7 Secrets For a Juicy Thanksgiving Turkey

| 7 Secrets For a Juicy Thanksgiving Turkey featured by top lifestyle blog, Design Mom

It can seem like a daunting task to roast a turkey! I know I was a little panicked when I hosted my first Thanksgiving dinner. I put a lot of pressure on myself because I wanted the turkey to steal the show. (I knew the sides would take care of themselves.)

After consulting my gigantic stack of cookbooks and foodie magazines, I felt prepared. As I slid the roasting pan into the oven, I wiped my hands on my apron and said, “Well, that was easier than I thought it would be!”

Follow these tips for your own juicy Thanksgiving turkey and you’ll be saying the same thing!

A Beautiful No-Fail Thanksgiving Centerpiece Anyone Can Make

Last Thanksgiving, I put together an easy centerpiece for the table. I gathered greens and leaves from the yard, placed them in a big circle in the center of the table, and then nestled an assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables (plus some twinkly votive candles!) into the greens.

I love how it turned out! It gives that cornucopia feeling of plenty. You can use all the fruits and veggies when it’s done being a centerpiece — so nothing goes to waste. And I love that it sits low on the table, making it easy for people seated across from each other to have a conversation.

Some years, we have the food in the center of the table, and we have to keep the centerpiece much smaller. But when “the family” expands to 20+ people, and spills to more than one table, we keep the food on the kitchen island and let guests serve themselves buffet style. In those situations, the center of the tables remains open, and I get to be more generous with the table decorations.

Thinking some of you might want to try a centerpiece like this too, I thought I’d share some tips and instructions here.

Living With Kids: Lilly Neubauer

When Lilly reached out to me about sharing her home, I was so excited. Not only is her current home in Dallas, Texas so charming and full of personality, but Lilly and her husband recently decided to move their family to Germany, where he was born. It is so interesting to see how the last few years has really forced a lot of us to rethink our priorities and what we want out of life, and I think it is so inspiring to see when people decide to make a big decision and do something new. And Lilly’s house is so charming I hope she reaches out when she’s settled in Germany and we can feature her again. Welcome, Lilly!

Living With Kids: Shannon Kiswani

When Shannon first wrote to me, she told me her lovely, lovely story and then said, “If the stars align and you decided to share my story, I will definitely take better pictures. I had to hurry and submit them before I lost my nerve, so they’re unedited.”

And I replied, without even looking at the photos, “I don’t care where you live. You’ve got an inspiring story to tell, and I can’t wait to share you with everyone.”

It was true. But then I saw her photos and squealed. She’s got some style! So please join me in welcoming sweet Shannon. You’re going to love this one.

Newsletter & Link List

Hey there! Happy November! In France, it is currently Fall Vacances, which means a two-week break from school. Today marks the second week of vacation, plus it’s an official holiday in France, which means this household of teens/tweens slept in today and it felt like such a luxury — especially the day after Halloween.

Speaking of Halloween, it’s not a huge holiday here (though I did see more decorations and Halloween-focused products in stores this year than I’ve ever seen before — so maybe it’s getting bigger?). We didn’t have any typical trick-or-treating, or Halloween parties to attend, but we had such a good time celebrating at home, dressing up in costumes, making chili, cornbread, and pumpkins cookies, and carving a jack-o-lantern. Here’s my Instagram post with our costumes if you’d like to see. (Based on comments, Ben Blair’s costume was the biggest hit this year.)

How was your Halloween? Are you ready to welcome November?

This week’s newsletter has a great link list, and a short essay about a new movie called The Last Duel, and how I remain unimpressed with men who become “feminists” when they have a daughter. Click here to read the whole thing.

DIY: Stamped Clay Place Cards

Stamped Place Cards for Your Holiday Table | Design Mom

If you are looking for an easy and simple and fairly clean project for yourself, or to do with kids, these stamped clay place cards are a great choice. And if you have any budding spellers, this is extra fun! Bonus: if you worry about misspelling names, these place cards are easily fixed. Instead of throwing out the whole thing, just toss the erring letter (or two) and add in the corrections.

I also love this project because I’ve always been a fan of place cards. It feels so special to be invited to dinner and find a place setting with your name on it. Such a thoughtful touch.

Want to try these? Let’s get started.

Ten Fabulous French Souvenirs Under $5

One topic that comes up whenever friends and family are in town is souvenirs. Plane tickets, car rentals, hotels and train passes tend to eat up most of the travel budget, so visitors love ideas for gifts to bring home to friends and family that won’t break the bank. But they want something more unusual than an Eiffel Tower key chain.

I’ve figured out a bunch of fabulous souvenirs you can find in any French supermarket. All of them are non-perishable (in case you are jaunting to Milan after your trip to France), and every one of them is bargain. Today I’m sharing 10 of my favorites. To make them really shine, I recommend picking up a spool of French flag ribbon, and some cellophane bags. Maybe they’ll inspire you to book a flight to Paris!

The Spookiest Scarecrow Ever — Easy DIY

These spooky scarecrows are my favorite October project that I’ve ever created. The whole project takes less than an hour and will look terrific in any yard. 

Inspiration:
Part of celebrating Halloween when we lived in New York was making a trek to (the real live!) Sleepy Hollow to see Legends Night. It’s super cool. Creepy and spooky without being horror-movie-like or a typical gory haunted house. We loved it. Old lanterns line the pathways. There are ghosts in a boat paddling on a pond. Storytellers recounting local legends. The Headless Horseman riding by. Fresh apple cider and donuts. Just wonderfully done through and through.

Around one of the bonfires at Legends Night, they had 3 simple scarecrows standing guard. Basically, they were a wood cross hung with old rags and topped with a pumpkin head. And they looked so dramatic all lit up by the fire. I had been wanting to recreate one (or three) for ages and I finally did it. It was so easy, I wish I had done it earlier.

Here’s the easy how-to (written, and in video form):

Announcing: Newlane University Scholarships!

In January I wrote about a very affordable online university called Newlane. Ben Blair is a co-founder of Newlane and has been building this university from scratch for the last 5 years. When I say affordable, I mean it — at Newlane, an Associate Degree is $1500, and a Bachelor’s Degree is $1500. That means you could do a full four-year degree for $3000. It’s a debt-free college education, with no lump sums of money required. Instead, the payments are $40/month until you reach the $1500 degree cost. And yes, if you’ve already done some college courses, you may be able to transfer your credits and earn your degree even faster! (Contact contact@newlaneuniversity.com to find out if your credits are transfer eligible.)

In January, Newlane had just achieved International Accreditation, which is a really big deal, and we were celebrating! At that time I interviewed Ben and asked him all the questions about Newlane that I get asked by Design Mom Readers, and I put all the answers in a blog post. So if you’re curious, go check it out — that post is super informative and helpful.

Enrollment at Newlane has continued since then, with students from around the world signing up, and interestingly, one of the most frequent questions Newlane has received over this last year is: How can I give a scholarship? They’ve heard from so many people who want to support Newlane, but already have a degree so aren’t looking to enroll. They just want to send money to support Newlane’s mission. And because Newlane is so affordable, people have realized their donation could fund someone’s entire education. It’s amazing.

So Newlane has been trying to figure out the best way to offer a scholarship option, and they’ve come up with something really cool. They’ve teamed up with Haiti Partners to create a Newlane Global Scholarship Fund! You can read the announcement on Newlane’s website, or on Haiti Partner’s website.

This is how it works:
A donor sends money to Haiti Partners for the Newlane Global Scholarship Fund. It can be any sum — $5, $10, $25, $50, $100. It all helps — $40 funds an entire month of university education for a student; $1500 funds a 2-year degree (or a 4-year degree if the student already has 60 or more credits) $3000 funds a full 4-year degree.

10% of the donation goes directly to Haiti Partners. 90% of the donation goes directly to a student’s Newlane education.

Why team up with Haiti Partners?
Newlane partnered with Haiti Partners for several reasons: First, Haiti Partners is a very respected non-profit with certified 501c3 status. Which means your scholarship donation is tax-free in the U.S.. And second, as a family we have supported Haiti Partners for many years now. We believe in what they are doing and know how important that work is, and how effective they are at their work, and are always looking for ways to support their work.

Is my scholarship donation tax deductible?
Yes, if you are a U.S. taxpayer, your scholarship donation will be fully tax deductible.

Who benefits? Are the scholarships just for Haitians?
This Newlane Global Scholarship Fund sponsors Newlane students all over the world, including the U.S.. Haitian students are welcome to apply, but the funds are not set aside specifically for them. On the Newlane Scholarship page, you can find three examples of current Scholarship Recipients.

How can I give a scholarship?
It’s super easy. Head to the Haiti Partners + Newlane Global Scholarship Fund donation page. You can choose a one-time donation, or a recurring donation (every month, or every six months, or whatever timing you choose). You can pay with a credit card, bank transfer, or Google Pay. If you have any questions, please reach out to Ben Blair: ben@newlaneuniversity.com

How much do I need to donate?
You can donate any amount you would like — even small donations add up! Every time donations reach $1500 total, it will provide another full scholarship for a student to earn a degree through Newlane. You can choose a one time scholarship donation, or even a small monthly donation.

One of the coolest things about donating to the Newlane Global Scholarship fund is that, because their tuition is already super affordable, your donation goes much further than it could at a traditional university — for $1500 you can sponsor a college degree! That’s just not possible at a traditional university. Along these lines, Ben said: Looking ahead, we anticipate that individuals could set up an endowment that would fund students in perpetuity for a fraction of the cost of a single semester scholarship at another university.

How can I get a scholarship?
If you are interested in applying for a scholarship, head to the scholarship application page to get started. Applications are reviewed by the Newlane Scholarship committee, and they work hard to make sure that any committed student who wants to attend Newlane, can do so.

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Like I said back in January, I’m so proud of the work Ben Blair and everyone at Newlane is doing. Making a university education affordable and accessible is a really big deal, and it’s really important. If you want to support Newlane’s mission (here’s the Newlane Manifesto), making a donation to the Newlane Global Scholarship Fund is the ideal way to do so. Any amount helps — even small amounts add up! — and you’re directly funding a student’s college degree. Which means you’re changing someone’s life for the better.

Should I Make An NFT of My Twitter Thread and Raffle It Off?

In April of this year, while working on the wood floors in my attic, I was listening to a podcast about NFTs, and I had what I thought was a cool idea: I’m going to make an NFT of my Twitter Thread about Irresponsible Ejaculation. Then I’m going to raffle it instead of auction it, so that anyone can have a chance to win. And I’m going to promote the raffle to women in particular, to encourage us to dip our toes into the world of crypto-currency, if we haven’t already.

So I sought out advice about how to do such a thing, wrote up a draft of a blog post to announce it, and then… I paused. I was having second thoughts.

I’m pretty sure that what I’ve written so far is going to bring up questions immediately, so I’m going to write this next section as a Q&A in anticipation of what you might be wondering. Let’s dive right in.

Living With Kids: Cara Jones

Today’s Living With Kids family, the Joneses, live in Park City, Utah. It’s a town in the mountains just outside of Salt Lake, where recreation and outdoor adventure is king. They even have a daughter who is a competitive Ski Jumper! What an amazing hobby to have as a kid. Living in a small mountain town isn’t without challenges and finding the right home was a bit of a struggle, but I think you’ll be charmed by their wide open living spaces.

Let’s go say hello.

Easiest Lasagna Ever! Make this recipe with Frozen Ravioli

Who could use a dinner idea that’s easy (like super easy), hearty, and delicious? How about the easiest lasagna recipe in the world?

Can I just start by saying this: frozen ravioli is a freezer must-have. It’s not like you can make that many meals with frozen ravioli, but it does make a pretty awesome weeknight lasagna. We’ve done a few variations over the years, but a good, marinara-sauced Ravioli Lasagna seems to be the favorite. And really, this is just baked ravioli, but saying lasagna makes it feel a little fancier, right? And it has all the basic components of lasagna — layers of noodles, sauce, and cheese. See? Lasagna it is. :)

Living With Kids: Janice Grant

I can’t wait to introduce you today to Janice and her charming family of people and animals who live in Perth, Australia. She’s an artist, so are her children, and her husband is a musician — you can feel the creativity flowing through their home with the ongoing art projects, bright colors, and texture upon texture. And because the summers are mostly sunny and warm in Perth they have beautiful gardens and livable outdoor spaces. It’s also so interesting to hear about a totally different experience with COVID and the shutdown. Welcome, Janice!

Newsletter & Link List

Hello! I’m back in France and waving at you from the Tall House. I just got back yesterday afternoon — I was in the U.S. for two weeks. Mostly I was there to help my daughter Maude get settled in Charlotte, North Carolina. But I also spent a couple of days in New York on the way back to France. I received a ton of questions about what Maude is doing in Charlotte, and what I was doing to help her get settled, so I thought it would be fun to answer some FAQs.

I’ve also made some updates to the new Design Mom Office Hours program — I’ve held about 20 meetings so far, and I’ve loved every single one. I’ve also learned a ton and have made adjustments accordingly.

Click here to find the full newsletter (it’s free!) and link list.

Make it! Kid-Designed Halloween Dishtowels

Here’s a fast and easy project to try this week. It’s a project that will let your kids shine, and once you master the simple technique, you’ll want to use it in a million ways (Thanksgiving napkins! A Christmas tablecloth! A custom laundry bag!).

The technique is called glue-resist. You may be familiar with it because once, long ago, I shared a glue-resist project in my book. But this time we’ve made a big improvement. The basic idea is that you draw or write something with glue on a cotton fabric. Then you dye the fabric. Then you wash the fabric. And when you wash it, the glue rinses away, leaving your un-dyed design. The problem is, that when you put in the glued-fabric in a hot dye bath, it can make the glue dissolve. Tricky.

Then I had a Duh! moment. Why don’t I use cold dye? And why haven’t I thought of that before? So I tried it and it’s awesome.

Wanna try? Get your glue and let’s get started!

Living With Kids: Chenay Pointer

Chenay has been here once before, about a year ago when she talked about her and her then husband moving into a much smaller space. Well, since then she and her husband have divorced and while he stayed in the home they shared, she has downsized yet again and is now in a 400 sq ft studio apartment that she shares part time with her kids and full time with her two older cats. Chenay has great advice about moving on, living in a smaller space, and readjusting when life throws curve balls. Welcome back, Chenay!

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