Living With Kids: Michelle Turchini

As Michelle describes it, she’s been living a semi-permanent life for the past eight years. Since she and her husband have added three daughters – four year old twins and a two-and-a-half year old – they’ve moved country three times to Hong Kong, Australia, and California, moved house five times, and completely remodeled their new home that we’re touring today. Whew!

Luckily, it looks like Michelle and her family have finally found home. And oh my…it’s a gorgeous spot. Please enjoy the beauty, Friends!

Sheet Pan Dinner: Rosemary Balsamic Chicken Recipe

rosemary balsamic chicken recipe featured by popular lifestyle blogger, Gabrielle of Design Mom

Get ready to love this sheet pan dinner recipe for Rosemary Balsamic Chicken. I think I might be obsessed with these one sheet recipes. I know they still require a small amount of chopping and prep and attention, but there’s something about dealing with one baking sheet that makes these meals seem so simple and doable.

Rosemary Balsamic Chicken is just a really reliable, delicious, workhorse of a meal. If you make a big batch, the leftovers will last several days for take-to-work (or work-at-home) lunch salads and sandwiches. It works as a “fancy meal” that you can make for guests, or to take to a friend who had a new baby.

Let’s get cooking.

Living With Kids: Esther van de Paal

I’ve known Esther was stylish ever since the launch of Babyccino, which has grown from a parenting blog written by three friends scattered across Europe, to an internationally consulted site for those seeking unique inspiration with a cultural twist. Their kid-friendly city guides and well-researched boutiques are goldmines. But her home takes living with kids with style to a whole new level. It’s visually stimulating, yet calm. Color everywhere, but they somehow all blend together. Even her day-to-day basics look cool the way she’s curated them! (See kitchen utensils below to see what I mean.) This is one of those homes where the lines between adult and kid decor are completely blurred, and beautifully so. Welcome, Esther!

Handmade Hanging Wall Vases — Easy Project!

Looking for a gift idea that anyone would love? Well, you’ve found it. These handmade hanging wall vases are beautiful, one of a kind, easy to make, and would look sweet as can be hanging in any room of the house (or on any wall of the cubicle). Hang them in a group, or hang them solo — next to a favorite painting, near the light switch, or just above the night stand.

They’re small and lightweight, they look elegant hung from a satin ribbon, and you can fill them with whatever you like. We featured flowers, but why not pencils instead? I recommend making several of these at once. They make a sweet housewarming gift, hostess gift, or neighbor gift. And your kids can help make these for Grandma too!

Ready to make something pretty? Here’s what you’ll need:

Planning Menus — A Helpful Guide

Planning menus is a skill that is relatively easy to master and it can benefit your family in lots of ways — like adding variety to meals, introducing new foods, and helping keep to a budget. Use these tips and you’ll always have an answer for that dreaded five o’clock question: “What’s for dinner?”

You’ll find all the tips, plus a sample menu, and a sample grocery list below.

Living With Kids: Kena Paranjape

I’m so excited today to introduce you to Kena Paranjape and her wonderful family. Kena is an entrepreneur and a designer, and lives in one of the trendiest neighborhoods in Toronto. Her home is bright and spacious and full of great details that make it feel homey and stylish all at once. Kena also sings the praises of big city living even though its not always perfect. You’ll love getting to look around and hear her great takes on being a working parent and finding that elusive balance. Welcome, Kena!

Corned Beef and Cabbage in a Crockpot

Do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Or maybe you have some Irish ancestry? Or perhaps you just love Ireland — its people, culture, and food? Then this recipe for Corned Beef and Cabbage in a Crockpot is for you! But it’s not just for green-themed holidays. This menu is delicious any time of year you’re craving something hearty and warming.

It’s a classic combo and it’s easy as can be, I promise. Make a big batch and have friends over for a St. Patrick’s Day dinner party, or work this into your monthly recipe rotation. You won’t be disappointed.

Newsletter & Link List

In this newsletter: A series of personal stories from Ukrainian Women, a recipe for Sausage & Polenta, my favorite jeans, the very best thing I saw on International Women’s Day, the high spending and poor results of US healthcare, a discussion about whether or not it’s safe to travel to Europe, and lots more.

Click here to read the whole newsletter.

Irish Shepherd’s Pie

Does your family do anything to mark St Patrick’s Day? Maybe send the kids off to school wearing something green? If you’re ready to start a new tradition, I highly recommend cooking up this traditional Irish meal, Shepherd’s Pie, for dinner on March 17th. Cheese, over mashed potatoes, over ground beef or lamb — this meal is as comforting and kid-friendly as they come!

International Women’s Day

For those of you who are wanting to celebrate, here are a few good ways to mark this special day:

– Wear red. You, your partner, your kids — everyone can join in!

– Read this short but powerful love-letter to women from Luvvie.

– Share this beautiful art by Lisa Congdon.

– Read Half the Sky.

– Shop at, or tell your friends about, a woman-owned business that you love. Here’s a list of 100.

– Read ONE.org’s Poverty Is Sexist report, which includes a number of illuminating new stats like the fact that educating girls in developing countries could save over a million lives and generate over $100 billion dollars every year.

How about you? How are you marking International Women’s Day?

Living With Kids: Sunshine Burns

It’s probably pretty difficult to be in a horrible mood when your name is Sunshine, don’t you think? It’s probably also next-to-impossible, if your name is as bright as the sun, to have a home that isn’t filled with its warmth. And this is just one reason why Sunshine’s family is a lucky bunch! The others — and there are many! — can be found throughout her interview. She is a gracious hostess and mother who lives near Nashville, Tennessee. It is always good to spend some time with others who are madly in love with their lives, and Sunshine is one of those people. I can’t wait for you to get to know her. (Another bonus to her name: When you email her in the early hours, it’s practically obligatory to begin with “Good morning, Sunshine!” Which makes my day.)

How To Make Mitre-Edged Linen Napkins

You can make these pretty mitre-edged linen napkins in a spectrum of colors (we used pinks and oranges) to dress your table for a spring holiday, and then continue to use them for years to come. To give them a bit of added happy, you can “sprinkle” the napkins with gold confetti, painted on in a random pattern. The gold accents relate to gold-tipped china without being too fancy.

The sewing skills required for this project are minimal, and the painting is done with a stencil. There are photos for every little step, so you’ll be sure to get them exactly right. Enjoy!

Design Mom Office Hours — Book Your Appointment!

Every day, I receive lots of questions from blog readers and people who are following along on social media. Sometimes the questions come via email and comments on blog posts. Sometimes they come in response to my newsletter. Lately, a ton of them come via DMs on Instagram.

Answering reader questions has been an important part of my job for 15 years and I take it seriously. But the frequency of questions and requests continues to increase considerably. Of course, I’d love to answer all the questions. I’d love to personally advise every person who is thinking about an international move. I’d love to help all the people trying to design their family room/bedroom/kitchen/bathroom. I’d love to offer my best advice for each person undergoing a political/religious identity crisis. I’d love to ease each parent’s worries about finding the right school and getting into a good college. I’d love to help travelers figure out their best Normandy itinerary. But I simply can’t. Some requests take an hour minimum to begin to answer properly. Others require me to scour my archives for half an hour looking for specific links. I make a point of answering common questions publicly (I do this almost everyday), but again, I don’t have the bandwidth to answer every question.

So I love hosting Design Mom Office Hours. You can book a block of time to talk with me about… whatever you’d like. In this way I can be helpful to those who need more assistance beyond my general Q&A, and for those who would prefer help or guidance on a non-public forum. It’s also a chance for me to connect with people more personally.

As of this writing I’ve held over 200 meetings and each one has felt totally and completely unique. Some people had specific design challenges they wanted to get help with. Others had parenting questions. Still others wanted to talk politics and vaccines. When you sign up for a meeting there’s a spot to mention what you’d like to talk about, and some people wrote: “just for fun,” or “just to chat.” And that’s what we did. Some people listed a specific topic, but then when we started the meeting they changed their mind and we talked about something else. I really am up for talking about whatever you’d like. Here’s just a sampling of what meetings have covered so far:

Easy Apple Cobbler Recipe — Plus What’s The Difference Between Cobblers, Crisps & Crumbles?

Make an easy & delicious Apple Cobbler. Sweet cinnamon-sugar apples topped with a tastes-like-sugar-cookies pie crust! | Design Mom

There are endless variations of cobblers, crumbles, and crisps out there. While all three of these are essentially fresh fruit baked under some kind of topping that includes butter, there are some subtle differences.

A cobbler is the most distinctive. In this dessert, small, individual biscuits are dropped over the fruit. When baked, the biscuits pop up, creating a bumpy appearance, like a cobbled road. (Tip: you can replace the biscuit batter with cake batter or cookie dough!)

Crumbles and Crisps are a little harder to define. Both call for streusel-like toppings over your fresh fruit. While various geographical regions will debate this on the Internet for eternity, the general consensus seems to be that a crisp topping includes oats and is more like granola while a crumble topping does not have oats and is made up of a more crumbly mixture of flour, butter, and sugar.

As for this recipe, let’s call it a cobbler. The topping has all of the elements of a biscuit — or a sugar cookie! — but the difference is that the topping isn’t formed into individual biscuits before baking. Really, it’s a Crumb-bler: a mix between a crumble and cobbler that gives you sweet cinnamon-sugar apples topped with what tastes like a sugar-cookie pie crust that has the most incredible crunch to it as you break through to the fruit below

Newsletter: There Is Nothing Dumber Than War

Ukraine existing is not an attack on Russia. Russians who chose to live in Ukraine were not asking for protection. The attack on Ukraine was unprovoked, unnecessary, and unreasonable. An entire war to feed one man’s ego. Be f—ing furious about it.

In Normandy, there are signs of WWII everywhere I go. We drove to the doctor’s office, yesterday. On the way, there’s a war memorial sitting prominently at an intersection — the memorial includes an old full-size American tank. As I head north to run some errands, I pass the Canadian military cemetery. In my attic, as I change the sheets on the guests beds, I see shrapnel holes in the wood floors — a bomb came through the roof of this house, the house we live in, during WWII, and we found shrapnel pieces still embedded in the floors as we renovated.

Click here to read the whole newsletter.

Signature Scent: How to Find the Perfect Perfume

11 Secrets to Finding the Perfect Perfume featured by popular lifestyle blogger, Gabrielle of Design Mom

You’ve probably met a handful of people in your life whose scents have stayed the same for so long that they’ve somehow become part of their very essence. Your mom, who smelled of vanilla and dark chocolate. Your boyfriend-turned-husband who smelled of whichever Ralph Lauren cologne was current and cool. Your ballet teacher who smelled…French. Signature scents are more than pretty; they’re your calling card to everyone you meet and comfort for everyone you love. Finding yours is our goal today. I know it’s out there, and I’m going to break down the basics of perfume to help you sniff out the perfect scent for you.

Before you head to the perfume counter, here’s a little guide (and some terminology) that will help as you’re choosing a perfume, and keep you focused on what you want amidst ever-spritzing aromas!

Living With Kids: Agnes Hsu

Agnes would be a lovely friend to have, I think. She once owned a cupcake shop, she is a family photographer, and also runs a kids’ creative site. Life with her must be sweet, DIY divine, and photogenic.

But with all those professional endeavors, something’s gotta give, right? If you’re struggling with your own overwhelming schedules, you might like to hear how Agnes deals with it all. From the division of duties, scheduled personal times that refuel the family’s energy levels, and effective out-sourcing, it’s good stuff. Friends, please meet Agnes!

Sheet Pan Dinner: Polenta with Sausage and Peppers

Sausage and Peppers Sheet Pan Dinner | DesignMom.com

I don’t make sausage and peppers nearly as often as I used to, but when I do it always reminds me of living in New York. When you live there, you see sausage and peppers show up in various forms — on pasta, pizza, sandwiches, and just like this recipe, over polenta.

This meal comes together pretty quickly, but requires a few minutes slicing onions and peppers, and polenta. Other than that, it’s nearly hands-off. But as with most easy dinner recipes, the timing is everything. The veggies and sausages go into the oven first, and as they cook, they lose a little volume and that leaves plenty of space for the tomatoes and polenta rounds.

Keep reading for the full recipe and helpful notes.

Valentine Fortune Tellers

Look at these adorable Valentine Fortune Tellers! They’re cute, free-to-print, easy to make, and candy-free. This project was inspired by the mounds of paper fortune tellers my kids made in elementary school. Making paper fortune tellers has been THE thing to do in third, fourth, and fifth grade for generations, and they’re sure to be a hit in classrooms everywhere.

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