Tag Archives | Holidays + Parties

DIY: Polka dot pumpkins


October is my absolute favorite month of the year. Later this week will be Simon’s birthday, and then right before Halloween it’s Jude’s!  And the perfect way to decorate for this celebration-filled month is with pumpkins. Every year, I am chomping at the bit to get out to the pumpkin patch. This year I was inspired to try out these white Sharpie paint markers (we got one at the BHG Stylemaker workshop) as well as just a plain ol’ regular black Sharpie pen. This was the easiest DIY ever – and you could probably come up with any design you wanted!


I followed the natural striations on the pumpkins to grid out my polka dots, regardless of the size.   And I also freehanded a monogrammed “S” on one too.




I’ll probably wait until right before Halloween to put these babies outside. Somehow our squirrels feel entitled to any pumpkin we put outside.

polka-dot-pumpkins  pumpkins sharpie-pumpkins-angle


This was seriously the easiest DIY – and one that any kid could do too. I think it’d be fun to use the metallic Sharpies too!

Love pumpkin decorating? Check out previous pumpkin posts here — and my favorite pumpkin bread recipe too.  Oh, and of course, I’m always pinning new fall inspiration on my Pinterest Halloween board.

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Setting the Table: A Nautical Nod to Navy

a nautical chic party - www.pencilshavingsstudio.com

Right before spring break, I was contacted to do some photo styling for an upcoming brand overhaul. The client, an etiquette expert,  needed a series of photos depicting tablescapes to match her new brand identity (designed by Emily McCarthy and Whitney English). They recommended me to shoot a series of photographs for the new website to be launched in the near future.

I was thrilled to get to help out, and the minute I saw the brand mood board, I knew that this was right up my alley. With loads of nautical stripes, gold accents, and contrasting patterns, we planned a series of 3 shoots: a tablescape (worst word EVER), a social scene w/ teenage kids at a party, and a series of stationery/product photography images. I immediately threw together a Pinterest board of the vision I had for the shoots, especially the table settings.


Despite this being for an etiquette expert, I wanted this to read as fresh and clean – nothing too old-fashioned or stodgy. We went for bold gold flatware (I DIE) and fun modern linens. The white placemats were Chilewich, courtesy of Bebe’s (and come in a bunch of amazing colors – seriously, the most perfect modern placemat ever); the napkins were a mix from Serena & Lily and Anthropologie.


Setting up the party shoot was a little more complicated than shooting the tabletop setup. I knew we needed a fantastic location, so I talked to the sweet girls at Green Goodies (remember this post?) and they happily agreed to loan us their space to shoot in.  Minted graciously provided all the paper products and two dozen Green Goodies cupcakes later, we were in business. We had a handful of really fabulous teenage models for the shoot, and these kids were the best. We had a blast in our own little party – check it out!



Bowties courtesy of Plenty Mercantile.



All the paper details from Minted were so cute; those pinwheels were super easy to assemble. I used them as thank-yous along with some flowers for the vendors who provided goodies for the shoot.  Minted also sent some super cute paper crowns, which unfortunately we didn’t get to use since we ended up shooting teenagers instead of little kids as I had originally anticipated.



All in all, it was such a fantastic experience to get to style this whole series!  Special thanks to Whitney English, Emily McCarthy, Green Goodies,  Bebe’s in Nichols Hills Plaza, Plenty Mercantile, and Minted.

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Week in Review

Easter Eggs - www.pencilshavingsstudio.com

Happy Easter weekend, everyone!  Do you have big plans? We’ll be spending it with family and attending church to celebrate Easter.  Apologies in advance for the large amount of Easter egg photos. Dyeing Easter eggs is one of my favorite traditions, ever since I was a little kid.  Last year I did the famously fabulous gold-leafed eggs, but this year we kept it simple. I stuck some foam dots onto our eggs to make them all spotty & dotty. They turned out pretty cute. And I still have a pretty selection of blown-out eggs from a few years back that I keep out year round. I love their perfectly imperfect coloring and surfaces.

Polka Dot Easter Eggs - www.pencilshavingsstudio.com

The past few weeks I’ve been reading the Gospels off and on, wanting to read the words that came straight from Jesus’ mouth, and I simply cannot get over John 12:45 — “I did not come to condemn the world but to save it.”  Wait, what? I kind of had to really think that over. And over. And over again. I’m magnetized by Jesus’s words – it’s irresistible. He is irresistible.  It is irresistible to me to hear that the Man I believe is the Son of God came to earth not to condemn us because of the terrible things we’ve done, but to love us. Because if you’re dying for someone, you’re acting in love. If you’re saving someone, you’re acting in love.  Is it complex? Absolutely. But it’s strangely simple at the same time too.  It’s deep — and it’s terribly exciting to me.


Big thanks to everyone who is entering the Land of Nod giveaway I’m hosting this week (as well as all your sweet comments!).  I’m absolutely thrilled with how everything turned out. And don’t forget — you can continue to enter the giveaway through the weekend. So hop to it! Ha – see what I did there? Hop? Easter?  ….   I’ll be here all week – tip your waitress.

Polka Dot Easter Eggs - www.pencilshavingsstudio.com

I bit the bullet and pulled the trigger: I’m headed to NYC in May to attend the Stationery Show and Surtex — and I couldn’t be more excited. Pencil Shavings will not be exhibiting, but I do want to dip my toe in the water to see what the show is all about. I’ve had this on my To Do List for, oh, 8 years, so 2013 is the year I’m going to make it happen. Got any good NYC tips for me? We’ve been several times, but I love that there’s always something new to see and do there.




My favorite thing that happened this week was on Wednesday when Jude decided that not only does he have awesome hair (I concur), but that he also wants to fix it himself. So he ended up with something slightly akin to Ace Ventura (evidence here).  His teacher texted me at school saying that she was LOVING the hair. When I picked him up, he was kinda quiet and I asked how his day went.

“Good.  But some of the kids kinda laughed at me,” he replied.

“Oh really? Why?”

“They were laughing at my hair. And I didn’t like them laughing at my hair.”

My heart kinda broke into a million pieces (DON’T MESS WITH MY BABYYYYY!).  I got quiet and then I said, “Well. The only thing that matters is what YOU think about you. So tell me – what do you think about your hair?”

Forcefully he replied, “I think my hair is COOL.”

I nodded. “Well then, you know what? So do I, and I don’t care what anybody else says. End of story.”

The next morning? He requested a mohawk. Watch out world – here comes Jude.

When is this motherhood thing supposed to get easier?? Oh yeah – WHEN YOU’RE DEAD.


Happy Easter, everyone — I hope it’s a marvelous weekend for each & every one of you.

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Valentine Party

Mix & Match Patterns for a Valentine's Party

Today I’m excited to show you the details of a Valentine’s party I hosted last night for a few girlfriends. It’s funny how friendships can form. A few years ago when Jude was tiny, I kept bumping into the same group of girls seemingly everywhere we went. One day at the park after giggling about it, my friend Jill said, “Don’t you think we ought to go ahead and be friends?”

And as time has gone on, we’ve done just that. Our kids are all in the same school and about the same age. Occasionally we’ll meet up for dinner or a play date or something, and this time I volunteered to host an art party at my house. One of the girls had found a cool painting project on Pinterest or somewhere, and since it was so close to Valentine’s Day, I decided to play up the theme.

Mix & Match Patterns for a Valentine's Party

Minted was gracious enough to sponsor all the party goods for this event from their new line. I loved the idea of their Valentine Ombre Love set, and last week, a lovely box showed up on my doorstep! Originally I had big plans to do all these cool ombre paper chains for the backdrop I was envisioning. But after spending a TON of time on a single chain, I figured out quickly that I’d better find a different option. So for $8 I crafted this ombre backdrop out of crepe paper  and the result is just as fab.

This ombre streamer backdrop was so easy to make! // www.pencilshavingsstudio.com

A pretty drink station with ombre backdrop at my Valentine's party // www.pencilshavingsstudio.com

A pretty drink station with ombre backdrop at my Valentine's party // www.pencilshavingsstudio.com

Stripey straws at my Valentine's party // www.pencilshavingsstudio.com

Minted  sent over practically everything – straws, signage, paper plates & napkins, you name it.  I loved the idea of mixing & matching patterns and other items, and in the end, I paired it all with a polka dotted tablecloth I had from Target.   I also spray painted a few cheapo vases I had lying around to provide a little sparkle.

I love a good bunting - my Valentine's party // www.pencilshavingsstudio.com

Cupcake decorations for my Valentine's party // www.pencilshavingsstudio.com

For each place setting, I used some gold striped wrapping paper as a type of placemat.  The large round confetti was a fun contrast.

Gold & pink ombre accents at the table for my Valentine's party // www.pencilshavingsstudio.com

For $3 apiece at Target, I found these fun little light-up rings in the Valentine section. I simply disassembled the box and used the original packaging inside-out (the white part – it’s a garish hot pink w/ barcodes on it) and attached a sticker. I love how they turned out!

Light-up ring favors for each place setting. #valentine // www.pencilshavingsstudio.com

Valentine's Party  www.pencilshavingsstudio.com

Valentine's party // www.pencilshavingsstudio.com

Valentine's Day decorated mantel // www.pencilshavingsstudio.com

Finally, one last simple DIY for you. I used masking tape to tape off this cheap florist’s vase I had leftover from some flowers Simon sent me months ago. I used gold spray paint and within an hour, it was perfectly dry. Wouldn’t a great big bouquet of peonies be gorgeous in this vase?  It’s not perfect by any means, but for basically a free project, I’m happy with it.

DIY striped gold vase.  Tape it off with washi tape & spray paint.  www.pencilshavingsstudio.com

So there you have it! A fun girly night with good food & good friends!  What are your Valentine’s Day plans?

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