If you have spent any time with me, or in my home, you are most likely well aware of the fact that I am a picture person. I obsess over pictures. In high school I kept yearly albums to chronicle my adventures, and the Wal-Mart photo center employees knew me by name. I printed a. lot. of. photos. It is only fitting that I spend my time imagining how I will style any upcoming shoot, or even imagining reasons to have a shoot (first time in a bathing suit is a necessary occasion, right?). I have been prepping for Hattie’s first birthday pictures since
she was born before she was born. I know that I did a lot of Googling, trying to find inspiration, and came up with my own little success story of a theme. I loved it, and I hope Hattie does one day as well! I documented my crafty props with photos to share, just in case you are planning a little photo shoot of your own and need help. Enjoy!
I knew that I wanted a giant cupcake for Hattie to smash in her photos, but I wanted it to look semi professional! I read a few blogs and figured out that you can create an edible cupcake base with candy melts! I was a skeptic at first, but after the first try I was sold. It is super easy to do, it just requires a little time since it has to set in the ice box for 30 minutes to an hour each layer. You will need a giant cupcake pan/mold for this project. Luckily, Ben’s aunt gifted us with one for our wedding and I have been itching to put it to use. Ta-da! If you don’t want to spend the money on a pan you may never use again and live near me, I would be happy to lend it to you for the day
Hattie’s cupcake had a red mold, I used pink melts for my trial run to make sure that I could pull the mold off. Just to clear up any confusion!
1. Start by melting 1/3 of the bag of melts for 1 minute in the microwave in a safe dish. Stir, and return to microwave for 30 seconds, usually at this point it is ready to go after a good stir. If not, pop it back into the microwave for another 30 seconds.
2. Use a silicone basting or pastry brush (you should be able to find one at Wal-Mart or your local kitchenware store) to brush the candy onto the mold in a thin layer. I like to start with the bottom, and work my way up the sides from here, pushing a bit as I go so that the candy works its way into the curves of the mold. I make sure that I brush it past the rim (it will drip over onto the top, but you can use a paper towel before chilling to wipe excess candy). At this point it will not look pretty or neat, it is just a base coat, and imperfection is okay! I was so worried the first time that I didn’t do it right, but think of it like a top coat of white paint over a black wall…it takes a few coats sha!
3. Let the mold set in the ice box for a minimum of 30 minutes.
4. Microwave the remaining chocolate melts following the same directions as before, but this time use a spatula (preferably one that has a bit of give to it) and coat the mold with the chocolate. I know that this sounds difficult and ineffective in writing but I promise as soon as you get to actually doing it, it will make sense. I start with the bottom here as well, and work my way up the sides, deliberately pushing the candy into the curves once again. Pay close attention to where the base meets the sides and ensure that you have a thick enough coat in this area to support the mold once it is completely hardened. Once you have all of your candy on the mold, smooth it out and clear out any bubbles you may see. Return to the ice box for an hour.
5. Removing the candy from the mold is very simple, just use your hands to pull the candy away from the metal from the inside and it should pop out without a fuss, it will make a slight cracking noise as it pulls away, but it should not break or split. Keep the mold in the ice box until it is needed.
Now to bake the actual cake you will need 2 boxes of store bought cake mix. Any flavor will do. You will only be using 1.5 boxes, so maybe you can make cookies with the rest, or cupcakes! Prepare the cake mix according to the directions. Preheat oven to 325 F. I spray the bottom part of my cupcake mold NOT THE TOP PART and add cake mix until it is about 1 inch from the top of the mold. (I use one whole box of cake mix for the bottom)
Bake for 13 minutes
Remove from oven and spray the top portion of the mold with nonstick spray (I like Baker’s Joy) and add the cake mix until it is about 1 inch from the top.
Return to the oven for 58 minutes.
Let the cake cool completely, remove to cooling rack or begin the cupcake creation!
To put the cupcake together you will need to trim both the top of the base, and the bottom of the top with a large sharp knife, or a cake trimmer (or floss, if you know what you are doing). you will most likely need to trim a bit of cake off of the sides of the base so that it will fit nicely into your candy mold. Once you have the cake in the mold, and the top added, you can begin to pipe your icing. My best friend Brooke is a wiz at cake decorating, so I suckered her into icing Hattie’s cupcake. I have since done it myself, and it is quite simple if you stick to a design with rosettes. We used the Wilton Decorator’s Icing (just whip it for a bit in your stand mixer with the paddle attachement and a few tablespoons of water to thin it out so that it is easier to pipe.)
We She used the Wilton 2D tip, and a 16 in. piping bag. Normal size adapters won’t fit onto the 2D tip so you will have to forgo the adapter unless you have a larger one but it works fine just pushing the tip through the bag tip. Pipe the icing onto your cupcake in rosette shapes, making sure to cover the side where the cake meets the mold. Fill in the gaps with a dap of icing. We dyed our icing off white, you can choose to dye your icing whichever color you please. Use gel dye here as well. (You can find this at Wal-Mart near the decorator’s icing and candy melts).
My mother in law and I put together a few different coordinating sheets of scrapbook paper that we thought looked “vintage”. We grabbed them at Hobby Lobby, and cut out small triangles to form pennants.
I found a free template for the banner online, printed it, and cut out the size pennant I desired to use as a template for my scrapbook paper pennants. I cut out two of each pattern to use, and cut out 2 more of each to bring along as back up in case something were to happen.
I hung the pennants on a string of hemp rope that I tied to 2 tripods that our photographer had. I clipped them to the rope using small wooden clothespins from Hobby Lobby in the wooden items section. You can always use something from home as well to hold up your rope, such as a chair, stool, or even a tree if it is in the right location.. I like when pennants sweep from higher to lower so set your support systems up according to how you would like your pennant to hang.
I also purchased 1/4 yard of some cute green gingham fabric, and created a party hat for Hattie to wear. I used this party hat template and my mother in law edited it a bit to fit Hattie’s tiny head a bit better. Just see what works for your munchkin and go from there. She hot glued the fabric to the template that we cut out of poster board for stiffness. We added a chiffon flower to the top that we found at hobby lobby in the hair bow accessory section. You could easily make a small pom for the top, or even find something to use in either the craft or fabric section of your local Wal-Mart or Hobby Lobby.
I also bought some ribbon from Wal-Mart that had tiny chiffon rosettes along the entirety of it to wrap around the base of the hat. I cut a 2 inch flower from pearl scrapbook paper on my Cricut and added a 1.5 inch “1” cut from scrapbook paper left over from the pennants. My mother in law added an elastic strap to secure the hat to sweet baby’s head. I also made another hat with a red flower on the top for me to wear so that I could take a few pictures with her as well while she “smashed” her cake. Insinuating that I was “at her party”.
I also purchased a single strand of big pearl and clear baubles for Hattie to wear as a necklace from the bead section of Hobby Lobby. I tied red ribbon to both sides to tie around her neck.
I used a Ruffle Butts brand red diaper cover for her to wear. A tutu for a girl, or a tie for a boy would be cute as well.
I always seem to focus too much on location. This is one of my main areas of stress when it comes to pictures. After the fact I always realize that the background is insignificant in comparison to the subjects. Of course you want a quality backdrop, but you would be surprised at how beautiful your immediate surroundings can be. Not every photo shoot has to take place 50 miles away or at a beautiful plantation. Your own town, or even your own backyard can set a lovely scene. I opted to take her photos at our family pond, since all of her other month by month pictures took place here. It was easier as well for me to not have to strap her into her car seat and irritate her before her shoot. I was able to keep her close to her home, not tiring her with a trip.
Make sure that you have all of your props with you, plenty of wipes to clean baby after her cake smashing adventure, towels, a change of clothes for baby, a trash bag for all of the used wipes, and unused cake, a sippy cup of water (that sugary cake has to make those babes thirsty!) and a change of shirt for you in case icing soils your other one. Bringing a helper along never hurts either! We used a chair painted in a beautiful shade of blue, and an old green trunk for our photos. Our photographer brought them both along, but try a few antique stores or even look in your barn or storage shed if your photographer doesn’t provide props. You may be amazed at the treasures you find!
I also had Marlene shoot Hattie in a long white smocked dress, barefoot, with a white bow in her hair, and a large, 3 ft (36 inch) pink balloon. A bunch of balloons would be super cute too, I just thought the “1” balloon was simple and fitting for her first birthday. Make sure whoever blows the balloon up fills it to the 36 inch capacity, not the 9 inch capacity like most other balloons are (some businesses are not familiar with these larger balloons and will not fill it to its full potential). You will have to tie the string to your baby’s hand if they are not old enough to hold it.
The finished product: First she baked it, then she ate it! She’s one smart girl!