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By Gabrielle. Hotel photo by Jordan Ferney.

[UPDATE: The conference sold the same day! Email to be added to the waitlist.]

The past few weeks, my extra attention has been directed to Alt Summit. I’m taking on a broader role with the conference and it’s been so much fun! I’ve been helping make arrangements with the hotel, writing newsletters, and updating the website — all to get ready for today: Registration for the next Alt Summit conference is officially open!

The conference is happening Tuesday, January 31st to Friday, February 3rd, 2017 in Palm Springs, California. It’s taking place at the super-cool, totally modern, incredibly colorful Saguaro Hotel.

Alt Summit has historically sold out very quickly. And today, we’re offering the lowest ticket prices we’ve had in years. Combine that fact with the affordable room rates at the Saguaro, and all signs point to selling out even faster than usual. So if you’re hoping for a ticket, you should definitely grab one today.

My dear friend, the insanely talented Rachel Faucett of Handmade Charlotte told me she will, “100% not miss Alt Summit”. In fact, she attributes 90 percent of her incredibly profitable opportunities to the conference. You read that right: 90%!

The Handmade Charlotte collections for Anthropologie and Pottery Barn led to Pinterest, To The Market, and United Nations ambassadorships. Along came the tidal wave of gigantic product-centric programs placing Handmade Charlotte products in Paper Source, Michaels Stores, JoAnn Stores, Faber Castel, Walmart, Hobby Lobby, and AC Moore.

Hundreds of sponsored campaigns later with LG, HP, Ford, IKEA, Home Depot, Coke, Cannon, Twitter, Keurig, Target, Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures, Plaid, Nestle, General Mills, P&G, and Similac earned Handmade Charlotte commercials! McDonald’s, Levi’s, Miracle Gro, Lysol, Subaru, and Ford featured the farm-living family of seven. If that weren’t enough this super publisher went to Africa last year twice with Kate Spade and and launched Handmade With Love during the January 2016 Alt Summit keynote.

This is what Rachel said when I asked about her game changing Alt experiences:

GB: Your years attending and speaking at Alt have really paid off! Can you tell us a little bit about how you turn a friendly encounter at the mini parties into closing extremely lucrative long term contracts?


RF: I’ve heard my father in law say “In the Room in the Deal” a million times. Nothing beats a personal encounter. Alt is super intimate and without a doubt you will get the chance to meet everyone you were drooling over on the speaker list, plus totally unexpected bonus BFFs. After the friendly encounter, follow up the very day by connecting on social channels. Then, follow up again with a short but sweet actionable plan, so that the recipient can easily get a contract in place… Strike when it’s hot — and Alt Summit is smoking hot!

GB: 90% of your success you attribute to Alt Summit? Come on??

RF: Oh my goodness YES! Alt disengaged our parking break on a very steep slope. Each time I attend, the momentum the conference fuels is multiplied by 10 throughout the year and simply can’t be ignored. Our Alt Summit investment far outweighs the expense. Alt Is For Like Real!

GB: Any last sentiments? We know you’re crazy busy.

RF: I can’t wait to see + meet everybody in California! Peace!


I love Rachel’s enthusiasm so much. It’s totally infectious. And I swear, it’s worth coming to Alt Summit just for the opportunity to meet her, and so many other smart, creative, ambitious women.

Have you ever been to an Alt Summit conference? Will I see you there in Palm Springs?


A Few Things

May 29, 2015

Iris Award Red Carpet Gabrielle Blair

By Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends. This was such a good week! I have loved (and to continue to love) your comments on my post about “going off script”. It’s so delightful to read about your paths to higher education. The sheer variety of experiences is inspiring! So thank you for chiming in.

I also feel like this is the first week in a long time where I started to feel like I was back on my usual schedule. I loved it! All these years later and I still love blogging. Which reminds me, something really wonderful happened to me weeks ago, but my schedule has been so nuts, that I think I’m just processing it now. While I was at the Mom 2.0 Summit, I received such an honor — I was given the Iris Award for Blog of the Year!

Iris Award Gabrielle Blair

Holy moly. This was completely unexpected. In fact, I was at the very back of the room eating dinner — I had presented an award earlier and assumed I was done with stage duties for the evening. When my name was called, it took me a bit to realize what was happening. I was so slow to respond they thought I must be out of the room on a bathroom break and sent someone to find me. Hah!

As I walked to the stage, people whispered such kind things to me, and as I passed Whit Honea, he urged me to walk slowly and take it all in. I was super emotional — I started crying before I even got to the microphone. I don’t remember much of what I said that evening as I accepted the award (I wish I had a video!), but I remember naming each of my kids and Ben Blair, and the next day, I saw a tweet quoting me as I ended with something like: Parenting got a lot better for all of us, when blogging came to be.

Another  lovely thing: While I was at the microphone, Laurie Smithwick texted Ben Blair and told him about the award, so when I got back to my seat and looked at my phone, there were a bunch of texts from Ben and the kids congratulating me and cheering me on. I started crying all over again, and quickly snuck out to the hallway so I could call them.

Blog of the Year! What a night!!

Of course, any award is fun to receive, but an award like this, where I was acknowledged by my peers, means so much to me. I really did feel so honored. Thanks for letting me tell you about it.

And now, back to our regular programming. Here are a few things I’ve wanted to share with you:

- A report from my dear friend Laura Mayes who lives in the flood plain in Central Texas. (Plus a list of how you can help!)

- Sketching Sleeping Beauty. Thanks, Maude.

- A local florist purchased 2 very run down houses in Detroit for $500. Her plan is to fill the house with flowers for a weekend in October, responsibly tear them down and rebuild a flower farm on the land. Thanks, Julie.

- Make your own slate cheese board for $3!

- Motherhood in the Upper East Side. Have you lived there? Do you think this is accurate?

- Airplane passengers as explained by their pants. (Also, did you see the McSweeney’s kickstarter?)

- A comic strip about privilege.

- Dear Teen Me — a list of 5 boys not to kiss.

- American’s oldest active park ranger.

- Living room before and after with built-in shelves.

- Junk food looking fancy.

- Wow! The San Francisco Chronicle published a two-page feature about my book. Awesome!

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


P.S. — You can see tons of images from the Iris Awards ceremony and the Mom 2.0 conference here. One behind the scenes side note: My arms and legs were totally covered with poison oak during the conference, so finding a dress that would cover me without looking too wintery (it was like 90 degrees at the conference) was a challenge! But I found the red dress on Rent the Runway and it worked perfectly. Also, the photo at top is me and Jeannine Harvey — she is one of my favorite people, and she also won an award that night for her excellent work with the One Campaign.


A Few Things

May 15, 2015


Photo and text by Gabrielle. Ben Blair had these gorgeous peonies waiting for me when I got home last weekend.

Hello, Friends! How are you? Did you have a good week? I had a great one — nothing in particular happened, I was just home, and had a normal schedule, and after so much work travel it was heavenly. : ) Speaking of work travel, I’ve got book parties in Houston on Monday and Denver on Tuesday (details here), and then I’m taking a break from my book tour for awhile. It’s time to turn my attention toward Summer plans!

Our school doesn’t let out till June, but I’m already counting down the days till summer. I think it’s going to be a good one! The thing we’re most excited about? Our nephew, Josh (the one who built our giant table), is all grown up and married now. And he and his wonderful wife are going to come and stay for a bit. Josh offered to help Ben Blair build some platforms and zip-lines in our trees! Ben has been dreaming and scheming about this since we moved in, and the whole family is super excited.

Are you already making summer plans? I’ll bet school ends for some of you next week! (Or maybe even this week!)

My big task for today is to make some headway on my inbox. So I’m going to sign off, but before I go, here are a few things I’ve wanted to share with you:

- Have you posted a “strengthie” yet? In support of’s Poverty is Sexist campaign, people everywhere are posting “strengthies” — a selfie where you reimagine the Rose the Riveter post and share it with the hashtag #withstronggirls. Malala did it. Shonda Rhimes did it. You can do it too!

-  The audacity of Cinderella.

City Council training in Austin on “how to deal with women”.

- Would you qualify to live at Silicon Valley’s Startup Castle? (I would not.)

- Just got my first Causebox. It’s a box of socially conscious women’s products. There’s a new box each season. Such a cool gift!

- The real price of mani-pedisThanks, Giulia.

- One of my dear friends just launched a tech kickstarter. His creation turns any helmet into headphones (think: skiing, cycling, etc.) Now you can answer phonecalls or play music without in-ear buds. I can think of a dozen teens in my life who would need this. Very cool!

- John Oliver’s Mother’s Day Program (FYI: he swears a bunch).

- Remember when I was in New York for HomeGoods event? Here’s more on the colorful family room I created while there — blog post and video.

- Is busy the new black?

- Such a cool project by Darcy Miller. I’m totally going to copy this.

- The One Room Challenge is wrapping up. Find links to the before and afters here. (Do you know about this? Designers take 6 weeks and makeover one room.)

- Indiana Jones giant boulder scene in real life.

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



A Few Things

February 6, 2015


By Gabrielle. Photos by Kristen Loken for Design Mom.

Hello, Friends. How are you doing? Was it a good week? I was flying high this week from the response to my Book Pre-Order announcement. The next day I found out the book was listed in the #1 spot on the best seller list in Amazon’s Home Decor category. Woo hoo! I know it may only last a day, but I’ll take it. : ) Also, I know that it’s the direct result of your support and enthusiasm and I can’t thank you enough. Seriously. Thank you!

Now, let’s discuss the weekend. Any fun plans? We’ve got a pancake breakfast for the Scouts tomorrow morning, but other than that, I think we’ll just enjoy the rainy weather that has come our way. Rain sometimes feels like such a novelty here. But I’m happy for any excuse to wear my awesome rain boots. I get compliments on them all day long anytime I wear them!


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

- An excellent essay on copying and copyright.

- My son Ralph sent me this short movie called Paint. It’s really good. You should totally show it to your kids.

- Periodic Table of Texting. I feel like I only know a handful of these.

- “What had we been expecting — a monster? ”

- Family detention camps. I’m ashamed to say I didn’t even know these existed.

- Feeling crummy? Try Skittles in water. Hah!

- I LOVE this behind the scenes look at the artwork in the Kid President book. So much attention to detail and so much creativity.

- She confronted her cruelest troll.

- Have you ever tried a no jeans challenge?

- A student’s life-changing trip to Tanzania (that’s my niece!).

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


P.S. — We had family photos snapped at our house last Sunday and the two photos above are a sneak peek of the results. I love both shots!



January 15, 2015

By Gabrielle. Photos by godgrrl, cc_chapmansavethechildren.

Such a BIG day! I’m waving hello from Washington D.C.!! My daughter Maude was invited to come here with a group of fellow 15-year-olds to take part in #action2015. That’s right. 15-year-olds, meeting up on January 15th, 2015 to discuss policy that will affect the world for the next 15 years.


The movement is called action/2015, and there are groups meeting all over the world. Here in D.C., this group started the day early with a photo in front of The White House, then they heard from Tom Hart, Executive Director of the ONE Campaign, and Mark Shriver, President of Save the Children‘s Action Network over breakfast.

Maude White House

Next was a trip to The State Department where the met with Heather Higgenbottom, Deputy Secretary of State, and Dr. RAj Shah, from USAID. Many of the kids also got a chance to be interviewed by NBC!

Maude interview NBC

During lunch, the kids heard from Michael Elliot, CEO of the ONE Campaign, and Carolyn Miles, CEO of Save the Children. Then it was off to The World Bank to meet with Cyril Muller, Vice President of External and Corporate Relations. And right this minute, they are on a bus tour of the Washington Monuments.

I’m writing this from the hotel room, waiting for Maude to get back and knowing she’ll be happily exhausted. : )

With my work, I get to attend special events frequently, but this one wasn’t about me, or any of the grownups, we’re just here as chaperones. Action/2015 is focused on the kids, and what a treat it was for us as parents to get to see our children shine, and to use their words for good. If you’d like to get involved with action/2015, you can sign the pledge here — ONE never asks for your money, they just need your voice.

P.S. — With Maude advocating in D.C., and Ralph volunteering in Haiti this week, you can imagine I’m feeling like a very proud mother!


A Few Things

October 24, 2014

Gabrielle Blair and Cindy McCain

By Gabrielle. Image of me and Cindy McCain here.

Hello, Friends. How are you? I’m writing from Washington D.C.. As I mentioned yesterday, I’m here attending the AYA Summit put on by ONE Girls & Women. It’s a short conference (I fly home this evening), but holy moly it has been impactful. We’re learning from the country’s experts about some of the heaviest topics in our world today. Poverty, Hunger, Human Trafficking, Preventable Diseases, Ebola, the World Water Crisis. We’re learning about how these things affect women and children in overwhelming percentages.

There have been a lot of tears, a lot of emotional presentations. And a lot of HOPE as well. In fact, yesterday, we were introduced to Sa’a. She is one of the 300 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram in Nigeria, and she escaped after 48 hours. She shared her story and her experience. I’m still STUNNED at getting to meet her, and honored to hear her words. Amazing.

As I have been tweeting and instagramming the #AYASummit, I’ve received questions from readers about what they can do. And I do have a request. A favor. And it will only take a minute. A long-standing program called GAVI provides vaccines that save the lives of millions of children each year. If you’d like to know more, this page has super helpful information about GAVI.

But it’s time to re-up the funding for this essential program. If you are willing, please use Facebook or Twitter or Instagram to send a message like this to the White House: @Whitehouse – Help save 6 million children’s lives by funding @gavi #AYAaction.

I would be over the moon if you would be willing! Please join me in putting our voices to good use. I know it seems like one little tweet doesn’t matter, but it does! Our collective voices create real change and affect real policies.

I need to return my attention to the summit, but before I shut my laptop, here are a few things I’ve wanted to share with you:

-  This 3-D printed model of a heart saved a child’s life. Unbelievable. Thanks, Ashley!

- If it’s getting kids to read, is it a problem? An interesting piece on the Percy Jackson series.

- Mobile Showers bring dignity to the homeless.

-  Are you a good judge of faces? is challenging other companies to offer more generous parental leave policies. Would you or your partner have taken more time if you could have?

- I love the look of this DIY camera!

- A group of storytellers just launched an Indiegogo Campaign for Haven Magazine Volume One. All profits go directly to Freeset USA, a community in India who are building a restorative business and haven for women who have escaped from sex trafficking.

- A guide to being a super woman — even if you can’t have it all. Thanks, Rachel.

- A really thought-provoking read on our schools, and whether they are preparing our children for the future or for a world that doesn’t exist any longer.

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


P.S. — We have a school fall festival and a church trunk-or-treat this weekend. How about you? Any fun plans?


AYA Summit

October 23, 2014


By Gabrielle. Image via

Hello from Washington D.C.! I’m here for AYA Summit. What’s AYA Summit you ask? Well, it’s a first time event put on by ONE Girls & Women. It’s a gathering of bloggers, authors and social media experts to learn about issues affecting girls and women in developing countries. AYA is the name of a hardy West African fern, and it represents endurance and resourcefulness — just like so many girls and women across the world.

The event is taking place on the Google Campus here in D.C. (Did you know there was a Google campus outside of Silicon Valley? I just found out last month! I’ll be attending classes and lectures all day today and for half a day tomorrow.

The line up of speakers and panelists is amazing. We’ll be hearing from people like Danai Gurira, Nick Kristof, and Jamie Drummond.

Why focus on girls and women? At ONE, they believe that unlocking the potential of girls and women, who are disproportionately affected by poverty, is the key to solving many development challenges. And I fully agree!

If you’d like to follow along with the event, watch the #AYAsummit hashtag on your social networks, and be sure to follow ONE Girls & Women on Facebook and Twitter.

By the way, if you haven’t checked out ONE Girls & Women, I highly encourage you to click over asap! The fabulous Amy Poehler is the Guest Curator this month, and as you would expect, her picks are terrific.

Let’s do this! Now’s the time to find out how to use our voices to create a better world!!


A Few Things

August 8, 2014

Vase of Flags

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends! How are you doing? We are having another big good-bye at our house. Tomorrow, Chris — our exchange student from England — is heading home. He’s been with us for a month, and we have loved having him! He will certainly be missed. And I must say, I think it will feel strange to have only our family at home. We’ve had visitors since early April so it’s been awhile. I’m sure we’ll enjoy the novelty, but just for a minute, because our dear friends, Audrey & Nick, are coming next week. They’ll be staying at the house to watch the little kids and hang out with big kids while we’re in Sweden. We can’t wait to welcome them!

Before I sign off for the weekend, here are a few things I’ve wanted to share with you:

- On technology, patterns, and creating, from the guy who invented Gmail. “Escaping dogma is hard. From the inside, it simply looks like truth and reality.” Thanks, Emily.

- Modern Office.

- Maybe it’s parents, not kids, who need limited screen time. Thanks, Amy.

- I love working with The ONE Campaign. They recently launched the ONE Girls and Women Facebook page — I encourage you to like it. Then sign up for girls and women at (halfway down the page).

- 3-D printing for kids!

- How to make strong passwords and protect them.

- Apparently this has already made the rounds, but it was new to me. Made me laugh so hard!

I can’t breathe. Thanks, Kelly.

40 years of birthday self-portraits. One woman, from age 30 to 70. (She’s bare-chested, so don’t look if that will bother you.)

- Are we spanking the gray matter out of our kids? This is an interesting conversation about social mores — and science.

- Look what you can do with shrinky-dinks! So cool.

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


P.S. — We still have our vase of flags out on the patio from our 4th of July get together. I think we’ll just keep it there through Labor Day. Or maybe Election Day!


A Few Things

July 25, 2014

St. George

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends. How was your week? We are in the middle of our #epicroadtrip. Today, we are headed to Zion, and tomorrow the plan is the Grand Canyon. Very exciting. Also, very hot!

From growing up in St. George, I learned that I can handle dry desert heat pretty well if I have an ice water in my hand. But if I don’t remember to bring an ice water, and we’re hiking or getting into a car that’s been sitting in the sun, I am a total crab. It’s like I turn grumpy and hopeless instantly. So you can imagine, I have a cooler full of icy bottles of water in the van with us at all times. : )

Before I finish up my work week and head out on the next leg of the roadtrip, here are a few things I’ve wanted to share with you:

- Lace Graffiti.

- What are your thoughts on this Weird Old Trick?

- Simpsons Marathon. The entire series!

- Jenny the Bloggess wrote an amazing and compassionate response to the Women Against Feminism Tumblr. I’m lucky to call her a friend.

- Hah! What every trendy restaurant menu looks like.

- Big happy news!

- Everything iconic about summer in New York City, all in aerial.

- Still laughing about these Instagram confessions.

- Changing Tides. Thanks, Maude.

- The best places to raise kids. Is your home on the list? The state I’m writing this in (Utah) is rated high. The state we actually live in (California) is rated low.

- These toasters print selfies.

- Have you seen this inglorious fruit campaign? (The video made me homesick for France. Intermarché was our closest grocery store. Seeing the store signs and even receipts made me happy. I can’t believe we’ve been gone for a year!)

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




July 14, 2014

Family Room Bare Floor

Image and text by Gabrielle.

What a day! I don’t think I sat still for more than a few minutes today. I’m looking at the clock (11:20 PM) and laughing that it could be this late.

We leave on our epic 3-week road trip on Wednesday morning, and I feel like I’m somehow nesting before the big event. Today was filled with big projects like clearing out the garage, little things like putting house plants outside (we have someone who will be coming by to water plants and collect mail and check on the house in our absence), and lots of laundry. Then this evening, when I was supposed to start packing, I rallied all the kids and we cleared out the family room furniture and pulled up the carpet! Hah!

The carpet was already badly worn and stained when we bought the house and I’ve wanted to pull it up all year (can you believe this week marks one whole year in California?), so I’m happy as a clam that it’s gone! But it’s such a random thing to do before a big trip. I hope it means we’ll get home from the trip and get right to work on the new flooring. I’m really excited to put the family room together — that space has felt halfway finished since we moved in.

I’ve been thinking back to past family trips to see if I have a habit of nesting before I travel, or if this is really just me procrastinating the packing. How about you? Have you ever surprised yourself before a trip by taking on a new project? Or maybe you have another pre-trip habit you’ve noticed? I’d love to hear!

The Genet Scar by fashionABLE. A collaboration between Alt Summit and

Shifting gears: Totally unrelated to the trip, but I wanted to make sure you heard about the new scarf design contest Alt Summit is hosting with fashionABLE. The open call for designs was announced today. And the prize is big — worth over $1000! The winner will receive a pass to the Alt Summit conference of their choice, plus a $500 gift certificate to fashionABLE. Nice. The last time we ran this contest, the winning scarf was the Genet. It’s my favorite. I truly never travel without it! Entries are due on July 24th, which is coming up fast. That’s why I wanted to mention it right away — I want you to have plenty of time to submit a design. Find contest details here.

Well. That was a random post for a random Monday. I hope your week is off to a wonderful start! Wish me luck on the packing. : )


A Few Things

July 11, 2014

Studio Floor

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends! I hope it was a good week for you. We have some fun stuff going on at our house. 1) Ralph, Maude and our French exchange student, Charles, are all on a Pioneer Trek this weekend. 2) On Saturday, we’re adding another exchange student to the mix — one of Ralph’s friends from England, Chris, will be joining us for several weeks. Yay!

3) We’re prepping for an epic roadtrip. All 10 of us (8 Blairs + 2 exchange students) will be driving around the Western U.S., visiting National Parks and other sites for almost 3 weeks. We leave next Wednesday!  4) We installed flooring in the studio/home office this week. The floor looks great (see above) and we need to move everything back in today. 5) Yesterday, we had a new front door installed. Hooray! I’ll share photos as soon as I paint it up and add some details to the porch. 6) I’ve been shooting the cover of my book this week. It feels like progress. And also makes me nervous. I want the book to be so good.

And 7), tonight we’re hoping to meet up with friends at Point Reyes. I’ve never been, but the photos look amazing. I love how this summer is turning out! How about you? Anything fun going on at your house?

While I go work on putting the studio back together, here are a few things I’ve wanted to share:

- ONE just launched their Girls & Women Initiative! Meet Phiona Mutesi, their first guest curator.

- Penny In Your Pants.

- Related, something called Bicycle Face was once a medical condition. Hah!

- What happens when LeVar Burton gets pulled over.

- The New Yorker’s hilarious take on Eloise, at 46Thanks, Dani.

Mater Mea — a bimonthly online magazine that celebrates the lives of women of color as they balance work and motherhood.

Taryn Brumfitt’s story has me thinking.

- Free paper crafting class for Bay Area readers — or you can access it online from anywhere!

- Is parenting in crisis?

- This story is great: The letter that kicked of a radio career. (Proof that there’s never any harm in asking. The worst that can happen is someone says no.)

- Everything you need to know to host an Outdoor Movie Party.

- The music is the best part!

I hope it’s a wonderful weekend for you and yours. I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.


P.S. — You can follow along to all of our summer activities, like Pioneer treks and new front doors, on Instagram.


A Few Things

May 23, 2014


Image (an animated gif) and text by Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends! How are you? I noticed on my social media feeds yesterday that school ended for some people this week. You too? Our schools continue through the second week of June, so we still have 3 weeks to go. But, we do have a 4-day weekend! No school today and of course, no school on Monday for Memorial Day. So we thought an adventure was in order, and we’re headed to Sequoia National Park. Woohoo!

I’ve never been to Sequoia and I’m really looking forward to it — it’s the one with the tree you can drive through. : ) Have you ever been? We’d be delighted with any advice you want to give. We’re getting on the road first thing, but before we head out, here are a few things I wanted to share with you:

- The slickness of sexism — in response to the abrupt firing of the NYT Editor in Chief. This is a great short writeup, and in the writeup, the first 4 links she includes in the first line are all super smart as well. Thanks, Hannah.

- It’s not just snowflakes. No tears are alikeThanks, Sara.

- “How do I shake a hand that isn’t there?” Excellent videos from a British organization called Scope. Thanks, Amy.

- Getty images Lean In collection. What do you think? Accurate? Too clichéd?

- It’s the Nordstrom half yearly sale. I always go straight for the shoes. These sandals are so attractively simple — do you think they stay on?

- Best. Roommate. Ever. (Be aware: lots of cussing — but made me laugh!)

A family tries to make sense of what happened and what happened to them as the 9/11 Memorial Museum opens. How do we make sense of tragedy and tourist attraction? Thanks Elizabeth.

- Nightstand upcycled into a play kitchen.

- 10 years of ONE.

5 stylish storage ideas for a little kid room.

- The myth of the special needs super momThanks Vrylena.

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


P.S. — The image at top is an animated gif I made of our swings. I can’t decide if I like or if it’s too jumpy. : ) But I sure love the swings!



By Gabrielle. Photo credits: United Nations Foundation | Amy Sussman.

I’ve been meaning to tell you a little about my trip to New York earlier this month. Ambassador Power was speaking at the Moms + Social Good conference and I was invited to moderate. What an honor!

We talked about fascinating things like the realities of her work and home life — bedtime stories interrupted by phone calls from world leaders (can you imagine?!). We talked heart-breaking things, like the kidnapped Nigerian daughters. And we got emotional as talk turned to the children that needlessly die as war intersects with their childhood. We talked about light-hearted things, too. I asked her about her strong name and wondered if she gave her kids similarly powerful names.

It was a really good talk. And that comes as no surprise, because Ambassador Power is terrific. Obviously, smart as can be and passionate about improving the world, but also delightful to talk with. Friendly and personable, she kept the whole room enthralled easily. The interview went much too fast and I found myself wishing I could chat with her for hours!


This is the second year of the Moms + Social Good event — a partnership between Johnson & Johnson and the United Nations Foundation. The whole conference was live-streamed, so women could watch it and take part wherever they are in the world. If you’re curious, you can find images, video and reports about the day here.

The event was truly well done. It acted as the finale of the Global Moms Relay. The relay is new to me, but I’m already a fan of the whole idea. What is the Global Moms Relay? It’s this: from International Women’s Day through Mothers’ Day (March 7 through May 11), 30+ celebrities and community leaders from New York to Nairobi answered the question “How has a mom changed your world?”. Powerful stuff!


If you’ve read Design Mom for awhile, you may know I’ve worked with other advocacy groups — like OneMoms and Every Mother Counts — that work to help mothers around the world. Both of these groups (and many, many more) were present at the Moms + Social Good event. It’s so important to me to keep talking about these issues, keep them in the news, make sure my elected officials know how I feel about them. And this conference felt like an amplification of all those things. I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to attend.

P.S. — I know when I mentioned Ambassador Power earlier, there were comments that she is a favorite role model for kids. I love that! Are you familiar with her work? Maybe you’ve read her books? I’m so impressed with her — I feel like a fan girl!


A Few Things

May 9, 2014

New York City from the back of a Taxi

Image and text by Gabrielle.

What a week! It started for me with a very, very early flight from Atlanta to San Francisco on Sunday morning. We said goodbye to Olive as she went off on a two-week school trip to France. We welcomed Charles, a French friend of Ralph’s, to our home — he’ll be here for 3 months. I flew to New York so I could speak with Ambassador Power at the Moms+SocialGood conference. Little June had a birthday (more on that later). Ben Blair went to Los Angeles yesterday with Ralph, Charles and Victor for a mini-vacation. (I know I mentioned Charles above, but do you remember Victor? He’s another French student who has been staying with us for 3 weeks. He heads back to France on Monday. So this trip is a fun finale while all the boys are together. They’ll be back late Saturday.) And today, it’s Betty’s birthday. Oh, and Maude has a track meet today as well.

That’s a lot of juggling! I do like it when our life feels full and busy, but I confess, sometimes I miss the slower pace of life we lived in France. : )

How are you doing? Are you planning anything for Mother’s Day? Nine-year-old Oscar will be giving a talk at church on Sunday to the whole congregation — the topic is mothers, of course. Ben Blair and I have been helping him with the talk, but man, it’s hard. Mother’s Day is kind of the worst. There’s a lot of sensitivity and angst and guilt around the day — and around our cultural myths about motherhood — for so many people. I know there are people who love the holiday, but honestly, it would not hurt my feelings at all if it was cancelled forevermore! (Am I even allowed to say that? Did I just betray women everywhere?) How do you feel about the holiday?

While I finish up my work week, and run some errands for Betty’s birthday, here are a few things I’ve wanted to share:

- Remember the Electrify Africa bill I lobbied for? Well. Good news: It passed!

- A StoryCorps recording between a mother and her adopted son.

- I’ve never seen anything like the work of artist, Heather Hansen.

- A light, bright, Swedish-style nursery.

- Last call! Do you have any Minted artwork hanging in your home? I want to see! Snap a photo and send it to me, and I may feature it in an upcoming post.

- I have a board on Pinterest called Cabins, Tents & Treehouses — I swear, it’s all I want to pin to lately. What are you pinning these days?

- 271 years before Pantone, an artist mixed and recorded every color imaginable in an 800 page book. It’s gorgeous. Thanks, Rachel.

- The world’s smallest cafe.

- NASA is now live-streaming 24 hours a day from the outside of the International Space Station. It’s incredible.

- It rains diamonds on Jupiter and Saturn. Thanks, Carlos.

- Like you, I can’t stop thinking about what’s happening to the hundreds of girls kidnapped in Nigeria. #bringbackourgirls

I hope you have a wonderful weekend, and I hope Mother’s Day is the best version it can be for you and yours! I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.




March 13, 2014

Washington Monument

Images and text by Gabrielle.

I’ve been meaning to write up a little post about what I was doing in Washington D.C. a week and a half ago. It was a short trip, but an exciting one! The first day was spent learning about initiatives and government programs that is supporting — specifically, we learned a lot about the Electrify Africa bill.

The short story is that 70% of people living in Sub-Saharan Africa don’t have electricity. Here in the U.S., electricity is practically a human right — so it took me a minute for the reality of no electricity, and what that means for the people there, to sink in. No way to power a cell phone, a computer, the internet — and without those, it’s almost impossible for people to make economic progress and pull themselves out of poverty. No lights for students to take classes or study after sundown. Women giving birth in the dark without access to life-saving medical equipment. No electricity to power machines, so businesses can’t scale well. No feeling safe outside at night.

No electricity! It’s so hard to even imagine. I mean, even when I go camping I use electricity — at the very least for my phone and my lanterns and flashlights. One little tidbit we learned? The Dallas Cowboy’s stadium uses more electricity on game day than the entire country of Liberia uses on the same day. Insane!

But the problem is actually more stunning than that. In homes without electricity, kerosene is the fuel used for light at night. But. The fumes from the kerosene are so harmful that they are responsible for more deaths than AIDS/HIV and malaria combined!!! Just nuts, right?

That’s where the Electrify Africa bill comes is.

Click to read more and find out what it was like to lobby Nancy Pelosi!


Resident of California

February 26, 2014

Washington DC in the Snow

Photo and text by Gabrielle.

I like to listen to NPR when I’m in the car, and during the local news updates when a story about California is being shared, I’ll be listening in a removed way and then all of sudden think: Oh. I live in California! This story is relevant to my life! I’m a Californian!

And then I think something along the lines of: That is so strange.

A related thing happens when Ben Blair is driving and I look up from the passenger seat and see a landscape or cityscape that is completely unfamiliar and think: We’ve only been in the car for two minutes, but I wasn’t watching where we are going and I have no idea where we are and would have to use GPS to even point myself in the right direction if I wanted to head home.

Basically, I’m in a funny situation where my home city and home state aren’t quite home yet. It’s not that I have regrets or complaints about moving here, it’s just that everything still feels so new and 7 months in I’m still playing catchup.

This really hit home during my trip to Washington D.C. (I’m still here in D.C., writing this from my hotel room and will head back home today.) On Tuesday, I had the chance to lobby the senators and representatives from my state on behalf of ONE is bipartisan so we were lobbying both republicans and democrats. As we were being briefed the day before, I experienced a moment of identity crisis. My thoughts were something like: I’m lobbying for California? I haven’t even registered to vote there yet. I’m still using my Colorado driver’s license. I have only a slight handle on Bay Area geography — on which cities are where. And I have no idea who my congresswomen/congressmen are!!

Luckily, California happens to have some famous names among our representatives (think Nancy Pelosi, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer), so I actually do know many of my representatives, and my identity crisis was short lived. I reminded myself I was born in California and lived there till I was 5. I learned to speak my native language in California. Growing up, I spent time in California every year of my life and both of my parents were born and raised in California. So I have deep roots in my new-again state.

This trip has been a good reminder to me that it’s time to dive deep and really get to know my state and my city; to learn the problems and passions of California and of Oakland specifically, and to care (or care more) about the outcomes of propositions and proposals that affect my slice of the country.

It also made me curious: Have you ever been in the same state-of-mind that I am in now? Have you ever been surprised that you are a resident of the state/country/city you reside in? Have you ever felt like a resident of no place at all — sort of detached from where you live? I imagine not everyone experiences this sort of thing. Where do you consider yourself a resident of? What are your thoughts?

P.S. — I’ll give a full report of my trip to Washington later this week (or possibly next week.) But have to tell you how lovely it was when it snowed yesterday. The flakes were giant and fluffy and since Oakland doesn’t experience the sort of winter I’m accustomed to, it was a treat to have snowflakes on my nose and eyelashes.


What Does It Mean Books1B

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Hello from Washington D.C.! I’m here at the Power Summit. I’ll be attending policy sessions about poverty and world aid throughout the day, and then receive training on how to lobby my congressmen later this afternoon. I’m very excited about it!

The group I’m here with is ONE Moms — which is the same group I traveled with to Ethiopia. It feels like a little reunion. And I’m happy as can be to get to spend time with these wonderful women. One of the women, Rana DiOrio, runs Little Pickle Press — a small publisher “dedicated to helping parents and educators cultivate conscious, responsible little people.” A wonderful goal! And I think it aligns so well with the work that ONE Moms engages in.

If  you’re someone who spends time thinking about how to raise kids that are globally minded — eager to learn about different cultures, curious about other countries, and respectful of all races and religions — there’s a set of 4 books from Little Pickle Press that are a great way to introduce these concepts to your children:

What Does It Mean To Be Global?
What Does It Mean To Be Green?
What Does It Mean to Be Safe?
What Does It Mean To Be Present?

They’re non-fiction picture books and they make excellent conversation starters between parents and kids — or in classrooms, too. They introduce important topics in an easy to understand, comfortable way, and the illustrations work hard to offer the reader a better understanding of what’s being discussed. One thing I especially appreciate about the books is that they cover some big topics without being self-righteous or judgmental. Hooray!

I’d love to hear if you’re already familiar with these books — or if you have related books you’d recommend. Feel free to add links or titles in the comments. And wish me luck on the lobbying!


A Few Things

February 21, 2014

Donut Time sign in Oakland, California

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends! How’s it going? Did you have a good week? I loved having a shorter school week! At the same time, I feel like shorter work weeks throw me off my game — so I’m happy as a clam that the weekend has arrived! It should be a good one. On Saturday the family is helping out with a track meet at the high school. Then on Sunday I’m headed to Washington D.C. for the Power Summit. It’s been years since I’ve been to D.C. and I’m really looking forward to it.

When we lived in New York, we made several fun trips to Washington as a family, but I first fell in the love with D.C. when I was in college. During the second half of my sophomore year, I moved to Washington (I lived in an apartment in Alexandria) and worked on an economics+history research project in the National Archives. I couldn’t believe I worked in the same building that houses the Constitution and Declaration of Independence! (I’m still wowed!)

I LOVED walking into that grand building every day and working at huge leather topped desks with green glass lamps. I handled original documents from Civil War Veterans — letters they wrote, forms they filled out — always hand written. Sometimes there would be photos. The research project was run by Nobel prize winner, Dr. Robert Fogel, and went on for years. I only worked on it for 6 months, and I only had a general idea about what the overall aim of the project was. It had nothing to do with graphic design, which was my college major — I was just there for the adventure!

Have you ever spent time in D.C.? Any fun plans this weekend? While I get some laundry done so I can pack, here are a few things I’ve wanted to share with you:

- I think our family needs this poster. Thanks, Laura.

- What it’s like to send your child to “forest kindergarten” in Denmark.

- A glimpse of humor at the Blair house: Three very short videos (CountingPBJ and Office) that Ralph (and Ben Blair) made over the weekend. Dying laughing!

- March 8 is the National Day of Unplugging, based on the idea of the Sabbath Manifesto — taking one day a week to unwind, unplug, and get outdoors. Your thoughts?

- Some color for your wintery day: Marimekko is launching a full children’s collection!

Sweet Child O Mine re-imagined.

- My trench coat is on its last leg, so in preparation for Spring, I’m scoping out a new one. The daydream version is this Burberry number, and my reality version is from DKNY — I love the cute color options. (Can you believe the difference in price? So crazy!)

- Simple DIY wire bracelet.

- I love this Happy Birthday poster.

- Last day to vote for The Homies! Three categories: Best Family & Kids Blog, Home Projects & DIY Blogs, Home Design & Inspiration Blogs. Readers pick the top 5 and then judges add their picks too. I’m one of the judges this year!

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


P.S. — What time is it? Donut Time! I snapped the sign at top here in Oakland. Isn’t it fantastic? The store is closed down now, but my mouth waters just reading the sign.


A Few Things

February 7, 2014

Bradamant + Design Mom

By Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends. I’m writing to you from rainy Oakland — and grateful as can be for the rain! California has been experiencing a severe drought, so we’re welcoming as much rain as we can get.

Before I forget, I’ve been meaning to report back about the Bradamant bodysuit that I wrote about last month. I first wore it to Alt Summit, and I’ve worn it a bunch since — because it is awesome! The first time I wore it, I put it on in the morning and then had a fairly intense day with tons of movement. And I never had to adjust my clothes, or re-tuck, or think about my shirt at all! Plus, because of the loose way The Mogul drapes, I didn’t feel the need to wear spanx or suck in my tummy at all. I was comfortable all day long! I felt polished and professional too. That’s a shot of me in The Mogul at top. Here’s another shot (with the fabulous Garance Doré!).

In contrast, I brought 2 other silky shirts to the conference, non-bodysuits, and eventually ended up having to tuck them into my underwear because they were looking so sloppy as they moved around. Hah! (I know I’m not the only one who has resorted to that trick.) It’s a temporary fix at best. I much prefer the bodysuit.

As for bathroom breaks, admittedly I take less than average during the day, but I didn’t find the closure difficult to use — it’s identical to a bra clasp. Easy peasy. I know that’s a little random for a Friday post, but I didn’t want to forget! Have any of you tried one of their bodysuits yet? Feel free to report!

Other than that, I’m looking forward to a good weekend. We’ll be tuning in to the Winter Olympics, and I’ve got a carpenter looking at wood today to give me a bid on the reading loft cubbies/bookshelves. While I wait to hear from him, here are a few things I’ve wanted to share:

- First world problems aren’t actually problems.

- The clothes store where everything is free.

- Attracting newcomers to the ballet. Thank you, Jennifer.

- Weaving connections.

- A magical fairytale nursery.

- My brother in law’s homecoming from Afghanistan was covered on the news. So good! Made me cry.

- The good news: the boots I wanted to splurge on last fall are on major sale at Nordstrom. The bad news: none in my size!

- Related: I spent a lovely evening last night searching out rain boots. This colorblock pair is at the top of my list. (Or is rainy season in Oakland going to be over in two seconds?)

- An essay about what a stay-at-home-mom actually does with her time.

- Children rescued from Nazi death camps reunited with their rescuer.

- This is how I talk my kids into keeping up their French. : ) Thanks, Kacy.

- Make a simple, special Valentine’s breakfast for your family (it’s one of our favorite traditions!). Here are 20 ideas for your menu.

- Also, when we set the table for Valentine’s breakfast, we like to leave a small gift — like these — on each plate.

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



A Few Things

January 10, 2014

foggy morning

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends! Here I am wrapping up the first week of the new 2014 format and I’m feeling so good about things! Thank you for engaging in the comment sections and taking part in the conversations. I loved reading what you had to say!

Oscar’s birthday was yesterday, and we celebrated with breakfast in bed and cake + presents after dinner, but because yesterday was a school night, we decided to save some of the celebrating for today. As soon as school gets out, the whole family is headed into San Francisco to meet the cousins and do touristy things on Fisherman’s Wharf — Oscar hasn’t seen the seals, or played at the vintage arcade, and he hasn’t taken a cable car ride yet! He’s so excited, he can barely contain himself. How about you? Any fun plans for the weekend?

As soon as I hit publish, I’ll turn my attention to Alt Summit tasks that are waiting for me, but not before leaving you with a few things I’ve wanted to share:

- This little story from Bill Murray about Gilda Radner made me happy.

- Wow. Wow. The best 3-D printed object I’ve ever seen. Thanks, Ginna.

- Ethiopia’s Simien Mountains. Stunning.

- Last fall, I went to the HQ of Cricut and learned about some big stuff they have going on and I only have to keep the secret for a bit longer — because they’re making the announcement this month! Go here to see a teaser, and sign up for their email list so you won’t miss the big news.

- Another compelling video about the overwhelming presence of smart phones in our lives. Thanks, Azra.

- A country where 40% of the wealth is held by 1% of the population? Sounds like an old-school monarchy. But it’s the U.S.! This was shocking to me.

- They’re not twins, but they sure look like it.

- Some CaféMom room tours I haven’t shared with you yet:
A bedroom for two that will make your kids feel like they’re at camp. A nursery all in white, with rainbow pops of color. And another nursery with a focus on thrift store finds.

- Have you put your holiday decorations away yet? Then let’s get right to Valentine’s Day! Here are 20 ideas for decking out your house for the day of love.

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


P.S. — We had the most lovely fog yesterday morning. I snapped the picture at top right after the kids went off to school. It’s looks black and white, but it’s really in full color!

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