engagement gift

Giving gifts is an opportunity to show how much you care. I always try and make an effort to make the gifts I give special for the recipient (like the time capsule here). My neighbor and friend Valerie has the same philosophy. Recently she asked me if I had any good ideas for an engagement gift. Not having any ideas right off hand, I of course, Googled it. I found a couple of really cute options. She ran with one of the ideas and did a great job!

You could call it a basket of firsts I guess. The idea is you give bottles of wine for all the couple's firsts... first house, first Christmas, first anniversary, etc.

Valerie found the template for those great labels here on Martha Stewart. She also took the idea a step further and coordinated the types of wine to match the event. See her description of each and the reason below.

First House: A Bordeaux called Chateau Prignac. Chateau is French for house.
First Child: A Pinot Nior called Angeline, which means little angel in Italian
First Christmas: We chose a Chardonnay…a “white” Christmas
First New Year: Prosecco, the Italian version of champagne
First Anniversary: A Sangiovese called Cupido (Cupid)
First Dinner Party: Our bottle. No real reason for this other than it doesn’t have too long of a shelf life and we figured this would be their “first” of the ones we chose.
*I should add a note to the First Dinner Party bottle. Valerie's family make their own wine every year. Do you recognize the label? I designed and printed them. You can see it closer here. So like she said, their bottle of wine was perfect for the first dinner party since it's doesn't have an extended shelf life. I'm sure the recipients appreciate having a very personal bottle in the collection too.

Another "first" I saw while looking online was first fight. I thought that was cute too. Kiss and make up - Nothing like a nice bottle of wine to make everything right!

Valerie found a fitting container too - a wine box of course. What a complete package - the box, the ribbon, the labels and of course the wine itself. All the little details of this gift definitely make it one to remember.

And finally, Alicia if you're reading, congratulations to you and Enzo!

birthday onesie

On a recent trip to Target, I stumbled upon this adorable first birthday onesie. I only saw a boy one at my local store, but I'm sure there is a girl version as well. Anyway, I just thought they were too cute not to share. It would be a nice little detail to any first birthday.

christening cake

I recently made this christening cake for a little girl named Charlotte. I used the invitation below for design and color inspiration. The dress is made of fondant and was just lifted off so the rest of the cake was yummy buttercream. I always try to have all my fondant pieces be removable so what people are actually eating is just buttercream. It just tastes much better. I know this is an ongoing debate, but I'm a buttercream girl! I am going to be trying a new homemade fondant recipe while I have some down time here on vacation. I'm keeping my fingers crossed I like the taste of it. I'll let you all know. Anyone else have a great tasting fondant recipe? Please share.

cake inspiration books

Okay, now for my favorite cake inspiration books. Like with the party books, I have lots more, but these are the ones I look to first. I am constantly on the look out for new ones - tell me which ones are your must-haves.

Here's a couple cute cupcake details from that I Love Sugar book.
Butterfly cupcakes... cut the top off, frost, cut the top in half and then lay them back on at an angle. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Easy, peasy!

Carrot cupcake... thinly peel a carrot lengthwise with a vegetable peeler, roll the pieces up like shown and top with a small piece of the carrot stem. Cute, cute!

Some day I want to join the ranks of these books. One of my eventual goals is to write a book myself. I have always had this dream of walking into a book store and seeing my own book on the shelf. Gotta set goals!

party inspiration books

I thought I would share my favorite party books with you. I have quite the library, but these are my faves. They are my go-to books for theme, ideas, detail and color inspiration. Do you have a must-share party book? I would love to hear about it.


image via real simple

California, here we come!!!

A long two week vacation - ahhhh! I am looking forward to time with family, a visit to Santa Barbara, a Dodger's baseball game and celebrating the 4th in style. Of course I'll share all the fun when we get back. I will still be posting while away -lots of fun stuff to show you that I just haven't had time to post! I'm hoping the lazy days of vacation will give me some down time to actually catch up on all my posts.

And something really fun for the month of July! Stay tuned...

happy father's day

A day full of sleeping in, golfing, fishing, cook-outs and hammock laying! To all the wonderful dads out there, I hope you have a relaxing day with your families. And a special happy father's day to two special men in my life. My father and my husband. Two very special fathers. You both go above and beyond daily to make your children feel loved and I thank you. Happy Father's Day!


I know I shared this cake with you guys a couple posts back, but after looking at my pictures again, I found a shot that shows the "glitter and glamour" a little better. (Click on it to make it bigger) The flash reflected the iridescence pearl dust, edible glitter and sugar sprinkles. In person, you could see it a lot better. The diamond pattern pieces were covered in pink sugar sprinkles - that was no small task! Anyway, I just didn't want you guys to think I'm loco - it did sparkle!

Moving on... here are a couple cupcake jobs I've done lately...
Piggy Cupcakes - look at these "girls" all ready to party with the birthday girl!

Deservedly so, parents of my daughter's pre-school organized a teacher appreciation lunch. I decided to make cupcakes. Small token of my appreciation. The toppers spelled out "Thank you NMS teachers". NMS stands for Neighborhood Music School. Hence the musical elements on the other cupcakes.

Thank you Serena, Christine and Denise. I only hope teachers that follow will be as talented as you!

A fun cake order for a 6th birthday! Hello Kitty will never grow old.

acrylic invitations

Okay, back to sharing another gem I found while at the National Stationery Show last month... Acrylic invitations!!! So. cool.

The company that makes them is allie munroe. They had several different examples and they all blew my mind! I totally think this should have been a "Best New Product" contender. Maybe I've been living under a rock, but I have never seen anything like this before. Note to self: I've got to find an event to use these beauties!

Any color! Any shape!

Look at this awesome wedding correspondence. Click the image to make it larger so you can see the crocodile-skin-like envelope. Again, just awesome! Another take-away to notice from this picture... instead of generic "save the date" terminology, they said "clear your calendar" and it's on a piece of clear acrylic. Details people, details!

They also had plastic options. Maybe they are cheaper? I don't know for sure, but I think that is what the representative told me? Same great look though!

allie munroe has other great stationery products as well. My favorite was this birth announcement. Simple, modern and yet still captured the cuteness of a new baby.
1+1=3 -- Love. it.

Speaking of invitations and stationery, I'm finishing up the design for some wedding invitations that I'll share soon. They are timeless and classic. Just got the thumbs up from the client today!

father's day gift ideas

The time to celebrate the wonderful fathers in our life is fast approaching. (Dad and hubby, if you're reading, look away!) I thought I'd share a couple ideas I thought were cool - and some even have an entertaining flare!

For starters, I have always thought this card from Martha is adorable! Maybe this year I'll actually make it instead of thinking about making it. Tutorial here.

Not to get too sappy, but this is a great journal for dads to complete and eventually pass along to their children. Each page has questions for dad to answer in his own words. Found it at one of my favorite stores - Paper Source!

For a fun toy-like gift, look at this Lego Architecture set. So fun right!? I love this idea for a couple reasons. First, this would be a fun gift for a dad and his kids to do together. Secondly, and a little more personally, I am married to an architect, who also loves NYC, so yeah, it's perfect! It's available here at the Moma Store.

Now for something that is quirky, unexpected and hilarious! Kind of a gag gift. I think this would be great for the hard-to-buy-for dad. You know the ones (like my dad) who already have everything they need and ask for nothing. Find it here.

Okay, now for my favorite... The "Hopside" Down Glass. Also available from Paper Source here. I would even love to have these. Fun for a casual beer and pizza night with friends.

All pretty fun huh!? Father's Day shopping here I come!

hollywood party inspiration

I recently received an email from a reader (Hi, Jillmarie!) asking about Hollywood party inspiration. She is in the process of planning a Hollywood glamour party for her daughter's first birthday. Doesn't that sound fun!

To date, I have never planned a Hollywood party, but I have made a cake appropriate to share with this post. It was for a 70th birthday party and the birthday boy loved old Hollywood and the Rat Pack. As you can see, I included old movie reels, red carpet, stars, the Hollywood sign, old clapboards, filmstrip, and for the Rat Pack, I spelled out all the original members names.

I also had a cake order last month for a little girl's glitter and glamour birthday party. It was held at a local children's salon and all the party guests got their hair done and nails painted. Just the thing for six year olds! Anyway, here is the cake I made for that.

So back to event plans, the obvious details that come to mind for a Hollywood glamour party are a black and white color scheme, glitter, bling, boas, black and white photos, red carpet, etc. Other details I think would be fun are huge feather plumes, top hats for the boys, and what about a backdrop behind the red carpet for guests to have their picture taken like real celebrities. You could even design a logo specific to your event (in this case something with the #1 involved).

This couple had a red carpet backdrop customized for their wedding. What a great idea! An interactive station for your guests.

Image via Breakfast at Tiffany's, 1961

(Source - unknown, sorry I saved this picture a LONG time ago and didn't properly record. Anyone else know where it is from?)

No, way! Look at this top hat light fixture!!!! Wouldn't that be adorable say over the cake or something!? I realize it is probably pretty expensive for a one time event, but it looks like a pretty easy DIY project. I'm pretty sure there are do-it-yourself lighting kits at any of the big box stores (Home Depot, Lowe's, maybe even Wal-mart) Ikea even had a cord and bulb system a while back that you could easily put into a hole you cut out of the top. I HAVE to find an event to use this. Source

Look at these little top hat favor boxes. So cute! Notice the little black dress place cards they have too - perfect for a Hollywood glamor dinner party. Or Oscar party? Photo source
Boxes available here. I realize they are from the UK, but I couldn't find any source here in the US.

What about this for the birthday girl to sit in!? A little child's sized director chair. Source

And finally, what about having an old classic black and white movie playing on a large backdrop/screen. The adults would love this!

Anyone else have any inspiration, ideas or images? Come on, share! So Jillmarie, I hope this helps you. We would all love to see your daughter's party when it's all done. Send some pictures! Happy entertaining!

cake time

I am in full blown production mode. I have a couple cake orders due this weekend and the state of my kitchen is proof! Yikes! Anyone want to come do dishes, cut out fondant pieces, sculpt cakes... anything you want, you can do it! So since I'm too busy to actually post about what I want to post, I thought I'd put up some more cakes. I still have to download last months cakes too! I can't keep up, but I'm not complaining. I'm loving it! Enjoy!

I loved making this cake. It was for a little girl named Charlotte for her third birthday. Her party was held on Halloween so they decided on a "Charlotte's Web" theme. Isn't that the greatest!!! Hence the Halloween mixed with farm animals. Notice the number three "weaved" into the web. If I would have been really ambitious, I would have spelled it out like the real Charlotte's Web did.

Next up, a little camping cake. I'm sure you all know this trick, but just in case... the trees are upside down ice cream cones. I just used a star tip and piped all over them. I love the little sleeping bag rolled up inside the tent. I also love (and use all the time) the candy "rocks". They are just candy coated chocolates. Kind of taste like M&M's. You can get them in small and large sizes.

This cake, oh this cake. One of my hardest. Not in terms of technique or difficulty, but concept. The client told me she wanted a cake for her husband's surprise 50th. She told me he was into running, had completed an Ironman competition, had a Porsche and was a doctor. All I kept thinking was "What the heck am I going to do with that!?!?"

This was a 40th birthday cake. The birthday boy has a love of hot rod cars and has owned several in his life. His wife asked me to use his existing hot rod as an inspiration for his cake. The white-wall tires (notice the inflating tube), the flames and a hot rod wouldn't be complete without a rear-view mirror scarfed in fuzzy dice.

A Steinway & Sons piano cake for a pianist/composer.

And the last cake for today, was a retirement cake. I actually did very little on this cake, but I still wanted to show it to you so you know you can use anything to decorate a cake. The client wanted to use specific Playmobil pieces (great creative toys) she had, so she brought them to me and I built up a scene around them. What better way to celebrate retirement than sitting in a hammock tied between two palms right!?

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