Living With Kids: Elizabeth Deng

Walking through Elizabeth’s House is like walking through an Art Gallery. Clean white walls, bright lighting and inspiring and thoughtful art on every wall. Some of the art by Elisabeth herself. Other pieces by other amazing artists, and some by her kids too. She and her husband and her family live in Nairobi, Kenya. Elizabeth is Nigerian-American and her husband is South Sudanese-American and they’re both as inspiring as their lovely home is. Welcome, Elizabeth.

How To Put Together The Perfect Picnic

12 Secrets For The Perfect Picnic featured by popular lifestyle blogger, Design Mom

Picnics are one of my favorite things about summertime — both spur-of-the-moment sandwiches on the lawn, and well-planned out feasts. What’s not to love about sitting out in nature, enjoying some company and a plate full of delicious food?

Every time I watch one of those addictive British period dramas (I’m looking at you Downton Abbey), I’m always fascinated by the lavish picnics depicted in the stories. The servants carry the silver and crystal along, as well as chairs and tables, tents, and a fancy multi-course meal. It all looks so dreamy and magical and I want to transport myself into the television and join them.

In reality, our family picnics are mostly of the last-minute variety that involve me grabbing a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter and a few napkins on the way out the door. But sometimes I get it just right and create my own version of a dreamy and magical afternoon withe perfect picnic.

So today, I thought I’d share my secrets for the perfectly planned, perfectly executed picnic.

Alt Summit in NYC

Some of you know this already, and some of you my be surprised to hear, but I run a conference called Alt Summit (it’s actually my main job when there’s not a pandemic). Alt Summit has been around since 2009 — there have been 15 conferences in four cities: New York, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and Palm Springs. It’s for content creators and entrepreneurs in creative fields, and it’s always an event full of learning, collaboration, and inspiration.

The last Alt Summit conference was the first few days of March 2020, right before the whole world shut down. It feels like a million years ago, I’ve missed it so much. And I’m very happy to announce that it’s coming back!

Alt Summit is headed to New York City this fall. We’ve partnered with The Riveter and we’re hosting a one-day conference on Friday, October 7th, 2022. The venue is called Pier Sixty and it’s right on the waterfront, with floor to ceiling windows. I can’t wait!

Tickets are on sale now at an Early Bird discount. The regular ticket price is $650, but the Early Bird Ticket price is $450. Early Bird pricing is only available through Wednesday, July 13th.

Newsletter: I Just Learned the Difference Between an Editor and a Copy Editor

We’ve had a house full of guests for the last week and it’s been so lovely — our older kids, and nieces, and boyfriends, and friends. We didn’t celebrate the 4th because we had school that day (obviously, July 4th is not a holiday in France), and weren’t really feeling it anyway. But yesterday was the last day of school, so we celebrated the official beginning of summer break with a big feast last night.

I’ve been mostly off social media for the last several days while we’ve enjoyed our visitors, and oh my every time I checked in for a bit, it was pretty overwhelming. Mass murders, and gun violence, and extra big doses of anti-trans propaganda. I hope you’re making time to rest your brain and feel what you’re feeling.

Here’s a little update on my upcoming book (it’s out October 18th, and you can pre-order it now — here’s a page with links to lots of bookstores where it’s available).

This book writing and editing process has been very different from my last book. For those of you who are curious, this is what it’s been like. (I should add a caveat that this is what is was like from my perspective, I’m betting there were other rounds of editing and feedback happening at the publisher that I wasn’t seeing):

Click here to read the full newsletter.

DIY: Bubble-Wrap Print Tablecloth

There is a reason tablecloths come in every color for every season — they add so much to a festive table setting! Have you seen this pin? I loved the idea of using something as utilitarian as bubble wrap to print with. And I thought a tablecloth — something I can use all summer long — was the perfect surface to try it out. Isn’t it fun to make art you can use?

It’s a perfectly imperfect print. You can coordinate colors to your needs and you can use the same technique on a whole list of items — napkins, wrapping paper, the wall, clothing, pillows or lampshades, to name a few.

Printing with bubble wrap takes some patience and attention to detail. But don’t worry, I have tips below. And your fingers are sure to get a little painted as well, but the outcome is well worth the effort. I think the hardest part of this particular project is saving an unpopped sheet from the happy bubble-popping feet of my kids. : )

Let’s get to printing!

Recipe: Ombre Ice Cream Pie with Sugar Cone Crust

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! This gorgeous ombre creation that is calling to you from these stunning photos, is an ice cream pie. No pre-heating the oven. No hot kitchen. Just gorgeous, cool, creamy deliciousness. And perhaps one of the best parts of this ice cream pie is the crust. It’s made of sugar cones instead of the usual graham crackers or cookies. True innovation! : )

To make the layers, there are several routes you can take. The first would be to buy a gallon of vanilla ice cream, divide it into equal portions, and add color (and flavor, if desired) in varying shades of pink or another color (yellow would be pretty and summery too). Another option is to buy various shades and flavors of sorbet, sherbet, and ice cream.

The key is to make sure the sorbet, sherbet, and ice cream is the perfect temperature for spreading, but not too soft or melted. Freezing each layer for a few minutes in between really helps, however it’s kind of pretty to see the layers melt into each other in true ombre fashion.

And that’s it! Super easy. This would be perfect for a summer holiday, a birthday party, baby shower, girls’ brunch, or any get-together. Is there ever a bad time for ice cream? No, no there is not. Find the full recipe below.

I Wrote a Book! — Ejaculate Responsibly: A Whole New Way to Think About Abortion

I’m still reeling from Friday’s Supreme Court news. Ben Blair and I took the family to a protest in Paris this weekend — it was organized in response to Roe v Wade being overturned, to show solidarity to women in the U.S., and around the world. I know it’s just a small thing, but it felt good to take some action, use our voices, and gather with people who want to fight for what’s right. And today, I get to share something else I’ve been working on in my efforts to fight for what’s right:

We need to talk about abortion in a whole new way.

For decades, our discussions and debates about abortion have been exhausting and frustrating and useless — a loop of endless debates about “when life begins”. I wanted to do something about that. My new book, Ejaculate Responsibly, turns the usual unproductive abortion debate on its head. It will give you 28 easy-to-understand arguments that will move the discussion forward to a clearer — and fairer — place. The book is on sale October 18th and available for preorder now:

United States
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Books-a-Million
Bookshop — independent booksellers
TalkShopLive — signed copies

Canada
Amazon Canada

United Kingdom
Amazon UK

Australia
Booktopia

It’s hard to imagine a world that would consider criminalizing men’s actions in the way we freely legislate women’s bodies. And yet the cause of almost all abortions is an unwanted pregnancy. And men cause literally all unwanted pregnancies.

In this book, I shift the conversation from stopping abortion to preventing unwanted pregnancies, and I focus on the role men play in causing those unwanted pregnancies. This shift gets us out of the destructive cycle that’s centered on legislating women’s bodies, and delivers a healthier and doable path out of the abortion impasse.

I wrote this book to help readers clarify their thinking. It’s filled with information, stories, and new ways to approach this topic, that can have real-life impact and get us out of the usual dead-end cycles.

My hope is that this book will be read and discussed in health classes, in college lectures, in bookclubs, in families, and among friends. I hope it will be used to hold politicians accountable for what they say and do.

I worked hard to make the book approachable, and really enjoyable to read. And I worked with my publisher to keep the price low, so that it’s as accessible as possible.

If you’d like to support the book, pre-ordering a copy would be amazing (or maybe several copies if you’d like to share them — or even give one to your senators!). Helping to spread the word about the book, or supporting its message in any way you can, is also a huge help.

You can learn more at bit.ly/Ejaculate-Responsibly.

P.S. — I’ll be putting together a Book Launch Group later this week. And I’d love to have you involved. If you think you might be interested, watch for a blog post and newsletter with more info.

Newsletter: Our Economy is Built on the Unpaid Labor of Women

In this newsletter: An update on the kids, a short essay about how companies should compensate the unpaid labor of their employees’ spouses; what doctors wish people knew about decision fatigue; information about anti-abortion “pregnancy crisis centers” and why they are so dangerous, and much more.

An excerpt from the newsletter:

Based on what the man describes about his work day, we can conclude his wife is doing about 70% of the work it takes to keep him productive and thriving.

So common sense says that his company should split his paycheck 30/70 and pay 70% directly to the wife. She should get 70% of the retirement benefits directly in her name, and 70% of any other perks or benefits. They should both be on the payroll.

His company is taking a huge risk — they have a CEO whose entire life is built on volunteer, unpaid labor. Can you imagine if this company relied on key internal departments that were run only by volunteers with no paid contracts? What investors would support that kind of risk?

Click here to read the whole newsletter or to comment.

Roe v. Wade is Overturned

I don’t know why I’m shocked. We knew about this weeks ago, but I’m still weeping with the official announcement. And I’m so deeply angry at how much my country hates women.

Thinking of you. Wish I could be with you and find reassuring words to offer. Be safe.

kisses,
Gabrielle

Living With Kids: Jessica Sueiro

Keep your suitcase handy while you read this one. And maybe open another browser window and so you can check flights, because there’s a very good chance this home tour will give you the travel bug (if you don’t have it already).

Jessica is a designer and entrepreneur, who currently lives in the south of France with her husband and two kids. But not for long. They are a slow travel family, which means they choose a new country to live in every 9 months or so — just long enough to really dig in a get to know a community. 

I’m so glad I get to introduce you to this adventurous family.

DIY: Color Coded Towels

When more than one person shares a bathroom, towels become an issue. No doubt you have noticed this as well. You step out of the shower, grab a towel, and realize it’s soggy because someone else just used it. Yuck.

I do not like sharing my towel, but I get that it’s hard to keep things straight, especially if the towels are all the same color. Happily, there’s a simple solution: add a loop of ribbon — a different color for each person!

Assign a color to each family member (and another color for guests!) and proceed with confidence that next time you grab a towel, you won’t be accidentally sharing it with someone else. Plus, there’s a bonus feature. Instead of towel racks, use wall hooks in your bathroom and use the loops to hang the towels on the hooks. No more towels slipping to the floor! And hooks are space saving too.

A Perfect Day In Paris With Kids

[ I’m getting lots of requests for ideas on what to do in Paris with Kids. So I thought I’d update this post from a few years ago. Enjoy! ]

Here’s a report on my little trip to Paris with Betty and Flora June. If you’re planning a trip to Paris with kids, free free to use this as a guide. We woke up on a Thursday morning, made a few last preparations, then headed to the train station at 9:00am. We were in Paris by noon and took a taxi to the hotel which was in the Latin Quarter. I had never stayed there before and it was fun to get to know a new neighborhood. We were right next to the Sorbonne, which I had never seen before! But the reason I picked the hotel was because the description said it was a 5 minute walk to the Luxembourg Gardens, and I figured that even if we weren’t up for a big adventure, we could enjoy the Gardens all day long if needed.

Our room wasn’t ready yet, so we dropped off our bags, picked up a picnic lunch and headed straight to the park. It was a gorgeous day and not the weekend yet, so not too busy (even though it’s summer). We ate lunch, sailed a boat on the pond, and spent a good while on the playground. Then we picked up an ice cream cone, and went back to the hotel because I had two phone appointments I needed to keep. The hotel break was good. Flora June ended up napping and was refreshed for our night out.

Living With Kids: Meg Amendola

Meg and her husband Jonny live in Denver, Colorado in a wonderful hundred year old home. They moved in right before they were married and have watched their family and their style grow and evolve over time. Their house is full of style and whimsey and every room has an interesting piece or two that you’ll want to get a better look at. Meg speaks really freely about the challenges of COVID and how excited and ready they feel to get back to normal. Welcome, Meg!

Two Newsletters About Guns

Last week I wrote about how I daydream about a nationwide gun ban. I first wrote about this in February of 2018. Four years have passed and no gun ban, so perhaps it will never happen. But I’m going to lay out my arguments anyway, and you can see what you think.

Click here to read the whole newsletter.

This week, to help keep us loud about demanding gun control, I shared an essay I wrote about God & Guns and what it really means to protect your family. It’s both serious and humorous, and I hope you’ll share it if you think it might impact someone you know.

Click here to read the whole newsletter.

Easy Dinner: Grilled Flank Steak Sandwiches

If you have any gatherings coming up, putting these Grilled Flank Steak Sandwiches on the menu is really good idea. They make a really great alternative to a burger, and feel much more special. So mouth watering, you may need to make these sandwiches tonight, just to “test” them for guests. : ) And don’t miss the White Cheddar Spread recipe that’s included below.

Living With Kids: Lauren Benninger

You’re going to love getting to know Lauren Benninger. She and her husband CJ live with their three kids in a suburb of Detroit. Lauren is a lawyer. CJ is a photographer. And because one of their children has a medical condition, they’ve really had to hunker down throughout this pandemic, and have had to rethink the ways they keep their family safe and healthy. Lauren’s home is a perfect mid-century treasure and they have styled it with thoughtful pieces, beautiful art (including stunning photos from CJ) and really charming touches that make it feel special. Welcome, Lauren!

Planting a Container Garden

It’s amazing what you can grow in pots! Containers can add a lot of interest in a landscaped yard, make apartment landings more beautiful, and make things cheery indoors. As I’m sure you can guess, comprehensive information about container gardening can’t fit into this single post. So consider this an overview that covers prep, planting essentials, and miscellaneous tips to get you started.

Bonus: the information in this post applies to both vegetable container gardens and decorative ones (sometimes gardens can be both!). And it applies to indoor gardens as well.

Living With Kids: Sara Davis

Meet Sara. If you’ve got a chalkboard in your house and you’ve scoured Pinterest for cute ideas on how to get it looking like…well…the cute ones on Pinterest, chances are you’ve already met her! I asked her a few questions and she answered them all perfectly, but I sensed that there was more content in her than charming chalkboards and fabulous DIYs. And here she is: the brave Sara who took a leap outside her comfort zone to share herself with us. I really hope you enjoy her.

Mini Baked Cherry Crisps

Cherry season is fleeting so let’s take advantage of it and make some mini baked cherry crisps. Cherries are often cloaked in a buttery double crust and baked to bubbling perfection. But who has time to wait for pie?! Let’s do a crisp instead. Crisp topping is essentially streusel. And as we all know, streusel makes nearly everything better.

Pecans are a go-to in this topping because they have such a delightful little crunch and marry well with the brown sugar in the topping. You’ll love the sweet, nutty crunch with every bite of juicy fruit. The cherries, especially if they are ripe off the tree, will have enough flavor on their own. They just need the teensiest amount of flavor boosters in the form of fresh lemon juice (to brighten), and vanilla and almond extracts (to ever-so-slightly enhance the cherry flavor). You can also add a little cornstarch to help thicken the juices. A little sugar helps too, but you can certainly leave the sugar out of the filling. The topping is perfectly sweet.

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