skull cookies with bright colors and flowers painted on them for day of the dead
Day of the Dead Cake and Cookies By “for Heaven Bakes”

Today, I am bringing back one of my favorite cake and cookie designers to help teach us all a little more about creating show-stopping desserts! I asked my friend, Julie, of For Heaven Bakes, to share tips that we regular folks could use to up our decorating game.

Skull cookie being painted with paint brush with bright colors and flowers
Cookie and Tutorial by Julie of For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy Photos

Julie created a jaw dropping (LOL) dessert and she is going to tell you all about it! Read on to hear from Julie…and to see how she created the cookies to complement this cake (insert that jaw drop here)…

Lady in purple holding Day of the Dead Skull cake
Cake by Julie McAllister of For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy

Julie says…

For Halloween this year, I wanted to do a cake that was fun and colorful, and not just limiting the colors to the traditional orange and black. A Day of the Dead-themed party cake and cookies were perfect for this!

Day of the Dead Skull Cake with flowers
Cake by Julie McAllister of For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy

The skull was sculpted from 5 cake layers (yes, he’s entirely edible!) and vanilla buttercream, then covered in fondant and topped with gum paste flowers. The skull design was entirely hand-painted, which took more than 3 hours to paint the whole head.

side view of day of dead skull cake handpainted with bright colors
Cake by Julie McAllister of For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy

To make the party dessert setup complete, I wanted to add some fun cookies—these mini Day of the Dead skulls were the perfect complement to the cake!

hand painted skull cookies for day of the dead
Cookies by Julie of For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy

My goal was to show a couple of different ways to decorate Day of the Dead cookies that a baker of any skill level could use as inspiration. Both designs use a combination of royal icing and fondant, and the general steps are outlined below. 

skull cookies with bright colors and flowers painted on them for day of the dead
Cookies by Julie of For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy

How to Hand-Paint Skull Cookies

Day of the Dead Sugar Cookies Two Ways

Design 1: Hand-painted

Things You’ll Need

Skull-shaped sugar cookies, baked and cooled

–Skull-shaped cookie cutter (same that you used for the cookies)


–Small liner and wide paint brushes (I like Wilton’s cake brush sets)

–Corn syrup

–Assortment of gel food coloring (I used sky blue, mint green, rose pink, orange and black)

–1-2 tbsp vodka


Step 1. Roll out your homemade or pre-made fondant until it’s about 1/8″ thick.

baker pressing skull cookie cutter into white fondant
Photo by Abby Murphy

2. Using your skull-shaped cookie cutter, cut out as many skulls as you have cookies. (Optional: If your cutter is also a cookie stamp, stamp the design into the fondant after it’s cutout.)

day-of-the-dead-skull-cookie-fondant-corn-syrup
Photo by Abby Murphy

3. Using your wide paint brush, lightly brush a small amount of corn syrup onto the cookie, then place the cutout fondant skull onto the cookie. Using your fingers, smooth out any bumps.

baker smoothing white fondant on top of skull cookie
Photo by Abby Murphy

4. Place 1-2 drops of each gel food coloring you’re using into separate small ramekins (or a ceramic egg holder works great for this!), then add 1 drop of vodka to each color. Wait a few seconds, then mix together with a paint brush. Do this for every color (the vodka allows the food coloring to dry quickly). 

cookie artist painting day of the dead skull cookies with brush
Cookie by Julie of For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy

5. Time to start decorating! I find it’s easiest to paint your “anchors” first, which are the eyes, nose and mouth. The great thing about Day of the Dead designs are that they are very unique and personal, and there are no wrong options! Using your different colors, try painting different swirls, flowers and dots all around the face until you’re happy with your design. 

Cookie by Julie of For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy

6. Set cookies on a cooling rack to dry. Enjoy! 🙂

How to Decorate Skull Cookies Using Fondant

day-of-the-dead-skull-cookies-fondant-only
Cookies by Julie of For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy


Design 2: Fondant Details Using a Royal Icing Base

Things You’ll Need

–Skull-shaped sugar cookies, baked and cooled

–Royal icing

 –Homemade or pre-made fondant

–Assortment of gel food coloring (I used sky blue, mint green, rose pink, orange and black)
–1-2 tbsp vodka
–Small liner paint brushes (I like Wilton’s cake brush sets)

–Any standard piping tip (you’ll be using the wide base and not the tip itself)

–Small heart cookie cutter

–Small rectangle cookie cutter

–Assortment of flower fondant stamps

–X-acto knife 


Step 1. Outline your skull cookies with royal icing and allow to dry. Once set, flood your royal icing and fill each outline. Allow at least 5 hours to fully dry, but I find it works best to let dry overnight. 

2. Using your various food coloring, color a small amount of fondant for each different color. 

3. Roll out your homemade or pre-made fondant until it’s about 1/8″ thick.

4. As with the first design, I find it’s easiest to start with your “anchors” first, which are the eyes, nose and mouth. And as I mentioned above, the great thing about Day of the Dead designs are that they are very unique and personal, and there are no wrong options!

For the eyes, use the base of your piping tip to cutout two circles (I used black for this).

day-of-the-dead-skull-cookies-with royal icing being decorated
Cookies by Julie of For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy

Using a different color, cutout two flowers, using one of your flower stamps. Using your paint brush, add a small dab of royal icing to the back of each flower and then adhere to the cutout circles. Set aside to dry and firm up. Do two of these for every skull cookie you have.

5. Using your small heart cookie cutter, cutout a “nose” for each cookie. Set aside to dry and firm up.

cookie decorator adding nost to skull cookie for day of the dead
Cookies by Julie of For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy

6. Using the rest of your colored fondant and flower stamps, continue to cutout various flowers in different sizes and colors. Set aside to dry and firm up.

7. Once all of your fondant toppers are firm, adhere to each cookie by placing a small dab of royal icing on your paint brush and then placing onto each cookie. 

cake stand with day of dead skull cookies in two different styles
Cookies by Julie of For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy

8. Set cookies aside on a cooling rack so royal icing can fully dry. Enjoy! 🙂

Julie! Thank you for teaching us your techniques for decorating skull cookies for Day of the Dead. These are incredible! Okay, Friends, it is time for us to have a go. Which ones would you try to make first? I think I would go with the fondant covered cookies while I learn how to make and flood royal icing. I am guessing all of it would be a huge hit. And, I am still amazed by that cake!! Julie- you have so much talent!! You can see more of Julie’s talent here (you really should go see what she makes!).

3 photos combined to show baker holding day of dead skull cake
Julie McAllister/For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy


ice cream sandwiches dressed up for halloween with candy eyes and witch hats
8 of My Favorite Halloween Food Ideas

Fun or spooky? Cute or creepy? Which is your favorite way to celebrate Halloween? These Halloween food ideas fit more in the fun and cute camp and they were so much fun to create! One of my favorite ways to decorate food for Halloween is by using candy eyes…the eyes make everything more fun. Take a look at the following treats that I made for my own kids and let me know what you think! I have more eye-deas than I can put on one page, but let’s just say that candy eyes bring out all the fun ways to play on words!

  1. Halloween Ice Cream Sand-witches (and Mummies and Monsters)
ice cream sandwiches dressed up for halloween with candy eyes and witch hats
Halloween Ice Cream Sandwiches by Lydia Menzies at The Party Wagon

These are about as easy as it gets to make! To make the “Mummy” simply tear a piece of the wrapper from around the ice cream sandwich to allow a place to add the candy eyes. Use a drop of frosting or peanut butter to attach the eyes to the ice cream sandwich. To make the “Frankenstein” monster, break a mint-flavored ice cream sandwich in half and add the candy eyes with frosting or peanut butter. And, for the witch…simply add candy eyes in the middle of the ice cream sandwich and then add a witch hat by inserting a toothpick in the top of the ice cream and then adding the hat. You can find witch hats (at my affiliate link) on Amazon here.

Halloween ice cream sandwiches decorated to look like mummy witch and frankenstein
Halloween Ice Cream Sandwiches by Lydia Menzies at The Party Wagon

2. EYE SCream Sandwich Ghosts

Ice Cream Sandwiches with candy eyes in the ice cream to look like ghosts
Halloween Ghost Ice Cream Sandwiches by Lydia Menzies of The Party Wagon

For these Ice Cream Sandwich Ghosts, I used Fat Boy ice cream sandwiches because there is more ice cream in the middle than the average ice cream sandwich. This makes it easier to make the eyes peep out from the ice cream. To make the eyes stick, add them to the slightly softened ice cream and then put them back in the freezer immediately.

ice cream sandwich ghosts with candy eyes peeping out from the ice cream
Ice Cream Sandwich Ghosts with Candy Eyes by Lydia Menzies of The Party Wagon

3. Halloween Brownie Tr(EYE)-fle

Halloween brownie trifle with whipped cream and eyeball gumballs
Brownie Tr(EYE)-fle by Lydia Menzies of The Party Wagon

For this brownie trifle, I put ping pong balls with eyes in the very bottom of the trifle dish and added battery-operated lights to make it all glow. Next, I placed a few layers of plastic wrap over the balls and lights and then started adding the brownies. I layered chocolate pudding, Cool Whip, and crushed Oreos and then repeated the brownies, pudding, Cool Whip and Oreos. For the top layer, I added gum balls that were eyeballs (typically available at Halloween) and I even sprinkled in a few small, candy eyes. I can’t even tell you how fast this disappeared!

Brownie Trifle with gumball eyeballs on the top
Brownie Trifle by Lydia Menzies at The Party Wagon

4. Individual Brownie Tr(EYE)-fles

Individual servings of brownie trifles with candy eyes and gold spoons
Mini Brownie Trifles Tr(EYE)fles by Lydia Menzies of The Party Wagon

Same eye-dea, just served individually in small jars or cups. For this brownie trifle, I used jumbo candy eyes for the topper and simply layered brownies, chocolate pudding, and Cool Whip inside the jars. You can definitely add a spoonful of crushed Oreos if you like! These are a huge hit in a small package!

5. L(EYE)ME- ADE

Limeade in glass bottles with straws and eyeball ping pong balls
Limeade served with EYES by Lydia Menzies of The Party Wagon. Straws and Straw Flags by Loralee Lewis

This one is pretty self-explanatory, but here I served Simply Limeade in glass bottles and added a straw and straw flag from Loralee Lewis. I topped the bottles with eyeball ping pong balls that I found at Michael’s. The ball rested perfectly against the straw and didn’t roll off or fall down into the bottle- it made a very fun presentation!

L(EYE)me-ade by Lydia Menzies of The Party Wagon

And then here is another version of how I have served Limeade to be L(EYE)m-ade…I actually really love this one because the kids like wearing the eyeball rings…

Halloween drinks served in glass bottles with spooky eye rings and halloween straws
Limeade aka L(EYE)me-ade by Lydia Menzies of The Party Wagon

6. EYES-cubes ~ (Ice Cubes) for Eyes Tea

Ice cubes made with eyeball ping pong balls
Eyes-cubes made by Lydia Menzies at The Party Wagon

For this fun idea, I used silicone cupcake molds to make ice cubes and added an eyeball ping pong ball on top. The balls did not freeze into the ice, but made a divot in the ice so that the ball could stay on top of it. I floated these ice cubes in a punch bowl of sweet tea to serve EYES TEA (iced tea).

Iced Tea in a punch bowl with floating eyeball ice cubes
Iced Tea Punch/ EYES TEA with EYES CUBES by Lydia Menzies at The Party Wagon

7. WITCH WARTS

small glass jars filled with green candies and candy eyes topped with a witch hat and mini broom
Witch Warts Party Favors by Lydia Menzies at The Party Wagon

Candy eyes give this “Witch Warts” party favor extra personality! To make this gift for your party guests or friends, use a small, clear plastic jar and fill with your favorite green candy. I used green sprinkles. Slide candy eyes into the jar so that they are facing out. Put the jar top on and add a mini witch hat- secure the hat with glue dots or double-sided tape. I wrapped a green ribbon around the outside of the jar top and tied a bow. Add a mini broom stick to finish off the look of the witch! This gift is sure to get a smile!

Witch wart party favor green candy in clear jar with mini witch hat and mini broom
Witch Warts Party Favors by Lydia Menzies at The Party Wagon

8. EYE-SCREAM BATH BOMBS

Display of halloween bath bombs with candy eyes inside of ice cream cones
EYE-Scream Bath Bombs by Sun Basil Soaps- styled by Lydia at The Party Wagon

Although this is not edible, I couldn’t help but share it with you guys! These bath bombs are bomb, as you can see. Here is another party favor idea for you for a fun Halloween take away! My friend, Lauren, at Sun Basil Soap made these for us, and I displayed them in ice cream cones and candy cups to make them look like ice cream to go along with the eye-scream theme. They were so cute and unique. Candy eyes really do make everything a little more fun!

Display of monster mash candy eye bath bombs displayed in ice cream cones
Eye-Scream Bath Bombs by Sun Basil Soaps and styled by Lydia Menzies at The Party Wagon

I hope these eye-deas jumpstart your creative juices for Halloween! The eyes definitely have it when it comes to a fun and not-so spooky Halloween. Here’s to making, baking, and celebrating!! Enjoy!

Cheers xo,

Lydia

charcuterie board with cheese meat and fruit on boat with wine and flowers
Nantucket Charter Boat Harbor Cruise with Shearwater Excursions

There is something special about being on a boat in the water, but add some of your family and friends, and it turns into an extra-special time together! I was so happy to have the chance to sail the Nantucket Harbor on the cutest boat called the Minke. Minke is owned by the Perkins Family of Shearwater Excursions. This easy-going boat party turned out to be such a collaborative effort, and I can’t wait to show you what was created for the fun cruise around the harbor!

The first thing I noticed about the Minke was its red and white stripe top- she is a beautiful boat that is perfect for a small group or a big celebration! I was thrilled to work with Rachael of Shearwater Excursions to arrange a beautiful night on the water in Nantucket Harbor. Our family friends, Lance, David and Thomas, joined us on the sunset cruise. Our cruise was scheduled for an hour and a half, and it started at 6:00 p.m. Knowing that we would all be hungry, Lance and I set out to find appetizers that would be perfect to serve on a boat. We decided on a charcuterie board so that it would cater to a variety of tastes with different cheeses, meats, fruits, veggies, breads, and crackers.

charcuterie board with cheese meat and fruit on boat with wine and flowers

The boat is named Minke after the owners’ favorite whale that they see on their trips with their company, Shearwater Excursions.

orange life preserver with minke printed on it in black

Because Nantucket history centers on whaling and because of the name of the boat, I really wanted to make the charcuterie appetizer in the shape of a whale.

charcuterie board with food in shape of a whale outlined with blueberries

To make the whale shape, I first outlined a whale shape on a piece of paper and cut out the shape. Next, I placed the paper shape on a wooden cutting board (or you can use a platter of your choice). I put cream cheese in a Ziploc bag and let it soften a little bit. When the cream cheese is soft enough to squeeze from the bag, snip a small hole in a bottom corner of the bag. Squeeze the cream cheese from the bag as you would frosting from a frosting bag. Outline the whale shape around the paper and then remove the paper from the board before adding the food to the whale shape. Next, Lance and I used blueberries to define the shape of the whale by placing them in the cream cheese. We ended up with two rows of blueberries around the entire whale shape. The next step was to fill in the whale shape with crackers, cheese, sliced meat, fruits, and vegetables. Lance is really great at making charcuterie boards, and he says the trick is to group like items together. Make it visually appealing by stacking the items in interesting ways. Lance worked his magic on placing everything just so. We added fresh herbs to different places around the board- and we used 2 small bowls to mimic the eye and the spout.

Cheese board charcuterie with nantucket basket full of pink blue green and purple hydrangeas with red and white striped fork

I placed a customized wooden fork in the center of the tray for easy pick up and had several others on hand, when needed. The forks were made by When I Was Your Age on Etsy and were purchased in town at the shop named ACK 4170 (those letters and numbers represent the airport call letters and longitude/latitude of Nantucket.) The cups, straws, and plates were also from the same talented ladies- the plates were boat shaped trays and they all had the pattern with red and white stripes. And, the flowers were straight from the yard! David so kindly cut and arranged the hydrangeas. The different colors of the blooms are so gorgeous- I love them mixed in the same arrangement.

pink blue purple limelight hydrangeas in nantucket basket ice bucket
Nantucket Basket Ice Bucket from Maizie Clarke Designs

I can’t tell you how much I love the Nantucket Basket ice bucket that Maizie Clarke sent me while I was on Nantucket. It is so beautifully hand painted and mimics the weave of a basket so perfectly. The ice bucket is made of porcelain with a woven handle. The top is also a perfect match to a Nantucket Basket. It is so well done by Maizie! We debated on using it for ice or fruit, but, as you can see, we used it as a vase to hold the beautiful hydrangeas. I will link you to the ice bucket here so that you can have one, too (also-the last time I looked, it was on sale!)!! Before we climbed aboard the Minke, I snapped a few photos of the flowers and bucket on the Straight Wharf dock…

white cake with daisies on vintage pink porcelain cake stand with hydrangeas in nantucket basket and with bar towel

And, that fantastic bar towel is also by Maizie Clarke! Maizie hand-draws each piece of art and then creates beautiful items for your home. I really love being able to use these towels in our kitchen, and I am so grateful to Maizie for such a thoughtful gift. I will enjoy these for years to come!

Cake with fondant daisies on pink cake stand with nantucket basket dish towel and ice bucket with hydrangeas
Nantucket Basket Dishtowel/ Bar Towel by Maizie Clarke

And, I am really loving the cake stand that Lance picked up at the Hospital Thrift Shop (all proceeds go to the Nantucket Cottage Hospital) on Nantucket. I learned the hard way that if you see something that you like, you better grab it quickly! I am glad that Lance snagged this beautiful pink, blue, white, and gold piece as his souvenir from his trip. I may have to ask to borrow it sometime! 🙂

underside of a Vintage cake stand in bright pink and white with designs in blue and gold

The gorgeous cake is from 45 Surfside Bakery and Cafe on Nantucket…they were so kind to create a cake with daisies to mimic another island favorite. Daisies grow wild around the island- I have always loved them lining the bike paths- and so we had a beautifully decorated white cake with fondant daisies and more blueberries!

party-ideas-nantucket-harbor-cruise-daisy-blueberry-cake

After Captain John invited us all onto the boat, he set sail around the Nantucket Harbor and gave us a narrated tour of the different landmarks and boats. It was so fun to hear his stories and interesting facts- he was a great host and captain!

Captain John on the Minke boat in Nantucket Harbor

To go with our cheese/ charcuterie board, we brought along some Prosecco, juices, and waters. We were treated to these fabulous MINKE acrylic wine tumblers from The Preppy Stitch!

Bottle of Prosecco with three acrylic wine tumblers customized with Minke and Nantucket Island

The Preppy Stitch is owned by Gabrielle Rogers- she and I met at The Southern C Summit in Sea Island this past February. It was so surprising to find that we had a Nantucket connection! I was thrilled to get to see Gabrielle while we were both on the island- and so excited to know that Gabi could whip up these customized glasses for us just for our harbor cruise! I love how they turned out with the shape of the island and the name of the boat! We gifted a set to the Minke, so be sure to look for them if you charter a cruise on this adorable boat!

Bottle of Prosecco with acrylic wine glass in front of man with Nantucket Reds

Lance and David enjoying a little wine and charcuterie while Captain John guides us around the Harbor…

two men on a boat one pouring wine into a glass

The views from the boat are so beautiful – it is fun to be up-close to the yachts and sailboats that are docked and moored in the Nantucket Harbor. It is also so relaxing and calming to just enjoy the breeze along with friends, family, and food!

red and white nantucket sailboat without sails

We chose the Sunset Cruise for our adventure around the harbor, but Shearwater Excursions has many options to suit different interests.

Nantucket sunset cruise aboard the Minke boat with red and white striped top
sunset in nantucket harbor with sailboat in photo
man on boat with sunglasses and navy blue shirt smiling and holding stemless wineglass
red cooler with shearwater excursions logo in the corner and the name of the boat Minke written in black ink
Photo by Lance Jackson of Parker Kennedy Living
Family with husband wife daughter son on Nantucket harbor cruise aboard Minke boat
Necklace by Cara Brown Designs
American flag on front of boat with sunset behind it

When you book with Shearwater, you can choose from a variety of options to help you see and experience Nantucket from the water.

Nantucket Harbor Cruise Options

  1. For the younger crew…I would suggest the ice cream cruise or the children’s fishing cruise. For the ice cream cruise, Shearwater provides the ice cream and offers a narrated tour of the Nantucket Harbor. My daughter has already said that is the one she wants to do next year. 🙂 . Such a perfect way to let the kids enjoy a fun boating trip! The cruise lasts 1 1/2 hours.
  2. If you are interested in seeing whales, Shearwater Excursions offers a Whale Watching trip- it is a 6-hour-excursion with the most breathtaking sightings (the whale sightings are guaranteed)!
  3. A Seal Excursion is another fabulous option- it is also an eco-tour and so you learn so much about the ecos of Nantucket. You see many, many seals on this tour.
  4. A Sunset Cruise is probably my absolute favorite- sunsets are always special- and they are made more special by being on the water with Shearwater’s Minke.
  5. The Cocktail Cruise is quite popular- many celebrations are hosted on this cruise with Shearwater. What a fun way to toast a bride-to-be, a birthday honoree, an anniversary, a new job, or other exciting milestone. All passengers must be 21 or older on this cruise.
  6. Shearwater also offers a clamming trip- learn something new or go dig for dinner! This sounds like an adventurous trip- I would love to give it a try!
  7. For you history buffs, take the Whaling History Excursion and learn about Nantucket’s robust whaling days. I am always fascinated by the courage of these captains and sailors who struck out to find whales in so much unchartered territory.
  8. You can also explore up the Harbor with Shearwater Excursions- they offer an eco-tour and they teach about the ecosystems around the island and how best to protect and preserve them.
  9. Private Charters are a really fun option for a Nantucket Harbor Cruise- these adventures are wonderful for family reunions, college reunions, wedding parties, birthday parties, anniversary parties, corporate parties, and more. You can work with Rachael to plan what you would like to host for your private charter. This one has an endless amount of options!

Shearwater has been recognized by Yankee Magazine and the New York Times for the services they provide their customers. I can tell you from experience, they are a wonderful family company with a heart for maintaining a healthy home for sealife while helping visitors to the island enjoy and appreciate the beautiful place we find so appealing and charming.

a black bottle of prosecco with a monogrammed wine glass on a sunset cruise aboard the Minke

Cheers to the Perkins Family for offering so many wonderful ways to enjoy Nantucket- and for treating us to such a wonderful night on the Minke! I love making memories that are special and unique with each trip! Thank you!

You can read more about our Nantucket adventures here, here, here, and here. Enjoy!

Cheers and XO,

Lydia

blue sculpted camera cake with fondant strap with name on it
Celebrate with Cake~ Ideas From “for Heaven Bakes”

If you are looking for cake ideas for a birthday, wedding, graduation, baby shower, or any celebration, then I have the baker for you!! Julie McAllister is the owner of For Heaven Bakes and is such an amazing cake artist. I have always been drawn to all things art, but make it edible (and add in a celebration) and I am doubly all in!!! Julie’s cakes are jaw-dropping and inspiring! Take a look! I feel like “Matt” had to be pretty impressed with this. What do you think?

3 D golf bag cake in blue standing upright with clubs in the bag and green grass below
Cake by Julie McAllister of For Heaven Bakes

It is hard to believe that the golf bag is made of all cake! The pouches and zippers- and those golf clubs- not to mention that it is 3-dimensional and standing up! Julie is cake baker, artist, and apparently a bit of an engineer, too! Here is Julie with the golf bag cake and a pineapple cake that she made…along with look-alike fruit that she created.

Julie McAllister of For Heaven Bakes Bakery with her sculpted golf bag cake
Cakes by Julie McAllister of For Heaven Bakes

I was lucky enough to meet Julie when I was connected with her at The Southern Coterie (The Southern C) Summit and asked her to make my daughter’s birthday cake. It was really hard to decide what to make because Julie is so talented. My daughter decided on a camera because that was her biggest wish for her birthday- a new camera. After having Julie’s version of her camera, I bet my daughter has a new favorite camera! Here is Julie’s camera masterpiece for Camille’s 16th birthday!

blue sculpted camera cake with fondant strap with name on it
Camera Cake by For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Lydia Menzies

We had a family party to celebrate my daughter’s birthday and this cake was the perfect size. Everyone loved how it had Camille on the camera in place of the brand Canon- and how her name was also on the camera strap. Blue is Camille’s favorite color and so it was fun to add that little twist to her cake.

blue sculpted camera cake with custom name on camera strap with birthday girl in photo

Julie created the back of the cake to be as realistic as the front of the cake! The cake was a show-stopper and was such a fun addition to the day. Even better, the cake and frosting inside were really delicious! Camille requested chocolate cake and chocolate frosting and it was a really great choice! Camille likes fondant, and so she was quite happy that she could have a cake with fondant and buttercream frosting all in one! The details that Julie put onto the camera cake made it hard to believe that there was actual cake inside there!

back of sculpted camera cake in blue
blue camera cake sculpted and decorated in fondant

I am crazy for cakes and so I am excited to share more of For Heaven Bakes cakes with you below. Julie’s talent will blow your mind! I have several favorites, and I would love to hear which ones are your favorites, too!

Look at this Lilly Pulitzer inspired paddle board cake…what a great idea for a Lilly Party! How cute is the fondant beach ball and paddle? The Lilly lobster print is one of my all-time favorite prints- and look how the name resembles the writing of Lilly Pulitzer’s signature that you see on the clothing and merchandise. Allison doesn’t miss a detail!

Lilly pulitzer hand painted lobster print paddle board cake
Lilly Pulitzer Paddle Board Cake by For Heaven Bakes
Lilly Pulitzer paddle board cake with the Lilly Lobster Print pattern and a beach ball and paddle made of fondant

And, then there is this…a “Breakfast in Bed” cake- oh, my goodness! The entire thing is a cake- not just the stack of pancakes…

birthday cake shaped like breakfast on a tray with pancakes eggs fruit and juice
Breakfast Cake by For Heaven Bakes
birthday cake that looks like breakfast served on a tray with eggs fruit and pancakes
Breakfast on a Tray Cake by For Heaven Bakes

It takes a minute for it to sink in that this whole thing is a cake created by For Heaven Bakes. The tray, the eggs, the oranges, the juice glass, the flowers and the stack of pancakes- all made by hand by Allison! I just love it! I am amazed and I wish I had been at the party to see the reaction of the guest of honor!

a cake that looks like breakfast in bed with a stack of pancakes eggs and toast
Pancake Cake by For Heaven Bakes

And, then there’s this little order Allison received to make a cake for Reese Witherspoon’s birthday- I can only imagine how exciting this was to make! The cake is modeled after a handbag that was Reese’s birthday gift from her Draper James family. Allison made it spot-on to look like the actual bag! I think it is gorgeous!

coral colored handbag sculpted cake with draper James tag on it for Reese Witherspoon's birthday
Draper James Handbag Cake by For Heaven Bakes

Fashion accessories seem to be right up Allison’s alley – this cake is made to look like a wide-brimmed sun hat and, well, it does! It looks just like a hat! Notice the detail of each layer that resembles how a straw beach hat would look. And, topped off with a ribbon that literally ties together the look of the hat! For Heaven Bakes wows me!

cake made to look like a straw sunhat with wide brim
Hat Cake by For Heaven Bakes

While we are thinking sandy beaches, look at this Shrimp Boil cake! Allison lives in the low country of South Carolina which is all about a low country boil. This would be a fun birthday or groom’s cake for the guys!

low country boil cake sculpted to look like a pot of seafood corn and potatoes with old bay seasoning and corn on the cob
Low Country Shrimp Boil Cake by For Heaven Bakes

It looks so much like the real thing! It is all cake and fondant. It is like our eyes are playing tricks on us!

low country boil shrimp boil cake with red potatoes and corn on the cob all made of fondant and cake

All of Julie’s cakes deserve to be in glossy magazines- and I am thinking someone needs to sign her to a book deal right away! I could literally post photo after photo of Julie’s cakes. I love each one! I wanted to find out more about the lady behind the incredible talent, and so I asked Julie a few questions to help us know more about her…and at the end I share another of her many amazing cakes!!

You are such a talented baker…what led you to focus on sculpted cakes?

I have been a hobby baker for as long as I can remember, and when I was in grad school, I started to teach myself cake sculpting for fun. I continued to bake and try different types of cake decorating over the years, took catering jobs on the side and even had a part time job at a bakery in DC for a period of time—all in an effort to gain as much experience in as many different types of baking as I could. In trying those different avenues, I learned that I loved novelty cake decorating above and beyond anything else, so when I was ready to start my own business here in Charleston, I knew exactly what I wanted my focus to be.

Do you have favorites that you bake other than cakes? Cookies or cupcakes or family recipes?

Even though I only make sculpted, novelty cakes for my business, I still do traditional baking all the time for myself and my family. I think, because I spend so much time making cakes, that when I have free time I tend to make cookies, bars, pies or pastries, just to give myself some variety! 🙂 I usually try to bake my way through each issue of Bake From Scratch, and then I have some family recipe staples that I can pretty much make from muscle memory at this point, so those are my go-to’s when I just need a quick dessert.

Can you estimate how long it took to make the camera cake?  I think it is important for all of us to understand the time it takes to create! 🙂


Sculpted cakes like these almost always take about 15 hours from absolute start (baking the cakes) to finish (the last decorative detail). This camera cake clocked in at 14 hours.

Do you have a long-term goal for your cake business?


My long-term goals are always evolving for me. I think when it’s all said and done, I’ll feel like I’ve succeeded if I’m creating cake art on a large scale. I have such a passion for novelty cake decorating and genuinely view it as a form of art, and my ultimate goal would be to share this love with others. 🙂

What is the biggest challenge of running For Heaven Bakes?


I think a lot of people who create products tend to create the same product or similar products over and over, until they become an absolute expert at those particular designs. Because these cakes are so unique, I rarely make the same cake twice, so sometimes there is a figure-it-out-as-you-go element, which can make it challenging. But the problem solving element is one of the things I love the most about these cakes.

What is the biggest perk?


Aside from the joy I get from owning my own business, there is never not cake or cake scraps in our house, which to me, is the ultimate job perk!

After having Julie’s cake, I would definitely see that as a job perk! I am so happy to get to share Julie and her work at For Heaven Bakes with all of you! I am already excited to get on her schedule for another cake soon!!

Julie McAllister at For Heaven Bakes Bakery holding a tray of sculpted fruit made of cake and fondant
Julie McAllister of For Heaven Bakes

And, I will leave us all with this little beauty to look at as we end. A mint julep sculpted cake! I would love to plan a party around this cake!! Cheers, y’all!

Kentucky Derby Party cake mint julep sculpted cake by For Heaven Bakes Julie McAllister
Mint Julep Cake by For Heaven Bakes

Cheers and XO,

Lydia

watermelon pizza sliced in a circle and cut into triangles topped with berries and feta cheese
15 Best Watermelon Recipes and Party Ideas

Summer is always a little sweeter with watermelon! As we savor all that summer has to offer (right down to the last little bit the season), it is always a great idea to take advantage of this seasonal fruit. I am sharing some of my all-time favorite watermelon recipes and party ideas that put watermelon center-stage! You can find even more recipe ideas here!

  1. Watermelon Pizza – this is one of my very favorites that I love to make for my family. It is also great to serve at a barbecue, cookout, or any type of group gathering. There are lots of versions, but here is the one that I make most often…
watermelon pizza sliced in a circle and cut into triangles topped with berries and feta cheese

Directions for making it are easy! Simply buy a round watermelon and slice it so that you have a circle shape. Cut the circle in fourths and then cut each fourth in half to make eight pieces. Add blueberries, chopped strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and cherries. Sprinkle crumbled Feta cheese over the top, if desired. You can also use a dollop of whipped cream if you would like- this will also hold the toppings in place better. Kids usually like whipped cream and adults usually like the cheese. You can also add your favorite herbs- such as basil or mint to give the recipe an extra dash of flavor!

Watermelon pizza with one slice being picked up

2. Fresh Watermelon Cake by Sprinklebakes

fresh watermelon cake with white frosting and watermelon balls and herbs on top

Oh, my goodness! This is such an interesting way to make a cake! I love that you can also frost it with whipped cream if you prefer- and I love that it definitely has a surprise inside than your typical cake. You can find the instructions over at Sprinklebakes.

slice of fresh watermelon cake with fork stuck in the watermelon

3. Mini Watermelon Cake from Pizzazzerie

watermelon cake in mini mason jars with pink icing and chocolate chips for seeds tied with raffia ribbon

If you would rather have cake that looks like watermelon instead of watermelon that looks like cake, you should try this mini watermelon cake in a jar from Pizzazzerie! The single-sized serving makes this recipe a great one for a party- and you can make it ahead of time and keep in the refrigerator!

mini watermelon cake in mason jar with layers of green cake and pink frosting with chocolate chips for seeds

4. Watermelon Sherbet Pie from Make and Takes

slice of watermelon sherbet pie with chocolate chips for seeds

This pie is cute and refreshing! It looks best when sliced and served because you can see the watermelon details even better. This is simple to make with easy instructions at Make and Takes.

5. Watermelon Cake from Cake Central

This cake from Lovemyhusband on Cake Central looks like the real thing until you slice into it and see the fluffy cake with chocolate seeds. This is fun inspiration if you are feeling creative! You can add watermelon flavoring it you want to be as close to the real thing as possible!

6. Cute Watermelon Party and Cookies from Sweet Peach Paperie found at The Party Wagon

red green dress cookie with black dots for watermelon seeds

These cookies remind me of a Lilly Pulitzer shift- they are so cute for a kids’ party or even for a summer picnic with all ages. This entire party photoshoot has so many pretty ideas and special touches!

7. Watermelon Ginger Mojitos from Southern Living

This adult-only cocktail is so delicious on a hot summer day! I especially love the extra flavor of ginger! Southern Living totally gets what we need during the dog days of summer. What a perfect party drink!

two glasses of watermelon ginger mojitos with ice and mint garnish
Photographer Antonis Achilleos, Prop Stylist :Kay Clarke, Food Stylist :Torie Cox

8. Watermelon with Potted Plant by Creative Orchard at The Party Wagon

Simply hollow out a watermelon and remove as much pulp as possible (use it to make one of the other recipes on this list) and then drop in a potted plant.

watermelon hollowed out and used as a vase for plant with red flowers

9. DIY Watermelon Balloons- also by The Creative Orchard featured at The Party Wagon

green balloons and red balloons with black seeds drawn on them to look like a bouquet of watermelon balloons

This is one of my favorite ways to add personality to balloons at a picnic or cookout- the seeds are drawn with a Sharpie Marker- so easy! This entire Watermelon Picnic is adorable!!

10. Watermelon Feta Guacamole from Two Peas and Their Pod

guacamole made with watermelon with tortilla chip

I’m a sucker for interesting combinations, and this guacamole lured me right in! It is definitely a twist on the traditional, but I really love the flavors. It is a fun dish to serve friends and family so that everyone can try something new! It has been a hit at our house! I hope you like it, too!!

11. Watermelon Feta Appetizers from Pizzazzerie

watermelon feta and basil on a wooden skewer

If you prefer a similar taste but individual servings, go with this recipe from Courtney at Pizzazzerie. Stack watermelon, feta, and basil and secure with a wooden skewer for serving- and then you are all set with a fabulous appetizer (and it is healthy)!

12. Fabulous Balloon Garland from Happy Wish Company

How stunning is this watermelon colored balloon garland? Such a beautiful decoration with so much wow-factor!

red pink green clear balloons with confetti drape to make a balloon garland

13. Watermelon Jolly Rancher Birthday Cake from Frosted Cakery

watermelon birthday cake with green white and pink and black seeds

If you need a fancy cake for a watermelon theme, this one is especially perfect for the candy lover in your life! With Jolly Rancher candy watermelon slices on top, it is definitely two favorites in one. I love the frosting stacks on top!

14. Watermelon and Arugula Salad from Barefoot Contessa

There is nothing better than the taste combination of arugula and watermelon, topped with shaved parmesan cheese and a fantastic dressing from Ina Garten!

arugula watermelon parmesan cheese salad

15. Watermelon Paper Cups with Gold Foil from Amazon

These pink cups with gold foil “seeds” and a two-toned green rind are my favorite watermelon cups for a party. Don’t you think they are too cute?

pink watermelon cups with gold foil seeds

This watermelon roundup is a fabulous way to find a range of party ideas and recipes to enjoy the oh-so-seasonal treat of a watermelon. If you find yourself wanting more ideas on where to find party goods to complete your look for a watermelon party, see my personal picks below. I included my Amazon affiliate links here to help you shop more quickly and easily!

WATERMELON DRINK UMBRELLAS

WATERMELON PAPER STRAWS

WATERMELON BALLOON SET

WATERMELON BALLOON GARLAND KIT

WATERMELON SLICE PINATA

WATERMELON POOL FLOAT

WATERMELON SPRINKLER BALL

ONE IN A MELON BALLOON SET

Cheers and XO,

Lydia

Strolling Nantucket in Draper James

Giving you guys a tour around Nantucket is one of my favorite things to do, and so I combined two more of my favorites and set out around town in Draper James clothes with Rebecca Love Photography. I am happy to have you here with me on Main Street!

Photo by Rebecca Love Photography

Two questions I am asked many times is, “What should I pack to wear when I visit Nantucket?” and “Which shops do you recommend the most?” First of all, I recommend packing a few Draper James pieces in your suitcase. The dresses are my favorites because they are perfect for looking nice and feeling comfortable. For me, they are a perfect mix of stylish, polished, and comfortable. I suggest taking a look at all of the different styles and patterns that they offer and finding what you feel like suits your tastes. Here are the ones I chose for my trip…

Rebecca Love Photography for The Party Wagon and Draper James

The navy gingham love circle dress was one of my first choices when I was getting ready to head to Nantucket for summer. I especially like how easy it is to layer a sweater over it for the cooler mornings and evenings that are typical to a Nantucket summer. Navy and white always seem like the right feel for anywhere, but especially a coastal town.

Rebecca Love Photography for The Party Wagon and Draper James

The circle dress has a great fit to it and is casual enough to wear around town and dressy enough to go to brunch. I wore it several times and I love how you can add different necklaces, earrings, handbags to the the dress for a different look each time. Here -walking down Main Street- I kept it simple (but I can never resist picking up a bouquet of flowers that are grown on Nantucket). As a side note, when I was in college, I would stop by Flowers on Chestnut and bring home a bundle of their flowers for my house. Back then, the flower shop was simply called “Flowers” and it was on Federal Street. I can’t resist the flower finds on Nantucket- and there are flower trucks that park on Main Street on select days so that you can get your flower fix. I always love the variety of what you can find. And so, I always grab a bouquet when I can! As another interesting side note, so many people smile at you or say hello when you are carrying flowers. I swear by it and the flower trucks and shops are always on my suggestions of shops to visit! 🙂

Rebecca Love Photography for The Party Wagon and Draper James

Speaking of flowers…there is no shortage of gorgeous flowers growing on Nantucket in the summer. If you follow me on Instagram, you probably saw all of the beautiful gardens and hydrangea hedges that I shared. The flowers are part of the charm of the island- they are always so picturesque. Knowing how much I love the hydrangeas spilling over everywhere, Rebecca suggested that we stop and shoot some pics at this pretty little spot in town.

Rebecca Love Photography for The Party Wagon and Draper James

As I mentioned, Draper James navy blue circle dress definitely transitions easily from shopping for Nantucket treasures to stopping for lunch or brunch. And, a Peter Beaton hat is always on my list of wants when I am on Nantucket- just visiting the hat studio is fun! You can try on the different shapes and sizes and make a list of your favorites on your phone- it took me a while to decide which one to choose. Having photos and notes (and an opinionated daughter) was helpful when I was choosing which one I liked best. I will share more in another post about Peter Beaton Hat Studio.

Rebecca Love Photography for The Party Wagon and Draper James

I decided to go big because, well, I am a little on the fair side and can use all of the help I can get to block the sun. 🙂

Rebecca Love Photography for The Party Wagon and Draper James

And, because Rebecca Love is so good at learning about her clients and what they like, we ended up on the cutest street that my daughter loves. One of my very favorite things to do on Nantucket is to wander around and to walk the different lanes. This stone street is a special little gem and I was really excited that Rebecca and I ended up on it!

Rebecca Love Photography for The Party Wagon and Draper James

This dress has a versatile vibe so that we can dress it up with cute shoes or keep it casual with slides- which helps a lot because Nantucket is no joke when it comes to needing shoes that can get you around on the cobblestones. That is another reason that this Draper James dress was one of my go-to dresses for the summer- it looks great dressed up or down! As a side note, it is now on sale! I would scoop it up – it is such a great staple!

Rebecca Love Photography for The Party Wagon and Draper James

Another of my go-to dresses has been this one…it is so perfect for cooler days and nights by the beach- and for spring and fall temperature changes. This shirtdress is such a good one! It is comfortable and can be cinched with the belt or worn more loosely. I love the stripes!

Rebecca Love Photography for The Party Wagon and Draper James

Knowing that the little lanes of Nantucket are, literally, right up my alley Rebecca practically read my mind when we walked over to this street on our little tour around town…

Rebecca Love Photography for The Party Wagon and Draper James

I walk by it each day on my way to and from Main Street and always think of how perfect it would be for photographs. Especially, because it also has an American flag right in the middle of it all! And, speaking of perfect, did you notice that this cute and comfy dress also has pockets? That is always a plus!! Thank you, Draper James, for getting it!

Rebecca Love Photography for The Party Wagon and Draper James

Doesn’t that flag look so pretty right in the middle of this lovely little lane? Nantucket is one of the most patriotic places around which makes me love it even more.

Rebecca Love Photography for The Party Wagon and Draper James

And more hydrangeas made another not-so-surprising appearance in our stroll around town. Always stop to smell the flowers and photograph them while you’re at it!

Rebecca Love Photography for The Party Wagon and Draper James

The 2 different shades of blue stripes make for a great mix of colors- and it is neutral enough to add any color you like to complement. Pink, green, orange would all look great with this shirtdress if you wanted to add those colors in with accessories. I kept it neutral, but I feel like there are endless ways to wear this dress! Also, it is ON SALE!

Rebecca Love Photography for The Party Wagon and Draper James

The third dress that I took with me to Nantucket is by far the most versatile. It is a great outfit to have in your closet because I can’t even count how many different ways you can change it up or the number of places it is perfectly suited. It is casual but dressy- comfy but totally pulled together!

Rebecca Love Photography for The Party Wagon and Draper James

Draper James kindly sent this dress to me as a gift, and I feel like it is a perfect representation of the type of clothing that they make…stylish, comfortable, flattering to all body types, classic, but always on-trend. And…how cute is this customized beach ball by Jennifer at A Party Made Perfect? Jennifer personalized this beach ball just for us, and I love how pretty her calligraphy is (Jennifer has tons of creative party ideas in addition to her fabulous beach balls!)!

Rebecca Love Photography for The Party Wagon and Draper James

This is one of those dresses that speaks for itself, but wow- I could see me over-wearing this dress really easily! Ha! It is just so easy and comfortable- and forgiving of any flaws we sometimes think we have. It works for different ages and different body types equally well. I will link it for you so that you can check it out, too! Here is the Chambray Maxi Dress.

Rebecca Love Photography for The Party Wagon and Draper James

As you can tell, we ended our walk around town by doing what always seems to happen on Nantucket…heading to the beach! We went to Brant Point lighthouse to end our little tour and take the last few photos. Having the maxi dress on at the beach was perfect for the cool breeze- and the dress stood up to the wind! 🙂 The wrap dress wraps well and stays put. I can’t wait to wear this denim maxi into the fall. It would easily pair with a cropped sweater or jacket to take you into the cooler months of the year. It also would be great for SEC tailgating, casual fall get-togethers, and even the holidays. I have loved it, and I appreciate it so much!

Rebecca Love Photography for Draper James and The Party Wagon

Of course, behind the scenes, Ron was helping us along the way to keep up with our things as we walked from place to place. It turns out that he is good at helping put ribbons on hats and he didn’t even know it. 🙂 And Rebecca managed to snap this photo just as the Endeavor sailboat came sailing by us…she’s good y’all.

Rebecca Love Photography for The Party Wagon and Draper James

I hope that this post has given you some ideas for what works well when planning your trip to Nantucket. The best part about the Draper James outfits to me is that they continue to be a perfect choice even when you’re not at the beach or on vacation. The styling adapts to any setting so that you always look and feel well-dressed and comfortable at the same time. Draper James has also expanded their lines to make more sizing options available – they really do listen to their client base and help us all look our best wherever we go!

I will continue this virtual tour of Nantucket and share more shopping with you as we go. If you would like to find Draper James on Nantucket, they have a select group of items at Skinny Dip Nantucket. Of course, wherever you are, you can shop online. The summer sale is going on and so it is a great time to grab some of your favorites at a discount! I would love to know what you wear from Draper James! Feel free to share your finds with me, too! Happy Shopping!

xo,

Lydia