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Mental Health Update

March 5, 2014

George_H._Brimhall

By Gabrielle. Photo of George H. Brimhall (see the P.S. for relevance).

A little warning, this post is really long. : )

On Valentine’s Day weekend we ended up throwing 3 parties. Maude had friends over on Friday night — a little “GALantine’s” gathering with a pretty dessert table and chick flicks. Then on Saturday night, Ralph went to “Mormon Prom” a formal dance for LDS high school kids in the Bay Area who are 16 years old or older. We made corsages for the girls, and after the dance, the kids came to our house to hang out and have rootbeer floats. Then on Sunday, we hosted a “Policeman Party” for our nephew’s 4th birthday. And since there was no school on Monday, we had a sleepover for 3 of the cousins. (Sometime, I need to tell you more about the policeman party. It was a cute one.)

At some point, I turned to Ben Blair and said, can you believe this? Two months ago it took everything in me to get a Christmas Tree, and this weekend we threw 3 parties and are ready for more! I’m doing so much better!

So this post is a mental health report. I’ve been very open over the past several months about the status of my brain, and I’ve received dozens of emails from readers wondering how I knew my head wasn’t working right, how I recognized when to go to the doctor, and how the medication was working. Obviously, everyone who has experienced a downturn in their mental health has their own story, but here’s mine, in case it helps.

Click here for the whole story.

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A Few Things

February 14, 2014

garance dore i love you guys

By Gabrielle. I snapped the image during Garance Doré’s Keynote at Alt Summit — it was one of her slides.

Hello, Friends. Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope you are having a day filled with love and kindness — or at the very least, I hope you get to indulge in something sweet to eat. : ) Since Valentine’s Day isn’t much of a thing in France, we didn’t really celebrate the last few years, and we’ve been getting a kick out of the school festivities this week.

Ben Blair and I have no official plans this evening (that sounds so unromantic!), but we had a lovely little family breakfast this morning, and tonight, Maude is inviting friends over to watch chick flicks and wants to set up a pink and red dessert table a la Amy Atlas. Should be fun!

But the thing I’m looking forward to most is that this morning, I’m hoping to visit the famed White Elephant Sale here in Oakland. Alex told me all about it and it sounds amazing! I’ll be donating some lamps and seeing what it’s all about. I hope they let me take pictures so I can share with you. In the meantime, here are a few things I thought you might enjoy:

- Old floppy disk drives put to good use.

- Do you think any of these are true? I gasped at several! Via Dooce.

- Ben Blair was interviewed about Olive Us and our family reading habits and his answers are so good! You will love the thoughts he shares. I promise.

Seattle’s Food Forest — a public park filled with fruit-bearing plants that citizens are free to harvest. Love this idea so much!

- If your house is in the middle of a bed-wetting situation, these peel-away waterproof sheets sound interesting.

- Just heard about cobra weaves and I’m obsessed! Find a simple tutorial here. Seems like a genius way to spend some time if you’re snowed in or rained in.

- A kid’s room that I fell in love with.

- What do you think of this gratitude-focused kickstarterThanks, Amy.

- Related to oil-pulling, apparently toothpaste was invented by an American businessman — he used habit/cue behavior to make it into a product people would use daily. Fascinating! Thanks, Etta.

- Cool promo for the Grand Canyon Half Marathon (my brother’s race!). The heart-pumping shot is at 1:34.

- The Boy Scouts are helping lobby UNESCO to make the D-Day Beaches a protected site. Thanks, Mary.

- It’s not too late to enjoy the Winter Olympics! Here are 16 fun ideas so you can celebrate with your kids or host a little viewing party.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend! Schools are out in Oakland on Monday for President’s Day so we’re getting 3-days off. You too? Speaking of President’s Day, here are 17 silly and fun and cool little crafts you can do to acknowledge the big day.

I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.

kisses,
Gabrielle

P.S. — Hey. I know Valentine’s Day can feel like salt in the wound if you’re feeling lonely already. Please know that I’m sending my best wishes and happy vibes to get you through the rest of the day. It’s almost over! Just think, starting tomorrow there will be 95% less of those awful jewelry commercials. Hang in there.

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Donut Valentines

February 10, 2014

I Like You a "Hole" Bunch.  |  Donut Valentine's by Design Mom  #freeprintable

By Gabrielle. Photos and styling by Amy Christie.

Every year, I try to come up with a really good last-minute Valentine idea. Something you can whip up the night before, long after the craft store has closed. This donut valentine is perfect! It will work with a fresh batch of heavenly Krispy Kremes, but will be just as charming with a box of “donettes” from the grocery store (or the gas station!).

This I think we can agree on: everyone loves donuts. So, if you want to win over your Valentine, the odds are in your favor that a ribbon-clad donut will do the trick.

I Like You a "Hole" Bunch.  |  Donut Valentine's by Design Mom  #freeprintable

This might appear to be a very simple Valentine and happily, I can tell you it most definitely is. Bonus? A free printable of the tags!

I Like You a "Hole" Bunch.  |  Donut Valentine's by Design Mom  #freeprintableI Like You a "Hole" Bunch.  |  Donut Valentine's by Design Mom  #freeprintable

So grab a dozen donuts (plus some extras because I can’t resist), and let’s get started.

Click here for the full tutorial, plus the free printable.

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6 Books for Valentine's Day   |   Design Mom

By Gabrielle.

One of my favorite things to give on Valentine’s Day is books. You can find dozens of sweet and beautiful choices under $15 (often under $10!). A book is a treasure, but doesn’t feel extravagant, which I think is perfect — I don’t like to go over-the-top on Valentine’s Day.

These picks would be especially sweet for February 14th. Order one today and it will arrive in time — or stop by your nearest local shop.

1) You Know What I Love
We have a copy of this and June has requested it every night since it arrived. She knows it so well now that she “reads” it to us! About a doll and her girl.

2) Monday Hearts for Madalene.
Every Monday, Madalene would wake to find a heart created just for her. The sweetest token of true love.

3) Love Letters
200 letters from over the centuries. Some historical and some fictional. Who doesn’t enjoy a good love letter? For years, Ben Blair and I exchanged a hand-written love letter on Valentine’s Day, but at some point we stopped. Will this be the year we start it up again? I hope so. (Which reminds me, did any of you see the movie Her?)

4) Counting Kisses
Get this one as a board book for your toddler or baby, then read it at bedtime. “How many kisses does a tired baby need?”

5) Hearts
An offering from Toon Books, this is a good pick for a girl or a boy — and this is what Betty will be receiving this year. What happens when Penelope the Fox drops her heart into the sea? A beautiful adventure.

6) I Like You
I know. I know. I recommend this every year. But it’s still so good! I’m quite sure everyone should own a copy. A sweet gift for a teenage crush. A sweet gift for a favorite teacher. A sweet gift for a husband or wife. A sweet gift from a parent to a child. A sweet gift for a dear friend. It’s perfect every time.

Will you be giving any books for Valentine’s Day? Feel free to share your picks in the comments.

P.S. — Ten more Valentine’s Day book picks.

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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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Felt Treat Boxes

February 7, 2014

DIY Felt Boxes for Valentine's Day — make cut outs in the top in any shape you like!   |   Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos and styling by Amy Christie.

Let the countdown begin! Valentine’s Day is in one week. And I’ve got the perfect little project for you just in time. Present your Valentine with a handmade felt box, complete with a custom design cut out made just for them. Simple construction with a sophisticated look that can hide any number of sweet treats and gifts inside.

Make them for your kids, your honey, or even for classmates. In fact, Betty really wants to give these at her class party. We’ll see how ambitious we’re feeling!

DIY Felt Boxes for Valentine's Day — make cut outs in the top in any shape you like!   |   Design Mom

I should note, these little gift boxes aren’t just limited to the heart-filled holidays. They can be modified and styled for any time you need to give a gift. Think birthdays, Mother’s and Father’s Day or a random Wednesday when you feel extra kind.

DIY Felt Boxes for Valentine's Day — make cut outs in the top in any shape you like!   |   Design Mom

This project was adapted with custom lids from the excellent tutorial on How About Orange. I love how the top-cutouts add another dimension, more color options, and a whole different feeling to the boxes.

DIY Felt Boxes for Valentine's Day — make cut outs in the top in any shape you like!   |   Design Mom

The gift recipient of these will have so many reasons to love you. It’s a kind gesture, includes a thoughtful gift and is encased in a beautiful gift box. Win, win and win.

DIY Felt Boxes for Valentine's Day — make cut outs in the top in any shape you like!   |   Design Mom

Grab your scissors and glue gun and let’s get started.

Click here for the full tutorial.

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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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A Few Things

February 15, 2013

Text and image by Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends! How has your week been? Now that Valentine’s Day has come and gone, I really start to yearn for Spring in earnest. You too? We’ve had buckets and buckets of rain this winter and the ground is absolutely soaked — puddles everywhere that don’t disappear, even when the rain stops. What I want to do most this weekend, is pull on my wellies and take a long walk through the countryside. How about you? Any weekend plans you’re looking forward to?

While I muddy up my boots, here are a few things I’ve wanted to share with you:

- A new minimalist mentality. Thanks, Katherine.

- This tote turns into a picnic blanket.

- Wow! What a fabulous family photo shoot.

- Instead of buying your next car, 3D print one instead!

- Or, have your head made in 3D chocolate. Thanks, Alexandra.

- Illustrated zip-lock bags.

- If you like recycled, you’ll love bicycled.

- Like the balloon door idea? Here are 13 more great ways to use balloons!

- At your request, here’s a bit about how Ben Blair and I fell in love — it’s an interview from 2010.

The Light That Shines. It’s 15 minutes long, so you might want to bookmark it for later. But it’s worth it.

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

kisses,
Gabrielle

P.S. — I’ve noticed that about 10-15 comments per week are going straight to the spam folder on my blog. I’ve been checking the folder and restoring the comments, but if I’ve missed yours, please drop me a line. I’d hate to lose any of your words!

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Happy Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2013

Text and image by Gabrielle.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Dear Readers! Are you doing anything fun to celebrate?

St. Valentine’s Day isn’t really a thing here in France. I mean, you can see it on the calendar. And there are a few stores with hearts in the windows. But there are no Valentine exchanges at school. No restaurants offering a sweetheart’s menu. No crazily-priced bouquets of roses.

Our family tradition is a Valentine Breakfast with pancakes, raspberry milk and a little gift on each child’s plate. Something small — a token really. But today’s morning schedule happened to be unusual, so we decided to turn our Valentine Breakfast into a Valentine-After-School-Snack instead. We’ll skip the pancakes, enjoy a tarte from the patisserie (plus the traditional raspberry milk, of course!), and open our little valentine gifts.

Wherever you are, I hope you’re offering an extra dose of love to the people in your life today. Happy Valentine’s Day!

P.S. — One of the girls received the glass heart necklace above. I picked it up on our Venice trip when we visited the island of Murano — famous for it’s colored glass — and have been saving it for Valentine’s Day. Pretty!

Raspberry Milk directions ahead.

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Consider the Oyster

February 12, 2013

By Raleigh-Elizabeth. Image by Todd Coleman.

We have a little fishmonger whose ramshackle shop, just down the street from our house, is situated in one of the Intracoastal Waterway inlets that creep through our village. It’s called Grant’s Oyster House, and although I hear Grant hasn’t been around for a few generations, it’s as authentic a coastal establishment as you’ll ever find.

The distinctly fishy smell greets you the minute you turn into the drive, which is always full of fishermen and their trucks. Grant’s is the place to find local celebrities, crabs, clams, profound amounts of shrimp, a small population of cats on the prowl, and a sign that warns you not to feed the alligators. But mostly, Grant’s has oysters.

Romantic recipe ahead. Keep reading!

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By Carter.

Looking for a special book for that special someone? These books should satisfy that longing to express love in words and pictures, whether your Valentine is a tiny tot, a partner, or one of life’s dearest friends.

1) Oh, The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams might be the most gorgeous rendering of love in all of literature. Remember these beautiful words of wisdom? It’s harder to find a more fitting description of the side effects of being loved. May this be true in your lives, February 14th and every day after!

2) Eve Bunting and Jan Brett have a Valentine’s Day gem in The Valentine Bears. Because bears are usually deep in a winter slumber in the middle of February, Mr. and Mrs. Bear have never celebrated a Valentine’s Day together. So this season, Mrs. Bear sets an alarm clock for the special day, and prepares the best of parties for Mr. Bear. Their love is so romantic and real, and chocolate covered ants have never sounded so delicious.

3) Ever wondered what would happen if you really did plant a kiss? In Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Peter Reynold’s Plant a Kiss, our Little Miss plants one in the ground and carefully tends to it. Soon it blossoms and blooms into something delightfully shareable. The words are spare and lovely, and the tenderness is hypnotizing. (And it truly sparkles thanks to glitter in the illustrations!)

4) Is anything more lovable than the monkey on the cover of Jez Alborough’s Hug? His banana-shaped grin on the sunshine colored cover makes me smile every time I see it. All he wants is a hug – a perfect monkey-sized mama hug made extra special and just for him.

5) Valentine’s Day doesn’t need to roll around to enjoy I Like You, but it seems especially sweet this time of year. I toasted my sister and her husband with words from this one on their wedding day, because the sentiment of a love story or a beautiful friendship are stuffed into this little book. It might be the most perfect gift you ever leave with someone you love.

Click here for 5 more books!

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Louise Fili Postage Stamp

February 11, 2013

Louise Fili stamp

By Koseli.

The newest Love stamp from revered designer, Louise Fili, is so lovely. It’s available in post offices just in time for Valentine’s Day. You can see Louise’s food packaging and gorgeous lettering here.

P.S.—Louise is one of Gabrielle’s design idols. Is she one of yours, too? Find an audio interview of her here.

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See a Heart, Share a Heart

February 8, 2013

By Gabrielle.

Remember Boy Sees Hearts? Artist Eric Telchin sees hearts everywhere and captures them with his iPhone. He tells the story of each heart he finds on his website. And now the images are collected in a book, See a Heart, Share a Heart.

A nice pick for a Valentine’s Day! It’s not sappy or lovey-dovey, so it would even be cute for a friend or your child.

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You’re Wild, Valentine

February 7, 2013

By Gabrielle.

These clever and great-looking camp-themed valentines by Good Voyage caught my eye. The wolf card says: You’re Wild. The Swiss Army Knife says: You’re All I Need. The compass says: I’m lost without you. Adorable, right?

Instead of gifts, Ben Blair and I used to exchange love letters on Valentine’s Day — written on a hand-picked card. But somewhere along the line we let the tradition fade. Maybe this is the year to start it up again!

How about you? Ever written a love letter?

P.S. — Some DIY wild valentines for kids.

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Text and images by Jordan of Polkadot Prints for Design Mom. Edited by Amy Christie.

In Australia, where I’m from, Valentine’s Day s is celebrated more by couples and ‘grown ups’ — we give flowers, chocolates, notes, we go out for dinner, etc. Because of that, that I’ve never been a big fan of the commercial craziness that surrounds this holiday. But really, when you get down to the nuts and bolts of the day, it’s really about loving others. And that? I am totally into!

Today’s Valentines DIY is a simple and easy project that your kids will love to help you with. These little bags would make a sweet little gift for your teenagers, your children’s classmates, and neighborhood friends. The ‘Love One Another’ flavour is unusual for Valentine’s Day, but I think it’s so fitting. I hope you like it!

Once you have all your supplies together, it really is quite simple.

Click here for the full tutorial.

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By Amy Christie

Let’s welcome February with a sweet little project — complete with free download!

Handmade Valentines are the best. Handmade Valentines that include a bag of sweets, the best ever. This little treat bag is just as simple to put together as the house gift box from last month and absolutely perfect for all your Valentines.



With the free printable, scissors and double-sided tape (and a few sweets), your Valentines will feel the love for sure.

Click here for the full tutorial and free printable.

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The Day Of Lovers

April 23, 2012

I hope I’m the first one to wish you a happy La Diada de Sant Jordi! Or maybe better for you, the second!

If you’re in Barcelona today, you’re probably celebrating this sweet holiday inspired by Saint George,  patron saint of Catalonia and lover of all things romantic. As the tradition has gone since medieval times, lovers exchange gifts every April 23rd: men give flowers, while women give books. By the end of the day, over four million roses and 400,000 books will be purchased. Amazing!

I just heard about this celebration and I think it’s fantastic. I want to join in, don’t you? I’d love to give Ben Blair a gorgeous edition of Don Quixote and make these paper roses — crafted from a Spanish children’s book, of course — for our kids. It would be nice to treat this Monday with a little more amor than usual!

P.S. — Do be sure to tell me if you celebrate La Diada de Sant Jordi or any other alternative Valentine’s Day! I’d love to hear your traditions!

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

February 14, 2012

Hello, Friends! Have you had your fill of hearts and pink today? We started the morning with a special breakfast for the kids — pancakes + raspberry milk + a little gift too. Happily, they don’t have school today, so breakfast was leisurely and late. My very favorite kind! And tonight, perhaps a little come-hither haiku. : )

I hope you get a chance to show someone a little love today. Happy Valentine’s Day!

P.S. — Image from Hearts in Nature.

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Design Mom Asks

February 13, 2012

Love is in the air this week, so I’m hoping to take in more than a few deep breaths of it! I’m sure we all want Valentine’s Day to be as near to perfect as it can possibly be, and I was wondering what three things would make it exactly that? A few blogging lovelies were lovely enough to answer. Enjoy them, Friends!

Jane of simple + pretty:
…a pretty pink libation, like the rose sherbet from Australia’s Belinda Black Catering, would make the perfect Valentine’s drink. I definitely have a sweet tooth, and so to go with the rose sherbet, I’d love an assortment of heart-shaped shortbreads and homemade marshmallows from Stewart & Clark. Valentine’s Day is all about pink for me. This pretty pink tee shirt from Tuss doesn’t come in my size, but I hope to find something similar to wear this spring.

Click for more Valentine’s Day inspiration.

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A Few Things

February 10, 2012

Hello, Friends! How are you? My kids have a two-week school break starting today, so we are hatching plans to make the most of it. I think we’ll hang out locally for the first week — do things like visit the indoor tennis courts and swimming pool. Then hit the road during week two. We’d love to see Stonehenge. Or more of the Loire Valley. Or maybe both! What are your plans for the weekend? Will you be making Valentines?

While we fill out our calendar, here are a few things I’ve been wanting to share with you:
- A gorgeous berry heart. Is it cold enough to make one where you live?
- A little essay about hand-written valentines — and it’s fun to see all those LOVE stamps from my childhood!
- This week I’m digging patterns in the nursery.
- DIY mugs with romantic quotes.
- This video will make you smile. And feel valentines-y. Via Mara.
- Cute (and cheap!) printables for Valentine’s Day.
- Happy rainbow heart banner.

I also write for Babble. Here are this week’s posts:
- Bring on the patterns!
- This is what I want for Valentine’s Day.
- Designed in Finland. Coveted by me.
- For the next birthday party.
- Baby June wears these every day.

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

kisses,
Gabrielle

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