Design*Sponge Book Tour: San Francisco + Corte Madera

Design*Sponge Book Tour: San Francisco + Corte Madera

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For years, I imagined myself living in San Francisco and would look at apartment listings on a regular basis to consider making the move. Maybe it was all the dreamy apartment swaps I did with Victoria (babysitting her wonderful dog, Cooper), but that city will always hold a very special place in my heart. So I’m over the moon to be traveling to the Bay Area next month for not one but TWO events for the In the Company of Women book tour.

On Thursday, October 27th, I’ll be doing a panel discussion in San Fransisco at the California College of the Arts with some of my biggest idols and favorite human beings: Christine Schmidt of Yellow Owl Workshop, Preeti Mistry of Juhu Beach Club, Samin Nosrat, Thao Nguyen of Thao and The Get Down Stay Down and Mary Going of Saint Harridan. We’ll be talking about life, work and how each of them overcome obstacles to build a life and business that makes them happy.

CLICK HERE to buy a ticket for the San Francisco event. Each ticket includes a copy of In the Company of Women, a limited-edition tote (while supplies last), the panel discussion and a book signing afterwards.

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The day after our SF event, I will be heading across the bridge for a special book tour event at Book Passage in Corte Madera!

On Friday, October 28th I’ll have the pleasure of moderating a panel with Flora Grubb of Flora Grubb Gardens, Lisa Wong Jackson of Good on Paper Design and Emi Granis. We’ll be talking about life, work, growing a business and much, much more.

CLICK HERE to buy a ticket for the Corte Madera event. Each ticket includes a copy of In the Company of Women, a limited-edition tote (while supplies last), the panel discussion and a book signing afterwards.

See you in San Francisco! xo, grace

DIY Bundle-Dyed Table Runner

DIY Bundle-Dyed Table Runner

DIY Bundle Dyeing by Jessica Marquez for Design Sponge

After taking a shibori class at Buaisou Brooklyn where I learned about indigo dye, I’ve been looking at color, especially in my own textiles at home, in a new way — and I’m obsessed with learning about natural dyes. Buaisou farms their own indigo in Japan, ships it to Brooklyn and creates a special indigo vat that is laboriously cared for. I quickly realized that having an indigo vat in my small Brooklyn apartment that has no outdoor space or a slop sink just wasn’t possible. What could I do at home? Enter bundle dyeing!

If you’ve ever been curious about natural dyeing, this project is a great introduction. Bundle dyeing is playful, full of chance and very easy. I used everyday items to dye with that you probably already have in your home or fridge, like fresh and dried flowers and food scraps. Usually, these dye stuffs are soaked in water to extract the color, but here I’ve taken dye materials, wrapped them in cloth and steamed them. That’s the gist of bundle dyeing, very simple with surprising and beautiful results.

DIY Bundle Dyeing by Jessica Marquez for Design SpongeDIY Bundle Dyeing by Jessica Marquez for Design Sponge

I chose the materials based on what was easily accessible and for the colors they could yield. Avocado skins create pinks. Onion skins and marigolds can make yellow and orange colors. Red cabbage can give purples and blues, and berries more pinks and reds. I love the idea of creating dyes with my food waste, last week’s flowers that are on their way out, or picks from a morning walk. There are so many things that can be dyed — carrot tops, used coffee grounds and tea bags, barks, leaves, grasses, plants, nuts, berries, even rusty objects.

So here’s your chance to play with color and create your own Bundle Dye Table Runner. Search out natural dyes that are in your own home or backyard. This project is truly a chance for you to have a creative color experiment. —Jessica

DIY Bundle Dyeing by Jessica Marquez for Design Sponge
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A Freeform DIY that Combines Traditional Florals & Abstract Pattern

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A Freeform DIY that Combines Traditional Florals & Abstract Pattern

In a world of watercolory wisps and geometric forms, I’m counting down the days until this trend gives way to thick, textured paint streaks, crusty from layer upon layer of heavy oils and acrylics. While I love a good color wash, I’m anxious to see a heavier approach as the season changes — and maybe even a move towards more structured patterns and traditional florals. While I’m not much of a painter, I’m pretty handy with fabric and glue, so I thought I’d try to merge some modern materials (copper) with some more conventional florals in a purely decorative, minimalist form. For me, DIYs are all about exploration, seeing what can be made with everyday materials and refashioning motifs that have been absent for a while. I thought to myself, “What would it look like if I mixed wood and copper with traditional florals and an abstract bespoke design?” And so my hanging mobile was born!

I love the fact that it is “reversible” and shows two very different decorative approaches depending on the gauge of wire you use and random movement. It’s exactly the type of subtle movement that I need to gaze at when I need a quick meditation break during the day and I’m not able to get outside. Making this tied in really well with the exercises in my Beauty of Self Care lessons on Patience and Purpose. It’s really challenging to actually sit down with materials and not be frustrated by “mistakes” or disappointed with the finished product — but it’s so worth it. While my mobile may not show up on the pages of a glossy magazine, I love that I took the time to experiment, explore and enjoy the finished product!

If you’re looking to practice a little patience and to let go of expectations, I’d love for you to make this sometime soon. It is a wonderful way to take a timeout to appreciate something that you made in a proud, meditative way. See my full instructions after the jump! –Caitlin

*This post is brought to you in collaboration with Waverly Inspirations. This project, ideas, and words are my own and I was happy to share this freeform DIY with our readers. Thanks for supporting our sponsors that help us create and publish original content three times per day. The Waverly Inspirations collection is available at Walmart.

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Cabin Life in the Heart of Helsinki

Cabin Life in the Heart of Helsinki | Design*Sponge

Cabin Life in the Heart of Helsinki

Walking into Robin Falck’s home is like stepping into a parallel universe, where having to choose between country and city life isn’t necessary. Robin, a Designer and Art Director, moved into his one-bedroom attic apartment in Helsinki four years ago. Although this type of living has become a popular way to increase housing supply in densely built city centers, there’s something very different about Robin’s home.

Built into the attic of a stately Jugendstil building in the late 70s, there’s no sign of the shiny and glamorous luxury living often associated with modern conversions. “This was one of the first attic conversions in the entire city and the 70s feel is evident throughout the apartment,” Robin explains. The most significant feature in this 485-square-foot home is the angled wood panel ceiling, which slopes all the way from one side of the apartment across to the other. “The ceiling is definitely the main reason why this home feels so much like a cabin. The antlers and deerskin on the wall obviously add to it as well.” Where the paneling is at its lowest, floor-to-ceiling windows stretch the length of the entire home. An equally long balcony adds valuable square footage and is in constant use during the warmer months. The indoor-outdoor style living makes it easy to forget that Robin does in fact live in the heart of the city — rooftops that partly cover the view toward the city’s archipelago are the only reminder.

When Robin moved in, he wanted to embrace natural materials and colors in order to create an escape from the hectic city life. A yellow wallpaper that had covered the walls was replaced with fresh paints in slate and white to create a bold yet natural contrast. “I really like dark surfaces and the mood that they set,” Robin shares. “The walls in our family’s summer cottage are painted a dark navy. Three generations have already got to enjoy that house. I have so many good memories from there and wanted to recreate that cozy feel in my own home.” Robin also decided to paint one wall with chalk paint. It’s the perfect spot for planning trips and events and for friends to leave their mark when they come over for a visit.

Creativity and heritage are as important in Robin’s home as they are in his work. Several items in the apartment have been designed and built by Robin himself. “In a lot of things I prefer old over new. Old things were made to last and had a clear purpose — no gimmicks,” he explains. He wants the things he creates to have similar meaning and value, and to make a difference. A passion for design and craftsmanship is evident in all Robin’s creations, including Nido, a micro-cabin he built in 2010. “My personal projects have all been equally important to me, but Nido has definitely been the most impactful.” It’s clear why Robin enjoys his cabin in the city as much as his cabin in the woods — they’re both the perfect escape. —Sofia

Photography by Sofia Tuovinen

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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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