Nov
14

For Love of Cats

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This girl right here is my 15-year-old, essentially a high school freshman. She came into my life during an especially tough time, my sophomore year of college when I was going through difficult bouts of anxiety and depression. Roxy was like liquid Xanax for my life, she was six weeks old and weighed 1.1 lbs when I adopted her and we’ve been through so much. (Right down to a big surgery she had two Decembers ago for a chronic issue called megacolon.) She’s feisty to the core and loves me unconditionally as only a pet can.

 

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Just over a year later this big love muffin came along. Peanut had been found abandoned, trapped inside a covered litter box with the opening taped shut and no hope for escape. When I heard that my vet was looking for a home for him I signed on, sight unseen. He had the biggest pink nose, the tip of his tail was broken, and patches of fur were missing from his fight to escape the litter box he’d been trapped in. And it was love at first sight! Peanut is the biggest teddybear (20 lbs at one point, now down to 15 lbs) and the guy I cuddle with every night before bed. As I always whisper in his ear, we were meant to be!

 

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After the May 2013 tornadoes in Oklahoma I signed up to foster eight 2-month old kittens. (One of the two litters was actually discovered in a collapsed elementary school under piles of debris.) It took a few months to get them all healthy and adopted, and this girl – Rainey – was the last in my home. She was nearly feral when we began our journey and still prefers lots of alone time, but has also learned the joys of a good cuddle session. And after all she’d been through, and how comfortable she eventually became in my home, I knew there was no way she was going anywhere anytime soon.

 

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I’m a believer in spoiling my pets, but when the holidays roll around there’s all the more reason to spread the love. Fancy Feast likes to refer to this time of year as Feastivities and this year they’re teaming up with Refinery29 to curate their 2014 Gift Guide, a collection of wow-worthy items to dazzles cats and their owners alike. The star item is the 31st annual Fancy Feast ornament, each one is crafted by hand from the folks at JJ Potts and all proceeds go directly to AdoptAPet.com. I can’t wait to order one for myself and all of the other cat lovers in my life!

 

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If you’re in New York City you can visit Fancy Feast at Refinery29′s Tinseltown holiday bazaar December 13th and 14th and see the gift guide come to life.  From the real ingredients in Fancy Feast Broth, to the carefully-crafted holiday ornament and the hand-picked items in this year’s Feastivities Gift Guide, Feastivities is the perfect way to wow cats and cat lovers alike this holiday season!

Disclaimer: I received compensation for this post, however all words and opinions are my own as always. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep Design Crush’s content fresh!

Nov
13

Making Dessert Count: Dense Bittersweet Chocolate Cake

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Dessert is a big part of the holidays, in fact I think it’s a big part of any successful get together. It’s the time when it’s okay to indulge a little and let the conversation flow. Some of my favorite times have been spent gathered around a table – dining or coffee – with friends and family at the end of a delicious meal. So when Target asked me to share just what makes holiday entertaining special – that sweet finish worth lingering over – I couldn’t resist.

 

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To me dessert isn’t just about what’s on the plates, it’s just as much about the ambiance. You want to create a relaxed atmosphere that makes your guests feel comfortable and happy. In my home that means lowered lights, candles, and quiet music in the background that doesn’t overshadow the conversation.

 

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This is one of my favorite holiday desserts that’s a year round classic doesn’t say “holiday” at all. (But no fear, it can easily be dressed up with some whipped cream and red berries to make it so!) I prefer to serve this Dense Bittersweet Chocolate Cake with a dusting of powdered sugar and coffee. A thin slice is all that’s needed, and it isn’t the sort of sweet that can’t be eaten quickly, it’s meant to be savored – inviting the conversation that makes the holidays so wonderful. . These mercury glass plates spotlight the not too sweet slices quite nicely, while a gold charger easily doubles as a serving plate for the cake itself. My favorite mood lighting continues to be tea lights, they’re so easy and sparkly set in a few small frosted gold mason jars. Hours of talking and memories await!

 

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Dense Bittersweet Chocolate Cake
serves 10

Ingredients
• 12 oz fine bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped
• 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 C) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
• 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
• 1/4 tsp salt
• 3/4 C sugar
• 5 large eggs, separated and brought to room temperature
• 3/4 C flour

Place oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and line bottom with a round of parchment or wax paper, then butter paper.

Melt chocolate and butter in a large (microwave-safe) bowl in the microwave set at 50% power for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring once every 60 seconds. Cool completely. Whisk in vanilla, salt, and 6 tablespoons sugar. Add yolks 1 at a time, whisking well after each addition. Whisk in flour.

Beat whites with a pinch of salt in a bowl using an electric mixer at medium-high speed until they hold soft peaks, then add remaining 6 tablespoons sugar a tablespoon at a time, and continue to beat until whites hold stiff glossy peaks.

Whisk one fourth of whites into chocolate mixture, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly. Pour batter into springform pan and spread evenly.

Bake until a toothpick or skewer inserted into cake center comes out with moist crumbs attached, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Cool cake in pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then remove side of pan and cool cake completely. Invert cake onto rack and remove bottom of pan, discarding paper, then invert cake onto a plate. Enjoy!

This post is sponsored by Target. Shop Home Décor for modern luxury made easy.

Disclaimer: This post sponsored by Target. All words and opinions are my own as always. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep our content fresh!

Nov
10

Win It: Lulu & Georgia

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Today I’m finally sharing a small part of my new home with you! I’ve been eagerly awaiting this day for a few months. Today it’s just a tiny slice, but starting in a few weeks we’ll be moving on to the entire first floor (I hope you’re half as ready to see it as I am to share.)

 

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So yes, this is clearly the kitchen. Well, about half of it really. I’m going to save the what I love I love/what I hate/what I’ve done/what’s left do rant for the full post on the room, but one of my very favorite parts is this incredible set of Edith bar chairs. They’re easy on the eyes as well as the rear with a generous seat and slim cushion. I’ve never had an island or breakfast bar in any previous kitchen, so I was really excited to find these guys over on Lula & Georgia. They’re perfect for the mid-century vibe that I love and aim for in most of my decor and I know they’ll be a part of my kitchen for years to come.

 

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I’m also eyeballing the Henry Vase, Taman Lamp, Rizzo Bench, Ombre Moroccan Rug, and Monica Minimalist Side Table for my home as I figure out what I still need to complete a few of the other rooms.

So I’m about to get to the good part here… which is that you have the chance to win $100 to spend at Lulu & Georgia! Maybe you’re looking for a new throw to keep warm this winter or want to put it towards something larger like a piece of furniture. Whatever you the case, good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Nov
03

Hassle-Free Cocktails with VitaFrute + a Giveaway

It’s been a few months since I’ve shared any recipes, so I’m here to make up for it four-fold with a fantastic quartet of cocktails. I promise you every last one is delicious and the most complicated of the bunch includes only three ingredients. (Seriously!) The star of each recipe is one of VitaFrute‘s four organic ready-to-drink cocktails that allow you to step away from the bar cart and enjoy a hassle-free get together this holiday season!

 

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Lemonade + Prosecco

Serves 2

• 5 oz VitaFrute Lemonade
• 5 oz prosecco
• lemon

Pour 2.5 oz VitaFrute Lemonade and 2.5 oz prosecco into each of two coupes. Garnish with a thin slice of lemon and enjoy!

 

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Pear Nectar Margarita

Serves 2

• 10 oz VitaFrute Margarita
• 2 oz pear nectar
• pear
Pour 5 oz VitaFrute Margarita and 1 oz pear nectar into each of two cocktail glasses. Garnish with a slice of pear and a dash of ground ginger if you’re feeling adventurous.

 

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Apple Cider Cosmopolitan

Serves 2

• 6 oz VitaFrute Cosmopolitan
• 4 oz fresh apple cider
• orange

Pour 3 oz VitaFrute Cosmopolitan and 2 oz apple cider into each of two rocks glasses. Garnish with a slice of juicy orange.

 

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Coconut Colada Float

Serves 2

• 6 oz VitaFrute Coconut Colada
• 2 scoops vanilla ice cream
• coconut flakes

Scoop vanilla ice cream into two parfait glasses, then pour 3 oz Vitafrute Coconut Colada over each. Top with a sprinkle of coconut flakes, then add a spoon and straw to enjoy.

 

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VitaFrute is teaming up with Kitchensurfing to give away a $1,000 and $500 towards a Kitchensurfing feast to make this a hassle-free holiday season! Imagine hosting that perfect holiday party without raising a finger or someone else preparing Christmas dinner for your family while you all focus on spending time together. You have until December 12th to pop over and enter for a chance to make this your best holiday season yet!

Disclaimer: I received product and compensation from VEEV Spirits. All words, opinions, and recipes are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep Design Crush going!

Oct
09

David Kind

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In the past two years I’ve swapped out my contacts for glasses nearly every day of the week. My eyes feel so much better, look less bloodshot, and of course it doesn’t hurt that they’re on trend. As are mail order try-on and buy eyeglass services, like David Kind. The difference between them and other similar companies are that A. you are paired with a stylist who chooses six frames based on a photo you submit and your style preferences. And B. their Trivex/High Index HD Digital Lenses which offer crystal clear optics in the thinnest form.

 

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A few days later your at home try-ons arrive in this slick cork covered box that has a mirror inside. You have six days to make your decision, or David Kind will continue to work with you until you’re happy. Then once you place your order your new prescription shows up within a week. Nice, right?

 

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So you know where I’m going with this from the bevy of ridiculous faces and windswept hair above, yes? I had to try out David Kind for myself. My current frames aren’t quite the right prescription and I’m starting to notice. I went for my annual eye exam about two months ago, but held off on purchasing new frames at that time. My expert stylist, Laura, selected the Ace, Otto, Roman, Mia, Clover, and Richmond frames for me to try out. I’m torn between two, but I want to know what you all think – vote away below!

 

Disclaimer: I received product from David Kind in exchange for this post. All words and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep Design Crush creating great content!

Oct
07

A Reading Nook Reimagined

This post is sponsored by Target. Shop Home Decor for modern luxury made easy.

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In no particular order, three of my favorite things in life are reading, being cozy, and autumn. Luckily they go together perfectly, so this month I’ve teamed up once again with Target to create a reading nook that’s both chic and inviting. My recipe for a comfy little space like this one is one part knit, one part organic, and one part metallic.

 

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In this case, the knit comes in the form of an afghan my 90-year-old grandmother made for me as a housewarming gift; it’s gorgeous and the perfect weight for chilly fall evenings. A colorful bouquet of flowers adds the organic touch, brightening up the neutrals that are popular this season and adding color to autumn days that tend to be slightly overcast. The metallic comes into play by way of this gold wire and wood accent table that manages to warm up the entire space, even with its slim silhouette. (And what reading nook could possibly be complete without a steaming cup of tea?)

 

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Right now I’m in the process of finishing up The Vacationers, which has me and a few friends planning a trip to Greece and Turkey come spring 2016. I love how books have the ability to inspire real life adventures! What’s on your reading list at the moment?

 

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This post sponsored by Target.

Aug
05

One Desk, Three Ways


I love a solid piece of furniture that can do double (or triple!) duty in my home because I’m most definitely a re-arranger. So when Target invited me to choose an item from their revamped Room Essentials line to style three ways I was all in. More than one piece caught my eye, but I couldn’t stop thinking about this Parsons Desk and its clean lines and unmarked surface.

 

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The entry is a busy part of my home – it’s where I drop my bag, the mail, my keys, and whatever else I happen to be carrying when I traipse indoors. For that reason I like to keep it tidy, but pretty with a vase of fresh cut flowers, an accessory or two, and done.

 

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The office is the most obvious spot to place the Parsons Desk, but I can’t say enough about how it’s the perfect size for all I need it to hold. (I tend to get a little too cluttered when given more space than necessary.) My laptop, my planner, and some basic supplies leave me ready to work – or play online! – for hours.

 

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This last might just be my favorite – ever thought of using a small desk as a vanity in your bedroom? Me either until this one came along into my life. I can’t tell you how much nicer it feels to sit down here and put on my face, much better than sitting on the toilet lid and leaning over the bathroom counter! Dare I say it’s a luxury even?

How would you use the Parsons Desk in your own home?

 

This post is sponsored by Target. Shop Room Essentials to make modern life easier.

Jul
28

Design Crush: UGallery Guest Curator

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Because art is my bread and butter, I was completely thrilled when UGallery reached out and asked if I wanted to play guest curator for their online art gallery. YES, I replied without a second thought – nevermind that becoming a curator was a dream of mine before the reality of life set in. It was so much fun searching through all of the artists they carry, looking for just the right pieces. Here are five of my favorites, but you can see the entire collection of thirty here. (You can also check out UGallery’s other guest curators, I’m sure you’ll recognize a few!) These pieces and manymanymany more are all for sale should your walls look too barren.

 

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1. Gregor Hochmuth  2. Kimberly Poppe  3. Mark Elverson  4. Michael Wedge  5. Mark Yaggie

This post sponsored by UGallery. As always, all words and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep Design Crush going!

Jul
22

New Home Essentials


I have some great news – as of last Wednesday my home is under contract! I finally feel like I’m at the halfway point with this move, and now my fingers are crossed that I can find a new house in Pittsburgh to call my own in the very near future (and that both escrows go smoothly!). Of course now I’m busy thinking about how I might freshen up the yet-to-be-found place as I weed out what will be making the big move halfway across the country with me and what will be sold or go to a thrift shop.

 

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Lucky for me – and everyone else – Target‘s Room Essentials line has been given new life and is full of the pops of color and modern look I gravitate towards. It’s in stores and online beginning this month and I have big plans for some of it’s most affordable pieces. A pair of Corded Geo Toss Pillows would add some nice pattern to my slate colored couch, while this Storage Ottoman would be the perfect place to stash remotes and work detritus in the living room. I love the industrial look and feel of the Dipped Cement Mix and Match Lamp, a great option for any number of corners or tables. My old ottoman is one of the pieces that’s already been given away, but this grey Saddle Ottoman would fit right in and is just the right size for propping up my feet. I’m considering a pair of these Core Red Barstools to act as bedside tables – there’s just enough room for a lamp, a book, and my phone. And last but certainly not least, a new Welcome/Goodbye mat is in order for all of the visitors I’m hoping to entertain in my new space.

 


This post is sponsored by Target. Shop Room Essentials to make modern life easier.
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Jul
17

Mercantile Color Collection

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Colorhouse paint and Rejuvenation have teamed up to bring us the Mercantile Color Collection, a palette of 36 interior hues designed with the modern pioneer in mind. The line’s main inspiration is rooted in history, when quality home items used to be purchased in one general store and were made to last. Both Colorhouse and Rejuvenation create products whose quality, authenticity, and sustainability reflect the spirit of their shared birthplace – Portland, Oregon – and all of those characteristics are clearly present in the Mercantile Color Collection.

 

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I’m in love with the classic palette, and definitely daydreaming of using this collection in my next home. (I’m also daydreaming about this kitchen!) The 36 exclusive colors in Mercantile Color Collection are organized into six families named after traditional general store bulk items – CHALK (whites), TEA (warm neutrals), SEED (greens), DENIM (blues), FLINT (cool neutrals), and SPICE (yellows, reds, oranges).

 

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What’s not in the paint is just as important as what is. The Mercantile Collection is tinted in Colorhouse paint, which has no VOCs, no toxic fumes (HAPs-free), no reproductive toxins, no mutagens, no hazardous air pollutants, no ozone depleting compounds, no formaldehyde, no phthalates, and no chemical solvents. Colorhouse paints are low odor and boast superior coverage, durable finish, and easy cleanup in flat, eggshell, and semi-gloss sheens. All huge deals when it comes to what you’re putting on your walls. I’m looking forward to trying this line out for myself. And I have a feeling CHALK .01, FLINT .01, and FLINT .02 will be prevalent to my walls in a few months!

 

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This post sponsored by Colorhouse. All words and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands I love that help keep Design Crush going!