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Valentine’s Day Brunch at Home

With Valentine’s Day falling on a Sunday this year, the huz and I have decided to trade in a night out for a Sunday brunch. And this sweet bit of inspiration from Beijos Events and Megan Welker is just the ticket. Complete with a sparkly bottle of One Hope, strawberry pancakes, paper pretties by Laura Hooper Calligraphy and a tableful of blooms by MV Florals, it’s breakfast for the win.

From Beijos Events… Valentines Day is one of our favorite holidays, why wouldn’t it be?! It celebrates love!! Although it’s nice to go out on Valentines Day, we prefer the idea of staying in with our special someone! This year Valentine’s Day falls on a Sunday, so why not have a brunch for two at home and stay away from all of the hustle and bustle? That way you can focus on the most important thing, the two of you! To create this special celebration we turned to one of our favorite sources for home goods, The Little Market. They have the prettiest new china collection that we were dying to play with.

This isn’t your typical Valentine’s Day scene with red and pink, we spiced it up a bit with some purples and teals. We also love their little heart bowls which add the perfect Valentine touch! For florals we asked our girl Meagan of MV Florals who came through with the most gorgeous arrangement, and it’s always fun to play with some extra blooms here and there.

Laura Hooper Calligraphy has the most amazing shop with pieces for any holiday, and her Valentine’s Day selection is just the best! We loved playing with her coasters, stir sticks and even used some as pancake toppers. She also created a few custom pieces for us, little love notes if you will!

The gorgeous pink macrame hangings were done by Elsie Goodwin of Reform Fibers, we love the pop of pink on the walls, and the pretty pink napkins are from Boho Pillow, our go to for anything fabric wise. Lastly, every cozy date night needs some champs and some cuddling… One Hope Wine has the sparkliest and yummiest bottle to pop, and Gunn & Swain had the perfect Mexican Blanket for the couple to cuddle in. Of course this was all captured perfectly but the talented Megan Welker!

Photography: Megan Welker | Florals: MV Florals | Blanket: Gunn & Swain | Calligraphy/Paper Goods: LH Calligraphy | Champagne: One Hope Wine | Macrame Hangings: Reform Fibers | Napkins/Pillows: Boho Pillow | Styling/Design: Beijos Events | Tabletop: The Little Market

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Chocolate Tarts with Salted Caramel Sauce

This post and I were meant to be. I am chocoholic at heart, and today, I’ve met my newest chocolate obsession. You might’ve drooled over it earlier this week in our sweet Valentine’s party? Well, we’ve got the recipe today, plus a round up of treats that are sure to put you in a chocolate coma!

Chocolate Tarts with Salted Caramel Sauce
prep time
10 Minute/s
cook time
30 Minute/s
total time
40 Minute/s
Serves 0Ingredients
  • For the crust:
  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed
  • 3 tbsp. water
  • 1 tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • For the ganache:
  • 9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • For the salted caramel sauce:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 Tbs salted butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  1. Make the crust: Heat oven to 400°. Stir butter, water, oil, sugar, and salt in a heatproof bowl; bake until butter is bubbling and lightly brown at edges, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and stir in flour until dough comes together. Press dough into bottom and up sides of 4″ tart pans. Using a fork, prick dough all over. Bake until cooked through, 10–12 minutes; let cool.
  2. Make the salted caramel sauce: Melt sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. Sugar will naturally change consistency and begin to brown and liquify. Add your butter and continue stirring until completely combined. Add in your heavy cream, stirring constantly. Add in your vanilla as you continue to stir. Don't fret if the mixture bubbles. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat and stir in your salt.
  3. Make the ganache: Place the chocolate into a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil, watching very carefully because if it boils for a few seconds, it will boil out of the pot. When the cream has come to a boil, pour over the chopped chocolate, and whisk until smooth.
  4. Allow the ganache to cool slightly before pouring into cooled tart crusts.
  5. Once filled tarts are cooled, top with salted caramel sauce.
26 Treats That Will Put You in a Chocolate Coma
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26 Treats That Will Put You in a Chocolate Coma
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More deliciousness this way!

Behind the Scenes with Allyson Conklin Public Relations

Allyson is a boss lady that moves mountains but does so with a smile on her face and a stunning office as her base. One draped in her signature color combo (#blueandwhiteforever) and chic to its core. We’re going behind the scenes with Allyson Conklin Public Relations and not only talking PR shop but getting the details behind that gorgeous office. See even more captured by Cassie Rosch in the VAULT.

SMP: Tell us a little about your business.

AC: Allyson Conklin Public Relations (or ACPR) is a boutique public relations agency specializing in beauty, home and lifestyle brands. Since our launch in December 2010, we have worked to get beauty brands, home accent lines, interior designers, bloggers, and e-commerce shops across the U.S. noticed by editors and consumers. Our efforts are focused on public relations, social media, and brand styling, which are all critical components to a well-marketed brand.

SMP: Some words you live by?

AC: Balance, acceptance, expression, and courage. And above all, kindness.

SMP: Any guilty pleasures?

AC: Sleeping in! We have a 10-month-old yellow lab mix, Macon, who has an affinity for early mornings. So even getting out of bed at 6:30 a.m. is an indulgence.

SMP: What did you think your dream job was before your dream job found you?

AC: Lucky for me, I had no idea! So I can’t imagine anything else than this!

SMP: What’s your favorite quote that describes your creative process?

AC: The best things happen unexpectedly. I’m a big believer in not forcing the process. Trust that everything will work out.

SMP: What’s a typical work day for you like?

AC: My workdays typically start between 5 and 5:30 a.m. and are followed by a cup of coffee, quick check in on email and social media, walk with the dogs, and a workout. I’m in the office by 9 a.m. and try to always start with a quick team pow-wow. Then it’s a mixed bag. Most days involve some sort of strategic planning, media relations, social media work, creative writing, managing and mentoring my team, and client communication. I also dedicate several hours to each week to business development, accounting, connecting with other business owners, and other general operations. My days are jam-packed, so I tend to power through lunch and eat at my desk so that I can be out the door by 4:30 p.m. After dinner I check in on email and social media one last time before I settle in for the night. And no judgment please, but most nights I’m in bed well before 9 p.m.!

SMP: Do you have any secret talents?

AC: I can parallel park like it’s nobody’s business. Also, I can sing. Though I never had the guts for anything beyond singing at my high school’s sporting events and talent shows.

SMP: If you could dine with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?

AC: My husband. Lucky for me, I get to dine with him everyday.

SMP: What was the tipping point in your business that made you feel like it was going to thrive?

AC: When I came to the realization that I no longer could do it all myself! This happened about a year into business and it was one of the scariest, yet soundest, decisions I have made thus far. Deciding to hire staff was instrumental in shaping the future of ACPR. I started with a part time freelancer and eventually added salaried employees. While hiring and employing the right people still isn’t a perfect process for me, I’m pretty pleased with where we are today.

SMP: What is the hardest lesson in business you’ve ever learned?

AC: Everything won’t always go your way. And that’s ok. If everything went my way, I’d be jaded. And that wouldn’t be good for business!

SMP: If you had the opportunity to get a message across to a large group of people, what would your message be?

AC: Don’t wait. There are a million excuses why you can’t or now isn’t the right time. But if you can’t stop thinking about it, there is no better time than now. The beautiful thing about life is that we’re capable of manifesting what we want. Be brave and go for it.

SMP: What is your favorite item in your office?

AC: It’s a tie between the nuLOOM rugs and the ginger jar watercolors by The Aestate. The rugs because they singlehandedly changed the entire look of both offices in one fell swoop. And the art because #blueandwhiteforever and they make me happy.

SMP: What’s your best tip for balancing work and personal life?

AC: Just do the best you can. I don’t think balance is a state, but a feeling. And it can be tough to achieve, especially when it comes to owning a business! Find something that works for you and be flexible in your methods for keeping it.

SMP: One thing every style savvy homeowner should have?

AC: Pillows! To me, a space just isn’t complete without them. They have the ability to transform a look entirely! The leopard pillows were a no-brainer for me. I’m obsessed with the Jamil Natural Leopard Velvet fabric by Braemore and am fully on the “leopard is a neutral” bandwagon.

SMP: Your secret to success?

AC: Learn to take the ebbs with the flows. If there’s one thing that I’ve accepted about business over the past five years, it’s that there are no constants. The only constant is change! The ups and downs are natural and when I resolved to embrace it, instead of fighting it, I opened myself up to attracting more success than I could have ever imagined.

SMP: The best job you ever had?

AC: This is it! It’s a job that I never thought I would have, but now that I do, I can’t imagine doing anything else.

SMP: Why do you think your business has done so well?

AC: I think we make public relations more approachable. PR has a reputation of only being available to a select few, mostly based on budget and access, but it’s my hope that we can continue to help shift that mindset. That’s why I am so passionate about working with the independent brands of the worlds. They are the movers, the shakers and the innovators!

SMP: What was the first job you ever landed?

AC: A Fashion Intern for Footwear News. I was bitten by the fashion bug and needed to complete an internship to graduate, so New York City called my name. The entire interview process was conducted from afar and before I knew it, I found myself amongst the hustle and bustle of the city. As a Fashion Intern, I was responsible for managing the fashion closet, helping the Fashion Director conduct research for her stories, and assisting in photo shoots.

SMP: If you could buy yourself a single gift of any cost, what would it be?

AC: Proenza Schouler PS1 Medium handbag (in navy suede with gold hardware, if you must). It’s something that I’ve wanted for years. I’ve set some goals for myself in 2016 and if I reach them, it’ll be mine!

SMP: Best moment of your career so far?

AC: Landing a job at W magazine. I went up against thousands of applicants and somehow managed to make an impression on one very influential New Yorker, whose decision to hire me set in motion a series of events that would lead me to where I am today.

SMP: Your favorite instagrammer?

AC: I may be biased, but I think @waitingonmartha has the best Instagram feed around.

SMP: If you could do it all over again, would you change anything?

AC: I would trust myself more. Coming from the corporate world, I always had a team to support and validate my decisions. But in the early days of ACPR, it was just me. I doubted myself and second-guessed my decisions almost daily. While it’s unrealistic to think that there would be no self-doubt if I did it all over again, I’d make more of a concerted effort to push that uncertainty to the side and just do my thing.

SMP: Advice you’d give to your younger self?

AC: Don’t put so much pressure on yourself. Things will work out! And if they don’t, then it’s not meant to be!

SMP: Where do you see yourself in five years?

AC: If all goes to plan, I’ll still be doing this! But with even more passion, knowledge and wisdom.

SMP: Your most prized possession?

AC: My diamond eternity wedding bands.

SMP: One thing you can’t live without?

AC: My husband, Michael. We’ve been together for 15 years (married for 10) and I cannot imagine life without him. He inspires me to be a better person, keeps me grounded, makes me laugh, and teaches me to love myself just the way I am. Plus, he makes a killer omelet and the fluffiest pancakes you’ll ever eat! We spend essentially every minute of every day together (he has a home based office, too) and somehow, I still can’t get enough of him. He’s my favorite person in the whole world.

SMP: One place everyone must visit in their lifetime?

AC: New York City. The energy is unlike anything you’ll experience anywhere else. It’ll totally change your perspective of the world, and in the best way possible.

SMP: The best advice you’ve ever received?

AC: Work hard and be nice. Plain and simple, but highly impactful.

SMP: Your go-to recipe?

AC: I’ve been on a scalloped potatoes kick as of late! I knew that it was a keeper when my father-in-law went back for seconds. I consider that the seal of approval.

SMP: What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?

AC: Honestly, I’m not sure that I would do anything differently! The harsh reality of this world is that we’re constantly being judged, no matter what we do. So instead of wasting time thinking about how you’re perceived by others, I say let’s focus on impressing ourselves. Silence the chatter and turn up the volume on your own voice.

SMP: Your most memorable moment?

AC: It may sound trite, but walking into the office every morning is memorable for me. Seeing a physical manifestation of something that I built from the ground-up is quite powerful (and I’m not just talking about the design). I don’t take that for granted.

SMP: Stranded on a desert island question… what’s the one cocktail you would take with you?

AC: White sangria! Just think of the possibilities with all that fresh tropical fruit!

SMP: Three things every home should have?

AC: A stocked bar, high quality bedding, and rescue pets.

SMP: One small design change that can make a big impact?

AC: It was a game changer when I accepted that every square inch doesn’t need to be decorated. I have a gorgeous, oversized (with an emphasis on oversized) built-in bookshelf in my office. Since the moment I moved in, it intimidated me. All that space to fill! It has since gone through a series of looks, including what I like to call the “over-styled” look and the “I can’t deal with it so just throw stuff in there” look. Its current state is a happy balance of styled and white space.

I started Allyson Conklin Public Relations (or ACPR) in December 2010 after working for big brands in both New York City and Park City, Utah. And since then, we’ve had the opportunity to represent independent beauty, home and lifestyle brands across the U.S. I pinch myself everyday because we work with brands that I admire and am personally obsessed with! After graduating from Colorado State University in 2005, I started my career in New York City, working for fashion title W magazine. I then transitioned into the PR world with an in-house job at Shiseido Cosmetics, where I worked on the Shiseido, Cle de Peau Beaute and Zirh brands. A stint with a luxury lifestyle developer in Park City, Utah, followed before I founded ACPR. And since then, I’ve been lucky enough to call myself a proud business owner. I do what I love and I think it shows!

Our offices are based out of my home in Fort Collins, Colorado, and we occupy around 900 square feet (bigger than my entire apartment in New York City post-college!) of the basement level. My husband and I purchased this home in September 2014 and the moment we toured it earlier that summer, I knew it would not only be perfect for us, but perfect for ACPR. So we moved our Old Town offices about a month after moving in. And haven’t looked back since!

After years of housing ACPR in different environments (a spare bedroom, co-working spaces, and dedicated offices), I had lots of ideas about how to furnish it. But it took much longer than I expected! I wanted the design to be thoughtful, combining the best parts of an office and the best parts of a home to create a space that is bright, inspiring and showcases my personal style. My favorite color is blue (I blame it on my mother who has been collecting blue and white ceramics since I was a child), am a sucker for leopard, faux fur and gold, and believe a bar cart belongs in every room (we have two in the office!). It all really started to come together in late 2015 and after spending a good month settling in, I’m happy to say that I’m in love, and so is the rest of my staff.

Source List: Desk: AllModern | Accent Chairs: Cynthia Rowley | Ghost Chair: AllModern | Rug: AllModern | Lamps: Home Goods | Console: Target | Bar Cart: Target | Blue and white ceramics: Vintage and collected | Art: The Aestate | Moroccan Pouf: Waiting On Martha | Stool: Target | Pillow: Custom Jamil Natural Leopard Velvet fabric by Braemore from Kathleen Ann Home on Etsy |

General Office: Desks: Target | Ghost Chairs: AllModern | Table: Target | Rug: AllModern | Lamps: Ralph Lauren | Bar Cart: Safavieh | Blue and white ceramics: Vintage and collected | Consoles: Target | Pinboards: Pottery Barn | Leopard Tray: Shop Ten 25 | Art: The Aestate | Bookshelves: Target | Stool: Target | Pillow: Custom Jamil Natural Leopard Velvet fabric by Braemore from Kathleen Ann Home on Etsy

Photography: Cassie Rosch | Office: Allyson Conklin Public Relations