A Few Things

July 11, 2014

Studio Floor

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends! I hope it was a good week for you. We have some fun stuff going on at our house. 1) Ralph, Maude and our French exchange student, Charles, are all on a Pioneer Trek this weekend. 2) On Saturday, we’re adding another exchange student to the mix — one of Ralph’s friends from England, Chris, will be joining us for several weeks. Yay!

3) We’re prepping for an epic roadtrip. All 10 of us (8 Blairs + 2 exchange students) will be driving around the Western U.S., visiting National Parks and other sites for almost 3 weeks. We leave next Wednesday!  4) We installed flooring in the studio/home office this week. The floor looks great (see above) and we need to move everything back in today. 5) Yesterday, we had a new front door installed. Hooray! I’ll share photos as soon as I paint it up and add some details to the porch. 6) I’ve been shooting the cover of my book this week. It feels like progress. And also makes me nervous. I want the book to be so good.

And 7), tonight we’re hoping to meet up with friends at Point Reyes. I’ve never been, but the photos look amazing. I love how this summer is turning out! How about you? Anything fun going on at your house?

While I go work on putting the studio back together, here are a few things I’ve wanted to share:

- ONE just launched their Girls & Women Initiative! Meet Phiona Mutesi, their first guest curator.

- Penny In Your Pants.

- Related, something called Bicycle Face was once a medical condition. Hah!

- What happens when LeVar Burton gets pulled over.

- The New Yorker’s hilarious take on Eloise, at 46Thanks, Dani.

Mater Mea — a bimonthly online magazine that celebrates the lives of women of color as they balance work and motherhood.

Taryn Brumfitt’s story has me thinking.

- Free paper crafting class for Bay Area readers — or you can access it online from anywhere!

- Is parenting in crisis?

- This story is great: The letter that kicked of a radio career. (Proof that there’s never any harm in asking. The worst that can happen is someone says no.)

- Everything you need to know to host an Outdoor Movie Party.

- The music is the best part!

I hope it’s a wonderful weekend for you and yours. I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.

kisses,
Gabrielle

P.S. — You can follow along to all of our summer activities, like Pioneer treks and new front doors, on Instagram.

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DMgiveawayBanner

By Gabrielle.

Hooray! I’ve got a giveaway you’ll LOVE today. Jacadi, the chic French clothing line for children, is offering a $150 gift certificate. Fabulous, right? Even better, Jacadi is running their Summer Sale right this minute!

Jacadi Summer Sale - 50% off!

The Summer Sale means items are 50% off, so it’s a great time to stock up! Find the sale across seven categories — baby girl, baby boy, toddler girl, toddler boy, little girl, little boy, and tween girl as well. Everything is adorable! The selection of dresses for little girls especially caught my eye. So many classic choices!

Jacadi Summer Sale-  50% off!

Based in Paris, Jacadi is all about timeless cuts, refined tailoring, quality materials and gorgeous prints. If you’re trying to get a sense of how a little French boy or little French girl dresses — for summer vacation, for school, even on the weekend — taking a peek at the Jacadi displays will tell you everything you need to know.

Jacadi Summer Activities - Ideas and Worksheets - Free!

Extra Fun: Even if the giveaway doesn’t tempt you, you’ll want to take note of the Summer Fun & Games section on the Jacadi site. You can find boredom fighting ideas and clever activity sheets — totally free!

Visit the Jacadi Summer Sale and leave a comment below to enter — I’d love to hear if you find something fun for your kids in the Fun & Games section. The winner will be announced on Tuesday. Good luck!

P.S. — I know I’ve mentioned this before, but in case you missed it, I think it’s a fun little tidbit. In France, the name for Simon Says is “Jacques a dit” — that’s where the name Jacadi comes from! A close approximation would be Jock-ah-dee.

——–

Arika is the lucky winner. Thanks for playing!

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Kitchen Stools

July 10, 2014

Barstool Treehouse3

Images and text by Gabrielle.

Way back when I shared the Living Room tour, I received several emails asking about our barstools — they peek out of the corner in a photo or two in the tour. All this time, I’ve been meaning to share, and I finally prepped some photographs.

The stools look so simple, but it took me a ridiculous amount of searching before I figured out what would work best here. The parameters I had in mind:

1) We needed stools that could be both counter height and bar height — most of the family prefers counter height, but Oscar and June like something taller. I considered stools that were available in the same design at two different heights, but decided I wanted stools that were adjustable — so that if in the future we decide we want them all at counter height, we won’t need to replace the bar height stools.

Barstool Treehouse4

2) I wanted the stool seats to spin. Because the stools are right in between the kitchen and living room, people sitting on the stools end up taking part in conversations happening in both places, and I wanted people to be able to easily spin from one direction to another without getting off the stool.

3) I wanted something that didn’t have a huge footprint. The counter is not that wide, and I was hoping to fit five stools. Along the same lines, I also wanted backless stools — chair backs would block the view to the kitchen when sitting on the sofa.

4) Since the whole space is done in light colors, I wanted the same thing for the stools. It they were dark, I knew they would be the first thing people would see in the space because they would draw the eye — and I wanted the stool to be more functional instead of a centerpiece.

Barstool Treehouse1

5) Lastly, the stools needed to be within my price range.

So, I hunted and hunted — in brick and mortar shops, and online as well. I found lots of options that were close, but not quite right. Some were out of my budget, others were the right look, but didn’t offer two height options.

And then I found these. They were (almost) perfect! I ordered one to test out in the space, and concluded that if I recovered the tops, they would be just right. The stool seats spin. There are two different heights in the same stool. The footprint is small. Bingo!

Barstool Treehouse2

To recover the stools, I chose Crypton fabric. It’s designed for kids and pets and is super durable. I used the same brand on the toddler beds we built years ago and it held up beautifully! The fabric feels like normal soft fabric against the skin, but it wipes totally clean. I love this stuff! In fact, if you’re concerned about stains on your sofas, Crypton would be a smart choice for upholstery. The shade I used is a grey/blue called Herringbone Loon. It’s really lovely.

Though I take on simple upholstery projects from time to time, I hired this one out — I wanted welt along the top edges, and the last time I tried welt it was a total fail. Hah! Also, this was the only time I’ve ever had a brand new piece of furniture recovered, and I confess, it felt odd to do so. If it had been anything bigger than a stool, I don’t think I would have been willing!

Tell me friends, how picky are you about searching out the ideal furniture? I feel like I’ve turned up the pickiness factor as I make design decisions for The Treehouse, because I feel like we’re going to own this home for a long, long time. So I’ve been going slowly and trying to choose carefully. I’d also love to hear: have you ever recovered a new piece of furniture?

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By Gabrielle. Helvetica Hi Blanket via Yarning Made.

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

Just click to read Melissa’s amazing story…

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Vaenait Baby — A line of affordable toddler clothes from Korea (2T - 6T)

By Gabrielle.

Have you heard of Vaenait Baby? It’s a new to me brand. I was doing a search for non-character underwear for Oscar, and the name came up. Apparently, they are a Korean based clothing line for toddlers — sizes 2T to 6T — and from what I can tell, they specialize in basics like cotton pajamas, underwear, and swimsuits.

Pictured at top: Cloud PJs, Floral Swimsuit, Bike PJs, Colorblock Boxer Briefs.

Vaenait Baby — A line of affordable toddler clothes from Korea (2T - 6T)

Pictured above: Clover PJs, Green Raglan PJs, Sailboat PJs, Micro-stripe Boxer Briefs.

I did a little digging and found a ton of their wares on Amazon. And they’re a total bargain! Lots of their pjs are ten bucks or under. Not bad. But as happy as the prices made me, I was equally enamored with the designs — sweet, simple options in great colors.

Vaenait Baby — A line of affordable toddler clothes from Korea (2T - 6T)

Pictured above: Floral Henley PJs, Pink Gingham PJs, Pink Pocket PJs, Floral PJs.

I know it can be hard to find simple cotton pjs, and even harder to find simple underwear, so in case you’re on the hunt, here’s another option you might not know about. The line is fairly extensive and there are many more options than I’ve pictured here. These are just some of my favorites.

I should note, I haven’t ordered any yet, so I don’t know what the clothes are like in person, but they seem to get good reviews, so I’m hopeful. If you’ve bought something from their line, I’d love to hear what you think!

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By Gabrielle.

I think it would be so therapeutic to live near a lake, don’t you? There’s something calming about that indescribable shade of blues and greys and the dance of the tiny ripples. Having a rotten day? Just grab a fishing rod and cast away mindlessly. Need a break from homeschooling or that looming deadline? Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream. Plus, a lake makes for a killer kitchen sink view.

Yes, Lesli and her family are lucky ones, living the good life on a lake just outside of Chicago and enjoying it to the fullest. Yes, she is ever on the lookout for lake dangers — especially since her kids are five and two — but I’d say she’s ready for pretty much anything. You’ll see. Friends, please welcome the Gresholdt family!

Q: Tell us about this lakeside family.

A: Our family includes my husband, Mark, and our five-year-old daughter Adelaide and two-year-old son Oliver. My husband is an operations coordinator for a communications company, and I am currently a regional manager for Bella Baby Photography, a nationwide company providing in-hospital newborn photography.

Adelaide is affectionate, stylish, and stubborn – and takes after her social butterfly father. Oliver is easy-going and much more independent, with a great sense of humor and the ability to quote movies just like his mom.

Years ago in college, I had a strong urge to learn sign language. I took a few elective classes, learned a little bit, and kept up practicing through the years. Little did I know that five years later, I would say yes to a date with a deaf guy I knew in college and we would end up where we are now! Life as a bilingual family is sometimes challenging, especially since the kids are still learning how to sign. Of course, we don’t know it any other way.

We also have a very old farm cat, Sasha, and our new love, Mae, a Norwegian Forest Cat rescue. I don’t really think of our beta fish, Eric, as a pet, but he lives here, too, and requires daily feeding so I guess he’s part of the family.

Q: You’ve recently purchased a lake home. Tell us all about it choosing it!

A: We were finally in the market to buy a home but at the time, Mark was commuting by train to Chicago, so we had to be within 15 minutes of a train stop. This house was in a neighboring town, close enough to the train station, and we had seen it online many times. We both liked the layout, the hardwood floors, and the price, but I would write it off immediately due to the lake. After all, families with young kids don’t live on the water, right? But one night, in an attempt to be open-minded (and maybe out of desperation to find a house!) I emailed a list of houses to our realtor to see the next day and included this one. Not ten minutes later, my fear got the best of me, and I wrote him again and asked him to take that lake house off the list.

The next day, he either forgot or never got my message, because this house was the third one we saw. It felt like home immediately. Our former home had been so dark, and this one was filled with light with such a peaceful backyard and an open floor plan that is a must-have for families with a deaf family member. Being able to see each other (when you can’t hear!) is crucial.

A teacup collection and the most genius bathroom wall, coming up!

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A's Game plus Fireworks02

Cheerios Protein Box Images and text by Gabrielle.  //  This post is brought to you by Cheerios Protein. Cheerios Protein gives you energy to last you through your day’s adventures, wherever they may be!

 

 

For my first Love The Place You Live column here in Oakland, I thought an Oakland A’s game would be perfect! The game was on Thursday night, July 3rd, and was followed by a huge fireworks display. Apparently, it’s an Independence Day tradition here and happens every year the night before the 4th. And it’s so much fun!

A's Game plus Fireworks01 A's Game plus Fireworks03 A's Game plus Fireworks16

The weather was ideal. The crowd was in a festive mood. And the A’s won!

A's Game plus Fireworks09 A's Game plus Fireworks04 A's Game plus Fireworks08 A's Game plus Fireworks25

The light was so pretty in the stadium, and the kids looked so cute, I took a million photos.

Click here for more pics and details, and to link up!

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Slow Cooker Recipe: French Onion Soup  |  Design Mom  #crockpot

By Gabrielle. Photos and styling by Lindsey of Café Johnsonia.

Yay! It’s time for another recipe in my slow-cooker series. I know. It’s summer and the last thing you’re probably wanting is a hot bowl of anything. But don’t let that stop you from entertaining the idea of French Onion Soup. It’s such a classic thing to eat. And it was made to be cooked in a slow cooker!

Is there anything better than a piece of cheesy toast dipped into a flavorful soup? I think not. So when you’re busy running the kids to swimming lessons or all of the other millions of things we all do during the summer, don’t worry about dinner. Just slice up a bunch of onions, pop them into the slow cooker, and when you get back add the stock and dinner’s ready that fast. The Gruyere toasts are ready in a flash too.

Slow Cooker Recipe: French Onion Soup  |  Design Mom  #crockpot

As I mentioned, for this recipe, the onions are cooked alone first, then the stock is added. This gives the onions ample time to cook down and get soft without melting away and disappearing into the broth. If you’d rather not go that route, just add everything to the slow cooker all at once and it will still be really good.

It’s great served with fruit and a very simple green salad like the French might make — torn Romaine with a flavorful basic herb vinaigrette. It’s a great summer meal and you’ll be surprised how even in the hot summer how a bowl of soup hits the spot. And yes, it’s also fantastic when it’s cold outside. : )

Click for the recipe and tips!

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Flag & Gate1

Image and text by Gabrielle.

For those who are celebrating today, I hope you have a wonderful 4th of July! Wishing you cold watermelon, sparklers, small town parades, flag cakes, and blankets on green grass for firework watching.

I’ll leave you with my favorite lyrics from a patriotic hymn:

America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self control,
Thy liberty in law.

— from America the Beautiful

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A Few Things

July 3, 2014

4th of July 20111

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends! How are you? I’m sharing my link list a day early this week, because tomorrow is a holiday. Can I tell you how excited my family is for Independence Day? We’re feeling very patriotic just being here in the country (we didn’t move from France last summer till July 15th if you’re keeping track). In fact, last Sunday in church we sang American anthems like America the Beautiful and The Star Spangled Banner, and it made me super happy to belt them out!

Our plans are: waterpark, BBQ and watching fireworks. And running around with the kids in red, white and blue (of course!). How about you? For my American readers, will you be celebrating tomorrow? And for my readers who are not American, forgive me for posting my link list a day early. : )

We bought a BBQ on Monday and it’s supposed to be delivered today. Assuming it arrives intact, tomorrow will mark the inaugural BBQ get-together at the Treehouse! While I check in with the delivery truck, here are a few things I’ve been wanting to share:

- Life changing password?

- Kids getting too much screen time this summer? Lock it up.

- An Adopted Child’s View of the Christian Adoption Movement. Woah.

- The trick to mixing patterns in a nursery.

- Hilarious. If Independence Day never happened.

- 5% of sales from this Joss & Main flash sale go to Habitat for Humanity.

- Nazi’s “perfect Aryan baby” was actually Jewish.

- Want to add to the research on adult peer relationships? Take this survey.

- “I Just Watched The Notebook and Am Here to Ruin It for All of You.” Dying laughing! (But it’s written with lots of cuss words, so not for everyone.)

- And one more funny from The Onion. Does anyone else relate to this?

I hope you have a wonderful weekend. Yay for fireworks! Yay for sparklers! Yay for America! I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.

kisses,
Gabrielle

P.S. — The image is a a #throwbackthursday to our first 4th of July in France.

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Maude & Oscar Exploring1

Image and text by Gabrielle.

While I lived in France, I launched a recurring column called Love the Place You Live. It’s all about exploring your own town or community — appreciating and acknowledging the good things around you. I adore travel! But the idea of this column is that you don’t have to travel to find wonder and beauty; the idea is that everywhere has something to offer.

This month marks 1 year of living in Oakland! Though I found the move overwhelming, we love it here and have been feeling more and more settled in. We’ve done some really fun exploring since we’ve been here, but we feel like we’ve only scratched the surface of cool things in our community, and I want to start exploring more earnestly.

So, I concluded that it’s time to bring back Love The Place You Live!

This is how it works: I’ll announce when the next Love The Place You Live column is going to appear. Then, anyone who wants to, can join in by exploring something in their community. It can be anything. A coffee shop you’ve been meaning to stop into. A vintage clothes store. The new library. A new-to-you park. A pretty hike. A food truck. The ballet. Anything you like! And I’ll explore something with my family as well.

I’ll write up my report and publish here on Design Mom. You can write up your report wherever you like (your blog, your Facebook page, etc.). Then, you can add the link of your writeup to my blog post. It’s awesome! It creates an easy way to explore all the different reports and is a great reminder about how much there is to celebrate in each of our communities.

Sound good? I hope so! I’m planning to post the next Love The Place You Live on Monday (that’s July 7th), and I would love you to join me. Do something fun this week or this weekend — maybe a local Independence Day parade! Then, plan on linking to your writeup on Monday.

I can’t wait to read about your adventures!

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DIY: Leather Earrings

July 2, 2014

DIY: Tiny Leather Earrings. Easy and Inexpensive and Cute!   |   Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos and styling by Amy Christie.

Have you seen the new trend in tiny leather earrings? I’m loving it. So I thought it would be fun to create my own — for myself and as gifts. I love the natural texture of the leather and the soft pop of color.

DIY: Tiny Leather Earrings. Easy and Inexpensive and Cute!   |   Design Mom

Leather is an easy material to work with. It’s soft, but keeps its shape. It doesn’t fray or wrinkle (unless you really, really want it to) and the texture and color options are endless.

I tried a ton of variations and always concluded that simple is better for this particular look.

DIY: Tiny Leather Earrings. Easy and Inexpensive and Cute!   |   Design Mom

With a few bucks and very little time, you can make yourself a whole new batch of accessories. They’re so simple and easy to make it’s barely a tutorial!

DIY: Tiny Leather Earrings. Easy and Inexpensive and Cute!   |   Design Mom

Come and check out this easy, satisfying project!!

Click here for the full tutorial.

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By Gabrielle.

When Jennifer casually mentioned her home was an in-fill in Ottawa, I casually wondered “What is an in-fill?” And it happened again when she told me it had earned Platinum LEED certification. Oh, I just love when these tours give me new dinner party conversation starters!

Truly, this family’s life sounds very intentional. They think about the food they eat, the music that fills their rooms, and the health of their home materials. I loved reading about their life in Canada, and I hope you enjoy Jennifer’s words, as well. Welcome, Jennifer!

Q: Please tell us all about your family!

A: I met my husband, David, in 2006 via an online dating profile that a friend forced me to sign up for. I was about to delete my profile when I saw his, and we immediately started corresponding. I liked that he was a vegetarian (I’m vegan) and that he had two cats and two dogs (I had one cat and one dog) and that he made me laugh a lot, which he still does. We have very similar values, but very different ideas of what constitutes a good time. He has no interest in music, where as I like to collect records and go to see live bands. I have little patience for board games or computer games, but he loves them. Luckily we both like to read, so before our son was born we spent many weekends sitting in cafes together reading the newspapers or fiction or graphic novels. We got married in Las Vegas by an Elvis impersonator! David planned the whole thing as a surprise for me, which was perfect because I am not the wedding planning type.

Our son Milo was born in October 2012. He also loves books and animals and music, is generally very cheerful and fun to be around, and amazes us on a regular basis.

We also live with our close friend Meghan who has her own space in our basement. She is helpful and silly and creative.

We have four roommates of the furry variety: a sweet lab-shepherd mix named Sacha, a wiley husky-border collie mix named Catie, a very waggy border collie-terrier mix named Oreo, and an ancient tabby cat named Potter. All the animals were rescues, which is something we feel very passionate about. Unfortunately they are all senior citizens, and we are now dealing with the new challenges and heartbreaks that come with older animals.

Lovely home, lovely words! More of both after the jump…

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DMgiveawayBanner

By Gabrielle.

I love starting the week with a really great giveaway! Today’s prize is sponsored by Olive Juice Kids. They’re offering a generous $150 gift certificate. Yippee!

No doubt some of you are in need of some fresh, warm weather pieces for family reunions and summer vacations. And others are already searching out sturdy, classic clothes for the next school year. In either case, Olive Juice  has you covered. They’ve been a fantastic sponsor of Design Mom for the past few years and I simply love their clothes! Their designs are consistently beautiful, high quality, and with style that will last.

olive-juice-kids-summer-2014

If you’re looking for something with a European feel, something that feels unusual, Olive Juice will have the perfect thing. Take a look at their LookBook for inspiration! Best of all, their clothes truly are made to be worn by kids — the cuts and materials are comfortable and realistic. Right now, I’m shopping for summer clothes — this Liberty Print Annie Dress, this Fresca Ruffle Bib Dress, and these Loungewear Pants have caught my eye (all three are on sale as part of the Summer Clearance!).

Visit Olive Juice Kids and leave a comment below to enter. I’d love to know what you’re shopping for these days — a family vacation? summer portraits? or maybe your child’s wardrobe just needs some fresh pieces? The winner will be announced on Thursday. Good luck!

——-

Marlena is the lucky winner. Thanks for playing!

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#LikeAGirl

June 30, 2014

By Gabrielle.

In case you haven’t seen it yet, I wanted to share this powerful video. It’s actually a commercial, but doesn’t feel commercial at all. And I think it brings up a really important topic. Ralph sent the link to me and I’ve watched it a dozen times — and I had the kids watch it too.

Little June was uninterested. : ) Oscar and Betty were a little confused by it. They haven’t yet learned that the phrase “like a girl” is often used as a way to cut someone down. But Olive, Maude and Ralph were all impacted. We had a good discussion about the commercial, and that it wasn’t trying to set up competition between girls and boys, but was simply highlighting the fact that there’s nothing shameful about being a girl. I loved this line near the end:

“I would run like myself.”

like-a-girl

Have you watched it? Or shared it with your kids? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

P.S. — I linked to this a couple of Fridays ago, but I think it relates well to the video above. The words we use matter! That old rhyme — sticks and stones may brake my bones, but names will never hurt me — is dead wrong.

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A Few Things

June 27, 2014

Gabrielle Blair in a Tree

By Gabrielle. Image by Ben Blair.

Hello, Friends! How was your week? In my own life, I tend to measure my days by productivity (I realize, it’s not always a great measurement), and in that light, this week was not my best. But, if I measure it in laid-back family time, it was a pretty decent week! : )

This weekend, we’ll be picking up Olive & Maude from Girls Camp, stopping by Lowe’s to choose some items for the Front Porch Makeover we’re working on, and I’d love to find a good place to go walking. How about you? Any fun plans?

While I read your (awesome!) procrastination tips, here are a few things I’ve wanted to share:

- Have you heard of anti-jokes? Thanks, Laurie.

David Sedaris meets Fitbit.

Typographic blocks.

Two parent households can be lethal.

Pantone directory of skin color. Thanks, Maude.

- OKGO’s new video.

- Bright Lights & Brothels. Hard to read, but we need to read it.

- Just as I suspected — one of my ancestors must have been terrified of spiders.

- Charming! Sarah Jessica Parker and Jerry Seinfeld.

- One 12 year-old’s solution to keep babies from being forgotten in cars.

- What do you carry to the beach? I’m considering this mesh tote.

- A sweet read. How my parents fell in love, 30 years later.

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

kisses,
Gabrielle

P.S. — Did I tell you I finally did some tree-climbing in our backyard? It was super fun! I’m sorry I waited so long.

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Procrastination Mode

June 26, 2014

June Swinging1

Images and text by Gabrielle.

Oh man. I can not seem to get a handle on this week. I had three possible posts on the schedule for today (one about the stools we recovered, one about the cottage in France, and one about last week’s Alt Summit), with plans to write two of them. And now it’s almost 4:00 in the afternoon and I haven’t written anything at all.

The week after Alt Summit can feel like this, so it’s ridiculous that it still surprises me, but here I am, surprised yet again. I’ve been trying to figure out what threw me off this week and concluded that some of it is playing catchup after being gone, some of it is processing what I learned and experienced last week, and some of it is adjusting to the summer schedule with the kids home. Combined, it definitely feels like I’m falling into procrastination mode.

June Swinging2

But. I really, really can’t be in procrastination mode! I’ve got kids and commitments and deadlines that need attention. So I’m trying to remember my best methods for getting back to work. Alas, I’m coming up short.

Help a girl out, please! If/when you find yourself in procrastination mode, how do you get out of it? Tips, tricks, and techniques all welcome! : )

P.S. — I love these images of June practicing the particular skill of lifting oneself onto a swing. She’s officially a preshooler! Also, did I tell you she’s had a big haircut since these photos we’re shot? I need to share pics.

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DIY: Sun Dye Bandanas. You've got to try this. Sun dye is awesome!  |  Design Mom

Images and text by Gabrielle. This post brought to you by Quaker Chewy — they’re all about fueling backyard fun. In fact, they’re offering free Nerf toys! Details at bottom.

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Last week, I told you about the Welcome to Summer party we organized with Liz and Jordan — we had the cousins over for a fun afternoon in the sun to mark the end of the school year. Each family handled two activities, which made for a full, happy, party agenda and eliminated any chance of boredom. Hah! It turned out to be a really memorable event, and I’m sure the kids will continue to talk about it for weeks and years to come.

DIY: Sun Dye Bandanas. You've got to try this. Sun dye is awesome!  |  Design Mom

I was in charge of Lemonade Toasts and Sun-dye Prints. I’m excited to tell you all about the Sun-Dye process today! Liz and Jordan are writing about their activities too — a Bubble Relay Race, and a Giant Water Balloon Slingshot.

DIY: Sun Dye Bandanas. You've got to try this. Sun dye is awesome!  |  Design Mom

Let me start by telling you I’m kind of obsessed with sun-dyes. They are super cool and feel a little magical. Essentially, they are dyes that are colorless when you apply them, but turn vibrant colors when exposed to sunlight. My mom introduced sun-dyes to me when I was in college and I’ve been going through sun-dye phases ever since.

For this activity, we decided to dye bandanas. I couldn’t actually find plain white bandanas, so we used square cotton dishcloths instead. They’re a generous size and work as head wraps, capes, or can even be tied around the waists of little ones as a beach/pool coverup.

DIY: Sun Dye Bandanas. You've got to try this. Sun dye is awesome!  |  Design Mom

The only brand of sun-dye that I’m aware of is called Inkodye. It doesn’t come in a ton of colors, but you could do a little color-mixing if you want to expand the palette. The main trick with sun-dye is you need both a low-light area and a sunny area to work in. The dye will start exposing as soon as there’s even a hint of sunlight, so you want to apply the ink, and add any objects that you want to use to block the sunlight, in low light.

DIY: Sun Dye Bandanas. You've got to try this. Sun dye is awesome!  |  Design Mom

Adding objects creates a pattern — we used plants, leaves, even clothespins. Pretty much any opaque object could work. In fact, Jordan told me about a friend who painted a duvet cover with Inkodye, then took a nap on it in the sun, and when she woke up, the imprint of her body was on the duvet. So cool!

DIY: Sun Dye Bandanas. You've got to try this. Sun dye is awesome!  |  Design Mom

One of the nice things about this activity is that there is some downtime. After bubble relays and water balloon sling shots, the kids could sit and relax and have a snack while the sun did its work.

DIY: Sun Dye Bandanas. You've got to try this. Sun dye is awesome!  |  Design Mom

One note: I would recommend having extra dyeable items on hand, because the process is super fun! And you’ll definitely want to dye more than one item. : )

DIY: Sun Dye Bandanas. You've got to try this. Sun dye is awesome!  |  Design Mom

I love this project! Even if your kids aren’t artsy, they’ll get a kick out of seeing the colors appear in the sunlight. And it’s pretty much no fail — no matter what objects you add, or even if you add none-at-all, the bandana is going to look fantastic.

DIY: Sun Dye Bandanas. You've got to try this. Sun dye is awesome!  |  Design Mom

Tell me, Friends. Have you ever tried sun-dyes? Is your imagination running with objects you could use to create patterns? (Me too!)

quaker-chewy
Thanks to Quaker Chewy for sponsoring our Welcome to Summer Party and fueling backyard fun! Quaker Chewy gives kids the energy they need to play. That’s why Quaker and NERF are teaming up to fuel backyard fun, helping families get active together, right in their own backyard. When you buy three specially-marked boxes of Quaker Chewy, you can enter the codes online at http://fuelfun.quakeroats.com to get a free Nerf sports item.

Click here for more DIY notes and instructions.

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By Gabrielle.

Nadine Mellor has believed in adventure – at least once a month – for most of her adult life, and that didn’t change when two kids were added to the equation. While it seems to be a much easier proposition to just stay at home with young ones, she lays out a pretty convincing argument of why we should just pack a carryon and go! I like her style.

Traveling with kids is, admittedly, a huge part of Nadine’s life. She is the London-based editor of i-escape Kids Collection, which features over 850 stylish family-friendly hotels, B&Bs, city apartments, and house rentals spanning 45 countries worldwide. I can’t wait to take you on a tour of her life! Friends, please welcome the Mellor family!

Q: Tell us about this jet-setting family.

A: Hi, I’m Nadine and my lovely Irish husband, Colman, and I have two charming and articulate children: our daughter Esme, almost seven, and son Cormac, who will be three in a couple of months. We currently live and work in London, but two years ago we returned home to this great city after five and a half wonderful years in San Francisco – and yes, we definitely left our hearts there! Both kids were born there so they have American citizenship (as well as British, Irish, and Australian nationalities).

Q: You’ve lived and travelled a lot of places with your family. Tell us why you’ve settled in North London.

A: I am actually from Islington, which is where I still live and my parents are 15 minutes’ walk away, which is super now we have kids. I was born and raised in this village. When I met Colman, he was living in South London, which is a great part of town but just not my village, so he did the gallant thing and moved to my area when we decided this was for life. And then just a year later, we had the opportunity to move to San Francisco, which I resisted to start with as I couldn’t imagine uprooting to live abroad again – I had already lived in Australia for seven years in three different stints – but once I was there I fell in love with it and we very nearly stayed in the States.

However, it is the right decision to return to London, closer to family and friends, and being in Europe speaks to us. Ultimately, we are from the British Isles. And Europe is such a fab place to live – so many different languages and cultures in a relatively small and accessible area – so we will never run out of great places to visit!

More fireplaces and charm, after the jump!

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Appearance

June 23, 2014

Bangs

Selfie & text by Gabrielle.

Thank you for the terrific comments and discussion last week about experimenting with looks and identity. I went out that same day and had bangs cut! Not an extreme change, I realize, but still fun to get a glimpse of myself in the mirror and see something new.

Related to the same topic, Ben Blair told me there’s a section in the book, The Singularity Is Near, that talks about the future, and predicts that a time will come when we can control how we appear to others. To be clear, it doesn’t say that we will actually change our bodies, but that we would control how we are perceived. So, if we want to appear taller (or shorter), we can. If we want to appear with darker (or lighter) skin, we can. If we want to appear curvier (or thinner), we can.

I have no idea how this will technically work (I think he said something about avatars), but let’s pretend for a minute that it will. Let’s imagine for a minute that it’s a fact. If you could appear however you like to the people that you encounter — without actually changing your body (no pain, no surgery) — would you choose to look any different than you do now?

My first thought, when Ben told me about the concept, is that we will all choose to appear as supermodels — bronzed and tall and lithe like Iman. It will be non-stop super models all day long. Supermodels at the grocery store, supermodels at the bank, supermodels at the dry cleaner.

Then, I thought: no, to appear as a completely different person will be difficult — people will want to be recognized by friends and family and colleagues. So perhaps it will be subtle things, like being perceived as having straighter teeth, or smaller pores, or a scar that can no longer be seen. This would be closer to what some people do right now — dyeing hair or getting nails painted or wearing spanx.

Next, I thought: I can already guess at the backlash. If everyone appears as a perfectly coiffed, super gorgeous human all the time, I can imagine a resurgence of appreciation for appearing naturally. A recognition of the true beauty found in the variety of the human race.

As I continued thinking about this, my friend Rona came to mind. I met Rona when Ben Blair and I lived in Athens, Greece, seventeen years ago. She was an expat from England, and sometimes we would discuss accents in England and how they affect social status. She said that in certain shops, she would use a different accent — an accent that made her sound like she was part of the nobility — in order to get better service. It wasn’t a change to her body, but still affected how she was perceived.

This got me considering characteristics beyond physical bodies — things like accents, or confidence, or attitude (maybe rebellious, or obedient), or even clothes and brand names — and how they affect how we are perceived by others.

I haven’t read the book, and it’s very likely I don’t understand correctly, but ignore that for a minute and chat with me. What thoughts come to mind for you? If you could appear differently to those around you, would you? Would you go for a drastic change, appear as is, or something in between? And whatever you would choose (from drastic to no change at all), what does that tell you about your self-image? Do you like how you look right now? Do you feel like people perceive you accurately and positively?

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