Pancake Mountain Dance Party with The Bots

Headed to a Pancake Mountain Dance Party in Los Angeles. A few weeks ago my family did something super awesome. We headed to Los Angeles to be part of a super fun Pancake Mountain Dance Party featuring The Bots. You probably aren’t familiar with Pancake Mountain but you totally should be. Now being created in conjunction with PBS Digital Studios, Pancake Mountain is the coolest music and variety show for kids.  The show is lovingly hosted by a puppet goat, named Rufus Leaking. He’s quite a character. We’ve been fans of the show for years and have several of the DVDs they used to produce.  What drew me to the show in the first place was the fact that they don’t dumb down music for the kids but introduce them to some rad bands and musicians. And they encourage creativity and individuality and fun. And the dance parties! They throw dance parties, with fantastic bands (past dance parties have included Tegan and Sara, and King’s of Leon) and get the kids up on stage right in on the action. Once they moved their studio to Los Angeles, I knew that at some point, we would need to check out one of these dance parties. 

Pancake Mountain Dance PartyIf you are local, sign up on their mailing list to find out about their upcoming events or dance parties. We had a blast and my husband and I ended up dancing along with the band too! It was such an awesome afternoon. I will be adding a link to the video as soon as it is ready! 

Behind the scenes of a Pancake Mountain dance party with The Bots. We hung out in the studio while the production crew set up and The Bots warmed up and did a sound check. I loved that my kids got to see this. It was an awesome experience for them. And The Bots are awesome. These LA based brothers are young and they rock. I was super impressed with their playing, lyrics and professionalism. I loved that my boys got to see these kids (I can call them that because I am almost 40) living out a dream, playing music and putting out albums at such a young age. 

Trying on costumes for the Pancake Mountain Dance Party. And then the boys got to try on some costumes from the prop room. Pancake Mountain features a cast of characters that are talented and funny. My oldest got to try on the glittery top hat of “Captain Perfect.” He was excited. 

The Bots band with the boys at the Pancake Mountain Dance Party. It was a pleasure to get to spend the afternoon with The Bots. Now go check out their music. And follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Check out the Pancake Mountain trailer here:

And then subscribe to their You Tube Channel so you don’t miss a segment!  And sign up for their mailing list so you can attend the next dance party! We had a blast!

Follow Pancake Mountain on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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David Stark on Entertaining with Intention

David Stark's new book, The Art of the Party. Are you a David Stark fan? I absolutely am. He’s a New York based Celebrity Event Designer but that title doesn’t convey how remarkable his events are. There are plenty of event designers out there who can put on a lovely event. But what sets David Stark apart from the rest is his creative vision and approach to the design of the event as a whole. His events have something extra. Something special.  It is the intention with which he puts on his events, that give them life.  I’m dying to check out his new book, David Stark: The Art of the Party It has 25 of his events (including private parties and charitable galas) and shares how he developed the overall theme for each party, as well as the coordinated details and expertly crafted decor he created for each party.

I’ve always been drawn to his work. His creativity reaches far past the realm of entertaining and is next level. He is an inspiration to me so when I got an email from “his people” I was so excited to a get the chance to ask him a few quick questions.

What unexpected places do you draw inspiration from when brainstorming for a new event?

Hardware store event inspo. Hanging ladders spell out "make" -  event by David Stark.

Inspiration can come from anywhere. David Stark shares some of his biggest inspiration triggers.

Think differently, what is the meaning behind the event, draw it out through the decor.

David Stark shares where he draws his inspiration from.“I am really open to the world of options and influences when coming up with ideas.  Of course, the flower market and farmers markets often provide natural inspirations, but I look to a bevy of other options both live and digital (Pinterest and Instagram are a never ending pathway for ideas!) to bring us to unique, new concepts for our projects.  Here are just a handful of places we hunt low and high for materials, ideas and concepts:

Hardware stores, the fashion runway, films, theater, music, antique fairs and stores, museums, art galleries, supermarkets, books, art supply stores, travel, magazines, history, architecture.”

What event, that you created, really let your creative juices flow?

“As we are right in the midst of planning and designing the upcoming Whitney Museum Gala (the last event that will be held in the Marcel Breuer building before the institution moves into its new home downtown), I can’t help but think a lot about last year’s event – we’re REALLY proud of that evening which was not just a party, but an art happening

Interactive displays added to the Whitney Gala designed by David Stark.The centerpiece of the event was a life drawing “class” replete with nude models posing on stacks of vintage Louis Vuitton trunks (the ever chic retailer was the evening’s sponsor).  Throughout the evening, hundreds of guests at easels surrounded the model platform, making scores of drawings of the varying poses.  This was living décor — so interactive, but it also brought attention to the beginning of the Whitney Museum and it’s archives of life drawings which we projected throughout the space in an ever changing landscape of drawn décor.

David Stark creatively approaches each event by finding the meaning of the organization behind it.

David Stark on inspiration and planning large scale events.Above the long, rectangular dining tables dressed in artists’ canvas, an optical illusion of painting stretchers floated overhead while an array of paint cans and brushes marched down the dining tables as if an artist was on break from his or her painting.

Quote from David Stark about how he approaches designing and creating events. This evening perfectly illustrated one of our entertaining philosophies:  Create a conceptual moment in time in which the essence of an organization is put into three dimensions.  This is not about decorating.  Rather, it’s really about integrating what an institution is about, what an evening is about, impregnating meaning into the décor.”

I started out these questions thinking I was going to get a little bit in to the mind of creative genius. But really I got in to the heart. Entertaining is about so much more than the decor and the food.  It’s about entertaining with intention. While most of us won’t have an opportunity to work with Target or the Whitney on a large-scale event, we do celebrate our friends and family on a smaller scale. The truth is, what makes an event special is thinking beyond the decorating and really understanding why we are having the event in the first place. What is the “essence” of your guest of honor? Start from there and then intentionally plan your event with those traits, likes, passions in mind.

Sometimes I see a well designed, coordinated party being shared online, and while every detail is in place and it is quite lovely, there is something missing. It’s the heart and intention. I am absolutely going to make that a priority when planning my own events.

I feel grateful to have gotten to ask these questions of David. Follow his Instagram and Pinterest to see the cool things that are inspiring him. And go buy David Stark: The Art of the Party! Man, now I’m all fired up! I’ve got lots of entertaining focused posts coming up…looking forward to going a little deeper on these and letting my creativity out.

All photos courtesy of Susie Montagna for David Stark Design.

*This is not a sponsored post. I just really think David Stark is the bees knees. The book link is an affiliate link. You can see my affiliate link policy here.

Fun School Lunch Ideas

Fun lunch idea for your kids. // cupcakesandcutlery.com*This post is sponsored by King’s Hawaiian. All opinions are my own. And I heart King’s Hawaiian.

You guys, I literally made the coolest sandwiches. They even said so themselves…My kids have been back in school for two weeks now. Which means two weeks of packing lunches. And while most days it is just plain old sandwiches, baby carrots, etc. I plan on throwing in some surprises this year.

Fun word sandwiches for back to school. // cupcakesandcutlery.comMy oldest is allergic to peanut butter so we don’t keep it in the house. We use Sunbutter as our nut-free alternative (I think I actually like this better than peanut butter…). This sandwich recipe is not earth shattering. Anyone can make a Sunbutter sandwich but I guarantee your kids will like these so much better than their usual. 

Sunbutter, banana and chocolate chip sandwiches. // cupcakesandcutlery.comSpread on your “butter” of choice. Top with sliced bananas and sprinkle on a few mini chocolate chips. (These allergen friendly ones are a really great size and I always have these on hand at home).  Easy as that. And you know how delicious King’s Hawaiian is plain. Just imagine its sweet goodness creamy Sunbutter and chocolate chips! And the banana totally counts as a fruit serving, right? 

Use a cookie cutter to make sandwiches more fun. // cupcakesandcutlery.comBut then, using just a simple cookie cutter, you can make that sandwich different and surprise your kids at lunch time. No need to oil the cutter, it will cut right through the soft King’s Hawaiian bread and Sunbutter perfectly. 

Shaped sandwiches are so much cuter. And trust me, kids like their food cute. // cupcakesandcutlery.comYou can stop there and just serve a round sandwich. Even this simple change will have the kids at the lunch tables talking. Or you can really blow minds with a super fun shaped cookie cutter

Peace and sandwiches. // cupcakesandcutlery.comOr you can make a few more letters and tell your kid what you think of them.  I think mine are pretty cool.  You only need to make sure that the cookie cutter you choose is completely open and doesn’t have any connectors on the top of it. The sandwich needs to be able to come out the top. 

Fun lunch box idea for kid's school lunches. // cupcakesandcutlery.comBased on the size of my cutters, it took about 3 sandwiches to make these 4 letters. And there is some waste (which you can totally keep in a plastic bag and serve as an after school snack). This is a once in a while type lunch. But your kids will LOVE it! You can let your kids figure out what the word is or you can pack them in numbered plastic bags to help them. These sandwiches could have also been “loco” funny, right?!

Sunbutter, banana and chocolate chip sandwiches. // cupcakesandcutlery.comI do not often send my kid’s sandwiches with chocolate chips in them.  I sent one with my older son the first week of school and that was the first thing I heard about when he got home. So that was really fun. I loved knowing that he probably had a big smile when he took his first bite of sandwich.

There are tons of ways you can make your child’s lunchbox more fun. You can check out King’s Hawaiian Lunchbox Fun Pinterest board for more fun food ideas, printables and more!

*Thank you for supporting my sponsors, like King’s Hawaiian, who let me do what I love.

Martha Stewart on a Martha Stewart Pedestal

Peach shortcake with succulents for a super easy party dessert and decorations. // cupcakesandcutlery.comThere is a time in every blogger’s life when they are reminded of their mediocracy. Sure, you get mentioned on big sites and hit a big traffic day with a viral post once in a while. You love what you do, you think you are putting out good content and you start to think of yourself as being pretty skilled, domestically speaking. And then you work with Martha Stewart. And you realize that while you know your way around a kitchen, you will never be Martha caliber. Case in point. I got an email from her company asking me to participate in a fun end of summer program.  I think, “duh – of course I’ll participate.” They asked me to make one of her delicious summer recipes that would feature their new cake stands (available at Macy’s) perfectly. I think, “Yes! No biggie.  I can do this.” So I click-through the recipe slide show to choose my recipe…each one a little more difficult or with more steps than the one before…I feel my confidence waiver. Man that Strawberry Cream Cake recipe looks good. But wait, is she making a legit cake for it? No store-bought? So I move on. And I land on the Plum Blackberry Galette

Putting together a kind of homemade ginger peach shortcake. // cupcakesandcutlery.comI’ve always wanted to make a galette, primarily because I feel like if I am going to attempt to make crust, this one is super rustic and would hide my errors. So I think, “Yes! The galette!” but as the days go on and I get closer to actually having to make it, I start to tremble slightly. Yeah, that crust still sounds pretty advanced for me. My neighbor, a baker who I had asked to spot me in my crust making, ended up with sick children and I knew that I would be completely on my own. So I decided that I would combine two of Martha’s desserts to fit my strengths. And I ended up making a Ginger Peach Shortcake, because the plums at my store looked grody and my kids won’t touch blackberries with a ten foot pole. But even that didn’t go exactly as planned. While all I did to the peaches to prepare them for the cake was add some sugar and fresh grated ginger, a tiny piece of ginger ended up landing in my eye. Martha doesn’t get ginger in her eye. Through this process I was constantly reminded of Martha’s supreme greatness. She really can do it all, and make it look easy as pie, or galette as it were. 

Super easy and delicious dessert idea. Ginger Peach Shortcake. // cupcakesandcutlery.comI stand behind my Ginger Peach Shortcake. I’m proud of it. It tasted amazing, looked pretty and is true to who I am as a blogger and person. So while I wanted to put her Plum Blackberry Galette on a pedestal, I think I’ll keep Martha up there too. It is good to aspire to be like someone else, but I think it is also important to know your own strengths and weaknesses. But it doesn’t hurt to have that little question in the back of your mind as you move through life, “What would Martha do?”

Succulents pair really nicely with bright, poppy colors. // cupcakesandcutlery.comI know many of you out there are on the same level I am in terms of cooking/baking skills. Let’s keep it simple and delicious. And then let’s make it pretty to look at.

Pale pink and gold planter with succulents. // cupcakesandcutlery.comI was very lucky that I was able to shoot this at Lauren’s house where she had plenty of cute potted succulents all ready to go. 

Gold flatware and air plants. // cupcakesandcutlery.comAnd gold flat ware for me to use. But I’m totally going add that to my wish list because, SO pretty! 

Domed Cake stands are the best! // cupcakesandcutlery.comMartha really does make the best cake stands and this domed one is lovely. I love that the white really stood out against the colorful scarves and fabric that I used. I fell in love with that peach/pink/red scarf the minute I saw it and, even better, it was on clearance! 

Easy party dessert idea. // cupcakesandcutlery.comThis easy Ginger Peach Shortcake would be the perfect last-minute dessert for a get together. I didn’t make a recipe for it, literally just sliced the peaches, tossed in about 2 TBSP of sugar and grated about a 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger in to the container. Then I put the lid on and gave it a good shake. I let it sit overnight to develop the juices and it was ready to go.

preparing-peach-shortcake-recipeI did make my own whipped cream though. I mean, I’m not a Neanderthal. I took a store-bought angel food cake and sliced in half. Then I layered on the whipped cream, and some peaches laid out in a super cute pattern. I added the second layer and then added more whipped cream and peaches. Done. Super easy.

Bright pinks, blues and gold make a gorgeous party table. // cupcakesandcutlery.comI’m still going to give that galette a shot one day. A girl has to have goals. So thank you, Martha, for challenging and inspiring us. And for the prettiest cake stands in all the land.

*I was sent a Martha Stewart cake stand. All opinions, stinging eye and sore arm from using a whisk to make the whipped cream, are my own.

Back to School Shopping for Moms

Best white "T" from Ascot and Hart. //  cupcakesandcutlery.comWho says kids are the only people that can do back to school shopping? That was one of my favorite parts of going to school. And since I have been out of school for, oh you know, just a few years, every year when I start to get my own kids ready for fall I instantly feel like my wardrobe needs an update too. So I wanted to share with you a few of my favorite sites to shop from. 

Ascot + Hart is a go-to of mine. Even if I don’t end up buying anything, it is a site I check out pretty frequently. They add new items regularly and they are in a really great price range, not cheap but not outrageous either. And the two gals who run it are super stylish so you know they are only going to put up great pieces. That means that half the work is done for you.  Some of the items sell out so if you see something you want, snatch it up quickly before someone else does.  I’ve been looking for the perfect white t-shirt for what feels like forever! I finally found this one and it is a favorite. And of course, now it looks like it is sold out. But check back because they sometimes restock their basics and best sellers! It is a bit sheer (but not too sheer) so I just wear it with a little bralette. It’s super soft and works with so many different things.

Best shorts ever! Palm Tree shorts from Ascot and Hart. As you know, shorts are sort of new for me. Ascot + Hart has some really great ones! I love their patterns and they, most often are not booty shorts which I appreciate. These palm tree shorts (available in black) have been my fave so far this summer and I wear them all the time.  Even out of the house. You can see a pair of cute ruffled black ones I got from them too in this post.  Their customer service is awesome and shipping is fast. Every time they Instagram that they have a new piece in their store I hear my husband and wallet sigh. 

Love this kimono from @lulusdotcom. //  cupcakesandcutlery.comMy next stop is always Lulus.  While the site is probably geared towards a younger audience than myself, I can always find something that I love. This kimono is my fave (similar here)! I’ve been wearing it pretty much non-stop. I love the length and pattern and it works perfectly over rompers, jeans, whatever.

Tie dye dress and nude booties from @lulusdotcom. //  cupcakesandcutlery.comThis tie dye maxi and nude booties (available in black) are also from Lulus.  I had my eyes on these shoes for a while and finally got them. The heel is my favorite. They are super comfy and I can walk in them and not look like a fool. Buh-bye stilettos. I don’t wear these walking the kids to and from school. I’m not crazy. But they are perfect for date night. So is this tie dye dress.  Although throw on a cute pair of flip-flops and I can look extra cute a pick up. 

My fave new dress from @lulusdotcom. //  cupcakesandcutlery.comThis is, by far, my favorite dress of the summer. It is by Billabong and also from Lulus. It has a great neckline, a totally acceptable hi-lo hem and the pattern makes my heart skip a beat. I wish you could see the back detail as well! It’s somewhat racer back but done in a totally new way. LOVE! Check out my model pose, huh. You can read more about what I’m doing in that field right here. 

White and Blue dress with pink bralette from @lulusdotcom. // cupcakesandcutlery.comAnd while I am not totally in focus in this shot, you can see the other dress I have been wearing all day, every day for the summer and will continue to well in to fall. The back is open with a little tie, so the pink bralette is the perfect thing to add a pop of extra color to this dress. The hem is gorgeous with a large lace detail and I love the blue embroidered triangles. If you can’t tell, I like my clothes to be really comfortable. And all of these pieces are. They are perfect for sitting through PTA meetings. (image above courtesy of Dez and Tam Photography)

Leopard print Etnies sneakers. LOVE these with simple black jeans and white t. //  cupcakesandcutlery.comAnd my last favorite item is these leopard Etnies sneakers. THESE make walking to and from school from.  They go with tons of outfits and they are super cute. All of the items shown, with the exception of the shorts will be going along in to fall with me. It is still very much summer here so I’m not expecting to have to throw on a sweater or jacket for another few months.

I also like to check out The Oxford Trunk, Brandy Melville, H&M, and ASOS.

What are your go-to shops?

*This post may contain affiliate links. See the full editorial policy here.