A Few Things

October 21, 2016

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Photo and text by Gabrielle.

Hello Friends. How are you? Looking forward to the weekend? I have zero weekend plans and I’m glad. Ben Blair will be at a Blockchain conference and I’m hoping to catch up on some work. We’ll probably tackle the Halloween costumes and wash the car too. Not very glamorous, but I don’t mind.

But I do have one fun thing to tell you about. You know my Random Thoughts posts? Well, yesterday, I attempted to do something similar on Facebook Live. I made a little list of topics that have been on my mind and then started the video and just talked and talked. You can watch it here if you’re curious.

I was very nervous right before it started and asked Ben to give me a pep talk. Sometimes when I’m trying something new, those critical voices in my head just want to take over and shut everything down. But the feedback has been really good and I’m so glad I did it. Let me know what you think. I’d like to do more of these. Maybe once a week? We’ll see. And if you have topics you’d like me to cover, definitely let me know.

And now, here are a few things I’ve been wanting to share with you:

- “Only white people,” said the little girl.

- The open office trend is destroying the workplace.

- Me and 6 other Mormon women were interviewed in New York Magazine.

- Do stars have consciousness? (Stars as in the night sky, not the movie variety.)

- 10 TED talks on modern feminism. Add them to your playlist.

- If you’re not in the mood to dress up for Halloween, perhaps this ghost manicure will appeal.

- This is what work-life balance looks like at a company with 100% retention of moms.

- Raise your hand if you’ll be watching Hamilton on PBS tonight. (Olive is going to a viewing party at her friend’s house.)

- Sweet love note from Canada to America. Did anyone else cry when they saw this? It totally made me tear up.

- Emily McDowell’s Everyday Bravery pins. I think I need to keep a pouch full of these in my handbag, and then give them out as I run my errands.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend. I hope October is gorgeous where you live! I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.



By Gabrielle.

Stephanie Artuso is a visual artist. She has a fluffy dog, loves her mornings as much as her coffee…and, let’s see…what else can I tell you about Stephanie? Oh, yes. She lives part of the year in a school bus.

I found her on Instagram, and her inspired squares stopped me in my tracks. I couldn’t wait to introduce you to her. Let’s tag along her delightful life, shall we? Welcome, Stephanie!

A schoolbus-turned-home. You’re going to love this one!


By Gabrielle.

Diana is an exuberant writer, so it follows that her home displays the same joy. There are ever-growing enthusiastic collections she watches carefully just to be sure they don’t start resembling an episode of Hoarders, and nooks seemingly everywhere to welcome the world. “Ooh, what’s that?” I heard myself saying more than once while zooming in on a treasure-filled corner.

She’s also a generous writer, so you’ll hear about prices and her struggles as a mom and her realistic shortcomings (which we all recognize as true talents!) that spurred her to lean more toward a shabby chic style of decor. I’ll let Diana explain it; she does so adorably!

Come meet her. You’re going to want to be her friend. And I have a feeling she’ll want the same from you. Welcome, sweet Diana!

(Just a quick note before I introduce myself…I was only recently shown this blog by a good friend of mine and was just blown away by all the inspiring stories and homes you moms have posted! It has been so fun reading and getting a glimpse into your lives, and I hope that I can offer some bit of inspiration in return!)

So my name is Diana Clinger. I live in Idaho Falls with my husband Chris, our two cats, Pepe La Roux and Possum, and our wonderful daughter Addison, who is turning two at the end of this October!

I met my husband Chris when I was 19 and a freshman at the University of Idaho in Moscow. UofI is where my parents first met and it is a truly beautiful campus of ivy-covered buildings and walkways that I know I took way too many artsy photos of while I was attending! I remember being so excited to go to the same college as my two older sisters and share an apartment with them. My parents had let me stay with my sisters during the summer months between my Junior and Senior year of high school, provided that I get a job, pull my own weight and stay out of trouble, and I absolutely couldn’t wait to join them.

More shabby chic love, straight ahead!


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By Gabrielle. 

Still in love with succulents? Me too. They’re so easy to care for and they add beautiful depth and color and texture to any space. So I LOVE the idea of using a shadowbox frame as planter. Succulents on the wall? Yes, please!

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This project is especially appealing to me for 4 reasons: 1) You can choose any style shadowbox — silver, modern, carved, traditional, black, glossy — whatever works best for your decor. 2) It hangs on the wall and keeps flat surfaces clutter free. 3) It works in any room. 4) It would make such a fun gift!

Let’s get dirty.

Click here for easy instructions!


A Few Things

October 14, 2016

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Photo and text by Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends! How are you? How was your week? I woke up to RAIN today. Amazing! So needed and so appreciated. Our tiny backyard stream has transformed into a full-force water fall. The best.

Last night was Olive’s Etiquette Dinner birthday party. (I know it’s unusual to host a party on a Thursday night, but there is no school today — teacher prep day — so our kids have a 3-day weekend). I’ll be sure to give a party report next week, and you can see a little sneak peek above. The photo was taken as I attempted to design a photo backdrop using cutlery. : )

For now, I’ll send you off with a few things I’ve been wanting to share:

- Mind blown while reading about the Green Book. I had no idea.

- An intricate map of alternative music history.

- A new website that seems like it could prove valuable for lots of people. Frank and honest information how women experience sexual pleasure.

- Mini-robotic portable printer.

- From my dear friend, Meg. Goodbye Baby.

- This is how they broke our grandmothers.

- A visionary journal.

- A third of the homeless people in America are over 50.

- How to raise a creative child. Step one: Back off. (NYT)

- Obituary for the Great Barrier Reef.

I hope you have a fabulous weekend! I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.



Introducing Toca TV!

October 13, 2016

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Photos and text by Gabrielle. This post is sponsored by Toca Boca. Try new Toca TV for free! Details below.

You may already know I’m a huge Toca Boca fan (I’ve written about their products here and here), and my kids are even bigger fans. So when they contacted me about their newly-launched Toca TV, I was all ears, and we tried it out immediately. What is it, you ask? Toca TV is a playful, happy video streaming service for kids. It offers thousands of curated videos in a 100% ad-free, kid-safe environment. And like all Toca Boca apps, Toca TV was designed from the kid’s perspective — they tested it with hundreds of kids across the globe to ensure kids actually love it, and that it lives up to the Toca Boca mission and values.

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I know many parents (most parents? all parents?) worry about what our kids might encounter when they’re using a screen. Even when they’re visiting a website we’re familiar with, or when we’ve attempted to implement parental controls, it still seems like unwanted content manages to appear. Songs or ads or video that is sort-of kid friendly, but not quite. Ugh. If that is something you’ve been trying to figure out, then Toca TV might be the perfect solution. I’m very impressed. We’ve been using it for a couple of weeks and this is what we like about it:

Ten year old Betty says, “It’s good that there are no ads. I don’t have to wait or watch something dumb first before I can see a video.” (Betty’s right! There are no third-party ads or sponsored content on Toca TV.)

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Betty also says, “It’s really fun to film yourself. They have a whole bunch of filters that are really good. Mostly I like to watch June when she sees a filter come on the screen. It’s so funny!” (I love that too. Three cheers for lots of interaction!)

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Six year old June says:

The videos are really funny! And there was a drawing one that shows how to make Joy from the movie. And there was one about Will It Taco too. (June really loves the variety — they add new videos each week! There are familiar favorites like Minecraft gameplay, there are DIY crafts and recipes, and there are a whole bunch of exclusive videos only available on Toca TV.)

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Me, the parent, says:

I love the peace of mind! I learned that Toca Boca doesn’t rely on algorithms to curate the videos. Instead, all of the content is rated using a specific scorecard, and each video is watched by actual adults (members of the Toca Boca team) to make sure it’s right for kids. I also loved that the kids didn’t just sit back and watch — the fact that they can make movies themselves is a big plus for me.

If you’re curious, you can try it for free on the App Store (it’s available for iPad and iPhone). Download it today to get three free sessions. If you enjoy it, Toca TV is a subscription service, only $4.99 USD a month  — you cancel anytime!

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If you give it a try, definitely let me know what you and your kids think. Also, how are you handling screen time and media these days? Do you have daily limits? Specific shows they can watch? Do you implement different rules during the school year versus summer vacation? And what are your kids into screen-wise? I’d love to hear!


All The Single Ladies

October 12, 2016


By Gabrielle. Tote bag here.

Last night I went to book group, and the book we discussed was All The Single Ladies by Rebecca Traister. I hadn’t had a chance to read it, but thankfully, the organizer sent out 3 links with discussions about the book — from the New York Times, NPR and Jezebel. The articles were excellent and gave me enough information that I was able to really enjoy the discussion. (And now I’m dying to read the actual book!)

The book talks about the fact that women are marrying less often these days, and that they’re getting married older. From 1890 to 1980 the average marriage age of women stayed at 21-22. And now, it’s 27. That’s a big jump in a relatively short time! The author details problems and benefits that have come up because of this major cultural shift, and gets into details on how the shift has affected women of color differently than white women. (Spoiler: women of color have gotten a much crappier deal all the way around.) As you can imagine, the book leads to really interesting discussions.

Near the end of the evening, a statistic came up about marriage. Apparently, when a spouse dies or a divorce happens, men are much more likely to remarry than women are. The analysis is pretty simple. Researchers found that in heterosexual marriages, marriage is better for men than women, meaning men get more benefits and satisfaction out of it. (I’m curious to know what remarriage rates are like for homosexuals — if you have a source, let me know.)

I woke up thinking about that statistic. I thought of people in my life who have remarried, both men and women. I thought of exceptions to that statistic — women I know who love to be married, and men who would rather be single. I thought about my own marriage. I thought about people who have a spouse that travels a ton or works far from home and how they almost get used to having them gone.

Would I remarry if my spouse died, or if I divorced? It seems like one of those things that would be hard to predict for yourself — you can’t know how you would react until life actually happens. I wondered what you thought of the analysis — do you think marriage is a better deal for men than it is for women? And do you think that’s changing? Do you feel like you could definitively say that you would or would not remarry after a death or divorce? And have you read the book? I want to discuss it with you! I wish we could have a book group together!

P.S. — Beyoncé’s Single Ladies is still the best.


By Gabrielle.

Maureen Vazquez’s London home was a treasure. There was an entire floor-to-ceiling window full of taped-up kid creations, a doodle-able staircase Plexiglas barrier, and a giant craft table smack in the middle of the kitchen. All that plus space for scooter races? I’d surely never leave!

But leave is exactly what the Vazquez family did! They traded in their 4,000 square feet for around 1,400 or so, and lost a few amenities in the process. Like the scooter racing space. And that craft table. Sigh. Do you think she misses them? (Spoiler alert: Not nearly as much as you might think! Hooray!)

I’ll let Maureen tell you all about their adventures since the last time we toured their gorgeous home while we peek into their latest gorgeous home. She’s a fantastic tour guide, you know.

Welcome, Maureen!

Whenever people find out that my nickname is Mo, they go right for it, so we’ll cut the formality here; you guys can call me Mo. I live with my husband Nathan (not Nate) and our kids Atticus, Eleanor, Ike, and Indiana. I grew up mostly in Seattle as the youngest of four kids. I’ve always loved making things, having good conversation over a leisurely dinner, and I tend to be very right-brained when it comes to most things.

Nathan grew up in the backwoods of Neillsville, Wisconsin as an only child. He is an avid fantasy and sci-fi reader, a computer geek in the most loving sense of the word, and has an incredible design eye. He is totally unflappable and super goofy. He’s also a great dancer, which is what made me look way back when.

We met at my brother’s wedding right after I graduated from college and had an amazing connection right away, but we lived in different states and I had a boyfriend. Nathan was 25 — which seemed so OLD! Ha! — and I had grand plans to grow into adulthood before settling down.

We lost touch, and I spent the next four years in San Francisco. Eventually, I heard through the grapevine that Nathan was moving from Minneapolis to London for work. I freaked out, realizing that I’d always hoped we’d have the chance at a relationship, and was afraid I’d screwed it up.

I got back in touch and, long story short, we were married and both living in London soon after! A few years later, Atticus arrived.

Atticus is amazingly thoughtful and deliberate like his dad. He’s super into Legos and can spend hours building and rebuilding things according to the instructions. He’s a wonderful big brother, and sometimes I think that he could raise himself without too much trouble if aliens abducted the rest of us.

I’ve found that having kids is pretty addictive in the sense that each time you expect him or her to be like a previous kid, and each time you end up with someone who’s totally different.

Eleanor is quick, fiery, and extremely socially precocious and sensitive. She has eagle ears and regularly infers the circumstances and emotions of people on the other end of my phone just by overhearing my side of the conversation. She is unbelievably creative and always making something.

Ike is universally loved by all creatures on earth. Kids love him, adults love him, and animals love him. And he loves them back. He wakes up smiley every morning and smiles in his sleep as I take him to the bathroom before I go to bed. His catchphrase is “Will you be my best friend?” to which everyone eagerly responds “YES!”

Indiana is hyper coordinated which is good because she’s a total monkey. She was still kicking me in the ribs as she was crowning during her delivery and she hasn’t stopped moving since. She is happy-go-lucky and always in the middle of the action. We are all desperate for her to start talking and like to guess what she’ll say!

We moved from London to San Luis Obispo (SLO), California a year ago after Nathan’s project at work was shut down. We had moved to London from NYC with his company the previous year, and were faced with the prospect of moving back to Manhattan where he would find another trading position with the bank.

At the time, Indiana was four months old and I had recently launched Pipsticks, a subscription sticker club. It was doing really well but I was exhausted, and the idea of finding socks for six people every day literally put me over the edge.

Having gone to Cal Poly, I had always thought SLO would be a great place to end up. It was also a place where socks and shoes are optional. So, we took a massive leap of faith and moved to California where Nathan joined me working for Pipsticks!

It’s. So. Different. When we moved here, I hadn’t owned a car in 15 years. In an attempt to offset the minivan life, we moved a few blocks from town so that we could walk as much as possible.

The neighborhoods in downtown SLO are lovely. The houses are all built on long narrow lots so they look like little cottages in a line from the street. Most houses around us were built in the early 1900s. Compared to NYC and London, things are more affordable, but it’s still a very expensive place to live. A 1200 square foot, two bedroom house in town starts around $700,000.

What struck us when we first moved here are how many fruit trees there are! They are everywhere, and just blend right into the city’s landscape. We’ll be walking to the park and look up to see a massive avocado tree above the sidewalk.

One of my favorite things to do is pick the Asian pears from our yard and walk around delivering them to our neighbors. We inevitably return home with oranges, lemons, avocados, and apples. Free avocados? It’s a dream.

So much color and love, straight ahead!



By Gabrielle.

You know all those fabulous design-centered coloring books out there? We have a stack of them, and I’m a big fan. But lately I’ve been wanting to stock our library with workbooks and journals that go beyond coloring and include specific activities that would help budding artists and writers. I like keeping activity books like this in the home office, in the Sunday bag (for when the kids get bored at church), and for rainy day playdates.

Happily, there are tons of excellent options out there. Here are seven (plus a bonus pick) that I think your kids (or you) might enjoy.

1. Art Play. By Marion Deuchars. This is such a good one! It’s part sketchbook, part coloring book, part art lesson, part inspiration. It’s a big, thick volume with lots of prompts and exercises. It doesn’t come out till next month, but you can pre-order it now.

2. Me: A Compendium. By Wee Society. Oh my. I ADORE fill in the blank journals. Have you ever tried one? They are perfect for kids — especially kids that seem resistant to the idea of keeping a journal. They’re fun and fast and they are an instant treasure. When I was a child, this Dr. Suess one was a hot ticket, and I still think it’s awesome. But I’m really digging the visuals on Wee Society version. It’s gorgeous.

3. Creative Writing — A Journal With Art to Kickstart Your Writing. By Eva Glettner. Lined pages with excellent writing prompts, next to inspiring images. What a great idea!

4. Pattern Studio — A Creative Workbook for Sketching Unique Repeats. By Shayna Kulik. I love this one for me. I’ve longed to try my hand at textile or surface design for many, many years. This is a great workbook of drawing prompts to get you on your way to creating original patterns.

5. Words. By Christoph Neimann. Picture all the sight words (the ones your kids memorize as they learn to read) paired with a word renowned artist. I can’t quite put my finger on why this book is so appealing. It’s very simple, it’s small, but thick like a text book. It’s quite delightful. I’m thinking of it as the simplest of writing prompts (though is doesn’t pretend to be positioned that way).

6. Vincent’s Starry Night and Other Stories — A Children’s History of Art. By Michael Bird with illustrations by Kate Evans. You’ll definitely want this in your home library. It’s not a workbook or journal, but I felt like it fits in well with these others. It’s a big volume, full of accessible stories about art. Go look at some of the sample pages — it’s really a lovely book.

7. Draw Like An Artist — A Self-Portrait Sketchbook. By Patricia Geis. A straightforward idea, the book features 18 different famous self-portraits with a “canvas” next to each one so you can try your own hand at the featured style.

Bonus! 8. Faces Book Journal. By Sukie. This is not revolutionary, but it’s an adorable gift. And it’s currently only $3.84, so it’s a bargain too. It’s basically a blank book. But instead of empty pages, or lined pages, each sheet of paper has face. It’s terrific!

How about you? Do you have any artists or writers in the making at your house? Journal keepers? Sketchbook fillers? What would you add to this list?


A Few Things

October 7, 2016


Photo and text by Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends. How are you? How was your week? I had particularly challenging work week, and I’m glad it’s Friday. I’ll likely end up working through the weekend too. Not ideal, but it happens sometimes. And there’s something nice about getting a bunch of work done while my inbox is quiet.

Are you on Hurricane Mathew watch? The devastation in Haiti is absolutely heartbreaking. We are supporters of Haiti Partners and have been glued to their updates. (If you want to help, please donate here.)

Anything on your mind for this weekend? One thing we’ll be working on is Olive’s (belated) birthday party. It’s next week, and she requested an Etiquette Dinner, which I think is such a cute idea. But I haven’t been to an etiquette dinner since I was Olive’s age, and I need to brush up on the “rules”. Do you have a favorite etiquette guide?

Here are a few things I’ve been wanting to share with you:

- All 339 books referenced in Gilmore Girls.

- Dark humor about a hard thing: Congrats on your first online rape threat.

- “If you look into the eyes of a person you discriminate against, or you think is so different than you that they deserve less rights than you, it becomes almost impossible to deny their humanity.”

- Why we need to bring back vocational training to schools.

- Cool perspective drawing hack.

- In the mood to cry your eyes out? One last thing before I go.

- How to land an interview (hint: bring donuts).

- Is married life without kids fulfilling?

- “When you get the chance… print.”

- Advocating shorter emails, no greetings, no sign offs. What’s your take?

- The western hemisphere currently has no wars.

- Can’t stop staring at these portraits.

- Related, a fashion student designs helpful clothes to be worn by refugees.

I hope you have a really good weekend. I hope you stay safe and connected. I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.



By Gabrielle. The apropos Hooray Cake Topper via The Duo Studio.

Mindy’s About Me page is a delight. Among other gems, “Sixteen mailboxes into my life, I put roots in people instead of places. I once read that there’s no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one. And I finally believe that. I also believe in miracles, angels, and fat clothes.” Love it.

Come share in her story, will you? It’s quite the celebration. Welcome, Mindy! (And thank you, Molly, for introducing us. You’re a good friend.)

Such an amazing story, straight ahead!


Foxy Socks

October 5, 2016


By Gabrielle.

The other day, I mentioned I’ve accidentally had a capsule wardrobe for the last 3 months, and that my clothes were getting worn out. Which is true. And the socks are the most worn out of all, so I’ve been doing a little sock shopping — or shall I say, sock hopping — from store to store. : ) In case any of you are in the market, I thought I’d share some of the favorites I’ve found so far.

Pictured above are a pair of Woven Pears. Their socks are adorable. Fun patterns, and new ones announced all the time. I love that many options have a little message on the bottoms of the feet — a little secret message just for you. Plus, the company was started by two friends and long-time Alt Summit alums. Yay for creative entrepreneurs! I gave out Woven Pear socks at my book launch party in the goody bags.

Here are 8 more options:


1) Fox, color blocks, and polka dots! So rhyme-y, so cozy. I bought these on my trip to Utah last week when I pulled on a pair of socks and realized there was a giant hole in the heel. Luckily, there was an Old Navy across the street from where I was staying. Mostly cotton. A set of 3 for only $6!

2) Boot socks! Marled and thick and comfy. Plus, they are 96% cotton! On sale now for $11 per pair. They come in 4 different colors.

3) Colorblock chevron. Mostly cotton. Get them for 30% off with code YESPLEASE. (Speaking of 30% off, tons of stuff at J.Crew is on sale now with the same code.) Layer these cuties over tights.

4) Get out of town! I just realized Pendleton makes socks in the same gorgeous patterns as their National Park blankets. Can’t splurge on a blanket this month? I hear you. Treat yourself to socks instead. 87% cotton with 5-star reviews — $12.50 per pair.

5) Windowpane socks. I’ll give you the bad news first: they’re only 54% cotton. But the good news is they are modern and simple and fabulous (I love a good windowpane grid!), and they are only $3.30. Total bargain.

6) My FAVE no show socks. I’ve tried lots of different brands, and these stay put on my heels instead of sneaking down as I walk. I wear them with penny loafers and sometimes sneakers too. They last for ages even with a weekly wash. The patterns switch up, but the quality seems to remain the same. 30% off right now.

7) In the fall, I try to stop by the sock section every time I make a Target run. So many good options! This argyle pair by Happy Socks (I think they’re a Swedish brand — or, at least the first time I happened upon Happy Socks was in Stockholm) is only $6.99.

8) White Swan socks by Kate Spade. Quirky, good socks. I remember pulling on a pair of Kate Spade socks when I went into labor with Flora June. For good luck? Or maybe just cheerfulness. 70% cotton, only $10.

How about you? Fallen in love with any socks lately? Do you have a preference for length (no show, ankle, trouser, knee-high)? How about for material? I favor cotton, but love a luxe option with a bit of cashmere for the holidays. I mostly only wear wool socks if I’m hiking or camping.

Do you prefer patterns or solids? Or do you like a mix of both? And how do feel about the current trends of using socks to add a pop of color, and layering socks over tights?


Living With Kids: Jodi Hays

October 4, 2016

By Gabrielle. Photos by Jodi Hays and Alana Rasbach.

Jodi described her family and home to me in the most endearing way: very full, very imperfect, but shines bright. Her family’s motto is equally winsome. You’ll see.

This is a tour for those of us who routinely surprise our families with entirely new floor plan configurations on a whim. If you hear your mate and kids ever utter phrases like “Good morning! Where did the dining room go?” and “Oof! Who put this table here?” then raise your hands in victory! Jodi grew up like that, too, and the experience still warms her heart. So rearrange away!

Let’s hear more from Jodi, shall we?

Hi everyone! I am a painter, professor, and curator in East Nashville, Tennessee. Felix is my husband of 18 years, co-conspirator for life, parties, and art Pop-Ups.

Gus Wonder is our first born, six years old. He is his name: kind, driven and super into math.

Eames Ever is four years old. He is an old soul who loves animals and collecting.

Cleopatra Wise is one, and the most contented (and possibly spoiled) little tres. I am the youngest of three, so I understand my mom and myself so much more for having had her.

Lefty is the 17-year old studio cat. We got him when we lived in Boston and he is a polydactyl, Hemingway cat. He has been known to convince house-sitters that he lives inside.

Lots of genius nooks and tiny collections, just ahead!


stanford vs cal football poster

By Gabrielle. Vintage football poster here.

Last week, an article about football injuries showed up in my Facebook timeline. It was from last year and it talks about how 96% of former NFL players in the study, show signs of brain damage. 96%. That is insane.

So far, I haven’t had a child with any interest in playing football, so it hasn’t been something I’ve had to think about from that perspective. But I do find myself with mixed feelings about football in general.

I have very happy memories of attending high school football games, and seeing the community come together in support. I have even better memories of attending college football games with my dad who was a huge fan, always hanging a team flag outside our front door on game days. I love the cheers and the enthusiasm and the fall sweaters and the face paint. The whole thing feels very All-American and since I grew up with it, it’s also familiar and cozy. Of course, I also have many dear friends who have kids playing on football teams right this minute, and I love seeing the photos in my social streams.

On the other hand, I realized the other day that I don’t watch professional football at all, and haven’t in years — even if I attend a Superbowl party, I’m not likely to watch any of the game. I can’t seem to support the NFL as an organization. And it’s pretty impossible for me to get over the fact that as I watch a game, the players involved are literally sustaining injuries that will affect them (and their families) throughout their lives. Their injuries should not be my entertainment.

Obviously, injuries happen in every sport, but with football it feels different to me, because of the frequency, type and severity of the injuries. It makes me wonder what I would do if my kids wanted to play. Would I let them? Maybe through middle school? Or through high school? As for college, I find myself supportive of intramural sports, but anything that is monetized at the college level can stress me out if I think about it — it’s not okay that universities are making huge dollar signs off of kids who aren’t compensated beyond tuition and housing, could likely sustain life-long injuries, and are prevented from being serious students because of the time commitment of the sport. But I suppose that’s a whole other topic. : )

What’s your take? Is there any sport — football or otherwise — you wouldn’t let your kids play? Do you (like me) have mixed feelings about football? Or do your feelings change depending on the age range? NFL versus college versus high school? Do you live in a town where football is a big deal? If your kids play, have you seen the coaches make any changes that prevent injuries? I’d love to hear!


A Few Things

September 30, 2016

palm springs

Photo and text by Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends! How are you? I have been traveling so I’m writing this from a hotel room. I was in Palm Springs for a couple of days, making a venue visit for Alt Summit (which is going to be SO GOOD!), and then I flew to Salt Lake City, so I could speak at the Dialogue Conference this morning. I had such a great time! I was on a panel with Meg Conley and Courtney Kendrick Clark and Michael Austin, moderated by Molly Bennion. We were talking about pressing social issues and I brought up the UN’s Global Goals, which I find really inspiring, and I ended with one of my favorite poems from Rilke. The conference is going all day and it’s free, so if you are near Utah Valley University, you can totally check it out. I fly back this afternoon and I’ll be spending the rest of the day at Brit & Co’s Make.

How has your week been going? Anything exciting on your schedule for the weekend? My big goal is to get our closet fixtures installed tomorrow. I’m really looking forward to it. An organizing project sounds absolutely dreamy at the moment. I’m sure we’ll be pulling out our Halloween box tomorrow as well. Can you believe it’s really October? I could not be more shocked by that fact.

It’s time to check out, so I better get to my list. Here are a few things I’ve wanted to share:

- A new program to help kids avoid drug abuse is showing great promise. It involes the 4 traits that put kids most at risk for addiction. (NYT)

- Are we headed to a time when we won’t need antibiotics?

- This house costs just $20,000, but it’s nicer than all of ours.

- A zero-waste grocery store.

- Five lionesses grow manes and start acting like males.

- The 4 responses you’ll probably hear when talking about #BlackLivesMatter.

- Secrets of people with all the time in the world.

- Have you heard of the Golden Record?

- He suggested that women in tech should use their initials online (to obscure their gender), but got a ton of pushback.

- Earbuds that translate languages. (Did you ever read Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy? It’s like a Bable Fish!)

I hope you have a terrific weekend. I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.



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By Gabrielle. Photos by Katrina Davis.

It was a Friday, and Ralph was leaving us for two years the next Tuesday. Ben Blair and I were running errands and I had a pang of regret: I wish we could get a family photo shot before he leaves. I wish we had a little more time!

And then I thought, maybe we still can. I studied the calendar and found a 2-hour window open the following morning, then I texted Katrina Davis, a local photographer I’ve worked with before, to see if by chance she was available. She was!

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I started to get my hopes up, thinking we might really be able to make this happen! For location, I knew exactly where I wanted to go — a public park on the Bay with the iconic Oakland Cranes in the background.

Date? Check. Time? Check. Location? Check. Photographer? Check.

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It was all coming together so quickly. Hooray! I texted the teens to keep their morning open, told myself we’d figure out what to wear that night, and went about my day.

Outfits came together quickly that night, the photo shoot went smoothly in the morning, and the I didn’t think about it again. Until a few days ago when Katrina sent us the photos. They are such a treasure to me! I love how they turned out, and I love the very Oakland location, and I’m so happy we captured this moment in our family before everything changed.

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It was a particularly crazy weekend, and even after we sorted out the details of the shoot, I kept second-guessing myself and wondering if it was too hard to it in, wondering if we should cancel. I’m so glad we didn’t. It was worth it one hundred percent.


Reclaim Those Memories!

September 27, 2016

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Photos and text by Gabrielle. This post is brought to you by Legacybox. Get 40% off when you give it a try! Find the code below.

It’s been almost a year since I first tried LegacyBox (remember when I was blonde?), and a couple of weeks ago, I sent in another box. I’m in a total nostalgic mode these days. As we prepped for Ralph’s mission, we were pulling out old scrapbooks, and family history records, and digging through old files. It was delightful! But it was also this reminder that so much of what I have isn’t very useable or shareable. Some of of it is sitting in dusty boxes, mostly inaccessible. Some of it is in a format that I can no longer access (I haven’t had a VHS player for a decade, but I still have VHS home videos).

Let me guess. You’re in the same boat. Old family videos you can’t watch. Family photos shot on film that you can’t share easily. A box of negatives or slides that you’re not sure if you should keep or toss. It’s a fairly universal problem for families everywhere. And that’s where Legacybox comes in. They digitize your memories and send them right back to you — with the originals intact.

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Legacybox can handle pretty much any old, outdated format you can dish up. Sign up at Legacybox and they will send you a kit which includes a guide, round-trip shipping, a crush proof box, and access to a personal concierge so you can talk to an expert at any time. You fill the box with any formats in your collection — tapes, film, image negatives, whatever you’ve got — then send it back with their pre-paid label. Then, you go about your business. In a few weeks you’ll receive your originals back, along with DVDs and digital files ready to share and enjoy! I’m telling you, it’s magical.

Speaking of originals, if you’re worried about them, don’t be. To make sure nothing gets lost or mixed up, the Legacybox kit includes barcode labels. You add a barcode to every single thing you put in the box, and then you can track it all online to make sure your memories stay safe through the whole process.

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In our last box, we put all sorts of stuff — but this time I focused on a few cassette tapes and VHS tapes, but mostly photo negatives. I sent back a bunch. We have so many images of baby Ralph that exist on negatives only. I want to be able to include some of our older photos (from our pre-digital-camera family life) in the photo books I create, and this is the perfect way to make it happen.

I’m also pumped because getting things digitized now, makes me feel like I’m ahead of the game for the holidays. Being able to share a priceless old video is the perfect gift for Grandparents who have everything. Or using old photos that no one has seen in ages, to create a calendar or a photo book, is another fabulous gift idea. Gifts that focus on memories are such treasures!

Which reminds me, another gift idea is sending a Legacybox to someone you love. Do your parents have roles of old family films that need digitizing? Send them a box and they can fill it with whatever they like.

I was waiting for our box to come back with huge anticipation. On the day it arrived, I waited until the kids were home from school, then we opened the box, and popped in the DVD. We watched old videos they had never seen, and scrolled through photos from a life they can hardly remember. Then I posted favorites in my family’s Facebook group. Such a treat for me to be able to see and easily share these images!

Some of our newly digitized photos (I love that I can crop and edit them easily now):

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This is Ralph at 3 months old (and I’m sporting basically the same haircut as I have now).

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This is my brother Jared, my mother, and Ralph at 7 months old. This was the day Jared left on his mission to Japan.

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This is Ralph at almost 10 months old. His hair really started growing and he had blonde curls for miles. People would tell us how cute our daughter was.

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Want to give it a try? I’ve got a BIG discount code for you! Click HERE, then use the code: CREATE at checkout to receive 40% off your order! Offer expires 11/15.

Tell me, Friends. What’s your status with old files? How many different formats do you have in storage that you can no longer use? Did any of you inherit a box of old family footage? Have you had a chance to watch it yet? I love this kind of thing!


By Gabrielle.

There’s just something so happy about homes-away-from-home. Maybe it’s that they’re used primarily for getaways, so families arrive already excited and optimistic. Or maybe it’s because vacation homes usually aren’t overflowing with the day-to-day equipment and accessories that get us through an average week; instead, there might be a shed full of surfboards, a trunk full of floaties, and a fridge just waiting to be filled with barbecue fixings! Oh, that does sound enticing.

So when Shauna asked whether I’d like to see her family’s home or their getaway, I chose getaway! And I sure liked what she had to say about her Naples cottage.

Welcome, Shauna!

Hello! Welcome to our family of five! I’m a girl in the midst of all boys. I think that God was preparing me for boys as I was growing up, spending my summer days hanging out with my older brother and his friends. We were quite adventurous scaling the sides of cliffs, hiking, swimming in canals, and shooting BB guns. I guess that makes me equipped for boys of my own now!

My husband and I met in college and have been married almost 19 years. Turns out he’s quite the handy guy and can build or help out with any and most of my ongoing, never ending design projects. I got so lucky with him! Our three boys complete our world and we feel so incredibly blessed to be their parents.

Austin is our oldest and is a senior in high school. How is it that I have a man-child that old already? He is so wise and has made parenting a teenager actually quite easy.

Ethan is our middle child and is a freshman in high school. He takes after his dad in that he can build anything and he has already helped out in some of my big design projects, including helping build our bar in our Colorado home. I keep telling him that I need to hire him to be my personal assistant. Of course he asks, “How much will you pay me, Mom?” Is there no such thing as free help these days?

Dylan is our baby and just started middle school. Okay, now I officially feel old since I no longer have any kids in elementary school. Those were such fun days for us! He has a heart of gold and greets us every morning with big hugs. I look forward to those.

Ahh, the pool! Come see.


Random Thoughts

September 26, 2016

Oscar Band

Photo and text by Gabrielle.

Welcome to September’s installment of my random thoughts. I can’t believe we’re in the last week of September already! This month has been a life changer for sure. Feel free to share your own random thoughts in the comments.

- So we only have four kids at home now. But you may remember, we’ve actually had a four-kids experience during the fall of 2014, when Ralph and Olive went to France for a semester. But this definitely feels different. Because of the ages and stages of our two oldest, this feels so much more permanent. Like Ralph and Maude may not ever really move back. Just a summer break here or there. Or coming home between projects. Still hard for me to wrap my head around.

- Now that Olive is the oldest one at home, one of the first changes I noticed is that the music has changed. With Ralph and Maude no longer adding their playlists to the mix, pretty much all we hear lately is Hamilton. Hah! Olive happens to be obsessed with Hamilton at the moment. Are you familiar with it? It’s the latest, greatest, impossible-to-get-tickets-to Broadway show.

This has been a reminder of how much my kids influence what I listen to. Is that true at your house? Do you like the music your kids like?

- Another change: the kids are already talking about switching up rooms. Oscar Betty & June are thinking about rooming together, which means Olive would have a chance to have her own room. It’s fun to think about how we can revamp the bedrooms — especially because we wouldn’t need to move walls or update electricity this time around — it would just be decor, which is much more enjoyable for me. But I told them we need to wait until we know for sure if Maude is heading back in January.

- This weekend, I took advantage of the Elfa sale going on at the Container Store and ordered shelves and drawers and hanging rods for the new Master Bedroom closet. I did a bunch of research on closet organizers and the consensus was that Elfa was the way to go. Have you ever used it or tried it? This is my first time. Our supplies get delivered this week and I’m crossing my fingers that the install will happen this weekend. So excited to have a closet again! (Which reminds me, I need to give more updates on the construction! We’re nearing the end.)

- Related to my current lack of closet, I’ve ended up accidentally having a capsule wardrobe for the last 3 months. When I packed up for our summer in France, I stored everything else because of the construction. But I’ve been home for a month and I’m still using only what I packed for the summer — because everything else is still inconveniently stored.

It’s been interesting to have limited choices and makes me curious about keeping a minimal wardrobe. But one thing I’ve noticed is that my clothes are experiencing much more wear and tear than they normally would. After 3 months, many pieces need to be replaced. Have any of you tried a capsule collection? Is it normal to have to replace items quarterly?

- I didn’t mention it at the time because I was totally pre-occupied with other things, but a few days before Ralph left on his mission, we took the family to Disneyland for a couple of days. Many years ago, when there were only 5 kids and we lived in New York, we took them to Disneyworld once. (The younger ones don’t remember that trip at all, and the older ones only have a few memories.) And once, a couple of years ago, Maude and Olive got to go to Disneyland for their cousin’s birthday.

But we’ve never taken the whole family to Disneyland before. This is surprising to me because a) we live in California, and b) Disneyland played an influential role in my childhood. I love it there and went many, many times as a kid. And I assumed I would take my family many times as well. But somehow we haven’t.

It was a short trip during a busy time, but I really wanted to fit it in. I think I was trying to give my older kids one last “childhood experience”. And I also wanted to make sure the younger kids had Disneyland memories that included the older kids.

I’m so glad we went! It was as wonderful as I remembered. Actually better even, because I had never been to the California Adventure park. As a bonus, we were there on a really good week. We went the Tuesday and Wednesday after after Labor Day and the park was (relatively) empty.

- A little hair update: I’ve decided to try going gray. I’ve had 2 haircuts since we arrived home and didn’t color my hair at either one. My stylist think the gray will be completely trimmed off in maybe 2 more haircuts (that’s about 2 months). I’m curious to see how it will look. I know I might hate it, and bring back the dye. But who knows?

I’m also very curious to try a high-quality wig. I think I would like the option of switching my hairstyle in an instant. I’ve been doing some research and it turns out wigs are a whole world I know nothing about. Have you ever worn one? Not as a costume, but as everyday hair?

- Last Tuesday, Oscar played the trumpet with this school band at the Oakland A’s game. They played the National Anthem to open the game. Many of the kids have been following the NFL protests and felt conflicted about this performance, so during the last line of the song about 75 or 80% of the band members — including Oscar — took a knee in protest while they continued to play. The crowd gave a big cheer and it was covered in our local news. (I saw on Facebook today that it’s now going viral.)

- In other Oscar news, he was just cast as Tiny Tim in the musical Scrooge! He’s very excited. It’s happening on a big stage in a huge auditorium and he has a solo song. He is so into it! He’s had a realization that his small size is an advantage in this instance. He has the confidence and experience of an older kid, but looks like a younger kid. (As we get closer, I’ll announce dates of the play for any locals you might want to attend. Tickets are free!)

I think that’s it for now. Please feel free to respond to anything here, or bring up your own topic. I always love hearing what’s on your minds!

P.S. — I post my random thoughts each month. You can find them all here.


A Few Things

September 23, 2016

Colombian Flag Straws

Photo and text by Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends. How are you? How was your week? Anything fun planned this weekend? At our house, I feel like we’ve been going non-stop from the moment we got home from France. But now that Ralph and Maude are both prepped and safely on their way, I noticed that over the last couple of days, our schedule has calmed down considerably. And I’m very much looking forward to the weekend with less of a must-do list, and more of a want-to-do list.

As usual, to greet the weekend, I have a few things I’ve wanted to share with you:

- He gets paid to cuddle with strangers.

- The women of Atenco. (NYT)

- Woah! Wild goldfish. I had no idea. (NYT)

- Dear Cilantro, Why are You the Worst?

- I found Trevor Noah’s thoughts on racial bias in the U.S. really compelling.

- So impressed with these Kung Fu Nuns! ”We wanted to do something to change this attitude that girls are less than boys and that it’s okay to sell them,” she said, adding that the bicycle trek shows “women have power and strength like men.”

- What teens need most from their parents.

- Debunking the cul-de-sac.

- Have you experienced this? Female intelligence is a turn-off for low-self-esteem men.

- Really helpful explanation of cognitive bias (which we all suffer from).

- Hah. We’re only one day apart in age, but our generational differences killed our relationship.

I hope you have a really good weekend. I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.


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