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By Gabrielle. Photographs by Robyn Wishna and also Emily Rothenbucher.

Rebecca Barry is the sweetheart storyteller behind the can’t-put-it-down book Recipes for a Beautiful Life. It’s a memoir that almost didn’t happen — more on that, just ahead! — overflowing with a hilarious, often touching, and always authentic recounting of living a creative life while raising a family and translating the pressure-filled reality that most of us face on the daily. An even shorter review? It’s a joy.

Her home and interview are unsurprisingly inviting — unsurprising to me because I was hooked from our very first correspondence, when she sent me this: “We live in a  brick Italianate house built in 1865 that we bought and have been working on since our first child was born. The house is beautiful and unruly, with original hardwood floors and pocket doors, old sun porches, and hand hewn moldings. We live in half of it, and the rest is filled with wonderful tenants: artists, musicians, beekeepers and barristas. It is on Main Street in a tiny rural town. I’ve attached some pictures of little moments in our house.” Yes, I was hooked. It sounded to me like a haven of sorts. A messy and creative refuge where creativity holidays and beautiful moments simply exist.

I’m inspired every time I re-read Rebecca’s words. And I really hope you are, as well! Welcome, Rebecca!

I live with my husband Tommy and our two sons, Liam and Dawson, who are 11 and nine. Tommy and I met in 1999 when we were both working in NYC for CosmoGirl! Magazine. On our first date in October, Tommy asked me if I wanted to spend New Year’s Eve in Bermuda with him and his friend – a trip he’d been saving up for for five years. I said yes, and by New Year’s Eve I knew I would marry him. Neither of us proposed until months later – eventually we both did – but that night we were all asked to write down New Year’s resolutions that we would all read at the next reunion. The resolutions were written in private and sealed, and five years later when we opened them, Tommy had written, “I will marry Rebecca Barry” and I had written, “I will marry Tommy Dunne.” So the feeling was mutual.

Both Tommy and I work at home. I’m a writer — I write for magazines and I write books; my most recent one, Recipes for a Beautiful Life, just came out from Simon and Schuster in April. Tommy does copyediting for Glamour magazine, and a few years ago we started our own magazine, a local publication called Fresh Dirt Ithaca. It’s a profile-driven magazine about green living. This is a perfect place to write about that lifestyle, as we’re surrounded by organic farms and farm-to-table restaurants and people who keep coming up with innovative and delicious ways to live in harmony with the planet.

More loveliness ahead!


My family game night is sponsored by Wii U. How U will play next! Click here for a chance to win a Wii U™ Deluxe Set and $5,000 to take your family on vacation!
By Gabrielle.

This is my last Wii U post. It’s just a little encouragement to enter the Family Game Night Sweepstakes. You could win an awesome Wii U Deluxe — plus $5000 for a family vacation. Sounds good to me! And I would be over the moon if a Design Mom Reader was the winner.

You can find all the details here, but for a quick summary, to enter the contest, you’ll create a Pinterest pinboard named “Family Game Night.” Then pin pictures from your own game night or even inspirational photos for the game night you’d love to host.

Time’s running out! Enter by December 22nd. I hope you win!

 P.S. — I know these photos from our Wii U party are blurry, but I love the energy! See all 4 posts about our game night here.


My family game night is sponsored by Wii U. How U will play next! Click here for a chance to win a Wii U™ Deluxe Set and $5,000 to take your family on vacation!
By Gabrielle.

As promised, I have lots of Wii U party photos to share. But I’m just going to tell you first thing: When I saw the ads, I thought the Wii U looked cool, but I wasn’t sure it would be much different than the Wii. But friends, we LOVE it. It’s perfect for groups and families! And it’s perfect for a busy house.

During the party we played NintendoLand — which is the launch game for the Wii U. So of course, it really takes advantage of what the Wii U can do. NintendoLand comes with 3 types of games. There are Team Up games, where everyone works together. There are Battle It Out games, where one person uses the Gamepad Controller and plays against up to 4 more players who share the TV screen. There are also Solo Games, if you’re playing on your own.

During our party, the Battle it Out games definitely got the biggest reaction. Olive might be on the Gamepad Controller, while Ralph, Maude, Betty & Oscar played with traditional controllers. Or Ben Blair might take the Gamepad Controller and do a grownups against the kids round. It made for lots of happy shouting, excitement and laughs!

Keep reading for lots more party pics — and to see all 8 t-shirts!


My family game night is sponsored by Wii U. How U will play next! Click here for a chance to win a Wii U™ Deluxe Set and $5,000 to take your family on vacation!
By Gabrielle.

You know that little head cold I mentioned on Friday? Well, by Saturday morning it had turned into full-blown can-barely-make-it-off-the-couch sickness. And I was pretty much a lump all weekend.

But the Wii U arrived on Saturday afternoon, and the kids were soooo excited, that of course, I wouldn’t have dreamed of putting off the party. We ended up spending Saturday evening setting up, and scheduled the party for Sunday afternoon. (FYI: I’m feeling much, much better now!)

Here’s the story with set up. We did a little tag-teaming. Ben Blair and Ralph went to the grocery store to pick out party treats — in Wii U white of course. (Of course!) Grocery stores in our village close at 7:30, and they don’t open on Sundays, so this errand was pretty much had-to-be-done-right-then.

While they were at the store, I sat huddled on the sofa with a blanket, and watched 13-year-old Maude set up the console like she was some kind of gaming pro. Olive, Oscar and Betty loaded the hand controllers with batteries and put them in their protective coverings.

June helped out by being 2 years old and irresistibly cute.

Click here to see more photos and meet our Miis.


My family game night is sponsored by Wii U. How U will play next! Click here for a chance to win a Wii U™ Deluxe Set and $5,000 to take your family on vacation!
By Gabrielle.

We have been gaming console-less since we moved to France. I didn’t think we’d miss it for a year and left it in storage. But one year has turned into 2 years+, and I confess, we’ve sighed over our lack of Wii on more than one occasion. It’s not even that we’re huge gamers, it’s just that winter is really long and cold here, and those active games are so reliable to keep us moving on dreary days. (They’re such a draw for playdates too!) Anyway, Nintendo reached out about Wii U, their hot new system, and I was all: Sign me up!

Have you seen the Wii U? It looks ideal for groups and families. You can have up to 4 players splitting the TV screen and working together, and a fifth player using the screen on the new Gamepad Controller and acting as opposition. Which is awesome! And pretty much a perfect fit for our 5 oldest (because our #6 is too little anyway : ).

The launch game for the Wii U is called Nintendo Land — it’s a theme park where all the different “lands” are based on popular Nintendo worlds. Think Donkey Kong, Mario, and Zelda. Again, perfect for our crew — familiar, family-friendly games.

The console is supposed to arrive this week, and the kids are pretty psyched, so we decided to make t-shirts for our opening night competition. (Mostly, we always like a good excuse to come up with t-shirt slogans.) We used the little blue rounded “U” box from the logo for the background, and spent a dinnertime coming up with t-shirt options. Here’s what we have so far:

Wii Madame
Wii Monsieur
It’s on like Donkey Kong
Wii are the World
Team Mario
Team Luigi

If you want in on the t-shirts, you’re in luck. I’ve got downloads ready for you in two sizes, for grownups and little people. Just print out in reverse on iron-on paper. Then cut out and place it on the t-shirt. Turn it over for ironing. And voila! You’re good to go.

But first, I’d love your help. We came up with 6 designs, but we want 2 more, so that each family member has their own. Will you help us out? What should our other two t-shirts say?

P.S. — Huge sweepstakes from FM + Nintendo! Pin your own Family Game Night photos and you can win a Wii U Deluxe set plus $5000 for a family vacation. Fantastic! Find details and the entry form here.

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