One Pot Dinner: Weeknight Cassoulet Recipe

Weeknight Cassoulet Recipe |

Cassoulet! Have you ever eaten it before? It’s a classic French Stew — so thick it’s almost a casserole, and it’s packed with different ingredients and layers of flavor. I remember the very first time I ate cassoulet. It was the first time we lived in France. We were visiting friends in the Dordogne region who lived next to a castle. The weather was chilly, and a hot bowl of cassoulet was the perfect thing for dinner. It warmed me right up and was super filling.

True cassoulet can take a long time to make, so this recipe includes a few short-cut options. For those of you who prefer a slow-cooker, the notes include an adaptation for that too. If you give the recipe a try, I hope you let me know what you think.

And if you’ve ever had memorable cassoulet, I want to hear about it!

Tall House: Laundry Room Before & After

Here’s a tour of our fully renovated laundry room. I would say “we took it back to the studs” but there aren’t really studs in our house — hah! Instead the walls are made of thick stone and brick. The previous occupants used this room as a “back kitchen”. It housed the fridge and freezer, and it had the kitchen sink and the water heater — sort of a prep kitchen. The actual cooking took place in the room next door (our current kitchen) which is where the stove and oven was (and still is).

We moved the prep areas into the cooking kitchen, and we converted this space into a laundry room with a utility sink, a pantry, and our big furnace-water-heater combo. Come see what we’ve been up to.

Living With Kids: Dalia Baurichter

You’re going to love getting to know Dalia today, and hear her perspective about faith, parenting, clutter and so much more. Dalia, her husband, and their three daughters (and a golden doodle!) live in a Parsonage in South Florida. Tony is a pastor and the home is actually owned by the congregation — Dalia and their family live there as part of their compensation. It seems like a lovely twist on a renter/landlord situation. Dalia and Tony also have one daughter with special needs and two children who were born premature, so she has some beautiful wisdom to share about life’s unexpected twists and turns. Welcome, Dalia!

4 Secrets To Making Goals & Resolutions You’ll Really Keep

Some people love making goals at the beginning of a New Year. Others do not. I’m in the loves-making-goals camp, but if you’re not, you’ll get no judgement from me. I think it’s more about how different brains work — some people get inspired by goals, and others get discouraged and prefer non-goal motivations. My personal tendency is to make big ambitious goals — shoot for the moon! — and if I don’t reach them all, that’s fine. I enjoy picturing the possibilities either way.

For those of you who are interested in making goals this year, here are two methods that research has shown to work really well.

Newsletter & Link List

Hey there. How’s it going? This morning, I received a booster shot. (Moderna.) No side effects so far, but I have zero plans for the next few days just in case. This is only my second shot, because when I was first vaccinated back in May (on a very short trip to California), I received the J&J shot. I’m so happy/comforted to be boosted! And for those who are curious, getting a same day booster wasn’t an option for me here in France — I made the appointment a month ago, but this was the earliest date available. According to the official French Anti-Covid app, vaccination coverage in France is 89.5%.

In other vaccine-related good news: France is starting widespread vaccinations for the 5-12 age group! Which means our youngest, Flora June, can finally get vaccinated! We made her first appointment for the earliest date: January 5th.

What’s happening vaxx-wise where you live? Is it easy to access a same-day vaccination? Or do you have to wait for an appointment? Is your community working on initial vaccinations? Or have they moved on to boosters? Is it free for you to get vaccinated? Or do you have to pay a fee?

Click here to read the full newsletter, find the link list, and leave a comment. It’s free!

New Year’s Eve Creme Brûlée — Dessert for Two

Creme Brulee for Two

I’ve got a lovely little surprise for you today. It’s a Creme Brûlée For Two recipe — part of the mouth-watering Dessert for Two series. And it’s just in time for another mid-pandemic New Year’s Eve, where it’s safest and most compassionate to celebrate at home. Extra bonus: It’s very doable — just 4 ingredients!

The only hard part is patience, because these are best when they’ve cooled for 8 hours or more. So you could make the recipe first thing in the morning on New Year’s Eve, and then let them cool all day. As a last step, you’ll brown the topping just before you serve them that night. Perfect.

Living With Kids: Koseli Cummings

Koseli and her family decided to take a big leap during the last year when her husband accepted a job in South Korea and the whole family moved across the world. They quarantined for 14 days in a hotel, moved to a temporary home, and then finally arrived at their permanent home away from home. They’ve enjoyed living within walking distance of amenities like parks and shopping and have appreciated South Korea’s strict and balanced response to COVID. You’ll love hearing about their adventures and might even be inspired to look into your own ex-pat adventure. Welcome, Koseli!

Newsletter & Friday Links

My mom, Donna, married her high-school sweetheart, Roger, a couple of years after their spouses passed away. Donna has 8 kids. Roger has 10 kids. That means there are 18 step-siblings, plus spouses and grandkids. It’s a LOT of people. And it’s not the Brady Bunch situation Donna & Roger were first imagining when blending their families.

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

P.S. — The last newsletter was about using Twitter as an anger outlet. Click here to read it.

Young Adult Gift Guide

The 18 picks in this guide are all focused on items that would be comforting, entertaining, or distracting during the winter months. I had in mind young adults when I put this together, but I would personally love many of the items on this list as well. Come see!

Living With Kids: McArthur Krishna

You’ll love getting a peek at McArthur’s bright and beautiful home today. She and her family relocated from India to Portland, Oregon and had to deal with big challenges during the pandemic — like her husband not being able to re-enter the US for a while. But McArthur and her daughter repainted and redecorated rooms to keep occupied and the results are warm and colorful and full of life. McArthur has also worked to make her home a welcome refuge for friends, families, and even strangers. Welcome, McArthur!

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!

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