Category Archives: photography

Let’s See What Develops, Pt. 7

August 3, 2015

I know I’ve been MIA for a while.  I got everyone off to camp successfully and then I went into hibernation for the past two weeks.  I wish I could say I was in the South of France, visiting vineyards and noshing on butter slathered baguettes.  I wasn’t even digging my non-booted toes into the sand down the road in Virginia Beach. I was home. I was doing a whole lot of nothing.  I caught up with some friends. I did a little “personal maintenance”. I started back to the gym.  I took a nap. I went to the museum. I did what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it.

Alas, the staycation is over.  V came home Friday and hit the ground running.  M and C come home this coming Saturday and then we will be starting our final lap of summer vacation.  I can’t believe it’s August. I can’t believe that in this month alone, the following things are going to happen:

  • M will turn 10 years old
  • We will be having a party with a gaggle of other 10 year olds to celebrate.
  • School starts in three weeks.
  • I will be having a party with a gaggle of other moms to celebrate.

In the meantime, however, I need to return to my photography questions that I had been so diligently working on several weeks ago.

See, I love photography. I love pictures. I love looking at them. I love being in them. I love taking them. The other day, I texted a college friend a snap of a photo from the summer we met ::koff::koff::1993::koff::koff.  She wanted to know how much it was gonna take to never let that photo see the light of day again.

These days, however,  while I am an avid Intagrammer, I have been neglecting my DSLR. My camera body is pristine from lack of use. My Lightroom is laughably outdated. I need to make a change beyond toting my camera around with me like another member of the family. I need to examine what it is that I love about photography, how I got here and why I want to keep taking pictures. Some introspection was in order.

The photography blog, Click It Up a Notch, has a series of photographer interviews that I read voraciously. The more I read, the more my mind sparked and fired, ideas pinging around faster than I could grab them. If reading about other photographers created such a response, what would happen if I posed those same questions* to myself? Over the next few weeks, we’re going to find out.

*photographer interview questions courtesy of Courtney Slazinik of Click It Up a Notch.

Share Links to 3 of Your Favorite Photography Tutorials and Tell Us Why

photo, photography, portrait, nikon

Nikon 18-55mm| 34mm |f/3.5 | 1/500

Tough question, because there are gobs of great tutorials, tips, tricks and tools out there to help photographers do their best work.  These three tutorials have helped me the most on my photography journey.

  • 20 Things I Wish I Knew About Photographing in Manual Mode by Carrie Swails.  As I talked about before, shooting in manual was one of the best pieces of advice that I’ve received so far on my photography journey.  It’s daunting, I know. There are so many setting on the camera, why not put them to use, right? My approach to manual is more like if I can understand what it is, how it works, how my choices effect the outcome of the photo, then, I can better understand everything else about the other camera settings that I have.  If I don’t realize how ISO, aperture and shutter speed — when they come together correctly —  create great images, why am I even shooting in the first place?  Of all of the tips listed, #11 is the most resonant:  Photographing in manual is hard, but it will force you to learn your camera inside and out and you’ll be a better photographer for it. It takes practice so don’t expect everything to come naturally the first time out. Practice, practice, practice, and then go practice some more — in manual.
  • How to Achieve Nice Bokeh [In Plain English] by Annie Tao.   When I first started shooting, I really wanted to master that creamy, blurred background you find in photography. I didn’t know what it was called, let alone how to do it, but I was determined to figure it out. After lots of Internet searching, I learned about bokeh.  What’s great about mastering this technique is that it makes your image visually pleasing.  Your subject pops out.   You can camoflage any less than ideal background noise.  This tutorial touches on all of the pieces that make achieving that dreamy background possible:  lens choice, aperture choice, and opting to use bokeh in the foreground to show an alternative perspective.
  • 9 Ways to Get Meaningful Expressions in Child Portraits by Elizabeth Halford.  This article has been a great resource for me as a portrait photographer. I refer to it often, especially as prepare for a session with kiddos.  Working with kids, I’ve seen everything from those who have had their photos taken so often, they have more a rictus grin than a genuine smile, to kids who just flat out refuse to engage.  Halford provides a variety of easy tips to help coax the truest smile and the sweetest expressions from any child.

Let’s See What Develops, Pt. 6

July 9, 2015

Whew, how is it the 8th of July already? I swear, once the last embers from 4th of July fireworks flame out, summer just barrels down the tracks towards Labor Day.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been working with the ladies at Blogzilla Studio to give my little piece of the blogosphere a bit of a face lift.  Going with clean, simple and streamlined.  Tell me what you think!

So, back to the business at hand. I’m still working my way through the photographer interview questions courtesy of Courtney Slazinik of Click It Up a Notch.

A little context: I love photography. I love pictures. I love looking at them. I love being in them. I love taking them. However, with the way I’ve been treating my camera, you’d never know it. While I am an avid Instagrammer, I have been neglecting my DSLR.  My camera body is pristine from lack of use.  My Lightroom is laughably outdated.  I need to make a change beyond toting my camera around with me like another member of the family.  I need to examine what it is that I love about photography, how I got here and why I want to keep taking pictures.  Some introspection was in order.

The photography blog, Click It Up a Notch, has a series of photographer interviews that I read voraciously.  The more I read, the more my mind sparked and fired, ideas pinging around faster than I could grab them.  If reading about other photographers created such a response, what would happen if I posed those same questions* to myself?   Over the next few weeks, we’re going to find out.

If you could only use one lens for a year, which would you choose?

photography, photography, nikon, camera, lens

Nikon 18-55mm | 28mm | f/3.2 | 1/50 sec

Gah! This is extremely tough.  There are three lenses that I keep in rotation, but the one that I gravitate towards the most would be my Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5.  This was one of the last lenses that I acquired and I have found it provides me with the greatest versatility.  This little powerhouse enables me to shoot wide angle to standard snaps, as well as tight portraits all while provding that highly sought-after, creamy bokeh. The lens itself is super light, provides sharp focus and really is just the perfect lens to keep on the camera body for quick grab and go shooting.  And no, Nikon didn’t pay me to say that!

Let’s See What Develops, Pt. 5

June 29, 2015

I love photography. I love pictures. I love looking at them. I love being in them. I love taking them. However, with the way I’ve been treating my camera, you’d never know it. While I am an avid Instagrammer, I have been neglecting my DSLR.  My camera body is pristine from lack of use.  My Lightroom is laughably outdated.  I need to make a change beyond toting my camera around with me like another member of the family.  I need to examine what it is that I love about photography, how I got here and why I want to keep taking pictures.  Some introspection was in order.

The photography blog, Click It Up a Notch, has a series of photographer interviews that I read voraciously.  The more I read, the more my mind sparked and fired, ideas pinging around faster than I could grab them.  If reading about other photographers created such a response, what would happen if I posed those same questions* to myself?   Over the next few weeks, we’re going to find out.

*photographer interview questions courtesy of Courtney Slazinik of Click It Up a Notch.

Are you currently doing any photography projects? If so, what?

swimsuit project, growth, development, pinterest, parents magazine

Current Photography Project

In August of 2006, M was turning a year old.  During her first year, I turned to a number of resources to help me navigate the first year of parenthood: family, friends, books, magazines — I was all over it, making sure that she was hitting her milestones, that she was eating from all of the food groups, and that she was engaged in activities to stimulate growth and development — Gymboree Play and Music! Kindermusik! Stroller Strides! My mother gifted me with a subscription to Parents Magazine as part of my “Welcome to Motherhood” starter pack.  In the last issue before my subscription ran out, I came across an article entitled “The Swimsuit Project”.  In it, author Maria Heck describes how prior to her becoming a mother, she came across a photo essay in Life Magazine.  The photo essay depicted a young woman whose mother had posed her in the same bathing suit each year on her birthday.  Heck was duly impressed and promised herself that whenever she had a daughter, she would duplicate the project.  When her daughter was 4 months old, Heck slipped Madeline into a floral bathing suit, complete with bra cups, that had belonged to Heck’s mother.  Every year on Madeline’s birthday, Heck snapped a picture. She did this for 15 years, stopping when the suit fit her daughter better than it had ever fit her own mother.

At that point in time, Heck decided that, “the chronicle is complete. She has gone from baby to young woman. If anything proves that your child grows up in the blink of an eye, it’s seeing these pictures all together and realizing that the first one was only a heartbeat away from the last.”

This is a project that I work on three times a year, one time for each of my girls.  Another worthwhile challenge I did was a photo-a-day challenge for a year.  I chronicled my experiences on a dedicated tumblr blog, which when I look back on now, unfolds into a very spectacular story.

I’ve looked into doing several other mini-challenges like a photo an hour for a day, or selfie a day for a week or 30 days of 30 things that start with the letter H (that last one I just made up, but who knows? It could be totally do-able!).

 

Let’s See What Develops, Pt. 4

June 22, 2015

I love photography. I love pictures. I love looking at them. I love being in them. I love taking them. However, with the way I’ve been treating my camera, you’d never know it. While I am an avid Instagrammer, I have been neglecting my DSLR.  My camera body is pristine from lack of use.  My Lightroom is laughably outdated.  I need to make a change beyond toting my camera around with me like another member of the family.  I need to examine what it is that I love about photography, how I got here and why I want to keep taking pictures.  Some introspection was in order.

The photography blog, Click It Up a Notch, has a series of photographer interviews that I read voraciously.  The more I read, the more my mind sparked and fired, ideas pinging around faster than I could grab them.  If reading about other photographers created such a response, what would happen if I posed those same questions* to myself?   Over the next few weeks, we’re going to find out.

*photographer interview questions courtesy of Courtney Slazinik of Click It Up a Notch.

What Type of Background Do You Have?

Hilary Grant Dixon, photography, portraits, black and white photography, weddings

Nikon D5000 | 1/1250 sec | 175mm | f/5.3 | Nikon 70-200mm

I’m self-taught. I have a great number of photographer friends who have allowed me not only to pick their brains and pepper them with questions.   When I’ve worked as a model, some of the photographers have let me see my film — or digital snaps, nowadays — and point out what’s working and what’s not with the lighting, speed, and depth of field. Being able to observe  in the field is an invaluable experience.

I’m a bookworm and have a pretty extensive collection of books to which I refer. One of my favorites is Nikon D5000: From Snapshots to Great Shots. It’s full of useful, instructional information as well as photos taken by that camera body that make it a great resource.     I have taken classes and workshops. I’ve taken ones offered by professionals on Groupon and ones offered by the fine arts museum in my city.  I read a lot of articles from bloggers as well as a scores of pins from Pinterest about ways to improve everything from the care of my camera and lenses to how to get the most natural looking expressions from feisty children.

Without a doubt, hands-on experience is the best.  Taking snaps of my kids, my dinner, myself — all of those instances provide me with information on what I can do to be better and more creative for the next time.

Let’s See What Develops, Pt. 3

June 15, 2015

I love photography. I love pictures. I love looking at them. I love being in them. I love taking them. However, with the way I’ve been treating my camera, you’d never know it. While I am an avid Instagrammer, I have been neglecting my DSLR.  My camera body is pristine from lack of use.  My Lightroom is laughably outdated.  I need to make a change beyond toting my camera around with me like another member of the family.  I need to examine what it is that I love about photography, how I got here and why I want to keep taking pictures.  Some introspection was in order.

The photography blog, Click It Up a Notch, has a series of photographer interviews that I read voraciously.  The more I read, the more my mind sparked and fired, ideas pinging around faster than I could grab them.  If reading about other photographers created such a response, what would happen if I posed those same questions* to myself?   Over the next few weeks, we’re going to find out.

*photographer interview questions courtesy of Courtney Slazinik of Click It Up a Notch.

Where do you find your inspiration?

Nikon D5000 | 100/sec | 50mm | f/3.5

Nikon D5000 | 100/sec | 50mm | f/3.5

My mom used to get Vanity Fair magazine when I was growing up.  I can remember thumbing through the gloss pages during the mid 90’s, the height of the age of the Super Model.  The iconic Herb Ritts photograph of  Stephanie Seymour, Cindy Crawford,  Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, and Tatjana Patiz was like none I’d ever seen before.  I was so blown away not just by the beauty of the models, but by the sheer simplicity of the image.  There was no busy set, no props, just gorgeous lighting and the strong clean lines of the women being photographed.  Never before had I seen a picture where the subjects looked like they could reach out from the page and brush their fingers against my own. Everything up until that point had been flat and two-dimensional.  Beginning with that image, my ideas of what pictures, of what photography were forever changed.

I recognize now that I have always tried to emulate that creamy, dreamy style of portraiture that I saw all of those years ago. The trouble was, I didn’t know how to describe it. I didn’t know that I could pursue knowledge of photography and leapfrog that into a potential career.  For a long time, I pressed my creativity down, down, down in order to let the more practical aspects of my personality take focus.  It wasn’t until about five years ago, the lid snapped off and the creativity came surging out.

My current sources of inspiration include websites like Pinterest, and Instagram.  I do continue to love images from Vanity Fair, and have added Vogue, GQ, and other glossies to the list.  My tumblr site is a true depiction of what inspires me, with respect to photography.  I’ve amassed a catalog of everything from fashion to food, destinations to decor. It’s my personal treasure box of images that make my eyes water with possibility and pleasure. When an image plucks at me, sets off something vibrating inside of me that makes me feel like I have got to do that, it’s priming me to embark on a creative endeavor.

Odds and Ends

June 10, 2015

It’s Wednesday! Of course, this being summer vacation, that really doesn’t mean anything.  Each day is like the one before it and will probably be like the one after it.  Only difference is this day starts with a W and ends with a glass of wine.

Odds and Ends this week are a handful of things that have caught my eye while I’ve been flipping through the Internet under the pretense of doing work.  Some work has been done, truly.  I’ve been putting some things together to give my website a little face-lift.   I’m working kicking up more content.  And, finding gems like ones below is work. . .the more I tell myself that, the truer it is, right? Here’s what has me looking like a heart-eyed emoji:

1. I stumbled across this company while scrolling through Instagram.  This mug needs to come to my house because truer words were never spoken.

2. Speaking of things I saw on Instagram that I have now deemed necessary to make my life complete, this shirt for the win.  I read this list and hear “These are a few of my favorite things . . .” playing in the background.

3. So, I have to do 20 minutes of deep knee bends, five times a day.  That’s 100 minutes of deep knee bends.  What’s a girl to do to pass the time? I’m a big binge watcher and I desperately needed something to fill the queue.  Outlander wrapped, Game of Thrones is all but done, House of Cards is but a fond memory, and Orange is the New Black won’t come on for a few days, still.   Lucky me, I’ve found Black Sails.  Arrrrgh, I love this show; I may even pick up Treasure Island once I’m all caught up.

4. New favorite kitchen gadget: the herb stripper. While I enjoy cooking with fresh herbs for the flavor that they provide, pulling the delicate leaves off of the stems was tedious. I’m too impatient. I either under-seasoned a dish because I grew bored of pulling off leaves, or over seasoned a dish because I was too lazy to pull the leaves off and just chopped up the bundle, leaves, stems, and all.  No. . .not really, but it was super tempting to do.  Now with this ingenious tool, I’m threading everything through the holes and separating leaves from stalk lickety split.  Fresh salsa, anyone?

kitchen gadet, kitchen geek, cooking, kitchen, chef, tool

This changes everything!

 

5. Sadly, my vacation plans went swirling down the drain when the doc said I’d be sporting this boot for the next three months.  Still, that hasn’t stopped me from imaging what it would be like to be laid up on a white beach with turquoise water lapping at my toes.  I see myself buff and bronze, sweating umbrella drink and hand, sporting this super cute bathing suit. Yes, I can definitely see myself in this.

bathing suit, summer

Summer goals 2015

Any odds and ends catch your eye this week? Share them with me in the comments!

Let’s See What Develops, Pt. 2

June 3, 2015

I love photography. I love pictures. I love looking at them. I love being in them. I love taking them. However, with the way I’ve been treating my camera, you’d never know it. While I am an avid Instagrammer, I have been neglecting my DSLR.  My camera body is pristine from lack of use.  My Lightroom is laughably outdated.  I need to make a change beyond toting my camera around with me like another member of the family.  I need to examine what it is that I love about photography, how I got here and why I want to keep taking pictures.  Some introspection was in order.

The photography blog, Click It Up a Notch, has a series of photographer interviews that I read voraciously.  The more I read, the more my mind sparked and fired, ideas pinging around faster than I could grab them.  If reading about other photographers created such a response, what would happen if I posed those same questions* to myself?   Over the next few weeks, we’re going to find out.

*photographer interview questions courtesy of Courtney Slazinik of Click It Up a Notch.

What is the best advice you received so far on your photography journey?

Given my previous work as a stock model, I’ve been fortunate enough to make friends with some very talented photographers.  As I transitioned from one side of the lens to the other, being able to ask questions about lighting, angles, and lenses has been invaluable.  The one piece of information that trumps all, however, has been this:

Manual, manual, manual.

You have to shoot in manual.

No matter how daunting it may seem, the only way to be comfortable and confident behind the lens is to shoot in manual.  When you choose to shoot in other settings, the camera makes the decision for you.  Whatever image appears on the LCD screen is was taken by the camera.  When you shoot manual, when you select the shutter speed, the aperture, and the ISO, you make the decisions. The image that is captured is truly your own.

Shooting in manual always made my stomach roil, especially when I was first starting out.  I didn’t trust myself enough to make the right choices in order to get the best image.  The more opportunities I had to shoot, the more opportunities I had to hone my skills.  In between sessions with clients, I would snap pictures of my kids, my yard, whatever I could, in to test myself.  I already trusted myself when it came to setting up the shot.  I had to develop that same trust in capturing it.  Sometimes I nailed it.   Sometimes, not so much.  I kept at it, though, until it started to become second nature.

I still get butterflied when I shoot in manual, but it’s now because I’m excited about how far I’ve come.

Let’s See What Develops

June 1, 2015

The past few weeks have found me at my desk, the surface awash in papers, pens, camera lenses, and Apple devices.  The elusive time I’ve been craving to set my work life to rights has materialized and I don’t want to waste it.  In an attempt to make the best use of this gift, I’ve scrapped my previous practice of crafting a labyrinthine to-do list in favor of selecting one task to do all the way through completion. It’s much for challenging than I anticipated.  The payoff, however, is insanely more gratifying.

I’ve chosen about five areas that I want to cultivate: Writing, Family Life, Fitness, Self, and Photography. And yes, I notice that those same areas are the ones I write most about on this blog.  Each day, I’ve chosen one of those areas and spent my time reading, brain-storming, note taking, and creating.

I love photogragphy. I love pictures. I love looking at them. I love being in them. I love taking them. However, with the way I’ve been treating my camera, you’d never know it. While I am an avid Instagrammer, I have been neglecting my DSLR.  My camera body is pristine from lack of use.  My Lightroom is laughably outdated.  I need to make a change beyond toting my camera around with me like another member of the family.  I need to examine what it is that I love about photography, how I got here and why I want to keep taking pictures.  Some introspection was in order.

The photography blog, Click It Up a Notch, has a series of photographer interviews that I read voraciously.  The more I read, the more my mind sparked and fired, ideas pinging around faster than I could grab them.  If reading about other photographers created such a response, what would happen if I posed those same questions* to myself?   Over the next few weeks, we’re going to find out.

*photographer interview questions courtesy of Courtney Slazinik of Click It Up a Notch.

Tell us a little about yourself and your photography journey.

photography, photographer, interview, nikon, portrait, selfie

September 2010: Client’s almost ready, but first, let me take a selfie.

I have been collecting photographs, taking pictures and making albums for longer than I can remember. I am historian of sorts, a keeper of memories. Chances are, if you and I have shared an experience, I’ve probably got a picture of it.

In my early twenties, I began working for a modeling agency in Richmond. I worked with several photographers doing stock imagery before eventually working as booking agent and wrangler. When I was a young(er) mom with two under two threading around my ankles, I became friends with Kendall.  Kendall had two under two as well. Kendall also had the most stunning photographs of her kids, her family, her life dotting her walls.  She had taken all of those pictures.  Kendall told me how she studied photography in college (Me: you can do that?), and how when a professor criticized her technique, she told him that she didn’t care. She just wanted to be able to take beautiful pictures of her kids — her marriage and firstborn inevitable, like trips to the grocery store and taxes.

Kendall got tapped to shoot a wedding for a friend and she asked me to go with her to be her second.  I was both honored and petrified.  We spent the week-end in the Outer Banks, capturing everything from the rehearsal dinner and the bridal party prep to the ceremony and send off. It. Was. Amazing. Kendall and I were a good team. We formed a photography company and got to work.  Several years, several moves and several kids later, our company has dissolved, but I’m still shooting.   I wrangle child models (mostly my own kids) for other photographers. I pick up a few jobs where I’m sitting under the lights.  I book clients looking to capture toothless grins of babies, the sparkle  of happily ever after that comes with a recent engagement, the slice of life shots that will be sent out at holiday time for family and friends to enjoy. I snap photos of my kids, of my husband, of myself.

Photography can be a hobby, a passion, a career.  Photography can be so many things.  For me, photography is storytelling through images.

I have lots of stories to tell.

From the Archive: Black & White Wednesday – Freckles

July 30, 2014

 

(source)
(source)
 
I’ve really been feeling freckles.  Spending time outdoors, even with sunscreen and hats, the sun does find a way to my face, making my freckles pop.    We all know that warmer temps mean more skin hanging out, but using sunscreen and other protective gear to prevent burns, blisters, and sun related skin disease is a good rule of thumb year round. Just a little PSA for you.
Hemlines have been steadily rising in conjunction with the thermometer. There’s lots of  exposed expanses of calf, knees and thighs. Collars have been peeled away and necklines have dipped nto more relaxed positions.  Clavicles and the sweet nape of the neck are  showing with with more reckless abandon. Sleeves stripped off, shoulders unabashedly uncovered! Beauty marks, cafe au lait spots, and freckles, freckles, freckles are springing up.
I’ve pared down my beauty routine significantly to let my natural beauty show.  I’ve put away the concealer and foundation in favor of my SPF laced tinted moisturizers.

I’ve heard that freckles are where God and the angels kissed you before you left heaven.  Every summer, as the sun draws them into view, I see count new kisses and, I fall in love with with each of them.

 

Recipe Friday: Teddy Bear Beach Party

May 2, 2014

The week-end is already over and it’s only Thursday. I’m calling it because between now and Sunday evening, it’s go, go, go until we can face-plant among the pillows only to wake up on Monday and start fresh.  The kids are heading into end of year mode.  May marks one month until the end of this school year.  The first week-end in May kicks off the slide down that slope with Spirit Week, Field Day and Magic Dragon Day. Spirit Week involves the kids dressing up each day from a pre-approved theme.  Monday and Tuesday were Blue and White Day (school colors), Wednesday was Tie-Day day, and Thursday was Crazy Hat day.  Sadly, we have no “crazy” hats, but the girls looked, to quote M, “Stylish, sophisticated and continental,” in two of my church hats.  Friday is field day where each grade participates in relays, running races, and other fun games.  They wear their Magic Dragon Day shirts — the dragon being the school mascot, the shirt color pre-determined by the eldest family member attending the school (Go, Blue!) — and run around, getting hot, sweaty and grass stained.  It’s an early release day as well and I’m confident that this year, I’ll remember to get them at 1pm instead of the regular dismissal time like I did the last two years (oops!).

Magic Dragon Day is on Saturday and it promises to be a rolicking event.  Every year, the school hosts a carnival like event for the entire school.  There are booths with games of chance, tug-of-war contests in each grade, dunking booths, Spirit Wear sales, book sales, a cake walk and the highly anticipated kidnergarten May Pole Dance.  While this is our third MDD, this is our first May Pole Dance and cake walk experience.  The kindgergarten kiddos have been practicing since before Easter to kick off MDD with their dance.  The girls and boys wear their Sunday best and dance around the blacktop, lacing grosgrain ribbons up and down the length of a flower topped pole.  Once the dance is over, Magic Dragon Day can officially begin.

C is in kindergarten this year and has been protesting having to do the May Pole dance because she “doesn’t want to hlod hands with a boy!!”  Keep up that attitude, kiddo!  As we’ve gotten closer, though, she’s started to get more excited.  She’s picked out her dress, she’s decided what color flowers she’d like in the wreath that will sit atop her head.  She is ready to peel out of the dress with her friends and into her MDD shirt in order to paritcipate in her first ever tug-of-war.  I suppose it’s no surprise that her enthusiasm has been escalating. While neither she nor M have ever done a May Pole before, they’re third year MDD vets and ready to eat and play their way through the day.

In addition to the May Pole prep, kindergarten parents are also tasked with preparing two cakes (or 48 cupcakes or some combination of cake and cupcake) for the MDD cake walk.  Cake walk? What’s that, you ask.  The Cake Walk is one of the most fun and successful booths at MDD.  Similar to musical chairs, participants move along a serpentine path on the blacktop.  The path is sectioned off into numbers which correspond to numbered cakes set up in the auditorium.  When the music stops, the emcee draws a number from the pile and whomever is standing on that number, wins the corresponding cake.  The cakes are indeed prizes to be had!  The cakes are either homemade or store bought, and decorated within an inch of their lives.  The more decorations, the better!  In years past, cakes have been decorated as sand castles, treasure chests, dragons, Legos, Polly Pocket Beach parties and Star Wars themed cake toppers.

Earlier in the year, when talking with another kindergarten mom, we resolved to buy our cakes instead of fool around with the homemade foolishness.  At the time, the mandate was, homemade only — not necessarily from scratch, but definitely homemade.  I was all about “breaking the law” because I didn’t know what the heck kind of cake I could scrape together or whether or not I was really up to the challenge of finding something that could hold its own against other Pinterest-worthy cakes that were sure to come down the pike.  I went back and forth the Hubs about it, who clearly fell on the side of “Just buy the cake!” and my mom who was more of “Oh, c’mon, you can make it.”  Truthfully, I was doing a cost benefit analysis as to what was more cost effective: buying a pre-decorated cake or buying the uspplies and doing it myself.  In the end, I think it was a wash.  I found a recipe that looked hard, but was more time consuming than anything else.  Ultimately, my biggest challenge was making sure my cupcake cups were equally filled.  Well, that and trying to keep the girls from eating the decorations before I could put them on the cake.

Between the cake and the prep for the May Pole dance, which included hot gluing silk flowers to a ribbon encased wreath, it’s been straight up Crafty Town up in here. The recipe for the cupcakes follows the photos of my finished product. I baked the cakes and cupcakes a few days ahead of time so that I could focus solely on frosting and decorating.

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Teddy-At-The-Beach Cupcakes.

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Teddy’s lounging.

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Here’s my layer cake. Same premise as the cupcakes, but I got a little fancier with jelly bean rocks in the sand and icing trim around the edges.

_DSC0030

Here, fishy, fishy!

 

Enjoy and Happy Friday, y’all!

Teddy-At-The-Beach Cupcakes

recipe courtesy of Betty Crocker, found here.

Ingredients

  • 1 box Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® cake mix (any flavor)
  • 2 drops blue food color
  • 1 cup Betty Crocker® Whipped vanilla frosting
  • 1 roll (from 4.5-oz box) Betty Crocker® Fruit by the Foot® chewy fruit snack (any flavor)
  • 1/2 cup teddy bear-shaped graham snacks, crushed, or brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Betty Crocker® blue sugar, if desired
  • 12 teddy bear-shaped graham snacks
  • 6 paper drink umbrellas or small plastic umbrellas, if desired
  • 6 ring-shaped gummy candies
  • 6 multi-colored fish-shaped crackers

Directions

  • 1 Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pans). Place paper baking cup in each of 24 regular-size muffin cups. Make and bake cake mix as directed on box for 24 cupcakes. Cool in pans 10 minutes; remove from pans to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes. Tightly wrap 12 cupcakes; freeze for a later use.
  • 2 Stir blue food color into frosting until blended. Frost remaining 12 cupcakes with frosting.
  • 3 Cut six 1 1/2-inch pieces from fruit snack roll; peel off paper backing. Use fruit snack and remaining ingredients to decorate cupcakes as shown in photo or as desired.

See also:  A Day at the Beach Cake! Recipe courtesy of Reloved Recipes, found here.