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Beach ball cookies

by karoline on September 22, 2014

beach ball cookies

Our good friend, E, turned 2 this week and had a fabulous party at The Water Works indoor water park in Schaumburg.  Since pizza, cake and ice cream were included with the party, I offered to bring some beach ball cookies as party favors.

beach ball cookies

I thought these would be easy peasy, but it turned out that drawing the curved lines freehand was kind of tricky.  It is much easier to follow the outline of whatever shape you choose and then fill the cookie with one solid color and add details once that base layer has dried.  Overall, though, they were quite adorable and well received once packaged.  One thing that I learned right away was to pipe and flood all of the white spaces first before adding any color.  Then, by the time I was ready to fill in the sides, the white had dried sufficiently enough to form a crisp barrier.  If you attempt to add the colors before the white dries, you will not only be working inefficiently — always work assembly line style — but the color will bleed slightly into the white, and you won’t have a well defined border between the panels.

birthday girl

The birthday girl was really only interested in eating ice cream…but we could have guessed that from last year’s cake fiasco.  hahaha.

IMGP3261 (2)

O was happy to join the sweet eating fun as well.

Happy birthday, E!  We love you!

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A look back through portraits

by karoline on September 18, 2014

infant portrait, lakesideI spent the morning searching for a professional photographer who A. is available on apparently short notice (2 months) and B. is a more skilled photographer than I am who can give me a series of artsy, creative family maternity photos.  After hours of research and MANY phone calls, I finally found Bright Eye Photography, and I am SO very excited for our November shoot.  In doing all this research, I started thinking about what I really want from our photo shoot.  Now, I am not a PRO, but I have taken some seriously gorgeous photos of my little one.  I typically don’t hire photographers to do our photos since I think I do an adequate job of capturing the memories myself.  So, when I hire a photog, I want their work to be better than mine.  I want them to use techniques that an amateur like myself hasn’t figured out and have a more creative eye with an artsy flair for composition and prop use.  I think Stephanie will be able to do that for me and capture the emotions behind that ethereal phase of life known as pregnancy, one that we had to work REALLY hard for.

All that aside, thinking about portraits made me want to gather up all of my favorite shots of O that I have taken since she was born.  The first was taken in late July/ early August 2012 at Nevins Lake in Michigan.  God, I love that smile and that little bald head.

lake geneva, infant portrait

This one was shot lakeside in Lake Geneva, WI in August, 2012.  The girl couldn’t keep her fingers out of her mouth.  Love how she seems bashful or a little bit shy, hiding behind those chubby little hands.

pumpkin patch photo

In October 2o12, we traveled to WI again for pumpkin picking and fall festivities.  We had a hard time getting her to look at the camera since she was SO distracted by everything else.  A watch?  OOH! SHINY!  I love this background, how the tree frames the edge and how it almost looks like she’s sitting in front of a painting.

baby's first christmas

Those wonky front teeth had really come in by December 2012.  Nothing captures joy more than the look on a child’s face at Christmas time.  The lighting is super flat here, though.  I really have to work on my indoor skills.

smash cake

First birthdays are for smashing cakes, and in January 2013, that’s exactly what we did.

smash cake

This was one of my first forays into attempting to set up a scene for a photo.  It is WAY harder than most PROS make it look.  Still, we got a couple of real keepers.

daffodil glade, morton arboretum

The Morton Arboretum has been one of our favorite places for photos.  In May 2013, we really took advantage of the daffodil glade in full bloom.  Love the wonder and perplexity on her face, all from one little, yellow petal.

kohl childrens museum

Still not a lot of hair by May 2013, but she did have a full set of mismatched teeth, gorgeous blue eyes, and a real zest for water play.

morton arboretum

There is a huge gap here from May of 2013 to May 2014.  The reason behind that is that from about 18 months until 27 months or so, I found it really hard to get a great photo of O.  She was not willing to sit for the camera, and she was CONSTANTLY on the move.  We have a lot of blurred memories!  After her 2nd birthday, she began to calm down a little and would actually cooperate when I wanted to take her picture (occasionally).  I think newborns and infants are way easier than toddlers.

michigan city, IN

Here is the rare shot involving more than just 1 adorable munchkin.  I took this photo in Michigan City, IN in July 2014.  O is with 2 of her grandparents at the beach.  I really liked the shot at first glance, but I love it even more now that a family member was able to Photoshop out a few distracting people in the water.

eckerts

How large a tomato looks in the hands of a little tot…Eckerts near St. Louis was the spot for some gorgeous shots in August 2o14.

gender reveal

My cupcake connoisseur in September 2014, overjoyed with the new found knowledge that she is going to be a big sister.

family portrait

Like I said earlier, there are times when I want to be on the other side of the lens.  For that, you must trust a skilled professional.  I included a few of the highlights of our professional portraits.  This is one of my all-time favorite photos.  It was shot by Patricia Anderson in February 2012, and it is by far the best photo ever taken of us.  I find it particularly hard to compose photos with 3 or more people.  This is so natural, so perfectly cropped and really captures all of the wonder and excitement of having your first baby. (You can’t even tell I was hemorrhaging and headed to the hospital for an emergency D&C.  But that’s a story for another day…LOL)

family portrait

In October 2013, we hired Tami to do our holiday card photos.  Here’s when I really learned how hard it is to pose 3 people who are not natural “posers”.  (Plus, this was before I discovered Pinterest, where you can steal the creative ideas of others when you don’t have any of your own!)  We really struggled to get a great shot, but in the end, I decided I liked how much FUN this picture showed & it was last year’s Christmas card.

mother and daughter

This is the last shot Tami took at that session, and she really knocked it out of the park.  I asked her to find a way to capture how much I ADORE my little girl (and vice versa).  This photo shows all of the wonderful things about motherhood and leaves you thinking there must never be a bad moment between us.  I will forever cherish this image.

I absolutely cannot wait to take our next family photos.  Nothing makes me happier than to be able to look back on all these good times and know that we really do have a wonderful life.

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Girl Baby!

by karoline on September 8, 2014

gender revealOur 2.5 year old daughter is absolutely gaga over little girl babies.  Suffice it to say, she doesn’t carry quite the same affection for boy babies.  Prior to 12 weeks, we had not wanted to tell her I was pregnant for fear that we would have to explain it if something went wrong.  Hopefully, we are now in the relatively safe zone, and we’ll be ok having told her now.  We had shared with many folks, and already, our doctor and neighbor and various other folks had almost spilled the beans.  Now seemed to be the time.

After a short conversation, she was CONVINCED that the baby in mommy’s tummy was a girl.  We sent her over to the mystery box to reveal the answer, and this is what happened…

gender reveal

What do you think?  Is she excited??

gender reveal

When we came inside, she gave me a hug and said, “I yuv you, mommy.”  Then she put her arms around my already growing belly, gave me a kiss, and said, “I yuv mine girl baby.”  Of course, this mama started crying.  Who says 2.5 year olds don’t get it?

it's a girl cupcakes

I had leftover batter from Sylvie’s cupcakes.  I popped the last of them in the oven and whipped up a quick batch of PINK cream cheese frosting.  Every celebration deserves cupcakes.

it's a girl cupcakes

Future baker and cupcake connoisseur…

toddler eating cupcakes

Frosting lover.

big sister

She couldn’t be happier.  Now to get her to understand why her girl baby can’t come out yet…

Special thanks to Christy Delaney, who brought over the cutest package of big sister books and T-shirt at the very last minute!!

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Window seat

by karoline on September 8, 2014

window seat for kidsA while back, when we were scrounging for items to sell at our garage sale, a friend found this piece on the curb.  I wish I had a “before” shot, but I don’t ;(  It was hideous.  It was a cheap, very abused coffee table.  It was faded, stained, and splintering, and somebody’s kid had painted all over it.  Nobody at the garage sale saw the potential.  So, we were stuck with it.  My mom came up with the brilliant idea to turn it into a window seat for o’s room.  I hired Ginger Kreitz of Twice as Nice to fix it up.  She cleaned, sanded and primed and then painted the whole thing white.  After that she found this perfect green polka-dot fabric and created as simple cushion.  The pink ruffle ribbon finished the edges and gave O a touch of her favorite.  She ADORES it and has already spent quite some time reading in her window seat.  Love it!  Thanks, Ginger!

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Coming Soon…

by karoline on September 7, 2014

pregnancy announcement2 years trying to conceive, 1 miscarriage, 2 D&Cs, 2 hysteroscopies, 1 failed IUI, and 1 very successful round of IVF…

It seems as if we have finally arrived!  Continued prayers and positive thoughts for a healthy pregnancy and a safe delivery.

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Silly Sylvie and the Chocolate Factory

by karoline on September 7, 2014

willy wonka cupcakes

O and I were invited to her friend, Sylvia’s, 2nd birthday.  When I heard the theme was Willy Wonka, I jumped at the chance to make some fanciful cupcakes.

candy shop cupcakes

Chocolate and vanilla cupcakes were topped with pastel buttercream and either sixlets or giant gumballs.  They could definitely work for a Candyland party or a general candy store themed party.

willy wonka party decorations

I had a few extra sixlets, and I couldn’t resist buying these giant lollipops.  So, I threw them in a vase as an added eye-catcher for the sweets table.

candy store cupcakes

The cupcake wrappers were again from Etsy…this time from Pomeline Studio.  Since they weren’t customized, they were available via instant download — making them a nice choice since I sort of waited until the last minute to order them.

willy wonka birthday party

The adorable birthday girl and her mama

toddler eating cupcakes

And, as always, a pic of my little one sampling mama’s goodies…

toddler eating cupcakes

She really gets into her food!

custom willy wonka candy bars

Loved this party detail made by the birthday girl’s mom…favors for all the guests.  Happy birthday, Sylvie!  Thanks for inviting us to celebrate with you!

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Katie & Phil tie the knot

August 18, 2014

This past weekend, my second cousin, Katie, married her sweetheart, Phil.  Wasn’t she a stunning bride??  Wow!  (You gotta love Facebook…since I was setting up the desserts, I missed the ceremony.  I found these really awesome pix online, taken by one of the bride’s friends.) Back up a little bit…more than a year ago, there […]

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“I Do”

August 11, 2014

The hubby’s cousin is getting married later this year, and O is going to be the flower girl.  I am BEYOND ecstatic.  This is just one of the many reasons I LOVE having a daughter – wait till you see the princess dress we bought for the event.  WOW!  This past weekend was the wedding […]

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Gluten-free/ vegan smash cake

August 3, 2014

A friend of mine’s son is on a gluten, egg, and dairy free diet.  So, when it came time for his first birthday, she attempted to make his cake herself.  The baking of the cake was a big success, but she didn’t have so much luck working with the vegan buttercream.  Since O and I […]

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