Irish Shepherd’s Pie

Does your family do anything to mark St Patrick’s Day? Maybe send the kids off to school wearing something green? If you’re ready to start a new tradition, I highly recommend cooking up this traditional Irish meal, Shepherd’s Pie, for dinner on March 17th. Cheese, over mashed potatoes, over ground beef or lamb — this meal is as comforting and kid-friendly as they come!

International Women’s Day

For those of you who are wanting to celebrate, here are a few good ways to mark this special day:

– Wear red. You, your partner, your kids — everyone can join in!

– Read this short but powerful love-letter to women from Luvvie.

– Share this beautiful art by Lisa Congdon.

– Read Half the Sky.

– Shop at, or tell your friends about, a woman-owned business that you love. Here’s a list of 100.

– Read’s Poverty Is Sexist report, which includes a number of illuminating new stats like the fact that educating girls in developing countries could save over a million lives and generate over $100 billion dollars every year.

How about you? How are you marking International Women’s Day?

Living With Kids: Sunshine Burns

It’s probably pretty difficult to be in a horrible mood when your name is Sunshine, don’t you think? It’s probably also next-to-impossible, if your name is as bright as the sun, to have a home that isn’t filled with its warmth. And this is just one reason why Sunshine’s family is a lucky bunch! The others — and there are many! — can be found throughout her interview. She is a gracious hostess and mother who lives near Nashville, Tennessee. It is always good to spend some time with others who are madly in love with their lives, and Sunshine is one of those people. I can’t wait for you to get to know her. (Another bonus to her name: When you email her in the early hours, it’s practically obligatory to begin with “Good morning, Sunshine!” Which makes my day.)

How To Make Mitre-Edged Linen Napkins

You can make these pretty mitre-edged linen napkins in a spectrum of colors (we used pinks and oranges) to dress your table for a spring holiday, and then continue to use them for years to come. To give them a bit of added happy, you can “sprinkle” the napkins with gold confetti, painted on in a random pattern. The gold accents relate to gold-tipped china without being too fancy.

The sewing skills required for this project are minimal, and the painting is done with a stencil. There are photos for every little step, so you’ll be sure to get them exactly right. Enjoy!

Design Mom Office Hours — Book Your Appointment!

Every day, I receive lots of questions from blog readers and people who are following along on social media. Sometimes the questions come via email and comments on blog posts. Sometimes they come in response to my newsletter. Lately, a ton of them come via DMs on Instagram.

Answering reader questions has been an important part of my job for 15 years and I take it seriously. But the frequency of questions and requests continues to increase considerably. Of course, I’d love to answer all the questions. I’d love to personally advise every person who is thinking about an international move. I’d love to help all the people trying to design their family room/bedroom/kitchen/bathroom. I’d love to offer my best advice for each person undergoing a political/religious identity crisis. I’d love to ease each parent’s worries about finding the right school and getting into a good college. I’d love to help travelers figure out their best Normandy itinerary. But I simply can’t. Some requests take an hour minimum to begin to answer properly. Others require me to scour my archives for half an hour looking for specific links. I make a point of answering common questions publicly (I do this almost everyday), but again, I don’t have the bandwidth to answer every question.

So I love hosting Design Mom Office Hours. You can book a block of time to talk with me about… whatever you’d like. In this way I can be helpful to those who need more assistance beyond my general Q&A, and for those who would prefer help or guidance on a non-public forum. It’s also a chance for me to connect with people more personally.

As of this writing I’ve held over 200 meetings and each one has felt totally and completely unique. Some people had specific design challenges they wanted to get help with. Others had parenting questions. Still others wanted to talk politics and vaccines. When you sign up for a meeting there’s a spot to mention what you’d like to talk about, and some people wrote: “just for fun,” or “just to chat.” And that’s what we did. Some people listed a specific topic, but then when we started the meeting they changed their mind and we talked about something else. I really am up for talking about whatever you’d like. Here’s just a sampling of what meetings have covered so far:

Easy Apple Cobbler Recipe — Plus What’s The Difference Between Cobblers, Crisps & Crumbles?

Make an easy & delicious Apple Cobbler. Sweet cinnamon-sugar apples topped with a tastes-like-sugar-cookies pie crust! | Design Mom

There are endless variations of cobblers, crumbles, and crisps out there. While all three of these are essentially fresh fruit baked under some kind of topping that includes butter, there are some subtle differences.

A cobbler is the most distinctive. In this dessert, small, individual biscuits are dropped over the fruit. When baked, the biscuits pop up, creating a bumpy appearance, like a cobbled road. (Tip: you can replace the biscuit batter with cake batter or cookie dough!)

Crumbles and Crisps are a little harder to define. Both call for streusel-like toppings over your fresh fruit. While various geographical regions will debate this on the Internet for eternity, the general consensus seems to be that a crisp topping includes oats and is more like granola while a crumble topping does not have oats and is made up of a more crumbly mixture of flour, butter, and sugar.

As for this recipe, let’s call it a cobbler. The topping has all of the elements of a biscuit — or a sugar cookie! — but the difference is that the topping isn’t formed into individual biscuits before baking. Really, it’s a Crumb-bler: a mix between a crumble and cobbler that gives you sweet cinnamon-sugar apples topped with what tastes like a sugar-cookie pie crust that has the most incredible crunch to it as you break through to the fruit below

Newsletter: There Is Nothing Dumber Than War

Ukraine existing is not an attack on Russia. Russians who chose to live in Ukraine were not asking for protection. The attack on Ukraine was unprovoked, unnecessary, and unreasonable. An entire war to feed one man’s ego. Be f—ing furious about it.

In Normandy, there are signs of WWII everywhere I go. We drove to the doctor’s office, yesterday. On the way, there’s a war memorial sitting prominently at an intersection — the memorial includes an old full-size American tank. As I head north to run some errands, I pass the Canadian military cemetery. In my attic, as I change the sheets on the guests beds, I see shrapnel holes in the wood floors — a bomb came through the roof of this house, the house we live in, during WWII, and we found shrapnel pieces still embedded in the floors as we renovated.

Click here to read the whole newsletter.

Signature Scent: How to Find the Perfect Perfume

11 Secrets to Finding the Perfect Perfume featured by popular lifestyle blogger, Gabrielle of Design Mom

You’ve probably met a handful of people in your life whose scents have stayed the same for so long that they’ve somehow become part of their very essence. Your mom, who smelled of vanilla and dark chocolate. Your boyfriend-turned-husband who smelled of whichever Ralph Lauren cologne was current and cool. Your ballet teacher who smelled…French. Signature scents are more than pretty; they’re your calling card to everyone you meet and comfort for everyone you love. Finding yours is our goal today. I know it’s out there, and I’m going to break down the basics of perfume to help you sniff out the perfect scent for you.

Before you head to the perfume counter, here’s a little guide (and some terminology) that will help as you’re choosing a perfume, and keep you focused on what you want amidst ever-spritzing aromas!

Living With Kids: Agnes Hsu

Agnes would be a lovely friend to have, I think. She once owned a cupcake shop, she is a family photographer, and also runs a kids’ creative site. Life with her must be sweet, DIY divine, and photogenic.

But with all those professional endeavors, something’s gotta give, right? If you’re struggling with your own overwhelming schedules, you might like to hear how Agnes deals with it all. From the division of duties, scheduled personal times that refuel the family’s energy levels, and effective out-sourcing, it’s good stuff. Friends, please meet Agnes!

Sheet Pan Dinner: Polenta with Sausage and Peppers

Sausage and Peppers Sheet Pan Dinner |

I don’t make sausage and peppers nearly as often as I used to, but when I do it always reminds me of living in New York. When you live there, you see sausage and peppers show up in various forms — on pasta, pizza, sandwiches, and just like this recipe, over polenta.

This meal comes together pretty quickly, but requires a few minutes slicing onions and peppers, and polenta. Other than that, it’s nearly hands-off. But as with most easy dinner recipes, the timing is everything. The veggies and sausages go into the oven first, and as they cook, they lose a little volume and that leaves plenty of space for the tomatoes and polenta rounds.

Keep reading for the full recipe and helpful notes.

Valentine Fortune Tellers

Look at these adorable Valentine Fortune Tellers! They’re cute, free-to-print, easy to make, and candy-free. This project was inspired by the mounds of paper fortune tellers my kids made in elementary school. Making paper fortune tellers has been THE thing to do in third, fourth, and fifth grade for generations, and they’re sure to be a hit in classrooms everywhere.

Living With Kids: Shaleah Soliven

I find the coolest friends in the comment section! I always love where your words lead me, and this time my serendipitous clicking took me straight to Shaleah Soliven’s interior design site. I found her aesthetic flawless and so friendly and mighty intentional on many levels. Of course, I wondered if Shaleah’s personal design was half as spectacular as her professional work, and couldn’t wait to see how her young daughter, Sydney, fit into the surely-elegant Soliven home. You’ll be as pleased as I was to find that Sydney doesn’t fit in the space; she flows through it. Please enjoy the tour!

Newsletter: What If We Got Adoption All Wrong?

Most of the time our opinions change gradually, but once in awhile, we read something or learn something and have a MASSIVE shift in our thinking. I’m talking a full 180 degree shift. I’m not sure how often a huge, sudden shift in thinking happens for any one person, or even how often they recognize it’s happening, but I am very aware I’ve experienced one of those major shifts in thinking for two years in row. In 2020, my views on policing changed really quickly, and in a huge way. I went from assuming police were a necessary part of any society, to being fully on board with the abolish the police movement.

Then, in 2021, I experienced a huge shift in how I think and feel about adoption. I’ve shared tweets and links about this from time to time, and whenever I share tweets that don’t paint adoption in glowing terms (or are outright negative about adoption), I receive many messages from readers who are disturbed about what they just read. Who in the world doesn’t like adoption? What does that even mean? You want kids to live in orphanages? My best friend is adopted and she loves her adopted family. I want to adopt someday and reading this is stressful!

And hey. I get it. I had the exact same thoughts until about year ago.

Click here to read the whole newsletter. It’s free to read to and subscribe.

The Best Sugar Cookie Frosting Ever

Have you ever hosted a cookie party? You bake a whole bunch of sugar cookies, gather all the different sprinkles, make several colors of frosting, and invite friends over to decorate a plate of cookies they can take home and share with their family. You can host a cookie party anytime of year (including Valentine’s Day!). Good, messy, creative, delicious fun.

This go-to sugar cookie frosting recipe has come from years of tinkering with a basic American buttercream. American buttercream = butter + powdered sugar frosting, as opposed to European buttercream recipes that include whole eggs, yolks, or whites, a sugar syrup, and loads of butter. (Totally fine to be a fan of both.)

For the perfect sugar cookies, you just have to go with a powdered sugar frosting, because when decorating with sugar cookie frosting, it should eventually set up or dry on the surface. Other types won’t do that. You also want a slightly stiffer frosting that can be piped, if desired, and hold its shape afterwards. American buttercream holds up in warm kitchens too.

There is a third type of sugar cookie frosting called Royal Icing. Royal Icing is made from egg whites and powdered sugar. It is ideal for intricate decorations. It can be thicker and stiffer for piping, and thinner to use as “flood icing.” You’ve probably seen those addictive cookie decorating videos where the design is piped out in thin lines and then the more liquid frosting is piped in and it floods to the piped border.

There’s nothing wrong with Royal Icing, but when it comes to sugar cookies, if you really want something to sink your teeth into, definitely go with buttercream sugar cookie frosting instead. Find a buttercream sugar cookie frosting recipe, a trusted sugar cookie recipe, and helpful notes below.

How To Wash Lingerie

The question of the day: How to Wash Lingerie. Bras and panties, slips, hosiery, camisoles, bustiers, nightgowns. Underthings. Unmentionables. They are often silky, satiny, lacy, and ornate. They are feminine and beautiful. Taking proper care of your underthings not only keeps them looking gorgeous, but it helps them last longer too.

So let’s talk about those silky, sexy unmentionables — we’ll cover how to wash lingerie, and the secrets to keeping your underthings looking lovely.

Easy Donut Valentines For Friends & Classmates

Easy Donut Valentines with Free Printable. Tags read: I like you a "hole" bunch. Donuts in glassine bags with red grosgrain ribbon. Tags attached with red and white baker's twine.

Need a last-minute classroom valentine? These easy donut valentines will be a big hit! This I think we can agree on: everyone loves donuts. So, if you want to win over your Valentine, the odds are in your favor that a ribbon-clad donut will do the trick. This might appear to be a very simple and easy valentine and happily, I can tell you it most definitely is. Bonus? A free printable of the tags!

I always appreciate a really good last-minute Valentine idea. Something you can whip up the night before, long after the craft store has closed. These easy donut valentines are perfect! It will work with a fresh batch of heavenly Krispy Kremes, but will be just as charming with a box of “donettes” from the grocery store (or the gas station!).

So grab a dozen donuts (plus some extras because for sustenance while you put these together), and let’s get started.

Living With Kids: Sarah Wallace

Sarah Wallace decided to submit her home for a Living With Kids tour for a pretty unique reason: she wanted to fall just as in love with her home as the ones she’s been pinning and ogling online. She felt frustrated when her gaze shifted from the clutter-free, design perfect scenes on her monitor to her own less than idyllic space, clutter-filled most days. And she didn’t enjoy that feeling at all. None of us do, right?

So she decided to put a little lipstick on her home, straighten its skirt a bit, and let it shine for us…and for her. (Full disclosure: Sarah would like you to know what it looked like just outside of the frame of most of the pictures. Piles of paper and clutter were removed from her kitchen counters, there may be dirty dishes hiding in the sink, and all the craft supplies from the dining room table were shifted to the stairs during the photo shoot! Thanks for keeping it real, Sarah!)

I hope you enjoy the dressed up version of the Wallace family home. More importantly, I hope you take away a little bit of reassurance that pictures aren’t always worth a thousand words and all our attention; sometimes, it’s all the stuff that we try to edit that tells us the most about our lives. Welcome Sarah!

Guide to Patching & Mending Clothes

Clothes Patching Guide via - 4 Secrets to Patching Clothes for a Well-Mended Wardrobe featured by popular lifestyle blogger, Design Mom

Sigh. It’s true. We live in a throw-away clothing culture. We pick up inexpensive pieces, fully aware that they’ll wear out and need to be replaced next season. But with new interest in slower, sustainable living, choosing clothes that last, and maintaining them so they’ll last even longer, is gaining momentum. Which means patches are back!

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