better late than never

Maybe that should be the name of this blog: Better Late Than Never.  It seems like projects are still flying out the door and baking is still coming out of the oven, but nothing is making it onto camera and being blogged. 

You know what they say... if it didn't happen on the Internet, it didn't happen.

Case in point: Homecoming, 2014.  Was this in September already?  Daisy Duke called on game day with a fun idea.  She wanted to surprise her Texas-born boyfriend with a Texas-style homecoming mum at the big game.  That's not really a tradition up here.  

At least she knew who to call.

It's really not a "traditional" homecoming mum, but Saucy had a couple of these funky Huskie hats on hand from Dollarama on the off-chance someone wanted to wear one to a game. The hat fit perfectly over a 9" round cardboard cake board. It was pretty quickly hole punched for ribbons and a neck strap.

Like The Secret Weapon before her, Saucy prides herself on the fact that the craft room/studio is equipped to come up with stuff like this at the drop of a hat. LITERALLY.  The drop of a fuzzy Huskie mascot hat!

Scraps of ribbon from cheerleading days and scrapbooking letters added the finishing touches along with pipe cleaners, crafty pom poms, felt flowers and metal player initials.  A few cupcake toppers even made it into the mix.

It took Saucy and Daisy about an hour and a half to whip this up and they were wildly proud of themselves.  It was also a great chance to get caught up with one of The Cheerios, who are all scattered about going to school, working and whatnot.

Saucy feels badly for not sharing this sooner.  She also has two outstanding Cheerio photo shoots from late summer and a few cookie recipes. She sort of feels like making Valentine cookies to serve at Christmas because at the rate she's going, they'd make it on the blog at about the right time.

abstract holiday trees

Your cookie decorating skills don't have to be top-notch. They're cookies. They need to taste good and look bright and pretty. These cookies will do the trick.

The keys to success with these cookies are:

Cutting the dough nice and thick.

Using cream cheese in the frosting.

Adding a wee bit of milk to your paste or gel food colouring and painting it on in the most abstract of ways with a little paint brush from the dollar store.

That's it!  Your cookies will amaze everyone.  It is the holiday season, after all.

Soft Sugar Cookies

3/4 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Beat butter and sugar together with a paddle attachment on your stand mixture well. Add eggs, one at a time and beat until light and fluffy. Mix in vanilla. Sift together dry ingredients and slowly add to the wet mixture.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Roll thickly - about 1/4". After cutting out shapes, chill the cut pieces for about ten minutes before baking at 400 degrees for 6-8 minutes.

Cream Cheese Frosting for Painting
(This is also Saucy's Whoopie Pie filling)

6 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
3/4 stick of butter (where butter stick is 1/2 cup)
4 cups icing sugar
1 teaspoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream the butter and cream cheese together, do not over whip. Mix in the icing sugar, then the milk and vanilla. Add more milk to make thinner for frosting the cookies, it will harden very well. 

This frosting recipe will cover two batches of the above recipe of cookies with some leftover.

To paint your cookies, put a tiny bit of green food colour paste or gel (Saucy uses Wilton Leaf Green) onto a small plate. Pour about a half teaspoon of milk onto the plate and drag a small clean paint brush through the milk and the colour. Using the cookie as your canvas, gently brush the pattern you desire into the frosting while it is still not set (for this look... you can also wait to paint your cookies after the frosting dries but that is a completely different look). Swirl and paint and pull the pigment through the frosting, adding more colour from the paint/milk mixture as you like.

Don't forget to add your favourite holiday sprinkles before the frosting dries! Happy cookie-baking days.

the quandary of photo shop

As a photographer, Saucy enjoys playing with photographs and editing them in unusual and artistic ways. As a parent and a coach taking pictures of her daughter and former Cheerios, it gets a little dicey. 

For instance, here are some things Saucy will never do in editing: make someone thinner, change eye or nose shape, or airbrush skin to the point of looking plastic.

However, she will do the following: touch up a blemish, enhance or add "twinkle" to eyes to make them pop out of the image, and use filters to create different moods or colour schemes. She will also take minor distractions out of an image (erasing a garbage can in the far off background, removing a stray hair from the face).

Partly this is borne out of a sense of responsibility to the self-esteem of her subjects. Some of it also stems from the belief that your subject looks what your subject looks like and as a photographer it is your job to capture them at their best using posing and lighting, not by "creating" them in post-production. Once, Loopy looked at an edited photo of herself and shrieked "MOM! It doesn't even look like me anymore!" Was this true?

Here is an example. This week we dashed out of the house while the sun was low and reflecting off the fresh snow in the hopes of getting a few quick shots of Loopy wearing her pink furry Ushanka hat. Too lazy to use a light meter, Saucy fired off a quick shot using her most recent manual settings and figured she'd adjust her exposure after checking the screen. The very first image was overexposed but Loopy had a great expression on her face - super relaxed, not posed, just chilling and waiting for the shoot to start.

Now what to do? Saucy decided to try to save the image in editing. She even had to grab a hat from a properly exposed shot and merge it into the final product. Sometimes it's fun and challenging just to see if you can make a bad shot look good.

And Saucy loved it. Loopy finds shots like this "too edited" and these are the kind of things she laments over. Saucy admires this earnest outlook that Loopy has about her self-image. They both realize that some girls online get really crazy with editing themselves on Instagram and Tumblr. That's not Loopy's thing, she was raised in a photographer's house. Loopy is very self-aware and if anything, she is overly critical of her images and prefers to edit them herself. Saucy only edits pictures for the blog. They kind of agree to disagree about editing these days.

It's just fun to play with photos. There is simply no harm in it. These things go in waves, as most trends do. Photographers these days are experimenting with almost unrealistic colour and lighting styles.

Edited to enhance the pink and blue tones already there 

The same shot as above with a hazy sunset layer added

Basic image with an enhanced sky and sunset. The colours were present, they were just boosted.

Image slightly cleaned up in editing suite.
Image enhanced with brightening and toning filters.

A high key black and white filter to draw attention to Loopy's amazing eyes.

This is an absolutely unretouched image (straight out of camera or SOOC).

This is Saucy's standard "first sweep" of editing... adjusting the light and the warmth. 

The second two versions of this shot show the subtle differences between adding filters. It's all a matter of taste. 

It's all still Loopy, though. She is beautiful no matter if her images are edited or not. She is also as beautiful in real life as she is on the blog. Sometimes she doesn't believe it and Saucy likes to remind her, that was the reason they started the photo shoot project in the first place. It was to enhance her self-image, not to destroy it. When Saucy plays with images, she's not changing Loopy, she's just fiddling with colours and light. She hopes Loopy knows that, deep down inside.

Gorgeous already but a very fun image to start playing with...

First sweep - adjusted light and cleaned up

First sweep - basic adjustments to light and tone.

Edited - added contrast around eyes, lips and hair

So maybe Loopy isn't too impressed with Saucy's editing... but Saucy knows one thing for sure. Someday, years from now, Loopy will look back at these images and remember all sorts of things from them. Maybe she will remember how cold it was that day. She might remember putting on a vintage fur coat that was already cold from being pulled out of storage. Maybe that we slipped on the icy ground. Maybe she will remember fussing about how her images looked or how they were edited but in the end, Saucy hopes what she remembers is that her mother thinks she is a smart, clever, drop-dead gorgeous young woman who will forever be the greatest muse of this camera.

You cannot filter that.

saucy's wanty list

Every year around this time, Saucy enjoys posting her wanty list for Santa.  She's not greedy and she's not needy, she's WANTY!

Being wanty is different than being greedy because you can be totally wanty but it's all just for fun.  For instance, you can be wanty about an electric bike or an overpriced accessory because you don't seriously think you need it and you truly aren't pining over it... you just like the idea of it and therefore, you are totally wanty!  It's greedy to actually ask for it.  But it's perfectly acceptable behaviour on a quiet weekend night over a pink martini to use your iPad to cruise various eCommerce sites and start to feel very wanty over some very desirable yet overpriced gift items. That is what capitalism is about.

'Tis the season, after all.  So come on, be wanty with Saucy. You know you want to.

Generally anything from the Kate Spade website makes Saucy feel instantly wanty and therefore she only visits several times a week and never, ever after consuming alcohol or listening to Ann-Margaret music.  If she were being wanty and silly she would put these glittery heels on her list.  Truthfully, they would go with a couple of her Kate Spade dresses but she doesn't go to fancy places all that much so she'd end up doing the vacuuming in them.

But since even in her wanty-ness she likes to appear practical, she will accept sparkly Kate Keds:

At this point, Saucy would like to point out that the Kate Spade Holiday collection is adorable and Anna Kendrick in the short movie even more so.  By the way, Saucy has a marabou pillbox hat that she found at the thrift store just like this one:

Can we all just agree it is a sad world that we live in that in no way could any of us ever venture out of the house wearing that dress, the glittery heels and the feathery hat?  Life is so very unfair.

Instead of wearing the feathery hat, Saucy could wear a pair of wireless Beats by Dr Dre headphones and listen to some swinging tunes by the Rat Pack to make herself feel better about the times that she lives in.  In exchange for living in modern day and having tablets and cell phones, Saucy would gladly travel back in time to wear structured dresses and pillbox hats every day.

If she does have to dwell solely in 2014, then she knows what to wear.  She would be very wanty over the thought of the Shinola Birdy watch with the double leather strap.  You might remember Shinola from an old "we're into it" post on this blog, Veto has one.  Saucy has been pining for this ladies version because it's delicate and shiny and orange

All Wanty Girls in the throes of their wanty-ness want Tiffany T bracelets!

All reasonable girls will settle for a Kate Spade mini bow bangle.  All Wanty Girls that answer to the nickname Saucy will suggest that the bow bangle is often found at Winners.

All girls that go by the nickname Saucy will also suggest that the most wanty of all items on their wanty list can be found at Winners this very minute:

Even though Saucy didn't peep this electric bicycle with her own peepers, she will tell you that Loopy and Snookie saw it and texted her a picture and she was immediately in lurrve.  Some days she wants to be out on her bicycle but her knees hurt so much to pedal so this Ecoped bike needs to go on the wanty list.  Electric bicycles operate on the road just like a pedal bicycle - meaning you don't need a special license or insurance.  You just need to follow the rules of the road and wear a super cute helmet.

Since Saucy has been looking for the perfect bike helmet, she may as well have one for when she rides her cruiser, Alice.  This covered helmet by Yakkay looks like a bucket hat. You can switch covers, too.  It's smart head protection for stylish cyclists. One day a ball cap, the next day a fedora.

This one is very "Kate Spade", don't you think?

It looks like the theme of Saucy's wanty list this year is mobility.  Now she thinks she wants a pair of Tieks ballet flats.  They're comfortable and foldable, so they fit in your handbag. They'd be awesome for traveling.

Folding ballet flats would fit perfectly into the "Sasha" Baby Bag by Kate Spade. Why do these wanty lists always come back to Kate Spade? Why does Saucy want what is essentially an overpriced diaper bag? Because a well-designed diaper bag is basically the equivalent of a carry-all tote bag. Water bottles can go where baby bottles go. The endless pockets for wipes and diapers can hold phones and chargers and grown up wipes. And let's all just talk about the name for a minute: THE SASHA BABY BAG. For those in the know, well... you know.

Saucy (aka Sasha Baby to family) is also very wanty over the Karl Lagerfeld limited edition Barbie. She can be as wanty as she likes, it's sold out and impossible to find. 

By the way, did you see Saucy's Halloween costume this year?

So to summarize the wanty list for 2014, Saucy wants an unnecessary electric bicycle, a necessary bicycle helmet, extremely pricey headphones that won't fit under said helmet, three pairs of overpriced shoes, jewelry (umm HELLO IT'S CHRISTMAS), a diaper bag for the baby she does not have, and a super-chic Barbie doll.

She will also accept Taylor Swift tickets, a puppy and a reason to wear her feathery hat.

See how that works?  It's not a need and it's beyond greed... it's just being downright wanty. Now it's your turn, tell everyone what you really feel wanty about this year. Go ahead and want big! It's only the Internet, people. You can want anything.

phoning europe

On the shores of Lake Zurich

Last month Saucy lived one of her lifelong dreams and visited Switzerland, France and Germany with Veto. It's a good thing she likes adventure because whilst Veto was in meetings at Basel, Switzerland she hopped trains to here and there in Switzerland and France.

You may not like seeing other people's vacation photos but Saucy wants to make space on her phone and put the pictures someplace! That someplace was Facebook and now, this blog post. 

If you ever wondered what a Smurf tastes like, it's a bit of a blue raspberry bubblegum flavour with Smarties. 

An antique teddy bear staring back at Saucy in Germany as if to say "take me home." He stayed behind.

The carousel park at Colmar, France. Saucy hopped the train to Colmar for a day and it was wonderful. It truly was like a scene from a Disney movie. She expected Belle and Gaston to jump out and sing at any moment.

Colmar is often called "the Venice of France" because of its canals. Saucy took a gondola ride from a guy that looked like Zayn from One Direction. This, not coincidentally, was the portion of the trip that Loopy was most jealous of.

Baskets and planters of amazing flowers everywhere!

Even alley selfies in France take on a whole new level of chic-ness and the photo bombers appear more elegantly poised.

The platform at Colmar headed back to Switzerland. Saucy stepped on the train with the commuters who carried groceries and baguettes! She does not know why things like this amuse her so, but they do.

Of course, the macarons were on point in Europe. At Laduree, they were displayed and packaged beautifully. We had a little splurge in Zurich on some macarons, candles and some jam and caramel.

The McDonald's in Switzerland had fabulous macarons even though they were not nearly packaged as nicely.

Sightseeing in Basel, Switzerland

One day Saucy ventured to Lucerne on her own and it was also beautiful although a bit busier than the tiny hamlet of Colmar and quite touristy. She was glad to have her selfie stick, especially when she was on her own.

It was cloudy and cool that day in Lucerne and hard to see the Swiss Alps. Saucy is sure they are there.

Looking up from the plaza where Saucy ate an American-style hot dog (which ended up not being American style at all, it was basically a sausage baked in a pretzel. So, a wiener wrap). She fed the rest of the "hot dog" to the pigeons and took note of the window panes that were rounded glass.

The famous romantic covered bridge. This is where Saucy ate a bag of funky potato chips with tomatoes.

On Veto's day off, they hopped the train to France. Saucy was eager to show him Colmar and they stopped at Mulhouse, too.

Looking through the windows of the museum to the plaza, cathedral and carousel. The French really dig their carousels. 

For Loopy's sake, Saucy made a special effort to visit Sephora in France. It was very different than in the US and Canada. The cast members wore different uniforms (the new ones) and some of the brands were quite different. It wasn't like Saucy could bring much of it home - it was very expensive and she wasn't sure what Loopy would want and she really couldn't call or text her to check. 

Of note, she did purchase a few bath items and tried to present her VIB Rouge card, which the cast member rebuffed with an eye roll and a "you are in Frah-nce now, zees card iz... uggh" and with that incredibly rude interaction Saucy thought... ohmygod I am totally in France right now. This. Is. Awesome!

The candy stores were so fabulous that Saucy brought home a new cavity.

Pistachio panna cotta with raspberries

Garlands of twigs and dried flowers over residential doorways

 It wasn't really the kind of place to do a lot of shopping but Saucy did get this super-awesome winter sweater in Germany, where she also saw a fair bit of graffiti.

On the last night in Frankfurt, Saucy and Veto wandered around and ate at the oldest restaurant in the city.

It was liberating to take a big trip like this and not travel with a camera bag and lenses. Saucy's iPhone 6 with the following editing apps were more than enough for the job... and that ridiculous selfie stick too!

Great apps for photo editing:

Hipstamatic - make your digital shots look analog
SwankoLab - a handheld darkroom kit
Mextures - over 130 textures and filters
Aviary - basic cropping, editing and enhancing
Photosynth - Microsoft app for capturing panoramas
Photo Toaster - fast, non-destructive brushes and actions
Camwow - free photo booth effects on the go