The Search for the Perfect Christmas Cookies

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I was really excited when Bing asked me to partner with them to share the new Smart Search for Windows 8.1. I’ve always been a really visual person, which probably helps to explain why I’ve always worked in creative fields among other (more nerdy) things. It’s also why I love my job as an art and design blogger, but sometimes the internet doesn’t translate well for my type of folk.  Smart Search is an entirely visual search that shows you a clean, graphic view of  information from across the web – right up my alley. You can use it to check out the weather, get directions, or like me… find the perfect Christmas cookies!


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One of my pet peeves about recipes in general is when no photo is attached. How do I know what the end result is supposed to look like?! Is this chocolatey blob accurate? Well, Smart Search eliminates that problem completely. I can now find the cookies that I’ll make to take home with me to my Grandma’s for the holidays by what looks most delicious. (All of them, obviously.)


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It was no easy task, but after a major search I narrowed down the results to these eight. And I still need to take that down further, because my 89-year-old Grandma and I have an agreement that we’ll each make two kinds. (Though she’s such a cheater.) Which two get your votes?

Clockwise from top: Almond Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies by Running to the Kitchen // Amaretti by gnom gnom // Caramel Apple Cookies by Bakers Royale // Lemon Sugar Cookie Sandwiches by I Am Baker // Meringues with Rhubarb Curd and Rosehip by The Vanilla Bean Blog // Orange and Ricotta Crackle Cookies by Cook Republic // Pumpkin Shortbread by Cookies & Cups // Sweet Potato Ginger Cookies by Quick & Easy Recipes

This post was created in partnership with Bing. With a type or a swipe you can search the web, the cloud, apps, and your PC or tablet, all in one place using Bing Smart Search on Windows 8.1.

Thank you for supporting the brands that keep Design Crush going!


Apple Dumplings + West Elm


Almost every one of my favorite recipes has a story, so when West Elm asked me to share one of my favorite holiday traditions I knew just the one. When I was in elementary school my grandparents looked after me once school was out every day. My Grandpa picked me up at the bus stop and drove me the fifteen minutes to their house in the next town where my mom would scoop me up after work. Most days when I got into his car there would be a snack waiting for me – an orange we would share or a coconut macaroon cookie. But on really special fall days there was nothing until we got back to their house and I walked in the door to the sight of my Grandma’s apple dumplings, perfectly golden and smelling like heaven. Those apple dumplings meant that the holidays (as well as winter vacation) were right around the corner!

Now that I make my own I cut a corner or two, but the end result still gives me that same feeling of being cozy and loved. I picked up a Scape Oval Baking Dish (the perfect size for four apple dumplings) and a set of Universal Expert Wooden Utensils from West Elm Market to make the recipe all the more fun to pull together and share with you. I can already tell that these pieces are going to get a major workout over the next few months between casseroles and baked goods!



Apple Dumplings

• 4 medium-large apples (I used Fuji)
• 1/4 C quick cooking oats
• 1/4 C brown sugar
• 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
• 4 pie crusts (I use pre-made)
• 4 tsp butter
• 1 egg
• 1 tsp vanilla
• granulated sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and spray a large baking dish with cooking spray in preparation. Make or (or open) your go-to pie crust recipe (each apple will use one crust). In a small bowl mix together the oats, brown sugar, and cinnamon then set aside. Peel and core the apples. Roll out (or lay out) one pie crust and set an apple in the center. Fill the hollowed out core with the oat-brown sugar-cinnamon mixture all the way to the top, then place a teaspoon of butter on top. Fold up the edges of the crust, making sure to pinch the seams as you go along. Repeat the process with the other three apples and set each one in the baking dish. Beat the egg and vanilla together and brush all over each dumpling, then dust with sugar. Bake for 50 minutes or until golden brown. These are delicious served with Brown Sugar Sauce (recipe below) or served with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. One dumpling could easily be split between two people.


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Brown Sugar Sauce

• 1/4 C brown sugar
• 1/4 C water

Combine brown sugar and water in a small saucepan. Simmer until reduced and thickened.

This post has been sponsored by West Elm. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep Design Crush going! West Elm is offering 20% off all tabletop items until November 26th.


Creating My Holiday Cards with Zazzle

Sponsored by Zazzle.

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I’ve always erred on the early side of, well, everything. And holiday cards? Well, they’re no exception. November and December are always straight-up crazy busy in my life, so the sooner I can get my cards done the better. (One year I had them addressed and waiting before Halloween! Only mildly embarrassing in retrospect.)

This year I’ve teamed up with Zazzle to create the perfect holiday card, one that covers all the bases just like I like to do. They have so many customizable options and designs available, it was easy to find something that fit my style. I could have gone with a photo card of my four pets (but they’d never sit still long enough to make that happen) or I could have gone with a shot of my tree from last year (which was exception if I do say so myself), but in the end I opted for this scripted graphic flat that features my favorite holiday phrase from my favorite Christmas song and I couldn’t be happier. I loved going through all of Zazzle‘s color and paper options and choosing just the right thing that my friends and family are sure to flip for come December!


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Holidays are made for you at Zazzle. Find cards you’ll covet at


Plain with a Punch

Brought to you by Motorola Moto X: Thousands of combinations. Design yours.

Color is one of the biggest elements of my style, of most peoples’ really. You can choose to be moody one day while cloaking yourself in black, or fun and playful the next while mixing bright hues. Innocent and ethereal in white, or downplayed in shades of brown. The point is that color infiltrates our lives in every way and definitely effects our mood. It’s reflected in my home, my closet, and now technology as well!

Motorola’s Moto X has been blowing up all over the place, and with over 2,000 color combinations it’s easy to see why. I’m glued to my phone and I’m sure you probably are too, so it’s especially it’s nice that Motorola has realized what a huge chunk of the market thinks of their phone not only as a lifeline but also as an accessory! After really examining my aesthetic and style preferences I decided on a blush Moto X with lemon lime accents. It perfectly mimics my taste, Plain with a Punch! Neutral tones, casual style, with an unexpected touch to make it really special.



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Design Crush + Dodge Dart


PHOTO: Caroline Cohenour

I spent the last week of July tooling around OKC in a brand spankin’ new 2013 Dodge Dart. And let me tell you, this machine is much more high tech than its predecessor. It has loads of sleek lines and style from front to back and everywhere in between, along with the biggest dash touchscreen I’ve ever seen. Click over to Dodge’s REDLINE blog to see what kind of road trip I took it on and what we saw along the way!


Feel Good Wednesdays

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PHOTO: Gregory Krum

A few weeks back I had one of the most raging headaches I can remember ever experiencing. Migraines run in my family and I fall prey to them about once a month, but when this one was still hanging around a whopping five days later I knew something was up. None of my prescription or OTC meds were doing anything to even dull the pain that was originating at the base of my skull and radiating up towards my ears and jaw. That’s when I scheduled a massage, thinking that maybe some sort of deep tissue maneuvering might work a little magic.

I met with a master masseuse who ended up using a variety of massage techniques – not all comfortable and relaxing – to try and relieve the extreme tension that had built up in my neck and back. That’s right, it was a tension headache in migraine’s clothing. When the masseuse was finished she told me it was a challenging massage to give because I wouldn’t relax and that we needed more than an hour because I was so tense. Then she asked me whether I was stressed about anything (not really) and what I did for myself (uhhhh). My response was a very truthful “I’m not very good at that sort of thing.”

The massage did help, but the masseuse’s words are what really stuck. I realized I physically need to make more time for myself. Being a full-time blogger I have the advantage of a flexible schedule, it also means that I don’t have your typical weekend off. So I’ve decided that Wednesdays are going to be my recharging time, smack dab in the middle of the workweek. Feel Good Wednesdays, if you will. I definitely won’t be taking the day off, but I will be taking more time than usual for myself. A yoga class, less caffeine and more hydration (like with bubbly Ozarka® Brand Sparkling Natural Spring Water), maybe a mug of tea to wind down, a longer walk with the dogs once the temperatures drop, you see what I’m saying. I’m hoping that by slowing down just a little my life will thrive even more.

How do you make time for yourself? I can use all the advice you can give!

Sponsored by Ozarka® Brand Sparkling Natural Spring Water. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep Design Crush going!



DIY Color Washed Glasses

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I love a tall glass tumbler more than just about any other glassware, really I do. But sometimes those guys are just sitting there like a blank canvas in the cabinet, waiting for a makeover. These Color Washed Glasses are a breeze to make and can look as fancified or casual as you want!


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All you need:
• a set of straight-sided glasses (I used tall tumblers, but you can use whatever)
ScotchBlue™ Painter’s Tape
• acrylic paint in the color(s) of your choice
• 3/4″ acrylic paint brush
• paint palette (i.e. paper plate)


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The first thing I did was wash and dry the glasses thoroughly, and then I taped them off. Because they’re going to be used primarily for beverages I wanted to make sure the paint was nowhere near the lip, so I simply used the width of the ScotchBlue Painter’s Tape as a measuring guide. You can opt to paint all the way down to the base of the glass, but I wanted to balance out the spacing at the top with a second strip of tape at the bottom. Since the glasses aren’t exactly straight up and down there will be a small amount of gapping with the ScotchBlue™ Painter’s Tape, simply smooth it down using your fingernail by pushing down and towards the edge.


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Next, squeeze a quarter-sized dollop of paint onto your palette surface (I always use a small paper plate) and load up your brush. Get to work sweeping and swashing over the exposed part of each glass, making sure to overlap the ScotchBlue™ Painter’s Tape slightly. You want a random look, so go crazy swooping and swashing!


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These glasses only required one layer of paint because we aren’t going for a solid opaque look. I set them aside to dry for about half an hour before removing the ScotchBlue™ Painter’s Tape.


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The edges came out very clean, and in the few spots that bled through I used my nail to scrape off the excess before the pain set completely.


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Huzzah! Time to sit back with an icy drink and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Because these are hand-painted you’ll need to hand wash these guys after using, or risk all of the paint coming off in the dishwasher – but you totally knew that already, right? I also plan on using these as small vases this fall, I think some brightly colored mums would look incredible with both the gold and white!
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This post is a collaboration with ScotchBlue™ Painter’s Tape Brand. Join the community at or visit to learn more.

ScotchBlue™ Painter’s Tape | ScotchBlue™ Painter’s Tape Facebook Page | ScotchBlue™ Painter’s Tape Twitter Page | ScotchBlue™ Painter’s Tape YouTube Page | ScotchBlue™ Painter’s Tape Pinterest Page


Still Indoor Activities vs Sparkling Outdoor Soirees (And a Sweepstakes!)

This post is brought to you by the new Samsung 4-Door Sparkling Water Refrigerator. Still or sparkling? Now get both straight from your refrigerator door! Store up to 31 bags of groceries with 31 cu. ft. capacity and keep fruits and vegetable fresher longer with Twin Cooling Plus®.
Click here to learn more about the Samsung 4-Door Sparkling Water Refrigerator.

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Blueberry-Strawberry Jicama Salsa // Brass Tic Tac Toe Game // Moon Dominoes // Melted Chocolate Fleur de Sel Bruschetta // Ceramic Speakers // Foosball // BLT Pizza with Grilled Corn + Crumbled Feta // 4 Ingredient Strawberry Lemonade // Backgammon & Checkers Box Set // Handmade Ceramic Growler

Sometimes a good old fashioned game night is just what the doctor ordered. It’s the perfect still activity for every age, and it’s also one of the easiest to pull together at a moment’s notice. Grab a few games out of your closet and ask guests to bring along their favorites from home. The games I chose above have simple designs that are super appealing to the eye even when not in use, and the growler and speaker follow suit with their clean lines. Whip up a few easy things to nosh while playing – simple flavor combinations that are equal parts childhood and summer. Then put together a playlist full of warm weather classics to set the mood for fun, and you’re all set!


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Porcelain Ice Cream Pint Holder // Walnut Serving Trays and Platters // Matte Ceramic Cups // Geo Bowls // Ice Cream Cake Ball Bombes // Brown Sugar Bacon Ice Cream Sandwiches // Gold Dipped Porcelain Spoon Set // Black and White Peanut Bar Ice Cream Cake // Sorbet Watermelon Wedges

Nothing says summer like an ice cream social! Kick up this low-key activity a notch by showcasing ice cream outside of the carton in mouthwatering cakes, sandwiches, etc. Display your cool creations on pretty platters like these walnut pieces and set out your toppings in fun containers. Use eye-catching dinnerware and utensils to serve guests, then grab a seat on the couch and dive into all of that juicy neighborhood gossip as you relax the night away.


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Playa Throw // Italian Cherry Doughnuts // Peak Decorative Pillow // Chipotle Popcorn Chicken // Linen Handtack Cushions // DIY Outdoor Bar Cart // Watermelon-Fontina Melts with Dill // Lavender + Cucumber Soda // Safari Chair

A backyard movie night is pretty much the be-all-end-all of sparkling outdoor summer entertaining – can you say Hollywood?! Hang a white sheet on the fence and load up your backyard with lots of blankets and pillows to settle down and cozy up on. An upgraded “concession stand” full of sweet and savory bite-sized finger foods will be sure to make it a delicious evening to remember. Adding an outdoor bar cart to the mix makes guests feel welcome to help themselves and frees up some time for you to enjoy the film yourself.


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Peach Cornbread Cake // Goat Cheese and Heirloom Tomato Tart // Glitz Lunch Plates // Overseas Connection Market Basket // Rustic Linen Blanket // Grilled Zucchini Ribbon and Kale Salad // BROMMO Chaise Lounge // Lock Bottle Opener // White Peach Maple Soda

There’s something to be said about taking advantage of the afternoon. Voyaging to a park or hidden spot for a fancy picnic can feel like a mini getaway if you do it right. Prep the food you’ll be taking along that morning, dishes that can be put on ice and eaten cold or at room temperature are best. Grab a pretty basket, a luxe blanket, and a few chairs if you want to go all out! Splurge even further by packing real dishes and classes instead of paper and plastic. A tip for the wise: a few beers or a bottle of bubbly could be the icing on the cake for your sparkling picnic soiree!

Summer was made for entertaining, wouldn’t you agree? Here’s where the fun comes in for you – do you prefer a “sparkling” over the top event or a low-key “still” activity? Submit an Instagram photo showing us and tag it with either #SamsungStill or #SamsungSparkling to let us know your style and be entered to win a new Samsung 4-door Sparkling Water Refrigerator! See complete rules here.

Click here to learn more about the Samsung 4-Door Sparkling Water Refrigerator.


Nissan Versa Note

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While in San Diego I had the chance to check out the new 2014 Nissan Versa Note. I have some serious brand loyalty when it comes to these guys – my last two cars have been Nissans – so I was definitely interested in what new technology they would be bringing to the table.


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If you’ve been a Design Crush reader for a few years you might remember my last trip with Nissan, which resulted in 18 hours in Seattle. I’m happy to report that since I had arrived in town a few days early I didn’t miss any of the fun this go around! Thursday night we were treated to a delicious family style dinner at the newly opened location of Stone Brewing Co. at Liberty Station, it’s in a 60,000 foot space making it the largest restaurant in San Diego. That sounds sort of awful, but the way it’s sectioned off into smaller spaces makes it feel extremely intimate. And they have a bocce court!


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We enjoyed our hor d’oeuvres and dessert in a beautiful courtyard. The space was perfectly green and peachy and full of succulents and chairs made out of whiskey barrels. So much inspiration! Then when the sun went down they projected a surfing documentary on this exact wall, no audio only music. It was honestly one of the most perfect nights, in the name of business or not.


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Friday morning we were treated to the sight of an entourage of Nissan Versa Notes lined up outside of the Andaz! I was lucky enough to have Kirsten Grove as my driving partner, and she took the wheel for the first leg of our test drive. But before that we checked out the car and oohed and aahed over it’s 40 mpg capacity, best in class cargo space, and the Around View Monitor (AVM) that gives you a 360-degree view of your car. This little car packs a serious punch.


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I love how Nissan built our drive around a few stops at interesting places specific to San Diego. After a drive through the high desert our first stop was Shaper Studios, where we had the chance to try our hand at  shaping a surfboard! Along with giving birth to boards they also give lessons on shaping and glassing your own! So rad.


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Our second stop (after a drive through beautiful vineyards and country) was Belly Up, the famed club in Solana Beach that’s known for getting bands right before they hit it big. We grabbed lunch right next door at the Wild Note Cafe. I had about ten minutes to give the menu a once over, order, and eat before catching my shuttle to the airport. Thanks for a fantastic experience, Nissan!

Disclosure: Nissan provided me with travel and hotel accommodations to attend the 2014 Nissan Versa Note media preview.


On The Hunt

You know the drill. You’re on Pinterest, you click through to something you want to add to your wardrobe, and it’s an image with no link. Or you’ve spotted a piece that’s waaay out of your price range and you’d like to find a more affordable version. Or maybe you just don’t have any idea what to wear with that cute summer skirt you picked up last weekend (ahem). It can be a long list of reasons why you can’t seem to locate the fashion you’re looking for, and until I discovered the hunt I was off trolling Google images just like the rest of you. BUT NO MORE, because now there’s The Hunt.


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The premise is simple, The Hunt‘s community helps each other find the items they’re after. To start off sign up for an account in one easy step, then post a photo with some details about what you’re looking for. Congratulations, you’ve just created your first Hunt! Now the community hops to work either finding the piece you’re looking for, finding a more price conscious version, or even giving you solutions on what to pair a troublesome piece with. Brilliant, right??


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I picked up this easy and comfortable skirt on a whim while shopping last weekend. I thought it would be perfect to pull on over my bathing suit or for a casual day out and about. But I have no clue what to pair it with besides a white t-shirt! That’s where The Hunt comes in and offers suggestions. I can already tell this is going to be a new obsession.


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Suggestions started rolling in within minutes! And when you find someone with a fashion sense that you trust you can follow them to stay connected. Can you imagine all your friends joining and being able to get one another’s help and opinions at the same time? You should probably all sign up for The Hunt immediately.

This post is sponsored by The Hunt,  however all words and opinions are my own.