Thursday, March 24, 2016

It's that time again...Easter Chocolate Carrot Cake

Why would someone make Chocolate Carrot Cake? Because it is incredible.
A match like a  PB&J sandwich!
Or a perfect combo like Cherry Coke! Who knew?!
I like Carrot Cake. And I like Chocolate Cake...but Chocolate Carrot Cake had never entered my brain until two years ago, when I was out at one of my favorite Tulsa Restaurants, THE WILD FORK and had to try their Chocolate Carrot Cake..yes, the first I had heard of such a combination. It was divine. The next time I went back (about two months later) they didn't offer it as an option. I decided then and there that I would try to recreate this amazing cake.
You might think, what on earth does this taste like? Well, it is not so far off of Chocolate Zucchini Bread, as a matter of fact. I have tried several Chocolate Carrot Cake recipes that I've found on-line (don't ever try the apple sauce version that is out there in the was horrible) and on my 5th attempt and tweaking, I knew I almost had it. So, this time, the 6th time, I had everything right...and I added a little secret ingredient: Cinnamon. 
You can make it with plain Cream Cheese Frosting....but let's just say, I don't do anything plain.
So, my cake has a Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting.
It is a full, dense cake and you need a cold glass of milk to go with it.

Cake Ingredients

2 1/2 cups finely shredded carrots
2 cups sugar
1-1/4 cups canola oil
4 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup baking cocoa powder (like Hershey's cocoa)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon


1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 cups confectioners sugar
1/4 cup baking cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional in between layers, on top or on side of cake)


  • Line two 9-in. round baking pans with waxed paper; grease the paper and set aside. In a large bowl, beat the carrots, sugar, oil and eggs until well blended. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into carrot mixture until blended.
  • Pour into prepared pans. Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes. The cake will start to have bubbles (well, more like little craters) around the edges and/or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely. I suggest leaving the waxed paper on the cake and wrapping with seran wrap and freezing the cakes.  It makes frosting the cake layers much easier.
  • For frosting, in a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Beat in the confectioners' sugar, cocoa and vanilla until smooth. Make sure frosting is at room temp when frosting the cake.  (This frosting is quite thick...if you refrigerate and then try to frost the cake with cold frosting it will be too stiff to spread for ultimate coverage).
  • Place bottom layer on a serving plate; top with half of the frosting. I like to sprinkle the walnuts or pecans in the middle of the layers. Repeat with remaining cake layer. Sprinkle or decorate the side of the cake with nuts. 

That's my Chocolate Carrot Cake.
What do you think? Should I try to come up with a fun name for it? Can you?

Friday, March 11, 2016

House Guests {Pinecrest}

When we first moved to the Salt Lake City area, we considered living up Emigration Canyon for its rugged mountain atmosphere yet close proximity to the city convenience. After realizing that it was more isolated than it appeared, we opted for an area that still was only a few moments away from canyons, skiing and trails, but we needed to be closer to schools, grocery stores and civilization.

HOWEVER, I've never been able to shake my first love...Emigration Canyon. If we could do it all over again, I may have considered home schooling or just sucked it up and been ok with being buried up in the canyon when the 90" snow base rolls in each Winter. And I would have bought the snow mobile and told the kids to forget about extracuricular activites, because this and the hills around it would have been all of the activity they'd need.  If I was looking for a home with tons of privacy, a "Rocky Mountain High" feel, with unique yet down to Earth architecture and being off the grid was a plus...this house would be everything.

I got to drive up to this house last week and I'd love to share this Modern Mountain Swiss Family Robinson home with you. According to the listing agent, "It’s part contemporary cabin, part mountain-infused modern, and all that and a bag of trail mix". 

BOY, what I could do to this house.



To see more photos, specific property and listing agent info visit City Home Collective. 
All photos courtesy of City Home Collective

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Splurge or Steal {Giant Book Page Art}

I love good design. You can have good design no matter the size of your budget. You just have to be more creative, and sometimes being scrappy and ingenuitive can generate even better results than taking the costly, "easy" way out. 
However, sometimes DIYs come off too much like a DIY and it is better to wait for the real thing. That may be the case in this instance, but when you're talking about a $500+ difference for a piece of art that you can come close to replicating...well, it's worth the shot, in my book, if it means having it or not having it.

But when the real deal isn't a perfect fit...well, enter the scrappy and ingenuis DIY.
A client of mine has wanted this Velveteen Rabbit Art for several months. The quote and book page idea is perfect for her hallway, however, the rustic frame is all wrong. She has no problem with the price point, but there is no way of ordering the print and not the frame. SugarBoo, the manufacturer, says that it is printed on a wood board, so there is no way of ordering it without the rustic frame.
SugarBoo Print $600

So, after a bit of research, we're off to try to DIY a paper print of the Velveteen Rabbit quote that can be framed in a silver or brass frame that works with the rest of the upscale vibe. It will be down the hall from a Benson-Cobb, so the rustic frame just wasn't the way to go.The other brilliant thing about this DIY is that you can obviously, select any quote that you'd like to have. I'll be following this tutorial from Whimsy Girl Design and let you know how it turns out! I'm thinking of doing 3 for my own hallway in a massive architect's size of 36x48. Hooray for Lindsay of Whimsy Girl for working all of these details out and sharing them!

DIY Whimsy Girl Design $70

Throwback Thursday: Design Terms Pronunciation Guide

Throwback Thursday today calls for my most popular and most pinned Design 101 Post.
From June 2013, here is my Design Terms Pronunciation Guide. Its a little basic in visuals and content, but run through these terms to see if you've been pronouncing them with correctness and ease...if not, you're welcome!

There are some design terms that I've heard since I was a little girl...{I grew up with an Antiques Auctioneer as a father and "Chinoisserie" and "Trompe l'ouile" were things that were regular vocabulary words around our house). But every now and then a design term comes up that throws me for a loop and sometimes as I'm saying the name of something, I wonder if I'm pronouncing it correctly. So I've reviewed and rounded up a few for us all.
Ever wondered if you're pronouncing "Matalesse" correctly?
Have you murdered "Ikat"?

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Wednesday Inspiration: Benjamin Moore, "Wales Gray"

Cool bluey-greeny gray Benjamin Moore Wales Gray 1585 what about a color like this for the kitchen? It's Benjamin Moore so we could probs get it in chalkboard:

A mid-tone moody gray with strong blue and green undertones, which change dramatically from gray to blue depending on light sources. 

Wales Gray, Benjamin Moore - like this color for dining room:
 via West Elm

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Studio 5 - How To Create A Design Board

Studio 5 - Weekdays at 11am on KSL 5/tmp/php5Ijrbi

Thank you so much for all of the positive feedback regarding my Segment on Studio 5 KSL NBC this past week! Hop to my DIY E-Design Board blog post after viewing,  for links to the sources mentioned in my interview. 

Studio 5 - How To Create A Design Board 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Design 101: DIY E-Design Boards

E-Design Boards.
What are they?
Graphic visuals that you can create to plan out your room decor and design elements. 

How are they different from Mood Boards and Inspiration Boards?
Mood Boards and Inspiration Boards are great for trying to capture the ideas or "look" and "feel" that you want your space to have. An E-Design Board is an actual Blue Print for specific products, paint colors, elements that will be in your finished design/space. 

What are some examples of good E-design Boards?
Professional E-Design Boards are that Blue Print for a client to follow and implement into their space. Designers select furnishings and decor to create a room design.  It's like a visual check list on how to achieve a finished room. 




If I can't hire a designer, how can I make a simple board myself without investing too much time or money?
Designers use Photoshop and Arcad and a new monthly subscription program called Sample Board.

Start with Pinterest and Houzz. Find Mood and Inspiration Pictures. 
When gathering furnishings and room decor, Pin them to your specific Board to keep track of the source and product dimensions, specifics, etc. As you start to hone in on your design direction, you can save the pictures and begin to create a board, moving the pictures in and out. Try combinations together and see what you like! 

There are several Online Resources that are free and quite simple to use for this purpose.

The Graphic Programs:

The 3-D Programs

The Apps

I've seleted 3 that I think are the easiest with the best results: 

Pic Monkey Collage:
I like using Pic Monkey's Collage option because you can easily upload pictures that are saved to your computer. You can move things in and out to see what flows well.
For example, I traded out the chandelier in the design below.

And when I brought in this more traditional crystal chandelier, I realized that the dressers that will be used as side tables, needed to be a tad more in keeping with the light fixture, so I swapped the dresser out to test another. 

And then I can easily swap the dresser back to the original to test with another light fixture.

 You can add text to your Pic Monkey collage.
Just save your original collage when it is done.
Then open a new EDIT option, upload the saved collage and add your Text!

Olio Board
Olio Board will give you the 2D and 3D design tool that can help to really get a good placement and scale going in your design. Olio Board is more time consuming, and a a more contrived look in my opinion, but if you really want to create a detailed room, this is a fantastic way to achieve that. And remember, it is typically more time consuming to return items, or try to make a bad decision work, than putting the time in upfront with your planning. I say that lovingly and from personal experience!

Morpholio Board
This is an App that you can download to your phone. I love it because you can upload any picture that you have in your phone. Anything from Pinterest, Houzz, something that you like at HomeGoods....anything can instantly be uploaded into your board so that you can quickly move things in and out to see what works....on your phone....on the spot. They also have a collection of items to sift through if you are looking for design inspiration. 

When your board is done, take a step back and think about these 4 Design Tips:
1.Repeat colors at least 3 times.

2. Think about Texture. You are living in these rooms. What does it feel like? What textures do you have that are creating depth and layers in your room so that it doesn't feel sterile and flat?

3. Make sure you've reviewed size, scale, dimensions before you buy anything. For example, know how high the bed will be before you order the bedside tables from Joss and Main.

4. A day later, look at your board. Does it feel like you? Does it feel like what you wanted your room to be? Sometimes we can get so caught up in finding "a teal pillow" that when we find a teal pillow we shove it in the design just because we feel like it works. But is it you? I'd rather have a design that is less "matchy matchy" and feels more like my STYLE. 

Oscar 2016 Recap: Dresses to Domiciles

Oscars Fashion is always fun to me.

I love to pair my favorite red carpet dresses with their interiors doppelgangers! 
Cate Blanchett in Armani Prive + Designer's Guild 

Rachel McAdams in August Getty + Mitchell Gold Bob Williams' Green Club Room 

Naomi Watts in Armani Prive + Blue Print Modern
Hannah Bagshaw Redmayne + Elle Decor

Alicia Vykander in Louis Vuitton + Netta Grispo

Jennifer Lawrence in Dior + 1stdibs

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Blogger Book Club - "The Woman I Wanted to Be" by Diane Von Furstenberg


Grab your best reading glasses and join us for another round of Blogger Book Club. I am so thrilled to have been asked to co-host this time around with Vanessa of Entre Nous!
For our March & April read, we will be delving into, The Woman I Wanted to Be, by Diane Von Furstenberg.  I've always been fascinated by her, although I only know the periferal biographical tidbits. 
“In this era when girls are made to think it’s better to be a princess than a person, Diane von Furstenberg’s The Woman I Wanted to Be is just the reverse. I thank her for honesty, spirit, encouragement to be one’s own self in public and professional life, and a memoir that covers more human experience than most novels. Pick it up — you won’t put it down.” Gloria Steinem
“Diane von Furstenberg’s life combines the hallmarks of a fairy tale with the more sober reality of a career woman—and single mother—who longs to have it all. . . . The book is as charming and erratic as von Furstenberg herself . . . the early pages paint a vivid picture . . . her account of those first years is colorful and poignant.” Financial Times
Vanessa shares, "I got a jump start on the memoir over my trip to Mexico and so far I'm completely captivated. DVF does not shy away from heavy subject matter. From her formative years to her contemporary life she is brutally honest and it's those trials and tribulations that make her the woman she is today."

As always you'll have two full months to read The Woman I Wanted to Be, then we'll discuss on April 30th. Use the hashtag #bloggerbookclub if you're reading along.