From the category archives:

Olive Us

Images and text by Gabrielle.

Are you hungry? Well, you’re in luck. I’ve got the easiest guacamole recipe in world for you — so simple, your kids can really make it themselves. And it’s delicious, too! In fact, it’s the way I personally prefer guacamole. As basic as it gets. Just 3 ingredients. Take a look at the latest Olive Us Episode, fittingly titled Guacamole, to see how it’s done.

Dress by Well Dressed Wolf Guacamole. A kid-friendly, and happy little recipe video by Olive Us. Guacamole. A kid-friendly, and happy little recipe video by Olive Us.

This episode was fun to make. You can never go wrong with faces on inanimate objects! : ) The illustrations and title were created by the talented Clayton Thompson. It was fun to outfit, too. Oscar and Olive are both wearing items from a French store called Generation Z. The dress Betty is wearing was a gift from Well Dressed Wolf. Isn’t it perfect?

Now I’d love to know: What do you like to add to your guacamole? Lemon? Cilantro? Onions? Tomato? Or do you skip the guacamole and concentrate your efforts on the salsa?

More behind the scenes shots when you click through!


Olive Us: Lost Theater

October 29, 2013

Images and text by Gabrielle.

I’m so excited to share another Olive Us episode today, because this one feels magical to me. It’s called Lost Theater, and we filmed it in France. While we lived there, we became friends with Roger and Colette Sineux — the parents of our landlord. The Sineuxs were so good to us. Very welcoming and kind. In fact, on the day we arrived, Colette prepared the house with a fire and a homemade cake! Anyway, Roger and Colette live in a wonderful home with an old barn on the property. During one of our visits, Colette mentioned there was a theater in the barn and invited our kids to check it out.

Lost Theater. A magical little film by Olive Us. Lost Theater. A magical little film by Olive Us.

Well. When we opened the door, we just gasped. It’s an amazing space! The light filters in beautifully, and it’s full of props and costumes and sets from past productions. When we visited, the theater hadn’t been used in awhile, so it had a romantic, dusty feel, and the whole family felt as if we were “discovering” the space. It was so dreamy we just pinched ourselves, and kept saying things like, “Can you believe this place really exists?”

Lost Theater. A magical little film by Olive Us.

Over a year later, as we were brainstorming Olive Us episodes for ulive, we remembered the theater and knew it would be the perfect spot to film something special. I hope you enjoy the show!

Lots more photos from the shoot when you click here.


Olive Us: Pétanque

October 17, 2013

petanque title

Big news! Happy news! The Olive Us episodes we made with ulive are now available to view internationally. Hooray! Thank you so much for your patience as we sorted this out. We are jumping for joy that the episodes are now accessible everywhere.

And we’re delighted to share another new episode today! It’s called Pétanque (pronounced pay-tonk), and it shows the popular French game of the same name. Have you heard of Italian Bocce? It’s similar, but the balls are smaller and made of metal. The materials make for a really handsome game.

French game of pétanque.

In France, every little country village has a pétanque field where the older men gather for a game at the end of the day — and you can find pétanque fields in the parks of Paris as well. This episode was filmed in the teeny, tiny village of Fleuré, very near La Cressonnière. We would pass this field several times every day. In fact, this video has me feeling nostalgic!

French game of pétanque. French game of pétanque.

Have you ever played? And if you live outside the U.S., is there a sport or game that’s particular to your country? I’d love to hear.

P.S. — Want to have a little Olive Us catch up party? I’ve re-posted all the 3 of the newest episodes I’ve shared when you click through. Also, before we partnered with ulive, we made 24 earlier episodes. You can find them all on the Olive Us website, or see my write-ups on each episode here.

Click here for 3 recent Olive Us episodes you may have missed.


Olive Us: Fruit & Veggie Kabobs

September 20, 2013

fruit and veggie title

By Gabrielle.

Oh you guys. I have mixed feelings about sharing another Olive Us episode because it’s so awful that it can’t be viewed outside of the U.S.A. yet. But. The good news is, we received an update from ulive that the problem will be solved — and that we’ll have a worldwide-friendly video player — very soon. I will be sure to post links to all the latest videos as soon as the new player is available! In the meantime, for those of you who can’t view it yet, please accept my apologies.

And for those of you who can view it, I hope you’ll enjoy it! We had so much fun filming this episode. What a delight it was to arrange and sort all that gorgeous produce. And the kabobs turned out so charming! Take a peek.

P.S. — Feel free to subscribe to the Olive Us Newsletter! Ben Blair sends one out each week. It’s lots of fun.


Olive Us: Let’s Visit Holland

September 13, 2013

holland title

Images and text by Gabrielle.

I’m delighted to share this week’s Olive Us episode! We filmed it on a spring trip to Amsterdam earlier this year. And I love how it turned out.

Some fun behind the scenes info: We had to plan this trip well in advance, and we did everything we could think of — consulted the experts, the locals, the calendars (old and new) — to schedule the trip during the very peak of tulip season. But all that research and careful planning were a bust! Turns out, Spring arrived unusually late in Europe this year. And we missed the main blooming season by 2 or 3 weeks!

olive us tulip fields17 olive us tulip fields04

The downside to our timing was that instead of the hundreds and hundreds of tulip fields, that you might see on a postcard from the Netherlands, there were only a few tulip fields in bloom. Like maybe 10 or 15 in the whole area. It was simply too early! This was of course frustrating, but also funny, as we commiserated with busload after busload of tourists from all over the world who, like us, had scheduled their trips to The Netherlands at “peak” season. Hah!

olive us tulip fields09 olive us tulip fields10

The upside to our timing was that the earlier blooming bulb flowers — like daffodils and hyacinths — were still in bloom. And really spectacular! And we weren’t expecting to see those at all, because by the time peak tulip season rolls around, they’re long gone. So we did some last-minute scrambling and re-writing and came up with a fresh new concept for the video. And like I said, I love how it turned out. I hope you like it too!

Note: For those of you who don’t live in the U.S.A. and can’t currently view the new episodes: We are working on it! I promise. I was told it should be solved in 2 weeks or less. So I’m crossing my fingers the wait won’t be too much longer. And oh man, I feel awful that you can’t view the episodes! I’m so sorry. It’s driving me nuts (and I know it’s driving some of you nuts, too). Thank you, thank you for being patient while we sort it out.

And another big thank you, to Lotte! She’s our talented Dutch friend who assisted us with the shoot while we were in The Netherlands. We couldn’t have done it without her.

See some of my favorite photos from that day when you click through!


Meet Olive Us!

September 6, 2013

Meet Olive Us

By Gabrielle.

Woo hoo! I mentioned last week about Olive Us teaming up with ulive, and now the videos are live!! Visit the Olive Us page on ulive to see tons of new episodes. And I’ll be sharing 1 episode each week here as well.

For this week’s episode, I’m sharing Meet Olive Us. It’s a sweet little introduction to each of our kids — and to the Olive Us series.

The team at ulive had the idea to make an intro video for their viewers who might be new to Olive Us. And we thought that was brilliant! Tiger in a Jar ran with the concept and we’re nuts for what they came up with. The super cool title illustration is by Clayton Thompson.

I hope you check it out! It’s off-the-charts charming, I promise.

P.S. — The videos are not currently accessible outside the U.S. Ugh. We are working on it. So sorry! And thanks for your patience as we get it sorted out. As a temporary workaround, using a VPN (which I write about here) should let you access them.


Big Olive Us News!

August 30, 2013

Carwash. A fun little video by OliveUs.TV

By Gabrielle.

I have some great big news about Olive Us — and I’ve been sitting on this news since January! It’s taken all sorts of self control to not share this happy bit of info. : )

Scripps (you may have heard of them because they own HGTV, The Travel Channel, Food Network,etc.) is launching a new online channel called ulive. It’s all about useful (and entertaining!) lifestyle videos covering topics like food, home, travel, parenting, and wellness. They’ll be featuring content you already love from their well-established TV channels, and they’ll be introducing lots of brand new content as well.

And that’s where Olive Us comes in.

ulive commissioned 20 Olive Us episodes for 2013!! Twenty episodes you haven’t seen before. And we’ve already shot 17 of them — in fact, every spare minute of our last 3 months in France was filled with shooting. Hah! Which means when the ulive site officially launches next week, you’ll have access to a steady stream of brand new Olive Us episodes through the end of the year. So great!

ipad mini Extra fun: To celebrate, Olive Us is hosting a contest — share your favorite episode and you could win an iPad Mini! It’s easy to enter. Find all the details here.

Keep reading for more info about our big news.


Little Red Dolls

June 20, 2013


Images and text by Gabrielle.

A few weeks ago, one of my best friends from high school was visiting and she brought the most thoughtful gift! She had little dolls made based on the costumes my kids wore during the Little Red Riding Hood episode of Olive Us. Aren’t they adorable?

The dolls are called Peg Buddies. Apparently, you can send them an image, and they’ll create a little doll just for you!

Take a look at the video — it’s so fun to see how carefully the dolls replicated the details:


I’ve included a few more closeups of the dolls below if you’d like to see — and a special doll for June as well!

Keep reading for more pics.


Images and text by Gabrielle.

Friends, I’m kind of freaking out about how wonderfully Episode 23 of Olive Us turned out. (Sorry for the brag!) It’s called Le Petit Chaperon Rouge which is the French way of saying Little Red Riding Hood. This video is stunning. It’s simply magical. Oh. And it’s all in French! Entirely narrated by Betty, who also plays the girl in the red cape.

Now don’t you worry, even if you don’t speak a lick of French, I’m betting you’ll be able to follow along with the very familiar story line. : ) If you’d like a translation, you’re in luck. Ben Blair made a pdf with a side-by-side French and English translation — you can find the pdf link here.

Little Red Riding Hood |

I’m dying to hear what you think! And if your kids watch it, I’d love to hear if they enjoyed it — or if the French threw them off too much. From what we’ve seen so far, for little ones, the language doesn’t seem to matter at all! Consider this a great way to expose your kids to a foreign language in a familiar context.

I also want to say that we didn’t make this alone. Not at all. A huge thanks goes out to Miranda of One Little Minute. who put together the stunning costumes. She started with what we had in our closet, added pieces from thrift stores, then sewed the rest. She re-made the iconic red cape from a women’s red wool coat she found at a second hand shop. It’s thick and cozy and wonderful — and it kept Betty warm on the cold November day when we filmed this.

Little Red Riding Hood | Little Red Riding Hood |

Another big thanks goes to Merrilee Liddiard of Mer Mag for the title illustration. I love how it turned out! I think it would be cool to have a poster of it made for our wall. Lastly, we are over the moon about Tiger in a Jar’s vision for this episode. We think they captured the story perfectly.

Fun Fact: the forest scenes were filmed around the corner from our house, in the same trees that we filmed Christmas Tree Hunt. For the exteriors of Little Red’s house and Grandma’s house, we actually filmed at the Apple Juice Farm you’ll remember from this video. Fantastic, right? The old half-timber buildings on the property were absolutely perfect for a fairy tale!

If it’s not showing up for you in this post, watch it on vimeo here, and find all the Olive Us videos here.

Click here for more photos. It was so fun to take photos on this shoot!


Text and images by Gabrielle.

I’m super excited to share this Olive Us episode with you! It’s called The Story of Kish, and we’ve been working on it since last July. We’re so pleased with how it turned out!

Kish is a story written by Grandpa Blair (Ben Blair’s dad), so it has great meaning for all of his children and grandchildren. Grandpa Blair is a linguist and uses this story as an example of how to learn a new language. And the coolest part: he’s the narrator in the video!

The Story of Kish - A video by OliveUs.TV The Story of Kish - A video by OliveUs.TV

What a treasure this is for our family. Grandpa’s words, Grandpa’s voice. And it was filmed near Snow Canyon in Southern Utah, one of the very favorite spots from my childhood. The scenery is magnificent!

Snow Canyon in Southern Utah Snow Canyon in Southern Utah

We had lots of help on this episode. The wardrobe was sourced from my sister Sara’s legendary costume closet. The amazing music was written and recorded especially for this episode by Ben’s cousin, Geoff Groberg (he also wrote the Olive Us theme song). The illustrations and title graphic were done by the ever-talented Merrilee Liddiard. And of course, Tiger in a Jar brought their epic talents to the table in the filming and editing.

We hope you enjoy the episode! If it’s not showing up for you here, you can view it on Vimeo. And please subscribe to the Olive Us Newsletter so you’ll be the first to know about new episodes and behind-the-scenes sneak peeks.

Click here for lots more photos from the shoot.


By Gabrielle.

Hey all you Spring Breakers. Looking for some rainy day fun? Have I got an Olive Us episode for you! It’s called Shadow Puppets, and yep, it’s exactly what the name implies — lots of fun shadow puppets for you and your kids to try. And I’m betting that after they watch it, that’s exactly what they’ll want to do.

Shadow Puppets. A little movie from OliveUs.Tv - perfect idea for a rainy day!

In fact, Ben Blair sent out the Olive Us Newsletter last week (you can subscribe here), and in it he shared this episode. Then all weekend long, we saw tweets and instagrams and emails of Olive Us viewers who were trying their own shadow puppets too! Really, really fun. Made us all grin like crazy.

I hope you enjoy the episode. And if you’re having trouble viewing it here, try it on Vimeo.

P.S. — Happy April Fool’s Day! In France, it’s Poisson d’Avril — children stick paper fishes on their friends’ backs today. Hah!

Shadow Puppets. A little movie from OliveUs.Tv - perfect idea for a rainy day!


Text and image by Gabrielle.

Exciting news: Olive Us is hosting a video contest! Make a video of your family, inspired by an Olive Us episode, and you could win fame and fortune! Well. Maybe not fame and fortune. But the top videos will be featured on the Olive Us newsletter and website. And the grand prize is a Kindle Fire HD!

The contest was announced last week and there have already been some excellent entries. The panel of judges is definitely going to have their work cut out for them. Entries are due April 30th, and you can find all the contest details here.

If you’re intimidated by making your own video, don’t be. The judges aren’t expecting a professional production. But they hope you’ll capture some footage that will be a great treasure for your family for decades to come. To get you inspired, here’s a video that 15-year-old Ralph shot and edited about a family outing — it’s called Blackberries.

Isn’t that great? I hope it inspires you to make a video and enter the contest. For movie-making tips, be sure to subscribe to the Olive Us newsletter — for the next several weeks, it will be filled with helpful steps that will get you in the movie-making mood.

P.S. — Craving more blackberries?


By Gabrielle.

Hooray! A new Olive Us episode has arrived. The concept of this episode might be the simplest one we’ve ever conceived: Follow 2-year-old Flora June Blair around for a day and capture it on video.

Two year olds have a reputation for being terrible, and as a mother of six, I’m no stranger to flat-on-the-floor-of-the-grocery store meltdowns, or frankly, playground/grandma’s house/preschool/playdate/library/car/sidewalk meltdowns either. Here is a shot of June taken this last weekend during a 20-minute stand off at the hotel pool — she refused to get out:

At the same time, I know that 2 years old is also one of the sweetest ages. There is so much discovery. So much growth. Huge jumps in vocabulary and communication. Huge jumps in independence. Lots and lots of opinions. Lots and lots of giggles. Here’s another photo of June on the day we filmed Cider Farm:

And here’s another from last August (complete with drool bubbles):

And just one more where she’s wearing the same darling dress from the video. You may remember the dress from this post, too — it was made by the talented Katy of No Big Dill:

First time parents will see their 2 year old as all grown up. Second-time-around parents will see that their 2 year old is really still a baby. I think both are right.

I hope you enjoy the video! It’s a sweet one. (And there’s a happy little bit after the credits, too.)

P.S. — Subscribe to Olive Us to be the first to know about new videos. Find more episodes and behind the scenes sneak peeks at OliveUs.TV, and hey, if this episode doesn’t show up for you here, try viewing it on Vimeo.


By Gabrielle.

Here’s another fun episode from Olive Us! Take a visit to a Normandy Cider Farm with Ralph, Maude, Olive, Oscar, Betty & June. See how the apples are harvested and the juice is bottled, and get a glimpse of the beautiful countryside.

Fun fact: Normandy is the only region of France that doesn’t produce wine. Instead, apples and pears are so abundant here that ciders and juices are the local drink (and calvados, for those seeking something a bit harder). Apple tarts are also famous in this region. And they are hands down delicious.

We filmed this episode at La Galotiere, the most picturesque little farm you’ve ever seen. We buy their apple juice by the crate!

P.S. — Subscribe to Olive Us to be the first to know about new videos. In fact, a behind-the-scenes video about the Cider Farm will be posted later today. And hey, if the Cider Farm episode doesn’t show up for you here, try viewing it on Vimeo.

Click here to find more images from the cider farm visit.


By Gabrielle.

A new Olive Us episode! And it’s a charmer. Do you have a wood-burning fireplace at your house? This little episode shows how our firewood is delivered and stacked — an event we have found delightful since this is the first house we’ve lived in with a working fireplace. And hey, if you consider yourself part of the Oscar Fan Club, this episode is especially for you! (Be sure to watch till the end of the credits for a little treat.)

Have you seen Moonrise Kingdom? We really loved it and thought the matter-of-fact narrator was an especially cool aspect of the story. So we thought it would be fun to make an Olive Us episode with a narrator, too. And Oscar was picked for the job!

A bit of trivia: You wouldn’t know it by watching the episode, but it was actually really challenging for Oscar to deliver his lines while looking directly into the camera. So hard! It took lots of practice and many, many (many!) takes. And ultimately, he had to concentrate so hard while doing it, that he is very, very serious throughout the episode. Which happily, turned out to be pretty darn charming (at least, in my opinion).

As usual, you can find more Olive Us episodes, and fun behind-the-scenes info at the Olive Us website. Be sure to subscribe to stay in the loop on Olive Us contests and video releases.

Find more photos from the video shoot when you click through.


By Gabrielle.

I’ve got a really beautiful new Olive Us episode to share with you today. It’s sweet and whimsical, and if you’re stuck inside with winter weather, it will be just the trick to get you up and making.

The recipe is one my family has been making for decades and it comes with the misspelling of snoball. We’ve chosen to keep the misspelling because we don’t want to jinx the recipe in any way! It’s so simple and yummy — I think these are my very favorite cookie.

For those of you ready to try it out, take note of the marble reference — with these cookies, bite-size is key! Find the full written recipe here.

Big thanks to Tiger in a Jar for their extra-dose of creativity on this one. And thanks to Tea Collection as well — they sent Betty’s sweet outfit!


By Gabrielle. Instagram shot by Ben Blair.

Oh my goodness you guys. This one is for all the Paris lovers and dreamers out there. I can not wait for you to see this episode! It feels magical to me. I could just watch it forever. I love seeing such a magnificent place through a child’s eyes.

When we move back to the U.S., I’m positive we’ll watch this movie every time we get homesick for France. (Try it on vimeo if it’s not playing for you here.)

You can find out a little backstory about this episode here, and for those who are curious, Betty’s pom pom hat and over-the-knee socks are from Tea Collection. Please tell me you love the video as much as I do!

P.S. — Huge thanks to Tiger in a Jar for the gorgeous footage, to Merrilee Liddiard for the beautiful title illustration, and to our friend Caroline for helping out the entire time!


Hooray! Here’s the trailer for Olive Us Season 3. We filmed most of the upcoming episodes in early November and we’re excited to share them with you. We tried some new-to-us formats plus new locations, and once again, we had a great time working with the talented Tiger in a Jar. I hope you enjoy the little sneak peek!

But here’s the really big news: To celebrate Season 3, we’re hosting our first ever Olive Us Contest — and you could win an iPad Mini!! It’s really easy to enter, find out all the details here.


P.S. — If the video isn’t showing up for you, try watching it here. And be sure to subscribe to the Olive Us newsletter so you don’t miss any behind the scenes fun!


By Gabrielle.

In episode 15, inspired by last year’s family photo shoot, the whole bundle of Blair kids go on a hunt for the loveliest Christmas tree they can find. Consider it a little video greeting card just for you. : )

Happy Holidays from All of Us at Olive Us!

For those who are curious about the clothing sources, most items were sourced from our own closets or here in our village, but if you like Oscar’s handsome outfit (see it in full after the jump), you’re in luck! It’s from Tea Collectionsweater, pants, boots.

P.S. — You’ll have to read this post for some funny behind-the-scenes info about the trees. : ) 

Click through to see more photos I took during the shoot.


By Gabrielle.

Come make hand cookies! No cookie cutter required.

I loved working on this episode. Making hand cookies was a family tradition when I grew up and I remember it fondly. I loved the feel of the butter knife moving around my fingers, and I loved seeing my very own cookie — that was just my size (with my initials carved in!) —emerging from the oven. And most of all I loved decorating the hand with rings and bracelets made of sprinkles and candy pearls.

If you have a favorite cut-out cookie recipe, it will probably work just fine for these cookies. Or you can find my mother’s recipe here.

Some fun facts about this episode: The Grandma is my mother, Donna. She no longer owns the home I grew up in, but that recipe box? metal rolling pin? Those are the very same I grew up with. Seeing them makes me so nostalgic! And seeing the actual recipe card we used, in my mother’s fantastic hand-writing, is my favorite part.

Enjoy the video. Three cheers for baking with Grandma!

P.S. — For aprons in a pinch, we grabbed dish towels and tied them on with ribbon and twill tape. Easy (and cute!).

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