Thursday, December 17, 2009

If Julie AND Julia can do it, why can't I?

Image courtesy of
"Find something you're passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it."
Julia Child
Day in and day out, I frantically work with caterers, rental equipment companies, linen companies, invitation designers and so on and so on to create memorable events for our donors and their guests. The work can be fast paced, a bit crazy and always upbeat. There are times I focus on the perfection of the event a little too much..."Is the lighting too much?", "Should I have folded the napkins differently?", "Are these the right vases for the type of flower I chose?". It is so detail oriented that there are times I lose sight of the enjoyment of an event.
Having said that, I found myself scrolling through the titles at the Redbox on Monday evening. Being the foodie that I am, "Julie and Julia" was rented and inserted into my lap top as soon as I entered my humble abode. For two hours and five minutes, I was mesmerized by these two women's stories of trial and error in discovering a passion that they believed in and truly loved. While I am struggling with the same issues myself, this movie helped me decide on a few fundamental principles for my life from here on out.
1) Never stop looking for things that make you happy.
2) Stick with something you have a passion for no matter how many obstacles face you.
3) No matter where you are, an event (a Christmas party, a picnic, an impromptu game night) brings people together to enjoy good company, good food and good times. Everything else is secondary.
While I don't plan to have white linens and plastic forks at my next event, I will pay attention to the good times being had and ignore a few of the high strung questions that fly through my brain.
Keep it Sunny!
The next element inspiration board is coming soon!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

America's Next Top Event? (Part 1)

It has been over two years since I have been able to push the big red power button on my twelve inch, fifty pound silver box. Correct, I do not have a working television. For the better part of those two years, it was a money saving decision. It still helps the budget quite a bit, but I have become quite proud that I do not have cable, satellite or the dish network. Now I have provided you that information, I can now confess that while I do not have a working television. I rely on my internet to catch up on my various shows. One of my favorite shows is America's Next Top Model. I know, I know. A tad superficial, but I love the creative process of photo shoots, the sets and the runway shows. Last month's finale had two incredible women stomping the runway inspired by the elements - Water, Fire, Wind.

And with that, I decided to create inspiration boards of the elements. This is the first of a four part post that will delve into the four elements - Wind, Water, Fire and Earth.

As I mulled over the elements, water conjures up the ideas of white sandy beaches with crashing waves, a strong waterfall or teeming rain.

For me, Monet's interpretation of water is much more appealing. The"Waterlilies" painting portrays calm, serene flowers floating on an almost still landscape utilizes a palette that many would not associate with the element of water. However, deep purples, midnight blues and bright greens create a complimentary collection of colors that would pop on a table setting or in a floral arrangement. From there, the inspiration board was born.

From the board, I must highlight a few of my favorite things. The flirty green frock comes from a small designer, LulaKate, based out of Charleston, SC. The designer, Katherine McDonald, combines a beautiful fit with gorgeous colors ranging from siren red to bridal white to sunshine yellow. Not only do they look gorgeous on bridesmaids, but they can be worn to cocktail parties and dinner dates long after their dear friend's big day.

Other fabulous accents are the purple satin Kate Spade heels. I go back to her designs time and time again. Kate truly understands the concept of girly and I adore her for it. The other girly accessory is the clutch. Etsy has some great, inexpensive finds for a bridal party or a bride herself.

Water can be viewed in so many ways. Bright blue, powder blue, mossy green or even black. It can be strong and harmful or relaxing and composed. In my life right now, I chose to view water as a slow, flowing element and Monet's interpretation suited my emotions perfectly. And in my opinion, those waterlilies would make a great centerpiece at a gorgeous wedding as well!

Keep it Sunny!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanks a Bunch

Since I am cooking and dancing and having an overall wonderful time with my beloved family, I will share my new obsession for a quick, easy and inexpensive centerpiece. Cranberries! At about $1.50 a bag, you can put these at the bottom of any vase, grab a bunch of flowers of your choice and add water. Voila! A colorful and quite seasonal arrangement. Not only have I used this for an event at work, but have created multiple arrangements for neighbors and my family.
Have a happy thanksgiving. And remember...
Keep it Sunny! (Gobble, Gobble)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Apples to Apples

Due to the economy, our special event budget has been drastically slashed. While many may see the variety of down sides to this, I have actually enjoyed the challenge of becoming a "recessionista". My most exciting role in the new budget conscious realm is becoming a florist! I meander down the road to Whole Foods, find the best colors in the array of whole sale flowers they provide and work away. I'm sure I look ridiculous on the floor of our small office, but it is a creative process for me and have learned to enjoy it.

Which brings me to the above photo. In late October, I found myself bored with JUST flowers. The color palette included browns, greens and yellows. A true fall combination. So, I considered my options in the Whole Foods flower section. Do I attempt a craft store run? Do I stick with the same flowers, flowers and more flowers? Or do I peruse the produce section?

As you can tell, my eyes went straight for the vibrant granny smith apples and you see the finished product. Playing with the balance of the arrangement was a challenge and I may have incorporated more than one apple next time, but all in all I think the amateur florist is finding her way. If not, the economy should be bouncing back some point soon?

Keep it Sunny!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Getting to Know You...

At a young age, I formed an immense passion for certain Broadway musicals. Guys and Dolls, The King & I, The Sound of Music. I knew every lyric to every song to all of my favorites. I adored Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra in the movie adaptation of Guys and Dolls and really had no idea who they were! The music continued in my head day and night. I blame this on my great grandfather who played the mandolin. He would sit and record the Sound of Music on tapes for me to listen and learn the greatness of Rogers and Hammerstein.
My love for Broadway hasn't died. My new favorites include Avenue Q, Wicked, Spring Awakening and Mama Mia. Oh the wonders of taking yourself out of every day living and plopping yourself into a world of breaking into song and dance at any time of day. That is my kind of world.
So as I was driving in heavy traffic and knowing I would be late on a bright Monday morning to meet a local wedding planner, I found myself humming a childhood favorite, "Getting to Know You" from the King and I. I was so excited to get to know this phenomenal woman who decided to share with me some of her wise words about wedding and event planning. Sitting down with her humbled me beyond belief. After twenty five years of event planning, she has dealt with so many situations and so many people. I admire her. I received some fantastic knowledge about inspiration boards, difficulties in certain areas (photography, wedding cake and music) and the emotions that go into a wedding. This conversation made me realize how much more I have to learn in this industry, but also put a jump start in my passion for planning. Truly because it is one of "My Favorite Things".
Keep it Sunny!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Antique Masquerade

This weekend I had the honor of having one of my best friends come visit me from Washington, DC. She is one of my most absolute favorite people because of her off-the-wall creative and energetic spirit. She can make nothing into something. And I love her for it.

That being said, she was not the happy on Sunday evening. She had the crafting bug and the local hobby shop was just not in the cards for me. Luckily, I delved into the tupperware craft bin that I have accumulated over the past few years and suggested a mask party. And with a quizzical look, my fantastic friend said, "Why not?". And away went the construction paper, the glue, the scissors flying! Per the craft nazi's orders, we were not allowed to make something or someone. The mask was to be made naturally and just come into being. I ended up with a yellow mask with large eyes and curly hair. I was not allowed to call it Big Bird... so being yellow I cleverly called myself Martha Simpson. I need some sort of structure people!

As I looked at our masks, images of Phantom of the Opera swirled through my mind. The mystery and time period of the production is antique and luminous. The darkness, the embroidered gowns, the mysterious candlelight.

There was the idea for my inspiration board. It may have been a round about way, but I got there. In candlelight, gold catches the light in the most complimentary way. Incorporating the antique golds and pewters against dim lighting and candles, makes for a regal affair. In all my findings, my favorite picture I found was photos of past generations on their wedding day. Framed with antique gold and lit with small tea lights, I love that they incorporated the spirit of loved ones who were not able to celebrate the special day with them.

Keep it sunny!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Have A Nice Trip, See You Next Fall.

Down here in the eastern part of the Carolinas, autumn never really spreads it's wings. In fact, it is a cool, crisp 85 degrees today and I have stuck to my guns wearing boots, tights and a dress laden with a nice thick scarf. Sorry, it is October. I refuse to wear sundresses and sleeveless tanks.

While the eastern part of the Carolinas are still hot and bothered, the Appalachian Mountains spread western North Carolina with color, texture and fresh air. On the rare Saturday I do not have any work duties, I try to hop in the car and make the quick three hour drive to Asheville. As you drive over the hill and view the breathtaking mountain scenery, you are immediately relaxed. With local friends, I hike a new trail, visit the sprawling Biltmore Estate or eat some of their fantastic farm to table food.

As an event planner, western North Carolina would be an incredible destination for a wedding. I have, in fact, been to two of them there. They have both been memorable and both involved the phenomenal nature that composes the Appalachians.
Bare with me as I go down memory lane to my favorite wedding...
LINVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA - On a sunny September afternoon (leaves were almost about to change), two beloved friends had a small ceremony in an old, stone chapel in the mountains. In front of 50 family members and close friends, the two exchanged vows emotionally and compassionately. The 'Ave Maria' rang out of the chapel and chills ran up and down my spine. It will forever be in my heart as the intimate ceremony where the couple were able to focus on each other and the nature and people around them. As an event planner, I realize that brides want a lot of things and need the perfect day. Sometimes with all the flowers and the linens and the speakers and "Aunt Edna can't sit next to Cousin Rita", it is hard to focus on the underlying reason that one is having the day all together. But on that sunny Saturday in Western North Carolina, as the lazy summer was on the on verge of a vibrant fall, the simple and serene commitment was the perfect way to celebrate their love.
Keep it Sunny!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Arizona Red

In August, there was a potential opportunity to move to Arizona. Because of my adventurous spirit, I immediately jumped into daydreaming about Arizona. While I've never had a huge desire to move to the Southwest, I formed the image of my life in a small stucco house opening my glass doors with a rich cup of coffee and admiring the sprawling mountains and bright blue skies. The more I researched "El Pais del Dios", the more I became inspired by the rich hues of the land and culture.

Unfortunately, the "big move" never materialized. However, I am still quite fascinated with all things Arizona. The other night I cozied up in my home (sans internet and television...GASP) and settled in to read Travel+Leisure. Flipping through the articles, I gravitated toward the Top Rated Spa's in the world. I scanned down the list and three of the top ten destination spas were in Arizona. I must not be the only one that wants scenic deserts and gorgeous sunsets.

The reds and oranges are perfect for a fall wedding, but I recently found this DIY wedding on Style Me Pretty. It incorporates browns, reds, yellows and oranges that portrays their style as antique and worn with love. It makes me melt!

To sum it all up, I'm still in North Carolina. But a piece of my heart drifted to Arizona and it may just stay there for awhile.

Keep it sunny!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

All That Ruffles

As a little girl, I went to a quaint, little ballet studio for dance lessons. One of my nearest and dearest friends will recall our first recital in our adorable white tutus with pink and light blue accents. It was all ruffles and all fun until we were onstage. During the performance, my ruffle adorned friend called out to her "mommy" and stood there while everyone else had flitted gingerly off stage. I still own the VHS to prove her embarrassment...I really should convert that to a DVD. Anyway, we both have come a long way from that ballet class, but I still adore our costumes and the fantastic ruffles that made me feel so pretty.

Pondering the beauty of volume and layers, I created my first inspiration board entitled "All That Ruffles". The main focus of this board is the camellia. Living in the South, this blossom looks angelic in contrast to our quite dull, snowless winters. I am drawn to very full, layered flowers like camellias and ranunculus. The bottom photo in the board is a picture of the Chanel Winter Wonderland Ball last year. They used ALL camellias and it looked spectacular. It's a wonder to me why people do not use this durable and gorgeous flora. Stay tuned for my camellia centerpieces this winter!

The ruffle effect has a romantic feel that can not be replaced. So my goal is to continue to incorporate ruffles not only into my events, but in my life. The dress above is made by an up and coming designer, Carol Hannah Whitfield. She graduated with me from the College of Charleston and it currently on Project Runway. Her designs are fun, flirty and some are even ruffled! That dress almost brings back my memories of my ballet performance...Thanks Carol Hannah!

Keep it Sunny!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

High School Hip

Back in the 9th grade, I went to an all girls private high school. We wore the mandatory uniform, but were left to our own devices to make our very drab plaid kilt and blue blazer (a bit more chic now then when I was 14) trendy and original. Of course, the accessories depended on the person. The "preppy" girls had Tiffany's bracelets and pearl earrings. The "goth" girls had dog collars and boots (when they could get away with it). The list of stereotypes goes on and on. I'm not quite sure where I fit in, but I do remember the one thing I coveted. I thought above all things the one item that would produce my coolness was a Kate Spade pencil case. With a rainbow of colors that kept every pencil, pen and lip gloss in place, I was just dying to have it. Of course, I never got my coveted designer pencil case. I mean really what 14 year old needs that, but one thing has not changed. I am completely inspired by Ms. Spade's fabulous use of color and perspective. I now sport some pretty sassy Spade eye glasses, but I think my favorite item Kate creates is invitations. How on earth could you not have a party with this invite.
Her overall style and color palette (see above: magenta, periwinkle and red) would be genius for a fun, flirty wedding, bridal shower or summer picnic. Ms. Spade - Thank you for inspiring me as a uniform ridden freshman and thank you for inspiring me now!
Keep it sunny!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Mad Hatter

My fabulous friend just returned from a wedding in the beautiful country of Ireland. As two friends with a mutual obsession of wedding design, she automatically sent me the photos of the event. Perusing the photos, my eyes were drawn to the older women of the festivities. They donned one of my favorite accessories, the hat. It was quite surprising to me that none of the younger women used the accessory to show their own personal style. With the resurrection of the hat (think Sarah Jessica Parker), you would think they would embrace the tradition. Alas, no one under the age of 60 was befitted with a hat. And I say, "Shame on you". The hat is such a perfect way to be original. I think you may be able to even go outside of the traditional hat and go for a head piece or feathers. There is an air of romance in a head piece. I have decided that a Mad Hatter Tea Party may be my next venture... Why wait for a wedding across the pond? Of course I endorse wearing a hat to nuptials. As would I would encourage a bride to forego the traditional veil and give another tradition a try. I mean really...if Alice in Wonderland can do it, why can't we?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Charleston Love

New York City? Energetic, trendy. Chicago? Never boring, cold. Charleston? Perfect in every way. I recently returned home from the wonderful state of South Carolina. Every time I pass South of the Border (which I often do), I feel a sense of relief that I'm returning to a place of inspiration and enlightenment. From the remote island of Edisto to the cobble stone streets of Charleston, I discover a whirlwind of beauty.

As I was meandering down King St. and East Bay St. yesterday, I peeked into two very different, but interesting shops. Down on the newly revitalized end of King St. houses a small store front with beautifully made furniture, home decor and letterpress. As you walk in a orange blossom soy candle hits ones nostrils and you instantly feel as though you have wandered into the lovely owner's home rather than her store, Lesesne. It is beautifully decorated and she literally says, "Make yourself at home". Walking through the store, one thing really stood out to me. Designer gift wrap. Yes, at $4.00 a sheet it is a bit ridiculous, but Snow and Graham have beautiful stuff. I purchased two sheets of yellow flowered paper and plan to mount it in large frames to change up my decor in my house. The leftover will be converted into napkin holders for an outside event (I am clinging to the last days of summer)!

The second shop I fell upon was Baked. Apparently, this is a very hip spot with a sister location in New York. It is a fresh look on bakeries. Where cupcakes are almost passe and Starbucks are anything but boring, Baked has your traditional coffees and lattes and offers an incredible array of treats. Most notably, the marshmallow concoctions! They also have a collection of greeting cards by Hello!Lucky. My favorite says the heading "I wanna take you out" with a whole bunch of Chinese take out boxes. Absolutely adorable and original.

Letterpress and cards are one of my favorite things. There is nothing like receiving a card from a loved one or sending a card to a friend. I personally stick love notes or cards in my boyfriend's mailbox. While men may not REALLY appreciate the card, he knows I'm thinking about him. . . and that (I hope) he appreciates.

Keep it sunny!

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Sunny Start

Photo courtesy of Courtney Ryan

My name is Samantha and here are the humble beginnings of my design blog. The name of the blog comes from my event planning background. I have planned events on pretty much every day and hour of the year. Monday (check), midnight (check), Sunday evening (check), 7 AM (check). You name the date, time, holiday...I've pretty much done it. But the best parties are always on the luxurious, relaxing Saturday. From a classy Sonoma Valley wedding to a Southern outdoor BBQ, there is nothing better than the fabulous day scrunched in between the hectic Fridays and lazy Sundays that is Saturday. And what goes better with Saturday than sun. So away we go with Samantha's Sunny Saturdays...

Idea for the day: Shoes --- A friend of mine just designed a pair of her very own shoes at Nike ID. Although they were stuck in Qing Dao, China for a few weeks, they are pretty slick. At a wedding I recently attended, my attention was drawn to the dual colored Chuck Taylors all the groomsmen wore. For some reason, they had the word "NEATO" embroidered on the side. While I'm not quite sure why they decided to get that particular slogan, it shows personality.
In events, the bottom line is what will make this different from any other wedding. For a wedding, I think having your very own Nike's would be a great indication of who you are...maybe flip flops on a sunny Chicago beach (yes, there are beaches in Chicago and, yes, I was able to enjoy them over fourth of July) or coveted Christian Loubotins or Manolos.
Bottom Line: Shoes are a glimpse into a person's soul (or sole)...who do you want to be?