Alpha+Mom post,  Buddies,  photography,  Shop Talk

Mixed Bakery and Brownie Bar Play Dates


I once had a close artist friend tell me that the best way to get out of a creative funk is to collaborate. It’s hard to do that sometimes when you’re in a low place and you think everything you do is crap and no one would ever want to work with you but the reality is you are just tired of you own stuff and you need to be around other people to see your own work from a new perspective. It’s magical to create with someone else and mixing your ideas can spin you off in so many new directions.

This post isn’t about all my low places I’ve been lately, (Though I’m brewing on that post so don’t worry, it’s coming.) but it is about collaborating.

When the royal flop cake happened, I realized that I’m never going to be able to bring my visions of perfect cakes alive so I reached out to a friend from my old neighborhood who has a really great instagram feed and Facebook page. Her name is Elyssa Fournier and she recently started her own baking business called Mixed Bakery out of her home. I look at her beautiful baking pictures every day and wonder why I can’t create like that. I marvel at how perfect her cakes are and how pretty her frosting is and curse my inability to follow directions. But instead of dwelling on my failures I thought about HOW I could fix this problem. And so I asked if she wanted to blog with me.

Elyssa has been baking for 17 years. She used to be a third grade teacher and she even specialized in junior high math for a while but she found herself going home and baking to relieve stress. She loves to bake. She loves to follow directions and be precise. She is exactly what I am not. I hate math and I can’t seem to remember directions long enough to follow them. She decided to become a professional baker and worked in New York for many years as a pastry chef. Then she moved to California and had a family. Her husband is a professional chef so you know they’ve been collaborating for years.

You can guess the rest. We had a blast collaborating! We got together in a coffee shop and dreamt up the idea for a Father’s Day brownie and some other ideas too. I think there will be many collaborations in my future. It just keeps things fresh and if I can’t master baking, why not just ask for help?! What a concept.


Since I wasn’t running around the kitchen trying to burn everything, it gave me a chance to step behind the camera and capture a little more than I usually get to. Elyssa is so good with kids. She was patient while they cracked egg after egg, sometimes getting a little more on the table than into the bowl. Every one got in on the mix. There were a lot of kids there so it was a bit of a mad house but she handled everything with a laid back calmness that only seasoned third grade teachers seem to have.

What I really loved about this shoot was how Payam’s daughter participated. Bug gets tired of having her pictures taken sometimes, plus her dad lives down the street from Elyssa so she wanted to run off and see him. I don’t blame her. It was great to be back in the neighborhood and I’ve been shooting her since the day she was born. It’s more work than play for her sometimes. I can’t force her to be photographed though sometimes I want to. Believe me, I’m not above bribery.

I have to honor Bug when she doesn’t want to participate. Unfortunately that sometimes leaves me looking for other children to ham it up and that can be a bit tricky. Not every kid is photogenic or knows how to follow directions.  So I was super thankful for Payam’s daughter. I haven’t really come up with a nickname for her yet but I think I want to call her Hannah-joon. That’s what her dad calls her. It’s Farsi for my dear, Hannah which I really love. Joon is a super common nickname in Farsi but for me it’s Hannah’s nickname.

So as you see her popping up in more pictures, know how it warms my heart to have other children open up to me and my camera. It’s not always easy and I’m super thankful to the kids that do. Elyssa’s kids too!


Brownie, brownie, brownie…sticky gooey yuminess… Yep. You get the picture. We had a lot of fun making some crazy brownies.


We might have even had a smidge more fun making these brownies than the fathers who are actually going to eat them. Heh. But you know what I always say, it’s all about the process! Who cares that there are chili peppers mixed with sprinkles in your brownie? I think Fathers will take one for the team on this one.

And speaking of father’s day crafts and taking one for the team. I thought lately, I’ve been doing a lot of these dad crafts! I should write a book or something! Well, I’m not writing a craft book (yet) but I am working on another Little Hoo book. Little Hoo is going to have a birthday. And my beach Little Hoo book is out too but the cover is whacked. I’ll link that when it’s fixed. I seriously need to promote it but I am lagging badly.  See above brewing post. Much is on the horizon soon though so don’t worry too much about me. Things are changing and not all for bad. :)

So how about a SAJ Father’s Day crafting round-up? It is that time to make something for Pops! Snap. Snap!

Who am I kidding? I haven’t even started making my dad anything either.

But if you’re looking for ideas, we’ve got the Father’s Day Massage T-shirt with iron on decals. Hemp and bead bracelets for Dad. I love Dad temporary tattoos. A How-to-tie-a-tie printable that’s for young Dad’s and grads. A Father’s Day coloring sheet printable card, of course. A Father’s Day photo cube car for the automobile aficionado dad and the camera cube “Daddy Cam” for the photographer dads. Some cd-covers for good old-fashione mixed-tape style cd’s for groovin’ dads. My most favorite craft: the tiny toolbox for handy dads and last but not least, the monsterized phone-cradle for charging dad’s phone.



  • turkeylurker

    Great post as usual! Random things….. first, hope you’re enjoying Ramadan with P. Second, is P. from Iran? My parents were peace Corps volunteers there so I also grew up with ‘koon . Great nickname!

  • gingermog

    Hee, hee I remember the little Altoid tin mini tool box craft session so well, ingenious. You are so good at crafts ! I had typed a long reply to a previous post of yours the other day but then “poof” I lost it by accident by pressing something … I went to Paris last weekend and thought of you. I day dream that one day me, you and Bug meet up there. I have this nifty little book called secret Paris which has a multitude of lovely places to visit, such as paper shops, a little off the beaten track. Have a lovely day. xxx

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