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Weekend Report

February 16, 2016

Bolinas Beach Design Mom

Photo and text by Gabrielle.

Happy Tuesday! I haven’t written one up in awhile, but I thought it might be nice to give a little report about our weekend. It was one of those weekends where California played the starring role and featured both snow camping and a sunny day at the beach — all in a 1.5 hour radius from our home. Not bad!

On Friday, Ralph went on an snow campout with his Scout troop. June had a Valentine’s Party at school — you know I love me some homemade valentines, but June opted for a box of Starburst valentines. : ) Oscar also had a Valentine’s Party at school, but he missed it because he wasn’t feeling well. Nothing serious, just the tail end of a lingering cold. Betty had a field trip to the Chabot Space & Science Center. It’s not far from our house and we like to visit on weekend nights. If the sky is clear, you can look through the giant telescope!

Saturday was laid-back. We ran some errands. A contractor came by to make a bid on our master bedroom/bath (hooray!). Maude had track practice. Olive went babysitting. Betty went to a birthday party. In the evening, Ben Blair and I went to dinner with friends at Kronnenburger. It’s a small restaurant, so if you want to go, plan on reservations. I had the crabcake burger and I highly recommend it. You should also get a double order of fries.

Our Sunday highlights included a Valentine’s Day breakfast and watching Moonrise Kingdom for movie night. That movie is pretty much perfect. Breakfast was French Toast made from a loaf of Apple Fritter bread. It was the best French Toast I’ve had in ages. Also on Sunday: Betty practiced for the spelling bee (which is happening today).

Monday was the best day of the long weekend — I shared a few photos on Instagram if you’d like to see. The kids didn’t have school because of President’s Day and we took full advantage. We slept in, then loaded up the car for a Beach Day. We drove to Bolinas — which is a small, unmarked, hippie town in Marin County (just North of the city). In mileage, it’s not that far. But it takes about 1.5 hours to get there.

The weather was outstanding and we spent a few hours at the beach putting the boogie board Santa gave Oscar to use. The water was cold! But, it’s pretty much always cold in the Pacific, so the kids all enjoyed the ocean anyway. Other activities included naps in the sun, collecting sea shells, digging holes, sprinting on the sand (my favorite!), cartwheels in surf, and long lazy walks.

Then we were all hungry so we packed up and walked into Bolinas to search out some food. I’m not sure where she learned this trick, but Olive had brought a canister of baby powder and she showed us how to use it to remove sand from our feet before we put on our shoes. It works brilliantly! Pat your feet dry with a towel or t-shirt, but don’t use the towel to try and wipe away the sand. Then, generously sprinkle baby powder on any sandy skin. Using your hands, wipe away the powder, and the sand will cleanly wipe away too. It’s fantastic!

For food, we ended up at the Bolinas town park with an impromptu picnic. There’s a market next to the park and we picked up crackers, grapes, cheese, sliced pepperoni and water.

We started back home after that. The traffic was insane for about an hour, then it opened up. We didn’t mind the traffic too much, because the views were lovely and we had good music. We decided to stop at Muir Woods National Monument on the way back. It’s one of my favorite places on earth — some of the redwoods there are over 1000 years old. Within the park there is a place called Cathedral Grove where they ask visitors to “enter quietly”, and it feels like such a sacred space. Every time I visit my thought is: Wow. I am really lucky that I get to be here.

Pro-tip: Muir Woods is always busy on the weekend, but if you arrive after 4:00 (which we did), it’s easy to park and it empties out pretty quickly so that you have stretches of boardwalk all to yourself. Muir Woods often has no entrance fee after 4:00 as well, or if you have a National Parks annual pass, it will get you free entry too.

After Muir Woods, we drove home, stopping for dinner on the way. We got home around 9:00 PM, which means after showers and pjs, the younger ones were getting to bed later than is ideal for a school night, but it was definitely worth it!

Everyone is at school today (Betty’s class Valentine exchange is today) and Ben Blair and I are back at work. The long weekend was lovely, but I confess, I’m missing the French school calendar like crazy. In France, the schedule is roughly 6 weeks on, 2 weeks off — and right now they are in the middle of a two-week break. I wish we were too!

How about you? How was your weekend? Did you work yesterday? Do anything fun for Valentine’s Day? Survive the record low temperatures on the East Coast? I want to hear your reports!


A Few Things

February 12, 2016


By Gabrielle. Photo: Crayon Hearts — still one of my very favorite Valentine projects!

Hello, Friends. How are you? Was it a good week? Do you have any Valentine’s Day plans for Sunday? And do you have Monday off for President’s Day? I’m looking at a 3-day weekend and it’s feeling pretty dang good!

Before I jump into my link list, I have a request for anyone who considers themselves a BIG fan of this blog. If you’re a long-time reader, if you love coming to the site, if you love talking about Design Mom, then I’m hoping you’ll help me out. As I embark on the website redesign, I’m doing some in depth market research about Design Mom, and I’m looking for 6 to 10 people to interview. It will take about an hour — so this is for people who really like talking about Design Mom.

I won’t be doing the interviewing, because the interviewer needs to be someone who can ask totally unbiased questions, but I will definitely be studying your responses and doing whatever I can to improve Design Mom. If you’re willing to volunteer your time, I would be forever grateful!! Please email me, let me know you’re interested, and we’ll get an interview time set up. Thanks in advance! UPDATE: So many volunteers! I can’t thank you enough! We’re all set. Woo hoo!

And now, here are a few things I’ve been wanting to share:

- French supermarkets banned from throwing away and spoiling unsold food.

- Make your own watercolors.

- This hit me in the gut. Can you imagine being your child’s organ?

This article says the college admissions process is poisoning our kids’ teen years. Do you agree?

- Why elephants don’t get cancer and what that means.

- Toyota was overcharging minority customers — and now it has to pay them back.

- A father and son challenging the stereotypes of autism.

- How China’s one-child policy led to 30 Million Bachelors.

- The slow death of purposeless walking.

- 6 women scientists who were snubbed due to sexism.

- When your baby won’t eat.

- Woman who is a man chromosome-wise, gave birth after doctors grew her a womb.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend and a Happy Valentine’s Day! We’ll do a sweet little pink-themed breakfast for the kids on Sunday morning — I’m looking forward to it! I’ll meet you back here next week. I miss you already.



stamp-valentine 6

By Gabrielle. Photos by Amy Christie for Design Mom.

Here’s another super cute option for your Valentines this year! All it’s an easy one too. Print and trim the free printable, and attach an inexpensive rubber stamp. That’s it! Yes, it’s candy free, and yes, it’s appealing to all sorts of kids. Who wouldn’t love a little stamp with animal feet!

And bonus, the printable is a little ruler, so your kids can measure any real animal footprints they come across. Best valentine ever!

stamp-valentine 7stamp-valentine 5

Before we jump into the instructions, I have a quick question. How are your schools handling Valentine’s Day this year? Since it’s on Sunday, will your classrooms be celebrating on the Friday before? Or the Monday after? For us, it depends on the teacher. One is skipping a Valentine’s party altogether (though the kids are allowed to exchange valentines), another is having the celebration on Monday, and I’m not sure what the third one is doing. I better go check!

Now, let’s get to it!

Printable and sources below. Click here.


mini-chocolate-wraps 1

By Gabrielle. Photos by Amy Christie for Design Mom.

Oh my goodness you guys. This is the cutest little project! I’m basically in love with it. And even if you are not crafty, this is doable, I promise. Can you print things out? Can you buy chocolate? Do you have scissors and tape? Then you can make these! You’ll love writing sweet messages with them, and so will your kids.

As you can guess with the timing of this post, these wraps were originally brainstormed as a Valentine’s Day project. But once the chocolates starting getting wrapped, it became clear that these wraps would be adorable any time of year! Write messages for Mother’s Day, for birthdays, for book club, for a baby shower. Wrap up initials as place markers at a dinner party. Drop off a sweet chocolate note for a friends who is having a hard day.

You simply can’t go wrong with these happy little wraps!

mini-chocolate-wraps 11mini-chocolate-wraps 12mini-chocolate-wraps 14mini-chocolate-wraps 20

Amy Christie led out on this project and here’s what she says:

This project is probably one of my favorites ever. It’s the colors, the cuteness, all the possibilities of messages to write and it’s chocolate!! #winning to the max. And while this week is all about Valentine’s Day, like Gabrielle said, these sweet treats can be used for any occasion throughout the year! New babies, dad’s day, kid’s day, after-surgery day, teacher gifts, a treat for the mail carrier. Even a ho-hum date night. Everyone, EVERYONE, will love this.

mini-chocolate-wraps 16mini-chocolate-wraps 15mini-chocolate-wraps 18

We picked fab colors and all you have to do is print, cut and wrap. If you sneak a few chocolates while you’re working, that’s okay too.

mini-chocolate-wraps 13mini-chocolate-wraps 17minichocolatewraps

Brush up on your proofreading skills and let’s get going.

Click here for instructions and the free printables!


You Light Up My World, A Finger Light Valentine | Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos by Amy Christie for Design Mom.

First of all, are you familiar with fingerlights? Basically, they are a tiny colored light with an on/off switch and an elastic band so you can wear it on your finger. A couple of Octobers ago, a neighbor gave them out to trick-or-treaters and I made a mental note of their awesomeness. I know they are just tiny little lights, but I find them quite irresistible and thought they would make wonderful candy-free valentines!

You Light Up My World, A Finger Light Valentine | Design MomYou Light Up My World, A Finger Light Valentine | Design Mom

Happily, fingerlights are easy to find. I ordered these on Amazon, and asked Amy Christie to put together a happy little printable to go with them.

You Light Up My World, A Finger Light Valentine | Design MomYou Light Up My World, A Finger Light Valentine | Design Mom

All you need to do is order finger lights, print out the cards, and pop on a glue dot! Done and done. Let’s get to it!

Click here for the simple instructions and the printable link.


salted-caramel-brownies 1

By Gabrielle. Photos by Liz Berget for Design Mom

Woo hoo! The next installment of Dessert for Two is ready to share. And as usual, my mouth is watering at the photos. I’m officially dedicating this post to everyone out there burning the midnight oil on a project — from science fair displays and purging your closet, to term papers, taxes, and building a startup. When you and your kid/partner/spouse/bestie need a late night boost, this recipe will be waiting for you.

salted-caramel-brownies 3

Alternatively, I’m also going to give this a big thumbs up for your Valentine’s Day celebrations. In case you need a reminder, Valentine’s Day is Sunday after next, and if you are looking for a way to add a little romance to the day, dessert for two is pretty much perfect.

salted-caramel-brownies 2salted-caramel-brownies 7salted-caramel-brownies 4

Liz came up with this month’s recipe, and she had me at salted caramel. Doesn’t it look amazing?

Before we jump into the recipe, I just wanted to mention that I LOVE the enthusiastic response to this new column. Feel free to keep the ideas coming. If you have particular dessert cravings, I want to know about it!

Click here for the recipe and notes!


Edible Monogram Cookies for Your Valentine! | Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos by Amy Christie for Design Mom.

Happy February! Pull out your red construction paper and your pink glitter and your heart stamps, because for the next two weeks it’s all about Valentine’s Day. Are you excited? Neutral on the subject? No interested at all?

Well, wherever you fall on the Valentine’s Day spectrum, you’ll like this project. It’s all about how to print out and fold this handy little wrap-style envelope. Yes, this envelope is perfect for gently wrapping up a Valentine sweet, but it’s also useable any week of the year, and can be printed on any colored or patterned paper you like.

Edible Monogram Cookies for Your Valentine | Design MomEdible Monogram Cookies for Your Valentine | Design MomEdible Monogram Cookies for Your Valentine | Design Mom

Use these simple envelopes to wrap up a note, the pony bead necklace your son made for his aunt, cookies or chocolates, a set of coasters, friendship bracelets — really, anything that’s small and relatively flat. These are so simple and so useful! You’ll want to make a stack to have at the ready.

Bonus: Amy Christie shot the photos for this project and made awesome initial cookies from font printouts. So you can learn how to do that in this post too!

Edible Monogram Cookies for Your Valentine | Design MomEdible Monogram Cookies for Your Valentine | Design Mom

Before we jump to the how-to, I’m curious. When prepping for Valentine’s Day, do you make valentines for your friends? And have you ever heard of Gal-antines Day gatherings? The idea is to celebrate your gal-friends on February 14th instead of focusing on who does or doesn’t have a love interest at the moment. I’m thinking these little wraps are perfect for cookie deliveries to your circle of friends.

Okay. On to the instructions!

Click here for the tutorial, recipe and notes!


A Few Things

February 13, 2015

Oh Happy Day & Design Mom as kids

By Gabrielle. Photo is me holding my sister Jordan of Oh Happy Day — such a festive shot!

Hello, Friends! How are you? Oh my goodness I am surely excited to greet the weekend. I pretty much love that Valentine’s Day is on Saturday — it means we can sleep in and enjoy a lazy brunch. And then no school on Monday! I swear, three day weekends feel like gold at the end of a rainbow.

What are your plans this weekend? I know in some parts of the country they call the next 7 days “ski week”. Any of you headed to the slopes? Or maybe a romantic date for Saturday night? We haven’t made plans for Valentine’s night at all. Our older three are all babysitting for other families, so I’m guessing we’ll stay in. Takeout + a movie sounds about right. Any favorite romantic comedies you’d recommend? I’d love to watch something we haven’t seen before! But maybe a re-watch of You’ve Got Mail or While You Were Sleeping is in order. (I would add Notting Hill as an option, but we just watched it on Sunday. Also, Sunday was the first time I realized Lord Grantham is in Notting Hill! He’s so young!!!)

I’ve got appointments for much of today and need to head out, but before I do, there are few things I’ve wanted to share with you:

- Oh man. I can’t stop thinking about this article on public shaming. I feel like this could happen to anyone. It’s so easy to assume the worst of people.

- And the opposite, a feel good story!

- My sister-in-law, Margaret Blair Young, launched a kickstarter for a really cool movie she’s working on based in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Take a look!

- Are you a shoes off house? (Our house is so indoor/outdoor, I find it almost impossible.)

- If Stanley Tucci were your boyfriend.

- Every major Snape scene in chronological order.

- “Christianity did not “cause” slavery, anymore than Christianity “caused” the civil-rights movement.”

- She de-vamps dolls and gives them a new life. Thanks, Kirsty.

- A cute little video + Valentine printable from my friends at Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

- They’ve been dating for 8 years but have never said, “I love you”. Thanks, Mary Karen.

- I’ve never been into tumblr much, but my teens are big fans — Maude keeps two tumblrs, one for funny stuff, and one for photos she loves. Do you have an opinion on tumblr?

- Need Valentine breakfast ideas? I pinned some of my favoritess. (Are you following me on Pinterest? It’s lots of fun.)

I hope you have a truly fantastic (long) weekend. Happy Valentine’s Day! Happy President’s Day! I hope you get a welcome break from your routine. I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.



Put Your Heart to Paper

February 5, 2015

Hallmark Love Card

Photo and text by Gabrielle.

Are you feeling the February-holiday-lovely-dovey vibes? I totally am. I’m a fan of Valentine’s Day. I’ve heard it’s a made up holiday, but I don’t mind that a bit. And I also don’t focus on only romantic love on Valentine’s Day. I think it’s fun to have a calendar day dedicated to telling the people in your life why you love them, and February 14th seems like a great date to make that happen.

This year for Valentine’s Day, I’m working on a really fun collaboration with Hallmark. Each day for 10 days, I’m sharing images, stories and videos on Instagram to encourage people to Put Their Heart To Paper and express their love to someone (or someones!). I started on Monday and will continue till the 11th (and there will be an awesome giveaway as well!). You can follow along on my Instagram here, or check out the #putyourhearttopaper hashtag.

My favorite part of this campaign are the sweet videos Hallmark made for this celebration. They videotaped one person talking about why he or she loves another person, then have them both watch the footage together. It’s adorable as can be! Here’s one of my favorites:

You can see them all on Youtube here. And I hope you get a chance to put YOUR heart to paper this year!


EASY Citrus Sugar Recipe. Make Lemon, Lime, or Orange sugar and add some flavor to your baked goods. Free printable!

By Gabrielle. Photos & styling by Amy Christie.

Hey Sugar! Here’s something to sweeten your day. As you know, Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, so I’m trying to share a few projects while you still have time to make use of them. : ) This one is a good one! Flavored sugar recipes are popping up everywhere and since they are so simple to make, I thought they would make sweet gifts for neighbors and friends (pun intended). Sugars infused with flavors help elevate the taste of the recipes they are added to.

EASY Citrus Sugar Recipe. Make Lemon, Lime, or Orange sugar and add some flavor to your baked goods. Free printable!

I’m not kidding about how easy these flavored sugars are to make. All it takes to make citrusy sugars is sugar and zest. Amounts can be adjusted so you can make just the right amount.

EASY Citrus Sugar Recipe. Make Lemon, Lime, or Orange sugar and add some flavor to your baked goods. Free printable!

I even made a tag (free printable!) for you to tie on so this treat is as adorable as it is easy to make.

Let’s make something sweet!

Click here for the full tutorial.


By Gabrielle.

Friends, I think you’re going to love this tour. It’s artistic yet accessible. Dreamy and yet utterly down-to-earth. There are a lot of good ideas inside this house that don’t involve a ton of money. Do you have yarn and some found branches? The courage to paint some walls an unexpected color? The bravery to withstand all the expert advice found in the aisles of your local home improvement store…and STILL believe your idea is the best? I think you do!

I’m excited to introduce you to Jennifer Lula, maybe already known to you as the force behind Jen Loves Kev. She’s got all of the above and more. (And I mean it about the more: she let her husband name her blog! Now that is courageous!) Welcome Jen!

Q: Tell us all about this happy little family!

A: Hi everyone! So happy to get to share a little bit about us with you today. I am a former high school art teacher turned stay-at-home Mom. We have two beautiful little girls: Rowan Winter who just turned four, and Finley James who will be two this winter.

Note to self: Buy more yarn. And make cute art.


By Gabrielle. Helvetica Hi Blanket via Yarning Made.

A lot of pregnancies have a false start or two. (Mine with June did!) But sometimes those false starts turn into very real, very surprising beginnings, and what in the world do you do then? Melissa has some experience, mistaking her early delivery signs as lingering flu symptoms and perhaps a little constipation. I’ll let her tell you how it all turned out. Enjoy her story, Friends!

Just click to read Melissa’s amazing story…


Mental Health Update

March 5, 2014


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.


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!


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.


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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