Category Archives: Editorial

As promised, here is a full tale of making a Kraken Birthday Cake.
I’ve been so temped to write “cake” with a “k” in the title.

I started baking early in the week, to give myself plenty of time to bake & decorate this cake that would be so perfect for my six year old, Kevin. He adores Krakens. He always loved Finding Nemo as a toddler & that grew into a wild fascination with underwater creatures. Especially squids & sharks. For some reason, the squids have been an obsession for a long time. When I found this cake on Pinterest, it was unanimous that this was “the one” to make. Before I even begin, I have to give Vina Jafar a lot of credit. She made her version based on a drawing. I had my iPad out at all times & made mine based on every step she had photographed from her own cake. I think it takes a lot of creativity & admiration to bake a cake from three dimensional from a drawing. I clearly took her design as my bible.
Major love goes out to Vina & the beautiful creation, “Long Journey.” If you look closely, her details {especially her ship} are phenomenal!

I documented most of the major steps through photography. My mom always enjoys the process of how something is created, so I hope you enjoy this 😉

It all started with a six eight inch layer cake. I was nervous about carving into it since it was my first time, but I really enjoyed this part & it was one of my favorite steps!

After letting the cake defrost overnight, I noticed that it was leaning forward… in the worst possible way! It looked like the heavy, carved part of cake would make it fall forward. After taking Kevin to school {a 45 min round trip} & grabbing a cup of coffee, I decided think about my options. I had a small pep talk with myself & finally concluded that even if I had to dress up a couple cake dummies in fondant, everything would be ok.


I quickly formulated a plan to make a cake dummy wedge so that my leaning cake would straighten up with support.
First, I quickly Googled, “how to cut a cake dummy” and was on my way to salvaging this kraken cake.
Here are some iPhone pics of this process {since you know I was too worried to move the cake & take pretty pictures}!

First I cut a rough wedge in a 2 inch cake dummy {no measuring or fancy estimations… just winging it}. Then I covered the newly cut Styrofoam with Crisco so that the pieces wouldn’t get in the cake. I moved the cake to rest on the cake dummy wedge & began trimming the front down even further. Instead of carefully carving like I did the day before, it was all quick & drastic chopping to remove some of the weight. Then I did another coat of buttercream before I rolled the fondant.
I’m tired & stressed just re-capping this part of the story! It definitely felt like a Tim Gunn “make it work” situation. 😉

Here is the more polished coverage of the cake baking process from that week… that thankfully… went a lot smoother!

After saving the leaning cake, I let the buttercream dry a bit too much. Since I’m not a professional baker, {I figured the guests would forgive me}, I did something on a whim… sprayed the cake with Baking Spray to get the fondant to stick. I don’t really know if it helped, but I felt more optimistic after I did it!

The fondant was probably rolled too thick, so when I covered the cake it instantly weighed it down {as you can see the dowel rods poking out}. My husband, Rocky, cut them later for me. The next step was to make fondant & gumpaste kraken parts & extra waves. Then I attached them to the cake with icing. I liked it in all white and would love to do another cake sculpture with a modern style in the future.

On Vina’s site, she uses a food marker to make her lines. I tried that, but it didn’t go very well. Maybe because the food marker was 3 years old? My solution was to mix extra buttercream icing with piping gel & dip that in vanilla extract to make it thin enough to paint with. It wasn’t ideal, but I was happy to have a relatively easy way to add dark lines.

Painting was a bit stressful, I kept wanting to be further on this cake than I actually was. Around this time, Kevin told me he found a flower more beautiful than roses. I asked him to pick one for me… and this gave me new inspiration to keep going. It helped me remember why I wanted to make him something he would like that would be unique to him!

I had never used food spray paint, and I was excited & nervous to do it! Especially because I had accidentally fallen in love with the {imperfect} Dr. Suess style of the painted lines on the waves. I didn’t know if I even wanted blue waves, but I had already bought the materials & decided to go for it. I honestly would leave it alone or spray even more delicately if I did this cake {or one similar} the next time.

For his party, I made a boats to hang above the cake as if they were the ones that sailed in safer waters.
You can find the complete DIY on how to make these beautiful paper mache boats {out of cereal boxes!} on Ann Wood Handmade’s blog. She also sells way more beautiful versions than the ones I made 🙂

 This year he actually had a decorated cake {unlike last year when I ran out of time}!
Thanks for reading this extra long post ♥

This is a shot of Kevin playing with the cake & putting his Pirates of the Caribbean legos on it 🙂


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  • Elle Ruiz - April 19, 2012 - 5:17 pm

    Andrea that is & YOU are AMAZING. Is there anything you don’t do that is just sooooo pretty? Even your baking shoes are just darling. Loved this post! Thanks for sharing a slice of your personal life. xo

  • katie's pencil box - April 20, 2012 - 4:03 am

    what a lucky lucky boy to have such a mama!
    i adore your style, miss!

  • Alli - April 20, 2012 - 2:30 pm

    oh my word, this is amazing! And you are adorable : )

  • Andrea - April 21, 2012 - 7:30 am

    Thank you {I admire all of YOU by the way}!

    It really was a very long project since I tend to work very slowly… but a lot of fun for me to just throw myself into it for the week. I think it helps that it’s a cake & not a real permanent sculpture… I could live with my mistakes much easier 🙂

Kevin’s spring break was extended a couple days when the boys caught Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease at Easter. It’s something I had never heard of, and I don’t like to Google images of babies being sick. It’s heartbreaking and I usually stumble on the most extreme cases that I don’t have the stomach to view.

“Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease {HFMD} is a common viral illness that usually affects infants and children younger than 5 years old. However, it can sometimes occur in adults. Symptoms of hand, foot, and mouth disease include fever, blister-like sores in the mouth (herpangina), and a skin rash.” –Centers for Disease Control & Prevention website.

On different days, both boys came down with a 101 degree fever, showed signs of malaise, and spent the day in bed {on the couch}. Then their fevers broke & they were in better spirits, but the rash started in a day or two. In Damian, it was on his mouth, diaper area, & calves. Blisters appeared on his hands & feet too. It has taken about a solid week to see his blisters & rash go away. We didn’t think to separate the boys since we had hoped that Kevin was old enough to not get it & he was exposed to it at the same time as Damian but didn’t get sick. A few days after it started for Damian, Kevin had the same fever. It seemed his body fought it better & he only had a small rash on his hands. They resemble hives since they didn’t blister like Damian’s. Both boys were fortunate to not get them in their mouths, I hear that causes a lot more drooling {one of the main ways it is spread is through saliva} & pain when they eat {causing dehydration in some cases}.

I wanted to share some things to do to help soothe & calm them naturally, since there is nothing doctors can prescribe that will fight the virus. Everyone says HFMD is one of those things that needs to run its course {5-10 days}, but there were definitely some home remedies that helped make my children more comfortable.

Virgin Coconut Oil can be found in the vitamin section of most large grocery stores and looks like vegetable shortening. A little spoonful in bathwater helped keep Damian’s skin creamy & soft without applying lotions that could irritate his rash & blisters. Some say it is antiviral too.
It’s an ingredient in my organic shampoo & I plan to use it on my skin too!

Homemade Soup. I used as many fresh herbs as I could find {rosemary, thyme, & sage} and also added garlic to chicken broth with a small can of cream of chicken. I pureed some carrots & let it cook on medium heat until the carrot was nice & soft. Damian ate this really well & it was so encouraging to see him get some food & nourishment during his rough days. Kevin, on the hand, runs in the other direction from carrots! I was thankful his body fought most of it off naturally!

The boys loved pudding, yogurt, & popsicles. Definitely a delicious way to get some nutrients.

Most of the reading material on HFMD says to avoid citrus juices or anything that would irritate sores in the mouth.
PediaSure chocolate milk was something Damian drank when he couldn’t eat.

I couldn’t choose a photograph so this one has two 🙂
Damian {pictured} was pretty quiet for several days. I was a human pillow as we did lots of extra cuddling, I let him sleep with me at night, & he played with my iPhone A LOT. Anything I could do to distract him helped us buy time until his body started to recover. We also let him take long baths {with added Coconut Oil}. Just before the tide turned, his brother Kevin walked into the bathroom & started blowing bubbles from Easter at Damian in the tub. My first instinct was to remind Kevin that we don’t play with bubbles in the house. Then one look at Damian’s face brightening & I told him to keep doing it & grabbed my camera.
We had a REAL bubble bath.
And there were many smiles instead of tears.

Now we are just about in the clear & I expect Kevin to go back to school in the morning. After the fevers, the hardest challenge was being quarantined in the house so we didn’t spread it. Rocky was only home a couple days before he had to leave for another trip, so I’ve been having lots of “quality time” with these boys of mine.
I’m excited to celebrate their recovery with some ice cream soon. With sprinkles of course. ♥

Do you have any useful home remedies or tips to add?

My favorite article {that I found on Pinterest} & resource for most of these recommendations is Natural Remedies for Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease by Justyn at Modern Alternative Mama

Images & Design © Andrea Dozier 2012

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  • Tiffany grimes - April 17, 2012 - 6:51 pm

    I loved reading this!!! Cayleb has already had this, and I wished I would have known about the coconut oil back then. I’ll definitely remember that for any future children!! Very helpful 🙂

  • Justyn - April 17, 2012 - 8:45 pm

    Thank you so much for referencing my guest post on Modern Alternative Mama! I’m so glad to hear that some of my ideas helped to make things a little more bearable for your little guys. And I’ve gotta say, that picture of Damian reaching up towards the bubbles has got to be one of the cutest bath-time pictures I’ve ever seen! 🙂

  • Brenda Snider - April 19, 2012 - 5:44 am

    How creative and imaginative! Your positiveness shined through right away. And what a wonderful mother you are to care for your children as you did. Your photos are truly beautiful! Bless you during your recovery days with those sweet boys!

    Brenda Snider

  • katie's pencil box - April 20, 2012 - 3:54 am

    oh you poor things!
    i’m so happy to hear things are on the up and up! these pictures and remedies are perfection! i’m definitely going to try the virgin coconut oil and bubbles in the bath for myself..haha.


  • Andrea - April 21, 2012 - 7:37 am

    Tiffany, so sorry he had that! It’s not fun, but glad he’s better!

    Justyn, I was so happy to find your post! It was like a breath of fresh air after just reading all the bad news about the virus! Thank you for posting it!

    Brenda, thank you for your encouragement! Even though it’s hard to see them that way, we had some very special moments with so much cuddling together.

    Katie, haha! I didn’t think of adding the bubbles too! It would make for an adorable shoot {not to sound creepy lol}… bubbles are just magic. We’ll have to meet in real life someday 😉

  • Kerry - May 1, 2012 - 6:31 am

    Thanks for this post, Andrea. My kids have HFMD right now :/ They’re being tough. I think it looks worse than it feels. Glad to have some home remedy ideas.

  • Andrea - May 1, 2012 - 8:23 am

    Kerry, sorry to hear that! It sounds like it is going all around lately, hopefully it clears up soon for Jack & Fable!

  • Crystal - May 26, 2012 - 3:34 pm

    Thank you for this, I have 3 out of 4 kiddos down with it now. I have been desperately searching for something to offer them some relief besides benedryl and ibuprofen (recommended by pediatrician.) One thing I have been doing is simmering vinegar on the stove to “purify” the air, especially since it is spread by nasal and throat secretions (and of course the blisters but those aren’t necessarily in the air.) I will be giving the kiddos a coconut bath now, and of course sanitizing every possible surface with vinegar and hydrogen peroxide. Thanks again

  • Natalia - October 3, 2012 - 11:45 pm

    My daughter has just been diagnosed so I did a search to see what home recipes there are out there and your website came up. Our doctor said no meat, vegetables or dairy which is everything in your soup you recommend. Do you recommend otherwise?

  • Sophia - October 5, 2012 - 10:33 am

    Thanks for the tips! My 15 month old is loving the soup and will be enjoying a coconut oil bath shortly.

  • Michelle - November 14, 2012 - 5:29 pm

    Both my kids are sick, aged 3 yrs and 8 months. So grateful for this post and natural remedy post!!! Thank you!!!

  • Kelly McG - January 23, 2013 - 10:56 pm

    Thank you so much for posting this! I just discovered that my girls (age 4&6) have HFM. I am going to try the coconut oil bath tomorrow.

    Thanks again!

  • Rhonda Colson - April 14, 2013 - 8:56 am

    I am 61 years old and started out having Strep Throat. About 2 to3 days later I broke out with a vengeance. I have been battling this at home for over 10 days. I can’ t get rid of this awful rash and headache. I am taking meds that will help with the discomfort. Have any other adults had this problem?

  • Erika Tracy - May 5, 2013 - 11:04 am

    Thank you for this wonderful post and beautiful pictures. It was a joyful find in a time of need and a priceless alternative to the yucky hfm bump photos. Thanks for sharing.

  • Easy E's Mommy - May 17, 2013 - 6:57 am

    Thank you so much for these great tips! I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post about the HFMD! I am a working mother and unfortunately my son is forced to attend daycare as we don’t have available family nearby. He contracted HFMD there. I took him to the doctor as soon as we saw the first little blisters and the doctor was very vague and gave me no diagnosis. I got a call from a friend who’s child attends the same daycare facility and her son had the same symptoms. Her Doctor diagnosed him with the disease. I called the daycare and they said they knew that there had been an outbreak they just didn’t feel like it be a matter to call the parents to inform. So here we are this morning with HFMD and I am certain because it is exactly like you and my friend say. First the fever (his started 101) and then 2 days later the blisters.


  • Lesley - May 25, 2013 - 6:41 pm

    i love all of these remedies so much! i came across this entry while doing a search for homeopathic treatments for HFMD, as my 16 month old son has it right now. we are about 3 days in, so i’m so happy to find your suggestions! we have been feeding him frozen blueberries, and he just gobbles them down. but i love your coconut oil idea, and the pediasure. thank you so much for sharing!!

  • Steph - May 27, 2013 - 2:09 pm

    Thanks for this! My 2yr old (25months) has this now and isn’t sleeping! His feet are quite itchy even though there’s no blisters/rash there. So ill be giving him a coconut oil bath before his nap today! And he’s also playing on the iPad to keep him distracted! I’ll make the soup; provided he lets me leave him for a few minutes!

  • Teresa - September 8, 2013 - 5:49 am

    Thanks for posting this. I’m not sure what to do about the mouth blisters. My daughter won’t eat soup or anything. She does not want to eat anything. I am keeping her hydrated but I was wondering if anyone had their kiddos gargle with anything to get rid of the sores?

  • Laurel - September 9, 2013 - 1:10 pm

    Teresa- Try “magic mouth wash”! Equal parts Benadryl and Milk of Magnesia. Swish and spit, and avoid drinking anything for 10 minutes after. It’s been a LIFESAVER along with the coconut oil for my 2.5 yo who is battling it now.

  • Lindsey - October 10, 2013 - 7:10 am

    My 13 month old has this right now, He has the sores around the outside of his mouth, and a horrible, horrible rash/sores on his bottom/diaper area.. the blisters seem to be breaking open, I dont know if the butt paste is helping or hurting the issue.. anyone know?

  • Elissa - October 26, 2013 - 3:45 am

    This is a lovely blog/post. Thank you for making me feel more positive about coping with our little one’s pain. He just at the beginning of this infection and hoping he won’t be too bad… poor things, babies/toddlers really do have to go through rotten times! I guess we made it through them and just have to help them do it, too.

  • Dulce - December 20, 2013 - 2:55 pm

    Yay!! FINALLY, some kind of light in this torturing tunnel…my 22month and now my 6month babies have it and I wanted to help them with the itching. Now to make soup for the kiddos… Thank you for sharring!

You’re supposed to be the leading lady in your own life, for God’s sake!

– Iris from the movie “The Holiday”

Before summer even kissed us goodbye, I found myself visiting an old friend. The train was off track & I knew it. She knew it.

At some point in the conversation she asked, “What do you do for fun?”

“Oh I take pictures & I run my business. I enjoy it!” I answered easily.

She is a good friend & she is wise. She didn’t seem satisfied & tried again, slower. “What do YOU do for FUN?”

I started to draw a blank because I didn’t understand why my first answer wasn’t “right.”

I thought that my husband, my children, & my photography business were the things I did that made me feel fulfilled & content. I thought that missing meals & countless hours of sleep in the name of what I love were a sign of sacrifice & dedication. I thought that giving all of my energy away proved my commitment.

Then a few weeks passed & two more people asked me this question. People who were getting paid money to “help” me.
Perhaps there was something more to this little question…

I was not taking care of my body. I didn’t have free time. I didn’t have hobbies. I didn’t exercise. I didn’t take time to eat {good foods}. I wasn’t taking a moment each day to selfishly enjoy something of my own. I was a mess of tension & exhaustion, threaded together only by this ideal definition of sacrifice.

It wasn’t sacrifice really. It was stupidity.

As much as I love all my roles {wife mother photographer} they aren’t meant to fill me… they drain me daily.
I’ve learned that I am actually better at all of these things if I add myself to the script.
If I take the time to nourish my own needs, I have so much more to contribute to the other roles in m y life.

The biggest &Â most consistent change I’ve made is that I go to the gym or get some kind of exercise four-five days a week. After Damian was born, I didn’t take the time to lose the weight & actually ended up gaining some {it’s embarrassing to admit that!}. Even though I know my way around flattering self portraits, I frequently get asked if I’m pregnant & I have all but retired most of my pre-baby #2 wardrobe. Although I feel so much stronger than when I started working out, I’ve only lost about eight pounds. I’m not at the point where I can fit into my old jeans, but this lifestyle change seems like the kind that will eventually get me there.
I’m all for “eventually.” Especially if it means I stop the yo-yo routine I’m so familiar with.

Yesterday I made this Pinterest recipe of Jillian Michaels’ weight loss diet drink. It wasn’t as bad as I feared because the cranberry juice adds a pretty color & I have an fondness for lemons. I don’t believe that it will be a secret weight loss weapon… I have no expectations for it to work a miracle. Eating less cupcakes {self control}, drinking more water, & making my body move are the keys to the changes I want to see.
However, filling this pretty jar is a good way to stay inspired & reminded to drink plenty of water.
It also smells so very good.

Darling, even if your name is on your business, it doesn’t mean that it’s supposed to take care of you.
Only you can do that for yourself.
– Andrea ♥

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  • Melanie - March 14, 2012 - 8:20 pm

    I love this, Andrea. And I can totally relate at this point in my life. As much as I enjoy my kids and husband, I was (untill very recently) the one sitting on the side lines watching. I just didn’t have the energy. Until I started drinking two 50 ounce bottles of water a day, quit eating junk food, and started exercising, I didn’t understand why I always felt to tired. More than that, I was distracted, stressed, unnerved. But, since I’ve started taking some time to myself and doing things that make me feel good, I’m beginning to enjoy the parts of my life that I love most, even more. I wish you luck in your endeavor, and motivation and stamina. The biggest hurdle for myself will be sticking to these new changes. And in that, making mine and my family’s lives better.

  • Andrea - March 21, 2012 - 8:11 am

    Melanie, thank you for sharing! I completely agree, even feeling less tired + more energetic is reason enough to eat better & exercise a little! Even if losing weight wasn’t part of the equations 🙂

    Anything that helps us & our families is such a win win!

  • Echo - April 9, 2012 - 9:49 am

    What a beautiful reminder 🙂 I know exactly how you feel!

wedding bridal portraits simply bloom workshop by andrea dozier

Today was such a lovely taste of spring that I don’t know if I can ever go back to winter.
We grabbed some fresh veggies & fruits, tossed football in the yard, & I snuck out to get myself some bangs!
I haven’t had them since early high school so it is a very refreshing & much needed change.
There are so many reasons to smile & take steps {or even giant leaps} forward.
I felt like someone saved these precious hours from the past four years & rolled them into this delicious day just for us to enjoy.

My my how we did.


*Image from the Simply Bloom Workshop 2010 & idea to post a leaping lady from Elizabeth Messina {she tells a sweet story of an Urban Legend about Leap Year}!

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I’ve been making a slight attempt to be careful with what I eat, so I bought a large bag of pears thinking that they would go to good use. As I watched the last of them ripen quicker than the pace we were eating them, I thought it would be fun & a little exotic to make pear cupcakes. I even thought I would incorporate some Greek Yogurt into a pear/ginger frosting. It seems like every time I watch Cupcake Wars, I believe I can make any kind of cupcake I imagine {sans recipes}.
Not the greatest idea!

I took a basic vanilla cake recipe & added two chopped pears. I made a mess of a frosting with Greek Yogurt + another pear, and was so disgusted I threw it out after a little taste. Instead I went for a basic {fail-proof} buttercream with extra vanilla & ginger {omitting pears from the frosting altogether}. In all honesty, if Florian were to have tried it, he probably would have told me that although the cupcake was good, he “could not taste the pears whatsoever” {in his thick French accent}. Now I know I can secretly add pears to any batch of cupcakes & the kids will never know. I also found that Greek Yogurt is a tasty topping by itself- don’t add pear juice to it!

Here are some pictures from my little kitchen escapades… Pear Vanilla Cupakes topped with Ginger Buttercream & Toasted Almonds

I added a little DIY heart topper from some fabric scraps that was super easy but really cute!

We finally have a little snow on the ground and the boys are itching to go play in it.

I’m kissing them goodbye for a bit while I make a little trip north to meet my brand new nephew!

Stay warm & cozy.♥

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  • Mitchel - February 17, 2012 - 7:25 pm

    yellow yummy yum yum

  • Liesl - February 19, 2012 - 11:41 pm

    What a lovely, creative idea and beautiful photography, as always! 🙂