tortilla soup | designlovefest

my aunt gave me the cookbook and i’ve been loving it. i’m really picky when it comes to cookbooks i’m willing to add to my collection because i don’t have a ton of space and i want ones that i’m actually going to use. her recipes are approachable, beautiful and fit for a weekday dinner or entertaining. i made her Tortilla Española and for today’s recipe post we made her tortilla soup. there are a zillion recipes out there for tortilla soup, this one is super approachable and could be bumped up by roasting your own chicken and making your own chicken stock or make as we did, the short cut way! the only thing i’d add would be some spice in the broth. we also made our own fried tortilla strips but you could skip this part and use chips. although, the fresh strips really take it up a notch – joanie

tortilla soup | designlovefest

what you’ll need:

• 1 rotisserie chicken shredded
• 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
• 1 15oz can of whole kernel corn
• 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed with the edge of your knife
• 5-10 tortillas
• 1 32oz container of chicken broth
• 1 15oz can diced tomatoes
• olive or avocado oil


• 1 avocado diced
• 1 bunch of radishes thinly sliced
• 1 cup diced Cotija cheese
• 1 bunch cilantro chopped
• 1-2 limes

tortilla soup | designlovefest

• to make tortilla stripes place the tortillas in a single pile and cut into strips. heat oil on medium in a pan filling it about 1-2 inches high. place the tortilla stripes in small batches so that they don’t overlap each other and fry on each side until golden brown. place fried strips on paper towels and set aside.

• in the same pan,  toss the corn until slightly charred (trader joes sells fire roasted corn in the freezer aisle if you want to bypass making it yourself!)

• in a large pan heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat, add diced onions, a big pinch of salt and cook down until translucent; about 8 minutes. add 3 peeled and mashed garlic cloves and continue to cook for an additional 3 minutes, tossing occasionally.

tortilla soup | designlovefest

• remove the onions and garlic and place in a blender with the canned diced tomatoes. blend until smooth. heat 1 tablespoon oil and pour the pureed tomato mixture in, cooking down until most of the liquid is gone and it starts to thicken like tomato paste about 6-8 minutes, add the broth and bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and taste, adjust seasoning as needed. next add the shredded chicken and the roasted corn. continue to cook for an additional 20 minutes on a simmer. remove from heat, add salt and pepper to taste.

tortilla soup | designlovefest
tortilla soup | designlovefest
tortilla soup | designlovefest

• prep all your garnishes, and set out on in bowls so people can top their soup as desired. we highly recommend a big squeeze of lime before serving!

tortilla soup | designlovefest
tortilla soup | designlovefest
tortilla soup | designlovefest
tortilla soup | designlovefest
tortilla soup | designlovefest

images by:
styling by: joanie cusack 



do you remember earlier this year when i hosted a dinner and showed you guys a tour of the MINI LIVING Urban Cabin in downtown LA on the rooftop? this has been one of my favorite jobs this year. i truly think they are so innovative and i love the concept behind living small. this month we visited Beijing to explore the new Urban Cabin that was right next to the bird’s nest stadium where the Olympics were held!

I LOVE the gold reflections! this space may be small (15 square meters) but it does not lack amazing attention to detail. for each Urban Cabin the team links up with a local architect to bring in a special feature that speaks to living in their city. Chinese architect Sun Dayong, the founding partner of designed the “experience room” in this inhabitable space. he was inspired by life in the hutongs in Beijing. if you sit in the swing and look up at the gold facets you can actually see all sorts of different images reflecting from outside, giving you a peek into the busy life that Beijing has to offer.

the  Urban Cabin also has smart design features like revolving doors and windows, a bed that rolls outside, a hammock on the roof, and a peg system on the wall for hanging shelfs and belongings. they really remind us to simplify our lives into the necessities and to remember what is important. there are skylights throughout the Urban Cabin that let in tons of natural light, which i love. natural light is very important to me in a home and this space really provides that.

you can see the bedroom above which has a super simple layout and the option for the bed to be fully inside or partially indoors and outdoors which would make for the best sunny reading spot.

when you have such a small space every single detail counts and it forces you to really consider what you have in your home and decide if it is useful and beautiful. they had these hooks all over the Urban Cabin that you could move throughout so that you can adjust the space based on your needs. i love that they made them yellow, the pop of color is pretty against the light wood.

we spent a half day at the summer palace. i recommend going at 8am when it opens to avoid all the crowds and tour groups. it’s a very pretty place to walk around and explore the history.


a few favorite things we did in beijing:

• strolling around the hutongs was our favorite. (a hutong is a type of narrow street or alley commonly associated with northern Chinese cities) start around the  and explore that area!

• then walk to . we loved everything we ordered! (they moved locations but just down the street, there’s directions on a sign)

• the great wall of china is a must. but if you’re like me (lazy ha) and you don’t want to hike for hours, we did the short way and highly recommend! our hotel helped us hire a driver to take us to (a section of the wall that isn’t very crowded but still has amazing views) and then the driver waited for us to take us back. (that was about $80-100) you take a short shuttle from the station, ride the cable car up to the top, walk as much as you like on the wall, and then slide the toboggan down (SO FUN!!!) really happy we did this…

• walking through the  was interesting. i found some really cool ceramics and gifts there to take home.

• we loved our traditional peking duck dinner from 

more random tips:

• important! VPN – i used  from the app store. make sure to download it and sign into itbefore you leave home. this will give you access to all your social media apps, google maps, etc that will be blocked once you arrive.

• i thought the subway was super easy to get around and understand. bring cash in low bills to purchase the tickets from the machines. cabs are also very cheap and sometimes quicker. bring a business card from your hotel with the address because communication if you don’t know the language is often times tricky.

• i downloaded the google translate app. this way you can speak or type what you want it to translate quickly when you need to. it also has a cool feature that translates menus and words. very helpful!

thank you so much to  for allowing us to experience a new culture and explore your beautiful cabin in Beijing!

and here is a 

(photos by designlovefest, in partnership with )



pumpkin shrimp curry | designlovefest

when i lived in west hollywood there was a thai place around the corner from my house and at least once a week i’d order their pumpkin shrimp curry. i’d never had pumpkin curry but i quickly became addicted. the pumpkin flavor is super subtle but makes it really creamy and it complimented really well with the shrimp. i love it topped with a bunch of cilantro, a big squeeze of lime and fried shallots. it’s insanely delicious, you gotta try it. we made our own pumpkin puree for this recipe by cutting a pumpkin in half and roasting it until tender, scooping it out and blending it until smooth. not sure it’s worth the extra effort, i think next time I might just use canned. – joanie

pumpkin shrimp curry | designlovefest
pumpkin shrimp curry | designlovefest

pumpkin curry
adapted from on bon appétit
serves 4

• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 medium sliced onion
• 1 tablespoon minced ginger
• 1 tablespoon minced garlic
• 1 plum tomato, chopped
• 2 cups pumpkin purée (homemade or canned)
• 2 cups veggie broth
• 2 cups full fat coconut milk
• 3 teaspoons curry powder
• 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (less of you don’t like spice!)
• 2 cups chopped and roasted butternut squash
• 1 pound shrimp
• 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
to serve: 
• cilantro
• rice
• lime
• fried shallots (follow !)

pumpkin shrimp curry | designlovefest

  • heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. add onion and ginger, cooking until soft 6- 8 minutes. add garlic and cook for one minute. add chopped tomato, pumpkin purée and cook for about 10 minutes. you want the pumpkin to slightly browned. add veggie broth, coconut milk, curry powder and cayenne and let simmer for 20 minutes (don’t shorten this time, this is when it thickens up!). and the cooked butternut squash and the shrimp, for this part i like to keep it on the heat for about 2-3 minutes and then turn off the burn and let the shrimp cook in the curry heat. the shrimp is cooked when it’s just pink!

pumpkin shrimp curry | designlovefest

• squeeze the lime juice on top and serve with cilantro, friend shallots and rice.

pumpkin shrimp curry | designlovefest
pumpkin shrimp curry | designlovefest
pumpkin shrimp curry | designlovefest

enjoy! such a perfect fall dish and a fun use of pumpkin that’s not bread or muffins.

pumpkin shrimp curry | designlovefest
pumpkin shrimp curry | designlovefest

photos by: ivan solis



a little ingrid bergman in a palette inspired by . –

(photo and hand drawn type by for designlovefest)



1. and , so cute together or worn as separates. 2. , love the color and unique shape. 3. these for fall 4. this , a bright colored jacket is the best fall/winter accessory 5. the (under $150!) 6. a under $60 reversible for the house 7. a for the house and 8. a pretty

one of our all time favorite online shopping destinations is  and this week they are having their friends and family sale which means 20% off site wide* (use code 20FORYOU)! bri and i both picked our 8 favorite items, things we’ve been eyeing and that we’re putting on our holiday wish lists. they do such a great job curating pieces from all sorts of brands and at all sorts of price points. i can’t tell you how many great pieces i’ve scored in their sale section. they have one of the best denim selections around, one brand NEED is a fav, i love for fall. shop quickly as it’s my experience that things sell out fast, some of my favorite brands they stock and that rarely go on sale are , and .

1. (love the crop on these!) 2. in vibrant yellow (under $70!) 3. the  4. serious heart eyes for this 5. in my current favorite color 6. i love a and this with a cozy cropped sweater would be so good. 7. i know it’s fall but and with a long open sweater over it is calling my name 8 . and in 100% silk 

*sale is site wide, use code 20FORYOU. exclusions apply: This offer cannot be combined with any other discount codes or promotions. Cannot be applied to previous purchases, gift cards, shipping fees or taxes. *Some exclusions may apply. Ends 10/19 11:59 PM EST.



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