It's about to get a little louder and a little brighter than it typically is in this corner of the web. I am a nuanced human being after all, and as much as I love vintage wood grains, I love a nearly neon, pink, stone-washed jumpsuit and roller skates. But before we fully get this party started, I want to share why this party, this loud, silly, colorfully over-stimulating party was so needed.
I don’t know what big projects are on my horizon, or what the fine-tuning of my career will look like yet, but I know this: I want to make people feel special and celebrated. I want to empower people to feel their value and their contribution, whether it be passing them a microphone on stage or really enjoying the cup of coffee they made me. I want to be part of restoring humanity, which is why I hosted this brunch in honor of my friend, Sandra Villarroel and her organization Worth Manifesto.
Thanks to author Laura Vanderkam, I've begun to look at weekends with more purpose and intention. I view weekends as time I need to cherish in a different way than weekdays, and in that spirit, I sent a text to two of my favorite people, "Brunch on Sunday?"
As hard as I laughed at my launch party, I also teared up because The Gluten-Free Grains Cookbook was so long in the making (but so very short in the physical making). This book really does feel like a decade in the works, and sharing that experience with a room full of enthusiastic people meant the world to me. Thank you to everyone who made the event come to life, attended, and celebrated!
I find so often with the slow, intentional labors of love, the pieces start to fall into place and exceed even my obsessive planning. This gathering centered around a bird. Beyond the decision to confit a bird (a first for me), I felt a different sort of reverence for this bird. I didn't just pick up a plasticized cut of meat from the neon-lit cooler. Our friend waited in the cold (this is one part of hunting I do not understand), hunted this bird, plucked its painterly feathers and [mostly] cleaned it (Josh, you could have been a bit more thorough, but we'll allow it). We foraged winter branches, berries and greens from our dog's happy place, which became a centerpiece backdrop for the pheasant feathers. We set the table, dimmed the lights, and the dining room felt pleasantly small and cozy as it brimmed with friends new and old and laughter.
For the past six months or so, I've been working on something big, something scary, something that has broken me, built me and flipped me every which way. I've missed summertime traditions, family gatherings, and missed seeing lots of my friends, but there was one day I couldn't miss: my Rustbelt Farmer's birthday! That's a day that called for cake, specifically a Gluten Free Rhubarb Cake with Whiskey Whipped Cream and farm-fresh strawberries and mint.
Welcome to our home! This is a recap of our Design*Sponge home tour feature, plus a table full of food and a pumpkin cake recipe because I’m here to feed you!
For more than a decade, I have been a loyal Design*Sponge reader. For more than a year and a half, I’ve been on the other side — a contributor. I’ve been inviting myself into people’s homes, both physically and figuratively, to bring you the stories and spaces that inspire many a Pinterest board, your dream homes, and your very real renovations. But then it came time to turn the tables and invite readers into my own home.
To have my home featured on DesignSponge was a goal and a dream I nurtured for a long time. It was one of the first blogs I followed, one of my longest relationships, if you will. It has been a constant, daily source of inspiration, both through design and through Grace Bonney’s mission to make the site a safe, embracing space. Today I’m sharing parts of the tour featured on DesignSponge, as well as some food bonuses and a pumpkin cake recipe because you come here to feast with your eyes, right?
You can read the stories of this space in the original D*S tour, but for a bit of a different take, come on in!
Photography by Dave Bryce.
Even though my dream kitchen would probably be dark and rustic, I let the bones of this kitchen, mainly the cabinetry and the enamel sink, inspire the design. It’s very kitschy, and I painted the cabinets and accent wall with a very 1960s vibe.
Welcome to my favorite room- the dining room! As much as I love styling and blogging, there’s nothing quite like cooking and baking for people. I love hosting friends and family in this room, or simply celebrating special occasions with Kyle, while Julep lurks under the table hoping for scraps. This room reflects my affinity for aged and worn surfaces and the many layers of a building. I painstakingly removed paint from the doors and fireplace tiles but purposefully left the chippy accent wall and exposed lathe.
I am constantly drawn to old books, but before moving into this apartment, I vowed to put the books to better use (because boy, were they heavy to move!). I had two photography books depicting French life in the city and the countryside, and those pages became the collaged mantel accent. I studied abroad in Aix-en-Provence and worked as a jeune fille au pair (a nanny) in Paris after college, so these vintage prints bring back so many pleasant French memories.
This is a question we ask everyone who shares their home on Design*Sponge – What do you love most about your home? We ask our home tour features to respond with an element of the handmade too, so naturally, I incorporated the table, food and dessert- pumpkin cake!
What I love most about my home is…it tells my story.
I love sharing our home with friends, family, and our fur baby (see her at the head of the table?). I enjoy watching the way guests interact with my collections and the associations they make, whether it be glassware their grandmother used or a fascination with the mechanics of a typewriter.
For our tour, I brought together some of my closest friends to showcase our dining room at its best – when it is filled with food and friends. Kyle and Julep, obviously. Dane and I met over a love of vintage, architecture and Pittsburgh adventures. Bess and I met through a love of Western Pennsylvania vintage, and the lady cracks me up until I cry. Lindsey and I met over a LOVE [obsession] of dogs and while working on her cookbook, Eat Your Feelings, which I gush about all the time.
The living room gallery wall sums us up: food still lifes, beekeeping and farming scenes, dog portraits, old cameras, French cityscapes and Q’s (because you’d be surprised how frequently that letter is omitted from alphabetical merchandise!). The wooden frame highlights a Kenyan ekichilong, a small wooden stool the Turkana shepherds use for sitting and sleeping, which I purchased on a trip to rural Kenya. You’ll even find the small velour hat from my childhood Samantha doll. I parted with the doll, but I had to keep one little memento.
The bedroom is my maximalist self’s attempt at minimalism. My goal was to create a really calming space where I would want to unwind, or where I would want to nestle with Julep and my morning mug of coffee.
Be sure to check out the full home tour feature on Design*Sponge for more photos and all the stories of these quirky nooks and crannies. Thanks for visiting. Now go preheat that oven. There’s a pumpkin cake to make!
Gluten Free Chocolate Pumpkin Cake
About this Cake: Healthy, whole grain brown rice flour makes a rich, nutty pumpkin cake that’s gluten free- perfect for a crowd. I topped the cake with pumpkin chocolates from Trader Joe’s, which were a seasonal item, but you can dust with cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice and decorate with cinnamon sticks and sage as an alternative.
You could think of this whole grain Gingerbread Chocolate Layer Cake with Chocolate Gingerbread Twigs as too involved, or you could think of it as an excuse to spend a day in the kitchen, mull some wine, sip said wine, light the pine-scented candles and embrace the winter spirit.