A Collection of Random Thoughts

Half Moon Bay Miramar Beach

Photo and text by Gabrielle.

In July, you may remember I wrote a post with an identical title, and I’m toying with making it a regular once-a-month feature. In the old blogging days, before Instagram and Facebook and Pinterest, random thoughts like these might have become short blog posts. Those were the days where I would post on the blog 3 or more times a day! Things have changed and now my blogging is much more long-form — with lots of words, or lots of photos, or both. And those shorter posts have migrated to my social media accounts.

But sometimes I miss having those shorter posts here on the blog — because I know there are Design Mom readers who don’t follow along on social media. So a compilation post like this could be a good way to share all those little thoughts without overwhelming people with too many posts. And it’s also a way to let people share their thoughts on all sorts of topics. We’ll see. As you know, it’s always a big experiment for me. : )

On to the randomness!

1) The first thing I’m dying to tell you is that the backyard bridge is done! And the zip line is up! I’m super excited to share all the details with you. If I’ve hesitated, it’s because I’m finding it’s hard to capture a full photo that gives a sense of the scale — though I keep trying. I suppose I just need to share what I have so far. The whole thing is pretty dang fantastic, and the additions have added a major does of magic to the yard. If you’re feeling impatient for the post, definitely take a look at Instagram — I’ve shared (and continue to share) lots of photos there.

2) Summer is coming to an end. It’s been a good summer. Very laid back. And I’m not ready to face the daily school grind again. I’m holding on to these last two weeks of summer vacation with everything I’ve got! We signed up the youngest four for one more session of swimming lessons, and I’ve put a moratorium on screen time so that the kids get outside as much as possible. (Honestly, with the new bridge and zipline, it’s not that hard to tempt them to get out doors.)

3) Next week is our wedding anniversary! It’s a big one and we wanted to make sure we marked it properly, so Ben Blair and I (just the two of us!) are heading out on a little getaway. We’re going to Lake Louise in Canada! It is hard to express how excited I am about this little trip.

I’ve never been to Lake Louise, but I read about it when I was 19 year old — it was featured in a fashion article in the now defunct Victoria magazine. (Do any of you remember that magazine? I LOVED it!) I was so taken with the images of the mountain lake that I immediately got on the phone with the resort there to see if they were hiring. I was picturing a summer job in the mountains! But alas, it was quickly established that unless I had a work visa, I couldn’t get a job in Canada.

It was the first time I had ever heard of a work visa. I had no idea up until then. Hah! And though I couldn’t go there for work, I’ve had Lake Louise on my travel wish list ever since.

Have you ever been? Please tell me it’s as awesome in real life as it is in my head!

4) But: I seemed to have lost my passport!!! And I’ve never lost my passport. I’m actually pretty decent at keeping track of my stuff and I don’t typically lose things at all. I’m mystified. I remember having it at Alt Summer in June, but I haven’t seen it since. And it’s not in the usual spot where I keep it. So now I need to make a last minute appointment in San Francisco at the passport office.

I’m nervous this won’t work out and so I’m trying not to think about it and I keep searching new places in the house hoping my passport isn’t lost after all. It’s so last minute. We leave on Sunday! But I had no idea the passport was missing.

UPDATE: Passport found!! Huge sigh of relief.

5) We started back to school dates. I go shopping with each kid one-on-one. We pick out something for the first day of school and get a cupcake or go out to lunch. It’s a great way to connect with each child individually and hear their thoughts, hopes and fears about the upcoming school year.

Since I’m traveling next week, this is the key week for making it happen. Do you do something similar? It’s a pretty new tradition for us. We only started these back to school dates when we moved here. But the kids already seem to think of this as a long-standing tradition.

6) Maude is very close to getting her license. She has a permit and asks to drive at every opportunity — and of course, we want her to get as much time behind the wheel as possible. I feel like driving well is so much about logging hours. Right?

Not much to report on this. Just something that’s on my mind.

7) On Friday, we took a break from backyard construction and went to the beach. We tried a new-to-us beach on Half Moon Bay called Miramar. You can see it in the photo at top. The pros: beautiful, plenty of space, great waves, clean sand. The cons: no ice cream shack or surfboard rentals right on the beach.

Apparently it’s known as a surfing beach — and there was a surf camp going on while we were there. We loved it and will definitely be back.

8) Erin Conner, the architect I mentioned last month, is coming to take measurements on Wednesday morning. So awesome! I grin every time I think about the upcoming transformation in the master bedroom and bath. I know it’s going to be a ton of work, and totally disruptive. But worth it!

9) Remember I mentioned the kids have been taking sailing lessons? Well, Ben Blair has too. And suddenly, we now sail!!

We’re totally beginners of course, but we’ve spent two afternoons with rented sail boats on Lake Merritt here in Oakland so we can practice. (I say we, but I mean the family, and not me — I haven’t taken any lessons at all yet.) The thing that has surprised me the most: how much vocabulary there is that is related to sailing only. I feel like I’m learning a new language. Hah!

The other thing that has been a wonderful surprise: how much we love sailing. We love it so much that we’re killing ourselves that we didn’t start lessons the moment we moved here — it feels like wasted time. Because being able to sail is an amazing way to take advantage of one of the best parts of living here: the water!

Do you have any experience sailing? We’re laughing, because we’re so new to it but find ourselves already scheming about sailing off to exotic locales.

Anyway. As I said, lots of randomness. Feel free to comment on any topic above — or consider this an open thread and bring up a completely different topic. I can’t wait to hear what’s on your mind!

75 thoughts on “A Collection of Random Thoughts”

  1. Hi Gabrielle!

    As a Calgary native who spent most Saturdays skiing at Lake Louise I promise you are in for a treat! It’s far more beautiful in person than you can imagine. Hike, get tea at the tea house, relax, canoe. I’ve traveled plenty and there really aren’t many places as beautiful and serene as the Canadian rockies. I’m jealous of your trip. Have a great time and good luck with the passport!!

        1. second this as well having grown up in Edmonton. I also took off for a summer to work in Banff. So many hiking adventures that are well worth it. Also, canoeing on Lake Louise – you can rent one for an hr. The hike up to the tea house is about 2 hrs, similar to trails as you would find in N.California. If you want to go higher to the Big Beehive (above the teahouse and Lake Agnes, that looks over Lk Louise) bring hiking shoes (or boots). That’s where I was proposed to. Magical!

          1. Love hearing all the Albertans chime in! I’ve been living in Calgary for 6 years now and I come to appreciate my new home more and more every year. Banff is truly unique in its beauty and I feel lucky to live so near by. I may be biased, but the American Rockies just don’t compare! I am just sad I haven’t gotten out more this year (dang pregnancy ;)

  2. When I was a girl growing up in San Diego, every little girl got sailing lessons along with tennis, horseback riding, ballet. I was through Parks and Recreation. I’m 71 and I still remember how to do it. Give it a try. I know you will love it too.

    1. This is so inspiring, Sally Henry! My son took sailing for the first time through Parks and Rec this summer and loved it.

    2. Love that! Our sailing lessons are through Parks & Rec too. Olive took horseback riding in France, and all the kids took tennis lessons in France, but we haven’t continued either of those since we moved here. Instead we’ve been doing gymnastics and other sports.

      But I love the idea of sailing, tennis and horsebacking riding (and swimming too!), because they’re all activities that people tend to do for their whole lives.

  3. Christina Roberts

    Hi Gabrielle,

    I am also from Calgary and grew up skiing in Lake Louise. My husband lived and worked in Lake Louise for 4 years before we met, we actually went to the Chateau Lake Louise for our honeymoon! It is an amazing place. We recently traveled to Spain and met some people from the Maldives (we had to google this country, though we had heard of it we didn’t know anything about it) who had also been to Lake Louise and Banff and thought it to be simply breathtaking. I thought maybe I loved it because I am biased being that I was raised here but it was refreshing to hear people from somewhere so beautiful felt the same way I do about it!

    1. It’s fun, because anytime I mention Lake Louise to someone who has been there they can’t stop talking about it. Sounds like a super memorable place to visit!

  4. I LOVE the idea of back to school dates! I think we are going to have to incorporate that into our end of summer transition (I’m not ready for school either!) So glad you found the passport!

    1. We keep them super simple and low stress. Like, I don’t necessarily try to tackle everything they need all at once. Because shopping can get really boring for kids. So we’ll aim for a first-day-of-school outfit, or maybe just new shoes or a new backpack. And then we’ll stop for ice cream or a meal.

      I find I’m 1000% more likely to make the dates happen if I’m not too ambitious about it. Hah!

  5. I love these posts of what’s on your mind – I have a similarly random collection of topics knocking around my life any given week.

    Re: The remodel – I would love, love, love to see the floor plan you’re starting from and where you’re considering going. I also would love to see a full tour of the Treehouse at some point. I know you’ve done lots to adjust the decor and floorplan since you moved in, but we haven’t had an overview of the house since your post on the purchase process. I love seeing how these spaces work and evolve, and would be very interested in how all the spaces have come together.

    We’re getting ready to embark on a significant (for us) remodel of our two bathrooms and the three closets that surround them. Basically everything is in a weird place and we are moving walls and plumbing and trying to have it all make sense without moving any exterior walls, and without spending an absolute fortune. It’s tricky. I’ve never taken on a project of this size before, and am going back and forth about hiring a designer or working up plans on my own. I’m interested in how/why you chose to work with an architect. You said she mentioned the pros and cons – could you share? I’m intimidated!

    1. Yes! I totally need to write up more details. We’re having the architect do drawings, and then probably some consulting. And I’ll definitely share the drawing when they’re ready, plus the existing floor plan. Renovations are so intimidating!

  6. Lake Louise is beautiful. I like it best at dusk as their are less tourists and you can really take it all in. The colour of the lake is unreal.

  7. Surely your backyard is a perfect camera on a flying drone project for your son Ralph? You could get some great angles and perspectives for your blog (or Olive Us) and he’d get a new camera skill?

    1. Ooh, and wearing/holding a camera while going on the zip line or the bridge seems like a must as well.

      And so glad you found the passport! What a relief!

      1. Great ideas! We haven’t tried a drone yet — but my brother Jared (who lives in SF) has one. So we totally should. And Olive filmed while zip-lining, so we’ve tried that and it’s awesome.

        I wish I could get a shot from wayback, taking in the whole scene. But it’s surrounded by trees that block the view if I get back far enough. So I’m experimenting with different angles to see what I can capture.

  8. Lake Louise –and Banff, Canmore, Jasper, the hot springs — is stunning. So blue and magnificent. There are some inspiring hikes around the region, and Calgary is a pretty cool town, too. Have a great trip and a happy anniversary! That rope bridge rocks, btw! (And, sigh… the lovely Victoria magazine, alas no more…)

    1. We have one night in Calgary. I’m hoping to explore the next day — though I know it won’t be enough time. It’s a short trip, but I’m so grateful we get to take it!

  9. Gabby, I remember that article very in Victoria magazine! I thought it was the most beautiful place I’d ever seen (I didn’t get out much as a teenager), so I cut out the picture and posted it in my room. I completely forgot about that picture until now.

    I hope you have a wonderful time!

  10. Every time you write about sailing, I picture Bill Murray tied to the sailboat in the movie What About Bob? yelling “I’m sailing!” It makes me smile!

    1. Sorry, I don’t know why the title linked to Amazon- that wasn’t me- wouldn’t know how intentionally make that happen! Another book to check out at the library is the picture book Little Tim and the Brave Sea Captain and other Tim books by Edward Ardizzone- great illustrations and more of a fanciful fantasty. The Swallows books are good read aloud novels with lots of sailing lingo.

      1. Everyone probably already knows about Time of Wonder, a gorgeous picture book classic by Robert McCloskey, but I had to give in a shout out since it features sailing in Maine.

  11. Lake Louise is lovely in the summer. Definitely consider a hike up to the Lake Agnes Tea House. Its up a mountain and it gets chilly as you hike so pack accordingly. A beautiful view of the mountain range, the lake, the Hotel and if that is not enough of a motivation…..fresh.baking. made fresh in the tea house!

      1. only bring more of a hiking shoe (or boot) if you want to go up the Big Beehive to overlook Lake Louise. It’s about another 30-40 min above Lake Agnes and steeper than the hike up to the tea house.

  12. I was a big fan of Victoria when I was a teenager! I think there might still be a box of them in my parents’ basement. I think the magazine might be back – I think I’ve seen it on newsstands? Looks like the same one?

  13. Hey! I had to chime in because I’m one who doesn’t do social media much so I love these random thoughts posted here.
    We’re Bay Area too, but school starts tomorrow! I envy your two more weeks. I only have one starting back to school, but I like the idea of taking children to shop separately, and I might use that in a few years if it gets to be too much to take everyone at once. Can’t wait for your back to school outfits posts.
    Happy Anniversary! I’m sure your trip will be amazing.

  14. Lake Louise and the entire surrounding area will just blow your mind! We are from Moraga and when we went up there, we just couldn’t believe how different it was from anywhere we’d been (Tahoe, etc.). Be prepared to get stuck in traffic… behind the not-so-intelligent mountain goats that just kind of park themselves in the middle of the road! We also saw some bears (from far away, of course) and visited a dog-sled training facility (we were with our little kids and I wouldn’t say it’s a must for you and your hubby, but it was interesting). Definitely pack layers. The day we were at Lake Louise it was sleeting — in July! Have a great getaway and good for you for taking time for the two of you!

    1. Oh! I love you for saying it’s different than anything else you’ve seen. The thought of that makes me really happy. And thanks for the layers reminder. I should totally get packing.

  15. I love this post! It reminds me of the good days of blogging when people were more genuine instead of just trying to get more followers or sponsors. My parents have been to Lake Louise and loved it! Their pictures were so beautiful and couldn’t have had a better vacation. I now want to go there too. :) You will have a wonderful time!

    1. I know what you mean about the good old days of blogging. I try to be pretty good about adapting with the changes, but sometimes I miss the early blogging days too. (Though I confess, once things like Google Analytics came to be, it was hard not to check in to see what my numbers were like. Even in the early days.)

  16. I’m another Albertan (although now located in Central Canada) – I just wanted to chime in and say I’m excited for you to see Lake Louise in person for the first time! It makes me miss the west to think about it – the beauty and the scale of it just fill your heart.

  17. My husband proposed at Lake Louise after two weeks of backpacking in the Canadian Rockies. It is stunningly beautiful, and the perfect place to celebrate an anniversary! I hope you have a fabulous time!

  18. When you are at lake Louise, take some time to drive to closeby lake Moraine. It is one of the most beautiful lakes in Canadian rockies.

  19. We spent our honeymoon exploring Banff, Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, Jasper, and Calgary. We stayed at Moraine Lake Lodge – so cozy. Also enjoyed a romantic and memorable meal at the Post Hotel. The area is truly breathtaking! We loved it so and can’t wait to return alone and with our kids. Enjoy! And happy anniversary!

  20. I love the idea of a regular post full of random thoughts like this! I follow along on Facebook and Instagram but it’s nice to hear a little more about some of the photos I see. Plus, I don’t know about you, but I find that my Instagram feed gets saturated with so many posts that the ones I really care about seeing (like yours) get kind of lost. I find myself having to search for my favorites rather than just scrolling through. Maybe I just follow too many people on Instagram!

    I haven’t spent time at Lake Louise but did spend a few days driving through the area from Calgary to Vancouver around this time of year a few years back. Such a stunningly beautiful part of the world. We spent a day in Banff but didn’t have time to explore anywhere else. I would definitely go back in a heart beat. Calgary is quite a pretty city too. We went there for a visa renewal trip and weren’t expecting much (especially seeing as it had been flooded out a few weeks prior) but the whole family enjoyed our stay in Calgary. You can see some of our visit here: http://www.littlehiccups.net/2013/07/welcome-to-calgary.html

    Oh, and the backyard bridge and zipline? AMAZING! My kids saw your pics in my Instagram feed and right away they were asking “Can we go there tomorrow?” Ha!

    Happy anniversary and enjoy Canada :)

  21. As a Calgarian I’m excited for you to come visit our city! You should walk the
    path along the Bow River from Prince’s Island to St Patrick’s Island, stopping at the Simmons building for coffee and a snack from Sidewalk Citizen Bakery. The River Cafe on Prince’s Island is a magical place to eat with lots of Canadiana on the menu. Have fun at Lake Louise, we ski there all winter and the lake is just as beautiful covered in snow. I agree that you must go see Moraine Lake, it’s stunning! Happy anniversary and have fun!

    1. I’m from Calgary and totally second this advice!!! If you are only in the city for one night, this is a great way to enjoy it. Hope you have great weather. I love seeing pics of Lake Louise through the eyes of someone who has never been there before. Enjoy! :)

  22. So funny you mention Victoria magazine! That was the first time I ever heard of Lake Louise, too! Yes, there is a new reincarnation of Victoria magazine, and they try to copy the original, but I have not enjoyed it like the original under the editor Nancy Lindmeyer. Happy anniversary and have a wonderful trip!

  23. Hi Gabrielle,

    This post brought up so many fond memories of back-to-school shopping in my family! I am one of 4 daughters. My mom would take us each out for an individual shopping trip, and the rest of us got to spend time with our lovely grandmother. She always said with a wink and a smile that we would “get into mischief together,” and that we did! Mainly I remember how special it was both to spend time with my mom and with my grandma. Thanks for bringing back these memories!

  24. Lake Louise stopped me in my tracks when I first laid eyes on it, and I saw the pictures ahead of time! The Canadian Rockies are awe-inspiring. I went when I was 18 (roadtripped from Seattle with my best friend at the time). I now want to take my family there someday. Happy Anniversary!

  25. Love these random posts (and I even follow you on insta, etc.).

    For a dose of inspiration about sailing check out http://svsophie.com/ it is the blog of a family who has been sailing around the world for over a year now. Two parents, two kids. The mother is an old friend of mine. Their adventure is inspiring. Enjoy!

  26. I went to Lake Louise in June and LOVED it. It’s beautiful. Even just driving around the park, my jaw was dropped the entire time. We stayed in Banff. The town is very quaint and there’s lots of nice places to eat. We drove to Lake Louise on the second day… the colour of the water is unreal. Be sure to stop by Lake Moraine too. Have lots of fun Gabi! :)

  27. I love these Random Thoughts posts.

    I really like the idea of the back-to-school dates. I don’t have kids, but when I was growing up, starting school, and school ending were such HUGE things to me, so the idea of spending time one-on-one and not only shopping, but finding out what the kids are looking forward to, etc. is a great idea.

  28. I just have to mention that I loved Victoria magazine too! I got it all through late high school and college. I saved all the issues for years before finally clearing them out a couple years ago. ☺ beautiful magazine! It was like my pinter estate before there was such a thing!

  29. Lake Louise. So much to say. Are you staying at Chateau Lake Louise? You must hike up to the Agnes Lake Tea House, the Beehive and then carry on to the Plain of Six (hopefully) Glaciers Tea House. Views are stunning. Tea houses are charming. Then hike back along the far side of the lake. It would be a big day, but worth it. Rent a red canoe on the bluest waters. Relax on the hotel terrace looking back at the mountains, glaciers & lake and maybe spot some other hikers way up on Beehive. Banff is nearby and Banff Springs Hotel is magical – stay there too or just go for a meal. Google maps shows the trails I mentioned, but the hotel has directions etc. Enjoy the beauty. Another spot – Emerald Lake lodge in Yoho…but perhaps for another trip.

  30. This may already have made the comments (I didn’t read through them), but The Truffle Pig in Field, BC is totally worth the (short) trip. It has definitely changed in the ten years since I’ve been there (they have a website, for one: http://www.trufflepigs.com/bistro/), but I hear the food is still fabulous.

  31. I love the random thoughts post…
    I dont follow you on twitter, instagram so I definitely like this post. Its sort of how I feel I would want to blog/update on the happenings in my life. :)
    Have an amazing getaway!


  32. I’m late to the game– I usually am, in the blogging world– but I wanted to add a “what I’m going through” thought: I’m battling with my father-in-law about Disney. He has a fondness for sending Disney stuff to our house via their website. UGH. It’s a passive-aggressive business, all done via Facebook messages, and I’m trying to use lots of please and thanks and constructive alternative suggestions… He doesn’t send anything else from any other website, even though I KNOW he knows how to shop The Internet… ARRRRGH.

    During one said passive-aggressive message, I even walked over to my bookshelf and opened up your book to the appropriate page. It helped me, but not him.

  33. Lake Louise – lovely Lake Louise! Stayed there exactly 20 years ago (and 9 months later our Banff-Baby was born .-)). And that was also the last time we were in Canada – definitely time to return!!

    Grania (Germany)

  34. I grew up in Calgary, Alberta and I will tell you that Lake Louise will definitely live up to the hype. It is definitely awesome in real life and you picked a lovely time to go.

    This is my first time commenting on your blog, but I am a long time reader. I love your blog and I just finished your book. Thank you for all of the inspiration and positivity and awareness that you send into the world. I wish we had many more voices as real and uplifting and measured as yours.

  35. I live in Calgary, so I’m just a couple of hours away from Lake Louise. I actually don’t remember the last time I was there though! I’m realizing more and more that I definitely take for granted the beautiful place that I live in. I’ve lived here all my life, so going to Banff and area sadly isn’t a big deal to me, though it really should be!
    I hope you and Ben are enjoying your time there!

    Kristi | Be Loverly

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