Refocusing with Pique Tea

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It’s no secret that working from home can be a challenge some days. For every advantage (flexible schedule!) there’s a disadvantage (distractions!). As Design Crush has continued to grow as a business my approach has had to change, and the latest curve is one I can’t say I was expecting.

As a freelance or contract worker there’s always the fear that the current job I’m working on will be the last. It’s the nature of the beast, and in my case the anxiety – and I don’t like saying no because of it. In the past year I’ve said yes a few too many times, and found myself slogging through the last three months of 2015 with way too much on my shoulders. Namely, I was neglecting to make any time for myself.

 

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I knew I had to change up my routine and focus on the times during the day when I felt most productive as for that hour or two that left me dragging. I used to end my day during chillier months with a cup of tea, and thought that maybe rescheduling what used to be my downtime as a time to refocus might help me out.

 

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Then along came Pique Tea. Designed for excellence with every sip, Pique Tea has taken the tea world by storm with their new Tea Crystals. I love that even though my tea is ready in an instant the results aren’t compromised, the tea in my mug is pure and rich and tastes just as though I’d thoughtfully brewed it.

 

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So just how does Pique Tea achieve this tea crystal sorcery? It’s relatively simple – they brew high quality organic loose tea leaves, then when the perfect brew is reached they distill it into pure tea crystals. Basically taking the guesswork out of making a great cup of tea, and helping me avoid over-brewing by walking out of the kitchen and letting my tea steep for too long. (So guilty.) The hope is that a great cup of tea made easy will cause a ripple effect of feeling well, doing well, and doing more.

 

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But don’t take my word for it, try Pique Tea for yourself. Sign up for a free trial and receive all five flavors – Earl Grey, English Breakfast, Mint Sencha, Sencha, and Jasmine – to try on your own (that’s 14 sachets, or a week’s supply)! Now tell me, how do you make time for yourself during the weekdays?

This post sponsored by Pique Tea. All words and opinions are my own, as always. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep Design Crush creating fresh content!

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Gingerbread 12 Ways

Gingerbread is one of my favorite flavors of the season, but I don’t relegate it to cookies alone. (Though I am making these sweets tomorrow!) Feast your eyes on the following twelve recipes that run the gamut from breakfast to side dish.

 

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

 

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You’re Invited to Christmas Brunch

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I can hardly believe Christmas is a week from today! The holidays always seem to sneak up on me, but the unusually warm weather we’ve been experiencing here on the east coast has really thrown everyone for a loop. It’s been more of a challenge than usual to get into the spirit, but I’m doing my best. I’ve also been thinking about the brunch my family will be sitting down to Christmas Day and what it might include – and you’re invited.

 

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ROW 1: Buffalo Plaid Stocking // Choose Joy Banner // Felt Ball Wreath    ROW 2: Metal Cap String Lights // Nomad Candle // Painted Tin Merry Christmas Sign    ROW 3: Paper Top Star // Poplar Cone Tree // Porcelain Cityscape    ROW 4: Selenite Fireplace Logs // Teak and Brass Tree Stand // Wooden Tree

 

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ROW 1: 3-Piece Marble Trivet Set // Abbesses Plates in Green // Cotton Tablecloth    ROW 2: Heathered Napkins // Iridescent Serving Utensils // Kinto Dew Glass Tumbler    ROW 3: Lily Pad Tray // Maple Wood Kitchen Utensil Set // Marble & Wood Cheese Boards    ROW 4: Marble Ceramic Dinner Plate // Ombre Bottlebrush Trees // Painted Concrete Candleholders

 

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ROW 1: Black Tea and Cardamom Cake // Blood Orange Buttermilk Upside-Down Cake // Bourbon-Cherry and Almond Dutch Baby    ROW 2: Browned Butter Sweet Potato Squares // Caramelized Banana Bread with Gingersnap Butter // Cranberry Curd Tart    ROW 3: Eggnog Custard Oatmeal Brûlée // Make Ahead Orange Clove Rolls // Orange Pomegranate Scones    ROW 4: Ricotta Goat Cheese Polenta Bake // Roasted Broccolini, Bacon, and Caramelized Shallot Quiche // Salt Crusted Potatoes

 

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ROW 1: Blender Eggnog // Dark Hot Chocolate // Mulled Apple + Tangerine Cider    ROW 2: Mulled Winter Punch // Pineapple Cinnamon Sangria // Pomegranate and Orange Champagne Punch

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Mega Christmas Cookie Roundup

I’ve done it – blocked a day off the week of Christmas to bake my face off. A few years ago I attempted to talk my now 91-year-old Grandma into taking a step back and only making her infamous nutrolls. It didn’t go exactly as planned, so now I simply tell her how many cookie recipes I’m making so she can see the reasoning behind my request/demand. I’ll probably end up baking between five and seven different varieties, but need to narrow the list down from these FIFTY. Help a girl out?

 

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1/Sweet Raspberry + Tahini Sandwich Cookies  2/Slice and Bake Spice Cookies with Citrus Glaze and Sea Salt  3/Old-Fashioned Almond Gingerbread Cookies  4/Almond Butter & Maple Cream Gingersnap Sandwich Cookies  5/Caramel Fluffernutter Chocolate Chip Cookies  6/Chocolate Orange Sandwich Cookies  7/Coconut, Oatmeal, and Cherry Jam Thumbprints  8/Gingersnaps with Apple Cider Glaze  9/Swig Sugar Cookies  10/Rosemary and Apricot Shortbread Cookies

 

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11/Pumpkin Molasses Cookies  12/Honey Cookies  13/Chai Spiced Sugar Cookies  14/Milano Cookies  15/Chocolate Caramel Ginger Cookies  16/Chewy Triple Ginger Cookies  17/Cinnamon Roll Cookies  18/Cocoa Cinnamon Sea Salt Cookies  19/Cranberry Bliss Cookies  20/Thin & Crispy Coconut Cookies

 

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21/Brown Sugar Toffee Cookies  22/Salt & Pepper Cocoa Shortbread Cookies  23/Almond Espresso Cookies 24/Butterscotch Gingerbread Cookies  25/Cranberry Orange Pistachio Cookies  26/Thin and Chewy Spiced Oatmeal Cookies with Brown Butter Icing  27/Orange Spiced Sugar Cookies  28/Chai Spiced Shortbread  29/Salted Gingersnap Mallomars  30/Clove and Molasses Lace Cookies

 

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31/Malted Chocolate Sandwich Cookies  32/Blood Orange Vanilla Bean Meringues  33/Star Anise Spiced Dark Chocolate Sables  34/Spice Sugar Cookies  35/Spicy Gingerbread Linzer Cookies with Orange White Chocolate Ganache  36/Peppermint Drops  37/Citrus Cornmeal Shortbread  38/Cranberry Orange Almond Shortbread Cookies  39/Brown Sugar Toffee Cookies  40/Colorblock Sugar Cookies

 

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41/Cappuccino Cookies  42/Gummy Bear Cookies  43/Smoky Cardamom Ginger Molasses Cookies  44/Butter Crunch Cookies  45/Caramel Stuffed Soft Gingerbread Cookies  46/Pink Champagne Cookies  47/Jumbo Maple Sugar Cookies  48/Chocolate Peppermint Biscotti  49/Cranberry Almond Cookies  50/Whole Grain Eggnog Cookies

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5 Favorite Food Blogs of the Moment

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Spoon Fork Bacon is the collaborative food blog of Teri Lyn Fisher and Jenna Park, and between them the two create some seriously delicious recipes with a DIY thrown in here and there for good measure.

Recent Favorites: Sausage and Kale Baked Gnocchi, Maple Chiffon Pie, Fig Herb and Sausage Stuffing

 

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Not Without Salt focuses on foods that are simple, fresh, seasonal, and delicious. (Most of my favorites do.) Ashley really focuses on helping you eat well and enjoying the cooking and baking that goes into that process.

Recent Favorites: Apple Cider Fritters with Cider Glaze, Ginger Peach Rum Punch, Hot Arugula Dip

 

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Local Milk is helmed by Beth, who has a serious way with both words and camera. Sometimes I forget that I’m reading delicious recipes and get completely wrapped up in her prose.

Recent Favorites: Vegan Rose + Chocolate Chip Spelt Waffles, Root Vegetable Cheese Pot Pie + Herb Biscuit Crust, Golden Milk Cocoa

 

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Hungry Girl por Vida‘s main babe, Cindy, shares recipes that I want to eat. Immediately. All of her savory and sweet dishes are easy and taste mind-glowingly delicious.

Recent Favorites: Orange Ginger Cream Cheese Muffins, Rumchata Spiked Coffee, Goat Cheese with Cherry Onion Compote

 

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The Faux Martha‘s Melissa shares the recipes that dress her family’s table day in and day out. Weekday meals are down and dirty while weekend feasts are more time consuming, and I love the realness behind that.

Recent Favorites: Big Batch Apricot Muesli, Blender Ditch Baby, Balsamic Pasta

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Pop Tarts 10 Ways

There wasn’t a much more exciting breakfast than a Pop Tart when I was a kid. Flaky crust, gooey insides, and plenty of sugary icing layered on top. Sigh. But it turns out you can make your very own Pop Tarts at home and the options are just about endless – sweet, savory, simple, fancy, and everything in between. Here are ten ways that I’d love to try!

 

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

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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!

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Stew 12 Ways

If I’m being completely honest about my kitchen habits, I can tell you that I mainly live off of homemade soup during the months of October through March. But some days call for something a bit heartier – enter stew. Check out these twelve takes on the comfort food right here.

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

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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.

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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

 

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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

 

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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

 

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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

 

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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

http://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/travel-dining/interviews/a3864/death-and-co-classic-cocktail-recipes/

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Shady Acres

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Back in August I had a chance to meet a few of the people behind Shady Acres, including the queen bee herself Ana Finkle. You know how passion shows? So much of that. Ana’s been preserving since early childhood and grew up on the land that is Shady Acres Organic Farm in upstate New York. A few years ago they organically certified the land and she received her Master Preserver Certification from Cornell University. All of Shady Acres’ jams, relishes, and chutneys are handcrafted in small batches of three to six jars, ensuring consistency and quality from the end product as well as the fruit and produce they pick right outside. They gave me a jar of black currant jam that I’ve been rationing, so it’s probably time I swung by their shop to pick up a new seasonal flavor – I’m eyeballing the caramel pear jam!

 

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