Newsletter & Friday Link List

Tomorrow marks 20 years since September 11th. Earlier this week, in discussions about that day, I saw someone ask: Wait… there were no baggage fees before 9/11?!?!?! 

Remember what air travel was like back then? The last flight I took before 9/11 was on August 2, 2001. I had a long flight to New York with my 2-year-old, Maude, and 4 year old, Ralph. I was also 8 months pregnant. Here’s what happened…

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

Living With Kids: Meta Coleman

At first glance, I would’ve sworn Meta’s home was somewhere in Sweden. Denmark, possibly. Or Norway. It’s got all the markings of a home from that corner of the world, with its crisp white walls, heady bursts of brights, and edited knickknacks that look like they traveled a long way to get there. But, no…the Coleman home can be found in Utah!

This home tour isn’t all about pretty things and fresh decor. The Colemans endured a devastating loss earlier this year, and part of what inspired me most about Meta is the way she’s finding her way through the sadness to happy again. I wanted to share her story with you because I know there are many others trying to find that way, too. I hope this helps. And I truly hope you enjoy this tour. Friends, please welcome the Coleman family!

Chateau Tour & Another American Family

Last week, we randomly met an American family who bought a chateau a few minutes from our little town in France! We couldn’t believe it — we so rarely see Americans around here, and if we do see them, they are typically just passing through on the way to the D-Day Beaches or Mont St. Michel. So it was really fun to realize we had new American “neighbors”.

The family is from San Francisco and they have two kids who match up age-wise with two of ours. They bought the chateau in 2019 and spent the summer there, but then the pandemic hit and they couldn’t come back till this summer.

They invited us over to take a tour of the property and I shared it all on Instagram Stories (Chateau Tour highlight). They were actually heading back to San Francisco just a few days after we met them, and it was such a happy accident that we found each other and were able to connect before they left town.

Would you like to see the tour?

Easy DIY: Make This Industrial-Chic Cement Pencil Holder

It’s official: a new school year is upon us! And it’s time for a fun + desk-related project. This DIY incorporates two of my favorite things — fresh school supplies, and cement. Best of all, it’s not just for pens and pencils. This handsome + utilitarian item can be designed to hold any number and any size of desk accessories. The style and layout is all up to you.

Don’t be anxious about working with cement for this project. Yes, it requires concentration, a bit of muscle (which surely you have in spades), and an odd combination of working fast and waiting. But the end product is worth it. These heavy duty holders would look handsome on any desk.

Ready to get to work? Let’s go.

Newsletter & Link List: Have MLMs Ever Ended a Friendship For You?

I just saw an ad for an upcoming documentary about LuLaRoe, and now I want to talk about MLMs. What are your experiences with MLMs? Have you ever bought an MLM product? Have you ever sold MLM products? Have you ever seen relationships damaged from MLMs? Will you be watching the documentary?

I grew up in a community that embraced MLMs, and in the newsletter, I share some of my experiences. I’d love to hear yours too.

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

Dinner on the Grill: Moroccan-Spiced Chicken Kabobs with Whipped Feta Sauce

Moroccan-Spiced Chicken Kabobs

Don’t these Chicken Kabobs look amazing? At our house, we ADORE anything that even hints at Greek food (if a recipe includes feta, it counts!). Bookmark this recipe. You’ll want it the next time it’s too hot to cook in your kitchen — which might be tonight! Full recipe and notes straight ahead.

Living With Kids: Miranda Anderson

Austin! I think of Austin the same way I think of all those other cities where the locals love life in it so much that they hate the thought of ever leaving. Right, Portland-New York-San Francisco-Asheville-wherever you live, too? Miranda loves it there, and from the way she describes it, I think we all might!

Have you met Miranda? If you’re a crafty one who likes to sew, throw parties, eat yummy treats, or get your DIY on, you may have already met her. If not, please allow me to introduce our sweet tour guide today. She is lovely, as are her home and thoughts she’s sharing with us. Welcome, Miranda!

Make it! Embossed Folders Using Recycled Cereal Boxes

When I was in fifth grade, my name written in bubble letters was how I personalized my notebooks. When I was in high school, I covered my textbooks in plain paper and filled them in with doodles — favorite band names and not-so-secret crushes. At the start of the school year, the clean surfaces of brand new school supplies offer such an inviting blank slate. For a sleek, modern twist on notebook personalization, create a DIY embossing plate from recycled cardboard. It’s a lovely way to add your mark to your school supplies.

Making your own embossing plate out of cereal boxes offers so much variation and freedom. The sky is the limit on shapes and initials. And once the plate is made, you can emboss to your heart’s content — the cardboard form will last a long time!

Chances are you have everything you need in your home already  — just pull that cereal box out of your recycling bin and let’s get started!

Tall House Updates: More Bricks

We finished the bricks in the dining room! The whole family helped and it was such a good and satisfying project. You may remember our brick adventure began with bricks in the powder room, and then we extended those to fill in the bricks in the entry, and the dining room was the last section we needed to fill in. It feels great to have the brick work completed.

Come see how they turned out.

Ultimate Guide to Dutch Oven Cooking

15 Secrets to Dutch Oven Cooking featured by popular lifestyle blogger, Design Mom

Dutch oven cooking is one of life’s pleasures. It’s hard to duplicate the feeling of cooking outdoors in a big, cast-iron pot over hot coals. It’s hard to duplicate that flavor too — a cross between cooking over a fire and using a slow cooker.

Dutch oven cooking has been around for years and years and years. Now that most of us do our daily cooking indoors on and in modern stoves and ovens, it seems like Dutch oven cooking is more for hobbyists and campers. If you haven’t enjoyed Dutch oven cooking as the cook or the eater, you’ve been missing out! It’s a lot of fun.

Dutch oven cooking might seem a little intimidating or complicated. I totally get that! But what you put into the Dutch oven is pretty simple and uncomplicated; the cooking part is where it can get a little tricky. There’s a bit of a learning curve to get the timing and temperature just right, but once those two things are covered, you’ll be set.

You can cook or bake practically anything in a Dutch oven — they are incredibly versatile. Over the years we’ve modified old family favorites for use in a Dutch oven as well as finding new ones. Keep reading for recipes, notes, and everything you need to know to get started.

Make it! Computer Code Jewelry

Awhile ago I went to a lecture about girls and tech given by Cynthia Bailey Lee of Stanford University. Cynthia is a mom of two, and teaches C++ programming, computing theory, processor architecture, and number theory. Specifically her lecture was about getting our daughters and nieces and any other young girls in our lives to get more excited about working with code, and making the coding world more accessible.

One idea she had was making jewelry based on ASCII code. (And if you don’t know what ASCII code is, no worries. It’s all explained below.) I was really taken by this idea! I called Amy Christie and we brainstormed options for both kid jewelry and grown up jewelry (because hey! it’s not too late for us grownups to learn coding either).

The basic idea is to use beads to write your name or initials or a favorite word or a secret message in code. It’s so cool! I’ve got all the information — what ASCII code is, ideas for jewelry, and how to make it — below.

Living With Kids: Amity Courtois

I was hooked on Amity’s story as soon as I learned she and her husband bought their home on Craigslist, hooked even harder when I saw how she makes a home heavy with dark wood look effortlessly holiday-airy, and completely reeled in when I read her honest words about being a stay-at-home mom. There is so much goodness in this tour, Friends. I hope you enjoy it!

Exploring Greece!

What a trip! Here’s a report from our family vacation to Greece. Fun fact: Ben Blair and I used to lived in Greece — it was many years ago when I was pregnant with our first baby, Ralph. We loved living and working there but despite our best plans, we’ve never been able to get back. So getting to be there again was dreamy. And getting to be here with ALL the kids — they’ve never been! — was over the moon fantastic.

As the kids get older and have independent lives, it’s harder and harder to spend time together like this (even when it’s not a pandemic). So I tried hard to soak up every moment.

We spent a couple of days in Mykonos, a couple of days in Santorini, and a couple of days in Athens. Find reports about all three locations below.

Tall House Updates: Moving the Green Piano

We rolled the green piano to the new house! We couldn’t find a mover that worked with our timing, so we put the piano on rollers and pushed it down the street. It was slow going, but the kids took turns playing it while we walked and we were all thoroughly entertained.

Here are lots of snippets of the actual rolling-the-piano-down-the-street — I’ll bet you’ll recognize some of the songs the kids played:

Living With Kids: Rachel Shingleton

One of Rachel‘s mottos is “I’ve never met a color I didn’t love.” With one peek of her home, I know she’s not kidding. It’s a bright, cheerful space that makes me smile, and I know it must have the same effect on her family. And at the risk of getting too deep, I imagine it helps her stay positive when life doesn’t exactly go the way she’s been dreaming. Does your home do that, too? I hope it does.

There were a few times when I found myself pointing to something in her photos that I thought was super cute, only to find that it’s available in her shop! How wonderful and empowering it must be to live among your own art and makes. Friends, I’m so happy to introduce you to Rachel and her color-burst home.

The Very Best Homemade Lemonade

There is nothing that quenches my thirst on a hot summer day quite as well as an icy glass of fresh squeezed lemonade. Whether it’s straight up lemonade or a fruity lemonade infused with herbs or flowers, I take mine with plenty of ice and by the quart. Read on to find out my secrets to sweeten up your summer and make the perfect pitcher of lemonade. Get ready to get refreshed.

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