Warm Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Bacon Pecans and Parmesan | Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos by Lindsey Johnson for Design Mom.

I couldn’t be happier that November has arrived because Thanksgiving is such an easy holiday to love. I think I like it because A) it’s so self-contained — there are little to no accompanying activities or assignments or tasks, just the big feast! And B) the focus on gratitude and family is pretty darn terrific.

Anyway, I’m not even sure if I’m hosting this year, but I’m already thinking about our Thanksgiving Feast and what will be served. I’m especially thinking about the side dishes. For us, turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing are a given, but the rest is flexible and can change or adapt from year to year.

Brussels Sprouts Stalk | Design Mom

This year, I’m thinking Brussels sprouts really need to make an appearance. So I asked Lindsey Johnson, who I’ve worked with for years and years, for a really good Brussels sprouts recipe that would work for Thanksgiving. And what she came up with looks so delicious, that I’ve decided I can’t even wait till Thanksgiving to try it! It’s going on the menu this week, instead.

Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Crispy Bacon | Design Mom

Before we jump into the recipe, I’m curious. What’s your take on Brussels sprouts? Do they ever make it on to your Thanksgiving Menu? Or do they ever make it on your everyday dinner menu? I used to avoid them, but over the last few years, they’ve become one of my favorite vegetables! I know tastes change over time, but it’s a funny thing when you see it happen to yourself. : )

Full recipe straight ahead. Including tips for a vegan version!


Bombas Socks!

November 3, 2015


Photos and text by Gabrielle. This post is brought to you by Bombas SocksGet 25% off your first purchase of 4 pairs or more with code DESIGNMOMGET25.

Did you know socks are the number one clothing request at homeless shelters? It’s true. And as fall turns into winter, no doubt the requests will increase with every drop in temperature. Which is why I want to make sure you know about Bombas. They’re like Toms or Warby Parker, but for socks — for every sock purchased, Bombas donates a pair to someone in need. In fact, since they launched in October of 2013 — just two years ago — Bombas has donated over 500,000 socks to homeless shelters and other groups who care for those in need.

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The social good aspect of this company makes me super happy, but I also want to tell you that these socks are awesome in and of themselves! Last January, I was introduced to Bombas and the whole family has enjoyed wearing their socks all year long. They have tons of colors and options — they keep coming out with new designs, and we keep being big fans! The socks are really well made. The designers behind Bombas started from the ground up and re-engineered their socks to look better, feel better, and perform better than anything else out there.

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They spent two years on research and development and they came up with seven specific improvements to the standard athletic sock. Three of my favorite improvements: 1) Stay Up Technology — Bombas calf socks stay up, aren’t too tight, and don’t slip down. They tested 133 different tension levels to find the perfect feel. 2) Blister Tab — on their ankle socks, you’ll find a tiny ankle cushion that sits directly where your shoe hits your leg to prevent painful rubbing and chafing. 3) Invisitoe — Bombas got rid of the annoying bump that runs across the toes on most socks. They hand link their socks so you don’t feel a thing.


They even have a 100% happiness guarantee! If you don’t think they are the most comfortable socks you’ve ever worn they will refund your entire purchase. Really truly. If you’d like to learn more about their mission, there’s a great video about their donations and impact — including details about the specific type of socks they donate.

Would you like to give them a try? Well you’re in luck. Get 25% off your first purchase of 4 pairs or more with code DESIGNMOMGET25. I recommend trying them now so you’ll still have time to order some for the whole family before the holiday rush. : ) I love giving gifts that give back!

Now I’m curious. Have you tried Bombas Socks? And do you have strong opinions about socks in general? What features do you look for in a sock?

P.S. — Do you watch Shark Tank? Bombas co-founders David Heath and Randy Goldberg were on the show for the season premier in 2014.


By Gabrielle. Photography by the very talented Lesley Colvin.

I always tell my homeowners who sweetly participate in a tour that I only need around 25 to 30 photos of their spaces. But this is one of those tours when I simply had to double that number. Plus ten. First, because Lesley Colvin shot this house. She is a brilliant photographer – here’s another gorgeous home she captured! — and has a knack for catching the spirit of the family among all the tables and couches and collections. And also because Celia Munoz has a home that will make you sigh and say things like “We need wallpaper, I think.” and “While you’re out, grab me a few gallons of white paint, will you?” and “A greenhouse will change our lives. Pick one of those up, too!” Hah!

However it happened, Celia and her husband ended up in the perfect-for-them home. Renovations will be underway in a few years, but everything is working well for now. It’s lovely when that happens, isn’t it?

So please help me welcome Celia warmly. She has loads to tell us about her home and company, and mostly about taking chances and becoming the person you really want to be. Even if that person is completely different than the one you thought you’d become! It’s inspiring stuff! Please enjoy it. Welcome, Celia!

Hello, everyone! I’m Celia. It’s so nice to be with you. A little about my life…

My husband and I met in London ten years ago at a dinner party, and ever since then we have not looked back. It was love at first sight, and despite coming from very different cultures — he is Dutch and I am Spanish — we quickly found we had so much in common and saw life in a very similar way.

For example, on our third date we asked each other how many children we wanted to have. We decided to write it on a piece of paper and exchange papers. When we opened the piece of paper, to our surprise, we had both written the number six! We stuck to the plan and we nearly got to six children!

We are now parents to five beautiful children: Flavia is seven, Lucas is six, Siena is five, Bosco is four, and Hugo is three. All of the children were born and raised in London, but they speak Spanish and Dutch fluently as these are the languages we speak at home.

We live in an incredibly pretty North London neighbourhood called Hampstead. There is so much history here; it is very British and very beautiful. Just before getting married, my husband and I decided to move from our flat in West London to an area that was a lot more family oriented. We wanted to be closer to a green space but also remain close to the centre of town. All of our friends lived in West London so it was a tough decision to make at the time — having no family then, our friends were everything — but we loved Hampstead so much that we were determined to find something, even if it meant buying something we could use as a base before finding something we really liked for the long term.

You have to see the greenhouse/art house!


Happy November!

November 2, 2015

A Printable Coloring Page from Jenean Morrison for Design Mom | Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Coloring page by Jenean Morrison.

November has arrived! And as a happy coincidence, last night a rain storm came to visit (a rare occurrence these days in California). September and October felt exactly like summer, but when I walked out this morning to a wet world covered in yellow leaves, it finally felt like fall. Hooray! And as a little Happy November gift to you, I’ve got a free grown-up coloring page for you today. It was designed by Jenean Morrison, exclusively for Design Mom readers!

Jenean has been designing and publishing coloring books since 2012 and they’ve been published in France, Italy, Brazil and Japan — the most recent of which is a 300+ page 2016 Coloring Calendar.

Printable Coloring Page - a perfect way to destress and relax | Design Mom

Have you gotten into the new coloring trend for adults? I’m loving it. Coloring and doodling is so soothing! There are no rules, so there’s no pressure to get it “right”, and you can do it anywhere. Keep a coloring page or coloring book in your bag and you can pull it out at carpool, on a flight, or while the kids are working on homework after dinner.

For me, coloring becomes that satisfying sort of busy work, the kind that occupies one part of my brain and keeps me calm, while another part of my brain can simmer on new topics or challenges that have come my way.

What about you? Have you tried it? Are you a coloring fan? I’d love to hear what you think of it!

Coloring page download straight ahead!


A Few Things

October 30, 2015

squirrels snacking on porch pumpkins

Photo and text by Gabrielle. The squirrels have been snacking on our porch pumpkins!

Hello, Friends! How are you? Are you ready for this Halloween-y weekend? We have our school costume parade today, and tomorrow is a school festival, plus trick-or-treating in the evening. At which point, I will be content to say goodbye to the Halloween decorations. I don’t know about you, November 1st always feels like the start of the Holiday Season to me. Bring it on!

But before we say goodbye to October, here are a few things I wanted to share with you:

- I read this two-part series on Artificial Intelligence, and immediately asked Ben Blair to read it too because I couldn’t wait to discuss it. So dang good! I’ve been thinking about it for days.

- An new app for kids to trade toys with each other.

- Thought experiment: What if there were no schools?

- Raise your hand if you’ve ever daydreamed of being interviewed by Terry Gross.

- Did you see this makeup commercial?

- This 6th grader will mail you a super secure password for $2.

Watsi is a nonprofit that enables anyone to directly fund life-changing healthcare for people in developing countries. So far, they’ve saved over 5,500 lives and 100% of donations go straight to patients in need. I like the idea of giving Watsi giftcards for the holiday to my friends  — and then they can use the giftcards to choose a patient, fund the care, and get updates on his or her post-treatment progress.

- Cutest little apple monsters.

- Lego wants to start creating their blocks from sustainable materials.

- Just realized I didn’t share the link to the First Film Festival awards show. There were some really terrific entries!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend, and a Happy Halloween! I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.


P.S. — Too busy to figure out a costume? Try these awesome (easy!) ideas. Even if you try the easiest one, I’ll bet it will make your child’s Halloween!


flu-tonic-recipe 2

By Gabrielle.

Back in September, within 2 weeks of school starting, the four youngest at our house had all managed to find themselves with sore throats, coughs, and that feeling of being generally run-down. Nothing dire, just a typical common cold. Honestly, at this point, I expect it. It’s like an annual back-t0-school tradition. Hah!

When they’re feeling crummy like that, Oscar and Olive both love it when I fix them a hot mug of water with lemon and honey. And keep it coming, please! They both find it so soothing. Plus Oscar happens to adore anything lemon-flavored, which is a nice bonus.

That last round of sickness left me curious about other drink-while-sick possibilities. So I ended up getting in touch with Liz, who I know has a bit of a crunchy-granola reputation, and asked her if she had any favorite recipes for hot drinks that she used when sickness found her kids. No surprise, she had a great one! Similar to mine, but with two other important ingredients — and better yet, she knows why the ingredients are helpful.

What about you? Do you have a favorite, comforting concoction that you make for your kids when they’re feeling ill? I’d love to hear your stay-healthy secrets!

Easy, soothing recipe! Click here.


Call It A Day: Kim Burns

October 29, 2015

By Gabrielle.

Kim Burns’ day sounds like the perfect mix of whirlwind and ease. I’m sure you’ll relate! Some aspects are pure and simple, while other moments seem straight out of the Jetsons. As the founder of Fresh Baby Bites, she makes fresh baby food for the masses. Simple and sweet, right? She also orders her dinner groceries and laundry and other delivery needs right from her phone. Ahh, modern convenience!

You’re going to love her charming attitude, too. Especially when it comes to her explanation of how they chose their children’s school, and the plus side of her husband’s crazy work hours. (It is a pretty good plus!)

So please help me welcome the very lovely Kim. I hope her day brightens yours!

Morning duty is all me! My husband, Brendan, works New York hours so he is long gone by the time the kiddies and I are waking up. He heads the equity sales trading desk for a major bank here in San Francisco, so he is out the door by 4:00 am each morning. The beauty is he is finished at 1:00 pm, which is perfect for family life! It affords him the time to go to the gym, take client meetings, take a well deserved nap, but also pick the kiddies up from school.

I selfishly love his hours, and I think he would agree it is pretty nice to have the afternoons free.

My husband and I moved to San Francisco ten years ago from NYC when he was transferred for work, and we have never looked back! We have two children — Anna is seven and Gus is three — and live in a one bedroom apartment in Pacific Heights. By the way, my name is Kim and it’s very nice to meet you!

Yes, our family lives in what is technically a one bedroom apartment. When we rented the apartment, we were newly engaged and had just moved from NYC, so the apartment seemed huge compared to our tiny one-bedroom New York apartment. Also, it had outdoor space! What more could we possibly need?

More of Kim’s hectic day, just ahead!


DIY: Flower Frog Bowls  |  Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photo by Amy Christie for Design Mom.

I already told you I don’t wear my wedding ring. And now, I have a further confession that will no doubt cement your thinking that I am the least romantic person in the world. Hah! Here it is: Though I always enjoy having fresh flowers in the house, I don’t like Ben Blair to give me flowers. At all. So much so, that a couple of years into our marriage, I asked him not to give me flowers from that point on (and we’ve been married 20 years).

Doesn’t that sound awful? But stay with me for a minute, because though it took me awhile to pinpoint what they are, I do have reasons. And happily, expressing my no-flower-request to Ben, didn’t even slightly ruffle his feathers. He totally understood. My reasons? The first one is simple. Money was especially tight when we were first married, and fresh flowers aren’t always inexpensive. If we were going to use some of our budget for flowers, I thought we should discuss it first, like we would discuss any non-essential purchase.

But the second reason is harder for me to articulate, because I’m not opposed to flowers as gifts in general at all. I give flowers as gifts often. And I’ve been sent flowers from friends and even clients, flowers that have brought great joy! So I’m really only not into flowers-as-a-gift from my husband.

I think it stems from when we were young and still learning how to be married, and I could see that when Ben Blair gave me flowers, it was about the gesture, not about the flowers themselves. He didn’t have strong opinions about the flower types or the colors, he’s not someone who puts importance on having fresh flowers in the house, he just wanted to do something sweet to show me he loved me. And in our limited experience, flowers were the thing that husbands were “supposed” to buy for wives.

That bothered me because I didn’t like the idea of him feeling pressure to keep up with a societal tradition that wasn’t particularly important to either of us. It was if he felt like he couldn’t be a good spouse and partner if he didn’t bring me flowers. Which of course, wasn’t true.

It’s not that I don’t want flowers in the house! I definitely want flowers in the house, but instead of wanting flowers because they are a symbol of love from my husband, I want flowers because I happen to enjoy beautiful flowers. Does that make sense? And it’s not that I don’t want my spouse to show me he loves me. I definitely do! And I should note here that Ben Blair found other ways to show he loved me. He has always been really good at making me feel loved.

There is a third reason, but it’s minor. I really enjoy shopping for fresh flowers, so if we’re going to include flowers in the budget, I want to help shop for them. : )

To sum up, I LOVE having fresh flowers in the house, but I prefer to buy them myself. Not because I am trying to make a statement, but because I don’t want my husband to feel pressure to buy them, and because I just really enjoy buying flowers.

That said, every once in awhile, Ben will wonder if he should be buying me flowers — he wonders if it’s good for the kids to see him do so. Will they be better partners to their future spouses if he models giving traditional romantic gifts? I get what he’s saying, but I’m not worried. I feel like our kids see us do kind things for each other daily — even if those kind things don’t involve traditional things like flowers, or chocolates or jewelry.

Okay, now I’m curious. What’s your take on fresh flowers? Do they ever make your shopping list? Or do they make the “unnecessary expense” list? I’ve had years where they were a regular weekly purchase, and other years where I hardly bought them at all. And what about flowers from your partner? Does anyone else feel like me and prefer to buy flowers yourself instead of receive them from your spouse, or am I on my own this time?

P.S. — I wonder if this is also related to the idea of love languages. I’m pretty sure gifts are not my love language. : )


DIY: Moonlit Mummy Lanterns

October 27, 2015


By Gabrielle.

I like to keep a few last-minute decoration ideas on hand for any given holiday or event. Some years are busier than others, and I can’t always go all out with preparations. But if I have some easy ideas in my back pocket, then it’s much more likely that I’ll be able to add some instant magic to the house.

My internet friend Amy, just came out with a book called Washi Tape Crafts. It has tons of ideas for cute ways you can use washi tape, and even offers technique guidance — like how to get a good precision tear, how to weave with washi, and how to create specific shapes. Most of the ideas are for anytime crafts, but some are centered on specific holidays, and when I saw the mummy lanterns, I thought they were a perfect last-minute Halloween idea!


Happily, Amy sent over the instructions so I could share them here.

Fast and easy DIY instructions when you click through.


By Gabrielle.

Whenever someone new visits Palma Voutiritsas’ home for the first time, they ask the very same question: “Do kids even live here?” She used to wonder if that was a compliment or an insult, but more and more she’s determined to accept their sweet appreciation and ignore the negativity. (More on that later!)

“Yes, kids live here.” she answers with a smile. “Two of them, in fact. They are incredibly happy and active and very, very messy!”

I thought you might like to see how a designer approaches Halloween and other holiday decor in a really heartfelt way. I just know you’re going to love Palma’s spirit and contagious attitude about how much your furnishings and decor matter…but not for the reasons you might be thinking. (And just wait until you hear the story of her home remodel! Hilarious.) Welcome, Palma!

Hi everyone! I’m Palma. My husband, George, and I are raising our two daughters, Milana and Isella, in a suburb of Chicago that doesn’t feel anything like a suburb. The schools are fabulous, the seasons are gorgeous — although last winter was a little long! — and our proximity to Chicago, one of my favorite cities in the world, is the greatest. Being 15 minutes away from the beach and museums and fabulous restaurants no matter what you’re craving is a true luxury. You should totally come visit.

I love our home. Sure, people ask if it always looks this way and question our lack of clutter and usually don’t believe I’m not running around screaming at this mess or that one with stain remover in one hand and a sponge in the other! But that’s not how we live. I promise.

I’ve seen a quote around Pinterest that really annoys me: Sorry my house is a mess — we’re busy making memories. Here’s another favorite: Sorry about the mess, but we LIVE here.

I always wonder what those quotes and the people who love them are implying. If you’re an organized person, are you somehow excluded from making sweet family memories? Do you have to be living amid clutter to be truly living the best, most intentional life?

More wisdom and wonderful views, just ahead!


Homemade Pippi Longstocking Halloween Costume DIY

Photos and text by Gabrielle.

On Saturday, we went to our church Halloween party. It was a “trunk-or-treat”! If you haven’t heard of a trunk or treat, it’s basically a chance for all the families in our congregation to get together and see the kids dressed up in their costumes. Our congregation covers a big area geographically, which means we don’t all attend the same schools or live in the same neighborhoods, and won’t likely get to see each other on actual Halloween, so this is a fun substitute.

Families gather in the parking lot at the church and the kids go from car trunk to car trunk trick-or-treating. Some people decorate their trunks, but it’s not a requirement. I especially love trunk-or-treat for very young kids. It happens in broad daylight, in a contained area, with no moving vehicles, and there are lots of familiar faces — so it’s less intimidating for little ones than actual trick-or-treating from house to house, and it doesn’t take up a lot of time.

Homemade Pillow Monster Halloween Costume DIY. Cheap and easy!

The only downside of our trunk-or-treat, is that it moves up our costume deadline by a week. That’s not really a bad thing, in fact, I like that I don’t have to think about costumes this week — we’re all set for the school costume parade on Friday and for trick-or-treating on Saturday. Feels good to have that marked off my to-do list. The earlier deadline just means we have to get working on costumes a little sooner in October than we probably would otherwise.

Here’s a little report on what the kids wore:

Homemade Mermaid Costume DIY for a Little Girl. Perfect for Halloween.

Flora June Blair. Mermaid.

Homemade Mermaid Costume DIY for a Little Girl. Perfect for Halloween. Homemade Mermaid Costume DIY for a Little Girl. Perfect for Halloween.

For this costume, I found a sequin dress in the women’s dept at Goodwill, then remade it into a skirt and added the tulle. I used extra material from the dress to sew “seashells” onto one of her gymnastics leotards. June’s original vision for this costume was to have a true mermaid tail. When I explained she wouldn’t be able to walk for trick or treating, she thought about it for awhile and then told me she had an idea. “Let’s make a glass bathtub and I’ll lay in it with my mermaid tail and we can fill it with water, and Oscar and Betty can carry me to each door.”

Homemade Mermaid Costume DIY for a Little Girl. Perfect for Halloween. Add sequin "seashells" to a leotard.

June likes this costume very much but not-so-secretly wishes it turned her into an actual mermaid. Also, for the photos, she wanted to have a sort-of serious expression. I think she feels mermaids are very solemn.

Full costume report and lots more photos when you click here!


A Few Things

October 23, 2015


By Gabrielle. Photo by Katrina Davis.

Hello, Friends. How are you? How was your week? It’s been another odd one here. Ben Blair left to Utah on Tuesday morning. His return flight was originally scheduled last night, but we decided to extend his visit until Sunday night, as all his siblings gather to spend time with their mother. Julia is still in the ICU. There have been some big improvements to her health this week, but she continues to be in great pain and death is on her mind. The whole family is praying and hoping hard for recovery, while trying to process the idea that it might not come.

And while I get updates on my dear mother-in-law, I’m trying to do the usual parenting stuff — get the kids ready for school pictures, finish their Halloween costumes, pick up dinner ingredients, and get everyone home on time for piano lessons. I’ve said it before, but it’s such an odd thing, living a life in the middle of young growing children and critically ill parents.

I was talking with Laura Mayes about it today, and she mentioned she’d read somewhere that this phenomenon is fairly new and unique to Generation X. Apparently, preceding generations mostly had their kids in their mid-20s, and their parents didn’t reach the “elderly” stage until their own kids were out of the house. But these days, parents are older, and grandparents are older, so you end up with families like ours — Ben Blair was born when his mom was in her early 40′s, and our youngest child was born when I was 35, which means we have both a kindergartener and a set of parents in their 80s. It’s not a complaint at all, more of an observation and odd sensation. I’m betting many of you can relate!

Mostly, I’m finding lots of reasons to feel gratitude this week. I’m thankful that Ben can be with his siblings and parents this week. I’m thankful for my kids who know it’s challenging when I’m flying solo, and step up to be even more helpful than usual — things like all hands on deck for dinner prep, zero commentary on what they would have rather had in their lunches, and helping Oscar practice his speech for student council. I’m thankful that I found a perfect dress for Betty’s Pippi Longstocking costume on my first visit to Goodwill. And I’m thankful for the sweet emails and phone calls checking up on me and the family. Big hugs to everyone!

I’ve got to head back to the sewing machine now and try to finish the costumes up before the kids get home from school, but before I go, here are a few things I’ve wanted to share:

Is abuse killing Twitter?

- Also on Twitter, @manwhohasitall. I shared this on Facebook last week, but it’s still making me laugh super hard.

- This interactive portrait of what’s happening at Homan Square has my mind exploding.

- Before Google, there were librarians.

Oslo is going to ban cars. If you could pick one U.S. city to become a no-car zone, what would it be?

- Yes! British library offers over a million free vintage images for download.

- An interesting essay by a doctor about the breakdown of systems within American healthcare. He says, “Yet if this is how much trouble I have navigating a simple refilling of my medication, I don’t know how the rest of America does it, especially those with much more complicated issues than mine.”

- An ode to dressing comfortably.

Mom’s thing. Hah!

- The Lonely Death of George Bell. Really good article. No call to action, just a solid, thoughtful read.

- A cute doll makeover I haven’t seen before.

- A whole town celebrates Christmas in October for a terminally ill boy.

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


P.S. — I miss Ben Blair like crazy. He is truly my partner in pretty much everything, and when he’s gone, his absence is felt in a BIG way. I love the photo of us at top. : )


By Gabrielle. Breathtaking photo of mizuko jizo statues by Martin Bailey.

When Lauren Graeber contacted me, she thanked me for this post which she had forwarded to a friend who was sitting vigil with her new daughter in the NICU. In Lauren’s words, “I know in my own life hearing from people on the other side of a shared trauma is powerful. Sending her the link to Monica’s experience felt like I was able to offer my friend something I couldn’t give her myself, words I wouldn’t have even know to say.”

Oh, how lovely.

But what’s even lovelier, perhaps, is what Lauren did next: write the account of her life-altering and mostly lonely experience with miscarriage, and share it with the rest of us. Sweetly, she ended her note with “I don’t know if anyone needs to hear my story. I know I needed stories in the months and years after my miscarriage. So I thought I’d offer mine in hopes that, like Monica’s story, it could be a help to another woman.”

Oh, how lovely. Welcome to Design Mom, Lauren. I’m so happy you’re here.

Lauren’s beautiful words, just ahead.



By Gabrielle. 

Today, I’m going to tell you a little bit about my friend, Emily Henderson. Do you follow her interior design blog? Emily is a pure delight — she’s funny and super stylish, and she doesn’t take herself too seriously. And Emily happens to be having a pretty spectacular month. Her gorgeous book, Styled, came out last week. Which is a big deal, of course. But an even bigger deal? Her gorgeous daughter was born 2 days ago!


Happily for us, before Emily went on maternity leave, she sent over her top 5 tips on making a home kid (and family) friendly, with lots of stunning photography to illustrate. I know you’ll love what she has to say, and I highly recommend picking up a copy of Styled. It’s completely packed with helpful, useable advice. Say you’ve picked out your furniture, placed everything just so, but somehow your room still feels unfinished? Styled to the rescue! Emily will teach you how to approach the details of each room so that your house feels polished, thoughtful and totally livable.

And now to Emily’s tips:

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1. Choose furniture that does double duty. Think storage trunks, side tables with drawers, or dressers as changing tables.

Once you have a baby you organically have more “stuff”, it is just the way it goes. From toys, to diapers, to baby clothes, to everything else you will quickly realize that your home looks like it houses 200 babies rather than just your own little bundle of joy. Help combat that overflow of new items, but finding furniture that does double duty and helps to hide away the unwanted clutter when it is not in use. Anything that is functional in more than one way is a winner for me.

Click here for 4 more tips!


Savory Butternut Squash Galette | Design Mom

By Gabrielle. 

Last month, Liz Berget of Carpé Season, brought us a couple of recipe posts, and I’ve been loving the recipes so much (have you tried the Apple Cobbler?!), that I asked her to keep them coming. My request this month was for a galette. But I didn’t want a dessert galette — I wanted a savory version. Something that could make the most of my favorite fall flavors, and something perfect for a low-stress mid-week dinner. I love what she came up with!

Squash, apples, onions, parmesan, sage — I would have never thought to pair these flavors together, but I’m telling you it smells (and tastes!) like heaven.

Before we jump into the recipe, I’d love to know, have you ever made a galette? I think of them as a less-formal pie. Any ingredients you like, cradled loosely in a pastry crust, no special baking dish required. Typically, my galette’s are filled with fruit and served as dessert, but like I said, this month, I was craving a dinner galette. I hope you enjoy it!

Click here for the recipe and notes!



By Gabrielle.

Hello! Here’s a little update from the Blair house. The main thing on my mind is that my mother-in-law is still in critical condition. Ben Blair is flying out this morning and will stay for a few days — or longer if need be. Thank you for the sweet words and well wishes you’ve left us for her. I truly appreciate your kindness!

I confess, my mind is a bit distracted this week. Big things, like my mother-in-law’s health, and little things like figuring out the kids’ costumes before the church Trunk-or-Treat this weekend. (The mental juggling of highs and lows in parenting is so odd sometimes!) I have a full schedule of posts planned — in fact, I have drawings of the master bedroom back from the architect and I can’t wait to share them! Though things may get pushed back a bit. Thank you in advance for understanding.

But today, I wanted to tell you about this silly game we sometimes play over dinner. Ben says he learned it from his friend Chris Clark when they were kids. It goes like this: You think of two movie titles that sound similar, or are related in some way, but the actual films are very different and would appeal to completely different audiences.

There are no points, and there isn’t a way to win, it’s just a fun thing to brainstorm together and a way to make each other laugh. Here are some of the best ones I remember from our conversations:

If you like Dumbo, you’ll love Rambo.

If you like Big, you’ll love Super Size Me.

If you like Nightmare on Elm Street, you’ll love Sesame Street.

Or If you like Sesame Street, you’ll love 21 Jump Street.

If you like The Gift, you’ll love The Giver.

If you like The Killing Fields, you’ll love Field of Dreams.

If you like Spiderman, you’ll love Charlotte’s Web.


Can you think of any good ones? I’d love to hear! And I should also point out, one thing that’s nice about this game is that new movies come out constantly, so there’s always more possible connections to make. Do you have any silly dinner games you play at your house?


By Gabrielle.

Have you ever dreamed about the life you’re not living? Believing that your days would be better if you moved into a bigger house and earned more money and had a huge basement and a yard big enough for a brand new dog?

Lindsey and her husband dreamed that dream, too. And the dream seemed so real and true that they relocated from a pretty perfect little life in Switzerland to a bigger everything life in Minnesota. Of course, you’re probably guessing how that turned out; bigger, really and truly, is not always better.

But their story doesn’t end in Minnesota! That’s the fabulous news! And this tour takes place far from it, in gorgeous Spokane. (Between us, I’m thinking their story somehow circles back to Switzerland. But we’ll just have to wait and see, won’t we?) Welcome, Lindsey!

Hi everyone! I’m Lindsey.

I met my husband, Joel, in Eugene when we were each on the heels of our study abroad experiences in college. I had studied abroad in Angers, France and had the most magical time. Joel had studied in Tübingen, Germany and fallen in love with it. When we met, it was at a party at his apartment. I wound up there because Joel’s roommate had invited some of my friends and I tagged along. Joel and his roommates had an amazing apartment and I gave myself a tour.

Bigger isn’t always better! Come see.


A Few Things

October 16, 2015

Julia Gay Groberg Blair

By Gabrielle.

What a week of ups and downs! On Monday, I reported that my fabulous mother-in-law, Julia Gay Groberg Blair (she’s the lovely little girl on the right in the photo above), was in the hospital, but stable. Unfortunately, stable didn’t last too long and on Wednesday she was back in the ICU. I’m worried sick about her. The last report is that she is still intubated, and that her liver and kidneys aren’t functioning well.

Julia is easily one of my favorite people. One thing I love about her is that she is committed to being open-minded — even in her 80s! She reads constantly, is always ready to talk about any current event, and keeps her coffee table filled with ever-changing interesting books (which she will press into your hands as you are leaving because she can’t wait for you to read them and tell her what you think). You may recognize her name, because she leaves the most supportive comments on my blog posts. I’m lucky to know her and I’m anxiously awaiting news that she will be well.

Also on Wednesday, our son Ralph passed his Eagle Scout Board of Review! And now we’re coming up with fun plans for his Court of Honor — which is the meeting where he’ll officially receive his Eagle Scout designation. We’re feeling very proud of him.

Then yesterday, I started filming a holiday video, which means our living room is stacked with piles of Christmas decorations. They’re nestled in among the Halloween decorations. Hah!

Today, the kids have school off, and the 3-day weekend comes as a big relief.

And tomorrow, it’s First Film Festival!! We’re so excited about this. In case you missed my announcement ages ago, First Film Festival is a film festival for kids under 18. It was launched this year, and tomorrow the actual festival takes place! It’s happening digitally — live-streamed on YouTube at 4:00p PST. All the winning videos will be shared. We’re super excited about it! I’ll update this post with the link tomorrow (UPDATE: Here’s the link!), in case you’d like to watch (it will also be recorded so you can watch it later, if you can’t make it live).

Anyway, lots happening at our house as usual. I’m sure there’s lots happening at your house as well! But before I say goodbye for the weekend, here are a few things I’ve wanted to share:

- The difference between these two brains.

- Such a good essay: How to get away with no makeup and hair.

- How doctors take women’s pain less seriously. (Especially thinking of my mother-in-law in the hospital.)

- Incredible advice one father gave his gay son back in the 1950s.

The legacy of LiveAid.

- 158 families. (I find this stressful.)

- I’ve heard of the glass ceiling, but this is the first time I’ve heard of the glass cliff.

- I’m not a boy, I’m not a girl either.

- Cure for Type 1 diabetes imminent? Awesome!

- We are women and we’re sorry.

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



How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photo by Lindsey Rose Johnson for Design Mom.

Oh my goodness. I’m laughing so hard! I just read this essay by Monica Bielanko called “Why I Can Never Order from Chipotle Again” and decided I wanted to share it with you at once. Despite what the title may imply, it’s not actually an article about Chipotle, it’s about the “sickness of trying to please people”.

I definitely have strong people pleasing instincts, and have had to learn to fight against those instincts over the years — because I simply can’t please everybody, and I can easily make myself sick if I try. In general, I do pretty well with keeping my people-pleasing in check, but when she talked about getting the wrong order at a restaurant, my brain did that ding! ding! ding! thing where it feels like the author has channelled your personal experience.

In the essay, the author talks about a time where she ordered a plate of shrimp, but the server brought a plate of scallops by mistake. She ate the “entire plate of slimy scallops” — and even left a generous 30% tip! — because it was more stressful to her to say something to the server and risk annoying him, than it was to just eat the mistaken plate of food.

I have totally done that! I’ve eaten the wrong food simply to avoid telling the server about the mistake. And now I’m totally curious and wondering how common this phenomenon is. Have you ever sent your plate back? Does the idea stress you out? Or do you NOT relate at all? Maybe you read the essay and think, what in the world is she talking about? Or is there another part of the essay you relate to more? I’d love to hear!

P.S. — It’s a short essay and funny! I think you’ll enjoy it.


By Gabrielle.

I have two favorite things to tell you about Kelly. One is that she’s an oceanography professor, which sounds all sorts of cool and exciting and rather frightening, if you ask me! And the other is that she lives next door to a Christmas tree farm.

Actually, there are three. Because I am really excited to share someone with you who possesses a parenting style I just want to hug. In her words, she measures her success as a parent by this simple idea: if her son skins a knee, he is just as likely to call for his dad as his mom. Brilliant.

Please read on to hear how she balances her careers inside and outside the home, and also manages the daily obstacle course through train sets and Lego creations! Parents of little builders, unite! Welcome, Kelly!

Hi everyone! I’m Kelly, an oceanography professor and a wife and mom. Being a professor at a major research university is an intense career, combining research driven by competitive external grants with teaching and mentoring of graduate students.

In my work, I study how animals in the ocean find food. At home, I am constantly reminded that I do not belong in the kitchen, for everyone’s health and safety!

My husband, Chad, is my research assistant, which means that he takes the crazy ideas I come up with and makes them happen: everything from building equipment, ordering supplies, and processing data, to going to sea and maintaining systems. We met when we started working together and I fell in love with his desire to work towards making everyone around him happy and successful, something that makes him excel at his job and as a dad. Chad is thoughtful, funny, and sensitive, traits I am grateful our four and a half year old (make sure you don’t forget the half!) son, Kaelan has inherited. He has also inherited the passion we both share for making things and loves to spend time in our garage/machine shop working alongside us, playing with Legos, building machines by combining every building material in the house, and designing complex train tracks.

Christmas trees outside every window! I love it!

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