10 Great Books For Valentine’s Day

Looking for a special book for that special someone? I’ve got ten ideal recommendations for you from award-winning children’s book author, Carter Higgins. These books should satisfy that longing to express love in words and pictures, whether your Valentine is a tiny tot, a partner, or one of life’s dearest friends.

1) Oh, The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams might be the most gorgeous rendering of love in all of literature. It’s harder to find a more fitting description of the side effects of being loved than described in this book. May this be true in your lives on February 14th, and every day after!

2) Eve Bunting and Jan Brett have a Valentine’s Day gem in The Valentine Bears. Because bears are usually deep in a winter slumber in the middle of February, Mr. and Mrs. Bear have never celebrated a Valentine’s Day together. So this season, Mrs. Bear sets an alarm clock for the special day, and prepares the best of parties for Mr. Bear. Their love is so romantic and real, and chocolate covered ants have never sounded so delicious.

3) Ever wondered what would happen if you really did plant a kiss? In Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Peter Reynold’s Plant a Kiss, our Little Miss plants one in the ground and carefully tends to it. Soon it blossoms and blooms into something delightfully shareable. The words are spare and lovely, and the tenderness is hypnotizing. (And it truly sparkles thanks to glitter in the illustrations!)

4) Is anything more lovable than the monkey on the cover of Jez Alborough’s Hug? His banana-shaped grin on the sunshine colored cover makes me smile every time I see it. All he wants is a hug – a perfect monkey-sized mama hug made extra special and just for him.

5) Valentine’s Day doesn’t need to roll around to enjoy I Like You, but it seems especially sweet this time of year. The sentiment of a love story or a beautiful friendship are stuffed into this little book. It might be the most perfect gift you ever leave with someone you love.

Living With Kids: Janette Maclean

My most sincere apologies before we even begin, friends! Because Janette Maclean’s home is going to make you want to shop. And collect. And shop some more. And then collect some more. For antiques and uniques of any genre, treasures without a care about provenance, and anything and everything one-of-a-kind meaningful in between. This is a home decorated with layers and layers of love and wanderlust, brightening today like an unexpected postcard from the other side of the world. Please enjoy it!

Chocolate Alphabet Wraps — Plus a Free Printable!

This is the cutest little project! And even if you are not crafty, this is doable, I promise. Can you print things out? Can you buy chocolate? Do you have scissors and tape? Then you can make these! You’ll love writing sweet messages with them, and so will your kids.

These wraps were originally brainstormed as a Valentine’s Day project. But once the chocolates starting getting wrapped, it became clear that these wraps would be adorable any time of year!

Write messages for Mother’s Day, birthdays, book club, new babies, dad’s day, kid’s day, after-surgery day, teacher gifts, a treat for the mail carrier. Even a ho-hum date night. Everyone, EVERYONE, will love this. Wrap up initials as place markers at a dinner party. Drop off a sweet chocolate note for a friends who is having a hard day. You simply can’t go wrong with these happy little wraps!

Spinach Artichoke Chicken Pasta Bake

Raise your hand if you love casseroles! I’m such a fan. To me they are total comfort food and a symbol of home cooking. We may call them “bakes,” “pies” or other nicer sounding names, but a casserole is still a casserole. This recipe for a Spinach Artichoke Chicken Pasta Bake takes is really a very easy recipe. While the pasta cooks, the oven preheats and the sauce ingredients are combined. Toss it all together in a pan and 30-ish minutes later, dinner is done. Bonus: this pasta bake uses ingredients you probably keep in your fridge and cupboard anyway.

So let’s do a quick run down of the ingredients, plus you’ll find helpful tips about substitutions, etc.

DIY: You Light Up My World Valentines — with Free Printable!

You Light Up My World, A Finger Light Valentine | Design Mom

First of all, are you familiar with fingerlights? Basically, they are a tiny colored light with an on/off switch and an elastic band so you can wear it on your finger. A couple of Octobers ago, a neighbor gave them out to trick-or-treaters and I made a mental note of their awesomeness. I know they are just tiny little lights, but I find them quite irresistible and thought they would make wonderful candy-free valentines!

DIY: Heart Pom Pom Bookmarks

Tada! Here’s a tutorial for insanely cute heart pom pom bookmarks. You can make these with your kids this weekend. They would be adorable as classmate valentines, but be sure to make an extra one just for you. Because they are almost too cute to give away.

I’ve got full photo instructions for you below. They are easier than you would guess. I promise!

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 Bookshop.org — 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.

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