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“Life Was Sweet” in 2011: A Photo Recap

Every year between the Holidays and New Year we are bombarded with countdowns and summation “best” and “worst” lists.  Personally, I always enjoy a good countdown or year in review list. Since I take so many photos, I thought it would be fun to circle back and select my ten favorites of the year, but as I began gathering, I decided to add photos that were taken by others, that really moved me as well. In trying to pick 10 I ended up with 13 which is pretty cool- its kind of like averaging one really excellent photo per month plus a bonus! So, here are my favorite photos of 2011, arranged chronologically since I could never pick just one as a favorite!

Hope NYDay
"Hope for a Fear-Filled World" (photo taken on 1/1/11)

1. We started off the 2011 with this one of our lil’ Hopey taken on a walk through Rutherford, NJ to get morning coffee on New Years morning. Hope, a tough case rescue dog, has come such a long way since we adopted her and I saw a glimmer of this look in her eyes when I met her. This shot captured so much of who she really is and our hopes for the year ahead.

Martha Stewart Dani Fiori
Dani Fiori and Martha Stewart are seen during the production of "The Martha Stewart Show" in New York on Tuesday, February 1, 2011. Photo: David E. Steele/The Martha Stewart Show

2. This photo was taken after my Lovebird cookie segment on The Martha Show. This was the segment where Martha told me to ‘look into the camera and tell everyone where you sell your icing kit’.  A game changing moment for me and my small business that I’ll always be grateful to her for. I had 50 orders for my Sweet Dani B Expert Icing Kit in my inbox by the time I was walking off her stage from the segment and that number grew and grew and grew!

Mustache cookieFamily Portrait
"A Mustache Family Portrait" taken on Father's Day 2011

3. Cookies make people happy… that’s one of my favorite things about what I do. This is one of those shots I can stare at for a while. I drive my family and friends crazy taking “group shots” via my self timer but sometimes you get a photo like this and its all worth it! The mustache cookies were a huge hit for Father’s Day. This is one of my fave photos ever!

Beach Sprints
"Beach Sprints" Normandy Beach, NJ

4. I entered this photo of “my loves” in a contest by the Asbury Park Press titled “Capture Jersey Shore”. I had a great time taking photos to submit and this was one of my favorites. KF, Spot and Hope LOVE the beach and I felt like this shot really captured that. Not a single shot I took made it to the contests final book, but I loved the challenge and got some great photos out of it.

Mr. July
"Mr. July" Photo by: Tamara Dilworth

5. This is Mel. He’s the lucky dog who was adopted by our friends, Tamara and Tom Dilworth last Thanksgiving. Pitbulls have a very specific reputation and Mel pretty much dubunks that stereotype each day. He is as mushy as a marsh-MEL-ow. Here he posed for Tam in front of Tam’s great grandmother’s flag. This photo ended up winning a spot in a fabulous Pitbull rescue calender featuring Mel as Mr. July!

Lucia's 4 Birthday Candles
"Lucia's Princess Party Birthday Candle Blowout"

6. I remember getting choked up while Lucia was blowing out the candles to her cookie topped cake. Everyone was singing and crowding in when I took this overhead shot for Lucia and her mom, Bianca. That’s happened to me during a few “happy birthdays” this year- even of people I don’t know as well as Bianca. It’s amazing to have a job that lets you in on celebrating life’s best moments no matter who the people celebrating are.

Spot with Apple
Spot Fiori with Glowing Apple

7. I took this photo of Spot one morning in October. Our bedroom faces the sunrise each morning so the light is pretty amazing some days. I’ve taken a lot of photos of Spot and Hope in this scenerio because its pretty much the only time they are calm. I thought it was strange and cool the way the Apple logo from my iPhone reflected back to “tattoo” Spot’s belly with light. Later that day, we were shocked and saddened to hear the news of Steve Jobs death. I looked back at the photo and thought- wow

Peace & Love Dove Cookie photo by Stephen Lewis
SDB Peace & Love Dove Cookie Photo by: Stephen Lewis

8. It’s no surprise this photo of my “peace & love dove” cookie, shot as a possible cover for Real Simple’s December issue is one of my faves. It made the cover of the issue’s interior gift guide instead. As mentioned, its so much more to me than a photo of a cookie. Stephen is such a talent and it was such an honor to work with him and the staff of Real Simple.

Mid-stretch at the Tough Mudder
Mid-stretch at the Tough Mudder Raceway Park, NJ

9. Why would anyone in their right mind want to participate in an event called the TOUGH MUDDER? You’ll have to ask KF, my brother, and friends, Tom and Kevin that question. According to the Mudder website, “Tough Mudder events are hardcore 10-12 mile obstacle courses designed by British Special Forces to test your all around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie.” The guys trained all summer for this insane, day long event. It was hard to pick just one photo from this day because the photos are crazy, muddy, action packed, and over-the-top yet, strangely, they all look so happy! I was in “photo journalist mode” to get these particular shots and ran around 2 of these hills to get them.

"Feel the Love" Van and Bette Photo by: Kevin Kane
"Feel the Love" Van and Bette Kane Photo by: Kevin Kane

10. While designing some photo “Bette confetti” for her upcoming Christening party, my friend, Amanda, emailed me some adorable photos of their newest family member, Bette. She also sent this photo of Bette and her brother, Van, for a giggle. I could not stop staring at it. Not only is it absolutely hilarious but I think it is amazing because if you keep looking it says so much about siblings, so much about being parents to siblings and in a hysterical way illustrates the overall message of life with a sibling. (*of coarse, that is just my view on it, as a sibling*) I especially loved that they used this photo as the image to their Holiday card!

Nicole & Christian cut their "Winter Woodland" cookie topped wedding cake
Nicole & Christian cut their SDB "Winter Woodland" cookie topped wedding cake

11. A photo like this has a lot to do with luck for an amateur photographer like myself. The room lighting at Christian and Nicole’s wedding was beautiful but a huge challenge photographically. Add the pressure of “capturing the moment” and standing up there in front of everyone… I remember saying to myself, ‘there’s a professional photographer here so just get a good shot of the cookies on the cake for your website‘. I was shocked the outcome was another photo I love to stare at… The cake looked great but I especially love seeing my brother this happy.

Kathleen's Family Portrait in Christmas Cookies
Kathleen's Family Portrait in Christmas Cookies Photo by: Kathleen Boylan

12. This is a photo my friend, Kathleen, texted to me on Christmas morning. A few months back, she had purchased three of my Sweet Dani B Expert Icing Kits to ice cookies with her family. She had been emailing me cookie photo updates and even shared some great cookie photos with us on Thanksgiving. This is my favorite kind of “feedback” on my business- I love seeing our customer’s cookie creations as it is inspiring, informative and fulfilling! Kath using the kit while spending quality time with her family, or icing these cookies for Christmas morning to show them how much she cares, really touched me. Also, her icing skills are getting good!

Times Square by Thomas Dilworth
"Times Square Is Good for Something" Photo by Thomas Dilworth

13. Our friend, Tom, is an amazing photographer. Professionally, he shoots many photos that you probably see every day. While his food packaging shots often speak to anyone who loves the most popular brands of donuts, cookies, crackers and the like, it is his personal photos that always speak to me. We spent the day together in NYC the other day and Tom took lots of amazing photos of our group of friends, but as a devout lover of NYC, this photo was a show stopper for me. In all my years living here, I had never seen the city that overflowing with people in every place we visited. This shot will always remind me of the fun we had on that crazy day and the buzz of when we walked up on Times Square. When I complimented Tom on this photo and noted the amazing lighting, he replied,’At least Times Square is good for something’. Spoken like a true New Yorker!

That’s a wrap! Looking back at 2011, I can honestly say that “Life Is Sweet” so here’s to another sweet year… Wishing you sweetness and All Good Things for 2012! Happy New Year!  Xoxo Dani

About the author



Sweet Dani B is my small business and my mantra is Life Is Sweet! Both my business and life center around celebrating life’s occasions and making those occasions amazing. We design one-of-a-kind cookies, invitations, paper goods and pull them all together to deliver fabulous parties and events.


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Leave a Reply to Tamara Cancel reply

  • one of my favorite blog posts yet…i even teared up (and we know that’s not so easy to make happen!)
    thanks for sharing the beautiful photos & memories and looking forward to many more in 2012 ♥

  • I am at a loss for the perfect words to express my admiration of the person that you are. I think you are FABULOUS in every way..I am proud of you…I love you. Peace, love…and lots of laughter in 2012 my friend. xo