Target Products Fall 2014

By Gabrielle. // This post is sponsored by Target. Shop Room Essentials to make modern life easier.

I’m betting the reason I first fell in love with Target so many years ago is the same reason you did: they made excellent design available on a large scale, at prices that are accessible to everyone.

Over the last year, Target revamped and relaunched their Room Essentials line. If you’ve been in-store lately, I’ll bet you’ve seen it — I couldn’t help but snap an instagram months ago when I was walking down an aisle on a late night Target run and the RE display caught my eye. So when they recently reached out to work with me, I was already a fan of the renewed line.

I have several nieces and nephews heading out on their own — some are moving in to their first post-college apartment, others are newlyweds — and I thought it would be fun pick out some of my favorite items from the Room Essentials line and imagine how I would set up my first grown-up home if I were doing it today. Take a peek:

1) Microfiber Sheet Set. Super soft, easy care, sophisticated colors — and a total bargain.

2) Citron Dot Sham. So cheerful and sunny! A pop of color for the bed.

3) Shadowbox Mirror. I love this piece! The depth of the frame makes it a convenient spot to leave your favorite earrings or lipstick — even your keys. Put it in a bedroom — or by the front door for a quick glimpse as you leave the house.

4) Tripod Table Lamp. Such a good-looking lamp. It would work on a side table next to your sofa, or on the nightstand as well.

5) Cube Organizer. One of those pieces that will be useful in any space for many years. It works as pantry storage in the kitchen, bookshelves in the living room, or clothes storage in the bedroom.

6) Grey Ottoman. Another flexible piece I adore! A footstool or extra seating. And so handsome in grey.

7) Plaid Comforter. I’m always a fan of a good gender neutral comforter. This one in navy plaid is great looking, reserves to grey for a fresh look, and is totally affordable.

8) Modern Clock. I’m picturing this cheerful clock in the kitchen. Or maybe by the front door. It would make me smile every time I came home.

Geez, thinking about first apartments is making me nostalgic. I consider my first grown-up apartment to be the hosue that Ben Blair and I first rented after we got married. We had a blue velvet sofa that was a hand me down from his parents. I adored that sofa!

Tell me, friends. Have you noticed the Room Essentials line? Or tried any products from the line? Do you remember the pre-Target days, where it felt like hunting down good design was way too hard and way too expensive? And lastly, what do you remember about your first grown-up apartment?

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By Gabrielle.

I definitely wouldn’t look at Kat‘s home and think to myself “I’ll bet they did all this debt-free!” No, that would not be my first, second, or even tenth thought. Because there’s so much else to think about in this tour! Like the rustic kitchen island or that gorgeous countertop, the ceiling in the nursery and that insanely lush carpet, the leather couch that looks like it was plucked from a London pub…I could go on. Wait! One more: her master bedroom and bath was once a two-car garage.

But back to the debt-free part. Yes, the renovations and decorating took far longer than if they had sped along their wish list and borrowed the funds and bought new. But where would the fun be in that? Friends, I hope you’re inspired by Kat today. (I know I’m off to check Craigslist!)

Q: Tell us about this family of BOYS!

A: It’s true…we have three little guys who are our world: Ryder (6), Bryce (4), and Finn (18 months). Plus there’s Mitch, my better half, whom I met in high school. We went to college together too, but were just buds then. We didn’t start dating until after we graduated. We’ve been married almost nine years! And I’m Kat, the momma of this all-boy household.

Q: Where do you live, and how did your house become your home?

A: We live in Lancaster County, PA, in a little white rancher. From the first time we saw our no-frills little box of a house, we knew it had potential. Mitch bought the house before we were engaged, but I put my touch on it right away by picking out crazy paint colors and going to town. We literally had a yellow kitchen, red living room, bright green bathroom and a purple spare bedroom; I cringe when I think about it.

Right from the get-go we ripped up carpet, painted, scraped off wallpaper border, and did pretty much whatever we needed to make this house more us. We weren’t afraid to roll up our sleeves and apply a little elbow grease to our little two bedroom rancher.

I want to borrow her countertops. You might, too!

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Front Porch Makeover. Give your house a major facelift in 5 easy steps!   |   Design Mom Front Porch Makeover. Give your house a major facelift in 5 easy steps!   |   Design Mom

Images and text by Gabrielle.  |  This post is brought to you by Lowe’s Home Improvement — they have everything you need to refresh your own front door, so your home can make a welcoming first impression.

——-

I love a good front porch makeover! It’s one of those projects where small changes can make a big impact, and make any house look like it’s loved and up-to-date.

Front Porch Makeover. Give your house a major facelift in 5 easy steps!   |   Design Mom

Way back in the day (2007), when we lived in a rental house in New York, I did my first porch makeover. It made such a difference. Instead of being bummed out as I drove up to the house, I grinned! I’ve been a big believer in making your front door a happy place ever since.

Front Porch Makeover. Give your house a major facelift in 5 easy steps!   |   Design Mom Front Porch Makeover. Give your house a major facelift in 5 easy steps!   |   Design Mom

In this particular instance, we replaced the front door, which can be expensive. But if you can keep your current door, a Front Porch Makeover can actually be a bargain project and can be tackled over a weekend.

Front Porch Makeover. Give your house a major facelift in 5 easy steps!   |   Design Mom Front Porch Makeover. Give your house a major facelift in 5 easy steps!   |   Design Mom

If you’re thinking about your own Front Porch Makeover, the key elements are:

1) A fresh coat of paint on the door. A fun new color is ideal! You’ll only need a quart of paint, so this isn’t a big expense.

2) A new light fixture. There are great looking options in every price range. My first porch makeover included a light that was $30.

3) Fresh pots and plants. If you’re willing to DIY, you can create something awesome for a bargain.

4) Updated house numbers. There’s something about shiny, new house numbers that communicate this house is loved and cared for.

5) An extra detail with a pop of color. It could be a red mailbox, or a blue chair, or a yellow bird feeder. Something pretty that brings an out-of-the-ordinary feel to your entry.

I’m telling you, for less than $150, you can give your house a facelift that will make a huge difference in how your feel about your residence.

Front Porch Makeover. Give your house a major facelift in 5 easy steps!   |   Design Mom Front Porch Makeover. Give your house a major facelift in 5 easy steps!   |   Design Mom

I’d love to tell you all about the decisions I made on our front porch — the door, the light, the chair. All of it. It was such a fun project!

Click here for detail photos plus before pics.

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A Few Things

July 20, 2014

Blairs at Yosemite

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends! How has your weekend been going? I’m here with a Sunday edition of my weekend link list. The fact that I’m posting this two days late will give you some sense of how behind I’m feeling on work at the moment. Hah!

We’re off to St. George next, but while we get packed up and back on the road here are a few things I’ve been wanting to share:

- When to use tu or vous in French? A helpful flowchart. Thanks, Allysha.

- Haunting photos. Living below the poverty line in Troy, New York.

- For those of you who found Overdrive lacking, I just heard about Kindle Unlimited — all the ebooks and audiobooks you want for $9.99 per month.

- Would you ever try a babywearing ballet class?

- A letter from John Cleese.

- A modern treehouse.

- Woah. It can happen to anyone. Can’t stop thinking about this video.

- I don’t know why this is so funny to me, but it is!

- I don’t care if you like it. (Be aware: the article has some cussing.)

- 5 ways to raise kind children.

I hope your weekend was the much needed break you deserve! I’ll meet you back here this week. I’ve missed you like crazy.

kisses,
Gabrielle

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Las Vegas Boulevard

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Waving hello from Las Vegas! We’re staying at the Golden Nugget — it’s in the old school downtown part of the city. And we’re having a fabulous time!

I have such nostalgic feelings for Las Vegas. Growing up in St. George, Utah, meant Vegas was our nearest big city. St. George has grown like crazy in the years since I left for college, but while I was a kid, it was a small town. So when we needed Costco, or a mall for school shopping, we drove to Las Vegas. My first concert was in Las Vegas. And the Las Vegas airport is the one I would fly in and out of.

We didn’t spend a ton of time in the casinos, but we’d drive by all the neon with wide eyes. And I remember a family vacation where we stayed at a hotel/casino called The Imperial Palace.

The Fashion Show Mall would also draw us to Las Vegas Boulevard, fondly known as The Strip. That mall had expensive stores like Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue. We couldn’t afford those stores, but my mom would make a point of having me window shop there so I could see the current styles — those window shopping trips were part of my early design education.

I also came to understand that gambling was infused into life in Las Vegas — that even in the suburbs, there were slot machines everywhere — in the grocery stores and the pharmacies and every possible spot.

I remember the Vegas skyline changing when I was in my teens. I remember the Luxor pyramid being built, and the Mirage and the MGM Grand. But the next big growth spurt — the Bellagio and the Venitian — happened after I’d moved away from St. George. The whole strip has continued to develop like crazy and when I’m in Las Vegas I no longer feel oriented. The suburbs have also grown like crazy and it’s easy to imagine that most residents of the Las Vegas area probably rarely interact with the touristy, casino part of the city.

My kids haven’t ever really been to Las Vegas. Since my hometown is so close, we usually just drive through on our way to see cousins. But we thought on this roadtrip is would be a good destination. Vegas feels very American. Lots of neon and shopping and commercialism. A contrast to the very natural National Parks, and something fun for our exchange students to see. This is also the main spot on our trip where they’ll be able to shop.

Vegas is contrasts. The shopping is as good as the biggest cities in the world — I think I counted 6 Louis Vuitton shops over about a mile of the Las Vegas Strip. Hah! The newest growth spurt brought in fine dining, and luxe spas. Of course, the city has always been known for great concerts and performers. There are even world class art exhibits now. And all of that shares real estate with endless, dark, smoke-filled casinos and the trashiest shows you can find anywhere. In the same brochure where you can get info on Seigfried and Roy, you can also find tours to the Grand Canyon. Much of the city is for adults only, but at the same time, there are a surprising number of attractions designed to attract families with young kids.

Our hotel is on Fremont Street. Sassy Sally and Vegas Vic of my childhood are now part of a walking district. There is a roof over the whole street making it a semi-indoor space, and the entire ceiling functions as a giant screen. The whole outdoor walking area is air conditioned! I mentioned Vegas not being eco-friendly on Instagram and there were comments that Vegas has actually done a ton with water recycling — which I was comforted to know! But when you’re in this desert oasis, surrounded by a million light bulbs and outdoor air conditioning, it’s hard not to wonder how much energy it takes to power this crazy place. (No judgment from me, I promise. I can’t pretend I’m awesome at being earth-minded. I’m a tourist here just like everybody else.)

Our hotel, The Golden Nugget, has a real live gold nugget on display. The biggest ever found. From Australia. But it’s not much of a draw. Instead the pool is the thing. First, because it’s super hot out and cool water feels amazing. And second, because the pool surrounds a salt water aquarium full of sharks. But that’s not all. There’s a water slide at the pool and it goes through the shark tank!

We were laughing with the kids and wondering what it would be like to be part of a Vegas hotel/casino planning team, trying to come up with more and more jaw-dropping attractions. We imagined a conversation like this: This pool is pretty nice, but it needs something more. Hmmm. How about a giant aquarium that you can see when you swim? Wait. How about a giant aquarium full of sharks?! And what if there’s a water slide that goes by the shark tank? No. Even better: What if the water slide goes through the shark tank?! Bingo!

Las Vegas is a city where creativity and talent abound. And at the same time, everything gross about our country is present there and in full view. But one thing that I observed on this trip: Everyone in Las Vegas seems like they’re in a good mood! There are no desks in the Golden Nugget hotel rooms. No one comes here to work. Vegas is all about play.

Have you ever been to Las Vegas? Have you ever been there with kids? What are your favorite spots in the city, or favorite attractions? And whether you’ve been there or not, I’d love to hear about your impressions of the city. I think it’s so much fun! But I can only handle a couple of days and then I’m ready for something a little less neon. : )

P.S. — When we lived in New York, our neighbors would be wowed when they heard we were flying into Vegas (on our way to a family reunion). To them, Vegas was the coolest possible destination. Is that how you think of it, too?

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Yosemite Summer Sunset

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Oh my goodness. Yosemite. This place! This place is heavenly.

It’s our first visit here and we’re already thinking about future trips and imagining what it will be like to visit in the winter (ice skating!), or spring (legendary waterfalls!), or fall (fall color? I have no idea what happens here in the fall. Hah.).

We drove here this morning in a giant rented van. Eleven people. Me and Ben. Our six kids. Our two exchange students (one from France, one from England). And my niece Roxcy, who happily joined us at the last minute. That’s a lot of people! And a lot of teenagers. : )

The weather is hot, but we have a cooler full of icy water, we jump into the river whenever we get the chance, and we have lots of audiobooks.

Actually, I need to mention the audiobook tip before I forget. Janssen told me about an app called Overdrive and it’s genius. You use it to look up your local library — for example, we looked up the Oakland Public Library system — then you log in with your library card, and you can instantly read any e-books or listen to any audiobooks that your library has in their collection. Best part: totally free! Amazing right?

Anyway. The trip started this morning and it feels good to get going. This is the first stop of many. We’ll be here two nights, then it’s on to the next destination. Have you ever been to Yosemite? What are your favorite spots?

P.S. — In case you’re curious, we’ve been listening to Speaker For the Dead today — it’s the second book in the Ender’s Game series. Are you an Ender’s Game fan?

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By Gabrielle.

When Leah first sent me photos of her home, she almost didn’t include any photos of her kitchen. It’s a huge work in progress, you see, and still reflects the 90s almond craze in appliances! But she figured there are others living with some big sections of their homes far from magazine worthy and not exactly the way they want them to look, so she submitted it all. Somewhere along the way, she found a lesson in that room’s cramped configuration and dated colors, armed only with a positive attitude and some chalkboard paint!

It’s life, isn’t it?

I’m so proud to share Leah with you, and I just know you’ll find some inspiration in her home and words. Welcome, Leah!

Q: Tell us about this family of yours!

A: Our family is a happy little family that I wake up every day thankful to be a part of! My husband and I have been married for nearly seven years, and we have two little girls: Ida (two and a half years) and Amy (seven months). Andy is a high school teacher and soccer coach at a classical Christian school, while I get to stay home with the girls and help them grow up.

Ida is an observant, thoughtful, and high-spirited girl who loves books more than anything. At the moment she is busily paging through a Latin and English dictionary that caught her eye on the bookshelf. Amy is our beacon of joy; she is always scanning the room just waiting for someone to catch her eye so she can smile at them. She throws herself wholeheartedly into every moment, like when she grabs my cheeks and bites my nose just to say “I love you.”

Lovely ottoman and an even lovelier shade of green in Amy’s room, coming right up!

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Nesting

July 14, 2014

Family Room Bare Floor

Image and text by Gabrielle.

What a day! I don’t think I sat still for more than a few minutes today. I’m looking at the clock (11:20 PM) and laughing that it could be this late.

We leave on our epic 3-week road trip on Wednesday morning, and I feel like I’m somehow nesting before the big event. Today was filled with big projects like clearing out the garage, little things like putting house plants outside (we have someone who will be coming by to water plants and collect mail and check on the house in our absence), and lots of laundry. Then this evening, when I was supposed to start packing, I rallied all the kids and we cleared out the family room furniture and pulled up the carpet! Hah!

The carpet was already badly worn and stained when we bought the house and I’ve wanted to pull it up all year (can you believe this week marks one whole year in California?), so I’m happy as a clam that it’s gone! But it’s such a random thing to do before a big trip. I hope it means we’ll get home from the trip and get right to work on the new flooring. I’m really excited to put the family room together — that space has felt halfway finished since we moved in.

I’ve been thinking back to past family trips to see if I have a habit of nesting before I travel, or if this is really just me procrastinating the packing. How about you? Have you ever surprised yourself before a trip by taking on a new project? Or maybe you have another pre-trip habit you’ve noticed? I’d love to hear!

The Genet Scar by fashionABLE. A collaboration between Alt Summit and ONE.org.

Shifting gears: Totally unrelated to the trip, but I wanted to make sure you heard about the new scarf design contest Alt Summit is hosting with fashionABLE. The open call for designs was announced today. And the prize is big — worth over $1000! The winner will receive a pass to the Alt Summit conference of their choice, plus a $500 gift certificate to fashionABLE. Nice. The last time we ran this contest, the winning scarf was the Genet. It’s my favorite. I truly never travel without it! Entries are due on July 24th, which is coming up fast. That’s why I wanted to mention it right away — I want you to have plenty of time to submit a design. Find contest details here.

Well. That was a random post for a random Monday. I hope your week is off to a wonderful start! Wish me luck on the packing. : )

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A Few Things

July 11, 2014

Studio Floor

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends! I hope it was a good week for you. We have some fun stuff going on at our house. 1) Ralph, Maude and our French exchange student, Charles, are all on a Pioneer Trek this weekend. 2) On Saturday, we’re adding another exchange student to the mix — one of Ralph’s friends from England, Chris, will be joining us for several weeks. Yay!

3) We’re prepping for an epic roadtrip. All 10 of us (8 Blairs + 2 exchange students) will be driving around the Western U.S., visiting National Parks and other sites for almost 3 weeks. We leave next Wednesday!  4) We installed flooring in the studio/home office this week. The floor looks great (see above) and we need to move everything back in today. 5) Yesterday, we had a new front door installed. Hooray! I’ll share photos as soon as I paint it up and add some details to the porch. 6) I’ve been shooting the cover of my book this week. It feels like progress. And also makes me nervous. I want the book to be so good.

And 7), tonight we’re hoping to meet up with friends at Point Reyes. I’ve never been, but the photos look amazing. I love how this summer is turning out! How about you? Anything fun going on at your house?

While I go work on putting the studio back together, here are a few things I’ve wanted to share:

- ONE just launched their Girls & Women Initiative! Meet Phiona Mutesi, their first guest curator.

- Penny In Your Pants.

- Related, something called Bicycle Face was once a medical condition. Hah!

- What happens when LeVar Burton gets pulled over.

- The New Yorker’s hilarious take on Eloise, at 46Thanks, Dani.

Mater Mea — a bimonthly online magazine that celebrates the lives of women of color as they balance work and motherhood.

Taryn Brumfitt’s story has me thinking.

- Free paper crafting class for Bay Area readers — or you can access it online from anywhere!

- Is parenting in crisis?

- This story is great: The letter that kicked of a radio career. (Proof that there’s never any harm in asking. The worst that can happen is someone says no.)

- Everything you need to know to host an Outdoor Movie Party.

- The music is the best part!

I hope it’s a wonderful weekend for you and yours. I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.

kisses,
Gabrielle

P.S. — You can follow along to all of our summer activities, like Pioneer treks and new front doors, on Instagram.

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DMgiveawayBanner

By Gabrielle.

Hooray! I’ve got a giveaway you’ll LOVE today. Jacadi, the chic French clothing line for children, is offering a $150 gift certificate. Fabulous, right? Even better, Jacadi is running their Summer Sale right this minute!

Jacadi Summer Sale - 50% off!

The Summer Sale means items are 50% off, so it’s a great time to stock up! Find the sale across seven categories — baby girl, baby boy, toddler girl, toddler boy, little girl, little boy, and tween girl as well. Everything is adorable! The selection of dresses for little girls especially caught my eye. So many classic choices!

Jacadi Summer Sale-  50% off!

Based in Paris, Jacadi is all about timeless cuts, refined tailoring, quality materials and gorgeous prints. If you’re trying to get a sense of how a little French boy or little French girl dresses — for summer vacation, for school, even on the weekend — taking a peek at the Jacadi displays will tell you everything you need to know.

Jacadi Summer Activities - Ideas and Worksheets - Free!

Extra Fun: Even if the giveaway doesn’t tempt you, you’ll want to take note of the Summer Fun & Games section on the Jacadi site. You can find boredom fighting ideas and clever activity sheets — totally free!

Visit the Jacadi Summer Sale and leave a comment below to enter — I’d love to hear if you find something fun for your kids in the Fun & Games section. The winner will be announced on Tuesday. Good luck!

P.S. — I know I’ve mentioned this before, but in case you missed it, I think it’s a fun little tidbit. In France, the name for Simon Says is “Jacques a dit” — that’s where the name Jacadi comes from! A close approximation would be Jock-ah-dee.

——–

Arika is the lucky winner. Thanks for playing!

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Kitchen Stools

July 10, 2014

Barstool Treehouse3

Images and text by Gabrielle.

Way back when I shared the Living Room tour, I received several emails asking about our barstools — they peek out of the corner in a photo or two in the tour. All this time, I’ve been meaning to share, and I finally prepped some photographs.

The stools look so simple, but it took me a ridiculous amount of searching before I figured out what would work best here. The parameters I had in mind:

1) We needed stools that could be both counter height and bar height — most of the family prefers counter height, but Oscar and June like something taller. I considered stools that were available in the same design at two different heights, but decided I wanted stools that were adjustable — so that if in the future we decide we want them all at counter height, we won’t need to replace the bar height stools.

Barstool Treehouse4

2) I wanted the stool seats to spin. Because the stools are right in between the kitchen and living room, people sitting on the stools end up taking part in conversations happening in both places, and I wanted people to be able to easily spin from one direction to another without getting off the stool.

3) I wanted something that didn’t have a huge footprint. The counter is not that wide, and I was hoping to fit five stools. Along the same lines, I also wanted backless stools — chair backs would block the view to the kitchen when sitting on the sofa.

4) Since the whole space is done in light colors, I wanted the same thing for the stools. It they were dark, I knew they would be the first thing people would see in the space because they would draw the eye — and I wanted the stool to be more functional instead of a centerpiece.

Barstool Treehouse1

5) Lastly, the stools needed to be within my price range.

So, I hunted and hunted — in brick and mortar shops, and online as well. I found lots of options that were close, but not quite right. Some were out of my budget, others were the right look, but didn’t offer two height options.

And then I found these. They were (almost) perfect! I ordered one to test out in the space, and concluded that if I recovered the tops, they would be just right. The stool seats spin. There are two different heights in the same stool. The footprint is small. Bingo!

Barstool Treehouse2

To recover the stools, I chose Crypton fabric. It’s designed for kids and pets and is super durable. I used the same brand on the toddler beds we built years ago and it held up beautifully! The fabric feels like normal soft fabric against the skin, but it wipes totally clean. I love this stuff! In fact, if you’re concerned about stains on your sofas, Crypton would be a smart choice for upholstery. The shade I used is a grey/blue called Herringbone Loon. It’s really lovely.

Though I take on simple upholstery projects from time to time, I hired this one out — I wanted welt along the top edges, and the last time I tried welt it was a total fail. Hah! Also, this was the only time I’ve ever had a brand new piece of furniture recovered, and I confess, it felt odd to do so. If it had been anything bigger than a stool, I don’t think I would have been willing!

Tell me friends, how picky are you about searching out the ideal furniture? I feel like I’ve turned up the pickiness factor as I make design decisions for The Treehouse, because I feel like we’re going to own this home for a long, long time. So I’ve been going slowly and trying to choose carefully. I’d also love to hear: have you ever recovered a new piece of furniture?

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By Gabrielle. Helvetica Hi Blanket via Yarning Made.

A lot of pregnancies have a false start or two. (Mine with June did!) But sometimes those false starts turn into very real, very surprising beginnings, and what in the world do you do then? Melissa has some experience, mistaking her early delivery signs as lingering flu symptoms and perhaps a little constipation. I’ll let her tell you how it all turned out. Enjoy her story, Friends!

Just click to read Melissa’s amazing story…

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Vaenait Baby — A line of affordable toddler clothes from Korea (2T - 6T)

By Gabrielle.

Have you heard of Vaenait Baby? It’s a new to me brand. I was doing a search for non-character underwear for Oscar, and the name came up. Apparently, they are a Korean based clothing line for toddlers — sizes 2T to 6T — and from what I can tell, they specialize in basics like cotton pajamas, underwear, and swimsuits.

Pictured at top: Cloud PJs, Floral Swimsuit, Bike PJs, Colorblock Boxer Briefs.

Vaenait Baby — A line of affordable toddler clothes from Korea (2T - 6T)

Pictured above: Clover PJs, Green Raglan PJs, Sailboat PJs, Micro-stripe Boxer Briefs.

I did a little digging and found a ton of their wares on Amazon. And they’re a total bargain! Lots of their pjs are ten bucks or under. Not bad. But as happy as the prices made me, I was equally enamored with the designs — sweet, simple options in great colors.

Vaenait Baby — A line of affordable toddler clothes from Korea (2T - 6T)

Pictured above: Floral Henley PJs, Pink Gingham PJs, Pink Pocket PJs, Floral PJs.

I know it can be hard to find simple cotton pjs, and even harder to find simple underwear, so in case you’re on the hunt, here’s another option you might not know about. The line is fairly extensive and there are many more options than I’ve pictured here. These are just some of my favorites.

I should note, I haven’t ordered any yet, so I don’t know what the clothes are like in person, but they seem to get good reviews, so I’m hopeful. If you’ve bought something from their line, I’d love to hear what you think!

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By Gabrielle.

I think it would be so therapeutic to live near a lake, don’t you? There’s something calming about that indescribable shade of blues and greys and the dance of the tiny ripples. Having a rotten day? Just grab a fishing rod and cast away mindlessly. Need a break from homeschooling or that looming deadline? Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream. Plus, a lake makes for a killer kitchen sink view.

Yes, Lesli and her family are lucky ones, living the good life on a lake just outside of Chicago and enjoying it to the fullest. Yes, she is ever on the lookout for lake dangers — especially since her kids are five and two — but I’d say she’s ready for pretty much anything. You’ll see. Friends, please welcome the Gresholdt family!

Q: Tell us about this lakeside family.

A: Our family includes my husband, Mark, and our five-year-old daughter Adelaide and two-year-old son Oliver. My husband is an operations coordinator for a communications company, and I am currently a regional manager for Bella Baby Photography, a nationwide company providing in-hospital newborn photography.

Adelaide is affectionate, stylish, and stubborn – and takes after her social butterfly father. Oliver is easy-going and much more independent, with a great sense of humor and the ability to quote movies just like his mom.

Years ago in college, I had a strong urge to learn sign language. I took a few elective classes, learned a little bit, and kept up practicing through the years. Little did I know that five years later, I would say yes to a date with a deaf guy I knew in college and we would end up where we are now! Life as a bilingual family is sometimes challenging, especially since the kids are still learning how to sign. Of course, we don’t know it any other way.

We also have a very old farm cat, Sasha, and our new love, Mae, a Norwegian Forest Cat rescue. I don’t really think of our beta fish, Eric, as a pet, but he lives here, too, and requires daily feeding so I guess he’s part of the family.

Q: You’ve recently purchased a lake home. Tell us all about it choosing it!

A: We were finally in the market to buy a home but at the time, Mark was commuting by train to Chicago, so we had to be within 15 minutes of a train stop. This house was in a neighboring town, close enough to the train station, and we had seen it online many times. We both liked the layout, the hardwood floors, and the price, but I would write it off immediately due to the lake. After all, families with young kids don’t live on the water, right? But one night, in an attempt to be open-minded (and maybe out of desperation to find a house!) I emailed a list of houses to our realtor to see the next day and included this one. Not ten minutes later, my fear got the best of me, and I wrote him again and asked him to take that lake house off the list.

The next day, he either forgot or never got my message, because this house was the third one we saw. It felt like home immediately. Our former home had been so dark, and this one was filled with light with such a peaceful backyard and an open floor plan that is a must-have for families with a deaf family member. Being able to see each other (when you can’t hear!) is crucial.

A teacup collection and the most genius bathroom wall, coming up!

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A's Game plus Fireworks02

Cheerios Protein Box Images and text by Gabrielle.  //  This post is brought to you by Cheerios Protein. Cheerios Protein gives you energy to last you through your day’s adventures, wherever they may be!

 

 

For my first Love The Place You Live column here in Oakland, I thought an Oakland A’s game would be perfect! The game was on Thursday night, July 3rd, and was followed by a huge fireworks display. Apparently, it’s an Independence Day tradition here and happens every year the night before the 4th. And it’s so much fun!

A's Game plus Fireworks01 A's Game plus Fireworks03 A's Game plus Fireworks16

The weather was ideal. The crowd was in a festive mood. And the A’s won!

A's Game plus Fireworks09 A's Game plus Fireworks04 A's Game plus Fireworks08 A's Game plus Fireworks25

The light was so pretty in the stadium, and the kids looked so cute, I took a million photos.

Click here for more pics and details, and to link up!

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Slow Cooker Recipe: French Onion Soup  |  Design Mom  #crockpot

By Gabrielle. Photos and styling by Lindsey of Café Johnsonia.

Yay! It’s time for another recipe in my slow-cooker series. I know. It’s summer and the last thing you’re probably wanting is a hot bowl of anything. But don’t let that stop you from entertaining the idea of French Onion Soup. It’s such a classic thing to eat. And it was made to be cooked in a slow cooker!

Is there anything better than a piece of cheesy toast dipped into a flavorful soup? I think not. So when you’re busy running the kids to swimming lessons or all of the other millions of things we all do during the summer, don’t worry about dinner. Just slice up a bunch of onions, pop them into the slow cooker, and when you get back add the stock and dinner’s ready that fast. The Gruyere toasts are ready in a flash too.

Slow Cooker Recipe: French Onion Soup  |  Design Mom  #crockpot

As I mentioned, for this recipe, the onions are cooked alone first, then the stock is added. This gives the onions ample time to cook down and get soft without melting away and disappearing into the broth. If you’d rather not go that route, just add everything to the slow cooker all at once and it will still be really good.

It’s great served with fruit and a very simple green salad like the French might make — torn Romaine with a flavorful basic herb vinaigrette. It’s a great summer meal and you’ll be surprised how even in the hot summer how a bowl of soup hits the spot. And yes, it’s also fantastic when it’s cold outside. : )

Click for the recipe and tips!

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Flag & Gate1

Image and text by Gabrielle.

For those who are celebrating today, I hope you have a wonderful 4th of July! Wishing you cold watermelon, sparklers, small town parades, flag cakes, and blankets on green grass for firework watching.

I’ll leave you with my favorite lyrics from a patriotic hymn:

America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self control,
Thy liberty in law.

— from America the Beautiful

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A Few Things

July 3, 2014

4th of July 20111

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends! How are you? I’m sharing my link list a day early this week, because tomorrow is a holiday. Can I tell you how excited my family is for Independence Day? We’re feeling very patriotic just being here in the country (we didn’t move from France last summer till July 15th if you’re keeping track). In fact, last Sunday in church we sang American anthems like America the Beautiful and The Star Spangled Banner, and it made me super happy to belt them out!

Our plans are: waterpark, BBQ and watching fireworks. And running around with the kids in red, white and blue (of course!). How about you? For my American readers, will you be celebrating tomorrow? And for my readers who are not American, forgive me for posting my link list a day early. : )

We bought a BBQ on Monday and it’s supposed to be delivered today. Assuming it arrives intact, tomorrow will mark the inaugural BBQ get-together at the Treehouse! While I check in with the delivery truck, here are a few things I’ve been wanting to share:

- Life changing password?

- Kids getting too much screen time this summer? Lock it up.

- An Adopted Child’s View of the Christian Adoption Movement. Woah.

- The trick to mixing patterns in a nursery.

- Hilarious. If Independence Day never happened.

- 5% of sales from this Joss & Main flash sale go to Habitat for Humanity.

- Nazi’s “perfect Aryan baby” was actually Jewish.

- Want to add to the research on adult peer relationships? Take this survey.

- “I Just Watched The Notebook and Am Here to Ruin It for All of You.” Dying laughing! (But it’s written with lots of cuss words, so not for everyone.)

- And one more funny from The Onion. Does anyone else relate to this?

I hope you have a wonderful weekend. Yay for fireworks! Yay for sparklers! Yay for America! I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.

kisses,
Gabrielle

P.S. — The image is a a #throwbackthursday to our first 4th of July in France.

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Maude & Oscar Exploring1

Image and text by Gabrielle.

While I lived in France, I launched a recurring column called Love the Place You Live. It’s all about exploring your own town or community — appreciating and acknowledging the good things around you. I adore travel! But the idea of this column is that you don’t have to travel to find wonder and beauty; the idea is that everywhere has something to offer.

This month marks 1 year of living in Oakland! Though I found the move overwhelming, we love it here and have been feeling more and more settled in. We’ve done some really fun exploring since we’ve been here, but we feel like we’ve only scratched the surface of cool things in our community, and I want to start exploring more earnestly.

So, I concluded that it’s time to bring back Love The Place You Live!

This is how it works: I’ll announce when the next Love The Place You Live column is going to appear. Then, anyone who wants to, can join in by exploring something in their community. It can be anything. A coffee shop you’ve been meaning to stop into. A vintage clothes store. The new library. A new-to-you park. A pretty hike. A food truck. The ballet. Anything you like! And I’ll explore something with my family as well.

I’ll write up my report and publish here on Design Mom. You can write up your report wherever you like (your blog, your Facebook page, etc.). Then, you can add the link of your writeup to my blog post. It’s awesome! It creates an easy way to explore all the different reports and is a great reminder about how much there is to celebrate in each of our communities.

Sound good? I hope so! I’m planning to post the next Love The Place You Live on Monday (that’s July 7th), and I would love you to join me. Do something fun this week or this weekend — maybe a local Independence Day parade! Then, plan on linking to your writeup on Monday.

I can’t wait to read about your adventures!

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DIY: Leather Earrings

July 2, 2014

DIY: Tiny Leather Earrings. Easy and Inexpensive and Cute!   |   Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos and styling by Amy Christie.

Have you seen the new trend in tiny leather earrings? I’m loving it. So I thought it would be fun to create my own — for myself and as gifts. I love the natural texture of the leather and the soft pop of color.

DIY: Tiny Leather Earrings. Easy and Inexpensive and Cute!   |   Design Mom

Leather is an easy material to work with. It’s soft, but keeps its shape. It doesn’t fray or wrinkle (unless you really, really want it to) and the texture and color options are endless.

I tried a ton of variations and always concluded that simple is better for this particular look.

DIY: Tiny Leather Earrings. Easy and Inexpensive and Cute!   |   Design Mom

With a few bucks and very little time, you can make yourself a whole new batch of accessories. They’re so simple and easy to make it’s barely a tutorial!

DIY: Tiny Leather Earrings. Easy and Inexpensive and Cute!   |   Design Mom

Come and check out this easy, satisfying project!!

Click here for the full tutorial.

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