New Year’s Resolutions + Kids

I adore making goals and resolutions. I love having a plan — even if the plan falls through. And I love having a handy list of goals and daydreams where I can focus my thoughts when I’m discouraged or distracted. Goals and Resolutions function as a map for me as I head into the foggy unknown of the new year.

Our family keeps a journal where we record our resolutions. To help our kids get started thinking about the coming year, they get a short reminder (read: lecture) about what resolutions are for — to become better people. Then, Ben Blair and I offer them prompter questions to get them started:

8 Secrets to The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

Chocolate chip cookies. Could there be a more perfect cookie in the world? And in my book, knowing how to bake them — and get a consistent outcome every time — is a basic life skill.

There are chocolate chip cookie variations. Thin and crispy with loads of butterscotch flavor. Soft and cake-y, dotted with a few chocolate chips. Or a fan favorite: irresistibly chewy and chock-full of dark, gooey chocolate.

For this tutorial, we’ll go with chewy chocolate chip cookies. But it will also include tips for creating different kinds of cookies (as mentioned above) and include troubleshooting advice as well. In no time at all you’ll be confidently playing around with your own recipe to make The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie.

Living With Kids: Jacey Prupas

I know you’re going to enjoy Jacey’s story. She’s a mom working as an attorney, trying hard to reconcile her innate style and decor leanings with the reality of living with tiny stain machines! Her family is also living in a home affected by the burst of the Reno housing bubble, but they’re just fine staying put. With their family close-by and their children attending the very same preschool as Jacey did, they’re certainly not stuck. Such a wonderful way to view an often stressful situation, isn’t it?

Friends, please help me welcome Jacey and please enjoy this tour around her home.

What To Stock In Your Art Supply Cupboard

I received an email from a reader that said: Hi Design Mom, I would LOVE it if you would consider doing a post about art supplies. I always wonder what staples I should keep on hand.

If you’ve never set up an art supply cupboard before, it can be intimidating. Craft stores and art supply stores are huge! How do you know where to start? But it’s a good answer to figure out, because a well-stocked art supply makes it a thousand times easier to get creative with your kids.

So here’s a list of 15 Art Supply Essentials + 4 Helpful Secrets. Keep your cupboard stocked with these suggestions, and you’ll be ready for pretty much any idea your budding artists come up with.

Measuring the Impact of Ejaculate Responsibly

One of my big overarching goals with the Ejaculate Responsibly book, is to see it make a wide and deep impact. I understand it’s an ambitious goal, but I really want this book to help shift the unproductive conversations we’ve been having about abortion for decades, and focus them on something more concrete and practical. 

I know it takes time to truly and accurately measure impact, but I’m impatient, and I’m a visual learner, so I thought it would be really neat to try to visualize the impact the book is having, or is going to have. So I’ve come up with a few “impact measurement goals” that I’d love your help with.

Impact Goal Number One: The Supreme Court

My first goal is getting the book into the hands of every Supreme Court Justice, all nine of them. And not just one copy. I want them to receive a bunch of copies. I’m thinking about their staff, their interns, their clerks — and want all of them to receive copies too. I’m thinking that if a Justice’s office receives a lot of books, with a lot of personal notes from people impacted by the Supreme Court’s decisions, the Justices are more likely to pay attention to the book and more likely to read it. 

So, I kicked things off by ordering a book for the five justices who voted to overturn Roe: Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, Coney-Barrett, and Thomas. And you’re invited to send books too!

Design Mom’s Favorite Christmas Books

The Best Christmas Books featured by top US lifestyle blog, Design Mom: image of a child reading How to Grinch Stole Christmas

Tis the season to read holiday books while snuggled up on the sofa. Here’s a list of our top family favorites — and a few new-to-us titles too. 

Some of these books are good for older readers (even grown ups) and some for the littlest listeners. Some are religious and sentimental, others are completely secular. But altogether, I think they make a really good collection.

For each title, I’m including links to — it’s an online option that supports local independent bookstores. I’ll also include an Amazon link for each title, because I know some of you have credit there you’d like to use.

A great book-related idea: My sister-in-law Erin wraps up 25 Christmas books and uses them as an advent calendar — her kids unwrap one each day and read it as a family. (If you don’t have 25 Christmas books, you could start with what you have and borrow some from the library.)

You’ll notice this list is focused on Christmas books — because that’s the holiday my family celebrates, and it’s the one I know best. But obviously, there are lots of winter holidays that are celebrated across the world, so if you have recommendations for non-Christmas holiday books, I’d love to learn about them. Feel free to add links or titles in the comments.

38 Awesome Gift Ideas for Teens

Top Gift Ideas for Teens featured by top life and style blog, Design Mom: image of wrapped holiday gifts

Your #1 most requested gift guide category? Teens! This gift guide includes 38 options — 18 of those are $20 or under. Lots of great stocking stuffers too.

My own teens were a huge help figuring out what to put on this list. There’s something here for every type of teen you can think of. I’ve got all the Breakfast Club stereotypes covered, and a whole bunch more as well.

Let’s get started. 

Holiday Prep Supplies

This is a great week to gather holiday supplies. I start by assessing my ribbon and wrapping and gift box stash, and filling in any gaps. (I stock up now for the whole year because prices are best this time of year.)

As for decor, we’ve been gathering it over 25 years of marriage, so in general, we have plenty. But I do notice that every year when we unpack the storage boxes, there’s an item or two that’s beyond repair or looking too shabby and needs to be replaced. So I like window shopping the holiday decor displays so that I know what’s out there, in case I need to pick something up.

Here are some of my very favorite sources for holiday prep:

Making Handmade Gifts — 15 Very Cool Projects

Gorgeous Handmade Gift Ideas featured by top US lifestyle blog, Design Mom: wooden spoons

Let’s talk handmade gifts. My tendency to focus on handmade gifting seems to wax and wane over the years. Sometimes I’m really into it — gathering ideas and supplies for weeks and then setting aside several days to work on the projects. Other times I’m perfectly content to buy something ready made.

For those of you who like to make gifts for the holidays, I’ve collected 15 really good ones that I think you’ll love. It’s a wide range of projects, and so many of them are great to make with kids. Especially 4, 5, 9 and 10.

Scotland Travel Advice From Readers

During Fall Break, while our kids had time off school, we spent three days in Scotland! We loved it so much. We spent time in Edinburgh, and spent a day on Isle of Skye doing three famous hikes — The Fairy Pools, Old Man of Storr, and The Quiraing (the image above is from The Quiraing hike). You can find a full report from our trip in the Instagram Highlights called Scotland and Scotland 2.

When we were planning the trip, we received so many helpful DMs with advice and recommendations, and I thought I would share them here for anyone else planning their own visit to Scotland. Note: Our trip was the first week of November, so the advice below may or many not apply depending on when your trip is scheduled.

Apple Votive DIY

Apple Votive DIY

Let’s make apple votives! This is the ideal fall project. It’s simple, it’s easy, and you probably have everything you need to make these in your house right this minute. They’re the first Martha Stewart project I ever tried (way back in 1997!). And they’re still one of my favorites.

Making apple votives is super easy and doesn’t take much time at all. The finished display is so pretty and festive it makes for a really satisfying project.

Living With Kids: Anne McGraw

There’s often a little internal struggle when all of our life’s dreams don’t look exactly like they did with our eyes closed. Even if the reality is just as wonderful and just as ideal, it takes a moment or two of growing pains to adjust! So I completely understand when Anne talks about her reticence to fully embrace suburban life for a while. Homes all on top of each other and neighbors knowing when you’re leaving and when you’re coming home wasn’t how she envisioned her life, but their location and all the lovely friends they’ve made in their neighborhood turned out to be a huge factor in the happiness levels of her family! Eyes closed or open, that is just heavenly.

Friends, I hope you enjoy the bright colors and bright ideas in this tour. I sure did! Welcome, McGraw family!

Recipe: Easy Meatball Stroganoff

Creamy, protein-filled sauce poured over noodles or rice? It’s a universal favorite at our house. And this is hands down the easiest version ever, because it’s made with frozen meatballs instead of stew meat or hamburger. Even your pickiest eaters will want to gobble this right up. (Even if there are a few mushrooms pushed to the side — you can’t win them all.) I’m confident you’ll declare this recipe a winner.

Usually stroganoff includes buttered noodles or homemade spaetzle or even rice. And a perfect side dish to pair it with is braised red cabbage — find the simple recipe in the notes below in case you want to make it too.

Okay, so let’s get into how easy it is to make this meatball stroganoff!

How to Make a Book Cover

How to Cover a Book tutorial featured by popular lifestyle blogger, Gabrielle of Design Mom

As a high-school student, covering my textbooks was always something I looked forward to, (so that I could fill the blank covers with I-heart-Morrissey). With a new school year, it’s the perfect time for a little refresher course on covering books, don’t you think?

Newsletter: Talking To Myself On Long Walks

For the last couple of weeks I’ve needed to get out some extra energy, and I’ve been taking long solo walks of an hour or more, usually in the evening after dinner. These are not fitness-focused walks — I’m not breaking a sweat or anything like that. I’m just walking, sort of wandering. I figured I would listen to a podcast or audiobook while I walk, and sometimes I do. But a lot of the time, I’m not listening to anything and instead, I’m just working out ideas and arguments in my head — or voicing aloud my thoughts as I talk to myself. I keep my headphones in, so maybe if someone sees me talking to myself, they’ll assume I’m on a phone call. : )

Click here to read the whole newsletter. It’s free!

Living With Kids: Alana Chernecki

Alana is agreeable and affable and just downright happy. She knows what she needs to achieve that happiness, including beautiful spaces that work for her family and inspire them to be great…and her sleeping arrangements. (You might not agree with those, but I am sure Alana would laugh and wave away your worries! She is no longer a sleep-deprived grump and wants to shout it from the rooftops!)

Come see Alana’s home. I love the story of her background, and I think you will, too. Welcome, Alana!

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