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.

Since the colder autumn weather has already made it’s way to New York, I’d thought I’d post a formal farewell to the season.  So long Summer 2014, thanks for the good times.  Here’s a few photos I snapped during a brief, but very enjoyable, solo summer getaway I took a couple of weeks ago.

Ice Cream ConeBel Air Motel 2Colorful SidewalkLady on BeachCarribean Motel Pool 1Wildwood RosesBlue White Motel Ferris Wheel 2Swings 2Boardwalk RidesWildwood Neon 1 Carribean Motel at Night

And speaking of getting away, two of my dearest friends – photographer Geordy Pearson and creative director Ariel Wilchek – have just departed on an amazing journey around the world. They’ve launched a super rad online travel journal, PVTNDL (pivot needle), where they’ll be chronicling their travels.  I suggest you bookmark the page for some beautiful, wanderlust-provoking imagery to constantly hit the site as they make their way around the world over the next year.

I typically don’t accept cupcake orders for my cacti cupcakes, but when the request came in for them to be sent to one of my favorite fashion designers this week – I ecstatically took on the job.  Yesterday, I recreated my cacti cupcakes for the amazing Mara Hoffman to celebrate her incredible (seriously, INCREDIBLE) New York Fashion Week spring 2015 collection…which also had some strong cacti vibes.  And while these cupcakes are beautiful on their own, I decided to hand-paint the cake box for an added personalized touch. I was so honored to be thought of for this job – Mara’s designs have always been such a huge source of inspiration for me and it was just so dang awesome getting to make these for her.

Unfortunately I didn’t get to take any photos with my real camera, but here’s a few lo-res iPhone shots from the delivery box.

Succulent Cactus CupcakesSucculent CupcakeAJM cactus cupcakes

If this is your first time seeing these, you can find a DIY for the cupcakes HERE.

I was invited by Dark Rye (a stunning and superbly curated online magazine from Whole Foods Market) to contribute a DIY for their “Cultivate” issue.  For the DIY, I decided to evolve my cacti cupcakes into a larger party-sized treat.  Positioned into a wax-lined terra cotta pot, ribbed and topped with an edible flower, this cactus cake is where it’s at.  While the directions are scalable, the size shown is absolutely perfect for a small party…and how awesome would this edible plant be for a housewarming gift?!

Cacti Cake 2
Head on over to Dark Rye to find out how to bake up this delectable cactus cake – and make sure to check out the entire “Cultivate” issue while you’re there!  Huge thanks to the team at Dark Rye / Whole Foods for inviting me to be a part of this beautiful issue!
Potted Cactus Cake

 

My biggest source of inspiration has always been nature.  If I’m ever feeling a lack of creativity, surrounding myself with nature has been the best cure.  This weekend I made a visit to The New York Botanical Garden – which left me feeling so inspired and totally at peace.  If you find yourself in New York, I suggest you take a trip up to the Bronx to see the beauty on display at the gardens.

PalmsSnakeplant Cacti Heaven CactusCactiCactus 2AirplantsAloe PlantsNY Botanical GardenPretty Plant LeavesWaterlily

The items I showed off yesterday sure do make a huge difference in my kitchen – it makes the space much brighter, which really cheers me up while I bake.

And speaking of baking, I knew I wanted to make a couple of unique products that I could use for my cake tastings and dessert parties. I took some of my favorite images from my collection of vintage baking books and scanned the covers to replicate the glorious retro cake photographs onto serving plates.

CAke Plates

I cannot wait to have friends over for dessert and bust out these plates – I absolutely love them!  I’m thinking I’ll even DIY a cake stand out of one of them!

Cake Table

I also made a Shutterfly photo book to be used as a portfolio for my desserts and design work.  The book is beautiful – the printing came out great – the photo quality is absolutely amazing.  And it is the perfect size for me to carry along to client meetings and to display alongside dessert setups.  Plus, I was able to layout and design the book completely to my liking, which was very important for me.  My new portfolio book has already been extremely beneficial, as I’ve brought it along to a number of meetings and it is a much better (and more presentable!) alternative compared to the slideshow I used to conduct from my phone.

PS – Shutterfly is currently running a promotion – from now until September 10th you can get a free photobook with code: BOOK4FREE.

AJM Shutterfly Book CoverAJM Shutterfly Book 1

A couple of months ago I was invited for a tour of the Shutterfly By Design 2014 townhouse which was followed by drinks and conversation with the Shutterfly and Martha Stewart teams (if you missed my recap on that amazing evening, you can read it HERE).  There was one major detail of the night that I held off on sharing details about….until now.  That night myself and two other NY-based bloggers were each given an exciting assignment from the Martha Stewart and Shutterfly teams. We were assigned a specific room within our homes and asked to add our personal design touches to the room using Shutterfly products.  After seeing so many great ideas at the event earlier that night, I was definitely up for this challenge.  And lucky for me, I was assigned my favorite room of the house – the kitchen!

In the days following I thought about my particular kitchen, its current design influences, and what I would want to change or add within the space.  I have always liked my kitchen, however, there have been two major issues I’ve had with the space since moving in 5 years ago – the unfortunate dark faux granite formica countertops and the bulky honey-colored wooden cabinets which had been installed by our landlord prior to us moving in.  As you’ll see below, they don’t work well together (at all), but being a renter unfortunately means we can’t change very contrasting and very permanent surfaces, so I have always just tried to look past their harshness and accept that they were there to stay. Kitchen_Before

Prior to visiting the Shutterfly By Design space, I had only been familiar with Shutterfly products that were mainly photo-based.  But that night I learned that there was so much more offered – and I even had an idea come to me as to how I could temporarily alter my disliked kitchen surfaces with one Shutterfly product in particular.  But first I needed to take a deeper dive into the inspiration.  My kitchen is very retro-influenced with touches that a grandmother would love (old stereo, vintage housewares, mismatched teacups, Vera Neumann-esque prints and patterns, etc.) and I knew I wanted to stay within this realm.

So, I knew I wanted to keep it retro.  I wanted to lessen the bulky appearance of the cabinets and somehow if I could hide those countertops, I definitely wanted to do that.  And lastly I wanted to add some customizable elements to my kitchen.  And by using Shutterfly, I was able to do it all.

Here’s a look at the main kitchen space post re-design. Follow along to get the specifics on each added Shutterfly element.

Shutterfly Kitchen Map4

1. WALLPAPER-LINED CABINETS: First I removed those bulky cabinet doors and used the Shutterfly customizable wall decal as faux wallpaper for the back of my cabinets. All I had to do was scan in a sample of a vintage wallpaper I had found and upload the image to Shutterfly.

Here’s a closer look at what the wall decal looked like once it arrived.  Looks just like wallpaper, right?

Wall Decal Detail

By removing the cabinet doors and adding the bright pattern to the cabinets, the space really livened up.  Plus, it looks super retro – exactly what I was I going for.

Cabinet DetailShutterfly Kitchen Cabinets

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Earlier this summer I headed to Cincinnati on a design project – a NY-based marketing agency was planning to host a pop-up office in downtown Cincinnati and had enlisted my services to design, style, and transform the raw studio into a fully-operational office space.  “Urban oasis” was the overarching theme for the space and to achieve this I knew it was essential that I go heavy…very heavy on the plants.

Lucky for me, Cincinnati has an amazing selection of local greenhouses that house the most fantastic plant varieties.  Just look at the array of plants onsite at Tropical Foliage Plants in Delhi Hills, a greenhouse-rich suburb of Cincinnati.

Cincy Design Plants Greenhouse PlantsColored Cactus

Getting to walk through the greenhouses at Tropical Foliage and pick out my plant selection for the space was definitely a highlight of my trip.  I could make a whole post with pictures I snapped that morning…but back to the project at hand.

Now, it’s one thing styling a raw space, but when that raw space is dilapidated and verrrry dirty…well, that’s a whole other beast.  Take a look at what the space looked like initially – if you look closely you can see cardboard-covered vents, some tacky paint, and the permanent but non-functional supplemental ac unit…pretty rough, eh?  Unbeknownst to me (until my arrival) the space hadn’t been used in years.  Needless to say, it required a lot of cleaning, dusting, washing, and painting before I could even start with the space.

Pre Design

Upon arrival, the walls were painted white, the outdated furniture and blinds were removed, and the space was thoroughly cleaned.  After a long two days of prep, the studio was ready for its new design.  Here’s a little look at the initial transition of the space.

Cincy Design 1

The space needed to be able to easily transform to accommodate a more typical meeting space during the days and an open lounge environment during the evenings, so the layout had to stay fairly open.  Lightweight tables that could be easily repositioned (and reconfigured) were added to the center of the room to host daytime meetings.  A lounge was added to the back of the room for smaller, more intimate group discussions and the back wall itself was turned into one large multi-functional chalkboard.

The client’s requested color palette was an orange, burnt yellow, and teal.  To balance these bold colors and compliment the abundance of plants that were going to go in the space, I went with a significantly neutral palette and added pops of color with the furniture.

Cincy Design 2

And as for the plants, there was a touch of green added to every corner of the space.  Plants were placed along windowsills, hanging plants secured to the ceiling, shelving was made to accommodate smaller potted plants, and large floor plants were added around the room.

Cincinnati Studio Design 9Cincinnati Studio Design 1Cincinnati Studio Design 21Cincinnati Studio Design 12Cincinnati Studio Design 13Cincinnati Studio Design 17PlantsCincinnati Studio Design 15

The bold colors were consistently balanced with neutral tones throughout the space – wooden tables were paired with bright yellow chairs, a jute rug was positioned beneath the teal sofa, and beautiful green plants were positioned into natural pots.  To resonate with the industrial feel of the loft space, a touch of metal was added  – metal pendant lamps were hung from the ceiling for supplemental lighting, stools were stacked alongside a wall to provide additional seating, and an industrial storage closet was added for safekeeping.

Cincinnati Studio Design 10Cincinnati Studio Design 3Cincinnati Studio Design 19Cincinnati Studio Design 8

As a final touch, I hand-painted and stenciled the client’s logo onto the center of the chalkboard wall to serve a backdrop for the lounge and to creatively incorporate a touch of branding into the space.

Cincinnati Studio Design 5Cincinnati Studio Design 6

And there you have it – weeks of work summed up into one post!  My 6-day stay left me with barely enough time to get everything done, so I didn’t have much time to get to explore Cincinnati on my own.  But from the time I did have, I fell in love – there is so much greatness going on in that city.  I don’t want to pick favorites – but if you happen to find yourself there, make sure to grab a meal and some coffee at Cheapside Cafe, stop by the immaculately curated Fern shop, take a visit to the City Flea, and if you have a few extra bucks to spend on a hotel, stay at the awesome hotel museum that is 21C. I look forward to being back in that city on my own time.  In fact, a return trip is already being planned!

For my Craft On video series, I’ve made a couple fun DIY videos to get kids – and their parents – excited about going back to school. This first tutorial turns last year’s DIY for THESE Mini Pencil Cookies into video form. You can watch the Craft On: Mini Pencil Cookies video HERE.

And the second video is for a mini pencil made from a paper towel roll, and when broken open hosts a surprise of  school supplies and candy (hence the “pencil popper” name).  If I were a kid, I’d sure be excited to find one of these in my lunchbox!  Click play to check out the video and continue along for the full directions.

Craft On_Pencil Popper Play

Materials Needed:

  • Paper Towel Roll
  • Tissue Paper: Yellow, Tan, Pink, Black
  • Construction Paper
  • Piece of Tinfoil
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Glue
  • Filler: Candy, School Supplies, etc.

Materials Pencil PopperClick through for instructions…

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I was reminded during a visit to Target yesterday that it’s time for the kids to head back to school.  With that reminder, I have a few school-related DIYs to share with you over the next few days, but first I wanted to share an updated version of one of my favorite DIY tutorials from last summer – this awesome pencil piñata. Stuffed with candy, erasers, mini notebooks, and other surprises, this pencil piñata has back-to-school party written all over it!  Continue on below for the full directions.

FOSSIL4_DIY_lead1_web_AJM

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