tryouts start monday

It's that time of year again... Cheerios tryouts are on Monday after school. Saucy and Mustang Sally are pretty psyched about getting back into the gym and picking a new team of... champions. At the very least, picking a team of sweet fun kids to have a barrel of fun together.

Like making fancy posters.

Here are the things that Saucy didn't put on the posters because it would have sounded silly:

The uniforms are really cute!
You'll probably get a nickname!
You'll be dancing to Michael Jackson, the Spice Girls and Ozzy Osbourne!
There are fancy hair bows!
Everyone wears matching hair and makeup!
Pop Tarts are served on the last Tuesday of the month!
We're taking a road trip this year!
Saucy makes charm bracelets!
You can get a team jacket!
We bake cupcakes together in matching aprons!
That's right, Daisy Duke and her grandma made APRONS!

It really sounds silly on a list, but it isn't. Even fifteen year old girls like to know what they're signing up for. At this point, we can only put up posters and hope that word spreads about how great last year was... because it was.

This year might just be more of an adventure than the last. That's what it's shaping up to be.

So in the midst of Halloween and housework, Saucy has a few things to get ready before Monday. Tryouts won't be too scary because lots of the kids there will have never cheered before and Saucy doesn't want them to get freaked out or worse yet, scared away or traumatized. At this point, she's just really looking for kids that are polite and pleasant who have a good attitude and are eager to try something new. If they can function well as a member of a team and if Saucy and Mustang Sally think that it will be a good experience for them, then it will all work out.

Did you try out for cheerleading in high school? Saucy remembers stepping out in front of the panel of senior cheerleaders and a few teachers who made the decision, her legs wobbling with fear, nervous that she'd make a mistake. If you have any advice for would-be Cheerios, now is the time to lay it on them.

cupcake monsters

Saucy's kitchen has been overrun this week with scary Halloween cupcake monsters. These are the ones that were featured in Women's World magazine... originally from What's New, Cupcake? (Karen Tack & Alan Richardson). For those of you waiting for the tutorial, it's been added to this post and can also be found on their website link.

If you want to make these cute, sweet monsters, this is what you'll need:

two large containers of prepared frosting (it works best for this)
regular marshmallows
mini marshmallows
M&M candies (Halloween mix if they have it)
honey wheat sticks or pretzel sticks
food colouring (the neon stuff is great)
sprinkles that look like eyes (or mini M&M candies)
chow mein noodles

... and if you have any homemade buttercream left over in your fridge, get it out and dye it a crazy colour. Saucy made these from a magazine article that her mother-in-law clipped for her, changing a few things along the way.

Saucy used green and orange for the dipped cupcakes but she had some pink buttercream left over from the ribbon cake so she tinted it purple for the one-eyed monster.

The spaghetti monster looks the most intensive to make but it's actually the quickest and easiest. In fact, an entire tray of spaghetti monsters would be fabulous on their own. Pile a nice mound of buttercream on a prepared cupcake and stab it all over with chow mien noodles. Break a honey wheat stick in half and place the pieces strategically in the middle. Place in the freezer for about 15 minutes while you prepare the frosting for dipping.

In a microwave safe bowl, tint one can of prepared frosting (homemade buttercream won't work, Saucy experimented) to the colour you want. Place in the nuker on "high" for 10 - 15 seconds, stir and cook again... watch it carefully. You want it warmed through and about the consistency of heavy whipping cream - but you don't want it hot.

Remove cupcake from freezer and invert into the melted frosting, swirling gently and tipping the bowl (hint: Saucy uses her four-cup measure because it's nice and deep and narrow with lots of dipping and swirling room and a handle). Allow excess frosting to drip off the cupcake before placing it upright. Set it on a cookie sheet (up and away from your weimaraner) and immediately place your decorative sprinkle "eyes" on the honey wheat sticks. If you didn't locate the eyes, you can cut a miniature marshmallow in half and add those. Later, use a little buttercream to make pupils on the marshmallows with mini M&M's.

The one-eyed monster is the most time-consuming of the three, because of the piping. It's just fussy work but once you get the hang of it, if you have some music on or better yet, you're working with a friend, it can go faster.

Again, make a mound of buttercream in the middle of the cupcake to build up the monster's "body." Cut a regular sized marshmallow in half and place it, cut side down, at a rakish angle near the top of the icing mound.

Now, using a pastry with a round tip - or easier, a ziploc bag with the corner cut off, pipe buttercream using swift little dashes all over the cupcake, leaving only the flat part of the marshmallow "eye" exposed.

To finish, add a brown or black M&M to the marshmallow with some uncoloured icing.

This guy follows the same dipping principle as the spaghetti monster. Make a mound of buttercream on your cupcake and place it in the freezer.

Use kitchen scissors to cut mini marshmallows into halves for the teeth.

Cut large marshmallows in half and stab them with honey wheat sticks cut to varied sizes.

Tint your store-bought frosting and heat it as described above. Gently dip the end of the marshmallows with the frosting and lay them to dry on a waxed paper. You can add the black or brown M&M candy at this point.

You will have to wait for the eyelids to set before proceeding with the rest of the dipping. If you leave the frosting you can warm it up again later.

When you're ready, just dip the cupcake bodies as you did for the spaghetti monsters... but don't drain them as carefully before you set them out to dry... a little drippy drip is good. You can even add the remaining frosting if there is any with a spoon to your upright cupcakes
before you decorate them with the marshmallow teeth. Stab them with the wheat stick eyes and let them set.

Watch out... they're easy to make so they multiply quickly. If you bake a batch of 24 cupcakes in dark brown or black Halloween baking papers, you'll be shocked that in no time, you have a host of scary creatures all over the kitchen counter.

pepper and saucy and fred and... loopy

Pepper's friend Fred is hoping to launch a little modelling career. Saucy and Pepper conjured up a little photo shoot for the blog with Loopy to get her feet wet.

After school Saucy gave Fred a quick makeover: a little makeup and a wave of the curling wand was all it took.

Since Pepper is a former model herself, she gave Fred some instruction before Saucy took the full length shots.

Fred got the hang of it right away... she was relaxed in front of the camera. In fact, this is the first shot Saucy got. The fact that she has legs that won't quit will be a huge help for her.

Pepper and Saucy are an awesome team... they double-camera'd it.

You've seen that chair before. Saucy returned it to the store she "borrowed" it from this weekend... and she wept a little. She would have dearly loved to have kept it.

Fred is "styled" with Saucy's Betsey Johnson denim coat, a markdown skirt from Forever XXI embellished with Dollar Store roses, a satin camisole from Value Village, Betsey Johnson tights of Loopy's and a choker fashioned at the last minute with the leftover faux roses hot glued to a ribbon... it works, don't you think?

So who knows where Fred's modelling pursuits will take her... but Pepper and Saucy know they're pretty pleased that they had a hand in getting her a start and a little experience in front of the camera.

Of course, Saucy had to get a shot or two of Loopy in too. She is, after all, Saucy's number one muse.  Always and forever!

pink ribbon cake

Here is a sweet fluffy idea that Saucy would like to share with you on this October day: a pink ribbon cake. Have this with your lady friends after you all go for mammograms together... Saucy's is today at 3:45.

Simply prepare a strawberry layer cake mix in two 9" round pans according to package directions. It's the filling that makes this cake special.

You'll need: one small package miniature marshmallows (250 g), a cup of sour cream, and a can of fruit cocktail (the extra cherry kind is especially nice) - drained.

While your cake layers are cooling, mix the marshmallows, sour cream and drained fruit cocktail in a bowl.

Lay the bottom cake round on a serving platter and wrap it with waxed paper to create a form around it. Secure with clothespins or a stationary clip. If you cut a length of waxed paper from the roll and then fold it in half lengthwise it will be more secure.

Fill the paper form with your marshmallow mixture, gently packing it in as you go.

Layer the top cake round on top of the marshmallows and press lightly, avoiding pushing the marshmallows out from the middle of the tower. Place in the fridge for about four hours, or better yet, overnight.

Remove your waxed paper, and voila! Your marshmallow filled creation is ready to frost and enjoy. You can just use a simple strawberry buttercream (recipe below).

1 cup white butter or margarine (butter or margarine without the yellow dye), at room temperature
1 cup white Crisco vegetable shortening, at room temperature
dash of salt
1 teaspoon white (decorator's) vanilla extract
1 teaspoon butter flavouring
4 cups icing (confectioner's) sugar
2 to 4 tablespoons heavy cream
dash of strawberry Kool Aid powder

In a stand mixer at high speed, blend the butter or margarine with the vegetable shortening and the salt. Start adding the confectioner's sugar, one cup at a time, blending well after each addition. Scrape down the bowl often. Mix in the vanilla and butter flavouring.

Your frosting will be very stiff... now add the heavy cream, one tablespoon at a time, on the highest speed of your mixer. The frosting will get light and fluffy.

You may wish to tint your buttercream pink... why not add a dash of strawberry Kool Aid powder? Just a dash will do... add a bit and see what you think of the colour and the flavour. You can always add more, but you can't take it out.

The winner of the Holiday by Matthew Mead giveaway is:
KL Crab, please shoot Saucy an email with your mailing address and info, your copy of this special publication will be directly mailed to you by Matthew himself!

** Since KL Crab doesn't have an email contact in her Blogger bio, if she doesn't happen to check this post and contact me by Monday at midnight, I'll post another winner on Tuesday. Matthew needs the mailing addresses next week. That seems fair, doesn't it?


Saucy is one of the contributors to this special publication: Holiday with Matthew Mead. Guess what? She has an extra copy reserved, just for you!

Holiday is a new venture for Matthew, a "book-azine" filled with inspiration for the holidays, laid out like a beautiful book but published in a handy magazine format. How do you get your hands on one? You can order one here.

If you're feeling lucky, leave Saucy a comment on this post and tell everyone what your favourite holiday tradition is. The winner will be selected by random draw on Thursday, October 21 at 11:59 PM EST and will be posted here on Friday. Good luck, duckies!

indoor photo shoot

As the weather gets cooler, it's nice to move the photo shoots indoors. Soon enough, the light will be too dim, even in the daytime to get a nice warm photo. The porch is a lovely place for natural light photography - usually for close cropped head shots... but today for a fully dressed set like something out of Teen Vogue:

A corner of the porch was readied during the afternoon. The old paint ladder was nabbed off Craigslist last summer for free. Clara the dress form came down from the craft room. The boot bench was tipped away from the wall to hold the birdcage. A few books from the shelves filled some empty holes. That hideous, nasty area rug came from Value Village a very long time ago for $5.00. Area rugs that are too hideous and nasty for your rooms are very good for fashion photography.

The vintage Union Jack flag is on loan from The Flag Shop in town. On loan, as in, if Saucy doesn't return it soon... it will be charged to the credit card. They didn't want to part with it and Veto didn't want to own it, so a loan worked out perfectly.

That fabulous chair? It's on loan from a department store. On loan, as in, Saucy put it on the charge card, brought it home for a photo and will be returning it tomorrow. They just don't know it's a loan. As far as they know, the chair will be just far too big for the living room. It just wouldn't have worked out anyway.

After school, when the late afternoon swings around to the south west side of the house, the light shines in perfectly for indoor pictures. Shooting in front of a window can be tricky... you want the light coming from behind and from side - but not directly behind your subject, it will blow out the image and your subject will be a dark blur.

Light from the side, slightly behind the subject, adds a nice "hair light" or "back light" and gives a diffused glow to the shot.

You can also use your on-camera flash to add some fill light but be prepared for it to give a less natural look to your shots.

Watch out for direct light on your lens - it can wash out your exposure or give you lens flare. Lens flare can be pretty cool... there's even a filter that gives the effect in PhotoShop, so when it happens to Saucy, she's okay with it. Sometimes, it's alright.

Today Loopy wore Darling's Grade 12 graduation gown layered with some inexpensive tulle to give it a modern twist and some body for photography. The velvet jacket came from Anthropologie years ago.

The cool ring was a Forever 21 find. It looks splashier than it really is.

If the sun moves quickly (and it does at this time of year) be prepared to shoot your subject from several angles to catch the light.

You'll need a little step stool or a short ladder.

Luckily, the porch has more than one light source - light streams in the windows not only behind Loopy to the left but also to the right since she's placed right in the corner. The light from the front window adds a "fill" light that softly diffuses harsh shadows.

Remember, shooting down on your subject is almost always universally flattering.

Saucy thinks these photos look like something straight out of: