July 18, 2014

Happy

At the first week of July, I was fortunate to participate in a food styling and photography workshop held by Béatrice Peltre,a food writer and stylist, photographer and blogger, who teamed up with her friends Leigh Metcalf and Alison Bell for this memorable experience. The workshop happened  in a beautiful countryside setting in East Sussex, south of England, at an eco-friendly farm. I was so excited to spend a week at a farm in the English countryside. 


Our group included people who came from Chile, Sweden, Hong Kong, Switzerland, and the United States. A desire to learn about food styling and photography from someone whose work we admire and get inspired by brought us together for that wonderful week. 

Béa is a wonderful down to earth person, a successful woman who knows her craft well, and yet, patiently, is generous to share her knowledge and experience.
The workshop consisted of hands-on exercises and local visits, like a fish smokery, pick our own fruit at a nearby farm, picnic at the beach, and dinner at a real English pub.

I was apprehensive about this trip, you see, I'm not a photographer, I'm not a cook. I take photographs because it makes me happy, I cook to see other people happy,  I don't have techniques, I don't know much about either of the them. When I cook and when I take pictures most of the time I'm just following my instincts, which is good but it's not enough.

Photography is a relatively new love in my life, when I am taking pictures I feel happy, but I'm not a numbers girl, and camera numbers and settings make my head spin, but after reading about them over and over again, and practicing, and talking to more experienced photographers I am start understanding the fundamentals of photography and how the numbers affect the photos, and this is rewarding and gives me hope that one day I'm going to consider myself a real photographer.


Styling fruits, vegetables and flowers is fun and relaxing, they are beautiful by themselves, but styling fish for a photo shoot, oh that can be tricky...


We styled and took photos of a picnic at the breathtaking Seven Sisters "white" Cliffs.


I felt like a child at a candy store when we visit a cherry orchard. It was  the first time I've ever been to one, and it was magical.


These two photos courtesy of Fran Aménabar

June 15, 2014

Homemade Cherry Yogurt

Living in Brazil my breakfast was healthy and easy to prepare: delicious Brazilian coffee, fresh bread, fresh squeezed juice, cheese, fruits and homemade yogurt.

My morning ritual has become simpler since moving to America. Only on weekends I have fresh squeezed juice, no time to do it during the week, and instead of fresh bread I have waffles and coffee, but one thing I can not live without is homemade yogurt. 


A great experience of leaving in a another country is that we get to know and eat different food, like cherries, for example, I had never had cherries before I moved to America, and it was love at first bite. 

I often make homemade yogurt, and many times I add fruits to it, choosing the ones that are in season. This weekend I chose to make cherry yogurt.


This is my mother's recipe, it's a healthy, fresh and summery food, and it can be made with any berry of your choosing, or any fruit you can puree and add to the yogurt.



Homemade Cherry Yogurt

I make homemade yogurt in the simplest way possible. Some recipes say you should place the mixture in the oven, I don't do that, and it works. I use the ingredients below, but you can replace them to the ones to your taste, i.e. 2% milk, goat milk, honey, condensed milk, maple syrup, etc. Do not use ultra-pasteurized or UHT milk. 

Ingredients:
♥  4 cups organic whole milk
♥  6 oz organic plain yogurt. For future recipes you can use the plain homemade yogurt to start new batches.
♥  cherries to taste
♥  sugar to taste

For the puree: Blend some pitted and diced cherries to a puree consistency, do not juice them.

Boil the milk, remove from heat and allow it to cool to lukewarm temperature. Whisk together the yogurt and the lukewarm milk until smooth.
Transfer the mixture into a tight recipient with lid, I use a plastic jar, and wrap it with a blanket. Place it in a warm place and leave it undisturbed until thickened and set, about 10-12 hours. When the yogurt is set, refrigerate it for about 3 hours.

Once the yogurt is chilled, stir the fruit puree to it.

Enjoy this healthy recipe, it's delicious, rich and fresh.

June 6, 2014

A thank you note & a flower bouquet

 I would like to thank everyone and each one of you who took the time to express their sympathy with words of encouragement and kindness, I'm deeply touched and grateful.
Thank you! 


I like to create fresh flower arrangements and place them here and there around the house, and then take pictures of them, naturally. Like mixing & matching colors is a constant learning process to me so is creating flower arrangements that flow with movement and ease, and I am particularly thrilled when I feel I did it right.



I wish you all a very nice weekend 


May 26, 2014

Saying goodbye

Last year in April, I was on vacation in Brazil when my sister Maria Olímpia was diagnosed with cancer. On May 10th this year I went back there to say goodbye to her. I was lucky enough to be by her side when she still was conscious. I talked to her, I helped taking care of her. Those few days are so precious to me now. I came back to America on May 17th, and last Friday, May 23rd, after a long and painful battle my beloved sister passed away.


She was a teacher, a writer, an intellectual, the oldest sibling in a family of ten. She was always present  in all family matters, she was there for the joys and the sorrow, always taking care of each one of us. She was an intelligent and sensitive writer, she wrote various forms of literary art, such as novels, short stories, poetry, articles, and essays. Her writings about our family has touched even distant relatives, so special and powerful they are.


I was not there for the wake and burial, in Brazil they happen just a few hours after the passing. I stayed at home, alone, reading the delightful letters she wrote to me, and looking at a few photos I have from her, along with comforting words her friends and relatives left on her facebook
Buying and reading books was one of her greatest joys, as well as writing her own stories.
Lately, very few things give me comfort, calming and peace than taking pictures, so taking a few pictures and writing this post was a way to say, once more, thank you Maria Olímpia for having been part of my life.


May 10, 2014

First flowers

The days here are still rainy and gray, which let me down a bit, but yesterday the day was beautiful and bright, and I could not resist taking my camera outside to register the first flowers I see in my backyard.
I have to confess that not all my photos come out as I wish, but I keep trying and hopefully learning how to take better photos.
I am flying to Brazil today and I did not have time to prepare a post, so here are the photos I took yesterday.







May 4, 2014

Peach Pink, Green, Mint & Orange

We've heard 'practice makes perfection', I don't know about perfection but that it does make it better, it does. Since I can remember black is the color choice in my wardrobe and neutral to my home, but about 6, 7 years ago I realized it's not because I don't like colors but because I did not feel confident to mix and match them, so I started practicing mixing and matching,  patterns, textures and colors and bringing them to my daily life.

Inspired by  Leslie Shewring's photos, who knows how to mix colors and tell a story with them like nobody else, I started putting together a color palette of two, three, or more colors with my favorite things and taking pictures of them, and I am amazed at how fun, addictive, and inspiring this can be.







If you want, like me, to get inspired by Leslie's photos, just check out her Color me Pretty board on Pinterest.

April 27, 2014

Tiradentes

We took these photos last year during our vacation in Brazil on the day we visited a small town nearby where my family lives. Tiradentes is one of the smallest yet best preserved colonial and historic towns of Minas Gerais.

On weekends and holidays the population of this charming small town with its narrow cobblestone streets practically triples. Trails, waterfalls, handcraft and antique shops, homemade sweets and preserves stores, film festival, bike fest,  culture and gastronomy festival, besides good restaurants and excelente pousadas, and historic churches, including one with an all-gold interior. It amazes me how such a small town offers so much to its visitors and yet preserves its historic characteristics.

A little bird told me that a well known Connecticut furniture and accessories store often buys art and antiques in Tiradentes.



While living in Brazil, I only lived in Minas Gerais surrounded by its gorgeous green & blue mountains, so for me to visit Tiradentes is a trip back in time, maybe that's why I like to visit it midweek rather than when all of these exciting events are happening, this way I can most easily appreciate its many attractions. 

Wander at a slow pace on its narrow and hilly cobblestone streets, go where local residents go, listen to the unmistakable mineiro (those born in Minas) accent, which is very peculiar. Talk to people as I walk in front of their one-of-a-kind stores and houses. In general, Brazilians are friendly and helpful, and talk to strangers like they are old acquaintances. 
Simplicity and peace that's what I feel when I'm there, and so I feel at home. 


By the way, this is the color my front door will be next time I paint it. 

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