toto knits crochet blanket

By Gabrielle. Crochet trim blanket from Toto Knits.

Kipin is my favorite kind of storyteller: she tells it like it was in a most honest and enjoyable manner, as though we were lifelong friends. I think that type of personality is a true courage giver to those of us who might need a play-by-play and it might be a little painful at times, but it’s going to turn out just fine reassurance. So if you’re a soon-to-be or someday mom, or if you just want a trip down memory lane, this one is for you. I hope you enjoy Kipin’s account as much as I did:

At 2:55 am on February 15th, I woke to a gush. Three days past my due date, my water broke. I was terrified and exhilarated all at once. I hobbled to the bathroom for a gigantic pad and sat wondering if I should wake up Jared? Call the midwife? Or wait for contractions before waking everyone up at this unholy hour.

It took me about two minutes before I decided I had to tell SOMEONE. I called the midwife and she told me to keep her posted, but until my contractions started and were regular I should try and get some sleep. Jared was next. It took a few moments to hit him, and we both lay back down to try and rest. I knew I would never fall asleep so I asked him for a blessing. I felt like I was ten years old the night before a trip to Disney, jittery with nerves and excitement, all while uncontrollably peeing my pants.

The washcloth incident cracked me up! Just ahead…

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Book Tour Dates!

March 17, 2015

the first copy

Image and text by Gabrielle.

As you know, I’m in New York this week, and while I’m here, it just so happens that advance copies of my book have arrived at my publisher. Woo hoo! I can’t even believe it. In fact, an actual finished copy was just delivered to my hotel room. Oh my goodness. It’s quite the feeling to hold real live copy in my hands. Holy cow. I’m trying not to freak out. Hah!

In related news, I get to announce my Book Tour today! There are fourteen stops and counting. I’ve packed in as much travel as I’m able over the next couple of months, and I can’t wait to meet you guys! Pull out your calendars, this is where you can find me:

Tuesday, April 7th – Oakland, CA
Book Launch Party at Diesel, A Bookstore, beginning at 6:00 PM. Book Q&A, food, photos, goody bags! This event happens the day the book comes out and is the official kick off of the book tour. It’s going to be awesome!! I can’t wait.

Saturday, April 11th – Provo, UT
Book Party at Deseret Book, University Mall, from 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM. The amazing Alison Faulkner of The Alison Show will be there to quiz me on all my motherhood secrets! We’re working on a photo booth, yummy treats, the coolest party favors, and a fun Q&A too! I hope to meet you at the event.

Saturday, April 11th – Salt Lake City, UT
Book Party at Deseret Book in Fort Union, 2:00 PM to 3:30 PM. The always lovely Small Fry Ladies will be there to grill me on all things motherhood. Plus gift bags, refreshments, and a fabulous photo backdrop! Will you be there?

Tuesday, April 21st – Boston, MA
Book Party at Trident Booksellers on Newbury Street in the evening. The brilliant Christine Koh of Boston Mamas will be co-hosting, and is all prepped to interview me with some Design Mom Q&A. Expect the prettiest decor, something delicious to eat, and gifts for attendees! Crossing my fingers you can make it.

Wednesday, April 22nd – New York, NY
Book Party at DwellStudio, from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM with the always fabulous Christiane Lemieux. Join us for cocktails, parenting discussions, and a book signing at DwellStudio SoHo. 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 kmargolis@dwellstudio.com.

Wednesday, April 29th – Phoenix, AZ
Book Party at Changing Hands in Tempe, 7:00 PM. Another fun gathering with food and Q&A. Plus, the super talented Jenny Komenda of Little Green Notebook will be there to ask me about the book.

I’ll arrive in the Phoenix area that day to attend the Mom 2.0 Summit in Scottsdale. I’ll be speaking at the conference on Friday of that week! Maybe I’ll see you there. But even if you can’t attend the conference, you are definitely invited to the Book Party at Changing Hands.

Saturday, May 2nd to Saturday, May 10th, at Pottery Barn
During the week leading up to Mother’s Day, I’m working with Pottery Barn on some awesome in-store events that I’m crazy excited about. More details to come, but for now, I can tell you to plan on:

- Sunday, May 3rd – Seattle, WA
- Tuesday, May 5th – Chicago, IL
- Thursday, May 7th – Atlanta, GA
- Saturday, May 9th – San Francisco Bay Area, CA

Monday, May 18th – Houston, TX
Book Party at Blue Willow Bookshop, starting at 7:00 PM. I love everyone that I’ve ever met from Texas, so I already know I’m going to love this event. Food, discussion, pretty things, gifts. The beautiful Karen Walrond of Chookooloonks will be there to lead the discussion. You should totally come!

Tuesday, May 19th – Denver, CO
Book party at Tattered Cover Books in their new Aspen Grove store in Littleton, 7:00 PM. Join us for a Q&A about the book, plus food, gifts and so much fun! It will be terrific to be back in Colorado for a bit.

Where else?
We’re also looking to schedule a stop in Austin. As soon as I have a firm date and location, I will let you know. Then, in June, I’ll be at Alt Summit in Salt Lake City. And we may be adding one more June date as well.

The details for several of the events are still being worked out, so I’ll keep updating you as we add more info. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Will my tour be crossing paths with you at some point? I hope so!

P.S. — If you’re craving a signed book, but I’m not coming to your town, the way to get one is to pre-order it through Diesel Books by April 7th. And happily, even if you’re not an Oakland local, you can order a signed book through Diesel! I’ll sign them as soon as they’re in, and Diesel will ship them to you on the publish date (April 7th).

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By Gabrielle.

The more of Emily’s words I read, the more I’m reminded that the best lives are a little messy. And this is certainly true for childhoods, as well! As parents, we make the most of what we have and where we are at the moment to give our children the best we can give them. Yes, family life gets messy. But I think we would all trade pristine floors for ones with busy footprints in the shape of a racetrack from fridge to front door, and swap leisurely alone time with the clamor of a crowded playdate.

Life happens so fast, and it would be a shame to miss much of it worrying about dust and dirt. I can thank Emily for this reminder today, and I hope you will, too!

Q: Please introduce us to your family!

A: Hello, I am Emily. I really try to embrace life and all the crazy things life may throw my way. I love getting involved and trying to make a difference. I am a sucker for a good TV show…and realize that everyone does not share my definition of good! For a real rush, I love treasure hunting from the back woods of Arkansas to the Paris flea market; I just love finding things that tell a story and complement our home. I also believe that a cup of tea or a great glass of wine among friends can fix almost anything.

I have four little wonders. Piper is a horse-loving ten year old. I envy her determination and her connection with animals. She is just so in tune with nature and her surroundings. She is quietly confident in all she does. Polly is nine and has been my right hand helper since she could walk and talk. I don’t know what I would do with out her keeping me on top of everything we have going on. She always looks at the bright side and is full of smiles.

Harrison is seven and pure sweetness, and has always had a love of beautiful things. He is passionate about fashion and creating beautiful things. He has a fantastic eye and I often ask him for advice.

Hudson keeps us all on our toes. Literally! He is not content unless he is outside playing some form of sport. Because he is still home with me, we spend lots of quality time hiking together and searching for lost Indian artifacts. I love a good chat and he shares my passion!

Andrew, my husband, is extremely patient with all of us. He works very hard in commercial real estate, but when he is here there is nothing he loves more than spending time with us – thank the dear Lord – because when he is around things are always much smoother, I always relax when he walks through the door. One of the things I love most about him is his laid back Aussie personality; there is really not much that can stress him out, and he always helps me keep things in perspective.

We also have a host of creatures: our dogs, horse, chickens, canaries, budgies, and an occasional peacock that wanders into our always open door.

You may either love or not love the kids’ free room! Come look!

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Minted Giveaway

March 16, 2015

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By Gabrielle.

Oh my goodness. You will LOVE today’s giveaway. It’s sponsored by fabulous Minted, and they’re offering a super generous $400 store credit!

You probably know Minted best for their holiday cards and stationery — all created and sourced by a community of independent artists. But over the last couple of years, Minted has moved beyond custom cards, and they now offer so gorgeous wares like art printstextiles, and party decor!

Minted Spring 2015

And every new product line that they launch is held up to the same stringent design and production values that Minted has always been known for.

At the moment, I’m in the middle of a room refresh project with Minted, and as I think about transforming the space, I’ve been scouring their wall prints in particular. Pictured here are some of the options I’m considering. In the top collection: Abstract TrianglesGestureAn Ode to AgnesCalculation, and Tangerine. In the lower collection: Golden CountryThe CommuteHexagon With Dot, and Under Water. So many terrific choices. It’s like you can’t go wrong!

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Extra fun: Minted has a big Spring Event going on on that ends today. Get 15% off all art!

To enter the giveaway, check out Minted’s Art Marketplace and leave a comment below letting me know which one you love best. The winner will be announced next Monday. Good luck!

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Sarah is the lucky winner. Thanks for playing!

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Lake Tahoe

March 16, 2015

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By Gabrielle. The photos are of the home we stayed at, but they’re not mine. I took lots of photos, but it was overcast, and I like these shots from the rental description better. : )

Waving hello from New York! Gosh, I’ve got a lot of travel on my calendar at the moment. (Which reminds me, I’ll be announcing my book tour dates either shortly!) But this post isn’t about New York. It’s about last week’s last-minute trip to Lake Tahoe!

This was a ski trip, and it was the first ski trip we’ve had in over 4 years. We had visited Tahoe last year in the Spring, but this was our first time seeing it with snow. Really, we’re at the tail end of the ski season, and it feels like spring/summer in the rest of California, but in our minds, this was a winter trip. We built fires, hung out in the hot tub after skiing, and did a whole bunch of baking.

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There were two big things that I’ve been thinking about from this trip. One, is that all of my kids now know how to ski. I feel like I’ve passed some sort parenting stage. Hah! Before this trip, June had never skied before, but we enrolled her in ski school and she really took to it. On the second day, they moved her up a class because she was doing so well. (Those are definitely not my genes!) Obviously, she’s still just a beginner, but she had a fantastic time. It won’t be long until she’s spending the day skiing with her older siblings.

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it, I grew up skiing, but I don’t enjoy it. I’m not sure what it is. I’ve spent many winters of my life skiing, and just have no interest. I think the last time I willingly skied was in college. So last week, while the rest of the family hit the slopes, I spent the days in the lodge catching up on work, and being a drop-off location when my kids wanted to shed their layers. I’d meet up with everyone for lunch and then get back to work.

livingroom fireplace

But there was something about seeing June ski that made me think I might enjoy skiing in the future. I can picture the whole family on the slopes together, and I like that picture very much.

Anyway, the second thing I noted about the trip is that we felt like we really scored on the location. The house is a rental that we originally found on Kid & Coe. As it turns out, I ended up getting introduced to the owner, Domonique of The Simple Proof, who lives in the Bay Area. When she had a unscheduled week come up for her Tahoe place, she generously offered it to us, and we dropped everything and made the last-minute trip happen. And we’re so glad we did!

table kitchen

The house really was perfect (you can see more photos of it here). It was easily roomy enough for our big family. Every one had their own bed, with extra sleeping spaces to spare. There was a big gathering room where we could watch movies and play board games, and an oversize table that could seat everyone. The kitchen had every tool we could possibly need and except for one night of ordering out for pizza, we did all our cooking at the house.

But the best part, is that the stunning lake was just down the path. After skiing, it was still light enough that we would walk down to the lake to skip rocks, or explore, or just hang out on the dock. And it was so easy to picture how amazing this same house would be in the summer.

bedroom masterbath

One of the biggest traveling challenges my family has is finding accommodations that really fit us — not just enough beds, but a place where we can all hang out together. So when we find a location that seems to solve the where-to-stay puzzle for us, it feels like we’ve found a treasure! After a couple of days at Domonique’s house, we were already talking about scheduling rental dates for the summer, and then again for next winter, and making it a regular thing. The idea of planning a vacation and not having to think about where to stay — to just already know! — seems like the most amazing thing ever.

Anyway, I’m curious about several things: Do you ski? Do your kids ski? Is there anyone else out there like me who has skied a bunch but isn’t a big fan? Have you ever been to Lake Tahoe? Do you have a favorite season there? And how do you handle vacation accommodations? Do you return to the same spot over and over? I really like that idea!

P.S. — I mentioned Kid & Coe on Instagram and received a few emails about them. I’m not sure if I’ve ever told you about their services, but we’ve become big fans. They offer airbnb-type rentals, but they focus only on family-friendly spaces, and they only list really good ones. No duds! 

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A Few Things

March 13, 2015

Blairs on the dock at Lake Tahoe

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends. How are you? Did you have a good week? My family had a terrific time at Lake Tahoe! I promise to tell you all about it next week. We arrived home this afternoon, unpacked, and got right back to real life — track practice and scout assignments and errands and babysitting jobs. Real life is good.

This weekend will involve work catchup, plus some packing too. I’m headed to New York next week for a really cool event with HomeGoods. I always love a trip to New York. The weather apps are predicting temperatures in the 50s next week. The 50s are always a bit mysterious to me clothes-wise — I’m wondering if I should pack with Spring in mind, or Winter? How about you? Any weekend plans you’re looking forward to?

I’m off to make a packing list, but before I go, here are a few things I’ve wanted to share with you:

- Why being unable to stand noisy eaters might make you a genius.

- California has about one year of water left.

- Too early to talk about water-balloon fights? Then bookmark this awesomeness for later.

- The Stitch has my attention. Add an orange zigzag to an item of clothing, and let the stitches help reduce the stigma that surrounds talking about being abused as a child.

- An article from Motherlode – “My friend has a son who is autistic.”

- Ben Blair and I just started watching a new series called The Last Man on Earth. It was created by Will Forte. Have you seen it?

- My friend Cathleen Falsani, world-class author and reporter, is using a GoFundMe campaign to finance a reporting trip to Nepal. The trip is with an NGO which is working with at-risk women there. Check it out.

- The Foodnited States. Via Cool Mom Picks.

- Why are some people called expats and others immigrants? Thanks, Logan.

- Heartbreaking — a Stanford neurosurgeons’ parting words about life and time.

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

kisses,
Gabrielle

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Call It A Day: Erin Allan

March 11, 2015

By Gabrielle.

Do you remember Erin Allan’s home tour? If you need a refresher, she was the one living in the outskirts of Nairobi, running a community-empowering company and…hmm, what else was I going to tell you about her? Oh, yes! Sometimes she chooses not to bike her kids to school because of lion sightings or a wayward bunch of baboons. Now do you remember?

I’m so happy to follow her through a random Thursday. It’s the similar yet so strikingly different things we all do that makes this so interesting to me. How we errand, how we balance work and play, how we stay home or venture out, and how we avoid the dangers in our path like it’s no big deal. It’s all fascinating, isn’t it? (I hope you are nodding your head.) Please enjoy Erin’s day!

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

A: It’s Thursday, so the kids don’t have to be at school till eight, which means we all wake up pretty naturally at seven. As we are on the equator, it gets light the same time every day and the chickens outside are a natural alarm clock.

Tor wakes first. He’s eight and seems to have a large quota of words he has to say every day and starts right away. This morning it’s ‘You are not allowed to fly on the platypus plane!’ There’s no stipulation that the words he says have to make sense! He’s got a wonderfully self-deprecating sense of humour, so he is able to get everyone laughing at an early hour.

Nina is next. She’s ten and needs a few more minutes to start her day, like her dad. She might have a few minutes on her tablet or play some piano before breakfast.

Jan is the slowest waker upper, but that’s allowed; many mornings he’s out of the house at 5:30 to go to a site. He designs and fabricates tents for luxury safari camps and lodges, and spends a lot of time in the bush. He’s just got his pilot’s license and can now fly himself to site, which means his days are far more productive. He has a workshop at home so he can get up later and still be in the office by eight today.

It is a good thing they didn’t bike to school today! See why, straight ahead.

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By Gabrielle. Photography by Kirsten Wiemer. This post is brought to you by FilterEasy — the first hundred people who check them out will receive a free order of filters! Oh. And you could win a $300 Gift Card to Amazon!! Find details below.

Making spring cleaning plans? Then this post is just for you. I got a an email a few weeks ago about FilterEasy and when I read it, I had one of those cartoon-esque moments where my jaw dropped and I slapped my forehead — I keep forgetting to change our air filters! To really keep up good air quality in our house, in an ideal world, we would change the filters every other month. But we’ve been in this house for a year and a half and up until last week, we had changed the air filters exactly once. So gross!

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And I’m not even a little embarrassed to admit it, because I’ll bet many of you reading are like, air filters? Do I have them in my house? Where? How do I check? Has my landlord been changing them? Is it my responsibility? What are air filters? Then, once you know what they are, you have to figure out sizes and which allergen level you need or prefer. It can feel intimidating. If you are highly organized, or super sensitive to dirty air, then you’re likely on top of switching out your filters, but for the rest of us, air filter knowledge just doesn’t seem to be one of those things that is automatically acquired with adulthood or homeownership.

In fact, since we married, we’ve lived in 8 homes, and the only one where we changed a filter (besides this house) was the first home we owned, and we only knew to change that filter because we had a new HVAC system installed and the installer showed us how. In every other home we were either clueless, or assumed the landlord was taking care of it. And now that I think back, I don’t think I ever saw our landlords change the filters. Hah!

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Anyway, back to that email about FilterEasy, I signed up immediately, because I think it’s so smart. FilterEasy is a subscription air filter delivery service so that you can get clean air without hassle. Depending on how dirty the air quality in your area is, filters should be changed every 1, 2, or 3 months. And with a FilterEasy subscription, the filters are delivered to your door, right when you need them. It’s this perfect reminder.

You don’t have to go to the hardware store, or try and remember what size you need. You put your info in FilterEasy once — number of filters in your house, sizes, how often you want to change them, and allergen protection — and then your subscription is on autopilot. And if you’re worried about price, don’t be, because FilterEasy offers filters for lower than competitor rates at a home improvement store.

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And we all SHOULD be changing our air filters, because the benefits are significant. First, the air in your house will be cleaner, with less allergens, pet dander, dust and bacteria. Second, because not changing filters is the leading cause of expensive HVAC repairs. Third, you’ll save energy, since HVAC uses more energy than any other appliance, and clean filters make for efficient air flow. Hard to argue with lowering your carbon footprint and saving on energy costs!

My first delivery arrived last week, and thank goodness, because as you can see in the photos, our filters were so dirty! I’m now a devoted FilterEasy fan. Have I convinced you how awesome it is? Good. Now let’s get to the Giveaway for the $300 Amazon Giftcard!

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To enter, click this link and enter your email address. You’ll automatically be entered to win a $300 Amazon gift card! There is no purchase necessary, you just need to input your email address to be entered and eligible. Good luck! I hope you win. The winner will be announced on Monday the 23rd.

Oh. And even if you don’t win, I’ve got a GREAT FilterEasy discount for you: The first hundred people who enter their email address will receive their first order of filters of any size for free!! Click this link and enter your email to automatically redeem the offer. For real! Input the info for the filters in your home, and the entire first month’s order is free. Once you enter your email address, the discount will automatically apply to your order.

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By Gabrielle.

I’m not sure if it’s the sunlight sliding through this tour or the overwhelming vibe that this house wasn’t built yesterday or the sheer uniqueness of this home, but I am hooked on it. I’ve lost many minutes zooming in on Raffaella’s kitchen shelves and dreaming of a nap in one of those beds. It looks like such a good life. You’ll see. Welcome, Raffaella!

Q: Please introduce us to your family!

A: Marco and I met during a night out with friends in Milan, and neither of us had the least idea that we’d be starting a family shortly after. We were both very busy with our jobs; he was working as an architect in Milan, and I was in TV and film production.

On a whim, he invited me to spend a weekend with him in Tuscany. Marco studied architecture in Florence and moved to Rome and Milan afterwards, but his family originates from Montalcino in the south of Siena. In fact, his mom says that their family’s presence in the Val d’Orcia can be traced back all the way into the early 15th century. We must be on the way to continue the family tradition since the prominent wine town in southern Tuscany is where we live now together with our two sons!

So much dreaminess! I can’t wait to show you!

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Lake Tahoe

Image and text by Gabrielle.

I’m so late posting today because we have been on the road all day. We had a last-minute opportunity come up and we’re spending a few days at Lake Tahoe!!! We’re so excited. We are going to ski our hearts out before the (minimal) snow the resorts received this year disappears. : )

With the exception of Olive, who spent a ski week with her school class in the French Alps when we lived in Normandy, we haven’t been skiing since we lived in Colorado! That seems like a really long time ago. It was a really long time ago.

So, I’m late with my posts today, but I won’t be skipping out on work — I’ve got great stuff scheduled for the rest of the week. Plus, I’ll be Instagramming our trip if you’d like to follow along. Lake Tahoe is gorgeous! I snapped the photo at top last spring when we visited for the first time. We all feel super lucky that we get to be here this week.

P.S. — We’re staying at a really cool place that belongs to a Bay Area local friend, Domonique of The Simple Proof. You can see photos of it on Kid & Coe. It’s fantastic! I can’t wait to tell you more about it.

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Four Books You’ll Love

March 9, 2015

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By Gabrielle With photo assistance by Rose Gluck.

Well, it’s been ages since I’ve done a book post, but I think today is the perfect day for some picture book recommendations! Here are four new titles that have been a hit at our house.

First up, Polar Bear’s Underwear. It was written and illustrated by Tupera Tupera, the Tokyo-based art and design firm of artists Tatsuya Kameyama and Atsuko Nakagawa. This book is perfect for the five and under set. Polar Bear can’t find his new underwear, so he starts hunting for them with the help of Mouse. Are they those pretty patterned ones? No. That tiny, colorful pair? I’m afraid not.

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Your little readers will encounter all sorts of creatures on the underwear hunt, and will laugh at the twist at the end!

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Next up, is this beautiful book about a real life con man. It’s called Tricky Vic — The Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower. I received this as an early review copy, but the book will be out tomorrow! This is a fun one for older kids — it has lots of history, new vocabulary, and factoids built in. If your family is a fan of heist stories, then this is sure to become a new favorite.

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It was written and illustrated by Greg Pizzoli — an author, illustrator and screen printer from Philadelphia. I don’t know Greg, but based on his clever mix-media illustrations in the book, thing he must have a great sense of humor.

Keep reading for two more books!

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A Few Things

March 6, 2015

Red Banners

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends! How are you? Are you ready for the weekend? Ours should be an exciting one! Tomorrow Betty is getting baptized, and it’s also Ben Blairs birthday! My mom is in town for the baptism, and we’re excited to have local friends and family gather for this little event. Mormon kids typically get baptized when they’re 8, and Betty turned 8 last May, but we weren’t able to get this on the calendar till now. Hah! She’s been so patient about all the delays. Betty is seriously such a sweetheart.

This is one of those extra-celebratory weeks for our family, because Maude also had a birthday on Wednesday! She’s 16 now and I can hardly believe it. She is a delight to parent.

Gosh I like our kids.

Anyway, I’ve got quite a list I’m hoping to tackle as we prep for tomorrow’s gathering, so I’m going to sign off now. But before I go, here are a few things I’ve wanted to share with you:

- Love has no labels.

- Today is the perfect day to learn more about this important movie called Honor Diaries.

- This amazing flat iron is on sale for $38. (It’s usually $200!). It gets fantastic reviews and I just ordered one.

- Speaking of hair, here are tips for tangle free toddler hair.

- Did you see these clever “unskippable” Geico ads?

- 9 things Latinos are tired of explaining to everyone else.

-  Gifts from crows.

- The earliest footage of New York City.

- Ringling Brothers is going to stop using elephants in their shows. I’m glad to hear it!

- Lean In Together! I love this video so much. It brought tears to my eyes. I am incredibly lucky to have good men in my life. My husband, my father, my brothers. Not one of them has ever treated me like I was less than fully capable because of my gender.

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

kisses,
Gabrielle

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Meri Meri Giveaway

March 6, 2015

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By Gabrielle.

Happy Friday! Let’s welcome the weekend with a fabulous giveaway. The prize is a $150 to Meri Meri! One visit to their site and you’ll be itching to throw a spring brunch, or an easter egg hunt, or a flower-themed baby shower.

Meri Meri is a long-time sponsor of Design Mom, and I’m a long-time fan of their products. I love the unique paper goods they create, and I especially love that they are completely original!

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Meri Meri is based in the UK and offers a huge range of party supplies — garlands and cake stands and cupcake sets and plates and napkins and platters and gift bags and stationery and boxes for baked goods, and on and on. They’re all about sweet and unusual party themes, and they offer products for every holiday as well.

Take a look at their Easter Collection. You’ll find adorable plates, cups, napkins and accessories that are pretty enough to keep in a scrapbook. With one shopping trip to the Meri Meri website, you’ll have everything you need for your next Spring gathering.

And $150 is plenty to buy everything you need for an amazing event! If I won, I would be tempted by the Happy Easter Cake Topper, the Hip Hop Hooray Cookie Cutters and Cupcake Kit, and the adorable Easter Treat Baskets. Definitely take a look at their wares and get inspired. Easter is only 4 weeks away!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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By Gabrielle. Family photo by Blue Lily Photography.

Have you ever been in a position where you were given the advice to just wait? It’s horrible, isn’t it? Especially if you’re waiting for a baby; all that time waiting, in our minds, could be spent on making something happen, and the overwhelming feeling that we’re losing time just waiting is super frustrating. I get it.

If you’re in that waiting mode right now, I really can’t wait for you to meet Kari. She and her husband live in Utah at the base of the stunning American Fork Canyon, with…well…I’ll let her tell you the story. It’s such a good one.

Beautiful story, beautiful family, just ahead.

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Ralph & Maude What to Wear 2014-1534

Photos and text by Gabrielle.

Here it is! Part three (and the final part) of our What to Wear to School wardrobe posts for 2014-15.

If you’ve been reading for awhile, you know we typically share these posts in the fall, as the school year begins. But as I mentioned earlier, this year, we didn’t do our wardrobe photoshoots until January! I started processing the photos last month, and I’ve been sharing the tours over the last few weeks.

Ralph & Maude What to Wear 2014-1503 Ralph & Maude What to Wear 2014-1521

Some people have wondered via email how I get my older kids to participate in this series, but honestly it hasn’t been a battle of wills at all. They don’t mind participating, because they end up using the photos a ton throughout the year, and they’ve found that they really love having a record of their wardrobe. And not just the wardrobe, but photos of them wearing the clothes.

When they see the photos, they get instant memories of wearing certain outfits to certain schools. They’ll remember that they picked out a particular shirt or pair of shoes for a trip, or for the first day of school, and they’ll feel nostalgic in the best way. In fact, Ralph said he would be in heaven if Ben Blair and I had a similar record of our wardrobes as kids and as teenagers. He eats stuff like that up — he loves looking at our old yearbooks and any family album he can get his hands on.

Ralph & Maude What to Wear 2014-1501 Ralph & Maude What to Wear 2014-1522

So anyway, all that is to say that I hope this is great content for you — I received a ton of hopeful emails in the fall asking if I would be doing the posts this year, so I’m crossing my fingers that many of you are glad to see these posts even if it’s almost Spring now. But I also create this content with my kids in mind. I know they love it.

Ready for the wardrobe tour? Let’s get started.

Click here for five full outfits for each of them.

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How to display your Photo Booth Strips.

Photos and text by Gabrielle.

Raise your hand if you have photos or artwork hanging around your house that you’ve meant to frame for weeks. (Or months. Or years!) Ahh. I see that many of you are in the same boat as me. Custom framing is one of those tasks that just seems intimidating and complicated. If I go into a shop, I know it’s not going to be a quick errand, and I’m going to need advice/opinions on the style, so I’ll want to bring a buddy with me. Also, I’m going to have a hard time picturing the framed piece on the wall where it will actually hang, and ultimately it will be stressful to pull the trigger on materials and mat size. So I end up just putting it off.

For example, my sister Jordan has a photo booth, and one Sunday afternoon not long after we moved here, we stopped by her studio to have some photo booth fun. Each of us took a bunch of turns, and I had a vague idea that I would collect one strip of each kid, and one strip of Ben Blair & me, and I would frame them all together to make a casual snapshot of our family. For 18 months, those photo strips sat on a windowsill in our kitchen waiting for some attention. And today, I’m partnering with Framebridge to tell about how I finally framed them!

The thing that amazed me is how simple it was. Truly, it couldn’t have been easier. My first thought was to mail the photo strips (yes, Framebridge will totally frame original artwork — and they’ll give you a quick ship label to get the original to them pronto), and have them each framed individually. But then, I decided I wanted them all in one frame. So I decided to scan them and then upload the file instead. It took seconds. And the brilliant thing is that once it was uploaded, I could try it out with different frames and mats to see how it would look. I chose a simple, modern frame, but they have tons of options. So cool! Being able to see it fully framed made it much easier to make a decision on color and style. Plus, I could walk with my laptop to the room where I wanted to hang it and get a better idea of how it would look in the space once it was framed.

Of course the digital upload option would be ideal for any of the thousands of photos that are hanging out on my hard drive at the moment. (I’m guessing you have a stockpile of digital photos too?)

How to display your Photo Booth Strips.

The framed piece arrived about a week later. The packaging kept it well protected and it arrived in perfect condition. Framebridge included a little bag with a note and a brass picture hanging hook+nail inside. I grabbed a hammer and the project was hung in an instant. They seriously made the whole process as easy and painless as possible from beginning to end. If you’d like to give it a try, you’re in luck. Framebridge is offering 20% off on 2+ items to all Design Mom readers! Use the promo code DESIGNMOM.

How to display your Photo Booth Strips.

Framebridge feels like a discovery to me. When I realized how truly easy it was to use their service, I looked at the stack of artwork in my studio in a whole different light. And my digital photos too! All those family photos we’ve had taken and I’ve never gotten around to getting framed. I’ve finally found a solution that will work perfectly for me! I’m thinking framed photos to send to grandparents for Mothers’ Day, Fathers’ Day and all the other holidays too. : )

Speaking of grandparents, I actually have a tender spot for custom-framing. My father was a public school teacher, but on the side, he ran a custom-framing business from our basement. I loved watching him work and remember the super loud screech/thunk as the pieces of frame were sliced at an angle. I still have a few of the pieces he framed hanging in my house!

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This post is brought to you by Framebridge. Get 20% off 2+ items with the promo code DESIGNMOM! Code expires on 3/30.

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By Gabrielle.

I love when dads write to me and ask about the possibility of a home tour. There have only been two thus far, but I’m always hoping to hear from different voices; it keeps things fresh! So a special thank you to Derek for adding his outlook today.

There’s so much in this tour that interests me, from the attempt to acclimate to a completely new culture and its design as newlyweds in Tokyo, to the exclusion they felt as a mixed-race couple, and their basic yet beautiful way they now view parenting and home. (Not to be a spoiler, but they both boil down to love.) I really hope you enjoy this fresh perspective and home tour! Welcome, Derek!

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

A: Hello! I’m Derek. Our home consists of me and my wife, Erika, and our son Frederick. And our goldfish, Fillet!

Erika is an academically trained photojournalist with an eye for beauty. She is the emotional and spiritual leader of the family, and her smile can brighten up even the darkest room. She is also known to hold concerts in the shower.

I’m Derek, an Aerospace Engineer by day and a homegrown bicycle builder and recycler by night. I try to breathe new life into bicycles that have once been forgotten. I’m the one who got Erika back on a bike, and that is one of my greatest accomplishments!

Frederick is our gift. An energetic, lovable, and creative playtime instigator, whose love and intelligence brings us joy and amazement on a daily basis…he is perfect.

We lovingly consider ourselves sort of like the Three Musketeers.  As a family, we love the outdoors – so much so that we took Frederick camping as soon as he turned three months old. We love music, delicious food, travel, and exploring. We do our very best to fill our house with love. We believe in tickle torture, sprinkled with lots and lots of hugs and kisses. We have been described as artsy, but we would probably just say that we love colorful and beautiful creativity.

As parents, we see ourselves as the legs of a ladder built just for our son. We’re hoping that our love as parents helps develop an endless number of steps that will provide Frederick the chance to reach beyond the stars.

Avocado and lemon trees make for the best backyards!

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Nova Natural Giveaway

March 2, 2015

Nova Natural Wooden Excavator

By Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends. Who’s in the mood for a giveaway? I’ve got a great one for you today. You could win a $150 store credit to Nova Natural!!

Nova Natural is one of my new sidebar sponsors, and I’m delighted to tell you about them, because I know you’ll love their wares. Nova Natural is all about raising kids in the most wholesome way possible. Think hand made wooden play sets, soft dolls, and the best eco-friendly art supplies. Think teething, mealtime and bath time products that don’t leave a bad taste in your mouth. Think products to help your child learn — crafts, books and music. They offer fun products for the home as well.

Nova Natural Hammock Nova Natural Fair Maiden Dress

Their wooden vehicles might be my favorite — they have a huge selection — but I’m also way into these hammock hideaways. I’ve bookmarked this princess dress for June’s next birthday, and I know my kids would love the beading loom as well.

Nova Natural Enamelware Dishes Nova Natural Wooden Beading Loom Nova Natural Beeswax Crayons

Based in Vermont, I love their clear mission statement:

  • Inspire creativity by sparking the imaginations of children and adults with materials that allow them to learn and grow together.
  • Connect communities by bringing people together to play, create and explore in families, neighborhoods and across the globe.
  • Practice sustainability by Working with small businesses and artisans to supply families with heirloom quality, non-disposable toys that support healthy lifestyles in balance with the environment.

Nova Natural is such a terrific source for heirloom toys your kids will love now, and that you’ll be able to hold on to for grandkids as well! Something new: For this giveaway, I’m trying Rafflecopter. It’s a first for Design Mom. I hope it makes it easier for you to enter!.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Gabrielle Blair strawberry

By Gabrielle. Photo by Kristen Loken.

When I was in Salt Lake City in January, I was getting my hair done at the hotel spa, and the stylist and I started chatting about facials. She’s a huge fan of facials and tries to schedule one every month. It’s her big luxury/splurge. I was nodding along and thinking Yes! Facials! Amazing! The Best!, when I suddenly laughed at myself because I’ve never had a facial and don’t even have a clear idea of what actually happens during a facial.

From what I understand they can involve massage, steaming, exfoliating, masks, clearing of pores, and I’m not sure what else. I’ve also heard sometimes they take a long time, like an hour or more. I’m quite fascinated by the time factor, because that seems like a lot of minutes to spend on one not-that-big area of the body. Though I’m sure it makes sense while it’s happening,

Now, I’m not opposed to facials in anyway, nor am I opposed to whatever beauty routines or rituals that help you feel fantastic. And I’ve tried quite a few over the years. Hair stuff like color, cuts, and blowouts — even perms! And stuff like mani-pedis, waxing, and tinted brows. I’ve even tried laser hair removal, and as a teenager, I totally tried tanning beds. So I was surprised to realize I’d never booked a facial. I’m surprised again as I type this!

Then I remembered when I first met my sister-in-law, Lisa. Manicures came up and she told me she’d never had paint on her fingernails. I don’t know if that’s still true, but I remember being almost shocked. Never had your nails painted?!!! (Of course, someone reading this post is probably thinking, “Never had a facial?!!!”)

That made me wonder, what grooming/beauty appointments have you never scheduled? Maybe from simple disinterest, or maybe because you feel moral opposition to a certain beauty task? Is there anything you assumed you would do, and have been surprised you haven’t tried? Maybe you thought you’d color your greys, but never have?Also, on facials, what’s your take? Do you see a big difference in your skin when you get one? Or is it one of those more subtle things where you just feel better for doing it. I’d love to hear!

P.S. — Speaking of grooming, I had another hair appointment on Saturday and I’m platinum! You can see a peek on Instagram. I’m trying to put a fun photoshoot together that will show off the new do, and then I’ll write up a post about the whole process.

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A Few Things

February 27, 2015

Treehouse Dining Area

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends! How are you? How was your week? It was a good one at our house. Nothing too exciting, just the daily satisfying kind of stuff. (I love that stuff!) Next week will be busier — we have two birthdays coming up, plus a baptism. And it’s time to think about Easter plans as well, because it happens really early in April this year, and I know it’s going to catch me off guard if I wait till the end of the month. (Been there, done that.) If you need some inspiration, I put a whole bunch of Spring & Easter projects in the sidebar.

I’m have some appointments today, so I’m heading out of the office soon, but before I go, here are a few things I’ve wanted to share with you:

- Adopted as a Child, Now a Mother, Finally ‘Lucky’.

- This Onion article made me laugh.

- Oh no! Women are leaving the tech industry. Thanks, Allysha.

- Start Again. You are bound to be successful.

- Alt Keynotes! The videos from the Alt Winter Keynotes are ready to view. You can see Lisa Congdon‘s inspiring story, my entrepreneurial Q&A with Jess Lee & Susan Petersen, and Dallas Clayton‘s closing presentation that had everyone in tears. Really good stuff!

- My Aunt Robin shared this ad about PTSD guide dogs and I found it so impactful.

- A movie theater with a mission.

- Do you use Pinterest? Here’s a really good article about their new changes.

- Buying diapers on a budget.

- I’m not even sure how to comprehend this story.

- Have you ever tried to peel an egg like this?

- My sister-in-law, Margaret Blair Young’s Kickstarter is going so well! You can get in on the action here.

- I introduced a hashtag on Instagram this week and it has created the most delightful feed! Look up #DMlivingwithkids and see what I mean. Oh. And tag your own photos too — I’ll be sharing one or two each day.

I hope you have a fabulous weekend. We greet March on Sunday — that means Spring is on its way! For those of you who are up to your ears in snow and ice, I hope you the thaw begins asap. I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.

kisses,
Gabrielle

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