Persimmons

December 1, 2014

seasonalfruits

By Gabrielle. Seasonal Fruit poster from Chasing Delicious.

Something light to start your week! Persimmons were heroes in my Thanksgiving arrangements this year, I must have used about a dozen. But I was embarrassed when I realized I’ve never actually tasted one. Maybe I’ve had a bit mixed into a salad and I didn’t know it, but I’ve never intentionally sliced one myself and taken a bite.

I’m not totally sure why, but the realization caught me a bit off guard. I expect taste surprises when I’m traveling, but I guess I assume that as I walk through the produce department of my local grocery store, I’ve tasted everything they have to offer. No doubt that’s way off. I’ll bet if I was to pay more attention on my next visit, I’d realize there are dozens of commonly available veggies and fruits that I have yet to “discover”.

Have you experienced any new tastes lately? If yes, what was it and how did you like it? And do you have an opinion on persimmons? My kids describe them as a mix between an apple and a tomato.

P.S. — Realizing my lack of persimmon tasting reminded me of Maggie’s goal to taste a thousand fruits.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Centerpiece

Image and text by Gabrielle.

It’s late on Wednesday night as I type this. I confess, I fully intended to write a post first thing this morning, but ended up spending my writing time discussing (and arguing about) the grand jury decision that was announced in Ferguson on Monday. Like many Americans, my emotions are running hot this week and I’m sometimes finding it difficult to respond in a way that will foster a helpful discussion. So I keep rereading the call for compassion written by The Bloggess, and I keep doing my best to take her sound advice.

In the midst of my discouragement at the state of racism in our county, I’ve also been prepping for Thanksgiving, which I’m very much looking forward to. I’ve been doing things like setting the table, gathering leaves and greens from the yard to add to the centerpiece, cleaning the house, and running errands. It’s another one of the those odd times where I fly between happy and sad from one minute to the next.

I know there are millions of people going through a similar range of emotions this week. And I send my love to each and every one. I have an endless list of things to be grateful for, but today, I’m feeling particularly grateful that I have the opportunity to freely discuss what is happening in the world, even when what is happening in the world is hard. I am hugely grateful to the community here on Design Mom for adding your voices to the discussions that happen here, and for being respectful of the varied opinions shared. I can not thank you enough.

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and I hope the pie you get to enjoy this year is the best yet!

P.S. — For my lovely readers who are not American, I know you won’t be celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow, but please know I am thankful for you as well. : )

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By Gabrielle.

I hereby declare Noa Weintraub Queen of the Stunning Staircase! She is ruler over two of the most startlingly stylish sets of steps I’ve seen, so I really think she deserves the crown. (There should really be a crown.)

Her home is a fun house, for sure. You would never in a million years think that the force who designed these spaces thought she didn’t want a child! This honesty, this unabashed creativity, and Noa’s great advice — one of her gems is “Life’s too short to wait for a special occasion! — all make this tour a favorite of mine. I hope it’s one of yours, too!

Welcome, Noa!

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

A: Hi! I’m Noa, an artist, illustrator and ceramicist. My partner, Mark, is a photographer, and we live with our six year old daughter, Matisse. Until recently, we also lived with Mark’s son Wyatt who is 20, but we are still lucky to see him frequently — especially when good food is involved.

Sharing our house are Wyatt’s two snakes: Psycho Sy is a King Snake, and Fluffy is a Royal Python. I know, I know! It took me a while to get used to them, but they really are nicer than they sound and conveniently very low maintenance.

Mark and I met while on an advertising job, back in my more glamorous days when I used to be a fashion stylist. These days, I’m more inclined to be wearing flats and wellington boots than high heels and sequins. That’s not to say I don’t try and dress up as much as I can. I’ve always believed life’s too short to wait for a special occasion. Wear the clothes you love as often as possible, even if it means dressing up for the school run! Working as an illustrator and being a mum work well together, I’ve discovered. I have the flexibility of choosing my own hours and I make sure that I work around Matisse’s schedule. (It’s also a really good excuse to buy loads of vintage children’s books, one of my favourite things!)

Second set of stellar stairs, coming right up! Come see!

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LilaPops Giveaway

November 24, 2014

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By Gabrielle.

I’ve got the cutest giveaway for you today. Lilapops is offering a charming prize package featuring 5 of Lila’s Sick Day Picks!!

LilaPops Giveaway

The prize package of “Lila’s Sick Day Picks” includes: 1) Lilapops (of course!), 2) This is the World Book by M. Lasek, 3) Magnetic Doodle House, 4) the sweetest BlaBla Handknit Sheep, and 5) a set Mr. Sketch Scented Markers. So fun!

Who is Lila? She’s the namesake of Lilapops, a mom-approved company that makes all natural cough drop lollipops for kids. They leave out the yucky dyes, artificial flavors and preservatives — helping kids feel better in a deliciously fun and healthy way. We’ve been using Lilapops for over two years now and found them to be soooo soothing.

I think this giveaway comes at the perfect time as we head into cold weather and flu season. It’s nice to be prepared when kids inevitably wake up with a a scratchy throat! And I love the idea of having a care package at the ready to lend comfort and relieve boredom when little ones are stuck in bed. I know my kids would adore this sick day care package!

Visit Lilapops and leave a comment below to enter. The winner will be announced on Monday (Dec 1st). Good luck!

——-

Laura is the lucky winner. Thanks for playing!

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Thanksgiving Prep

November 24, 2014

tutorial for the perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

By Gabrielle. Food photos by Lindsey Rose Johnson for Design Mom. Centerpiece photo by N. Underwood.

We’re hosting Thanksgiving this year and the whole family is looking forward to it like crazy. We’ve been making lists and plans, thinking up activities for the kids table, trying new furniture arrangements, making an inventory of dishes, glasses and silverware to make sure we have what we need, and wondering if we should add crab to the menu like last year.

Speaking of last year, I keep thinking back to how I was just trying to get a handle on my mental health about now, and comparing it to this year. What a world of difference! Last year I was in survival mode, and this year I’m making probably-too-ambitious plans for the centerpiece. Of course, it feels wonderful to be in a healthy productive place.

I know Thanksgiving is all about the food, but as I’ve already implied several times in this post, I’m more excited about the pretty stuff. I’m thinking about the entry and how I want the house to feel as guests arrive — the music, the smells, the lighting, the decorations. And I’m figuring out the kids table. Will it be warm enough to use the outdoor balcony table? Or should I make room inside? The main dining table probably has me the most excited.  I keep fighting the urge to set it today!

For those of you who are prepping for Thanksgiving as well, I thought I’d gather some posts that might be helpful. First, here’s a Turkey 101 post. So much good information. I re-read it every year.

persimmons, squash, yellow apples, satsumas red berries, pomegranates, grapes

Next, here’s a post filled with ideas on How to Garnish the Turkey Platter. Gorgeous photos!

Here’s a post about Perfect Pie Crust that you’ll find invaluable.

Autumnal Arrangement for Thanksgiving. Step-by-step instructions.

And there’s also a step-by-step tutorial for putting together this Stunning Autumn Arrangement.

How are you feeling about Thanksgiving this year? Are you hosting? Or are you traveling? Did you do all your food shopping last week, or do you like to wait till Wednesday night? And what are you looking forward to most — food, family or the decorating? I’d love to hear!

P.S. — There is one big downer about this Thanksgiving — Olive and Ralph aren’t with us! Such a strange thought. Four more weeks till they get home, but it feels like forever.

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A Few Things

November 21, 2014

Union Square from the 30th floor

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends! How are you today? Ready for the weekend? I sure am. It was a jam-packed happy week and I feel like we’re ending it on a happy note, too. Which is great. Tonight the cousins are coming for a sleepover!

I have two siblings that live in the Bay Area and we’ve decided to make it a monthly tradition and rotate houses. Last month was at Jordan’s house, this month we’re hosting, and next month it’s Liz’s turn. We LOVE having the cousins over! It’s a funny thing, here we are in the same area, and you’d think we’d see each other constantly, but we’ve found putting specific plans on the calendar works best, otherwise, we get too busy and never get together. Do you live near any of your family members? Have you found the same thing to be true, or do you see each other often?

The other thing I’m excited about is that I’m working with photographer Kristen Loken today. I’ve worked with Kristen on two other occasions and she’s terrific. So it should be a really good day. But before I get to work, here are a few things I’ve wanted to share with you:

Win pajamas for your whole family! Just in time for your holiday pj tradition. Did you know tomorrow is National Family Pajama Night? It’s true! And The Company Store is supporting the big day by contributing a portion of every pair of pajamas they sell through December 22nd to the Ronald McDonald House Charities. The Company Store is also donating 3000 pairs of pjs to the RMHC! Such a great way to support families who are dealing with critical illnesses. Bonus: You can WIN pajamas for your family from The Company Store on my Instagram feed. It’s a 24 hour contest, so act fast!

- What do you think of this science-based approach to kids and screen time?

- “As a nation, we choose subsidizing corn syrup over childcare.” A very thought-provoking read on what’s being dubbed “the mommy problem.” Thanks, Vrylena.

- 11 Shared Bedrooms your kids would love!

- So goes the middle class, so goes the church. Thanks, Tom.

- Did you see the New York Times‘ list of 50 Thanksgiving dishes from all 50 states? Turns out, it’s a prime example of how cultural mapping can go wrong. (Grape salad, Minnesota?) Thanks, Sarah.

- Hilarious – how to pluralize your last name this holiday season. Thanks, Ainsley.

- Do you think you’re looking for perfection in all the wrong places?

- Our favorite fairy tales are actually even darker than we originally knew.

- How to turn your princess-obsessed toddler into a feminist. Ha! Thanks, Barbara.

I hope you have a really wonderful weekend. Can you believe Thanksgiving is next week? I just got goosebumps I’m so excited for the holidays this year! I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.

kisses,
Gabrielle

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Minted Giveaway

November 21, 2014

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By Gabrielle.

We were super excited to work with fabulous stationery company, Minted, on the latest Olive Us video, Love Letter to the Year. And we’re also super excited that they’re sponsoring a giveaway today.

Do you know Minted? They are a community of independent artists and designers who create paper goods like holiday photo cards, invitations, party supplies and art prints. The prize they’re offering is a very generous $350 store credit!!!

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Minted was the perfect fit for the story we wanted to tell in Love Letter To The Year. We were looking for really gorgeous envelopes to use, because envelopes played such a big role in the video, and Minted had so many ideal options.

The Minted Envelope is brand new this year. You can choose from a ton of beautiful envelope designs, and huge bonus: for a limited time, recipient addressing is FREE! Such a time saver, and such a fun way to add some festivity before the card is even open.

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You can choose The Minted Envelope for all holiday cards (except postcards and petite cards). I really love that the envelopes coordinate with Minted card designs.

Speaking of which, have you checked out Minted’s new holiday card line up? They have several new backers and interior options, plus new ornament format shapes, and even a totally new product called the Booklette™. So many awesome choices! How will you pick?! : )

To enter the giveaway, go here. It’s open until Wednesday night (11/26) at 11:59 PM PT. Good luck!

P.S. — If you haven’t seen Love Letter To The Year yet, I’m including it here. Don’t miss my sister Jordan’s appearance!

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Images and text by Gabrielle.

It’s our holiday Olive Us episode! And it’s a charmer. It’s called Love Letter to the Year and we hope it will have you thinking about your own year, and feeling nostalgic about exchanging holiday cards. Betty’s narration is sweet as can be. And it even features my sister Jordan of Oh Happy Day, and her son Roman! I hope you enjoy the video.

Love Letter to the Year

I LOVE getting holiday cards in the mail. It’s definitely one of my favorite parts about December. I know it’s a tradition that can seem old school since so many of us connect throughout the year on places like Instagram and Facebook, but there’s just something about getting a paper card in the mail!

What’s your take on holiday cards? Do you send them? If yes, do you send them every year? And are you a early sender or a late one? Have you ever delayed, and sent out New Years cards instead? I always love hearing how different families handle common things like this.

P.S. — We worked with Minted on this episode. More on our collaboration tomorrow! Photos featured on the holiday cards were taken by Justin Hackworth and Sarah of Modern Kids. Also, curious about Olive Us? You can find all my Olive Us posts here.

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Join My Gift Boards!

November 19, 2014

Design Mom's Gift Wrapping Pin Board

By Gabrielle. Image is a screengrab from my gift wrapping board.

Last year, I tried something new. Instead of sharing gift guide blog posts, I created gift guide boards on Pinterest. Though I confess, I sometimes missed seeing the pretty gift posts on my blog, overall, I really liked the advantages of sharing the ideas on pin boards. It allowed me to include a whole lot more ideas than I would be able to on the blog. And even better, I could keep sharing new finds throughout the holidays. Sometimes I find the perfect gift late in the game, and it was great to know that I could still share it.

So I’ve decided to use my gift boards again this year. But I thought it would be more fun if I made it a group effort. So I’m opening up the boards to all my fellow gift shoppers out there! When you spot something fantastic that you think Design Mom Readers would love, you can add to a gift board so everybody can see it. How does that sound?

Here are the 5 boards I started last year. As I shop for my kids and friends and husband and relatives, I’ll continue adding to them daily. I hope you’ll join the boards and add your picks too!:

Gifts Kids Can Really Make
Give handmade! And get your kids involved, too. These are smart, useable, good-looking gifts that kids can really make — for Teachers, Coaches, Friends, Siblings or Mom & Dad.

Gifts That Make the World Better
These items help people who are struggling. They create opportunities to learn a paying skill, and to provide the basic necessities for a family. These products feed the hungry, work toward abolishing poverty and make homes for orphans. Plus, they’re beautiful, high quality items that are easy to give and to receive!

Gifts for Your Bestie, Your Sister or Your Mom
Terrific gifts that the women you love will adore. Some to make and some to buy.

Gifts for The Men in Your Life
The coolest gifts to surprise and delight your boyfriend, husband, brother, uncle or dad (and your grown-up sons too!). Some traditional, some modern. 

Gifts for Kids
Find something awesome for your kids this year. Cool, unusual gifts that kids would LOVE to receive. Store bought gifts for kids, and handmade gifts for kids.

You can join any of these boards! Email me with your Pinterest username (or the email you use for pinterest) + the name of the board, or boards, you want to join, and I’ll add you to the group right away.

I want to add new boards too! I created one called All The Best Gift Wrapping Ideas, that you can join in on. And I’m thinking about a Gifts for Teens board, but I haven’t decided yet.

What are your thoughts? Are there any particular gift board topics you’d like me to create? I’m game for whatever will help!

———

UPDATE 11/20: I’ve created a Gifts for Teens board, and a Gifts Under $10 board. Feel free to join either or both!

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Toca Boca Nature2

Images and text by Gabrielle. This post is brought to you by Toca Boca.

Oh my goodness. It’s been over a year since there was a children’s app review on design mom, but I’ve got a really good one for you today. It’s  new. It came out last week and it’s called Toca Nature. It was developed by the team at Toca Boca, a Swedish-based development company that makes fantastic apps for kids.

Toca Nature Screenshot

There are no points to earn in Toca Nature. No high score to beat. There are no berries to buy, or any in-app purchases at all. The app is about building and exploring. You can go macro and see the whole “world”, turning it around and around to see different habitats and perspectives. Run your finger through that forest and you can create a river. Or a mountain! Or a forest!!

Toca Nature Closeup

Or, you can zoom in to the details at dirt level. You can make a place for plants and mushrooms. See the animals grazing. Create a place for fish to swim. The app is designed to encourage kids to think about how different aspects of the environment connect and interact.

Instead of a competitive framework, think of this game like playing with Legos. You’re not using bricks, but you’re “building” a little world. You can work slowly and carefully if you’d like. You can change things if your first plan doesn’t work out the way you expected.

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Probably my favorite part is the colors. The little world in Toca Nature is beautiful! Muted, comforting, calming colors instead of the usual intense options offered on kids apps. It’s really lovely to look at.

Click through for a review of the app in Oscar’s words!

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By Gabrielle.

Most of us can look around our home and get a sense of what we love, decor wise. Maybe there is a lot of grey with peacock blue accents. Or maybe you’re a yellow kind of a family. Perhaps there are bookshelves nearly fainting with the weight of your books, and baskets hiding all of your plastic, lit up, talking toys. You could be a bring the outside in decorator, or your black thumb may discourage that design concept altogether. And maybe, if you’re anything like Andrea, you own three blue floral couches.

I love that fact about her so much, I think it should be on her calling cards.

But it’s true, isn’t it? All that surrounds you tells the rest of us a whole lot about you. It may surprise us at first – three blue floral couches?! – or it may make perfect sense once we get to know you a little better. In Andrea’s case, it makes perfect sense. In fact, I think she should own four. Please welcome the very lovely Drea, everyone!

You’ll want a floral couch in blue, I think.

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Gilmore Girls

November 17, 2014

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By Gabrielle.

Something silly and fun. I introduced Maude to Gilmore Girls a few weeks ago and she’s so into it! I used to LOVE watching Gilmore Girls. It was a weekly treat for me. I loved how fast they talked and I got a kick out of seeing how many cultural (or pop cultural) references I could recognize. I recommended the show to Maude last year, but it wasn’t available on any of the online TV sources we use, and we both sort of forgot about it. Then, a couple of months ago, suddenly it was — Netflix made the whole series available all at once. Which has made for some delightful binge watching over the past month. Hah!

I’ve been sitting in on the episodes whenever I have a moment. I love that it still feels fresh and current, and I love that the character Rory is a terrific teenager with ambitious goals and a commitment to good grades. : )

It’s got me thinking about other out-of-production shows my teens might like. Freaks & Geeks for sure. (I didn’t learn about it until it was already over. It’s so good!) But I don’t know what else. I hear people mention shows like Felicity, My So Called Life, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but I never got into any of those series, so I’m not sure if they’re good enough to recommend to my kids.

What about you? Have you introduced any out-of-production shows to your kids? Or maybe you’re waiting until they’re older? What are you excited to re-watch with them?

P.S. — If you know Gilmore Girls, no doubt you’ll be curious: Maude is currently Team Jess.

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A Few Things

November 14, 2014

Colors in Soho Fall 2014

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends! How are you? How was your week? I am grinning because I loved my week. It’s always wonderful to be back in New York. The weather was exceptionally gorgeous while I was there, and I was able to be highly productive, plus get to see lots of people that I love. So five stars for that trip!

As for the weekend, I expect it to be quite low-key. Most likely some quality time with my laptop while I play work-catchup-after-travel. : ) How about you? Anything wonderful you’re looking forward to this weekend? I’d love to hear!

I’m off to power through my to-do list, but before I head out, here are a few things I’ve wanted to share with you:

Successful relationships boil down to two things: kindness and generosity. Thanks, Alana.

- The Daylight Savings time change has come and gone, but I just saw this and thought it was so funny!

- An honest discussion on race in Silicon Valley.

- So cool! A font to help people with dyslexia read more easily.

- Interesting. People don’t actually like creativity.

- I’m totally geeking out about the comet landing. You too?

- Do your little girls love pink? Do your boys avoid it? Should society be rethinking how we’ve gender-assigned a colorThanks, Deb. (Related, this is a really good read from the Smithsonian on how pink came to be a “girl” color in the first place.)

- One of my new DIY projects — make a gorgeous (bargain) set of dinnerware from mis-matched dishes!

- It turns out there’s a reason why some schools are cliquey and others aren’t. Thanks, Kari.

- Loving my sister-in-law Liz’s holiday collaboration with Cauliflower Kids.

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

kisses,
Gabrielle

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Petit Collage Giveaway

November 13, 2014

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By Gabrielle.

I’ve got a fabulous giveaway for you today. I know you’ll love it. The sponsor is Petit Collage, and the prize is a generous a $200 gift card!

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Petit Collage was launched by the amazingly talented Lorena Siminovich about the same time as I started this blog, and I count myself lucky that we have worked together for so many years. I’m a huge fan the the design-focused, wholesome, classic products she creates. Made with recycled materials, vegetable inks, or made using FSC-certified wood, she makes sure her products are as eco-friendly as possible.

Petit Collage Toys 2014

I know many of you are starting your gift lists and holiday shopping this month, and Petit Collage is a shop that should definitely be on your radar. Their oversize wooden push toys, mini puzzles and floor puzzles, popout playsets, fabric dolls, matching games, and nesting cubes would all make beautiful, sure-to-please gifts.

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If I won, I would be tempted by the brand new Starry Sky Mobile (speaking of which, the mobiles just had their prices lowered!), the Forest Friends Jumble Puzzle and the Modern Bird Popouts.

Extra fun: In celebration of their 8th birthday this month, Petit Collage is offering Design Mom readers 30% off their full purchase at petitcollage.com. Woo hoo! Use code bday14 through November 20th.

Visit Petit Collage and leave a comment below to enter — I’d love to hear your favorite Petit Collage gift. The winner will be announced on Monday. Good luck!

——-

Vermontmommy is the lucky winner. Thanks for playing!

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What I Packed for New York

November 12, 2014

Golden Tote Fall 201401

By Gabrielle. Photos by Ben Blair for Design Mom. // This post is brought to you by Golden Tote.

There are lots of times in my life where I enjoy shopping for clothes — looking for deals, trying on outfits, figuring out accessories, even returning the clothes if buyer’s remorse set in. But 2014 has not been a good shopping year for me. There’s no getting around it, shopping takes time. And I just haven’t had enough time to make it happen. But I had this trip to New York ahead of me, and I knew the weather in NY would be colder than Oakland, and I knew I needed a few fresh pieces. So I was trying to figure out what to do. Then I remembered Golden Tote.

My sister Jordan has written about them a few times over the last couple of years and I thought this was the perfect time to try it out. If Golden Tote is new to you, essentially, it’s an awesome way to get stylish clothing at amazing deals. Here’s how it works. First, you go to the Golden Tote website and choose one of two options — $49 for 2-3 clothing items, or $149 for 5-7 clothing items. The retail value is up to $200 and $600 respectively! Next you choose one or two items to go into your tote, and the team at Golden Tote will surprise you with the rest.

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But it’s not just random picks. The Golden Tote founders are clothing designers from L.A. They design some of the clothing you’ll see on the site, and they also work with fashion brands to get deep discounts that they pass along to us. Also, as you check out, you’ll be guided through a little style profile, and the Golden Tote designers will choose items for you based on your profile. It’s like the whole bag is like this fantastic surprise created just for you!

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I received my tote last Thursday (it’s an actual tote bag, by the way), and it was such a treat to open — I was super curious to see what they had sent. I tried on the pieces and started putting them together with items already in my closet. At first, I was a little wary — there was one top in particular that I didn’t think I would like and wouldn’t have picked for myself. But by the end of my closet session, it was my favorite thing that they sent! Can you guess which piece it is? The blouse in the very top photo!

Seeing my change of heart about that shirt really convinced me of the value of the whole Golden Tote concept — sometimes it’s really nice to have someone make fashion decisions on your behalf. It gets you to try new things and maybe look at yourself in a new way.

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And I was even more convinced when I realized I had 4 outfits ready to go for the trip, and I hadn’t had to run a single errand! Golden Tote is so smart for women who don’t have time to shop, and aren’t sure what to buy even if they did have time.

If you’d like to check it out, new sales launch on the first Monday of every month. I suggest you shop the site as soon as the sale launches — because some of the pieces sell out quick!

Click here for more photos and outfit details.

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By Gabrielle. Beethoven tee available at Out To Play Kids on Etsy.

Do you remember the music that accompanied you on your drive to deliver your babies? The songs you made sure were humming through your headphones during every contraction? The soundtrack of our births are so precious, aren’t they? Whether you planned out playlists or serendipitously sang a tune the moment you caught sight of the newest member of your life, a replay even years down the road can still bring you to tears!

The music that played at the beginning and end of Katie Larson‘s birth story couldn’t be more different. That tiny detail reminds me of life as a parent; some of the most unexpectedly wonderful moments – the ones you definitely would’ve planned so, so differently – are pretty darn perfect in their randomness. Beethoven to Billie Jean? Yes, that’s exactly like parenting! Welcome, Katie!

Very calming read ahead, no matter your music tastes!

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Art Books1

Images and text by Gabrielle.

This is just a quick little post. I wanted to be sure I told you about this terrific series of books by Patricia Geis called Meet the Artist. There are 3 in the series so far: Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Alexander Calder.

I think these books are just right for kids. They’re short — only a few spreads in each one, so they’re not overwhelming. And they’re packed full of interactive details. Flaps to lift, pop up pieces, and 3-D surprises. They offer lots of good basic info about each artist and show enough of the artist’s work so that it feels familiar.

I’ve started to get questions from readers about good holiday gift options, and I think these books would be lovely for any budding artist out there! Here’s an interior shot from each book so you can get an idea of what they’re like:

Art Books2 Art Books3 Art Books4

Any other great art books for kids you’ve seen lately? Feel free to add the titles in the comments!

 

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By Gabrielle.

When Susan wrote and expressed interest in participating in a Living With Kids tour, she mentioned that she lives in Tulsa, that she teaches at a University, that she has two teen girls and a son, and that she strives to make her home a place to teach her kids the importance of hospitality.

Hospitality? That goal made me think and think and think some more, and I love it more each time. It is a learned skill for a lot of families, don’t you think? Inviting others into your space and making them feel like…well…mi casa es su casa. Easier said in Spanish than done! Perhaps Susan’s words will inspire you to open up your life a little, which I think would be a very lovely development. Welcome, Susan! I’m so glad you’re here!

Q: Introduce us to your favorite people.

A: I am so blessed to get live with my wonderful husband, Brian, and my three children. I am originally from Colorado, and currently work as a faculty member at a University here in Tulsa. Although I don’t have a lot of free time, decorating and being creative with my home is a true love of mine.

Brian and I met in college and have been married for 22 years. Brian develops and manages cancer treatment facilities throughout the Southwest.  He is an amazing husband and father and very involved in the kids’ lives. He rarely misses one of their events. He keeps us laughing and sets the tone for the fun in our family.

Warning for all those in cold climates: They have a pool. Sigh.

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Hiho Batik Giveaway

November 10, 2014

DMgiveawayBanner

By Gabrielle.

While I’m here in New York, how about a fun giveaway from a Brooklyn-based sponsor? Hiho Batik is offering two Tote Bags valued at $100!

Is Hiho Batik new to you? The shop is new to me for sure. I first heard about Hiho Batik a couple of months ago and I’m totally into the concept of the store. They offer all sorts of things, like hoodies, tee-shirts, aprons, pillows — even holiday stockings — all with really cool batik designs. And each design is created by hand. So they turn out slightly different each time, and each item is one of a kind!

Hiho Batik Fall 2014

But even cooler is their custom option. You can send Hiho Batik an illustration created by your child (or by you!), and they’ll turn that into a batik design, then apply it to a tee-shirt, or sweatshirt, or messenger bag, or whatever you like! Wouldn’t that make the coolest holiday gift?

I really love the look of batik, and I love even more that each item in their shop is created individually. I think my favorites are the Taxi Crew, the Geostripe Bag, and the New York City Hoodie. Extra fun: you can get 15% off all orders with the code: designmom2014. It’s valid until the end of November. Hooray!

Visit Hiho Batik and leave a comment below — I’d love to know what design you like best (or what design you’d like to create yourself!). The winner will be announced on Thursday. Good luck!

P.S. — If you live in New York, you can also visit the shop or even host a batik-ing party there!

——-

Amy M. is the lucky winner. Thanks for playing!

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De-fuzzing

November 10, 2014

defuzzing

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Good morning! I’m waving hello from New York! I’m here till Wednesday afternoon. I’ll be working in my publisher’s offices as we go through the “first-pass” of my book and make a task list of everything I still need to do — tips I want to develop a bit further, additional photos I should add — things like that. It’s amazingly exciting to see all the pages printed out. Also, intimidating!

Totally unrelated, but last week on Instagram, I mentioned that my brain needed something mindless to do, so I had spent an evening “de-fuzzing” Betty’s sweater. Sometimes I need to sort of check out mentally, but can’t handle TV. I need something that will feel at least semi-productive, but not physically demanding at all. De-fuzzing is totally one of those tasks for me. It takes patience, but no skill. You just run the de-fuzzer back and forth over an area until the fuzz balls are gone. I’ve tried other brainless tasks. Ironing sort of works — it would be better if I didn’t have to stand. Inputting receipts can work, or simple filing. Doodling seems like it would work, but I haven’t had success with it. For me, nothing is quite as good as de-fuzzing.

About the sweater. It was originally Maude’s. And then Olive’s. And it’s still going strong, so Betty has now inherited the colorful, sparkly turtleneck. De-fuzzing it makes it look brand new! The thing is, de-fuzzing is not necessarily, or logically, the best use of my time. In this case, the sweater was purchased on a seasonal clearance rack at H&M years ago for $5. So it’s not a valuable sweater money wise, and it could be easily argued that it’s silly to spend two hours de-fuzzing it because my time is worth more than the sweater. But still, sometimes I find tasks like this therapeutic.

Anyway, it made me curious. Do you ever do mindless things to rest your brain? If yes, what are your favorite mindless-yet-productive tasks? I’m always looking for new ones! Also, have you ever used a de-fuzzer?

P.S. — In case you’re curious, I currently use this Remington de-fuzzer. At $8, it’s twice as much as the ones I’ve used from the dollar store, but it has lasted much, much longer. Also, has anyone tried this Sunbeam one? It’s huge! I wonder if it works twice as fast?

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