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.

Living With Kids: Julie Schumacher

I met Julie way back in 2015. You know how some people just fill the room with light and energy? That’s Julie. She’s a brilliant mom and brilliant writer. Julie and her family are in Oak Park, Illinois and I was fascinated to hear how she and her husband formed a mini school and pod at their house to make it through the last year. And the way they’ve added a school and a gym to their home is just wonderful. Welcome, Julie!

Living With Kids: Amanda Wade

What a treat! We all get to take a peek around Amanda’s house today. She and her family live in sunny Southern California and this house has all the bright whites and sunny windows to prove it. And the design details are also just so thoughtful. Soft blues, interesting textures and really beautifully chosen pieces. It really is such a treat. Welcome, Amanda!

Painted Bricks For The Garden — Easy Craft Project!

painted-bricks 3

We found a small collection of random bricks in the backyard from the previous owner and wanted to use them somehow. With a little paint and those random bricks, I worked with my kids to create a fun cityscape in my favorite hues — berry reds!

This project is ideal for children. The painting can be done outside! Also, painting bricks does not require precise painting. Again, hooray! Just let the kids paint. They will love it. An adult can go back later and add the details. There is no right or wrong and the details can be really, really simple.

painted-bricks 8

Don’t have loose bricks or cinderblocks laying around? Check places like Craig’s List for reclaimed building supplies, or head to your local home and garden store — and feel free to bring your kids. There are so many options, they will definitely love picking out their own “houses”.

A Few Things

Hello, Friends. Happy Friday! How are you? Did you have a good week? We are in another lockdown, so the kids were doing school-from-home today. And for the next two weeks, the whole country of France is on Spring Break, so the kids will also be home, but won’t have to think about school. (Our Spring Break was originally scheduled for the first two weeks of May, but it was shifted to April and included as part of this new lockdown.)

We’re not sure if it’s possible, but we really, really want to move in to The Tall House at the end of this month, so during the next two weeks, we’ll be over at the house quite a bit — sanding floors in a couple of rooms, working on more painting, and trying to complete as much of the dusty work as possible before we move in.

I’ve got a great link list for you today. Here are a few things I’ve wanted to share:

Tall House Updates: Making Limewash Paint

We made our own wall paint! No for real. It’s called limewash paint. It’s super safe, earth-friendly, and only has three ingredients: Lime, Pigment, and Water. I did not know that making wall paint was a thing you could do, but we did it and we loved it! We loved the process, the application, and how it turned out.

I shared all the details — the materials, the mix we made, how we applied it, how many coats, and one of the most helpful how-to videos — on Instagram, and I’m going to share it here too.

How Long Does It Actually Take To Learn A Language?

In my latest newsletter, I wrote about the realities of moving to a new country and learning a language. I discuss what it’s like for younger kids and older kids. I share favorite resources. I talk about the other kinds of “mini-languages” that you need to learn that you might not have thought of. I’ve been hearing from lots of people who are thinking about making a move to France and are especially curious about language skills. Do they need to learn French before moving here? Do the kids needs to learn French before enrolling in school? If you’re someone who is curious about what our language-learning experience has been like, the newsletter has a whole lot of info you’ll hopefully find helpful. I’ll share an excerpt here, or you can click to read the whole thing (it’s free!). Here’s the excerpt:

Something you might not realize until you’re in the middle of it is that learning a language means acquiring four different skills: Listening Comprehension, Reading, Speaking, and Writing. These might seem like they are all essentially the same thing, but they are actually separate. You can understand someone who is speaking French, without being able to speak French yourself. You can read French, without being able to write French. If you want to learn to do all four, you have to work on each specific skill. And I would recommend doing so in the order I listed: Listening first, writing last.

I’m especially having a hard time with the speaking part. To really do this well requires immersion; spending a lot of time with people who are only speaking French, where you can’t fall back on English. I rarely if ever get this kind of opportunity, because I’m working in English all day long. And it’s a pandemic, so get togethers haven’t really been an option.

Another issue for me, is having lots of bilingual people around me. Ben Blair speaks French well. The kids speak French very well. And most of my French friends here also speak English well. So I’m rarely forced to speak French for extended periods of time. I can run errands, and do the basics, but I need much more practice.

One more reason I’m not progressing as fast as I should be, is that I know just enough French to manage. I studied French in high school, and a semester of college. I feel like I didn’t gain much from those studies at all — though I still have a poem memorized. Hah! — but those studies did give me a head start on reading and a few basics. (Ben also studied French in high school.)

Click here to continue reading.

A Guide To Cleaning Your Tech Devices

11 Secrets to Cleaning Your Tech Devices. Laptops, cameras, smart phones, etc.

When tackling Spring Cleaning, don’t forget about the technological devices that we use every single day and might need sprucing up the most.

I hold my cell phone and home phone in my hands each day, touching the buttons and screens, holding it to my face. I allow my children, with their sticky little fingers, to play games and send texts to their dad or have a chat with Grandma. My laptop screen is smudged by the same tiny fingers. Crumbs lurk between the keys. My camera and lenses shows signs of my last food shoot. Don’t get me started on the desktop computer! I’m not sure I can remember the last time it was properly dusted and wiped down.

11 Secrets to Cleaning Your Tech Devices. Laptops, cameras, smart phones, etc.

Then there’s the television with diaper cream stuck in the speakers and even more smudges on the screen. (Or is this just my house?) I’ve read that these devices with their many buttons and screens harbor more germs than the toilet! Ew!

So how, and how often, should these things we use daily, these things we can’t seem to be without, be cleaned? This post will cover the nitty gritty of keeping your technology dusted, clean, and smudge free.

A Few Things

Hello, Friends. Happy April! How are you? How was your week? We’ve had good things and not-so-great things this week. A good thing: We finished the entryway bricks! A not-so-great thing: France has a new lockdown starting tomorrow. A good thing: Because we’ll be home for the rest of the month, the family won’t need to get up early. (It’s a small bright spot, but I’ll take it!)

This weekend, we’re going to do some spring cleaning, figure out something simple to do for Easter, and maybe do some baking. If the weather is good, maybe we’ll work in the Secret Garden. How about you? How is your weekend shaping up?

Ready for your link list? Here are a few things I’ve wanted to share:

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