when design sponge shows off people's homes, they ask them to write down what their favorite thing is. I imagine this person cackling maniacally and rubbing her hands together in glee. I think I want to meet her.
Just six months ago, Michael and Mandy Pellegrin moved to Nashville after eight years in Washington, D.C. Mandy’s “day job” is in health policy consulting but she spends just as many hours on her many side projects – including her DIY blog Fabric Paper Glue, the DIY tutorials that she does here at Design*Sponge, and she recently launched Craftcourse Nashville which offers DIY workshop parties in Nashville. Somehow, she managed to find time to set up house in this 1935 Tudor Revival in East Nashville. Mandy’s favorite details include the beautifully converted attic master bedroom and the new kitchen that the couple designed. In their last home (a 600-square-foot condo in D.C.), Mandy used bold colors throughout the space – a lime green kitchen, bright yellow living room, royal blue bathroom – and it was a fun look, but after six years, it was apparent that it wasn’t aging well. So in this space, she was aiming for something a little more sophisticated. She wanted base elements that were in neutral colors with classic pieces that would last – and then incorporated playful elements and details in the accessories along with lots of DIY touches. Thanks, Michael and Mandy! -Amy
Image above: We got this dining set for a steal from an antique shop in our hometown. I recovered the chairs and, without having ever tried it before, cautiously refinished it. It turned out beautifully, and although I’ve tackled many DIY projects in my day, I may be proudest of this one. White Paint: Ultra White by Valspar
Image above: We moved into this 3-bedroom house after sharing a 600-square-foot condo in D.C. for six years. That entire time, my craft room was our living room — complete with straight pins and xacto knives lurking in the carpet every now and then. My sewing table was literally our coffee table. Moving into a full-on house meant that I got my very own workspace, and it’s everything I ever dreamt it would/could be — complete with an unhealthy helping of black, white and gold. Gold everywhere, I say! Both the shelves and the clipboards were DIYs that I shared here on Design*Sponge.
White Paint: Ultra White by Valspar
See more of Mandy’s Nashville home after the jump!
(in a singsong voice) THIS QUILT IS GORRRRGEOOOOOUUUUS!
I’m really happy with how this one turned out! It’s nice and simple, though rather than laying it out in a random layout, I had fun playing with the fabric/color placement to create this pixelated rainbow.
I decided to quilt it with a circle in each square (quick tutorial here), as I did with this patchwork quilt. I like the look, even though it takes a bit longer and requires more maneuvering than straight lines.
This cat dream print is one of my favorites from this line, and I think it makes a mighty fine backing, especially when paired with a rainbow of the remaining solids! Binding is a narrow brown and white stripe by Lecien.
And as for the photo location? I just couldn’t resist the ice on Lake Champlain. It’s not often that the lake freezes this solidly (not since 2007, according to google), but with it being so cold this winter, the lake has a very solid covering of ice. When we took these photos a couple weeks ago, the lake at the Burlington waterfront was busy with people and dogs walking, sledding and skating. I find it so fun to be able to walk out there – Morgan, not so much. He was definitely wishing that someone else was the quilt holder this time around!
This quilt uses all the prints from Lizzy House's new Catnap line. I've also included a number of coordinating basics and solids. Catnap is available in many shops, including those of many of my sponsors.
InCoWriMo, stands for International Correspondence Writing Month, which rhymes with “Ink a Rhino”. The goal is to write one letter, card, note, or postcard everyday for the entire month of February.
February is also LetterMo, as in A Month of Letters, a concept started by author Mary Robinette Kowal several years ago but whose mantle has been taken up across the blogosphere.The website is facing a few technical glitches this morning but should be ironed out soon. In the meantime, the Facebook page is up and running and will post when the site is working again.
Both collectives’ goals are the same, write a letter everyday for the month of February.
Since I have an enormous pile of letters to reply to, hopefully, February’s letter writing push will help me get caught up.
If you want to participate and need someone to write to, you can drop me a line, show off your favorite ink color or latest pen acquisition:
The Well-Appointed Desk
PO Box 411752
Kansas City, MO 64141
Include your return address and I promise to write back.
Executives with the nonprofit organization behind the market said some vendors will begin selling products in an outdoor plaza along the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway this spring. Meanwhile, construction will proceed next door on a facility scheduled to open in early 2015.
Once completed, the indoor market will host about 40 vendors selling a wide array of local products, including fish, cheese, meats, produce, flowers, and specialty items. It is designed to function like a daily farmer’s market. But vendors will also offer prepared foods and dry goods such as books, candles, and cooking utensils.
A draft layout also includes space for a demonstration kitchen, where chefs could host cooking classes, as well as a 3,000-square-foot restaurant facing the greenway. Executives with the market are beginning to look for restaurateurs interested in the space.
Governor Deval Patrick isn’t hopping the Red Line to get to work, but that hasn’t stopped the comparisons to Michael Dukakis.
The Duke famously took the Green Line when he was governor, and Patrick’s latest transportation plan, released last week, revealed an infusion of money into rail and transit that represents the biggest commitment since the Dukakis days.
Over five years, Patrick proposes to devote more than 40 percent, or about $6.6 billion, of his transportation capital plan to the MBTA, rail, and other forms of mass transit.
Last Spring, I drafted a medallion quilt design that I never sewed. The sketch has been pinned up on my wall for months, and I decided it would be a great "big project" to start off 2014.
For a variety of reasons, I ended up planning the center of this medallion last. The structure and many of the piecing motifs in the borders are fairly traditional, so I decided to draft a version of the traditional Doves in the Window block for the center. (It's a block that I've had highlighted in my Nancy Cabot index for a while now.)
The center block measures 14" square. Each of these diamonds is 7/8" and constructed with standard machine sewing (no paper).
The first border is made from 32 quarter square triangle blocks, each 2" x 2". With the subsequent sashing, the quilt now measure 20" x 20". Six more borders to go!
Background fabric is Essex yarn-dyed cotton/linen in Steel. Prints and colorful solids are from all over the place and include low-volume gray and white/black prints and bright solids and monochromatic prints in an analagous color scheme ranging from gold to navy.
Johan Vaaler, a Norwegian inventor, is credited with inventing the paperclip. It was patented in the US as were several other variations but it wasn’t until the English company GEM streamlined the design to the double oval we know today and an American, William Middlebrook, of Waterbury, Connecticut, patented a machine for making paper clips of the Gem design in 1899. The design for the GEM paperclip was never patented.
During WWII, Norwegians were prohibited from wearing any insignia on their clothing with the king’s likeness so they wore paperclips in their lapels as a symbol of resistance to the Nazi occupation.
Alternately, after WWII, the Americans started a project called Operation Paperclip to recruit former-Nazi scientists to work in the US after the war.
Oh, little paper clip, what an intersting life you lead!
I made these addictive little wonders on my Christmas episode over the weekend, along with lots of other quick-and-easy party food. If you missed the show over the weekend, you can catch it again today at 5 eastern/4 central. Hope you enjoy it! There’s lots of good grub, man.
These skewers of glory are in my new holiday cookbook, and in the book I call them—wait for it—Skewers of Glory. And that’s because that’s exactly what they are. Sizzling bacon wrapped around shrimp, pineapple, and brushed in a ginger-spiked teriyaki sauce? Well, ‘glory’ was pretty much the only word I could come up with.
These are perfect for any Christmas or New Year’s (or any other) cocktail party, and these disappear almost instantly.
Here’s how to make them!
First, start soaking some wooden skewers in a pan of water so they don’t burn up in the oven later. Make sure they soak about an hour or so before you use them!
Next, whip up an easy marinade to brush on the skewers: I started with a thick teriyaki sauce, and have you noticed that some teriyaki sauces are thick and some are watery and thin? It’s such a confusing world we live in!
Anyway, I doctor up the teriyaki with some good stuff. Minced ginger, for one. One of the most glorious ingredients known to man.
Throw that on in there along with some green onion and a little lemon juice.
And for some heat, some red pepper flakes.
You can leave this out if you don’t like spicy food.
Just please reconsider your position. Spicy food is one of my reasons for living.
This teriyaki sauce wasn’t overly sweet, believe it or not, so I added a little sugar.
And some minced garlic!
Oh, the flavors.
Whisk the sauce together and set it aside, then get started on the other ingredients for the skewers: Lop the top off a pineapple…
Then slice off the rind…
Cut the pineapple into wedges…
Slice the hard, center core off of each piece, then slice it into chunks.
Grab a (peeled, deveined, no tail) shrimp and lay one of the pineapple chunks on top of it.
Then grab half a slice of bacon, wrap it around to cover as much of the surface as possible, then thread a skewer through so that it anchors everything together. This takes a little practice, as the shrimp is slippery and it’s a little tricky getting everything to hold together while you get the skewer in, but it’s things like this that make life exciting.
Keep going until they’re all assembled, laying them on a rack set on a baking sheet.
Very Important Note: Do not assemble the skewers ahead of time! The pineapple has an enzyme that completely eats away at the shrimp, and if you allow them to sit for a long time before baking, the shrimp will turn into a weird, pasty substance that might have resembled shrimp once. So while you can make the sauce and prep the pineapple ahead of time, hold off on assembling until they’re ready to go in the oven! They’re fine after baking, as the heat takes care of everything.
Brush them generously with the sauce.
And this is why you definitely want to examine the bottle of teriyaki before you buy it; you want it to be thick and viscous enough to stick! (Note: If you wind up with a thin teriyaki, no sweat: Just add enough honey to thicken it up a bit.)
Put them in a 400 degree oven for about 10-12 minutes, then pull them out…
Brush a second coating on top, and pop them back in the oven until the bacon is sizzling and the shrimp is totally cooked, about 7 or 8 (or more, if they need it!) minutes.
Then arrange them on a platter, sprinkle them with more sliced green onions…
And serve them hot or at room temperature.
These are absolutely divine! You (and your guests) will love them.
2 pounds Jumbo Shrimp, Peeled And Deveined, Tails Off
1 pound Thin Bacon, Cut In Half Crosswise.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Soak 30 wooden skewers in water for 1 hour.
Make the marinade by combining teriyaki sauce, garlic, ginger, sugar, red pepper flakes, lemon juice, salt, and green onions. Stir together and set aside.
Place a chunk of pineapple on top of a shrimp, then wrap the whole thing in half a slice of bacon. Thread a skewer through the whole thing to anchor it all together. Repeat with the rest of the shrimp, pineapple, and bacon.
Brush all the skewers with the marinade then bake them for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove them from the oven and brush again, then return them for 7 to 8 minutes, or until the bacon is sizzling and the shrimp is cooked.
Arrange them on a platter and sprinkle them with sliced green onion. Serve warm or at room temperature!
(Note: Assemble the skewers just before putting them in the oven, as they don't do well assembled ahead of time.)
This awesome clock is not only streamlined and retro but features a fabulous countdown flip section. Countdown to 33 different occasions like She’s Back (or He’s Back), Baby’s Due, School’s Out, Reunion,The Big Night, and many others. Currently on sale at the MCA Store online for $49.95.
Imagine getting to meet your favorite actor, then asking for his autograph, only instead of him giving you his autographed, he agreed to slowly walk down a hallway with you and your friends so you could film it as though you were in one of his movies.
Bill Murray did just that, and it’s one of the reasons the world loves the guy so much.
Filmed “Wes Anderson” style and set to music, it’s far better than an autograph.
It just goes to show you how great life can be if you’re willing to slow down for people. Of course, none of us are Bill Murray, but slowing down for your spouse, your kids or your friends for just a minute to really give them something that will blow their minds is a magical concoction that makes life great. Way to go, Bill. We’ve a lot to learn from you.
So what with Pinterest and other digital inspiration board tools, you might think that there’s no need for a real-life version. But there’s nothing quite as satisfying as clipping photos out of magazines or collecting cocktail napkins while on vacation to pin to your board at home. If you’re nervous about pinning things to an actual wall, you could take baby steps and start by making a vision board. Happy Collecting! -Amy
Image above: Greenroom creative director Sarah Sherman Samuel uses her bulletin board to keep track of current project. Here it’s full of inspiration for a party she recently designed along with a few fabric swatches from her own line of products that is in the works. See all the photos of this modern Los Angeles loft here.
Image above: This is food stylist Diane Perrin’s door from her childhood bedroom. This is the door from my childhood bedroom. Growing up, she would tape concert ticket stubs, family photos, notes from friends in class, pretty much anything that she felt represented herself. A few years ago, after remodeling the house, her father decided to ship her the door as a Hanukkah present. Now it’s a catch-all for her handbag collection, and whenever she’s feeling down, just looking at it always cheers her up. See all the photos from this creative California home here.
My urge to roadtrip is now back. Don't think my little car could handle this guy though...
Clear your calendars, New Yorkers—the weekend road trip just got a heck of a lot cooler. While vintage trailer rentals have been a thing on the west coast for years, one small new company is bringing the joy of trailer camping to adventure-seekers on the east coast starting this summer. Goodness Travels, which currently rents a small “canned ham” trailer by the night, was founded by a husband/wife team hoping to spread their love of “tiny homes-on-wheels.” While their flagship trailer, Honey, is understandably minimal, it packs quite a lot of charm and utility into such a small space. Outfitted with two beds, a retro-style icebox, working kitchen, and an electrical hookup, this little guy is also souped up with fresh paint and some lovely midcentury-appropriate touches. According to the company’s website, Honey sleeps two adults (or “four very close friends”) comfortably, and starts at just $104 a night. For those looking to get away with friends from the city’s hustle, bustle, and sweltering heat this summer, Goodness Travels seems like the perfect option. Check out more photos after the jump! —Max
He started playing the piano at age four. At eight years old, Leon Fleisher made his public debut in music performing with the New York Philharmonic. The director called him “the pianistic find of the century” and soon he was accepted to study with some of the greatest teachers of his time.
His star continued to rise in his twenties as he signed an exclusive contract with Columbia Masterworks. Particularly acclaimed for his interpretations of Bach and Beethoven, in the classical music world, he was becoming known around the globe as the “next big thing.”
And then, when he was in his 30s, at the peak of his career, something happened. Over a brief period of time, he gradually lost the functional use of his right hand. It simply wouldn’t work. Doctor after doctor couldn’t diagnose the problem. Physical therapy didn’t help. Counseling wouldn’t bring it back. Medications failed to make a difference.
Predictably, he sank into a depression and wondered if all was lost. I don’t know this for sure, but I would imagine suicide could have been a real option. It appeared his career was over.
• • •
Can you imagine it? What if you lost the very thing that allowed you to do your job, to make a living, or to offer your gift to the world?
A singer loses his voice.
A dancer loses her foot.
An artist loses her eyesight.
An audio engineer loses his hearing.
What would you do? How would your respond?
• • •
After a while, Leon began to slowing find his way through and found that he loved to compose music. Then he discovered his love for conducting, which he dived into as well. While still playing the piano, he developed proficiency playing with his left hand alone.
Soon, his world renown returned, this time for his beautiful and intricate left handed concerts. Take a look a Leon Fleischer performing in his seventies:
So, here’s the rest of the story. When Fleischer was in his seventies, after more than forty years, the cause of his hand disorder was discovered and in time, the use of his right hand returned. In early 2000, Fleischer embarked on yet another world tour to promote his new CD, “Both Hands.”
Before you read any further, I want you to sit with this story for a few minutes.
A man had it all, then lost it all, wandered in the wilderness, found something again, and late in his life, was given even more. It’s a rich story of hope. I have wept over the beauty of it all.
• • •
I wish that I could say that every story ends like this. Sadly they don’t. I know plenty of people for whom tragedy has struck a dissonant chord, and that chord will likely never resolve this side of heaven. There are some things in my own life that I feel that way about. Sometimes life doesn’t take that turn.
So what do we do when tragedy strikes and takes away the equivalent of our right hand – our job, our marriage, our reputations?
I’d like to suggest a prayer that the Benedictine monks pray during times the call “Desolation.” Desolation is when things don’t work – when life, relationships, God – all seem disconnected at best.
When that happens, our natural prayers are usually variations of the word “Why?”
Why this now?
The Benedictines suggest a different question. They ask us to pray this simple prayer, “God, what do you have for me here?”
Do you notice the difference? While honest, the why questions presume we are entitled to something and the current problem has no place in our life or the universe.
“What do you have for me here?” presumes that there is a larger story told by a storyteller who loves us and is far more creative in his telling than I would ever be. It also presumes that if my right hand ceases to function, unknown to me, sixty years later, someone I’ve never met might be writing a blog because my story touched him and gave him hope.
Deitrich Bonhoeffer in one of his prison poems, wrote this in the weeks before he died, “That which is lost will return to us again as life’s most living strain.”
Bonhoeffer died before I was born and thus far, Leon and I have not crossed paths. However, in the mystery and mingling of stories that weave in and out of one another, they are dear friends who have taught me to lean into loss and ask a different question.
I suddenly have the urge to strip some furniture. And then stripe it.
Today’s first before & after comes from Sarah of Trevi Vintage Design. After picking up a sad little white dresser at Goodwill and decided to save it from its chipped-paint and missing-knob existence. After sanding down the entire piece (using an orbital sander) to expose the natural wood, Sarah stained the drawer fronts with Minwax Poly Shades in Bombay Mahogany Gloss and primed the rest of the dresser with a shellac-based primer (B-I-N Brand). With the help of some painters tape, she painted the colorful stripes around the entire piece, sanding between each coat. To keep the final look neutral, Sarah used 1.25 Inch Rowland Cabinet Knobs (only 98 cents each at Home Depot!) and stained them with the same Bombay Mahogany Gloss. Last but not least, she added tapered legs (purchased on eBay) and stained them to match the rest of the piece. I love the finished result and think it’s definitely a far cry from the sad little white piece sitting alone at the Goodwill. Great job, Sarah! xo, grace
*P.S.: It turns out Sarah’s talented sister Diana was on D*S back in 2007! This family has some talented women.
Phenomenal field! Also, thank you, Toni for introducing me to this site.
The single biggest lesson I’ve learned from quitting alcohol, putting on my running shoes, and remaking my life is this: Everything you think is true about yourself is only true until it’s not.
You’re awkward on camera. You’re too broke to travel. You’re a bad cook. You’re never going to find love. You’re always late. You’re afraid of commitment. You’re addicted to sugar. Until you’re not.
Our lives are made up of stories, and the most powerful stories are the ones we tell about ourselves, to ourselves. If you tell yourself you don’t deserve to be loved, then that becomes true based on the sheer fact that everything you do and say and think makes it true. If you’re telling yourself you can’t change your eating habits because you don’t have enough willpower, then surprise surprise, that’s your reality.
Changing your life comes down to changing your habits, one small step at a time, but the first and most important step is to change your story.
So, that’s exactly what I’m doing. On January 1, I mentioned that I’d be working on a personal project this year – the Change Your Story Project – and I’ve been spending the past few months trying to identify the self-limiting stories I tell myself that hold me back from being who I want to be and doing what I want to do. Then, as I identify each story, I’m working to re-write it and I’m planning an activity I can tackle to get me moving away from the old story and into the new story.
Take photo shoots, for example. I’m constantly telling myself how un-photogenic I am, how bad I look in photos, and how much I hate having them taken. So guess what? I hardly have any pictures of myself and of the ones I do have, there are maybe five that I actually like. My old story is that I’m horrible at having my picture taken, but I want my new story to be that I’m comfortable in front of the camera and can totally rock a photo shoot.
So I’ve scheduled a photo shoot for March 21. But not just any photo shoot – a BOUDOIR photo shoot. You know, like in my fucking UNDERWEAR. Because I mean, is there anything more uncomfortable for someone who hates having her picture taken than spending an hour and a half posing in the almost-nude? Absolutely not. But that’s the point. If I want my new story to be true, I need to do things that someone living that new story would do, and I know that over time, the combination of telling myself this new story and acting like it’s true will make it true.
(Look at me, Mom! Re-writing my story one naked photo shoot at a time, haha.)
But seriously, I know this works because I’ve done it before. Not the underwear-clad photography, no, that’ll be a first – but the idea of actively changing my story. It’s what I did when I quit drinking, when I ran my first marathon, when I quit sugar, when I switched to a plant-based diet, and when I spoke in front of 1,000+ people at World Domination Summit last year to change my story from “I hate public speaking!” to “Holy shit, I can do this!”
The formula works. Identify your old story, write your new story, and then start committing to activities that move you from one to the other. For me, that doesn’t just mean the naked photo shoot, and I’ll be working on this project all year – tackling a different self-limiting story each time. And here’s where you come in, because I want you to join the Change Your Story Project, too. Making a personal change is powerful, but joining up with other people who are making their own changes at the same time is the most powerful of all, and I’d love to get some serious group momentum building as we all change our own stories, together.
So here’s what I want you to do: In the comments, share the old story you’re going to change, as well as anything else you want to tell us about the new story you’re writing and the activity you’re going to commit to to get yourself there. You can grab the badge below to use on your own blog (perfect for sidebars, blog posts, or wherever you like!) and then, as you start to change your story, you can jump back into the comments here and update us on how it’s going. If you need help, ask for help. I’d love to support you! I’d also love to feature a few of you later in the year, and I’ll be giving out some fun prizes for story changers, so definitely keep me up to date on your progress.
Because together, I know that we can prove something incredibly simple, yet incredibly powerful: If we change our stories, we change our lives.