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By Gabrielle.

Sarah Wallace decided to submit her home for a Living With Kids tour for a pretty unique reason: she wanted to fall just as in love with her home as the ones she’s been pinning and ogling online. She felt frustrated when her gaze shifted from the clutter-free, design perfect scenes on her monitor to her own less than idyllic space, clutter-filled most days. And she didn’t enjoy that feeling at all. None of us do, right?

So she decided to put a little lipstick on her home, straighten its skirt a bit, and let it shine for us…and for her. (Full disclosure: Sarah would like you to know what it looked like just outside of the frame of most of the pictures. Piles of paper and clutter were removed from her kitchen counters, there may be dirty dishes hiding in the sink, and all the craft supplies from the dining room table were shifted to the stairs during the photo shoot! Thanks for keeping it real, Sarah!)

Friends, I hope you enjoy the dressed up version of the Wallace family home. More importantly, I hope you take away a little bit of reassurance that pictures aren’t always worth a thousand words and all our attention; sometimes, it’s all the stuff that we try to edit that tells us the most about our lives. Welcome Sarah!

Q: Please tell us all about your family.

A: Our family consists of four people and two animals: myself, my husband Joey, our sons Oscar and Archie, our dog Lucy, and our chinchilla Matthias.

There may be a mess outside of the camera’s reach, but the rest is gorgeous!

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Living With Kids: Kayce Hughes

December 17, 2013

By Gabrielle.

Oh, we’re in for a treat today! Friends, I’d love to introduce you to Kayce Hughes: wife, mother of seven, and classic designer. I’ve worked with Kayce a lot over the years, so I can attest to the fact that she is inherently stylish; she hails from a gorgeous lineage of women who define style, among them an aunt by the name of Lilly Pulitzer! She is an anything-is-possible maker. Her style is timeless and effortless. She runs toward color, and somehow leaves us wishing for boldly patterned red chairs to match our green walls…and not just in December.

Years ago, she whipped up nightshirts for her daughters, which were the first of a now 200-plus piece collection that includes children’s apparel, gift and layette collections, a flower girl collection, and an ever expanding women’s line of clothing and accessories. She has shops, too, so if you’re lucky enough to be in Nashville, Chattanooga, or Atlanta, pop in! (I’m told her fall line is on sale 40% off!)

Q: Please tell us about the family who makes this house a home.

A: We have seven children – two boys and five girls, ages eight to 20 – and two white labs. Our children’s names are Reagan, Charlotte, Sophie, Owen, Clare, Audrey, and Olivia. And our dogs are Jack and Lilly. My husband is a great photographer, and I design woman’s and children’s clothes. There is a lot of creativity under one roof! With nine strong unique artistic personalities, there is always someone to hang out with and something fun going on.

Q: How did this home become yours?

A: We bought our house 20 years ago when Scott and I moved to Nashville from New York City. It was built in the 30’s. I have fond memories of the first few years when we spend so many hours scraping wall paper and painting one room at a time. Fourteen years ago we added on the kitchen and family room which is where we all spend most of our time. It was great to have lived in our home for so many years so that we knew what we wanted when the time came to add on.

More joy, just ahead!

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By Gabrielle.

Usually, I try to remove all time stamps from these home tours. That means cropping out Halloween decorations when possible and trying not to post summer tours in the middle of December. But Candice is good at decorating for the holidays. Like, really good. (Do you remember her Winter Wishes craft? She’s also the brilliant photographer who helped us with our Central Park family photos.) And so I threw out all the rules and begged her to share her holiday home. Her inspired Christmas decor reinforces the idea that simple is stunning, especially in excess. (Candice calls this the Anthro rule, which made me laugh. But it’s so true, isn’t it?) I hope this installment of Living With Kids offers a little inspiration, and maybe even an afternoon of cutting a billion glittery stars. Enjoy the tour, Friends!

Q: Please tell us all about this festive family.

A: Hi! Our family consists of Mark, Candice, Grant, Nicholas, Sebastian and a prideful little scotty dog named Dickens. I met Mark when I moved across the country the day before my senior year of high school started. I wish I could say it was love at first sight but really due to a rather large miscommunication when we first met it was more of a Pride and Prejudice situation. To say we barely tolerated each other is an understatement. It wasn’t until the end of the year when we were cast as husband and wife in the high school play that we stopped trying to avoid each other completely.

He moved away after high school and it wasn’t until he came back when I was a junior in college getting my BFA in photography that we knew we were in love. We were married just a few months later. We have been married for almost 15 years now and I’ve loved him every minute of it. (There is a lot more to the story including the time I set him up with my best friend…but we will just leave it at this!)

Mark is currently a Theatre Professor at a University here in San Antonio, and I teach photography online.

Grant is a new teenager and is everything Mark and I are not: brilliant at math and science with a deep love of rules and organization. I’m very grateful that there is someone in this house who loves that stuff.

Nicholas, formerly known as Cole, has decided that at the age of ten his nickname is too young for him. He also changes his name from Cole to Nicholas every Christmas season. He is charming, funny, and can make friends with anyone.

Sebastian is two. That means that you can see that there is an eight year gap between his brother and him. We waited for him to join our family for a long time and it was well worth it. He’s super smart and full of life. He pretty much rules the rest of us with his adorable demands.

That’s it. I’m painting a room black.

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Interview: Françoise Mouly

November 13, 2013

Françoise Mouly

By Carter. Image by Sarah Shatz.

[ Note from Design Mom: Friends, you may have noticed that I paused our series of Author Interviews for awhile. But our resident children's book expert, Carter Higgins, is bringing the series back today in a major way! And with a bit of twist, too — today, you get to meet a publisher/art director, and one of my personal design idols. You'll love this interview. ]

I am so excited to introduce you to Françoise Mouly today! You might know her work as the art director of The New Yorker, but she’s also the founder and publisher of TOON Books, a collection of comics and graphic novels for early readers. Her vision for kids having access to well-designed comics is innovative and inspiring. It’s magical! And radical! On top of that, she’s a mom doing a fantastic job of infusing her career with the needs of her kids. What an honor to bring her words to you today. Enjoy!

1. You’ve said, “comics are a gateway into literature.” I love this! What can comics do for kids that other books can’t? And could you speak to the complex relationship between pictures and words within those pages?

In many ways, I’m working off of what I saw when our two kids learned to read. They’re both bright kids who were surrounded by books, with the same parents who love to read, but each child went about it in his or her own way, within his or her own timeline. They both loved comics, but it was clear to me that comics were what got our son hooked on reading — that’s when the lightbulb went on. I realized you can’t force someone to enter into the world of literacy. It’s far too complex a set of skills — the child has to want to make the story happen in his or her head. With comics, you provide a clear path to get through that thicket. Comics have a unique ability to draw young readers in through their visual narrative flow. In comics, pictures are acting as words, and those ‘words’ are instantly understandable to kids. They’ll follow the flow of the images, wanting to know why this character is angry, and why this one is crying. They move on the page from left to right, from top to bottom. They effortlessly read many elements of comics storytelling: the size and shape of the panels shows what’s important, the sound effects provide a parallel track; with the speech balloons, they see written dialogue as a transcription of spoken language. Most of the issues that emerging readers struggle with are instantly clarified by comics’ simple and inviting format. You’ll forgive me if I get excited, but for beginning readers, comics are pretty close to a magic bullet!

Silly Lilly

2. Can you tell us a little bit about your mission and hopes for TOON Books?

We want to share our love of books with new generations as they come of age in an increasingly visual culture. The more there are digital assaults on our kids’ attention, the more they need books, good books. With comics, kids can take charge, can be at the wheel. Watching kids devour our TOON books should convince any skeptics left in the house of how entertaining reading can be. The TOON’s open a child’s eyes up not just to comics, but to any book’s pleasures, so it’s very important to publish books that will withstand repeated readings, books that are beautifully produced, and put them in young children’s hands. Years ago, I was passionately arguing that “COMICS — They’re not just for kids anymore!” But now that comics, in the guise of “Graphic Novels”, have acquired legitimacy — now that they are in libraries, museums, and bookstores — I’m just as passionately arguing that comics must not, in their bid for respectability, leave children behind. “COMICS — They’re not just for grown-ups anymore!” That’s my new slogan!

VIV.g.hires.spreads.cover_Page_02

3. Is there a cover of The New Yorker or a particular illustration that you would consider your favorite piece?

I take pride in the fact that the covers have not gotten predictable, that in the 20 years I have been in charge, it hasn’t settled into a “New Yorker” cover style. I’m proud of so many great covers, and of the range of artists we publish: David Hockney, Robert Crumb, Barry Blitt, Maira Kalman, Bruce McCall, so many geniuses. I get to work with the best artists of my time; it’s a real privilege. But still there’s one cover that’s more meaningful to me personally than most, and it’s the one I did right after September 11 with my husband, Art Spiegelman, the black on black silhouettes of the towers on a black field, a cover both simple and complex. It was a turning point for me because the stakes were so high. I felt I couldn’t possibly succeed, that no drawing could possibly capture what we were going through at the time. The image was born out of that negation. I accepted what I felt, my feeling of utter powerlessness and that’s what I sketched. The fact that my inability to come up with an image was the path to just the right image was a great lesson.

The New Yorker

Cover by Françoise Mouly & Art Spiegelman
First published in The New Yorker, September 24, 2001
© 2001 Françoise Mouly & Art Spiegelman, The New Yorker

4. What physical objects, places, or people inspire you to create art?

I treasure new ways to look at something I thought I knew. I love going to museums with Art, my husband; he’s such a good observer and explainer of what he sees. Looking at art makes me want to rush home to try something, anything with paints. Also sitting in nature, looking at trees, or at a brook. Anything can be a trigger, because when you do something you put all of yourself into it. You don’t partition and think: “This came from art school, this from this morning’s subway ride, and this from what my kid just did.” You simultaneously process everything you go through, so contemplative moments are good triggers. When I take in something in fully, I get so excited it makes me want to create something new. 

More questions ahead! And some especially inspiring words about parenting.

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By Gabrielle.

I normally begin these Living With Kids tours with a stunning shot of the kitchen or a vibrant welcome from the entryway. But today, I am starting off by showing you a few highly covetable pairs of children’s boots. They are the coolest, as are all the offerings from a fairly new Dutch shoe brand called de Vries. And now we get the chance to see inside the equally cool designer’s home!

Her name is Lilian de Vries, and she is a talent. When she first wrote to me, she casually mentioned she is a shoemaker. Too fun! I consider hers an artisan career that would be fantastic to announce at dinner parties. Or home tours! “Hello. My name is Lilian, and I make fabulous shoes. It is nice to meet you.” Friends, it really is nice to meet Lilian. You’ll see. Please enjoy the tour!

Q: Tell us about the family who makes this house a home!

A: I met my husband Charles in 1996 in Rotterdam while I was in art school. We used to live there for ten years in a great apartment. Two years after our daughter Ella was born in 2003, we decided to move to a house with a garden that was also closer to my work in Amsterdam, and we ultimately ended up in Utrecht, the center part of the Netherlands.

More dreamy sunlight-washed rooms ahead!

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Iota Illustration Giveaway

August 29, 2013

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By Gabrielle.

I have a really fun giveaway for you today! It’s sponsored by the etsy shop, Iota Illustration, and the prize is a $150 gift certificate for the shop prints. Hooray!

whale by iota illustration

Do you know Iota Illustration? The shop is owned and run by the talented Oliver Lake. He’s a children’s book illustrator who loves to make images that appeal to both children and adults.

I really enjoy his work! I think it would be wonderful hanging in a nursery, a playroom or a family room. Some of my favorites: Out On A Lark, Two Fine Foxes, The Cat’s Whiskers, The Bird and The Whale, and Tiger Transportation.

Iota IllustrationTiger Transportation by Iota Illustration

Wouldn’t it be fun to use one of his prints as an inspiration piece for a children’s bedroom? And it’s not just prints. His illustrations are available on throw pillows, iPhone cases, tote bags, and t-shirts. Cute!

Visit Iota Illustration and leave a comment below to enter — I’d love to hear which print catches your eye first! The winner will be announced on Monday. Good luck!

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By Gabrielle. Images by Iris Thorsteinsdottir for Kid & Coe.

I’m fond of our home tours for a lot of reasons, but one of my favorites is that it gives me the chance to truly learn about living with kids in every corner of the world. Practical advice and personal experience from real families are the best, made even better with pictures and local accents! As I mentioned to Laura this week, you just never know where you’ll want to move your family tomorrow. Perhaps to Bristol? It sure sound lovely. (And then there is the matter of Banksy, graffiti artist extraordinaire! How cool would it be to casually name-drop him as your neighbor?) I know you’re going to adore Laura and the Hall home, and I’m also pretty sure you’re going to love the company she keeps, known as Kid & Coe, especially if you’ve got little ones and despise traveling with all the gear they seem to accumulate! Welcome, Laura!

Q: Tell us all about your sweet family living in the UK!

A: Four of us live here. I’m Laura, the Communications Manager of Kid & Coe, traveler, magpie, and generally creative person. I’m joined by my husband Matt, an IT risk consultant by day (yawn!) but a dastardly food blogger and inventive cook by night (yum!). There’s also our bumptious three year old daughter Olivia, who loves to sing and read, often at the same time, and our four-year-old cat Sukie, who I rescued when she was just five weeks old. She’s lovely but thinks she’s a human most of the time.

Q: How did this house become your home? (And please tell us what it’s like to buy or rent in Bristol…just in case any of us are interested!)

A: We love our home so much! We bought it four years ago after living in a hip city center apartment, because we wanted to be near a park and to have a family in a lovely area. I got pregnant within a month of moving in. I have so many friends on this street and the next who all have three year olds. Who knows what they’re putting in the water!

One of the best things in my life was getting pregnant while living here. We live on top of a hill, and one day I was puffing up it, heavily pregnant, when a lady opened her door and invited me in for tea. She had a bunch of other mums from the street having tea in her garden, and just like that I was invited into the Richmond Street mums club! It’s lovely, and I really like that the vibe is like that round here.

More of this darling home…plus a bomb shelter! Just click!

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By Gabrielle.

There’s something special about the Woolley home. It’s definitely in a state of repair and redesign, I’m sure the exposed brick lends an added chill, and the constant sprinkling of dust from the perpetual updating must get old. But on the flip side, it’s a home where anything seems possible when the sunlight streams in. It’s a home where cuddling up together in one room creates all the warmth needed. And as for the dust, who notices such things against such a colorful backdrop? From the way Chelsey describes her six children to the way she chooses wall color and their two non-negotiable house rules, this is a tour to enjoy. I really hope you do!

Q: Tell us about the sweet family making this house a home!

A: My husband, Woo (not his real name, but a name that he goes by and the name that I almost always call him), likes to say that we met in the pediatrician’s office. We did have the same pediatrician, but I think that we most likely met for the first time in high school where he was friends with my little brother, and I was friends with his older sister. We didn’t start dating until I’d graduated from college, and after we kept seeing each other at things like thrift stores, gigs, and Ultimate Frisbee. We like to say that Woo’s the public face of our family — personable, often hilarious, and friendly. He works from home as a self-employed app developer. I’m a stay-at-home mom driven to read or fiddle around with the house in my spare time. I have a degree in science, but wish I’d done something much more right-brained. Soon after we married, we moved to St. Louis and started our family. Four of our children were born there, and the last two were born here in Utah.

Ruby, eight, is our resident tomboy. She can run, climb, play in the dirt, and collect bugs and rocks with the best of them. She is also extremely compassionate, generous, and social. She has many, many big ideas; right now she has lots of plans for her future involving the study and cultivation of sharks.

Herbie, seven, would love to be the oldest kid, but is making the most of being the oldest boy. He considers himself an expert on anything he’s done (even just once), or heard about (even just barely), and will unload what he knows on his little brothers. Despite trying to be an adult in every way, he definitely has a slapstick sense of humor, loves a good knock-knock joke, and still loves hugs from his mom and tickles from his dad.

Moses, five, is our sweet, sensitive middle child. He gives the most sincere, surprising compliments, has an angelic, innocent smile, and is very affectionate. He also is the kid who best understands comedic timing and the anatomy of a good joke. He would really, really like to be good all the time, but sometimes just can’t help himself when his little brother takes one of his cars, or his big sister involves him in an exciting, sneaky plan.

If you think the turquoise kitchen is bold, wait until you see the dining room!

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By Gabrielle.

I smiled all the way through Heather‘s tour, but especially so when I read her clean house philosophy: “Our house will become a mess every single day. I accept that. I feel like we’re succeeding if at least once a day, the house is as neat as I want it to be, and at least once a day it’s as crazy as they want it to be.” It’s a refreshing compromise, don’t you think? Everyone seems to win, at least for a few hours!

Friends, this is clearly a home where the children’s informal preferences have merged with the adults’ decidedly more formal leanings in every room, which must be a dream for the kids and make them feel like this is where they belong. Someday, the formal side may win out. Until then, I’m pretty sure no one minds being seated at the kids’ table! I really hope you enjoy the peek into Heather’s home as much as I did.

Q: Tell us about the neat family making this house a home!

A: Hi, I’m Heather. I’m a mom, blogger, and opera singer (by way of Russian literature and law school). I live in this house with my best friend Kent, a patent attorney who is much kinder and funnier than his job makes him sound. We’ve been married nine years and we have three little sugar plums. There’s my honey-love preschooler, Fluffy, and my twins, 21 month-old twin agents of anarchy, Salty and Peppers. I personally would love to use my kids’ real names, but I promised my husband long ago that I would use pseudonyms for them when posting on the internet.

When we bought this house, my style was very, very formal. Six years and three kids later, I’m down to very formal. I know what you’re thinking: “Ring the police! Children being raised by a formal mother! Bring in the governess to make them play clothes out of old curtains!” It’s not like that, really. I’ll admit, my house is a little high maintenance, and most days I’m okay with that. Our home is filled with special, beautiful things and people that I love and take care of.

Lots more to see, including two kitchens…kind of!

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Petting Zoo 1

Petting Zoo

Petting Zoo 3

Petting Zoo

By Koseli.

My husband and I are huge Christoph Niemann fans (as I’m sure so many of you are!) and just heard that he has a new app for children and adults called Petting Zoo. It’s an interactive book with illustrations of 21 animals. When you swipe or tap each animal, it reacts in a surprising way. What would an elephant in the bathroom do? Can a dog breakdance? I can’t wait to play with this. It’s right up my alley. The app is available for iPhones and iPads.

Do you have any favorite apps or digital pictures books you love? Which ones do your children love the most? I haven’t been able to find many I’ve liked for my 18-month old son, but we love Wee Alphas, Timbuktu, and Where’s Puppy. We also let our son draw on the iPad using the app Paper. It’s so cool!

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Living With Kids: Andrea Gorda

December 18, 2012

By Gabrielle.

When I browsed through Andrea‘s home tour for the first time, I was in a bit of a rush. Deadlines were clamoring for my attention, and I was just about to listen. Until time seemed to stop, and I found myself in a little spot where books were as big as afternoon ideas. The view outside the windows seemed to go on forever, which is probably the best thing for daydreams. And whatever this family who lived here wanted to make? I bet they had everything they needed to make it. It was just one of those spaces that spoke to me. And I think it asked me to stay awhile. So let’s do that right now. Please enjoy Andrea’s home, Friends!


Q: Tell us all about the cute Canadian family who lives here!

A: We are five. Glenn, my wonderful husband, is a natural gas inspector. I’m Andrea. I was in watershed management but became a stay-at-home mom who raises some livestock and dabbles in art. Our first child is Katie, a five year old, old soul who giggles, loves reading Charlotte’s Web, and is best mates with her brother Jack. He’s four years old and loves grand storytelling with elaborate details, twisting plots, and implausible scenarios. Madeleine is an eight month old babbling, standing, into-it-all firecracker who has the loveliest smile. Eyes on that one at all times! Molly, scruffy dog one, and Clyde, scruffy dog two, come in to lie by the fire.

In our electric blue chicken coop (by the by, never pick paint colors while pregnant!), we’ve some dear old laying hens. And past the garden is our grass-fed herd of Dexter cows who help to keep Trixie, old pony extraordinaire, company.



You’ve got to see Andrea’s canning shelves!

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Living With Kids: ace&jig

November 27, 2012

By Gabrielle.

This one’s different. Completely. It’s a little less of what you’ve come to expect from a Living With Kids home tour and a lot more of what you’d expect from a love story about two friends. Because, to me, this is exactly how Cary Vaughan and Jenna Wilson’s life reads. They’re the gorgeous designers behind ace&jig — Cary is the brunette, and Jenna is the blonde — which is a cool enough story on its own. (Have you seen their clothes? I think this skirt should be traipsing through the gardens of La Cressonnière!) But then there’s their personal relationship. They met as interns over ten years ago, became roommates and bridesmaids in each other’s weddings, and now live and work together in the same neighborhood where they’re also raising their babies. See? A television series in the making! Friends, meet Cary and Jenna. This is how they live and work with kids in two separate houses and one studio. Enjoy!

Q: Where do you live?

A: We both are lucky enough to live in a not only picturesque (think Cosby show brownstones!) but very supportive community of Park Slope Brooklyn. We live very close to Prospect Park, which was designed by the same designer as Central Park, and we spend many weekends there. It’s wonderful to have a respite right in the middle of our city. There are a plethora of children that live here, playgrounds to romp around in, and many cool and creative activities abound. Needless to say, our children are never bored. In fact, they’re probably overstimulated!

textiles galore, just ahead!

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New Antiquarian Wallpaper

October 22, 2012

By Raleigh-Elizabeth.

I like plain, clean walls. They’re the perfect canvas for art, photographs, you name it. But the minute I open a decorating magazine, I’m mesmerized by all pretty wallpapers! Even though it’s the exact opposite of my plain jane walls, I can’t get this wallpaper from Anthropologie out of my mind. It’s so quirky! It’s not too floral, or too graphic, and it’s definitely original.

I imagine it in a hallway with a great umbrella stand in the corner and some dachshunds running around, which, like the wallpaper, I also do not own. But I bet they’d go very well together. What do you think? Is it busy? Disruptive? Or just the thing?

P.S. — As long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to wallpaper a powder room in old New Yorker covers. If you could use anything to wallpaper a room, what would it be? I think your children’s drawings would be so cute, too!

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By Gabrielle.

The first time I saw photos of Tracey‘s home, I thought that there is no way this is a house that holds four boys and all of the dirt and noise they carry with them. It’s far too beautiful, far too white, and with such healthy doses of femininity! But then I read her story. And with every answer to my every question, I learned that this gorgeously decorated house has nothing on the beauty that’s happening inside this family’s hearts. There’s no way this house can’t hold those four boys and all of the dirt and noise and goodness they carry with them! Sheer loveliness and a pretty unbelievable story of how this family came to be, straight ahead. Please enjoy it!


Q: Please tell us about the family who makes this house a home!

A: Within these four walls resides a family of six. Two amazing, doting, giving, selfless, magnificent, parents (wink wink) and four adorable, energized boys. Josh, the hubs, is an amazing father and supportive husband. Our boys idolize him and I adore him. He built the chickens a dollhouse-styled coop, all because he knew I would love it. He’s a keeper.


Shy, our oldest Thing, is eight. He came to us when he was just three, an absolutely adorable terror. Now, he’s still adorable and has outgrown most of the terror! He is my mama’s boy, already planning out how he’s going to take care of me when I’m old. Ari, Thing 2, was 15 months old when he came home. He is our sweetheart who just wants to love and be loved. He is also our muscle man, and conquered the monkey bars at two years of age. If you are wondering, Shy and Ari are biological siblings. Bryce, Thing 3, is four. He showed up to the party nine months after we brought our oldest two home. OOPS! He is the family cuddle bug, social butterfly, girl crazy, knight/superhero/tiger, resident expert on everything. Last but not least is Cooper, Thing 4, who just turned two this summer. The boy is always on the move, determined to keep up with his brothers. If he’s not scaling a wall, tackling the pup, or chasing the chickens, chances are he is reading a book or cuddling on someone’s ear.

And then there’s me, Tracey Lynne: wife, mama, blogger, amateur photographer, beachaholic, party thrower, DIY enthusiast, reception coordinator/designer, and boogey monster chaser. I wear dresses as often as possible and love pink, bows, and ruffles. Cupcakes are my favorite.

You won’t want to miss the rest of this family’s story.

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A Few Things

September 7, 2012

Hello, Friends. How are you? Did this week run away from anyone else? Or is it just me? I told you I would share a report from our Swiss trip, plus our back to school photos, and I haven’t posted either. Oh dear! But on the bright side, I made a little dent in my inbox. Which is something!

I’m really looking forward to the weekend. Our kids have sign up sessions for their fall extra-curricular activities — stuff like dance, trombone, horseback riding and tennis lessons. I’m sure it will be busy and full. And I’m sure my lack of French will ensure I misunderstand at least half of the instructions we receive. : ) How about you? Any fun plans for this lovely September? Maybe some apple or peach or blackberry picking?

While I map out the weekend schedule, here are a few things I’ve wanted to share with you:
-A la la lovely little girl’s room. Dancing unicorn included.
- A sweet way to tell someone they mean more to you than the Sun and the Moon. And even Saturn.
- Vote for your favorite American Made artisan!
- Animal badges to make with your kids.
- The Diminutive Review. A new blog focused on finding beautiful children’s clothing at deeply discounted prices.
- Fabric on the walls instead of paper.
- Have you entered the $5000 Pottery Barn Kids Sweepstakes? You could win a design consultation with me!
- Find a new artist featured on the excellent site, Wondereur. (And she’s a mom!). Plus, they built a web app, so now you can access their great content even without an iPad.

I also write for Babble. Here are some fun slideshows I put together this week:
- 22 Ideas for Creating a Gallery Wall.
- Inspiring Nursery Decor — projects you can make yourself.
- Scarf Style. Don’t be intimidated by wearing scarves. I’ve gathered tons of great ideas.
- Decorate for Fall! DIY ideas you’ll love.
- Are your kids already talking Halloween? Mine too. Here are clever costume ideas to get you inspired.

I hope you have a marvelous late summer/early fall weekend! I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.

kisses,
Gabrielle

P.S. – We did a little more cottage hunting this week. One house featured that staircase above. It’s still on my mind…

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Peter Brown would make the best dinner party guest. He’s witty with even a minimum of words, has charming stories from his childhood (The first line of his entertaining bio reads: “I was born and raised in Hopewell, New Jersey, which is a great place to live especially if you like mosquitoes and poison ivy.” Ha!), and would be the absolute best teammate for a post-dinner game of Pictionary. These same qualities make him a pretty wonderful children’s book author and illustrator, too. When he describes his process — “I say as much as possible with my paintings, and whatever I can’t say with the art I say with words. My stories don’t have many words, but it takes me a long time to think up the words that I use.” – it makes me want to choose my words more thoughtfully. I’ll start with Peter Brown’s ever so thoughtful ones! Please enjoy them.

Q: What’s the one childhood memory that still seems as clear as the day it happened?

A: I’ll be honest. I don’t have a good memory. But my childhood memory that stands out most has to be during one of my family’s summer trips to a little island off the coast of Maine. I was returning to the house from a morning spent picking wild blueberries. I used my shirt as a basket to carry the berries when a deer walked out of the woods (the deep, dark, scary woods) and right up to me. The deer just stood there looking at me, a few feet away, so I grabbed a handful of berries and reached out. The deer licked the berries right out of my hand, and then walked back into the woods. I was about five years old.

Q: What qualities do you think contribute the most to your success in children’s book publishing?

A: I think my ideas for stories are unusual enough to be interesting, but familiar enough to be relatable. I’ve had good luck creating characters that people seem to really enjoy. My pictures don’t make sense without my words. And my words are useless without my pictures. This makes for an engaging reading experience.

Click for more Peter Brown!

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Raise your hand if you’ve read every single Skippyjon Jones book aloud to a little one. Keep it up if you did so in a truly authentic cat-who-believes-he’s-a-Chihuahua voice! We can all thank Judy Schachner for these unforgettable moments and, with every new Skippyjon Jones book she releases, our well-honed and probably pretty hilarious Spanish accents! Friends, I loved getting to know Judy. Her understated response to my first question floored me, and I’ve since softened my tone when reading Junebug Jones’ words out loud. I hope you enjoy her, too.

Q: I always ask about childhoods. For some reason, we all imagine that a creative mind like yours was inherited! How would you describe your upbringing and early family life?

A: I grew up in an Irish Catholic working class family where money was as tight as our apartment was tiny. My brother Kevin, who was six years older than I, was the funny-bone of the brood. My brother Ted, who was eight years my senior, was always considered the family artist. My Dad, a man as decent and honest as they come, was a machinist, and my musically gifted Mother was a homemaker. She was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer when I was eight.

Anxiety was always the elephant in the room and my way of not getting trampled was to escape through my imagination. I sketched thousands of characters on long sheets of shelf paper taped to the wall of our one and only bathroom. But as I’ve come to realize, it was never really about the art; it was more about being able to morph into every creature that I put down on paper.

Many of my characters’ stories began in orphanages or convents. I loved drawing nuns in their habits…I loved rags to riches stories with incredibly happy endings…it’s what I wanted most for my own life. Other potent themes in my secret world of morphing centered around beautiful women of questionable virtue, with exotic accents, tragic lives, and fabulous wardrobes. On the other side of that bathroom door, little Judy was smoking her pencils and drinking water like it was champagne.

Q: We would love to hear about your studio and where you’re most creative; what’s your view while you work?

A: I have a brand new studio in my home which for me is a dream come true. It has great windows and plenty of storage. I have a large drafting table and several work tables that are usually covered in projects, reference materials, and art supplies. There is also a floor-to-ceiling bulletin board wall which doubles as a painting area for larger works.


I am surrounded by things that inspire me: toys, textiles, books, and taxidermy (somebody’s got to love those poor creatures). My studio is on the second floor, up in the trees, and it’s beautiful during a snowstorm. I listen to all kinds of music, including my daughter Sarah’s compositions, which she scores for film and television. I’m a huge fan of all things NPR, as well.

Don’t miss the rest of Judy’s interview! Just click to see it.

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I’ve told you before that I’m not a super emotional person, haven’t I? It’s really true. Usually. Just not after reading Regina Sirois‘ interview answers. They are so genuine, written straight from her sweet heart, and her last three answers left me sitting sentimentally for some very long minutes. This is certainly a lovely home, friends, but this tour left me admiring so much more than the Sirois family furnishings. Please enjoy it.

[ 6/19/12 Update: This just in! Regina won the Young Adult Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award for 2012. That's a big deal! Go Regina!! ]

Q: Tell us about the family who makes this house a home!

A: We have an unconventional home because we have an unconventional life. (Don’t we all?!) My husband is an artist who does visual special effects and computer animation, and I am novelist. We both work from home with our two daughters who are four and nine. With all this togetherness (day after day after day) we need a home that we like to be in because we are always there! Together. Always.


You’ll love the rest of the tour. Just click to see it!

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Scrolling through Cortnie’s photos made me a little sleepy, and I mean that in the most wonderful way! Her home — despite being filled with twin boys who probably fill up the space with lots of laughter, dirt, and noise! — seems so calm, content, and positively airy. All the perfect conditions for the perfect nap, wouldn’t you agree? It honestly made me think back on my own childhood, especially those lazy afternoons with the ceiling fan making the curtains dance, lulling me into an unexpected slumber. Enjoy the tour, Friends, and be sure to tell me if you had the same reaction to this sweetly sleepy home!

Q: Tell us all about the family who lives here!

A: In our home lives my husband Gary, myself, one huge black and white tomcat, one petite calico, and our twin three year old boys, August and Liam.

Click to enjoy the rest of the tour!

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Did you know it’s Babar’s 80th Anniversary? We are big Babar fans at the Blair house — even before we moved to France.: )  In fact, I have very specific memories of being 6 or 7 years old, sitting on the floor in the children’s room at our local library, and enjoying a stack of Babar books. I’ll bet many of you have similar memories!

The newest Babar book is Celesteville Games. Athletes from all over the world come to compete. Oh. Plus, Flora is all grown up and getting married! If you’re already a Babar fan, I’m sure that mini synopsis is enough to intrigue you. And if Babar is new to you, I hope you’ll hit the library and read up on his adventures. There are over 40 books — and the  stories are always matter-of-fact, calming, and fascinating all at once.

How about you? Any Babar fans at your house?

P.S. — The New York Times shared a neat video of an interview with Laurent de Brunhoff.

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