Boston & New York

April 20, 2015


By Gabrielle. Photo by Seth Smoot, styled by Kendra Smoot for Design Mom.

Oh my goodness, our reading weekend was awesome! In fact, it was so good, that ideally, we will repeat this twice a year. Some of you have asked for more details, so I’m working on a little post with an itinerary of what we did. But first, a little Design Mom Book reminder. For any of you in Boston & New York, I want to make sure you have all the info for my tour stops this Tuesday & Wednesday (that’s tomorrow! and the next day!).

First up: Boston. On Tuesday, April 21st (again, that’s tomorrow), I’ll be signing books at Trident Booksellers on Newbury Street from 7:00 PM till 9:00 PM. The brilliant Christine Koh of Boston Mamas will be co-hosting the event, and she is all prepped to interview me with some Design Mom Q&A. Plus, there will be treats and gifts for attendees! Crossing my fingers you can make it.

Then, on Wednesday, April 22nd (that’s day after tomorrow), in New York, there will be a Book Party at DwellStudio in Soho, from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM. The always fabulous Christiane Lemieux will be co-hosting. Join us for cocktails, a parenting discussion, and a book signing, too. Something extra special about this event: A proceed of the book sales will benefit Every Mother Counts, a cause near and dear to my heart! If you can join us, please send an RSVP to today.

I think that’s it for now on book news. Off to pack up for the trip!

P.S. — Thanks again for those of you who have added reviews to the Amazon book listing. I appreciate it!


A Few Things

April 17, 2015

Betty Blair

By Gabrielle. Image by Kristen Loken.

Hello, Friends! What are you up to this weekend? We are trying something new: Ben Blair planned a weekend family-read-a-thon (gosh, Ben Blair is the best). And to make sure it happens, we’re all headed to a nearby hotel.  If we’re home, we’ll end up running kids to practice, doing laundry, tackling some yard work, stuff like that. But at a hotel, in theory, it’s easier not to get distracted. We’ll see how it goes, but I have high hopes. I think it will be great!

Now the big question: What should I read? I’m for sure planning to gobble up Katherine Center’s new novel, Happiness for Beginners. Katherine is a friend, and I hear this is her best novel yet! I want a few more titles too. Any suggestions? I need them. I have barely made time for book reading in the last 12 months and feel so out of the loop book-wise. I really need recommendations!

I’m off to go pack everybody up, but before I do, here are a few things I’ve wanted to share:

How much water do you drink?

Sarah Silverman doesn’t think the wage gap is funny.

- How long can your sign hold a grudge?

- I’d love your thoughts on these new #partyhardmoms Hefty commercials.

- And then I’d love your thoughts on Baddie Winkle — the 86-year-old Instagrammer and model for LA-based Dimepiece.

- From an Art Director: Why I wear the exact same thing to work everyday.

- A save-the-date video that feels Wes-Anderson-esque. Thanks, Azra.


- This 1991 Sizzler commercial is so epic it’s hard to fathom.

- One company’s new minimum wage: $70,000. And I heard they partly made it happen paying the CEO much less. Which I think is super admirable. It also gets me thinking: if a huge company that oftens employs the underserved in our country (like any fast food place or Walmart/Target), raised all of their employee’s salaries to a minimum of $70,000, how much would their product prices rise overall? Would they be 10% more expensive? Less than that? More?

Lots of videos this week, huh? I hope you have an amazing weekend! I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.


P.S. — Betty (pictured at top) has been feeling crummy for a couple of weeks. She’s been to the doctor, but there is no diagnosis. The suspicion is that it’s an unusual virus working its way through her body. I don’t think it’s serious (I certainly hope it’s not!). But I’ve never had a sick kid that didn’t have specific symptoms that led to knowing just what the sickness was, with a course of action to get healthy again. Poor thing. Have your kids ever had a mysterious sickness?


By Gabrielle. Family photos on bikes by Lily Wanderlust. All others taken by Sara.

Sara Fritsch lives in Amsterdam with her husband Oliver, their six year old son named Winter, and a daughter who is five called Penelope. After two years, Sara freely admits the city has her heart, but there’s still a possibility for a return to Portland, Oregon, which has the family’s heart as well. Expat life is tricky like that.

And there are a lot of details during her day that will make you want to dream a little harder about living somewhere far away. Or just dream of owning a bike that can hold five of your favorite little ones! That would be wonderful, too.

Come see what a day in Amsterdam looks like, will you? Welcome, Sara!

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

A: Goedemorgen! My favorite way to start any day is with a really early run. Ideally I finish my run and shower before anyone else in my family is awake. I love knowing that I accomplished a little something for me without impacting any of them.

Insider dining recommendations, just ahead!



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

Remember when we chatted about beauty tasks that we’ve never tried, and I mentioned that I’d never experienced a facial? (Still haven’t!) Well, Rachael Weesjes was kind enough to leave a comment about at-home options that work just as well as spa services. I almost didn’t believe her, but she should know: she’s been an esthetician for eight years! We emailed back and forth, and I asked her if she would share her expertise with us all. Happily, she agreed.

You’re going to love what she has to tell us, and you’re going to love even more the facial concoctions and remedies we can whip up at home to help with dry skin, acne, and aging. I can’t wait! Let’s start with a little background and insider tips first, shall we? Friends, please welcome Rachael!

Q: We’d love to know what it takes to be an esthetician!

A: Hello! I’m Rachael. I’ve been a certified esthetician for eight years. Everyone always wants to know about my training, maybe because we’re all on the hunt for amazing skin! I completed a two year make up artistry program, and then took a one year esthetics course. I do both now, but mainly esthetics with bridal make up thrown in during wedding season.

I started my career in a spa right after graduation that exclusively used high end skin care products from Europe. I stayed for almost seven years, but lost my job after the birth of my second child. I searched for another job for a few weeks to no avail. A woman with whom I had worked left to start her own spa a few years prior; when she heard that I lost my job, she invited me to work with her.

I always admired her. She wanted to work in an environment where she could make the majority of her skin care products, without any pressure to sell creams for hundreds of dollars. When we worked together at the first spa, we had agreed almost daily that it was too hard to sell budget-killing products we didn’t truly believe worked best. We knew that clients could get fantastic results at home without spending a ton of money. So our goals for the spa were very alike. She relocated to another city, and I now run the spa by myself.

My job description includes manicures, pedicures, waxing, aromatherapy and relaxation massage, hot stone massages, facials, body scrubs and cellulite wraps, eyelash and brow tinting, and make up. Estheticians can also deliver lash extensions, spray tans, and artificial nails. The list definitely can be different depending on where you live and how far you take your education.

What to expect, what to ask, and what to avoid! Coming up next!


Solar Panels on the Brain

April 14, 2015


By Gabrielle.

I’m partnering with SolarCity on this post and I’m geeking out about them. Have you heard of SolarCity? The company is based here in California and it’s a super high tech, really modern solar energy company. In fact, Elon Musk of Tesla and SpaceX is their chairman. They’ve essentially disrupted the century-old energy industry by providing less-expensive, renewable electricity directly to homeowners. Their goal is to make solar energy easy by taking care of everything from design and permitting, to monitoring and maintenance.

There’s no upfront cost, you only need a good roof, because solar panel installation is included at no additional cost! Not kidding. You have a consultation and sign up, they install in a day, and the cost of the panels is worked into your monthly bill. Best part? Even with the cost of the panels worked in, your bill is still less than you’re paying right now.

So far, SolarCity serves 16 states and it’s growing fast — it signs up a new customer every minute of the work day. And hey, if you’re a California resident, they have a really good promotion going on: the first 10,000 new customers in California who sign up for SolarCity will receive a Nest Learning Thermostat for free!


So why am I thinking about solar panels? You may have noticed, we took a break on major home renovations while I focused on my book. But now that it’s printed and sitting on my coffee table, we’ve started talking house projects again. In fact, I have a drywall team coming to make a bid this afternoon, and we’re getting measured for new patio doors as well. But the thing we’ve been talking about the most lately is converting our house to solar energy. Solar panels seem like such a natural fit in sunny California, and we have 2 different neighbors that have started using solar panels in the last year, both with really positive results. So it’s on our mind.

Of course, I like the idea of reducing or eliminating one of our bills, but I also love that it feels like a truly eco-conscious step. Some of the earth-friendly actions I take feel sort-of vague, but this feels much more real. Does that make sense? I think I’m a little solar obsessed. My daughter told me she learned that there’s a particular spot in the Sahara desert, and if it was covered in solar panels, it could provide solar energy for the whole world. I LOVE that kind of thing.


The thing that’s stopped us from going forward with solar panels is that I thought the whole process was really complicated. I didn’t know where to start. I suppose that’s another reason I’m so jazzed about SolarCity. I read their how-it-works info, and could feel my mind calm. There are steps! The steps are doable! I don’t have to figure this out myself! I’m really looking forward to our consultation — though I’m nervous that our roof will be too shady with all these trees. Hah!

Now I’m curious. Have you ever considered using solar energy? Are there solar services available where you live? Do any of your friends and neighbors use solar? Have you read much about it? Oh man. I find it so appealing. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!


By Gabrielle.

When Heather first wrote to me, she mentioned an affliction she and many of her design clients suffer from called Pinterest Paralysis. Of course, I had to get to know her a little better!

She works as an interior designer from home – which offers its own set of challenges, as those of you with a home office probably understand – and is also smack in the middle of the toddler stage when a home’s entire aesthetic seems to change. Things that would break your heart if they broke head to the top shelves, glass-top tables are replaced, and suddenly you find yourself researching how to remove jelly stains from my gorgeous white couch! I absolutely love what she has to share, both professionally and personally, and I truly hope you do, too.

Welcome, Heather!

Q: Please introduce us to your family!

A: Stu and I were set up by a friend, and after a disastrous first date swore we’d never see each other again. Funny how first impressions are sometimes wrong! We’ve been married almost seven years and have a bubbly baby girl.

Like most two year olds, Gemma is a huge fan of jumping, swinging, any fuzzy thing with a tail…and yoga. Yep, she does yoga. We don’t even really know where she picked it up, but one day when she was around 18 months she started doing downward facing dog and child’s pose like a natural yogi. We just went with it, and now baby yoga is a big hit with the grandparents on FaceTime.

Both of our extended families live out of state, so we do a lot of road tripping to visit. One day we’ll have an actual vacation where we go to a new city, stay somewhere cool, and eat at fancy restaurants. But for this season of life, precious vacation days are spent at grandparents’ houses with home cooked meals. And they’re my favorite days of the year by far.

This is a pretty home. Come see!


Design Mom Book Tour04

By Gabrielle.

Okay you guys. My book launch party was almost a week ago, then I had my first two away-from-home book tour stops on Saturday, and I’ve been dying to report all about them! In fact, while we’re talking about it, you can plan on about one book post a week from now through most of May — I’ll be reporting on the book parties, and talking about upcoming events, and there will be a big giveaway too.

Anyway, the launch party here in Oakland was just amazing. Such a fun night! And what a fantastic experience it was to meet so many readers. It was nothing but grins from me the whole time. I couldn’t believe how many people came out to support me. Just the best feeling in the world.

I can tell you honestly that I only have one regret about the evening: I didn’t hire a photographer for the event! Hah! Oh well, I hope you don’t mind these phone pics to much.

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First of all, my sister Jordan and her Oh Happy Day team took care of the decor and it looked terrific! It was big and festive with lots of yellow, yellow, yellow. They even created a 3D oversize version of my book! It’s the coolest. I’m trying to figure out how to ship it to my next party. : )

Design Mom Book Tour03

Ben Blair was the MC, and my friend Michele made the cookies. She’s the pastry chef at Zut!, a restaurant we love in Berkeley, plus our kids go to school together. The cookies were so yummy that they were absolutely gobbled up, and we actually ran out of champagne flutes because we had more guests than expected. Which was a happy surprise!

Design Mom Book Tour05

I signed books the whole time, with a short break for Q&A with Jordan. Something super cute: a few people asked my kids to sign their individual handprints on the front of the book. Adorable!

Design Mom Book Tour01

In the gift bags there were little San Francisco Petit Puzzles by Petit Collage, reversible wrapping paper from Wrappily, colorful socks from Woven Pear, and Oakland Love card sets from Noteify. (For those of you who missed out, don’t despair! I’m setting aside a few gift bag goodies so that I can do a big giveaway on the blog. Watch for it next week.)

Overall, it was simply a wonderful night. The staff at Diesel Books was super helpful, the event was packed, and I LOVED having my kids there. They were a huge help setting up, they handed out gift bags, chatted with guests so I could concentrate on signing books, and restocked refreshments through the evening. They are my favorite people. After the party we all went out for a late dinner. The whole day I felt lucky, lucky, lucky.


Now to the Utah parties. I had two stops in Utah — one at the Deseret Book on University Parkway, and one at the Deseret Book in Fort Union. Both were so much fun! There were lots of attendees and a fun mix of new readers, old friends from college, friends from New York who had moved to Utah, and family too! At the very end, one of my dearest friends from high school, Jandi Jones Gubler, walked in. She doesn’t even live in Utah, but happened to be in town. I about died! What a fantastic surprise.

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The setup made me smile. There were Design Mom books everywhere, and they made such an impact! Camellia Rowland and Anna Rose Johnson arranged the decor and filled the gift bags. They did a bang-up job. Anna Rose created a fabulous paper diamond backdrop where we could take photos. As a team they were extremely organized and took care of every detail — fresh flowers, a foam-core board (where attendees could list the best or the craziest parenting advice they’d been given), and they handled refreshments too.

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Speaking of refreshments, the yummiest part of the Utah events were definitely the Lemon Cake Bites from The Sweet Tooth Fairy! They were so good. I must have eaten twenty over the course of the day.

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At the first event, Alison Faulkner of The Alison Show co-hosted the party and did a Q&A.  She is hilarious and such a force for positivity. She sent me funny texts that morning, making sure we weren’t wearing matching outfits. At the second event, Emily and Nicole of Small Fry Blog were the co-hosts. Gosh I love those girls. We got right into it talking parenting and screen time.

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In the gifts bags, guests received Animal Petit Puzzles from Petit Collage, more wrapping paper in neon designs from Wrappily, kid accessories from Hello Shiso, the coolest gloves and booties for babies and toddlers from miniTENS, gold-foil garlands from My Mind’s Eye, doodle books from Start Creative, and a set of luxe Animal Alphabet Cards from GiantSuper.

It was a very very short trip. I returned to Oakland the same night. And then it was nothing but family time for the rest of the weekend. The best! A huge thank you to everyone that came out to the parties, and to everyone who helped put the parties together. I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to get to interact — and even have one-on-one conversations — with so many readers. You guys are THE BEST!

P.S. — What’s next? I’m not traveling this week, but I’ll be in Boston & New York next week. Will I see you there? You can find the whole tour schedule here.


Three New DIY Books

April 13, 2015

Craft Books Spring 20153

Photos and text by Gabrielle.

Warmer weather seems to bring on the DIY and project urges at our house. It’s like April arrives and I automatically start dreaming of glitter and modge podge and paint chips. In case you’ve got the same instincts, I’ve added three new craft/DIY/sewing/project books to my collection, and I think you’ll enjoy all three.

First up, Materially Crafted by Victoria Hudgins of A Subtle Revelry.

Craft Books Spring 20154 Craft Books Spring 20159

The photography is excellent and airy, the layouts are clean and clear, but I think the thing that really stood out to me about this book is that the concepts were things I’d never seen before. They seem like really original ideas. I mean, embroidery on a vintage chair? How cool is that?

Craft Books Spring 20151

Next, this cheery, colorful book called Oh Joy! is another keeper. It’s by Joy Cho who writes a blog with the same name.

Craft Books Spring 20152 Craft Books Spring 20158

The projects in this book are guaranteed to make you smile. It’s a really happy book, and just flipping through made me want to throw a party! And I love that the ideas are new — no repeats from her blog. Yay for excellent original content!

Craft Books Spring 20155

The third book is for your kids. It’s called the Girls Guide to DIY Fashion, and it was created by Rachel Low of Pins & Needles.

Craft Books Spring 20156 Craft Books Spring 20157

See those happy girls on the cover? Well this book will teach your kids how to make every single thing they’re wearing — simple dresses, sweet accessories, even complete outfits! I’m thinking ahead to summer break and I know this book will be a wonderful way to prevent cries of “I’m bored”. If you have a mini-fashion designer at your house, this seems like a smart first book to get them creating actual clothes.


A Few Things

April 10, 2015

rainbow eggs

Image and text by Gabrielle. I know Easter is over, but it’s still endless egg salad sandwiches at our house.

So this has been, and continues to be, a fun week. The official Design Mom Book publish date was Tuesday, and as I’ve mentioned, I had a big launch party that night that I can’t wait to tell you about. But there’s more. We shot a really good Olive Us episode today, and I have two book tour events in Utah tomorrow (see below)! Another thing that made me grin: Publisher’s Weekly gave my book a starred review — their highest rating! If you’d like to, you can read the review on the Amazon listing.

A huge thank you to everyone who has bought a book, or told a friend about it, or Instagrammed it, or left an Amazon review, or who came to my book party, or who is planning to come to an upcoming book party. I’m just so completely grateful for the support. Seriously. I can’t thank you enough.

Now about those events in Utah tomorrow. Are you coming? They’re going to be fantastic! First, I’ll be at Deseret Book near University Mall, (230 E University Parkway, Orem, UT 84058), from 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM. And the fabulous Alison Faulkner of The Alison Show will be there to quiz me on all my motherhood secrets! Then, I’ll be at the Fort Union Deseret Book from 2:00 to 3:30 PM with the always lovely Small Fry Ladies! Book signings, gift bags, treats, terrific discussions, and YOU are invited! I hope to see you there.

I need to be off to catch my flight to Utah, but before I head out, here are a few things I’ve wanted to share with you:

- Putting out fires with sound? Fantastic.

- Everyday racism.

- The next session of Language Hangouts with Haiti Partners is starting soon! It’s free to get involved and chatting with Haitian teens, helping them learn English, is really the coolest!

- Dove keeps knocking it out of the ballpark. This one about #choosebeautiful made me emotional and I can’t even pinpoint what it is exactly.

- Diverse emoji.

- Making the poor prove they’re worthy of government benefits.

- Amy Schumer is new-to-me, but I think I’m in love.

- Jimmy Carter on losing his religion for equality.

- Foraged Mother’s Day Boutonnieres.

- A campaign to put a woman’s face on the 20 dollar bill. Thoughts?

- One more Design Mom book mention, I LOVE this thoughtful review from A Practical Wedding.

I hope you have a fantastic weekend — and if you live in Utah, maybe I’ll see you! Either way, I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.



Pop & Lolli Giveaway

April 9, 2015


By Gabrielle.  

Here’s a happy giveaway! It’s sponsored by Pop & Lolli, and the prize is a $100 store credit, so you can pick out exactly what you want. Hooray!

6 D2D 600_500

Pop & Lolli is all about Larger Than Life fabric wall decals. Their selection is outstanding! Tons of themes — trains, robots, mermaids, pirates, family trees, flowers, animals, and on, and on. The decals are colorful, beautifully designed, and offer major impact in a room.

alphabet animal wall decals create a castle wall decal

The designs I’m eyeing these days are the brand new Create-A-Castle, the Dinosaurs to Dragons, and the Animal Alphabet. And I always love the Sarah Jane designs as well. Made in the U.S.A., the decals (and wallpapers!) are removable, reusable and completely reposition-able — simply the BEST decals out there!

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Pop & Lolli’s chic wall art will transform any blank wall into a space that encourages imaginative play. Their decals would be darling in a playroom, classroom, child’s bedroom, or boring hallway. We’ve got Pop & Lolli’s colorful World Map decal in our family room — in fact, I need to show you photos of how great it looks. I’ll put a post on the schedule asap!

To enter, visit Pop & Lolli and leave a comment below — I’d love to hear which decals you want most! The winner will be announced on Tuesday. Good luck!


Wedding Rings

April 8, 2015

Design Mom Wedding Rings

Image and photo by Gabrielle.

Last night was my Oakland book launch party! It was fantastic and I can’t wait to tell you all about it. But this post isn’t about that. It’s about wedding rings. Since I knew I would be signing books last night, and my hands would be out in front of people, making sure my nails were presentable was on my checklist for the evening. My current nail polish has been in place for over a week, but it’s a shellac manicure so luckily, it’s still looking good, and I didn’t have to make any changes. Which was great, because I wouldn’t have had time anyway. Hah!

But I realized about halfway through the signing that I wasn’t wearing my wedding rings. It wasn’t a huge surprise, because I don’t wear them on a day-to-day basis, but I like to put them on when I’m going out. I didn’t start out married life planning to not wear my wedding rings. Honestly, I never really gave wedding rings much thought. And I’ve never shopped for a wedding ring or learned anything about diamonds. Though I’m sure I just assumed I would wear one when I was married. But it turns out I don’t.

There are a few reasons. First, is fear of loss. My wedding rings previously belonged to my grandmother, Daisy Stanley, and I’m honored to own them. They’re pictured in the photo at top and I love them! But when I first started wearing them, I was always worried about losing them — specifically about having to tell her if I lost them. About a year into our marriage, during our senior year of college, we moved to Athens, Greece for a semester. And we ended up traveling around as much of Greece and the rest of Europe as possible. Traveling means staying in lots of different hostels and hotels and I was quite sure I would end up leaving the rings on a bathroom counter or nightstand as we rushed off to catch a train. So I picked up a simple silver band at an outdoor market, and wore it instead. And I kept Grandma’s rings safe at home.

The second reason, is because when I’m in the middle of a project that requires my hands (and I’m very often in the middle of one of those projects), having any jewelry on my hands bugs me. I think it has to do with hand washing. If I wash my hands with my rings on, then dry my hands, I get irritated by the feel of the water under the rings that the towel doesn’t quite reach. If I take my rings off to wash my hands, I’m quite likely to forget them, and the rings are at risk for being lost.

So, while I started out wearing my wedding rings, around the time we moved home from Greece and baby Ralph arrived, (and handwashing increased!), I wore rings less and less.

The third reason has something to do with my need to simplify my life as each child arrived. Somehow, when life was overwhelming during the newborn stages, jewelry became a burden instead of something fun. Unless it was a special occasion, I wouldn’t wear rings. And that has kind of become the norm. I can’t say I never wear my wedding rings or other rings at all. I have some really beautiful pieces, and at a conference, or on a date, or for a photoshoot, it’s fun to pick one (or several) out to wear. But 95% of the time, my fingers go jewelry-less.

The last reason I don’t wear my wedding rings daily is more of a subconscious resistance. I know the nature of wedding rings and the meaning around them has changed over the years, but it seems like there’s an underlying idea behind wedding rings of somehow being “bought” by a husband. Or that the size of the ring is supposed to prove the amount of love. Both ideas make me queasy in a bad way. The funny thing is, I’ve never looked at another woman who is wearing a ring and been even slightly bothered that the ring was a gift from her husband or partner. In fact, I like seeing people’s pretty wedding rings — it’s fun to see the different styles and hear the stories behind them. So clearly, this is just a personal hangup I apply to myself.

And now I’m curious. What’s your take on wedding jewelry? Do you have strong opinions about it? Did you pick out your own ring or did your partner? Do you have both an engagement ring plus a band? And if yes, do you wear them both?  Do you wear your wedding ring or other rings daily? If you’ve never married, but plan to someday, do you think you’ll wear one? I’d love to hear!


By Gabrielle.

Camille Turpin and her husband designed their house for their children. With two of their children on the autism spectrum, they built as many stress-free learning and growing and social opportunities into their house as possible. When they had the chance to move to a place with more affordable housing, they doubled their floor space and designed a home where there’s a space for everything and everybody, and the daily occupational therapy that is so important to their kids, can happen without leaving the house.

I admire that they put resale value on the back burner in lieu of a house that works for them right now. Perhaps it’s a little different than how you may be living with your own…but again, it works. And that’s the important take-away from each of these tours, isn’t it? Figure out what works for your family, and run toward that.

I honestly think you’re going to leave this tour with at least four thoughts that make your day better. I know I did. Welcome, Cami!

Q: Please introduce us to your family!

A: Oh, how do I introduce our family? I am Cami. I grew up in Pleasant Grove, Utah in a family with seven children. My family goes in the same gender order as the VonTrapps of Sound of Music fame. My mom tried to get us to be a singing group, but we refused. That did not stop us from making our home basically the scene of a musical at any given time.

My husband Jake grew up in Oregon City, Oregon in a family with five kids. His mother grew up in my home town and his entire extended family still lives there, so it was his lifelong dream to find a girl from Pleasant Grove to marry. Good thing he thought I was cute! Incidentally, it was MY lifelong dream to marry someone from the Pacific Northwest, though I thought that meant I would get to LIVE in Oregon. No dice.

Inspiration overload, straight ahead!



By Gabrielle. Photo by Seth Smoot, styled by Kendra Smoot for Design Mom.

Oh my goodness. I could not be more excited about tomorrow night. It’s my Book Launch Party here in Oakland!! And if you live in the Bay Area (or happen to be in town), consider this your official invitation.

I promise it will be lots of fun. We’ll be serving the cutest, yummiest cookies from my favorite Oakland pastry chef, and celebratory champagne (plus other sparkling beverages, of course). We’ll have a fun Q&A with my sister Jordan, and Q&A from the attendees too! And I’ll be camped out at a table ready to chat you up, sign books, and hand out gift bags.

Oh. Did I mention gift bags? We don’t have any idea how many people will drop by the party, but we’re prepping 75 gift bags, and we’ll give them out until we run out. I’m packaging them up today and they are adorable. If you’re curious, I’ll try to give some sneak peeks on Instagram as I work today.

Best of all, Ben Blair and the kids are coming to the party too! The whole family wants to get in on the celebration. Here are the details:

Tuesday, April 7th
6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Diesel, A Bookstore
5433 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618

I hope to see you there!

P.S. — Diesel is in such a great spot, I highly recommend you come a little early so you can drop by some of the other fabulous stores nearby. One of my favorites is Atomic Garden, just a few doors down from the bookstore.


A Few Things

April 3, 2015

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By Gabrielle. Photo by Amy Christie for Design Mom — egg dyeing tutorial here.

Hello, Friends! How are you? What’s been going on? It’s been a good week for me. Lots of fun work on the book tour. The gift bags are coming together beautifully, my publisher has booked the flights and hotels. It’s really happening! The book officially comes out on April 7th (next Tuesday), but it’s been shipping out from bookstores this week, and my inbox is full of the sweetest comments. Thank you, thank you! And speaking of my book, I’ve created a Design Mom Book tab in the navigation bar above — it goes to a page where you can find all the book info in one place. Like tour dates and resources.

I’m really looking forward to the weekend, but it’s going to be an odd one. Ben Blair is out of town — he’s presenting a paper at the Mormon Transhumanist Conference this morning (Go Ben!). And Ralph is also out of town. My mother invited all the 12 and older grandsons for a boys weekend at Grandpa and Grandmas house. Plus our local cousins, the Ferneys and Stanleys, are also traveling. So it will be a really unususal partial-family Easter for us. But Ben and Ralph arrive home Sunday evening, so hopefully we can do a special Easter dinner, or just get some family time before the holiday is over.

How about you? Any fun weekend plans? Do you celebrate Easter? Or Passover? Are you in the middle of Spring Break? Ours is next week! I can’t wait to hear about your plans, but before I hit publish, here are a few things I’ve been wanting to share with you:

- There are currently 1900 babies on the organ donation waitlist. This Instagram campaign #HowIDonateLife, is an easy and wonderful way to bring awareness to the pediatric organ donation situation.

- How not to raise a narcissist in 9 easy steps.

- My firends make the coolest things! Check out these lacing cards by Rachel of Handmade Charlotte. I have both sets (boy and girl) and they are truly adorable.

- And don’t miss this GORGEOUS scarf designed by my friend, Karen Walrond of Chookooloonks. Really stunning, and sales support literacy in developing countries.

- Am I the last person to hear about this story?

- I’ve got a really good $1000 Amex Giftcard Instagram Giveaway going on. It’s a loop giveaway with some really great bloggers, and it ends this weekend, so act fast.

- Mara & Danny just posted their Body & Soul Camps event site. Dibs on Equador in the fall!

- Why My Marriage is a Package Deal: Caring for a Sibling with Autism.

- How to write a thank you note.

- Confessions of moms throughout the world. Thoughts?

- My book launch party is this coming Tuesday, April 7th, at Diesel, a Bookstore in Oakland.  It starts at 6:00 PM. I’ll be signing books and giving out fun gift bags. Oh, and my sister, Jordan will be there to lead a little Q&A. Crossing my fingers you can make it!

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



By Gabrielle. Freshly Picked B-A-N-A-N-A-S overalls are too cute.

Rachel wondered if my readers would be interested in her birth story as told by her husband, Ben, and I couldn’t answer yes fast enough! A home birth in France is interesting enough on its own, but hearing from the father’s perspective is quite endearing. I truly hope you enjoy hearing Ben’s side of the story.

Also, Rachel mentioned that home birth in France is borderline illegal and that very few families do it. So the fact that the Abbotts found a midwife in Brittany who would do it felt like a miracle. Yet another interesting aspect of this story! Enjoy, Friends.

It’s a Brittany baby!


Two Books

April 2, 2015

Two Books2

Photos and text by Gabrielle.

Yes, it’s true that I’m excited about my book and am probably talking about it way too much. But, happily, I’m also talking about other books as well. Two great ones arrived in the last couple of weeks. I love both and wanted to be sure to share them with you.

Two Books5

First up, Hey Natalie Jean by Natalie Holbrook. I read this on a Friday evening at the end of a crazy week, and enjoyed every second of it. Natalie’s writing style is one of my favorites. She’s smart as a whip, extremely observant, charming as can be — and she’s witty too! The book is full of beautiful photos, and is a perfect little snapshot of someone who is living a life she loves. And it makes me love life too!

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If you’ve got someone in your life that is aching for a little more glamour in their every day, but doesn’t quite know how to go about it, gift them this volume as a handbook.

Oh. And the book was designed by one of my favorite graphic designers, Abby Clawson Low. It’s like icing on the cake.

Two Books1

Next up, The Crossroads of Should and Must, by Elle Luna. I first heard about this book, and about Elle, at Alt Summit in January. It was right after Dallas Clayton’s talk, and I was told I must learn about Elle Luna, and I must bring her to Alt Summit as a speaker (which I totally want to do).

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This book is a kick in the pants for anyone wanting to follow a passion, but feeling like they are stuck doing what the “should” be doing. The book shares Elle’s story and give inspiring and practical advice.

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How about you, Friends? What have you been reading lately? Are you in a non-fiction or fiction phase? Or both? I’d love to hear!

P.S. — My book is one of Amazon’s Best of the Month in hobbies, crafts & home. It’s such a treat to see it get attention.




By Gabrielle. Photos by Kristen Loken for Design Mom.

Today, I thought it would be fun to share another behind the scenes peek into making my book. But before I do that, I have some exciting news: my book is already stocked and shipping from Amazon!! The official publish date is April 7th, and that’s when you can officially find it in stores, but if book stores receive it early, they can set it out any time. Very exciting! Now back to the behind-the-scenes post.


I’ll start with a bit of book making trivia. Books are made of 16-page signatures. Essentially, they are four sheets of paper, folded in half, which make 16 pages. Then, all those signatures are sewn or glued together to create the stiff spine of the book, after which the cover is added. (I’m completely simplifying here, in the hopes we can all picture this easily.) So, if you count up the pages of any book (not the page numbers, the actual pages), they’ll be divisible by 16.

Keep reading. Lots more ahead!


By Gabrielle.

Maybe this tour should be titled Living With Grandkids, as it’s the story of Sheila Atchley, a doting and devoted artistic grandma who couldn’t have painted a better, more dream-come-true life for her family if she tried! Her thoughts are so full of love, happy faith, and optimism, and her ideas about raising children are generous and open-minded. Truthfully, she almost makes it sound easy. Or maybe she just inspires. Same thing, right?

All I know is that she makes me look forward to a stage I hadn’t really considered before, and that’s pretty sweet. Friends, please welcome Sheila!

Q: Please introduce us to your family!

A: My husband Tim and myself are empty nesters. We have been so, off and on for two years, but this year made it official as our youngest son Isaac became a United States Marine. (Oh, my momma’s heart! God bless our troops!)

We have four grown children: two very beautiful, very married identical twin daughters named Hannah and Sarah, and two very single, very handsome sons named Josiah and Isaac. We added two sons-in-law in one year, and the first of four grandchildren began arriving in December of 2010. The grands’ names are Timothy (four), Aidyn (two), Avery (ten months), and Susanna Joy (three months).

Our family is quite close, and passionately artsy. I’m a late-blooming artist. I affectionately call Tim my Renaissance Man. He can preach a pretty awesome sermon, play drums and guitar, he has a beautiful singing voice, can build almost anything, and is a budding photographer. We home-schooled each of our children from kindergarten through graduation, and each one of our kids learned to play a musical instrument growing up.

Our oldest son Josiah is a full-time musician. He is also the father of a beautiful little girl, and he stays busy paying his dues and playing his guitar and singing his originals (and a few covers) almost every night. One son-in-law, Jonathan Howe, is a full time, career fine-art artist. It blesses me every day to watch him support his little family with his beautiful oil paintings. Our other son-in-law is Justin. He’s awesome because he’s our token left-brained guy – the only one in the family! He’s the one with the master’s degree in math education.

So much loveliness, straight ahead!


Pipsticks Giveaway

March 30, 2015


By Gabrielle.

This is fun! I’ve got a new sidebar sponsor called Pipsticks, and today I’m hosting their first Design Mom Giveaway. The prize is a 6-Month Pipsticks Gift Subscription! I know you (and your kids!) will love it.

Pipsticks Sticker Subscriptions Pipsticks Sticker Subscriptions

Do you know Pipsticks? They’re a New York based company committed to bringing the awesomeness of stickers to everyone, in a fun, affordable, and gorgeous package. Remember collecting stickers as a kid? Did you have a sticker book? I sure did. Well, now you can bring that same sticker magic to your kids, through Pipsticks’ sticker subscriptions.

On the 1st of each month, a package full of awesomeness will be shipped to you. What’s in the package? At least 15 sheets of different stickers (puffy ones, sparkly ones, sniffy ones) as well as a few crafty additions to keep you inspired and keep the little subscribers from sticking where they’re not wanted.

Not ready to subscribe, and want to take Pipsticks for a test drive first? Then you can try their Taster Pack.

Pipsticks Sticker Subscriptions Pipsticks Sticker Subscriptions

I love the whole idea of this company. Stickers and kids are such a good fit together. Stickers are visual, tactile, and they keep little hands busy for hours. I think a sticker subscription would make the best gift!

And hey, even if you don’t win, here’s something fun for everyone: Pipsticks now offers adorable printables! They are simple and good-looking and the perfect backdrop for stickers. They’ve got printable incentive charts which are versatile and cute – appropriate for all ages and cute enough to hang on your fridge. Plus, placemats and sticker matchbooks as well.

To enter, visit Pipsticks and leave a comment below. I’d love to hear if you were a sticker collector as a kid! The winner will be announced on Thursday. Good luck!


Kiley is the lucky winner! Thanks for playing.

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March 30, 2015


Image and text by Gabrielle.

I came across this article talking about how planks are the latest fad, and it caught my eye, because Ben Blair is a total planking advocate! He gets the whole family planking whenever we have a spare few minutes. That’s Betty, above, doing a little planking before school this morning. Planking is also part of Maude’s workouts for cross-country and track & field — she holds the planking record in the family.

As I’ve mentioned before, I have a hard time embracing exercise routines, but planking seems to be a good fit for me. I like it for several reasons. First, because it goes fast. I can only do about a minute and half so far, and it feels brutal for that minute and a half! But, it’s only a minute and a half. So it’s endurable.

Second, I really like that you can feel the effects, even after just a minute or so. If I plank in the morning, my muscles remind me for the rest of the day.

Third, I’m amazed at how many different muscles get a workout from that one simple exercise!

Fourth, I love that the whole family can participate together. It doesn’t take any particular skill level or strength level or lessons, so everyone can get in on the fun, and no one feels left out. It’s one of those activities where the kids can best the adults (which is always a treat for kids!).

And lastly, I think I like it best because I don’t have to change into work out gear — which means I can participate spontaneously, whenever I think of it or have a break in my schedule.

I can’t pretend it’s a full workout, but I’m trying to pat myself on the back for at least attempting to work some strength-training into my day. : )

How about you? What are your latest exercise successes? Do you have a workout that’s working for you these days? Have you ever tried planking? (If not, go for it! Step away from your computer and give it a try. It’ll go fast, I promise!)

P.S. — Here are some tips to help you hold a plank longer.

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