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Holiday Naked Cake & Cocktails Workshop W/ Sweet Melissa

Hannah Weeks

I've been so eager to get to one of Sweet Melissa's naked cake workshops for awhile now & this weekend I finally got to attend! It did not disappoint! I went with a friend and we had a blast..and probably ate way too much salted caramel frosting. Who am I kidding, I definitely ate way too much, but it's the holidays and nothing counts on the weekends in my book!

Sweet Melissa, aka Melissa Miller, is a self-taught baker born and raised in the Midwest. Hands up for the Midwest girls!  I LOVE her style and always look forward to what she's doing next. You can find out more about Melissa here:

http://sweetmelissadesserts.com/about

 

Here's a look into my experience at the Holiday Naked Cake & Cocktails Workshop!

First of all, Journeyman Distillery is one of the most gorgeous and inspiring venues I've come across. It is located in Three Oaks, Michigan, about 30 minutes from my hometown of LaPorte, Indiana. I just want to sit in the space and dream..maybe while drinking some of their fabulous cocktails. I love the history of the building and the wide open venue spaces make me want to bust out my old pointe shoes and start dancing.

 

You had me at wood slated wall...

You had me at wood slated wall...

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Be still my heart.. The temptation to start twirling was almost too much.

Be still my heart.. The temptation to start twirling was almost too much.

We had veered off course, not entirely accidentally, because I wanted to see the empty venue space. Eventually we found our way to The Grainery, where Sweet Melissa's workshop was taking place. Guess what? That space was equally as gorgeous, especially with all the pretty decor for the event.

 

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Gift bag table! More on the goodies that were in them later!

Gift bag table! More on the goodies that were in them later!

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photo via: Sweet Melissa

photo via: Sweet Melissa

My friend and I had arrived early, so we snagged some seats right up front.

 

I sat as close to the flowers as I could, naturally.

I sat as close to the flowers as I could, naturally.

After finding our spots, we were greeted with a delicious cocktail made especially for the event, with Journeyman Gin, of course! I am not a big fan of gin, but even I loved it. My friend who joined me, Crystal, is actually a bartender at Enzo Trattoria in LaPorte, (where I used to work!) and she gave her stamp of approval as well.

photo via: Sweet Melissa

photo via: Sweet Melissa

Cocktails: gin, cranberry & rosemary simple syrup.

Cocktails: gin, cranberry & rosemary simple syrup.

Once we had our cocktails, it was ready to begin the workshop!

 

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We started layering with salted caramel frosting, which was delicious.

We started layering with salted caramel frosting, which was delicious.

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The more layers the better..

The more layers the better..

Photo via: Sweet Melissa

Photo via: Sweet Melissa

photo via: Sweet Melissa

photo via: Sweet Melissa

Melissa was great with giving us pointers and tips for baking the cakes on our own and on how to more easily frost the outside of the naked cake. It actually was pretty easy, especially with the lazy susan to help spin the cake.

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I had to stop myself a few times before finally putting down the frosting spreader. There's no wrong amount of frosting for this style cake, just whether you want to see the cake more or less!

I had to stop myself a few times before finally putting down the frosting spreader. There's no wrong amount of frosting for this style cake, just whether you want to see the cake more or less!

Next up, the flowers!

 

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Leah Bayes with Leah Bayes Floristry had us start out choosing 1-2 larger flowers to start as our base. Here's mine!

One of Leah's tips was to tape the stems that would be put into the cake. I did this for the big stems, but eventually stopped taping, because I'm fine with a little earthiness in my cake, haha!

One of Leah's tips was to tape the stems that would be put into the cake. I did this for the big stems, but eventually stopped taping, because I'm fine with a little earthiness in my cake, haha!

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Next we added greenery with another tip about spacing and balancing the greens into odd numbered points.

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After adding the greenery we were able to pick final touches such as pine cones, ornaments, chestnuts and cinnamon sticks and add them to our cakes. I added my final touches and then resigned to leaving the cake alone. I could have get adding and making tweaks forever!

Here's my final product!

 

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After we finished our cakes, we got to eat some cake that Melissa had brought along. It was so delicious and the cake itself balanced out the sweet frosting.

 

SO GOOD!

SO GOOD!

On our way out, we snapped a photo of our masterpieces and grabbed our gift bags!

 

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photo via: Sweet Melissa The gift bags were awesome! We received a bottle of Journeyman Distillery's Gin, Caramels from Sweet Melissa and some recipe cards for the cake and frosting we made! I am definitely going to make the cake again very soon!

photo via: Sweet Melissa

The gift bags were awesome! We received a bottle of Journeyman Distillery's Gin, Caramels from Sweet Melissa and some recipe cards for the cake and frosting we made! I am definitely going to make the cake again very soon!

I had such a great time and it was so fun to try something different. I highly suggest snagging a ticket to Sweet Melissa's next workshop in the new year. As a small business owner myself, I understand the importance of supporting small, local businesses. Who knows, maybe we'll drum up a collab sometime in the future! below are some links to all those involved; happy holidays ... and EAT THE CAKE!

http://sweetmelissadesserts.com/

http://lbfloristry.com/

http://www.journeymandistillery.com/

 

Thanks, Melissa!

Thanks, Melissa!

Hometown Book Club - Big Little Lies

Hannah Weeks

Hi, Guys! I haven't blogged in a bit, but I'm excited to get back into it..and what better than to post about than my 1st ever book club, but not like a regular book club, a cool book club. (Cue Amy Poehler from Mean Girls).

I'm a self-professed homebody. I'm also an introvert and have a small circle of close friends. I really just prefer to be home and that added with my fun social anxiety can sometimes make me even more of a hermit. I recently decided that I would like to make some stronger friendships with some girlfriends and kind of push myself a little bit in that way. But not TOO much of course; let's not make that anxiety beast too mad at me ;).

SO, I thought of a couple ideas to have some girlfriends over. Oh, and did I mention that I love to do little decor party set-ups? It's so fun for me. I can't wait to have kids one day because those parties will be ah-mazing. But anyway. so I 1st thought of a couple ideas. A girls movie night and book club were the front-runners. I decided on book club because I love to read and when I put feelers out to some of my friends, they were all super excited about it.

 

I decided the 1st book would be Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. I had read the book already on vacation this summer in one day and loved it. I recently had also watched the HBO mini series and loved that too. I didn't mind the idea of re-reading the book since it had been quite awhile and I knew for sure it would be a good book club option.

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The 1st thing I did once I had a small group of girls who were down to participate was let them all know the book and date for book club. Then I got really fancy and had the idea to send them physical invitations. Why have we all stopped with snail mail? Well, I know why, but really there's something nice and more personal about actual mail. I thought it would be fun to send an invite that mimicked the book and the whole Audrey & Elvis Trivia Night theme.

 

I had these made on Vista Print and just customized to add in the fun book details. I had a black & white image of Audrey Hepburn put on the back and some confetti in the envelope as well.

I had these made on Vista Print and just customized to add in the fun book details. I had a black & white image of Audrey Hepburn put on the back and some confetti in the envelope as well.

So since I was going with the Audrey & Elvis Trivia Night theme, I knew I would do a little set-up the night of book club bringing that all together. I thought about making some fun concoction for the pink fizzy drinks, but settled for the easiest of way just putting a couple drops of pink food coloring into champagne bottles. It worked! I also made the ice water pink, which didn't go over well with the book club girls when they realized it was just plain water, haha! How dare I! I bought a couple plastic silver trays and some champagne flutes at the Dollar Tree so we could be faux-fancy.

 

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Another thing I also knew I wanted to do was give the book clubbers a little gift bag. I started brainstorming ideas that were either book club or Big Little Lies themed. The 1st thing I actually thought of was buying some plastic Audrey type tiaras for the girls. I found a dozen tiaras online for under $10. I also bought some highlighters and simple bookmarks to add. The other theme I thought I could work with was the whole coffee shop idea of Blue Blues. I bought some chocolate biscottis and added a tag saying "Madeline's Something Chocolate". I also thought it would be cute to include some of my Espresso soap Minis, which I customized to say "Blue Blues Espresso". So those were the goodie bags!

 

I bought a couple boxes of these at Home Goods and added the baker's twine and tags from my stash at home.

I bought a couple boxes of these at Home Goods and added the baker's twine and tags from my stash at home.

Hobby Lobby!

Hobby Lobby!

My Espresso Minis from www.hannahjanesoaps.com - Coming Soon!

My Espresso Minis from www.hannahjanesoaps.com - Coming Soon!

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The day of book club I decorated after cleaning my house like crazy. I decided to do a small section to condense all the decor and make it extra glitzy.

I moved this desk to have a small table top to decorate and found the silver backdrop at Target for $5.

I moved this desk to have a small table top to decorate and found the silver backdrop at Target for $5.

I should also mention that during my brainstorming about the book theme, I reeeally wanted an excuse to buy the get-up Reese Witherspoon wore in the series to the Audrey & Elvis Trivia Night. I know I know, it isn't the same outfit as in the book..but whatever. I wanted to channel my inner Reese/Madeline/Audrey as hostess.

 

I bought the Holly Golightly-esque sleep mask off of Etsy and I found the tassle earrings at Michaels for $3.50!

I bought the Holly Golightly-esque sleep mask off of Etsy and I found the tassle earrings at Michaels for $3.50!

Okay, before I post a photo of my best Madeline Mackenzie/ Audrey Hepburn look... YES, that is a mirror selfie. NO, it isn't 2006. I had to resort to the ol' mirror selfie because I had asked my husband to take a photo of me... and that NEVER works out. haha! He tried..

 

Madeline Martha Mackenzie, creator of the Erotic Book Club!

Madeline Martha Mackenzie, creator of the Erotic Book Club!

Here's the final set-up of the little nook I decorated!

 

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We ended up having a great time & a great discussion about the book. I loved that there were already discussion questions at the back of the book to help us along. A friend also informed me that there are book club kits at our library which had books for 10 and discussion questions included. I never knew that existed! How cool!

I'm sad I missed out on some great photos of the food set-up that the girls all pitched in on, but you know...once a party starts, detail shots go out the door.

Everyone seemed to have a great time and we plan on doing book club meetings every couple months. I CANNOT WAIT to decorate and start planning for the next one. We haven't picked the next book yet, but will all vote through a facebook poll after we get some fun options.

I was so happy to grow some better friendships with girls I already love & get to be nerdy and talk about a good book. I highly suggest reading Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty and watching the HBO mini series. As we discussed they actually have some big differences and our views changed dependent on the book or the series.

To end on a serious note, one of the main themes in the book was domestic abuse. I know for myself personally, I often get caught up in my little bubble and forget how simple and easy it is for me to help others, whether that be monetarily or by just being more aware of others and warning signs. Here's a link to a gofundme page that helps women who have been domestically abused. Let's help one another!

 

https://www.gofundme.com/Disruption

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Officially Fall!

Hannah Weeks

It's here! The Fall season has officially started & I (along with every other basic white girl) am pumped! I kid.. the Autumn season is finally here for everyone to enjoy. While on my way back from Valparaiso today, I decided it would be the perfect time to stop by Garwood's in La Porte. If you live in the LP area and haven't gone to Garwood's… WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU?! I'm kidding…but not really. Seriously, we are so lucky to have Garwood Orchards right at our fingertips. I've been going with my family since I was a baby & it's the real deal. We've been spoiled around here, and are reminded of that when we see the influx of Illinois license plates swarming the place on the weekends and throughout the Fall seasons. 

Anyway, I just stopped by the Garwood Farm Market today to grab a few Indiana Fall essentials and spontaneously decided to snap some photos along the way. (Yes, I got several odd looks..I can imagine what others were thinking…"Why is that girl taking photos of everything..Yes, that is corn, lady…Are you a foreigner?…What's going on? " I sacrificed looking sane for a few minutes and pushed through. Come, let me take you on a tour….

The 1st thing I beelined for (yes, I looked that up and that is how you spell 'beelined') was THE best apple cider known to man. To be fair, I've pretty much only had Garwood's cider aside from a couple random other brands which are, ehh, alright. 

It's a slippery slope my friends. The good stuff. 

It's a slippery slope my friends. The good stuff. 

Then I just continued to peruse the area and take pictures like a crazy woman..

I can finally give in!

I can finally give in!

I'm going to have to pass on you today, healthy foods, first comes cider and donuts.

I'm going to have to pass on you today, healthy foods, first comes cider and donuts.

Then I got serious and made my way over to the sweets...

Is that a real question?

Is that a real question?

Hello again, old friend..

Hello again, old friend..

Of course, I got some donuts & then made my way to the salt water taffy aisle to pick some up for my husband. He loves the taffy and there's tons of flavors.

My haul. Just livin' the dream..

My haul. Just livin' the dream..

After I purchased all the sweets I went outside and snapped a few more photos. This was just a quick trip today, but of course we'll be back for apple picking and the pumpkin patch. Here's what was outside the Farm Market..

Waiting to take people to the orchards!

Waiting to take people to the orchards!

mums on mums on mums

mums on mums on mums

Then I rushed home to get my 1st sip of that apple cider and share the wealth with my husband. I'll show the actual orchards and fun festivities next time we visit this Fall! 

You can visit Garwood Orchards at 5911 W 50 S, La Porte, Indiana 46350

Find more info at www.garwoodorchard.com

www.facebook.com/garwoodappleorchard

OH, and one last thing….the HJS seasonal Pumpkin Spice bar is now available at www.hannahjanesoaps.com in the SHOP section! Let's get our Fall on.

OH, and one last thing….the HJS seasonal Pumpkin Spice bar is now available at www.hannahjanesoaps.com in the SHOP section! Let's get our Fall on.

Nest Number 4

Hannah Weeks

Hi, friends! I wanted to show you all a little preview of one of the stores Hannah Jane Soaps is carried in, Nest Number 4. My friend Kim opened shop in April and her shop is just the cutest! I actually help out a couple times a week, so I always get to see the new products she's offering!

 

Nest Number 4 is located in the Downtown Arts District in Michigan City, Indiana at 717 Franklin Street.

Nest Number 4 is located in the Downtown Arts District in Michigan City, Indiana at 717 Franklin Street.

I just love how Kim always changes the store up! She offers unique home decor including new, found and handmade items. Basically if you love Joanna Gaines and Magnolia Market, you've found your local fix! What's even better, you are supporting your own local small business and getting your hands on some unique handmade items. The store's all ready for Fall! Here are some pics I snapped today..

…And of course, you can get your fix of Hannah Jane Soaps! Im in love with the cart display Kim's husband made. 

All stocked up!

All stocked up!

Here are some of my favorite items!

Hello! These handmade signs are the perfect gift! They're so cute & great for  entryway decor. Kim has several different color options. I have the "Hello" sign in black, but I also love the natural wood and aqua options.

Hello! These handmade signs are the perfect gift! They're so cute & great for  entryway decor. Kim has several different color options. I have the "Hello" sign in black, but I also love the natural wood and aqua options.

I also LOVE these 'locally grown' shirts, especially the raglan style. They are SO comfy. You can get these in men's, women's and children's sizes!

I also LOVE these 'locally grown' shirts, especially the raglan style. They are SO comfy. You can get these in men's, women's and children's sizes!

There's so much more to see, so make sure to come stop by and get your Fall fix! 

Nest Number 4 is open Tues-Fri 11-6, Sat 10-5 at 717 Franklin Street, Michigan City, IN.

Check out Nest Number 4 on social media!

www.facebook.com/nestnumber4

www.instagram.com/nestnumber4

Everyday Bucket List - Reiki

Hannah Weeks

Okay, guys…so I've been thinking. I'm totally going in blind in regards to the blogging world and I really want you all to enjoy reading my posts. I've been brainstorming about what kind of blog posts I'd like to write about..and then..it hit me. Hit me with your best shot, hit me baby one more time…it. hit. me. I want to do some posts about my Everyday Bucket List adventures. Walk with me here.

A big part of why I started Hannah Jane Soaps was because I loved the idea of making something the natural way, that fed my creativity, would nourish my skin and brighten my day, leaving me a little bit happier (treat yoself is my anthem). Well, lately I've really been craving that ideology. It is so important to feed your mind, body and spirit with the simple things in life that are GOOD for you. But, life gets in the way..or at least that's my excuse. In reality, my Everyday Bucket List is totally attainable, I just have to make the effort. So that's what I'm going to do! It's a way to feed my spirit and help me re-focus on what life's all about. 

So one thing I've really be interested in learning more about was the practice of meditation. Up until fairly recently, I had never even heard of Reiki. Some of my thoughts were: "What exactly is Reiki?..Is it meditation..a massage…does it involve crystals..(and not so proudly I admit) is it total bullshit?" 

Home Sweet Om - 824 Lincoolnway, Loft 2.

Home Sweet Om - 824 Lincoolnway, Loft 2.

So the stars seemed to align when I met Sara Christensen, owner of Home Sweet Om right in downtown La Porte. Home Sweet Om offers such an amazing variety of services, such as massage, gentle hatha yoga, reiki, mandala making, etc. La Porte is making moves! 

Let me walk you through my first time reiki session. 

I arrived at Home Sweet Om with great anticipation. I walked in for the reiki session not fully understanding what it even was, but thankfully Sara gave me a great overview of the ideology of reiki before we got started with the session.

You had me at, "old brick historical lofts".

You had me at, "old brick historical lofts".

So what is reiki? Here's what I learned. 

Reiki is a palms-on healing practice that uses the Universal life force energy to balance the subtle energies within our bodies and to heal. Reiki practitioners act as a conduit or channel through which reiki energy travels. The intended result of receiving reiki is a balanced physical, mental, emotional and spiritual being.

The energy at Home Sweet Om is so peaceful, light & calming.

The energy at Home Sweet Om is so peaceful, light & calming.

Before we got started, Sara taught me a little about auras. Everyone has a different color aura with varying levels of strength. One way to determine the strength is by holding a stone over an individual's chakras (more on chakras in a minute) as well as the surrounding area of an individual and seeing how fast or slow it circles. Sara showed this to me first on her son, who has a nice full aura about him.

 

Children often have greater auras and may even be able to see the color of auras!

Children often have greater auras and may even be able to see the color of auras!

Then it was my turn! The session took place in a room very similar to a massage room. The room was very tranquil, smelled like lavender and had calming music of chakra balancing tones.

Sara started off placing the stone pendulum above each of my chakras. There are 7 chakras, each a different center in our bodies which energy flows through. With this method, the reiki practitioner can see if any chakras are out of line or blocked. It is also a way to gauge how much your aura emits. 

My aura and chakras seemed to be "normal", meaning there was no major pull to one chakra. 

The 7 chakra stones, sometimes used in reiki for opening an individual up. The 7 chakras include: Root Chakra, Sacral Chakra, Solar Plexus Chakra, Heart Chakra, Throat Chakra, Third Eye Chakra & Crown Chakra.

The 7 chakra stones, sometimes used in reiki for opening an individual up. The 7 chakras include: Root Chakra, Sacral Chakra, Solar Plexus Chakra, Heart Chakra, Throat Chakra, Third Eye Chakra & Crown Chakra.

Next, I was instructed to close my eyes and try to concentrate on feeling comfortable and safe while focusing on deep breathing. 

While I was doing this, Sara lightly placed her hands above each of my chakras, delivering reiki energy. 

Even with the environment so calming and light, I had a hard time not thinking of other things! For someone, like me, who hasn't actively practiced mindfulness/meditation, it can be super difficult to clear one's mind. I tried to concentrate on my breathing while pushing out other thoughts. 

Interesting enough, Sara totally felt that! While she was above my crown chakra she said, "Are you thinking about what you're going to write?" BUSTED. I totally was. I was REALLY trying to let all thoughts go, but she was right, I was thinking about this blog post. I managed to let those thoughts go by the end of the session. 

 

Home Sweet Om has such a beautiful space with services such as: Massage, Reiki, Reflexology, Cupping Massage (I want to try this too!), gentle Hatha Yoga for beginners, Tai Chi, etc.

Home Sweet Om has such a beautiful space with services such as: Massage, Reiki, Reflexology, Cupping Massage (I want to try this too!), gentle Hatha Yoga for beginners, Tai Chi, etc.

The whole experience was very calming, which was so nice. In my opinion, you get what you give. I went in open and left feeling more balanced and calm. I definitely recommend giving reiki a shot. 

Wanna give it a go?

Find Home Sweet Om on Facebook at:

www.facebook.com/homesweetomlaporte

824 Lincolnway, La Porte, IN

(219) 380-5046

 

Thanks for visiting! Have an idea for an everyday bucket list activity for me to try? Let me know & if it's feasible I will totally give it a try!