#DSHoliday + Best of the Web


This week the holidays finally started to feel real because Julia and I went to our local Christmas tree farm to bring home a tree. Julia builds her own DIY menorah every year, so this month our house is filled with so much light and decoration. I’m always so inspired by the warmth this season brings, and I’ve been so happy to focus less on shopping and decorating (although I do love tree lights) and more on giving back.

This year we did our local toy drive and are volunteering at food and family shelters in our area, but we’re also following a suggestion left by writer (and D*S contributor) Ashley C. Ford that I wanted to share here. Ashley suggested people call up their local school system to find out about overdue lunch accounts for students in need. So many of these children aren’t able to pay off their bills and won’t be able to join their classmates for meals — or get the food they need (and may not be able to get at home). All you need to do is get the totals and chip in as much as you can afford, or coordinate with others (or local businesses) to help pay off the totals. It’s a nice way to get involved with your local schools and a great way to make sure that the next generation of makers, artists, dreamers and doers has the fuel they need to grow and learn.

Speaking of inspiration, I wanted to launch a short #Hashtag challenge for this month: #DSHoliday. Upload a picture (to Twitter or Instagram) of what YOUR holiday season looks like (traditions, decorations, giving back, etc.) and tag it #DSHoliday. I’ll pick one winner and mail them a signed copy of In the Company of Women AND a signed copy of Julia’s cookbook, Small Victories. Until then, best wishes for a healthy and happy weekend. xo, grace

Paper butterflies above by Woodlucker on Instagram. Peek inside their house here


Best of Design*Sponge This Week:


from Design*Sponge http://www.designsponge.com/2016/12/dsholiday-best-of-the-web.html

friday finds.

wicker wrap-around bench in rachel comey la store. / sfgirlbybay

when it comes to good design, i’m very interested in the simple little details. the nook that calls you to come visit, the staircase that beckons you to climb. maybe it’s a mirror with a truly beautiful shape. this week’s friday finds bring you a few inspiring details i just love. here’s to the little things this weekend, guys. oh, and it’s the rose bowl flea market this sunday — the perfect place to treasure hunt for all things unique. xo, victoria

  1. this wicker bench designed by elizabeth roberts in the L.A. rachel comey store is just brilliant!
  2. this swing chair via petite passport just makes this room rock.
  3. i’m on the hunt for one of these lovely vintage shaped mirrors.
  4. there’s some wonderful textures floating about this pretty sitting room, via rue.
  5. i think if all you had was a beautiful bed, you might sleep the sleep of angels.
  6. this is such a pretty little corner — so inviting. all little nooks should have this much attention paid to them.

built-in bench and hanging wicker chair. / sfgirlbybay

gorgeous vintage gold framed mirror. / sfgirlbybay

modern area rug and moroccan floor cushion. / sfgirlbybay

white bedroom with painted floors and tan sheets with purple velvet bedspread. / sfgirlbybay

rattan and wrought iron minimalist home furnishings. / sfgirlbybay

from sfgirlbybay http://www.sfgirlbybay.com/2016/12/09/friday-finds-115/

In the Kitchen With: Italian Doughnut Holes

Castagnole by Kristina Gill | Tasting Rome

This week’s recipe is from my cookbook, Tasting Rome. Castagnole are traditionally a carnevale recipe, but I consider them the Italian equivalent of the doughnut hole. Even better, I consider them an easy cheat for rum balls at Christmas time. You can serve them strictly according to the original recipe or glaze them with something boozy (just make sure you omit the Sambuca in the recipe), and even add sprinkles of your choice. These are soft as pillows and best eaten immediately, but they will keep, and be perfect to have with coffee, even days after you make them. So make a beautiful batch, wrap, and give as a gift without fear. For an alternative recipe for castagnole from our archives, click here. —Kristina

Roman Street Sign photo by Kristina Gill | DesignSponge

Photography by Kristina Gill

Makes 30 castagnole


— 2 cups all-purpose flour
— 3 large eggs
— 2 teaspoons baking powder
— Pinch of baking soda
— 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice (from 1/2 orange)
— 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
— 2 tablespoons Sambuca (or your favorite liquor)
— 5 tablespoons sugar, plus more for coating
— 1/2 cup vegetable oil
— 1/2 cup whole milk
— Neutral oil for frying

Mix the flour, eggs, baking powder, baking soda, orange juice, lemon juice, Sambuca, sugar, vegetable oil, and milk in a large bowl until smooth.

In a small pot or cast-iron skillet, heat 2 1/2 inches of neutral oil to 350F over medium heat. Using a teaspoon or small ice cream scoop, scoop up a spoonful of batter, then carefully scrape it off with a second teaspoon into the hot oil.

Cook the castagnole in batches of four or five for about 4 minutes, until a deep golden brown. Halfway through cooking, they will turn themselves over in the oil. Take care not to overcrowd the pan.

Remove to a paper towel-lined tray or plate to drain. If you are not glazing them, roll them in sugar while they are still hot so that the sugar sticks.

Castagnole are best eaten the day they are prepared, but they will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 to 4 days.

Kristina’s Note: To make a glaze, use 2 to 4 tablespoons of liquid (milk, melted butter, citrus juice, liquor, etc) per 1 cup of powdered sugar, depending on the consistency you wish to achieve. Toss the castagnole with the glaze or drizzle the glaze across the top of them. Scatter sprinkles over the top for an extra festive twist!

Woman at Fountain at Christmas by Kristina Gill | DesignSponge

Castagnole recipe (note excluded) reprinted from Tasting Rome: Fresh Flavors and Forgotten Recipes from an Ancient City. Copyright © 2016 by Katie Parla and Kristina Gill. Photographs copyright © 2016 by Kristina Gill. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

About Kristina: Kristina Gill is an Italy-based food and travel photographer and the Food and Drinks Editor at Design*Sponge. A native of Nashville, TN, Kristina lives in Rome with her husband.

Portrait of Kristina Gill by N. Bazzani | DesignSponge

from Design*Sponge http://www.designsponge.com/2016/12/in-the-kitchen-with-italian-doughnut-holes.html

Holiday DIY: Ombre Ribbon Tree


Growing up in West Virginia, I saw every type of Christmas tree craft you can imagine. From starlight peppermint candy trees to faux pearl-tipped pins inserted in large sequins that covered the styrofoam tree form, I always marveled at how many ways the ladies at my church could (and would) embellish a tree. When I discovered the ombré ribbon in the Waverly Inspirations collection, I knew that there was a modern version of the ribbon tree in my near future.

I love this DIY for its simplicity and its colorful, nostalgic take on the ribbon candy holiday tradition. If you don’t have a chance to craft it up for this holiday season, bookmark it now for next year and be sure to have a few young helpers around when you make it. The younger set loves to help set up the scene where your tree will live!

Click through for the instructions! –Caitlin

*This post is brought to you in collaboration with Waverly Inspirations. This project, ideas, and words are from us here at D*S and were created by us,  for you and your family. Thanks for supporting our sponsors that help us create and publish original content like this. The Waverly Inspirations collection is available at Walmart.



  • 6 yards of 1″ Wide Green Ombre Ribbon
  • 1 yard of 1/2″ Wide White Ribbon
  • Craft Paint (We used Waverly Inspirations Kelly Green for our stand & Sunshine Yellow for our star.)
  • Paintbrush
  • Styrofoam Tree Form (Ours was 12″ high.)
  • Straight Pins
  • Scissors
  • Cake Stand or Pedestal
  • 1 Yard of Festive Fabric (We used Waverly Inspirations green polka-dot cotton sheeting.)
  • Aluminum Foil to shape a star or another improvised tree topper like a pom-pom



Step 1: Cut all 6 yards of your wide ombre ribbon into 4″ strips. Fold a ribbon strip in half and use the straight pins to attach the ribbon to the tree, about a 1/2″ from the bottom. The open loop should be at the bottom and the pins should go through the cut edges.



Step 2: Work around the base of the form, attaching the ribbon strips with the straight pins next to each other as seen above.


Step 3: When you start your second row on top of the base row of ribbon loops, attach the ribbons so that they line up above where the ribbons below it sit next to each other. This would look like subway tile if you could see it!


Step 4: Continue attaching your ribbon strips around and up the tree until you reach the top of the form.


Step 5: Add some snow on top of your tree! Cut seven 2″ pieces of your white 1/2″ ribbon and repeat the same technique to attach them to the top of the tree as shown above.


Step 6: (optional) Take a 3″ wide length of aluminum foil and fold into a thick square. Pinching the foil together in the four corners and the top middle of the square, fashion a star shape out of the foil square. These aren’t meant to be perfect, so have fun with it!


Step 7: Paint your tree topper star with the Sunshine Yellow paint from Waverly. It’s a good, thick craft paint so if you’d like a little metallic to shine through like I did, just dab it on lightly.

If you plan to have your tree sit on a pedestal, cake stand or similar, consider picking up something inexpensive at Goodwill or a thrift store and painting it with the Kelly Green paint from the Waverly Inspirations line. Again, it’s super thick craft paint with good coverage. I usually use the Super Premium semi-gloss acrylic paint like I did here, unless I’m going for a very matte look and texture. I use their matte chalk finish in those cases. The semi-gloss looks great on the (originally white) small metal cake stand I picked up in the “dollar section” at Target.


Step 8: Add two straight pins, vertically, to the top of the tree so that the star can rest against it. Before you place your star and tree, it’s time to set up your vignette!

I brought out a very green, vintage ironing board that’s console height for my entryway tree setup. The ironing board is the perfect height for a console in that spot and its bright, colorful charm is always a conversation starter when guests arrive.

For your vignette, take your fabric and spread it on the surface of whatever you’re using. Tuck under the edges of the fabric, and push the fabric in towards the middle of itself until the fabric starts to take on a life of its own with lovely folds. Place your ribbon tree on the fabric “landscape” and add in any smaller pieces you like. I added a triangular spool of yarn and a gold bottle-brush tree someone gifted me. The little wooden ornaments from my childhood made the scene complete!

Wishing you a happy holiday season! –Caitlin




from Design*Sponge http://www.designsponge.com/2016/12/holiday-diy-ombre-ribbon-tree.html

wear this there: brasserie barbès.

brasserie barbès chic interior. / sfgirlbybay

what’s more magical than paris this time of year? the lights lining the champs-élysée, and parisian lovers nestled deep in each café’s corner. in case you’re wondering which café exactly you should be nestling in, we are swooning over the city’s chicest spot, brasserie barbès. the four-story croissant destination is unlike any other, and its interiors are just what you would want from the city of love. after a two-year renovation, it’s finally welcoming patrons back in for a warm latte, and maybe even some escargot. our wear this there includes an easy-on-the-eyes palette, and our read this there is david sedaris’s paris-based novel, me talk pretty one day.

~ michaela d’artois, vérité published.

dining room of brasserie barbès. / sfgirlbybay

wear this there: brasserie barbès. / sfgirlbybay

wear this there: zara masculine coat; pixie market marcy high waisted crop flared jeans; zara high heel velvet ankle boot; HannahK Sunrise Earrings from beklina; read this there me talk pretty one day by david sedaris; nuxe reve de miel ultra-nourishing lip balm; Anthropologie Gigi Petite Bucket Bag; top shelf style’s the rosa bandana by vanessa mooney; asos turtleneck with contrast trim.

inspiring interior decor of brasserie barbès. / sfgirlbybay

boldly painted bar at brasserie barbès. / sfgirlbybay

exterior of brasserie barbès in Paris. / sfgirlbybay

brasserie barbès in Paris. / sfgirlbybay

industrial lighting and butcher block counter at brasserie barbès. / sfgirlbybay

• photography via brasserie barbès.

from sfgirlbybay http://www.sfgirlbybay.com/2016/12/09/wear-this-there-brasserie-barbes/

A Jewelry Designer’s Home Studio Makes Use of Each Bit of Space

A Jewelry Designer’s Home Studio Makes Use of Each Bit of Space

What started as a hobby over 10 years ago has turned into a full fledged business for new Oakland, CA resident (by way of Brooklyn, NY, where this home tour took place) and jewelry designer Jaclyn Mayer of Orly Genger. Working from home gives her the ability to be a working mom to her young son, even when it’s not the easiest of tasks to juggle the two. “My child is now 20 months old, and it gets harder and harder to work at home as he’s getting to an age where he needs constant attention and supervision,” she admits. “When I was living in Brooklyn I took him with me everywhere. To all my factories and suppliers. They all loved him. I had to plan work that I did at home around his nap schedule. Otherwise we would be out running around the city.”

Jaclyn’s Brooklyn home, shared with her husband and son, mixed her love of vintage finds with handmade treasures from travels or made by friends while adding a layer of warmth to her home studio — and each piece has a story. “Most of the art is by people I know. It makes the pieces more special to me when I look at them.  Not only do I think about the picture, but I get to think about the friend who made it. The big drawing in our living room above the couch is by one of my closest friends, Orly Genger. She is also my jewelry partner. She gave it to us as a wedding present. So I get to think about three things when I look at it: The drawing, Orly, and our wedding! I love that,” Jaclyn recalls. 

Staying organized when you share your workspace with your family can be tricky. But Jaclyn found a way for the two to blend seamlessly. “By nature, I can be a bit of a hoarder. So I have to do major clean-outs periodically. Moving was probably the best thing for me as it forced me to go through my studio and get rid of things I’d been saving for 10 years. I have to keep everything in labeled bins. Otherwise I wouldn’t ever be able to find anything.”

If this is what Jaclyn and her husband could do with a tiny Brooklyn apartment, I can only imagine how their new home in Oakland is shaping up. —Erin Austen Abbott

Photography by Carolina Mariana Rodriguez

from Design*Sponge http://www.designsponge.com/2016/12/a-jewelry-designers-home-studio-makes-use-of-each-bit-of-space.html

casa hemingway.

ernest hemingway's home. / sfgirlbybay

still pinching myself i got to experience cuba all over again. the last trip was twelve years ago and this time with victoria. i’ve been loving her recap and can’t wait to see what she’ll be sharing next. one of the top places i visited was ernest hemingway’s house just outside of havana. located ten miles east of the city on a hilltop in the small working-class town of san francisco de paula, finca la vigía (the “lookout house”) was the author’s home from 1939 to 1960.

ernest hemingway's home in cuba. / sfgirlbybay

ernest hemingway's home outside of havana. / sfgirlbybay

papa hemingway chose this house to escape from the city to write and live amongst the people he fished with. the property includes a single level main house, a guest house, a tower room, pool, tennis court and his fishing boat, pilar.

casa hemingway outside of havana. / sfgirlbybay

casa hemingway / sfgirlbybay

it was here he wrote three of his most notable novels: for whom the bell tolls, the old man and the sea and a moveable feast. he first lived here with his third wife, martha gelhorn, and finally with his last wife, mary hemingway, along with many cats.

casa hemingway / sfgirlbybay

each room is handsomely decorated with plenty of books and memorabilia from his many travels. above is the living room in the main house. below is his bedroom.

memorabilia inside casa hemingway / sfgirlbybay

bedroom in casa hemingway / sfgirlbybay

bedroom with blue blanket in casa hemingway / sfgirlbybay

small bathroom in casa hemingway / sfgirlbybay

a modest bathroom (with a peculiar jarred specimen).

the study in casa hemingway / sfgirlbybay

his study.

pink bedroom in casa hemingway / sfgirlbybay

the pink room.

pink walls in casa hemingway / sfgirlbybay

mint walls in casa hemingway / sfgirlbybay

and the tower room with a panoramic view of havana faraway. his wife created this space so hemingway would be inspired to write, but he much preferred his study. this became a favorite spot for all his cats.

casa hemingway / sfgirlbybay

today the property is a museum and remains as hemingway left it. it is open all week and costs about $5 to visit.

• all photography by leslie santarina.


from sfgirlbybay http://www.sfgirlbybay.com/2016/12/08/casa-hemingway/

Inspiration Boards: The Why + How

inspiration boards

If you’d asked me a few years ago if I would spend a few days every year making vision boards for life and work, I would have given you a huge Liz Lemon-level eye roll. But I would have been so wrong. Over the past four years, vision boards have become one of the most powerful tools in my life & work toolbox, and have helped me not only stay in touch with what I really want, but they’ve helped me envision a path to get there.

While there’s no wrong way to vision/mood board, I have learned some tricks and tips that have helped me get the most out of them over the years. And today I’m sharing those techniques, along with some tips for analyzing and understanding what your mood board is saying to you, after the jump. Happy collaging! xo, grace


Above: The vision board where I figured out how badly I wanted to move upstate, own a home and focus on family.

For anyone new to the idea of vision or mood boards, they’re essentially a way to visualize what you’re most interested in right now in your life. I find them to be an incredible way to get in touch with my subconscious and cut through all the “this is what I SHOULD be doing,” and figure out what I actually want/need right now.

Sometimes vision boards are all about the distant future, but they can also be helpful to assess the right now. Some years, my boards have been about figuring out the years ahead and some years (like my most recent board) have been about making plans (or staying on course) for what I want to do in the coming months.

Here’s how to get started:

  1. Get yourself a large piece of foam core. I prefer foam core to something thinner, but any flat piece of cardboard or presentation board (even cork board) will work.
  2. Gather a large selection of printed matter that you’re okay with recycling when you’re done. I like to collect old catalogs, magazines, newspapers and use them as source material. But you can also pull from anything else lying around. I even cut the side off of a cardboard salt box one time because I liked the pattern. The sky is the limit when it comes to source materials — even fabrics would be fun to pin or glue on.
  3. Pick up a pair of scissors, a few glue sticks and thumbtacks. The thumbtacks are for organizing your images together in the initial step and the glue is for finalizing the images in place.

The process:

  1. The basic concept is to cut any imagery/text from printed matter that appeals to you (any strong emotional reaction will do!) and to collage them in a way that feels pleasing to your eye/mind/heart. I like to plunk down on the floor and pull things out one by one and gather them in a big stack until I’ve gone through all my printed matter (you can always print things off the Internet or your Pinterest boards, too!).
  2. Once I’ve torn everything out, I like to go through the pile again and cut things neatly with scissors to focus on the words/pattern/colors I’m most drawn to.
  3. Next, I like to start with the image I’m most drawn to and place it in the center of the board. Then I start forming relationships between images and laying them next to each other. Don’t glue at this stage yet, unless you feel strongly about the image and its placement. I like to use push pins here to keep things in place. (Tip: Don’t do any of this in front of a fan like I did this year — you’ll lose it all in one quick woosh).
  4. Continue placing items/images until you’ve added all of the images you want. It’s okay to leave some out or to add/embellish images and text any way you like! Sometimes I like to add something written or draw in the space between images on the board.
  5. Once you like your placement, I like to take a picture to document this phase and make note of where everything is. Then I start gluing them down until they’re all in place.
  6. Then step back, admire your work and start seeing if you can find some of the bigger themes or messages. They may be about family, kids, work, finding your voice, changing your personal style, etc. Make notes without judgement. Then hand your board to someone you love and trust and see what they might see that you miss.


  1. My biggest tip has to do with the “picking/selecting” phase in the beginning. Don’t go in with any preconceived notions. Oftentimes, when I go in with the idea that I want this board to answer some big life questions for me, it will end up being all about work. Or if I focus too much on work, I end up picking images that I think will speak to what I want to see. The key is to grab images that you respond to strongly, without overthinking or judging it. Those strong feelings will make themselves clear when you start arranging. But if you pick things you think you should pick (ie: as a woman in business I always feel like I should pick words like “power” and “strength,” even if I’m not drawn toward them), you’ll end up with a board that is more about what you think other people think your board should say, versus what you really want it to say.
  2. Document the phases with photos. Sometimes the way I arrange things in the pushpin/placement phase is different than how it comes together when I start gluing them down. I learn a lot about myself in that moment and it’s valuable to get a picture of each stage to see what’s changed and, maybe, why.
  3. Always run your board by someone else you trust. I find that people I know and love sometimes see things and connections I don’t.
  4. Be aware of mini-themes within your board. My boards always end up having a central theme in the middle and then smaller mini-themes in different areas of the board that have to do with health, family, etc. Those mini-themes are important to assess, too.
  5. Have fun with it! There’s no grading happening, so don’t worry if yours is neat, pretty, messy or anything. Just trust your gut and you’ll end up with something that really speaks to you.

from Design*Sponge http://www.designsponge.com/2016/12/inspiration-boards-the-why-how.html

Holiday DIY: Hanging Danish Bells


I am so excited about the holidays this year! I’ve been menu planning and making all sorts of cutesy crafts in my signature bright patterns and old school touch. Had I not gone to art and then business school, I’m pretty sure there would be a kindergarten class with my name on the door. Drop the trendy-tiny-lights-in-a-vase idea, and let’s get super crafty with one of my favorite paper and fabric DIYs.

These Hanging Danish Bells are the perfect combination of quick and cute, especially when you pick out some of your favorite fabric to add to the project! And you won’t believe how easy it is to make a lot of them for a full-on installation effect for any occasion, really — just adjust your fabric and color choices and you’re good to go.

I’m a big peppermint and candy cane fan, so I went a little wild with my modern take on the stripe motif with bright red chevron fabric, offset with a classic red cotton. I tend to keep my holiday vignettes monochrome, with a little red here and a little green there. Tomorrow’s holiday DIY will feature polka-dots and green and a giveaway, so check back in tomorrow at 11 am.

Let’s get started! Click through for the full instructions! –Caitlin

*This post is brought to you in collaboration with Waverly Inspirations. This project, ideas, and words are from us here at D*S and were created by us,  for you and your family. Thanks for supporting our sponsors that help us create and publish original content like this. The Waverly Inspirations collection is available at Walmart.



  • Fabric
  • Lightweight Poster Board
  • Glue Gun
  • Scissors
  • All-Purpose Glue
  • Ribbon, String, Yarn
  • A Round Object to Trace (I used a small side dish bowl for my small bells and a large pot lid for the large bells.)


Step 1: Trace the circle shape of your round object on the poster board.

Step 2: Cut your fabric square to fit over the entire poster board square. Flip the board over so that your traced circle is not covered by the fabric you glue onto the board. Cover the blank side with all-purpose glue and smooth with your finger or paint brush so that it covers the surface of the board evenly. Let dry.

Step 3: When the glue is dry and the fabric is fused with the board, cut out the circle you traced.

Step 4: Cut a wedge shape out of the fabric-covered board, making sure the point of the wedge is in the center of the circle. (If you want to be super precise, you can bend the circle in quarters and use a marker to mark the center of the circle.)


Step 5: Cut the length of string that your bells will hang on based on the height of your ceiling or hook that you will hang them from/on, and 2″ of string in between each bell. Take your length of string and tie a knot that your top bell will sit on. The knot will keep it in place. In the photo above, the knot is just underneath the center of the circle. Keep the string in that place and add glue from your glue gun down one edge of the circle’s cutout.


Step 6: Once your hot glue is placed, close the cutout by placing the side of the board with no glue on top of the hot glue side. Hold to secure for a few moments while the hot glue dries. You can see the knot that the bell sits on from the underside in the image above.


Step 7: Once the hot glue is dry, pull the string up so that the knot is at the top of the bell shape. You’ll see how your first bell will hang and rest on the knot.

Step 8: Measure approximately 2″ from your first bell’s knot and tie a second knot. This is the knot that your second bell will rest upon. Place the second bell on top of and around the knot, grab your glue gun and glue the second bell. Repeat this for your third bell.


Above and below, you see all three fabric bells resting on top of their knots from the underside and top side.


Step 9: Your Danish bells are ready to hang! You can trim off the excess string at the end of the bottom bell or leave a little length and attach something festive. I hot glued on some crinoline pom-poms I had in my craft box.



from Design*Sponge http://www.designsponge.com/2016/12/diy-danish-bells.html