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This is the only time of year you can completely indulge in your guilty pleasures and get away with it. If you want to eat 5 cookies after a big dinner, go for it. That’s what the holidays are about — gathering around your loved ones and eating delicious homemade food. Fudge is one of my all-time favorite holiday desserts. It’s a crowd-pleaser, cheap and easy to make and satisfies my chocolate cravings. What’s not to like?

Make big batches and use cute wrapping to gift to friends, or make a small batch for an intimate family gathering or maybe even for yourself (why not?). Our recipe only requires 5 ingredients and 5 steps. Give it a try!

Simple Homemade Fudge Recipe

Homemade Fudge

 

Ingredients:

3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
Directions

Instructions:

1. Line a square 8-inch baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Over low heat, in a medium sized pot, add the chocolate chips, condensed milk and salt, and stir with a wooden spoon until chips are melted.
3. Remove from heat and add the vanillas. (If you don’t have vanilla paste, just double up on the vanilla extract.)
4. Pour into the parchment lined baking pan and spread evenly. Refrigerate for 4 hours until firm.
5. Serve as needed.

BRIANA: I professed my tree & tree branch decor crush back in 2011 (still love you, Cole & Son Woods!), but even back then, I recognized that there was some trend fatigue. Fast forward to 2013. I just noticed an item in this month’s issue of People StyleWatch declaring that Tree Branch Decor was OUT. Their expert says people are going more modern and less rustic these days, but what do you think? Are you still a tree-hugger or do you wish this trend would make like a tree and leaf? (Sorry not sorry.)

Do you like the tree branch decor trend? Vote now on HGTV's Design Happens blog!

DEANNE REVEL: I was just looking at my accessory tree that holds all my necklaces and headbands this morning and thinking, “Man, I need to get hip. This isn’t cool anymore.”

FARIMA: I was never really on the tree train. I say keep it to nurseries only.

MARIANNE: I prefer my trees petrified these days.

Do you like the tree branch decor trend? Vote now on HGTV's Design Happens blog!

Photo: Charles Tilford/Flickr

MORE BANTER ABOUT TREE BRANCHES

BRIANA: Put a fox on it? From the looks of it, this crafty creature has made everyone forget about birds. Abbi suggested foxes as a possible DTT topic a few months back because she was noticing them all over baby goods and nurseries – now they’re all over these products Kayla featured in her mood board*, not to mention viral videos. We may never know what the fox says, but what do YOU say about foxes?

Mood Board Monday: Fox Fashion and Decor

MARIANNE: Roald Dahl’s The Fantastic Mr. Fox was my favorite book as a kid (I kind of had a crush on Mr. Fox?), so I love foxes…but it bums me out that they are so overplayed right now. Though I will confess to dressing my kid in a fox onesie and loving it:

Do you like the fox design trend? Vote now on HGTV's Design Happens blog!

KELLY SMITH TRIMBLE: I love foxes. They’re like dogs you can’t tame. They look cuddly but they’re really wild and elusive. I agree they’re getting a bit overplayed, but I’m also glad they’re being used sans hunting scene this go ’round.

MORE FIGHTING OVER FOXES

Fall colors are peaking here in East Tennessee, and we’ve just launched a cornucopia (sorry!) of new Thanksgiving ideas to help you plan your fall feast. So this month, we all came to the color showdown with vibrant hues on the brain. It’s no surprise, then, that our final choice was a bright, spicy hue from HGTV Magazine online editor Alyssa.

What is it? Paprika! This bold red-orange hue is a richer version of spring coral. Look around outside and see it in vibrant maple leaves, or spot it in the grocery store in the form of in-season persimmons. (Try Dessert for Breakfast’s Persimmon-Oat Crumble on a cold morning. Mmmmm.)

Persimmon Oat Crumble From Dessert for Breakfast
Get your living room ready for guests with vibrant new throw pillows in this trendy hue. Here are four of our favorites:
Fall Trend 2013: Paprika Throw Pillows 4 Ways

Clockwise from top left: Mira Mesa Pillow, Trinka Turk; Kilim Santa Fe Pillow, Leif Shop; Tassel Pillow, Anthropologie; Bird Pillow, Dwell Studio

Get More Paprika Color Inspiration

It seems that you all are cooking up a storm now that the weather has cooled down. Or maybe you’re prepping for the upcoming holidays? Either way, Yahoo! web trend expert Carolyn Clark reports that searches for cookies are spiking this month. It seems that the most popular cookie recipe is peanut butter cookies, followed by chocolate chip cookiesoatmeal cookies and pumpkin cookies. Are one of these classic treats on your favorites list? Try out one of our recipes below to spice up your seasonal fare.

FALL-INSPIRED COOKIES PERFECT FOR THE SEASON

Candy Bar Cookies Recipe

Get the recipe for our candy bar cookies >>

Marshmallow Jack-o'-Lantern Cookies

Get the recipe for our marshmallow jack-o’-lantern cookies >>

Pumpkin Pecan Cookies Recipe

Get the recipe for pumpkin cookies at HGTVGardens.com >>

Apple Cider Snickerdoodles

Get the recipe for apple cider snickerdoodles at FoodNetwork.com >>

MORE DELICIOUS COOKIE RECIPES

If you’ve been following D-Happ for a while now, then you know that each quarter a group of uber-talented design students live and breathe the HGTV brand as a part of our Home Studio co-op program. While the up-and-coming designers are here, they work closely with experts like Vern Yip to create stunning and interactive design vignettes for employees and visitors right here at HGTV Headquarters in Knoxville, Tenn. This summer, returning intern Justin DiPiero from Savannah College of Art and Design, worked with SCAD graduate student Alexandra Kern and University of Cincinnati student Catherine Blubaugh on a vignette covering a spectrum of design trends (seven to be exact). Plus, each one features their iconic piece: the Wishbone Chair. Take a look, and see if you think their trend picks are on target.

HGTV Home Studio Interns

HGTV Home Studio interns Catherine Blubaugh, Justin DiPiero and Alexandra Kern

Kayla Kitts for Design Happens: In the past, the Home Studio displays have focused on one design trend. What inspired you to choose seven trends to showcase this time?

Justin DiPiero: Once we had decided to showcase the iconic Wishbone Chair designed by Hans Wegner, we were inspired by how versatile the chair really is. It can work in so many spaces and so many situations. That’s why we decided to create different vignettes, each with their own trend, to speak to the versatility of the chair.

Catherine Blubaugh: We felt that there were so many relevant trends that interested us that it was hard to just narrow it down into one. It also helped strengthen the idea that the Wishbone Chair is very versatile.

Alexandra Kern: As Justin and Catherine said, the Wishbone Chair truly was the inspiring factor that led us to showcase seven completely different designs trends. We decided what better way to showcase this than presenting the Wishbone Chair in seven different colors and finishes in seven different design trends. Plus, there are currently so many great design trends — how could we choose just one?

KK: Is there one trend in particular that you feel is especially hot right now or will peak as we move into fall?

CB: I would have to say that I’ve been seeing more animal-inspired spaces at the moment. The warmness and textural quality of that trend is becoming more popular as the autumn season approaches. Also, I’m seeing the patterns and colors of the future botanical display showing up more and more.

AK: As I’ve been watching TV, flipping through magazines and roaming the internet, I keep seeing our design trends pop up everywhere! It’s hard to say exactly what’s hot right now, but I think geometrics are definitely making their way to the forefront of design through pillows and accessories along with florals. And, of course, I think animal print is here to stay for awhile.

READ THE FULL INTERVIEW + SEE THEIR DESIGNS

It may sound crazy to you that today is National Play Doh Day (yes, this is actually a thing), but I think it’s the perfect excuse to get your creative juices flowing, whether you’re an adult or kid. What is your favorite thing to sculpt with this molding compound? If you aren’t a fan of sculpting, you can still celebrate this unofficial holiday by making bird feeders using Play Doh lids.

Jill of Meet the Dubiens slathered peanut butter on the lids, pressed them into bird seed and tied a loop of yarn to each one to create unconventional hanging bird feeders. Try this project with your kids, and let us know how it turned out! Oh, and Happy National Play Doh Day!

DIY Play Doh Lid Bird FeederPhoto by Flickr user kirstenreese

If summer has left you stressed from road trips, keeping up with your kids and back-to-school errands, then you’re in luck. September is National Yoga Awareness Month, and the perfect opportunity for you to start a new, healthy lifestyle. As you may already know, yoga has several benefits, such as a toner body, sharper mind, less anxiety, hormonal balance and more restful sleeps — I could go on and on, really.

So, here’s your challenge. Try a few classes a week at your local yoga studio. Many places offer free or discounted classes in honor of Yoga Awareness Month. When you find the right class and instructor for you, keep it up and I’m confident you’ll feel like a new person by the time the holidays roll around. And if you just can’t get enough, follow these tips to get the same benefits in your own home.

Designate a Tranquil Area

You don’t need that much space to practice yoga. Find an area in your home — away from everyday stress triggers — even if it’s your attic.

Attic Yoga Area

Get More Yoga Tips

The hanging cocoon is a super cool hammock, perfect for reading, relaxing and just hanging out (pun intended…sorry, I couldn’t help myself). According to Hammacher Schlemmer, the interesting tapered design was inspired by the nests of weaver birds and provides a bit of privacy for the user. The cocoon is ideal for lovers of the outdoors, but it can also be hung inside (maybe in a child’s room or reading nook?).

hanging cocoon

Are you a fan of the hanging cocoon? Where would you hang it?

Can you guess what type of storage belongs in this mudroom?

Decorate This Space

Type A, B or C in the comments section, and we’ll reveal the answer tomorrow. One lucky winner will win an issue of this month’s HGTV magazine and an Anthropologie bird feeder. You don’t have to guess correctly for a chance to win.

Choose A, B or C

You may only comment once to be considered, and you don’t have to purchase anything to win; a purchase will not increase your chances of winning. Odds depend on total number of entries. Void where prohibited by law. Only open to legal residents of 50 U.S., D.C. or Puerto Rico, and you must be at least 18 years of age to win.  All entries (comments) must be entered between 10:00 a.m. ET on September 4, 2013 and 12:00 p.m. ET on September 5, 2013. Subject to full official rules. By leaving a comment on the blog, you acknowledge your acceptance to the Official Rules. ARV of prize: $85. Sponsor: Scripps Networks, LLC, d/b/a HGTV, 9721 Sherrill Boulevard, Knoxville, TN 37932.

We’re not shy about being totally obsessed with Pinterest here at HGTV. Shameless plug: FOLLOW US ON PINTEREST! WE PIN PRETTY THINGS! Anyway, I still can’t believe that using Pinterest is part of my job because it’s that much fun. I love it for research and trendspotting, organizing recipes I’d like to try, planning my upcoming wedding and yes, keeping up with what HGTV fans are digging at the moment. Thus, our latest Social Sound Off question!

On Twitter, we asked: What’s the best thing you’ve found on Pinterest recently?

Based on the trickle of replies we got, I’m guessing y’all were probably looking at stuff on Pinterest instead of checking up on tweets (ahem), but that’s okay. I’ll go first. The summer has me feeling very tropical and despite the fact that I claimed I was over my “put a bird on it” phase, this toucan print by komitaart on Etsy has made a liar out of me:

Found anything as cute as this toucan print on Pinterest recently? Tell us on HGTV's Design Happens blog!

Print: komitaart on Etsy

I am all over that graphic, retro vibe. I mean, how cute would that print be with some classic Martinique wallpaper? It also reminds me of the paintable paper mâché toucan I bought as a souvenir in Cancun when I was 11, but I digress. I found the print through my friend Derya, who has delightfully eclectic pin taste. (Honorable mention: This apothecary bottle with the phrase “Acidic Wit” etched on it. I would love to keep that on my desk and threaten to bust it out at anyone who crosses me.)

But enough about me! Here’s what’s floating your boats lately…

SEE MORE PINTEREST BAIT

Remember a few weeks ago when a good part of the D-Happ staff was obsessed with all things watermelon? Kayla made the juicy fruit the topic of her Mood Board Monday. Allie showed us five ways to craft with watermelon. And I even pitched in with a watermelon-inspired Tuesday Huesday. So when Nina, HGTV.com’s entertainment manager, introduced a watermelon-themed Pinterest board to the Color Team, it wasn’t exactly a hard sell. That’s right: Bright, juicy watermelon is our newest Color of the Month!

Juicy Melon Margarita

August is the height of watermelon season: Think big-as-your head slices of fruit pulled straight from the icebox, dribbling down your chin.  Or, if cocktails are more your speed, try this melon-filled margarita recipe.

Dorm Room Message Center

Dorm Room Message Center

Keep Going

It’s the year of the octopus, and I am fully on board. Octopus decor has become a bit of an obsession of mine. And why not? There is always one animal print that can be found on everything from doorknobs to dinnerware, and I’m glad it’s finally the octopus. I’m big on animal prints in general, but it’s time to give the birds a rest and let the octopus do its thing (and that thing is being one of the coolest creatures of the sea).

Want more oceanic inspiration?

If you saw my previous post, you know that outfitting my sister’s beach house with accessories with lots of coastal charm for small $$ was a must. Searching estate sales, flea markets and yard sales for beachy accessories that fit our budget wasn’t exactly easy — but it sure was fun! Here are a few more of  our favorite thrifty finds:

Any Avon fans out there — recognize the green glass fish? Yep, that’s right, it’s actually an old Avon bottle which once held foaming bath oil. The bubble bath is long gone but the little jadeite koi’s charm remains — and for just $1 at a TN flea market? Wrap it up; I’ll take it! Beach House Bathroom Vanity Sink Area

Birdhouses are great — and not just for sheltering birds. We put this one, shaped like a lighthouse, to work as a bookend in our closet-turned-built-in bookcase. Like our other beachy bric-a-brac, this birdhouse has a storied past. My mom bought it at a prison. Yep, a prison — the Maine State Prison in Thomaston. Unique in the nation, the prisoners here are taught real-world skills in upholstery, woodworking and garment making. The money raised by this ingenious program goes toward reimbursing the state for the prisoner’s room and board as well as paying victims’ restitution and prisoners’ child support. Although you can’t shop their store online, you can check out the prisoners’ handiwork and if you’re ever in Maine, drop by.Tight Shot of a Beach House Bookcase

I love zoological prints. They’ve been trending for quite a while … and, as with anything trendy, they can be expensive. Luckily, it’s the internet to the rescue — several sites offer printable scans of public domain prints for free — yes, FREE! Vintage Printable and Graphics Fairy are two of my faves. Just print the images onto a high-quality paper (aka not standard printer paper), add a mat, then pop them into a frame. Beach House Bathroom Framed Vintage Print

Getting crafty with items we already have is another way we save money while filling the beach house with accessories we love. My sister and I bought this wood-framed mirror at an estate sale thinking it would be a good fit for the hall bath. Unfortunately, it was too small. Then my 18-year-old nephew scored this great boat cleat for only 50 cents which inspired us to cover the mirror’s frame in rope then “tie it off” to the cleat. Want to make your own? Get my step-by-step instructions.Beach House Rope-Covered Mirror

MORE BEACH HOUSE MAKEOVERS:
Budget Beach Cottage: Nautical Knick-Knacks
Budget Beach Cottage: Bedside Table Before and After
Budget Beach Cottage: Make a Nautical Rope Mirror
Budget Beach Cottage Before and After: Built-In Bookcase
Budget Beach Cottage Before and After: Kitchen
Budget Beach Cottage Before and After: Living Room
Adventures in Antiquing: Easy Beachy Candle Update

On April 29, 2011, the world watched in awe as Prince William and Kate Middleton wed at Westminster Abbey. Everyone was excited to see the new Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress, watch the procession to Buckingham Palace and, of course, see the balcony kiss between the two lovebirds. Sigh. Now, more than two years later, the world is waiting in anticipation for the birth of the royal baby. Questions are stirring: What’s the gender? What will he or she be named? And what does the nursery look like? (You know it’s just dripping with sophistication.) In anticipation for the upcoming day, here are some royal-inspired nursery designs fit for your little prince or princess.

ROYAL NURSERY DESIGNS

Dreamy Celebrity Nurseries

Dr. Phil’s granddaughter’s nursery | Photo courtesy of Petit Trésor

Dreamy Nursery Designs

Photo courtesy of PoshTots

Dreamy Nursery Designs

Photo courtesy of PoshTots

More Posh Nursery Designs

You guys. When I saw these patterned paint rollers on Buzzfeed, I felt like someone had been keeping a secret from me! How could I not know about these ingenious tools? I know we’ve talked wallpaper and wallpaper-look-alikes to death, but these rollers from the very appropriately named NotWallpaper seem like a whole different ballgame. Granted it probably takes a pretty deft hand and a bit of practice to use, but these rollers seem like the best of all worlds: lovely patterns in colors of your choice with very little permanent commitment. That’s my kind of wall treatment.

patterned paint rollers

BRIANA: Facial hair seems like it’d be a more appropriate topic for a men’s fashion site, but mustaches have been making their way into the design world for some time now. Pillows, wallpaper, mirrors and more have been emblazoned with whimsical whiskers and searches for “mustache party” have been spiking on Yahoo! So, what are your thoughts on mustaches? Do you think the bristles are fun or should they stay where they belong (on Tom Selleck’s face)?

Do you like the mustache trend? Vote now on HGTV's Design Happens blog!

From Kirkland’s, available July 21

LEANNE: I do not understand this trend. At all. Tom Selleck, I understand.

KELLY SMITH TRIMBLE: I love Tom Selleck, but I really hate this trend. Mustaches are meant for men, not pillows and especially not children. I mean, I know the hormones in our meat are messing with kids’ biology, but mustaches on 5-year-olds is just weird. Quit forcing kids to grow up so fast. This little boy doesn’t want to wear a mustache — I can see it in his eyes.

DEANNE REVEL: That picture. Hahahahahaha

READ MORE

I’m just going to be honest. I had never heard of Cronuts™ until I found out people are searching for them — big time! — on Yahoo!*. That’s when I dug in and found out that the world is going absolutely crazy for Cronuts™. For example, Gothamist food columnist Marc Yearsley waited in line for one of these sweet treats for more than an hour. To quote Marc, “that’s cro-nuts!” But, I mean, I wait in line for an hour to ride a two-minute-long roller coaster ride, so why not wait for a flaky, sugary, glazed…OK, my mouth’s watering.

So, what exactly is a Cronut™, and who’s the mastermind behind it? Let’s find out.

Cronuts Bakery

Chef Dominique Ansel is the genius behind the Cronut™. Raised in Paris, he began formal culinary training at just 16 years old. For seven years he opened shops everywhere from Kuwait to Egypt. He now resides in New York City where he runs the Dominique Ansel Bakery (the home of the Cronut™). He’s been named one of the “Top 10 Pastry Chefs in the United States” and has received an award for the “Best Dessert Menu in the U.S.”

Cronuts Bakery

Dominique likes to call the Cronut™ a “pastry hybrid” because that’s just what it is. It’s a beautiful cross between a warm, flaky croissant and a soft, sweet doughnut. The Cronut™ process takes three days to perfect. Once the dough is proofed and fried in grapeseed oil, it’s then rolled in sugar, filled with cream and topped with a glaze. And, there’s only one Cronut™ flavor each month. During its premiere month, May, Dominique featured Rose Vanilla; the current flavor is Lemon Maple (NOM!); and for July he’s introducing Blackberry to the masses.

Have you tried a Cronut™? Are they as amazing and perfect as they look? (Can you mail me one or six?)

Photos by Robin West of And Your Bird Can Sing

*Trending topic courtesy of Yahoo! Web Trend Expert Carolyn Clark

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