Gluten-Free (from the box) Valentine’s Day Cupcakes and a Poem to Share with those you LUV {Happy Valentine’s Day}

Yes… I’m giving you a recipe for “from the box” cupcakes.DSC_2656My neighbor makes these delicious gluten-free cupcakes with a box mix. You’d think they were from the bakery, they taste so great! So, since I’m all about easy-peasy,  I thought I’d share for all you gluten-free peeps!

The mix:

Get the King Arthur gluten-free yellow cake mix. It looks like this:

The recipe is on the box, but my friend suggests you also add 1 tbsp. of vanilla directly to the cake batter.

She said you can either use Pillsbury frosting (Put entire contents into a bowl and whip using a hand mixer until fluffy.)

OR… here is a simple homemade frosting recipe:

1 cup butter (soft, room temperature)

3 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp or more of whipping cream.

Whip butter until light (until it turns light yellow). Add powdered sugar and whip for another couple minutes. Add vanilla and whipping cream. Use sprinkles and decorations as you’d like.

She also wrote this amazingly adorable little poem and hand-delivered with bags of treats for the kids. I had to share what she wrote, in case you’d like to share with those you love! (I’m not even kidding… this girl is missing her calling writing for Hallmark.)

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Here’s what she wrote:
On Valentine’s Day,
And the whole year through,
Nothing feels better,
Than having a friend like YOU!
For the times we get to laugh,
And the times we get to play,
I’m thankful for your friendship,
And there’s something I’d like to say.
So here’s a treat for YOU!
You’ve been HUGGED & KISSED by me.
Now there’s something you must do.
No need to make a copy,
No need to spread the cheer.
Only one thing you need to do today,
And I’ll make it very clear.
Just hear my words of KINDNESS.
And feel it in your heart,
Our friendship is a GIFT from GOD,
I loved you from the start!
You are awesome! You are great!
What more is there to say?
I love you very much dear friend,
Happy Valentine’s Day!

There it is. Hope you enjoy spreading some cheer to those you LUV this Valentine’s Day. Thank you Lisa for this incredibly thoughtful gift to our family. Your thoughtfulness and creativity never ceases to amaze me.

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

<3, Bec

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How to Style & Prop a Family Photo Session {And a Few of Mine from Years Past.}

Styling and propping our annual family photos has always been a favorite task of mine. Each year I look forward to doing something new and totally different from the year prior. My husband LUVS getting his photo taken  (NOT!) so he usually gives me one session a year. Therefore, it has to be epic.

Where I start:

I either start with the location or one outfit (usually mine). It’s kind of like wedding planning. You can either pick the venue, and base the style of your dress and decorations on the venue. OR you find the PERFECT dress, and it sets the tone for the entire wedding and helps you decide where you want the venue to be/the theme/etc.

If I start with the outfit, I either choose one article of clothing in my closet I LUV or go shopping for one. That one outfit usually inspires the next steps. For instance- last year, I found this long blue romper at Marshalls for $12.99. I loved it immediately and thought… “Hmm, this blue would look gorgeous with a white sand backdrop.” I then grabbed a huge tulle skirt that my daughter wore as a flower girl in a wedding the year prior and found a light denim tank from Gap Kids to wear with it. I glued a few starfish to a headband for my daughter, gave the boys some easy neutral shirts and voila… we were styled. I had a big thing with American-inspired decor that year. So I added a star beanie, a ballcap for my boy and brought a few little American flags for the kids for props. I also brought a settee from my home (purchased at Homegoods) to the beach, because pretty seating makes every photo beautiful. 🙂

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In the case of the photo shoot from the year before (2013), I chose the location, and everything else fell into place from there. I asked my photographer (and beautiful friend) Kristin LaDriere (of Kristin LaDriere Family Photography in Tampa) if she knew of any desolate fields with high grass. She found this perfect little field off the beaten path, and I knew exactly what the theme for this photo shoot was going to be. My stepdad had this cute little portable fire pit, and the field inspired a rustic, roasting marshmallows in plaid kinda theme. Plaid was super easy, because during the fall/winter season, you can find plaid EVERYwhere, at affordable prices. So I found assorted colors of plaid and added a few accessories we had, and voila! (Note: I did NOT get matching colors of plaid!) I also had a red satin dress I’d bought at H&M that year that I really wanted to photograph, so we changed for a few dressy photos as well. Again this year, I brought a little bench from my home (which we used in both the plaid photos AND the dressier ones). Remember… creative seating is always a good prop to bring. The large candy canes were on one of our Christmas trees, but I threw them in my prop bag, along with all the fixens to make s’mores. (Because if you’re going to tell your kids to roast marshmallows, you better really follow through on the s’mores!) We spontaneously decided the candy canes would make a really cute, cliche smooching picture with our faces behind a heart. Cue the applause for that Pinterest-worthy, cheesy moment…

In 2012, my daughters neutral toned tutu dress was the inspiration for our style. I found that at Marshalls as well, and I knew I wanted to base our other outfits around that! I pulled a cardigan and white jeans from my closet in the same tones, through the boys in some neutrals and navy and we were coordinated without matching too much.* (Remember this for my conclusion to this blog post). I also LUV me some red for the holidays! So I threw on some sky-high red stilettos I got at Ross with an inexpensive black lace dress from Forever21 and coordinated the rest of our outfits in like colors and style.

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2011 was our last year as a family of three. I knew I wanted a casual style this year, as I was 9 months pregnant and knew that finding an outfit I felt comfortable in could take longer than this cooking baby had left. So I grabbed my favorite maternity jeans. (My recommendation to every pregnant woman- invest in nice maternity jeans that you LUV! They can make any “I have no idea what to wear! Nothing fits me!” moment less stressful.) White tee-shirts and chucks were an obvious choice for casual family photos. In true @LuvBec fashion, I went with a white canvas and pop of color. I loved the idea of bringing in bright color to some black and white photos. So I grabbed props that screamed color- a rainbow lollipop and sidewalk chalk. They were great props to entertain my daughter, and the look was exactly what I had in mind! We even wrote my son Corbin’s name in blue chalk on the ground, which seemed like it would be a cute memory for my daughter Emie in later years. When photographing kids, try to incorporate props that the kids will actually enjoy, as it creates an activity for the pictures. Sometimes the unstaged photos are the best ones!

Conclusion- Find either one outfit you LUV and base the rest around that. OR pick a location that you LUV and decide what wardrobe will blend perfectly with that setting. Remember, the photos are about the PEOPLE, not the clothes. You want them to enhance your personalities, but not speak so loudly that you notice the clothes before the love between the people in that photo.

And most importantly- NEVER ASSUME FAMILY PHOTO STYLE MEANS YOU HAVE TO MATCH! Monochromatic style usually translates best when you will be enhancing the props and/or the location. But if both of those elements are fairly neutral, play up that style with some great bolds, mix-matched prints and fun accessories!

Happy styling y’all! (And stay tuned to @luvbec for a look at our family photos from this year, coming real soon…)

Here’s a sneak peak…

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red heart, Bec

(If you live in the Tampa Bay area, check out Kristin LaDriere Family Photography on Facebook for more information about her services. www.facebook.com/kristinlfamilyphotography)

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