Friday, September 21, 2012

a French moment

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There are some moments in life that feel like a complete dream and while in France ... I had one of these moments. I had just finished a delicious dinner, the sun was setting, and the town across the valley glistened as lights twinkled in the distance. Suddenly, at that moment all was right and I had not one worry, regret, dream, hope, desire ... I was content in that very moment.

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I've been hesitant to write posts on my France trip as sometimes ... I feel that in this day and age with twitter, instagram, facebook, it is easy for one to overshare. But then I remember why I started blogging in March of 2009 ... to tell stories. And that is exactly what I intend to do.

The farm is a place where good food is simple in all the right kind of ways. Fresh garden salads are made with two or three ingredients, meat is served but never overpowers a meal, and of course my favorite, the rich and flavorful cheese. Lunch and dinner last for hours and the concept of a quick dinner is not possible. Recently, one of Marc's cousins bought a cottage where French cider was made for generations and slowly, she is making it her own yet keeping its history as well. The house and property are quite special and one of my favorite spots in France.

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 The road to her house is lined with apple and pear trees, cows peek their heads over the fence, and the whole area is buzzing with life. Blackberries are abundant, a butterfly bush moves in the warm wind as butterflies land and stir savoring the sweet nectar, and a comfy hammock that overlooks the valley is tied between two apple trees ... my favorite spot if you ask me. On our second evening Sara made us a dinner that I will always remember. The meal was made with tenderness and care ... nothing was overdone or underdone  ... an incredible art if you ask me.

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We had kabobs of curry chicken, a garden salad that tasted like the first few days of September, a wine that was full in body and rich in tannins, and cheese that was bought from the town's fromagerie. We sat that evening chatting about life, food, wine, and laughed as at times ... our phrases were really lost in translation.

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When the evening ended and the last bit of wine was sipped ... I looked out at the Valley, lights twinkling as the old church bell began to ring signifying eleven and I thought ... I will live here ... one day.

Friday, September 7, 2012

a sweet Summer wedding ... my latest work

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Right before we left for France I (and of course ...  my partner in crime as well) had the privilege to photograph one of the sweetest weddings I have ever seen. The air was sweet and a warm Summer breeze brought an overall ease to the day. Lauren and Adam decided to have their wedding on their property in the foothills, outside of Sacramento. I had been looking forward to photographing the both of them all Summer as their personalities are charming, they are two compassionate individuals, and a couple that is completely loved and adored by all of their friends. The wedding came together in such a special way as friends brewed home brew, made specialty cocktails, helped with decorations, and pitched in with much more. Honestly, their wedding was a dream and there were several moments I had wished I was attending the wedding and not towing around my camera ... but that didn't last long as if I had to pick ... I love being behind my lens.

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When I think about photographing weddings there are so many things that a photographer needs to be attentive to. Unlike styled shoots where all aspects of the photo are calm, planned for, and created, wedding days are unpredictable, high stress, and nothing ever goes to plan. All of the reasons that I love photographing weddings. When I say unpredictable ... I mean that you never know when the groom will steal a moment away with his bride sneaking a kiss, a speech from a friend that moves everyone and gives family and friends goosebumps (myself included), or the wedding timeline gets thrown out the window and things run a little longer than expected (meaning real life moments are happening) ... as a photographer it is my job to embrace these moments and capture them.

From mason jars filled with specialty cocktails, to little favors of local honey, flower arrangements created by friends, a family tree of old family photos, and personal touches like photos of Lauren and Adam's adventures, everything about their wedding was special, real, and thoughtful.

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I am so happy I can share some of my latest work with everyone and cheers to Lauren and Adam ... thank you for inspiring me on your special day!

Have a great weekend everyone, Bisous.

Monday, September 3, 2012

back from France and a recipe ... Tartiflette

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We are back from France and to say it was wonderful would be an understatement. Each time I visit I find myself not wanting to come home, dreaming in French, and feeling entirely content to be with family. Our family spoils us in the best kind of ways ... lots of family dinners, the best cheese, delicious wine. Never once did they ask us to lift a finger and opened their home to us, allowing us to fit comfortably into their daily life. The farm is a magical place for Marc and I that evokes nostalgia for both of us. Mornings were met with chocolat chaud, crusty baguettes, and an assortment of homemade confitures. This past trip was just like our last trips ... breakfasts were never rushed, simple, and all together sweet. Even though I always say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, it is during my time in France that reaffirms that for me.

So ... if you are a Francophile like me, then you are going to love the next couple of posts. I will take you on a little adventure and share with you some of my favorite adventures from this past trip ... think meeting a baby cow and feeding it by bottle, or leisurely dinners spent in a little French town called Beynac ... a place that had me smitten by its castles and cobblestone streets.

One of my favorite experiences this trip was when I had the chance to make Tartiflette for the entire family. I watched and learned from my French "sister" Sandra (Marc's cousin's wife). She is amazing when it comes to teaching me French and how to cook authentic French meals. We speak entirely in Franglais to each other and when we first met I knew not one French word and she knew little English, BUT instantly we had a connection. So, while most of the family was sightseeing we were busy preparing a dinner for 19. Did I mention she did all of this while still entertaining four kids under the age of 5?!!  So, I peeled potatoes, cubed potatoes, cut reblochon (a cheese that is strong in odor and tastes incredible, also the milk from the farm is used in it) and made 6 tartiflettes that served the entire family.

Now, those of you that are wondering what tartiflette is .... well ... there are bumper stickers in France that say "In Tartiflette We Trust." HA! It most surely is not a meal to eat if you are counting calories, on a diet, or do not like cheese. This meal is authentic to its core and every time I take a bite I think back to days on the farm when the air was crisp, the family just finished with milking the cows, and the savory smells of tartiflette engulfed the kitchen. Heaven if you ask me.

When all the family was seated in the barn I giddily brought out the tartiflettes with Sandra. My heart raced with excitement as in that moment I felt French ... truly French. That evening the family laughed, indulged in tartiflette, washed dinner down with red wine, left crumbs on the table, and then repeated these actions for several hours. Making tartiflette was one of the best moments of my trip. Enjoy the recipe my dear Francophiles and Coeur de La readers!! Happy Monday and Bisous.