Roast Chicken with Sumac and Red Onions Giveaway

One of the fantastic things about editing this column over the years has been seeing the different ways people prepare the same ingredient. We have featured chicken dishes quite a few times because no matter how the spices, herbs, and form may change, it has always proven to be a simple dish to prepare — and when done well, also memorable. Curious about Palestinian food, when I learned about Zaitoun: Recipes from the Palestinian Kitchen by author, broadcaster, and cook, Yasmin Khan, I ran out instantly and purchased a copy. This photo accompanying her recipe for Mussakhan (roast chicken with sumac and red onions) jumped out at me (unfortunately not literally!), and I knew it was the recipe we would publish this week. I love that it is served on a platter, on top of Arabic taboon bread for all to share, rather than portioned for each individual. —Kristina

Yasmin Khan is a best-selling author, broadcaster and cook who is passionate about sharing people’s stories through food. Yasmin is a regular media commentator having appeared on many flagship news programs such as Channel 4 News, Newsnight, BBC R4’s Today program and Women’s Hour and NPR’s Morning Edition. She has worked as a radio presenter for BBC R4’s Food Programme and as a host on the CNN/Roads and Kingdoms travel series “The Perfect Dish” with Anthony Bourdain. Her writing has been published in the Guardian, the Observer, the Independent, the Telegraph, Saveur, Roads and Kingdoms, AFAR and Food52, amongst others. Her debut cookbook was The Saffron Tales: Recipes From the Persian Kitchen. Find Yasmin on Instagram @yasminkhanstories, Twitter @yasmin_khan and Facebook @YasminKhanStories.

For a chance to win a copy of Zaitoun, respond in the comments section below by August 8, 5PM EST to either of the following questions: What has been your most memorable shared meal? or What is your favorite way to prepare chicken?  As always, we need details because we love imagining we were there with you, or are tasting the good food you describe. We will announce the winner in the comments section, so be sure to check back!

Image above: Zaitoun; Photography by Matt Russell

Image above: Yasmin Khan

Image above: Palestinian feast

Image above: Mussakhan (Roast chicken with sumac and red onions)

Before amp After Enlisting Expertise to Transform An 1800s Row Home

Design*Sponge | Enlisting Expertise to Transform an 1800s Row Home

Merging old and new is never an easy task. First of all, it’s hard to know what condition spaces are really in when buying a fixer-upper. Secondly, there’s a skill to designing in a way that updates a home with modern style while showing off the original, timeless character. And thirdly, the know-how to do any of that doesn’t come without experience or at least guidance. Getting it right takes a lot of planning and patience.

In 2013, Chris and Claudia Beiler transformed the attic space of an 1800s home into an apartment for them to live in. The process taught them a lot about renovating, design and working together. The Chris & Claude Co. launched in 2015 and the couple now helps people buy and renovate homes. They were enlisted by Hailey and Jeremie Patrick to do just that. Hailey and Jeremie wanted to find and renovate an older home, but they also didn’t want to go in blindly. “We chose our home with the help of The Chris & Claude Co., which was great because we knew we wanted a fixer-upper and we knew how much we wanted to spend when it was all said and done, but honestly had no clue what to look for or how to go about the process,” Hailey says. “We ended up looking at quite a few houses all over the city. The one we finally chose was the perfect combination of ‘good bones,’ a nice location, and the right price. Structurally it was in great condition, which meant lots of opportunity for cool renovations.” The Patricks found an 1898 row home in Lancaster City, PA with all of the potential and space they were looking for.

With the homeowners’ modern taste and the hidden charm under a century of updates, the two couples transformed the look of the 3-story house. “Our home was built back in the late 1800s. During the renovation phase we discovered different things here and there that pointed to the age of the home and all the life that had been lived here for years and years before — like old newspapers glued to the attic floor under the carpet and a date written on the old wallpaper that was covered up by pink chipping paint. There were also a couple items original to the house that were still in working condition, like the old clawfoot tub that we refinished in the second-floor bathroom and an old key that still opens up one of the original doors. It’s a special little place,” Hailey shares. “I don’t know that the history has directed the design other than incorporating what we could back into the new design. I love that we could save different parts of the house. The doors, floors, exposed brick and original tub all add character to the new counters, cabinets, and lighting. A perfect mix of new and old.”

The first level was completely opened up to be one large space housing the kitchen, living and dining room. The second level wasn’t renovated much as the layout worked for the spare bedrooms and bathrooms. The unfinished attic was turned into a complete main bedroom and bathroom suite. Chris and Claudia were with the Patricks through the sale, the design and the renovation of the house — making sure that the space could reach its full potential. From there, it was up to Hailey and Jeremie to make the house feel like home. “Learning to find my style and then pick the pieces that align has been a process — one that will most likely always be shifting and changing. We are nowhere near done with decorating and so the biggest thing I learned — still learning, to be honest — is that it does not all have to be done at once even though I want it all done at once,” Hailey says.

The house looks nothing like it did when the four found it. Having Chris and Claudia advocate for what could be, Hailey and Jeremie now live in a beautiful, unique house that really feels like them. —Lauren

Photography by Julia Wanner

Laurens Spare Room Makeover The Reveal


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Author’s Note: We’re excited to bring you this post with Behr, who kindly sponsored this project! All words and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting our sponsors who help us bring you free and original content like this daily.

When my husband, Austin, and I moved into our house, we started on several projects right away. Within the first 2 months of living here, 6 of our rooms were majorly overhauled. The spare room was given a quick coat of paint to hide the electric blue but it was our dump room where miscellaneous furniture, objects and files ended up. As we continued to work on the rest of the house, we tried our best to avoid the spare room. With a new baby, both of us working from home and the other, more prominent areas of the house all needing our attention, the large bedroom was ignored.

Once we started thinking of the room as more than just a catch-all or a place for guests, I started imagining how pretty it could be with some TLC. I began to realize how much we’d been missing out. For now it will be my office space/guest room and in the future it will be a kids’ room.

Behr Marquee® Paint  was definitely the most transformative element in the space. It went from streaky walls and dingy trim to a space that feels brand new with a fresh coat of paint.

I wanted to try new ideas out in this room—like colorful trim and a painterly design—and I love the result. I had so many beautiful color choices to choose from within the Behr Marquee Paint line. While my final color palette is still fairly neutral, it’s definitely not boring. The Creamy Mushroom trim, ceiling and brushstroke pattern have a playful feel without being too much.

I do love that the closet is bold and pretty in Breezeway. It adds a quirky fun-factor that makes me smile when I open the closet door.

Because the paint made the space feel easy to transform from office to kids’ space, I was inspired to find furniture that could do the same—the drawers I use for file storage now will be used as dressers later and the daybed is actually stacked twin beds that can create a king size bed for guests or two twin beds for kids.

One of the finishing touches to the space was a wooden picture frame I had thrifted a few months ago that was collecting dust in the basement. I gave it new life and a new purpose with Behr® Chalk Decorative Paint in Cockleshell.

It’s pretty incredible what paint can do. It feels like our house just grew 200 square feet — 200 very inspiring square feet. —Lauren

This is the last post in a series of 5 where I’ve shared my color selection process from the Behr line-up of colors and my room’s new design along with the final palette chosen. I hope you’ve enjoyed following us on our painting journey. We’re grateful for our sponsor, Behr, for funding this series and makeover. Thank you for supporting our sponsor who helps us bring you free and original content like this every weekday. You can see Post 1 of this series here, Post 2 here, Post 3 here and Post 4 here.


What Bird Watching Taught Me About Life Work

Eastern Phoebe Painting by Shauna Finn Art at Etsy

Over the past few months, I’ve been trying to slow down, be present, and really take in all of the complicated feelings that arise when you close a very big chapter in your life. I’ve been through some major life changes over the past 10 years and through each of them, I rushed. I put my head down, worked through them like a freight train, and never really let myself feel any of them. But with the closing of Design*Sponge, I wanted things to be different. I wanted to pay attention to all of the things I was experiencing and remember them. And if one thing has helped me do that this time around it’s the family of Eastern Phoebe birds that have taken up residence on our patio fan.

It wasn’t long ago that I read an article by Emily Busse about how bird watching helped ease her anxiety. I made a mental note and started taking more time to pay attention to the birds in our yard. Then one day, Julia and I noticed mud splatters above our (unused) fan on the patio. A bird was building a nest on the fan blade. I was terrified, but after some quick research I realized it was fairly common. And as long as we didn’t use the fan (I used duct tape to hold it in place so it wouldn’t spin in the wind), the family and their nest would be fine.

Eastern Phoebe Watercolor by Joy Neasley Studios at Etsy

Over the past two months, I’ve gone from being a casual bird watcher to an avid documenter of nest behavior (I even registered our nest with the Cornell Nest Watch program). I like to think of myself as the official president of the Eastern Phoebe bird fan club. I’ve watched this tiny family of birds lay an entire clutch of eggs that failed to hatch, try again, and now succeed with a beautiful new nestling that I’ve been keeping a close eye on with not one but two pairs of bird binoculars (one records video, one does not). As I write this, I’m taking breaks to pick up my binoculars and watch the parents feed the baby an assortment of freshly-caught flies, moths, and other winged insects. This simple act of slowing down, paying close attention, and taking notes has helped me stay in touch with my feelings and a greater sense of overall perspective. So here’s what I’ve learned from these beautiful birds about life and work so far:

  1. Have Hope: When I first started watching the Phoebes make their nest on the fan blade, I thought for sure they were goners. Not because we were going to ever turn the fan on, but because it seemed like one good gust of wind would send their nest and the eggs flying off the blade. And while I researched nest locations and learned this spot wasn’t impossible to make work, I had my doubts. But watching them survive two rounds of egg laying and multiple storms, I’ve learned that sometimes you just have to take a deep breath, hope for the best, and see what happens.
  2. Not Everything Will Work Out, But That’s Okay: Our Phoebes had a first clutch of four eggs after they made their nest. I documented them for the nest program and then waited… and waited. But nothing happened. It seemed like they should have hatched after a few weeks, so I checked again (consulting the Cornell Nest Watch Guidelines) and there were… different eggs. They were still Phoebe eggs, but there were only three now, and they were smaller. I asked some local bird experts for their opinion and they told me that most likely the first clutch of eggs wasn’t viable, so they laid new ones. Nature knows when things aren’t working out and just goes ahead and tries again. With cautious optimism I waited and now… they have a baby nestling! I don’t think all three eggs survived to hatch, but I’ve been watching their first nestling bob around the nest and find its voice and it’s been such a sweet reminder that life always finds a way, it just may not be how you planned it in the beginning.

Images above, clockwise from top left: The Phoebe nest on our fan blade. The second clutch of eggs she laid. The baby nestling poking its soft little head and beak out of the nest.

  1. Pay Attention to the Small Things: When I first started watching the nest, I learned how to recognize the Phoebe’s calls (I watched so many Phoebe videos on Youtube) and tell them apart from other birds’ calls. That little lesson led to me researching other local bird calls and now when I wake up in the morning, I don’t start my day with political podcasts. Instead, I listen to bird calls from my bathroom window and try to see which of the birds I can identify and see. Then I think about how each of them spends their day. A few days into this new routine, I found myself happier, calmer, and less distracted by devices and online drama. Just listening to these small chirps, chips, and cheeps made me so thankful for tiny sounds and tiny moments of joy. I had been chasing these small moments of joy in the form of comments and “likes” on social media, but I actually found them in nature instead.
  2. Become a Beginner Again: When I first started watching birds, I knew nothing about them. Like, nothing. I couldn’t tell a Chickadee from a Phoebe or a Starling from a Warbler. I didn’t know the terms for anything or how to tell one call from another. So I started learning again, from the bottom. I ordered a bunch of books, read up, watched a million videos on Youtube and found myself in that giddy early stage of learning again where everything is new and everything is exciting and totally foreign to you. I forgot how FUN that is. It’s so easy to get settled in our identities after doing the same thing for 15 years. I thought of myself as a blogger who liked the internet and TV and being indoors most of the day. And while that’s still pretty true, getting into bird watching has reminded me that I can (and do) have new interests that I wouldn’t have expected at first. And learning something new about myself has made me feel a different type of confidence I didn’t know I needed.
  3. Asking for and Accepting Help is Part of Life: Watching this tiny nestling Phoebe be so helpless in its nest has been an important reminder that there will be stages of every being’s life where you need to rely, lean, or depend on someone or something else. I see how the parent Phoebes dote on their nestling and feed it, fluff it, and nudge it. They even carry its waste out of the nest multiple times a day (see 2:02) to keep things clean. Humans can do the same for each other and it’s a beautiful thing to be a part of, on both ends of the equation. Taking care and giving help to someone— or being on the receiving end of that— is such a gift and is a beautiful example of how giving and accepting help when we need it is part of life.

No matter where you live, there is usually some type of bird life to watch, admire and learn from. I can’t recommend this hobby more highly. It’s relatively low cost (you can find used binoculars online for a good price, and many new ones at a low price, too) and it gives back so much in terms of life lessons and serenity. If you want to get started, here are some of the resources I’ve been using to learn more. Happy bird watching! xo, Grace


Dramatic Phoebe on the sofa by Vivienne Strauss at Etsy



An Unconventional View of the Taj. India Illustrated. Ca. 1905. Taj Mahal Agra, India. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries Public Domain.

An Unconventional View of the Taj. India Illustrated. Ca. 1905. Taj Mahal (Agra, India). Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries (Public Domain).

The Taj Mahal at Agra

The Taj Mahal at Agra

19 Fascinating Photos From History With Even More Fascinating Stories To Tell What makes old historical photos so interesting are the stories behind each photo. They even take us into another world wrapped in intrigue, wonder and sometimes, the unknown. This is the earliest known photograph of the Taj Mahal, for number.

19 Fascinating Photos From History With Even More Fascinating Stories To Tell What makes old historical photos so interesting are the stories behind each photo. They even take us into another world wrapped in intrigue, wonder and sometimes, the unknown. This is the earliest known photograph of the Taj Mahal, c. 1850-1860.

– Taj Mahal .tcc

– Taj Mahal ./tcc/

I love this vintage photograph of the majestic Taj Mahal. Only seen it once, but it039s definitely on the list for a second and perhaps a third visit in the future tajmahal The Maharani Diaries

I love this vintage photograph of the majestic Taj Mahal. Only seen it once, but it’s definitely on the list for a second and perhaps a third visit in the future! #tajmahal | The Maharani Diaries