April Favorites

 

1/ Tea Tree Oil
I’ve been using this stuff in multiples ways, including in my diffuser and on blemishes.

2/ PureAir 50
This little plug-in ionic air purifier is amazing. It cleans 350 sq. ft. of air by removing odors and reducing bacteria and viruses with activated oxygen. I have mine next to the cats’ litter box – the danger zone! – and noticed a total elimination of smell within about 15 minutes. It emits a kind of white noise sound when turned on, but I quickly got used to it.

3/ Lamb’s Ear
After years of admiration, I added one of these perennials to my porch collection. I’m hoping to keep it in a pot rather than have to plant it in the ground, but only time will tell how the plant tolerates it.

4/ Froozer Blue Aloha
These super natural treats are basically a frozen smoothie in a tube. They’re super tasty with only 35 calories and 9 carbs, which is a necessity for snacks with this type 2 diabetic.

5/ Common Goods Lavender Linen Water
I’ve been using this on my bedsheets for a few years now, I’m a real sucker for anything lavender scented as you may have noticed. This linen water is scented with 100% pure essential oil, is plant based, and biodegradable.

6/ Function of Beauty
Everyone’s been chattering about this line of shampoos and conditioners can that be personalized to your hair’s specific needs, and I’m here to report that the hype is 100% true! I love it and may never use another brand ever again. (Grab $5 off your order here.)

7/ Round Taper Planters
This spring I had to replace the large bamboo planters I’ve used for the past several years due to normal wear and tear. I wanted something simple and affordable that would complement my new black shutters and came across these fade and weather resistant ones at Target. They’re available in four colors and seven sizes! (I also have four of the 6-inch ones indoors)

8/ Vineyard Hill Naturals Cardamom & Fig Candle
You might think this scent sounds a bit heavy for spring, but it’s quite the opposite. And the soy-based candle’s jar is one I’ll definitely be reusing with that Greek key pattern.

9/ Spruce Cleaning Wipes
I’m kind of the worst at keeping my electronics clean, and these little wipes are a fun reminder (those faces!) to wipe everything down – they’re also great for your eyeglasses. Made in the USA, free of harsh chemicals like alcohol and ammonia, and vegan.

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Smoothie Bowls 12 Ways

While you’ll never convince me that a smoothie bowl is anything other than an excuse to eat your drink with a spoon, I’ll happily admit that they offer up some high quality visual appeal when done right. What’s more, if they get you to eat more fruits and vegetables than usual who am I to judge the method of transport. These beautiful concoctions have caught my eye and now I’m wondering – do you subscribe to the smoothie bowl trend? Have a favorite recipe?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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20 Pillows to Change Up Your Home’s Spring Vibe

There are three pieces of decor I switch up for spring and fall – bedding, rugs, and pillows. These are pieces that are easy to swap out to freshen up the feel of your home, as well as ones that don’t have to cost an arm and a leg. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m not running out twice a year to purchase new ones, rather just bringing them out of the guest room’s closet.) I tend to stick with a lot of neutrals so the switch may not be noticeable to anyone else, but even just a change in pattern makes me happy!

 

Cersei Decorative Pillow // Forma Pillow // Frayed Shaped Pillow Cover // Fringed Diendra Pillow

 

Geo Pillow // Indro Cushion // Linework Woven Decorative Pillow // Ligne Particulier Pillow

 

Macrame Diamond Pillow Cover // Nautique Pillow // Pleated Chevron Decorative Pillow // Roped Pillow

 

Bali Throw Pillow Collection // Stitch Stripe Pillow // Texture Knot Decorative Pillow // Totem Cushion

 

Vacita Pillow // Villa Stripe Pillow // Wallace Sewell Kente Crewel Pillow Cover // Zurich Geometric Throw Pillow

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Daydreaming About A Frames

Sarah Abbott

While I’m 110% in love with my house, I also know that it’s probably not my forever home. Sometime in the next few decades I really want the experience of building from the ground up. And while my architectural taste runs the gamut, lately I find myself really drawn to a-frames and their steeply angled rooflines and modern yet cozy vibe.

 

via Design Milk

 

Dwell

 

via Hi Consumption

 

Alpine Modern

 

Sunset

 

Airbnb

 

Zillow

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My House Got a Facelift

 

While I’ve shared plenty on the updates of the interior of my old, partially-flipped house, there hasn’t been nearly as much done on the exterior. Why? Simply put it’s more intimidating. But back in January I vowed that this is the year that things would get done, and I’ve started off by partnering with Mid-America to replace and add shutters to the front of my home. Mid-America is a leading manufacturer of siding accessories, and they also offer the largest selection of exterior home products in the industry, so I knew both me and my house were in the right hands.

 

 

Prior to now only one window had shutters of any kind, the large one on the first floor, front and center and a little to the left. They were wooden, measured incorrectly, and too short. The attic windows looked fine as they’re a more interesting design and flanked by shaker wood siding, but the trio on the second floor just looked… sad.

 

 

But no longer! From the street it looks like my house got a facelift. The good kind.

Every window was measured correctly this go around and the shutters installed like a dream with just a drill, screwdriver, and hammer. Mid-America offers a wide range of shutter styles and colors, all low maintenance with no painting required. They’re impervious to moisture and insects, which is something I highly value as the owner of a house that’s 117 years old, and made right here in the United States. I chose their straight top all louver shutter in black for all four windows and couldn’t be happier with the quality or end result.

 

 

On the list for 2017:
• landscape the small front yard, dispose of one hundred river rocks
• replace the porch light fixture with something more modern
• strip and paint back deck
• sand and repaint porch swing

Longterm plans:
• build wooden porch up to door height, railing, stairs
• have slate roof repaired
• landscape backyard
• replace porch roof support columns with a sleeker design

 

 

Get a load of the full-on before and after! Looking back the house seemed so incomplete without Mid-America’s shutters. Eventually I’d love to add sets to the windows on the back and east-facing sides for the full effect, but until then I can’t help but smile each time I pull into my driveway. Onto the next project!

 

This post sponsored by Mid-America. 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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Let’s Talk Pergolas

The to-do list for my home is a mile long, but near the top is the addition of a pergola. If you’re unfamiliar, a pergola is an architectural element originally used in ancient Greece and Rome to better define an outdoor space that’s gaining momentum in the current day. It usually consists of parallel colonnades that support an open roof of girders and cross rafters.

Pergolas are great privacy and shade solutions because, really, there are no rules. They can be built out of wood or steel, with a traditional or modern design or somewhere in between. Add fabric panels to the sides for additional privacy, let vining plants climb up to and cover the roof, add solar panels, or top it off with a plexiglas covering for protection from the rain. Your pergola can be freestanding in the middle of the backyard or built on top of a porch or deck, or maybe you’d just like to build one over your old concrete patio. See? Not many rules here.

I’d like mine to be similar to the second one below, but the wood painted white instead of black to keep the heat to a minimum during summer. Honeysuckle would climb all four colonnades and wind around the girders where it would mingle with strands of lights with edison bulbs. I’d have a few planter boxes on one or two of the sides that would blend in, and maybe a canvas tarp that could be attached to the four corners for shade on especially hot days.

But I haven’t put much thought into it.

 

Better Homes & Gardens

 

Helt Enkelt

 

Almost Makes Perfect

 

Homes to Love

 

Style Room

 

Better Homes & Gardens

 

Ernskie

 

Decoist

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Accounting Confessions of a Businesswoman

 

Just like clockwork, I filed for my yearly tax extension yesterday.

See, I have a bit of an admission to make which is that I really hate numbers and money or any combination of the two. Design Crush has been a business for nearly ten years and an LLC for more than half of that, and I’m honestly just getting a hold on my books now. It’s always felt extremely overwhelming to me, and so I’ve never made the time to fully understand and grasp what was going on behind the scenes. Money in the bank? Great. Set aside enough of that payment for taxes? Done. And that’s basically the extent of what my plan has been until this year.

Accounting got to the point of being a constant source of stress, a point of mental wellness that needed addressing. So I reached out to FreshBooks after sitting in on one of their workshops, they made accounting seem both easy to tackle and far less overwhelming than it had up until this point.

 

 

I’ve teamed up with FreshBooks to bring you the story of my journey this year as I tackle the financial side of Design Crush – and what better time to start than Tax Day?

Let’s start from the beginning.

When I first logged into my free one month trial I was immediately impressed by the clean layout. One thing that’s always kept me away from other accounting software is the sheer amount of information being thrown my way visually. FreshBooks was actually designed to be simple to use for the self-employed and easy to navigate, and that’s actually what it is. It became apparent – quickly – that I was about to be far more streamlined as a business as soon as I familiarized myself with the system. (On average users save 16 hours per month!)

 

 

I played around backlogging invoices from January 2017 to the present, marking the paid ones off and entering the information of the brands I work with most often for future billing. FreshBooks helps you to create a professional looking invoice that includes your logo, as well as sends out reminders when one goes overdue – basically taking you out of the role as the bad guy. (I love this.) You can even personalize a thank you message that goes out once each invoice is paid. Now this feature is like magic to me, you can set up your account up to accept credit cards! *mind explodes* If you’d like to dig even deeper you can add additional charges for late payments and request deposits from clients. Everything can be automated, making invoicing as painless as humanly possible.

Invoicing features: customization, payment reminders, automatic late fees, accept credit cards, recurring invoices, flexible due dates, handle received invoices, discounts, deposit requests, preview before sending, multi-currency billing, multi-language invoices, duplicate invoices, automatic tax calculations

 

 

Next thing, I photographed receipts and uploaded them to mark as expenses. Being a visually-driven person, it really helps that I’m able to see both the actual receipt as well as the file in FreshBooks. Nearly all of the functions include a line graph spelling things out for those of us who comprehend information better in that form. In this case I can tell immediately how much I’ve been spending and how profitable Design Crush is at any moment. Goodbye shoebox of receipts and manual entry! My accountant is already thanking you because he won’t be receiving a handwritten list for my 2016 taxes. *cringe*

Expense features: receipt attachments, tax-friendly categories, easy to read summaries, remembered vendors, multi-currency tracking, easily editable

 

 

So, this is the start of my journey. I’m looking forward to sharing more of what I learn along the way as I step out of my comfort zone and tackle this neglected area of Design Crush. If you have any questions about FreshBooks I’d love to try and help get answers for you from their award-winning rockstars in customer service. In the meantime, you can sign up for a free monthlong trial right here!

This post sponsored by FreshBooks. 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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5 Favorite Food Blogs of the Moment

Heartbeet Kitchen is a celebration of sweet and savory recipes along with some other tidbits from author Amanda’s life in Minnesota. The recipes are based around seasonal vegetables and whole grains, as well as eggs and dairy from happy animals. Many are vegetarian, and all are gluten-free with a specialty in baking with alternative flours.

Recent Favorites: Creamy Polenta Porridge with Berries and Honey, No-Bake Dark Chocolate Cheesecake Pots with Pretzel CrunchRoasted Cabbage Steaks with Garlicky Beet Sauce

 

The Vanilla Bean Blog, aka Sarah Kieffer, is a site I’ve been following for several years now. Started as a way to document her family’s food history, it’s also a space full of baking recipes, kitchen moments with friends and family, occasional musings and reflections, and some poetry and prose – in another word, connection.

Recent Favorites: Olive Oil Sugar Cookies with Blood Orange Glaze, Chocolate Chip Mini Cakes with Peanut Butter Buttercream, Blackberry Jam Buns with Creme Fraiche Frosting

 

Salt and Lavender is full of delicious from scratch recipes that are also simple to make. Fresh, real ingredients play a big role, with not nearly as much salt as the name might indicate. Author Natasha provides a healthy mix of good for you foods mixed with a few indulgences.

Recent Favorites: Tropical Chicken Nachos, 15 Minute Garlic Lime Cashew Zoodles, Thai Sweet Potato Coconut Red Curry

 

The Almond Eater is the place where self-taught cook Erin shares the wholesome recipes created in her kitchen. Each one is double-tested before she shares it on the site. (Quiet admission: we also both live in Pittsburgh and have the same two major food dislikes – mustard and pickles!)

Recent Favorites: Coffee Orange Granola, Cinnamon Tahini Pancakes, Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken Salad Sandwich

 

What to Cook Today is a newer find, there are just so many talented Minnesotans out there! Marvellina shares recipes she grew up with in Indonesia that have a heavy Chinese influence as well as local flavor – think lots of boldness often sweet, sour, salty, spicy, and umami all combined into one dish! Marv also experiments with plenty of foods from other continents though, if southeast Asian flavor isn’t your cup of tea.

Recent Favorites: Mexican Cinnamon Horchata, Panko Chicken and Waffles, Pumpkin Custard Baked Buns

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Purpur

 

I love ritual, and Purpur looks like it would lend itself to such things instantly. Roxanne Flick‘s conceptual graduation project to create a tea set inspired by the beauty of nature and art is stunning. Using the form and behavior of the flamingo, Flick designed a kettle, teacups, and sugar and cream bowls made from porcelain, oak saucers and an oak, glass, and granite table.

 

 

 

 

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