DIY Crate Shelves — Make a Set of 15 for $125
Here is a tutorial for the DIY Crate Shelves we used in the reading loft in our home in California. The inspiration for the shelves was this image. I like that you can see through them and get a glimpse of the wall color behind. And I like that there are various sizes. At first, I did a search to see if I could find a similar product to purchase, but I wanted more control of the exact dimensions of each box. So I concluded making them was the way to go.
We worked with a handyman/sculptor, Alex Oslance, for some of the small projects around the house, and I hired him to help me with these. It’s a huge bonus to me that he’s a sculptor, because it means he has an excellent eye for detail, and he’ll brainstorm solutions with me thinking as both an artist and a builder. And brainstorm we did!…
Newsletter: Handling a Heatwave in a House from the 1600s
As I’m sure you’ve seen in the news, or are experiencing yourself, a large chunk of the world is in the middle of a heatwave. Our house in France does not have air conditioning. And I have never been to a home here that has air conditioning. Some stores and businesses have air conditioning, but it’s pretty much unheard of residentially.
But if your house is an old stone house like ours, we’ve learned that it’s possible to keep the house quite comfortable, even when it’s over 100 degrees (or 40 in celsius) outside. Here’s how it works:
Grilled Chicken Cobb Salad
It’s easy to overlook Cobb Salad. I mean, it seems like it’s everywhere from restaurant menus to cold cases at grocery and convenience stores, to cookbooks and cooking shows. Why is this salad so popular? I think that the answer is simple: it’s incredibly delicious and makes good use of ingredients that are easy to find. Cobb Salad is the quintessential crowd pleaser.
The origin of this salad aren’t 100% clear, but it can be traced back to the 1930s. Cobb Salad is really nothing more than colorful rows of perfectly diced and chopped ingredients over a bed of lettuce, and the story about its creation being one that used up odds and ends from a restaurant or hotel kitchen seems to make sense.
Traditionally Cobb salad would be served with a vinaigrette, but let’s mix things up a little and keep the classic salad ingredients but use homemade Creamy Herb Dressing, a.k.a. Ranch. It goes really well with this salad. Of course, if it’s not your thing, totally use a vinaigrette made with balsamic or red wine vinegar.
Now, the key to a really good Cobb Salad is to use the best, freshest ingredients you can find. (Or use up some odds and ends from your refrigerator.) It’s worth the little extra splurge for the good bacon. For this salad, try applewood smoked, thick-cut bacon — the best way to cook it is in the oven. (Directions are included that in the notes below. It’s one of those life changing tips, I promise.) Use really good, ripe tomatoes and flavorful cheese. Marinating and grilling the chicken yourself is an extra step, but well worth the effort. (There’s a simple marinade below if you need one.) All of those little things will add up to a stellar salad.…
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
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):
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.…
Recipe: Ombre Ice Cream Pie with Sugar Cone CrustRead More »
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:
Barnes & Noble
Bookshop — independent booksellers
TalkShopLive — signed copies
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?
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.
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.
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.…
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