diy cake smash photo shoot

when you have a baby, the costs keep adding up. there are the necessary everyday items like diapers, but then there are also optional luxuries such as having professional photos done for your child. like many parents, we opted to do the newborn photo shoot because 1) we wanted high-quality images of penny, and 2) we didn’t mind splurging for our first child. (i’d like to think we’d be as generous with our subsequent children.)

dennis and i didn’t truly appreciate the work that photographers go through for the newborn photo shoot until we were at the studio. i mean, how hard could it be taking pictures of a sleeping newborn? thing is, newborns don’t sleep all the time and they have to be asleep for certain poses. our photographer cranked the heat up in the studio and was constantly feeding penny so she’d be sleepy and full. also, babies are diaperless during these photos so you can imagine what a lot of milk and no diapers can do during picture time!

as much as we love the newborn photos and now know how much work goes into baby photo shoots, we still couldn’t justify paying upwards of $700+ for the cake smash session. a baby’s first birthday is a significant occasion in general but in the korean culture, it is a huge deal. with the big guest list, traditional tie-ins such as the doljabi and hanbok, entertainment for the younger crowd, favors, and food the final total can go into the thousands, sometimes tens of thousands (eek!) in the end, we asked our friend, john, who has a really nice canon to take family photos and pictures of penny for her cake smash. that left dennis and i to arrange the “home studio.”

we chose the basement aka penny’s playroom for the space because it’s spacious and has a lot of natural light. fyi, natural light is your best friend. it’s okay to use both natural and artificial light but, if possible, you want to take photos near big picture windows to ensure the photos come out their absolute best. we chose to have penny’s photo session take place around 3:30pm (after her last nap so she has a long window of awake time). we also decided to use the wall facing the windows for optimal light since the sun sets in that direction.

word of advice: have, at least, one other person present during the photo shoot. i recommend two people though. while the photographer (could be you) is taking pictures of the baby, there needs to be someone distracting the baby by making noises and trying to make them smile and face the camera. also, when you’re doing multiple outfit changes it helps to have extra hands to do the job super quick. while john took the photos, his wife, alice, helped set up the different backdrops. remember: your baby will get agitated sooner or later so you have to make sure you allow plenty of time, but also give yourselves a break! we stopped for a short while so penny could have some milk – don’t forget, they’ll be hungry so have snacks and milk ready!

also, the photo shoot could take more than one day. i ended up taking pictures of penny with my iphone 6 a few days later so i could have more pictures of her, smiling. during the original photo shoot whenever dennis and i made noises for her to smile, she’d end up looking at us. thankfully, dennis’ mom came over to help with wardrobe changes and using props to get penny’s attention. these pictures turned out great too! i was worried about the quality of the iphone photos but i think the natural light helped immensely. all of the photos of her smiling were taken with my iphone!

okay, onto to the preparation of the home studio. i did a lot of research and saw that people purchased a big roll of bulletin board paper or craft paper for the backdrop. some used white (blank canvas and makes the photos super bright) while others opted for colored backgrounds. dennis and i went to jo-ann fabrics to see what we could find and we were pumped to see that they had a faux wood bulletin board paper! the ones that some people were using were 52 inches wide and ours was 48. just a few inches short but the width does make a difference because it determines how close/far you can take your pictures since you don’t want the wall to show. try to make sure you can find a width that’s 48 inches or more.

IMG_5917

make sure you tape the backdrop up high and without cutting it, roll it out so the floor is covered too.

i made the ‘one’ banner and hung it low so it would show in the picture. have a few decorations and/or banners on hand so you can have a variety of “looks.” i saved a fringe banner from last year’s baby shower, made the ‘one’ banner, bought balloons, and saved paper fans from my baby shower and penny’s 100th day celebration.

IMG_5910

how it looks close-up

 

for the smash cake, i decided to make a giant cupcake. i purchased a giant cupcake pan from amazon and it’s around $15.

i referred to this blog post, and it was really helpful. the only thing i have to gripe about is how much cake batter was left over. the ingredients ask for 2 boxes of yellow cake mix and you end up using about half, maybe a little more. i suppose you could just make more cake or cupcakes with it but after spending all morning making and prepping the smash cake i didn’t even want to eat the remnants.

anyway, if you don’t feel like opening up another link i’ll post the ingredients here:

ingredients and supplies

  • 2 Boxes of Yellow Cake Mix
  • 6 Eggs
  • 1 Package Jello-O Vanilla Pudding Mix
  • 1 c. oil
  • 2 c. water
  • giant cupcake mold
  • cooking spray
  • glass bowl
  • hand mixer
  • 1 lb. candy melts
  • long knife
  • 2 cans of frosting or homemade buttercream frosting (i opted to make frosting – recipe in included in post.)
  • *food coloring (only if you’re making the frosting – i used wilton)

i poured 2.5 cups of batter in the cone portion (left side) and 3.5 cups in the bottom part of the cupcake (right side).

when it’s done, let them cool in pan for 15 minutes and transfer over to a wire rack to cool completely.

IMG_5980

after they cool, level the raised parts of both the cone and the bottom portion of the cupcake. the bottom photo was taken before i did that. notice how the cone isn’t perfect? i used frosting later on to cover it up and faced that part away from the camera.

with the knife, you also want to slice off the ridges of the bottom part so that it fits into the candy mold later on. you will see what i’m talking about in the next picture.

IMG_5984

this candy mold for the bottom part of the cupcake is optional but it has a much better presentation than if the cupcake was just shown with the cake bottom.

the blog post says to put the candy melts (most of the bag) in a microwaveable bowl and melt the candy for 30 seconds in 3 intervals. i found that two times sufficed for me because the candy was too watery the third time around and wouldn’t coat the sides of the pan to create a thick shell.

41f-fofiaal-_sy300_

i purchased these from party city

after the candy is melted, pour it into the bottom part of the cupcake mold and make sure to coat the sides. if it looks too thin, you may need to harden the candy and try melting it again. i learned that the hard way. after refrigerating the shell for 40 minutes, i saw that it was way too thin to even take out of the mold so i had to scrape the shell off and redo it.

okay, so after the melted candy is in the mold put it in the fridge for, at least, 40 minutes so that it’s solid. then, turn the mold upside down and gently tap it… it should slide out easily!

IMG_5985

see how the candy walls are thick?

then, gently place the bottom part of the cupcake (with the ridges sliced off) into the mold. i had to keep taking the cupcake out to trim it even more because it was too big to fit into the mold. keep playing around with it.

IMG_5987

ta-da! it finally fit! see how much better the cupcake looks with a candy mold???

after i finished making the frosting, i put in one drop of the pink food coloring. the color i desired was a light pink so i wanted to start off slowly. be aware that food coloring can deepen over time so you want to start with one drop and then slowly add more. you can always make the frosting darker but you would need to add (and then make more) frosting to make it lighter. i only ended up using two drops!

here is the recipe for the frosting, borders & writing (if you’re into all that). i got it from my baking instructor.

icing

  • 1/2 c. crisco
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. vanilla
  • 4 tb. warm water
  • 1 lb. domino 10x confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tbs. corn starch

mix everything but sugar and corn starch.

add sugar slowly, and then corn starch. mix until smooth.

add food coloring drop by drop.

 

IMG_5981

IMG_6036and, viola! i took a cake decorating class at jo-ann fabrics a few years ago. sadly, i forget most of the techniques but the rosette is not hard to do at all. i just practiced a few of them on the plastic pad that i got with my decorating kit.

*note: if you want bigger rosettes, you want to use a bigger tip. mine took a while to do and the frosting was hard to squeeze out because i had used a lot of powdered sugar. more sugar, more stiffness.

please give yourself plenty of time to bake the cake, make the frosting, and set it up. ideally, it would be best to do the photo shoot in the afternoon so your child is well-rested and you have more time to get ready. dennis took care of penny in the morning but i still got up around 7am to prep and bake the cake. i was still working on it three hours later! i also didn’t put the frosting on until a half hour before the shoot, and we took pictures of it during penny’s nap.

it’s kind of sad to see your hard work get destroyed, but hey, it’s a cake smash! i admit, it was fun to see penny get mystified by the cake and then hesitantly touch it. she didn’t go all out as we had hoped but we still got some good pictures!

remember to have fun… and relax!

enjoy the pictures!

13055569_10153636185215765_8380526790116223269_n13007165_10153636185275765_2024621111913353295_n13001073_10153636185310765_5967945063004234117_n12115808_10153636185335765_4215605338925274905_n

13082643_10153636261785765_3616423712246202856_n

13051669_10153636185480765_7017113724581323175_n13006628_10153636185505765_6316602383355218255_n

13082488_10153636185610765_7526985130814655998_n13001026_10153636185700765_649406617016789819_n

13000356_10153636185725765_8891830496060936882_n13007312_10153636185760765_9218544634362245626_n13012831_10153636185800765_1153137271090150281_n13062248_10153636185890765_6924865202974323607_n13043628_10153636185920765_6267240783507257459_n13001128_10153636186005765_361373083385708645_n13015585_10153636186070765_4200364188947608738_n

13119010_10153647921895765_5289646004813681342_n13094282_10153647921850765_4152096137955714384_n

13007095_10153636186225765_3230236618860815015_n13043224_10153636186320765_7489967754303581802_n13062374_10153636186390765_5729809057373060615_n13087513_10153636186415765_3251177687703458335_n12998463_10153636186455765_6288808081889676008_n13055427_10153636186480765_2103491217002567678_n

let go, and let God

IMG_5997

 

d-18 until penny’s party! i think it’s safe to say that the majority of 2016 was spent agonizing over the details of penny’s first birthday. for the most part, i’ve completed the dol towers – all 3 of them – but i still need to do the tops. i need a break from those for now, and there are other pressing matters that i need to attend to.

IMG_6319

for instance, this saturday my friend, mouy, and i were going to make a day trip up to boston to drop some decor off at my parents’ house. dennis and i already have so much to bring up (i.e pack and play, stroller, etc.) the day before the party so we wanted to make sure we have enough room in the car. i had to postpone this trip because i realized that my idea for a backdrop isn’t going to work because it’ll be too big to transport even in an suv. so, i was left scrambling for alternative ideas. genie assisted in helping narrow down the options, and saturday will be spent (hopefully) starting and completing the backdrop with the help of two friends!

a lot has happened since the last post. penny’s first tooth is finally trying to break through! we can see, and feel, the top of a tooth on her bottom gum. she’s been fussy during the daytime lately but usually during mealtimes. she’d rather play than sit in a high chair… she’s still sleeping very well at night so we haven’t noticed any changes (thank goodness).

penny had also outgrown her car seat a while ago but we kept putting off purchasing a convertible seat because we figured she would be okay until her first birthday. but then we noticed her feet were sticking out from the car seat more than they had been, and we read an article that a fellow parent had shared in a parenthood group on facebook about switching to convertible seats sooner rather than later. dennis had taken a picture from the newest edition of the baby bargains book and the britax boulevard clicktight was the best-rated of the bunch, so we went with that. it arrived yesterday and we can tell penny is already much more comfortable in it. we already took her to the pool for a family swim, cheesecake factory for dinner, and to the grocery store.


our friends, esther and william, came down from massachusetts with baby olivia (aka ollie) to visit us a few weeks ago. this is olivia k., not olivia g. (genie’s “olivia.” 😀 – a very popular name this year!) it was super sweet of them to make that drive to come see us and we all had a wonderful time. we joked that the boys seemed to enjoy the play date the most but in all seriousness i think they did. they played table tennis, ps4, and basketball while esther and i … played with the babies -_- no, but still, i’m glad dennis had fun because he doesn’t really get to “play” much and i enjoyed my time with esther just having girl talk.

IMG_6068IMG_6065IMG_6064IMG_6063IMG_6041IMG_6039

dennis’ 31st birthday was on the 17th and he spent the day golfing with his buddies. he ended up being late for a family dinner but he had had a great day, so that’s all that matters.

after an enjoyable weekend with friends, dennis and i realized how we need to take more time to take care of ourselves, and have fun too. as much as penny is the light of our lives, we can’t forgot to “treat” ourselves and go out once in a while without her. yes, we’ve been on a few vacations since penny was born but a date night needs to happen more often. being home with penny all day, i sometimes forget how deprived i am of adult interaction. thankfully, my in-laws live nearby so usually they can take care of penny if i have dates with friends.

i was able to catch up with two friends that i worked with a few years ago. one recently got married and the other is getting married in july. we went out for happy hour and just laughed and laughed about our teaching experiences.. while also griping about the education system.

IMG_5951IMG_5939

i guess i’ll make light of it even though it’s a heavy topic but i got laid off recently. connecticut, like all of the other states, has had a major cut in their budgets for schools so teachers are getting laid off and schools are closing. the town that i’m working in laid off 17 teachers (it actually became 15 because 2 resigned) and may even close one elementary school. it’s all by seniority and i missed the cut-off date by two months. truthfully, i was upset (and shocked) and even cried although i had been feeling ambivalent about returning in the fall. it’s more of a pride thing, you know?

so many friends, and of course dennis above all, have been sending love and offered encouraging words like how i get to spend even more time with penny. plus, i can always work somewhere else. two teachers have been rehired in the meantime and i’m actually third in line to be called back so there’s a possibility. i fervently believe everything happens for a reason so i’m letting go, and letting God.

oh! another important event occurred that weekend: penny’s cake smash! i’ll actually not go into too much detail here because it’ll end up being a l o n g post with a plethora of pictures.. so i’ll save that for the next post, but.. it went well and i’m glad it’s done and over with! i’ll share a few pictures here for those that were not able to view them on facebook. again, i’ll go into specifics in the next post and share how i created a “home studio” and made a giant cupcake. we saved a lot of money this way!

until then, enjoy these adorable pictures 🙂

IMG_6037IMG_6036IMG_6265IMG_6274IMG_6273IMG_6259IMG_6282

 

life is good

my right arm is hovering over the keyboard as i type this entry because the stitches on my wrist prevent me from applying too much pressure on it.

on monday night, what was supposed to have been a relaxing and delicious family dinner turned out to be disastrous instead. as dennis grilled 삼겹살, or pork belly, in the sunroom and my in-laws were setting up the dinner table i went to get a small plate out of the cupboard to put the 쌈장, or bean paste spread, on. everything happened so quickly in the next few seconds that i’m not quite sure how it all went down. one minute i’m taking the plate out of the cupboard and then it broke in half – i think i banged it onto the open cupboard door and dropped it causing it to break. as the pieces fell, one half landed on my right wrist and sliced it, nicking an artery. i felt the plate hit my arm but didn’t think much of it until i bent down to pick up the pieces and saw blood gushing from my arm. there was so much blood and i was freaking out!

my in-laws saw and rushed over to help and the commotion drew dennis into the kitchen. he quickly applied pressure by wrapping two kitchen towels around my wrist. somehow, penny slept through all this and my in-laws stayed to watch penny and yuri while dennis took me to the er.

we were there for a few hours: questioning, cleaning, stitches, and withdrawing more blood. a student was stitching me up while a resident foresaw the procedure. both weren’t wearing masks because it wasn’t clear that i had nicked an artery until the student was about to finish stitching me up and nudged it. i wasn’t looking because i felt squeamish but dennis told me blood squirted up onto the girl’s face and some went in her mouth! blood also sprayed onto the resident’s coat. meanwhile, blood kept pouring out of my wrist and i was worried about losing a lot of blood, but i was told that it was fine because it stopped within a few minutes.

[warning: graphic photo ahead]

IMG_4078

it looks like a baby walker took a bite out of my arm

the nightmare continued because instead of being discharged after the stitches, i had to donate 4 vials of blood to get it checked out since some had gotten into the student’s mouth. more needles, more blood. the next day, i had to go to see a pcp to get my dressing changed and have it inspected. once again, i was questioned on how it happened and even as i explained it i knew how ridiculous it sounded. doubt flickered across the doctor’s face as he asked if i was having any stress in my life. i felt like i was lying even though i wasn’t! definitely a strange and uncomfortable situation… especially since life is so good right now.. and i want to live!! 🙂

thankfully, dennis worked the afternoon shifts the next two days so he took care of penny during the day and his mom came over to help until penny had gone to bed and we had eaten dinner. she even took work off yesterday to help! genie and olivia came over for a playdate – with coffee, doughnuts, and korean food – as well and i enjoyed our time with them.

it’s been a busy year already. the trip to dr was a welcome break and then we’ve had overnight visitors (my sister and friend, naomi). plus, my arm injury -_- and also my friend’s daughter’s first birthday party. many of us had babies last year so they’re all turning 1 this year!

IMG_4017

happy birthday, skylar!

IMG_4013

she is SO cute!

IMG_3985IMG_3984

IMG_3981

dessert bar

to top it off, dennis and i have been invited to 8 weddings!! unfortunately, we’ll only be able to make it to about half because many fall on a saturday that dennis works and he’s using up all his vacation days for destination weddings and bachelor party getaways.

IMG_4086

genie helping us with the bedtime routine!

IMG_4088

early valentine’s gift from olivia 🙂

IMG_4087

naomi and jen came to visit and spent the night. genie also came over and we had fun eating pizza and catching up. (dennis watched basketball up in our bedroom.0

another thing that’s keeping us busy is penny getting ready to crawl. she’s been trying for the past couple of weeks and she’s SO CLOSE. she lifts up her bottom and tries to move but ends up pushing herself backward. sometimes she can get herself into the crawling position while sitting but she’s still trying to figure out how to get one of her legs out of the way. she also practices a lot in the crib because she’s been sleeping on her belly lately for naps and bedtime.

IMG_3950

IMG_3976

she loves playing with the remote control even though we don’t let her watch tv

IMG_3975

IMG_3974

she loves to blow raspberries!

penny has also been very vocal lately saying, “da da da”, “ba ba ba”, “na na na”, and “ma ma ma.” she also imitates our actions (i.e blowing air –> it comes out like a whistle sometimes). when she’s in a cooperative mood, she’ll also scrunch up her eyes when we say, “이쁜 눈”, or “pretty eyes.” as much as we can’t wait to see her crawling, it’s nice to have her immobile for the most part so we’re not busy chasing her around. we need to begin putting socket covers on the outlets because she’s getting more curious and touching those and the tv cable outlet.

IMG_4066

penny at the library

IMG_4071IMG_4068

IMG_4075

it was this night that the accident occurred 😦

FullSizeRender

the books we borrowed!

this is dennis’ long weekend – hurray! – and we plan on catching up on the walking dead. we only need to watch three more episodes and we’ll be all caught up (which is perfect since the season returns on 2/14). on sunday, we have a double date hangout with genie and ben.. without the babies!! we’ve been frantically thinking of what we could do but we couldn’t think of much except watch the superbowl (uninterested because the patriots are not in it), go to a paintbar, watch a movie, or go to the claypen (a pottery painting place). my injured arm really limits physical activities like bowling and dave & buster’s. 😦 either way, it’ll be nice to hang out with just adults.

it’s a snow day today. schools are closed throughout the state and in massachusetts too. this winter has been incredibly mild compared to last year. this is the first snow day! it doesn’t really matter to me since i’m home anyway, but i love snow… how pure and clean it makes everything look. maybe i’ll take penny out in it so she can marvel at it and let her touch it as well.

ct baby shower

baby P is currently 4.4 lb. which puts her in the 36th percentile – a little smaller than average but she’s healthy. My 32-week check-up was two days ago and I was told to come back today for an ultrasound because she seemed small. That was two long days filled with unease for me… thrilled and relieved about the good news.

All her other measurements such as her torso and leg were above average though so maybe she has a calling to be a model..? ha~

33weeks

it was tough getting a good picture of her because she kept moving and the placenta was just above her head

it has been a month since my last post. every day i thought of posting an update but i couldn’t bring myself to do it because of exhaustion from carrying a growing baby around on top of being on my feet all day with kindergarteners. all i ever want to do is just curl up on the couch, snack, and zone out while watching tv. it’s.so.hard to get myself out of bed in the morning especially since it’s dark when i wake up now due to daylight savings.

report card conferences are also next week so i’ve been scrambling to get work done and be prepared for that. just one thing after another… ok, enough ranting… i really wanted to share the lovely details from my ct baby shower that was held at my house on march 7th.

IMG_8357

i hadn’t pampered myself since… well, since my pre-pregnancy days. i wanted to feel good and look nice for photos so i got eyelash extensions and airbrush makeup for the shower. ladies, remember to treat yourself once in a while…

IMG_8490

group photo 🙂 missing is my friend, lauren, who had to leave early to check out a wedding venue

IMG_8480

it’s a tradition to do a “funny face photo” when i participate in group photos

IMG_8478

super cute easel that dennis purchased from ikea – only $15! the other side is a dry-erase board

IMG_8549

genie, liz, me, and mouy

this adorable shower would not have been possible without much assistance from my dear friends. btw, genie (on left) is 38 weeks along and mouy (on right) is 21 weeks 🙂

IMG_8494

dennis and me

and, of course… my amazing husband was so hands-on with the details and delegating tasks. he had food catered from black eyed sally’s in hartford which was mouthwateringly delicious – i am pretty certain everyone went back for second and third helpings. he also organized the rentals and purchased necessities like sparkling juice, wine, and tablecloths being a few.

IMG_8502

the set-up

i purchased scrapbooking paper from michaels and used those as placemats – a great idea that i got from pinterest.

IMG_8509

this cake might have been the star of the show. mouy’s friend bakes on the side and she whipped up this gorgeous cake. not only did it look wonderful, but it tasted fantastic as well. i saved the adorable fondant shoes.. they were too cute to eat.

IMG_8496

genie baked the cupcakes among other treats. the pink buttercream frosting is homemade and tasted like it came from a high-end cupcake shop. i thought peeps would be a cute touch.

all the little details were made by genie including the pink paper flower next to the cupcake stand and the paper fans next to the cake.

IMG_8483

phenomenal cake pops made by the cake baker as well… everything was perfect

IMG_8495

it’s all in the details. the first three onesies (l to r) are from my sister and the elephant dress is from liz – a souvenir from her trip to thailand.

i found these cute blocks on etsy (what don’t they have?) and had it custom made for my baby girl. the ones that say ’31 weeks’ will last a long time because wording can change from weeks, days, months, and years. they’ll be used in back-to-school and birthday photos for years to come.

IMG_8546

IMG_8487

IMG_8484

a fun activity for guests to partake in is the headband-making station. headband kits can be purchased online. make sure you provide directions and glue guns for guests. tags are also helpful so parents know the size of the headband and who made it. there were materials left over and i also purchased another kit for my boston shower this weekend.

IMG_8369 IMG_8368

FullSizeRender IMG_8477

another great activity for guests to do is guess which date your baby will be born ~ my friend, liz, made the calendar and i’m also going to use the same one at my boston shower but guests will use a pink inkpad.

IMG_8481if you want, you can also award a prize to the person with the closest date. of course, you need to follow up on that and send it out after your baby is born 😉

IMG_8555last, but not least, custom made wish cards for penelope. after the guests leave and everything is cleaned up, it’s heartwarming to read these while relaxing on the couch which is exactly what i did. they’re wonderful keepsakes that i will put in a scrapbook and i can’t wait for penelope to be able to read them.

IMG_8486

always nice to see different groups of friends mingling and having a great time 🙂

IMG_8497my friend’s daughter, charlotte, enjoyed playing with gift wrap and tissue paper.

IMG_8505

a lamb rocker from pottery barn kids. you can choose to personalize these but i want penny’s future siblings to use them too

IMG_8485

with my mother-in-law and husband

IMG_8551

expecting ladies! from l to r: 21 weeks, 22 weeks, 33 weeks, and 38 weeks.

IMG_8507 IMG_8506

this gorgeous two-tone dress is from asos’ maternity line. i purchased it online without trying it on but it fit like a glove.. the sleeves are a little long and loose but i love the dress! the thick material kept me warm as well. i love the two-tone look because it gives the illusion of a slimmer silhouette. at first glance, i thought it was see-through on the sides.

IMG_8553

IMG_8482 IMG_8489

can’t get enough of the cake ❤

IMG_8503

i had such a lovely time.. thanks to my husband and friends for organizing it, and i am very grateful for everyone that attended or sent gifts our way even though they couldn’t make it. looking forward to the boston shower this saturday!