Looking for free things to do with kids in Antwerp?

The summer is almost halfway done. Some of you are having a blast, others are struggling with keeping their kids occupied. If you are like me, a single mom on a budget, you want to keep the vacation costs low. So here are a few of my favorite places to go in Antwerp with my 5 1/2-year-old son.

So what free things can you do in Antwerp with kids?

SUMMER BARS

"Free" things to do with kids in Antwerp this summer.
Zomerbar -Sloepenweg Antwerpen

One of my favorite things to do with my girlfriends and kids is visiting a child-friendly summer bar. And “Antwerpen” has a lot of them. For all types of people. The family people, the hipsters, the fancy pants …and so on.

We have been to the “Zomerbar” at the Sloepenweg for a few years now, just because my son loves it so much, heck even my 25 year old and her boyfriend love it.

You have an open-air library and there is even a volunteer who will read a story to the children twice a day.

This year they built this awesome a boathouse with slide up in a tree.

And when it is really hot outside, they put out puddle baths for the kiddos to cool off in.

Coming by electrical bike? Great, you can even charge your battery there.

Have some spending money? Book a circus show. Or order some great food from the food trucs there. Believe me, you will love the Zomerbar, or you will find another one that suits your needs better. Give them a try.

Check out this LINK to see if there is a Summer bar near you.

PETTING ZOO’s (kinderboerderijen)

You have many of those here in Belgium. Most of them also have a tavern and/or a playground in the vicinity. For us, in Brasschaat we love going to the Mikerf Farm. It is situated in the ‘De Mik” domain where they also have a real castle and towers. You can picknick at the lake before or after visiting the farm animals. It is a magical place.

You can even order a “fairytale walk” (sprookjespad) for your child’s birthday. Have a look here, and use google translate.

Other farms that we have visited:

PLAYGROUNDS

But you already knew this idea right?

Our favourite playgrounds?

If you are planning a trip to Bokrijk or would not mind driving out a bit further, we highly recommend the playground next to the open-air museum. IT IS HUGE! You can pack a picknick and easily stay there all day. Read about my review of our day trip to Bokrijk HERE.

BAREFOOT TRAILS

"Free" things to do with kids in Antwerp this summer.

They offer the opportunity to walk barefoot for some distance and to feel the natural ground and various materials with bare feet soles.

In addition, visitors can enjoy balancing or climbing and walk through brooks or even rivers. Some barefoot parks include playground sections designed for bare feet. These healthy combinations of barefoot hiking and playing have become popular tourist attractions.

I’m including a few small free ones, but if you don’t mind spending a bit of money on a memorable trail, then I would strongly recommend the barefoot trail in Zutendaal. (google translate if needed).

We absolutely loved it there. We went there when my son was a toddler and I carried him half way on my back in the carrier and will never forget walking through a deep thrench with water up to above my belly button, with a sleeping toddler on my back. Going back with my 5 year old again for payback time. Ha!

LIBRARIES

Some of them have air conditioning, some organize workshops. Ours in Brasschaat even has a play area. So go look online and make a morning of it.

I like going on Monday’s because you also have the weekly market going on and my son loves to then get the waffle on a stick. Yep, it’s a real thing. And delicious.

Most towns have their own library.

PUBLIC FOUNTAINS

Some towns have play fountains. Just check online or ask in your local towns Facebook group .

The ones we have tried out:

ROOFTOP OF THE MAS MUSEUM

What a great piece of architecture and design. The MAS has free admission. There is only an entrance fee for the permanent and tempory exhibitions.

Located in the trendy “Eilandje” neighbourhood this eye popping museum is a must to do. You have to keep in mind that you do need to take the escalator up 8 flights, but the view is totaly worth it.

Keep an eye on their website, they organize many child activities and workshops like treasure hunts. And this during most school holidays for all ages.

Where?

MAS | Museum aan de Stroom

Hanzestedenplaats 1
2000 Antwerp
tel. +32 3 338 44 00
mas@antwerpen.be

BOEKENBERG SWIMMING LAKE

The swimming facility in the Boekenbergpark in Deurne is an ecological swimming pond. Plants purify the water in a natural way, so the pool contains no chemicals. There is a large pond of 73 m long with a depth between 1.80 and 2.50 m. There is also a small play pool with a depth of 50 cm and a large lawn area to sit and lie on.

Yes, also this place is FREE!

What do you need to bring then?

  • Fitted swimsuit, bathingsuit or bikini.
  • An elastic band to tie long hairs together.
  • A 2 euro coin for the lockers.

Where?

Zwemvijver Boekenberg
Van Baurscheitlaan ter hoogte van nr. 68
2100 Deurne
tel. 03 411 19 95 
zwembad.boekenberg@stad.antwerpen.be

PLAYDATES

I’m going to end this post with the cheapest and for me one of the nicest free activities, and those are playdates.

When it comes to playdates, I choose to keep it simple. I am not winning any “hostess of the year” awards—but I am totally okay with that. I keep the food and fanfare minimal these days, but I like to think that both the adult and child guests enjoy themselves while in our home. The kids get to play with other toys (kids love our dress-up rack) and mom’s get to relax, talk and enjoy some good coffee or tea. As simple as that. When you invite, you get invited back, especially useful in the summertime when in need of a pool. 🙂

Am I missing something you LOVE? Just let me know in the comments below.

"Free" things to do with kids in Antwerp this summer.

Bokrijk with kids

Bokrijk day trip with kids

Bokrijk with kids. It is more than just an open-air museum! At the Bokrijk open-air museum, history is brought to life in these traditional buildings thanks to talented craftsmen and actors.

If you love history like me, this place is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! But even if you don’t love history, still this place is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!

Bokrijk with kids? What’s it about?

Well, it’s a park and and open-air museum which displays more than 148 historical authentic buildings dating back from the 17th century right up until 1950.

There are three main clusters at the museum:

-The Kempen

-“East and West Flanders”

-“Haspengouw and the Maasland”

There is also an area dedicated to the sixties but we did not have time to do it as we promised the kids that they could play in the wonderful playground before going home.

We went in near the parking number 1 parking lot. We were greeted by this wonderfully recently restored windmill. It pretty much showed us what to expect from the rest of the museum.

We started in the Kempen and spent the first 1,5 hour there. I thought that was it until my companion said that we didn’t even do a third of the parc yet. Oops! We spent so much time there because of the “Speelschuur” translate: “The games barn”. The kids had a hoot trying out all the different types of “olden day games”.

Next time we visit we will not start there as it was hard to get the children to move on. But it was a fun experience. It kind of made me want to do more of the simple game and life stuff.

You can walk back in time along a path that winds its way through the different parts of the museum site and step into historical buildings that line the pathway, see the traditional working farms and even see people (actors) cooking their meals.

We wandered along the pathway past hedgerows, wildflowers and goats grazing on the lush green grass. The Bokrijk Open Air Museum has a quirky charm. But watch out for the herd of sheep that are being led to another field by their shepherd and the sheepdogs. It was quite unexpected thing to see happening on our path.

Top tips for visiting Bokrijk

THE TRADITIONAL GAMES BARN IN THE MOL – ZELM BARN

Stilt walking, shuffleboard, mast climbing, bowling and much more! This is the place to hone your skills on the Flemish folk games of yore, an experience for the whole family that mustn’t be missed! But do not start here otherwise you will have a hard time getting the kids to move on.

WORKSHOPS

Currently, there is a ‘from grain to bread’ workshop route. Along this workshop route different aspects of the production process come into play. Every day museum visitors can become acquainted with bread dough in the Wortel workshop barn.

THE CHURCH AND SCHOOL IN WAASLAND

Visit the little church and hear the pastor preach from the pulpit and you can even attend a class in the tiny schoolhouse and hear about how children lived in those days. When we attended class, it was 1913, the year before the school became compulsory in Belgium for children from 6 to 12 years old. Not many farmers were happy with this new regulation as children were a cheap help force in the home and on the farm.

One of our children even demonstrates a punishment that was given in class besides wearing the donkey ears. She had to sit with her knees into wooden clogs and hold up two bricks. It looked painful but she thought it was cool. I wouldn’t want to go to school in those days and my son was less than impressed, seeking solace in my arms.

THE PLAYGROUND

This was really what my son was looking forward to at the end of the day. I haven’t ever seen a playground like this before to be honest, it’s quite impressive. You could even sit there for the entire day and still the children will not want to go home.

Mega slides, swings, a climbing net, mini-cars, miniature golf and even a real toddler town with a HOPLA corner! The outdoor playground in Bokrijk is not only enormous, but it was also great fun. There is a zone for every age, and it is fully fenced. For children with disabilities, there are special playthings.

The restrooms are not what you would expect from a public playground. They are new, fancy and clean. There is a first aid post for if anything happens to your little one (or yourself). There is also a food and drink stand and picknick tables all around. Shaded under a tent or not.

To see some pictures of the playground go and visit the “Seeing beautiful places” blog.

We will go back!

There’s still so much to explore and so much that we haven’t seen yet. We will definitely be coming back. Bringing my picknick blanket for sure!

Our group?

We were four adults with 5 children between the ages of 8 and 5 years old.

I noticed that this is one of the few museums where you could bring your dog with you, but dogs are NOT allowed in the playground. Just so you know.

Now go on, plan a visit and let me know what you enjoyed most!

For more information on prices and opening hours follow THIS link.

You might also enjoy this day out at the Museum of Natural Science (the Dino museum) in Brussels!

Bokrijk with kids

7 non-obvious things to bring or a trip.

Sustainable travelling with children

Disclosure: Please be aware that some of the links on this site (not all of them) are affiliate links. This means that I may earn an affiliate commission for any purchases you make.

Today I will be packing our bags for a trip to Italy! My (unduly kind) mother has invited my son and I to visit her and my aunt while they are visiting Italy. They fly from Canada, we fly from Belgium, we meet in Lucca. My mom has truly become a globetrotter since my father passed away, I’m pretty proud of her and cannot wait to get to spend some Italian time with her.

When my youngest was barely 4 months old I wanted to visit my parents in Toronto. I can still see parents faces when they saw us arrive with all our luggage. Two big suitcases, two carry-ons, a huge stroller, car seat and backpack. and the baby strapped on to my body in a wrap (plus, he had to wear a monitor in those days). It looked like we were moving in.

Now, five years later and a few more trips wiser, we can call ourselves traveling pro’s! I am planning on just taking one suitcase and two backpacks. My son though is convinced that he is taking his step with him. Would they even allow that on a plane I’m wondering?

Whoever knows me knows that I am a sustainable wannabe, trying as best as I can to at least lower my carbon footprint and it will be the first time that I will be consciously doing this while traveling too. What I’ve come up with is pretty simple, I have already been using most of these items out on day trips, so it’s not only handy for travelling far far away places.

What are we taking for sure:

  1. Reusable straws. They take no space and my son loves to use a straw.
  2. Reusable water bottles. We will not fill them until we are checked into the airport. Most airports have water fountains. We like to use the dopperbottles, they are very light, and my son like to use the cup option. I don’t really. I find ours on the small side, so I am thinking of buying a larger one, that is insulated.
  3. Bentobox. We loveeee our bento boxes. We are not much of “sandwich” eater kind of type; we prefer to graze and so our bentobox are perfect for that. My son takes the Yumbox to school, but on our trips we take our large Goodbyn one. It’s lighter and has larger compartments.
  4. Tote bag, always useful. For when we go grocery shopping or if we come by a pretty market. I kind of collect them, so I probably will get a new one in Florence.
  5. I’m also taking a few small net bags for veg and fruit.
  6. If you have kids, you need wipes. I love our washable wipes, but where we are going, we will not have a washer & dryer and so for this trip, I am taking deposal ones. I have some from YES to, they are 95% natural and compostable. We can both use them.
  7. Child ID bracelet. Mainly for my piece of mind, but I’m pretty sure it would be helpful if he would lost. You can get all types of id bracelet, ranging in all prices. Ours is from a well-known Dutch company called “Goedgemerkt.nl” who mainly make name stickers. These bracelets come in different cool colors and what I like most is the fact that the name is engraved in the bracelet, making it impossible to fade out.

These things that I listed here are things that are not as common as what you would maybe find on other mommy travel blogs where they would mention snacks, extra pair of clothing, tablet…I am taking those things too, just don’t think it’s that netion worthy because most of you would have though about it yourself. I was trying to be original here. Did it work? Was I?

I feel like I am forgetting somethings.

Oh well, will just have to wait and see.

So I kind of made myself a packing list here and made a blogpost. Yay!

7 non-obvious things to bring or a trip.

Trip to the Natural Science museum in Brussels with kids

Dinosaur museum Brussels

I asked to tag along on my youngest child’s school field trip to the Natural Science museum in Brussels with kids, having been there 10 years before with my older children I remember that I really enjoyed it. So we drove (during morning traffic, ugh) in the school bus packed with children, parents and teachers to the “Dino museum”. Even though it’s called “Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Science”, locals call it the Dino museum and the children have just had a dinosaur theme in class and where all about T-Rex’s. My son was particularly excited to see his favourite dinosaur, the Diplodocus. They loved it so much that they decided after this excursion to make their own museum in school. P-r-e-t-t-y cool I must say. So let me tell you about this trip to the museum stthat inspired them.

Trip to the Natural Science museum in Brussels with kids

What did I think of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences?

It was a little bit more run-down than I remembered and many stuffed animals were covered in a layer of dust, many interactive activity points were broken which was a pity, but it did not really take away from the impressiveness of this all, especially the the Bernissart Iguanodons, one of the earliest and most important prehistoric discoveries ever. This exhibit does not disappoint, the nine black mounted skeletons are displayed in the same poses they were in the 1800’s. They look incredible and this alone makes the museum worth a visit. 

When you enter the museum you are greeted by a huge imposing whale skeleton hanging from the ceiling, it’s not the Smithsonian t-Rex kind of wow, but it still looks fantastic, and lets you know that you are in for a treat.

We unfortunately did not have time to visit the human exhibition or the temporary TEDDY and BEAR exhibition , but due to a friends daughter, who is a classmate of my son and was sick on the day of the field trip, we are planning on going back this month and we will hopefully be able to visit the rest of this very likeable museum, and I will add on to this post.

Our highlights were:

  • The children spent the longest time laughing, stomping and pretend running in front of the interactive dinosaur video wall. I think this must have been their most memorable part of the field trip.
  • The well preserved 30 Iguanodons that were discovered in a coal mine in the 19th century is probably one of the most significant discoveries of its time and the kids were impressed to say the least. Wow …when you walk into the main dinosaur exhibit room, you have a view of almost everything, this is impressive.
  • Another hit was measuring themselves next to a dinosaur leg bone. Got some funny face pics there.
  • Seeing a mammoth displayed in front of an elephant was pretty cool. (got many Ice age movie comments).

Opening dates and times:

  • On the 24th and 31st of December, the Museum will close at 15.00.
  • The Museum is closed on the 25th of December, 1st of January, and 1st of May.
  • Consult the dates of the Belgian school holidays.
  • Please note: the library is open Monday to Friday, between 9:00 and 12:00 and between 13:30 and 16:00. It is closed on national holidays and between Christmas and the New Year. 

Admission fees

  • Adults: € 7
  • Students, European Youth Card (EYCA), Seniors (65+), Friends of the institute, Disabled visitors, FED+: € 6
  • Children under 18 (accompanied by an adult): € 4.50 (from 6 years old)

There is also the possibility for a free entry for:

  • for everybody on the first Wednesday of every month, after 13:00
  • for children under four (for TEDDY & BEAR) and under six (for the permanent exhibitions), accompanied by at least one paying adult
  • for Museum annual pass holders
  • for one accompanying person per disabled visitor
  • for ICOM members
  • for teachers with professional ID

Practical information

  • There is a very small car park outside and is always full! If you go by car, you can park around the island but paying about 3€ or more.
  • You cannot really have a picnic there unless you reserve a table before hand in the lunch room. We did reserve a place (this was on a schoolday) and we really had to hurry the kids into eating quickly because there was already another class waiting, so I’m not sure how this works if you just go as a family. There is a cafetaria next to the room, but you need to order the food from there. I only ordered a well needed latte but I could see some of the stuff they had on the menu and it looked pretty decent and the prices a well. The typical Belgian lunch items like baguettes, pastries (croissants, donuts, chocolate buns). You could eat your lunch outside, but that would all depend on the weather, and hey, we are in Belgium…so be prepared.
  • There is a locker room if you want to leave your jackets and backpacks behind.

Visit the  Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences?

See more reviews of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences

Intro to me:

I asked to tag along on my youngest child’s school field trip to the Natural Science museum in Brussels with kids.

This was a kindergarden class affair. I visited the Natural History Museum with my 5 year old son, two teachers, four parents and 30 children (yikes!) between the ages of 3.5 years old and 6 years old.

Have you been there before? Let me know about your experience and what is to your opinion a must see exhibition.

Trip to the Natural Science museum in Brussels with kids

UPDATE: My Babboe cargo bike e-curve review

Babboe e-curve cargo bike review

Today I will be writing a review for my Babboe e-curve cargo bike. The opinions are mine. I did not receive any earnings from this post, but as you will be able to read towards the end of my post, I have been compensated. Just not for writing this blog post. 😉

To be honest, I am a bit ashamed to say that I am a grown 41-year-old woman without a driver’s license.

I don’t know how it is where you live, but here in Belgium I only have one other friend without a driver’s license so I always end up having to explain to people why I don’t have one. I just never came round to it and I am actually a bit scared, but fingers crossed, I will be going for my theoretical exam (together with my 25-year-old daughter.

But even if I do pass, it will still be months before I have a full permit and even longer before I can afford a car. So, my cargo-bike is a must in my life.

I am since July 2017 the owner of the Babboe e-curve cargobike. I have 3335 km on it. It is my main way of transportation. I drive my son to school in it, I bring him to and from swimming classes, I do my groceries in it, I run my errands with it, I even drive it 30km (18miles) on Sunday’s to church (Antwerp) and back.

 

Sleepy Baby
Falling assleep is one of the side affects of owning a “bakfiets”

I want to make it clear that my views expressed in this post are entirely my own and entirely based on my experience with this cargobike. I have provided a link to the Babboe website above for anyone who wants to look them up. Nobody has asked me or paid me to write a review. My only aim in writing this is to help others who may be thinking of buying the Babboe e-curve cargobike.

I did some research beforehand, I found some helpful Facebook groups where I could read experiences from other users and I wish that I had taken their advice. There were many complaints (mainly about the spokes), but I really fell in love with the e-curve Babboe when I saw it during a test drive. I made up my mind that I wanted a three-wheeler, I wanted something that also looked pretty and because of my chronic pain, it needed the battery-powered pedal “assist”. One of the most well-known brands here in Belgium is the Babboe and I fell in love with the e-curve when I saw it.

When my cargobike got delivered (then you could only buy it online in Belgium and it was delivered 4 weeks later) I tried it out straight away of course and oh boy….it felt really weird driving it. I constantly felt like I was going to fall off. But I was determined to make it work and so I drove it 40km straight to our fixed camping spot and once I got there, I was a confident cargobike, or how they call it here, even my expat friends, a “bakfiets” driver. I loved it. My son loved it, heck, even my two Doxies love it.

4e484869-011e-4930-8a45-77aa60740846
Our Doxies do not fall assleep in the “bakfiets”

But…a few weeks later the first problems arose, my brakes and lights. One brake was not working, the lights were not working and so I emailed Babboe. I also inquired about when the technician would come by for the first maintenance (included in the price we paid. I had already received an email asking me if I was satisfied with the services…for the services that I haven’t received yet). It took exactly a month before the technician came. My brakes were then finally fixed and I had received new lights. My bike was riding smoother than ever.

Then the rain cover poles broke. I emailed again, Babboe said that they were aware of the poor quality of the poles and that they were looking for a solution. In the meantime they would send me new poles. And they did, the wrong ones. Emailed them again and soon after I received the first pair or rain cover poles. But the rain cover poles have broken off 5 times during the 18 months that I have owned my e-curve.

Broke rain cover poles
Picture explaining to Babboe where the poles broke off. The end bits are still sticking in the wholes and also needed to be removed.

Another issue, the wheel spokes. They too have been broken multiple times. This is apparently something that many, many Babboe owners have experienced. This is a pretty costly thing to have to happen regularly. One of my back spokes is even broken now.

And something they forget to tell you…not many bike repair shops repair your electrical cargo-bike, definitely if you have not bought it in their shop. I have two bike repair shops in walking distance of my house, but they have refused to repair my bike (one will repair the spokes but nothing else) and so I have had to rely on friends to pick me up and drop me off at another bike shop further away. Not very convenient. You can always book a maintenance and repair service at home from Babboe, but be prepared to wait many, many weeks and with a broken spoke, you need to get it repaired as soon as possible.

My Babboe cargo bike e-curve review broken spokes

Oh yeah, and my battery, remember at the beginning of this post I mentioned biking 40km to our camping spot? (I still drove around with it for a few more days before I had to recharge the battery) . Well now (18 months later) the action radius is +-15km. I alternate between modes 3 and 4 and transporting one child who weighs 21kg, I weigh 70kg. My friend who owns an “e-big” bike from Babboe even bought a second battery because she could not make the trip to school and back with her kids. Not ok.

I have emailed Babboe again (I have emailed them 8 times) I feel like a complainer, but when you pay almost 2.500euro’s for a bike, you expect it to work properly. Customer service is very unsatisfactory and while they are polite, they are evasive. They say they will get back but they do not and so I have spent a few hundred euro’s to date on reparation costs.

I am writing this post, review, because I am just so very upset about the quality of my bike, while it looks great. My brakes broke again two days ago, I have yet again a broken spoke and it is making a funny sound while driving, I am worried that it’s the motor. The key to the battery of the bike is so thin that it has been bent beyond use and I will have to get a new key made today, otherwise, I will not be able to recharge the battery. I am a single mom on a very low income and I have no way to get it repaired again, let alone the money to buy a new one might this break down completely. It saddens me, I have really enjoyed driving it, my son loves it so much too and it has given us so much pleasure and freedom and I really need it, I just cannot do without and so I’m again praying for a miracle.

The pro’s:

  • It is very pretty to look at. Classy.
  • The finishings are much nicer than the cheaper models. Especially the “leather” handles.
  • The display is nice and easy and it’s digital, so you know how far you can still drive before the battery runs out.
  • The rain cover (not the poles) is cute and you have velcro on the top for stopping it to flap down while children are getting in or out. You can also roll up sides on warmer days. It has to be -20c degrees here before my son wants the sides closed though.
  • Comfy seat for the driver.

The con’s

  • The spokes, just the wheel, in general, is not strong enough for the cargobike according to two repair shops.
  • The battery. I know, I know that a battery loses it’s power the older it gets and by usage, but going from +-50km a year ago to 15km now…that’s ridiculous.
  • The rain cover polls break very easily.
  • The brakes…ugh, I find that the scariest.
  • The rear light is powered by a battery. The two front lights are powered by four AAA batteries between them. It would be great if the front lights were powered by the battery or dynamo powered. The front lights don’t give much light, plus you need to slide them on and off, meaning that they also easily slide off by themselves. I have lost one like that.
My Babboe cargo bike e-curve review
I also like to pimp it up, here it is as a “red devil” in honor of Belgiums (euro)football team during the 2018 World Cup.

I want to again remind you, dear reader, that this has been my experience. I am not technical, so I cannot comment on the motor or stuff like that, I can only write about my experiences and how people have advised me. I advise you to do your research before buying your “bakfiets”. Go try some out or rent one for the day and even if you think that you would not be able to drive a two-wheeler bakfiets, try it out, it’s like riding a normal size bike. I wish that I had because I know now which one I would have bought then knowing what I know now.

Do you have a cargobike? Which one? I would love to hear about your experiences.

 EDIT: 4 February 2019

Since writing this post about the Babboe e-curve cargo bike review, it has been shared around on social media and was the talk amongst my friends. My bike actually broke down, the crankshaft broke, leaving me in a bit of a predicament. But I am truly, truly blessed by all the wonderful people around me. People were texting me, asking if they could help with the groceries or if I needed them to bring my son to and from school. Then one mom in school even lent me her cargo bike!!! *happy dance* That was really a lifesaver for me. Thank you all again! Big love.

Now what happened next; Babboe contacted me through this blog post and I finally got to speak to this very nice lady Aimée. She said that they (at Babboe) were very sorry for all the difficulties that I have been experiencing with the Babboe bakfiets and said that they will be sending me a technician who will hopefully be able to fix all the problems. A week later the technician came (again a very nice person who really enjoyed my coffee and cookies) and he made me a very happy mom again by :

  • replacing the whole rear wheel (due to the crankshaft)
  • new disk brake
  • new battery and charger
  • and tightened the brakes and bolts

For my lights, I can also visit a bike repair shop to get some new lights installed and Babboe will reimburse me.

So I practically have a new bike now, all done under warranty, thank goodness!!! We are again zooming all around town overjoyed by having our little piece of freedom back.

Thank you all for sharing my Babboe e-curve cargo bike review.

EDIT 15th of April 2019:

So, my cargo bike has again, started to make funny noises. I’m afraid it’s the motor or something. So Babboe has gracefully proposed to replace my bike. They only do this when there have been many issues with a bike.

I am very grateful for this, it helps me to be independent, gives great joy to my son and me and I can continue to get groceries myself without having to rely on other people. It makes a big difference in our lives.

So thank you again Babboe, your generosity humbles me and alters my perception.

Thank you re-posters and thank you, dear friends, for sharing this post of my Babboe e-curve cargo bike review.

Be blessed.

EDIT 9th of August 2019

I was a bit late with this update but I am very very happy to say that since writing my latest update:

That we have been so blessed by receiving a BRAND NEW Babboe cargo bike!

*Insert party ballons here*

The sweet (patient) lady who had been trying to help me sort out the problems with our previous bike realized that the problems that I had been experiencing with the cargo bike were really abnormal.

So we started a new adventure with a new e-curve. Since June we’ve had our new bike and I’m glad to say that we have not had any problems yet. I’m not going to lie, I seem to be waiting for something to happen, but that’s just me. If you know me and my life, you will know that it’s just something that stems from the very unconventional life that I’ve had up to now.

I’m loving it again and we have been traveling all around Antwerp visiting museums, going to parks, getting groceries done and now I’m planning a trip with the Ferry!

So even though we did not have much luck with our first Bike, Babboe really came through for us and I really stand by my opinion that they’re practical, beautiful, and damn fun to ride. They can haul everything from babies to groceries, to large pieces of furniture. They make moving gear through traffic-choked cities faster, and more fun, than any big air polluting car. I’m totally smitten again!

Thank you Babboe and thank you all for reading and sharing my Babboe e-curve cargo bike review.

Edit 14 January 2020

Since beginning September 2019, I have started to regularly experience flat tires. This has happened 9 times in total, 7 times it was my back tire.

It seems to happen for no apparent reason. A couple of times it had to do with the spokes breaking and puncturing the wheel. Other times have been just tiny holes. The Local bike shop has checked the outer wheel, there seems to be nothing there.

I have taken different bike routes, checked my garden for any debris, but it stays a mystery as to why I am getting so many flat tires. According to my repairman (and he guessed my bike was a Babboe without me even telling him), that this company, unfortunately, does not use the best quality and that it for sure is not made for the long distances and frequencies that I use it for and that he has had many clients of this make, with flat tires, bad batteries, and spokes breaking off.

So, maybe that is what it is. It’s a pretty bike, works well if not used for long distances.

Too bad for me I guess as I now have to look for another solution for getting my son to school and back. Making that a total of almost 25 km a day at least.

What an expensive ordeal this has been.

  • Babboe e-curve flat tire
    Babboe e-curve flat tire review
UPDATE: My Babboe cargo bike e-curve review