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

 





Globe artichoke buds

12 07 2016
Globe artichoke buds, photographed at Green Spring Gardens
© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.
WEB Globe artichoke




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

 





Re-post: Celebrate Home Magazine, Fall Issue

14 10 2015

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.





Monday smiles

1 06 2015

Bell peppers were on sale at Giant Food this morning for just a buck each (really good deal), so I bought two red, two yellow and two orange (for the ark?), with no particular purpose intended for them. I started chopping them up for bite size dipping snacks and decided that whacking off the tops (stuffed pepper style) would speed up the process.

1 Yellow Pepper

I cut up a yellow one first and when I lopped off its “head,” voila—a happy smiley face greeted me—in both top and bottom sections. (FYI, this only happened with the yellow peppers. How appropriate is that?)

11266432_10207129966514317_139177935691832397_n

What’s better than one smiley face? Two!

2 Yellow Pepper

Figuring this was a fluke, I cut into the second yellow pepper (very scientific approach, eh?) and voila—another smiley duo. This one has a crooked smile just like mine (plus Groucho Marx eyebrows).

3 Yellow Pepper

I give you the Smiley family. If they don’t cheer up your Monday, I give up!

4 Smiley Family





Celebrate Home Magazine interviews Lucile Prache, watercolor artist

14 10 2012

Last month I interviewed Parisian artist Lucile Prache for our inaugural issue of Celebrate Home Magazine, which Barbara Kelley and I launched just two weeks ago. I found Lucile’s illustrations on etsy.com and had her store bookmarked because I love her sketchy, whimsical illustration style. I contacted her and she agreed to be interviewed for our magazine. Click on the link below to download the magazine to see more of Lucile’s lovely artwork.

CelebrateHomeMagFall2012 Spreads

Lucile’s Kitchen

When did you first discover your creative talents?
I have been drawing since my early childhood and found it quite natural to express myself in this way as I grew in a family with an artistic mood. I was very shy and I guess it was helpful to draw instead of talk.

Did you go to school for art?
Yes, I studied at the ESAG art school (also known as Penninghen) in Saint Germain des Prés in Paris and graduated—a long time ago.

Did you inherit your artistic talents from your parents?
Yes, I surely did. My father is an architect and my mother has always been making pottery (both are part of the flower power generation!).

When did you know that you wanted to be an artist (illustrator)?
I didn’t really feel like a fine artist because at art school we learned to be illustrators. Plus, I had been working for magazines, the fashion industry, and in advertising for such long time, I didn’t feel like a fine artist.

I still do these types of projects, but I love painting for my Etsy world-wide customers. Having a large audience is important for me—I don’t think “real” artists need that. Knowing that someone in Japan and someone in New York is looking at my artwork at the same time just makes my day!

How long have you been working as a freelance artist and illustrator?
I have been a freelancer for almost 25 years.

I love the fresh, loose, sketchy style of your illustrations. Did the evolution of this style come easily to you?
Thank you so much! I think I have always sketched in this style because I love travel journals (specifically Cy Twombly and Jean Michel Basquiat art). I have been very interested in Chinese calligraphy and started to learn with a Chinese teacher. He always told his French students that they never would become Chinese even after 100 years, but this could be helpful for our very Western style; I believe this is true—my work has become looser and fresher since I began studying Chinese calligraphy.

How would you describe your illustration/painting style?
I want my paintings to look carefree and happy. I have been studying ballet since my childhood, and I believe that my illustrations are just like dance pieces—everything appears to be easy. Dancers are always smiling on stage, but there is a lot of work behind the stage.

Your illustrations are unique and full of energy. Where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration comes from real life—typography on labels, dirty papers on the sidewalk (yes, I am a Parisian!), kitsch postcards of Brooklyn, a vibrant green top on a girl in the street, vintage books of English china, figs at the market—almost any image can inspire me!

What mediums do you work in other than watercolor? Do you have a favorite brand of watercolor paint? Favorite brushes and paper?
I work a lot on my Cintiq Wacom pen tablet with Photoshop when I get jobs for fashion, magazines and advertising clients. When painting with watercolor, I love Windsor and Newton because of their amazing fresh colors. I am painting with Chinese brushes on French BFK Rives paper.

I decided to leave my Wacom tablet and my computer for a while and went back to colored pencils, gouache and watercolor again. I missed the “real taste” of different papers and pigments. The printing process means CMYK colors. Original paintings allow gold, silver, fluo paintings and this just makes my day!

Do you create still life set-ups of fruits and vegetables from which to reference? What is a typical work day like?
Sometimes I stumble upon beautiful fruits or vegetables at the market and paint them before cooking them. Most of the time I reference photos or browse online for inspiration when I don’t have time to go to Chinatown and purchase Asian food for a still life set-up.

Do you do any computer illustration?
Yes, I do. It is exciting to use several devices. I work in Corel Painter, Illustrator and Photoshop on an old Mac Pro. These software programs allow me to paste labels, type and photographs into my illustrations.

What do you like most about being an illustrator?
Illustrators have freedom—this is what I like most; but we know that we sometimes have to pay a huge price to keep this freedom.

Has illustration as a profession changed over the years?
It has. Computers and the Internet changed everything. I started my career before the Internet, and I remember I had to go to Marie Claire magazine and deliver my orders in person. It was quite fun because I could talk with the art director and the redaction team. We knew each other quite well. I loved to walk in Paris from my studio to my clients, but it was time-consuming, too.

We are now networking and it is completely different, but I really enjoy the friends I’ve met around the world because of Etsy. I am meeting them sometimes in Paris, or more recently in New York, and I love this!

How long have you been selling on Etsy? Has it been a good way to get your work out to buyers?
I started selling on Etsy more than two years ago and it completely changed my life! It is always very exciting to add new paintings, communicate on Facebook and blog about the process. I am absolutely thrilled to get many buyers from all around the world—mainly from the United States. It is a delight to keep in touch with so many open-minded, cool and positive people.

Do you pursue other creative endeavors?
I like screenprinting and can’t wait to work on new designs but I need time and energy—and not to be too hungry because my screenprinting studio is my kitchen.

You are surrounded by amazing museums, which must be an inspiration to you. Tell me a little bit about life in Paris and your family. Did your children inherit your talent for art?
My children are geeks and creative ones! Please come to Paris and see how we live. After spending two weeks in New York City, Paris seems to me like a small village of farmers, But I definitely love Paris—I get inspiration from the street equally as from the museums. I plan to go and see the Gerard Richter exhibition in le Centre Pompidou tomorrow. I always forget how I can be stunned by painting in a peaceful place like a museum. I am in love with my city, but I am always dreaming of elsewhere…and I swear I will try to improve my bad English. But luckily, the language of images is international.

I noticed on your blog that you also are an avid gardener. How does gardening influence your love of illustrating food?
My garden is located on a wet and sunny island, so I only see my garden four to six weeks a year and it doesn’t take much care. I wish I had a vegetable garden and could watch it grow but it is impossible for a Parisian work addict. Too bad, because it would be very inspiring. I paint fruits, vegetables, cakes because of their beauty, but also because I enjoy cooking.

What are your influences? What artists inspire you?
I was first influenced by rock music and pop art artists such as Andy Warhol, Basquiat, Jasper Johns, Rauschenberg, French artist Hervé Télémaque, Tadanori Yokoo, Joan Mitchell—I love them all.

What are you working on now?
I just finished a collaboration with a French publisher on a cookbook about Italian food. It is a very exciting project.

I will be working for a fashion agency in late October, but currently I want to add new prints and paintings in my Etsy shop. I would love to publish my own recipe book and make it available for Christmas, but I am sure I won’t have time this year.

If you weren’t an artist what would you be?
I would be a (bad) dancer.

Any advice for aspiring illustrators?
Keep your eyes wide open unless you are asleep.

Describe yourself in three words.
Still always curious

No interview would be complete without this requisite question—You’re stranded on a deserted island. What five things must you have?
Five cards of Raoul Dufy flowers, then find a way to make tools and do mineral painting—let’s get to work!

www.etsy.com/shop/lucileskitchen

luciles-kitchen.blogspot.fr/

www.facebook.com/pages/Luciles-kitchen/197554960274042?sk=wall

Click the link below to download a two-page spread pdf of Celebrate Home 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!





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.





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.





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.





Barbara Garneau Kelley, Sneeze Guard Heiress

12 09 2011


Not many people are aware that Barbara Kelley, editor-in-chief of Hearing Loss Magazine and Deputy Executive Director of the Hearing Loss Association of America, is an heiress. This does not mean her bank account is brimming, but it does mean she has a rich and interesting family history.

Barbara shared her family history in a recent publication we worked on for her new venture (looks like she inherited her father’s entrepreneur genes!). Susan Parras, HLAA’s webmaster, told Barbara that a casting agency for the Next Food Network Star series was interviewing potential contestants in Washington, D.C. on August 8. Barbara has wanted to explore doing something fun with hospitality, cooking and entertainment, but hadn’t done anything with it until Susan’s announcement. With my help, Barbara switched into high gear and we prepared a four-page hospitality brochure/resumé as well as a food prep demo video to present to the casting agent.

The impromptu creative session was a good excuse to thoroughly clean my kitchen and get it ready to be a faux cooking show set. I did the video on my little Nikon Coolpix L110 and the results were pretty amazing considering the size of the camera and the fact Barbara performed unscripted, in one take, with no fumbled words! I was pretty impressed with her ad-libbing and ease in front of this (amateur videographer’s) camera. We plan to post it on youtube.com and link to her site soon.

The interview with the casting agent was scheduled for just four minutes long, but the ever-on-her-toes Barbara seized the opportunity to (hopefully) make a lasting impression with the agent. When the woman interviewing her said, “I would shake your hand, but I have a cold,” Barbara took this as her cue to reply, “On the subject of germs, I’m a sneeze guard heiress!” She proceeded to tell the agent about her father’s invention and the family’s background in the food and hospitality business.

In the photo above, Barbara was preparing an original sauce recipe containing tomato, basil (from my garden), garlic, olive oil and brie cheese. She prepared it and left it for me to use with pasta. It was delicious! You can find this recipe on her blog here.

Excerpted from Kelley Hospitality, a four-page promotional brochure that Barbara and I created in record time:

The Sneeze Guard Heiress: A Legacy of Hospitality
I am a sneeze guard heiress. You know the plexiglass thing that is required by law to be over salad bars and buffets? My dad, Johnny Garneau, invented that in 1959. That is my claim to fame. I am one of five kids who grew up with an inventor, entrepreneur, restauranteur, and germaphobic father—kind of like the dad in the movie, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.

My Dad, Johnny Garneau
My dad is folklore. People are shocked to learn that Johnny Garneau was a real person, and that he is still alive and well and working at age 89. Johnny is a dreamer, entrepreneur and entertainer, and most of all a restaurant man. After the war (the big one, WWII), he sat on the bumper of his ’46 Chevy, slapped his hand on his knee and said to my mom, “I’m going to start a restaurant!” And, by golly he did—he opened The Beanery—with curb service and a menu consisting of hot dogs, burgers, fries and shakes in 36 flavors.

In the photo above, Johnny Garneau explains the procedures of his American-style smorgasbord to TV celebrity Jean Connelly of WTAE-TV Channel 4 in Pittsburgh, PA (1961).

The Sneeze Guard is Patented and a Baby is Born
Fast forward to the late fifties when he had successful smorgasbords throughout the Pittsburgh and Cleveland areas. He could not stand the sight of people grazing the buffet, sticking their noses into the food and breathing their germs over the delectables. He called his engineers and had them design the first sneeze guard, one of his many inventions. He received the patent the year I was born. He later went on to open a chain of Johnny Garneau’s Golden Spike Steak Depots in Pennsylvania and Florida.

Sell the Sizzle, Then the Steak!
Johnny was big on this. You get them in the door with your hospitality and presentation—then you sit them down to a good steak. This is how we grew up—making people feel welcome, putting out the best, and making them feel good about themselves. He was inducted into Hospitality magazine’s Hall of Fame in 1969 for outstanding achievements in the food service industry. I was lucky enough to grow up on the heels of this celebrated man.

In the photo above, Barbara (center) is selling drinks and baked goods alongside one of her sisters (who did not inherit the hospitality gene) and one of her brothers (whom she has banished to roast in the sun). Barbara’s other sister owns several restaurants in Florida, so she obviously has the hospitality gene!

While neither of us are sure whether that brief interview will result in her going to the next selection phase, it did spur her on to keep blogging. I helped her set up a blog in WordPress and I now see that I created a monster! She has taken to it like a duck to water and is now blogging regularly about feeding her family, creating new recipes and road trips that revolve around food. I warned her that from here on out, she would look at life and all her experiences as fodder for blogging. She is already making her husband and son wait until she photographs their plates before they can eat. I plan to give her lighting and photography tips to improve her food photography skills. Download the entire brochure in pdf format here: KelleyHospitalityBrochure

Visit Barbara’s hospitality blog at www.barbaragarneaukelley.com. Her latest post is chock full of recipes (Hot Maryland Crab Dip, Spicy Burgers, Melanie’s Peach-Blueberry Crisp, Bagkelley’s Summer Veggies, and Pale Summer cookies) for her second annual Burywood Boyz Fantasy Football draft party.

Barbara’s father didn’t stop at the Sneeze Guard (aka, the covered food service table), though. He also developed the Pretz Roll, a combination pretzel-bagel roll for use by United Airlines, institutions and large chain restaurants. Read more about Johnny Garneau and his inventions in the links below:

http://www.personal.psu.edu/cjg212/tof2000/theinventor.htm

http://www.livestrong.com/article/24876-sneeze-guard/

http://www.cookingjunkies.com/rec-food-cooking/re-baron-beef-pittsburgh-pa-21025.html





Lunch at Threadgill’s (Old #1) in Austin

29 03 2011

After Brian (my former boss/lifelong photography mentor) finished teaching a wildflower photography workshop on Saturday morning, we went to lunch at Threadgill’s, a local eatery in Austin. That’s Brian holding the menu in the collage below. He founded the Austin Shutterbug Club over a decade ago and teaches digital photography at the University of Texas a few times a week. He and his wife, Shirley, have published two books, Texas Cacti and Grasses of the Texas Hill Country. They are currently working on a coffee table book about Texas wildflowers. Check out his work here.

Excerpted from Threadgill’s website (http://threadgills.com/)

Perhaps country music lover and bootlegger Kenneth Threadgill had more in mind when he opened his Gulf filling station just north of the Austin city limits in 1933, for the day that Travis County decided to “go wet ” in December of the same year, Kenneth stood in line all night to be the first person to own a liquor license in the county. Soon, the filling station became a favorite spot for traveling musicians since it was open 24 hours for drinking, gambling and jamming. Kenneth would sing songs by his beloved Jimmie Rodgers nightly. Musicians who came to play were paid in beer. Such was the atmosphere at Threadgill’s, it was only when a curfew was enacted in 1942 that its owner had to get a key for the front door, before that it had yet to have been locked. The quintessential Austin beer joint continued to flourish into the sixties, and changed with the social climate of the era by inviting the folkies, hippies and beatniks to his Wednesday night singing sessions with open arms. Threadgill’s love for people and music smoothed out the conflicts that usually occurred when longhairs met with rednecks at the time, and because of this, a new culture tolerance emanated from the club, which had a profound effect upon its patrons and the music that came from it. It was here that Janis Joplin developed her country and blues hybrid-styled voice that would blur the lines between country and rock n’ roll.

In 1974, when Austinites and the nation were extolling the benefits of living in the heart of the Lone Star State, and the “Cosmic Cowboy” movement, which had its roots directly planted in the history of Threadgill’s and Armadillo World Headquarters, was at its peak, tragedy struck Kenneth Threadgill when his wife Mildred died, and he decided to close his club.

After nearly succumbing to the city of Austin’s desire to demolish the original Threadgill’s site which had become an eyesore, it was purchased by Eddie Wilson, owner of the Armadillo World Headquarters, a sister venue of a kindred spirit. Wilson’s idea, however, was to make Threadgill’s a Southern style restaurant, based on the success of the menu that he offered at his kitchen at the Armadillo. So, on New Year’s Eve 1980, the Armadillo closed, and on New Year’s Eve 1981, Threadgill’s opened as a restaurant. It was an instant success.

Photos © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Afternoon tea on a rainy day

6 09 2008

This afternoon I attended a baby shower and tea party for Elizabeth—a friend, neighbor, and “Weedette” in my Garden Club. Her first child, Baby “Snapdragon,” is due October 6. Elizabeth’s favorite colors are pink and green, so her friends decorated the party in that color scheme. Her friend hosting the party has worked as a caterer, so the food was delicious and beautifully presented, too. Elizabeth’s friend, Susan, a graphic designer, made the invitations, name tags, party favor hang tags, and a beautiful handmade guest book. Party favors included a white teapot-shaped teabag holder, a teabag, a baby carriage-shaped cookie, and a little tin of mints—all carrying the pink and green theme throughout. While I took a fair amount of people shots, I especially enjoyed photographing the flowers, decorations, and appetizers. Thanks for including me in your celebration, Elizabeth!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Tomatoes, nasturtiums, herbs and Alzheimer’s

25 08 2008

Hey, I finally found a use for all those plates I’ve collected throughout the years. Photo props!

This is my meager—but no less lovely—edible harvest from this morning. And yes, the Nasturtium flowers are edible, too. These rapidly growing annuals are easy to grow from seed, like full sun to partial shade, come in an array of colors (yellow, orange, pink, red, butter yellow, cream, and mahogany), and have a peppery taste. There are climbing and trailing types available. Nasturtiums are also called Scottish flamethrower or Indian cress. Both the lotus-leaf-like leaves and flowers are edible.

Read this funny and informative post titled, “Nasturtium: The Flower Growing Under False Pretenses,” on Hanna’s This Garden is Illegal blog.

You’ll find growing tips and recipes for Nasturtiums here and here. I cheated this year and bought my tiny seedlings from DeBaggio’s Herb Farm and Nursery in Chantilly, VA. Yes, sometimes I am not a patient gardener! My also-gardening-crazy friend, Karen, introduced me to this family-owned nursery several years ago. We buy most of our herbs and heirloom tomato plants there. (They sell 100 varieties of tomatoes!)

Time for the serious stuff…
In 1975 Tom and Joyce DeBaggio started their family business selling home-propagated herb and vegetables from their backyard in Arlington. Author of several herb books (all of which I own—duh, no big surprise), Tom was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease in 1999 at the age of 57. NPR interviewed DeBaggio on their All Things Considered program in May 2005 here and April 2007 here. The Alzheimer’s Research Forum wrote about the NPR Audio Interviews in May 2007.

I read his first book, Losing My Mind, published in 2003 by The Free Press/Simon & Schuster, Inc., after my father shared his observations about conversations with one of my uncles, who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. My father said most of my uncle’s waking hours were spent in the past…in his early years…as a teenager….as a young man…repeating the same story over and over. My uncle passed away a few years ago.

DeBaggio’s follow-up book, When It Gets Dark: An Enlightened Reflection on Life with Alzheimer’s, was also published in 2003. Both of these books, as well as his excellent herb books, are available online here. His son, Francesco, now runs the family business.

A review of Losing My Mind from Publishers Weekly:
“I have a clear sense of history, I just don’t know whether it is mine,” writes DeBaggio in this moving and unusual memoir. The author, who has previously written about his gardening business (Growing Herbs from Seed, Cutting and Root), documents his mental deterioration from Alzheimer’s. Diagnosed with the disease in 1999 at the age of 57, DeBaggio undertook this project in order to increase awareness of this devastating illness from a patient’s point of view. He describes how his gradual loss of memory has impacted his life. For example, after he became confused about how to get to his niece’s house, he realized he had to give up driving a car. The increased loss of language has been extremely difficult for a man who once worked as a journalist and a freelance writer. Interspersed throughout the narrative are DeBaggio’s recollections of his childhood events that may soon be lost to him. He also describes the disease’s negative effect on his wife and grown son. Although DeBaggio provides information on the medical advances that are being made to treat this disease, it is clear that a breakthrough will come too late for him. With this rare first-person account, DeBaggio has made a significant contribution to literature on an illness that currently affects four million Americans.

Photo © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Sextuplets

22 08 2008

From today’s harvest….we can’t keep up with these tomatoes!

This afternoon, while ponder I was pondering on what to do with this overload of tomatoes ripening daily, and remembered the character Bubba Blue, from the 1994 movie, Forrest Gump. Director Robert Zemeckis won the Academy Award for Best Director for the film, which was based on the 1986 novel of the same name by Winston Groom.

Remember the scene where Bubba lists all the things you can make with shrimp? …”dey’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried, there’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp….”

Pretty soon I’ll be saying, “dey’s uh…tomato salad, tomato sauce, tomato relish, tomato chutney, tomato paste, stuffed tomatoes, tomato soup, roasted tomatoes, tomato juice, tomato salsa….” HELP!

(While we’re on the subject of Forrest Gump—the title track, “Feather Theme,” is one of my absolute favorites. Click here for a video on youtube.com with the music set to stills from the movie. The song was composed by Alan Silvestri. If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s a really (bitter)sweet film with an excellent soundtrack.

And, from my personal Grumpy Grammar Guru—see comments from “Hershel Dyer”…

Check out this site for a truncated history of the tomato:
http://www.tomato-cages.com/tomato-history.html

Apparently at one time in the tomato’s history it paid to be po’ folks (since the poor were the only ones eating tomatoes). Who (whom?) would have thunk it?

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





My morning harvest

21 08 2008

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Truly a sad day in the publishing world…

20 08 2008

Michael and I just got back from browsing our local Borders. There was a four-book series in the discount cookbook section and I caught the error immediately. If you don’t see it, then you, my dear friend, need to visit the Grammar Girl‘s site. Real quick like.

I flipped each book over and the title is correct (losing the “are” in the title). No, I didn’t buy it—for many, many reasons: 1) we already have a gazillion cookbooks, 2) I’m still doing the vegetarian thing (gave up chicken and turkey two months ago; beef almost 20 years ago), and 3) even though it was only $2.99 (a bargain for a hard cover cookbook), I simply can’t bring myself to put something like that on my bookshelves. I think it was a British publication—the price printed on the back was in pounds.

I just noticed the type in the circle at the top left—“This book just makes you wanna cook.”

No. This book just makes me wanna weep.

As my father, the Grammar Guru, says….so many errors, so little time to correct them all.

Oh. One more thing. This book cover photo is courtesy of Michael’s camera in his new iPhone 3G. What an marvel that thing is! He e-mailed the photo to me while we were in line to check out. How’s that for service?





‘Mater Melvin

28 07 2008

I just picked these little jewels from the garden this afternoon. As I was carrying them inside, I thought…hmmm…two yellow ones…they look like big orbs…with eyes! And I have just enough new cherry tomatoes to form…a smile….oh, and what looks great with bright golden yellow and orange-red? Cornflower-french blue! Oh, and what about rosemary eyebrows?

While I realize the concept of playing with your food (and photographing it) isn’t a new concept, I felt (creatively) compelled to do it anyway. So…voila! I present to you—‘Mater Melvin. How can this colorful little concoction not make you smile? Step away from your desk and go grow something!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.