Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Sugarless Banana Bread Recipe

This is posted a months after I should have posted.  Oh well.  It's still useful.  :)

I wanted to make a healthy cake for my daughter's cake smash photo session, so I scoured the web until I found a sugarless banana bread recipe that didn't use those terrible fake sweeteners (that are COMPLETE neurotoxins).  Luckily it didn't take too long for me to come across a recipe that used zero sugar and no other type of sweetener, except the sweetness of the actual bananas.

My daughter is almost two, so I try my best to avoid sugary products when I feed her.  She doesn't even get juice because not only are those empty calories, but they promote tooth decay.  Anyway, like I said, I found a recipe from Shape's website.  I changed a couple of things to suit what I wanted (ie. no adding vegetable oil or pumpkin pie spice).

Sugarless Banana Bread Recipe

3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup applesauce
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup water
2 cups whole-wheat flour, plus more for pan
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder

For the icing, I needed a butter cream icing recipe, so I found a yummy classic vanilla buttercream frosting recipe from Savory Sweet Life.  After mixing all of the ingredients together, I then added green food colouring to the mixture because I wanted green icing for the top of my cake.  NOTE:  I would have preferred to have not used sugar, but I didn't plan well enough to search what I would need for a sugar substitute (fake sweeteners are NOT an option). 

Anyway, I used the Wilton giant cupcake pan as I wanted a giant cupcake to use for my daughter's cake smash photo session.

Side note for using the Wilton giant cupcake pan:
  • 6 cups of batter
  • Each pan should be filled up to 2/3 full with batter to leave room to rise.
  • Preheat oven to 325 F 
  • Grease pan & pour in cake mix 
  • Bake for 60-70 minutes or do toothpick test to make sure it's done 
  • After cooling, turn cake pan over to release each cake onto a plate. (If it gets a little stuck, use a rubber spachula to release).
  • Apply frosting between both cake pieces in order to keep them sticking together.

Enjoy more photos from my daughter's cake smash session with my home made giant cupcake.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

How to create a smile in Photoshop using the Liquify Tool

I only learned about the liquify tool three years ago and I absolutely LOVE it!  I don't use it very often as I prefer to get it right the first time when I shoot the photo.  However, I find when shooting photos of small children, sometimes they are not in the mood to smile.  However, there is a great little trick that you can use to turn those non-smiles into little smiles.  It works so beautifully.  The trick is to not go overboard.

P.S.  This is also a great tool to slim down a person by removing or lessening various bumps or bulges.

Select the FILTER tab and then scroll down to the LIQUIFY option.

 Thanks for stopping by my blog.  Please feel free to look around as I have some other photography tips and tricks.  You can view more of my child photography work at Little Lamb Photography.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

How to make a candy shell cake liner

How to make a candy shell liner for a giant cupcake

I am a photographer and LOVE to photograph cake smashes.  And I LOVE using giant cupcakes as the cake in these photo sessions.  I have a Pinterest board dedicated to cake smash photography in order to get some ideas for myself for decor as well as to give ideas to my clients for colour and how to decorate the cake.  As fun as butter cream is for the top of the cake--because you need the icing to be gooey for great photos--I have also seen smooth looking bottoms of these cakes and wondered how it was done.

Then I found a tutorial through Pinterest on how to make an edible liner for your giant cupcake from The Weekly Sweet Experiment.  Thanks Susan!  I was so happy to find this info and immediately began making plans of how I was going to make a giant cupcake for my daughter's two year cake smash.  Check out the photos from her one year cake smash (I had a bakery make that particular cake).

I went to Bulk Barn and bought baby blue coloured molding wafers.  These are pretty easy to find in any bulk store as well as stores that carry baking supplies.  Wilton also sells bags of the same stuff, labelled "Candy Melts".  And the nice thing is that they come in a whole rainbow of colours, such as red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple and pink

I melted 4 cups of wafers (2 cups at a time).  Don't melt the wafers too much so that they're really liquidy because you need them to be able to stick and stay in the places that you want or else they will slide down into a lump.  But don't heat too much or else it will burn.

I used the back of a spoon to spread the stuff on one side (while the pan was on it's side), let it cool a bit (to harden) and then spread some of the other side and let it sit on its side until it hardened.  I then put some on the bottom and let it harden.  After the first coat hardened, I did the exact same thing with the second coat to make it thicker.

What you will need:
  • 4 cups of coloured molding wafers
  • A glass bowl or measuring cup to melt wafers in
  • A Wilton Giant Cupcake pan
You can either microwave the wafers to melt them or you can use the double boiler method.

After you have spread it all around, put it in the fridge for at least 40 minutes (to make it hard) and then it will be easier to remove from the pan without breaking.  Gently turn pan upside down, give a few taps (with your other hand ready to catch it) and the shell should slide out without difficulty (at least it was easy for me).  Good luck!

Check out the rest of the photos of this cake for my daughter's two year cake smash photo session.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

How to make an easy DIY photography backdrop

I am a portrait photographer and I LOVE to photograph one year (and two year) baby cake smash photo sessions.  Although I love to shoot outdoors for most portrait sessions, I prefer to shoot indoors in a studio style setup for my cake smash photo session.  The reason why I prefer to shoot cake smash sessions in studio is because I love to make fun and colourful backdrops for these fun photo shoots.

I take particular interest in planning the colours for my props (including backdrop), cake icing colours and what clothes the babies should wear.  In order to get many variations for my cake smash photo sessions, I find the easiest way is to use coloured crepe paper--you know the party streamers that you put up for parties, baby showers and weddings.  They come in a huge range of bright colours and shades and they are pretty inexpensive.  Another reason why I prefer to use them for cake smash portrait sessions is because if they happen to get dirty from the cake or icing, it's not a problem because I can just trash/recycle the streamers after I have finished shooting the session.

I prefer to use 3-5 colours of streamers to make up my background.  You can purchase crepe paper streams at your local dollar store, party supply store or a big box variety store.  I have found that different dollar stores will offer different colours AND you get twice as much for what you would pay at a party supply store.  Thus, whenever I see a dollar store, I will go in and check to see what colours or shades they sell.  If I don't have the colour and it's one that I could see myself using for a future photo shoot, then I will buy one or two packages.  I then go to the party supply store to purchase whatever other colours that I can't get at any of the dollar stores.  However, with this particular photo shoot, I was able to purchase all of the bright colours (yellow, lime green, orange, white) from a dollar store.  Yay!  You can also purchase different coloured balloons from the dollar store or a party supply store.  The variation in colours applies the same as with the streamers.

All you need to do it tape each streamer to the wall and mix it up so that it offers variety and covers the entire wall.  OR, if you do not have access to shoot against a wall (due to furniture covering it), you can set up stands with a rod and then tape the streamers to the rod.

You can see more photos from this cake smash photo session on my portrait photography blog.  Enjoy.

The paper streamers are taped to the wall using scotch tape.
Here is a pull back of my set up for the photo session.
End result.  Shot using Nikon 50mm 1.4 lens.  Shot at f 5.6 at 250/sec 

You can view more photos of this cake smash photo session on my photography website.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Invisible bike helmet

My Facebook news feed keeps showing me some amazing things.  Today was no exception.  One of my friends in Vancouver (a very green friendly city that I had the pleasure to live in for a few years) posted a link about an invisible bike helmet.  Of course, this made me very curious because the photo of the model in the link just had a headband on her head, so I had to check out how this headband could miraculously save a biker's skull in a bike accident.  Boy was I wrong.

I used to cycle to work when I was a student going to my part time job.  I also used to cycle to work every day when I lived in Vancouver as well as in Japan, so I understand the importance of wearing a bike helmet.  I always wear a helmet because I want to protect my skull and brain.  However, some people are willing to go without a helmet because they don't like how it looks or feels.  This invisible helmet is for them.

Please take the time to watch the 3.5 minute video, which features two smart ladies (Anna and Terese) who came up with this brilliant idea (while still in school, no less) as well as at the end a demonstration of how their invisible bike helmet works.

If I still cycled, I would want to purchase one of these amazing invisible bike helmets.  Imagine having an air bag specifically for your head?  A.MA.ZING! ! ! ! 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Sustainable Living NOMAD Micro Homes

I just came across this info in my Facebook news feed of a Canadian company that has created a concept of sustainable living houses.  Ian Lorne Kent is the designer of these sustainable living spaces.

Photos courtesy of NOMAD Micro Homes.

NOMAD Micro Homes is a Vancouver based company that creates small houses that have very little impact on the environment.  What an amazing concept to help people not only purchase an affordable house, but houses that have little to no negative impact on the environment.  What an amazing concept.  According to NOMAD's website their homes include, "Living area, kitchen, bathroom and sleeping area all seamlessly integrated into a 10' x 10' space." 

I am not going to lie, but for people who live in first world nations, living in a 10'x10' space seems pretty darn small.  Heck, I live in an old country home that is about 1400 square feet with no basement and I feel like it is too small for our family of four.  However, these homes are designed to be shipped anywhere in the world, so they can be used by couples purchasing their first home and cannot afford to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars on a first home.  They can also be sent to people in third world countries whose homes consist of grass huts or small tents.  And better yet, they can also be used by people in disaster areas whose homes have been destroyed.  Of course, you would need to change your way of living and thinking so that you own less possessions and are ok with that.  I admit that this is hard to do in first world nations where we are constantly told that buying stuff and having stuff is good.  But really when it comes down to it, less is always more for most things in life.

What I like a lot about these micro homes is that they can be moved anywhere at anytime since they are not set down on a concrete foundation.  Hence the word nomad.  If you decide that you want to move, just pack up your micro home onto a trailer and move it to your new property.

These micro homes would be an amazing idea for those in first world nations who want a cottage or cabin to get away to on the weekend to relax in nature.   They can be off the grid or live, depending on what you want/need.  And the icing on the cake is that NOMAD claims that their homes are, "termite, moisture, and fire resistant." 

Check out the gallery to get a better vision of what these micro homes have to offer.  I just wanted to share this info for anyone who is serious about living a more sustainable life, live off the grid or who would like to purchase an affordable home.

Of course, there are other micro home companies such as the US based Tumbleweed Tiny House Company and the UK based Micro Compact Home.  For those with families who need a slightly bigger home, there is the US based company FabCab which sells larger sustainable homes for a higher cost.

And speaking of living in nomad style homes, I have to mention how 80% of Mongolians are nomads and so they live in gers, which are these amazing wool structures, supported by wood that can easily be put up, taken down and transported to a new location.  I had the pleasure of staying in a ger while I visited Mongolia back in 2005.  I rode a horse to see a Mongolian family and how they really live.  It was a wonderful experience.

Me at a ger camp in Mongolia, August 2005.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

My little lamb's July photo session, Part Two

Here are the other photos from my little lamb's July photo shoot for Nelli's Bowtique hair accessories on Esty.  These photos were MUCH easier to shoot since I talked my husband into helping me by getting my daughter to smile and putting her back in place when she tried to run away.  Enjoy.

By the way, if anyone is interested in the backdrops that I used, in the top photo, I stuck up sparkly paper flowers on the wall that I bought from the dollar store.  In the other photos, I purchased gorgeous black and cream coloured brocade style material from Fabricland.  It was curtain material that was on sale and when I saw it I knew that it would make a gorgeous backdrop.  Easy peasy and cheap too.


Saturday, July 20, 2013

My little lamb's July photo session, Part One

Well, I have been pretty busy the last few months with shooting portraits and a wedding as well as the post processing of all said images.  Man, do I miss the easy days of shooting film.  Photographers had much more time to do other work, instead of post processing, like we now do for digital photos.  Anyway, I just shot some photos of my little girl yesterday.  It took me HOURS to do four different setups.

You see, I was given some beautiful hair accessories by an Etsy seller with the purpose to photograph them with a child and then send her the files.  I finally made the time to do the photo shoot using my daughter since it was convenient to do everything at home. 

I gotta say that the last 3-4 months have been very difficult to continue with these monthly shoots of my daughter because she is not interested in having her photos taken.  Given the fact that she is 18.5 months old, she is more interested in running around and exploring than taking posing instructions from mommy.   But it is still my goal to do monthly photo shoots with her until she is at least two years old, so come hell or high water that is what's going to happen.

As you can see, she gave me a run for my money for the first two photo set ups.  The next two were easier when I had my husband help out.  I will be posting those photos next.

I hope that you enjoy these photos of my little girl as much as I do.  All of the pain and agony paid off with some lovely pictures that I can cherish of my daughter AND that Nelli's Bowtique can use for her advertising. 

My saucy little lamb.
This is what I had to deal with during this shoot.  But it's so cute!
See what I mean about being difficult to shoot?
My little lamb feeding a granola bar to her own baby.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Happy Canada Day!

Since Canada Day is coming in a few days, I just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Canada Day.  I love my country and I am so grateful that my family and myself have the privilege to live in such an amazing and beautiful country.  My parents have a Canada day party every year, so I just wanted to share a photo of my little lamb from last year's Canada day party.  It's amazing how fast babies and children grow.

Happy Canada Day!!!!

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