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Surprise 30th Birthday Dinner on a Vineyard

When a birthday girl wishes for a vineyard celebration under the stars and has an amazing husband and group of friends, that is precisely what the birthday girl gets. This surprise al fresco dinner to ring in 30 years of awesomeness was crafted by Cooking with ClaudineMacKensey Reed Creative and so many others. Get inspired to throw your own wine infused birthday bash with the images from Melanie Duerkopp.

Can you imagine a more beautiful night than dinner with loved ones al fresco on a vineyard? We didn’t think so. A few special details from the night included a 6 course wine pairing and seasonal menu, on a long table lined with crystal votives, wild flowers and hand calligraphy menu and place cards.

Sarah Jenks always dreamt of celebrating her 30th birthday on a vineyard so as her birthday approached, Sarah’s husband asked their friend and chef, Claudine Dagit to create the night as a SURPRISE on a private vineyard in Alexander Valley, California.

The style for the evening was inspired by Sarah’s love for pretty, feminine details and accents. Claudine described the design for the evening as, “Vintage French Romantic in Wine Country”. For example, appetizers were passed on antique silver trays that were lined with grape leaves from the property, and vintage lace tablecloths draped over the dessert tables.

The goal for the evening was to incorporate sentimental pastimes from Sarah’s life that made it even MORE special. As everyone took their seats, they were met with an antique crystal votive and a box of matches that read “Happy Birthday Sarah! Make a wish”. At the same time everyone lit a candle for Sarah, a memory she’ll never forget. Everyone took their seat where their placecard was handwritten in calligraphy and tied with lace ribbon around rosemary. In addition to the place cards, Sweet & Crafty wrote the appetizer and dessert labels and menus.

The event stylist and natural chef, Claudine created the the 6 course dinner menu to be paired with the Kelly and Young Wines from the vineyard. In addition to being paired with the wines, the menu also incorporated all seasonal and local produce from the region. 

Many special vintage touches were added to the event by Tin Roof Farmhouse. A gold frame and chalkboard read “describe a special memory with Sarah” where people wrote memories on cards for Sarah and placed into A vintage French Hat box. Sarah also had the privilege of dining in a vintage chair with a custom flower crown.

In addition to the beautiful flower crown that Sarah wore, MacKensey Reed Creative designed the 25 bouquets of wildflowers in 5 different floral arrangements that were placed down the table and among the appetizer and dessert tables. Sarah’s dear friend Melanie of Head Over Heels added her creative eye to the night’s design and style along with helping Sarah and other guests choose their perfect outfit and accessories for the party. The underlying theme of rosemary from the vineyard garden continued to pop up in several ways. From being tied around the name tags to being added to warm marcona almonds for appetizers, it was always the final touch.

The celebration lasted 5 hours and went from passed appetizers to a dessert table with 3 Macaroon options: Raw Cocoa, Salted Caramel and Coconut and Raspberry French Macaroons. If that wasn’t enough we also ended the evening with a party favor of Rosemary Cashews that read “Merci”.

Photography: Melanie Duerkopp | Floral Design: MacKensey Reed Creative | Birthday Girl: Sarah Jenks | Calligrapher & Paper Goods: Sweet + Crafty | Event Styling, Chef and Catering:: Cooking with Claudine | Location: Kelly And Young Wines | Personal Stylist: Head Over Heels with Melanie | Vintage Rentals: Tin Roof Farmhouse

Chic Design Tricks for Tiny Spaces

Face it, we don’t all have as much space at home as we might like. I know I’m always looking for functional and chic ways to make my tiny New York apartment appear and feel bigger. Luckily, with some creative thinking and good tips, you trick any space into looking like the palace that you’ve dreamed of (well, almost). Get inspired by these small-space ideas below!

Design Tricks for Tiny Spaces
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Design Tricks for Tiny Spaces
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DIY Bunny Cake

This sweet, sleepy bunny cake is super cute, and just as easy to make! Using big, frosted sugar cookies for ears, your favorite cake and buttercream frosting instantly become an adorable Easter treat, that’s totally worthy of centerpiece status. Read on for our simple how-to just in time for Easter!

MaterialsYour favorite cake recipe
Your favorite buttercream recipe (we like this one)
Your favorite sugar cookie recipe (we like this one)
Pink icing color
Black gel icing
Disposable piping bag
Small round frosting tip
6” round cake pans
Bunny ear template
White cardstock
Scissors
Wooden skewers

instructions
step-1Print out the bunny ear template onto cardstock and cut out.

step-2Make sugar cookie dough according to your recipe. You don’t need much so we suggest making half the recipe, but if you’d like some bonus cookies you can make the full recipe!

step-3Roll dough out into a thin, even layer on a prepared baking sheet. Lay the bunny ear template on top and trace two ears with a kitchen knife. Bake the ears according to the recipe instructions and let cool. *You want the cookies to be lightweight but still strong enough to stay together, so don’t make them too thick.

step-4While the cookies are baking, put together your cake mixture according to your recipe. Bake cake mixture in 6” round pans.

step-5While the cake is baking, mix up some buttercream frosting. Take out a large spoonful or two and put in a small bowl to make the pink frosting- leave the rest white. Mix in a tiny amount of pink icing color until you reach a nice pale pink.

step-6Use a piping bag with a small round tip to frost an outline on the bunny ears. Then thin the pink frosting with a bit of milk and fill in the outlines on each ear. Set the ears on a flat surface to dry.

step-7Once the cake layers have cooled, level the top of each layer with a knife. Assemble the cake and frost into a smooth, white cake. Not sure how to get it even? Check out our video on how to frost the perfect cake.

step-8Use the black gel icing to draw bunny eyes, nose, and mouth on the front of the cake.

step-9Use a knife to cut two small slits into the top of the cake. Insert the bunny ear cookies into the slits. If the cookies are having trouble staying up, use wooden skewers behind to prop them up. *If you are traveling, wait until you arrive at your destination before inserting the ears!

Photography: Nicole Baas | Design & Styling: SMP Living

Learn to Frost the Perfect Cake

Everytime I walk into a bakery,  I think two things: How does it smell this good? And how come my desserts never look like that? Well friends, after much trial and error, we’ve finally learned how to frost a cake just like the pros. With a few important tools, some patience, and loads of buttercream, you can have a beautifully smooth cake in no time at all. Elysium Productions captured every sweet moment, and you can too by watching the video below!

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Materials

  • Bench scraper
  • Ice cream scooper
  • Buttercream frosting
  • Flat frosting knives or a metal ruler

instructions

step-1Place 2-3 scoops of buttercream frosting on top of your cake and begin spreading a thin layer across with your flat frosting knife. Scrape off your knife as you go to keep it even!

step-2Begin pushing the extra frosting over the corner onto the sides of your cake. Use a smaller knife to frost the sides of your cake.

step-3Use a bench scraper at a 45 degree angle to scrape off any excess frosting from the sides. Repeat in a circular motion across the top until you have a smooth, even coat of frosting.

step-4Use a smaller knife to fix any uneven edges, and then refrigerate to set the frosting.

step-5Once the frosting has chilled, apply another 3-4 scoops of frosting to your cake. Use your large benchscraper to begin pushing frosting across the top and sides of your cake.

step-6Again, use your benchscraper to even out and smooth the buttercream. Finish with a fun embellishment!

Film: Elysium Productions  | Photography: Ruth Eileen | Design and Styling: Style Me Pretty Living

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Beachy Hamptons House Tour

I’m so stealing the entire look of this house for my own little seaside cottage. It’s easy elegance at its best.  The kind of place that is undeniably gorgeous but still feels totally approachable with kid-friendly spaces and charming color splashes all designed by Jenny Wolf along with photography by Emily Gilbert. It’s also the kind of place that is straight out of the dream home handbook. See even more right here.

Jenny and John Wolf were looking for a big, open house in the Hamptons, but they didn’t buy one. Instead, they ended up falling in love with a small, dark farmhouse from the 19th century. The beautiful garden was too good to pass up. Of course, this also meant that Jenny, a Manhattan-based interior designer, would have a lot of work to make it the dream home they had in mind.

The couple wanted to make the house feel bigger without actually adding it. They got rid of the attic, which allowed 6 feet more of vertical space and exposed vaulted ceilings. They also exposed the wooden beams on the first floor to add some more room and a touch of the old farmhouse it once was. 

A wider thruway between the living and dining rooms added much desired light to both. The walls were all brightened up with white paint, and the floors were given a pleasing pale green everywhere but the kitchen.

Jenny wanted to step outside of her comfort zone with the furnishings. In the dining room, for example, she combined Tolix metal chairs and a modern Knoll table with a jute rug that gives a beach feeling. The kitchen has a light blue retro refrigerator and a big chalkboard for anything that needs to be jotted down.

Now, the Wolfs couldn’t be happier with how their home turned out. They managed to open up the space and add elements inside that make the cottage reflect the beautiful garden and the nearby beach.


Photography: Emily Gilbert Photography | "Beach" Letters: Anthropologie | Canoe (Master Bedroom): Restoration Hardware | Coral Artwork: Karen Robertson | Dining Room Lighting: ABC Carpet & Home | Dining Room Rug: West Elm | Eames Rocking Chair: Design Within Reach | Interior Design: Jenny Wolf | Kitchen Lighting: Barn Light Electric | Living Room Sofa: Lee Industries | Paint: Benjamin Moore | Patio Table and Benches: Kingsley Bate | Pool Furniture: Kingsley Bate | Pouf (in daughter's room): Serena & Lily | Refrigerator: Smeg | Saarinen Dining Table: Design Within Reach | Sawhorse Table: Maison 140 | Tepee (in daughter's room): Hayneedle | Tolix Chairs (Dining Room): Design Within Reach | Wire Storage Rack: The Upper Rust