A Few Things

October 26, 2012

By Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends! How are you? Did you have a good week? Today, I picked the kids up from school to shouts of Vacation! Vacation! Starting now, they have a 2-week school break. Woo hoo!! We’re thinking a road trip is in order, but haven’t decided where. Any ideas?

While we study maps and look up driving distances, here are a few things I’ve wanted to share with you:
- Charming macarons for Halloween. Spotted on Poppytalk.
- How to get anyone to do anything.
- These pictures make history feel so close. Some were taken near our village. Thanks, Allysha.
- Penpals for 36 years.
- A caramel apple bar.
- A Starwars flashmob in Cologne, Germany. Spotted on Dooce. (I can’t wait to show the kids! We stood in that very spot and ate butter cake.)
- The urge for good design.

I also write for Babble. Here are some of my Halloween slideshows:
- 20 Clever Costume Ideas for grownups who love to dress-up.
- 12 ideas to prep your yard or porch for trick or treaters.
- Decorate for Halloween in a Snap 13 easy ideas.
- In case you missed it: The coolest printables for spooky & sophisticated party refreshments.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend. I’ll be imagining you at Halloween parties and trunk-or-treat gatherings and chili cook-offs! I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.


P.S. — I loved the comments about least favorite flowers this week! And thank you for the kind advice about our half-pint. : )

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{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Helen October 26, 2012 at 2:01 pm

I’m thinking Prauge – it is beautiful.

And you have to make it up to Stockholm before you come back to the US, but wait for the summer.


2 Design Mom October 27, 2012 at 2:07 pm

Oh! Prague is beautiful. I would love my children to see it. And Stolkholm too! Great suggestions, Helen. Thank you.


3 The New Diplomats Wife October 26, 2012 at 2:14 pm

lisieux, coastal road to saint malo, cathedral in rouen; ghent if you didn’t already do that, giverny (but i think you did that; ) ), chartres? have a great weekend!


4 Design Mom October 27, 2012 at 2:09 pm

Rouen, Chartres and Giverny are done, done and done. But Lisieux and St. Malo are still on our lists. The idea of exploring not too far from home is appealing.


5 kate the great October 26, 2012 at 3:22 pm

goblin valley utah. a fun place for kids and perfect for everything else. there are big crazy shaped rocks that you can run around on and go crazy! if you dont want to go to the US, spain would be fun.


6 Design Mom October 27, 2012 at 2:10 pm

I’m afraid a last-minute trip to the U.S. is out of our budget, but Spain is always a good idea. : )


7 Rosie October 26, 2012 at 3:48 pm

thank you for those WWII pictures. After I saw them I picked up “number the stars”, by Lois Lowry, and tore through it. (Had it lying around for a few weeks meaning to read it) I’d never read it as a child, but it’s a great one. Maybe your older children would enjoy a holocaust museum sometime during a school break. Auschwitz is difficult to see, but maybe Ann Frank’s home if you’re ever in the Netherlands? So many opportunities in Europe!


8 Design Mom October 27, 2012 at 2:11 pm

We’ve taken the kids to many WWII museums, but never to a museum focused on the holocaust. We should do that. Thanks for the suggestion, Rosie.


9 Nora October 26, 2012 at 4:53 pm

Not sure of your budget, but there are cheap flights to Venice…interesting time of year if the weather is not forecasted to be too bad. Or try further south to Carcassonne – very cool medieval walled town, and onto the Med coast in nearby fort town of Collioure with beautiful beach and tower overlooking the small harbor. Check with locals about driving south during a holiday, could be a log jam. The train might be better – and the train is a fun adventure too. Have fun….lucky dogs.


10 Design Mom October 27, 2012 at 2:13 pm

Venice is actually our first instinct. I haven’t checked the weather. Or flights. It’s a 12 hour drive. I’m wondering if we can split it up, 6 hours on each day…

We visited Carcassonne on our trip to Barcelona a year ago. Amazing! But I’ve never heard of Collioure. I’ll have to look it up.


11 Darci October 26, 2012 at 5:22 pm

Have you done any of these:
Amsterdam, Brussels, bruge, The Hague


12 Design Mom October 27, 2012 at 2:14 pm

Yes! We love Amsterdam and Brussels and Bruge. And they’re so close! We haven’t visited The Hague yet.


13 Heather October 26, 2012 at 5:27 pm

These macaroons are so pretty!


14 Design Mom October 27, 2012 at 2:15 pm

I think so too! They look so unexpected to me.


15 Barchbo October 26, 2012 at 7:21 pm

Have you any plans to visit the Channel Islands? Am reading Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society so I’d like a firsthand report on the environs!

Otherwise, I’d personally enjoy a photo of the Blair kids lounging on the Riviera. But again, a selfish suggestion for my own entertainment. Brussels? Luxembourg? Saint Malo? Limoges?

Happy travels!


16 Design Mom October 27, 2012 at 2:17 pm

Olive’s school class took a day-long field trip to Jersey, and now the rest of the family wants to visit too! And I loved that book.

It’s suddenly so cold here, that the Riviera also sounds appealing. And we haven’t seen Luxembourg, Saint Malo or Limoges. Too many places! : )


17 Lucy October 26, 2012 at 10:00 pm

Have you been to Austria yet? It’s fabulous. Salzburg is so cool. And there are salt mines outside the city that you can ride rail cars down in to. Vienna is a great city for kids. Lots of things for them to do. The castles at neuschwanstein and hohenschwaungau are cool. A stop in garmisch partenkirchen in germany is a must. It should be crisp and beautiful this time of year.


18 Victoria Regina October 27, 2012 at 9:18 am

I’m going to second the suggestion for Vienna. It’s an amazing city! There’s a film festival going on right now, and plenty of museums and coffeehouses and churches and cheap tickets to go to the opera or theatre. Also, the Christmas markets open up soon.


19 Design Mom October 27, 2012 at 2:19 pm

I would love to see the German Christmas markets! Last year, when we visited Cologne over New Year’s, we missed them by 1 day. Such a bummer!


20 Design Mom October 27, 2012 at 2:18 pm

Ben and I have been to Austria, but not the kids. I actually have some cousins in Saltzburg.

We’re thinking of spending Christmas in Switzerland, and then exploring Bavaria, and maybe Austria too, from our Swiss base.


21 Christi October 27, 2012 at 2:06 am

Since there is snow on the ground in Germany, near Frankfurt and it is scheduled to start snowing here in Switzerland this afternoon…I would head South to the tiny towns on the French Riviera…our favorites are Cassis, Eze, Vence, St. Jean Cap Ferat, Beaulieu Sur Mer, La Turbie, Peillon…and then Italy too, if you are wine drinkers, you could head to the Piedmont region it is Truffle time there are small truffle festivals and see Turin, and smaller towns of Alba, Barolo, Barboresco Or if you are ready to brave the cold…Berlin is the one city we haven’t been to in Europe and I would love to go…German road trip? Lots to see in Germany, Mosel/Rhine, Black Forest, Dresden, Leipzig…nearby Prague. I bought 4 pairs of ballet flats in Barcelona at your place, super cute.


22 Design Mom October 27, 2012 at 2:20 pm

Another vote for the Riviera. I think it might be calling our name. All those little towns sound wonderful just reading their names.

As for Germany, I’m hoping to save our next visit for Christmastime.


23 Chiara October 27, 2012 at 2:58 am

In Venice we have Acqua alta right now and a rainy weekend. But you can visit the Biennale di architettura and many interesting exibitions. In Italy you can think of Alto Adige or Valle d’Aosta for amazing autumnal landscapes, castles and good food.
And what about England? You are so .
Have a nice Vacation


24 Design Mom October 27, 2012 at 2:22 pm

Oh goodie! Someone from Venice. I’m embarrassed — I don’t know what Acqua alta is. But I’ll look it up! Sounds like the weather is not great. Hmmmm. But those autumnal landscapes sound pretty appealing.

And you’re right about England. We’re so close! But we’ve been quite a few times now and I think we’re in the mood to try someplace new.


25 Iren October 27, 2012 at 5:23 am

Hi Gabrielle!

I don’t know if Bilbao is too far for you to drive?
I would recommend Bilbao and visit the Guggenheim Museum. It’s great and I’m sure it’s also a good place to go with the kids. On the way there you have Bordeaux and maybe Biarritz to have a nice stop…

Enjoy your trip, wherever you go! (We will soon go to South France, near St. Tropez for the harvest of the olives…)

love, iren


26 Design Mom October 27, 2012 at 2:22 pm

I hadn’t thought about Bilbao. I’m going to look up the driving distance! We have friends near Biarritz and it would be lovely to see them.


27 anja October 27, 2012 at 7:24 am

Bilbao and San Sebastian!


28 Design Mom October 27, 2012 at 2:23 pm

Another vote for Bilbao!


29 anja October 27, 2012 at 7:28 am

and than Germany for a “Weihnachtsmarkt” before Christmas :)
Best are in Nürnberg, Dresden, München.


30 Stephanie October 27, 2012 at 8:38 am

Traveling, touring and sight seeing are great! But when we just want to get away and be together, watch movies, play games, spend some great time outdoors and drink hot chocolate we hit a Centreparc. Here in England there are 4 of them in various locations but I know they have several in France as well! They are an awesome way to get away and just be together. We had our half-term this week and just returned home from our stay there. It was awesome and I would highly recommend it!


31 Design Mom October 27, 2012 at 2:23 pm

Oh my goodness. I haven never even heard of a Centreparc. I just told Ben Blair and he’s looking it up.


32 Gea October 27, 2012 at 11:50 am

We love taking a break from our rural paradise in Basse-Normandie and visit Saint-Malo and Dinan. From Saint-Malo you can also take the boat to the isle of Jersey for some great shopping . Or follow the coast of Côtes d’Armor from Saint Brieux to Paimpol, Tréguier to Perros-Guirec. A great place to stay is in Plélo in the “Petites Maisons dans le Prairie”, run by the Irish/French couple Liz and Corentin Lamour. You will love their imaginatively decorated gîtes and B&B full of brocante! Highly recommended! Their web-site is http://www.chambres-gites-bretagne.fr/.
Closeby, Corentin’s sisters and mum run a beautiful Auberge and Brocante in a an old watermill: http://www.aucharabanc.com
Closer to (your) home, the Cotentin region (Northern Manche) is also well worth a visit.
We have travelled the world and lived in places like Indonesia, but even after living in South Normandy for over 4 years this region steeped in history with its green rolling hills, authentique villages, the quiet, the food, beautiful coastline and so much more still holds its magic.


33 Design Mom October 27, 2012 at 2:25 pm

Oh. I feel just the same! We done quite a bit of traveling now, but we continue to find Normandy endlessly appealing. It is just a feast for my eyes. I adore it here. Maybe we should spend the vacation doing more cottage shopping!


34 Miranda Gonzales October 27, 2012 at 2:20 pm

I want your exciting travel-filled life! Maybe just for a day ;-) No Halloween parties for us this year, imagine us quietly at home with our newborn in his first little costume, though no one else will see it! Halloween is my hubby’s favorite holiday and even though our son is 3 weeks old, he got him a skeleton costume that says “I love my Mummy”. Have a blast on your vacation!


35 Design Mom October 27, 2012 at 2:26 pm

Oh Miranda! A cozy Halloween at home with a newborn sounds yummy as can be. I hope you’ve taken a million photos of your little I-love-mummy-skeleton. Email me a photo!


36 Catie October 27, 2012 at 5:35 pm

Rick Steves has a pretty great Venice/Bled, Slovenia trip suggestion. If you take the summer sled ride in Bled, it might even top his Gimmelwald trip.


37 Zina October 27, 2012 at 6:25 pm

I second the Venice idea, it’s foggy and mysterious in October, with very few tourists. The Venice Biennale might be going on as well which is AMAZING art. My other suggestion, which might be far for a road trip, is Sicily. This time of year it is still lovely and warm and so delightful. Or . . . go down to where my sister lives in Chasteiul near the Gorge du Verdon. SO much good hiking there. The Gite she works at is so charming and not too crowded this time of year. I can hook you up if you are interested!


38 Phoebe Avery October 27, 2012 at 7:24 pm

Venice is really wonderful this time of year — fewer tourists, atmospheric, and fabulous things to see (scuola di san rocco, the ghetto), take a boat to (Torcello) and eat of course (Rosa Salva cafe among so many others). I can highly recommend Venice at the end of October/beginning of November and you can rent some wonderful apartments that make you feel like a true Venetian.


39 Liz and Lo October 27, 2012 at 8:14 pm

Thinking about taking a road trip to almost anywhere in Europe just sounds absolutely magnificent from here in the US! Those macaroons are works of art; thank you for sharing!
Warmest, Liz and Lo {celesteandpearl.blogspot.com}


40 Jill October 28, 2012 at 6:06 am

Hi Gabby! Glad you’re thinking about Switzerland for Christmas…my offer to stay in my home is still good…we’ll be gone from the 20th of December thru the 3rd of January. It’s truly a perfect location here in CH to explore locally and hit the Christmas markets in Germany. My mom and sisters are coming at the beginning of December and we’re driving to Munich, then on to Nuremberg and then to Prague and returning home thru Salzburg, Austria. Over the course of 5 days it will only be about 12.5 hours of driving…no more than 4-5 on a day, some just 1.5 hours. I went to the Munich Market last year and it was magical! And we just returned home from Venice a few weeks ago. It was wonderful! Get lost…easy to do…easy to find your way home. I have a yummy place to eat that is family friendly, if you’re interested. And the apartment we used thru airbnb was great. I think it would easily accomodate your family. The location was great. And take the trip out to Murano and Burano (especially Burano-amazing!) And a day trip to Verona is great to see Romeo and Juliet’s balcony and explore there. Anyway, let me know if those dates over Christmas work for you and if you’re interested…happy traveling!


41 Giulia October 28, 2012 at 6:23 am

Have you explored the Alsace area yet? And how about the Basque area and the border towns between France and Spain? In Switzerland we got this time off to pick grapes – you could check that out in France as well?


42 hanna October 28, 2012 at 2:30 pm

Check the weather forecast before you go – it started snowing in central Europe… I would try to catch the last warm days in Spain or southern France.


43 Leecy October 28, 2012 at 9:47 pm

mmm you have so many options!
Mont st Michel shouldnt be too far from you (but you have probably done that one)
Also Lyon is beautiful! especially old Lyon! and you must go to the ‘Trois Maries’ for lunch or dinner YUUUUUUMMMMY
So jealous of your possibilities and look forward to reading of your adventure where ever you decide to go :)


44 Kim October 31, 2012 at 4:32 am

Andorra! Beautiful! One day I’m pretty keen to get to Biarritz, and on the opposite side, we are looking at staying for two months in Samoens in the Alps. I think Bilbao would be wonderful as well. Oh, what a decision to make! Hoping you have a great time wherever you go!


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