{Gather} The True Meaning Of Hospitality

The holiday season is coming up and that means decorations, gifts, parties, etc! For the first time, I have a home I can entertain in. It’s new and exciting! I know I want to do away with all the fluff and get back to the basics. I’m hosting a Thanksgiving gathering with our closest friends around the idea of simplicity.

If you’ve never heard of me talk about this before, it’s part of the Slow Living movement. Instead of focusing on decor and lavish dinners, everything is much more simplified and centers on human conversation and connections.

But even in the effort to simplify things, it can get quite complex and hectic. Keeping up with the Joneses… or Kinfolk, Local Milk, whatever you want to call it. I can’t honestly say I’m not inspired by them. We’re all following someone.

As I was doing my daily She Reads Truth devotional this morning they were talking about hospitality (how appropriate). I mean, real hospitality. What it looked like for Jesus to invite people in. He dined with tax collectors and sinners, and was found hanging around the shunned people of the day. They never worried about the decor, whether it was simple or lavish or what food they had there. And I’m sure that was the last thing on Jesus’s mind. All He cared about was that He got in front of the people who needed Him the most. That’s true hospitality. Inviting people in no matter their social standing for the simple goal of loving on them as Jesus did.

I hope as we all plan our parties this holiday season, we would remember what true hospitality looks like. Whatever our style is, let that take the backstage. But let our hearts point to Jesus this holiday season.

Adele

Photography Made Simple {Part 2}: Camera Angles

Besides using natural light to your advantage, using camera angles is another way to make your photos come alive and seem more appealing. Camera angles can highlight something you want to show, or hide a flaw. When I am shooting food, I try to get every angle possible and then see what picture(s) looks best. I’ll start directly overhead and work my way down. Usually if I am shooting in low light, the angle looks better than being directly overhead because the light skims the top and creates nice shadows. But again, it’s all about what you like and what looks the most visually appealing.

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The pictures above were taken directly overhead. The light doesn’t really skim the top but just sits on top. Any of these, however, can be shot at an angle to get a different perspective and sense of depth.

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The above shots are probably my favorite. In these, the light skims the top creating deep shadows. This creates depth where they might otherwise be flat. This is another free and easy way to improve the look of your photos.

Using both light and angles to your advantage are simple tricks that will take your photos to the next level. It doesn’t require fancy equipment, just old fashioned know-how and a good eye.

Adele

Photography Made Simple: Using Natural Light To Your Advantage

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I’m going to do a series of posts on photography because well, I think it needs to be explained. Simply. For those of you who did not major in the arts or photography and want to know how you can achieve good quality pictures, this series of posts is for you. Too many of us (myself included) have been or are stuck in the world of filters (Instagram, vscocam, and other apps of lesser quality). Filters can be used but they should be used sparingly and should not detract from the overall quality of the picture. Trust me, when I look at my filtered pictures from years past I cringe. But eventually I saw the light and I hope you will too!

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All of these pictures you’re looking at were taken with my iPhone 5s. If you’re using an older iPhone model your pictures probably won’t turn out as well (trust me, my iPhone 4 pictures were horrid). The newer iPhones have an advanced camera that uses a more advanced lens, like the kind you would find in a professional camera. This allows you to make things go in and out of focus, achieving that “professional” look. But you don’t need advanced technology to achieve good lighting. With the iPhone, you just need to know what kind of light you’re looking for and when to shoot. It’s as simple as that. Flash is a big no-no and so is any type of artificial light that would give your pictures an orange hue. I want to specify, this applies to your everyday pictures, food photography etc. I wouldn’t advocate that you shoot someone’s wedding with an iPhone 5s!

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I tend to really like low light, as you can see in most of the pictures I have on here. The shadows really give the picture depth and texture. Find what kind of light you like and pursue it! I usually try to shoot before 9 in the morning or between 3-5 in the evening. But again, it depends on the type of lighting you’re trying to achieve. When I made pumpkin pie, I shot those pictures before 9 because I wanted very soft morning light with deeper shadows. The two pictures of Homemade Applesauce and Apple Cider Baked Chicken were taken later in the day between 3-5 giving the picture a more rustic look. The last picture on here of the Apple Galette was actually taken not by natural light, but at 9pm under a fluorescent light. I like this result because it looks bright and clean.

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The main point I want you to take away from this is that you don’t need a fancy camera to get great pictures. Using natural light is the best (and not to mention cost free!) way to improve the look of your photos. So stop hiding behind filters and get some natural light! Your photos will thank you for it. Obviously, I am not a photography expert so if you want a more in depth explanation I suggest you check out Pia Jane Bijkerk’s post on her photography methods.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this! If you have any photography tips you would like to pass my way I would love to hear them! Stay tuned for the next post in the series where I talk about camera angles. Until then, have fun experimenting with natural light!

Adele

The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World: A Brief Synopsis

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I’m sitting here with my warm coffee, thankful to have some peace and quiet on this fall morning. It’s my day off at the flower shop, but my day on for blogging. Although my body is quiet my mind is very much churning with ideas. I’ve been doing a lot of recipes lately which is great! But I thought I would take a break from that for a post or two.

I wanted to direct your attention to a book I’ve been reading called Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World by Tsh Oxenreider. She has influenced me for a lot of reasons but I think the most influential is that she is a blogger just like me trying to do what she loves for a living. And best yet, she succeeds and provides for her entire family doing what she loves. There are a few major points Tsh touches on that I hope will compel you to live a more mindful life.

Travel

Travel plays a huge role in their family. They have always loved to travel and they didn’t let it stop them when kids came along. With the flexibility their work life brings, they are able to take more frequent trips. Perhaps more compelling is their view of American culture after living in a foreign country. Tsh talks about living in Turkey where milk was delivered to your door and the farmers market was easily accessible by bike. People lived close and were in community, making life much richer. Upon arriving back in the states, they were much more aware of their place in this world. And they were determined to make simplicity commonplace in the states.

Food

I’m never surprised to hear that other countries are doing better than us in the food realm. They have stuck with the age-old idea that local is better and they are thriving for it. It makes life much richer when you can talk to the grower. That is a rare thing these days. In Turkey they had to buy in season. We can buy berries from the supermarket in the winter and the poor kids growing up do not know this isn’t normal. It would do us very well to know where our food comes from, buy in season, and create meaningful meals where people can gather around the table.

Education

I found this one to be the most interesting. I think mainly because a lot of people now (myself included) do not hold to the belief that public education is the only way to go. I remember what it was like in school and I do not believe it was a place that encouraged real creativity. You were rewarded for your grades, seldom because you were creative. Tsh talks about homeschooling and how her kids were finally able to explore themselves, their interests, and the world. In some cases, public school is not going to teach your kids how you want them to be taught, so parents must roll up their sleeves and do it themselves. Homeschooling is obviously not for everyone and she gives examples of what other parents do and how it works for them.

There is so much more I could have talked about but for the sake of brevity I wanted to keep it fairly short (and it’s already too long of a post for my taste). I hope this brief overview gave you something to think about! Or if anything else to read her book! You can find it here on Amazon. I hope we can all find some way to live intentionally in this chaotic world, big or small.

Adele

A Timeless Classic: Birthday Pumpkin Pie

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I often ask my brother if he wants to switch birthdays. I would much rather have a birthday in the fall. I could reward myself with long walks amid the changing leaves and pumpkin pie instead of cake (though I don’t remember the last time I had cake for my birthday). But alas, I must endure a birthday in March – not quite winter, not quite spring and always sopping wet with rain. It turns out my brother isn’t much of a cake fan either. So with the extra pumpkin purée I had, I baked him a pumpkin pie for his birthday.

As I was gearing up to shoot the process, I knew I had to get started early. It’s true, natural light is best when it comes to food photography. But the type of light is very important. 9 am light looks very different from 12 pm light and each one creates different textures and moods. I shot this sequence of pictures from 8 am to 8:30 am which was perfect! I knew I needed enough morning light but not too much to where it was harsh. The result was a very soft light with deep shadows. The lighting just made me want to stay in that spot forever and keep baking like there wasn’t a care in the world.

It’s funny, when you smell pumpkin purée it smells nothing like the pumpkin taste we know and love. Someone somewhere put a bunch of spices together and said, “this is what pumpkin should taste like.” And I agree with that person, so I don’t intend on creating anything new here. Here is a very timeless pumpkin pie recipe you can enjoy for thanksgiving (or anytime someone doesn’t want cake for their birthday).

{Recipe}

You will need:

2 cups pumpkin purée (I used real pumpkin from a pie pumpkin but canned will work too)

1 12 ounce can of evaporated milk or 1 1/2 cup heavy cream

2 eggs plus the yolk of 1 egg

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/3 cup white sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional, this stuff is expensive!!)

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

Crust:

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon salt

5 1/3 tablespoons shortening

1/4 cup water (or as needed to form the dough)

Start with making your crust. Mix together flour, salt, shortening, and water and form into a dough. Knead and roll out large enough to fit a 9″ pie pan. You want at least an inch of overhang for the crimping. Roll the edges under so they sit on the edge of the pan. Next, with your index finger and thumb form small notches all around the edge of the crust. Poke holes in the crust once it is formed in the pan (this will prevent the crust from expanding during baking). Refrigerate for 1 hour.

– Preheat oven to 425 –

Combine eggs, spices and sugars, pumpkin purée, and evaporated milk and mix well. Pour filling into the crust and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. The filling will be puffed up but this is normal due to the leavening of the eggs. Let cool for two hours. If you’re making it for the holidays or anything special, I would suggest baking the pie the night before and let cool at room temperature until the next day when you’re ready to eat it. This will let the pie firm up really well.

Any holiday or birthday favorites of yours? Comment below!

Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Camera Lens

statue  As summer gives way to fall, and fall gives way to winter, we are moving the outside plants into the greenhouse before the first freeze. As I’m walking through the aisles, there’s a certain sadness to it all. The air is crisp and there’s no way to escape the cool wind blowing on my face. The plants have lost their vibrancy with spiders starting to take up residence between the leaves. The statues tell of a time long forgotten, as they too give way to the natural elements.

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Yet as sad as the transition from summer to fall and then to winter can be, there is incredible beauty in the midst of it – if you are willing to embrace it. It’s the same concept when we admire the beauty of snow but hate when we have to go somewhere. Although I hate driving in the snow just as much as the next person, it would do us some good to admire the beauty that’s in front of us no matter what season.

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That’s what I did with my camera lens. I guess that old saying rings true, doesn’t it? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We take a plant and throw in a cobweb here and there and statues that have clearly seen better days. But there’s beauty and a story to be told in that.

When we take precious time to admire the beauty around us, we can breathe a sigh of relief and we’re able to carry on. It nourishes the soul.

What speaks beauty to you? Feel free to comment below!

A Steller Story – Apple Cider Baked Chicken

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A couple days ago I made this wonderful dish by Gimme Some Oven. A fall dish of baked chicken with lemon and mushrooms marinated in apple cider. You can find the full recipe here. If you read my last Steller Story post, here’s another one for you to check out! Steller republished this in their Bon Appetit collection. If you still don’t have Steller, shame on you (just kidding)! But it is so fun you really should give it a try! It’s an app that lets you tell a story with your photos. View the full Steller Story here.

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If you want to see more from me on Steller, search for adele_hall! I’d love to see some of your stuff too!

– Adele