Winter’s coming: Download the winter issue of Celebrate Home Magazine free!

31 10 2017

The winter issue of Celebrate Home Magazine is still available for digital download in the links below. Click on either of the links below to download your FREE pdf copy of this issue. The first links is for single-page viewing (perfect for printing off your favorite recipe!); the second link is set up for “reader spreads,” so you can see the magazine in spread format (my favorite!).

Thank you for your support.

Single pages version: Celebrate Home Winter 2013

Reader spreads version (my favorite!): Celebrate Home Winter 2013 Spreads

You can order a print-on-demand copy of the magazine (at cost, plus shipping) here: http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/513977

Click here to view on issuu.com.

On the cover: Gladys Roldan-de-Moras, award-winning Impressionist painter from San Antonio, Texas

CHM Winter 2013 FInal Cover

In this issue:

FEATHER YOUR NEST
Winter-inspired lovelies for you and your home.

HOME
Delicious Pops of Color
Easy on the eyes, the Hedstrom house takes advantage of light-filled views with clean lines and engaging color.

FAMILY
Living the Fairy Tale: To Quit or Not to Quit?
Mothers share their struggles with jobs and families.

FOOD & ENTERTAINING
Bowls of Comfort
Take the chill out of winter with our filling soup recipes!

A Wintertime Dessert Party
Pair wine and desserts for elegant and easy entertaining.

Green Chicken: Creating a Family Heirloom Cookbook
Create a cookbook that cherishes family recipes.

The Many Seasons of Beer
Beer aficionado Jefferson Evans explores the world of seasonal brews.

THE ARTIST
Gladys Roldan-de-Moras, Impressionist Painter
Always proud of her Colombian and Mexican roots, this artist’s passion is reflected in her colorful work.

HOW-TO
Winter Photography Indoors
Stay indoors to photograph nature this winter.

PETS
How Much is That Doggie in the Window? Choosing the Family Pup

Think you’re ready to add a furry friend to your family? Here are some things to consider.

THE CREATIVE LIFE
Every Picture Tells a Story
Discover five tips for decorating your walls with original art.

THE COLLECTOR
Bejeweled: Camilla Houghton’s Unique Ring Collection
What started as a gift exchange between two sisters expanded into a beloved collection of rings.

CRAFT
Ring Bling Box
Give your rings a new home with our easy craft project.

PERSPECTIVES
What Home Means to Me

 





In the garden: my meager pepper harvest

20 09 2017

Sadly, not quite enough to start my roadside farm stand!

Shot with my iPhone 6s on my glasstop patio table; Snapseed app border

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

WEB Meager Pepper Harvest





Re-post: Celebrate Home Magazine, fall issue

4 09 2017

In 2012, Barbara Kelley and I launched Celebrate Home Magazine, a quarterly lifestyle publication. Visit our website at www.celebratehomemagazine.com. We published four issues (fall 2012, winter 2013, spring 2013 and summer 2013).

Click the link below to download a two-page spread pdf of the magazine:

CelebrateHomeMagFall2012 Spreads

Click the link below to download a pdf designed for single page printing:

CelebrateHomeMagFall2012 Pages

Want to order a print copy of Celebrate Home Magazine? Click here, then sign up for a free magcloud.com account. You can download the FREE pdf or purchase a print copy on this link.





Just in time for spring…

6 03 2016

RE-POST: In spring 2012, I had my first botanical photography exhibit, “Garden Muse: A Botanical Portfolio,” at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, VA. Barbara Kelley of Kelley Hospitality (who is also the editor-in-chief and my partner with Celebrate Home Magazine), did a phenomenal job of catering the reception in mid-April. There wasn’t a crumb left of anything when the event was over!

Barbara shares her yummy recipes and party tips in “Inspired by the Garden: Garden Muse Tea Reception,” in the summer issue of Celebrate Home Magazine. Barbara and I published four issues of Celebrate Home Magazine as a personal project in 2012-2013.

I am forever grateful to her for all her hard work and very major contributions to that very special day! Special thanks to Hollace Goodman, who served as catering assistant, for her work as well. Special thanks Ed Fagan of Columbia Photography and Margot Juliette Storch for photographing the event for us. I recapped the event on this blog in the links below:

https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2012/04/18/scenes-from-an-exhibit-reception-part-1/

https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2012/04/18/scenes-from-an-exhibit-reception-part-2/

https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2012/05/07/more-scenes-from-a-reception-for-garden-muse-a-botanical-portfolio/

View the issue as reader spreads (my favorite!):

CHM Summer 2013 Spreads

View the issue as single pages (suitable for printing out the recipes):

CHM Summer 2013 Single Pages

Splurge and purchase a beautiful print copy on magcloud.com (no markup; at cost + shipping):

http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/600404

Help us spread the word! Share Celebrate Home Magazine with your family and friends.

CHM Garden Reception

 





Learn how to make jam!

6 03 2016
Want to learn how to make jam? My friend and jam master Sophia Stadnyk shows you step-by-step how to make jam in our spring 2013 issue of Celebrate Home Magazine. Turn to page 36 to learn how. Then turn to page 42 for Barbara Kelley’s article, “Cooking with Jam,” where you’ll find (jam-packed!) recipes for an appetizer, entree and three sweet treats.
Barbara Kelley and I published this magazine series in 2012-2013 as a personal project. Click on the link below to download the free pdf of this issue!

Single pages version: Celebrate Home Spring 2013

Reader spreads version (my favorite!):
Celebrate Home Spring 2013 Spreads

Order a print copy (at cost, plus shipping):
http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/540569

You can also view it on issuu.com here.

Written by Sophia Stadnyk. Photography © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Making Jam






Celebrate Home Magazine: Spring!

6 03 2016

It’s almost spring and I thought I’d share the spring issue of Celebrate Home Magazine again. Barbara Kelley and I created this magazine in 2012-2013 as a personal project and had so much fun doing it! Click on either of the links below to download your FREE pdf copy of this issue.

This issue is jam-packed (and there’s even a jam-making feature with my friend Sophia Stadnyk!), so download today and get started reading.

Single pages version: Celebrate Home Spring 2013

Reader spreads version (my favorite!): Celebrate Home Spring 2013 Spreads

Order a print copy (at cost, plus shipping): http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/540569

You can also view it on issuu.com here.

On the cover: What says “spring” more than colorful tulips? I was photographing this bed of flowers and was standing on the edge of the wall when this little girl, clad in a princess skirt with sparkly shoes, came running around the corner. I got this one shot and she was gone. Serendipity!

CHM Spring 2013 cover





Re-post: Summer 2013 Celebrate Home Magazine

15 06 2014

Summer has begun and there’s no better time than now to revisit the summer 2013 issue of Celebrate Home Magazine.

Here’s what you’ll find in this issue:

HOME
Up a Creek with Lots of Memories—The Havermann family finds a place to play in a vacation 
home on St. Leonard’s Creek in southern Maryland.

FOOD & ENTERTAINING
Light and Lively Summer Fare—Chef Emily Doermann whips up a tasty summer meal.

Not-a-Burger—Everyone loves a burger on the grill during summer. If you’re not a meat-eater, here is an alternative that can’t be beat!

Six Summer Sips—Mixologist Karen Covey shares sizzling summer drinks to beat the heat.

Space Cake—Put down that Moon Pie and try this heirloom cake without-of-the-world taste.

Inspired by the Garden: Garden Muse Tea Reception—Barbara Kelley caters a photography exhibit reception to remember.

Summer Tablescapes—Usher in summer with cool summer-inspired tablescapes.

THE ARTIST
Shoe-la-la, Ooh-la-la!—A popular children’s book is the inspiration for a mural in 
a shoe-loving little girl’s room.

HOME
That 80s House—A bathroom gets a new lease on life.

Rest for the Weary—Create a welcoming guestroom for your visitors.

GARDENING
Ode to a Chicken—Becka Davis pays homage to a beloved feathered friend.

Suburban Agriculture: Confessions of a Brown Thumb—Maria Hufnagel shares her experience as a first-time gardener.

Fashioning a Fairy Garden—Kristin Clem connects with her inner child and creates 
a miniature fairy paradise.

HOW-TO
Photographing Your Garden Through the Seasons—Photographer Cindy Dyer shares her tips for creating captivating images in the garden.

THE COLLECTOR
Rampant Biblioholism—Marisa Sarto interviews CHM’s art director/photographer, Cindy Dyer, 
and discovers how a love of books has shaped her collection.

So Charming—Ginger Garneau shares her lifelong passion for charm bracelets.

CRAFT
Fit to Tied (and Dyed): Fun and Easy Wearables Made with T-shirts—Achieve amazing results with inexpensive t-shirts, colorful dyes, simple 
knotting and a pair of scissors!

PERSPECTIVES
Living Spontaneously, Finding Roots by Martha Bizzell
Celebrating Life at the Table by Gina Waterfield
The Home of My Dreams by Stephanie Simpson
Home is… by Bo Mackison
Saying Goodbye by William Lee
Respect for Home by Birgitte Tarding
Always Growing by Lisa Westfall

View the issue as reader spreads (my favorite!):

CHM Summer 2013 Spreads

View the issue as single pages (suitable for printing):

CHM Summer 2013 Single Pages

Splurge and purchase a beautiful print copy on magcloud.com (no markup; at cost + shipping):

http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/600404

Help us spread the word! Share Celebrate Home Magazine with your family and friends.

CHM Summer 2013 Cover Blog





Chef Emily’s Light & Lively Summer Menu

19 07 2013

Chef EmilyCheck out Chef Emily Doerman’s light and lively menu (from appetizer to entree to dessert) in the summer 2013 issue of Celebrate Home Magazine! Download the issue free in the links below. Visit our website to download previous issues at http://www.celebratehomemagazine.com.

View the issue as reader spreads (my favorite!):

CHM Summer 2013 Spreads

View the issue as single pages (suitable for printing):

CHM Summer 2013 Single Pages

Splurge and purchase a beautiful print copy on magcloud.com (no markup; at cost + shipping):

http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/600404

Help us spread the word! Share Celebrate Home Magazine with your family and friends.

Photography and design by Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

LightLively





From Celebrate Home Magazine, Summer 2013: How to Plan a Photography Exhibit Reception

18 07 2013

In spring 2012, I had my first botanical photography exhibit, “Garden Muse: A Botanical Portfolio,” at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, VA. Barbara Kelley of Kelley Hospitality (who is also the editor-in-chief and my partner with Celebrate Home Magazine), did a phenomenal job of catering the reception in mid-April. There wasn‘t a crumb left of anything when the event was over!

Barbara shares her recipes and party tips in “Inspired by the Garden: Garden Muse Tea Reception,” in the summer issue of Celebrate Home Magazine. I am forever grateful to her for all her hard work and very major contributions to that very special day! Special thanks to Hollace Goodman, who served as catering assistant, for her work as well. Special thanks Ed Fagan of Columbia Photography and Margot Juliette Storch for photographing the event for us. I recapped the event on this blog in the links below:

https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2012/04/18/scenes-from-an-exhibit-reception-part-1/

https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2012/04/18/scenes-from-an-exhibit-reception-part-2/

https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2012/05/07/more-scenes-from-a-reception-for-garden-muse-a-botanical-portfolio/

View the issue as reader spreads (my favorite!):

CHM Summer 2013 Spreads

View the issue as single pages (suitable for printing out the recipes):

CHM Summer 2013 Single Pages

Splurge and purchase a beautiful print copy on magcloud.com (no markup; at cost + shipping):

http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/600404

Help us spread the word! Share Celebrate Home Magazine with your family and friends.

CHM Garden Reception

 





On Assignment: Kitchen remodel by Cross Construction

23 05 2013

Cross Construction, in San Antonio, Texas, remodeled this sleek and modern kitchen, which is completely different from the previous kitchen I blogged about.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

RedKitchenCollage





Wanna learn how to make jam?

4 04 2013

Jam master Sophia Stadnyk shows you step-by-step how to make jam in our spring 2013 issue of Celebrate Home Magazine. Turn to page 36 to learn how. Then turn to page 42 for Barbara Kelley’s article, “Cooking with Jam,” where you’ll find (jam-packed!) recipes for an appetizer, entree and three sweet treats.

Single pages version: Celebrate Home Spring 2013

Reader spreads version (my favorite!):
Celebrate Home Spring 2013 Spreads

Order a print copy (at cost, plus shipping):
http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/540569

You can also view it on issuu.com here.

Written by Sophia Stadnyk. Photography © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

JamSessionBlog





Spring 2013 issue of Celebrate Home Magazine now available for digital download!

4 04 2013

The spring 2013 issue of Celebrate Home Magazine is now available for digital download in the links below. Click on either of the links below to download your FREE pdf copy of this issue.

This issue is jam-packed (and there’s even a jam-making feature!), so download today and get started reading.

The more clicks we get, the better we do with promoting and getting advertising! We thank you for your support.

Single pages version: Celebrate Home Spring 2013

Reader spreads version (my favorite!): Celebrate Home Spring 2013 Spreads

Order a print copy (at cost, plus shipping): http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/540569

You can also view it on issuu.com here.

On the cover: What says “spring” more than colorful tulips? I was photographing this bed of flowers and was standing on the edge of the wall when this little girl, clad in a princess skirt with sparkly shoes, came running around the corner. I got this one shot and she was gone. Serendipity!

CHM Spring 2013 cover





Winter 2013 issue of Celebrate Home Magazine now available for digital download!

11 02 2013

The winter 2013 issue of Celebrate Home Magazine is now available for digital download in the links below. Click on either of the links below to download your FREE pdf copy of this issue. The first links is for single-page viewing (perfect for printing off your favorite recipe!); the second link is set up for “reader spreads,” so you can see the magazine in spread format (my favorite!).

The more clicks we get, the better we do with promoting and getting advertising! We thank you for your support.

Single pages version: Celebrate Home Winter 2013

Reader spreads version (my favorite!): Celebrate Home Winter 2013 Spreads

You can order a print copy of the magazine (at cost, plus shipping) here: http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/513977

Click here to view on issuu.com.

On the cover: Gladys Roldan-de-Moras, award-winning Impressionist painter from San Antonio, Texas

CHM Winter 2013 FInal Cover

In this issue:

FEATHER YOUR NEST
Winter-inspired lovelies for you and your home.

HOME
Delicious Pops of Color
Easy on the eyes, the Hedstrom house takes advantage of light-filled views with clean lines and engaging color.

FAMILY
Living the Fairy Tale: To Quit or Not to Quit?
Mothers share their struggles with jobs and families.

FOOD & ENTERTAINING
Bowls of Comfort
Take the chill out of winter with our filling soup recipes!

A Wintertime Dessert Party
Pair wine and desserts for elegant and easy entertaining.

Green Chicken: Creating a Family Heirloom Cookbook
Create a cookbook that cherishes family recipes.

The Many Seasons of Beer
Beer aficionado Jefferson Evans explores the world of seasonal brews.

THE ARTIST
Gladys Roldan-de-Moras, Impressionist Painter
Always proud of her Colombian and Mexican roots, this artist’s passion is reflected in her colorful work.

HOW-TO
Winter Photography Indoors
Stay indoors to photograph nature this winter.

PETS
How Much is That Doggie in the Window? Choosing the Family Pup

Think you’re ready to add a furry friend to your family? Here are some things to consider.

THE CREATIVE LIFE
Every Picture Tells a Story
Discover five tips for decorating your walls with original art.

THE COLLECTOR
Bejeweled: Camilla Houghton’s Unique Ring Collection
What started as a gift exchange between two sisters expanded into a beloved collection of rings.

CRAFT
Ring Bling Box
Give your rings a new home with our easy craft project.

PERSPECTIVES
What Home Means to Me

 





P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home at Moss Mountain Farm, Part 1

14 12 2012

Last week I flew to Huntsville, AL to visit my friend Sue and her mother, Wanda. On Thursday we hit the road headed to Little Rock, AR to visit Sue’s Aunt Gay, whose late husband was former Arkansas Governor Frank White. The occasion? We were all signed up for the open house tour and luncheon at P. Allen Smith’s Greek-Revival-inspired estate located 30 minutes outside of Little Rock. The home sits on top of a ridge overlooking the Arkansas River Valley and is spectacular.

It was love at first sight for me and I shot hundreds of photos with my Nikon SLR, a Coolpix and my trusty iPhone (believe it or not, all of the images in the collage below were shot with just the iPhone). Because there were 90+ people meandering through the house, it was much easier to shoot with my phone than to use my pro stuff. I did get some shots with the other cameras and will share those in later postings.

The collage below shows the main room in the front of the house, plus the sitting room and dining table next to the gorgeous kitchen. I shot every little vignette I could, not wanting to miss even one tiny detail. Learn more about this beautiful property on P. Allen’s website hereMany more photos to come!

PAS Collage 1 lorez





From now until Oct. 31, get your printed copy of our Celebrate Home Magazine at 25% off!

24 10 2012

Magcloud.com is having a 25% off sale from now until October 31! Get the printed copy of the fall 2012 issue of Celebrate Home Magazine for $17.55 (reg. $23.40), plus shipping. The print copy is gorgeous, but you can also view it online free by signing up for a free magcloud.com account. Click on the link below to enjoy 25% off the print version!

http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/447668





Celebrate Home Magazine now available on www.issuu.com!

10 10 2012

Celebrate Home Magazine is now available for viewing on http://www.issuu.com! You’ll love the page-turnable interface and downloads are FREE. You can even control the zoom in and out features! Check it out here:

http://issuu.com/celebratehomemag/docs/celebratehomemagfall2012

Help us get those numbers up by downloading your free copy now. Every click helps us grow the magazine, ensuring more issues for you to read in the future. Help us spread the word!





And that’s the way we roll…

2 10 2012

Below is Barbara’s friend Lucille’s “Pumpkin Roll” recipe. I can attest to its yumminess, having consumed some before, during and after the photo shoot. P.S. Did you know that cats love cream cheese too?

Want the recipe? Click on either of the links below the photo to download a pdf file of the entire magazine. I’ve included two different pdfs—one is a two-page spread view (best viewed online) and the other is a single-page view (better for printing off the recipes on one page). Bon appétit!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Click the link below to download a two-page spread pdf of the magazine:

CelebrateHomeMagFall2012 Spreads

Click the link below to download a pdf designed for single page printing:

CelebrateHomeMagFall2012 Pages

Want to order a print copy of Celebrate Home Magazine? Click here, then sign up for a free magcloud.com account. You can download the FREE pdf or purchase a print copy on this link.

 





Soup’s on!

2 10 2012

Since mid-July, I’ve been designing and photographing for Celebrate Home Magazine, which I just launched tonight with my publishing partner, Barbara Kelley. I’ll be sharing lots of photos from those shoots over the next few days. I’ve discovered that I really like photographing food and am learning something new with each shoot! Another plus is I finally get to use all of my dishes, linens and serving ware. I knew there was a reason for my obsessive collecting of these items! Below is Barbara’s “Autumn Corn Chowder” recipe, served in the cute little “cracker moat” bowls I got for a buck each at a thrift store in San Antonio this past January. Thanks to Barbara’s friend, Melanie, for traipsing around town to find tiny crackers for us to use!

Want the recipe? Click on either of the links below the photo to download a pdf file of the entire magazine. I’ve included two different pdfs—one is a two-page spread view (best viewed online) and the other is a single-page view (better for printing off the recipes on one page). Bon appétit!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Click the link below to download a two-page spread pdf of the magazine:

CelebrateHomeMagFall2012 Spreads

Click the link below to download a pdf designed for single page printing:

CelebrateHomeMagFall2012 Pages

Want to order a print copy of Celebrate Home Magazine? Click here, then sign up for a free magcloud.com account. You can download the FREE pdf or purchase a print copy on this link.

 





A labor of love: Celebrate Home Magazine is born!

2 10 2012

The Fall 2012 Celebrate Home Magazine debuts today on the first day of October with the mantra of “making the ordinary extraordinary.”

Published quarterly, Celebrate Home Magazine focuses on family, food, entertaining, gardening, art, crafts, hobbies, personal expression, hospitality, pets, decorating, communities and neighborhoods.

The time has come for a magazine like this—highlighting ordinary people doing extraordinary things. No matter your budget, your skills or the size of your space, we’ll enthusiastically share experiences of those who nurture the space they call home. Let us inspire you!

I’ve teamed up with the talented and renowned Barbara Kelley, whose editorial expertise has graced Hearing Loss Magazine for more than 20 years. She brings her passion for hospitality and her publishing experience to this brand new publication! We are both passionate about all things home and welcome you to open the door and come on in. We also welcome you to be contributors. This magazine is for you and about you.

Click the link below to download a two-page spread pdf of the magazine:

CelebrateHomeMagFall2012 Spreads

Click the link below to download a pdf designed for single page printing:

CelebrateHomeMagFall2012 Pages

Want to order a print copy of Celebrate Home Magazine? Click here, then sign up for a free magcloud.com account. You can download the FREE pdf or purchase a print copy on this link.

 

 

Would you like to be a contributing author or photographer? Please e-mail writing and/or photography samples and links to websites with your work to bkelley@celebratehomemag.com.

Do you have an original recipe you’d like to share? Please e-mail your recipes to bkelley@celebratehomemag.com.

We can come to you! Are you having a party or special event at your home or an activity that relates to the subject of home? Contact us to discuss your idea. If it fits the editorial scope of Celebrate Home Magazine, we may photograph your event and write the story.

Do you have a product or service? If you would like to advertise your product, service, or your city/town/region, contact advertising@celebratehomemag.com.

Check it out and celebrate home with us!





Announcing Art, Photography and Cooking Workshops in Tuscany in April and May, 2013

16 09 2012

Earlier this year, my friend and fellow artist, Suzy Olsen, invited me to teach photography workshops at her villa in Tuscany. We had originally planned for workshops to happen later this month but the timing was too short for planning, so we moved the date to spring 2013.

Join us in Italy for a feast for the senses!

Spend seven days/eight nights in Tuscany for workshops in watercolor painting and photography, topped off with authentic Italian cooking lessons! Accommodations are in a lovely artist community at the top of a hill overlooking Poppi. The little town of Poppi is located in the beautiful Ortignano Raggiolo region at the center of the Casentino Valley, not far from Florence.

Two dates to choose from: April 19–27 or May 2–10, 2013

Trip includes accommodations, all meals, and daily workshops—watercolor and pen and ink classes with Suzy Olsen each morning; a travel, nature and portrait photography class with me each afternoon, and three authentic Italian cooking classes in the evening with Chef Daniela Cursi.

WORKSHOP INSTRUCTORS

Artist Suzy Olsen will teach you a great way to use watercolor with pen and ink for travel sketches using just the supplies in your backpack. You will learn how to access views and single out what works best—sketching and using your pen, then you can later fill in with watercolor back at the studio where you will utilize photos for reference. Her demos will be done every day to assist you with how to use pen, papers, and watercolor to your best advantage. You can paint with both a notebook and a watercolor paper pad, and are encouraged to further your creativity in the studio at the villa. She will share her paintings and demonstrate watercolor and sketching techniques during the morning hours.

Graphic designer, avid blogger and award-winning photographer Cindy Dyer will show you how to capture the beauty of the Tuscan countryside with your camera including landscapes, nature, still life and portraits. You’ll learn about composition, depth of field and lighting and receive hands-on, personalized instruction in every session. Cindy will review your digital images throughout the week so you can improve your skills with each session. She will show you how to combine your watercolor paintings, sketches and photographs with narrative and captions to create an online blog or publish a travel journal with magcloud.com.

Chef Daniela Cursi has spent more than 20 years mastering traditional Tuscan cuisine and has worked as a chef since 1998. She will prepare our food and teach us how to make our favorite Tuscan meals such as homemade pasta and wood-fired pizza. She has mastered the local cuisine of the Casentino Valley near Poppi and Arezzo, which is famous for lasagna and ravioli. During late afternoons, Chef Daniela will host three cooking classes in which she will focus on these areas:

Homemade Pastas—You’ll learn how to roll it out using fresh country eggs to make the classic noodles: raviolis and lasagnas. Chef Daniela will also teach you how to create pestos and vegetable- and meat-based sauces.

Vegetables and Roasting Meat—You’ll learn to use fresh vegetables in side dishes and salads and how to grill meat over an open fire. Chef Daniela will share how the locals prepare wonderful appetizers—the traditional way to start a great meal!

Pizzas—You’ll learn how to make homemade pizzas using wood fire and desserts using pastries. You’ll see firsthand how beautiful simple food can be. We embellish with good wines from the area, and we’ll sample cheeses, local delicacies, sweets and more.

QUESTIONS? Contact Suzy directly via e-mail at suzy2art@gmail.com or text her cell phone at 210.556.8909 for more information. Contact me at dyerdesign@aol.com or call 703.971.9038.

For more details, download the preliminary brochure by clicking this link here: Tuscany Workshops

If you are unable to download the brochure, please e-mail Cindy at dyerdesign@aol.com and I will send you the brochure electronically.





More scenes from a reception for Garden Muse: A Botanical Portfolio

7 05 2012

These lovely photos were shot at my April 15 photography reception at Green Spring Gardens by my friend Karen B.’s eldest daughter, Margot. For the record, Margot and her sister, Hannah, are two of the sweetest, smartest and prettiest young ladies I’ve had the good fortune to watch grow from birth to 20 and 18 years old, respectively. Catering by the Sneeze Guard Heiress, Barbara Kelley of Kelley Hospitality; tablescaping by Karen B. and yours truly. Thanks for the shots, Margot!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Scenes from an exhibit reception, part 2

18 04 2012

A reception wouldn’t be complete without food, and with Kelley Hospitality in charge, mine was p-e-r-f-e-c-t! Visit Barbara’s hospitality blog here. Thanks to Ed Fagan of Columbia Photography for all the great photos!





Here’s a jolt of color for ya!

17 02 2012

My friend Sonya is working on a diet/health-related design project and asked if I had any photos of produce in my archives that I could share. Here’s a photo that I shot at a local farmer’s market four years ago. Such intense color—just enough to perk me up on this drab, gray, cold winter day.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Thriftshoppin’ — Soup bowl with a cracker moat

1 01 2012

How cute and practical is this? This afternoon, my dad and I went to a Salvation Army store in San Antonio and I spied these unusual soup bowls. How often have you asked, “but where do I store my crackers until I’m ready for them?” Well, I don’t have to worry about that conundrum now that I have these little beauties. I bought four of them for just $1.99 each. They have a potter’s mark on the bottom, but I haven’t been able to find anything about them in my online search. (I would love to have more of them, so if you happen to see any while you’re out, please buy them for me. I’ll pay you back, I promise!) The salesclerks at the register said they didn’t know why they had the little ledge on them. When I explained what I thought the ledge was for, they looked wistful and said the bowls had been there, unclaimed for quite some time (and gathering a patina of dust).

We hurried home, cleaned them thoroughly, then added my sister Debbie’s white chicken tortilla soup with a side of crackers, of course. I’ll get the recipe from her to share with you—it is part cookbook recipe and part Debbie’s concoction and it is really, really good!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved. (Soup © Debbie Talbert. Food styling by H.M. Dyer)





How not to bake

12 12 2011

Many of you may have read slept through my recent posting titled Wannabe Kitchenista. Apparently I haven’t yet given up the yearning to master all things kitchen since yesterday morning found me in the kitchen at the way-too-early-on-a-Sunday-morning time of 8:47 a.m, setting up shop to bake seven dozen (yikes!) oatmeal cookies for a cookie exchange the same day. I had at least four hours to accomplish this task, so piece of cake cookie, right?

I had the foresight to mix the batter the night before (industrious, aren’t I?), so all I had left to do was prepare teaspoon-size balls and start baking. Our stove runs cooler than the temperature I had to set, so after carefully bringing Batch #1 to completion, I determined that I would need exactly 12 minutes of baking time to get soft and chewy cookies.

Everything went fine for Batch #1-5. [Yay, me!] Just two more to go. And Nancy, the host of this soiree, said one batch was actually for me to take home, so I figured if I screwed up Batch #7, it was no great loss, right? I put Batch #6 into the oven and decided 12 minutes was plenty of time for me to check my e-mail really quickly.

Mistake #1. A minute of e-mail time turns into several minutes of blogging and then I remember the cookies. In my little cooking-challenged brain, I thought, “The timer will have gone off; the cookies might cook awhile longer in the residual heat, but the oven isn’t still actually on, right?”

Misguided Notion #1. It dawns on me at this point that the timer doesn’t actually turn the stove off; it’s simply an indicator to take your creation out of the oven. Duh. Yes, I’m sure that deep down I knew this fact. Fortunately, no smoke detector had gone off and the kitchen wasn’t overcome by noxious fumes yet, either (although I did see a tad bit of heat rising from the top of the oven).

I opened the door and saw the blackest cookies I have ever seen. Rock hard and black as coal. Culinary weapons, they were, like throwing stars straight out of a Bond flick. So, what was I, a guest at the “7 dozen, please” cookie exchange party, to do? I had to make another two batches from scratch. Lesson learned, I stayed put for the next 24 minutes, monitoring them diligently.

I toted my 84 cookies to the exchange, made some new friends, and let my host’s husband have my batch of oatmeal cookies. I don’t want to see oatmeal cookies ever again. What did I learn from this little experience?

Baking + e-mailing = throwing stars.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Below: my new not-cooking-challenged friends





Wannabe kitchenista

9 12 2011

Let me begin this post by stating that I am not a cook. I can count on both hands and both feet the number of times I have actually cooked (not an exaggeration). It is one of those endeavors that I wish I had the patience and skill to do. My mother was a wonderful cook. Both of my sisters seem to enjoy the task as well and are good at it. I have cooked so little that I can actually remember almost every attempt in the kitchen. Yes, I have had some successes. I make a crazy-good basil pesto (and lots of it) every year. (Last year’s posting on making pesto, along with the recipe I use, is here.) My cooking repertoire now includes a wonderful pesto chicken dish and my go-to grilled chicken dish with mustard and tarragon (courtesy of Martha Stewart). I can add my friend Barbara’s Baked Cranberry Orange Sauce to that tiny list of culinary accomplishments. It shouldn’t surprise you that my idea of a great (solo) dinner is a well-made sandwich—wheat bread, light on the mayo, turkey and cheddar cheese, with potato chips shoved in for texture—although a bowl of Cap’n Crunch is a close second. If it weren’t for Michael’s kitchen skills and cooking patience (aside from that one incident where he inadvertently poisoned me one Thanksgiving with a partially cooked ham), I would still be eating 10 for a $1 chicken-flavored ramen noodles and burned biscuits. (Did I mention how much I love 90-second rice in a pouch and Bird’s Eye Steamers?) Below are my top five memorable moments in the heart of the home.

1) Steak & Au Gratin Potato Dinner
Picture this: I am a college student, still living at home. My mother, sister Debbie, and her husband Bill are visiting relatives in Georgia. Kelley and I are left to fend for ourselves. My dad is working the 4-midnight shift as a Customs Inspector at the port of Brownsville, Texas. I decide that dad needs a good home cooked meal and I’m just the chef to do it!

I decide he needs a manly dinner—steak and potatoes. I’m assuming we already had these ingredients in the pantry because shopping in a grocery store was a foreign concept to me (and it kinda still is). As a rookie in the kitchen, I do not know how long it takes to cook a steak. Al Gore hadn’t yet invented the internet, so I didn’t have a recipe site to double check. I can’t ask my mom or sister because they’re out of the state. I can’t call dad to ask him because that would spoil the surprise. Dad doesn’t get home until 1:00 a.m. I start cooking at 9:00 p.m. Yes, you read that right. Four hours before he will arrive home from work.

I start the steak at 9:00 p.m. and continue to warm it up, over and over and over (and over) until he comes home. Can’t have steak without potatoes, right? I raid the pantry and discover an au gratin potato mix. It calls for x amount of butter and I decide (as if I possess years of culinary know-how to deviate from a tried-and-true recipe) that x amount of butter doesn’t look to be nearly enough. I add double that (or maybe it was triple?). It officially becomes the worst au gratin potato dish the world has ever seen. To this day (honestly), I cannot look at nor eat au gratin potatoes. They were that bad. Paula Dean might have eaten them, though—the gal does love her butter.

I hear my father’s car in the driveway and run to greet him. “Dad, Dad, Dad! I made you dinner.” He looks at me suspiciously since he has only seen me in the kitchen when I’m passing through it. He sits down to the seven-times-warmed-up steak (think shoe leather) and the butter-overdosed au gratin potato side dish. After the first bite, he gingerly asks, “umm…when exactly did you start cooking the steak?” I’m sure after I went to bed, he probably ditched it and headed for the Raisin Bran.

2) Some Kind of Pie
After perusing some magazine of my mother’s, I decided I was going to make a pie. I don’t remember what kind of pie it was, but I do remember my attraction to it—it was garnished with beautiful fall leaves hand cut from pastry dough. I spent an interminable amount of time cutting out the leaves and fluting the edges of the pie crust top and bottom. I was exercising my creative muscles, but it was exhausting. Then I read how long it took to bake—45 minutes. 45 minutes? Are you kidding me? I don’t have the attention span to wait that long. I remember running to my mother and begging her to watch it for me. What a saint she was…come to think of it, I don’t remember cleaning up the mess I made, either. I do remember that it was quite a lovely pie visually. And isn’t that all that matters, really? A for effort!

3) Rice Krispy Treats
When the recipe for rice krispy treats calls for butter, use it. Do not try to use I-can’t-believe-its-not-butter because it is not butter. Trust me on this. If you do, your treats will be swimming in a sludge of yellow liquid when you take them out of the oven. No one will eat them. Your boyfriend will laugh at you. You will never make rice krispy treats again.

4) Roasted Vegetable Soup
A few years ago, I decided that I would surprise Michael by cooking dinner (it always surprises him when I cook, so it’s a predictable reaction). It was winter, so what would be a better dish than a hearty bowl of soup? I proceeded to pick out the most complicated recipe in one of the many cookbooks I collect. (Don’t you judge me; I’ll get around to them some day.) Roasted Vegetable Soup. This complex recipe (I’ll bet it was one of Martha’s) required a trip to the grocery store, where I discovered that red and yellow peppers are not cheap. I loaded up on red, green and yellow peppers, yellow squash and green zucchini, onions and tomatoes. I roasted all the vegetables and then made the soup. It took forever. Remember, I’m now in Virginia, so I couldn’t beg my mom to finish it for me this time. Michael came home and was drawn in by the wonderful scent wafting from the kitchen. He settled down to a heaping, hearty bowl of soup and proclaimed it a winner, gushing and complimenting me on the dish. Devoid of expression, I announce that he will never have this dish again. Ever. So he better enjoy the leftovers.

5) The Ole Meat-and-Cheese-on-a-Toothpick-in-a-Grapefruit Appetizer
Some of you are old enough (go ahead, admit it) to remember the 70s and the meat-and-cheese-cube-on-a-toothpick-stuck-in-a-grapefruit appetizer. I realize this doesn’t entail any cooking, but I clearly remember making this kitschy appetizer. I remembered one time my younger sister and I asked if we could have a party. At the time, she was in junior high and I was in high school. We got permission and one of the appetizers we made was the skewered grapefruit sculpture. The property we lived on had a grove of grapefruit, orange and tangelo trees, so obtaining the base for this delectable was as easy as stepping out the back patio and plucking one! Tiny half inch cheese cubes stacked with ham slices (or was it dad’s bologna we raided?), then skewered on a toothpick and stuck into a large grapefruit—how retro! (As I’m reliving this memory, I’m half tempted to host a “back to the 70s” appetizer potluck just to see what my guests bring.)

AN ADMITTED BIBLIOHOLIC
In my career as a graphic designer, I have designed the covers and interiors of more than 50 books, both hard and softcover, on a wide variety of topics. I am also an admitted and unashamed biblioholic. I love books. I love well-designed and well-written books. Coffee table books, fiction, non-fiction, reference, graphic design, photography, art, craft, gardening, travel, poetry. All have their own sections in my library. On more than one occasion I have bought a book simply because of its beautiful design and compelling photography (one such book is a photo essay about octogenerians).

So despite my clumsiness in the kitchen, I adore a beautifully designed cookbook. And for some reason, cookbooks always end up on the extreme bargain tables, therefore I have amassed quite a collection of them. I love the more contemporary look of food photographs today and love perusing blogs by cooks who are both great in the kitchen and at photographing their dishes. I think it’s partly due to the styling and texture in the photographs that I am drawn to food photography as of late. I love the idea of being a great cook—they make it seem so effortless and so rewarding. It is a creative endeavor that also melds all of the senses.

POTS AND PANS AND GADGETS GALORE
I love the gadgets, pots and pans and the multitude of serves-only-one-purpose items that cooks covet. I drool over the Williams-Sonoma catalog. Last year, my friends Gina, Karen and Rob gave me a beautiful white KitchenAid mixer for my birthday because I had once said to Gina, “if I had one of those, I know I would be baking. I just know it.” I’m happy to report that it has been used several times. The first time it was used, Gina and I baked (way too many) Christmas cookies for her friend who is serving in Afghanistan. I recently used it to make pumpkin bread (yes, it was edible). For my birthday this year, Michael bought me a mini-pie maker. It has since produced four chicken and pesto pot pies, as well as cherry and apple pies. We’ll make a (mini) baker out of me yet.

IF-IT-DOESN’T-HAVE-FREEZER-BURN-THROW-IT-IN-SOUP
On Monday night, I decided to clean out the freezer and anything that didn’t have freezer burn (boy, were there a lot of bags that fit in that category!), went into my no-recipe-soup, which I like to call “If it doesn’t have freezer burn, throw it in soup.” Via telephone, my sister Debbie was my sous chef, advising me to throw in rice, a can of diced tomatoes and various spices. It was quite tasty and Michael consumed two bowls of it when he got home from work.

I am a Restaurant Impossible junkie (even if I think the two-day, $10,000 budget, and Chef Irvine’s overly dramatic demeanor is a bit much at times). I love watching Chopped, Cupcake Wars, Giada at Home and The Next Food Network Star. Watching those shows makes me want to learn how to really cook. I would love to immediately know what to do when I’m handed a basket containing boxed mac & cheese, gummi bears, canned cream of mushroom soup and string cheese.

But most of all, as a lover and maker of images, I love looking at simple, contemporary photographs of food. So, when I helped my friend Barbara decorate her Thanksgiving table this year, I offered to bring some backgrounds and set up shots of some side dishes that she had prepared in advance. Check out her Holiday Pumpkin Cookies recipe here. Her husband, Bill, is in charge of making the annual ever-changing pecan pie. This year’s concoction is Pecan-Bourbon Pie with a Touch of White Chocolate. Since this dessert is created sans recipe, he can’t really share his formula with you, but you can read all about it here.

FYI, for those of you who don’t already know it, Barbara’s father, Johnny Garneau, invented the salad bar “sneeze guard.” Yes, it’s true, and you can read all about it on Barbara’s blog here.

I always approach my photography with a graphic designer’s eye. I believe that is evident in my photographs—whether I’m photographing people, flowers, landscapes or something edible. Composition remains my main priority, no matter the subject. If you can hone just that one skill in photography, the rest—lighting and post-production—will follow. I don’t know where learning food photography could possibly take me, but it’s a lot of fun when I have a chance to do it. Who knows? It just might inspire me to spend a bit more time in the kitchen, camera nearby. Michael might just get that roasted vegetable soup one more time.

Photos © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Sour cream ghost busting a move…

1 12 2011

I take credit for this (unintentionally humorous) garnishing on Michael’s latest soup creation. Don’t you think the dollop of sour cream looks like a ghost doing the Saturday Night Fever dance? Trust me, it wasn’t planned—I envisioned swirls of the white stuff but my garnishing skills obviously leave a bit to be desired.

Michael made this butternut and acorn squash soup as a starter for our Thanksgiving dinner with our friend Karen down at her  lakehouse. He found the recipe on allrecipes.com. Because the butternut squash he used was so large, he opted to add nearly a teaspoon of cinnamon (the recipe isn’t specific about how much) as well as a little extra onion. The recipe reviews had a common thread; many who tried it said it was way too sweet, which is why Michael opted to not add the brown sugar to his version. It was enough soup to completely fill a crock pot—and it was delicious!

And, are you sitting down? I did some cooking, too. I made my friend Barbara Kelley’s Baked Cranberry–Orange Sauce (check out her posting, the recipe, and my photography on her blog here). I do not profess to be an expert in the kitchen (by a country mile), but when I mixed the cranberries with 2 cups of sugar (really? no liquid to add?), I thought, “hmm…I’m no expert, but that just doesn’t look right without any liquid.” I cut out some of the sugar but followed the other directions that Barbara gave me. It’s obvious (to anyone but me) that the cranberries supply the liquid during the baking process. Clearly, I missed that Good Eats episode with Alton Brown. (Note to self: do not think you will ever be a contender for Chopped). I cut the sugar in half in my version because I knew I would be adding orange marmalade (which is already sickly sweet). It’s still a sweet dish and my dinner companions actually ate a good helping of it (out of pity, perhaps?) My other contribution to the day was crafting the tablescape (truly my favorite thing to do in the kitchen!).

Butternut and Acorn Squash Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 butternut squash, halved and seeded
  • 1 acorn squash, halved and seeded
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped sweet onion
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar (Michael opted out on this ingredient due to the reviews)
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ground cinnamon to taste (optional)
  • fresh parsley, for garnish
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Place the squash halves cut side down in a baking dish. Bake 45 minutes, or until tender. Remove from heat, and cool slightly. Scoop the pulp from the skins. Discard skins.
  2. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat, and saute the onion until tender.
  3. In a blender or food processor, blend the squash pulp, onion, broth, brown sugar, cream cheese, pepper, and cinnamon until smooth. This may be done in several batches.
  4. Transfer the soup to a pot over medium heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through. Garnish with parsley (we had home-grown chives in lieu of parsley), and serve warm.




FAVE: Sweet Paul Magazine

29 11 2011

Last year ago I wrote about discovering http://www.magcloud.com, a self-publishing site. I was recently browsing the lifestyle magazine offerings and stumbled onto Sweet Paul Magazine, a publication based on Paul Lowe’s very successful blog of the same name. His blog was ranked 22nd in the London Times Top 50 Best Design Blogs. Lowe started as a florist and eventually became a food and prop stylist. Originally from Oslo, he now lives and works in New York City.

There are seven issues, beginning with the spring 2010 issue, available for online viewing free or you can purchase a printed version from magcloud.com here. You can also download the pdf version free from magcloud.com. The digital version includes both the pdf and iPad formats. Open a free account with magcloud.com to view or purchase publications.

MagCloud is not just for professional publishers! It is a great way to publish personal publications such as calendars, recipe books, a family reunion recap, art or photography portfolios, or a vacation travelogue, for example. It’s also less expensive than publishing a hard cover book. At just .20 cents a page for the standard size, a 48-page full-color magazine would cost you $9.60 (plus shipping charges) for each issue (compared to $28.95 for a softcover book at blurb.com—for a page count from 41-80 total). No, it’s not a book you’ll get from magcloud.com, but I can attest to the quality of the paper and the printing. As long as your layout program allows you to output to a high resolution pdf file, you’re golden! And remember, the total number of pages in your file, including the covers, must be evenly divisible by 4 (graphic design speak here). The standard size publication is 8.5 x 11 (and bleeds are allowed), but they just introduced a half size “digest” that measures 5.5 x 8.5.

I’m working on a magazine publication for my photography exhibit in spring 2012 and will be trying my hand at publishing on this site. I’ve purchased sample magazines from the site before and the quality is stellar and very reasonably priced. The best part? You can order as little as one copy of your publication! I wrote in detail about this print-on-demand site on this blog in July 2010 here and in January 2010 here. Oh, and another plus—you can actually sell your publication from the site. When you finish that reunion recap, send your relatives to the link and make them pay for their copy (bonus: you can make it available “at cost” plus shipping or mark up the price and pocket the rest for your efforts).

View the winter 2011 issue on his site here:

http://www.sweetpaulmag-digital.com/sweetpaulmag/winter2011#pg1

On the left side of the site, you can click on “back issues” to view the other six publications. It’s well worth the browsing time. His first publication was 74 pages long; subsequent issues run up to nearly 200 pages long! It is full of beautiful photography and page layout, fun crafts, entertaining tips, recipes, and decorating ideas. I think he’s giving Martha Stewart a run for her money (at least attempting to!).





Le Diner en Blanc, Virginia style

7 10 2011

We held our first-ever Le Diner en Blanc on Saturday, September 24. The week before the event was a series of very rainy days and the forecast for that day was off and on thunderstorms. I had to make a decision: cancel it or move it indoors. I didn’t want to cancel it because we had four people coming from out of state (Alabama and South Carolina) just for this event! I didn’t want to go to the trouble and expense of picking up the chairs and tables I had reserved, then get started setting up and then get chased indoors by a thunderstorm. Murphy’s Law—it didn’t rain after all, but I had to commit to the indoor scenario and then there was no turning back. And actually, it was pretty humid, so indoors was more comfortable anyway!

What is Le Diner en Blanc?
Le Diner en Blanc originated in Paris more than 20 years ago. Thousands of people all dressed in white arrive at the same time to have a posh picnic in a prestigious Parisian location. This is an invitation-only event (you have to be invited by someone who knows someone) and the location remains a secret until the last minute (although you do know the time and date). You’re told the location once you are on the scheduled coaches to the venue. This year’s event included 6,000 people in the Cour Carrée du Louvre and another 6,000 in front of Notre Dame. The Paris version requires you to bring your own plates, food and drinks—in our version, the plates, main course, dessert crepes and drinks were provided (and potluck contributions were requested).

Le Creperie Central
Sue, Barbara and Wanda set up “Le Creperie Central” the night before the party. Sue had crepe flipping duty while Barbara prepared various mixes Gina had brought back from Paris. Yes, imported from Paris…with instructions in French (hence the look on Barbara’s face in the top right photo). Gina did do a test run and wrote the instructions in English, but there was still some translating to do with the boxes that showed other ingredients were needed (thank goodness for the web!). Sue and Barbara made 90 crepes and Wanda assisted with wax-paper-tearing duty. I was busy trying to create the original outdoor ambiance in three townhouse rooms—not an easy task. All three ladies are wearing t-shirts I ordered with the “Le Diner en Blanc 2011” logo (a chandelier with the Eiffel Tower as the center column) that graphic designer friend Karen B. (who is French-born, by the way) created this summer just for the event.

Rethinking the Ambiance of Paris Indoors
Moving it indoors meant scaling back considerably—no white hanging cardboard chandeliers (beautifully crafted by my friend Karen B.) hanging from the trees, no shabby chic candle-filled bird cages hanging from shepherd’s hooks throughout the garden, no full-scale “Le Creperie” station with an LED-lit floral chandelier over the warming station. No tables set with crisp white linens and the French script and floral linen table runners I had sewn two weeks before, topped off with vintage milk bottles and silver pails filled with white flowers or chocolate-colored glittery 24″ Eiffel Tower replicas created with 3-d puzzles from Michael’s. No LED-lighted floral vines swirling the length of each table. No white satin shrugs around each chair back, fastened with a chocolate-colored Eiffel Tower silhouette.

I did find some inspiration indoors, however. My favorite one was my impromptu napkin “dispenser”—using my woman head planter I crafted a sort of ancient Greek Carmen Miranda of sorts. It was so sculptural that many guests thought it was a decoration and barely made a dent in the napkin inventory! The full-scale outdoor French crepe vendor stand was modified for the kitchen island and it worked well despite the lack of outdoor ambiance. A huge thank you to Margot for photographing the tablescapes and decorations before the party started—I was distracted and didn’t get many shots. I think she did a splendid job! These are all her photos in the collage below.

Copying the French
We did move the party outdoors briefly to capture a group shot of the revelers in their “yes-we-will-wear-white-after-Labor-Day” finery—are my friends the best sports or what? Gotta love them—I certainly do! My friend Michael, who lives just across the courtyard, said that when he walked over he got strange looks from a neighbor passing by (it was after Labor Day, remember). Michael came clad in white jeans, a white oxford shirt, cream tie, and to break up his “ice cream man ensemble,” a black and white leopard belt! Sue finally had an opportunity to wear a bridal headpiece and veil she had bought recently at an antique store. Carmen wore a feather fascinator and Paula wore a beautiful headpiece that belonged to her mother. Paula brought in her potluck contribution and every time someone asked what it was, she replied in her best Julia Child lilt, “Beef Bourguignon!”

Thanks to everyone who participated, wore their best white ensembles, and contributed all those delicious appetizers, cheeses, breads, dips, side dishes, fruit salad, deviled eggs (thanks, Katie!), desserts (don’t you just love Norma’s Eiffel-Tower-sugar-topped brownies above?), and ample bottles of le vin blanc and le vin rosé. And in particular, special thanks to Rob for helping maneuver clutter from one room to another the night before (a huge help); Gina for her delicious French-inspired main chicken dish with potatoes, importing the crepe mixes and French sugar (and doing the crepe pre-testing), loaning her lighted Eiffel Tower sculpture and some other French-related items for decorations, and describing her perfect day in Paris (her favorite city); Karen B. for her huge pot of accompanying ratatouille, designing the party logo, putting together two CDs with French music, laboriously cutting out cardboard chandelier silhouettes, and delivering the party commencement “speech” in French (she was born in Paris); Zinna for her large soda contribution (we still have some set aside for us!); Paula for her well-received Beef Bourguignon main entree contribution (Michael enjoyed the leftovers the next day); Karen W. for punching out a gazillion little pieces of balsa wood parts the night I assembled the four Eiffel tower puzzles (and for bringing munchies to aid the process); Sue, Barbara and Wanda for their wine contribution, crepe fillings and crepe making efforts (and for trekking 10.5 hours from Huntsville, AL to our humble home); my decorating partner, Carmen, for helping me bring some of the outdoor ambiance indoors, her ever-present and much needed organizing and clean-up skills, and for flying in from South Carolina just for the party; our neighbor Eric for setting up his outdoor pavilion for us; Michael P. for assisting me yet again with the indoor party portraits (that posting to come) and for translating Karen’s French speech to English (he’s fluent in several languages!); Martha B. in San Antonio for sending me a lovely serving platter with a sketch of the Eiffel Tower since she couldn’t attend (you were there in spirit…and porcelain, Martha!); and finally, thanks to F.T. for helping with the outdoor shots.

Here’s to Le Diner en Blanc next year…but this time in June (so wearing white is more acceptable!) and crossing fingers—outdoors as originally planned. We’ll do Le Diner en Blanc in June, Pesto Fest in September, and get back on track next year. Next up—the Chocoholic Party in February, as always.





Iron Chef Bobby Flay and the Sneeze Guard Heiress

21 09 2011

This afternoon Barbara and I went to the Westfield Annapolis Mall in Annapolis, MD for a booksigning by Iron Chef and author Bobby Flay at the Williams-Sonoma store. You can learn more about Bobby Flay here.

I have watched every season of the Next Food Network Star, so it was fun to meet one of the judges/hosts in person. Unlike a few well-prepared line-waiters, we did not bring a folding chair. That would have come in so handy. We did get a chance to sample several things from the cookbook—Williams-Sonoma salespeople brought around samples of a pumpkin soup with toasted pumpkin seeds, chives and cranberry-maple creme fraiche (delicious!), a red velvet cupcake (good!), hot potato chips with blue cheese sauce (yum!), and apple chopped salad with toasted walnuts, blue cheese and pomegranate vinaigrette (really, really tasty!).

We stood in line beginning about 1:00 p.m. until we finally got into the store to meet him and have him sign our copies of his latest book, Bobby Flay’s Bar Americain Cookbook. How’s that for perseverance? The last image I shot was time stamped 15:34:36, so we waited exactly 2 hours, 34 minutes and 36 seconds to get the photo of Barbara and Bobby below! Barbara did get a chance to mention to Bobby that she is a Sneeze Guard Heiress (to learn more about that story, click here). Barbara had him sign my book as well, but I had to get the shots! At last count, there were more than 200 copies sold when we made our way through the chain in the store. (Jeff Evans—you would be happy to know that Bobby shares your love of black and white Converse sneakers. He be stylin’!) Check out Barbara’s blog, Kelley Hospitality, here.