A Tasty Friendsgiving + The Mealtime Movement

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I used to be the Queen of Communication – I once sent my best friend a letter a day while she was a summer camp counselor in high school – but somewhere along the way of getting older/having more responsibilities/life all of that somehow changed. These days I find myself struggling to mail out birthday cards on time and am 100% guilty of not answering the phone because I can’t bring myself to put down whatever it is I’m doing. This is not the way I want to be living this life, not by a long shot.


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Friends and family are important, the spice of life, and deserve the time and effort it takes to maintain and grow those relationships. And when it comes to doing just that I find there’s no better glue than food. Countless many memories of mine are inextricably tied to scents and flavors in the kitchen, and I’m willing to bet it’s the same for you. With the holidays nearly upon us once again it’s the perfect time to combine the two – tasty food and shared experience.



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But let’s be real, the holidays are already an uber hectic time for most of us. Take the number of tasks we need to check off on the average day and multiply it by five, right?  My friends and I have come to rely on the easiest version of a pre-holiday get together known to man – a potluck. In fact, we’ve made it a tradition, and everyone knows to mark off the Sunday before Thanksgiving for Friendsgiving. I love that because it’s become an annual event getting together doesn’t feel like I’m rearranging my life to accommodate yet another activity. We’re creatures of habit and love predictability, so pre-scheduled time around the table can be something to look forward to rather than an inconvenience.



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There’s something special not only about sitting down to a meal together, but also in the ease of a potluck. In this case the hostess is responsible for the main course and cocktails and guests divy up appetizers, side dishes, and desserts. Being able to prep the meal in advance leaves more time for enjoying one another’s company, which really is the point of hanging out together.

This is a celebration of friendship and thankfulness, a get together focused on connections that comes through in the mealtime prep and decor. You won’t find a single pumpkin or turkey here because we’re too focused on mmm-ing over each other’s recipes and laughing until we cry at one another’s stories. The table is kept simple with clean white plates and linen napkins. (Pssst. Buying a set of each are some of the best entertaining dollars you’ll ever spend.) A graphic table runner, a strand of colorful lights, and a row of pillar candles down the center finish off the minimalistic look.



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But here’s my favorite part. As we wrap up the soiree each guest says out loud one thing they’re thankful for, then blows out one of the flames. Then they take the candle home and light it whenever they’re feeling a little less than. Creating a tradition that’s interactive and memorable is a lovely way to end a meal,  and a sweet reminder of all of the love and support guests are surrounded with throughout the year.

I’m curious, how do you make time for friends and family when life just seems so full?


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This post sponsored by the Mealtime Movement. All words and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep Design Crush creating fresh content!


Your One-Stop Halloween Roundup

If I’ve never mentioned it before, Halloween is my favorite holiday. I’d actually wager that it’s my family’s favorite, so it was essentially ingrained in me from the get go. Some October soon I plan on having my first Halloween party since, oh, college. But this year I’ll be celebrating at a friend’s house party with a snarky costume that you’ll have to see on Instagram! In the meantime, check out DIYs, party ideas, food and cocktails, and of course pumpkins.


ROW 1: Dyed Halloween Treat Bags // Halloween Banner    ROW 2: Halloween Transfer Wood Plaques // Paper Maché Candy Bowls // Plaster Hands    ROW 3: Printable Halloween Treat Bags // Printable Stick ‘O Treats // Spooky Cornstalk Decor    ROW 4: Witch Broom // Floating Head in a Jar // Spectral Mirror



ROW 1: Apple Votives // Bone Stirrer    ROW 2: Toilet Paper Roll Candy Garland // Eyeball Ping Pong Ball Lights // Pumpkins in the Chimney    ROW 3: Floral Skull Centerpiece // Mid-Century Table Lamp // Witch’s Curtain    ROW 4: Menu Balloon // Muertos Plates // Wax Dipped Whiskey Glasses



ROW 1: Chocolate Covered Caramel Popcorn Balls // Dark Chocolate Mocha (Full) Moon Pies    ROW 2: Blood Slide Suckers // Poison Toffee Apples // Halloween Surprise Cookies    ROW 3: Halloween Candy Bark // Chocolate Jack-o-Lantern Graham S’mores with Homemade Marshmallows // Marbled Candy Apples    ROW 4: Brain Cupcakes // Monster Doughnuts // Skewered Eyeballs



ROW 1: Get Lucky // Black Widow    ROW 2: Cinnamon Candy Apple Cocktail // The Grave Digger Cocktail // Creepy Cocktail    ROW 3: Monster Cocktail Stirrers // Black Lagoon Cocktail // The Poisoned Apple    ROW 4: Shrunken Skull Cocktail // Sleepy Hollow Cocktail // Witch’s Brew



ROW 1: Constellation Pumpkins // Melted Crayon Pumpkin    ROW 2: Fresh Floral Moon Pumpkin // Galaxy Art Pumpkin // Halloween Floral Centerpiece    ROW 3: Copper Snakes Pumpkin // Malachite Pumpkins // Nail Polish Marbled Pumpkins    ROW 4: Mud Cloth Pumpkins // Gold Studded Pumpkin // Tissue Paper Pumpkin



An Outdoor Autumn Harvest Party

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I think we’re all too fast to run inside once the temperatures begin to fade, don’t you? There’s something to be said for embracing the harvest season that’s almost here, cozying up in layers, and enjoying this time of year and all it has to offer before the hustle and bustle of the holidays take over. As I mentioned before, I’m bent on putting my backyard and decks to good use this autumn – plenty of game day get togethers, birthday celebrations, and fire pit parties are already on the docket. I like having an arsenal of dinnerware and serving pieces set aside especially for this time of year and the type of entertaining that I associate with it. What does that mean? Nothing overly precious, pieces that are functional and earthy in material and tone, and a bit heavier than my summer wares.



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Metals and woods are my favorite right now. The heft and textures they bring to the table (ahem) are unparalleled and, well, a little bit of shine never hurt anyone! I like it when my table looks pulled together, but not pristine. Matchy matchy is out of the question, so mixing metals and other elements is key to pulling everything off. Pier 1‘s Bronze Palm Leaf Serving Bowl is such a great statement piece that brought form and function to my table in spades.



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My favorite recipes for casual get togethers are simple and fresh. For appetizers I like baked zucchini parmesan crisps and whipped Mexican grilled corn dip. I insist on serving a salad of some type – not always of the leafy variety – and can’t wait to try this grilled potato salad with basil, blue cheese, and tomatoes and this perfect for autumn almond apple quinoa salad.



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It’s easy to pick up a few growlers of favorite local beers to keep things casual, along with setting out a pitcher of plum spritzers. As the evening cools down even further there’s always a pot of coffee not too far away in the kitchen. I particularly love this Diamond Cut Drinkware because it reminds me of a set of similar glasses my Grandma used to serve iced tea out of every summer.



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When entertaining outside I like to lean heavily on my trusty grill and my crockpot. One creates delicious things within a few minutes while the other maintains a set-it-and-forget-it frame of mind, with both results usually being eaten on a bun. Case in point are these fried mozzarella and caramelized peach caprese burgers and pulled honey lime chicken sandwiches with corn and cabbage slaw. Hearty and bursting with flavor, they’ll please even your most picky party-goer. A few lanterns helps to further set the mood. One of my favorite outdoor entertaining tricks is using scented candles, the aroma ends up subtly wafting around in the most pleasant way. Simple white plates and cotton napkins help to bring everything else together. Later on we can carry these down to the fire pit to make s’mores and bask in the warmth of another evening spent in good company with good food and drink.



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No get together is complete without a curated playlist, at least not at my house! So of course I had to pull together some of my favorite songs that channel chill vibes and welcome autumn with open arms. Have a listen!




Hoxton Salad Server Set // Mother-of-Pearl Stainless Steel Pitcher // Diamond Cut Drinkware (Amber) // Bronze Palm Leaf Serving Bowl // White Buffet Napkin Set // Landen Mini Lantern // Landen Black Lantern // Pumpkin Chai Pillars



Brought to you by Pier 1. All words and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that help Design Crush create fresh content!


Querkles, Color By Number For Adults

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Lately I’ve been unwinding by doing Thomas Pavitte’s 1,000-dot-to-dots. (I know, I’m a wild woman.) The next logical step is clearly his Querkles, color by number for adults! At first glance they’re nothing but a random arrangement of overlapping circles, but hidden within each one is a famous face waiting to be revealed. You can keep it simple and use one pen or pencil, or you can go colorful with markers or paints. Not sold? There’s even a free download!


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Happy Weekend

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This week on Design Crush:
Johan Barrios makes graphite and watercolor look better than could ever be expected.
Crushing on ENTLER‘s ceramic lighting collection in a big way.
Yung Cheng Lin explores female body modification through this digitally manipulated series.
Get in my kitchen cupboards, Cosmic Diner Collection!
Lorna Simpson‘s latest work touches on interactions, relationships, and experiences in contemporary America.
It’s time to pack your modern backpack!
Amanda Happé‘s bright mixed media pieces are just what the doctor ordered.
I *finally* got the office in shape and am so excited to use it more!
Check out these 11 apps you need in your life.


Drink Rocks Set

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This Drink Rocks Set is doing it for me. Reason 1 is that drink rocks are amazing for not watering down whatever libation you’re sipping on, reason 2 is that the varied shapes and colors act as an identifier if more than one person is drinking the same thing out of a similar glass.


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8 Portable Speakers

The most indispensable item when entertaining is a solid portable speaker. I love being able to grab it to take along wherever the action is – dining room, deck, park, you name it. Not so long ago consumers were limited to one or two quality sounds, but these days we have not only our choice of brands but color and design as well.



ROW 1: Beloit 15 // Helsinki // Tube Audio
ROW 2: Zipp Airplay // Nixon Mini Blaster Speaker
ROW 3: Bose Soundlink // Boombot REX // Solar Powered Radio


Creating a Holiday Candy Buffet



It’s holiday party season – are you organizing one this year? I’ve been having a few friends over here and there, which I much prefer to one grand shindig. More quality time to talk and just hang out at the speed I prefer. I wanted to pull together a little takeaway for each gathering and came up with this candy buffet in my dining room as a sweet treat to end the evening.




I used the metallic tones I tend to gravitate towards during the holidays as a starting point. Lots of glass jars of different sizes, small porcelain bowls, gem-cut mercury glass bowls, a metal hammered gold bowl, and a few pieces that I already had tucked away round out the spread nicely.






Layering different heights adds visual interest that pulls you right through the buffet as you gather your goodies on the go. I stuck to a palette of silver, blue, red, and green candy and was sure to include lots of different types – chocolate, fruit flavored, chewy, hard – lots of different textures and flavors to satisfy even the choosiest visitor!




The main focal point is a group of three paper trees I made a few years ago, a sweet white ceramic stag head, and several tea lights in small mason jars to add lots of sparkle and shine to the surface. A flocked wreath hanging in the overhead in the window added some extra holiday spirit.




Of course we couldn’t forget the most iconic Christmas classics – candy canes and peppermints. Miniature candy canes are perfect for adding to a cup of hot chocolate. Use one as a stir until it dissolves for a twist on the old standby.





The buffet is easy to replenish as things run out between get togethers and looks pretty enough when not in use. Hope your holiday season is stress-free and sweet!

Shop the buffet: Ceramic Stag Head // Small Gold Metal Hammered Serving Bowl // 18″ Flocked Wreath with Blue Ornaments // Assorted Porcelain Dip Bowls // Silver Mercury Glass Cereal Bowl // Small Frosted Gold Mason Jar // Medium Frosted Silver Mason Jar // Medium Frosted Gold Mason Jar


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