Loopy and her iPhone have had a few adventures this summer.  They've been geocaching. Basically, she uses a downloaded app to find hidden "caches" around town. Think of it as a real-life treasure hunt.

Saucy used to go geocaching with her nerdy social studies and history teacher friends.  It was pretty fun, but generally Saucy gets a little frustrated when she's looking for something and can't find it.  Unless it's a pair of snakeskin shoes on Michigan Avenue.  She can do that for hours.

Plus, some of the players are really super sneaky and hide their caches well.  A little too well, if you ask Saucy.  They can be as elusive as the perfect pair of pumps.

Sometimes it can get a little rustic, a little natural and rugged. You can't be afraid to climb or turn things over.  You might break a nail.  Actually, Saucy broke a nail last week on Michigan Avenue actually looking for footwear so she supposes that geocaching might not be that high-risk after all.

And then... sometimes, the cache is staring you right in the face.  It might be camouflaged, but it's there.

This micro cache was so tiny, it only held a little scroll for players to log their visits to it. You can also log that you found it online, and give other players tips or notes about it.

Tip: keep a little writing instrument on hand to write in the cache log.

Or, you could find a larger cache filled with actual treasure.  Loopy hunts with her backpack filled with little trinkets to leave behind.  Take a trinket, leave a trinket... that's the rule.

So if you have some time this long weekend, log in, download the app, and take the kids on a hunt... you might be surprised what you find!

bedtime stories

Saucy and Loopy will be collaborating with the super-talented Carlene Deutscher next month to bring you a really adorable mini photo shoot for your family.  You might remember that they worked together to photograph Snookie earlier in the summer.

You are invited to enter a dreamy country meadow where a vintage bed will be fluffed and comfy, dressed and styled in gentle shades of pastels, creams and white.  Your half-hour shoot includes two photographers capturing the moments as you read your children their favourite bedtime stories.

Of course, you're welcome to bring your favourite books... we'll have ours their too.  Don't forget your snuggliest furry friends, dolls, blankies and teddies. You can relax and forget about posing while you enjoy a story under the autumn sky!

The cost for this mini-shoot is only $150.00 and includes approximately 100 edited photos on a DVD for your own viewing and publishing pleasure!

This photo shoot opportunity isn't limited to families - it would be an adorable posing spot for newly engaged couples, too!

If you are interested in booking a "bedtime stories" mini photo shoot, email Saucy or send her a message on Facebook.  Space is extremely limited.

drop everything

Saucy and The Cheerios have the kind of relationship where, if one of them is having a bad day, they can ring her up and pretty much ask for anything.  A ride.  Lunch.  Five dollars.  Whatever.

Today, Roxy texted with a simple request: could she have some new pictures for Facebook?  Of course, Saucy was down with that in the drop of a hat.

Because, if you were an amateur-ish photographer and had gorgeous models asking for pictures, you would drop everything and grab your camera.

Uhm, look.  Gorgeous, right?  You know, Saucy's family and Roxy's family go way back.  The Secret Weapon and Roxy's Grandma worked together at the university for years.  This is still such a small town.

And now... most of The Cheerios are entering senior year.  Can you believe it?  Saucy hopes to take everyone's picture this year.  It's on the laundry list, before the weather turns bad and then in the spring before graduation.  All of them, if she can.

One of the greatest gifts you can give a youngster is the gift of self-esteem.  Nothing does that quite like fun, flattering photographs.

So, any Cheerios that want photos, all you have to do is call.  Saucy will, as usual, drop everything.

maple bacon cupcakes

It's true that not every single cupcake flavour is a hit.  Loopy and some of her pals had a little birthday surprise event last weekend for Mayhem.  They took up a collection and rented a bouncy castle - they had it inflated at a park near the river for one sunny weekend afternoon.  Loopy also offered to take cupcakes.

Now, Saucy got to thinking, that Mayhem - she likes things that are a little odd and unusual.  If you knew Mayhem and JWOWW, you'd get it.  So Saucy convinced Loopy the way to go would be to make a chocolate cupcake with a hint of maple (sounds good so far) and top it with maple buttercream (still good) and... candied bacon.

Okay, the entire thing is a little crazy in its inception but candied bacon recipes are readily available on the Internet and Saucy really wanted to give it a go.  She figured the worst thing that could happen would be a really yummy cupcake with delicious frosting and a yucky decoration that people would pick off.

That's sort of what happened.  Saucy blames the website that advised her to candy the bacon with cinnamon on it.  She should have thought that one through a little more thoroughly.  Sprinkling bacon with brown sugar and broiling it might have been sufficient.  The cinnamon really didn't do anything for the flavour.

Broken into smaller pieces, they made pretty bits for the top of each cupcake but they didn't taste as great as Saucy thought they'd be.  If you're trying this at home, scratch the cinnamon.

Don't blame the little cupcake... he just wants to be loved.  He didn't ask to be topped with pork product.  He's still pretty damned cute.  He and his friends are made with Saucy's enriched box cake recipe as follows:

1 box chocolate cake mix (Duncan Hines, Betty Crocker or Pillsbury only)
1/2 cup melted butter
3 eggs
1 cup buttermilk (this can be whole or 2% milk with 1 tbsp vinegar left on counter 20 min)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp maple extract

Combine cake mix, butter and eggs on slow speed in stand mixer.  Combine liquid ingredients and add gradually.  Increase speed of mixer to "high" and beat for one minute until thoroughly blended.  Scrape bowl to ensure all matter is incorporated from the bottom.  Allow batter to stand on counter two to three minutes before scooping into paper-lined muffin tins.   Portion even amounts with an ice-cream scoop.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 16-18 minutes.  Do not overbake!  Your cupcakes are ready when they spring back when lightly touched.

Note: Saucy has refined her Perfect Cupcakes Using a Box Mix recipe since she originally published it five years ago.  Making several hundred batches with The Cheerios has led to some modification over time.  A few other bloggers have claimed this method as their own... beware of imitators!  Saucy and The Cheerios perfected this method of cupcaking to share with you.


one favourite

While Saucy and Loopy are road trippin' this weekend, they've left you a post featuring one favourite shot from some of the photo sessions we haven't had time to post on the blog in their entirety.

It seemed like it would be a quick little post to put up, they'd just sift through each folder and agree on a fave.  Not so.  There were way more than just one for each shoot.  Drat!  That's a good thing.

They were finally able to agree... pretty much.

Simply precious this one was.

A fun and funky family.
Sisters at twelve, fourteen and sixteen years old.
Sisters make the best friends!
A sweet candid moment between niece and auntie.

The perfect princess!

Amazingly beautiful eyes.

Okay... that's two from one shoot, yes.  But look at that last picture.  That picture tells one awesome story!

The story was:  Sisters... blech!

un petit gateau

Over the weekend Buddy Budderson - ever the attentive boyfriend to the delightful Sammy - decided to bake her a birthday cake from scratch.  Of course, he called Saucy for some help.  Help only, as he was adamant to do the work himself.  And he did.  He even cleaned up the kitchen.

Saucy pulled out her Miette cookbook because immediately the petite gateau pictured on its cover came to her mind.  It is charming and sweet... and utterly doable for the most inexperienced of cake decorators.  At the very least, the finished product would look somewhat like the original and Buddy would not suffer too much frustration with his first turn at a piping bag.

The recipe was quite good and Saucy was glad she visited the website before proceeding to far as the book went to print with some mistakes and she was able to make the necessary corrections to the text before using any of the recipes.

On a cute note, Buddy was amazed at how much work went into baking a cake completely from scratch and had no idea there was so much precise measuring involved and that even the temperature of the ingredients was critical to success!  Boys.  Saucy taught him to cook, but not as much baking as Loopy has done.

The recipe makes two six-inch cakes for slicing and decorating.  Not having two six-inch pans, Saucy baked the second half of the batter in a seven-inch pan and decorated it with the leftover swiss meringue buttercream from the book (one of the best recipes Saucy has used).

Saucy's leftover version may be a bit more finished because of her experience, but Buddy's?  It was the perfect little token of affection for someone special.  Plus, the three layer version is cuter.

His is much, much better, don't you think?

baby steps

It's much too hot to do any baking around here... so you'll have to endure seeing some more of Saucy and Loopy's summer photography project.  Thanks to some loyal friends and blog readers, Loopy has more than half of the money she needs for her exchange to Japan in March.  There are more shoots booked so hopefully she can come up with all the scratch required and put the project to bed in the early fall.

It's forced Saucy to do a few things.  Primarily, Loopy has forced Saucy to shoot in completely manual mode on her camera.

This flexibility has allowed the girls to get out and shoot in more places than ever before.  In this case, simply on a kitchen table with available light through patio doors.  This sweet baby was just sixteen days old for her first photo shoot.

Even though Saucy used to teach photography in high schools, it was the olden days with film and actual light meters and developing in a dark lab with stinky rotten chemicals.  When she switched to digital SLR, she got very... lazy.

Saucy needed Loopy to push her out of her comfort zone and work with the light more.  Loopy forced the issue at times and Saucy sometimes resisted... but they kept at it.  Loopy held the reflector and sometimes it might have been hard to tell who was the teacher and who was the student.

And in other baby steps, Saucy encouraged Loopy to explore the world of actions and filters in Photoshop more.  

By george, I think they've got it!

Together, they're making some nice memories... for themselves and for other people.  And some decent coin.  It really beats Loopy standing around in a drive through asking if anyone wants fries with their order.  This way, everyone's learning something new.

What do you think of that?

You'd have to do a lot of babysitting to get to Japan!

Enjoy these long, lazy days of summer.


buddying up

Saucy and her fabulous foodie blogging friend were both inspired by this photo shoot that has had its fair share of attention on Pinterest.  Since Saucy and The Cheerios have been spending the summer doing their own version of the upcycled gown challenge and gown photo series, The Foodie and Saucy decided to join forces and work on a shoot together.

Last week, on a particularly beautiful evening, The Foodie's folks generously let their beautiful country acreage be overrun by Saucy and the girls... complete with providing props (check out the sweet ride below).

The best part of the entire endeavour (and there were many awesome parts) was to see the difference in the finished photos from two photographers.  If you ever get a chance to buddy up and shoot with a friend, do it.  It will open your eyes... you'll learn some tricks.  But mostly, you'll realize how two different photographers with roughly the same amount of experience and exactly the same equipment can see one beautiful subject in totally different ways.

It's fascinating.  If you didn't think photography is a subjective art form, it is.  Artists see their subject matter through the lens in different ways.

For this shoot, our subject was the exceptionally beautiful Snookie.  She's beautiful inside and out.  She's full of spit and vinegar, spunk and sass.

Can you just tell?  She makes Saucy laugh.  She makes Veto laugh. She actually sometimes brings the entire team to stitches.  She's just one of those people.

Even The Foodie captured Snookie's crazy-tough-girl-with-an-attitude personality.  Don't let that facade fool you too much... she's kind of a sweet marshmallow inside.  On the outside, she's all fisticuffs and (like Loopy) often with the mouth of a sailor.  Saucy rides them about it, but they know it makes her giggle inside. They like to say things mostly for shock value.

The mosquitos came out for the shoot.  Loopy was the incredibly glam bug spray assistant.

In all of it, we had many moments of serenity.  It really was a magical photo shoot.  The light was gorgeous.

Snookie is wearing a beautiful wedding gown donated to our upcycling project.  The bodice is just folded underneath the skirt and fastened with a belt.  Saucy fashioned a sash with some white taffeta for under four dollars.  It was fastened with a zip tie from the hardware store.

Now that we're done photographing this amazing skirt, we may attempt just one more restyle of it before it makes its way to The Princess Shop.  It is a pristine gown (with tags) that will find a home with someone who really needs it.

Sharing the gown with someone needy is just another lesson from the gown upcycling and photo shoot project.  It's about putting something beautiful to good use... even if it wasn't the original plan for the dress.

And like buddying up with another photographer, The Cheerios like to work together to create beautiful things...

... like friendships that will stand the test of time.

Prairie alfalfa

The Foodie saw Snooks in some amazing light.

Saucy loves capturing the girls through the loving lens of her camera.  She wants to help them remember these times, the good parts and the bad.  It's all part of the fabric of growing up, of finding their own way.

Saucy can't thank The Foodie enough for being a second shooter on this project, and if The Foodie is ever up for it again, Saucy knows a few girls who would be more than interested in taking their turn in front of a couple of duelling camera lenses.  There are a few Cheerios who haven't even had a turn with a photo shoot yet...

In the meantime, check out The Foodie's blog, BS' In The Kitchen where she and her brother cook and bake up a storm of all sorts of delicious recipes.  You can follow her photography on her Facebook page here.

The complete shoot is available on Saucy's flickr account, in case you want to peruse.