Nov
17

12 Advent Calendars

Advent calendars are one of my favorite parts of the holiday season. My mom started the tradition with me early and I’ve rarely missed a year. The paper variety that have the little door flaps that open to reveal a bit of a larger image or have a tiny piece of chocolate have always been my favorite, but I also love the idea of something more grand. Most of the ones I’ve included here are DIYs with a few for purchase thrown in for good measure. If you’d like to peek at roundups from years past – 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013.

 

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Click on each image to go to the project.
All photos copyright of their respective sites unless otherwise noted.

Nov
17

The Living Room + a Lamps.com Giveaway

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I posted a sneak peek of the kitchen last week, but this time it’s the real deal. I’m finally beginning to share how my new (old, built in 1900) house is shaping up. I think I’ve said before that I bought this home knowing that it was a flip, and fully expecting all of the weirdness/issues that normally accompany such a project. We’ve already done some updating to a few things – roof repairs, a plumbing issue, bringing outlets up to code, etc – and there are of course still things that need done and yet others I want to do aesthetically. But I’m really starting to feel like this house is much more me than the last one in Oklahoma City. There’s character, there’s charm, there’s quirks. I plan on being here for years to come and I’m so happy to share a bit of the journey with you.

 

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The living room is directly to the left of the foyer area. One of the main attributes that had me laying down my money for this place was all of the lovely light – 31 windows! – and openness. My last home had 11 windows and it was a big problem area for me.

 

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The fireplace isn’t functioning, but I’m hoping to change that once I talk to a professional about what the deal is. I really love the stonework. You can’t tell from this photo, but it’s not all flush and they stick out randomly for some fantastic texture. The interior is black which works really well for featuring other pieces (aside from that MIA fire). My old home had a gallery wall in the living room and it feels really nice to be able to break up my collection a little more here.

 

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Before I made the move from Oklahoma back to my home state of Pennsylvania, I sold and donated several things that were no longer my style or not what I saw working in this space. My photographer, Quelcy Kogel, asked me while we were shooting whether minimalism came naturally to me and I had to admit the answer was no. However, I’m loving this more pared down lifestyle that I’ve aspired to for years and am attempting to make it my mindset going forward.

 

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I keep going back and forth on whether or not to remove the shutters on the windows flanking the fireplace, but settled for ripping out the old greying lace curtains that came with the house before the movers even had a chance to arrive. I have an unspoken rule that there will always be fresh flowers in this room because they add such life.

 

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Another old house quirk – the floors are most definitely not even remotely close to being level, as my bookshelves can attest. While I still find it charming and funny I’d eventually like to invest in some sort of built-in for my library collection that would be slightly more sturdy and, well, level.

 

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This is my view every evening as I settle down with the pups and attempt to unwind. There’s a beautiful fir tree just outside the window there and I can’t wait to see it covered with snow.

 

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So are you all ready for a giveaway? I thought so. Lamps.com is giving away the 5 x 8′ Tasman Shag Handwoven Rug that I have in my living room. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love this thing. We didn’t have any floor coverings for several weeks when I first moved in, and the moment this beauty arrived and was laid down both I and the dogs lost our minds. It feels so soft underfoot and Bebe and Piper love sprawling out for a good nap in front of the couch. And if you spy another rug you love on Lamps.com (yes, way more than lamps!), know that every one comes with a free rug pad. Essential for not slipping and giving your piece a good base.

 

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.

To Enter:
1. Simply follow @designcrush and @lampsdotcom on Instagram! Then leave a little comment saying you did so along with your Instagram handle.
2. We’ll choose a random winner next Monday.
3. Good luck!

Reeve Mid-Century Coffee Table c/o West Elm // Gold Wire and Wood Accent Table // Stoneware Cylinder Vase (similar) // Basque Steel Brushed Nickel Arc Floor Lamp (similar) // Heywood Triple Natural Wood Bench // Samantha Armchair // Darrin Sofa // Still Not Scared by Kristi Kohut c/o Minted // Tasman Shag Handwoven Rug // Frontier Flatweave Handwoven Rug c/o Lamps.com // 14″ Globe Pendant c/o West Elm // A Helpful Reminder by Annie Clark c/o Minted // Sometimes I Wish Beginnings Were Ends c/o Jaime Derringer // You’re the Best and the Mostest c/o Read Between the Lines // Ellen by Tuesday Mourning // small painting on mantel by Pippin & Pearl // bar cart no long available

Photos: Quelcy Kogel

Nov
14

Happy Weekend

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01/ Flowers and People, Cannot Be Controlled but Live Together burst into bloom as you approach.
02/ Microscopic photos of vinyl record grooves are completely fascinating.
03/ This crazy colorful street installation in Limerick City, Ireland is No. 27 – A Nod to Ed Ruscha.
04/ The nineteen windmills of Kinderdijk serve a big purpose.
05/ Cats + Humans + Contemporary Dance = Dancing with Cats.
06/ Madison Square Park is getting a gorgeous gold foliage-inspired canopy, Fata Morgana.
07/ 3D printing is helping to create tangible, touchable memories for the visually impaired.
08/ Love Sriracha? Then you definitely need the keychain-ready Sriracha2Go!
09/ Driftwood Dinosaurs aren’t exactly fossils, but they are realistic recreations.
10/ Create your own DIY geometric paper animal sculptures with the help of Paperwolf.

This week on Design Crush:
Enter to win $100 to spend at Lulu & Georgia, and get a sneak peek at part of my kitchen!
Put these 12 November DIYs on your must-make list asap.
The prettiest handmade porcelain pieces from Self Press.
Crushing on the hand-painted pillows from the makers at bunglo.
Lovely papier mache pieces from Rachel Ibarra.
You’re invited to Thanksgiving! (At least in my imagination.)
Tips on making dessert count and my go-t0 recipe for Dense Bittersweet Chocolate Cake.
2015 Calendars: Part 2 is up!
For the love of cats – how do you treat your pets extra special during the holidays?

Design Crush elsewhere:
Ways to make a small bath feel spacious.

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

2015 Calendars: Part 2

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2015 Ferme Calendar by Ferme a Papier // 2015 Minimalist Wall Calendar by ReStyle Graphic // 2015 Hand-Lettered Wall Calendar by Stationery Bakery // Flower Laser Cut Desk Calendar by Avie Designs

 

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2015 Colors Wall Calendar by Dozi // Woodland Creatures 2015 Calendar by Carol Farrell // 2015 Fortune Cookie Calendar by Messy Bed Studio // 2015 Buildings of New York Calendar by mmmMAR

 

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2015 Prisms Calendar by Julia Kostreva // 2015 Calendar by Kristina Krogh // Pickles 2015 Calendar by Darling Clementine // Cats Let Nothing Darken Their Roar 2015 Calendar

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
12

you’re invited to: Thanksgiving

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Pulling together our daydream Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s get togethers is one of my favorite sets of recurring posts all year. It’s so much fun to imagine the ideal holiday, food, and festivities surrounding each. This November I’m imagining lots of natural elements – wood, clay, DIYs, etc – and a few touches of metallic to add some interest to the Thanksgiving decor. Take a look at our version of the holiday from warm welcomes to full-bellied goodbyes, and let us know what you’re planning for your table too! (If you’d like to see our Thanksgivings past, here’s 2012 and 2013.)

 

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Fallen Feathers Wreath //  Homemade Simmering Spices // DIY Pumpkin Lantern //
Basket of Birch Logs // DIY Menu Pumpkin // Linen Fabric Bunting Banner

 

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Cranberry Cider Smash // Salted Lemon Sage Cocktail // Slow Cooker Apple Cider

 

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Cranberry Baked Brie Puffed Pastry Bites // Crispy Brussels Sprout Chips //
Sea Salt, Lavender & Caramel Popcorn

 

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Sparkle Trimmed Tumbler // Macedonia Trivet // Corso Flatware // Etched Metal Vase //
Ceramic Salt Cellar and Gold Spoon Set // DIY Dyed Napkins // Farmhouse Pottery Turkey Platter //
Copper Plated Mixing Bowls // Metallic Taper Candleholders // Stockholm Serving Bowl //
Wheat Sprig Place Card // DIY Apple Stamp Table Runner

 

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Sage Butter Roasted Turkey // Roasted Red Pepper + Gouda Soup // Chopped Brussels Sprout,
Kale + Chard Salad
// Zucchini Rice // Wild Rice + Butternut Squash Salad // Popovers with
Gruyere and Thyme
// Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes // Salt and Vinegar Roasted Cauliflower //
Mini Sweet Potato Gratins // Sweet + Spicy Jalapeño Cranberry Sauce

 

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Grapefruit Pie // Earl Grey Chocolate Truffle Tart // Pumpkin Spiced Buttermilk Layer Cake

Nov
12

Rachel Ibarra

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Rachel Ibarra‘s papier-mâché and canvas vessels radiate color and abstraction all while serving a functional purpose. My favorite design element is the little pointed feet on her bowls, I might just see one holding fruit on my kitchen counter in the near future. Rachel also creates the sweetest brooches – shop her work right here.

 

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Nov
11

bunglo

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I’ve been eyeing bunglo‘s Instagram account for a few weeks now, immediately hearting every photo of the Austin-based company’s hand-painted patterns as it was posted. Each design is inspired by nature, mid-century architecture, and adventures. Artist and designer Shay Spaniel is behind it all, with an understanding of retail merchandise and lots of travel to base bunglo’s business upon. Shop the full collection of accessories, art, cards, furniture, and pillows in their shop.

 

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Nov
11

Self Press

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Lauren Finkelstein’s Self Press shop is full of hand-designed and hand-decorated porcelain pieces that hit the perfect note. Favoring black, white, and indigo, Finkelstein’s creations all have a moody and mysterious feel to them which I love.

 

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Gated Eyeballs Tumbler // Bubbling Blue Spoon // Two Circling Hands Ring Dish //
Eyes Wide Open and Shut Vase