POSTS BY Kim Stoegbauer

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When I was first introduced to Melody’s work, I was immediately smitten. Melody Brandon is an incredibly talented pastry chef and the co-owner of Sweet and Saucy Shop in Long Beach, California. Her cake designs and dessert displays are beyond perfection. I had the opportunity to interview Melody about how she got started, a few of her favorite events and what the future holds for her growing business. Read on to get to know Melody a little bit more and get inspired by some of her decadent desserts!

{Kentucky Derby Party}

1. You are a such an inspiration to so many, not only as an incredible cake and dessert designer, but as a savvy business woman. When did you know that this is what you wanted to do for your career? Tell us a little of your background and how Sweet & Saucy Shop came about. 
Well to be honest I actually always thought I would be an elementary school teacher and that is what I went to school for and almost finished my degree in.  I was assistant teaching in various classes when I found that teaching just didn’t have enough creative freedom for me and I didn’t like all the rules and regulations you had to follow.  I stopped teaching at the particular school I was at for a little break and in the meantime had just gotten married and loved throwing parties for friends and family and for quite some time had been obsessed with Food Network & cookbooks; although I had never really thought of it as a career option.

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This month’s Color of the Month is absolutely lovely. I’m sharing some ideas I discovered for using this gorgeous pink-orange hue when planning a party or wedding. From decadent desserts to party decor, Coral is perfect for your Spring soirees.

cupcakes, chocolate cake, strawberry basil margarita, dessert table, grapefruit margarita

tissue paper pom, coral stationery, fabric pinwheels, chevron frame

fabric napkins, coral wedding table, round place mats, chevron fabric

wedges, necklace, ruffle dress, headband

I can’t wait to create a party using this fresh color!

Have you used Coral for a party or event? Would you?

Let me know in the comments below!

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Are you ready to celebrate Easter this weekend? Be sure to check out our Charming Yellow and Blue Easter Brunch for delicious food ideas, decadent desserts and festive decor inspiration.

For more photos, inspiration and free downloads, visit the feature here! 

How will you be celebrating Easter this weekend? Tell me in the comments below!

styling/printable designs :: the tomkat studio
photography :: laura winslow photography

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Are you ready to celebrate St. Patty’s Day this weekend? Lucky for you, we have a few last minute ideas that you can print and create to make your gathering or home green and festive! This downloadable LUCKY banner is so easy to make. View instructions and download file. 

Cupcakes are a great addition to your St. Patty’s Day festivities. Try out a new recipe like these Green Velvet Cupcakes for the kids, or for the adults, these Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes. Top with our downloadable cupcake topper designs. View instructions and download file.


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Can I tell you how excited I was to discover that our HGTV editors chose this gorgeous color as January’s Color of the Month? If you know me at all, you know I am a girly-girl and have a love of all things pretty, pink and ruffly. Our color of the month has me blushing! Pink Champagne is the perfect color for entertaining, whether you are hosting a simple baby shower, little girl’s birthday party or lavish wedding. Here are some ideas to get you started…

cake popsfrench macaronschampagne, desserts

clutchruffled dressballerina dress

cake, confettiflowers, invitation

To celebrate this lovely color, I whipped up a version of our free downloadable chevron invitations and favor tags in blush! Download invitation design and favor tags.

What do you think of this color? Do you love it as much as I do?

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Welcome to 2012! It’s that time of year where we get to start fresh, make new goals and look forward to all that the new year has to offer. It’s a great time to get organized and what better way than with a pretty calendar? While some prefer to keep track of everything digitally, I love having an actual printed calendar on my bulletin board. I design a full-page calendar each year for my readers to download and I’m sharing it today with our HGTV readers, as well.

Download printable calendar

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Have you decided what kind of Christmas cards you are sending out this year? If not, you’d better hurry up! Here are a few ideas for making crafty, modern holiday cards. Use our printable templates, along with a few basic materials and tools, and you can create cards that are sure to impress!

Modern Ornament Card Printable and Instructions

Modern Christmas Tree Card Printable and Instructions

Do you get crafty during the Holiday season? We would love to hear what you like to make!

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It’s time to gather friends and family to celebrate the holiday season! If you are looking for ideas for hosting a fun, easy get together for children or adults, a Gingerbread House Party just may be perfect for you. With our inspiring ideas and downloadable printable party designs, you’ll be all set.

A simple white store-bought cake is easily dressed-up with crushed peppermints and festive lollipops.

Prepare gingerbread houses in advance so your guests can decorate them during the party. Put out icing bags and a variety of candy for the guests to use.

For a perfect centerpiece, prepare a gingerbread house prior to the party to display. You can use paper embellishments in addition to the edible details, like this gingerbread man party circle.

Finish the gingerbread house by adding coconut for the perfect “snow” base.

Offer a variety of desserts for the guests to snack on after they decorate their houses. Mini gingerbread house pops are perfect for this party theme and will be a hit with all the little ones.

Send your guests home with a treat embellished with our printable favor tags or fill our gingerbread house favor boxes (download template) with candy or small toys.

Visit the full Gingerbread House Party feature for many more ideas and printable downloads!

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It’s party season! If you are planning on attending holiday parties this year, be sure not to show up empty handed. I’ve compiled 10 Fabulous Gift Ideas for the Hostess to share with you. These are easy to find, easy to order or just might inspire you to find something similar. Let’s start with edible gifts. Sweets and treats are abundant this time of year and they are especially great when they come with pretty packaging. Baking yourself? Buy cute plates like the elf one and present your goodies on the plate.

english toffee cratehot chocolatejingle elf platescaramel peanut bark

I always love personalized gifts! Think ahead and order monogrammed gifts for any upcoming events you are attending. The monogrammed mugs can be filled with candy, treats or a gift card and wrapped with cellophane and ribbon for a perfect hostess gift.

emma mugfern in burlapmonogrammed soap

Delight your hostess with scented candles or body products. She’ll need the stress relief once the party is over!

parties for hosting, holiday candlesstress relief

What do you usually bring when you attend a holiday party? Tell me in the comments below! I would love to hear your ideas.

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Happy Thanksgiving week! I’m sharing my inspirations for Entertaining with HGTV’s Color of the Month today. November’s color choice is marigold. Not one you normally would think of for parties and events, but with these ideas you may rethink that notion. Marigold is perfect for autumn, with its rich yellow-orange tone. Our Sunflower Thanksgiving feature is a perfect example of incorporating this color for fall gatherings. I’ve compiled products and ideas to get you in the mood to celebrate with marigold.

sources: invitationtissue paper pomgraphic fabricpaper dot ribbon

Marigold isn’t difficult to find for home furnishings and servingware. Plates, serving dishes, paper products and even furniture can be used at your next gathering featuring this color.

sources: yellow dinnerwareknitted poufyellow bird plate, yellow straws

Food options are easy to find in this rich hue. The Food Network is featuring marigold this month as well. Check out their recipe selections. I came up with a few edible ideas of my own after browsing the Food Network recipe database. Doesn’t this mac & cheese look divine?

sources: mac and cheesecocktailmini pineapple cakessweet corn ice cream

What to wear? If you read my posts, you know that I am a fan of the hostess dressing to coordinate with the party. Whether it’s a dress or accessory, here are a few ideas to add a pop of marigold.

sources: dressclutchflower ring

What do you think about the Color of the Month? Would you use it in your home? How about for an event?

I would love to hear your feedback in the comments below!

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Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Are you hosting dinner this year? We are! My husband is in charge of the turkey, I’m in charge of desserts (as always) and our family members are bringing the rest. In our feature, Sunflower Thanksgiving Dessert Buffet, I shared several ideas for delicious desserts. I’m definitely going beyond pumpkin pie this year and serving up a variety of mini sweets.

Cake pops are such a popular trend at parties and gatherings these days. Order or make them in flavors and colors that coordinate with your Thanksgiving decor. These mini pumpkin mousse parfaits were so delicious and really easy to make. I simply adapted the recipe for the mini parfait glasses.

Cupcakes are an unexpected dessert for Thanksgiving, but your littlest guests will love them. Dress them up with fondant sunflowers or paper cupcake toppers and display on a decorative cake stand. Pumpkin Spice Whoopie Pies are easy to make and the cream cheese marshmallow filling is divine. Display them in mini dishes for the perfect serving size.

I designed a full printable collection for you to use for your Thanksgiving festivities!

Check out the full Sunflower Thanksgiving story for more decorating ideas and to download the printables!

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I just returned from an incredible visit to Disney World where I represented HGTV at The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. It was an experience of a lifetime and I feel so lucky to have been included in this event. Now through mid-November, several other HGTV personalities will be at the festival sharing other fabulous ideas for holiday entertaining.

For my presentations, I shared “5 Fabulous Ideas for Dressing Up Your Holiday Entertaining.” I went with a non-traditional holiday color scheme of red and aqua. During the presentation, I shared examples of fresh color schemes for the holiday season, some basic tips for creating a pretty dessert display, as well as five specific ideas for holiday gatherings.

1. Peppermint Cake: Use a round double-layer cake with bright white butter cream or whipped cream frosting, purchased from the store or bake at home. Place on a pretty cake stand. Use whole peppermints around the edge to create a base. Crush peppermints in a plastic bag using a mallet or hammer. Use the palm of your hand to pat them onto the side of the cake. Top with a mini paper bunting. Download Bunting Template (PDF)


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Matthew Mead is an incredibly talented stylist, photographer and writer. I discovered his work while browsing an issue of Summer with Matthew Mead. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to interview him and get to know more about him and his team.

All photos by Matthew Mead

1. As I was browsing your fall issue of your online magazine, I noticed that you not only style nearly every story, but also photographed the entire publication. Obviously, you have a natural eye for design, style and photography. What is your background and training?I’ve been styling and producing editorial stories for more than 15 years. I was an English major at the University of New Hampshire but always knew that design was my true love.  My mother introduced me to the work of  Mary Emmerling (the queen of country design) back in the ’80s and I was hooked. Once out of college I began developed a portfolio of images with a local photographer and writing letters to Mary and other style luminaries.

Matthew’s Favorite Potluck Dinner Party Tips

Long story short, I became friends with Mary as she began producing her own magazine and became a contributor. Mary soon moved on to be Creative Director at Country Home and I joined her there as style editor and produced many, many beautiful stories for 12 years. I’ve met hundreds of talented and creative leaders over the years and have been fortunate to work at a level where my work advertises what I can do.

I am totally self-taught in my career … I see my ideas and work in images in my head so I am really able to formulate my final image prior to production or photography. It has been such a wonderful and exciting field of work and I enjoy every chaotic challenge of creating seasonal ideas for my readers.

The photography began about 4 years ago when the bottom dropped out of publishing and Country Home closed its doors. I decided in order to save my business and work in the new “low/no” budget industry that I needed to be a one-stop shop for my clients.

Celebrating Hanukkah: Easy and Stylish Jewish Holiday Ideas With Recipes by Matthew Mead

I learned the photography end and began producing my own work. Aside from what my readers see, I have many commercial clients, including an arm of Dove Chocolate and Lowe’s Home Centers.

2. Of all of the hundreds of features you have styled, what has been your all-time favorite? And which feature has gotten the most attention?

There was a pumpkin story that I did for Country Home back in 2004 that was a very artful look at heirloom pumpkins and the paint colors they inspired. It was a beautiful and painterly story and so many readers loved it. I still get it as tear sheets from many clients.

Matthew Mead: 12 Chic, Easy Holiday Table Ideas

Since I started my own magazine, it is such a joy to be part of every step of the work. I especially like features on artisans and designers and visiting them at their studios and homes. A recent visit was one with designer Tricia Foley. She has always inspired me and now with my own magazine I get to work with her … it is a dream job.

3. You play many roles while while producing the magazine. What is your favorite part of the process? What do you least like doing?

I am part of every aspect of the process. By far, I love picking all of the props and then photographing and styling. Editing and choosing the final images is a dream and having creative control is such a true joy. Not fond of the warehousing process and the distribution of the magazine or picking up and returning props after, but it is a treat to hold the final product in your hands and find that you have really relayed something new to readers.

4. Every page in your magazine is perfect. We all know it takes a lot of work to get it that way and things don’t always go as planned. Can you tell us about a behind-the-scenes disaster and how you recovered the situation?

First, I have an incredible team that has been with me for my career, that includes my wife and two assistants, both named Lisa. Much of the pressure of work comes from others expectations but I have been fortunate to have much of my work be independent of clients on the set. We’ve had a few situations where one-of-a-kind items have fallen off the wall and gotten broken, but one of the most memorable shoots was a feature that included children, ice cream, a dog parade and a visiting editor in chief, all on a hot summer day.

Check Out Matthew’s Summer Clambake

We planned well and placed all the ice cream in a chest freezer in the back of a pick-up and plugged in to an outlet whenever we could.  We wrangled children in one area with games until their time on the set, and kept the dogs separate but occupied until needed. The ice cream was perfect, no one got bit or riled and the day went off with out a hitch. Except the bunny someone brought instead of a dog was too terrified to march in the parade.  But as far as working with both children and animals, it was a success.

5. What is next for the Matthew Mead brand?

We are expanding. The magazine will likely become a nationally distributed quarterly. We now have a beautiful product line, which will be growing over the next year.

We are delving into video with our own YouTube channel so readers will be able to really be part of all the action at the studio as we live, work and create new and simple lifestyle ideas. I am the food photographer for the Associated Press which keeps me busy and I will continue to find more ways to help clients bring their products to life.


“Holiday With Matthew Mead” is available at newsstands, as well as online.

Matthew, In His Own Words

I am 43 years old and have been married to my wife Jenny for 15 years.  I have two grown step-daughters and was born and raised and still reside here in Concord, NH.  I have always felt fortunate to be here in New England as I can really capture all four seasons and make use of all the beautiful, natural surroundings. I have a daylight studio in a nearby town, which is equipped with a kitchen and a large area for pulling together sets. I am a ravenous collector of all things and am lucky to house my collection close by so that I can easily pull projects together for photo shoots. One day I hope to have a destination location where people interested in the process can see a magazine photo shoot unfold, shop a store of interesting props and artisan items and enjoy organic farm to table food at a restaurant.  Its a dream with  miles to go … but you have to have dreams.

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October 31st is right around the corner! It is such a fun holiday to celebrate with decorating, dressing up and hosting parties. Here are a few festive, creative ideas to get you in the Halloween spirit.

1. Host a Halloween Cupcake Decorating Party

Gather the kids, cupcakes and toppings and have a ball! This easy, inexpensive party theme is sure to please kids and adults. The TomKat Studio printable party collection I designed for this theme adds the finishing touches to tie it all together.

2. BOO Your Neighbors

Are you familiar with “BOOing”? If not, you should be! It is such a fun tradition. Secretly leave Halloween goodies on your neighbor’s front porch, along with this free printable sign and instructions. The idea is that they will then BOO another neighbor and the whole neighborhood will get in the Halloween spirit. We were BOOed this weekend, and we’re baking tonight to keep it going. Download Free BOO Sign + Instructions

3. Make a Spooky Halloween Banner

I hosted a girl’s night in last week, and we all made this fun Spooky Halloween banner. Download Free Printable Spooky Banner Letters 
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For October, our trend savvy HGTV.com editors chose teal as the Color of the Month. This lovely shade falls somewhere between blue and green. While researching ideas for using this rich color, I came across a wide spectrum of tones, many of which were called teal but seemed too blue. I think a true teal has more green in it. I compiled a few ideas on how you can use this color in your next event. First up, sweets like candy, cupcakes, sprinkles and candy apples that are eye-catching and easy to serve at a casual or elegant gathering.

tealpartyideasteal sweets :: sprinkles, candy apples, candy corsage, chocolate bar, cupcakes

Paper is always an essential part of the party, at least for me. Use invitations, tags, thank you notes and paper decorations in teal to carry the color scheme throughout.

tealdecoratingideasteal paper elements :: thank you cards, tags, pomettes, tissue flowers

I spotted some great decorative pieces in teal that can add the color and style to your gathering. I love this custom made initial, which could be placed on your food/dessert table or by the front door to greet guests. The gorgeous pattern is fabric, which could be used to make a table cloth or runner.
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After I spotted this silhouette pumpkin on Design Happens last week, I was totally inspired to find ideas for black and white Halloween decorating and entertaining. I am loving what I’ve come across and thinking I may just have to go with this striking palette for my mantle this year. Do you think you could decorate for Halloween without orange? C’mon, get crazy!

black and white halloween ideas

Shelley from The House of Smiths shows us how to create a Halloween vignette of mostly black and white on a budget. This knotted black ribbon wreath immediately caught my eye on Pinterest. I love how simple, yet glamorous is it. Donna from Party Wishes added a few inexpensive touches to her porch to get in the mood for Halloween. And here’s the silhouette pumpkin tutorial featured on HGTV that inspired this post. Isn’t it fabulous?

The white foam pumpkin embellished with a decal and jewels is an easy project with a spooktacular result. My printable cupcake toppers lend to a glam black and white color scheme. Pair with a plastic spider for a creepy look. I spotted this gauze mummy wreath on Etsy and love it. Do you see the skeleton hands hanging down from it? Spooky. Spiders are a must when choosing this black and white theme for decorating or a party. This downloadable print is part of Shelley’s Halloween shelves.

black and white halloween

These creepy plates are freaking me out! Scare your guests by covering up the illustrations with food only to reveal body parts while they’re eating. Talk about freaking out! These real scorpions mounted in a display box will gross everyone out. Living in Arizona, I’ve seen a few in real life, and it’s not pleasant. Need a party favor? How about sending your guests home with a tub of embalming cream? Good news, it’s pumpkin marshmallow scent. Yum. Greet your visitors with this life-size ghost that you can easily make yourself with this HGTV tutorial.

Have I inspired you to decorate with black and white this year or do you think orange is required for Halloween?

Let me know by commenting below!

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Did you catch Anna’s Color of the Month post for September? Your response to indigo was really positive. Readers called it calming, pretty, lovely, organic and many more flattering adjectives. Indigo falls somewhere between blue and violet and is named after a dye used in India and other countries around the world. When it comes to entertaining with indigo, finding inspiration gets quite a bit harder. I have personally never used this color for a party, but after my research, I think it would be beautiful for a dinner party or wedding.

sources :: plate, placemat, coasters, tea towel

What I did find, was that you often see gorgeous intricate patterns paired with items of this color, as seen above in the plate and tea towel.

While searching Etsy, I spotted a few handmade paper items including a heart garland, journal and gift tags. Aren’t they gorgeous?

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Latest Pins on Pinterest

  • As seen on HGTV's "Property Brothers At Home"

  • As seen on HGTV's "Property Brothers At Home"

  • As seen on HGTV's "Property Brothers At Home"

  • As seen on HGTV's "Property Brothers At Home"