Tall House Updates: Take A Full Tour

Would you like to see a full tour of the Tall House? I shot this tour to give an overall sense of where we are with the renovations. We’ve made so much progress!

The upper 3 floors are basically done — there are a few little details to attend to, but it feels like the big work is finished. On the ground floor, some of the rooms are close to done, but others still need a lot of work. Once the essential plumbing is complete, our plan is to move in and finish the rest while we live there.

After sharing the tour, I also invited Q&A and answered a ton of questions. I’m going to share the Q&A in this post too. Come take a peek.

Ten Shortcuts For Better Cooking

As much as I like spending time in the kitchen cooking and baking, I’m always looking for new ways to save time in the process. Anything to hurry dinner along is appreciated by me and my hungry children. Happily, it’s possible to make a healthy, wholesome, quick meal while cooking from scratch at home.

Which brings me to my 10 Shortcuts for Better Cooking. You may already know some of the tips I’m going to share with you, but even if you do, consider this a nice reminder. And it’s pretty great to have them listed in one place!

Tall House Updates

Good things have been happening over at the Tall House since my last update, and lately, my mind is moving more and more toward decorating and furniture. In France, there’s been another lockdown, but stores are reopening starting this week, and I can’t wait to hit the brocantes and search out treasures. At the top of my shopping list? We need to find a bed for Oscar. He has a twin size right now, but we want to put something bigger in his room so that it can work for guests if needed.

Come see what we’ve been up to.

Covid Vaccination Comments From Readers Around the World

I was only in California for two and a half days, but while I was there I prioritized getting a covid vaccine shot. I sought out the J&J shot because it doesn’t require a second follow-up shot, and I wasn’t sure if and when I’d be able to get a second shot of another brand.

When I mentioned on Instagram that I had gotten a vaccine while in the U.S., I received a ton of DMs asking why I hadn’t gotten one in France. They were shocked to hear that I hadn’t had the option yet.

Vaccinations are definitely happening in France, but they seem to be a couple of months (or more) behind what’s happening in America. Currently in France, the under 50 age group is officially scheduled to begin being vaccinated mid-June. Though it sounds like things may be speeding up. Just last week, as I was headed to the U.S., they invited anyone 18+ to sign up for unclaimed doses of vaccine in their area. In some areas those appointments seem to be easy to find, in other areas, they are non-existent.

Based on the responses in my Instagram inbox, it became clear to me that a lot of Americans don’t really have a picture of what’s happening vaccination-wise in the rest of the world. So I started sharing vaccination comments from readers all over the globe. I thought you might like reading them too. They are really eye-opening.

Living With Kids: Noelle Nicolai

Noelle, her husband Matt Lybert, and their two kids share an absolutely charming 1750 square foot home outside of NYC. I am so excited to show it to you. Noelle had to get inventive to figure out school and work from home in a relatively small space, and managed well with some creative activities and use of a nearby family member’s home. This house is so smart and stylish. It’s full of art, bright light and thoughtfully chosen pieces (you can’t waste any space when there isn’t extra space to spare). Welcome, Noelle.

Easy DIY Constellation Jar

DIY Constellation Jar featured on top lifestyle blog, Design Mom

Because of my love of the stars, when my daughter was little, I purchased her a night light that shines stars all over her bedroom walls. After seeing a few light-filled jars on Pinterest, I had an idea to fill a jar with the constellations — and I was able to create my own constellation jar, using items I had around the house!

Newsletter: Hello From An Airplane

I wrote my latest newsletter from a plane, on my way to California. (I’m still on the plane as I write this post!). I took the photo above a few minutes after we left the airport. Flying always feels like a miracle.

In the newsletter, I shared a list of things on my mind (just like my Random Thoughts posts), and I shared a link list (just like my Few Things posts).

I hope you get a chance to read the newsletter and let me know what’s on your mind too.


The newsletter is completely free to access and read, but if you feel so moved to support my work, please consider a paid newsletter subscription: just $5/month or save money with the $50/annual sub. You can also go way above and beyond by becoming a Founding Member at $75. Not a fan of newsletters? You can support the work directly via Paypal or Venmo (@Gabrielle-Blair). Thank you! Seriously, thank you. Support from readers keeps the newsletter, and this blog, ad and sponsor-free.

Living With Kids: Miranda Rosbach

Today’s Living With Kids tour features the home of Miranda Rosbach who lives with her family in a suburb of St. Louis. Miranda said that one of the first things she fell in love with about their home is all of the natural light it gets and you can definitely see that as you look through these bright and airy photos. Miranda loves to create space where kids can entertain themselves and learn to be creative and it really shows with all of the books and art and art supplies they have around the home. Welcome, Miranda!

Newsletter: Grandparents Names

In my latest newsletter, I wrote about Names for Grandparents. I talked about my Grandma Lucille Pack (pictured above with her young children). Some of the questions on my mind:

-How did you/do you address your grandparents? Or great-grandparents?
-If you’re a parent, how do your kids address their grandparents?
-If you are a grandparent, or picture being one someday, how do you want your grandkids to address you?

I love the responses to the newsletter. So much variation and so many good stories — the variation is especially fun for me because I grew up thinking the general rule was that all grandparents were addressed as Grandpa or Grandma. Hah! Boy was I wrong.

I hope you get a chance to read the newsletter (and the responses!). The newsletter also includes links to interesting articles I’ve found around the internet.

Tall House Updates

It’s been another big week on the renovation front and I’m feeling so good. The woodwork in Betty’s room is now installed. We painted Flora June’s bed. Light switches and outlets are on the walls (and they’re gorgeous!). Oh — and we also found out the living room has false walls. Come see what we’ve been up to.

Living With Kids: Hallie Burton

Hallie Burton‘s energy and joy for life is completely contagious. It’s refreshing to find someone so equally enamored with her family life, professional life, and the city she calls home. (Ahhh, New York! It has that effect!)

And it’s a fabulous reminder that falling in love with your day-to-day doesn’t necessarily mean over the top gestures, jam-packed schedules, and excess. Sometimes, it means scootering to school, having a daily uniform, and simplifying the aesthetics that surround us. Yes, simplicity is a very good friend to Hallie and her sweet family. How inspiring!

Welcome, Hallie.

Slow Cooker Recipe: Rotisserie-Style Whole Chicken

Slow Cooker Recipe: Rotisserie-Style Chicken  |  Design Mom  #crockpot Yay! Another installment in my Slow-Cooker recipe series. And I know you’ll love it. Ready for one of the easiest meals ever? Seriously. It’s almost as easy as picking up a rotisserie chicken from the store. A good rotisserie chicken is probably our favorite quick dinner — just grab a baguette, some fruit and cheese, and maybe a few fun drinks, and you’ve got yourself an easy meal. Bonus: it’s also one you can take on the road for a picnic or to eat while you watch your child’s soccer game from the sidelines. And it’s so much better than hitting up the drive-thru. Something about this meal always feels festive — casual + sophisticated at the same time. And it pleases everyone in the family! Slow Cooker Recipe: Rotisserie-Style Chicken  |  Design Mom  #crockpot The great thing about slow cooking a chicken this way is that it ends up very juicy and flavorful. True, you don’t get the golden brown skin, but you get just as much flavor as you would with traditional roasting methods. The parchment paper is a little trick that will help keep the chicken from drying out. This same trick can be used for cooking pot roast or pork loin in the slow cooker too, so file that away for later! No liquid is added to the slow cooker because we don’t want the chicken to get mushy. It will release a lot of liquid as it cooks, and the slow cooker is lined with a sliced onion, which will also provide liquid as it cooks. This is a much shorter cooking time, but makes for a really juicy chicken that isn’t under — or over — cooked. No one likes over-cooked chicken! Slow Cooker Recipe: Rotisserie-Style Chicken  |  Design Mom  #crockpot The juices are really good, so be sure not to throw those away. Just like with Thanksgiving turkey, you can make a brilliant broth after all the meat has been removed. Just pop it back into the slow cooker and fill it up with water and you’ll have some amazing stock for soup or gravy. Hungry yet? Let’s get started. …

Tall House Updates: Attic Details & Attic Staircase

Getting closer and closer to moving in to the Tall House. The biggest recent project was repairing, prepping and painting the attic stairwell — the wall is two stories high, and curved, and on a staircase — so trying to figure out the ladder situation in order to reach every spot was tricky!

The house has also been busy with tradespeople. Gijsbert finished details in the attic, like wood trim and boxing in some pipes. Grant painted the parents bedroom. Jordan installed lights in the attic. Antoine put wood trim in Flora June’s room, and also worked on boxing in some pipework. And the hood was installed in the kitchen. We bought more bricks, painted Betty’s shelves, and I came up with something I’m calling “metal bandaids” for some holes in the wood floor.

Living With Kids: Anna Noel

Anna is an artist, and you can absolutely tell when you look through her beautiful Portland, Oregon home. Fun patterns, bright colors, and lots of art — all used in really thoughtful ways. Anna’s taken the time during the pandemic to refocus on her own creativity and work on her own art pieces (in between working her full time job before the kids wake up and after they go to bed), and she has some great advice on parenting through these tricky times. Welcome, Anna.

Parenting Book Announcement!

Some happy news: Ben Blair and I officially have a contract to write a parenting book! We’re still not sure on the title, and it will be published next year. We’re working with Artisan Books and the brilliant Lia Ronnen (they published my earlier book too!).

We spent many months of quarantine working on the book proposal and we’re so excited to write this book and share it with you.

Related, you can check out a discussion on Instagram with the prompt: What are your top parenting concerns? And speaking of parenting, I gave updates about our 3 oldest kids if you’d like to see:

Tall House Updates: Linseed Oiling the Ceiling Beams

Lots of house updates this week — the renovation work is really ramping up as we get closer and closer to moving in. One of the projects we finished last week was cleaning the ancient ceiling beams in the attic, and adding a protective coat of linseed oil. The beams are old and they are held together with wooden spikes, not metal or nails. This is a project we didn’t even know we needed to do until Grant told us about it, but we love the before and after.

When I shared about this on Instagram, I got lots of questions about the odor and I was confused because I really like the scent of the oil — I felt it was fresh and clean. I was also getting comments about how people eat linseed oil, and other comments about how toxic it is. It turns out Linseed Oil in France is a different product than Linseed Oil in the U.S.. Hah! The linseed oil we were using would be similar to flaxseed oil in America. I also got lots of comments about different ways to use linseed oil. I found it all very interesting.

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