We’re in the January deep-freeze here, in what currently feels like the frozen tundra, and turning on the oven to make bake up some hearty and delicious comfort food feels more like a necessity for survival than a luxury. But these muffins are most definitely luxurious. Making a batch of double chocolate muffins is a great way to warm up the kitchen make winter seem a little less bleak.Read More
Christmas is just around the corner and even though there’s lots to do, there’s always time for a batch of Christmas cookies. Especially a simple cookie, like these stamped shortbread cookies, that go together quickly, taste great, and look fancy and festive. They’re great for sharing and go well with things like that afternoon coffee or tea.Read More
The holiday season is well and truly upon us and my oven is seeing even more action than usual, which is really saying something. I love to bake any time of the year, but December is an especially fun time to make up some festive treats to share, and these rosemary shortbread Linzer cookies with blueberry preserves are my current favorite.Read More
I enjoy making muffins nearly any time of the year, but during these cold and frosty November mornings, they’re even more welcome than usual. Especially these, with their sweet pear and warm ginger flavors, made even better with a buttery crumb topping and vanilla glaze.Read More
Happy Halloween to you!
Always at this time of year, I like to make some fun Halloween treats with the kids to share with our friends and neighbors. This year we’re making my favorite caramel popcorn, as always, and these painted Halloween sugar cookies. The “paint” is made from egg yolk and water, painted on before the cookies are baked, so the end result is a slightly crackly and colorful egg-wash that makes the cookies festive and easy to make.Read More
October is here! I love October. I love the vibrant colors of the changing leaves and the cool, crisp air. I love needing a sweatshirt, but not needing the winter gear just yet. I love seeing pumpkins on door steps and leaves on the walkways. Most of all, I love the coziness that is an inherent part of the season. There’s just nothing like going for a walk in the cool air outside and then coming in and warming up with a baked pumpkin donut and a hot cup of coffee.Read More
Having already made two apple pies, applesauce, and apple pie scones, I needed something else to put in my apple baking repertoire. I’ve always loved the appeal of skillet cakes – they seem so rustic and homey, like something I could make (almost) as easily over a woodstove in a log cabin as in my modern kitchen. So an apple skillet cake seemed like a plan.Read More
Everyone needs a good classic white cake in their repertoire, and this is mine. It’s my go-to white cake, easily adaptable for any season, holiday, or event. As you can see here, I made it for spring and decorated it with the apple blossoms that were blooming all around.Read More
It's autumn. Late autumn, to be specific. It's gray and cold outside, the garden is put to bed for the winter, and we drink hot beverages all day to keep our hands warm. Most importantly, it's time to bake comfort foods. The holiday season will be here before we know it, but first, let's enjoy these calm and quiet, if a little bleak, days. I'm doing this by hanging some leaves, brewing some coffee, and getting into the kitchen for some baking. I started my baking with this pear caramel cake. It’s the perfect thing for November.Read More
Well, hello there! I'm very glad you're here. I've been giving a lot of thought to my journey lately - where I am, how I got here, and where I'm going. As I reflect on how far I have come since my first days with a dSLR, I realize that though my interests have ebbed and flowed, my passion for photography has remained constant. So while my blog will remain a place for me to share my love of the seasons, baking, and some occasional DIY, going forward I will be adding in some articles about photography, and the process of becoming an artist, in the hope that sharing what I have learned will help you too. And if you couldn't care less about photography, no worries, I will continue to share about recipes and seasons too. So today I thought I'd share with you a little bit about who I am and how I got here.
There is very little about the process of making a good photograph that has come naturally or easily to me. I haven't always been able to see good light or know how to compose an appealing photo. I didn't even understand why I needed good light! But after years of practice, plenty of workshops, and a few tears along the way, I've learned a lot.
Initially I started with photography because I wanted to be able to take nice photos of the baking and craft projects I was always making. At that time, my baking and crafting were the priority and photography was like a secondary tool I thought I needed. But very soon after I started learning, I realized that it was photography itself that I was enamored with. I wanted to learn about more than just food photography, I wanted to be able to capture my kids and family, the environment around me, and be able to tell stories with my photos.
These days I spend most of my time creating still life and food photos. I like to create emotive images that tell a story or convey a mood. I am at my happiest and most creative when I'm sketching ideas, styling a scene, propping a set, working out a composition, and editing the photos from a shoot. I also love continuing to learn everything I can about this incredible craft. In photography, you are never done learning. There is always something new to discover and that means that there is always room for you to grow as an artist. It's a never-ending journey that can be challenging and at times frustrating, but so very rewarding and fulfilling.
If you have any questions or topics you would like to hear about, please drop me a line and let me know. I'd love to hear from you. You can comment here, leave me a comment on Instagram, or email me. I look forward to connecting with you, hearing about your journey, and sharing mine.
All the best,
There are a few things I can't seem to get enough of - coffee, photos of coffee, flowers, and new hashtags. (Desserts too, but I'm trying to eat a few less desserts these days.) Today I'm creating a few of the above, as I'm editing photos of coffee and flowers, and creating a new hashtag - #thestilllifecollective. As artists, I believe it's imperative that we continue to grow and learn, seek new inspiration, and encourage each other along the way. The idea behind this new hashtag is to create a gallery where all kinds of still life artists can mingle their work together to boost and inspire us all, and give rise to new ideas. I hope you'll join me!
Like so many of us, I'm always on the lookout for inspiration for still life photos. I find that it's easy to get caught in an endless loop of creating and consuming the same kinds of images, over and over, and while that can be comforting, it can also get a little stale. I hope that by creating #thestilllifecollective, we can bring together all different kinds of still life to breathe new life into our creations. While we should each stay true to our own photographic voice, we should also be open to new ideas and trying new things. I want to create a place for a wide interpretation of "still life" to encourage and inspire all of us to grow and expand our art.
I am always seeking to find and infuse meaning and connection in my work, and to push myself just a little further, stretching the bounds of my creativity and comfort zone. This means being both brave and vulnerable, which can be really hard at times. I hope that by continuing to grow our community of passionate and kind-hearted artists, we will all continue to find the courage to try new things and to share our gifts with the world.
I hope you'll join in with me on this unpredictable, yet wildly rewarding, journey. Start tagging! #thestilllifecollective
Rhubarb tastes like summer to me, even more than fresh strawberries and Maine wild blueberries, though when those are in peak season, I'm sure I will say they taste like summer. What can I say? Summer tastes great around here. But I have especially fond, early-summer memories of rhubarb that give it a special place in my heart. And stomach. When I was growing up, we had a huge rhubarb patch out back and my mom would always make a rhubarb pie and sometimes rhubarb jam. She rarely mixed it with strawberries, letting the bright tartness of the rhubarb shine through. I always loved those rhubarb pies, and still do. It helped that she let us eat pie for breakfast, so I suppose I have fond memories of most fruit pies. But still, rhubarb was a particular favorite.Read More
Decorating Easter eggs has never really been my thing. I remember enjoying the process as a kid, but I never really liked the end product. I wasn't especially impressed with what I was able to create and I didn't even get excited when we had stickers to put on the eggs. The whole thing just didn't really appeal to me. But this week I fell down a surprising internet rabbit hole (aren't they always surprising? You just never know where you'll end up.) and came out on the other side feeling all fired up to do things like dye my own fabric using plants. (Inspiration came from @kimothyd and Rebecca Desnos.) This has never had any appeal to me whatsoever, but one thing lead to another and suddenly I'm all fired up. Combine that with a discovery of these beautiful eggs and then some dyed using blueberries by Tinka @tinkaswelt and I was off on a project.
I've had ideas for testing out natural dyes for eggs before and even saved a few pins but never thought it would be worth the effort. I had very low expectations for this whole thing. I didn't really think the eggs would turn out as well as they did with relatively low effort, but I just wanted to try it, even if just to say that I did. To my surprise, it was both easy to do (though stinky - boiling cabbage is not a scent that I would want made into a candle) and produced great results. I followed the instructions by Marble Mount Homestead and they were excellent. I modified only slightly by using just half a red cabbage and a smaller pot, as I was only putting 4 of my dozen eggs in the cabbage water.
- Eggs, white if you have them, but brown will work fine too
- Red cabbage - for the dark aqua color
- Avocado - for the soft pink/blush color - eat the avocado, save the pit and skins for dyeing
- Blueberries - for the gray/blue color (I used frozen)
- Some kind of small leaves - I used the tops of a bunch of carrots but any herbs, leaves, ferns will work
- Pantyhose, cut into 2-3 inch strips to wrap the eggs
- Distilled white vinegar
For each of your dye baths, you're going to simmer the dye materials for an hour before adding your eggs. This is a stinky business, but worth it. Since I was only putting 4 eggs into each dye bath, I used 6 cups of water in 3 separate pots and added 1/2 of a chopped up red cabbage to one, avocado stone, cut in half, and skins to another, and 1/4 c. frozen blueberries to another. Bring the pots to a boil, then cover, and let simmer for an hour. While those are boiling, prep your eggs. It's not as hard as it may seem at first glance. Place a leaf smooth side down on the egg and gently wrap a section of hose around the egg. I recommend covering the whole egg - I didn't on some of mine and you can tell when they are done. Tie the hose in a knot secure enough to hold the plant in place, but not so tight you crack the egg. When the dyes are done simmering, remove the fruits and veggies from the pots, discard, add a splash of vinegar, and very carefully place your eggs in. Bring to boil, then turn off the heat, and let sit for about 15 min. This will hard cook your eggs. Now it's up to you how long you want to leave them in the dye bath. After an hour, they will have very light color. I left mine in the dye bath in the refrigerator overnight. I did gently place them into sealable plastic tubs for this, as I needed the pots and they wouldn't all fit in the fridge anyway. The next morning, I took them out of the dye bath, snipped off the hose, and voila!
A few tips:
- Make sure the hose is tight enough to securely hold the leaf while the egg gets jostled. Otherwise, the design won't be quite as crisp when you're done.
- Placing the leaf smooth side down helps it to stay stuck tightly to the egg so you get crisper edges
- If the eggs are in a small container in the fridge and touching each other and the sides, you might have some light spots in the color. Make sure the eggs have plenty of space if you don't want that to happen.
This turned out to be fun and rewarding, and has renewed my interest in dyeing Easter eggs. There are many other items you can use to get a full rainbow spectrum if you are interested. I think I'm hooked and will try it again next year.
Hope you have a wonderful Easter weekend and let me know if you try dyeing some eggs!
My husband and children prefer cookies to scones. Fortunately, I love to bake cookies. I enjoy the whole process, from making the dough to eating the final product. I like unfussy cookies that are relatively easy to throw together and make me feel like I really have my act together.Read More
It's April! The birds are singing, the sun is shining, flowers are blooming...not even close. This is April in Maine, which means that it's cloudy, cold, and supposed to snow this afternoon. There is nothing blooming and we still have a significant snow pack. But it's not all doom and gloom, the sun is getting stronger and we are supposed to get into the 50s later this week. Mainers truly appreciate those (relatively) warm days, and I will probably have to work to convince the kids not to wear shorts to school that day. This is the time of year when I feel most impatient and the least like living in the rhythm of the seasons. I want to drink iced coffee, plant the garden, and ditch the sweaters, but it's going to be a while. I'm working to embrace all that is good about this time of year, which is not the mud - so much mud, it's things like seeing the buds on the trees, taking the time to plan a garden, and remembering that soon enough it will warm up and really be spring-like. Then it will be a busy time of planting and soaking up all the outdoor living we can cram into those precious days. For now, patience. And making wreaths out of the available spring-heralding materials: pussy willows. (Drat that name, right?)
Pussy willows are abundant this time of year, starting in late February, until they bloom in a few more weeks. You can usually find this kind of willow tree near swampy or wet areas, and I prefer the branches of older trees, as they usually have more catkins on them. I harvested an armload of the branches, in all their wild glory, and cut them down to make a cheerful wreath.
To make my wabi-sabi little wreath, I started with a grapevine wreath that is approximately 6 inches in diameter. I cut the branches into sections ranging from 6-8 inches long, and chose to pre-wire little bundles of branches and then wire them onto the wreath. The project took about an hour from start to finish, and is now happily handing in the kitchen.
- 6 inch grapevine wreath
- 65-80 pussy willow branch sections, each 6-8 inches long
- Paper-wrapped floral wire
- Floral wire (I used a very thin and pliable, 26 gauge wire)
First, make coffee. Not for the wreath, just for enjoyment. Then, trim your willow branches into 6-8 inch sections. Gather the branches into small, fan-shaped bundles with 5-6 branch sections in each, and wire together near the base, using the floral wire, or whatever you have on hand that will do the job. I found the thin wire to be flexible and easy to work with, but strong enough to hold the finished product. Mine is hanging in the kitchen, not exposed to wind, so you may want something stronger if yours will be outdoors. Once you have all the bundles put together - I used 14 bundles in my wreath - begin assembly. Start by laying one bundle on the wreath, and using the paper-wrapped florist wire to secure it to the wreath. I wrapped the first section twice to firmly secure it. Begin layering the wreath by placing the next bundle over the wired section of the first, so it hides the wire, and wrap it in place. Add the next in the same manner, and so on. Some of your bundles may be fluffier and fuller than others, so try to alternate those. Keep taking a look at the whole picture so you don't end up with sections that are packed too densely. (That's a "do as I say, not as I do" piece of advice. I have one section that I wired too tightly with too-thin bundles and I don't recommend it. Live and learn.)
After you've secured all the willow bundles to the wreath, snip your wire, leaving a 3-4 inch tail to twist into a hanging and loop and secure the end into the wreath. Look at the wreath and fluff and adjust the bundles to even it out. You can tuck in extra single branches if you have any particularly bare spots. The wreath is done and ready to be enjoyed. I recommend hanging it somewhere where it won't get bumped and jostled too much, as some of the catkins may fall off.
Let me know how it goes if you try it, or if you have any questions.