A Q&A with Paul Lowe of Sweet Paul Magazine

 

How do you find inspiration in your daily life? What’s your most surprising source of inspiration?  
Inspiration can come from so many different places—a smell, a taste, or a color. Window-shopping is a great source for me. If I have a really big idea or tough problem, I think best in the bathtub. A soak in the tub never fails to help me think things through. It’s also why I always keep a notebook and pen beside my bath.

What are you most looking forward to this spring? Are there special things you do to get your home ready for the new season?
Some warm temperatures! I’m not a big fan of the cold. My friends always say to me "Oh, Paul, you’re from Norway. You must love snow and cold.” I don't. I’m a bad Norwegian! I was NOT born with skis on my feet and can't even ice skate! You can imagine my delight when the weather warms up and the snow melts. 

However, spring brings that revealing sunlight. I look around and see the dirt and grime from the long winter. Everything just screams, “CLEAN ME!” I’m not the biggest fan of cleaning the house, but I don’t mind doing spring-cleaning. It’s such a reboot and refresh for everything.

A few tips:

  • Good music. Put on some loud and high-tempo music—it really helps.
  • Don't over do it. Take on one room at a time. Rome was not built in a day.
  • Treat yourself. Let's face it, everything (even cleaning) is better with a few rewards or indulgences.

What homemaking habit would you consider your biggest strength?
No matter where I live, I’m always able to make a home that’s cozy and inviting for me, guests, and loved ones. I can also make some mean cocktails!

Which room in your home is your favorite?
I love my bedroom. Mainly because I like to spend time in my king-size bed. My favorite time of the week is Sunday morning when I’m in bed drinking coffee and hanging out with my family, with the Sunday papers scattered everywhere.

Share your best piece of no-nonsense advice with us.
Don't strive to be perfect! No one is perfect and it’s not important. The important thing is that you love and are loved.

Please answer this sentence: The one sign that tells me spring is finally here is…
The first day when the air starts to feel a little warmer. You can smell the cold retreating and a hint of spring flowers.

How have friends and family in your native Norway responded to Sweet Paul? Are there recipes or home décor ideas that are more/less popular here in the States than in Norway?
They love it! There is actually a Norwegian edition of the magazine sold there. The funny thing is that all of the classic Norwegian food and traditions are making a big comeback in Norway right now. I’m delighted that my friends in the US are getting to discover Norwegian culture for the first time, and that my friends from home are welcoming Norwegian recipes from the past back into their lives.

What’s the one food/dish that takes you back to your childhood?
Anything with salmon or smoked fish and my Mormor's (Norwegian for “grandmother”) pancakes. Her pancakes were wonderfully thin with no sugar in the batter. We would roll them up with fresh blueberry jam in the middle. It’s my ultimate food memory.

If you had unlimited time and budget, what would be your ultimate DIY project?
I would love to learn how to weave on a giant loom so I could make some huge wall hangings and linens. Sometimes I know exactly what I want to purchase but can’t seem to find it. I just know I could create really beautiful things myself.

Which Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day product scent could you not live without?
The whole Basil scented product line is the KING of my kitchen. I use it every single day. I’m not kidding when I say that people often comment on how wonderful my kitchen smells. I know for myself how clean it is, too!

Share a little love this Valentine’s Day

Make no mistake – we love flowers. But when it comes to Valentine’s Day, it’s nice to show you care with something you’ve made with your own two hands. That’s why we love these simple DIYs. They’re great for making with your little ones and sharing with your loved ones. And unlike even the prettiest bouquet, they’ll have a lasting presence in your home.

Love Night Light
This is a perfect project to make with kids. Everyone can choose their own shape or message, so there’s tons of room for creativity. And what shows your love more than a little light that just might help chase nightmares away?

Color-Dipped Bowls
This easy DIY makes plain-old bowls bright and modern. For a fun Valentine’s Day gift, use colors like pink and red. You could even paint a little heart above the dipped base. Then fill with candy or other treats to make a mini gift basket!

Scented Bath Salts
These bath salts make a great gift for anyone who could use a little rest and relaxation. Go with one essential oil or create your own blend for a personal touch. For a complete spa experience, gift your bath salts along with a Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Scented Soy Candle.

Meet the designers behind our DIYs

We’re always looking for new ways to get inspired at home. So we asked three DIY masters to create projects for every room in the house. Learn a little about these inspiring designers, then go find a project that inspires you!

Grace founded the blog Design*Sponge in 2004 and went on to write the best-selling book Design*Sponge at Home. When she’s not writing about design, she’s supporting the design community – from establishing a scholarship for young designers to starting the Biz Ladies series, which helps support and grow creative businesses. Check out her DIYs for Color-Dipped Bowls and Scented Bath Salts among other delights!

Maxwell is an interior designer, an author, and founder of Apartment Therapy and The Kitchn. Launched as a single design blog in 2004, the lifestyle websites are dedicated to helping people make their homes more beautiful, joyful and healthy. See how Maxwell made Lace Doily Bowls and a Shelf-Top Ironing Board.

Obsessed with cooking, crafting and decorating, Paul transformed a simple blog about his work as a food and prop stylist into Sweet Paul Magazine. All about homemade, handmade and “chasing the sweet things in life,” Paul combines easy recipes, elegant ideas and a one-of-a-kind style to celebrate life’s everyday occasions. Try making his Mason Jar Caddy or Vintage Pie Tin Stand.

 

Want to see more from Grace, Maxwell and Paul? Explore all of the projects they created for us, and find one – or twenty! – to create for your own home.

A Q&A With Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge

How do find inspiration in your daily life? And what’s your most surprising source of inspiration?
I find inspiration in everyday objects around me. Food packaging, tile patterns, old rugs at a thrift store- anything can be a jumping off point for a project at home. I think my favorite unexpected source of design inspiration is floral design. I use the color palettes in great flower arrangements as inspiration for paint colors at home.

 What are you most looking forward to this holiday season?
I’m most excited for those moments after we open gifts and eat holiday meals. I spend all year looking forward to those conversations over the dinner table and around the fire catching up on what everyone’s been doing throughout the year. Those laughs and moments are better than any present.

What homemaking habit would you consider your biggest strength?
After moving around between 7 apartments in 11 years of living in Brooklyn, NY, I learned to live minimally. Cleaning and organizing are lot easier when you’re not sorting through piles of too many things. I keep as much as possible off of surfaces so I can do a quick clean every view days.

Which room in your home is your favorite?
I spend the most time in our living room, but our dining room is my favorite room. We have a 12 foot table that used to be my wife’s family’s Passover table. My favorite nights are those spent around the table talking with friends and sharing great food.

Share your best piece of no-nonsense advice with us.
Do the dishes and a quick 5 minutes of tidying before you go to bed. I only recently came around to this (I procrastinate most at nighttime) but now that I’ve gotten in the swing of things I’ve realized how much waking up to a clean house can set the tone of the rest of your day.

Please answer this sentence: On a cold winter day, I can be found…
Curled up on the couch with our pets and working away on my blog. It feels luxurious to be able to stay inside and work, rather than having to commute to an office in the city.

Why do you think there’s been a resurgence of interest in homemaking?
I think the online generation has translated more traditional magazine tips and advice into something more relatable and less driven by perfection. Blogs, Pinterest and social media celebrate do-it- yourself ideas that everyone can chip in and help with and it’s that simplicity that’s helped homemaking catch on with a wider and younger audience.

Speaking of homemaking, what’s the one household task you most love to do? And what’s the one you’re most likely to put off doing?
I am the queen of a power clean. Give me 30 minutes and I’ll give you a house that looks neat and clean. It’s the deep cleaning I avoid though. Cleaning corners, getting under the sofa- all those down and dirty details are my least favorite.

If you had unlimited time and budget, what would be your ultimate DIY project?
I’d love to create a focal point wall or hallway decorated entirely of leaves. I was really inspired by the leaf wall Ariele Alasko (a Brooklyn-based woodworker) made in her home and have wanted to recreate something similar with dried oak leaves in my own apartment.

Which Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day scent could you not live without?
Iowa Pine. My co-worker Max and I both collect it during the holiday season. Anything that reminds me of a forest makes me feel like my home is that much closer to nature.

Sweet Paul’s Orange and Cranberry Cake

See the original recipe and more inspiration from Sweet Paul here.

Serves 8 
3/4 cup dried cranberries 
3/4 cup dried apricots, coarsely chopped 
1 cup orange juice 
1 1/2 stick (150g) butter, softened 
1 cup sugar 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
4 large eggs 
2 cups plain flour 
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk 
grated zest of 1 orange 
powdered sugar 
water

  1. Heat oven to 350F, 180C.
  2. Place cranberries, apricots and orange juice in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  3. Let mixture simmer until almost all the orange juice is gone.
  4. Cool.
  5. Beat butter and sugar until light and creamy.
  6. Add vanilla and the eggs, one at a time.
  7. Add flour and baking powder, stir well.
  8. Stir in the milk and the cranberry/apricot mixture.
  9. Spoon the batter into a buttered bundt pan.
  10. Bake for about 45-50 minutes, or until set.
  11. Cool and turn the cake over on a large platter.
  12. Mix powdered sugar and water to a frosting and pour it over the cake.
  13. Sprinkle with orange zest and serve.

Bring the sweet scent of Cranberry into your home year-round with a Soy Candle Tin.