styled | designlovefest

i’ve only seen the movie “Out of Africa” once but Meryl Streep’s style is something i’ll never forget. so many neutrals, collars, crisp whites, pleat front pants,  hats, buttons and sleeves. it’s truly the first thing that comes to my mind when i think of safari clothing. my friend katherine is about to go on a safari and we were talking about what she should pack.

styled | designlovefest

i don’t mean this from a practical sense because i actually don’t know what one should bring on a safari but here is what i’d like to pack; romantic blouses, white cotton dresses, forest green chinos with a wide cuff, lace up boots, camel colored hats, khakis  and blazers.

 $70 – it doesn’t get much chicer or wearable than a shirt dress, i love the collar on this one.

 $150 – a straw tote with handles seems like the perfect safari bag to me.

 $25 – i love the color and weight of the tee and the low cut back. the black would also be a good purchase

 $192 – i cannot get enough of , everything they make is so romantic and i have a couple of their pieces that i love. their pieces are on the more expensive side but they are things you’ll reach for again and again.

$205 – the perfect straw hat to go with all of your looks.

 $60 – i’m really into pleat front pants. i’d order these in a size bigger so you can really tie them tight with the rope.

 $150 – such a pretty green color, would be the perfect tailored item to wear with a romantic white blouse

 $50  – i know i’ve been posting a lot about H&M but they really are putting out really cool pieces at affordable prices.

 $70 – the perfect black + white mini dress to wear all summer (or safari) long. would be so cute with an army green jacket on top.

styled | designlovefest
styled | designlovefest



our favorite birthday cake | designlovefest

there are soooo many recipes out there on the internet nowadays and it can be really hard to sift through them and find what’s worth making and what might be a waste of time. i wanted to find the perfect chocolate birthday cake, something that you’d feel excited to bring a friend on their special day. i read through a ton of recipes and felt that the had the most remarkable reviews. it felt like no one had a bad thing to say and that many of the comments were, “best cake I’ve ever had!” and “i’ve found the perfect chocolate cake!”. reading through them i knew we had to give it a try and see if it’s that good, and truthfully, it is. i also think we should all start baking birthday cakes for our loved one’s birthdays. how fun and sweet (pun intended) for someone to show up on your door with a cake and candles. birthdays can become less and less climactic as we get older and i say we start working to counter that feeling.  so let’s all bake someone a cake! -joanie
p.s. the plates are from knot and bow! you can find them . 

our favorite birthday cake | designlovefest
our favorite birthday cake | designlovefest

i know baking can be intimidating but if you take it step by step it really is an approachable recipe. my biggest baking tip is to be super exact, don’t eyeball anything, make all of your measurements exact. we made the cake exactly as instructed. but one thing i will say is that the baking time was a bit long, it says 35-45 minutes. we did 35 minutes and i think it could have been 3-5 minutes shorter than that.

Beatty’s Chocolate Cake by Ina Garten
serves 8

what you’ll need: 
• butter for greasing the pans
• 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
• 2 cups white sugar
• 3/4 cups good cocoa powder
• 2 teaspoons baking soda
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1 cup buttermilk, shaken
• 1/2 cup vegetable oil
• 3 extra-large eggs, at room temp
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

chocolate frosting: 

• 6 ounces good semisweet chocolate (she recommends Callebaut, we used Ghirardelli)
• 1/2 pound butter at room temp
1 extra-large egg yolk at room temp
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1 1/4 cups shifted confectioners’ sugar
• 1 tablespoon instant coffee powder

our favorite birthday cake | designlovefest
our favorite birthday cake | designlovefest
our favorite birthday cake | designlovefest

• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8-inch x 2-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans. you could also use three smaller pans if you wanted to create more layers and height.

• Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

• Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

our favorite birthday cake | designlovefest
our favorite birthday cake | designlovefest

Chocolate Frosting:

• Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.

• In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy. Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Don’t whip! Spread immediately on the cooled cake.

our favorite birthday cake | designlovefest
our favorite birthday cake | designlovefest
our favorite birthday cake | designlovefest

images by: 
styling by: joanie cusack + ivan solis



there’s something so charming about built in bookshelves. they make the ceiling rise high, add architectural detail, and give the room a break from traditional wall decor. sure, you can buy stand alone a book shelf, but there’s something so lovely about a bookshelf that’s built in as a part of the room. if you’re lucky enough to have built in bookshelves in your space, style them in an inspired way this weekend. here are some built-in’s i’m eying right now (and envying). happy decorating this weekend!





this week  made these pretty pastel desktops for us. love these watercolors! there are so many pretty colors to choose from. click through below to download the wallpapers, and you can shop her watercolors






pink + red | designlovefest

there are few color combos as powerful as pink and red and in honor of Valentine’s day i’d like to highlight this saturated duo! it’s a mix i’ve loved for a long time and when i see an image of it i can’t help but be drawn to the bold hues. the shade of the colors can run a wide range, a fuchsia pink to blush or a fire engine red to a more orangey red with blue under tones. we’re in a time when fashion is moving back into bold colors and i hope we start to see more of this combo around. here are some inspiration images i dug up from around the web if you’re looking to give this combo a try! oh, and happy valentine’s day, i hope you wear some pink + red! – joanie

pink + red | designlovefest
pink + red | designlovefest
pink + red | designlovefest

the above is by , a brand that is continually putting out beautiful and inspiring shapes and colors. they just showed at NY fashion week and the collection was stunning. you can see it if you’re interested. if you’re in the market for a pink handbag i also love and from .

pink + red | designlovefest
pink + red | designlovefest
pink + red | designlovefest

really into that pink and red jumpsuit in the first above picture. it’s by Staud and available . i also love that pink jacket, not sure where it’s from but this under is a pretty option too.

pink + red | designlovefest




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