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Bare belly shot

by karoline on March 4, 2015

bare belly maternity photo

One of the perks of living with my brother is that he was once a photography student, and he is always at the ready when I get some cockamamie idea for a photo shoot.  Nearing the end of this (read: my last) pregnancy, I am eager to document every moment.  Someone once told me to be sure to take pictures of your bare belly so that you can remember just how enlarged you really were.  I took this to the extreme when I was pregnant with our first and did a nude maternity shoot with a professional who was looking to expand her portfolio and therefore offering a free session for willing nude models.  Boy, was that ever an experience.  This time, given that my brother was the photog and I don’t really feel the need to relive that naked modeling experience, I chose something more simple but equally as striking.  A quick Pinterest search brought up photos of bare bellies on dark backgrounds shot in black & white with only the color of the bow illuminated.  I found a black outfit, dug up a pink ribbon that was thankfully long enough to make it all the way around my enormous girth, and taped a large sheet of black paper to the wall.  Using only the natural light from our bay window, my brother was able to capture this moment perfectly.  He is a whiz with Photoshop and provided me with this image in only a few minutes.  It is, by far, my favorite belly shot.  And fitting as my little girl will be born just in time for my birthday.  She is the best gift I have ever and will ever receive.

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Winter styling

by karoline on March 2, 2015

pear poundcakeAs I write this, I am 15 days shy of delivering my miracle baby.  I’ve completed all of my work assignments, packed my bags, washed the clothes, finished the nursery, etc, etc.  We are ready.  So, I took a moment to look back on a few of the projects that I finished before signing off for my unofficial maternity leave.  This pear pound cake was not only moist but rich and decadent with swirls of caramel throughout and juicy pears interspersed.  But, it is the photo I love the most.  It reminds me of a Renaissance still life, and I think I just might print a copy for my dining room.  Through the light, you can tell it is winter, yet the picture gives off warm and comforting vibes: all the great feelings of winter without the dreariness and the dread of the never-ending snow and cold.  It’s why we should all bake more often — to soothe our souls and our minds.

apricot glazed chicken drumettes

This photo was part of a spread on snacks for Superbowl Sunday (go Patriots!).  I love the convergence of the turquoise plate and the orange glaze.  I don’t really eat wings, but this looks oh-so-inviting.

pear ginger crisp

This pear crisp reminded me why sweets are my favorite type of foods to shoot.  There is something inevitably beautiful about even the most simple of baked goods that just isn’t present in a photo of a savory dish.  That said, summer’s finest tomatoes do make for a stunning shot.  Oh, summer, please come soon.

pavlova with figs

This pavlova gave me hell during recipe testing, but the end result was gorgeous.  I would prefer a fresh fruit option for its aesthetic appeal, but I completely understand the choice of dried figs given the season.  They do make for a more mature dessert, perfect for you and a loved one.

seven layer dip

This is a modern take on the old-school 7 layer dip.  We subbed out refried beans and zipped up sauces with fresh guacamole and cumin-scented yogurt.  The results are decadent.  Feel free to double, triple and quadruple dip when using individual glasses for serving.

Signing off for now to finish baking this bun in my oven, but I will be back with more fun projects in no time.  I’ve already been sneaking peaks at Pinterest for newborn photography as well as rainbow smash cakes for a potential St. Patty’s Day first birthday party…I just can’t help myself!

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A sprinkle shower of my very own

by karoline on February 8, 2015

pink cupcakes for baby girl sprinkle showerMy very excellent mother, with the help of a dear friend of mine, threw me the most fabulous little sprinkle of a shower to celebrate and welcome our 2nd baby girl.  The woman is amazing.  She can throw a perfect party without even a glance at Pinterest.  Mom indulged my request to finally just “show up as a guest without doing all the work.”  Still, I insisted that I bring the sweets.  It’s amazing how much pleasure can be derived from making a simple batch of cupcakes when you only have to make a couple dozen.  I special ordered a mix of pink, brown and white sprinkles to match our nursery decor and top off these chocolate cupcakes with pink vanilla buttercream.

sprinkle  shower

It felt a little excessive and indulgent to throw a mini baby shower for our 2nd girl, but the truth is that when you had to work as hard as we did to get here, you want to celebrate each and every moment.  An enormous thank you to all that came to be with us and sprinkled me with such generosity.  I am overwhelmed and feel so very loved…just like this precious baby whom I CANNOT wait to meet.

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Pinterest-worth belly shots

by karoline on February 2, 2015

maternity photoWhen you work as hard as we did to get pregnant, you savor every second of it.  For me, a good part of that savoring is photo-documenting the miraculous changes happening in my body.  I am not one of those women who worries that I am fat or not looking my best.  In fact, I feel more beautiful as a pregnant woman than I ever have before.  Every glance down at my ever-expanding belly puts a smile on my face, reminding me that we are the lucky ones- those folks who walked the journey of infertility and will (hopefully) emerge with a healthy baby girl in only a few short weeks.

maternity photo with ultrasound pic

During my first pregnancy, I was careful to also document my growth, knowing that it might be my only pregnancy.  Budgets and knowledge were different for us then.  So, I had no idea it was possible to hire a pro to take some maternity shots.  This time, we hired  Stephanie of Bright Eye Photography to shoot my belly bump along with our annual family holiday pic.

maternity photo with big sister

The photos were even more fun since we got to involve our daughter.

maternity photo with big sister

Her favorite game is playing doctor, which became an adorable moment to capture.  Who better to check on than her little sister?

big sis, lil sis maternity photo

She is SO excited about the pending arrival of her little sister.

black and white maternity photo

This was my favorite photo from our shoot.  It makes me chuckle every time, and I LOVE that maternity jeans and toddler jeans both have navy blue elastic waistbands!

winter maternity photos

Lucky for me, my bump was big enough to shoot at only 20 weeks, but as the weeks go by, there are more opportunities to take gorgeous photos.  Sometimes, you don’t need a pro –  just need a willing mother and brother (who are both pretty big photography buffs) and a neighbor with a row of snow laden trees.

maternity photos in the snow

We braved the cold, the blowing wind, and the knee-deep snow to get a few outdoor shots during the first blizzard of 2015.

snow maternity pictures

We looked at lots of inspirational shots on Pinterest, and it seemed that to get the best photo, you had to shoot on location in Yosemite – or someplace else equally grandiose and pristine.  With the right framing and cropping, we were able to make it appear as if we were out in the vast wilderness, when in reality, we were just standing in my neighbor’s back yard.

belly bump photos in the snow

With all that snow, I was thankful to be only 8 months along, instead of 9 or 10.  No blizzard babies, please!

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C is for Cookie

by karoline on January 29, 2015

cookie monster cupcakesI CANNOT believe my little girl is 3 already.  There is nothing like a birthday to remind you that, “the days are long, but the years are short.”  Last February, shortly after her Tea for Two party, O decided that she wanted a cookie monster party for her 3rd birthday.  Much to the surprise of many of my friends, she adamantly stuck with her request for the whole year, and we did indeed have a very successful cookie monster party.

pink monster cupcake

The girl is still OBSESSED with pink.  So, when it became clear that her cookie monster party was going to be a “blue” party, she got a bit distressed.  Our compromise was that she could have her very own, special, PINK monster cupcake, but all of the other details were going to match our furry blue friend.

cookie monster dessert buffet

In addition to cupcakes, we made a variety of cookies to send home as favors: chocolate chip cookies that were baked instead with blue M&Ms, spritz cookies with blue sprinkles, Aunt Carol’s famous oatmeal raisin cookies with blue sprinkles, and O’s favorite – “C is for Cookie” iced shortbread cookies.

cookie monster balloon wreath

One of the ways I was able to tighten the budget on this party was to reuse items from past parties.  This balloon wreath was originally from my friend, Kelsea’s, sprinkle.  I simply removed the “It’s a Boy!” ribbons and added cookies and monsters.

cookie banner

I already had these blue papers on hand from my mom’s “When I’m 64” banner.  I was even able to use some of the pre-cut pendants.  To match the cookie theme, I found this free printable cookie and used it many places throughout the party.

cookie guess

This was one of the 3 games we had.  I was shocked when my brother guessed the exact number correctly!

cookie toss game

Once again, I converted our bean bag game into a party game.  I jokingly called this one “Toss your Cookies!”  It was a blast.  2 of the partygoers had 3 shootouts to determine a winner.  In the end, we were anxious for cake, and they both ended up getting prizes.

pin the cookie

Pin the cookie was equally as adorable, but some of the younger revelers were hesitant to put on a bandana.

custom cookie monster stickers

Etsy was again a part of my undoing, as I could not resist little details like these custom stickers on the favor bags.

As much as it pained me not to order the blue cookie monster tutu set, I was able to restrain myself and go with a blue party dress and cookie monster barrettes (again from Etsy).  The birthday girl was thrilled, and she got exactly what she “NEEDED” to complete her collections.

I’m already looking forward to next year!

For more great party ideas, check out my board on Pinterest.

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first birthday cupcakesA little while back, I proclaimed to be done with baking until after we have settled into the chaos of being parents to 2 wild and crazy girls, but my friend Brandy (of www.windywilsons.blogspot.com) made me such a great offer that I couldn’t refuse.  She is the ideal baking “client” as she made very few specific requests.  She wanted cupcakes with white frosting and sprinkles.  Done.

rainbow cupcakes

After seeing how cute these rainbow sprinkles could be on O’s special cupcake at Melissa’s wedding shower, I decided they were a good starting place.  And what better to go with rainbow sprinkles than rainbow wrappers.  These were delicious, adorable and seriously one of the easiest baking projects I have done in quite a while.  It was exactly the kind of project I needed to take my mind of the drab, dreary winter but not over exert myself at this point in my pregnancy with only a week left before the big Cookie Monster Bash.

rainbow cupcakes

This type of wrapper is the most basic: not customizable, available for instant download (thus eliminating the need to plan very far ahead), and the most affordable.  I found this one on Etsy.com as usual in the FabulousPartyDesigns shop.

birthday cupcakes

As usual, O was chomping at the bit to get at these cupcakes long before we even made it to the party.  Her current method of consumption involves licking only the frosting, as if it were an ice cream cone, and discarding the cake.  A girl after my own heart.  Who needs the cake?  (I’ve been playing around with filters on photos that I have taken with my phone.  My iphone 4 is so outdated that the pictures rarely turn out well, especially when shot indoors in a low light situation.  Filters can save a pretty sub-par pic.)

smash cake

One of my favorite ways to show O that I love her is to cook or bake something just for her.  It is something intrinsically maternal, and Brandy feels the same way about motherhood.  She made this simple smash cake, and we coordinated perfectly without even discussing it!  Baby C was so delicate in the destruction of her treat, focusing only on the frosting and rainbow sprinkles.  She was uber calm, as she went about this sensory experience, so calm, in fact, that she was not at all disturbed when her big brother climbed into her chair to give her a hand.  She smeared the frosting sweetly on his face and hers until they finally decided that they had had enough.  LOVE.

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It’s the most wonderful (busy) time of year

December 17, 2014

With a bun in the oven and a high-maintenance toddler, things have been even busier this holiday season than they have in years past.  That said, next year promises to be even busier!  Instead of making proper posts on all that we have been up to, I’ve chosen a few of the highlights and put […]

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Fish cupcakes

October 26, 2014

Along the way of our journey with infertility, I met a truly special person.  Sara, the former leader of my RESOLVE infertility support group, became an instant lifesaver for me.  We first bonded over the fact that we both were able to successfully conceive and deliver a healthy baby girl but then really struggled to […]

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Celebrating 60 years together

October 23, 2014

10 years ago, I flew down to St. Louis with my then boyfriend to meet his entire family.  We had only been dating about 5 months, but things were serious already.  My first encounter with the Anschutz/ Goodnick clan would be at the 50th anniversary celebration for B’s grandparents.  At the time, I was fresh […]

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