Tall House Updates

Updates at the Tall House continue steadily. Roofing repairs, more tile work, uncovering the floors in the atelier/studio/craft room, and clearing out the yard. Come see what we’ve been up to.

How Many Selfies Are Too Many Selfies?

I’d love your thoughts on selfies (or self portraits if that sounds more agreeable). The other day, I wondered if I was taking enough of them. Then immediately was embarrassed for thinking such a thought. I’ve been instagramming since 2013 — the year the selfie was recorded as a global phenomenon. As I write this, I’ve shared 2424 posts, and if I scroll my feed, my face doesn’t show up very often. Interestingly, I end up showing my face on Instagram Stories quite a bit more — not as selfies, but in footage of me talking about the Tall House.

It’s got me thinking: am I not showing up enough in the record my own life? Will my kids have pictures of me with them? Pictures of me participating? Or am I spending too much time behind the camera? Does it matter?

Living With Kids: Melissa Clark

Melissa and her wife reached out to share their beautiful home in the Living With Kids series and we’re so lucky she did. Their home is charming — bright open windows, beautiful pieces throughout, and gorgeous outdoor space. Like so many of us they have spent more time in that outdoor space in the last year than probably any other time of their lives. They’ve adapted, changed up bits of the routine, and have learned to appreciate the “slowing down” that was caused by a year at home. Welcome, Melissa!

A Few Things

Hello, Friends. How are you? How has your week been? Since the kids are out of school this week, we have been using our mornings to explore off-the-beaten-path Normandy — and doing a lot of baking. This weekend, maybe we’ll visit a couple of brocantes we haven’t been to before, maybe do some bike riding, and Olive will head back to Paris (sad face). How about you? Any plans?

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

Tall House Updates

Here’s the latest happenings at the Tall House. First up, a couple of weeks ago I shared floor plans. I also invited Q&A about the floorplans:

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The Definitive Guide to the Best Nicknames

Definitive Guide to the Best Nicknames

My wonderful mother-in-law, Julia Blair, gave extravagant nicknames to her children. Ben’s is: Benjerbomboom. His siblings (or maybe it was the neighborhood kids) gave him another one: Ben-Benji-Bare-Bottom-Burp-Baby-Blair. All of his siblings have terrific nicknames. A sampling: Jenettikins, Blopsy, Caroliney-Deeny-Diny, Margretchie, and Deedle-Doos. (Just by reading those names aloud, you can probably guess that my mother-in-law was a wonderful singer. And you’d be right.)

My name is Gabrielle but I grew up with the nickname Gabby. Since I talk a lot, it’s always been a good fit. (Hah!)

We were telling our kids about their aunts’ and uncles’ nicknames, and realized that at our house, we’ve hardly used nicknames at all. Ralph is occasionally Ralphie. Maude is once-in-awhile Mimi. Olive is Olive. Oscar is Oscar (with an experimental Osc here and there). Betty is always Betty. And Flora June is Flora when speaking French, and June when speaking English. I love the idea of nicknames and was kind of surprised to realize we didn’t commonly use them.

Also, nicknames and alternate names always make me think of Dostoevsky. I swear, he uses like 10 different names for each character he introduces.

What are your thoughts on nicknames? Do you have one? Do your kids? Do you know anyone that was given a nickname as an adult and it stuck?

P.S. — The names that got away.

Living With Kids: Katy Regnier

There are houses that scream “THREE CHILDREN LIVE HERE!” as soon as you walk through the door and over a small pile of plastic joy, and there are houses that whisper “Three children live here,” and leave you looking for any traces of babies or toys or…fun. Katy‘s home lies somewhere perfect in between, stating contentedly “We live here.” And isn’t that the loveliest thing a home can say? Friends, I’m delighted to introduce you to Katy and her sweet family. Enjoy!

Salt Dough Easter Eggs DIY

DIY Salt Dough Easter Eggs featured by popular lifestyle blogger, Design Mom

Easter is on its way and I am very much looking forward to it. I’m ready for the bright colors, the pastels, and anything with spring green. And I am helping it along with the bright tones of these Salt Dough Easter Egg Ornaments.

A Few Things

Hello, Friends. How are you? How was your week? Our kids have a two-week school vacation that starts this weekend. Last year for this school break, we drove to Switzerland to enjoy a few days in the snow. For this pandemic variation, we’ll focus on movie marathons, baking, and lots of reading time.

Speaking of reading, I’m happy to report I did some casual fiction reading and really enjoyed it! (I know I mentioned I haven’t been able to enjoy fiction lately.) We started listening to the audio version of book one of the Scythe series on our last drive to Paris, and I was into the story, so ended up getting the kindle versions and zipping through all three. It feels like it had been soooo long since I had gobbled up a story like that. Now I’m on the hunt for another good fiction read. Would definitely love to hear what you’ve enjoyed reading lately.

Ready to dive into links? Here are a few things I’ve been wanting to share with you.

Tall House Updates

Another exciting week of progress at the Tall House. And at the Small House! We weren’t originally planning on working on the Small House this week, but we’re so glad it could happen.

A man named Guillaume helped us with our radiators a couple weeks ago and was looking for additional projects. We showed him our (seemingly endless) list of projects and asked what aligned with his skills, and he mentioned his father (who is retired) was a roofer. Guillaume thought tackling the Small House roof repairs, with the direction of his father, would be ideal. So we said: Go for it!

Living With Kids: Laura George

[ Note: This is one of the first home tours to be featured in this series, which now includes almost 450. It was originally published in March 2014. Readers loved it then, and I think you’ll love it now as well. ]

More than a few of Laura’s photos sent for inclusion in her tour had the word sun in the name. Those three little letters made me like her so much. I guess people looking for the bright side have always been my favorites.

There’s so much sunshine in this tour, Friends. From the very first description of her kids to how she describes her home to her final answer about the way our children honestly see us, it’s all real and refreshing. (Neville sounds like a hoot!) Please enjoy it!

A Few Things

Hello Friends. How are you? Did you have a good week? The big adventure at our house over the past few days was snow. Our area is very rainy, but snow is rare, so it was a fun change of pace. It’s also been below-zero cold all week, but will start warming up again on Sunday — next week should be in the 40s and 50s. I’m especially grateful for the coming warmer weather because it makes the renovation work go more smoothly.

This Sunday is Valentine’s Day. To celebrate, we like to host a simple breakfast for the kids — it’s so nice when the 14th falls on a weekend and we can make it a brunch instead. If I get a burst of energy, maybe we’ll make some heart-shaped sugar cookies as well. How about you? Anything Valentines-y happening at your house? (Lots of fun ideas here.)

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

Tall House Updates

Here’s the latest progress at the Tall House. Some things slowed down this week because the roads have been closed due to snow, but there was still lots of happy progress.

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First up: Progress in Flora June’s bedroom! Antoine, the carpenter came by to install some wood trim in her room, but it was so cold and humid he worried the wood might warp. So he’s going to come back once the radiators are working. In the meantime, Grant prepped the walls and painted. Flora June chose F&B Skylight (a very light blue) for the upper walls — but really it’s temporary, because she’s interested in wallpaper for the upper walls.

Living With Kids: Amber Johnson

Today I am going to introduce you to Amber, a nurse midwife who lives with her family in Boulder County, Colorado where her husband works in software. Because COVID forced them to move their kids to online school like so many others, Amber and Josh decided that this might be the perfect time to move over seas, and Amber recently accepted a nursing teaching position in Uganda starting in the fall of this year. Amber graciously opened her home to us before they finalize preparations to leave. Welcome, Amber!

A Few Things

Hello, Friends. How are you? How was your week? I’m still feeling that Pandemic Wall. I find I’m resistant to making even small plans, and hesitant . Probably some good rest will help, so I’m keeping the weekend as clear as possible.

The only for-sure activity is watching Wanda-Vision with the kids after dinner tonight. Have you been watching? We are very into it. And maybe we’ll play a round of Blair Monopoly — Oscar made it for us for Christmas and it’s so a full-on treasure.

Ready for your weekend links? Here are a few things I’ve been wanting to share:

Tall House Updates

Here are some of the latest Tall House Updates. First up: We had the Lacanche Range tuned. The term for a range (oven+stove) in French is piano, so getting it tuned makes sense. : ) We also had the chrome details replaced with brass details.

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Galette Des Roi

In France throughout the month of January (and into February too), pretty much every bakery carries Galette des Roi, which translates to King Cake. I’m told January 6th is the official King Cake day, but it was also made clear to me that you can enjoy a King Cake celebration any day, all month long.

Though the tradition stems from the Catholic Day of Epiphany and is tied to the Nativity Story and the Three Kings, we’ve attended several King Cake gatherings over the years and we’ve never heard anyone mention Epiphany or the Three Kings, so it seems like one of those traditions that has become pretty secular.

A Few Things

Hello, Friends. How are you? Last Friday we were in Paris (and I shot the photo above), and it already feels like a million years ago. My whole concept of time is just bizarre these days. You two?

We have a very open, very unplanned weekend ahead of us and that sounds exactly right. If we have the energy, I’d like to work on the floors in Oscar’s room over at the Tall House. (We’ve never uncovered them all the way before and I hope there aren’t any negative surprises.) But I would also be fine if we just stay in and have a movie marathon. How about you? Anything happening for you this weekend?

I hope you’re in the mood for a link list, because I’ve got a great one for you. Here are a few things I’ve been wanting to share:

Introducing: Newlane University

Several years ago Ben Blair launched a startup company: an affordable online university called Newlane. He started the university with his education-tech-philosophy-collaborator (and my brother), Josh Stanley. I talked about the startup back in 2016 when they launched with a kickstarter — when it was still an idea and not a full-fledged university — and I’ve been mostly quiet about it ever since, while they worked on accreditation. But the big news (the very good news!) is that International Accreditation with ASIC has been achieved!!!

The accreditation process is intense. So much more intense than I would have ever guessed. The process is ongoing over multiple years and requires a huge investment of dedication, time, and money. So we are celebrating big time over here! Founding and building a university from scratch, and earning ASIC accreditation, is incredible. I know the sacrifices they’ve made to reach that goal, and I’m super proud of them for what they’ve accomplished.

To celebrate the good news, I thought it would be fun to interview Ben about Newlane. I get asked all the time about what he does for work, and when I answer, people are genuinely curious to know more, and they have lots of great questions. I thought this would be a cool way to cover the most frequently asked questions, and give a good overview about the university.

Q. For those who don’t know you, give us a little bit about your background and how it led to starting a university.

A. My background is in philosophy and education. I did a Philosophy BA at BYU for undergrad, then, when we moved to New York, I did two Masters degrees and a PhD in Philosophy & Education at Columbia University.

I am very conscious about the rising costs of college — especially so as a father of six. When Josh (who has 5 kids) approached me with the idea of creating a university that offered a 4-year accredited degree at the lowest cost possible, I was on board immediately.

The school is still very small, so everyone on our team wears multiple hats and takes on multiple roles, but my main role is Director of Education for the university.

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