Eat, Capture, Share

August Ardor is all about passion and sharing stories of passion with the hope of inspiring more people to follow their dreams and bliss – more happiness brings more joy into the world, natch.

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Recently I had the opportunity to chat with Kimberly Espinel, an award-winning food photographer and stylist, photography teacher, author of The Little Plantation blog, and creator of the EAT, CAPTURE, SHARE podcast.  Kimberly lives in cool and cosmopolitan London, creates stunning plant-based dishes and images that make your mouth water and your heart skip a beat, teaches workshops, works on her blog and podcast all while pursuing her bliss.

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She inspires me every single day.  It’s no wonder she was the Saveur Blog Awards Editor’s Choice for the 2018 Best Food Photography for last year. Kimberly has a very distinct lush style with her photography – one that she honed herself as a self-taught photographer.

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I asked Kimberly how she got started and what inspired her to take the first step towards following her passion in food photography.  Her journey was circuitous (as many journeys can be) with twists and turns and back roads traveled, with side journeys along the way, before she found where she wanted to go.  She worked as a social worker for 13 years or so and then had her son.  She realized that going back to the same job did not feel right anymore or fit in with the family life she wanted to create.

She asked herself is there a way I can work for myself and be more present in his life? What opportunities are there… what am I passionate about that would allow me that opportunity?  She decided to go back to school to be a nutritional therapist and at the same time moved from an omnivores diet to a plant-based diet.

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She started the food blog as a way to have recipes to share with clients when she was finished with school; however, when she started picking up the camera and shooting food and writing recipes, she filled a void in her heart and it brought her so much joy.

By the time she graduated from school she already had 40,000 followers on her Instagram account.  Yet when she started the blog, she had not heard of Instagram.  In one of her nutrition lectures another girl sat next to her and said “she’d just discovered this photo app and said it’s insane” …Kimberly was mesmerized.

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What’s important to note is that she was not a photographer before starting the blog.  She says she did not know how to work a camera or anything, but once she got the gist of it, she loved the feeling of creating something in her mind and making it come to life.  She said “I loved recipes, I loved to cook – the styling and the photography are my favorite part and now I love teaching others on the side.”

Many other bloggers go to recipe development but she went to photography.  I asked her what inspires her most when she shoots and how her style evolved.  She had always been interested in interior design and architecture, and as a teenager she would redesign her bedroom and kept a scrap book of fabric, looks and visuals that she liked.   At that time, she didn’t know her style yet, but through trial and error she noticed a pattern in the way she shaped and sees things.  She is really drawn to nature, the colors of nature, the colors of the seasons, the colors of vibrant plant-based food that she gravitates towards.

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Over the years she always leaned into her strengths – one of her strengths is bringing people together and creating a creativity community.  She listened to her followers and their needs, wants, and struggles and she realized a podcast would be a great way to bring the community together to further address their pain points and help them achieve their dreams.  The EAT, CAPTURE, SHARE podcast is for a wide audience of food bloggers, food lovers, and everyone in between – mainly people who love sharing their photography, their art and creativity.

Give it a listen and you can check out more of Kimberly’s images and posts on The Little Plantation blog.

All photos by Kimberly Espinel

 

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Carrie Allen created this site as a way for people to share stories about things they love.  She loves chasing quiet, authentic moments and sharing them with her family and friends.  Read more about her inspiration here. 

Carrie Allen – Passion Prints

I have spent much of 2019 thus far looking inwards and reflecting on what’s important in life, what’s important to me, focusing on my daily rituals, which ground me and give me a cadence I crave, so that I can be true to my authentic self and show up every day full of love and inspiration in all that I do.  (At least that’s my goal…of course we all have good days and bad…)

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August Table block prints in Tern Gray

Following your bliss and passion are key to finding happiness, key to slowing down and embracing each moment.  Life is better when you slow down and pursue things you love.  One of my passions is Indian block-printed textiles.  Patterns made with wooden blocks, hand printed by skilled artisans, with natural dyes, derived from indigenous plants – indigo, turmeric, hibiscus, pomegranate and ochre.  Each print has imperfections that add beauty to the overall artistry.

While block printing was first developed in China roughly 4500 years ago, the practice of block printing is about 2000 years old and trade in cotton cloth is said to have existed between India and Babylon from Buddha’s time.   It was on the Indian subcontinent where hand-block fabric reached its highest visual expression.

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Photographs by Mehera Shaw

In home workshops scattered throughout India, you can still find chippas, a caste of printers who continue day after day to stamp lengths of cotton fabric with color using hand-carved wood blocks. They were taught this trade by their parents, who were, in turn, taught by theirs — each generation working almost exactly as the one before, going back at least 300 years.  They are truly skilled artisans.  The recipes for the plant-based dyes are developed within the families and kept alive for generations. The colors are dependent on the quality of the plants, the water and skill and knowledge of the printing masters.

Last year Krister and I worked with an amazing team in a little factory in India to design our own block-printed textile patterns for napkins and tablecloths – and August Table was born.  August Table and our block print designs bring together so many passions for me.  Passion for connecting with loved ones over a meal, passion for baking and cooking, passion for entertaining, and a passion for trying to inspire others to find joy in the same.  I also realize I have a love for styling photographs with our textiles, slowing down in the present to capture a moment of our daily lives.

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August Table “August” print napkin in Tern Gray

Additionally, we get great pleasure in knowing through the production of our textiles we are providing a source of income to many village families in an environmentally positive approach with mill made cotton and natural dyes.  Using cloth napkins is good for the environment while also bringing a touch of boho elegance to your meal, and the linens get softer and better with each use as they age. A few of my favorite shots from 2018 with our textiles are below –  a visual diary of quiet, caught moments, special moments, celebrations and more.

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Carrie Allen created this site as a way for people to share stories about things they love.  She loves chasing quiet, authentic moments and sharing them with her family and friends.  Read more about her inspiration here. 

Carrie Allen – Lemon Thyme Fig Jam

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Figs. Not everyone loves a fresh fig but none can deny their lush, velvety beauty, the deep purple, greens and browns on the outside, and the visual burst of ripe redness inside.  I love figs on a cheese plate drizzled with honey.  I love fig jam even more.

Making jam gives me so much pleasure – the chopping of the fruit, measuring of the ingredients, watching the slow bubbling of the mixture coming together as a thick syrupy jam.   Time literally slows down. I adore making jams of all kinds and these days tend to experiment with the flavor and fruit combinations.

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I’ve mentioned before my grandmother in Virginia first taught me and inspired me to make jam.  She and my grandfather planted fruit trees on their property nestled next to the water of the Chesapeake Bay.  Every summer we made jam from the cherry trees, peach trees, apple trees, grape vines and more. She also loved canning.  After the summer’s bounty and canning sessions she would fill a large wooden cabinet in the basement with her jars of jam, pickled beans, okra, watermelon rind, bread and butter pickles and more.  When those old wooden doors creaked open the rows of colorful jars gave me so much delight.  I would sneak down to the cool basement just to open the doors and stare at the beautiful bounty.

Years later, when I came across Marisa McClellan’s book Food in Jars, it was love at first site.  If you are new to jam and canning, check our her site for tips and tricks on canning 101 to get started.

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Recently I made a fig jam and added fresh thyme and lemon juice.  The taste gives it deeper, brighter layers than a typical fig jam.  Try it out and let me know what you think.

Lemon Thyme Fig Jam Recipe

Ingredients:
8 cups coursely chopped fresh figs
4 cups sugar
Juice of 2 lemons
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions:
1. Remove the stems from the figs and coarsely chop.
2. Wash your lemons, and using a vegetable peeler or pairing knife, cut thin strips of the lemon rind, being careful not to include the white pith from the lemon rind.
3. Juice the lemons.
4. Put the figs, sugar, lemon peel, lemon juice and sprigs of thyme in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.  Stir to combine.
5. Bring contents to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently.  Reduce heat to low and let simmer 45-50 minutes, depending on desired thickness.  Make sure the mixture does not stick the bottom of the pan.  While the jam is stewing prepare the jars in a boiling water bath.
6. Remove and discard thyme stems and lemon rind (although a few pieces left in give a bright burst of lemon flavor, which is lovely).
7. Add in vanilla, making sure to stir well. You can use an immersion blender to chop up the fig skins – pulse until desired consistency. (I tend to leave it as is.)
8. Remove the pot from heat and ladle into 4 regular-mouth pint-sized prepared, sterilized canning jars.  Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

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Carrie Allen created this site as a way for people to share stories about things they love.  She loves chasing quiet, authentic moments and sharing them with her family and friends.  Read more about her inspiration here. 

 

 

 

 

 

Carrie Allen – Transitions

I love the cool, crisp Fall in New England.  The cooler days, the changing leaves, the dark evenings, all make me want to curl up around a fire and have meaningful conversations with my friends and loved ones.  This season always makes me pause and think about the year ahead – as it feels like a beginning with the kids back to school, and I start planning out the festive holidays to come.

The fall has so much bounty that inspires me: gorgeous dahlias, zinnias, cosmos, leaves turning their golden hues, apples heavy on the limb – ready for picking, pumpkins and gourds of all shapes and sizes.

All of this quietly stirs up anticipation within in me… thinking about what is to come, what I can create and make, bringing friends together.

As the season quietly transitions from Summer to Fall with the days getting shorter and cooler, this site is also quietly transitioning.  August Ardor remains all about passion.  I still welcome guest posts, written by my insanely talented friends, whenever they feel moved to share anything about their passions; however, I want to bring some focus to my efforts, which can be wrapped up around a table.

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I have always loved gathering people together, planning delicious meals, flipping through cookbooks (another deep passion of mine) and setting a fun and inspiring table.  I know my love for this grew out of spending summers with my Grandmother Corinne Earle every summer in the country, down on the Chesapeake Bay in Lancaster County, Virginia.  She was the ultimate southern hostess and taught me to garden, make jam, set a table, make biscuits, steam crabs, plan a party and more.

Beautiful design, in every form from architecture, to interiors, to painting, to setting a table all inspire me.  I want to focus on these topics – entertaining tips and tricks, recipes, inspirational thoughts, mindfulness, healthy living, and beautiful design.  Krister will share his passions and architecture.

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Today as the blog takes it’s new focus, Krister and I are launching my long-time dream of August Table, an online store with handmade block print linens that we have designed and had made in India, along with curated products that we love –  to help inspire you to be the baker, the cook, the entertainer, the designer and the gardener.  All things that I am deeply passionate about.

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Helping inspire others around the table is a passion project.  If you gather in the kitchen, around the table, on a picnic blanket, you are hopefully with people you love and care about and have healthy delicious food, which can be very simple and fresh – not a huge ordeal.  The main goal is to make connections.  Slow down.  Savor each moment and every bite. Relax and Enjoy.  A common thread I always talk about is slowing down and unplugging.  Perhaps it’s because I too get easily caught up in email, busy life, my wonderful job in corporate innovation, trying to pack in too much all the time.

I long for quiet days filled with beauty and slowness, which can take many forms.  Making time for creation, things that inspire me, including writing this blog, help me find my quiet days of beauty.

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I’ll close with this quote by author and poet Victoria Erickson:

If you inherently long for something, become it first.  If you want gardens, become the gardener.  If you want love, embody love.  If you want mental stimulation, change the conversation.  If you want peace, exude calmness.  If you want to fill your world with artists, begin to paint.  If you want to be valued, respect your own time.  If you want to live ecstatically, find the ecstasy within yourself.

This is how to draw it in, day by day, inch by inch.

 

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Carrie Allen created this site as a way for people to share stories about things they love.  She loves chasing quiet, authentic moments and sharing them with her family and friends.  Read more about her inspiration here. 

Carrie Allen – Cry, heart, but do not break

To be human is to know pain.  During times of loss and personal crisis, we are thrown into chaos and can often tumble into despair, misery, bitterness, anger and angst.  Whether it be physical or emotional pain, we all have dark hours. In those darkest hours, it feels like you are so completely alone and you lose hope.  I know, I’ve been there.  Yet to be human is also to be resilient.  We do heal.  Things get better.  It just takes time.   Albert Camus asserted that “there is no love of life without despair of life.”

Everyone has his or her own path for grieving, for mending…for coping.  For those I know hurting now, try to slow down and find solace in quiet moments, simple things.  Focus on the senses. The way a breeze feels on your skin.  The taste of a treat.  The texture of a fabric. A soft touch. Smell. Breathe. Taste. Just be.   Staying present and intimate with the moment, requires mastering maitri, the Buddhist practice of loving-kindness toward oneself, that most difficult art of self-compassion.

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When my brother Robbie passed away in 2001, it was a horrifically dark time.  In my attempt at trying to find order, to cope, I chose to paint a portrait of him, painted from a small wallet-sized senior high school photo of his. I still have it today, it’s scratched and worn, but Robbie’s spirit shines through.

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I painted through my tears. I painted and painted, reworking it over and over.  My intention was to paint a portrait of my brother for my father as a gift, to help him heal.   I spent many months with the painting.  I realized much later that my colors were skewed.  His vibrancy does not come through.  I think my sadness shrouds the painting still.

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Robbie’s birthday was July 29.  He is always with me but these last few weeks even more so. I honor him with this post. This entire blog is a tribute to him. I miss him every day.  His passion and zeal for life and adventure touched so many.

The day after he died in March 2001 his close friend wrote a poem for him.  I close now by sharing it with you here.

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To Robbie, March 23, 2001

I loved a man who danced with Life;
He’d twirl her in his arms
Until she dropped exhaustedly-
Too heavy with his charms.
I used to look on jealously,
And wonder if he knew
How quickly I’d replace her
If he’d only ask me to,

Because I feel I wouldn’t tire,
But last into the night.
I’d take his turns and twists and dips
With all my strength and might.
We’d cha-cha, tango, maquerena
Till the dawn broke in,
And once we thought we’d had enough,
We’d jitterbug again.

Unconstant Life, you drew him in
Until you recognized
How much he needed loving you,
How much of you he prized.
So whimsically you threw him off,
Refusing one more dance
To one with whom I’d dance forever
Given half a chance.

Love, Kathryn Dunnington

Carrie Allen created this site as a way for people to share stories about things they love. Read more about her inspiration here. 

 

Carrie Allen – “Sadie”

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Ever since I can remember I’ve dreamed about being a writer.  Over the years, visions danced in my head of creating novels, poems and short stories.  Yet, somehow something inside me always stopped me from taking that first step – even though I know I have much to say and write about – and I thought I’ll get to that later.

I love to read, especially fiction, getting lost inside a good story.  This is from where my inspiration for writing comes.  One of my favorite books has always been Catcher in the Rye, and to this very day my well worn copy still sits next to my bedside table, filled with underlined passages, notes and dog-eared pages, as I relished every moment at each read.  With this inspiration in mind, I’ve decided to start writing now and share my stories here.  I welcome contributions from those of you who also want to share your voice.  Just contact me!

Below is the first part of a set of serial short stories about a young girl named Sadie.  Comments and feedback are welcome.

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SADIE – It’s hot

Sadie sat and stared up through the branches looking at the faded blue sky peeking through patchy white clouds.  She heard a fly buzzing somewhere behind her. Flicking a twig off her leg, she slid down a little farther into the barrel of water.  It was hot.  So incredibly hot.  She thought she would melt.  This is why she filled the metal barrel with water from the hose and plopped down in it.  The water felt cool on her hot skin.  Even so, sweat dripped from her limbs that didn’t fit in the barrel and the heat was suffocating.  The tree gave her a little bit of shade.

She could hear her grandmother in the kitchen chopping vegetables, prepping for tonight’s dinner.  Her brother was down by the docks, trying to catch a crab.  He’d been at it for a while and was not interested in entertaining Sadie, he said.  Caleb was four years older and not much fun; he never wanted to play.  Sadie and Caleb had been at their grandmother’s house for a month and a half.  Their mother needed a break they were told.  She was weak and couldn’t handle their noise and demands.  What did they know?  Sadie could’ve helped her mom even if she was only eight. She knew how to make sandwiches and clean up the kitchen and she took real good care of her mama.  Still, they were sent away.

“Sadie!” she heard her grandmother yell.  “What are you doing now?  Look at that mess you’ve made!” 

“It’s hot,” she yelled back.  “What did you expect me to do?” she muttered.  Sadie looked at the mud puddle around the barrel and the sludge that was slipping down the hill towards the back door to the kitchen.  She had left the hose running so that the water would stay cool.  Her feet were covered in mud and it was smudged on her hands and legs, drying and cracking in the heat.  Her threadbare yellow dress floated up around her in the barrel and she pushed it back down into the dirty water.

Humming now, she closed her eyes and tilted her head up towards the sky.  One hand swirled the water and lapped it up towards her neck.  She was trying to remember as far back as she could when her mama was not sick.  As hard as she tried, she couldn’t. She wondered what her mama was doing at that moment.  A sadness enveloped her.  She longed for her mama’s arms and warm embrace and happier days.

Last year, try as she did, she couldn’t stay out of trouble.  She was real helpful and always trying to fix things.  She had good ideas – she knew that for sure.  Didn’t matter that not everyone understood them, like the time she collected the neighbors’ cats and brought them home to the apartment.  She thought the cats would be thirsty in the heat.  She found three but didn’t know they wouldn’t get along – that it would be hard to get them out before mama got home from work.  What a mess that was. 

Her mama had been so mad she locked her in the closet for hours and said she couldn’t control her so that’s where she needed to be. She said Sadie gave her a headache.  The dark had scared Sadie at first, but then she realized it was nice and peaceful. She could see her mama’s shadows on the floor where the light shown in under the door.  Sadie loved those shadows, her mama dancing by every time she passed the door.  They comforted her while she softly hummed and rocked back and forth in the dark.

A bird screeched and pulled Sadie back to her barrel of water and the heat.  The water from the hose kept rushing down the hill and the mud puddle was getting bigger.  She thought she should probably get up and turn off the hose, but the heat made her feel heavy.  She didn’t feel like it.  She’d get to it before her grandmother looked outside again.

As her eyes scanned the yard, she caught a glimpse of something small and purple across the stretch of patchy grass and gray hardened dirt.  She wondered what it could be so she pushed herself up out of the barrel, leaving the dirty water and deluge behind her, forgetting to turn off the hose.  She made her way over, tripping ever so slightly on a tree root, to see what caught her eye.  As she approached she realized it was a small, blooming violet.

She lay down on her stomach to look closer.  The violet had only one flower on a drooping stem with two small yellowish leaves.  Popping up out of a crack in the dirt and leaning over, the flower was straining to grow, and yet despite the conditions unsuitable for it to survive, it was still growing with determination.  “Look at you, so pretty and small.  Where is your mama to take care of you?” she asked in a quiet whisper.

 

Carrie Allen created this site as a way for people to share stories about things they love. Read more about her inspiration here. 

If you like what you see on this site, please help spread the word and share posts with your friends on social media!  Reach out if you’d like to contribute something about your passions.

Kelly Anona Kerrigan – Documenting a life on canvas

I feel most alive and most connected to the world when I am creating.  In college, I fell in love with painting.  I received a very traditional art education as an undergrad, learning the foundations of painting, drawing, and sculpture.  Our studio time was spent exploring still life setups and the human figure.  In graduate school, I branched out and explored other ways to use materials while trying to find my own vision.  Through my exploration, I discovered that my work always come back to portraiture.

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Anona 2010, oil on canvas

There is something about painting a portrait that feels like a special connection that I am making with my subject.  I want to invest the time to really see a person in a way that we don’t get to do on a day to day basis.  I use portraiture to explore identity and personality, and how much we can really know each other.  I feel a rush of adrenaline when a painting starts to form on the canvas, representing my personal relationship with and interpretation of the subject.

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Anona 2011, oil on canvas

When my niece, Anona, was about 10 months old, I painted her portrait.  At the time, I wasn’t thinking past that initial portrait.  I just wanted to capture her as I knew her that day.  Anona is now 7 years old, and I have painted her portrait every year since she was born.  That first portrait started an ongoing project that, for me, is about more than painting.

Anona 2012, oil on canvas and Anona with her early portraits.

Anona and I live on opposite sides of the country, so I don’t see her very often.  The distance and time between visits make it seem like she is growing up so very fast.  It is amazing to see how much she changes and exciting to watch her grow into her own unique individual.  Each year, I try to capture her in a way that feels true to my interpretation of her, and shows her personality.  In a sense, the portraits become a representation not only of Anona, but of my relationship with her.

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Anona 2013, oil on canvas

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Anono 2014, oil on canvas

A theme that runs through my work is one of identity and what shapes our sense of who we are and how we present ourselves in this world.  By painting Anona each year, I am watching her grow up and become who she is, while creating a lasting document of milestones throughout her life.  All of the portraits of Anona live with her on the west coast.  While compiling these pictures of the paintings today, I realized that this is the first time that I’ve looked at them all together.  I love seeing them as a group and noticing how she changes from year to year.  I’m pretty sure she enjoys seeing herself on canvas, as well.   I am determined to add to this group every year, for as long as she will let me!

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Anono 2015, oil on canvas

Anono with her 2016 portrait and Anono 2016, oil on canvas

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Kelly Anona Kerrigan is an artist living and working in Boston’s Fort Point Artists’ Community.  She received a BFA in painting from Boston University and an MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts/Tufts University. In addition to painting, she also enjoys designing and making clothing and costumes.  Some of her favorite things in life are running, nail polish, and the Red Sox.  See more of her work at www.kellyanonakerrigan.com

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