Design Mom » ask design mom http://www.designmom.com The Intersection of Design & Motherhood Mon, 31 Aug 2015 23:06:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.5.1 Ask Design Mom: Two Introverts Raising an Extrovert http://www.designmom.com/2015/07/ask-design-mom-two-introverts-raising-an-extrovert/ http://www.designmom.com/2015/07/ask-design-mom-two-introverts-raising-an-extrovert/#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 14:45:43 +0000 Design Mom http://www.designmom.com/?p=57062

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Images and text by Gabrielle.

Well, it’s been almost a year since I posted an Ask Design Mom question, but when I shared my 9 year blog anniversary post, I had a whole bunch of requests to post them more often. So here we go! I’ll do my best to make this a regular series again — and in the meantime, you can find the Ask Design Mom archives here. Now, on to the question!

Olive & June 2014-1539

Question:
Hi Gabrielle. You wrote a post a while ago about two extroverts raising an introvert. My family is the opposite. My husband and I are introverts and our only child is an extrovert (we think!). She is 5 years old and always wants someone to do something with her. The only time she can play by herself is watching TV or using the iPad. Even while coloring her coloring book she wants someone to do it with her. It’s very noticeable when compared with her same aged cousin. He is perfectly fine playing by himself and our daughter begs him to play with her. Do you have any suggestions for introverted parents raising an extrovert? — Angel

Ralph & Maude What to Wear 2014-1537

Answer:
Hi Angel. Great question. As you can probably guess, I don’t actually have much experience with your particular situation. : ) But I’m confident that many brilliant and experienced Design Mom Readers will have lots of good advice for you.

In the meantime, I found two articles that might help. Geek Mom is an introvert, married to an introvert, and raising two kids — one introvert and one extrovert. She addresses this topic and lists coping strategies, and she relates this experience:

“When my extroverted son was in middle school, he got into online computer games and let me tell you, those were a goldmine! Guilds, leagues, clans, alliances, corporations, agencies, groups, people to talk to—he was able to shift some of his needs for feedback and socializing from his introverted family to his new online community. In fact, this sort of interaction can be critical for extroverted teens who live in small communities or have limited social choices available to them—it’s such a great, positive way for them to reach past their physical boundaries and connect—at that fully engaged, extroverted level—with people with similar interests.”

Oscar & Betty B2S 2014-1514

Real Simple also had a straightforward article about raising introverts and extroverts (the extrovert part is on pages 4 and 5). I loved this part:

“Know your limits. An extrovert’s desire for chat and connection can be overwhelming at times, especially if you’re an introvert. But, Cohen says, don’t wait until you’re so frustrated that you burst out with a “Stop yammering already!” If you need a break, Braun suggests telling a little kid, “I need some quiet time, but I do want to hear what you have to say. Right now my ears are full. Maybe you’d like to tell that story to your stuffed-animal friends.” For an older child, try letting him get his thoughts into a tape recorder. “He has to be able to put them somewhere,” says Braun. “And kids love to record themselves.”

I would also add that anytime I mention introverts and extroverts, the book Quiet. by Susan Cain, is brought up. It’s focused on introversion, so it might not be exactly what you’re looking for, but it’s definitely a real game changer for many people, so if you haven’t heard of it, perhaps you’ll find it helpful as well.

Now over to you, Dear Readers? Are any of you in the same boat as Angel? What has worked for you so far? Any tips or ideas? Chime in!

P.S. — Have an Ask Design Mom question? Feel free to email me!

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Ask Design Mom: Travel Camera http://www.designmom.com/2014/09/ask-design-mom-travel-camera/ http://www.designmom.com/2014/09/ask-design-mom-travel-camera/#comments Mon, 08 Sep 2014 18:03:32 +0000 Design Mom http://www.designmom.com/?p=50672

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Image and text by Gabrielle.

Oh my goodness. The last time I posted an Ask Design Mom question was in December. Hah! It seems I mostly answer questions via email or blog comments these days. But I’ve received this question so often lately, that I thought writing up a post would make sense.

Question:
Hi Gabrielle. Would you mind sharing what camera you used for your trip to Sweden. I was following along on Instagram and the photos were beautifiul. Were they taken with your phone? — Sent in from several readers

Sony NEX 5T:L4

Answer:
Good question! I was originally planning to bring our Canon DSLR 50D which is what I use to shoot photos for Design Mom (including the photo here). But I wasn’t looking forward to it, because it’s HEAVY. Especially with my most flexible lens. Plus, knowing we were checking into a new hotel practically everyday, we packed light — one carryon size suitcase each plus a backpack. But a big camera, with a big lens, needs padded protection during transport and takes up a hefty bit of space. So I wasn’t sure how we were going to deal with it. I even wondered if I could get by with my cell phone.

I asked my sister, Jordan, for advice, and which camera she had taken with her on a recent trip to Paris & Morocco, because I new she had also needed to pack light for that trip. And she mentioned that she tried something new. A very small Sony NEX-5TL that takes DSLR quality photos.

So I bought one for the trip, and it was a hit!

Sony NEX 5T:L2

It’s very lightweight. I had it around my neck for the entire trip and it never bothered me. I didn’t use any special case for it, but would just add to my day bag as we left the hotel. The photo quality is excellent! The lens it came with did I every thing I need it to. The back screen pops up so you can take see what you’re doing when you take a selfie. But the best part: I could upload images directly to my phone from the camera — without a cord! and without being connected to the internet!

This was a major help. Instead of shooting photos from a big camera to share on my blog, and then shooting additional photos from my phone to share on Instagram, I only shot with the Sony NEX. I didn’t use my phone for photos at all. Then, I would transfer the images that I wanted to share on Instagram from the camera to the phone right then and there, instantly. I LOVED this.

One other thing about this camera that I thought was a big draw (even though I didn’t make use of it), is that you can actually switch out the lens like you would on any standard DSLR. And I’ve heard that Nikon lens also work with it! (I use Canon, so that’s not applicable to me, but for you Nikon users out there, I thought you might want to know).

Anyway, if you are looking for a travel camera, I highly recommend the Sony NEX 5TL (the L means it comes with lens, if you buy the NEX 5T, it will just be the camera body with no lens). I chose silver, but it also comes in black and white. For casual outings with the kids, walks to the park, a day at the beach, this camera is just so easy to keep with me. It’s practically a staple in my purse now.

Do I use it for blog images? No, not generally. I suppose I could, but I seem to reserve it for on the go images. I’m still more comfortable with my Canon 50D when I’m shooting for the blog. That could change, but for now, that’s where I’m at. It’s definitely much more affordable than my Canon, so this might be a good alternative if you’re just getting into photography.

Any negatives? Just one. Instead of looking through a viewfinder, you look at the screen to shoot. That’s not a problem, unless it’s super sunny. Then you can’t see anything and you just have to guess. Which I totally did! There are optional viewfinder add-ons available. I haven’t tried them, but they might be worth the extra cost depending on how you’re going to use the camera.

Lastly, yes the NEX 5TL shoots video, but it’s another feature I haven’t tried yet, so I can’t speak to what it’s like.

Tell me, Dear Readers: What kind of camera are you using these days? Are you able to shoot everything you need with your phone? Or perhaps you carry a camera bag purse for your DSLR? I’d love to hear any tips or tricks for cameras on the go!

P.S. — In earlier years, I’ve featured Ask Design Mom questions frequently, and even had whole weeks dedicated to reader questions. Any interest in me reviving something like that? I always love your feedback!

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Ask Design Mom: Hanging Stockings http://www.designmom.com/2013/12/ask-design-mom-hanging-stockings/ http://www.designmom.com/2013/12/ask-design-mom-hanging-stockings/#comments Mon, 23 Dec 2013 19:10:20 +0000 Design Mom http://www.designmom.com/?p=44110

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Image and text by Gabrielle.

Question:
I was wondering if you or any of your readers have suggestions for what to do with Christmas stockings when you don’t have a fireplace or mantel to hang them on? We live in a 900 sq ft, one story home. We don’t have kids *yet* but we want to start a family soon. As I am decorating for the season, I have found no good spot to hang stockings. (Is it strange that we are two adults in the house and yet I still want to hang stockings?) Any ideas would be appreciated! — Thanks! Meaghan

stockings

Answer:
Such a good question! We’ve definitely faced this dilemma. In our 2 New York homes, we didn’t have a fire place. In Colorado and France we did. And here at The Treehouse, we do have a fireplace, but there is no mantle. Here are a few ideas:

In our first house in New York, we had a stair case with a white wood railing. We hung each stocking with a piece of ribbon (there were 5 at that time), along the stair rail, oldest at the top going down to the youngest. Then we wrapped the rail with green garland. It was very cute.

In our second New York home we made a display of the stockings (now numbering 7) above our piano in the living room — we hung them from tiny nails, filled them with the pine boughs trimmed from the bottom of the tree, and accented them with a few simple ornaments. Very festive! And this sort of display would work anywhere — above a sofa, or on any stretch of blank wall.

Here at The Treehouse, we put a row of brass teacup hooks in the ceiling just in front of the fireplace, and hung the stockings (now 8!) from a piece of twine. The display is pictured here. I think they look great! And this solution could also work against any stretch of wall, above a hall table or couch — it doesn’t have to be a brick fireplace.

For all of these displays, when it’s time to fill the stockings, Santa simply takes them down, fills them, and sets the now heavy stockings on the floor below the display, or near the other presents.

And one last idea, you could skip the stockings and fill wellies instead like I did here!

What about you, Dear Readers? Have you ever celebrated Christmas without a fireplace and mantel? Where did you hang the stockings?

P.S. — It’s been awhile since I’ve fielded an Ask Design Mom question here on the blog, but you can find the archive here.

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Ask Design Mom: Working With a Time Difference http://www.designmom.com/2013/02/ask-design-mom-working-with-a-time-difference/ http://www.designmom.com/2013/02/ask-design-mom-working-with-a-time-difference/#comments Mon, 04 Feb 2013 17:00:50 +0000 Design Mom http://www.designmom.com/?p=28342

By Gabrielle.

Question:
Hi Design Mom. I am wondering how the time difference from France to the U.S. affects you and your husband’s work days. I work from home, too, and dream of living abroad. Any thoughts? — Rebekah

Answer:
Great question, Rebekah! Before we moved, I hadn’t actually given the time change much thought, but it turns out it has affected our work — and our life! — in a big way. I have several assorted thoughts on the subject, but they feel a little disjointed in my head, so I’m going to put them in a list and see how that goes:

- I love, love, love waking up 6 hours before East Coasters (and 9 hours before Californians!). When I sit down with my laptop and tackle my inbox, I can actually make progress! Because most of the people that email me are fast asleep and my inbox stays quiet while I answer emails. And it just feels like I’m getting a head start! Basically, I get my posts done for the day and scheduled — but they don’t go live until 3:00PM my time (which is 9:00AM in NY). So if we have an outing that day, or guests in town, I know I have until 3:00PM to get things going.

It’s a really nice feeling. Ben Blair and I have discussed that it will be one of the things we miss the very most when we move back.

- Interestingly, I definitely felt the opposite when we moved from New York to Colorado. I would wake up every morning feeling like I was behind, because my peers in New York had already been working for a couple of hours. We were only in Colorado a year and a half, and I’m afraid I never quite got used to it.

- The tricky part is phone calls and online meetings. I end up making calls and holding meetings at 9:00, 10:00 and 11:00 at night! It seems like I would be able to schedule the calls at a more reasonable hour — say 5:00 or 7:30PM, but I really can’t. From 4:00 to 8:00PM at our house, if I’m not giving my time and attention to my family and household, things fall apart fast.

- Another tricky part is dealing with communication delays. My best work hours are at the beginning of the day, but if I have questions or need to get in touch with someone, I won’t be able to while my head is clear and the thoughts are crisp. So I have to make good notes and hope I’ll remember everything I want to discuss when I get in touch later that day.

- Being ahead or behind the news cycle has also been fascinating to me. Last night, I went to bed long before the big game. I knew I would be missing the commercials, the half-time show, and all the accompanying tweets and instagrams. As someone that doesn’t like missing out, it took me awhile to come to terms with having to catch up the next day. (I’m not actually a huge football fan, so missing the Super bowl isn’t too challenging for me, but I was bummed to miss the Golden Globes!)

- I also remember watching the news unfold about the tsunami in Japan, and realizing I couldn’t talk to my friends and family about it because they were all asleep. I remember feeling sort of out-of-body as I watched America wake up and deal with the news and heart break, while I had already had 6 hours to begin processing the tragedy.

- Something else kind of funny: Daylight Savings time changes happen on different days here in France than they do in America. For a couple of weeks each year, it really messes with my head!

- Lastly, dealing with a time change like this definitely gets better with practice. I’m really good at instantly knowing what time it is in every time zone of the U.S. (I have work colleagues in all four!) — but when I first got here, I would have to count on my fingers every time I tried to schedule a phone call. : )

Tell me, Dear Readers, have you ever worked with a big time change? Did you enjoy it? And I’d love to know: Do you like the time zone you live in now?

P.S. — I’m a fan of Timex Weekender watches. Lots of happy straps to choose from and they’re usually less than $30!

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Ask Design Mom: Classic Nightgowns http://www.designmom.com/2012/12/ask-design-mom-classic-nightgowns/ http://www.designmom.com/2012/12/ask-design-mom-classic-nightgowns/#comments Mon, 17 Dec 2012 16:30:45 +0000 Design Mom http://www.designmom.com/?p=28687

Question:
Hi Gabrielle. Where have beautiful little nightgowns gone? Two of my daughters (11, 13) would love a nightgown for Christmas. You know: flannel, old-fashioned, actually pretty. Does that even exist except for in my imagination? — Liz

Answer:
Great question, Liz. I actually get this question more often than you might think — classic nightgowns are hard to find! I’ve got two sources for you today. Land’s End is carrying a pretty flannel option right this minute. And I just heard about Auraley. It’s a UK line of “luxurious” nightwear for both girls and boys. The prices aren’t as reasonable as the Lands’ End option, but the photos are certainly swoon-worthy. : )

Tell me, Dear Readers: Any favorite sources for classic nightgowns? And speaking of nightwear, are new pajamas on Christmas Eve one of your family traditions? Did you find any cute ones this year?

P.S. — If you’re looking for grownup sleepwear, I recommend classic men’s pjs.

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Ask Design Mom: Coordinated Halloween Costumes http://www.designmom.com/2012/10/ask-design-mom-coordinated-halloween-costumes/ http://www.designmom.com/2012/10/ask-design-mom-coordinated-halloween-costumes/#comments Tue, 02 Oct 2012 14:30:47 +0000 Design Mom http://www.designmom.com/?p=23765

By Gabrielle.

Question:
Hi Gabrielle! I have a little girl who is 2 and twin boys who are 1. Last year they dressed up as Little Bo Peep and her sheep.  This year I am having a bit of trouble trying to coordinate their costumes. Any ideas? Thanks, Brandy Tucker

Answer:
Hi Brandy! I’m with you. I think coordinated costumes are so much fun! And we’re not alone, because I receive similar questions every year. : ) Little Bo Peep + sheep sounds like it was adorable! Maybe this year it would be fun if your daughter was Wendy, and the twins were Peter Pan and Captain Hook. Or how about Bella, Edward and Jacob? (Kidding!) Smurfette and any two other Smurfs?

Fun fact: the mime photo above wasn’t actually from Halloween. Maude and Olive were just goofing around. Which is awesome. But, Ralph was a mime for Halloween once!

What do you think, Dear Readers? Have any great suggestions for Brandy? And how do you feel about coordinated costumes? Do you commit to them every year? Or just when a brilliant idea comes to you?

P.S. — Photos from some of our earliest Halloweens here. Plus, a glimpse of me with super short hair. As in, so short that Ben Blair would cut it at home with our electric clippers!

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Ask Design Mom: Naming Baby http://www.designmom.com/2012/09/ask-design-mom-naming-baby/ http://www.designmom.com/2012/09/ask-design-mom-naming-baby/#comments Tue, 04 Sep 2012 13:00:28 +0000 Design Mom http://www.designmom.com/?p=22230

Question:
I absolutely adore the names that you chose for your children, and I was wondering if you have any names that got away?  If so, would you be willing to share? I have to say, I’m always curious what you would name another handful of children! — Thanks so much, Trisha

modernkidsblairfamily32

Answer:
What a fun question, Trisha! I love the phrase you use: the names that got away. That’s perfect! I do have a list. Or at least a couple of little stories. When I was pregnant for the second time, and we’d found out it was a girl, we started chatting about names. I suggested Claire, (which I love!) And Ben started laughing. “Claire Blair?” he asked? Ugh! I hadn’t even thought about the first and last names together! When I realized they formed a full-on rhyme, which I was not okay with, I about burst into tears.

Then, when I was pregnant for the 3rd time, I was positive I was having a boy (I wasn’t), and we starting picking out names. We really liked one of the Blair family names: Charles Sargeant Green, and we planned on naming baby number 3 Charles Sargeant Blair. But baby number 3 turned out to be Olive! And when the next boy arrived (Oscar), Charles Sargeant didn’t feel quite right, so we saved it for a possible future son. Since we’re done having babies, it’s now officially a name-that-got-away.

Other names that have made our short list over the years: Mabel, Maxine, Beatrice and Hazel. But I can’t remember any of our boy names! In general, we’re drawn to the names from our grandparent’s generation. Easy to pronounce. Easy to spell. But currently uncommon. A name with some history. A name our kids will discover as they get to know great books. As a mental test, whenever we were talking about names, I would imagine my kids as 80-year-olds, sitting at a card table playing canasta. If the name we were considering fit at the table, it got a green light. : )

And now, I’m so curious I have to ask: Do you have any names that got away too? I’d love to hear them!

P.S. — I’ve been answering Ask Design Mom questions since 1996! Light stuff like this and heavier stuff like this too. You can find the whole series here. Also, the image of my kids was shot by Sarah of Modern Kids.

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Ask Design Mom: Pajamas http://www.designmom.com/2012/07/ask-design-mom-pajamas/ http://www.designmom.com/2012/07/ask-design-mom-pajamas/#comments Mon, 23 Jul 2012 14:02:27 +0000 Design Mom http://www.designmom.com/?p=21183

Question:
Hi Gabrielle. I have a question. What are your favorite pajamas? What do you wear to bed daily? In respect to this travel season, what pajamas do you wear to bed when you have company staying over and you know you will meet them bright and early at the breakfast table for coffee? I have 3 little ones and lots of family bopping in and out during their travels. I always wonder-how do I look put together (ok, at least presentable) in my pajamas?  — Melissa Kane

Answer:
Hi Melissa! Thanks for the question. Personally, I am a huge fan of 100% cotton men’s pajamas — preferably pin striped. My pajama drawer is piled with almost nothing else! I like the coverage in front of guests — they don’t cling when I’m running around the house sans-bra. They’re season-less. They’re comfy for lounging. And if I want to surprise Ben Blair (I do!), then I can wear something lacy/racy underneath. I think the contrast of the masculine cut + the feminine underthings is perfect.

I pick up a pair in the men’s department whenever I spot a size small — they can be hard to find! I’m 5′ 6″ and the size small typically has a pant with just the right length. I’ve found them at my grocery store in France. I saw this houndstooth pair in Target (I only wish it was all-cotton). And department stores often stock them as well. If you need something smaller, sometimes you can spot a pair of pajamas in the women’s department that are inspired by men’s pajamas, like the pair from J.Crew pictured.

How about you, Dear Readers? What do you wear to bed at night — especially when you have guests in the house?

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Christmas in France http://www.designmom.com/2011/12/ask-design-mom-christmas-in-france/ http://www.designmom.com/2011/12/ask-design-mom-christmas-in-france/#comments Fri, 16 Dec 2011 14:46:49 +0000 Design Mom http://www.designmom.com/?p=15246

Today, our family was discussing some of the observations we’ve made about Christmas in France and I thought you might be curious. Plus, I wanted a good excuse to to share some photos of our ornaments. : )

- December 1st was the first day I saw real Christmas Trees for sale. Corner tree lots don’t really exist. Instead, you can find them inside the big grocery stores, under a big tent in the grocery store parking lot, or at a Nursery.

-Potted trees are widely available everywhere trees are sold. They seem to be very common here. Cut trees are also available and fun fact: they aren’t kept in water. There are metal tree stands that have just enough room for a trunk, or some tree are placed in half logs (very charming! — I need to take a photo). For our tree, we filled a metal milk bucket with wet sand and put the cut trunk in that. It’s holding up nicely.

- There is no Black Friday. In fact, shopping only started to ramp up this week, as evidenced by shops that starting to extend their hours a bit.

- Community Christmas lights, on streetlamps and main streets, are everywhere. Everywhere! Even the teeniest, tiniest little villages have them.

- Students learn Christmas songs at school, and make Christmas projects to bring home as gifts, but they do not give Christmas gifts to teachers. (Take that! to do list.)

- Every thing is smaller. There are wreaths, but they are petite. There are a few outdoor santas and reindeer, but they’re about half the size of anything you’d find in the U.S.

- The only tree lights we’ve seen are LED (and not inexpensive).

- Fancy boxes of chocolates are everywhere! They seem to be the go-to gift.

How about you? Have you ever spent Christmas in another country? What did you observe?

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Ask Design Mom: Christmas Morning http://www.designmom.com/2011/11/ask-design-mom-christmas-morning/ http://www.designmom.com/2011/11/ask-design-mom-christmas-morning/#comments Thu, 10 Nov 2011 11:48:33 +0000 Design Mom http://www.designmom.com/?p=14391

Question:
I’m stressed out thinking about Christmas gifts. How do you figure out what gifts are from Santa and what gifts are from the parents? I want Christmas morning to be so magical that I’m afraid I’m buying too much and it will backfire. You have so many kids that I figure you’ll have some advice. Can you help? — Abby

christmas ornaments

Answer:
Great question, Abby! Every year around this time, I get similar questions, so I know this is something that many parents think about. I’ll answer in 3 parts.

1) As for buying too much, here’s what has worked for our family. I use a guideline I learned from my sister-in-law: Santa Claus brings something to read, something to wear and something to play with for each child. Just three things. They end up with other gifts too — from siblings and grandparents or other relatives, but Santa only leaves 3 under the tree.

Having a guideline in place makes it much easier to curb the amount of stuff coming into our house and to keep our holiday budget in check.

christmas ornaments

2) Regarding parent gifts, Ben Blair and I don’t give gifts to the kids (meaning there is nothing under the tree labeled “to Olive from Mom” or “to Betty from Dad”). In our case this has worked well. There are enough gifts on Christmas morning that the little ones don’t notice. And as the the kids grow older and get to know Santa, they feel loved anyway.

But. I know that wouldn’t work in every family. (You may have noticed, people have strong(!) and varied opinions surrounding Santa and parent gifts.) One of my friends has Santa bring one big thing and the rest of the presents are from Mom and Dad — which seems to work swimmingly for her family. So ask around until you hear something that would be a good fit at your house. I’m sure you’ll come up with just the thing.

3) I hear you on wanting Christmas morning to be magical. That’s my goal too. So I adopted something my mother would do. Before the kids run to the tree, I go in first and make sure the tree lights are on, some soft Christmas music is playing, and the gifts are displayed to their best advantage. If we have one that year, an electric train running around its track is a nice touch. I find the magic is less about the gifts and more about the presentation and mood.

What about you, Dear Readers? What advice would you give Abby? Do you have a gift guideline? How do you keep holiday gifts from getting out of hand? Any Christmas morning magic tricks?

P.S. — I forgot about the stockings! Santa also fills the stockings with inexpensive, practical stuff my family will use up, like socks and underwear, lib balm and body wash, or arts and crafts supplies.

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Ask Design Mom: Paper Bag Gravestones http://www.designmom.com/2011/10/ask-design-mom-paper-bag-gravestones/ http://www.designmom.com/2011/10/ask-design-mom-paper-bag-gravestones/#comments Wed, 26 Oct 2011 09:15:37 +0000 Design Mom http://www.designmom.com/?p=14181

Question:
My kids really want to put up some lawn decorations for the trick-or-treaters, but I’m having trouble finding anything that isn’t expensive. Any ideas? — Cassie P.

Answer:
Thanks for your question, Cassie! The idea I bookmarked this year is from Martha Stewart. Very real-looking gravestones made from gray paper bags! The instructions look super easy and the bags are only $4 for 25.

For something slightly harder, but still very inexpensive, try these spooky scarecrows I created. They have BIG impact and you can use them year after year.

What about you, Clever Readers? Any budget-friendly ideas for outdoor Halloween decor?

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Ask Design Mom: Oversize Floor Cushions http://www.designmom.com/2011/10/ask-design-mom-oversize-floor-cushions/ http://www.designmom.com/2011/10/ask-design-mom-oversize-floor-cushions/#comments Wed, 05 Oct 2011 10:21:31 +0000 Design Mom http://www.designmom.com/?p=13879

Question:
Hi Gabrielle. I am looking for an oversize cushion like the one featured in this scan (below) from the May 2009 Cookie Magazine (yes, I still have many, many ripped out ideas from that magazine which I still sorely miss, sniff, sniff). Anyhoo, I’m wondering if you/or your readers have any ideas where I could find something just like this. Thanks!
— Mary

Answer:
Hi Mary! That cushion is adorable. I haven’t seen that exact one, but I’ve been coveting these jumbo knitted bean bags ever since I posted about them. What about you Dear Readers? Know a source for that great stripey cushion? Or maybe you know someone Mary could hire to make one?

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Ask Design Mom: Wall Art + Patterns http://www.designmom.com/2011/09/ask-design-mom-wall-art-patterns/ http://www.designmom.com/2011/09/ask-design-mom-wall-art-patterns/#comments Fri, 23 Sep 2011 14:33:51 +0000 Design Mom http://www.designmom.com/?p=13632

Question:
My dining room is newly painted, new table and chairs, but nothing on the walls… because of the busy pattern and unusual shades of green in the dining room chairs (which I LOVE). I’m at a complete loss for what to use as wall decor. If you have any suggestions, I would be thrilled to hear them! — Amanda

Answer:
Hi Amanda! I saw this image in Marie Claire Maison and immediately thought of your question. My first advice: don’t be afraid of putting pattern with pattern. I adore the space above and it has like 10 different patterns going on. My second advice: don’t feel like you have to go matchy-matchy. The wall art does not have to match the greens in your chair patterns. It might match, but it doesn’t have to.

My best advice: remember that interior designers are more accessible than you think. Make some inquiries and see if you can find services within your budget. Sometimes, all you need is a person to bounce ideas off and respond with confidence.

What about you, Dear Readers? Does the pattern + pattern look appeal to you?

P.S. — Here’s a peek at Amanda’s newly painted dining room. It looks like such a great space to decorate!

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A Few Things http://www.designmom.com/2011/08/a-few-things-74/ http://www.designmom.com/2011/08/a-few-things-74/#comments Fri, 05 Aug 2011 13:00:29 +0000 Design Mom http://www.designmom.com/?p=12766

image by Dan Cutrona

Hello Friends! Thanks so much for making this the best ever Ask Design Mom Week. (I think it totally felt 5th Anniversary worthy!) I love your questions and I so admire your wisdom and clever ideas.

If you’re craving more Ask Design Mom, you can get your fix anytime over on the FB Discussion Board. All sorts of topics are being covered. Black Flats. E-Readers. Make Ahead Dinners. You can add your own questions or help out with answers. And anyone who participates is automatically entered to win a Clarisonic Mia! The winner will be announced on Monday.

In the meantime, here are a few things I’ve been wanting to share with you:
- The gorgeous slideshows continue on Kirtsy. (I found the image above on August 1st.)
- She calls it the Baby Bachelor Pad.
- A ruffled cake.
- Hats shot by John French.
- I judged a cute kids quote contest. Winners here.
- Carnations hanging from the ceiling.
- A photo job chart.
- French s’mores.

I also write for Babble.com. Here are this week’s posts:
- 10 fantastic cupcake liner projects.
- Plush toys for hipsters.
- Sometimes less is more.
- It lights up when it rocks!
- The cutest lamp ever.

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

kisses,
Gabrielle

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Ask Design Mom: Kid Friendly Dishes http://www.designmom.com/2011/08/ask-design-mom-kid-friendly-dishes/ http://www.designmom.com/2011/08/ask-design-mom-kid-friendly-dishes/#comments Fri, 05 Aug 2011 12:12:53 +0000 Design Mom http://www.designmom.com/?p=12658

Question:
Anyway, I have been looking for quality and cute kid-friendly dishes. The walmart plastic ones that show every knife mark and are probably full of BPA are not holding up. Any thoughts? à bientôt! — Allison Francis

Answer:
I love this question, Allison! Although we didn’t purchase them with our (future) kids in mind, the pewter dishes we registered for when we married have been fantastic. The kids can’t hurt them! We use them indoor and out, dress them up and down, and they have a matte finish that has aged beautifully. According to the manufacturer, they should be hand washed, but I’ve always thrown them in the dishwasher.

I’m guessing pewter is not what you have in mind. : ) So I can also suggest the great-looking options sold at Mighty Nest.

Chime in, Dear Readers. Do you have kid-friendly dishes you like to recommend?

P.S. — Real pewter is actually poisonous, our dishes are actually a new, safe pewter-like metal.

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Ask Design Mom: Gifts for New Dads http://www.designmom.com/2011/08/ask-design-mom-gifts-for-new-dads/ http://www.designmom.com/2011/08/ask-design-mom-gifts-for-new-dads/#comments Fri, 05 Aug 2011 11:55:50 +0000 Design Mom http://www.designmom.com/?p=12725

Two Questions:
I’d love your thoughts on a gift that I could get my husband for the birth of our second child. Do you have any ideas on a gift that could be memorable, celebrate his role as a dad and supportive husband, yet not fall into the “too-fancy-that-he’ll-put-it-away-and-we’ll-never-see-it” category? Thanks in advance. — Erin

I’m about to have my first baby (a little girl and I couldn’t be more excited about it!!) and was wondering if you had any suggestions for gifts for my husband and our families. I want to give them gifts from the baby when she arrives and have some picked out but am having a terrible time with others!  Any suggestions? Thanks! — Allison

Answer:
Great questions! I love the idea of giving something to your husband to celebrate his role as Dad. So sweet! Though I confess, Ben Blair and I didn’t exchange gifts for any of our babies. : )

I think books are a wonderful idea. You can pick out something classic for your husband to read to your new baby. Ask his parents what your husband’s favorite book was as a small child, buy it, and write a note in the front cover. Wouldn’t that be sweet?

What about you, Dear Readers? What sorts of gifts do you like to give to your husband?

P.S. — I think Maggie is a genius when it comes to gifts for men. I love her suggestion of the bacon of the month club.

image here

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Ask Design Mom: Form Versus Function http://www.designmom.com/2011/08/ask-design-mom-form-versus-function/ http://www.designmom.com/2011/08/ask-design-mom-form-versus-function/#comments Thu, 04 Aug 2011 10:55:41 +0000 Design Mom http://www.designmom.com/?p=12675

Question:
As a designer and a mother, would you say many of your household purchasing decisions, even for basic necessities (children’s socks, toaster, blender, sippy cups) are often chosen for their beauty of design? Or are you purely practical and just have your husband pick up what’s needed or grab the first thing you see? Sometimes design sense is so much a part of one that it becomes part of one’s choices that others don’t even think about. Thanks! — wordplayhouse™

Answer:
What a fun question! I would say, yes, pretty much all of my household purchasing decisions are chosen for their beauty of design. Definitely. And if something ends up in my house that was purchased purely for practical reasons, it will likely drive me crazy. Currently, we have a fly swatter that was picked up at the checkout stand on the spur of the moment. We needed a fly swatter, but this one is so ugly that it makes me mad every time I see it. : )

But it’s not all about aesthetics. Really, when I search for “beauty of design” I’m looking for something that works well and looks good too. For example, I love Salt Water Sandals for children. My kids think they’re comfortable, they last forever and look great. They’re designed well functionally and they’re designed well visually too. Function + Form.

That said, sometimes I can’t resist a purchase that’s more aesthetic than practical. Have you seen the 3 new styles of Joy Folie shoes? They’re clearly not made for puddle jumping, but they’re pretty darn irresistible and would be a fun splurge.

What about you, Dear Readers? Are you driven by practical decisions or by visual decisions? Or both?

P.S. — Joy Folie wrote in. They’re offering $10 off a pair with the code DESIGNMOM for the next 3 days. Dibs on a pair of booties!

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Ask Design Mom: Bras for Flat Chests http://www.designmom.com/2011/08/ask-design-mom-bras-for-flat-chests/ http://www.designmom.com/2011/08/ask-design-mom-bras-for-flat-chests/#comments Thu, 04 Aug 2011 10:01:25 +0000 Design Mom http://www.designmom.com/?p=12673

Question:
I’ve just finished nursing my 4th child and have absolutely no boobs left. Really, none. When I put on a size A the cups just cave in a bit on there own. Yes, it is embarrassing a little but it is what it is. Any suggestions for a bra that will give a little something without looking fake (or concave)? — Emily

Answer:
Great question, Emily! I am in the exact same boat and I have a wonderful bra to recommend. The brand is Wacoal, but to find the right bra, you have to find their petite line. Their petite line is totally comfortable, made for very small chests and is built with just enough padding. Try the 32AA. In New York, I would buy mine at Lord & Taylors. In Colorado, I think I found them at Nordstrom.

They’re not an inexpensive bra, but I buy two at a time and rotate them every other day, handwash and air-dry as needed, and they last for ages. Well worth the price in my opinion.

Anyone else out there (small chested, big chested or anywhere in between) have a bra they can’t live without?

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Ask Design Mom: Interior Design Help http://www.designmom.com/2011/08/ask-design-mom-interior-design-help/ http://www.designmom.com/2011/08/ask-design-mom-interior-design-help/#comments Wed, 03 Aug 2011 14:56:34 +0000 Design Mom http://www.designmom.com/?p=12727

Question:
I want to make my home a little more grown up and entertainment friendly and I’m pretty sure I need some professional help. How do I go about finding someone that can help me freshen up my home without going all out and hiring a designer? Or, do designers do this sort of thing? I don’t really want to purchase a lot of new items, I just want to use what I have and make it better! Help! — Christy Nelson

Answer:
Hi Christy! I love your question. And yes, there are designers who do exactly what you’re describing. They’ll come to your home and work with what you have. For sure! The best way to find them locally, is to start making inquiries. Call a few interior designers and tell them the kind of services you’re looking for. If they can’t help you, they’ll probably know someone who can.

Another option is to get an online consultation. Last year, I wrote a post about this topic and listed four services that offer interior design served up over the internet. You send in images of your space and you get back suggestions. For very reasonable rates. You can find the links here.

Your turn, Dear Readers. Who or what would you recommend to Christy?

image via Oh Happy Day

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Ask Design Mom: Siblings Sharing a Bedroom http://www.designmom.com/2011/08/ask-design-mom-siblings-sharing-a-bedroom/ http://www.designmom.com/2011/08/ask-design-mom-siblings-sharing-a-bedroom/#comments Wed, 03 Aug 2011 14:35:53 +0000 Design Mom http://www.designmom.com/?p=12720

Question:
I have three children, two of which share a room. As they get older, there is much grumbling of why they have to share a room. Having six children, have you come across this issue and if so, how did you deal with it? Many thanks for your time. — Meg Grant

Answer:
Hi Meg! We’ve never lived in a house with 7 bedrooms, so as you guessed, we have lots of experience with room sharing in the Blair Family. It’s one of those things. Some kids love it. Some don’t. Olive loves it — we tried a solo room with her and didn’t last 2 days. Maude, on the other hand, begged for her own room for ages, and finally has one! But who knows in the next house…

When Maude would be especially frustrated, the best fix for us was to help her do a mini bedroom makeover. Switch furniture around. Add a new piece of art. Decoupage some furniture. Make an inspiration board for her next bedroom. A trip to Target for a new throw pillow. Something small or big that would help her feel ownership of the room and be excited about it.

How does it work at your house, Dear Readers? Do your kids share rooms? Did you share a room as a child?

P.S. — The bedroom pictured is Oscar and Betty’s room in Colorado. We built the beds for super cheap! You can find instructions here.

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