What I’m reading: Design Mom by Gabrielle Stanley Blair

As a mother to two small children I seem to spend a lot of time tidying away toys, putting away clean clothes and trying to keep the house tidy. I know I can’t be the only one who struggles to find a happy medium between a family home and a stylish home. So I was pretty pleased to come across Design Mom: How to Live with Kids by Gabrielle Stanley Blair. This book sounds like it was written for me!

design_mom book cover

Gabrielle Stanley Blair believes that a well-designed home doesn’t have to disappear when kids come along—and she should know: She’s a mother of six! In Design Mom, her first book, Blair offers a room-by-room manual for keeping things sane, organized, creative, and stylish. In this book, readers will learn: how to make it easy for little ones to help out (store dishes below counter height so they can set the table); the trick to getting kids out of their rooms so they will spend more time with the family (make it a bed room, not a living room); why you don’t need a giant fridge—even with a family of eight; clever ways to display kids’ art (did you know you can turn their masterpieces into postage stamps?); instant laundry-room upgrades; the basic ingredients for a well-stocked craft closet; and much, much more!

The book is organised by room and covers the whole house. I wondered how the tips for roomy American homes would translate to the houses in the UK which we have lived in. I need not have worried as I picked up loads of tips and enjoyed each chapter. Central to the book is Blair’s belief that function and beauty go together,which reminds me of my favourite William Morris quotation “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”.

I’ve enjoyed reading this book so much that I kept mentioning little jobs to my husband which could make our lives easier. Eventually he decided to read it himself and has suggested even more things we can do. Our first job will be sorting out the shoe storage which is the bane of my life. Our hallway is full of shoes, school bags and PE kits so it will be a real joy to make better use of the space, inspired by one of the gorgeous photographs illustrating Design Mom.

This is a gorgeous book, great for keeping nearby and flicking through when you are in need of inspiration or for more serious planning. After 2 years in our not-so-new-home-anymore we’re realising that some things work and some don’t. This is a great read for inspiring and suggesting ways to improve our family home.

Design Mom: How to Live with Kids by Gabrielle Stanley Blair, published by Artisan Books, is available from Amazon and all good bookshops. Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy.

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Summer fun with Lego

It’s hard to believe that one week of the Summer holidays has already flown by. We’ve been really busy with days out, trips to the cinema and lot of play time at home. I’m enjoying spending time with my 5 year old and it’s lovely watching him play all day and have fun with his sister.

There has been lots of Summer fun with Lego play. We always have our home made Lego table out which acts as a permanent invitation to play. They also have a couple of boxes of Lego and Lego Duplo so it’s their toy of choice.

The children were invited to choose a kids toy from House of Fraser and had a really good look through their website, choosing a Lego set each. My 5 year old chose a Lego Race Car set complete with driver and cup. Needless to say he built it in minutes all by himself and has been having races with his other Lego cars.

My 3 year old chose the Lego Duplo Doc Mcstuffins Backyard Clinic. She’s been a fan of Doc for a long time but doesn’t have many of her own Lego sets, always playing with her brothers’. 

 Lego Duplo Doc Mcstuffins Backyard Clinic

She needed help building the Backyard Clinic but it was a good introduction to following instructions and it definitely helped that Doc, Lambie and Stuffy were included. She was able to find the bricks needed in each step and help me put it together.

It’s a cute set for any Doc McStuffins fan and the box has a couple of suggestions for different ways to put it together. Some of the picture bricks are really fun, including a poorly Susie Sunshine who you can fix in the Clinic and make better. The set also includes a small pink rug and bandage, great for wrapping up patients!


You might also be interested in our other Doc McStuffins reviews:

Doc McStuffins Make Me Better Lambie

Doc McStuffins Eye Doctor Bag Playset

Doc McStuffins Specialist Dentist Dottie Doll
Doc McStuffins Light Up Doctor Shoes

10 Doc McStuffins crafts

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Clangers sun catchers

At the moment my guilty pleasure seems to be watching episodes of the Clangers. I find it strangely relaxing and super easy to sit and watch with my children. They seem to enjoy it as much as me and have been asking me to find pictures for them to colour.

Today we went one step further and made our own Tiny Clanger and Soup-Dragon sun catchers which we wanted to share.

Clangers sun catchers - the gingerbread house

We were inspired by this Supersoft Clangers plush toy. Little Sis received the Tiny character which is very realistic  and detailed (RRP £5.99)

Clangers Tiny plush

Clangers sun catchers

I found a couple of Clangers colouring pictures online and used them as a basis to make sun catchers. I traced around them onto a sheet of white paper and cut out the inside. Then placed it onto a sheet of contact paper. Meanwhile my 5 year had cut cellophane sheets into small pieces.

Clangers sun catchers

Then he sat down to make the sun catchers, using mainly pinks for Tiny and green for the Soup-Dragon.

Clangers sun catchersWhen he had finished I covered over the cellophane pieces with more contact paper and we trimmed around the edge.

Soup Dragon Clanger craftThe Clangers aren’t the easiest shape to make a sun catcher from but I think they are pretty recognisable.

Tiny Clanger kids craft

Big Brother received a Clangers Collectable Figures pack containing Mother and Tiny and he’s been busy making a planet play scene for them. I’ll be sharing more about this in a week or two.


Filed under Kids crafts, toy review, tutorial