Tag Archives: brooklyn

Small Town Brooklyn

This past Saturday was Small Business Saturday.  I hope that you all took a nice leisurely stroll with your families and stopped in at some local shops for Christmas gifts like I did.  Well…I also shopped for myself.  Take a look at my find:

Vintage Booties from Once Again Thrift Shop in Cobble Hill

I dont know the origin or age but they are not new, mint condition and were only $18!  I found them at a little thrift shop called Once Again Thrift Shop at 114 Smith St Bklyn.  I was actually on the hunt for my sister a birthday gift when we found them together.  She claims that she picked them up first but I think we each had a hand on one at the same time.  I tried them on first and they fit, LUCKY me!  They fit her too but I begged her to let me have them… then she paid for them for me, lol.  It was a cash only shop, I only had my AmEx on me.

By Brooklyn, Cobble Hill

I did find my sister a birthday gift from another of my favorite local shops, By Brooklyn at 261 Smith St Bklyn.  Just as its name states this store sells goods made in Brooklyn.  Everything is unique and personal, the perfect place to find a gift.  My sister picked out a brass necklace with a tiny owl.  I also found a silver key necklace for my daughter Macy, who covets my Tiffany Key but is too young for such a luxury item yet.

Brass Owl Charm from By Brooklyn, Captured by Jes photo

My Brooklyn neighborhood is sometimes called BoCoCa because three areas combine almost seamlessly, Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill & Carroll Gardens.  We’ve read that it was once just called Red Hook or South Brooklyn.  It seems that Brooklyn is regarded as a place for creative individuals but its not an area that I would describe as “artsy”, just casual and unique. There are many stylists, designers & authors living here.  Not many Hipsters or the new breed, Prepsters around, that’s Williamsburg.  Lots of young families, lots of French (because my daughters school P.S. 58 has a very unique Dual Language program that is partially funded by the French Embassy) and whats left of an older Italian generation that was here before the Yuppies invaded. Oh and we have many celebs, Michelle Williams, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Keri Russell (I passed her and her son on the sidewalk one day).  And Gwyneth Paltrow, Beyonce & Jay-Z were at a birthday party at the park across from my daughters school last month (you can see the photos on this blog) although news of their visit spread like wildfire, Brooklyners dont really make a big deal out of it.   You can just be yourself here, famous or not.  What we dont have much of is tourists and I’m so happy for that!  I once lived on Broadway at Wall St right next to Trinity Church and spent every day pushing through tourists and business men.

Typical Brownstones in my Brooklyn neighborhood

I walk alot in our neighborhood, which is one of the reasons I like it, its two main commerce streets Smith St and Court St are the main arteries of our “small town”.  Hundreds of mom n’ pop stores line the streets, there is a bit of grittiness that keeps the rents affordable for small business owners.   Mixed in with some  gentrification, that I dont really like although it is probably necessary to keep other business afloat.  Im a supporter of the 3/50 Project -Saving the bricks and mortars our nation is built on.  Although I feel that an online presence is also necessary, in this day and age it is becoming a lost past time to take the time to stroll through a small shop.   Im happy that sites like Big Cartel and Etsy allow us to shop from individuals far and wide and Pop Up Shops let people experiment with an idea but we shouldn’t forget to frequent business right outside our doorsteps.  Maybe one day I’ll figure out my own interior design/craft/cake/event niche and have the opportunity to open my own shop, my husband dreams of having a toy store, my sister wants her own photography studio.  Maybe we will go in together and have a MishMash Shop!

Im proud to say that we frequent the shops in our neighborhood more than we do big box and online, here are some of the shops Im in at least once a week:

-I buy produce every couple of days from K&Y Fruit and Vegetable at 291 Court St Bklyn.

Gourmet Fresh - Carroll Gardens

-For items I missed on our twice a month Target stock up I shop at Gourmet Fresh at 437 Court St Bklyn.

-We buy birthday gifts at Pizzazzz Toyz 281 Court St Bklyn and sometimes baby items at its sister store right next door.

Black Gold Records & Coffee Shop, Carroll Gardens

Victorian Taxidermy at Black Gold Records Coffee Shop

-Coffee at Black Gold Records at 461 Court St Bklyn, you’ve never seen a coffee shop like this, records and victorian taxidermy and a story behind it all.

Olafs Men's Vintage

– Brother and Sister vintage shops: Olives Very Vintage at 434 Court St and Olafs Men’s Vintage at 453 Court St Bklyn.

-For a quick after school treat we love F. Monteleone Bakery and Cafe at 355 Court St Bklyn, the pasteries are small and still inexpensive.

Winn Discount FCR at 299 Court St Bklyn is like an entire big box store crammed into a mom n’ pop and I do mean crammed but trust me they have anything you need.

Mazzone True Value at 470 Court St Bklyn, Im not gonna lie, I frequent the Lowes a block away but this hardware store carries Benjamin Moore paint and is also in my path to school so Im in there often.

All of these stores are less than a mile from my front door.  Not included in my daily erands are some much talked about restaurants Frankies 457 Spuntino, Prime Meats and Buttermilk Channel (which is on my street), my husband and I dont have to go more than 2 blocks when we want to celebrate at an upscale restaurant. Our area is well known to Foodies and we try to choose a new place each time we go out to eat.

Macy in Boerum Hill

My building Hunt Lofts, Huntington St - Carroll Gardens

I could go on and on about how much I love our Brooklyn neigborhood.  We have been here only a year but already feel a since of belonging and fulfiment to our need to be close to the hustle and bustle (we are 2 miles from the Brooklyn Bridge) yet still have a small town community experience.  I think we are planning to stick around here for a long time.

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Woodland Fairy Birthday Party

Macy’s Woodland Fairie Party

I am so pleased to share this birthday party with everyone!    Macy’s 9th birthday was a Woodland Fairie theme.  I think that you will find it an inspiration for a Woodland Party theme for a boy or girl.   In the previous 8 years of Macy’s birthday parties I had not done a fairy theme and I wanted to get one last little girl party in before they all became Hollywood Glamour and Spa Day parties. My vision was inspired by our favorite cafe and I felt that this type of fairy theme was more appropriate for a 9 year old girl than the tutu and wings type. As always my children’s parties are a big production in our home, we begin planing sometimes months in advance and I design and make nearly everything myself.   I hope you find an inspiring idea for your next party in this post.

Woodland Fairy Invitation

After the party theme was  approved by the birthday girl, I started with searching for the invitation that would set the style.  I usually make them myself but when I discovered the perfect invitation by B. Nute productions, I was very glad to let someone else take care of it for me.  I was interested in a invitation that was a more graphically lavish than what I can create and her whimsical and vintage style was exactly what I had in mind to set the tone for the party design, you can see her site and with many other beautiful designs here.

Macy’s Woodland Cake

This Woodland Cake is an original that I designed and created.  The bottom layer is a dummy cake covered in fondant, carved and hand painted to look faux bois.  It turned out fantastic!  Painting fondant is super easy, just the color gels and lemon extract is needed.  I enjoyed rendering in watercolor in design school and found painting the fondant to be a lot like that.  In fact I enjoyed painting this dummy cake so much that I think I’m going to do a little bit of real watercolor soon!  The top cake is chocolate (macy said to represent earth!) and has a white chocolate ganache layer before I added fondant.  I started doing ganache under my fondant cakes last year and I love everyone of them!  It gives the cake a more solid surface to except the fondant and Ive found it easy to build up any uneven sides or corners in the ganche.  I achieve an almost flawless fondant covering every time!  The number 9, toadstools and grass are fondant, the flowers are purchased from my favorite cake supplies store NY Cake on 22nd street in the flat iron district and the butterflies are hand piped chocolate from this tutorial from http://www.chefmommy-brandao.blogspot.com.

Woodland Fairie Dessert Table Details

The details really do make up this dessert table, I put a lot of thought into the display and vessel type to make sure the theme was strongly represented.  Fairy Dust in glass tubes hung from the branches and were part of the favors going home with the guests, printable straw flags cut to length made a perfect label.  I found this birch covered bowl at a shop in the NYC flower district and placed florist foam in it to display the Sparkly Fairy Wand cake pops.  The soda of choice for Woodland Fairies must be “root” beer!  Mine were served with a paper straw that I know you have never seen displayed like this before! The idea came to me to place the straws in tags by B.Nute productions simply out of need, as I had not found the perfect vessel to hold them all in a group!   Wood slices are a must have on any rustic or woodland table display.  Adding decorative stones and moss, it becomes a very complete Fairy Cake display

There were a few other support areas around our home that received some party decorating as well. Favor bags of simple paper sacks and printed labels sat at the door to pass out as guests left.  I choose to not clutter the dessert table with the extra Fairy Cakes and paper goods, but still thoughtfully displayed them on our kitchen island.  Guest were greeted with a small display of nature from a cake dome full of pine cones and other dried naturals, a birds nest and flowers.

Le Petit Cake Brooklyn, NY

For brunch we walked two blocks away to the cafe that inspired the Woodland theme.  This cafe design is so amazing, I cant believe that it is only two blocks from our home, it looks like it was imported from Disney World.  I padded the party time an extra hour to work in the walk and wait for our table.

Woodland Party Decorations

To make ordering easier on us and our server I gave the girls the choose of 5 basic brunch items and wrote them on little menu cards before we headed to the cafe.  The girls just showed the card to the server to place their order, genius right?   The menu card and welcome sign I designed were compliments to B. Nute productions Woodland Fairie tags.  I found the stick boarder on a web site offering public domain images from old books called http://www.fromoldbooks.org.  The Twig pencils were part of the favors the girls took home.

Macy and I brainstormed the idea of a Treasure Hunt for lost things.  Inspired by stories of Peter Pan and Tinkerbell, we came up with the idea of trinkets and magical fairy items to search for.  My favorite item was the Rattle which represents “a baby’s first laugh”.  From the story of Peter Pan, this is when a fairy is born!  Gathering the items for the treasure hunt was a treasure hunt for me!  It was a lot of fun to do and most of the items were found in craft stores.  I used a border image from http://www.fromoldbooks.org again to design the sign and treasure hunt card that complimented our other party decorations.  The images on the treasure hunt card came from http://www.graphicsfairy.blogspot.com, I love her images!

Fairy Houses Craft

The girls did a craft decorating fairie houses.  Macy has made real fairie houses in the woods at camp with Girl Scouts.  Those houses were made out of all natural materials like twigs and leaves.  We pre-painted small birdhouses dark brown to give a natural material feel but I felt that the girls would have more fun if the decorations were sparkly.

Woodland Fairy Dessert Table

Now that Macy is 9, she helps out a lot with the preparation of her parties (she made all the toadstools on the cake!).  She is a crafter like me and during one of our working days she sat beside me while I made the fabric bunting, turning my sewing scraps into fairy clothes,  They were quite impressive!  She also loves to share her opinion and ideas, for this party table she came up with the idea to place small sparkly pompoms hiding in the branches to represent our Woodland Fairies.  Our fairies were shy but you can see one of them above tucked in the berries.

What gave this dessert table its woodland presence was the sticks and wreath on the wall.  The Queen Fairy looks over the party with such grace!  I also found her from Graphics Fairy and spray mounted her to the same kraft paper as the table runner.  Tying it to a grapevine wreath made it look like a Woodland Portrait. Wondering how I got those sticks (that my wonderful husband gathered in Prospect Park for me) to hang on the wall?  I have some great pictures of how I made that and the wreath hang  that I will share in a Behind the Scenes of the Party post. I also made the felt toadstools for the dessert table and now sell them by the set on my Etsy Shop.

I hope you have enjoyed my daughters party pictures!  I have designed her parties for 9 years and my son’s for 1 year, as well as a few years of my nieces parties.  I am slowly getting all of my previous parties into blog posts, so be sure to check back often to see whats new!

 

UPDATE:  Due to much demand  I have decided to give away my treasure hunt printable for free!   You may download the file HERE

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Hudson’s Oliver the Owl Nursery

Oliver the Owl Nursery

Being an interior designer I had high expectations for myself to create a nursery for my son that was beautiful; being a craftswoman I had high expectations for myself to create a nursery for my son that was custom-made.  For Hudson’s nursery I delivered both. I named this nursery design and the owl on the quilt Oliver the Owl after Hudson’s middle name. Although I was inspired by the Dwell Owl bedding that was brand new at the time, I decided to design and make all of his softgoods myself.  The bumper, quilt, sheets, canvases, drapery & rug were created by my hands.  The framed art, mobile and dresser were also customized to better fit into my design.

This nursery started with the gray Sparrow crib from Oeuf that I had choose whether I was having a Hudson or a Olivia.  Second came the fabric, a F.Schumacher called Zeynatta Mondatta.  Actually the fabric came years before, as it was a sample I held on to from my D&D Building fabric trips. I just had to have it but didn’t know what I would ever do with it, it was fate! I ran across it one day going through tear sheets and files and I instantly knew I’d found the inspiration for his room.   In designing his bedding I had an allowance on how much of the zig zag fabric I was going to invest in, it was a very expensive fabric and luckily a fellow interior designer was able to get her hands on a yard sample for me (perks of the trade) and that helped out a bunch with the cost.  In sourcing the other fabric locally in North Carolina I was tipped on a gem of a fabric store in the middle of nowhere.  Mary Jo’s in Gastonia, NC, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I went there and it takes a lot to impress me.   After the foundation theme and colors were decided, I started with product research and created an inspiration board and a board for his bedding design.  I was proud to show them off at our baby shower, it was the only way for people to know what we were up to.

 

My Initial Frame

Here’s how his nursery came together:

  • To make the bumper I went to several baby boutiques to inspect the custom designs that were displayed.  I took a hundred measurements of my crib and every bumper I ran across and I spoke with other designers about how they specify construction to workrooms.
  • The quilt is composed of minky on one side and heavier weight fabrics on the other, its meant to be more of a top piece, decorative quilt.
  • The owl applique is hand embroidered.
  • The crib sheet (and later a pillowcase) was made from a twin sheet in just the right aqua color from Bed Bath and Beyond.
  • The tab top drapery was modeled after another window panel my daughter has (super easy project).
  • The rug is faux fur that I stitched heavy weight canvas to the back so that it would lay flat!
  • We paid homage to Hudson’s namesake with artwork of a subway map of NYC, it was from a calendar that we already had and it was just the right colors.
  • The RAR rocker was on my list of must have chairs (being obsessed with designer chairs), but I was on the fence whether to go with a color or white.  White won for future versatility as it often does, but I also really love white furniture.
  • His mobile was from CB2 but I had to paint a few of the pieces blue.
  • The Koppang dresser is an Ikea Hack, customed painted in a Ben Moore oil paint that was an exact match to the Ouef crib.
  • Its fun to stumble upon something that you know is just perfect: the Foo Dog bookends are from target, the FADO ball lamp from Ikea, the Where the Wild Things Are pillow is from Urban Outfitters and my husband insisted on having an Ugly doll.
  • The paint is  Laura Ashley-Apple 6 from Lowes
  • The initial frame is another project of mine that I will talk about soon
  • Newspaper tree canvases  – modge podge, paint and newspaper, check out how I made these here

Lastly to be decided were in his room were the  canvases.  As you can imagine I had a lot on my plate making the bedding and in the back of my mind I had an idea for newspaper trees but I just couldn’t get to it before he was born.  The canvases and (as well as few other items) were completed a few weeks after we brought Hudson home but he’ll never know we didn’t have everything ready for him!

Hudson's First Shoes

35 weeks along with Hudson, Captured By Jes

Just a few weeks before Hudson was born my sister photographed me and  incorporated his special fabric.  Now a year and a half later she photographs a lot of people.  You can check out her site  www.capturedbyjes.blogspot.com

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The Initial Frame

 My sister has reprimanded me, she says that I have to do my postings more tutorial like.  Well I promise when I get to a new project that I will photograph it step by step.  But right now im still playing catch up with about 9 years worth of fabulous projects that Ive done!  I have always photographed the final results but never the process, this one is easy enough that I can recreate the process in a tutorial way without the step by step pictures. S0 Jes, this ones for YOU!

Macy and Hudson's Initial Frames

Initial frames! This is a very old project of mine, but it still proudly hangs in my childrens’ room and in the rooms of the loved ones Ive created one for.   It is a very simple and inexpensive project, I once made about 10 at one time as Christmas gifts for all the children in our family and in Macy’s playgroup.

Initial Frames for Macy's Playgroup

Supplies for this project:

  • a wooden 8×10 frame – cheap,  from anywhere like a craft store or ikea
  • acrylic paints – super cheap again, a $1 bottle is enough
  • a wooden letter – there’s a trend here… cheap from a craft store
  • fabric scrap at least 10×12 – free! if you are a crafter that has it lying around
  • a 1/2 yard of ribbon or twine – again you know you have some somewhere
  • a slightly smaller than 8×10 cut of mat board – in the framers aisle at craft store
  • hot glue gun – the classic
  • staple gun – you can do it without this, but if you dont want the letter to fall off and hit the baby in the head then  barrow one.

First step is to remove the glass from the frame but save the backboard as you still want that so that it looks nice and finished when its done.

Next paint the letter and wooden frame.  Just like any project with wood you might decide that it needs a little sanding prep before the paint.  Use your discretion.  Acrylic paint dries in a matte or chalky finish.  If you dont like that you can use a spray gloss sealant to give it a sheen.  But be cautious:  some of the glosses will turn the paint a yellowish color.  I had a pink letter turn an unusable color.  So I play it safe and just leave it like it is.  Or you can buy higher quality paint that has a gloss finish already.

Hudson's Initial Frame

While your paint is drying you can begin the fabric covered mat board.  Make sure the board is slightly less that 8×10 because the fabric will need space to live tucked in the frame too.  Wrap the fabric onto the mat board and hot glue the long and short sides.  Leave the corners for last and either fold down one side then the other or make a pinched triangle like miter cut and glue down with lots of hot glue.  The fabric covered board should fit snuggly into the frame the same way the glass did before you removed it.

Cowboy Initial Frame

Next position the letter in the center of the board with hot glue.  ***And here’s where Im making the safety disclosure** Hot glue is temperamental.  Its not really a glue right, its plastic and when its cold it lets go of what it should be holding onto.  In my practice with these initial frames I found a super easy way to make sure the letter doesnt pop off no matter what type of fabric you have tried to adhere it to.  After you have the letter glued into place, turn the board over and fire a few staple gun staples through the back of the mat board, into the back of the wooden letter!  Yes, its that easy.  Now the letter isnt going anywhere.  Put the board back in the frame, put the backboard of the frame back on and fasten it closed.

Macy's Initial Frame

You may have a frame that came with an easel back or no easel and a saw tooth hanger.  You can still hang this initial frame on the wall regardless of its backboard type.  Staple your ribbon or twine to the back to use as a hanger.  If you borrowed a staple gun, you might realize by now that its a really good tool to have and they are not expensive so grab one on your next trip to Lowe’s. Just remember to keep in out of reach and locked away from little hands, I even keep ours unloaded.

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Under the Sea Birthday Party Invites + Mermaid Barbie Cakes

For my daughters 5th birthday the theme was Under the Sea.  I am only sharing the invitation and cakes from the party, but this was a fantastic pool party and a success with my daughter who is my biggest fan and littlest critic!

Under the Sea Invite Shaker

This party’s invtation is a very unique “shaker” card that we really sent through the mail.  As you can see from the profile shot above it is a thick card that required extra postage but arrived to our guests fine.  I believe I did write “hand cancel” on the envelopes to help them receive some TLC at the post office but who knows if that really helped!  These cards where on the complex side to create but they were worth it and were an impressive surprise for our guests to receive.  Heres how they came together:

Supplies:

  • 1/4 thin foam core board
  • colored scrapbook paper
  • transparency film
  • confetti
  • glue stick
  • xacto and cutting mat

To assemble:

The informational side of the card was designed and printed as a 5×5 square.  5″ squares were also cut out of the foam core, transparency film and unprinted scrapbook paper.  A center circle (a square would work too) was cut from the foam core and scrabookpaper.  And then it was like a sandwich, stacked up with the info face down glued to the foamcore, confetti sprinkled inside, transparency film to seal it and the scrapbook paper to cover and complete it.  Being our theme was Under the Sea, this was meant to look like a fish bowl but it could be reinterpreted for any theme.

Under the Sea Mermaid Kelly Doll cake

Under the Sea Cupcakes

I have mentioned before that my spoiled little mice get more than one cake for their birthdays because there are usually separate days of celebrating.  Macy had two parties her 5th year with this theme, one at school and one with family and friends. On her actual birthday she enjoyed Under the Sea character cupcakes at school and a Mermaid Kelly Doll cake at home with us.  This was my first Barbie type cake.  Little Kelly was easy to turn into a mermaid by simply covering her legs with individual scales made out of fondant, all her Sea friends were fondant also.  These characters were on the simple side of creation, by todays standards it takes much more complex cupcake toppers to impress.  (You can see some of my current cupcake work in my Yo Gabba Gabba cupcake masterpieces here)

Under the Sea Mermaid Barbie cake

There is an interesting story behind the real Under the Sea party that year.  It was one of a few times that we decided to return back home to Tennessee to celebrate with family and friends.  Flight delays and ultimately a flight cancellation nearly kept us from getting to TN.  When we did get there it was just a few hours before the party and without our luggage full of party supplies.  To save this party I picked up two pre-made cakes from a big box store, I think they were the Carebear cloud designs but they worked as ocean too.  I grabbed a new Barbie and some fondant and within an hour the cake was complete!   I hope that my emergency cake experience for this party can one day help someone else out if they are in a pinch to produce a custom cake.  Dont panic, just add to a ready made and no one will be able to  tell that it is a impromptu design!

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Hawaiian Birthday Party

Aloha Macy!

Its HOT!  Its summer here in the city and as we begin planning Macy’s 9th birthday party I thought it would be a great time to post her 8th birthday party, Aloha! A Luau Pool Party.  I bet there is alot of people planing a luau party this time of year, its the perfect summer theme and I hope you find ours inspiring!  We had her party at our community pool and it was a such beautiful venue that it didnt take much to decorate.

Macy's 8th Birthday Celebration

Hawaiian Party Table

There are a few consistent elements in Macy’s birthday parties, I always make the cake and the invitations are handmade.  This year was no exception,  hand cut hibiscus flowers were the front of the invites and the party info was on a medallion on the back. In her earlier years, our parties included a lot of  friends and family & I had to make about 5o invites.  But now that she’s older and we dont live near friends and family anymore her party guests are school friends and total less than 20 guests.  This years cake was a Hula Girl Barbie and she was so easy to make!  (I’ll talk more on her in a future SugarCoated post)

Luau Party Invataion

Hula Girl Barbie Cake

When it comes to buying party supplies, there are a lot of Luau and Hawaiian themes to choose from.  I tried to keep ours simple and I was very careful to not go overboard or cheesy. Lots of color is a given when you are do a luau, but since this was a girl’s party it was easy to add in more pink and orange to give it a focus. A few plain white tablecloths were a great investment I made a few years back and this was another party that I was glad we were able to use them.  The grass table skirt was safety pined to it and because it was cloth I didnt have to worry about the weight of it tearing a plastic tablecloth.  The party and favors included a lei and hibiscus hair clip and a flower printed tote to stuff with candy & treats from the pull string (the only kind I do) pink flamingo pinata. Cool treats like fresh fruit served in a half pineapple and Hawaiian Punch in a coconut shell cup was all that was needed to entertain these girls.  I could hardly keep them at the table long enough to even sing happy birthday, because they were very anxious to get in the pool and just have fun.

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Hudson’s Elmo Cake

Elmo First Birthday Cake

I have such spoiled little mice!  They often get two fabulous birthday cakes each year.  Its because their birthday parties and their actually birthday don’t always fall on the same day.  If this happens, we still celebrate on their birthday even if it’s just for us.

Elmo First Birthday Cake

 

The day Hudson turned one we celebrated his birthday at home, just us, his big birthday party  with friends and family happened a few weeks later ( and 900 miles away ) and it was an entirely different theme, “Arctic ONEderland”.    Hudson loves Elmo and I wanted to make him happy for his first cake.  Elmo’s fur was easy to create by piping out a thinned squiggly line of icing in a furry pattern.  But before I got going with that I had to make a few pieces of his face in fondant.  It was super important to me to get the shape of his eyes and nose perfect or he would look like a knock-off.  I often shy away from doing well known characters if I don’t think I can make them exact.  What made this Elmo more special was the 3D feeling of his eyes and nose coming forward and his mouth beneath the fur piping.  As I’ve said before when I do cakes that are just for us at home I usually do some experimenting. Sometimes I like to color my cakes as a surprise when they are cut & served. (you can see my white snow flake cake in red velvet in a future post)  I used a white cake mix and mixed a few of my blue gels to see if I could get an exact shade of blue that I use in his room.  It worked perfectly, but Hudson wasnt worried about it either way.  He was very excited to dig his hands in that yummy Elmo, no matter the color inside.

Inside the Elmo Cake

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Gallery Walls

Doing gallery walls are like working a puzzle to me.  It’s very satisfying when the pieces fit together just right, with a balance of scale and an aesthetic relationship. I have a huge assortment of tear sheets and photographs of gallery walls.  Retail stores and hotels are great resources to find them.  I often look to them for ideas but mine never end up exactly like what I’ve seen.  Thats what makes them an inspiration, they just get my creative juices going!  With several moves in the last few years, I’ve had the opportunity to do several gallery walls.  Sometimes when I do one, it begins as a starting point that I know I will be adding to or swapping out pieces later.  Other times I put it together with no intentions to make any changes.   

Macy's Manhattan bedroom gallery wall

 
 

NC children's bedroom gallery wall

 
Nikki Berry Nikkiikkin

Bklyn childrens room grouping

 
My first wall was Macy’s bedroom in Manhattan. We had 13 foot ceiling, so I had a huge space to work with.  Luckily I had enough floor space too because I laid all the frames out on the floor and moved them around until it was right before I attempted to put any on the wall.  This was the same technique I used for Macy and Hudson’s combined wall in NC and Brooklyn.  Our Brooklyn apartment also has 13 foot ceilings and the children’s room has two full walls of windows, so it was hard to find a good space for a gallery wall.  I ended up disbursing most of what we previously used to other areas and putting a small grouping over the closet doors.
 
Nikki Berry Nikkiikkin

Bklyn living room grouping

  In our Brooklyn living room I was unsure of what art or pictures I wanted to use on a huge 12 foot wide x 12 foot tall wall.  This ended up with me procrastinating for a few months until I broke down, photographed all the pieces and the wall, put them in Photoshop and worked and edited the space just as I would have (and have done) for an interior design client.  This was just the way to do it and it made complete sense to me. But it had my husband and friends rolling with laughter that I would go to this length and put so much effort into it.   My effort will pay off again because on this wall I already have two large portraits to add,  so it will be tweaked in few months and I plan on doing it using Photoshop again!  It is my intentions that this wall will always be changing and growing as we wish to start collecting local art.

Bklyn bedroom grouping

For the next gallery wall in our Brooklyn bedroom, I told my husband that I didn’t want anything to do with it, that he should take a stab at it  as punishment for laughing at me!  And he did, but the way a man would.  He just started nailing and hanging it all up without a plan.  Of course he showed me up because it worked perfectly and it looks just a good as mine with a lot less fretting.   
 
 

 

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A cake for ME!

 

Cake by Nikki Berry

My 29th birthday cake

 

 

Cake by Nikki Berry

Butterfly Cake

 

 

Cake by Nikki Berry

Swirling rainbow of butterflies

I love the month of May!  And it’s not just for the fantastic weather it usually brings, it’s a month of celebrations for me. Besides Mother’s Day I also have my wedding anniversary and birthday.  A couple of years ago I was itching to create a cake with butterflies, I found my birthday a perfect excuse to indulge in this.   My three-tiered cake of  buttercream cream frosting was the backdrop for a rainbow of swirling fondant butterflies and fondant letters that were inspired by paper quilling.  I had to allow time for the butterflies and letters to harden overnight, but other than that it was a piece of cake to create.  I even did a shortcut (that I would never do for someone else) and iced the layers all stacked together instead of individually before assembly.  I am often less of a perfectionist when I make cakes for myself or my husband.  I use these opportunities to experiment on flavors or techniques.  

So I have no problem making my own birthday cake, but Macy does have a problem with it.  She says that “you shouldnt make your own birthday cake” and has given me a hard time about it ever since I made that butterfly cake.  Last year I got lucky and attended a wedding on my birthday,  I had my fill of cake that day and didn’t need another.  This year I wanted to try a cake combo that I’d never made before, I found it a perfect time to create a cake anyway. Devils food cake with cream cheese icing, yummy! Cream cheese is my favorite icing, I love it with many different cake flavors besides carrot and red velvet.  Its delicious with a strawberry or a chocolate cake and it sets up firm in the fridge, so when it’s served it makes the perfect cut piece of cake. I made a point not to overdo the decoration on, I didnt want to make Macy angry with me. It work, she didn’t have a problem with the plain little pink cake, (that took me no time to make) that sparkled so prettily with just a coarse sugar topping.    

 

Cake by Nikki Berry

My 31st birthday cake

Cake by Nikki Berry

Devils food cake with cream cheese icing and coarse sugar topping

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Chocolate & Strawberry Tallcake

 

For Jake’s birthday I thought up a delish cake that rivals the classic strawberry shortcake.  3 layers of devils food chocolate cake, homemade chocolate mousse whipped icing and fresh strawberry filing all covered in smooth dark chocolate ganache.  Its was so grand that it didn’t even need decorated, just fresh strawberries on top.  And it was so good that I had to make it twice within a week.

Jacob's 31st birthday cake

Assembling the cake

3 layered tallcake

 

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My Mice

Easter 2011

Bklyn GirlIn Dumbo

 
 

Although she looks like a City Girl, Macy is my Country Mouse.  She loves nature and animals.  Give her a stick and she’s happy.  She tells us that she will move back to the country when she grows up but right now she appreciates the culture and beat of the city.  While we were away, it was her asking, “where’s the dinosaur museum?’ and to do other activities that only exist in NYC that made us realize that if she missed it too then it’s where we belonged.

Hudson @ 12 months
Blue Eyes
Hudson & Jack Skellington

Hudson is my City Mousebut he doesn’t really know the difference yet.  Because he never lived in Tennessee he only has us to introduce him to country life on our visits back home. He was named for the river becasue we could see it from our rooftop when we were expecting him.  He also loves the beat of the city, he will grab his coat and climb up in his stroller to ask me to go for a walk or to our courtyard.  He constantly carries around his bouncy ball and is just as full of energy just as Macy.

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