Pick Me Up Giveaway + Best of the Web

Pick Me Up Giveaway + Best of the Web

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We all have (at least) a little bit of darkness in us. No matter how sunshiny your disposition and outlook are, you’ve probably been to a place that felt tough to climb out of. Whether it’s a funk, a bad day, or a deep hole, using your own creativity to pull through the bad stuff can be incredibly gratifying and healing. Which is precisely why Adam J. Kurtz’s new book, Pick Me Up, has me ready to handle any dark or sucky life moments that come my way.

Adam is a part of our D*S family, and he’s known for his humorously honest empathy for stuff that can be hard to talk about — like feelings. This page-by-page self-pep talk in book form, as Adam says, is “the realization that life and feelings don’t always follow a linear path. Life can be a confusing mix of murky possibilities. You will change repeatedly. Anything can always happen.” Flip to any page in the book, and you’ll find a chance to jot down goals, remind yourself of how amazing you are (because you ARE), doodle a wish, or maybe admit all the things you’re trying to make excuses for. It’ll pat you on the back when you need it, or not let you off the hook when you’re being impossible.

Adam’s book hits shelves on Oct. 4 — the same day as our new book, In the Company of Women! — but today he’s giving two readers the chance to win a copy of Pick Me Up for themselves and a friend! To enter to win two copies of Pick Me Up, comment below with a positive affirmation for yourself by Monday, Oct. 3 at 10 am EST. (Two winners will be picked by random selection to win two copies apiece.) Good luck, and have a great weekend! —Kelli

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In the Company of Women: BIG GIVEAWAYS!

In the Company of Women: BIG GIVEAWAYS!

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To celebrate the last few days of pre-orders for our new book, In the Company of Women, we’re doing a huge series of giveaways! Just see all the links below to enter. All contests are open to all readers (domestic and international) and you can enter all three giveaways, but can only win one. If the random number generator picks you for all three, we will contact you to choose your first choice prize package.

**YOU CAN PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY OF THE BOOK RIGHT HERE, AS WELL AS GET TICKETS FOR OUR BOOK TOUR!**

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To enter the FREE BUSINESS CONSULTING SESSION with Grace Bonney and women from the book, ENTER HERE.

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To enter to win the FREE HUDSON VALLEY GETAWAY to Hasbrouck House, ENTER HERE.

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To enter to win one of four GIFT PACKAGES (each containing a selection of artwork and home goods made by the talented women from the book), ENTER HERE.

In the Kitchen With: Sara Washington’s Food Reel – Stuffed Eggplant

In the Kitchen With: Sara Washington’s Food Reel – Stuffed Eggplant

For years, we have dedicated our In the Kitchen With column almost exclusively to first-person stories. I thought it would be nice to bring in an additional focus this week with a short film by documentary filmmaker, Sara Washington. Her short captures the story behind Lauren Rose’s featured Stuffed Eggplant Recipe. Here we get to see the food through both Sara and Lauren’s lens. —Kristina

Why Sara chose Lauren Rose’s story to feature: Lauren and I both grew up in the same city of Stockton, CA. We both come from families that really value gathering together around food, and we both grew up watching our grandmothers in the kitchen, but the dishes that were on our tables were very different. My grandmother moved to Stockton from Texas, hers immigrated from Lebanon. I really liked the idea of this food portrait being of a food-obsessed Stocktonian by another.

 

 

Sara Washington on DesignSponge

Portrait by Rebecca Goldsmith.

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15 Modern Grasscloth Wallpapers for Fall

Geneva might be my favorite grasscloth I've seen yet. It's got all the cool geometric print I love in a modern paper, but the classic background of a textured grasscloth (this one is made of sisal).

15 Modern Grasscloth Wallpapers for Fall

I love a flat, shiny wallpaper as much as the next girl, but sometimes it’s nice to use wallpaper to add some texture to a room. Grasscloth often gets a bad rap as being a little too 70s, but I think when used in the right context, it can look modern and sophisticated and add just the right amount of warmth to a room. I didn’t know until recently, thanks to Better Homes & Gardens, that “grasscloth” is actually a catch-all term for a range of natural fiber papers made of everything from hemp and jute to reed and arrowroot. So today I rounded up 15 of my favorite textured grasscloth papers for anyone looking to add some texture and warmth to their walls this season. xo, grace 

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Before & After: Converting 188 Square Feet on Wheels into a Home

Before and After: Converting 188 sq ft into a Home on Design*Sponge

Before & After: Converting 188 Square Feet on Wheels into a Home

If there’s some passion or wish you’ve been secretly harboring inside those inner archives of wild dreams, then meet Mandy Fierens and Kevin Holesh, a couple who may just convince you to say those wishes out loud. More importantly, they may inspire you to take some giant leaps of faith and go for those wild dreams!

During her horribly insecure teen years, Mandy fell in love with fashion, but her 5’10” curvy frame didn’t fit the typical mold. Naysayers told her the barriers to enter the fashion industry were too high (adults are the worst!), but she didn’t let that stifle her. Today, she uses The Curvy Blogger as a positive corner of the web, where she hopes to help girls all over the world find confidence in their own skin. If the photography on her blog is impressive, it’s because Mandy is also a wedding and elopement photographer. She credits her other half, Kevin, with giving her the boost in confidence she needed to ditch a steady day job in order to pursue those creative passions.

Kevin is an iOS developer (check out his app, “Moment,” to help you curb your phone addictions), who can pretty much figure out anything he puts his mind to. The one idea on both of Mandy and Kevin’s minds? Travel! After marrying and settling in Pittsburgh, PA, the two borrowed an aunt’s pop-up camper and spent two months traveling the South. They were totally hooked, and the return to apartment life left them feeling cooped up.

Where others may have tried to just swallow that nagging feeling, these two brave souls had a real talk about their desire to travel. They put words into action, lived frugally to save money, consolidated their lives in a major way, and when the right “fifth wheel” presented itself, they committed to living in 188 square feet, which they dubbed the “Keystone.” Whether you have the same travel bug and work freedom, or your life is completely tethered to one place, you can dive into their adventures and live vicariously through their blog, 188sft. Enjoy! —Quelcy

Photography by Mandy Fierens | Family portrait by Krystle Castillo

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Studio Tour: Hello Miss May

Studio Tour: Hello Miss May | Design*Sponge

Studio Tour: Hello Miss May

I love how Instagram has connected the design world from every corner. Every day I scroll through my feed and see work from countless designers and creatives from all over the globe. Hello Miss May is a favorite of those accounts. May Leong of Hello Miss May is based in Surry Hills, Sydney, Australia. Her colorful and playful illustrations and styling instantly caught my eye when I first stumbled upon her work on Instagram.

Hello Miss May doesn’t just create beautiful things for social media — this creative company run by May conceptualizes and executes photo shoots for companies such as Oreos, Pokey Sticks and Happy Socks to name a few. May also sells greeting cards, pins and brooches designed with her signature illustration style. May has successfully turned her side business into full-time work, giving her the need for a studio space.

May’s studio is located in her Surry Hills home. The space was originally a lounge or living room area, but she was able to make the dining room act as a dual-purpose spot for both living and dining. “I call my space, ‘The Weekend Studio’ as it gives me the chill-out kind of feeling,” May shares. “I used to work part-time at the geekiest (and somehow, coolest) tech store in the world, and I never had the weekends off. Now, I have seven days in a week all to myself, to do whatever I want to do in the studio.”

Her creative space is an eclectic mix of colors, modern style, vintage pieces and Hello Miss May inventory and props. “Friends think I have way too much stuff in my house (and they probably think I have a tendency to hoard), but I see myself as a collector, appreciating the cute and the colorful.” The studio is exactly as it should be for May: inspiring, creative and practical for this talented designer and stylist. –Lauren

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Seven Pajama Sets for Fall

J. Crew's pajama sets have been my go-to Christmas list item for years. They're comfy and breathable and usually come in great striped options, like these. $78 right here.

Seven Pajama Sets for Fall

This fall, I’m gearing up to hit the road for our In the Company of Women book tour, and if there’s anything I remember from the last book tour, it’s that treating myself to a new pair of pajamas is a good idea. Back in 2011 when I toured 30+ cities (yipes), I got myself a new pair of PJs that made my “on the road” nighttime routine feel special and calming.

Not being in my own bed for that long was really unsettling (I really love routines), so I’ve been looking around for a new pair that will come with me on this year’s tour and help me ensure I stick to a nighttime travel routine that keeps me well-rested and ready to go in each city. I thought I’d share seven of my favorites here today in case anyone’s looking for something fun to spruce up their nighttime wardrobe. xo, grace

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In The Company of Women: Giveaway #1

In The Company of Women: Giveaway #1

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BIG NEWS! All week we’re doing a special series of giveaway to celebrate pre-orders for In the Company of Women. We’re giving away a trip to Hasbrouck House, a consulting session with me and women from the book and…starting today…4 gift boxes filled with amazing ceramics, original artwork, jewelry and home goods made by women from the book! This package includes original artwork by Rinne Allen, ceramics by Michele Quan, a scarf from Block Shop Textiles and rope jewelry by Tanya Aguiniga!

To enter, fill out the form here, upload a picture of your pre-ordered copy of the book (books pre-ordered before this week are great, and tickets to any book tour event counts!) and we’ll choose winners this weekend to receive one of these amazing gift packages. Thank you to all of these amazing women for donating these incredible pieces and thank you for supporting the book! xo, grace

Before & After: An Iowa Living Room Gets an Artful Makeover

A Des Moines, IA Living Room Gets an Artful Makeover | Design*Sponge

Before & After: An Iowa Living Room Gets an Artful Makeover

Liz Lidgett’s clever entryway re-do earlier this year had all of us at Design*Sponge wanting more. Liz’s background lends to art being the forefront of any room she decorates. The art advisor and founder of Adore Your Walls has turned her own living room into a beautiful display of favorite pieces. When she and her husband, Nick Renkoski, moved back to Des Moines, IA from Los Angeles last year, they had a specific neighborhood in mind — the same one Liz grew up in.

The home they found in their budget needed some love. Its stately rooms, hardwood floors and gorgeous windows has made any room makeover a bit easier on them. When the couple moved in, the living room was a deep pink with white trim and brass accents. Liz, Nick and their families have since put in time, creativity and handiwork to turn the living room into a sophisticated retreat where they can host and relax. Having a large home with a small budget has meant that Liz and Nick have had to be resourceful with their purchases. “We were on a budget since we needed to fill the entire house with furniture, so I looked a lot on Craigslist and at garage sales. The great thing is, because we DIYed so much of it, I know there’s not another room like it anywhere,” Liz shares.

The gorgeous results speak for themselves. The brightly colored artwork pairs beautifully with a graphic black and white rug. The sofas look refined while patterned pillows and furniture lines give a subtle playfulness to the room. The black trim creates definition and shows off the beautiful charm of the room itself. The space is a mix of contemporary, vintage and modern design that is unique to Liz and Nick. “I wanted the home to be full of pieces we loved, not just stuff we had bought to fill space,” Liz shares. “We want a home full of art and books and music. We want a home where people feel welcome to sit down, have a drink, and stay for a while.” The living room now reflects the couple that lives there and the life they were hoping to find in Des Moines. –Lauren

Photography by Rick Lozier

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DIY Laptop Skin Using Images From Your Smartphone

DIY Laptop Skin Using Images From Your Smartphone

DIY Laptop Skin Using images from your smartphone by Jessica Marquez for Design Sponge

In this DIY, we marry analog and handmade concepts with new technology and materials. I usually roll my eyes at projects that lean too heavily on a service or prepackaged good, but I’m excited to share inspiring new tools and materials with loads of creative applications. Using my smartphone’s camera, I photographed a hand-drawn doodle and compositions of delicate flowers to make my own Custom Laptop Skin. Actually, it’s re-positionable wallpaper printed by Spoonflower, but it adheres well to any smooth surface so you can go crazy covering your walls, notebooks, phone and laptop.

Originally, I wanted to make a skin from a single image that spread across the laptop, but Spoonflower’s program is best designed for creating repeat patterns. You can use pre-existing images, but keep in mind that imagery that requires a fixed orientation, like a standard snapshot, might not work as well as a repeat pattern. Graphic imagery and patterns work best.

I visited my favorite flower shop in Brooklyn, Park Deli, who have the best funky, fun and colorful flowers. I played around arranging the flowers on paper and shot images with my phone. These images, which I link to in full resolution after the jump, were then turned into peel-and-stick wallpaper. The flowers made for interesting repeat pattern designs, and I loved the idea of my laptop having a softer edge. Don’t limit yourself to just flowers, though. Think of all the fun objects, sketches, and doodles that you can shoot and turn into your own custom peel-and-stick paper — the possibilities are truly endless. —Jessica

DIY Laptop Skin Using images from your smartphone by Jessica Marquez for Design Sponge

DIY Laptop Skin Using images from your smartphone by Jessica Marquez for Design Sponge
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A Dreamy Escape in the Texas Countryside

Schumacher Home Tour on Design*Sponge

A Dreamy Escape in the Texas Countryside

On the journey to Jacque and Kenneth Schumacher’s country home outside Cuero, TX, something special starts to happen. The landscape slowly begins to change, the rolling hills become more lush with wildflowers and Spanish moss hanging from the oak trees, and you suddenly feel very at ease.

To say that this home is a slice of heaven is a major understatement. Its simple, updated country decor exudes tranquility, with no detail overlooked. The main house was built on the exact site of the original structure that the couple tried desperately to save. Despite being intended as only a weekend home, Jacque and Kenneth have not been able to tear themselves away. With all of their children now grown, this one-bedroom, one-bath home perfectly suits the needs of their laid-back lifestyle. With Jacque and Kenneth each owning various businesses, they work very long, demanding hours, and love having a place to come home to that is both calm and relaxing. The property also includes a pool and many creative outdoor areas for entertaining and hosting guests.

The original goal for the property was to turn an old airplane hangar into a “party barn.” Once Jacque convinced Kenneth, there was no stopping her. Just in time for their oldest son’s wedding, the property’s “party barn,” main house, and guest quarters were all completed within only a five-month time frame. Without a professional set of plans, their flexible builder was able to work with Jacque’s many impromptu design decisions to create what appears to be something that took years of planning and effort.

Enjoy this dreamy escape, but beware — even committed city-dwellers might be swayed to start looking for their own sweet spot in the country. —Megan

Photography by Laura Haley Photography

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Giveaway: Win a Consulting Session with Grace!

Giveaway: Win a Consulting Session with Grace!

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I’m so excited to announce our 2nd giveaway celebrating pre-orders for In the Company of Women! If you pre-order the book (tickets to the book tour events count!) you could win a free consulting session with me and two women from the book to help get your creative business/goals/ideas off the ground! We’ll meet with you online to talk about your goals and ways to achieve them. If you’d like to win a consulting session, just fill out the contest form HERE. The contest is open to anyone, world-wide, whether or not you have a business yet. We’re happy to help you turn your ideas into a business idea, too! –Grace

The photo above is @arielealasko from In the Company of Women, photographed by @sashaisrael

The Beauty of Self-Care: Lesson 4 – Ritual + An Aveda Giveaway

The Beauty of Self-Care: Lesson 4 – Ritual + An Aveda Giveaway

Image via GIPHY

There’s been a lot of gratitude, participation and conversations around this series and we’re so grateful for the thoughtful responses. When Emily Henderson shared a post from our series and a “thank you” on her Facebook feed, I replied with a quick comment that said, “We practice what we preach.” I wanted to re-emphasize that self-care takes practice and guts. For me, it’s like waking up on a cold morning — I don’t want to get out of bed. I’m in my warm, protected space and just want to stay there. Then, as consciousness creeps in, I remember I’m a mom and I’ve got a lunch to pack and breakfast to make. Before I made self-care a priority, these rituals took the place of any activities to nurture myself. While I’m happy to take care of my daughter in a loving and nurturing way, the day would just become a period of time with a long to-do list that would leave me exhausted when I turned in at night.

One of our favorite companies, Aveda, recently reached out to Grace and I and wanted to be a part of this series. After we pinched ourselves, we realized it was a great fit that made total sense because we essentially work with all of the same self-care ideas, Ayurvedic practices and products that their business is built on. Grace has been an Aveda fan since high school and my aunt runs two Aveda salons in Florida. When I stayed with Aunt Laura during a recent trip to Florida, my daughter peeked out from the bathroom to ask about soap for the shower. Aunt Laura smiled and told her, “We don’t use soap, honey,” and told her to use any of the Aveda products in there as “soap.” I took a peek into the shower and was in spa heaven. Of course, I left with a suitcase filled with Aveda products. We’re so happy to announce that, thanks to Aveda’s support, we’ll be continuing this series through the end of the year!

I’ve gotten good at internal care thanks to meditation and breath work, but my external body care practices were pretty much nonexistent. I grew up taking external beauty routines, makeup and even putting on lotion as a sign of vanity and privilege. The word “pamper” still makes me a little uncomfortable. As an adult, I totally realize that this reaction is just because my childhood was about survival, not enjoying things like treating yourself. Shame was pretty much running my life until five years ago. Now, I appreciate all my body does for me every. single. day.

Every morning, I do two things for myself that leave me ready for anything that comes my way during the day — cleaning cat boxes, tantrums from a 10-year-old with no Internet access, and other challenging situations. My first ritual is to sit at my table, have my coffee, and do the painting exercise from lesson one. I just work with gouache and water and make circles of color without even thinking. As I move into the bathroom/get-dressed mode, I sit in my fun green floral chair in my office and I do a skin brushing ritual with some amazing oils that leave a scent in my office that keeps me relaxed all day. After I have my coffee and have to move into the start of my day, my mind naturally starts racing, mostly in a good way, and while I’m brushing I take the time to let those thoughts race on by, but I observe them — I no longer rush to scribble them down on paper that will get lost in the pile of all of the other lists. The wonderful thing about my brushing routine (for me) is it takes time. I literally let the oils and the aromatherapy effect sink into my skin while I watch all of my thoughts drift by like clouds. It’s like letting your tea steep to that perfect flavor you only know through practice and observing the color of the tea.

If you think about our external body as connected to our health — beyond the standard practices of a healthy diet and regular exercise — our skin is our largest organ of our body and covers an area of about 20 square feet. It protects us from harmful microbes, helps regulate our body temperature, and allows us to experience the sensations of touch, heat and cold. Most of us take care of our skin in obvious hygienic ways, but treating your skin and senses to a dedicated ritual that encompasses meditation trains your brain to remember the calming effect of specific sensations.

Please join us and our new collaborator, Aveda, each Tuesday at 1 pm for some self-exploration + exercises to build good habits and instill positive self-care into your everyday routine. We couldn’t be more thrilled to work on this content side-by-side with a company that shares our values and has such a thoughtful approach to self-care and beauty.

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Click through for this week’s 10-minute exercise and a special giveaway from Aveda. –Grace and Caitlin

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What To Do When You Fail

What To Do When You Fail

Design*Sponge – What To Do When You Fail – Adam J. Kurtz

A lot of smart, creative people talk about failure in the creative process, so I thought I should finally tackle it myself. Obviously, I’ve never failed at anything before, so this advice is entirely hypothetical. I assume that failure feels pretty awful. I can imagine feeling not good enough, or worthless, maybe even feeling like I should just give up. I can picture myself throwing away my hard work, crumpling up paper or erasing files in a (minor) fit of rage. I’m not the yelling type, but I can almost see myself writing the world’s most passive-aggressive email. I mean, if I had failed at something. Which I never have.

“Failing” as a badge of honor doesn’t make sense to me. There’s no need to polish this turd? Failing feels sucky. But failure can also bring so much to learn about ourselves, our work and our presentation. Success is about so much more than just talent or the merit of our ideas. Timing is everything. Connecting with the right person matters. So you take failure in stride, strip as much good from the experience as you can, and do your best not to let the gut emotional reaction drag you down. –Adam J. Kurtz

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Decorating for Your Differently-Abled Child + Giveaway

Decorating for Your Differently-Abled Child + Giveaway

Decorating for Your Differently-Abled Child & Giveaway, Design*Sponge

Decorating your child’s room can be a challenge. Kids are messy, they’re tough on furniture and their taste changes with the wind. Not only that, but as a parent you also want them to feel comfortable in their space and to give them a haven in which they can thrive. All in all, there’s a lot to think about when the process kicks off. For some parents, though, a much more profound factor has to be taken into account: their child being differently-abled.

Designing and decorating for kiddos with different abilities (or diffently-abled people of any age, for that matter) is a topic too often overlooked by our community. Today we are setting out to change that. We’ve partnered with advocate and mother of three, Rachel Fox Kipphut, and put together 5 Decorating Tips for Your Differently-Abled Child. Rachel is a wealth of knowledge. Her four-year-old daughter Eva was born with Down Syndrome, which meant her room and play areas needed specific attention when it was time to decorate. Coordinating colors, playing to your child’s strengths and finding ways to empower them are just a few of the tips we can all learn from Rachel and her tot.

Not only is she sharing with us all that she learned from the design process, but Rachel’s also helped us put together a great giveaway. One lucky reader will get a prize package full of goodies that are Eva-approved. Every item is stylish, useful and made by a brand that’s inclusive of those who are differently-abled. Major kudos! Click through for the tips and to enter. Enjoy. —Garrett

Photography by Rachel Fox Kipphut

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