FOOD CHALLENGE | February | Vegetable Two Ways

Today on the 20th comes the second installment of my Food Styling Challenge.  In case you missed the first, check out my raspberries here.  Yet, this month I bring you Vegetable, Two Ways.  When I first looked over the list of monthly projects, this was the only one that didn't send a tiny quiver of fear down my spine.  I thought, "oh! I got that!"

Yeah.... at this point in my life I should pretty much assume that the easier I think something will be, the harder the reality of it is.  Turns out, this whole food photography and food styling thing is even more challenging than I gave it credit for, and I was already giving it quite a bit of credit.  Yet, it has been so very rewarding to give myself something new to learn and come out on the other end with something I'm rather proud of.  Not to mention the newfound foodie camaraderie we've found in our little group.  Never knew something like this could be so fun with fellow enthusiastic friends!

I chose the lovely Cauliflower for my vegetable.  A veggie Underdog of sorts.  Cauliflower has always been a vegetable I enjoyed immensely, but not one that Shawn liked at all.  Honestly, I don't know that I've met too many that cared for it.  So it has been a personal challenge of sorts to find ways to prepare it that pass muster with Mr. Shawn.  A few weeks ago, Roasted Cauliflower came up on my E-Mealz weekly menu.  The recipe was more of a method than a true 'recipe'.  I confess I was excited to eat it, but was not anticipating the delicious factor we experienced.

I mean, it was out of this WORLD yummy.  Even Shawn loved it.  Huge, folks, huge.  As I battling the urge to lick my plate clean that evening, I knew then that my veggie and recipe for this challenge was found.  Roasted Cauliflower.  Two Ways.  Raw.  Cooked.  Without further ado, may I present to you the Vegetable Underdog: Cauliflower.

Carey Pace Lifestyle Photographer Food TN
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As I said earlier, this is more of a method.  Below you have the before and after.  On the left, you see the cauliflower in the pan, doused with olive oil and salt.  Then on the right, roasted in a hot oven (450 F) for 20 or so minutes, turned occasionally, until nicely caramelized.  One thing to note -- The first time I made this, I was in typical hurried dinner mode and sliced my cauliflower to get the florets.  For this challenge I carefully broke them off, cutting as little as possible, thinking I was doing myself a favor and making beautiful cauliflower.  Turns out, cutting it, and giving it several flat edges to rest on the pan evenly results in a lot more golden roasted goodness on the cauliflower.  Honestly, it was much better the first time I made it.  So go ahead and slice with abandon at that cauliflower when you make this.  You are planning to make this, aren't you?  You've already added cauliflower to the grocery list, right??

UPDATE:  the day of this post I happened to make this for dinner, again.  And I figured a few things out, recipe/method wise.  First let me say:  Shawn and Little Buddy simply could not get enough of this cauliflower!!!  I do not know what happens when you roast it, but the flavor changes and it is incredible.

Now, as far as recipe and method:  I sliced the cauliflower so there were two flat edges to the pieces.  And I let it in the oven for 15 minutes, untouched, before I brought it out to flip.  Then another 8 minutes on the second side and they were complete and roasted, oh my stars, to perfection.  So brown and so, so, so yummy.  I really wish I'd captured the dark caramelization for my photo, because the dark, dark, darkness is what transforms this from simply cauliflower to delicious overload.  I flipped the pieces every 5 minutes for the photo version and while it looks fairly pretty, the flavor was just not the same.  I still cannot believe Little Buddy was begging for thirds and fourths of this cauliflower!

Carey Pace Photography Kingsport TN 2012

But the part that really, truly sends this recipe over the edge is what comes next.  Melt some real butter in a pan and saute a little bit of garlic until it is nice and fragrant.  Then toss that yummy roasted cauliflower in your garlic butter.  Seriously, this is one amazing side dish.  I look forward to making it again!

Carey Pace Photography Kingsport TN 2012

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Please continue on in our food Project Group to circle around back to me.  Visit my friend Kay Pickens Columbia MO photographer who never disappoints.  I know I can't wait to see what she prepared!  And when you make it back here, leave me a comment and let me know which veggie photo was your favorite!

I shot these with my D90 Sigma 30mm f1.4

project 26 | Post 4 | Stories

"I had always felt life first as a story -- and if there is a story there is a storyteller." G. K. Chesterton

I remember first reading John Eldredge's words and giving myself permission to adore the story.  Not to hold that truth hidden secret in my heart, but to grab it and wave it bold for all to see. (In fact, it kind of creeped me out a bit - he listed every single one of my favorite movies, right down to The Last of the Mohicans.  How could he know, so fully?).  Eldredge's words about Story helped me to understand that while I find the occasional chick flick endearing, it is the stories with an epic nature that draw me in and keep me.  They stay with me, almost hauntingly so.  And that is okay.  Good.  Wonderful.  How it is supposed to be.  These Stories have fostered a desire inside of me that burns for something epic in myself.  If you will indulge me to quote a little from Eldredge's book Epic:

Quote:  "Notice that every good story has the same ingredients.  Love. Adventure. Danger. Heroism.  Romance. Sacrifice. The Battle of Good and Evil.  Unlikely heroes.  Insurmountable odds.  And a little fellowship that in the hope beyond hope pulls through in the end. 
Am I right?  Think about your favorite movies.  Sense and Sensibility.  Don Juan Demarco.  Titanic.  The Sound of Music.  Sleepless in Seattle.  Gone with the Wind.  Braveheart.  Gladiator.  Rocky.  Top Gun.  Apollo 13.  The Matrix.  The Lord of the Rings. [Little Women.  The Last of the Mohicans.]  The films you love are telling you something very important, something essential about your heart.    ....
All of these stories borrow from the Story.  From Reality.  We hear echoes of it through our lives.  Some secret written on our hearts.  A great battle to fight, and someone to fight for us.  An adventure, something that requires everything we have, something to be shared with those we love and need.   ......
What if?
What if all the great stories that have ever moved you, brought you joy or tears -- what if they are telling you something about the true Story into which you were born, the Epic into which you have been cast?   (End Quote)

I adore how the yearnings in my heart for Story, for Epic, for Adventure, Romance, something that calls for all of what I have to offer -- they have been placed there by my Creator.  And I am to awaken to the realization that I am part of a Story.  I am one who learns by illustration and by doing.  I love that I have this example from God Himself.

Today's post is Post 4 in my Project 26, and this week's prompt was Stories.  I wrestled for a while, oddly enough since my byline is 'I am a Storyteller', about how to capture this theme.  What to shoot?  And then suddenly it became clear.

I love stories.  Good, deep stories.  I love to read and I voraciously pour through novels.  While Shawn has been thrusting a ball into the kids' hands from early on, anticipating the day that they caught his fever for sports, I have been awaiting the time when they yearned to sit in my lap to read stories.  When I could share with them my love of reading, my utter adoration for the written word, and for Stories.  Grand, Epic Stories.

We have read to the children since they were born, but around Little Buddy's birthday in October I started to feel this revulsion inside if I had to read Bear Snores On or Gobble Gobble Crash one more time.  After five years of this, I am just burned out on these simpleton books.  I enjoyed them, I did, the first 1000 times I read them, but at some point, I needed something more than this, and I felt Little Buddy did as well.  I had started to read some stories with more meat to them, like You Are Special, and he was staying with me.  (I have not yet once read that story and been able to suppress the sob that erupts within me while reciting the last few pages).  He'll sit there as long as I want to read, especially at bedtime.  So for his birthday, we purchased some real, true Stories for him.

A few months later and we have almost finished The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  We purchased an illustrated copy, and it has some beautiful images, but it is most certainly an all words book.  And he has sat there beside me and listened to it.  After we finish a chapter, he will beg me to keep reading, and most nights it is all I can do to tell him no (because he does need to rest), because I want to keep reading the story myself!  When I finished the first chapter he said to me, "Mama, I think I've seen the movie for this book."  Indeed, he had.  And that told me, he was listening to me, and he understood.  Of course he will not understand the allegory for some time to come.  But I want to put this story into his heart now.  And it overflows my own heart with joy that he is loving the story and the connection, with me.

We've also started reading the Boxcar Children series and he seems to enjoy these very much as well.  I love the ideas of adventure and initiative these stories invoke.  And I love that he has to use his own imagination to illustrate the story instead of being provided one by an illustrator.

So for post 4 of 26: Stories, I wanted to capture our newfound foray into true Storybooks.   May he one day, too, understand the parallel between our heart's yearning for an Epic Story and the Story that God has already placed us in.

Images by Carey Pace 2012
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mom reading to kids in tricities tn

mother reading to children

boy reading book Narnia Kingsport

pages from Narnia book

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Continue through the circle to see how Lora Swinson | Shawnee, OK Photographer, views the theme of Stories.  

I shot these with my D90 Sigma 30mm f1.4

10 on 10 | February Edition

The days are long yet the years are short.  Every month of this project solidifies this truth for me. So thankful for this project that reminds me monthly to document these little things that tell the story of our days in this snapshot of time.

This month I wanted to challenge myself a tad.  I limited myself to use only my Nikon 50mm 1.4D lens (on my crop sensor, so 75mm equivalent focal length).  While my Sigma 30mm f1.4 is my favorite lens for the clarity and color I get from it (not to mention it just seems to let in more light than the 50, even though both are f1.4 lenses), the 50mm focal length is my favorite for creativity.  So to make things more interesting and creative, no switching out lenses and no relying on the Sigma.

I also wanted to have a theme for this day's images.  The Aftermath.  January 31, 2012.

It seems I spend so very much of my time in Aftermath mode, compensating for the little messes that are just the territory with little ones.  For example, there simply must be leprechauns that visit our bathroom on a regular basis.  What do they do, pray tell?  They shred the toilet paper into tiny half inch pieces and deposit them all over the floor around the toilet.  Like snow.   I have yet to figure out how a little being that insists on me being there to be the "waiter" (her words) while she uses the toilet (that would be, the one who waits on her to finish, not the waiter who brings food), manages to do this to the toilet paper and I have yet to witness her doing it.  Seriously.  Huge mystery.  This has been going on for months.  And about two days before shooting these I finally asked her to stop.  I had been waiting to catch her in the act.... I finally gave up.  And sweetly, uncharacteristically, since then, she hasn't done it once.  So there is no aftermath of toilet paper snow here, as I had anticipated when I came up with the idea while cleaning it up for the umpteeth time.

So this month's images are less about how we spent our day and more about the aftermath of their choices for how they spent the day.

9:30am AFTERMATH of Breakfast.  We are home from taking Little Buddy to preschool.  Aftermath of the sippy cups on the end table, requiring an audience of stuffed animals to watch tv with you, and the newfound FAVORITE thing in the world: the 'snack in a tray.'  Started this a month or so ago.  I discovered that six of those IKEA snack bowls fit perfectly in my metal cake pans... and giving them a selection of 6 items for snack, or breakfast, has been the hands down coolest thing mommy has ever done, apparently.  They BEG each morning to breakfast in the tray snack, they beg for snack each afternoon in the tray.  Today they had almonds, mandarin oranges, and leftover hot dog buns as toast with cinnamon, and I made two identical rows so I could be sure The Lady actually ate hers.  The 3 greens were the Buddy's and he did pretty good (my kids aren't big breakfast eaters).  The Lady didn't do so well on her row.
Images by Carey Pace 2012, 10 on 10, lifestyle photography

10:40am - AFTERMATH of button crafting.  "I neeeeeeeeeeeeeeed to make a craft!"  Never would I have imagined just how much this girl would love crafts!!!  She loves all things artsy and loves to create, which I in turn LOVE.  She adores buttons, like mad.  Loves to glue them onto paper.  So she glues.  I let dry.  Pry the buttons off and return them to a bowl so she can do it all over again.
Images by Carey Pace 2012, 10 on 10, lifestyle photography

11:45am - AFTERMATH of Stickers.  More craft time.   Right next to her love of buttons is her love of stickers.  There is a part of me that feels this is so very wasteful... and then the part of me that knows she is just in joy mode covering her papers with stickers.
Images by Carey Pace 2012, 10 on 10, lifestyle photography

12:30pm - AFTERMATH of tooth brushing unassisted.  I notice the toothpaste stains left by the Buddy when I go to wash my hands after lunch.
Images by Carey Pace 2012, 10 on 10, lifestyle photography

1:30pm.  AFTERMATH of Preschool Playground Time.  Whoever made the decision to put wood mulch in the playground at preschool deserves to come clean my house daily.  I swear, it is as if the boy takes his shoes off, uses them as a shovel to collect mulch, and then puts his shoes back on.  You would not BELIEVE the amount of mulch that comes out of his shoes...  Of course on the day I want to document the mounds of mulch I get to vacuum daily, he comes home with less than usual.  Still, I get to clean the wood trash up from the playroom every school day.  And can you see on the top left how the insides of his shoes are literally coated in mulch?  After the leprechaun snow, this was the second thing I thought of that I wanted to document on my aftermath day.
Images by Carey Pace 2012, 10 on 10, lifestyle photography

2:45pm - AFTERMATH of snacking on the couch.  They beg to take the couch cushions off to add to the floor pillow fortress and I agree.  It's high time to clean out the junk in the couch.  I swore I'd never be one of those moms who let their kids eat on the couch.  Wrong.  It is amazing how gross it can get so very quickly.  The Lady loves to lose her toys in there as well.  We found many a lost Squinkie that day.
Images by Carey Pace 2012, 10 on 10, lifestyle photography

4:20pm - AFTERMATH of playtime.  A million new toys for Christmas and what do we beg to play with?  Construction toys that were given to us hand me down that I put in the attic out of rotation.
Images by Carey Pace 2012, 10 on 10, lifestyle photography

5:00 AFTERMATH of laundry.  It is time to fold and put away Mount Laundrious.  I try really hard to do one load a day so it is never this overwhelming, but I have just been awful about letting it all pile up.  I do the laundry... I just have a hard, hard time carrying the clean clothes back upstairs and putting them away.
Images by Carey Pace 2012, 10 on 10, lifestyle photography

6:00pm AFTERMATH of dinner.  The Buddy is now at Upward Basketball practice.  I made his eggs before he left, so this is the aftermath of his eating.
Images by Carey Pace 2012, 10 on 10, lifestyle photography

7:00pm AFTERMATH of dinner times two.  Shawn is usually home around 6pm, but Upward practice starts at 6.  So he doesn't get to eat until after practice on those days.  So here, I'm making the pumpkin pancakes to be warm and ready when they return.  They were SO yummy with homemade cinnamon whipped cream and real maple syrup.
Images by Carey Pace 2012, 10 on 10, lifestyle photography

8:00pm AFTERMATH of trip booking and finances.  I spent the day booking the hotels and flights for our upcoming anniversary trip to celebrate our ten year anniversary that occurred last June.  Trying to manage all the flight options (do we leave out of Knoxville, Greenville, Charlotte?), Friday night or Saturday morning, blah blah blah.  And trying to manage all those options while keeping the kids happy and entertained.  My brain was BEAT this day.  Beat.  And the desk bears the signs of a rough, cluttered day.
Images by Carey Pace 2012, 10 on 10, lifestyle photography

Truth be told, this didn't turn out exactly like I had envisioned, but I'm thankful for the memories it has documented for me, forever.

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Next in our wonderful loop is my friend Jayme Franklin | San Francisco Family Photographer.  Make sure you go through the circle back to me and let me know what you think of my "Aftermath".

I shot these with my D90 & Nikon 50mm 1.4D.

project 26 | Post 3 | Me and Mine

The Bloom Forum ran a contest for a Ketti photography bag.  To enter the contest, you had to submit a self-portrait.  I'm not really a girly-girl camera bag person, but I figured I might as well participate.  I've found self portraits to be a very fun and yet very challenging exercise.

I'm sure this happens in your household, too.  The kids are happily occupied somehow.  Leaving you to do whatever it is you need to do.  Then the phone rings, right?  And what happens?  The kids suddenly begin screaming at each other, someone is bleeding, you have at least two leg leaches, someone loudly announces they need to go pooOOOOOoooppppp!, they are dying of starvation, the dog throws up.... this happens in other households, too, no?

Well, guess what?  SAME scenario happens whenever I pull out the camera for a creative project.  I can understand with the phone, at least, because there is a sound that gives the change in activity away.  But when I'm in the other end of the house and start a new project, how. do. they. know?  I think it must be a sixth sense we all outgrow once we transition into adulthood.

So as has happened every time I've tried to do self portraits when the Lady was nearby, she comes bouncing over and wants to sit in my lap while I do it.  Perfect Me and Mine opportunity.

Carey Pace Kingsport photographer
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I was using my Nikon 50mm 1.4D, (on my crop sensor) holding it out as far as my arms would reach and trying to pull my shoulders out of socket to do so, here.  In camera crop, for sure!  So I pulled out the Sigma 30mm f1.4 to get some better Lady and Mommy shots.  While she is interested in participating, it must still be on her terms.  Not so successful for a wall portrait, but fun memories with Mommy nonetheless!

And what happened to my blond hair?  I've always had blond hair.  I wouldn't have ever said the Lady has blond hair.  A light brown.  But look.  Both of my children and me have the exact same color hair.  In the first photo you have to really look to see whose hair is really whose.  I suppose that means no one can tell me blond jokes anymore. Score!

Carey Pace Kingsport photographer
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Please visit Misty Setzler | Lubbock, TX photographer next.  Can't wait to see her Me and Mine for today!

I shot these with my
Nikon 50mm 1.4D (the first one)
Sigma 30mm f1.4 (the rest)