Hello everyone! How are you today? Let’s talk about beautiful photography for a minute and check out an inspiring studio in Brooklyn. If you’ve already caught the link in my recent post about Sweet Paul’s new book (here), then you may have clicked over already and discovered Alexandra Grableweski for yourself. If not, you’re in for a real treat. After reviewing Paul’s book, I wanted to create my own little post highlighting her most gorgeous images because seeing her portfolio made me feel creative and sparked the need in me to start using my Canon 5D more and really LEARN photography and no longer accept being comfortable with the same old settings I often fall back on which produce very mediocre results.
In other words, her work gave me a swift butt kick! Alexandra’s photos are a combination of technique and a clever eye, which to me are the key ingredients in taking photos that stand out from the pack. You can’t have one without the other because you can have the best angles, gorgeous subjects, and the awe-inspiring surroundings, but if you don’t know how to capture them correctly on a technical level (lighting is key!), then you may never be fully satisfied with your photographs. I must add though that you also need a lot of patience because working with people (especially pets and children) requires a lot of it. We had an infant photo shoot in my home last month 10 days after my son was born (see the results here) and our photography, Christin Lange, was so perfectly patient with our baby despite how she’d position him a certain way and immediately he’d move and she’s have to do it all over again and again and again. I observed her patience and it brought baby and child photography up to a whole new level of respect in my eyes. I had no idea how much work it was to get babies posed well for a single image.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Alexandra’s work, she is professional photographer based in Brooklyn who specializes in food, still life, children, and travel photography. When she’s not on location, she is shooting from her home which doubles as her studio space for client work. She recently shot the new book by Paul Lowe called Eat & Make, which you can win a copy of here until April 8, 2013. Here are some glimpses of her home studio below to give you a peek.
What an interesting concept to keep your home tidy and spare so that you can use it as your studio space in addition to living. I find it so interesting that she can even live that way, I tend to have so much stuff that is personal that I’d have a hard time loaning my private space out to clients or shooting in all of the rooms in my home. I admire her tidiness and dedication to her work so, SO much. I also love that despite being in New York City, her three-story city home looks like it’s located in the middle of a scenic countryside. It has a very Connecticut or New Hampshire vibe – very New England – so charming. All of the white and wood makes for the perfect backdrop for so many different types of photos, too.
Here are some of my favorites from her portfolio. I particularly love the ones that center on lifestyle and children, for obvious reasons given I just had my first child! I also need to get a marble work surface like the one shown in the below photo. I love marble surfaces that are white with gray because you can really let things melt and smear nicely on them and they won’t dry as quickly or absorb into the surface as they would if placed on a wooden surface. Truth be told, I’ve been really attracted to them lately because my neighbor and friend Susanne, who writes the blog Milas Deli, uses one in lots of her IG stream photos and I really like how it looks. I’m on the prowl for one to buy for my kitchen now so I can start showing some of my own food photos that I post on IG with a marble background instead of always relying on my wooden table. It’s getting boring. I need to try some new surfaces and experiment a little bit.
So what do you think, gorgeous or what?
(images: alexandra grablewski with permission)
Ready for a delicious recipes for brownies? Why not, right? Hi everyone, it’s Jillian here with this month’s Delicious Bites post. With Easter just around the corner, my initial thought was to do something chocolately, then my thoughts turned to cheesecake, as they often do. I try to keep my chocolate consumption down to a bare minimum but sometimes nothing else but chocolate will do. Do you feel the same way? With both chocolate and cheesecake on my mind I decided to put the two together and came up with this, a recipe for chocolate cheesecake brownies. These little squares are an absolute favourite with my workmates and when I take them into work for morning tea they disappear in a flash.
There’s something about the combination of cheesecake with just set chocolate brownie that’s irresistible. The secret ingredient is the potato flour (starch) which helps keep the brownie mixture moist and squidgy while the cheesecake part is cooking. The swirl is important but you do need to do it gently to keep the 2 mixtures separate. I used the closest thing I had at hand to do this, which in this case was a chop stick.
The brownies are very rich so I normally cut them into squares but if you’re brave, then cut them into bars.
Here’s the recipe for you and trust me, you’ll be glad you made them.
125g (4 oz) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
185g (6 oz) dark chocolate, chopped
2/3 cup caster sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup plain flour
1/4 cup potato flour (starch)
1 1/2 (20 ml) tbs cocoa
250g (8 oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 large egg
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Grease and line the base and sides of a 8 inch (20cm) square pan with baking paper or aluminum foil, making sure the paper goes up all four sides. Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F (conventional). Sift the flours together with the cocoa into a small bowl. Melt the butter and chocolate in a bowl placed over a medium saucepan filled with simmering water, stirring until smooth. You could also do this in the microwave. Remove the bowl from heat and mix in the 2/3 cup sugar, then the eggs. Mix in the flour and cocoa mixture and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until the batter becomes smooth and glossy. Spread half the brownie mixture evenly in the prepared pan. In a separate bowl, beat together the cream cheese, the egg, 1/4 cup of sugar and vanilla extract until smooth. You could also do this step in a food processor. Dollop the cream cheese alternately with the remaining brownie mixture over the batter in the pan, then take a knife or spatula (or even a chopstick) and gently swirl the cream cheese mixture with the chocolate batter.
Bake in the preheated 180°C/350°F oven for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the batter in the centre of the pan is just set. Leave the brownie in the switched off oven with the door slightly ajar for a further 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack, then lift the brownie out of the tin and peel away the foil. Cut the brownies into squares or bars. These will keep in an airtight container for a couple of days. They also freeze well.
Wishing all of you a vert Happy Easter and Passover! I’ll see you all again next month with some more Delicious Bites for you, Bye for now – Jillian
(images/text: jillian lieboff)
Want to win a copy of Eat & Make by Sweet Paul? We’re giving away 5 signed and dedicated copies… But first, I’m a friend and fan of Paul Lowe, we met once in New York City when I was teaching there and I wrote for his magazine last year. Bottom line – I really admire him; Paul is hands down the real deal and he has built his business from the ground up which I find so inspiring since I remember when he was just starting out online. He has always been consistently authentic, kind and supportive of the online community, and so unselfish with his time giving me advice and direction on things most people wouldn’t share so freely. I really have a soft spot in my heart for Paul as a person, but there is so much more to him than his relaxed and generous nature – he’s a terrific talent with loads of creative vision as we’ve all seen demonstrated in his issues of Sweet Paul magazine over the years — but now there’s even more… A BOOK. (swoon!)
His debut book, Eat & Make, drops today (April 1) and to celebrate, I’ve teamed up with Paul and his publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, to offer you a chance to WIN a signed and dedicated copy from Paul himself of Eat & Make. Here is a little video that he made just for decor8 readers…
Eat & Make merges cooking (loads of delish recipes, I’m definitely trying his fish taco recipe this summer) with kitchen crafting (salad bowl pendant lights, anyone?) for a creative spin on your typical cookery book. I love the combination of crafting with cooking and especially enjoy how personal this book is with photos from his own life and friends dancing around each chapter, I find it all to be quite endearing. I’ve written 3 books and haven’t had the courage to do that yet, to get so personal with photos of me throughout, so perhaps I’ll really bare all and be more like Paul in my next book. He can really pull this off so well because he is quite charming!
Another point about the book that grabbed my attention instantly was the book cover – showing his photo, recipes and crafts, it really told a story to me so I instantly new what the book was all about before even reading the title.
I also LOVE the watercolor-y illustrations by Susan Evenson throughout, I’m a big fan of watercolor so this was a big plus for me. The over book design by Joline Rivera and Nellie Williams is hands down stunning. I am so particular about book layout, and this one feels like something out of South Africa or Australia to me – very fresh like I found most cookery books from those parts of the world. The photography by Alexandra Grablewski makes the book because let’s face it, you can style and cook something wonderful but your photographer can ruin it with a bad angle or poor lighting – Alexandra doesn’t disappoint – the photos shine through and through. I also must mention that in addition to Paul Lowe (Sweet Paul himself) his collegue Paul Vitale worked on lots of the writing in the book, so it’s a real collaborative effort with a talented team of people.
If you want to win a signed and dedicated copy of Eat & Make, comment below with the reason why you LOVE SWEET PAUL! That’s it! (Originally I asked people to tweet but lots of you wrote in stating you don’t use/want to use Twitter so I want to take everyone into consideration and open this contest up to ALL.)
you’ll need to tweet and complete the following sentence and tell us why you love Sweet Paul’s style. Cut and paste the following, filling in your thoughts in the blank and make sure to end the tweet with @sweetpaul and @decor8 so we see them!
#ilovesweetpaul because _______ @sweetpaul @decor8″
Then comment below letting us know who you are and what you tweeted. The winners will be announced on April 8th!
Good luck everyone! And if you simply cannot wait to own a copy of Paul’s gorgeous book, click here to order a hard copy of kindle version on Amazon.
Update: The WINNERS are: #3 Lou, #11 Cintia, #15 Ann, Boheme Circus #26 and Sarah Lou #63. If you are listed here, please contact jessy [at] decor8blog [dot] com as soon as possible and let her know what you would like for Paul to write inside of your book, in addition to his signature of course, along with your mailing address. Thank you!
(images: holly becker)
Did you win? You’re about to find out! It’s April 1st so for those of you who entered our contest you know what that means! Time to announce the
3 (I changed my mind, I’m giving away 5 seats!) lucky winners who will win a free seat in our April/May blogging e-course! But first, I want to thank everyone who entered, it was so encouraging to see the excitement this contest generated online and to read your comments and tweets. I’m so pumped and inspired to really rock the upcoming course with Tina Fussell so watch out! :) For those of you who haven’t registered yet, we are nearly sold out so please don’t delay if you want in since once we close registration, it’s closed for good, since we only reserved a set amount if seats for this particular class so the group is smaller. If you want to learn about our class, beginning online April 18, CLICK HERE. If you want to join in on the fun, CLICK HERE.
Okay…. Drum roll and envelope pahleeseee!
The winners are… Click here.