As I mentioned last week, I’m bringing back my “Monday Motivation” posts. Every week I’ll post an eclectic selection of inspirational imagery to start your week off right. I’ve started a new Pinterest board (HERE) to help me keep all of the images in one place, so follow along fellow Pinners!

Matthias Heiderichraffaella campeggisara cwynar-accidental archivessara cwynarJillSanderDean West and Nathan SawayaGozde Eker_Cactus Lovepastranastudiodiy-color-block-clock

Image Credits: 1. Photo: Matthias Heiderich // 2. Stylist Raffaella Campeggi // 3. + 4. Artist Sara Cwynar // 5. Photo: Tim Gutt // 6. Photo: In Pieces // 7. Prop Stylist Gozde Eker // 8. Photo: PastranaStudio // 9. DIY Color Blocked Clock by AlmostMakesPerfect

 

I used to dislike my own handwriting, but it really has been growing on me lately. It sure isn’t perfect, but it’s mine and it doesn’t look like that of anyone else, so that’s pretty great. To celebrate National Handwriting Day, I’ve decided to revisit this Pencil Piñata DIY because pencils and handwriting…well, that’s an obvious match, eh?!  Click on the photo below to be taken to the post.

handwritingdayPencil Pinata_Black

Well crap, I was amped to start getting back to this whole blogging thing upon returning from California last week…but then came 4 cakes due in a 3 day period and well, it took every ounce of creative energy out of me.  This past weekend I had a 3 cake order for a beautiful winter wedding at The Bowery Hotel.  Then came today’s “wedding cake” editorial order for a magazine’s summer wedding issue.  I am not allowed to share any photos until the magazine hits stands in a couple months, but I did post a tiny sneak peak on my Instagram.

Now it’s time to get to the third and final baking job of the week.  To be totally honest I am dreading this job quite a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I love getting to put my time and energy into designing and baking cakes, but I would just LOVE for my hands to be clean of sugar and my kitchen to get to stay clean for a few days.  But, oh well…one more job it is.  I am looking forward to getting to go back to the just-for-fun DIYs and blogging this weekend.

One last thing I felt like sharing. (Sorry, after spending a few days in the kitchen, I’m enjoying this sitting at a computer thing a little too much right now!)  A while back I found an old cookbook from the 50’s at a thrift store. When I took the book home and was thumbing through the pages I found a little card inside.  The card, which was probably used as a bookmark at one point, read “Don’t Talk About Yourself. We Will Do That For You When You Are Dead.”  Ha!  A little dark, a little deep, but no doubt a common belief of that time.  Over the past year I’ve thought about that card a lot and have laughed thinking about how drastically the times have changed. Clearly, that was a pre-Instagram / social media way of thinking, with so many outlets dedicated solely to self-promotion these days.  What’s difficult for me about the modern way of sharing is that way too often I find myself comparing my work to others…and even comparing my own work to my own work.  I find myself questioning why some posts receive more “likes” than others….geeez, I hate it…I really hate it. It’s made me over-think what I share before I share it, which has definitely impacted me creatively. I want to work on ignoring that and being able to share my work freely without worry or acknowledgement of how it gets received.  Hey, perhaps that will be a resolution for me this year!  But ANYWHO, I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and today I came across a post from the amazing illustrator Dallas Clayton, which was so perfect and absolutely relate-able…exactly what I needed to hear today, so I wanted to share it on here. Below you’ll see the illustration and the words that accompanied his Instagram post.  You can find more of Dallas Clayton’s incredible work on his website HERE.

dallasclayton

“It’s nice to be popular. It’s a good feeling- to belong, to have a voice that is heard, agreed with, supported. It’s nice to know people care about you, think about you. Could be your classmates at school, peers at work, maybe even strangers on the street. It’s tricky though, when we begin to put popularity first, to consider it synonymous with worth. We raise children to believe that life is not a popularity contest, and yet here on all sides of us we find ranking, calculating, listing from best to worst. Doesn’t show any signs of slowing down, near as I can tell. Popularity contests are in fact as popular as they’ve ever been. Ha! So how do we reckon with it? I suspect the answer has something to do with embracing that thing you love, knowing that who you are and what you are doesn’t have to be popular to matter. Celebrating, in the face of all this projected desire to sit in the number one spot, the idea that the small and simple things can have just as much impact as those designed blanket the masses. Play your song, raise your banner, love your love, find your worth, and be yourself, no matter who’s listening.” – Dallas Clayton

I’m bringing back the “Monday Motivation” posts. Each Monday, I’ll post a colorful selection of inspirational images to help you start your week off right. I’ve started a new Pinterest board HERE where I’ll be posting all of the images, so follow along and let’s beat the winter blues together!

nhykor in bloomold-chum.comsugarandcloth-DIY barn doorBuick Invictascout-laFerney-Bathroom1matthias heiderich blindsbathtub-via sleepy jones

Image Credits: 1. Photo: The Lab Magazine // 2. Photo: Old Chum  // 3. DIY Colorblocked Barn Door – Sugar & Cloth // 4. Buick Invicta via thesthr // 5. Photo: SFGirlByBay // 6. Bathroom Refresh – Oh Happy Day  // 7. Photo: Matthias Heiderich  // 8. Photo: Unknown

California Dreaming It’s been a week since I returned back to New York and to be honest, I have to say I’ve been feeling pretty down. It sure ain’t easy leaving my home state of California. I think the fact that I left as a teenager and moved to New York for 9 years has made me appreciate its beauty so much more than I once did, and I’m so grateful for that.  I don’t know if I’d still be slightly jaded if I had stayed there, but it’s nice to find myself completely in awe of the everyday things that used to surround me as a kid. Coming back to New York this time was especially rough…it seems to get more and more difficult as I get older.  Saying goodbye to the warmth, my entire family, and the incredibly inspiring beauty of that state – not an easy thing to do.  I find most of my inspiration from traveling and nature – and this visit was no exception.  Inspiration was everywhere I looked. Click on the photo above (or “more…”) to see some of the nature and landscapes that caught my eye. (Warning: a lot of plant porn)

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AJM Gemstone CupcakesI had the idea for this set of gemstone cupcakes a while back, and as most just for fun projects go around these parts it took me quite some time to actually make them.  But, they’re finally here…and I couldn’t be happier with how they came out!  For the cupcakes I topped each one with a unique edible gemstone including: an agate slice, a geode, tourmaline, azurite, and pyrite. If you’re interested in making one or all of the gemstone cupcakes, follow along to get the DIY.

AJM Gemstone Cupcakes_TourmalineAJM Gemstone Cupcakes_Agate and GeodeAJM Gemstone Cupcakes 3click here
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Well, it’s the end of the year and I’m feeling a bit sentimental. Earlier today I made a little list of my favorite projects and posts from this past year and wanted to recap my top 10 over here. Thank you to those of you who started following, continued to follow, or are just stopping by this blog for the first time this year. It means so very much to me that I get to share this all with you. Cheers to 2014!  And here’s to a happy, healthy, and balanced New Year!

[click on each picture to be taken back to the corresponding post]

Alt Summit Dinnercacti cupcakesBreakfast Cupcakes DIYIce CreamNY Post PartyRuffled FeatureCatskills Styled ShootErin Cosabella PartyMartha Stewart Newport Wedding Cincinnati Design Project

Photo booths and New Years Eve parties are a match made in heaven. To give you some ideas for your next backdrop, I’ve included a roundup of a few favorites.  Click “more” to see them!

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EVERGREEN BACKDROP DIY

Not only did this evergreen wall serve as a pretty backdrop for the food display, it also doubled as a fun photo booth later in the night.  Find the DIY below and continue on at the bottom of the post for some ridiculous photo booth snaps.

Holiday TableHoliday Party 2014-8Holiday Party 2014-7

MATERIALS NEEDED:

  • Evergreen scraps (lots of them!)
  • Ribbon or twine (at least 10 yards)
  • Scissors
  • Hot glue
  • Nail + Hammer (to hang)

Garland Materials

DIRECTIONS:

Before you start, you’ll need to collect a lot of evergreen scraps. I found it easiest to just hit a group of Christmas tree lots to get scraps they had already cut that they were going to throw out.  If you don’t live in NYC and have access to nature, you’ll have a much easier time getting these than I did.  Perhaps you even have some evergreen branches you’ve been needing to trim in your backyard. Depending on how large you want your backdrop, that will determine the amount of greenery you’ll need.

Also, just wanted to note that I tried making this backdrop a few different ways – but with the weight of the greens I found it best to use hot glue and ribbon (instead of chicken wire or a mesh net).  I considered using floral wire to wire each section to the ribbon, but the hot glue made the process much quicker.

Step #1: Once you’ve collected your greenery, you want to cut the branches into relatively even sections (I kept mine about 8″ long).

Step #2: Next you’re going to cut long pieces of ribbon.  To figure out the necessary length, measure the width of your backdrop and add +1 foot – that’s how long you’ll will need each ribbon strand (leaving room to tie each end to the wall).  The backdrop is essentially a layer of garlands; for each garland you will need 2 strands of ribbon.  My backdrop required 10 garlands, so I cut 20 strands of ribbon. Get it? Got it. Good!

Step #3: To start your first garland, lay out 2 ribbon strands parallel to each other on a work surface.  Add a 6-inch section of hot glue, and immediately place the ends of greenery to the glue.  Then, add your second ribbon atop the glue and greenery to sandwich the greenery inside the two ribbons. Continue along your ribbon until you have 6 inches of ribbon left, then stop.  Now you have your first garland. Continue Step #3 however many times necessary until you have all of your needed garlands.

Evergreen Backdrop DIY

Step #4: For the installation of the backdrop I used small nails and secured each end of ribbon to a nail and then also added a nail to the center of the garland to keep it secure.  Begin hanging your garlands at the bottom, moving up along your wall.  Let the ends of the garland cover the ribbon of the garland you secured prior.

Step #5: I sprinkled in a touch of some other varieties of evergreen to my backdrop once I was finished just to add a bit of dimension.  To finish it off, I hung some fake garlands horizontally across the top to cover the ribbon from my top garland.

Step #6: Lastly, make sure your space is well lit, setup a camera and tripod, and start shooting!

And just so you all know, this backdrop takes a lot of time.  It would’ve been a bit easier with some help, but since this was a project I decided to do last minute, I only had my two hands…both of which were covered in sap and hot glue burns by the end.  Buuuut, it was worth it.  This was my favorite backdrop I’ve made to date – I still have it hung up in my kitchen and I will definitely be sad to see it go.

Click “more…” to see the photo booth shots.

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With Hanukkah here, I wanted to post an idea for a DIY menorah I came up with for my Craft On series.  With birch logs, a drill, and a little muscle, you’ll be able to put together this menorah in no time.  And for all those not celebrating Hanukkah, these birch log candles look beautiful displayed individually as well.  Head on over to ulive to watch the video tutorial HERE.

Birch Menorah