Photo Oct 11, 3 34 59 PM

By Gabrielle.

If you needed a dose of unbridled happiness today, here it is. Between her rainbow decor and kids really do live here style and her vigor for life, Christy’s joy is easy to spot from a mile away. There’s so much in her interview, too, that will inspire all of us to stop overthinking it all and not be so hard on ourselves and get off the couch. She is so persuasive about loving life right this very minute and doing things that you can’t imagine you could ever accomplish that I found myself considering joining a triathlon club.

What?!

Friends, please welcome Christy. You’re going to adore her.

Q: Tell us all about the family who lives here!

A: Hi! I’m Christy Casimiro. I’m a wife, mother, and triathlete. I also have recently launched my own side business selling Younique cosmetics and have been hired by some friends to assist them in their interior design dilemmas. After six and a half years of not making any money, it’s an absolute thrill to contribute to the household a tiny bit doing two things I love!

My husband, Matt, is a fabulous Welshman and my best friend. He’s a breast cancer researcher at a university in Philadelphia, and a completely devoted and active father. We met on an online dating service 12 years ago. He contacted me on a Friday, our first date was a Monday, and within a week we’d taken down our profiles and were a couple. One year later we got married in a castle near his hometown in Wales, and the rest, as they say, is history!

We have three wonderfully wild little kids: Fiona is almost seven and the best big sister you could dream of, Callum is almost five and has a wonderful imagination whilst being a silent mischief maker, and then there’s Beckett, a real love bug whirling dervish.

A color explosion, just ahead!

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Call It A Day: Sara Jensen

February 9, 2015

By Gabrielle. Photos by Sara Jensen.

I was speaking with a friend who had recently spoken with her friend whose everyday activities seem so – for lack of a better word – difficult! It isn’t that she’s building rocket ships or cooking dinner for a queen or even saving the world; it’s more that her daily to do list takes her places that are literally and figuratively completely foreign to most of us. And yet, she manages to accomplish everything she needs to accomplish. (More on her later!)

It got me thinking that we are all on this same path of doing what needs to be done, and that our daily to do lists are probably equal parts similar and so very different. My intrigue led to this new column, Call It A Day, where we follow friends through an average 24 hours and hopefully learn a little something along the way. You know, the whole walk-a-mile-in-their-shoes thing! I’m hoping it will become a real day-changer, philosophy shifter, and all around happy-maker.

I’m starting the series with the super talented Sara Jensen. Sara and her husband Thor live on a little island in the Pacific Northwest, and are parents to Henry and Rose, who are both seven and just two months apart. And I have to mention that as huge as her talent is, it’s got nothing on her heart. I like her so much, and her last line made me crumple. I hope her day makes yours even better.

Q: Good morning! How does your family wake up?

A: Typically Thor and I wake up about an hour before the kids. Food is an important part of our day, not only because we love to eat well, but because our son’s life depends on it. He has Type 1 Diabetes, and every single carb counts in our house. We have to measure everything we make to make sure that we are giving our son the proper amount of insulin to handle his food. Too little insulin creates high blood sugar that in the short term can make him really grumpy and sad, and too much insulin can cause his sugar to drop rapidly and cause him to pass out, fall into a coma or, best case scenario, make him act like a crazy drunk fratboy. Your brain operates at about 50% capacity when you are low. Long term high blood sugar can also lead to death, coma, DKA, loss of limbs, organ failure, and blindness. 

Q: From your Instagram peeks into your meals, you are a fantastic cook! Can you share a typical breakfast? 

A: We rotate meals a lot. We find that if you serve kids the same thing all of the time they don’t like change. Our kids LOVE change. A lot of people comment that it is too late to change the way that their kids eat. We met our daughter Rose when she was just three. Her diet largely consisted of fast food or no food, and she thought that weird Kool-Aid juice that comes in barrels was actual juice. The first full day we had her at our house we made her a kale salad and she asked what it was, observed Henry eating it, and just went with it. 

We feel so passionate about good food. We feel lucky to be educated enough about it and always want to learn more. We try and teach others, too. Our kids have thick skin and sometimes other kids with four Twinkies and a piece of meat with two dry slices of white bread make fun of their salad, but they shrug and keep eating. Henry even told another kid that was making fun of him that he would “probably not live his full life span if he didn’t eat vegetables.”

More from Sara, just ahead!

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A Few Things

February 6, 2015

2.1.15_BlairFamily-5198

By Gabrielle. Photos by Kristen Loken for Design Mom.

Hello, Friends. How are you doing? Was it a good week? I was flying high this week from the response to my Book Pre-Order announcement. The next day I found out the book was listed in the #1 spot on the best seller list in Amazon’s Home Decor category. Woo hoo! I know it may only last a day, but I’ll take it. : ) Also, I know that it’s the direct result of your support and enthusiasm and I can’t thank you enough. Seriously. Thank you!

Now, let’s discuss the weekend. Any fun plans? We’ve got a pancake breakfast for the Scouts tomorrow morning, but other than that, I think we’ll just enjoy the rainy weather that has come our way. Rain sometimes feels like such a novelty here. But I’m happy for any excuse to wear my awesome rain boots. I get compliments on them all day long anytime I wear them!

2.1.15_BlairFamily-5190

I’m off to tackle my inbox, but before I go, here are a few things I’ve been wanting to share with you:

- An excellent essay on copying and copyright.

- My son Ralph sent me this short movie called Paint. It’s really good. You should totally show it to your kids.

- Periodic Table of Texting. I feel like I only know a handful of these.

- “What had we been expecting — a monster? ”

- Family detention camps. I’m ashamed to say I didn’t even know these existed.

- Feeling crummy? Try Skittles in water. Hah!

- I LOVE this behind the scenes look at the artwork in the Kid President book. So much attention to detail and so much creativity.

- She confronted her cruelest troll.

- Have you ever tried a no jeans challenge?

- A student’s life-changing trip to Tanzania (that’s my niece!).

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

kisses,
Gabrielle

P.S. — We had family photos snapped at our house last Sunday and the two photos above are a sneak peek of the results. I love both shots!

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Bright Lab Lights!

February 5, 2015

Bright Lab Lights. Build your own set with 48 color choices.

By Gabrielle. Images by Bright Lab.

These gorgeous light sets are so cool! Last year, a few of my friends and family members launched Bright Lab Lights, and I’ve been dying to tell you about them. But they sold out so fast on launch day, that I didn’t even have time to write up a post. Hah! The good news is, they are back in stock, and the website is better than ever, and now I can happily share them with you.

Bright Lab Lights. Build your own set with 48 color choices. Bright Lab Lights. Build your own set with 48 color choices.

So what are they? Customizable sets of cotton string lights! They come in 38 colors and you can mix and match them as you please. First, you choose a strand length — either 24 balls, or 48 balls. Then you choose your colors. It’s a really fun drag-and-drop tool that will have you trying out new color combinations for hours. : )

Or if creating your own set is not up your alley, they also come in pre-designed sets with 10 fabulous color schemes that are so pretty, you’ll want to design a whole room around them.

Bright Lab Lights. Build your own set with 48 color choices. Bright Lab Lights. Build your own set with 48 color choices. Bright Lab Lights. Build your own set with 48 color choices.

I really want to add some to the girls’ room. I think they would be fun draped along the closets, adding another layer of texture to the space. I’ve also seen them used as a photo backdrop and they look amazing. They’re so happy, they make me want to throw a party!

Have you ever seen lights like this in person? (It’s hard not to fall in love with them.) And is there a spot in your house where these lights would look especially good? I’d love to hear.

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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!

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Design Mom Book Pre-Orders!

February 4, 2015

DESIGN MOM - How To Live With Kids: A room-by-room guide.

By Gabrielle.

I could not be more excited to announce: My book is available for pre-order!

DESIGN MOM — How to Live With Kids: A Room-by-Room Guide will be available in stores on April 7th, but you can pre-order today from these lovely booksellers: AmazonBarnes & Noble, and Books A Million. Or, check out Your Closest Independent Bookstore (and yes, they take pre-orders, too). If you’d like a SIGNED COPY, be sure to order through my local bookstore, Diesel Bookstore, here in Oakland. I’m going to stop by and sign every single one.

Amazin-Shopping-Cart_sm b&n_sm Books-A-Million-White-Button-sm button-indiebound_sm diesel bookstore logo_sm

And oh my goodness.  I hope you LOVE the book!

There are 288 pages packed with every bit of info and advice I’ve got on creating a home that you will love, and that your children will thrive in. There are tips on organization and family-friendly furnishings. Parenting tidbits about things like getting your kids involved in the kitchen, and dealing with cartoon-characters-on-clothing. You’ll find practical advice to help you with questions like: what in the world am I supposed to do with all the art projects my preschooler brings home? Plus, I included a fantastic+easy DIY project in each chapter. The best part? The whole book is gorgeous! Every photo is beautiful. The layout is clean and crisp. It’s a joy to flip through.

If you’re a long time blog-reader, you’ll also be glad to know, this is NEW stuff. This book is not a printout of my blog. Not at all. It’s fresh content. Written just for the book. Written just for YOU.

What it does share in common with this blog, is that as I wrote the book, I tried to imagine I was having a conversation with a dear friend. The kind of really good conversations we have here. The tips and tricks are meant to be completely accessible, very useable, and totally within your grasp.

I 100% believe you can have a home that’s beautiful and comfortable and functional and kid-friendly. If you need help making it happen, my book will show you how it’s done.

As you know, the book publishing world is new-to-me and I’m definitely no expert, but I have been told repeatedly that pre-orders are key to the success of any book. So if you are planning to purchase the book — for yourself, or perhaps as a baby shower gift, or a Mother’s day gift — I hope you’ll consider placing your pre-order today. I would very much appreciate it!

Click here to read two things that surprised me about the book process.

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BucketFeet

February 3, 2015

BucketFeet shoes. Each pair is designed by a different artist from around the world.

Photos and text by Gabrielle.  //  This post is sponsored by BucketFeet. Use the code below for 25% off!

Love shoes? Love supporting artists? Then here’s a shoe find that I know you’ll totally be into. The company is called BucketFeet and it’s an artist-designed footwear brand that is changing the way people interact with art. In fact, BucketFeet was created to connect people through art, by producing walking conversation-starters, and giving artists a platform to stand on.

BucketFeet shoes. Each pair is designed by a different artist from around the world.

So many cool options! The shoes are designed through collaborations with artists from around the world. And not just fine artists — illustrators, tattooists, painters, graffiti artists, and tons of other creators are part of the BucketFeet community. No really. The BucketFeet Artist Network includes over 10,000 artists in more than 34 countries!

BucketFeet shoes. Each pair is designed by a different artist from around the world. BucketFeet shoes. Each pair is designed by a different artist from around the world.

When BucketFeet reached out, I loved what I saw and immediately placed an order. My shoe situation is set at the moment, so I had Ralph and Olive each choose a pair instead. It was fun to watch them narrow it down. : )

There are options that tie, slip-ons, mid-high sneakers, and flip flops as well. And they offer sizes for women, for men, and for kids, so you can outfit the whole family. BucketFeet is based in Chicago, but since we’re in California and it’s like 75 degrees on this fine February day, it’s no surprise both Olive and Ralph chose casual slip-ons — these shoes are like the California uniform. : )

BucketFeet shoes. Each pair is designed by a different artist from around the world. BucketFeet shoes. Each pair is designed by a different artist from around the world. BucketFeet shoes. Each pair is designed by a different artist from around the world.Bucketfeet04

Funnily enough, they both chose shoes designed by California artists as well! Ralph chose Richer Poorer Visionary, designed by Richer Poorer’s Joe Tornatzky. Olive chose a pair of Nomad Grey 2, designed by Aaron Firestein (who happens to live nearby in Berkeley!). I really love both pairs, and I think the world map that unites the shoes Olive picked out is especially clever.

BucketFeet shoes. Each pair is designed by a different artist from around the world. BucketFeet shoes. Each pair is designed by a different artist from around the world.

BucketFeet launched a few years ago in 2011, after a chance meeting in Argentina between two strangers who were backpacking around the world. A drink, an interesting pair of hand-drawn shoes, and a conversation later, a partnership was born. I really love learning about the stories behind interesting companies. It feeds my entrepreneurial genes!

BucketFeet shoes. Each pair is designed by a different artist from around the world. BucketFeet shoes. Each pair is designed by a different artist from around the world. BucketFeet shoes. Each pair is designed by a different artist from around the world.

Would you like to give BucketFeet a try? Well then, today’s your lucky day. The first 20 readers who use the code DESIGNMOM25 will receive 25% off their purchase. That’s quite a nice discount! If you buy a pair, I hope you’ll let me know what design you choose. I’m so curious!

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By Gabrielle. Photos by Lesley Colvin.

Maureen seems like she would be a great instant friend. You know the one: she invites your kids over for a crafter-noon just when you’re on the verge of a “I can’t glue one more thing to one more thing” moment, delivers a meatloaf just because she made two, and shares all her secrets for making her life easier just in case you need one. She is someone I love sharing with you today, and you’ll soon understand why.

Oh, and her London space isn’t too shabby either! Welcome, Maureen!

Q: Please introduce us to your family!

A: We are a family of five, and are expecting to round our numbers out to six any day now with the arrival of another little girl. Nathan works in finance and has the most impressive design eye of any banker you’ll ever meet. I am a graphic designer and recently launched my own business.

Nathan and I met 12 years ago at my brother’s wedding. My brother was his boss and I was the younger sister, just graduated from college and in town for the wedding. I hate to sound cheesy, but we had a magical connection. We spent the whole reception dancing, and then we talked on the hotel lobby sofa until morning. Though he claims that was it for him, I felt like the world was my oyster and wanted to experience some adulthood before settling down. Four years (and quite a long story) later, we got back in touch just before he was transferred to London. I was in San Francisco, he was in Minneapolis. After spending two months on the phone every night and meeting each other in Chicago for a weekend, he asked me to move to London. And I did! My parents always said “When you know, you KNOW” and I realized – when I was finally ready – I had ALWAYS known. Four years later, and five years ago, Atticus was born.

Every photo to follow is my favorite. You’ll see.

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Design Mom Gabrielle Blair Red Velvet Gucci Tuxedo

By Gabrielle. Photos by Justin Hackworth & Brooke Dennis for Alt Summit. You can see all the photos from the event on Microsoft’s One Drive.

I loved attending Alt Summit last month! There was so much good stuff going on. Some of you already know this, but for those of you who are new here, I’m one of the founders of Alt Summit and I run the conference with my sister, Sara, and a fantastic team. So of course, I attend every Alt Summit event. Sara works with sponsors, and I’m responsible for the speakers and topics at the conferences.

Some of the highlights of the event for me:

Lisa Congdon at Alt Summit

- Lisa Congdon’s Opening Keynote. Having Lisa share her inspiring story about how here career has unfolded was the perfect way to start the conference. She was completely engaging, and attendees walked away feeling like they could learn something new, no matter what age or stage they were in.

Photobooth at Alt Summit Winter 2015

- Getting to see my kids enjoying the conference. Maude and Olive flew out to Salt Lake City and met me there on Wednesday. Several of their cousins were attending and it was super fun to see these teens interacting with attendees, going to classes, and helping out as needed.

Check in Desk at Alt Summit Winter 2015

- Seeing old friends and meeting new ones. Yesterday, I went through the business cards I collected and sent a quick note to each person. I can’t wait to see what sorts of collaborations come out of this year’s conference!

Painting Tiles for a Birthing Center in Haiti, with Every Mother Counts & Wayfair, and Alt Summit Winter 2015

- Connecting with really great sponsors who were excited to work with bloggers. I loved meeting the folks at Overstock.com. I totally took advantage of the Airbnb lounge for conversations with fellow attendees. And I had an awesome talk with Fandango in the hair and makeup lounge. Speaking of their lounge, I need to credit my hair and makeup in all of these photos to Fandango! I would meet Rubi of She Let’s Her Hair Down in their lounge at 7:00 AM each morning and she would absolutely transform me.

There were 25 excellent sponsors this year! It was super fun to see bloggers and site owners making connections, pitching ideas, and walking away from the conference with new business deals. That’s the best! And it’s one of the big reasons Alt exists.

Design Mom, Gabrielle Blair, in a red velvet Gucci tuxedo.

After the jump, I share photos of all the outfits I wore, plus more details and highlights from the conference. Be prepared, I show a lot of photos of me in the red tux. I can’t help myself. It’s such a cool suit!

Click here to see what I wore!

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A Few Things

January 30, 2015

Gabrielle Blair Design Mom Diamonds

By Gabrielle

Hello, Friends. How was your week? And how are YOU? I loved being back at my desk this week, with no travel on the immediate calendar for me or Ben Blair or any of our kids. I definitely feel like I’ve been in recovery mode since Sunday — January offered up some particularly crazy weeks! I find that all I’m craving this weekend is some extra sleep and a few hours to make some headway on my inbox. Sounds glamorous, right? Hah!

How about you? Anything fun on your weekend schedule? Let me know so I can live vicariously through you!

I’ve got a decent to-do list to tackle today so that I can welcome the weekend, but before I turn my attention to tackling, there are a few things I’ve wanted to share with you:

- #ThisGirlCan! No surprise this video has gone viral.

- An article from a writer who says she’s “sponsored” by her husband.

- Whistling at your Mom.

- A Blog About Love is posting again! I’ve missed their voices. I especially noted their posts about small breasts, the experience at Vipassana, and one key to developing compassion.

- An anti-domestic violence SuperBowl commercial. (I feel like I may have shared this before. My apologies if it’s a repeat. But then again, it bears repeating.)

- Check this out: Happy Handmade Book.

- Are you following this Humans of New York story about the school and the amazing principal?

- Chart of dresses worn by Best Actress Oscar Winners.

- Made me smile. Licia Ronzulli of European Parliament has been taking her daughter to sessions for 2 years.

- If Frodo had Google maps.

- Remind me to show this to Oscar. I am dying to get him into a dance class!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend. Will you be watching the SuperBowl on Sunday? (If yes, try making this dip for your snacks!) I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.

kisses,
Gabrielle

P.S. — The picture of me at top was snapped at Alt Summit, and I’m dying to tell you about the conference! I’ve been working on a report — and a what-I-wore post. I think I may combine the two together. Anyway, watch for the post next week, and other fun stuff too!

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A shared bedroom for FOUR sisters.

By Gabrielle. Photos by Kristen Loken for Design Mom.

Would you like to see my daughters’ bedroom? If yes, this is the post for you. I have tons of photos and lots of details to share. This room came together slowly. There was lots of sketching of floor plans, moving of walls, trying furniture in different configurations, and pondering about closet space. We eventually took it down to a 14.5′ x 22.5′ blank canvas and created from there.

But all the work and patience paid off. The room is terrific! The girls love it. It meets their needs easily and it looks fabulous as well.

A shared bedroom for FOUR sisters. A shared bedroom for FOUR sisters.

As you may remember, all four of our daughters share the same room. That wasn’t the original plan when we moved in. But we hadn’t actually seen this house in person until after we’d purchased it, so we didn’t really have a true sense of the dimensions of the rooms and the best way to use the space.

I receive quite a bit of email asking me about this shared room situation, so I thought I would start this post with a few FAQs, then, you can click through if you want to see all the details and the thinking behind the design decisions. At the end of the post, I included four shots of the room taken from each corner, so that you can get a good sense of the overall space.

A shared bedroom for FOUR sisters.

Why Four Kids in One Room?
While doing renovations on this space, we could see that the bedroom in question was originally two bedrooms, and we weren’t surprised at all. Without knowing the history of the house, we considered doing the same thing — splitting the bedroom into two.

Interestingly, Maude, who has the strongest feelings among our kids about room-sharing, much preferred the idea of four people in one room, instead of two people in two rooms. When I thought about it, I felt like I understood where she was coming from. When there are two of you sharing a room, and you’re irritated about something, it’s easy to direct that irritation at your roommate. And those recurring negative experiences can make for a tense relationship. But if there are four of you in the room, the irritation gets dissipated. It’s easier to see that 3 people aren’t intentionally bugging you, that you are simply bugged and it has nothing to do with the people in the room.

That’s an oversimplification, but hopefully you understand what I mean. : )

A shared bedroom for FOUR sisters. Including freestanding closets.

Anyway, that’s how we ended up putting all 4 girls in one room, instead of splitting the room into two or trying some other household configuration. We also tested it out for many months before we jumped in and started renovating. By that time, it was easy to see the four-sister-in-one-room situation was working well for everybody.

A shared bedroom for FOUR sisters.

But how does it work? Do the different ages make bedtime difficult?

Good question. So far, bedtime hasn’t been an issue at all. The younger two go to bed around 8:00. They go through their bedtime routines (bath, pjs, etc.), we read a book, and then they’re off to dream land. By the time the older kids come into the room the younger ones are already fast asleep.

I would say it also works for us, because we have a specific theory about kid bedrooms. We set aside bedrooms for sleeping and dressing only. We have other spaces in the house for homework and toys — even other places for reading. It’s not a strict rule — we do keep a shelf of books in the bedrooms, and the youngest ones like to have a stuffed animal or two around. But in general, our bedrooms are only used for sleeping and getting dressed/ready for the day. I realize that not every house works like this — if you have a tiny apartment, the bedroom and playroom are likely the same room!

A shared bedroom for FOUR sisters. Freestanding closets create a dressing area.

Don’t kids need their own space as they get older?

Yes. I think they do. And we work hard to make sure the kids have personal time as needed. But I don’t think that means every child needs their own room. For most families in the world, the idea of each person getting their own space is simply not possible, and for big families like ours, sharing bedrooms is a no-brainer. In fact, I’ve shared a bedroom my whole life — with siblings, with college roommates, and with my husband. But I always figured out ways to get alone time when I craved it.

For our girls, since the bedrooms are generally empty of people during waking hours, if someone wants to be solo, their bedroom is usually the go-to option. But they can also use the reading loft, or one of our decks, or the family office, or even the master bedroom.

A shared bedroom for FOUR sisters. Freestanding closets separate the sleeping and dressing areas.

I suppose sharing a room is not for everyone, but it’s also not out of the ordinary in any way. And I’m confident the alternative, a sprawling house with 7 or 8 bedrooms, would not be a good fit for our family at all.

So if the idea of 4 kids in a bedroom is stressing you out, just know that you don’t have to do it. Hah! Also know that it’s working for us, and that if it stops working for us, we’ll try another solution. Simple as that.

Ready for the design tour now? Keep reading!

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By Gabrielle.

Do you remember Meg? How could we forget? Hers was one of my most popular, most interesting tours I’ve shared, mostly because it was this close to being the tour that never was! See, Meg and her husband Zach didn’t even want kids. And when they did add one to their mix, they did so in such a wonderfully open and honest way that their story still sits somewhere in my head, filed under A Well-Lived Life.

Well, there’s a been a change in their family, and Zelda is getting a sibling! Hooray! But there’s so much more to the story – and so much more to learn from this sweet family – and so I’ll let Meg tell it. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy, and enjoy it some more.

Welcome, Meg!

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Baby Cravings

January 28, 2015

Image and text by Gabrielle.

I realize the title of this post implies otherwise, but I’m not pregnant. I promise. And I have zero plans to have another baby. I really, truly feel like our little family is complete.

So what’s with all the baby cravings I’ve been having lately?

I see babies and have to stop myself from picking them up without permission. I see pregnant friends and my hand instinctively goes to my belly to acknowledge my own (non-existent) pregnancy. I find myself listening in on conversations about the latest baby gear and making mental notes for future purchases that aren’t going to happen.

All that, and yet I assure you with complete confidence that I don’t actually want to have another baby. I am 100% uninterested in being pregnant.

It occurs to me that it might be my biological clock. These baby cravings may be a simple reminder from my body: Hey. Want to have a baby? You should go for it asap. This offer won’t last forever!

And if that’s true, it has caught me off guard. I guess it never occurred to me that after six babies, my biological clock would still be nagging me. Or perhaps my assumptions are wrong, and it has nothing to do with my biology. Maybe there’s just something in the air.

Tell me, friends, has this ever happened to you? Are you done growing your family (or maybe content not growing a family at all), but still having baby pangs? If yes, does it go away at some point, or does it continue until grandkids arrive? Hah! I’d love to hear your experiences.

P.S. — Remember Baby June?

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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.

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Almond Feta Dip - Healthy + Yummy. You will want to eat it on EVERYTHING!

By Gabrielle. Photos and styling by Lindsey Johnson for Design Mom. // This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds

We’ve been making a wholesome walnut feta dip from The Moosewood Cookbook for almost two decades. It’s one of the Blair Family favorites! But the last few times we made it, I could see we needed to change it up a bit — its popularity was waining.

Almond Feta Dip - Healthy + Yummy. You will want to eat it on EVERYTHING! Almond Feta Dip - Healthy + Yummy. You will want to eat it on EVERYTHING!

So I switched out the walnuts for something spicier — I used Blue Diamond Smokehouse Almonds instead.

Results? Holy cow. This dip is SO GOOD! I mean it. You are going to want to skip the veggies and the crackers and just spoon this in your mouth like it’s porridge. You will love it.

And if you have any game day gatherings on your schedule, this dip would be perfect!

Almond Feta Dip - Healthy + Yummy. You will want to eat it on EVERYTHING! Almond Feta Dip - Healthy + Yummy. You will want to eat it on EVERYTHING! Almond Feta Dip - Healthy + Yummy. You will want to eat it on EVERYTHING!

It’s a super easy recipe, and I’m betting it will become one of your family favorites as well. Let’s get started.

Click for the recipe and tips!

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By Gabrielle.

We caught Meghann just before her family moves from Amsterdam to the island of Saba. (So that you don’t have to disappear to look up Saba, it is a Caribbean island and the smallest special municipality of the Netherlands. It consists largely of the potentially active volcano, Mount Scenery, which at 2,910 feet, is the highest point within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Thank you, Wikipedia!) I was instantly intrigued when she described her life in her 700 sq. ft. home, using terms like “micro dwelling” and “huge bathroom to fit even tall Dutch men” and “big love” during our correspondence.

Her enthusiasm is infectious. And I hope it’s the best thing you catch all day. Welcome, Meghann!

Q: Tell us all about the family who lives here!

A: I live in this cosy home with my husband Koen, my six year old son Tipp, and my four year old daughter Loula.

Tipp and Loula are only 20 months apart. For the most part, they are super sweet and loving with each other. They are both quite sensitive little creatures, but at the same time very tough. Tipp says he wants to marry Loula when they grow up. That always melts my heart. They often walk to school hand-in-hand, and are a force to be reckoned with at the playground – which does not always bode well for the other kids, much to my embarrassment!

Tipp is a sweet little boy who is super excited about learning to read and write. He calls me mooie mama, which means beautiful mama, and asks me for one extra big kiss as I walk out of his bedroom at night. Tipp’s favourite band is Kiss, he break-dances, plays a mean air guitar, and loves running and playing soccer. He is nearly certain that he is the real Spiderman, which is something he can discuss at some length. Tipp wants to be a flying doctor who knits when he gets older. He says this does not conflict at all with being the real Spiderman.

Loula is my big-eyed, independent little lady. She wants to try and do everything herself! Loula is analytical and asks amazing questions. She dances ballet, and prefers dresses “because you can’t skip as well in pants.” She makes up her own songs and sometimes sings them with a sort of soprano opera voice, which is hilarious! She calls children “kids” and adults “people” and often asks, “When will I become a person?” I love this question because, when trying to reason with momentarily unreasonable children, I sometimes wonder when these little monsters will become people!

700 square feet of love, just ahead!

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A Few Things

January 23, 2015

www.justinhackworth.com

By Gabrielle. Image by Justin Hackworth for Alt Summit.

Hello, Friends! How are you? I’m writing from Alt Summit in Salt Lake City. It’s been a great conference so far — Lisa Congdon’s opening keynote yesterday was standing-ovation amazing. And I’m equally excited about today. At noon, I’ll be moderating the Keynote Session about Entrepreneurship with Susan Petersen of Freshly Picked and Jess Lee of Polyvore. I’m reviewing questions and I think it’s going to be a terrific discussion. Plus, all 3 of the keynote sessions are being videoed, so I can share links once the videos are ready, in case you want to see them, but couldn’t make it to Alt.

I have to tell you about the outfit I’m wearing today. Last May, when I was in Atlanta for the Mom 2.0 conference, I went shopping at these vintage stores called Labels with Rachel of Handmade Charlotte and Rebecca of Girls Gone Child. They are both fashionistas and helped me pick out some really amazing pieces. One of the things I bought was a vintage red velvet Gucci tuxedo! I’ve been waiting and waiting for a good winter-y event I could wear it to. And today’s the day! I have to say, all that red is really confidence bringing and I’m feeling awesome!! I’ll be sure to have some photos snapped so I can do a “what I wore to Alt Summit” post in the next week or so.

Speaking of which, if you’d like to follow along with the conference, the #altsummit hashtag on Instagram has tons of great photos. I’m off to prep some more for the day, but before I go, here are a few things I’ve wanted to share:

- So cool! Warka Water collected useable water from thin air and provides it villages with no current water access.

- Before there were cell phones, there was boredom. (And that was a good thing!)

-  I didn’t know there were paragliding competitions. This photo is WOW!

Benevolent sexism — when someone tells you you are too special to do something.

100 Years of Beauty.

- Have you read this? Do you agree? — To fall in love with anyone, do this.

- I’m sure I’m the last person to see this Nicole Kidman interview on Jimmy Fallon, but so funny!

- Gigapixels of Andromeda. This made me cry in wonder. Thanks, Jared.

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

kisses,
Gabrielle

P.S. — I fly home tomorrow evening with Maude & Olive (Ralph was going to come, but had some deadlines he needed to attend to instead). It’s been so fun to have them here! But we’re all excited to go back to California and to be altogether as a family. What a full month it’s been!

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Bombas Socks!

January 22, 2015

Bombas Socks + Design Mom2

Images and text by Gabrielle. This post is brought to you by Bombas Socks. Get 20% off your purchase with code DESIGNMOM20.

Ever since Maude became serious about running, socks have become a frequent topic of conversation at our house. Mostly the conversation goes like: Mom, I need more socks! : )

She runs miles each day and goes through socks at lightning speed, and she has strong opinions on sock features, colors, lengths, and thicknesses. Somewhere along the lines, she also discovered she loves socks in general, and the one thing on her Christmas wish list was socks. Not kidding! She received 18 pairs. Hah!

Bombas Socks + Design Mom3

Anyway, my friends at Bombas emailed me about their brand new socks and swore they are revolutionary. So of course, I was curious and did a little research. Conclusion: I’m impressed! The history of the company is really fantastic. When the founders heard that socks are the #1 requested clothing item at shelters here in the U.S., they knew they could do something about that.

Bombas Socks + Design Mom4 Bombas Socks + Design Mom5

They decided they wanted to make the world’s best socks and create a business based on a buy-one-give-one model — every time a pair is purchased, another pair goes to a shelter (they’ve donated over 300,000 pairs already!). And they weren’t kidding about developing the best possible socks. They spent two years and created socks with features that the other socks in your drawer only dream about.

Features like: Stay up technology. Y-stitched heel. Blister tab (this one is my favorite feature — it’s a little cushion on their ankle socks that prevents chafing). Invisitoe. And the honeycomb support system (this is Maude’s favorite feature — it gives extra support and tightness in the arch). Wondering what all those are? I learned about each one in this video (if you want to skip the video, you can read about the features too):

I was impressed enough that I ordered a pair for everyone in the family. And it is pretty dang adorable to see the kids padding around the house in their Bombas. Maude loves them for running. Ben Blair uses his at the gym. Ralph likes his for everyday casual wear. I use my almost like slippers. If your family members wear sneakers as a default, I’m betting they’d love Bombas socks. They’re cool looking, comfortable and really high quality.

Want to give them a try? You can get 20% off your purchase using code DESIGNMOM20. If you don’t like them, no stress — they have a 100% happiness guarantee.

Bombas Socks + Design Mom6

Hooray for Bombas! Hooray for companies that give back!

P.S. — In case you’re curious, the Bombas donation socks are just like the ones you and I order, but with the addition of a few key details: they receive an antimicrobial treatment, reinforced seams, and they come in darker neutral colors to prevent visible wear.

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Cutest, Easiest DIY: Make these Kid-Size Paper Pom Poms for Game Day!

By Gabrielle. Photos & styling by Amy Christie.

TWO! FOUR! SIX! EIGHT! WHO DO WE APPRECIATE?!!

Over the holidays, Amy Christie sent me the sweetest little care package, and instead of using packing peanuts to cushion the goodies in the box, she used homemade kid-size pom poms instead. Such a fantastic idea! My 3 youngest went nuts for them immediately. Cheers were chanted. High kicks were attempted. Imaginary teams rallied for the win!

My kids loved the little pom poms so much, that I begged Amy for instructions so I could make some more. My kids played with them for hours and hours that first day, and the pom poms practically disintegrated. : ) I thought you might like to make some for your kids as well. And if you’re hosting a Superbowl party this year, these would make a fun addition to the gathering.

So Amy whipped up a quick DIY. Made with tissue paper and a line of stitching, these pom poms are one of the simplest projects I’ve shared here. They might be made with children in mind but I dare you not to smile while you shake them.

Cutest, Easiest DIY: Make these Kid-Size Paper Pom Poms for Game Day!

The good thing is, you probably already have tissue paper — which is the key supply for this project — in the house. In fact, if you aren’t particular about team colors, then any color will do (rainbow ones would be fantastic!). Scissors and either a sewing machine, thread and needle, or stapler round out your supplies.

Cutest, Easiest DIY: Make these Kid-Size Paper Pom Poms for Game Day!

Ready to make something super easy? Let’s go!

Click here for the full tutorial.

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By Gabrielle.

Barbara Rucci’s house is full of lovely clutter. I look over the scenes she’s shared with us, and I can’t help but think that all her keepsakes on display are nowhere near a haphazard situation, and way more of an ever-changing collection of memories made…as well as those still in the making. Yes, Barbara does clutter right!

Also, if any of you are in the throes of comparing your parenting styles or values or incomes to those families around you, please read on. It seems that living in an affluent community brings with it a wonderful yet problematic set of challenges – maybe you’ve experienced the same dilemmas that Barbara worries over while printing out gratitude quotes from Pinterest! (Barbara, I giggled at the realization of how Pinterest can save us at our most frantic parenting moments!)

All this to tell you that you’re going to love more than the gorgeous photos this week; there’s a lot of wisdom and knowledge well-earned over time in this one. Please enjoy it.

Q: Tell us about the family who lives here!

A: We are a family of five. My husband and I have two daughters who are 15 and 12, and an eight-year old son. My kids are very fun, but really loud. My son plays hockey in a room that was originally the formal dining room. Now we call it the hockey room. It has hardwood floors and is in the center of the house. He commentates every move and shot on goal. His imaginary hockey games are literally the soundtrack to our lives.

The girls love to sing and act, so they usually have something loud going on upstairs. When they were little, they would put on nightly shows. I have hours of video footage that we actually dig up and watch from time to time. It is amazing to see that their passions when they were really young are the same as they are now.

Pure goodness, just ahead!

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