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Nesting

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 ONE.org.

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. : )

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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.

kisses,
Gabrielle

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

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A Few Things

May 23, 2014

Blair-Swing-2-FrameB

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.

kisses,
Gabrielle

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!

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5E5A9541b

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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

kisses,
Gabrielle

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Lobbying

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 ONE.org 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!

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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.org. 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.

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What Does It Mean Books1B

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Hello from Washington D.C.! I’m here at the ONE.org 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!

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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 ONE.org 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.

kisses,
Gabrielle

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.

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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.

kisses,
Gabrielle

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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.

kisses,
Gabrielle

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

By Gabrielle.

Last month, I wrote about the fashionABLE scarves that were designed by the Alt Summit community. You may remember the post, but if not, here’s a little synopsis: Alt Summit and ONE.org worked together to host a contest. Alt Summit community members were invited to design scarves that would be woven by the women of fashionABLE in Ethiopia.

Tons of designs came in. And the top 4 were voted on during the Alt Summit conference last January. The winner, was this gorgeous scarf in black and white, designed by the talented Janette Crawford of Fashion Loves People, and woven in ridiculously soft Ethiopian cotton.

That’s the story in brief, and this is best news ever: The winning scarf is now for sale!

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

Introducing The Genet Scarf. It’s beautiful! Seriously. But you can see that already. Each handmade scarf takes three days to make and is named after one of the amazing women who helped produce it. (You can read Genet’s story after the jump.) This limited edition scarf is available at the ONE Store or directly from fashionABLE.

Order one today and it will be shipped out on April 22nd. Buy a scarf and save a life. I can’t think of a better Mother’s Day gift!

Click through to read Genet’s story.

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[ UPDATE: Voting is now closed. ]

By Gabrielle.

Okay, Friends. I think this is my last report about Alt Summit. And it’s a good one! It starts in Ethiopia last October, wanders to Salt Lake City last January, and will finish up around Mother’s Day in May. It’s about scarves, and design, and doing good in the world.

I’ve mentioned FashionABLE scarves a couple of times, but I’ve never really dedicated a whole post to them. When I went to Ethiopia with ONE.org, we spent some time at the tiny, tin-roofed, FashionABLE factory. The women who work there are former commercial sex workers and the company recruits them by going out in to the streets, talking to the women one by one, training and providing jobs for them as weavers, and supporting them as they build a new life.

I picked up an armload of their gorgeous scarves at the factory to give as gifts when I returned home. Each comes with a hand-written note from the weaver!

Keep Reading. Click through to find out what’s up with the voting box at top.

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A Few Things

March 15, 2013

French Farmhouse in the Snow

Text and image by Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends! Was it a good week for you? As I mentioned yesterday, we were snowed in from Monday thru Thursday, and it felt good to have an extra big dose of family time. We did a lot of baking, kept a fire going, and read aloud as a family in the evenings. I was a little worried the kids would get antsy, because we had just finished a two-week school break, but it turned out to be quite lovely.

That said, I will not shed a tear when the snow is gone. : ) Bring on the daffodills! Bring on the forsythia! While we make our weekend plans, here are a few things I’ve wanted to share with you:

- A poster designed by a husband for his wife. (Audrey and Nick are two of our closest friends. Audrey is also the Alt Summit graphic designer. We’re so, so, glad she’s out of the hospital and getting stronger.)

Prep school photos from the LIFE archive.

- A new series of DIY videos especially for kids — like homemade snowshoes, stomp rockets, and a book with a secret compartment!

- What’s your take on terrariums?

- Interested in learning videography? This workshop by Ryan Marshall and Tiger in a Jar looks outstanding. And you get to stay at Rudyard Kipling’s estate!

- A brief history of baby gear.

- Ever wondered what Mickey & Minnie sound like in French?

- Rainbow yarn trail.

- Ben Blair sent me this link. It’s the happiest thing on the internet.

- Blown away by these numbers. Especially the computers, food, and education numbers.

- Related, I love, love, love Bono’s Ted Talk. Eradicate Extreme Poverty by 2030!

- The first issue of Vogue.

- On Babble this week: 20 ways to decorate Easter Eggs.

- Also, it’s not too late to plant wheatgrass!

- Will you be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day this weekend? We’ll be thinking of Ireland and maybe we’ll dye our milk green. : )

- Last but not least, a lucky pillow.

I hope you have a really wonderful weekend. I hope you make lots of good things happen! I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.

kisses,
Gabrielle

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A Few Things

February 22, 2013

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends. How are you doing? We had an interesting week around here. Our internet line was accidentally cut and we went most of the week without it. Which is tricky when your job is internet-based. : ) We ended up at McDonalds twice — it has the most reliable wifi in our little town! I think I only managed to get through half of my list this week, but today felt productive. In fact, we reapplied for our French visas this morning. And the appointment was smooth and easy! Feels good to mark that off my list.

Last weekend was all about getting outside and searching out signs of spring. (Signs were indeed spotted as evidenced by the bouquet above, given to me by Betty.) But the temperature dropped all of sudden last night, and it’s supposed to get even colder tomorrow. It’s so cold that I’m predicting frozen pipes! So I think this weekend will be all about cozy fires and baking cookies and eating stick-to-your-bones sorts of meals. How about you? Any fun plans?

While I stoke the fire, here are a few things I’ve wanted to share with you:

- We all went nuts over Erin’s Nairobi house tour, and now Erin is generously offering a 20% discount on adorable Toto Knits with the code designmom. Yay!

- You know I’ve got a thing for Caldecotts, so of course I love this infographicThanks, Annie.

- A nursery that is as sweet as it is unusual.

- Cool drawing tools.

- If it’s cold outside, you might as well have some fun!

- Remember Swiss Stacked Wood? And the Olive Us Stacking Wood episode? You might also enjoy this NYTimes article about a surprisingly divisive Norwegian television program. Thanks, Carrie.

- Polarn O. Pyret just launched a fun new blog.

- Wow. Just wow.

- A sweet way to save lives.

- Oscar worthy poster for Best Picture fans.

- And don’t miss the Clementine Giveaway I’m hosting. (I want one of everything.)

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

kisses,
Gabrielle

P.S. — Today is the last day of school before our kids have a 2-week winter break. I feel a roadtrip coming on!

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Ethiopian Souvenirs

December 19, 2012

By Gabrielle.

The other day, I had some beautiful light shining through the windows, so I gathered up the souvenirs I brought home from Ethiopia and had a little photo shoot. I thought it might be fun to do a show-and-tell for anyone who is curious. (Ulterior motive: I thought it might change how some of us think of the Brand of Ethiopia.) Alas, I don’t have shopping sources for any of these items, so if you love them, put a trip to Ethiopia on your travel wishlist. : )

This wasn’t actually a tourist-y trip, so we only had a few minutes of shopping here and there, but I love what I brought home! The first things I picked up were three embroidered toys. A multi-color ball with the amharic alphabet, a pink rhino and a camel.


Oscar adopted the rhino. Betty hangs the camel on a corner of her bookshelves. And June adores the embroidered ball.

Click through to see a bible, some jewelry and more toys!

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The Brand of Ethiopia

November 21, 2012


By Gabrielle. Photos by Diana Prichard.

I’ve got a big post for you today. I’m going to talk to you about branding. And J.Crew scarves. And then I’m going to ask you to sign a petition. But first, I’ve got a beautiful video that ONE made of our week in Ethiopia (spoiler: I cry in the video).

Wasn’t that beautiful?! It makes me so homesick for the people we met.

And now, back to branding and scarves. : ) On our last day, we visited a textile company called Muya. We visited a small scarf factory earlier in the week (that I still haven’t properly told you about), but this was a much bigger place. Muya was amazing! To demonstrate what is amazing about it, I’ll start with some facts about Ethiopian weavers.

- Weaving is considered a male skill and weavers are almost exclusively male. Spinning is traditionally done by the women. It’s been hard for Ethiopians to move past these cultural norms.

- Weavers build their looms by hand, and the looms are made to be mobile. So the weaver can carry the loom to find work — nomadic style.

- When they set up a loom, a traditional weaver will dig a hole beneath the set-up for his feet, and the weaver will literally spend all day toiling in the dirt.

- Weavers are considered very low in social stature. If there was a caste system, they would be almost rock-bottom. The only vocations that are lower are blacksmiths and tanners.

- A weaver typically makes about 300-400 Birr per month. (100 Birr is about $5.50) This is not a livable wage.

But Ethiopian cotton is excellent. And the textiles Ethiopians produce are stunning. Enter: Muya.

Keep reading, lots more good stuff ahead.

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An Army of Health

October 25, 2012

By Gabrielle.

I’ve been home from Ethiopia for a couple of weeks now and I’m still trying to process everything I learned, everything I saw. This morning, I was on the phone with my friend Erin and she asked me about this particular Instagram I published during my trip. She wanted to know more about the Health Workers I mentioned. So I promised her I’d share everything I knew about the program here.

The health needs in Ethiopia are great, so the program is ambitious. With assistance from USAID, Ethiopia created an army of Health Extension Workers. These workers are assigned to every village and community in the country.

The program is pretty amazing, but the stroke of genius is that all 30,000 of the Health Extension Workers are women.

Keep reading to find out why I think that’s so smart.

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The Impact of One

October 16, 2012

By Gabrielle.

I’m home from Ethiopia. And my life is rushing around me as usual. Filling backpacks. Laundry (always laundry). Errands. Work. After-school activities like tennis and trombone. Kitchen Cleanup…

But my mind is never far from what I learned/experienced/saw last week. The thing I keep coming back to is how much impact one passionate person can make. Every organization we met with had at least one key person. Someone who made this good thing happen. They made the plan. They raised the money. They hired the workers. And they helped dozens, or hundreds, or thousands of people.

Click here to find out what happens next, now that I’m home.

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By Gabrielle.

Yesterday blew me away. We had a crash course in the rural medical system here in Ethiopia. And I’m writing up a post about it. But oh my. I have got to get some sleep! So instead of a report today, I thought you might like to see what Ethiopia looks like, through the viewfinder of Karen Walrond.

Friends. It is gorgeous. Gorgeous! We’ve been told this is the prettiest time of the year (sort of like the leaf-changing season is the prettiest time in New England), but it’s hard to imagine landscapes like this not looking beautiful.

Click here for more stunning images!

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