Bargain DIY Concrete Floor

February 19, 2014

DIY Concrete Floors — Easy & Inexpensive!   |   Design Mom

Photos and text by Gabrielle.

I’m pleased as punch to tell you about the concrete floor experiment that we tried in the reading loft of The Treehouse. I love how it turned out! The texture is wonderful. The floor looks layered and feels like it has depth — but the whole surface is barely 1/8″ deep! It’s easy to clean and maintain. It has the industrial look I am every drawn to. Plus, it was inexpensive and totally DIY-doable.

DIY Concrete Floors — Easy & Inexpensive!   |   Design Mom

I originally thought we would put carpet in the loft, but then I changed my mind and thought I would rather install a sweepable surface with an area rug on top. I made some inquiries about concrete floors and was told the weight of true concrete would be too heavy for this area, so I shifted my attention to tiles. But about that time, Jenny Komenda published a blog post about resurfacing her laundry room counter with a thin layer of concrete and I wondered if I could try the same method on the reading loft floor to achieve a concrete look without the heavy weight.

DIY Concrete Floors — Easy & Inexpensive!   |   Design Mom

I finally concluded: why not try? The space is small and a low-traffic area. The materials are a bargain, so if it failed it wasn’t too great of a loss. Plus, if it was a disaster, I could cover it with tile or hardwood and hide the evidence. : ) So I gathered the materials, and when Ben Blair was in France (and I was consequently bored)  I went for it!

DIY Concrete Floors — Easy & Inexpensive!   |   Design Mom

Would you like to see how it came together?

Click here for the full tutorial.

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By Gabrielle.

Sarah Wallace decided to submit her home for a Living With Kids tour for a pretty unique reason: she wanted to fall just as in love with her home as the ones she’s been pinning and ogling online. She felt frustrated when her gaze shifted from the clutter-free, design perfect scenes on her monitor to her own less than idyllic space, clutter-filled most days. And she didn’t enjoy that feeling at all. None of us do, right?

So she decided to put a little lipstick on her home, straighten its skirt a bit, and let it shine for us…and for her. (Full disclosure: Sarah would like you to know what it looked like just outside of the frame of most of the pictures. Piles of paper and clutter were removed from her kitchen counters, there may be dirty dishes hiding in the sink, and all the craft supplies from the dining room table were shifted to the stairs during the photo shoot! Thanks for keeping it real, Sarah!)

Friends, I hope you enjoy the dressed up version of the Wallace family home. More importantly, I hope you take away a little bit of reassurance that pictures aren’t always worth a thousand words and all our attention; sometimes, it’s all the stuff that we try to edit that tells us the most about our lives. Welcome Sarah!

Q: Please tell us all about your family.

A: Our family consists of four people and two animals: myself, my husband Joey, our sons Oscar and Archie, our dog Lucy, and our chinchilla Matthias.

There may be a mess outside of the camera’s reach, but the rest is gorgeous!

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Slow Cooker Recipe: Three Bean Chili Deluxe. This recipe has won chili-cookoffs all over the country!   |   Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos by Lindsey of Café Johnsonia.

We are exactly 7 months into our new life in Oakland, and frustratingly, we are still trying to get a handle on our family schedule. Coming up with dinners continues to be one of our biggest challenges — and I know that’s not unusual for families everywhere. In fact, I get emails almost weekly asking for tips and suggestions about weeknight meals and menu ideas. And I get it. So often at our house, we find ourselves looking at our clock and saying, “Dinnertime already?!” At which point, we cross our fingers that there are spaghetti ingredients in the cupboards, or order out for pizza, or hit the drive-thru.

But the whole family is pretty discouraged with the last-minute meals at this point, so Ben Blair and I have vowed to do better. Over the years we’ve gone through crummy eating phases now and again, so this isn’t the first time we’ve had to regroup. Luckily, at this point we know the big trick that works for us: We decide on the dinner menu before we start work that day.

This works for us because we aren’t caught off guard when meal time rolls around, and we can also note if any early prep needs to be done during the day (like marinating something), and work it into our schedule. It’s also a chance to check that we have the needed ingredients, and if not, we can also plan a stop at the grocery store into our daily errands. I don’t know if this trick works for all families, but for us it’s magic!

Slow Cooker Recipe: Three Bean Chili Deluxe. This recipe has won chili-cookoffs all over the country!   |   Design Mom

In addition to deciding the dinner menu first thing in the morning, we’ve also been making use of slow-cooking techniques. Yes, it’s great to have dinner decisions made when mealtime rolls around, but it’s even better to have dinner cooked and ready to go! So I thought it would be fun to share a series of slow-cooker recipes that our family loves. Most will be longtime family favorites (like today’s recipe), and some will be new-to-us recipes we’re trying out.

I’m super excited about this new series! I hope it will be helpful to you, and I hope you’ll share your own tips and suggestions on every post. As usual, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Are you in a recipe rut? Any particular foods you hope I’ll cover? Thoughts on the series in general? Let me know!

One more note before we jump into the recipe: I don’t actually use an electric slow cooker! Since we work at home, and aren’t leaving the cooking food unattended, we typically do our slow cooking on the stove top in a heavy pot (as described here). But these recipes will work for any type of slow cooking — crock pots included!

And now, without further ado, the first recipe in this new series: Award Winning Three Bean Chili Deluxe!

Click for the recipe and tips!

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A Few Things

February 14, 2014

garance dore i love you guys

By Gabrielle. I snapped the image during Garance Doré’s Keynote at Alt Summit — it was one of her slides.

Hello, Friends. Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope you are having a day filled with love and kindness — or at the very least, I hope you get to indulge in something sweet to eat. : ) Since Valentine’s Day isn’t much of a thing in France, we didn’t really celebrate the last few years, and we’ve been getting a kick out of the school festivities this week.

Ben Blair and I have no official plans this evening (that sounds so unromantic!), but we had a lovely little family breakfast this morning, and tonight, Maude is inviting friends over to watch chick flicks and wants to set up a pink and red dessert table a la Amy Atlas. Should be fun!

But the thing I’m looking forward to most is that this morning, I’m hoping to visit the famed White Elephant Sale here in Oakland. Alex told me all about it and it sounds amazing! I’ll be donating some lamps and seeing what it’s all about. I hope they let me take pictures so I can share with you. In the meantime, here are a few things I thought you might enjoy:

- Old floppy disk drives put to good use.

- Do you think any of these are true? I gasped at several! Via Dooce.

- Ben Blair was interviewed about Olive Us and our family reading habits and his answers are so good! You will love the thoughts he shares. I promise.

Seattle’s Food Forest — a public park filled with fruit-bearing plants that citizens are free to harvest. Love this idea so much!

- If your house is in the middle of a bed-wetting situation, these peel-away waterproof sheets sound interesting.

- Just heard about cobra weaves and I’m obsessed! Find a simple tutorial here. Seems like a genius way to spend some time if you’re snowed in or rained in.

- A kid’s room that I fell in love with.

- What do you think of this gratitude-focused kickstarterThanks, Amy.

- Related to oil-pulling, apparently toothpaste was invented by an American businessman — he used habit/cue behavior to make it into a product people would use daily. Fascinating! Thanks, Etta.

- Cool promo for the Grand Canyon Half Marathon (my brother’s race!). The heart-pumping shot is at 1:34.

- The Boy Scouts are helping lobby UNESCO to make the D-Day Beaches a protected site. Thanks, Mary.

- It’s not too late to enjoy the Winter Olympics! Here are 16 fun ideas so you can celebrate with your kids or host a little viewing party.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend! Schools are out in Oakland on Monday for President’s Day so we’re getting 3-days off. You too? Speaking of President’s Day, here are 17 silly and fun and cool little crafts you can do to acknowledge the big day.

I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.

kisses,
Gabrielle

P.S. — Hey. I know Valentine’s Day can feel like salt in the wound if you’re feeling lonely already. Please know that I’m sending my best wishes and happy vibes to get you through the rest of the day. It’s almost over! Just think, starting tomorrow there will be 95% less of those awful jewelry commercials. Hang in there.

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Tea Collection Giveaway

February 13, 2014

DMgiveawayBanner

By Gabrielle.

I’m delighted about today’s giveaway. Fabulous Tea Collection is the sponsor and they’re offering a generous $150 gift certificate!

tea collection women1

Do you know Tea Collection? They are one of my all-time favorite children’s clothing lines. The quality of their clothing is outstanding, and I love that they take design inspiration from cultures all around the world. Their collections feel modern with traditional influences, and their color palettes are always really delicious.

tea collection women2

Something you might not know: Tea Collection has a Women’s Line as well! And it’s wonderful. Pretty silhouettes and flattering cuts. Pieces you’ll want to wear every day.Want to try it out? You’re in luck! Use the code DM15WOMENS to get 15% off any item in the women’s line! But if you want to use the code, act fast — it expires at 11:59 pm on Friday, 2/14 (that’s tomorrow!).

Dibs on the Casablanca striped top — it’s calling my name!

tea collection kids 0214

And yes, Tea Collection is still making their wonderful children’s clothing too. In fact one of their women’s tops coordinates with one of their girl’s dresses. So sweet!

Visit Tea Collection and leave a comment below to enter — I’d love to hear what pieces catch your eye first. The winner will be announced on Monday. Good luck!

——-

Erin is the lucky winner. Thanks for playing!

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vintage dishwasher image

By Gabrielle. Tons of vintage dishwasher images here.

Fun fact: over the weekend we got a microwave! It’s just a little one, but it gets great reviews — and it won’t take up too much space in our kitchen.

I realize microwaves are nothing new, but as it turns out, we haven’t had one for over 3 years! It wasn’t really intentional, it just sort of happened. When we moved to France, the house we rented didn’t have a microwave. At first we wondered if microwaves were looked down upon in France, but learned later that wasn’t really the case. They are widely available anywhere small appliances are sold, and it wasn’t unusual for us to see one in our friends’ homes. Our landlords just preferred going old school, and didn’t keep one in their home.

Since we were embracing the full La Cressonnière life (and originally thought we’d only be there for a year), we decided we didn’t need a microwave either.

It took some getting used to. In fact, little June was only 9 months old when we moved to France, and I missed having a microwave to warm up tiny baby portions. But after a few weeks, we formed new habits and didn’t miss the microwave at all.

Then, when we moved here, though The Treehouse came furnished, the previous homeowners weren’t microwave users. So once again, we were in a microwave-less home. And since we were out of practice using them, it didn’t occur to us to buy one until recently.

This made me wonder: is there a “modern convenience” that you currently live without? I’m thinking of things like dishwashers, laundry machines, microwaves —maybe even Kitchen Aid mixers and toaster ovens. And if you had to choose, which one could you absolutely not live without?

For me, laundry in my home is essential! Second, would be the dishwasher. We’ve had a dishwasher in our home since we first moved to New York in 2001 — it would be hard to give it up. In fact, the dishwasher here at The Treehouse broke within a week of moving here (it was from the 80′s and on its very last leg), and we had it replaced within the month. We missed it too much!

As for other “modern conveniences”, I’m pretty flexible. I can live without a microwave. And I’ve never actually owned a stand mixer (what would Raleigh say if she knew? Hah!).

How about you?

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By Gabrielle.

I am utterly fascinated by high-rise family living. I think of all the little things, like getting groceries up 30 floors – which is an entirely different dilemma if the elevators aren’t running! Or, do dwellers in the sky ever miss having a backyard just outside the door? They probably have far less mud in their foyers. And how do you create that sense of indoor-outdoor childhood freedom when getting outside from the super-elevated inside involves a bit of planning? Today’s high up home shows us that it can be done.

Juliana‘s place in Hong Kong, with its endless views and unique space considerations, reminds me of a nest. I love the thought she put into creating a warm and workable family home in what was once a plain white box of an apartment. Friends, I know you’re going to enjoy this very different, very citified Living With Kids tour. Welcome, Juliana!

Q: Tell us all about this family living up high in Hong Kong!

A: We are myself, my husband Jeff, and our three year old daughter Ella. When we arrived eight years ago, I thought we’d be here three years max…but life plants roots even 30+ floors up in the sky!

Jeff is a teacher. He has his own football (soccer) charity for Down Syndrome children. He’s very passionate about life and definitely a giver. He’s a family man and our rock. I’m an Architect with a practice in HK doing both commercial and residential projects. I love designing and making things. It’s a part of my mind that doesn’t want to rest. Ella hasn’t started school yet, but she takes dance, does lots of art, loves exploring around HK, and of course plays football. She’s a really good mix of us.

Jeff loves to write and I’m very visual, so a few months ago we began a blog called The Guest Room in which we both contribute weekly blogs along with some friends about life in HK. It’s our way of bringing our worlds together targeting designers, parents, thinkers, and everything in between.

Beautiful views, inside and out, straight ahead!

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Donut Valentines

February 10, 2014

I Like You a "Hole" Bunch.  |  Donut Valentine's by Design Mom  #freeprintable

By Gabrielle. Photos and styling by Amy Christie.

Every year, I try to come up with a really good last-minute Valentine idea. Something you can whip up the night before, long after the craft store has closed. This donut valentine is perfect! It will work with a fresh batch of heavenly Krispy Kremes, but will be just as charming with a box of “donettes” from the grocery store (or the gas station!).

This I think we can agree on: everyone loves donuts. So, if you want to win over your Valentine, the odds are in your favor that a ribbon-clad donut will do the trick.

I Like You a "Hole" Bunch.  |  Donut Valentine's by Design Mom  #freeprintable

This might appear to be a very simple Valentine and happily, I can tell you it most definitely is. Bonus? A free printable of the tags!

I Like You a "Hole" Bunch.  |  Donut Valentine's by Design Mom  #freeprintable I Like You a "Hole" Bunch.  |  Donut Valentine's by Design Mom  #freeprintable

So grab a dozen donuts (plus some extras because I can’t resist), and let’s get started.

Click here for the full tutorial, plus the free printable.

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6 Books for Valentine's Day   |   Design Mom

By Gabrielle.

One of my favorite things to give on Valentine’s Day is books. You can find dozens of sweet and beautiful choices under $15 (often under $10!). A book is a treasure, but doesn’t feel extravagant, which I think is perfect — I don’t like to go over-the-top on Valentine’s Day.

These picks would be especially sweet for February 14th. Order one today and it will arrive in time — or stop by your nearest local shop.

1) You Know What I Love
We have a copy of this and June has requested it every night since it arrived. She knows it so well now that she “reads” it to us! About a doll and her girl.

2) Monday Hearts for Madalene.
Every Monday, Madalene would wake to find a heart created just for her. The sweetest token of true love.

3) Love Letters
200 letters from over the centuries. Some historical and some fictional. Who doesn’t enjoy a good love letter? For years, Ben Blair and I exchanged a hand-written love letter on Valentine’s Day, but at some point we stopped. Will this be the year we start it up again? I hope so. (Which reminds me, did any of you see the movie Her?)

4) Counting Kisses
Get this one as a board book for your toddler or baby, then read it at bedtime. “How many kisses does a tired baby need?”

5) Hearts
An offering from Toon Books, this is a good pick for a girl or a boy — and this is what Betty will be receiving this year. What happens when Penelope the Fox drops her heart into the sea? A beautiful adventure.

6) I Like You
I know. I know. I recommend this every year. But it’s still so good! I’m quite sure everyone should own a copy. A sweet gift for a teenage crush. A sweet gift for a favorite teacher. A sweet gift for a husband or wife. A sweet gift from a parent to a child. A sweet gift for a dear friend. It’s perfect every time.

Will you be giving any books for Valentine’s Day? Feel free to share your picks in the comments.

P.S. — Ten more Valentine’s Day book picks.

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A Few Things

February 7, 2014

Bradamant + Design Mom

By Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends. I’m writing to you from rainy Oakland — and grateful as can be for the rain! California has been experiencing a severe drought, so we’re welcoming as much rain as we can get.

Before I forget, I’ve been meaning to report back about the Bradamant bodysuit that I wrote about last month. I first wore it to Alt Summit, and I’ve worn it a bunch since — because it is awesome! The first time I wore it, I put it on in the morning and then had a fairly intense day with tons of movement. And I never had to adjust my clothes, or re-tuck, or think about my shirt at all! Plus, because of the loose way The Mogul drapes, I didn’t feel the need to wear spanx or suck in my tummy at all. I was comfortable all day long! I felt polished and professional too. That’s a shot of me in The Mogul at top. Here’s another shot (with the fabulous Garance Doré!).

In contrast, I brought 2 other silky shirts to the conference, non-bodysuits, and eventually ended up having to tuck them into my underwear because they were looking so sloppy as they moved around. Hah! (I know I’m not the only one who has resorted to that trick.) It’s a temporary fix at best. I much prefer the bodysuit.

As for bathroom breaks, admittedly I take less than average during the day, but I didn’t find the closure difficult to use — it’s identical to a bra clasp. Easy peasy. I know that’s a little random for a Friday post, but I didn’t want to forget! Have any of you tried one of their bodysuits yet? Feel free to report!

Other than that, I’m looking forward to a good weekend. We’ll be tuning in to the Winter Olympics, and I’ve got a carpenter looking at wood today to give me a bid on the reading loft cubbies/bookshelves. While I wait to hear from him, here are a few things I’ve wanted to share:

- First world problems aren’t actually problems.

- The clothes store where everything is free.

- Attracting newcomers to the ballet. Thank you, Jennifer.

- Weaving connections.

- A magical fairytale nursery.

- My brother in law’s homecoming from Afghanistan was covered on the news. So good! Made me cry.

- The good news: the boots I wanted to splurge on last fall are on major sale at Nordstrom. The bad news: none in my size!

- Related: I spent a lovely evening last night searching out rain boots. This colorblock pair is at the top of my list. (Or is rainy season in Oakland going to be over in two seconds?)

- An essay about what a stay-at-home-mom actually does with her time.

- Children rescued from Nazi death camps reunited with their rescuer.

- This is how I talk my kids into keeping up their French. : ) Thanks, Kacy.

- Make a simple, special Valentine’s breakfast for your family (it’s one of our favorite traditions!). Here are 20 ideas for your menu.

- Also, when we set the table for Valentine’s breakfast, we like to leave a small gift — like these — on each plate.

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

kisses,
Gabrielle

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Felt Treat Boxes

February 7, 2014

DIY Felt Boxes for Valentine's Day — make cut outs in the top in any shape you like!   |   Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos and styling by Amy Christie.

Let the countdown begin! Valentine’s Day is in one week. And I’ve got the perfect little project for you just in time. Present your Valentine with a handmade felt box, complete with a custom design cut out made just for them. Simple construction with a sophisticated look that can hide any number of sweet treats and gifts inside.

Make them for your kids, your honey, or even for classmates. In fact, Betty really wants to give these at her class party. We’ll see how ambitious we’re feeling!

DIY Felt Boxes for Valentine's Day — make cut outs in the top in any shape you like!   |   Design Mom

I should note, these little gift boxes aren’t just limited to the heart-filled holidays. They can be modified and styled for any time you need to give a gift. Think birthdays, Mother’s and Father’s Day or a random Wednesday when you feel extra kind.

DIY Felt Boxes for Valentine's Day — make cut outs in the top in any shape you like!   |   Design Mom

This project was adapted with custom lids from the excellent tutorial on How About Orange. I love how the top-cutouts add another dimension, more color options, and a whole different feeling to the boxes.

DIY Felt Boxes for Valentine's Day — make cut outs in the top in any shape you like!   |   Design Mom

The gift recipient of these will have so many reasons to love you. It’s a kind gesture, includes a thoughtful gift and is encased in a beautiful gift box. Win, win and win.

DIY Felt Boxes for Valentine's Day — make cut outs in the top in any shape you like!   |   Design Mom

Grab your scissors and glue gun and let’s get started.

Click here for the full tutorial.

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DMgiveawayBanner

By Gabrielle.

Another really good giveaway today! It’s sponsored by Cute Tape, and they’re offering a $100 store credit. Hooray!

tiffanyblue-paper-straws

Yes, Cute Tape offers a vast selection of washi tape — Japanese washi, and other kinds too. And yes, you are welcome to use your prize to buy every color of washi tape under the sun! But today, I thought it would be fun to showcase some of the party supplies that Cute Tape offers. (Did you know they offered non-tape items? It’s true!)

nutcandycups gift-bags-sos_1

If I won, I would be tempted by the favor bags, and pillow boxes, plus hangtags and baker’s twine, and definitely rubber stamps and nut cups. I LOVE having my supply cupboards prepped with these sorts of things. They make it possible to turn any old day into a festive celebration, and are the trick to hosting last-minute parties, and giving last-minute gifts, that don’t feel last-minute.

Washi from Cute Tape - Hundreds of styles, patterns and colors.

Feel free to connect with Cute Tape on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest to be the first to know about new products and find about about discounts and sales.

Visit Cute Tape and leave a comment below to enter. The winner will be announced on Monday. Good luck!

——–

Amy is the lucky winner. Thanks for playing!

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Betty in Paris by Rebecca Ricks

By Gabrielle. Illustration by Rebecca Ricks.

Betty in Paris, the most watched Olive Us episode, just turned ONE! It’s a big milestone for us so we’ve been in a joyful mood, and we’ve come up with a couple of fun ways to celebrate.

First, Rebecca Ricks, one of the talented illustrators we’ve worked with on many of the Olive Us episodes, drew the illustration above in response to the video. And we love it! The baguette! The red hat against the grey steps! So charming.

Second, we asked Matt and Julie Walker, the amazing team at Tiger in a Jar, to share commentary about the video (it’s the video above). Matt and Julie directed Betty in Paris and I love hearing their thoughts on some of the decision making behind the film. I hope you enjoy watching it!

A video-with-commentary is a first for Olive Us, and we are very much digging it. I hope we can do more of this! For example, I think it would be fun to hear Oscar giving commentary on Stacking Wood. : )

Lastly, this doesn’t have anything to do with Betty in Paris, but we’re totally jazzed about the Olive Us Instagram stream — each of the kids has been creating Instagrams to share! Family movie night recommendations, app reviews, joke-of-the-day — that sort of thing. If you’d like to get to know the Olive Us kids a little better, I hope you’ll follow us there!

P.S. — Would you like to know more about Olive Us? Here you go:

- Find the official Olive Us website here.
- Subscribe to the Olive Us Newsletter here — it’s written by Ben Blair and always has fun content and interesting contests!
- Find all the posts I’ve written about Olive Us — including every episode — here.

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By Gabrielle. Natural Bamboo Knottie on Big Cartel.

I’ve read Kelly’s birth story so many times, and my reaction is always the same: How in the world did she do it? There was her grueling process to become pregnant, the out-of-this-world reward, a low so devastating it’s difficult to even imagine, a fight to go on and stay strong, and an ending so sad yet so wonderful at the very same time.

Yes, it’s difficult to even imagine, but I know hers is one of those stories that makes us better afterwards. Kelly and her husband and their babies all remind me that life is so fragile, so achingly beautiful, and doesn’t make sense some of the time. Friends, please take time with Kelly’s story. I hope it nudges you to view your day a little differently, as it did mine. Welcome, Kelly.

Q: Tell us a little about you pre-pregnancy: what your life was like pre-Zoe and a little about the struggles you endured in conceiving.

A: Pre-pregnancy life was great until my husband Jeff and I started trying to get pregnant. We traveled, flipped a house, built a house, saw concerts, got engaged in our favorite city of New Orleans, worked for the same company, and were happy. I even wondered if I wanted children because things were great as it was!

After a year of loosely trying to conceive, I started to get frustrated and really wanted to get pregnant. I started working with OB/Gyn who immediately put me on a fertility drug to help me ovulate more eggs. This drug made me feel crazy! I did some very uncharacteristic things like throwing a temper tantrum when my husband would not stop playing the guitar one night?! Nothing happened. We then began some tests with no conclusive evidence of what might be the problem.

This was nearly two years of trying with no baby, and depression, anger, and jealousy set in around this time. Everyone was having babies but us. I isolated myself from everyone but my husband. Jealously is a horrible feeling to have towards people you love, but I could not seem to help it, no matter how I tried. I found an infertility support group that made me feel less alone.

The rest of the story will move you. I promise.

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crate shelves

By Gabrielle. Image from Serena & Lily.

I’m on the hunt for book shelves for the Reading Loft. It feels momentous to finally be furnishing it and making it comfortable and inviting! In my head, the loft was going to be a weekend project that we managed to fit in a few weeks after we moved here. And now it’s months later and I’m remembering all the people who told me renovations would take much longer than I expected. Hah!

There are two key pieces of furniture that we need for the loft: a comfy reading chair, and book shelves. I’m all sorted on the chair (more on that later), but the shelves have been perplexing me. I feel like every evening for weeks, I’ve had a date with my laptop while I surf for bookshelves. But then I saw the image above, and a lightbulb went off in my head! Turns out I’ve had a thing for crate shelves for years — in fact, I’ve posted about them twice, here and here. And this sort of shelving would be perfect for the loft — just picture them with less baskets and more books! : )

I’ve thought about it, and there seem to be three reasons why I like crate shelving so much…

Click for my reasons — and more photo examples, too!

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By Gabrielle.

Goodness, but I adore Julie. She seems like the sort of person who’s incredibly happy with her everyday; that friend who pinches herself during even the littlest of mundane moments. Like loving any excuse to say that something or someone is “in the barn.” Isn’t that the cutest? And then there’s her mixed feelings when her youngest pops up in the middle of the night; we’ve all wished for a good night’s sleep, but when it’s almost nearing reality…sleepless doesn’t seem so bad, does it?

Friends, I think you’re going to be quite taken with this tour – with both the open spaces and the open answers. Welcome, Thomas Family!

Q: Please tell us about the family who lives on this gorgeous piece of land.

A: Hello, and welcome! I live with my husband, who also happens to be my college sweetheart, and our three full-of-life sons.

Hudson, ten, has a big heart, is a passionate football and basketball player, plays the guitar, enjoys the outdoors, is a great big brother, and a fun all-around guy. Noah, seven, is our resident comedian, creative and thoughtful, loves to whittle (yes you read that right), wows us with his Lego building and video gaming skills, and plays the piano with gusto. Lincoln, four, is a sweet, happy little boy who stays busy keeping up with his brothers, is crazy about sports, and has daily make-believe football and baseball games – all in which he is undefeated.

More loveliness (and gorgeous kitchen) ahead!

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Bartering

February 3, 2014

Handshakes Print by Paperchat on Etsy

By Gabrielle. Handshake print by Paperchat.

I’d love your thoughts on bartering. Do you do it? Did your parents? If yes, what sorts of things do you barter for?

My Dad was big on bartering. He was good at it and he used his skills to give us childhood experiences that we couldn’t afford otherwise. My dad was a public school teacher and there were 8 kids. My mom was an adjunct professor at our local college, but Dad’s paycheck was what we mainly lived on, and as you can imagine, there was never quite enough money in the monthly budget.

But my dad always had a side job going on as well. For many years, he ran a picture framing business from a workshop in our basement, and he would barter picture framing for things like my ballet lessons. Not joking! I remember my ballet teacher visiting our home so she could pick out frames and mats.

When I was a teenager my parents published a newspaper for senior citizens as a side job, and my dad would barter ad space in the paper for things like dry-cleaning. I couldn’t afford an expensive wardrobe, but I could get anything dry cleaned at any time!

I’ve been thinking about bartering — and especially bartering on behalf of kids — because Ben Blair and I bartered for June’s preschool this year. We’re making videos for the school in exchange for tuition — our biggest bartering experience by far. It’s been such a blessing! And it’s opened my eyes to other bartering possibilities.

How about you? Is bartering in your genes?

P.S. — My dad was also an epic haggler at flea markets and garage sales. But I can’t stand haggling! I’m the worst at it and I get so uncomfortable I basically remove myself from the situation. My stomach aches just remembering my dad haggling. Hah!

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Etched Wooden Heart Key Fobs

February 3, 2014

DIY Valentines: Etched Heart Keychains   |   Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos and styling by Amy Christie.

Olive’s school is very into wholesome and handmade, and we’ve been thinking hard about what sort of non-plastic and non-commercial Valentines she can make for her classmates. And since I reignited my love affair with my wood burning tool while working with spoons, cutting boards and sliced birch, I’ve been on the look out for more opportunities to burn stuff — it’s just so fun!

So after some brainstorming and failed projects, we came up with this really cool project: wooden heart key chains!

DIY Valentines: Etched Heart Keychains   |   Design Mom

With store-bought wooden hearts, these little tokens of love are ever so easy, totally customizable, and sweet as can be. (Plus, inexpensive!) A perfect little project for Olive.

DIY Valentines: Etched Heart Keychains   |   Design Mom

So go grab your etching tool and let’s get started.

Click here for the full tutorial.

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A Few Things

January 31, 2014

family dance party

By Gabrielle. Image by Ben Blair  — he snapped it the night I got home from Salt Lake.

Hello, Friends! How are you? Was it a good week for you? The week after Alt Summit SLC is always odd for me. I sort of crave a vacation because the weeks leading up to Alt are my most intense. But, having been out of the office for a week, I also want to jump back into work because I feel behind. So this week was a combination of deep work catchup and going to late night movies with Ben Blair — which I think is the closest thing to vacationing and working at the same time. : )

My kids don’t have school today (a teacher prep day, I think), so it feels like a 3-day weekend around these parts! Sleeping in this morning and skipping the school day routines felt like such a luxury. Weekend plans? Finally unpacking and putting the house in order. Not very exciting, but I know it will feel super satisfying. There’s also a Scout Pancake Breakfast tomorrow morning, and we’re toying with the idea of trying a whale-watching excursion in Monterrey. I am happy as a clam the weekend has arrived.

While I enjoy some time with my kids today, here are a few things I’ve wanted to share:

- The preview for the movie The Drop Box had me weeping. Thanks, Modern Thrifter.

- This Kickstarter project about teaching kids (especially girls?) to program raised $100,000 in 24 hours. Thanks, Janssen.

- I love this Oops! print.

- Am I the last one to hear about the RIE parenting movement (pronounced “wry”)? Thanks, Brooklyn Baby Fest.

- Remember the P&G summer olympics commercial? Well they made another one for the Sochi Olympics. Another tear jerker! Thanks, Evelina.

- A wonderfully wild nursery.

- A sweet essay about parenting when you are in your early twenties.

- What really drives success? Thanks, Asha.

- I haven’t written one yet, but I love reading the Alt Summit recaps! You can find them on the Alt Blog. There are currently 3 posts with listings, and more being added every day.

- My brother-in-law gets home from Afghanistan today! The whole family is rejoicing!!! And today, my Grandpa would have turned 100 years old.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend! I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I’m excited about next week’s posts — we experimented with a DIY cement floor in the reading loft and it turned out really cool. Can’t wait to share! Plus, there will be another story in the Growing a Family series and some really good conversations (I hope!). See you then. I miss you already.

kisses,
Gabrielle

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Polarn O. Pyret Giveaway

January 30, 2014

DMgiveawayBanner

By Gabrielle.

I’m so happy about today’s giveaway! Stylish Swedish brand, Polarn O. Pyret, is offering a generous $150 gift certificate! I’m such a huge PO.P fan. In fact, this morning, little June went to preschool in Polarn O. Pyret head to toe — and she looked adorable!

polarn o pyret spring 2014

The really fun thing happening at Polarn O. Pyret right now is the “Name Our Prints” contest. The contest is just what it sounds like. PO.P recently shared their newest collection of prints and they want your help giving them names! You can find all the details here.

I was able to visit the PO.P Headquarters in Sweden a couple of years ago and was truly impressed. The quality and product testing is remarkable, and the designs are so crisp and modern, I just can’t get enough!

Visit Polarn O. Pyret and leave a comment below to enter — I’d love to hear your ideas for pattern names! The winner will be announced on Monday. Good luck!

P.S. — There’s a big sale going on at PO.P right now as well — up to 60% off!

——

Ivy is the lucky winner. Thanks for playing!

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