POSTS BY Trevor Lane

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I don’t really care that the calendar says the official start date of fall is whenever the Pumpkin Spice Latte becomes “a thing.” I personally enjoy the flavor throughout all seasons — my post-run smoothie always implores the use of pumpkin. Nonetheless, I do enjoy this time of year when the rest of the world embraces my affinity for the obligatory orange squash.

However, this year #PSL momentum has suffered an early blow with the news that it contains zero actual pumpkin, and is stuffed full of chemicals and unnecessary additives. While some food scientists have objectively defended the drink’s absence of actual pumpkin, some of us are left searching for a more natural alternative to our favorite seasonal swig.

HGTVGardens answered our prayers with their very own Pumpkin Spice Latte recipe. It is far more nutritious, uses fewer ingredients and contains actual pumpkin (WOO!). Plus, I would bet my yearly fall-flavored-grocery budget that this recipe is more affordable.

PSL

Makes 1 PERFECT #PSL:
1/2 to 1 cup milk (I use vanilla almond milk)
2 tablespoons canned pumpkin
1 to 2 tablespoons of natural maple syrup or sugar (try brown sugar or black strap molasses if you’re really in the mood)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
1 to 2 shots of espresso or 1/2 cup of coffee (the stronger the better in my opinion)
whipped cream for added #nomnoms

Here is all you have to do:

Whisk together milk, pumpkin and sugar in a saucepan set on low, stir until the mix is steaming. Remove the mix from heat, stir in the vanilla extract and spice and whisk until frothy. Next step, pour your new heaven-sauce mixture into a large mug, add the espresso, and enjoy. Guilt-free, chemical-free and “waiting-45-minutes-in-line-while-you’re-already-late-for-work”-free.

A latte isn’t enough for you? Click here to see every pumpkin idea, recipe, and tip our editors have to get your fix.

Have your own favorite latte recipe? Share it with us, or tell us your thoughts on the #PSL.

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As much as I have savored every second of the hot summer sun, I can’t help but get excited for the fast-approaching fall. With the recent onslaught of pumpkin everything — literally everything — and the early inklings of grocery store Halloween candy isles, I have already started my annual love-affair with fall and harvest decor.

Of course, a few sporadically placed porch gourds are never enough, but it is also super easy to go overboard. With fall decorating, the more-is-more approach will leave you with a gaudy stoop and a truck load of rotten pumpkins. Subtle, simple accents that evoke the harvest feel keep you out of kitschy territory. For those like me who already have their Halloween costumes picked out — I’ve gathered up a few interesting new decorating ideas that give your home some seasonal spice without the tacky aftertaste.

Sweater Candle
I have no idea why your candles would be cold, but dress them up in sweaters anyway. Use old sweater remnants to make candle cozies; they are perfect for adding that comfy-cozy feel we love during the season. Camilla Fabbri adds simple leaf accents to hers for a hint of nature.

Wheat
You don’t have to be gluten-free for this one, just gather a few uniform wheat stalks and bundle them with twine, yarn, or anything rustic. This neutral accent goes well on a mantel or any vignette to create a hearty, autumnal feel. Learn how with these simple step-by-step instructions.

Shiny Pumpkins
Forget those tired old orange pumpkins and forge your own from precious metals. Just kidding — find varying shapes and sizes of pumpkins and paint them in your choice of metallic hues — it is a great way to add some always-welcomed glam. Personally, I feel as though mixing gold, silver and copper makes for a more eclectic look. Copper will also add a tinge of orange to this idea. Get the step-by-step instructions here.

Leaf Centerpiece
Centerpieces that sit on the table are so last season. For fall, do something special and scrap the centerpiece for something slightly more vertical — a mobile. What better way to channel the whimsy of fall than autumn-hued leaves dancing above you during dinner? Learn how to make your own, with real or faux leaves, here.

Putka Wreath
Make a tiny pumpkin wreath! I bet your mind is exploding right now by the thought of gathering up 1,000,000 tiny pumpkins. They are actually Putka pods: natural seed pods that look like munchkin pumpkins. The best thing about this pumpkin-centered theme idea is that the dried pods will keep for many years, so you can just store it away until next year. See how to make yours here.

So don’t let me be the only one planning ahead; take some of these ideas and get your house in the mood for Apple Cider and Pumpkin Pie — I just made myself hungry — with some of these nifty, new fall ideas.

I’m sure you guys have some of your own harvest-holiday hacks. Please share them with us on our Pinterest page! Tell us what your decorating plans are for the season, or just dish on what you’re tired of seeing.

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You may not be able to wear white after Labor Day — but there are no rules against your walls.

White is almost a magic wand for interior spaces; it has the power to completely transform even the most uninspiring rooms. It also has the ability to smooth out imperfections in walls or cover up that annoying steam pipe or rough patch. This surprisingly versatile color — yes, I said color — expands and unifies any space it acquires by forcing the eyes to focus on the area within a room instead of its boundaries. However, this modern design trend can be difficult to perfect. Monochrome interiors, especially white ones, can easily look unfinished. Here are some tips for those of you looking to whitewash your living spaces.

To avoid looking flat, focus on contrasting textures. By mixing varying textures, the eye still has plenty to take in even if the color scheme is nothing but white. This makes the room seem just as rich as if it was drenched in florescent tie dye.

Grass ClothImage via Lonny

Notice that the walls are almost stark white and the furniture is minimal, but the textural element of the grass cloth brings everything together and gives the entire room a warm, inviting feel.

Inhabit Wall PanelImage via Inhabit

Go for bold with a dramatic 3-D wall panel. This ultra modern look is surprisingly easy to accomplish. Sculptural wall tiles are available at a variety of interior stores and installation is a breeze.

More White Rooms to Love

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Remember our talk about fall wardrobes earlier this week? If you were wondering where all those new duds would go, look no further than the brand-new HGTV Urban Oasis 2014.

If you were to ask what my favorite room in any home is, the word “kitchen” would quickly slip from my lips — you know, because of the food. But I couldn’t help but dream of the abuse I could inflict on my credit card with the beautifully realized, and enormous, closet of the Urban Oasis residence.

Closet

Master Closet

Lindsay Pumpa, the genius behind such a drool-worthy space, calls the closet something to write home about. The custom accessory storage and handcrafted six light chandelier allow this space to make as much of a statement as the clothing it will store.

Master Bathroom

Master Bathroom

I had to choose a second favorite: the master bathroom. It gives new meaning to the word “retreat.” The sleek, modern tub serves up beautiful city skyline views of Atlanta to whomever is soaking. The marble-tiled shower and floor meld seamlessly with the ultra-chic fixtures and vanity to mimic the tranquil luxury of a five-star spa.

Located in Buckhead, Atlanta’s mecca for all things shopping and dining, the home’s cozy-gone-chic vibe is definitely fitting.

I would be happy to live in the master closet and bathroom, but if your design-loving heart can take it — tour every inch of this urban palace. From the guest bathroom with its striking tile shower to the balcony with its sprawling views of Stone Mountain and Atlanta’s city center, every inch of this home drips with luxury.

Peruse our extensive photo galleries and let us know what your favorite space is in the home. Also, be sure to dish your feelings on the master bedroom’s purple walls — I love them!

And don’t forget — this home can be yours. Enter twice daily for a chance to win this Atlanta dream on HGTV.com and on FrontDoor.com.

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I can’t lie — the only thing that gets me through going back to school (and the approaching chilly weather) is having an excuse to buy new clothes, because you know, “I’ll be going to class every day and I can’t wear the same things over and over,” or my personal favorite, “There are so many sales going on right now, it would be stupid not to buy a few things for school.” My excuses are limitless. Feel free to use them to justify your own shopping spree.

But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve “invested” (another one of those words I like to use) in a new season wardrobe that doesn’t go along with the popular trends. Our interview with Brad Goreski showed us what to look forward to for spring, but now we need to see what trends and styles will be big this fall and winter.

So before you make that all-important pilgrimage to the mall, brush up on the season’s biggest fashion trends so you’re not left with a backseat full of outdated duds.

Sweater Weather

Photos L to R: Mango, Zara, Madewell, Style.com Prada, H&M

Last winter’s dramatic over-sized sweater trend has been scaled back and refined for 2014. Designers showcased quite a few variations of knitwear for fall and winter, ranging from flowing merino wool and cashmere, to barely-too-big fisherman’s sweaters. Sculptural silhouettes were also heavy on the runways, but t-shirts and pants also received a knitty-gritty makeover. Knit t-shirts will also prove useful next spring where merino and cashmere sweaters have an unlimited shelf life.

More Fashion Trends

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Perhaps it is the warm weather that is causing us to flirt with lighter fare, or perhaps it’s simply the season for veggies. One thing is for sure, however, zucchini squash is definitely seeing its 15 minutes in the spotlight — all for good reason.

The almost ridiculously versatile vegetable has been a long standing favorite of mine in everyday cooking. Not only is it insanely healthy — with only 20 calories per cup it’s almost FREE — it has light sweetness to it that keeps me coming back. It also helps that zucchini squash is easy to prepare, not like that pesky butternut squash I had to deal with all winter.

Lately, I’ve been seeing zucchini pop up in the most creative and innovative preparations. From pasta to cookies (Zukies?) We can’t seem to get enough of this healthy indulgence.

Check out these recipes and get inspired to feature this summertime squash on tonight’s table.

Ricotta and Zucchini Omelet Cake

What better way to start off Food Trend Friday than with breakfast — I’ve made no attempts to keep my affinity for breaki a secret. This recipe from Rachel Ray, whose recipes have stolen a lot of my attention lately, looks too good not to try.

Ricotta Omelet
With a generous helping of eggs this recipe provides ample protein to get the morning started. The zucchini, chilies, and peppers are wonderfully healthy but can also be substituted for almost anything you want. The ricotta spikes these omelet cakes with a creamy sweetness that makes the dish seem far more indulgent than it actually is.

Zucchini Boats

zucchini boats

What an easy and fun looking recipe to try. To prep the zucchini all you need to do is cut it lengthwise and hollow it out. Then fill your boat with as much of the called-for-guts you desire and bake! The walnuts play nice with the zucchini’s subtle flavor while the breadcrumbs, garlic, and tomato give the dish a substantial savory side. You can also switch out the toppings; try a red onion with tomato or even add mushrooms. The possibilities are endless!

Crispy Parmesan Zucchini Chips

Zucchini Chips

For the frying fanatic — this healthier alternative is the perfect substitute for your usual potato chips. With a buttermilk batter, amped up with oregano and thyme, these panko plated zucchini chips are light enough to let your inner snack monster take the reigns. If you’re having friends over, gain some Guy Fieri cred and serve the cool Garlic Aioli dip as well and finish the plate with a shower of Parmesan or white cheddar shavings.

Sunny’s Spicy Baked Zucchini

sunny Squash
This side had my eye immediately. It calls for zucchini — my fav — and breadcrumbs — which are carbs and are also my fav — but also Hungarian paprika: a gentle but pronounced spicy kick in the mouth. If you aren’t one for fire but need something to stir up this veggie dish, I suggest smoked paprika which will give the zucchini a more robust profile sans the burning sensation.

Goat Cheese Grilled Zucchini

Goat Cheese Zucchini

This recipe screams summer — it’s super light and gives you an excuse to light up the grill. Grilling is such a fun pass time for me and I can’t wait to try this at my next patio party. A great gluten free and diet friendly option as it doesn’t require breadcrumbs (for any of the other recipes simply opt for GF breadcrumbs) or a heavy dressing. But don’t think that means that these veggies will be plain — the feta and herbs pack a powerful punch.

ZUKIES!

Zukies

Finally! What I have had you guys clawing at the edge of your chairs for since I started this post: cookies! With just a hair more then 65 calories apiece, these are worth trying. Trust me. The warm spices pair seamlessly with the brightness of the orange to hint at fall flavor while keeping to the current season. Take my advise and add carob chips.

If you’re a dedicated zucchini lover like myself, these recipes might give you some new spins and updates on your existing repertoire. However, if you’re a novice at this particular vegetable, these recipes are easy as pie and taste just as good. Try them all, or just try one (Zukies!) but be sure to tell us how it turned out.

It seems as though the whole staff here at Design Happens has zucchini fever. Norman just posted an incredible recipe for a Summer Veggie Sandwich and Kayla’s recipe list looks pretty great as well!

If you’re planning a barbecue, try this simple Zucchini-babes recipe!

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Hamburgers are on the menu for this week’s brand-new post, Food Trend Fridays. They’re a tried-and-true classic that never cease to satisfy the taste buds, a dish that flashes back to childhood and Fourth of July cookouts with the family. No matter what age you are, that first juicy bite is always one to savor.

The beauty of these handheld works of art is that they can take on almost any flavor profile — from the classic American to the new Umami-style burgers. Chicken, turkey and salmon have even found themselves between the bun, creating new flavor profiles and making this culinary mainstay even more adaptable. My personal favorite burger beef-up is the recent addition of a fried egg — breakfast is, after all, the best meal of the day. Bacon jam, which is even better than it sounds, is another addition that has been popping up on burger menus everywhere.

Remember: Father’s Day is right around the corner, which is the perfect excuse to stretch your burger-magination. I’ve wrangled up five tasty recipes that Dad is sure to love.

The “Bash Burger”

The Bash burger

This recipe gives the classic burger a spicy, Chinese kick with its use of Sriracha and Dijon mustard. It also employs the palette mystifying powers of bacon in a homemade jam that will add sophistication and a father-friendly taste to your dish.

More Juicy Burger Recipes to Try

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Accent Pillow Collage

Top L to R: Pottery Barn, Pencil Shavings Studio, Lonny | Middle L to R: Yossawat, Design Home, H&M | Bottom L to R: Country Living, Target, H&M

We could use up all of our effort — and budgets — on flawless furniture, but the details are what really bring a room to life. With the summer holidays and parties quickly approaching, now is the perfect time to experiment with new design ideas and tips.

For this warm weather season, many designers are harnessing the impact power of accent pillows. Whether it is a coordinated look, or an eclectic mix of different styles, the beauty of this trend is that you can continuously change the mood and feel of a room by simply switching out a few inexpensive cushion covers.

BONUS: CHECK OUT 500+ LIVING ROOM INSPIRATION IDEAS>>

Try mixing a nautical inspired pillow with a contrasting graphic stripe for a crisp yet bold statement. Or create a more subtle tone with vintage embroidered pieces with a calm color palette. The possibilities are endless with this trend — and they will no doubt impress at all of your summer parties.

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