Design*Sponge Book Tour: SEATTLE!

Design*Sponge Book Tour: SEATTLE!

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I will never forget the first time I traveled to Seattle. It was 2007 and I was in town for a Biz Ladies meetup. In my downtime I decided to sit by the water and have fish chowder (in a sourdough bowl- man I miss those!). As the fog cleared I caught my first glimpse of the Olympic Mountains and my jaw hit the floor. I have never seen natural beauty like that and couldn’t believe that people in Seattle got to have all of that and an amazing city. So I’m thrilled to be heading back to Seattle on Tuesday, October 18th for our stop on the In the Company of Women book tour!

I’m going to be joined on stage by some incredibly talented local business owners: Molly Wizenberg (of OrangetteDelancey and Homemade Life), Moorea Seal, Arianne Foulks (of Aeolida) and Dana Tanamachi (who recently moved from NYC to Seattle!).

We’ll be at the Palace Ballroom with Book Larder, discussing life, work and how each of these incredible women got where they are today. They’ll be sharing their advice for starting and sustaining your own business and I can’t wait to sit down and talk with them.

Grab your ticket here! Each ticket includes a copy of In the Company of Women, the panel discussion and a book signing after, and, while supplies last, an illustrated tote designed by Libby VanderPloeg (who did the drawing above, too!). See you in Seattle! xo, grace

*Click here to pre-order the book (worldwide!) and check out the other dates on our October book tour!

The Beauty of Self-Care: Lesson Two – Purpose

The Beauty of Self-Care: Lesson Two – Purpose

 

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There are pivotal moments in our life that teach us things we remember for a lifetime. I learned a very useful skill at the age of 15 while working as a waitress. I lied about my age to get the job and after a few days of work, it was clear that I had no idea what I was doing. No one complained, they just flagged me down a lot asking for things I didn’t think to bring them. A very seasoned line cook, who barked at the waitresses in the kitchen, took me aside one day and called me out on lying about my age. Instead of turning me in, he gave me a piece of sage advice that changed my life and vastly improved my waitressing job. He told me, “Never leave the dining room or kitchen empty handed. Carry a tray and bring everything you might need in the next 10 minutes with you. And smile big.” I was so struck by his kindness that I followed his advice every minute of every day, in and out of the restaurant. I crushed everything I put my mind to and had multitasking juice running through my blood all before I was 16 years old.

Guess what? I was burned out by the time I was 30 years old. Throughout my life and career, I had served everyone I encountered so well, anticipating their every need and found such purpose in it, that I had no idea what I liked, what I wanted or what I needed in my own life. I answered “It doesn’t matter” to most questions asked of me, including, ironically, waitresses. “Would you like ketchup with your fries?” Me: “It doesn’t matter.” I’m still working on breaking this habit. Sometimes I still feel, deep down, like I’ll be betraying a person who showed me kindness and helped me succeed. Sometimes we have to unlearn things and define our purpose for ourselves.

Click through for some simple ways to reframe the not-so-fun things you have to do or are stuck with, and also learn about today’s self-care exercise that will literally take you two minutes. Bonus: There’s a book giveaway involved to give you some incentive! –Caitlin

Image above by the talented Hawnuh Lee. Follow Hawnuh’s work on Instagram here.

Check out last week’s Self-Care Lesson here.

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What’s in Your Toolbox: Elisabeth Heidinga

What’s in Your Toolbox: Elisabeth Heidinga

What's in Your Toolbox: Elisabeth Heidinga, on Design*Sponge

Pablo Picasso once said that “every act of creation is first an act of destruction.” When Toronto-based artist Elisabeth Heidinga felt stifled in her work, she quite literally tore a canvas to shreds and made something completely new with the result. Her intricate woven paintings are formed from abstract compositions cut into fine strips, then knit into decorative patterns. “To me it’s symbolic,” Elisabeth shares, “Taking two opposing ideas, enduring and growing through the process to arrive at something strong and beautiful.” While they still fit into frames, Elisabeth’s woven paintings have a three-dimensional quality that reflects the unique voice and style as an artist for which she has always searched. —Annie

Photography by Elisabeth Heidinga VIEW MORE

Studio Tour: Iqrup + Ritz

Iqrup and Rotz Studio Visit on Design Sponge

Studio Tour: Iqrup + Ritz

Indian furniture brand Iqrup + Ritz  caught my eye early last year with their elegant, mid-century meets colonial inspired furniture and their pattern-perfect upholstery collaborations with Delhi-based designers Safomasi (we profiled them here last year). It’s not common for furniture to be sold online in India — though a few multi-product retailers do sell a side table or two — and I was struck by the refreshing attitude of this traditional furniture company intent on supercharging their expert skills for a millennial market.

A mother-daughter team made up of Iqrup and Ritika Dhamija, Iqrup founded the interior design and furniture-making business in 1985 to cater to the demand for elegant and sophisticated Indian homes. Her first project was with iconic Indian artist MF Husain, and she counts a number of India’s most influential businesspeople and entrepreneurs as her clients.

Although the business known as Iqrup Design was established in Delhi 30 years ago, the true magic began when daughter Ritika (Ritz) started to plan for her own home. Ritz found it was impossible to source what she was looking for and the options available either seemed unoriginal and mass produced or extremely expensive.

Growing up in Delhi, Ritz was surrounded by design, accompanying her mother on site visits and shopping for materials in markets. After studying physics in England and working in investment banking in London for 11 years, a creative outlet in the form of design seemed like a natural progression. Ritz convinced her mother of a gap in the market for a contemporary design brand focused on quality heirloom furniture.

Iqrup + Ritz share their studio with their sister company, Iqrup Design in Gurgaon, a financial and industrial hub on the outskirts of New Delhi, and their neighborhood is comprised of an eclectic mix of tech start-ups and artisanal workshops. Lucky to have their workshop and studio in one place, the four-story building was designed and built by Iqrup herself, with Iqrup + Ritz occupying 2,000 square feet on the ground floor.

Most of the floors host the brand’s master craftsmen of carpenters, polishers and upholsters. Many of the craftsmen managing the teams have been with Iqrup for over 30 years. The studio is filled with bookshelves of books on design, art, textiles and vintage furniture catalogues. Iqrup has also been collecting international design magazines like Architectural DigestHouse and Garden, and World of Interiors for decades and the duo often flip through old issues for inspiration.

For more information on this creative family business, take a look at the Iqrup + Ritz YouTube channel for some inspiring videos. —Rohini

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Design*Sponge Book Tour: BOSTON!

Design*Sponge Book Tour: BOSTON!

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Every city on the In the Company of Women book tour feels special to me, but our Boston stop (which is less than a month away!) feels extra special because some of my dearest friends are a part of this panel and we’ll be kicking off the event with a presentation by someone, without whom this book would not be possible.

Along with Kelli Kehler (who manages our team here at DS) and I, photographer Sasha Israel was brave enough to join us on a whirlwind two-month trip across the country to photograph the majority of women featured in this book. Working with Sasha was one of the most fun and rewarding experiences of my life so far and I am 100% sure that the reason the photographs in this book are so amazing is because Sasha is not only a great photographer, but she has a special way with people and is able to make them feel comfortable and confident almost immediately. So I’m thrilled to announce that at our Boston event (Sasha’s new home base!), Sasha will be starting the show with a special presentation and behind-the-scenes look at what it was like to meet and photograph all of these incredible women.

Following that presentation, I will be leading a panel with Boston locals, Jen Hill (of JHill Design), Joanne Chang (of Flour Bakery), Jonna Twigg (of Twigg’s Bindery), Danielle Colding (of DCDNY) and Jill Rosenwald.

You won’t want to miss this event, it’s going to be fantastic. Pick up a ticket here (each ticket includes a book, the panel talk, a book signing and a limited-edition illustrated tote, while supplies last) and we’ll see you on Thursday, October 6th at the Brattle Theater!

*Click here to pre-order the book (worldwide!) and check out the other dates on our October book tour!

A Home Designed For Family In Wisconsin

"This is us. We may not all look the same, but we are a family. The family that was always intended and the family that will always be," Jamie said. Pictured is Jamie and AJ, their daughters Sophia and Charlotte, and their sons Etienne, Laurent, and Nicasio. (Pets: Oliver, Audrey, Napoleon and Greta)

A Home Designed For Family In Wisconsin

After traveling to Ethiopia to adopt their daughter Charlotte, Jamie and AJ Fink fell in love with the country’s culture and people. Their affinity for Ethiopia not only inspired their design aesthetic, but drew them back in when they wanted to adopt again. They endured a long, painful, and discouraging process, but in the end prevailed by bringing home their two baby boys. The Finks became a family of seven plus two dogs and were in need of a space large enough for everyone.

With the right number of bedrooms and baths, a side entry, 2.5 car garage, extra recreational spaces for the kids, and set on an acre less than 20 minutes outside of Milwaukee, WI, the Finks found their dream home. Despite feeling like the home was in a time warp from 1968, the couple decided to take it on as a fixer-upper. Since Jamie works as a freelance interior designer and her husband AJ is a corporate interiors sales manager, it was easy for the couple to see the home’s potential.

The house was a full and complete gut job. “The day that we closed, AJ and I walked through with tears in our eyes and almost immediately began tearing out the wall-to-wall carpeting!” Jamie recalls. In order to accommodate seven people and four animals, an open-concept floor plan was a must. They tore down walls to open up their formal living and dining room, giving them space to create a huge open-concept kitchen and dining area. They also removed paneling in the living room and basement, painted every wall and ceiling, installed all new hardwood and tile throughout the house, and replaced a former closet with a first-floor laundry. After 10 solid months of nonstop work, the Finks were able to get their house to a place where they could move in and decorate.

Enhancing the newly remodeled home, Jamie aimed for a “clean, eclectically modern” aesthetic that tells stories by “incorporating personal items collected through travels or moments.” As you click through and explore each room, it’s easy to recognize that the Finks designed their space to maximize their family’s life in both the shared and private spaces. —Tawnee

Photography by Denise Fink

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In Pittsburgh, A Victorian Home for Collecting and Entertaining

A Pittsburgh Home for Collecting & Entertaining on Design*Sponge

In Pittsburgh, A Victorian Home for Collecting and Entertaining

When the new end of a hip neighborhood seems to be producing enough vape shops for each smoker to have his or her own lifetime supply, a new, well curated boutique feels like a breath of fresh, non-strawberry-flavored air. In the case of the Lawrenceville neighborhood of Pittsburgh, PA that fresh breath was Von Walter & Funk, a brick-and-mortar shop brimming with new and vintage goods for home, garden and apothecary, including a rustic farmhouse sink display I want to pry from the walls and somehow sneak off the premises.

The shop is owned by business/life partners Shawn Aversa and Jamie McAdams, and the royal-sounding name is a tribute to both of their grandmothers, Janet Irene (Von) Walter and Harriet Pauline Funk. Both of German descent, each woman instilled in her grandson a dedication to work, to family and to collecting, values that carried over into their home as well.

One day, while browsing every item in their dreamy collection, I couldn’t help but ask Shawn, “does your house look like this, too?” In other words, I invited myself over to what the couple jokingly calls “McVersa Manor,” and the answer is yes. Like their shop, McVersa Manor is just as much a mix of history juxtaposed with bright and bold, modern touches.

When searching for their home, Jamie and Shawn were looking for charm and that historic mix of high ceilings, big rooms and timeless accents to be a backdrop for entertaining. They also wanted to be in a historic neighborhood within walking distance of shops and restaurants. Shawn shares, “though we had to kiss a lot of frogs, we finally found the perfect house that we both fell in love with at first sight.”

Shawn and Jamie’s love was a Queen Anne Victorian in the Highland Park neighborhood of Pittsburgh. The house had all the charm they sought, plus plenty of space for their collections. Shawn explains, “We love so many periods and style genres that if you [were to] put everything in a pile in a room, you’d think [it doesn’t make sense], but we’ve curated each room and each piece to be both inspirational and functional — and we have to love it, ‘otherwise it’s just junk,’ as my grandmother would say.” —Quelcy

Photography by Quelcy Kogel

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15 Stylish Kitchen + Tabletop Finds at Food52

The only thing cuter than a stack of cookies or biscuits is a pink glass cake stand to put them on.

15 Stylish Kitchen + Tabletop Finds at Food52

As fall gets closer, my head is filled with ideas for entertaining. There are few things I love more than gathering our favorite friends, family and co-workers around our kitchen table. While I’m not quite ready for holiday planning, I’m definitely ready to window-shop for pieces that might add a little something special to the meal. From copper molds and shibori napkins to brass ladles and pale pink plates, Food52 has a great mix of designs for cooking and serving. Today I’m rounding up 15 of my favorites in case you’d like to dress up your table or kitchen counter, too! xo, grace

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Design*Sponge Book Tour: Los Angeles, CA!

Design*Sponge Book Tour: Los Angeles, CA!

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I’m having a hard time containing my excitement about the LA stop of our book tour for In the Company of Women. Namely because these women are some of my biggest idols and I still cannot believe I get to interview them on stage. Creating this book was the biggest dream-come-true and now that I get to gather some of them together for a night of incredible conversation, it feels like icing on top of an already amazingly delicious cake.

Want to know who will be joining us on stage? Roxane Gay, Joy Cho, Shadi Petosky, Bethany Yellowtail, Lily and Hopie StockmanTanya Aguiñiga AND Angelica Ross.

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I seriously cannot believe this line up. It is the panel of my dreams. These women have inspired me, and continue to inspire me, to work harder and dream bigger every day and I can only imagine the sort of wisdom they’ll be imparting on stage. You will not want to miss this.

Want to join us on Monday October 17th? Pick up a ticket right here! Each ticket includes a copy of In the Company of Women, a limited-edition illustrated tote with inspirational quotes (while supplies last) and entry to the panel and book signing afterwards.

We have less than 200 totes per event, so grab your ticket now if you’d like to snag one of these beautiful bags! Until then, see you in LA! Thanks again to Book Soup and UCLA for having us! xoxo, grace

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Design*Sponge Book Tour: ATLANTA!

Design*Sponge Book Tour: ATLANTA!

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Hello, ATLANTA! Before we head out for the weekend, I wanted to share some exciting news. We’re starting to release all of the details for the book tour panel events we’ll be having across the country this fall and I am SO excited to kick things off in one of my favorite states, Georgia, on October 13th!.

My love for this region is so strong and I’m thrilled to be joined on stage with some truly incredible women: Cheryl Day of Back in the Day Bakery, Photographer Ashley Woodson Bailey, Ceramicist Rebecca Wood and LaRhonda Sutton of Film City LLC. Tickets are on sale NOW and each ticket includes the event (a panel discussion and book signing), a copy of the book and a limited-edition illustrated tote, while supplies last. Grab your ticket now and scoop up one of Libby VanderPloeg‘s totes before they’re gone!

GET YOUR TICKET HERE!

Becoming Me + Best of the Web

Becoming Me + Best of the Web

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This has been such an exciting week for new books and book tours and all things publishing. So when I got the great news that Andrea Pippins was releasing a new book next month dedicated to discovering and embracing your best creative self, I was thrilled.

I’ve followed Andrea since her Fly blog days and absolutely loved her last book, I Love My Hair, a coloring-book ode to natural curly, braided and coiled hair. Andrea has done so much to creatively document, examine and honor her experiences as an African-American woman and I am so thankful to have her voice as a part of this community. On October 11th, her new book, Becoming Me, will hit shelves and bookstores everywhere and encourage people to live a creative life and find their own artistic voice through drawing, painting and writing. In addition to creative art prompts, Andrea’s book also gives you practical real-world tips for sharing your art online and to keep you working through creative blocks. I love the upbeat way she approaches the creative process and how easy it is to find your inner artist by following her colorful and creative prompts. This is definitely a must-buy for anyone who wants to nurture (or find) their inner artist or knows someone that should, too. Check out Andrea’s book here to pre-order a copy. I just picked up a few for early holiday gifts for friends and family. xo, grace

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In the Kitchen With: Dana Sicko’s Carnitas and Pineapple Salsa

In the Kitchen With: Dana Sicko’s Carnitas and Pineapple Salsa

Dana Sicko's Carnitas and Pineapple Salsa on Design*Sponge

I’m always a little sad to see summer go — mostly because I have to say goodbye to great tomatoes — but I do love the transition into autumn. As temperatures gradually drop, turning on the oven becomes more and more enticing, as do long-cooked dishes. This week’s recipe, perfect for the seasonal transition, comes from food entrepreneur Dana Sicko. Dana’s Carnitas with Pineapple-Jicama Salsa are made using the pressure cooker to maximize efficiency in cooking pork tenderloin. The spicy and contrasting flavors and textures still evoke bright summer food even as the days get shorter. If you can’t find jicama, Dana recommends using cucumber and radish together in its place. —Kristina

Why Dana loves this recipe: I haven’t met a single person who says “no” to tacos or carnitas or, really, any Mexican food! I love this recipe because it is a great hit of flavorful and succulent (yet lean) pork tenderloin and the pineapple-jicama salsa is a great punch of texture and bright flavors. Also by using the pressure cooker you are able to get a delicious texture of meat in less than half the time. I absolutely love my pressure cooker. This is a great recipe moving into the fall when the evenings start to get a little cooler and you have exhausted the grill.

Food Photography by Kristina Gill | Portrait by Julie Andersen

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5 Funny Shows to Watch NOW

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5 Funny Shows to Watch NOW

I’m gonna keep it real: I watch a lot of TV. Whenever I would meet someone in Brooklyn who would tell me how evil television was, I would politely smile and then go home and watch at least 10 episodes of Arrested Development and fall into a deep, relaxing sleep. Maybe it’s something about being an only child, or spending most of my working days alone with my laptop on the couch, but the sound of the TV has always been like a comforting friend just across the room. So while I may not be an expert on most things in life, when it comes to TV, I feel like I know what I’m talking about.

I’ve got a lot of fall travel coming up for the book tour, so I’m loading up my Hulu, Seeso and Netflix queue to watch some of my favorite shows to keep me company. I, without a doubt, like to laugh more than cry or be scared, so today I’m sharing 5 funny shows that I can’t stop watching and love with total abandon. I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I do. Your friend in TV, grace

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Easy Healthy Lunch Boxes from Julia Turshen: Soba Noodles with Shredded Red Cabbage + Sesame

Easy Healthy Lunch Boxes from Julia Turshen: Soba Noodles with Shredded Red Cabbage + Sesame

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All week long to celebrate her brand new cookbook, Small Victories, Julia will be joining us for quick, delicious and healthy back-to-school recipes that you can easily make and pack for your loved ones, big and small. Click herehere and here check out previous menus and don’t forget to enter the big giveaway here!

These garlicky green beans with crispy tofu, a vegetarian riff on the Green Beans with Pork, Ginger + Red Chile from Small Victories, are all about the patience of letting things brown in a pan. By not stirring the green beans a million times or flipping the tofu over and over, you end up with ever-so-slightly charred vegetables and tofu with the most addictive, browned crust. The soba noodle salad, which is half soba and half cabbage, is the perfect lunch box food since the dressing keeps it from drying out.

If you missed any of Julia’s lunch box ideas from this week, check them out here: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

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Before & After: An Ugly Duckling Transforms Into The Belle of the Block

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Before & After: An Ugly Duckling Transforms Into The Belle of the Block

When I met Mark and Darin for the first time, I was actually trespassing in their gated backyard, letting my dog, Rex, run around off his leash. I lived next door to their home that had been for sale for literally four years. The previous owner eventually moved out after having the house on the market for a few years, and Rex and I missed her four dogs a lot. So we’d take our lunch breaks in their yard since it, and the two homes next to it, were vacant. My house was the only occupied house on the block for years, so I kind of felt like I owned the place. Our small town is know for its storied, historical properties with huge price tags and my block was often overlooked because it was dotted with late mid-century, one-bathroom constructions.

After finding me in their backyard, I expected that I had not made a great first impression with my soon-to-be neighbors. Wrong! Mark and Darin were extremely friendly and jokingly called me out as the wacky neighbor who occasionally squats in their backyard. My dream of having a network of cool neighbors was about to come true! Darin runs a veterinarian facility and is an avid DIYer with an expert’s touch when it comes to home decorating. Mark is a floral designer and aerialist, with his rig set up in the backyard for my viewing pleasure. Boy, did I luck out. Sadly, I’ve since bought my own first home and moved off the block, but they’re opening a storefront for their floral business, Flower Haus, this month so I’ll be squatting there soon.

This house was Mark and Darin’s first home and they wasted no time transforming their “ugly duckling” cottage filled with an intense amount of knotty pine into the belle of the neighborhood. With no fear or hesitation, they immediately began tearing down walls and opening the two-tiny-bedroom home with its small living room and larger kitchen into a spacious, open floor plan with a brilliant use of Ralph Lauren Home’s Black Dose paint (one of Grace’s favorites). We’ll be featuring their home tour in a few weeks, but for today’s Before & After, I wanted to tease you with a mini sneak peek of some of the work they’ve done so you’ll have a good sense of their labor, accomplishments and the complete transformation.

Click through the slideshow above to see what they started with and how Mark and Darin turned their ugly duckling from a camp bunkhouse into a comfortable living space that’s all their own. And keep your eye out for their home tour in the coming weeks! –Caitlin

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