Must have: Atelier Rebul Istanbul Reed diffuser

I love pleasant smells.

Ever since I was a child you could find me sniffing at the fabric softener bottles in the grocery store while the parents were shopping.

And every time that I would come across lavender outside, I would pinch my fingers over the blossoms and smell my fingers.

Or walking into the Lush store makes me want to buy up all the bath bombs…

Must have: Atelier Rebul Istanbul Reed diffuser

I’m pretty sure that it releases dopamine in my head.

My favorite way to scent my home

Reed stick diffusers are my favorite, cheap or expensive – I’ve tried a lot of different types. In the end, I decided to invest in more expensive reed diffusers.

Cheap turned out to be expensive, considering that you tend not to smell much after a few days, or even hours, with the cheap reed diffusers.

So…

I googled “best selling reed diffusers”

I was already familiar with Rituals. I love many of their products and have bought the large reed diffusers a few times before. But I felt like the smell got lost way before it should have.

So I wanted to try something different and some brands came up regularly. When I looked up some of the recommended brands (including Atelier Rebul), I found them way too pricey for me to just take the risk and buy a reed diffuser online.

But then one day I walked into the washroom of a local lunch spot and I was hit by this incredible scent.

I took a picture so that I would remember the name. I forgot to switch the sound off on my phone, I’m hoping that nobody heard me taking these pictures in the toilet stall. Ha!

Must have : Atelier Rebul Istanbul Reed Diffuser
The picture I took of my must have Atelier Rebul Reed Diffuser

Atelier Rebul Istanbul reed diffusers.

On bol.com they were priced at 35 euro, I thought that it was pricey, it’s ten euro more than my previously loved Rituals reed diffusers.

Must have: Atelier Rebul Reed Diffusers

But the scent left such an impact on me that I decided to give it a try.

It’s been three weeks now and the bottle is only 1/3 empty and the smell is still as wonderful as the first time I smelled it. I haven’t even turned the reeds over yet.

So this is a must-have! I would recommend this one to anyone and will I will be certainly giving this as a gift in the future!

If you don’t want to take the risk (and trust me :0 ) Check this link out the see if a store near you sells the products from Atelier Rebul.

The story behind Atelier Rebul

Must have: Atelier Rebul Istanbul Reed diffuser

Making the list

I’m curious as to the other scents that Atelier Rebul has to offer so I will be visiting their shop soon. Plus, I want to buy their Istanbul scented candle.

In the meantime, the Atelier Rebul Istanbul Reed Diffusers will be on my next “Sparks of Joy” post.

Lemme know what you think or have any other suggestions.

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

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.

UPDATE 28.05.2020

Flat tire number……

Babboe e-curve flat tire

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