donnaandgab

By Gabrielle. The photo is me and my mother.

My mom sent me a sweet note the other day. She was in a reflective mood and was missing the days when she had a house full of 8 kids. I asked her if I could share some of her email, and she said yes. I should warn you, I think some people will feel a wave a guilt as you read this, and if you do, please try and discard that guilt and come discuss with me at the end.

Here’s a section of what my mom wrote:

“I believe, when the day comes and you are forced to lead a simpler life, that you will be pleased that you spent time with your children when you had the chance.  I MISS my children SO MUCH.

One afternoon in Morningside [our neighborhood] I wanted to get outside and called out, “I’m going for a walk. Anyone want to come?” To my surprise, everyone did. No one got to be with me enough, I guess. Maybe it was too much of a good thing for me. The kids were always there and the responsibility morning-noon-and-night, so it was easy to take our time for granted.

I wasn’t an absent mother. I noticed things. Kept track. I tried to listen when someone needed to talk, but the polite ones didn’t want to intrude on my time. Although nothing mattered to me more than my family, I had other things on my mind, too.  Sometimes intruding things. I took on the PTA Presidency at the High School one year — so I could contribute or whatever.  Ironically, a waste of precious time.

Why wasn’t my role as mother-of-eight enough for me to enjoy, to savor? I couldn’t have smiled in their faces enough. Touched them. Sat too close. Rubbed backs enough. Listened to and admired the [music] practicing. I don’t mean I have enormous regret, but “wonderful hindsight” is revealing.

As far as the future, I’m AMAZED at how much more healthy, productive, interesting time is ahead for a woman, after children. It’s been a major surprise to me.”

—-

As I read my mom’s note, it’s no surprise my first instinct was to gather my kids around me, hug them, compliment them, listen to them. But my second instinct was to sort of sigh and resign myself to the idea that maybe there’s no avoiding what my mother is feeling right now.

It got me thinking of advice we’ve all received that sounds wonderful but is kind of impossible to follow. Things like “sleep when the baby sleeps”. I mean, I bet I managed to follow that advice maybe 5 times total in the course of my baby-parenting years. Though I could see how helpful it was in theory, it simply wasn’t advice that worked for me.

Similar to my mom’s note, another piece of general advice that’s often handed out is to “cherish every little moment when your kids are young because they grow up so fast”. I’ve said this myself. To myself. I know it’s true. But again, it’s kind of impossible to follow when you’re actually parenting the little ones. It seems like the only way to make it happen would be to become a person who has endless energy and never tires of small humans and never needs time for herself. (And of course, that person doesn’t exist.)

My mom didn’t send the note to give me guilt, she was just missing her kids and telling me about it. We chatted about it and laughed because I said, “I don’t think a person can ever get to a point where they say, yep, I’ve hugged my children enough. Check that off the list.” Hah!

So my question to you is: Can it be done? Are there people out there who have raised their kids and look back and don’t miss those days? Or don’t wonder about how they spent their time? Should they have trained for that marathon? Should they have taken on that extra assignment at church? Should they have skipped that weekend reunion with their college friends? Are you that person? No regrets? Not even little ones?

What’s your take? When you hear advice about appreciating every moment with your kids, how do you react? As for me, I don’t mind the advice. I hear it and I think about my awesome kids, and my awesome life, and feel loads of gratitude. And then I say to myself that if I’m going to miss my kids in the future (and I’m sure I am), so be it, but I can’t see a way to prevent that, so I’m not going to worry about it now.

How about you?

Also, any thoughts on the last sentences I shared from my mom’s note? About the productive, interesting time after the children’s are raised? Sounds delightful to me!

P.S. — I know Mother’s Day is coming up on Sunday, and I know there are lots of people (including myself) with either mixed feelings or negative feelings about the holiday. So my apologies if this conversation is stressing you out. Not my intention, I swear! Sending you all love. I think you’re amazing!

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A Few Things

April 29, 2016

Laguna

Photo and text by Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends! How are you? I’m working from a swanky hotel in Southern California today. And I’m very happy to be here — the shot above? I snapped it from my hotel room. Not too shabby. I’m at the Mom 2.0 Conference, and it’s been a really wonderful gathering of peers and colleagues. Lots of late night talks about the work we do online and how to do it better. Since I don’t really have co-workers, I truly treasure these work conferences, and the chance to talk shop with pioneering, entrepreneurial women. (I’m sharing images from the conference on Instagram if you’d like to see.)

Oh. And yesterday, I interviewed Rita Wilson!! It was the closing keynote of the day, and she was simply delightful. Gracious. friendly, talented, smart. And such an inspiration! While she continues to act, a few years ago she launched a second career as a singer-songwriter, and she’s put out two albums. In fact, she’ll be touring with Chicago this summer if you’d like to see her! I love witnessing the kind of bravery it takes to try something totally new, and I felt incredibly lucky to interview her.

I was also super impressed at how hard she worked to remember names and make personal connections with each person she met. When she heard I was from Oakland, she mentioned that her husband (Tom Hanks) had grown up in Oakland too, and I said, “I know! My kids go to the same high school and middle school where he attended!” She lit up like that was the greatest thing ever. Made me feel so good. I love people like that.

I’ve got more conferencing to do today, so I’m going to put down my laptop, but here are a few things I’ve wanted to share before I say goodbye for the weekend:

- Did you see the #MoreThanMean video? Made me weep. “We wouldn’t say it to their faces, so let’s not type it.”

- And now I’m obsessed with these new floating sustainable homes.

- Perks of signing up for the woman card. Hah!

- The mother of Sandra Bland gives a powerful speech.

- The Whopper sign language commercial is very smile inducing — and made me want to learn sign language! (And no, I’m not working with BK, I just like the commercial.)

- Child, Bride, Mother. (NYT)

- Two monks.

- Just because it’s beautiful to watch.

- The Children of Syria. I want to watch this as a family when I get home.

- A little dose of inspiration: Everybody dies, but not everybody lives.

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

kisses,
Gabrielle

P.S. — While I’ve been here, I had the chance to have my aura read and photographed. Have you ever done it? I think I might need to write a post about it.

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Futurists

April 27, 2016

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By Gabrielle. Image from NASA’s Astronomy Pic of the Day.

The other night Ben Blair and I had dinner with two professional Futurists.

Did you know that was a thing you could be for a job? For a career? A futurist? A professional futurist? I was not aware of this until very recently and I find it super fascinating.

Our dinner mates were Mike Courtney and Jason Swanson. As Ben has been presenting on Teachur and the Blockchain, he’s met lots of interesting people, including these two. We got together with them when they were in town for a conference.

No one can predict the future, and futurists don’t claim to. But they do look at research and create models that help people and companies consider future possibilities, and plan for those possibilities.

At the end of the evening, after I’d asked a million questions about what they do, and how they do it, and how it coincides with other strains of future thinking (like The Singularity), I asked one last question: With all the future work you’ve done, and all the developments and inventions and research you can see coming down the line, what’s the thing that you’re most excited about future-wise?

Jason talked about things that are happening with DNA, that will allow people to “turn off” their cancer genes, and manipulate different physical qualities (like eye color). Mike talked about new technologies that would allow us to control the way we think — technologies that will make us want to exercise, and want to skip the donuts, and more profound, allow us to “turn off” our depression or other mental illness.

So crazy to think about! I know this is a bit of a random post, but our dinner conversation has been on my mind and I thought you might find it interesting too. Do you happen to know any futurists? Is it a career your kids might like?

I think about that sometimes — what sort of jobs-I’ve-never-heard-of that will be available to our kids. I mean, I have one of those jobs. Blogging didn’t exist when I was choosing my career! I wonder what job titles are coming down the line, or exist already, and I just haven’t heard of them.

P.S. — Have you ever taken Gretchen Rubin’s quiz about what kind of habit personality you have? Well fun fact: Mike was one of the people who developed it. 

P.P.S. — Speaking of future predictions, did you see this post about terra-forming Mars?

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Gorgeous Mother's Day Card from Hallmark. Cute 3-D elements.

Photos and text by Gabrielle. This post is brought to you by Hallmark Signature — click here to shop now for #NoOrdinaryCard or find a store near you.

Yes, it’s still April, but May is coming up quicker than we realize. It’s sneaking up on us this year, and I know why: it’s because April ends on a Saturday.

Gorgeous Mother's Day Card from Hallmark. Cute 3-D elements.

I realize that sounds too simple and ordinary to be causing problems, and I suppose it depends on what sort of calendar you use, but for me, any time a month ends on a Saturday, it wreaks total havoc, because I can’t “see” the next month until the current month is complete.

In contrast, if a month ends on a Tuesday or Wednesday, then I can see the first few days of the new month the whole time. It never surprises me. I know it’s coming, I can see it there, the days already filling in with to-do items and deadlines.

Beautiful Mother's Day Card from Hallmark. Love the watercolor and glitter combo.

Anyway, all that to say: May 1st is happening this coming Sunday whether we realize it or not. Which means Mother’s day is the following Sunday, May 8th. That’s essentially a week and a half away. So soon! Consider this a public service announcement: it’s time to send off your Mother’s Day cards.

Beautiful Mother's Day Card from Hallmark. Love the watercolor and glitter combo.

And speaking of cards, let’s talk about the pleasures of picking out a particular card, something really special, for someone you love (like your Mom! Or your Grandmother!). You can easily picture it: walking up and down the card aisle, picking up the card with the colorful baked goods on the front — because one of your favorite memories over the last year was learning how to make pretty frosted cupcakes with your mom as you prepped for your sister’s baby shower.

Adorable Mother's Day Card from Hallmark. You can pop this one right into the scrapbook.

But then, another card catches your eye — the one with the watercolor flowers. My mom is a genius with her paints and watercolor images always remind me of her. This card is definitely gorgeous.

And then you see the card with the cut paper flowers — it has lazer-cut wood, beads, jewels, glitter — it’s perfect for popping right into a scrapbook (and you know how much your mother-in-law loves scrapbooking).

Adorable Mother's Day Card from Hallmark. You can pop this one right into the scrapbook.

Or maybe you’ll choose the card with black and white stripes. It looks so Parisian! Which would be awesome, since you’re saving up right this minute for a grandma-mother-granddaughter trip to France. A Paris-inspired card would be such an inspiration.

Charming Parisian-inspired Mother's Day Card from Hallmark.

That might be the one! You’ll know for sure as soon as you look as the 30 other cards that are equally tempting. (Perhaps the one with the stitching — because Mom taught you how to sew!)

Honestly, they’ve really knocked it out of the ballpark this year, design wise, with their Hallmark Signature Cards. They are simply stunning. Each one is elevated and embellished in thoughtful ways. They start with thick, quality paper, then feature gorgeous 3-D elements, and pretty non-paper textures — like a bit of ribbon or cloth or wood or real stitching.

As Hallmark says: Because there are no ordinary moms, these are no ordinary cards.

Charming Parisian-inspired Mother's Day Card from Hallmark.

When you’re ready to pick out a card that is beautiful, unique and as as full of dimension and sparkle as your mom, let me do you a kindness, and direct you straight to the Hallmark Signature cards. You can find them in the card aisle, wherever Hallmark cards are sold.

These are the substantial kind of cards, the ones that feel like a gift.

Lovely Mother's Day Card from Hallmark. Super cool real-life stitching!

Oh my. I really do love the card aisle! Pretty paper products are a weakness of mine. I like studying the designs and materials, and I like seeing a card and realizing it reminds me of someone in particular. There’s so much inspiration to be found there!

How about you? Will you be sending a card to your mother or grandmother or mother-in-law or aunt this year? Anyone else enjoy searching the card aisles for the perfect one? Something beautiful, something with a sweet and simple sentiment. Do you like to add a personal note/letter? Or do you let the card do the talking and simply sign your name? And lastly, is May speaking up on anyone else, or am I just weird that way?

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By Gabrielle.

Jan Scarpino has the most pinnable kitchen! I’d catch sight of it here and there on Instagram, always stop and sigh, and so I reached out to see if she’d show us the rest of her home. It’s all completely pristine and very pretty, which is something rather important to Jan — but maybe not in the way you may think!

Come see what she has to say, won’t you?

My name is Jan, I am 33, gluten-free and mother of three. I was working full time as a hairstylist in a local Aveda salon when I met my husband Danny. I fell for him hard. He is a man of many talents. He has worked in architecture, film and animation, health and wellness, product development, and marketing. He is currently the CMO for Rain International. I have always been smitten with his creative mind and his strong work ethic, but the thing that drew me in to him the most was his generous heart and seeing how involved and present he was as a father to his little girl Gabrielle.

I learned quickly that whether it was my best day or my worst, he was the man that I wanted next to me. He has given me the blessing of experiencing motherhood in two beautiful ways, both as a stepmother and birth mother. Both wonderful and challenging in different ways! I can’t imagine a better fit for myself than having our family exactly the way it is.

It was meant to be. Our oldest Gabby is 12, Rohme is six, and Nixon is three.

I will say that the hardest part about having a blended family is sharing time. It’s difficult to see my boys sad on those days we don’t have Gabby in our home. We aren’t complete.

Just pure loveliness, straight ahead!

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Come Say Hello!

April 25, 2016

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By Gabrielle. Photo by Marla Trevino.

Two things I’m excited about (especially because I might get to see you!):

1) It was just announced this afternoon, so this news is super fresh, and I’m totally goosebumps about it — I get to interview Rita Wilson at Mom 2.0 on Thursday!!! I seriously can’t wait. Our conversation will be the closing keynote, and it’s going to begin with a musical performance from Rita’s self-titled new album. So fantastic!

I’m working on the questions for her right this minute, and I can already tell the interview is going to go too dang fast. There are so many topics I want to discuss with her. Honestly, I’m confident we could talk for a good 4 or 5 hours (maybe days?) and not run out of interesting things to cover, but I’ll take whatever time I can get!

Are you coming to M0m 2.0? It’s taking place at the resort featured above. Not too shabby.

2) This coming Sunday, May 1st, I’ll be speaking in Oakland — and you can come if you like! The event is totally free and you don’t need to reserve a spot. All are welcome. Bring your friends!

Our congregation has recently hosted an 8-week class on the History of Women in the Mormon Church, and to finish it off, I’ve been asked to join a panel of four women, to discuss the topic of Mormon Women Online.

Writer Kathryn Pritchett will moderate the discussion, and my three fellow panelists are Heather Farley, Meg Conley and Hannah Pritchett. You can find more info here. Should be really fun!

So, I guess the main point of this short little post is: if you’re going to be in Orange County this Thursday, or the Bay Area on Sunday, I hope I’ll get to see you! I’d really love to meet you and say hello. Woo hoo!

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4-picture-books-april-201607

Photos and text by Gabrielle.

I’ve got some gorgeous, interesting, entertaining book recommendations for you today. And even though the title says 4 Picture Books, my last pick isn’t a picture book at all — it’s about kids + money. But we’ll get to that at the end.

First up, I want to introduce you to Strange Trees: And the Stories Behind Them by Bernadette Pourquié, with dreamy illustrations by Cécile Gambini — both based in France.

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This one is for your little future botanist. This book features very real trees, with nicknames that sound completely made up — Ghost Tree, Rainbow Tree, Chocolate Tree, Upside Down Tree, Sausage Tree, and many, many more. Each tree gets a two-page spread, with fascinating facts and tidbits about the tree on the left, and an imaginative, beautiful illustration on the right.

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Next up is Swatch: The Girl Who Loved Color, by well-known illustrator Julia Denos. This book introduces a vibrant new character, a wonderfully wild girl named Swatch, to your children’s world.

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This book is perfect for little artists. Swatch is a color tamer — she can train colors to do anything! The illustrations are amazing. The text is brief, but smart — lots of good vocabulary. Every page will make your kids (and you) want to pull out a paint brush and put some of your own colors on paper.

Two more books when you click through — including one on Kids & Investing!

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A Few Things

April 22, 2016

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Photo and text by Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends. Happy Friday! How are you? What’s your weekend looking like? I feel like ours will be sort-of usual. Lots of stuff — a birthday party, a track meet, Betty is speaking at church — but nothing too major or out of the ordinary. The main thing on my mind is prepping for the Mom 2.0 conference next week. Will I see any of you there?

Some Fridays are laid-back for me work-wise, but not today. Turns out I’ve got back to back meetings and phone calls all day long, so I’m going to keep this note short. But before I go, here are a few things I’ve wanted to share:

- So cool! Remember the Mormon Transhumanist Association conference that Ben Blair just spoke at? Well, the New Yorker just published a really terrific article about the group.

- In an experiment, inclusion of a person with ADHD greatly improved the problem-solving ability of groups, even though it led to more off-task behavior. Thanks, Ann.

- 50+ picture books featuring mixed race families.

- Inflatable bag monsters.

- Accidentally raising a bully.

- A new beehive that harvests honey without disturbing the bees. I love inventions like this! So innovative.

- “This is the white supremacist fantasy. This is the stereotype about black people and our endless forgiveness of the transgressions of white supremacists and anti-black racism that many white people secretly hope holds true.”

- The funniest thing I read all week — a conversation with The Internet.

- Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill! (NYT)

- A reader sent in a link to Sophi nail polish. Apparently, it has no smell! And if you follow the directions correctly, she says it lasts her as long as OPI or Essie brands. And supposedly, it doesn’t discolor or weaken the nails. Anyone tried it? Thanks, Ann.

- A message from your exhausted token brown friend.

- On public shaming.

- Ski treadmill!

- What does sex ed look like if you have a disability?

I hope you have an excellent weekend. I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.

kisses,
Gabrielle

P.S. — Like so many people, I’m feeling the shock of Prince’s death. I got the news from Ben Blair yesterday morning, and then I wasn’t willing to get online to read about it until late in the day, as if that would make it not true. 

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Recipe: Homemade Berry Almond Granola Bars

By Gabrielle. Photos by Lindsey JohnsonSponsored by Blue Diamond.

Friends, we’ve officially reached the time of year when having on-the-go snacks at the ready becomes essential. Anyone else feeling it? At our house, from mid-April till school’s out, it feels like everything is building up to an end-of-the-year finale. I’m talking fieldtrips, nature camp, science fair, track meets, and recitals. And of course, the gorgeous weather is also tempting us out of the house as often as possible. It’s all good things! No complaints, I’ve been a parent long enough to know it’s just the nature of the school year.

To help keep the kids satiated (fed kids are happy kids!) over these next few weeks, I was thinking I would whip up a batch of homemade granola bars — made with ingredients I know my kids love — to have on hand.

Recipe: Homemade Berry Almond Granola Bars Recipe: Homemade Berry Almond Granola Bars

Once again, I’ve teamed up with Blue Diamond, to bring you another great snack option — one that’s specifically made to be easy to grab and go. Homemade Almond Berry Granola Bars anyone? They’re sweet and a little salty, crunchy, and chewy. And they’ll hit the spot when you’re looking for something to nosh on. This one is good for anyone with a sweet tooth, especially if you’re a fan of dried fruit.

Blue Diamond’s Oven Roasted Sea Salt Almonds are perfectly crunchy and salty, so they are a great addition to homemade granola bars. The best part is that these come together quickly and the hardest part is waiting for them to be ready to cut into bars.

Recipe: Homemade Berry Almond Granola Bars - with 3 kinds of berries! Granola Bar Ingredients. Click through for the recipe. Recipe: Homemade Berry Almond Granola Bars

Ready to make something yummy?

Click here for the recipe and notes!

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By Gabrielle.

Sarah and her partner learned they were expecting a baby together just after moving to separate cities to work on their university degrees. From that moment until Samuel arrived, Sarah’s story is a wonder of unexpected happenings and fresh observations. I enjoyed her recounting of it all so much.

Welcome, Sarah!

Samuel’s story, straight ahead!

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The Year of the Period

April 20, 2016

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By Gabrielle. Image from poet Rupi Kaur’s Instagram series about period stigma.

Did you see today’s Newsweek article about periods? It covers a range of ideas, but one of the big themes is how people are actively trying to change the long-standing historical stigma around periods. I was going to include the article on this week’s link list, but then decided it really deserves its own post.

There’s so much to discuss in it! A few quotes:

“For something that has over 5,000 slang terms (shark week, Bloody Mary, red wedding), the period is one of the most ignored human rights issues around the globe—affecting everything from education and economics to the environment and public health—but that’s finally starting to change. In the past year, there have been so many pop culture moments around menstruation that NPR called 2015 “the year of the period,” and Cosmopolitan said it was “the year the period went public.””

“Across the U.S., you can buy food, doodads and necessities without being taxed: Pop-Tarts in California, BBQ sunflower seeds in Indiana, Mardi Gras beads in Louisiana, Bibles in Maine and coffins in Mississippi. But in these and 35 other states, menstrual products are taxed anywhere from 4 to 10 percent.”

“In rural India, one in five girls drops out of school after they start menstruating , according to research by Nielsen and Plan India, and of the 355 million menstruating girls and women in the country, just 12 percent use sanitary napkins.”

While reading it, I teared up several times thinking about girls around the world not having access to basic period hygiene options, and having to quit school because of that.

And I was also super inspired reading about all the innovation happening around periods at the moment. Long overdue in my opinion! I know we discussed period innovation last month, but there were so many companies featured in the article that I had never heard of, doing work all across the globe. I wanted to cheer!

Most of all, it made me realize that I’m holding on to some of the stigma around periods myself. I’ve caught myself hesitating to speak openly if the topic of periods comes up. I’ve gotten better in the last few years — for example, I would never have posted about tampons 5 years ago — as if it was inappropriate or something. But I know I still have a long-way to go. I suppose the “shame” of periods has been ingrained in me for too many years.

This fact really struck home the other day, when the whole family was in the car and someone mentioned tampons, which led to a conversation among all 8 of us, about menstruation. I noticed two things: 1) I had to carefully fight my first instinct — which was to change the subject, and 2) 14-year-old Olive could talk about it super easily, with zero shame or hesitation, which made me happy. It also made me want to commit to letting go of any remaining stigma I’m holding on to.

I hope you’ll read the article, because I’d love your thoughts on it, and I’d also love to know how open you feel about your period. Are you able to talk about menstruation without shame? Maybe only in certain company? If you needed one while out and about, would you ever ask a stranger for a tampon? Do you feel that talking about periods is gross? If yes, what’s the gross factor for you? Do you associate it with “potty talk”? Or are you grossed out by blood (I know it makes some people faint)?

Do you speak openly about periods with your kids? Both boys and girls? If your daughters need supplies, do they whisper it to you discreetly, or shout it out when you’re making a shopping list after dinner? If you have a husband or boyfriend, do they ever buy your period supplies? Would that freak them out? Do you like the more open, practical attitude about periods lately? Or do you wish everyone would stop talking about it already? Do you consider your period a curse or a blessing? A strength or a weakness? Does this whole conversation stress you out, or do you find it empowering?

I look forward to reading your thoughts.

P.S. — Did you see hear about Chance Ward? He keeps tampons in his fanny pack and backpack in case any his menstruating friends might need one. His Facebook post is pure gold. Seriously, go read it. 

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tree-branch-planter 1.1

By Gabrielle. Photos and styling by Amy Christie.

Hooray! I’ve got another gorgeous DIY to share with you. And it coincides so nicely with the gorgeous spring weather we’ve been having. This project is the perfect excuse to get outside and interact with nature.

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I’m so delighted with how these turned out. Completely over the moon! They would be gorgeous inside or out. I can picture them in our living room, and also on the balcony. I really want to make like 35 of these and line my front walk with them! I think they’re so cool.

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I’m going to tell you right now, that this project takes a few bona fide tools and some muscle, too. But it’s actually pretty easy and straight forward. If you can handle a drill, than you can handle this project.

Before we jump in to the instructions, I have one question: Do succulents do well outdoors in your neck of the wood? Or do you consider them houseplants? They flourish like crazy here in our Oakland landscaping, but I don’t remember seeing them as outdoor plants in France (although it’s very possible I wasn’t paying attention). How about you? Do you have any succulents at your house? Indoors or out? And do you find them to be as carefree as their reputation? I’d love to hear!

Click here for the simple tutorial!

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By Gabrielle.

When Sarah asked if I’d be interested in sharing her island life with my readers, I jumped at the chance. I thought it would be great fun to learn how a family is living with kids in a 1924 cottage on Martha’s Vineyard, and after interviewing Sarah, my thought was correct! It’s really lovely and interesting. You’ll see.

Hi, Sarah!

Hi, and welcome! I’m Sarah and I live year-round on Martha’s Vineyard with my husband Nick and our two young boys: Dylan is five, and Gray is two. Nick and I met in college but we were just friends then. A year after graduation, he moved back East after surfing in Hawaii for the winter, and came with me to a concert in Boston. He never left after that concert.

As a couple, we first lived in Boston in the dark basement of a beautiful Beacon Hill brick building, then moved to Providence, Rhode Island for Nick to attend RISD, where we lived on the first floor of a classic three-family home. We moved to the Island four years ago.

Our first son, Dylan, was born in Providence. He is obsessed with chocolate, wild animals, and building things. Our second son, Gray, was born on Martha’s Vineyard and is obsessed with farm animals, pears, and swings.

Nick is an architectural designer who works with a local architectural group and makes a lot of stuff on the side — furniture, objects, surfboards, art — and surfs a lot. Even when the water is only 34 degrees! I am a stay at home mom who blogs healthy family recipes and writes cookbooks while my kids are at pre-K or asleep upstairs. My first book Little Bites:100 Healthy, Kid-Friendly Snacks came out last year and my second book Feeding a Family: A Year of Simple and Healthy Family Dinners comes out next year.

Our house is in Vineyard Haven, on a dead-end street a short walk from the center of town and the main ferry dock. We can hear the ferry horn from inside! Our neighborhood has many year-round families which is really nice. Often, island houses are deserted after Labor Day and you find yourself surrounded by empty buildings without any life to them, which is kinda depressing.

More island life, straight ahead!

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By Gabrielle. Photos by Liz Berget for Design Mom.

I’m thinking we’re way overdue for a new Dessert for Two recipe, right? And I’m also thinking that a dessert involving fresh berries sounds like absolute perfection at the moment.

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No bake? Fresh berries? Cheesecake? This sort of dessert is right up my alley! I was in Salt Lake City for meetings all day yesterday. I flew out very early in the morning, and flew back late at night. When I arrived home, all I wanted to do was catch up with Ben Blair over a treat. Dessert for two for the win!

no-bake-cheesecake-cups 3

Speaking of fruity desserts being right up my alley, now I’m curious: When presented with a dessert menu, are you more likely to favor chocolate based desserts, or fruit-based desserts? I definitely favor fruit-based. My second choice would be anything carmel. Ben Blair typically orders chocolate — it’s not my very favorite, but I’m always happy to steal a bite or two. : ) How about you?

Click here for the recipe and notes!

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A Few Things

April 15, 2016

strawberry-rhubarb-pie

Photo and text by Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends! How are you? Anything fun happening for you this weekend? On our schedule: Ben Blair is in Houston, Texas till Sunday. Ralph is going to a concert in Santa Cruz. Maude Blair has a track meet. Olive Blair has a field trip in San Francisco. Oscar & Betty are going to an Oakland A’s baseball game. And little June? I guess she’ll just be hanging out with me. : )

My goal is to get that outdoor furniture I mentioned repainted. Last weekend it was too rainy, but this weekend looks like it will be gorgeous. How about you?

I’m off to get my hair trimmed, but before I go, here are a few things I’ve been wanting to share with you:

- For anyone who has lost a complicated parent.

- I have an irrational fear of spiders. Wondering if I could handle this spider catcher.

- “Before we could even talk about the crime, we had to make sure Lyne wasn’t culpable somehow.”

Storage bed.

- The permanent temporary solution.

- 7 spray-painting tips.

- A racist stereotype is shattered.

- I’m obsessed with these Strandbeest Wind Sculptures that seem like living creatures.

- European food according to Italians.

- Why is America pulling down the projects?

Inky the Octopus escaped.

I hope you have the loveliest weekend! Wishing you strawberry-rhubarb pie a la mode. I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.

kisses,
Gabrielle

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18 Tips for Traveling with Kids — From a Mother of Six!

Photos and text by Gabrielle. This post is sponsored by Alamo. Have you signed up for the Alamo Insiders program? Details below!

I’m working with Alamo on a family travel series (first post here). And today, I want to tackle traveling with a big family (related Pin board here). But that’s a really broad topic! So I’m going to focus in a bit. This post isn’t about time on the plane or how to pack or where to go or where to stay. Instead, I’m going to share everything I’ve learned about what the days are like (and how to make them awesome!) once you are at your destination. Sound good?

I have lots of tips, so I put them in list form. And I hope as you read them, they’ll remind you of your own tips — which you should totally share in the comments, because I would LOVE to learn from you! Also, as the title declares, yes this is about travel with a big family, because that’s what I know best. But the reality is, most (if not all) of these tips would work for small families, too. So really, this is about travel with kids.

Traveling with Kids — 18 Solid Tips from a Mother of Six

Here it is! All my travel knowledge, in no particular order:

1) When thinking about your day, plan based on the lowest common denominator, meaning the youngest in the group. If you’ve got a little one, they can’t walk all day and they don’t suddenly have new or different schedule needs because they are in a new place. So keep the schedule really simple and be ready for lots of stops. In Rome, we’d take gelato breaks like 5+ times a day.

2) Only put ONE big destination/activity on the schedule each day. That’s it. Only one. “Visit the Van Gogh Museum.” “Go horseback riding.” “Take a city bus tour”.

Yes, if it was just grownups, you could pack the day and see a million things. But with kids, it pays to be less ambitious. Keep it simple. If things go wrong, and they often do — maybe you get on the wrong bus, or have a hard time finding a lunch spot, or the weather turns crummy — it won’t wreck your schedule. You’ll feel great that you accomplished your one big thing, and when you’re done, if the family still has lots of energy, you can always add on a bonus activity.

3) On the way to your big event or tourist spot of the day, stop at every park you encounter along the way. Why? Partly because it’s fun and part of seeing what this new place is like. There are so many different kinds of parks, big green spaces, urban asphalt parks, tiny neighborhood play spaces. Your littlest kids probably won’t remember the trip, but spending time at parks will make sure they have a wonderful day, and that helps the whole group.

It’s also a way of losing time, or of filling the day in a positive way, without stressing anyone with a packed schedule.

Traveling for Big Families. 18 Tried-and-True Tips!

4) Bring water. It should be the only heavy thing in your pack. If you don’t want to carry it, know where your water sources are quickly and easily. Having clean water on hand is essential. First, for thirst, but also for rinsing scrapes and cleaning off sticky hands.

5) Instead of packing them ahead of time, buy snacks in local grocery stores. It’s a small adventure in the larger day. Use it as an opportunity to explore a non-touristy piece of the place you’re visiting. There’s nothing like going to a grocery store — especially in another country — to give you a glimpse of what it would be like to live there. What do their milk bottles look like? Do they refrigerate the eggs? How are the fruit and vegetables packaged and sold? Any new veggies you’ve never seen? What does the toothpaste look like? Is it a huge supermarket or a tiny corner grocery? Any familiar brands? Maybe with different flavors/products than you have at home? How about the candy aisle?

6) Even if you’re past the diaper stage, always carry a package of wet wipes. They come in so handy! They can wipe down a table at a restaurant, and they can wipe down a bottom when the public restroom is out of TP. You already know how awesome they are.

Twelve more tips! Keep reading.

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By Gabrielle.

Today we’re peeking in on a lovely and talented friend of mine, Samantha Hahn, a Brooklyn-based illustrator and author (her newest book just came out!) and all-around interesting person. I get really inspired poring over her current work, and I hope you’ll feel the same; a little creativity is a good way to start the day, right?

Samantha mentions below that her daughter “never hesitates to ask for what she wants and needs in life.” I love that, and it happens to be one of the characteristics of Sam herself that I admire most! Asking for what you need, or in a business sense, asking for what you’re worth, is hard for so many women. And Sam is a great personal model for me in that regard.

Also, the way she describes the street on which she lives gave me a visual I can’t quite get out of my head! It’s been making me smile ever since. Welcome, Sam! I’m so glad to spend your day with you!

Samantha’s day, straight ahead!

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Custom Photo Charms for your charm bracelet.

Photos and text by Gabrielle. This post is sponsored by Shutterfly. Celebrate mom this Mother’s Day with the perfect customizable photo gift made with Shutterfly.

Okay, Friends. Let’s talk Mother’s Day gifts. Gifts for your mom, your mother-in-law, your step-mom, your grandmother, your godmother — and maybe a little something for you, too! When coming up with gift ideas, my hope is always to find something equal parts pretty and practical. I love good-looking objects, and I love them even more if they are totally useable! For this post, I’ve partnered with Shutterfly, because they have lots of ideas that fit my criteria, plus they go one step further. These ideas are pretty, practical, and personal.

Custom Photo Charms and Initial Charms for your bracelet. Custom Photo Charms in squares and circles for your bracelet.

Idea number one: Photo Charms!
How about sending gorgeous charms with photos of your kids? You can get them as squares or circles, in silver or gold, or even surrounded with crystals. They are adorable! You can hang them from necklaces, or add them to a charm bracelet or bangle.

Personal Photo Charms in squares and circles for your bracelet.

And speaking of charm bracelets, you can create one from scratch! Pick the bracelet then customize it to your heart’s content. You could start simple, gifting the bracelet with one or two charms. And then, you could send new charms for each birthday and holiday. I find that so appealing, because it means you don’t have to keep thinking up new gifts. You simply send a new charm!

Custom Photo Charms in squares and circles. Would be fun to add photos of places we've traveled. Personal Photo Charm, surrounded by crystals. Personalized Photo Charm Bracelet, with birth stones and a Monogram Charm.

Or you could even create a full bracelet like I did here. I’ve got photo charms for each of the kids, an initial B for Blair, two birthstone jewels representing important dates to me, and a special one of Ben Blair, surrounded with crystals. Wouldn’t it be fun to team up with your siblings and create a special charm collection for your mother? You could have photo charms of all the grandkids, maybe birth stones or initials too.

Monogrammed Mason Jars - you choose the font

Idea number two: Monogrammed Mason Jars!
Talk about some super charming drinkware. I love these! I want to fill them with lemonade and add a striped paper straw immediately. They’re available in all sorts of designs — my favorites are the simple, crisp, two letter and three letter monograms, and you can choose different fonts too.

Monogrammed Mason Jars - you choose the font Custom Monogrammed Mason Jars - you choose the font

I went with the two letter option and had a set of 8 made — one for each member of the family. Since we have some repeat initials (Betty Blair and Ben Blair, Olive Blair and Oscar Blair), I used two different fonts, one serif and one slab-serif to differentiate.

Monogrammed Mason Jars - make one for each family member Monogrammed Mason Jars - cute personalized gift! Custom Monogrammed Mason Jars - cute personalized gift!

My thinking is that if we all have an assigned cup, we can use it throughout the day and lighten up our dishwashing. I’ll tell you how it goes. : )

If you’re into useable monograms, you can also try the stemless wine glasses.

Scented Candle with a Personal Photo added

Idea number three: Photo Candles!
This might be my favorite of the three ideas. Actually, I like them all, but this one is very, very cute! You can have any photo added to a candle and there are tons of designs to choose from. Again, I was drawn to the simplest one, the Photo Gallery Candle. I used a black and white image, but you can use color too.

Scented Candles with Personal Photos added. Great gift idea. Custom Candles. You pick the scents and the photos. B&W or color.

As an added bit of fun, you get choose a scent for the candle! And depending on the scent you choose, the candle will have a different color. For example, Grapefruit Blossom scent is white and Fireside Spice is red. The candles are high quality, made with an all-natural soy blend and essential oils, and they burn for 50 hours.

Add type to your custom photo candles.

I ordered two of these candles and added an Eagle Scout photo of Ralph to each one. As you can see, I included a type overlay (Ralph Blair 2016) on one of the photos, and left the other blank. There are tons of options and fonts!

Since Ralph’s grandparents couldn’t make it to his Court of Honor, I thought it would be fun to send them one of these candles to commemorate the occasion. And the scent I picked is Evergreen Forest. Perfect right? I think the green looks very scout-y.

Custom Candles. You pick the scents and the photos. B&W or color.

These make such a terrific gift! I like them because the recipient can use them up and then say goodbye. No pressure or guilt to have them out on display forever. And sending a new photo candle a few times a year, featuring a recent picture of your darling baby, to a favorite aunt or godmother, could be such a fun tradition!

Alrighty. That’s 3 ideas to get the conversation started. Now I’m curious, how do you approach Mother’s Day gifts? Do you have lots of people to buy for? Is it hard to come up with thoughtful ideas, or do you have some angst-free traditions in place (like the charms)? And if you’re a mother, what about gifts for you? Do you make a wishlist so your spouse has something to start from? Does your heart go pitty pat for homemade gifts from the kids? Or maybe all you want for Mother’s Day is a long luxurious nap?

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This post is sponsored by Shutterfly.

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polymer-clay-earrings 18

By Gabrielle. Photos and styling by Amy Christie.

Homemade earrings that don’t look homemade at all! And so easy that your kids can get involved too. How does that sound?

polymer-clay-earrings 1

Amy Christie, who is the established queen of polymer clay, sent me this idea for 3 different earrings and I loved it immediately. I’m perpetually on the hunt for sweet, pretty, usable, handcrafted projects. Ideas that are perfect for a rainy afternoon, or for a Ladies Crafting Night, or for a birthday party activity, or to make as a gift. And this project definitely fits the bill!

polymer-clay-earrings 20

Before we jump into the instructions, I’d love to hear: have you ever made your own jewelry? In my experience it takes a particular patient frame of mind from me, because the elements are so small and can escape my fingers easily. Maybe that’s why kids take to this kind of project so well — they have smaller hands!

Instructions for all 3 earrings straight ahead!

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By Gabrielle. Photos by Shannon Quinn.

Emily wrote to me after a friend introduced her to Design Mom. In her words, “I loved seeing real people living their creative lives with their kids. Seeing the lives people have put together throughout your Home Tours section — one beautiful map, accessible shelf, and cool color at a time, but all clearly real, worked for, and functional — has kept me up into the wee hours. And your invitation to participate has inspired me to write. I feel like your blog is filled with friends I haven’t met. I’d love to share my own home and story and join the party.”

There was a big yes from me, and crossed fingers that she’d send beautiful photos and more gorgeous words — and she sure didn’t let me down on either front! You’re going to find such love in this one.

Emily, welcome to the party!

Hello, everyone! I’m Emily. I live with my 11 year old son Jasper, and he lives with me, his 52 year old mama. He is passionate about soccer, has just listened to the Harry Potter series without pause, draws animals, is learning to put the salsa away after using it, and to take a shower more than once a week. He is also deeply perceptive, smart, and has won almost every hand of Rummy 500 he has ever played. We are both good listeners and are always in the mood for a good story.

Every night we read together at bedtime. It always feels like just the moment we have waited for, snuggling under the heavy covers talking about the day, asking questions. Was China an ally during WW2? If you have written a book about yourself is it a biography? We just finished Birds, Beasts and Relatives, the second in the series by Gerald Durrell about his family’s time on Corfu, just before the war. I loved loving this funny, articulate portrait with Jasper, laughing at the same passages, absorbing the same beautiful descriptions of the sea breaking into a galaxy of stars as the moon’s light shone onto its surface.

On my last birthday, a friend welcomed me to my full deck year, and that has felt both auspicious and right; Life feels very comfortable and sweet these days. I am passionate about my kid, my deep and many friendships, and my work. I have been supporting myself as a designer and maker of jewelry and of Judaica for 25 years. I am also a reckless but avid gardener who believes in moving things around, a lot.

Cooking for me is both reflexive and joyful. Standing at the stove feels like my rightful place, and when friends come over for dinner, it’s the spot from which I visit. At an early age, I was trained by my mom and my grandma to thrift shop and antique. So my house is filled with finds that tell not only a story of my aesthetic, but also of the day I found them, usually with my mom in some little shop or from the acres of Brimfield booths we visit twice a year. I find objects intriguing as well as pleasing. How they reflect their time or how their maker turns them into storytellers. Who made that sampler? Who originally — and perhaps without irony — owned that Native American couple statuette?

Though my mom, Joyce, does not live in my house, she lives near it and we drift in and out of each other’s homes on an almost daily basis. I could not have gotten luckier in the mom department. She is the most truly accepting person I know and throws the best dinner parties, with votives glowing in old crystal glasses and great conversation sparkling around the table. She has been a dancer, a teacher, a therapist, an artist, a saleswoman, and most recently an Airbnb host. And, of course, a fabulous grandmother with treasure troves of art supplies, a great sense of humor, and powerful love to give and give.

A million treasures, just ahead!

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