Fall Pumpkins I recently mocked up a table setting for an upcoming dinner party and thought it was just too pretty not to share a little peek.  I plan on setting the table just like this for a pre-Thanksgiving meal I’ll be hosting with friends.  A neutral tablescape is just so simple – and these low-sitting pumpkins are perfect for dinner party decor as they won’t hinder any views across the table, which is sure to help keep the conversation flowing…and the food!  While I plan on keeping the table so very simple, I will be adding one little personalized touch to each plate – a “Thankful For You” greeting tag for each of my guests.  I took inspiration from a selection of dried flowers, wheat, and an ivory-colored pumpkin and used these whimsical fall elements for my color palette.  With watercolors I painted the pattern onto a piece of paper, scanned it, and formatted the design with the “Thankful For You” note.   Neutral FallAvery LabelsNeutral Fall 1I printed the tags using the Avery printable template #22802 – which couldn’t have been easier!  I’ve included a link for you to download my printable template design below – all you’ll need is the Avery tags before you print.  And even though these tags will be used as place settings for my Friendsgiving dinner, you could string them just about anywhere!Neutral Table Neutral PumpkinsCLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

I’ve always had a love for owls – in fact, one of my first posts on this blog was a look at an Owl Cupcake I had made (see HERE).  You can imagine my excitement when I found some old photos of my mom’s that included an amazing owl cake she had made!  How cool is this cake below?   And also, how groovy does my mom look?!  Thanks for the inspiration, Mom!!  AnyWHO (get it…), I decided to surprise my mom and make a cake just like the one she did.  And since the 1968 photos definitely haven’t seen the light of Pinterest yet, I wanted to share a DIY with you for the cake since it doesn’t yet exist on the internet.

Owl Cake Inspiration

For my owl cake, I’ve noted which type of candy I used below.  Feel free to substitute the candy (i.e. raisinets for brown peanut m&ms). As long as the candy is around the same size / color, you’ll have a good looking owl cake.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 frosted cake (preferably rectangular; around 12″ x 8″)
  • Candy:
    • 2 x Reese’s Pieces
    • 1 x Orange Slice
    • Peanut M&M’s: Brown + Yellow
    • Regular M&M’s: Yellow
    • Candy Corn
  • Spatula
  • Ruler

Owl Cake Candy

Directions:

Step #1: Head to the grocery store and grab the candy for your owl cake.  [Note: I stumbled upon some seasonal bags of M&M's at Target (hence the dark yellow / tan colored peanut ones), but the regular milk chocolate and peanut bags will work just as well.]  Once you have your candy, pick out the yellow and brown M&M’s from the bags. Organize your candy and make sure you have everything you need for each of the owl elements.

Step #2: First test out your owl on a piece of paper so you can figure out what your dimensions are going to be. Use the dimensions to properly center your cake.

Step #3 + 4: Start assembling the owl onto the top of your cake. If you wish to include text, position the owl closer to the top or bottom, while still keeping the owl centered.

Step #5: Once all of the details have been added, use a spatula to smooth out any bumps that occurred while decorating.

Step #6: Add text (if you wish) and set in the refrigerator to set for at least 15 minutes before serving. And ENJOY!!

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Click HERE to see many more Halloween-themed DIY posts.

While yesterday’s post included a few highlights of previous Halloween dog costumes, I wanted to share a new costume idea with you for this year.  Since I’m a little late on all things holiday for fall, I decided to make a costume that would work for Halloween and also be able to get some use during Thanksgiving…oh, and it’s another dog costume (clearly, I have no shame in being a dog-loving weirdo!).  So, without further adieu, I give you my Turkey Dog Costume DIY!  Click the play button below to watch the very hilarious and cute video tutorial (as part of my Craft On series), which features not just one, but two adorable pug turkeys in action!!

And while all my costumes are made for dogs, they can easily be made for humans by just altering the pattern sizes.

Turkey Dog Costume Play Video

Materials Needed:

  • Kraft Paper
  • Measuring Tape
  • Hole punch
  • Hot Glue
  • Craft Feathers
  • Elastic or Ribbon
  • Red Felt
  • Scissors
  • Mini hat (available at most party stores or online)

Directions:

Step #1: Measure dog for the costume pattern: measure from neck to tail and from side to side.  Fold paper in half, punch holes at top edge and lower side edge.

Step #2: Working from the bottom, add a strip of hot glue around the outer edge of the pattern and apply feathers. Continue to work towards the top center of the pattern adding the glue and feathers.

Step #3: Cut 5 strings of elastic (or ribbon). String 4 pieces of elastic, 1 through each hole on the pattern. Double knot.

Step #4: Cut out a wattle for the neck from red felt.  Punch two small holes and string the 5th piece of elastic through the holes.

Step #5: Add a feather to the mini hat.

Step #6: Fit costume to dog by tying elastic. Add hat. Hello Turkey!

Turkey Dog Costume DIY

Turkey Dog Costume

Dog Costume Banner Dog Costumes2Piñata Costume + Piñata Costume DIY VIDEO // “Barking Bad” Dog Costume // Pilgrim Costume

Here’s a little look at the holiday cards we’ll be sending out this year. Thanks to Shutterfly, this is the one holiday to-do I am on top of this season.  For this year’s card I chose to illustrate our little family of five…as getting a photo of all of us together seemed like an impossible task considering three of our five members are pets. However, that would be hilarious to attempt…maybe next year!

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On the front of the card I illustrated the Brooklyn Bridge to pay homage to our borough of residence and drew each of us below the bridge, set up at a riverside picnic. And how beautiful are the gold foil stamped details?! I went with a black background for the illustrated side to allow the gold foil to really pop (Note: While the gold foil option was my preference, red stamped foil options are also available).  

Christmas Card-detail

For the back side, I chose solid black as I plan on handwriting personalized messages on each card and will also be adding some festive details to the envelope lining, both of which I plan to do with a gold metallic pen.  And for the finishing touch, I happened to find some vintage NYC stamps that I’ll be using as postage.  I am really looking forward to sending these out this year and feel so accomplished having already ordered them. As extra incentive for you to also get your holiday cards ordered early, you can get 10 free cards from now until October 20th – just use code GREETINGS at checkout.

Thanks for taking a look at them! Now on to the next holiday to-do!

I promise this will be the last time I bring up naked cakes (at least for a while), as the 2014 NY wedding season is now coming to a close.  But before we head into the holidays, I wanted to share one last wedding cake job from the past month which included five (5!) of those ever so popular “naked” cakes.  I loved working with this particular couple as they were very creative when it came to flavors and wanted to truly embrace the fall season with their desserts.  For the cakes, we went with two different flavors: vanilla cake with apple cinnamon buttercream and salted caramel, and vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream and fig.  So very delicious, if I do say so myself!  I forgot my camera before heading out to the couple’s venue (the beautiful Cedar Lakes Estate in Pt. Jervis), but did remember to snap a pic on my iPhone after the setup was finished.

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And also, since I’m promising this is my last naked cake post for the season, I wanted to share a little press mention that was posted today on InStyle for their “Go Naked: 10 Gorgeous Unfrosted Wedding Cakes” feature.  HUGE thanks to InStyle for the love! You can see all the beautiful unfrosted cakes they featured in the piece HERE.

InStyle Press AlanaJonesMann

Bride and Groom

There was one specific detail I was leaving out of yesterday’s recap of the Handsome Hollow shoot, as I wanted to dedicate a separate post to it today. If you’ve followed my blog, you’ve probably heard the name Love + Brain Films.  From making videos for me (like the Party Cake video or the Paper Sunflower DIY), to helping me get my foot in the wedding industry world, Courtney Arcese of Love+Brain Films has always had my back.  This girl is such a force and her talent and film style is unparalleled.  The way she documents a wedding puts the traditional wedding video to shame.  Her wedding films always manage to capture a couple’s big day in such a fun, loving, energetic way.  In 3 minutes she can get me to laugh, cry, and fall in love with a couple I don’t even know.  She’s just so dang talented!

When putting together this shoot I knew I had to have her there and didn’t even get the ball rolling until I was sure she could do it.  And of course, it is no surprise that she managed to blow me away again with her capture of the day.  I love everything about this video!  She captured the day just as it was – there was no denying it was a styled shoot, so it doubles as a fun behind-the-scenes look, as well as an intimate look at the real-life couple.  It shows how much hard work goes into a shoot – and also how much fun we all get to have at the end!

I also wanted to thank Brian Arcese (Courtney’s husband) for filling in as our “officiant” and to my handsome man for allowing me to persuade him to be a part of the shoot as well – and for keeping me stress-free through the day.  For the photos and the full list of vendors that were involved in the shoot visit: Part 1 of the Handsome Hollow Shoot.

Wedding Video

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As I mentioned last month, I had the pleasure of getting to design and style a shoot upstate at Handsome Hollow – a beautiful property in the western Catskills.  After renting the house for my boyfriend’s 30th in June, I had been chatting with the owner and found out they would soon be bringing in an 18th century 4,000 square foot barn and were going to become a fully-functional wedding venue come June 2015.  I asked if I could style a shoot on their property – as I had just experienced the most beautiful weekend up there and knew it would be such a magical wedding destination.  Kate (the owner) was all for it and before I knew it, there was a full group of super talented wedding-industry friends on board to help out.  We pitched our shoot out to Ruffled and they ran the piece yesterday, which you can check out HERE.  Huge thank you to the team at Ruffled for the feature!

Now that the Ruffled post is up, I wanted to share a little look at the day with you all.  There are so many great images that I have had the hardest time narrowing them down (all thanks to the very talented Jacob Murphy of JBM Weddings), so I will be back tomorrow with more.  And don’t you worry – all of the vendor links are included at the bottom of the post.

Handsome Hollow Barn

For the overall design – the 90+ acre property of Handsome Hollow is absolutely breathtaking – and I wanted to let that shine, so I kept it simple.  I let nature be the guide for the design, because just look at this place!  The property hosts an abundance of lush greenery, dreamlike valleys of ferns, wildflowers, a creek, an old stone quarry, blueberry patches, wild mint fields, and so much more…seriously, it is total magic.

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I enlisted my friends (and real life husband + wife) Ashley and Dan (“Mira + Gil”) to get married again for the purpose of our shoot.  They are absolutely beautiful people inside and out, and I’m so thankful they were able to be a part of the day.  It would not have been the same without them!

How pretty does Ashley look?!  The lovely Ash Orzol Murphy did all the hair + makeup for the shoot.  I loved that bold lip color with the delicate dress – so perfect for a late summer wedding.  The floral crown and bouquet were provided from the ladies of Foxglove.

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Ashley wore an amazing (seriously, AMAZING) Victorian cotton lace dress from Tiny Kingdom NYC.  Susan Van Tassel of Tiny Kingdom has the most spectacular collection of vintage dresses.  She had a pop-up at the Wythe Hotel and did a stint at the Brooklyn Flea last winter, which is where I fell madly in love with her collection.  Lucky for all you NY-based brides-to-be she is now taking bridal clients (by appointment) and her pieces are just WOW…truly one-of-a-kind.   I was thrilled when she said she’d be able to be a part of the shoot, and even more thrilled when I found out that she was bringing not only the beautiful Victorian dress and vintage dressing robe for the bride, but also vintage dresses for all of us girls! Oh, and I almost forgot to mention, Tiny Kingdom NYC also provided the rings…yes, Susan also has a perfectly curated selection of very rare antique bridal jewelry in her Tiny Kingdom collection.

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Earlier this year I was involved with another shoot that had the groom decked in a very sleek suit from Brooklyn Tailors, and I knew that was who I wanted to enlist for our groom’s suit for the shoot. For the groom’s look, we paired the suit with a summery hat and decided to not do a tie to keep it more casual and true to the relaxed summer wedding feel we were going for.  Sidenote: During the pull I discovered that the owners of Brooklyn Tailors, Brenna and Daniel, grew up in the same suburb I did in San Diego and we even attended the same high school!  It made me so happy to get to meet and work with fellow hometown folks in Brooklyn.

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We kept the décor neutral and added pops of rich color through the paper and florals. For colors we brought in a late summer palette of bold reds, peaches, and yellows, with touches of deep purple and greens. The hand-illustrated stationery was created by Bethany Robertson of Loveless Designs. And check out that adorable Bridesmaid ask card she made!  I am such a fan of Bethany’s illustrations!

HandsomeHollowShoot21Bethany Robertson Card

I feel that personalization can add so much to a wedding, but can also easily be overdone.  So, we brought in just a touch of it for the shoot.  I used Bethany’s creations to add some personalized labels to the dinner table wine bottles and also added some tags to the cocktail jars.

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A major décor piece for the shoot was the custom dinner table. As soon as I started brainstorming for the shoot, I knew that I wanted the dinner table to be set outside and low to the ground amongst the wilderness. I built a custom table using local wood and sewed floor pillows from burlap for the seating. The table settings were kept neutral and set alongside the floral centerpieces from Foxglove and an array of candles, which were kept low to allow for flowing conversation throughout the delicious family-style summer meal. Globe lights and a handmade heart (see the DIY HERE) were hung to illuminate the setting and keep the fun going well into the night!

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And last (for today), but certainly not least – the desserts!  I asked Ashley Holt of Sugar Monster Sweets to head up the cakes.  Ashley was the winner of “America’s Next Great Baker” and has been a regular on “Cake Boss”.  Needless to say, her talent is unreal!  Instead of one traditional tiered cake, Ashley made 3 coordinating cakes and adorned them with beautiful wildflowers that she picked morning-of at the property.

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So much hard work went into this shoot – it was a total labor of love.  Huge thanks to the incredible team of folks involved!  Stay tuned for more tomorrow!  Update: Handsome Hollow Shoot – Part 2

Earlier this week my friend Kate and I headed to a sunflower field out in the North Fork of Long Island.  Not sure if we were allowed to go to the back fields, but we slyly walked our way back there and then proceeded to act totally ridiculous in the fields.  We posed for strange photos of each other and laughed until we cried (quietly,  to not draw attention to ourselves).  The sunflowers were so beautiful and they were huge!  I loved spending the afternoon wandering around the North Fork – it is such a beautiful place, especially around this time of year.

Sunflower Fields 3

Sunflower Field

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So beautiful, right?!  If you’re now in the mood for some sunflower crafting, check out the DIY for my paper sunflowers (and the DIY video!) by clicking on the photo below.

paper sunflower

This past weekend I made naked cakes for a Brooklyn wedding.  The bride and groom had requested the cakes to look like a previous set I had made, so that’s exactly what I did.  Two smaller cakes were topped with a berry preserve along with fresh blueberries and blackberries, while the larger cake was topped with a pear and some concord grapes, as well as a few fresh flowers.

Naked Cake Blueberry Blackberry AJM Naked Cake 2014

The wedding was held at the beautiful Brooklyn wedding venue, 501 Union.  While all the decor looked lovely, I especially loved the floral arrangements from 2H Flowers – they mixed raw cotton mixed with rich florals for the head table bouquet, which was just so dang gorgeous.  I also loved the gold-trimmed vases that were displayed down the center of the longer dining tables.  Beyouuutiful work, 2H ladies!

Head Table FlowersGold Glass Vases

In other news, I spent all last week filming 10 more Craft On episodes (hence the blog absence).  It was a very long week, followed by a long weekend of baking.  Needless to say, I am very excited to have a couple days off before I start another wedding cake for this coming weekend.