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

B&A

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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In Vancouver, A New Townhouse Renovation Inspired by Lifestyle

Home Tour of Erin Ireland on Design*Sponge

In Vancouver, A New Townhouse Renovation Inspired by Lifestyle

Most homeowners see a “new build” and are in awe of the fresh flooring, new cabinets and design. But what I love about Erin and Darren is that they had a different vision for their new townhome in Vancouver, British Columbia. For this couple, it was a priority to truly love their home and everything about it, so they reached out to family friend and designer April Tidey for some help.

The new 1,250-square-foot townhome was dominated with builder basics like brown melamine cabinets and, for a purpose-driven foodie, an uninspriring kitchen. Erin, a small business owner and food reporter, is passionate about spotlighting the restaurants and businesses that prioritize responsibly sourced ingredients. She is also the co-host of Mindful Movie Nights — a series of documentary screenings which aim to raise public awareness about the impact our food industry has on our health and our planet — and Mindful Book Club, which largely focuses on books about veganism and animal rights. She and Darren wanted a space that represented their values and lifestyle.

Darren — who is partner and head of digital strategy at independent creative agency Rethink — and Erin love nature and natural materials. They wanted to fill their home with quality items made by local artisans. “We avoided the ‘big shops’ as much as possible and instead worked with local crafts and trades people,” Erin shares.

So the renovation began to make the new house accommodate their needs and reflect their personalities. Erin and her dad ripped out all the upper cabinets in the kitchen. They were replaced with 12-foot exposed iron shelving, complete with a tall ladder, designed by April and built by Erin’s uncle Russ. A second similar shelf was also installed on the opposite wall. They left the space around the oven vent bare and wrapped it in iron. An iron shelf was also installed above the stove for ingredients Erin uses often while cooking. It completelty transformed the space, creating a setting you might see in a European restaurant. The lower cabinets were replaced with a light, ashy plywood. The kitchen island was given a new look thanks to concrete artist Brett Riekert, who poured white slabs of concrete for new countertops. Brett also poured a beautiful piece which would become a kitchen desk.

The couple’s lifestyle continued to influence the interior design as Erin had a web-based cooking show in mind when making their home choices. “My goal is to showcase how easy plant-based cooking can be — and how vegans enjoy eating more than salad and tofu,” Erin says. They wanted the kitchen to be a simple yet attractive backdrop for the show.

For flooring, they ripped up their wide-slat dark hardwood to expose the concrete underneath. Concrete worker Brett Mauer ground the floor down leaving a matte finish with natural imperfections. In all, the whole home’s design process took about five months.

With many condos and townhomes out there today that are stocked with builder basics, Erin and Darren’s home is an inspiration on how we can still create a home that feels unique and aligned to our indiviual preferences and lifestyle. —Karla

Photography by Janis Nicolay

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A Log Cabin in the Pennsylvania Woods for Two Creatives

A Log Cabin in the Pennsylvania Woods for Two Creatives | Design*Sponge

A Log Cabin in the Pennsylvania Woods for Two Creatives

The housing crisis a few years ago taught us all something: buying a house we can afford is going to make us much happier and better-off than buying a dream home that we can barely swing. When Carolyn Hanisch and Justin Long were searching for a home three years ago in Kintnersville, PA, they found a perfect small house on the right amount of land. The problem was the $40,000 price difference from the top of their budget to the asking price of this home. They moved on and looked elsewhere, but months later, the same home was reduced in price and was still on the market. They made an offer they could afford and because the owners were motivated to sell, Carolyn and Justin ended up with a home they loved that was in their budget.

What first sold Carolyn, a freelance architectural designer, and Justin, a sculptor and metal fabricator, on this home was the land it was sitting on. “We knew we wanted a property with some land, and when we first saw this place we fell in love with the 8-acre wooded lot and big boulders that punctuated the landscape,” Carolyn shares. “We never imagined we’d live in a log cabin, but we found that this small house had the perfect layout for us and wonderful natural light that flooded through a wall of windows, with an amazing view of the woods.” The rustic lodge feel of the cabin was transformed with a Scandinavian influence to fit Carolyn and Justin’s design tastes.

The redesign hasn’t been fast or easy, but it has been a labor of love. “Our home is a work in progress, and I imagine it will be for quite some time! We’ve done all the work on the house ourselves, which can save money, but can also be quite a test of patience, perseverance and sheer determination,” Carolyn admits. The couple redesigned the kitchen, built an out-building for their studio, painted the walls and the cathedral ceiling, replaced carpeting, built a spiral staircase, renovated the guest bathroom, and built a pantry in the kitchen. The small space now functions in the ways they need it to, but with the preserved charm and views that they fell in love with in the first place. –Lauren

Photography by Carolyn Hanisch

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Easy Healthy Lunch Boxes from Julia Turshen: Zucchini-Tahini Dip + Roasted Blueberry Yogurt Pot

Easy Healthy Lunch Boxes from Julia Turshen: Zucchini-Tahini Dip + Roasted Blueberry Yogurt Pot

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 here and here to check out previous menus and don’t forget to enter the big giveaway here!

Since Grace and I eat at least 90% of our meals at home, we’ve gotten really good at making lots of whatever we’re cooking and then finding ways to make it new all week long. This lunch box is so true to that spirit and not only features leftover chicken from Wednesday’s kebabs, but also a really delicious zucchini dip made from the leftover grilled zucchini that’s just whirled with some tahini, lemon, and olive oil in a food processor (you could use a blender or just finely chop the zucchini and stir like mad). This feeling of reinvention is a big theme in Small Victories. Some of my favorite recipes in the book take something leftover or a little past its prime and turn it into something entirely new and very crave-worthy (like old tortillas that get fried until crisp and turned into the most wonderful Chilaquiles with Roasted Tomato Salsa). The beautiful layered yogurt pot that goes along with this menu employs the roasted blueberry topping from the Sour Cream Pancakes in Small Victories. Roasting the berries turns them into a concentrated, jam-like sauce that’s not only great served with yogurt or on pancakes, but is also great on ice cream, on toast that’s already been slathered with ricotta, or alongside grilled lamb. —Julia

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12 London Food Instagram Accounts to Follow

12 London Food Instagram Accounts to Follow on Design*Sponge

12 London Food Instagram Accounts to Follow

When I first started visiting London almost 20 years ago, it wasn’t known as a “food destination.” There were solid quality chains, there were neighborhood dives, and there were a handful of small places doing great things. Since then the food scene has exploded, and every six months, it seems, there is an incredible food place opening in any and all types of venues spread across the city. One of the tastiest places to eat is only available on Saturdays — Dumpling Shack is a stall located at Broadway market in Hackney. Northeastern Thai cuisine restaurant som saa started as a pop-up in Peckham. Its chefs crowdfunded the necessary investment to move into a permanent space in Spitalfields. Also opening are restaurants with traditional origins, such as Gunpowder, the 28-seat Indian restaurant (also near Spitalfields). This ongoing exciting, high-quality, authentic food scene has put London on the map among the best cities in which to eat.

I use Instagram to keep up with the changing food scene in cities I visit frequently. I prefer resident Instagrammers’ feeds to apps and blogs because it is quick and easy to get a feel for the food and the spaces. I am able to not only learn about options for dining out, but I also learn about cooking schools, pop-ups, local food writers, neighborhoods, shops, cookbooks, courses and all things food from multiple sources — which can all be cross-checked so that I can plan my trip before I go. In the case of London, I really love the collegial spirit among the many food Instagrammers who seem to periodically try out the new and the trusted-and-true eateries together.

Here are 12 of my favorite London-based Instagrammers through whom I eat vicariously, but also on whom I rely to map out my must-visit places each time I go. This is by no means an exhaustive list — there are many more I wanted to include, but I hope that you will provide your favorite accounts so that I can add them to my list! —Kristina

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We Want Your Job: Penelope Dullaghan

We Want Your Job: Penelope Dullaghan

Penelope-Dullaghan

A few months ago, Grace introduced me to the work of Penelope Dullaghan, an illustrator and pattern maker whose lovely imagery floats around in my head almost daily. Penelope is ultimately a storyteller, creating tales that we all can connect to through her use of color, texture and her ability to capture the beauty of the everyday and the imagination.

Penelope is based in Indianapolis, IN and works with a wide variety of clients, large and small. She’s created work for Crate and Barrel, The New York Times and Oprah Magazine to name a few. I was thrilled to connect with Penelope and find out more about her creative path. As you can see from the lovely video by the Emmy-award winning team behind SALT Project after the jump, Penelope takes time to explore nature and her creativity. You can find her on Instagram and Facebook, too. –Caitlin

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Exploring Nostalgia In An Airy LA Craftsman Bungalow

Exploring Nostalgia In An Airy LA Craftsman Bungalow

Exploring Nostalgia In An Airy LA Craftsman Bungalow

Perhaps the greatest witness to a person’s evolution is their home. It sees us through good times and bad as we navigate life, our careers, and our relationships. For many, home is nothing if not sentimental.

For lifestyle blogger, author, and stylist Anne Sage and her fiancee Ivan Juarez-Mrazek, this statement could not ring truer. Built in 1924, the Craftsman-style bungalow they call home has not only seen a lot of history due to its age, but it has witnessed the evolution of Anne and Ivan’s relationship as well. For a time, this 600-square-foot bungalow in Los Angeles, CA was Ivan’s bachelor pad. Located in the bustling neighborhood of Highland Park, Ivan chose this home for its walkability and welcoming curb appeal, explaining that it was, “interesting without being overly trendy.” The home also became a crash-pad for various friends and work colleagues when they were in town for projects — among them, was Anne.

During the sporadic work-related sleepovers, Ivan and Anne became good friends, and in time, they treaded the waters from being work acquaintances, to friends, to a couple. Just two years ago, they took the next step: Anne moved in and they got engaged.

Their story continues to be a fairytale marked with some hiccups and absurdities, the first of which became obvious soon after Anne unpacked. While the home was the perfect unassuming size for Ivan and Rambo’s bachelor needs, it quickly became clear that with the addition of another human and three pets (Anne’s chiweenie Sadie, and two long haired domestic cats, Sophie and James Bond), the home was beyond maximum capacity. “The limited size of the house — combined with our mutual dislike of clutter — definitely impacted our decorating goals,” Anne says. “Visually we wanted the effect to be as airy and bright as possible to create the illusion of more space.” This meant opting for many multipurpose pieces with a streamlined aesthetic that also provided storage.

With a pretty clear design vision, Anne was conscious to not swoop in and use a heavy hand when it came to transforming the space from bachelor pad to family home. She worked her magic carefully to create a space that suited them both, pulling out all the stops with some decorating tricks to make the house feel bigger — such as defining spaces with furniture.

In its current state, the home decor has been two years in the making. Pieces have come and gone as they’ve experimented with different layouts, palettes, and storage strategies — the most triumphant of these makeovers having occurred in their kitchen. As Anne explains, “In its ‘before’ state, it was a monstrosity of floor-to-ceiling honey pine cabinets. Cooking in there was like being trapped in the gift shop of a 1980s country music theme park.” Because they rent their space, the couple didn’t want to pour a ton of resources into a renovation. But knowing they want to stay in this house for the next while, the kitchen deserved an upgrade in order to feel livable for them. They removed all of the upper cabinets and painted the remaining cupboards in Sherwin Williams Classic French Grey, “a shade that feels at once timeless yet clean and modern, too.” They also swapped out the lighting, the hardware, and added two open shelves for displaying their dish wares.

While living quarters have gotten a little tight, Anne and Ivan continue to call this space home because they love the laid-back feel of the neighborhood, the affordable rent they have for the area, and the big backyard for the dogs to enjoy. As Anne puts it best, “We’re thankful that this home is such a huge part of our story! It brought us together, and it’s watched our relationship evolve from friendship to budding romance to our recent engagement.” Thinking back on how it’s evolved over the last few years, Anne explains that it’s like watching a filmstrip of their time together: learning each other’s likes and dislikes, exploring what works and what doesn’t, and ultimately finding a formula that is the perfect reflection of them both. –Sabrina

Photography by Carley Rudd

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Easy Healthy Lunch Boxes from Julia Turshen: Grilled Zucchini + Chicken Kebabs

Easy Healthy Lunch Boxes from Julia Turshen: Grilled Zucchini + Chicken Kebabs

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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 here to check out yesterday’s menu and don’t forget to enter the big giveaway here!

This menu features one of the most practical small victory tips from Small Victories. When making kebabs, use two skewers instead of one to keep whatever you’re grilling easy to maneuver. I suggest this for Greek-ish Grilled Shrimp in Small Victories, but the tip works equally well here for cubes of chicken and zucchini. These kebabs also feature a technique I really like to employ when grilling: make an assertive marinade and reserve half of it to use as a finishing sauce after you grill whatever it is that you’re preparing. This way you get double duty out of one thing, my favorite kind of two-for-one, time-saving, flavor-enhancing small victory. Also note that these kebabs can be made on an indoor grill pan or under the hot heat of your broiler. —Julia

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The Beauty of Self-Care: Lesson One – Patience

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The Beauty of Self-Care: Lesson One – Patience

This is the first in a series of eight interactive posts written and designed to examine, learn and take actionable steps towards the practice of self-care. We’ll also hear from professional practitioners who will share more of the “science” behind their practices. We firmly believe that having an educated view of the body and the brain makes it easier to process change in a less emotional way. Practical knowledge tames our inner critic that often prevents us from sticking with a plan until it becomes habit.

Please join us each Tuesday at 1 pm for some self-exploration + exercises to build good habits and instill positive self-care into your everyday routine. 

I frequently recall an anecdote when I am in the throes of stress, guilt and over-scheduling — or in all honesty, all of the above. Let me just say, this phrase is burned into my head not because I have always been gentle with myself, but because I have said it over and over to others to help them out of a bad moment. Here it is:

“There’s a reason the flight attendants instruct you to use the oxygen mask yourself before you pass the mask to a companion or small child.”

Again, the habit of espousing this phrase comes from my desire to help others in crisis. I turned 49 three weeks ago and, as my daughter prepared to return to school, I knew deep in my gut that it was time for me to return to school, too. It was time for self-care. It wasn’t just about me remembering to carry my water bottle with me at all times or sign up for a yoga class. It was time to take a thoughtful inventory of myself on many levels and not run away from the good, the bad and the ugly. It is time for me to know deeply that there is no ugly.

Click through for Self-Care Lesson One on Patience and to learn how you can increase yours in no time! —Caitlin

Image above: Pattern by Jenny K. of Living Pattern

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A Recipe for The Perfect At-Home Bar with Jennie & Maria of Owl’s Brew

A Recipe for The Perfect At-Home Bar with Jennie & Maria of Owl’s Brew

OwlsBrew-Article

Life’s too short to not find reasons to celebrate the little things. Whether that’s dressing up and going out to dinner after handing in a big project, spending a Saturday in bed with a loved one and your pets just because, or toasting to the end of the work-week, it’s important to seize small victories in today’s fast-paced world. Pair that with the trend towards hand-crafted and artisanal, and you have Owl’s Brew — a line of premium teas crafted for cocktails (or mocktails!). An effortless alternative to complicated cocktails that most of us can’t be bothered with, their mixes are intended to be an at-home entertainer’s dream. But the tea is only half of the equation for a perfect dinner party. The other half? A fully-loaded bar or bar cart.

Just like designing your home, a stylish and stocked at-home bar starts with a good plan — and Jennie Ripps and Maria Littlefield, the founders of Owl’s Brew, are pretty much the closest you can get to being masters of that plan. Sharing everything you ever wanted to know about crafting the perfect at-home bar, they’re sharing their recipes for creating a fun bar, from glassware and accessories to mixers and booze. –Sabrina

Portrait Photography by Nicole Franzen. Lifestyle Photography by Foxes and Wolves, Wise Cocktails, and Tina Rupp

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A Souk Inspired A-Frame in Portland, OR

Anna Margaret's A-frame home tour on Design*Sponge

A Souk Inspired A-Frame in Portland, OR

Normally, A-frame homes bring to mind remote, wooded locales that are more often than not nestled into  the side of a mountain. However, deep in SE Portland, OR there is a rare and charming A-frame that boutique owner, Anna Margaret, and artist, Srijon Chowdhury share with Anna’s two daughters, Ava and Lilith, and a host of adorable critters including Pomeranians, Oliver and Eli, and guinea pigs, Raven and Willa.

Built in 1961 by original owner Michael Miles, the home started out as just the A-frame portion and the current master bedroom. Michael added the upper wing and garage after he married and had children. Anna and Srijon’s abode is now a very large 3,600 square feet; entering the living room one stairway leads up to the master bedroom and bathroom, three more bedrooms, a half bath and a library while a second stairway leads down to the kitchen, dining room, a full bathroom, and a family room. Doors off the dining room lead to a half-acre yard that houses the family’s five chickens and an art studio where Srijon works on paintings and sculptures.

Having discovered the listing by chance on Facebook, Anna says, “I wasn’t even looking for a house at the time, but I knew it was my spirit house! Sri thought I was crazy at first, and honestly the real estate pictures were brighter and prettier than the cat-pee-smelling reality of the home. It was in really poor condition, but I could see her lovely bones beneath the damaged flooring and warped countertops.” After closing on the home, Anna and family got to work painting everything white (Behr’s Polar Bear, to be exact) to maximize light. The damaged and unsalvageable flooring was replaced with hardwood Acacia, Anna’s dream flooring, and the kitchen was remodeled with IKEA cabinets and open walnut shelves crafted by Srijon. They kept the original open layout with the only major change being a small extension of the island.

After the hard work was done, Anna began creating a space that felt special and unique to them. “Sri and I do much of our work at home and it’s important that our home feels peaceful, open and not too cluttered,” Anna shares. “While it’s full of sentimental family antiques, textiles from our travels and plenty of artwork, it maintains a soft, spacious vibe. I let the kids choose their bedroom wall colors and much of their decor — I want everyone to feel welcome and content in the space.” A collector of textiles since high school when she spent time volunteering at an orphanage in Guatemala, Anna has employed plush and cozy layers in just about every corner — and everywhere in between. Intimate seating areas are also abundant and dressed up with art, candles, and plants. The result is a warm and inviting home made for relaxing and enjoying family time. —Allison

Photography by Allison Burt-Tilden

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Small Victories: Easy Healthy Lunch Boxes from Julia Turshen + Giveaway!

Small Victories: Easy Healthy Lunch Boxes from Julia Turshen + Giveaway!

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Grace and I both work from home and one of the perks of this set-up is that we get to pause and enjoy a meal together in the middle of mountains of emails, assignments, and deadlines. While I am always grateful for all of the time we get to spend together, weekday lunches feel like icing on the proverbial cake. To me, they’re a symbol of the fact that we’ve built our lives and our work on our own terms.

Every now and then, though, one of us has to leave our house in upstate New York for a work obligation. I never look forward to when Grace goes away, but I do jump at the chance to pack her lunch. I get really into it. I wrap a real fork in a real napkin. I leave notes. I pack dips and dressings on the side in their own little containers. I make sure she has enough healthy food that will keep her blood sugar numbers stable all day long (Grace’s recent diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes means the icing on our cake is more like vinaigrette on crudité).

For my entire life, cooking has been, and continues to be, the most tangible way I know to take care of those I love. Packing lunch for someone is a simple thing, but I honestly think it’s one of the sweetest things to both create and to receive. Whether it’s for your wife who is off to a big city for an event for her upcoming INCREDIBLE book, or for your kid who is just getting into the groove of a new school year, or for your roommate who is heading into a new office, you get to be reminded that even when you’re not with your person, your person is right there with you.

Starting today and going forward for the entire week, I am so excited to share daily “lunch boxes” right here on the best website on the whole Internet (#proudwife). Each menu features EASY, very do-able recipes that are healthy without being “in-your-face” healthy. They also all include food that can sit comfortably in a container for a few hours and tastes great at room temperature. All of the lunch box recipes are inspired by recipes in my brand new cookbook Small Victories (it’s out today! yay!). Here’s the part where I tell you that if you dig these lunch boxes, I think you’ll really enjoy Small Victories. But really, I think you will!

All week long Grace will be sharing some fun behind-the-scenes stuff from these lunch boxes, like cute little videos on Instagram, that sort-of thing. We really hope you enjoy these posts. They were so fun to make. Oh, and the giveaway! I almost forgot about the giveaway! If you let us know what you think about the lunch boxes or what YOU like to pack for lunch in the comment section, we’ll be choosing four winners. Three will get a copy of Small Victories and a limited edition Julia’s Caesar tote bag… and, drum roll please, one grand prize winner will get both of those plus a 5.5 quart Staub Cocette and a selection of Hudson Valley favorites from us! With lots of love from our kitchen to your lunch box, Julia.

[UPDATE: The contest is now closed and winners will be announced this week!]

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