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EYELASH ENHANCERS

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Have you ever done anything to enhance your eyelashes? I don't have short eyelashes per se but I'm definitely intrigued by the idea of lengthening them a little! (Side note: why are long lashes always wasted on boys?) I really want to give Neulash a try but I've also heard good things about Latisse and Revitalash. (I was searching online last night and found an overwhelming number of choices!) Do you have any suggestions on what you've tried and what's worked best for you? I'll keep you posted on what I decide to try!





OFF THE SHOULDER TOPS

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My style tends to be very classic (let's "blame" it on my mom working for Ralph Lauren my entire childhood, okay?) but every now and then comes a trend I can get behind. This summer it's off the shoulder tops and dresses. I think collarbones can be super sexy (in an elegant, understated way) and I know lots of girls (myself included) who aren't exactly in love with their arms. Enter the off the shoulder top, which is as breezy as a tank top without leaving you feeling quite as exposed. (Unless of course you can pull off a crop top, in which case this one is seriously gorgeous.) I've rounded up a few of my favorites below... Are there any you think you'd wear? What other trends are you trying this summer? 









D'ORSAY FLATS

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I recently bought the most amazing pair of Madewell d'Orsay flats and I can't wait until fall just to be able to wear them more regularly. The quality is awesome and they're so flattering on my feet! (If you don't think "foot-flattering" is a thing, try being 5'1" and looking at your feet in ankle strap heels. Pointed toes are your friends...!) If you're looking for a pair, here are a few ideas from the super affordable to the super luxe:



WHERE TO BUY AFFORDABLE DRESSES

If you're shopping for affordable dresses for an upcoming party or wedding, you know how hard it is to find something cute that won't break the bank. And for some reason, these dress needs always seem to sneak up on us. If you've been that girl (ahem, hi) who's texted her girlfriends on a Thursday night begging to borrow something — anything — for a destination wedding that Saturday, this guide of affordable dresses is for you. Do yourself a favor, check out the selections below, and scoop up a few options before the eleventh hour. You'll feel more prepared and you'll have money left over for cocktails and presents.


The selection can be overwhelming but there are definitely deals to be had. Try searching "skater dress" for flattering fit-and-flare numbers or shopping ASOS Collection for pretty embellished options. My picks: bow dress ($53), pink backless ($104), chic ruffle ($72).

All the dresses in the graphic above are Dorothy Perkins finds. Not familiar? I wasn't either until I stumbled upon a veritable treasure trove of wedding-appropriate dresses under $100. My picks: embellished dress in fuchsia and lime ($69), navy halter dress ($89), and striped fit-and-flare ($57).

Their assortment skews a little more casual and you'll have to do a little digging but the juice is worth the squeeze if you're looking for a dress that no one else will be wearing. My picks: blue bow dress ($69) and green stripe dress ($79).

Yes, they carry higher end labels like Alice & Olivia and Kate Spade, but the juniors section has a surprising number of age-appropriate picks for ladies in their twenties and thirties. One line to look for is Lush. My picks: chic shirtdress ($88), pretty in pink ($46), and preppy stripes ($38).

If you're on a serious budget, this is your spot. You'll have to sift through lots of bodycon don'ts but the dos are worth the wait. My picks: the perfect party dress ($27), sweet stripes ($27), and scarf print ($23). 

I usually shop Piperlime for shoes but they have a ton of dresses under $100. My picks: this dress in every color ($79), backless with a bow ($89), A-line mini ($49), and nautical stripes ($83).

Heavily discounted designer wares ranging from super casual to wedding-ready. My picks: geometric navy ($94), jersey wrap ($96), and T by Alexander Wang stripes ($85).



WEEKEND READING


1. 6 foods that you never knew were gluten-free. I'm just glad macarons made the list ;)

2. Did you know you can shop my entire wishlist here?

3. Don't forget about the Nordstrom anniversary sale! Check out my picks here.

4. Happy girls are the prettiest girls. Love these looks on Molly and Sally!

5. I always like scrolling through InStyle's look of the day feature for outfit inspiration.

6. I love the navy trim on this skirt. So chic with a blue oxford shirt and pointed toe pumps.


7. In case you missed it, an artist pop-up shop and a new career spotlight.

8. Literally freaking out over J.Crew's new arrivals. I have my eye on this designer collab, these scalloped ballet flatsthis sweater, and these tassel loafers.

9. The five most versatile pieces of decor you'll ever own.


10. This dress is practically begging to be worn to a summer wedding.



BAHAMAS BOUND

I love an excuse to shop as much as the next girl and an upcoming vacation usually does the trick! I'm so excited to be heading to the Bahamas in August for our friends' wedding in Lyford Cay. I've never been and I can't wait to soak up some time in the sun and spend some quality time celebrating Jane and Scottie! In the mean time, I've got quite the shopping list: bikinis, cover-ups, sandals, and — oh, right — whatever I'm going to wear to the actual wedding! Here's what I'll be wearing on the beach during the day (with SPF 10,000, obviously)...






Old Navy cover-up c/o  //  Old Navy bikini c/o  //  J.Crew sunhat (similar)
Kate Spade sunglasses c/o  //  Elizoebeth Jensen monogrammed necklace c/o
J.Crew clutch  //  Essie "Fancy Delancey"  //  Old Navy flip flops c/o

Now this is the kind of print mixing I can handle: a striped cover-up and a subtle floral print bikini, both in the tried-and-true combination of neon pink and bright white. The bikini is lightly padded, true to size, really flattering for the price. I know it's a little hard to see in the pictures but it has the cutest thistle print detail that I'll be wearing to the Bahamas, Nantucket, and everywhere in between (and let's hope there are lots of in-betweens!). If you're beach bound this summer, Old Navy has a great assortment of affordable tops and bottoms that you can mix and match to your liking. Oh and did I mention this one is $8? Not a typo. Shop to it!

This post was sponsored by Old Navy. Check out Old Navy's latest fashion lineup in store or online at oldnavy.com.

MACARON WORKSHOP NYC

I have a bit of a sweet tooth but I rarely crave cookies or cupcakes. If I could only eat two desserts for the rest of my life, I'd go with Talenti sea salt caramel gelato (there are no words) and vanilla macarons. I'd been told that macarons are difficult to make but stubbornly I wanted to see for myself so Will and I signed up for a macaron workshop at Mille-Feuille through Vimbly, a booking site for activities and classes in New York. 


The class was taught by a fabulous French baker named Olivier (I mean, really, what more could you ask for?) and had only six students so it was easy to keep up. But it's true what they say: macarons are not a walk in the park! It's a very involved process and it would definitely take a lot of practice for me to be able to make them at home... I might even have to take the workshop again just to get more comfortable with what everything should look like before progressing to the next step. For those who requested the recipe when I posted on Instagram, here goes! Good luck :)


SHELLS: (~75 macarons)


In a large bowl, sift together:

385 grams confectionary sugar
385 grams almond powder


Then add the following:

155 grams raw egg whites


Add coloring according to your desired color. (We were in charge of vanilla so these are just white!)




In a KitchenAid bowl, whip the following gently until firm:

155 grams egg whites
(Optional ingredients: 3 grams dried egg whites, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, or 1 pinch cream of tartar)


In a sauce pan, cook at 245°F the following then pour it on the whipped egg whites:

475 grams regular sugar
160 grams water



Add the meringue little by little to the first batter.



Pipe the macarons on a tray then leave them for 20-25 minutes minimum at room temperature.



Bake at 320° F for 13-14 minutes.




Vanilla Ganache (~25 macarons)



Bring to a boil:

95 grams cream (36% or 40% fat)
2 vanilla beans (Amadeus Trading Company), should be moist and soft


Pour on the following:

190 grams Ivoire Valrhona (Valrhona 35% white chocolate or Soie from Guittard)


Blend, spread in a tray, and put in the fridge.



Chocolate Ganache (~25 macarons)
Bring to a boil:
95 grams cream (36% or 40% fat)


Pour on the following:

85 grams Caraibes Valrhona (66% chocolate)
35 grams European style butter (>82% fat, cut in pieces)
15 grams honey


Blend, spread in a tray, put in the fridge.





Pistachio Ganache (~25 macarons)



Bring to a boil:

95 grams cream (36% or 40% fat)


Pour on the following:

210 grams Ivoire Valrhona (Valrhona 35% white chocolate or Soie from Guittard)
20 grams of Pistachio paste


Blend, spread in a tray, put in the fridge.


Once the shells are baked and the ganache is chilled, you can match up shells of a similar size and sandwich them together with a drop of ganache. They actually tasted delicious — I just don't trust myself to recreate them properly when left to my own devices! Still it was a really fun workshop, went by super quickly, and we each got to take home a box of macarons. A great way to spend a Saturday morning in New York!


If you're interested in taking the same workshop, you can sign up through Vimbly here. (They're also in Boston, Chicago, D.C., Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Maui, Orlando, and Seattle!) Here's a list of other Vimbly experiences that I can't wait to take advantage of!



CAREER SPOTLIGHT: SAMANTHA STEEN, CAMI NYC

You all know I'm a basics girl at heart. There's nothing I love more than a perfectly cut blazer, a killer pair of skinny jeans, or a beautifully tailored silk top. My new favorite source for pretty silk basics? Cami NYC, a line of silk camisoles inspired by ladylike lingerie but refined enough for everyday wear. I was so excited to sit down with founder Samantha Steen and pick her brain about what it's like to launch a fashion label in New York. That's definitely a pipe dream of mine so it's pretty cool to see someone just a couple years older making her dreams come true!

{Samantha in the High Top cami in sea foam}

Name: Samantha Steen
Age: 27
Title: Founder/CEO, Cami NYC

What was your first job ever? Have you always wanted to launch your own line?
I always loved designing but I never knew I wanted to pursue it as a career. I worked for a bunch of different designers and have had so many amazing mentors working as part of small teams within the industry. I found this missing gap in the marketplace because I was looking for a cami that I could wear from day to night that was reminiscent of lingerie. I looked everywhere — boutiques, department stores, online — asking sales girls if they had what I was describing. And every time they'd say, "We don't have that, but I really wish we did." So one day I just sewed a piece of lace onto a cami and every girl at work stopped and asked where I got it. So I started making them in a bunch of colors and soft launched the website in August of last year. We sold 30% of our inventory in the first week. I was expecting that first production run to last me the year and now I'm on my twenty-ninth run in eleven months. Crazy!



That's such an incredible benchmark! What's your design process like?
Every time I have an idea, I sketch it out. I went to school for fine arts with a focus on painting. I always see women in the street or a design in a store and think, "That top would be perfect if it just had this or that." With the High Top cami, I had seen that cut before but thought it would be amazing with a sheer panel. I go through my sketches and decide what's most relatable to every girl out there and pick our color palette from what our team wants to be wearing that season. For spring and summer, it was pastels, sorbet colors, and neons. For fall, I can't get enough of burgundy, charcoal, and navy. Once we have the design and the color palette, we'll go to our pattern maker, our manufacturer, and then into production.



What does a typical day look like in your world?
One day I'll be in back-to-back meetings and the team will be back at the office doing customer service and shipping. Other days I'm meeting with bloggers, editors, and stylists or running to the garment district to meet with printmakers or to look at new laces and silks. Since we launched, we've generated a strong celebrity following so we're constantly tracking who's wearing what. I'm always researching new fabrications and trying to come up with more comfortable, flattering fits. 

I love getting to wear a bunch of different hats on any given day. What's the most and least fun part of your job?
The least fun is logistical stuff like dealing with international shipping. The most fun? Everything is fun to me. I like getting my hands dirty and I like the more glamorous side. I can't imagine doing anything else!




What's one pinch me moment you've had so far?
Getting praise from our celebrity customers is pretty surreal. Cameron Diaz, Hillary Duff, Rose Byrne, Shakira are all fans of the brand! It's always fun to scroll through Instagram and see a familiar face in something I designed.

Those are some pretty huge names! How would you describe your target customer?
Every girl is the Cami girl! A twenty-something will wear it with printed jeans, a thirty-something will tuck one into a pencil skirt, my mom wears them layered under a blazer. 


It's cool that you've designed a little something for everyone. What's inspiring you right now?
I get so inspired just seeing women all over Manhattan. I think we're all very fortunate to live in a city where there are such design opportunities. I love how people's style changes from uptown to downtown — the women shopping at Bergdorfs are so different from what you see in Meatpacking. I love that juxtaposition and knowing Cami can be styled to work in any look.



When will you know you've made it?
I have moments every day where I'm like, this is it. On Friday, we found a picture of Shakira wearing Cami. We get notes from customers saying they appreciate our customer service. There are different aspects of feeling like I've built a successful business and I've surrounded myself with an awesome team who keeps that business growing. Everything from selling my first cami to seeing Shakira wearing hers to having a top tier editor praising the product... It all makes me so excited to keep going and to gradually expand the collection.

What's next for Cami NYC?
We're looking into a showroom where girls will be able to come in, try everything on, and place an order in the space instead of taking it home with them that day. It would be amazing to have a space for small events, sales appointments, and getting to see girls try on Cami for the first time!


Keep up with Cami NYC:
Facebook  //  Instagram  //  Pinterest  //  Twitter


P.S. Know an inspiring working woman in New York who'd be a good fit for Design Darling? Shoot me an email!



KATHERINE BRAMLETT ART POP-UP SHOP


After the success of the Kerry Steele pop-up shop last month, I couldn't wait to bring more affordable original art to Design Darling! Katherine Bramlett is as sweet as she is talented and I love her range of work: beach scenes, bright abstracts, and a few florals and nudes for good measure. We're featuring 24 original works at unbelievable prices (seriously — they start at just $20!!!). Add an abstract to your gallery wall, frame two for your powder room, or gift your favorite to a color-loving girlfriend. Shop the pop-up shop here!


PLAYING FAVORITES (EVERYTHING'S UNDER $100!)

Sometimes when life gets crazy it's nice to just zone out and look at pretty things for a while. We've added so many new products to the boutique this summer and I can't wait to add a bunch of them to my own space. Here's a little recipe for how to decorate, dress, and entertain à la Design Darling this summer:



Speaking of decorating, I have lots of apartment updates in the works! Stay tuned...!

3 SWEET & SAVORY POPCORN RECIPES


Popcorn is one of my favorite simple snacks but I knew there had to be more ways to eat it than buttered and salted. I started perusing Pinterest for recipe ideas and found more than I could possibly make in a year, let alone condense into one blog post. One afternoon, my interns Mary Claire, Taryn, and I set out to try three recipes (tweaking them to our tastebuds as necessary). To cut down on prep time, we used Skinny Pop popcorn but you could pop your own or use the microwave variety as well. Here's what we made and how you too can add a little sweet or savory flavor to your popcorn fix:


Old-Fashioned Pink Popcorn (original recipe here)
A super sweet treat that looks like cotton candy with a popcorn crunch. This was my personal favorite — I continued snacking on it long after Mary Claire and Taryn left for the day.

Ingredients:
8 cups popped popcorn
2 cups sugar (I would probably use a little less next time!)
2/3 cup half & half, cream, or whole milk
1 tablespoon white corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 drops red food coloring

Directions:
1. Place sugar, half & half, corn syrup, and salt in a saucepan. Cook on medium heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. 
2. When the mixture reaches a boil, remove from heat and add vanilla and food coloring.
3. Drizzle the mixture over popped popcorn, evenly coating the whole batch. The coating will begin to dry. 
4. Pour the coated popcorn onto wax paper and let dry for 20 minutes.
5. Enjoy!


Spicy Adobo Popcorn (original recipe here)
Give your favorite snack a little kick with adobo flavor and red pepper flakes. This would be a perfect bar snack... So addicting and tastes extra yummy with a squeeze of lime. Tequila, anyone?

Ingredients:
8 cups popped popcorn
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons adobo seasoning
Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
Squeeze of lime (optional)

Directions:
1. Coat popcorn in melted butter, adobo seasoning, and red pepper flakes. Close bag / put lid back on and shake until popcorn is well coated.
2. Enjoy! Easy as that.


Party Popcorn (original recipe here)
An easy treat to whip up for birthday parties in your office or at your neighbors'. The perfect snack for anyone who's never ordered ice cream sans sprinkles!

Ingredients:
8 cups popped popcorn
6 ounces white candy melts (use CandiQuik or wafer style, not chocolate chips)
Rainbow sprinkles!

Directions:
1. Melt your white chocolate in the microwave. 
2. On a large baking sheet, mix the melted chocolate into your popcorn. 
3. Sprinkle and enjoy!


Et voilà! Any recipe that involves my favorite snack and takes 20 minutes or less is a win in my book. Let me know what you think!

*Dinner napkins from Katie Kime, World Market, and One Kings Lane; bowls from World Market
**Original recipes linked above; all photos were taken by me and original to Design Darling



WEEKEND READING

{These wine stoppers unscrew to reveal a corkscrew underneath!}

An elbow patch sweater for $24.

How to cure a headache.

Just found this dress line and want one of everything.


Kate Spade is launching swimwear.


Let's follow each other on Pinterest! Check out my boards and leave a link to yours in the comments.

New for summer.

Such a cute shirtdress. 

The best American cities for foodies.

The coolest cooler. (He's raised more than $6 million on Kickstarter!)


Tory Burch for Fitbit.

NORDSTROM ANNIVERSARY SALE

Have you shopped the Nordstrom anniversary sale? It's a great chance to scoop up fall favorites on sale before they go back to full-price in August. The number of items in the sale is a little overwhelming and things can sell out quickly so I rounded up 10 brands and items you won't want to miss:



I've been hopelessly in love with my Clarisonic Mia for two years now. If you've been curious about giving it a try, I give it an enthusiastic two thumbs up. This set includes everything you need to get started, plus a replacement brush head for once you're hooked. Shop all Clarisonic here.




Every girl's favorite underwear, available in every color under the sun. Shop all Hanky Panky here.









A classic nude pump you can wear to work, weddings, and everything in between. I also love this bow sweater and this classic watchShop all Kate Spade here.






I want to cover my entire wardrobe in leather and suede patches so this quilted vest would fit right in. Shop all Lauren Ralph Lauren here.







The best hot pink hue in lip gloss, lipstick, and nail polish. The pretty packaging is just the cherry on top. Shop all NARS here.








Here's an idea: use these eight lip glosses as toppers for birthday and holiday gifts throughout the year. Just tie one on with a bow for extra pretty presents for the girly girls in your life!



Maybe not the most exciting fashion purchase but bonus points for practicality. Available in four cute colors. Need something warmer? This navy parka ($289 $215) should do the trick. Shop all North Face here.







Tory Burch riding boots for under $300... Need I say more? Shop all Tory Burch here.




An everyday sweater staple you'll be happy to have in your closet come September. Available in navy and white. Shop all Vince here.








I've heard great things about this activewear brand and now is the perfect time to stock up. If you're tired of t-shirts at the gym, pick up one of these tops ($58 $37) and you've got yourself a whole new look. Shop all Zella here.