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Call It A Day: Erin Allan

March 11, 2015

By Gabrielle.

Do you remember Erin Allan’s home tour? If you need a refresher, she was the one living in the outskirts of Nairobi, running a community-empowering company and…hmm, what else was I going to tell you about her? Oh, yes! Sometimes she chooses not to bike her kids to school because of lion sightings or a wayward bunch of baboons. Now do you remember?

I’m so happy to follow her through a random Thursday. It’s the similar yet so strikingly different things we all do that makes this so interesting to me. How we errand, how we balance work and play, how we stay home or venture out, and how we avoid the dangers in our path like it’s no big deal. It’s all fascinating, isn’t it? (I hope you are nodding your head.) Please enjoy Erin’s day!

Q: Good morning! How did your family wake up?

A: It’s Thursday, so the kids don’t have to be at school till eight, which means we all wake up pretty naturally at seven. As we are on the equator, it gets light the same time every day and the chickens outside are a natural alarm clock.

Tor wakes first. He’s eight and seems to have a large quota of words he has to say every day and starts right away. This morning it’s ‘You are not allowed to fly on the platypus plane!’ There’s no stipulation that the words he says have to make sense! He’s got a wonderfully self-deprecating sense of humour, so he is able to get everyone laughing at an early hour.

Nina is next. She’s ten and needs a few more minutes to start her day, like her dad. She might have a few minutes on her tablet or play some piano before breakfast.

Jan is the slowest waker upper, but that’s allowed; many mornings he’s out of the house at 5:30 to go to a site. He designs and fabricates tents for luxury safari camps and lodges, and spends a lot of time in the bush. He’s just got his pilot’s license and can now fly himself to site, which means his days are far more productive. He has a workshop at home so he can get up later and still be in the office by eight today.

It is a good thing they didn’t bike to school today! See why, straight ahead.


Zazzle Home Fall 2014

By Gabrielle. This post is brought you by Zazzle

Last year I wrote about the Zazzle’s revamped home decor department, and happily, it just keeps getting better and better! They offer pillows in square, rectangle and round shapes, with several size options. They have fun kitchen stuff like cutting boards, serving trays. wooden coasters, and tea towels. You can find pendant lamps and table lamps. Also, stickerspoufs — even light switch plates!

Every items is available in thousands of designs. And the extra special thing about Zazzle products is that you can customize them any way you like — you can even create your very own original design that other people can order!

But the main thing you need to know is that Zazzle is running their Warm Winter Wishes Sale right this minute! Get 20% Off All Orders + 50% Off Mugs & Ornaments with the code: WARMWISHES4U. Hooray! Just in time to get our homes freshened up for Thanksgiving.

Tell me, Friends. Have you turned your attention to Thanksgiving and the December holidays yet? Or are you letting Halloween hang around for another week or so? We’ve put Halloween away, but I’m still thinking about what I want to do for Thanksgiving. I really like this Autumn in the City tea towel and am toying with the idea of using it as an inspiration starting point. What’s inspiring your November?

P.S. — I featured some of my current favorites in the collage above. Here are links:

Row 1: Grey & Yellow Pillow, Bike PillowI’m Not a Morning Person Pillow

Row 2: Heart Cutting BoardGreen Triangles Cutting BoardVintage Cutlery Cutting Board

Row 3: Black & White StripesFrench Throw PillowVintage Santa Pillow

Row 4: Gray Floral Pendant LampNavy Houndstooth Pendant LampPlum Blossom Pendant Lamp

Row 5: Modern Colors Round PillowElephant Dandy Round PillowBlack & Yellow Round Pillow


A Few Things

October 31, 2014

Halloween 20144Halloween 20143

Images and text by Gabrielle.

Bet your bottom dollar — it’s Halloween!!

We’ve got a big full day ahead. Costumes, school parades, trick or treating, Maude’s friends are coming for a sleepover, and my parents are staying with us for a couple of days. It feels like a finale for October! How about you? How are you doing? And what’s Halloween like at your house?

I have to say, it’s so strange to have Ralph and Olive gone during a holiday. Olive is having a particularly fun Halloween. She’s on school vacation and is spending it with her cousins in England. Ben Blair’s sister Carol, and her husband Dan, are stationed near Cambridge on a military base, and lucky Olive is spending the week with them. She said it’s like a miniature U.S.A. and trick or treating headquarters! And Ralph is having a sort of non-Halloween. He’s in France and keeps forgetting it’s Halloween season because it’s simply not a big holiday in France at all. As you can imagine, we miss them both like crazy.

Halloween 20145

For costumes this year, Oscar chose Frankenstein, Betty chose a vampire, and June chose Annie. These pictures were taken last Saturday before our church Trunk or Treat party. Maude is also dressing up. She went to school as Raggedy Ann. She looks adorable, but she rushed out the door so fast I don’t even have a photo! Hopefully we’ll get another chance this evening.

We have one other twist to our Halloween. Our elementary school is transforming into Hogwarts for the day, so of course, Oscar and Betty wanted to join in the festivities and dress up as characters from the Harry Potter books during school. Betty is going as Ginny Weasley. And Oscar is going as Neville Longbottom. We stayed up late last night making super cool wands and they are both delighted with their get ups.

Gosh it’s fun to see how much my kids like Halloween!

Halloween 20142

I’ll be away from my desk for most of today, but before I head out, here are a few things I wanted to share with you:

- Inspiring Old Masters.

- We need to stop saying babies ruin our bodies.

- I love this Dear Prudence answer — “Stop being callous and miserly and go to Costco, you cheapskate…” Thanks, Michelle.

30 sobering facts to mark the last day of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Thanks, Lisa.

- This costume!

- Gruesome violence is a reality for the women of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This Saturday, you can join with people around the world to fight back. All you need is your yoga mat.

- Creepy food! See more of the artist’s work here.

- “We are rounding up and silencing a generation of schoolchildren, and terrifying those who care for them. We are giving away precious time to teach and learn while we cower in fear.” On lockdown drills from a pre-k teacher. Thanks, Beccah.

From the Onion: I don’t support feminism if it means murdering all men.

- 10 greatest changes of the past thousand years.

- Step away from the screen and make something! Olive Us and SAFTSAMS have a fun promotion going on. Take a photo/video of your kid with something they made, and it could be included in a super cool video! Details here.

Halloween 20146

I hope you have a fantastic weekend and a Happy Halloween! I can’t believe tomorrow is November. Is it really time to talk pilgrims and turkeys? Amazing! I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.



Better Water

October 30, 2014


Images and text by Gabrielle. This post is brought to you by Soma.

Question: how do you guys handle water drinking in your family? Do you drink from the tap? Favor ice? Use a fridge door dispenser? Drink bottled water? Or perhaps you prefer juice or soda and skip the water altogether? This is how it goes at our house: during our France years we changed up our water drinking in two ways: 1) we stopped using ice, and 2) we started keeping our drinking water in the fridge in glass bottles with spring top lids — which kept it ready and cold (and was part of why it was easy to stop using ice).

But I’ve been wanting to figure out a new system, because the spring top lids are tricky for the youngest 3 to open, the narrow bottle necks make them difficult to clean, and overall I feel like we could and should be drinking more water. I think I’m especially feeling it because the week of Halloween is a candy fest, and I’m wanting to combat the sugar with fresh, clean water.

Then, last week I had a serendipitous moment. I was learning about the critical need for clean water in developing countries and about organizations like charity:water who are dedicated to solving that problem, and on the same day I heard from the folks at Soma, who support charity:water with every purchase. I took it as a sign. : ) My Soma carafe + filter was delivered over the weekend and we’ve been using it non-stop all week.


So far, the whole family is really liking the Soma. It’s easy to pour — even for the four year old, easy to fill, and easy to clean. All key things I was looking for to help our family establish better water drinking habits. Plus it’s gorgeous! But it’s also a sustainable company that I’m excited to support and promote.

We all know that drinking filtered water instead of buying plastic water bottles helps to reduce waste, but Soma’s sustainability goes much further. Soma’s award-winning filters are 100% biodegradable and are made from all-natural Malaysian coconut shells (awesome!), and plant-based resin. They reduce chlorine, lead, selenium, arsenic, and contaminants that harm your immune system.* And best of all, the filtered water tastes so good!

One of the main reasons I thought it could really work for our family is that the new filters are delivered to your mailbox every 60 days so you never forget to replace them. It’s really appealing to me that replacing the filter is automated and doesn’t become an extra errand on my list. Plus, as I mentioned above, every filter you buy from Soma includes a donation to charity:water to support their essential work around the world. So fantastic!

My one concern is that the glass looks so delicate that I wondered if it was easily breakable. But I read that it’s shatter resistant, and is tested with drops from 8 feet! I’m no longer concerned. : ) I was thinking it would be a really good gift for the holidays — one of those gifts that keep giving.


If you’d like to give Soma a try, here’s a fun incentive: Click here and the first 50 readers will receive $15 off their purchase using code DM15. Go for it!

Now back to my original question: how do you handle water drinking in your family? Are you trying to drink more water? Or are you guys already pros at staying healthy and hydrated? And what’s your take on water filtration?

*Soma is serious about water filtration. The Water Quality Association (WQA) tested Soma to NSF/ANSI Standard 42 requirements for materials safety, and chlorine, taste and odor reduction. PACE Analytical tested more specific contaminants both at EPA contaminant regulation levels and at NSF Standard 53 levels. The Soma water filter has been third-party verified to reduce lead, selenium and arsenic levels as well.


Halloween for Party Poopers

October 29, 2014

By Gabrielle.

As I’m sure you know, Halloween is on Friday. And that means school costume parades, class parties, and of course, trick-or-treating.

For most kids it’s a BIG DEAL holiday. What could be better than wearing a costume and collecting a bucket full of candy? But I have plenty of grownup friends that have been counting down the minutes till Halloween is over since October 1st. I get it. It’s simply not appealing to everyone.

So I came up with a bunch of ideas for those of you who are costume averse, or have a costume averse significant other. They’re super easy, high impact ideas, and the kids in your life will LOVE to see you take part in the Halloween festivities — even in a small way. Let me save you from being a party pooper!

I’ve shared this little video for the last two years, but I still get comments that it’s helpful, so hopefully it will help a few of you this year as well.

Happy Halloween!


Book of the Week: The Memory of an Elephant — by a French author + illustrator team.

Images and text by Gabrielle.

Last month I wrote a post about four picture books we’ve added to our library, and this month I thought it would be fun to share another four. As you may remember, I’m trying to write less posts this year, but keep them packed with content, so sharing 4 books once each month, instead of one small book post each week could be a great solution!

1)  First up, The Memory of an Elephant: An Unforgettable Journey. Written by Sophie Strady, with illustration by Jean-Francois Martin.

Book of the Week: The Memory of an Elephant — by a French author + illustrator team.Book of the Week: The Memory of an Elephant — by a French author + illustrator team.

Such a cool book! And totally unusual. There’s a storyline you can follow about Marcel the Elephant as he writes and encyclopedia, but it’s also a book that packed with information — sidenotes and tidbits — so you can browse the pages without following the story at all.

And the images! So dang good.Both the author and illustrator live in Paris and the book definitely has a chic French feel. I feel like this book is a treasure.

Book of the Week: Little Pear Tree

2) The Little Pear Tree by Jenny Bowers.

Book of the Week: Little Pear TreeBook of the Week: Little Pear Tree

My friend, Annie, who owns Brimful Shop (and is a frequent commenter here — you may have seen her name), sent this book for June. It’s delightful! The book follows a pear tree over a full year, and readers watch at the tree transforms over the pages.

It’s interactive too. Each spread has lots of flaps to lift, hiding happy little discoveries. A perfect nature book for the littlest ones.

Click for two more titles! Jumping Jack and In This Book.


A Few Things

October 17, 2014

cinderella pumpkins

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends! How was your week? Mine was good! On Monday night, Ben Blair and I went to dinner with Brad and Kristi Montague, the couple that writes and produces the fantastic Kid President videos. The dinner totally pumped me up! Such a talented, sincere, hardworking couple. I’ve been thinking about the evening ever since.

The second happy thing: The weather has finally cooled down here a bit! It’s hovering around 70 — I realize that’s still totally mild, but it feels closer to fall than it did last week. : ) And speaking of fall, we are in full Halloween costume mode around here (Oscar wants to be Frankenstein, Betty wants to be Dracula, and June wants to be Annie), and I suspect that’s what we’ll be working on this weekend. That, and more progress on the Girls’ Room. How about you? Any weekend plans?

I’m off to a lunch meeting in a bit, but before I head out, here are a few things I’ve wanted to share:

Which English you speak has nothing to do with how smart you are. Thanks, Ainsley.

- The best way to respond to a bully. Thanks, Natalie.

- A very powerful read on what happens when a company tackles Ebola.

- Cozy nook inspiration!

- This boggles my mind a bit, but apparently seven pounds isn’t what ten pounds is. New research indicates that heavier babies are also healthier — and do better in school. (All my babies were tiny! None even close to 10 lbs.) Thanks, Kat.

- This also boggles my mind. What a $95 million apartment looks like. Thanks, Audrey.

- Woah. These shrimps can see cancer, and now, there is a camera that can, too. Thanks, Matt.

- The cutest marshmallow monsters.

- A group of professional moms called the Nappy Collective in Melbourne are running an Australia-wide diaper drive. In August alone, they collected 82 thousand diapers. I’m so curious if you see diaper drives like this where you live?

- PLEASE let this be true. #bringbackourgirls

- Oh man. This is amazing, mind-blowing and ultimately incomprehensible to me. Made me tear up thinking about how precious life is.

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



pumpkins on the porch

This post is sponsored by Target. Shop Home Décor for modern luxury made easy.

Images and text by Gabrielle.

Over the weekend, I spent a lovely afternoon autumn-izing our front entry. Last year at this time, I was barely functioning, and I only have a vague memory of putting a pumpkin on the porch. And if I remember correctly, the squirrels ate that pumpkin! Not my best October for sure. Hah!

pumpkins on the porch

So this year, it was fun to put some thought and effort into it. I have loved the simple colors in our living room — whites, woods, pale textures and a bit of metal — so I thought it would be fun to extend the same color palette to the entry decorations — with the hope that it makes a pretty transition from outside to in.

pumpkins on the porch

First, I moved our cement planters full of succulents, and filled in the space with pumpkins. Instead of the traditional orange-y-orange pumpkins, I picked out Cinderella pumpkins in a muted, dusty orange, and white pumpkins as well. I wanted big impact, so I went with lots of pumpkins.

pumpkins on the porch

Next, I swapped out the summery pillow on the porch chair, for some fresh ones. The gold adds just a touch of glamour! A nice contrast to the home-y textures. I chose two pillows from Target — one in metallic chevron, and the other in an embroidered pattern.

I also added a throw blanket from our linen closet (it’s a super-cozy traditional wool picked up in Ireland), to make the porch chair inviting on cool evenings.

handwoven basket with leather handle

Then, I brought a favorite stool outside to act as a side table — the perfect spot for a cup of tea. And I included a woven basket to hold magazines. The basket is easy to move indoors if the weather gets iffy. (I wish the weather was iffy! California needs some rain!!)

I love a project like this! It didn’t take long to pull it together, but it makes a big difference. The entry feels like fall, even if the weather here hasn’t caught up yet, and it’s so cheery to come home to. I also like that I mixed it up this year and tried something new with the colors, instead of going with our usual orange and black. I like classic orange and black, but it was fun to experiment. And assuming the squirrels don’t eat the pumpkins, I think this look will keep the porch looking gorgeous through Thanksgiving!

Tell me, Friends: Do you decorate your entry in the fall? Maybe put up a wreath or a bouquet of leaves? Or do you like to keep it spooky in October? We have loved spooky stuff over the years, but The Treehouse isn’t on a trick-or-treating street, so I’m finding it’s easier to focus on “fall” for our decor, instead of Halloween. How about you?

P.S. — Some of our favorite good-looking, but spooky Halloween Decor DIYs. And the coolest scarecrow!


A Few Things

October 10, 2014

pumpkins design mom

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends! How’s it going? My kids are out of school today, so we’re all feeling celebratory about the 3 day weekend. Though honestly, I think it will be pretty low-key. My only weekend plans are a date with my inbox — I let it get away from me this month!

The most exciting thing on the schedule, is that today, Kristen Loken is coming to my house to shoot some photos for the book. We’ll be snapping pictures of the office, the family room, and a couple of other spots. I’ve been shooting all over the place for the last few weeks, so it’s fun to be shooting at my own house.

I’d better get prepped for the photo shoot, but before I put on my art director/stylist hat, here are a few things I’ve wanted to share with you:

- Forty years of family portraits. I didn’t expect to be touched so much by this. Maybe because I’m one of 4 sisters as well. Thanks, Gwen.

- I’m super excited about this glue/dye technique. So easy! You can totally make these Halloween napkins.

- A clever response to a sexist dress code. Thanks, Tanya.

- The forgotten female programmers who created modern tech.

- My sister Jordan’s Ira Glass costume was featured on Jimmy Fallon! (See it at minute 3:30.)

- So, so disturbing: How we punish people for being poor. Thanks, Chelsea.

- A good resource for anyone thinking about DIYs: How to prepare wooden palettes for upcycling.

- Has anyone tried Toms Wedge Booties? Several cute options under a hundred bucks! I’ve got my eye on the Desert Suede with the red laces. Wedge booties are one of my favorite mom shoes — stylish, but easy to walk in.

- It’s so hot here, I’ve been getting my fall fix via multiple batches of Pumpkin Cookies.

Habitat for Humanity Restore is a wonderful way to give your old furniture a new life.

- Have you pledged for a gorgeous Alt + fashionABLE scarf? Help us reach our stretch goal — buy some for holiday gifts and provide opportunities for at-risk women in Ethiopia at the same time. Woo hoo!

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


P.S. — Is it feeling like October where you live? Like I mentioned above, it has been quite hot here this month. So hot that I had to pull the kids’ tank tops and shorts out of storage. We keep talking about hot cocoa, but opting for icy beverages instead. Hah! 


Meri Meri Giveaway

October 9, 2014


By Gabrielle.

Hooray! I’ve got a fantastic giveaway for you today, sponsored by Meri Meri — the Party Supply & Paper Goods Shop. They’re offering a fabulous $150 gift certificate!

Meri Meri Halloween Witch Cups 2014Meri Meri Halloween Tea Towel 2014

I could not be a bigger Meri Meri groupie. I love the unique paper goods they create, and I especially love that they are completely original and found only in the Meri Meri shop!

I’m featuring my favorites from their Halloween goods today (Halloween will be here in a flash!), but they also have Thanksgiving decorthemed birthday partiesgeneral party suppliescute baking goods, and tons of holiday products as well.

Meri Meri Halloween Cookie Cutters 2014Meri Meri Halloween Banners 2014

If I won, I would order a whole bunch of these Wicked Hanging Bats and hang them over the entry table or over the mantel. Wouldn’t that be a fun focal point?

Meri Meri Halloween Treat Bags 2014

Visit Meri Meri and leave a comment to enter, I’d love to know what party theme or party supply you love the most. The winner will be announced on Monday. Good luck!


Angela is the lucky winner. Thanks for playing!

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Minted Giveaway

October 6, 2014


By Gabrielle.

Oh goody! A Minted giveaway!! I’m a huge Minted fan. I’ve been ordering from them for years and love everything about this company. In fact, I’m such a fan, that last year I invited Minted CEO Mariam Naficy to be a keynote speaker at Alt Summit — and she did a terrific job. (Yay for women-led businesses!) Today’s giveaway prize is a super generous $350!! That’s plenty to cover all your holiday cards, and throw in some art prints or party supplies too!

Minted Holiday 2014

In my opinion, the key to Minted’s fabulousness is that they are huge supporters of the art and design communities. All of their card and stationery designs are sourced from independent artists and designers. And I know several designers who credit Minted for helping them get their name out there.

Minted Holiday 2014

Minted is a terrific source for all your social paper needs. Holiday cards, birthday invitations, baby announcements, thank you notes, even party decor! And they also have a helpful blog with tons of great ideas. The designs are gorgeous, and the quality is top notch — here’s a link where you can see the luxe paper they print on.

Minted Holiday 2014

Their newest innovation? The Minted Envelope. These new printed envelopes are gorgeous — every detail, from front to back, has been considered. The quality of the envelope elevates the contents within in a lovely way. And right now, recipient addressing is free!

Minted Holiday 2014

To enter the $350 giveaway, visit Minted and leave a comment below — I’d love to hear what you’re shopping for these days paper-wise. Halloween? Early Christmas prep? Fall get togethers? The winner will be announced on Thursday. Good luck!


Ashley in MD is the lucky winner. Thanks for playing!

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Mamagama Giveaway

July 31, 2014


By Gabrielle.

I’ve got a giveaway for you today from a shiny new sponsor. I know you’ll love it! Have you heard of Mamagama? You might like their intro as much as I do: ”Mamagama sells awesome maternity t-shirts for gorgeous, broody, moody, ice cream and pickle eating superstars.” Isn’t that fun? And the prize is a $100 gift certificate to their shop!


Mamagama is a small shop that focuses on the coolest pregnancy t-shirts. Something I love about their wares, is that they are illustrated by talented artists from around the world and include entertaining maternity stories. Even better, Mamagama maternity t-shirts are extremely soft and made of organic bamboo with just a little bit of stretch — which makes them fit a pregnant belly in a lovely way!


The creative mind behind the brand is Hong Kong-based, Romanian designer, Raluca Stroe. Her vision of pregnancy makes me smile. A Mamagama pregnancy embraces the bump, and feels free to be a little irreverent about it too. : ) I have 5 dear friends expecting at the moment, so if I won, I would buy a t-shirt for all of my favorite mamas-to-be!

Visit Mamagama and leave a comment below to enter — I’d love to hear your take on dressing the bump. Do you favor hiding it, or showing it off as soon as possible? The winner will be announced on Monday. Good luck!

P.S. — Don’t miss the Halloween maternity t-shirt edition!


Sarah is the lucky winner. Thanks for playing!


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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.


Lowe's Deck the Halls and Walls and All

This post is brought to you by Lowe’s Home Improvement. Create your perfect holiday setting with help from Lowe’s. Follow along at #holidayreadyhome.

lowe's logo

By Gabrielle. Images from the Deck the Halls and Walls and All Event.

So. I loved having Thanksgiving at the very end of November. (Did that feel unusual to anyone else?) It seems like we typically get a week between Thanksgiving and December, but this year, the holiday fell right at the very end — like Halloween does in October. I think the reason I love it so much is that it reserves November completely for Thanksgiving, and kind of keeps Christmas at bay a little bit.

Hmmm. It sounds kind of awful when I type it out like that. It’s not that I don’t like Christmas. I love it. It’s just that it can take over for like 2 months if I let it. And then I’m worn down when the big day finally happens. But at our house, since we don’t pull out the Christmas boxes, or turn on the holiday music, until the day after Thanksgiving, this year, Christmas is pretty much a December-only holiday. Which I’m giving the thumbs up.

Lowe's Deck the Halls and Walls and AllLowe's Deck the Halls and Walls and All

If there’s a downside, it’s that I’m a little caught off guard that December has actually arrived. I’m sure it’s partly because I’m not used to the subtle change of seasons here in California — there are no parkas or snow hats tipping me off to the fact that winter is almost here. But whatever the reason. I woke up on Sunday feeling like December 25th was going to sneak up on me if I didn’t get intentional about the holidays. So I sat down and reminded myself of my tried-and-true holiday house “recipe”.

Find my “recipe” ahead — and the Facebook chat info too!


A Few Things

November 1, 2013

Keychains by 3 Potato 4

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Friends, it’s November! We made it. We made it through October. I don’t know how you feel, but November 1st feels like a triumph to me. October might be my favorite month — the ideal weather, the brilliant leaves, the pumpkin cookies. But when Halloween night ends, I’ve usually maxed out my ability to have conversations about costumes or candy or trick or treating. For me, it’s always delightful to say hello to Halloween on October 1st, and equally delightful to say goodbye to Halloween on November 1st. How about you?

While I take down the Halloween decor and box up the costumes, here are a few things I’ve been wanting to share:

- What?! Jimmy Fallon is wearing the FashionABLE scarf that was designed at Alt Summit. (The Genet scarf is my favorite! I wear it all the time.)

What are we looking for?

- Instagram experiments.

Beards + spaghetti.

- I snapped the keychains (above) at a little shop here in Oakland called Nathan & Co. They’re made by 3 Potato 4. All are good reminders for me right now!

- Do you live near any urban farms?

- DIY Polka dot tights.

- The right hand sidebar is updated with lots of November goodness. Take a look!

- The good, the bad and the ugly about GMOs (genetically modified food).

- A nursery with terrific thrift store finds.

- I need new jeans. I think I’ll stick with my favorite pair from The Gap. What are your tried and true favorite jeans these days?

- Dinner inspiration — 16 soup recipes to warm you to your toes.

I hope you have a wonderful, relaxing weekend, accompanied by a giant bowl of leftover Halloween candy. I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.


P.S. — Are you watching the heart breaking news unfold at #LAX? I was just on the phone with my sister, Sara, and her husband is at LAX trying to catch a flight. He doesn’t know any more about what’s going on than what I’m seeing on the news, but of course, we’re bugging him for updates like crazy. So scary!


Olive Juice Kids Giveaway

October 31, 2013


By Gabrielle.

Hooray! I’ve got a terrific giveaway for you, and the timing couldn’t be better. Halloween is today, and that means “the holidays” unofficially begin tomorrow. So how about a $150 gift certificate from Olive Juice Kids? Now you can pick out something pretty for those upcoming family pictures — or to wear to Thanksgiving dinner!

Fall Clothes from Olive Juice Kids

Olive Juice has been a fantastic sponsor of Design Mom for the past few years, so if you’ve been reading for awhile, you may be familiar with their classic, high quality pieces. Their designs are consistently well done, with attention to detail and style that will last. I simply love their clothes!

If you’re looking for something with a European feel, something that feels unusual, Olive Juice will have the perfect thing. Take a look at their LookBook for inspiration! Best of all, their clothes truly are made to be worn by kids — the cuts and materials are comfortable and realistic.

Fall Clothes from Olive Juice KidsFall Clothes from Olive Juice Kids

Visit Olive Juice Kids and leave a comment below to enter. I’d love to know what you’re shopping for these days — a family portrait? an event? or maybe your child’s wardrobe just needs some fresh pieces? The winner will be announced on Monday. Good luck!


Tamara is the lucky winner. Thanks for playing!

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Trick Or Treat Plans

October 31, 2013

trick or treat

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Have you carved your pumpkins, or maybe spray-painted and glittered them? Stocked up on candy galore, or purchased four dozen apples? (Parents will love you, but be prepared for some sad, quizzical little faces!) Will you serve brains for dinner, or just call it spaghetti? Have you been practicing pretending you’re not at home even when the doorbell rings seven hundred times, or are you already waiting for your first trick-or-treater to arrive? Does your costume match your little one’s, or will you be the one going as The Pink Princess’s Mother Who Wears Denim and Uggs?

It’s cute to see all the different personalities come out on fun holidays like Halloween. Tell me all about your plans for the night, if you have any. What have you most been anticipating with glee? What are you already dreading?

As for our family, we have costume parades and class parties, then trick or treating this evening — nothing too unusual. But since we haven’t really celebrated Halloween for the last two years, this feels special as can be! Which reminds me about one unexpected surprise this year. I assumed our kids would want to go all out on costumes. Instead, all but Oscar chose something we already had in the costume box. Hah! Maybe they were just glad to see those familiar favorites once again.

In case you’re curious, Ralph went to school as The Big Bad Wolf (seen here), Maude went as Medusa (originally worn by Oscar), Olive is reprising her role as The Mummy (worn earlier by both herself and Ralph), Oscar is a Ninja (yay for a new costume!), Betty is trying out our Mrs. Frankenstein costume (originally worn by Maude), and June is a Fancy Witch (a costume Betty wore back in the day). How about your kids? New costumes, or recycled ones from past years?

Here’s to a Happy Halloween for all!

P.S. — We’ve heard from neighbors that our street, which is sort of hidden away, doesn’t get trick or treaters. So we’ll be seeking elsewhere for our evening festivities. And speaking of treats, do you have a candy policy at your house? Here’s some good advice, and our own family policy, for handling all that candy!


Pumpkin Soup

October 31, 2013

pumpkin soup/gratin makes a great fall dinner (or appetizer with friends!)

By Raleigh-Elizabeth.

Supper is our favorite Halloween tradition. That’s really saying something, since we’re the crafty sort of people who start making our costumes before summer is even over and have been planning our son’s first Halloween costume since before he was even born. (We’re doing a Jurassic Park theme this year, and he’s a baby dinosaur. I’ve been working hard on his baby triceratops costume for awhile, and I think it’s come together pretty well! I just hope I finish before tomorrow.)

We love the whole trick-or-treating concept (and trunk-or-treating, our church’s version) and being neighborly with friends while watching the little ones have too much fun, too late at night, and with too much candy. We enjoy all of these things, but we don’t like them nearly as much as we love Halloween supper. And that’s because on Halloween, we eat our supper straight out of a pumpkin.

Recipe and instructions straight ahead!


A Few Things

October 25, 2013

Empire State Building

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends! I’m back from New York. I arrived late last night and was so happy to wake up and realize it was Friday. I know that’s cliché, but the feeling is oh so real! : ) This weekend, we have a few Halloween celebrations happening. So today, as soon as I hit publish on this post, I’ll be running errands to seek out the costume details we’re missing — things like black tights in June’s size, a green turtleneck for Betty, and hair paint in black and white.

Running errands here is one of those things that feels so different from what I experienced in France. Here, I know which shops carry which sorts of items, I know what to expect as far as customer service and returns go, and the biggest difference: I speak fluent English!

While I work through my shopping list, here are a few things I’ve been wanting to share with you:

- I love how Kacy writes about parenting. (This made me cry.)

- Ben Blair sent me this video about strangers posing together.

Authenticity is not a look. (Favorite sentence: “Authenticity can be captured by a photograph taken in a certain moment, but it can’t be constructed for a photograph.”)

- Do you have Halloween parties coming up too? Well here are 17 Spooky Delicious Treats for party-goers (and quite a few are healthy!)

- An essay about loss that made me weep and laugh like a crazy person.

- A sophisticated, vintage grey nursery.

She responds to her critics with such humor and grace, doesn’t she?

- I read about it here, and ordered the Wes Anderson Collection book immediately.

- The Ethnic Label.

12 cute reasons why heels are worth it.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend. Trunk or treating! Halloween parades! After-party messes as you wash the hair paint out! I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.


P.S. — You guys. In New York, I was shopping for winter boots to use as props for the Lowe’s event, and I saw these Tori Burch boots at Bloomingdales. I didn’t buy them (out of budget), but they are so freaking cute I just had to share! Red pom poms!


By Gabrielle.

This weekend, we have a full schedule of Halloween events, and chances are you do too. So I thought reposting  this little video I made last year might be helpful. It’s all about easy ideas to feel festive — even if your someone who dreads dressing up. The ideas are simple, non-messy and inexpensive. You can even dress normally, then add or subtract these ideas as you move from work to errands to the Halloween parade.

I get it. Halloween isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But most kids adore this holiday like crazy! And you can totally make their day by joining the festivities — even in the tiniest of ways. Enjoy!

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