Bennett’s First Encounter With Santa Claus

Here’s your “AWWWWWWW” moment of the day:

Meeting Santa Claus for the First Time

Thanks to my friends, Colleen and Tim, for asking me to photograph their son’s first visit with Santa this weekend! Santa Claus managed to find a little bit of time in his busy schedule to make a special visit to the MacArthur household. The look on Bennett’s face when Santa walked into the room was precious – he wasn’t afraid, but was filled with wonder (and maybe some confusion!). Bennett turned 11 months old yesterday… It’s hard to believe this year is almost over, and this little guy is going to celebrate his first birthday soon!

Generation Fitness Conquers the Spartan Race at Fenway Park

My clients rock. Seriously. They are awesome, hard working people, and I love working with them. I connected with Mike from Generation Fitness a few years ago during a family portrait session. Then he contacted me last spring to photograph his group navigating a ropes course at Project Adventure. (It was awesome.) Then I heard from him a few weeks ago, asking if I’d be interested in photographing his group checking out the Spartan Race at Fenway Park.

Best. Photo shoot. EVER.

Spartan Race Fenway Park

Who wouldn’t want to spend a beautiful fall day, wandering around Fenway Park during the off-season with a super fun group? Okay, wandering is NOT the right term… We ran. We ran EVERYWHERE.

Spartan Race Fenway Park

Over tables, up and down stairs and ramps, through the rows of seats… Over walls…

Spartan Race Fenway Park

Spartan Race Fenway Park

Rowing machines…

Spartan Race Fenway Park

And we got to take in the view from time to time. Fenway Park is a historical site, after all…

Spartan Race Fenway Park

The Spartan Race is no joke. These faces say it all:

Generation Fitness Boston Public Schools

Fenway Park

After running from the street up to the top level of Fenway (maybe 6 stories?), running up and down each set of stairs in the grandstands and Green Monster, jumping over many walls, tossing around medicine balls, and showing the rowing machines who is boss, these guys moved onto the next station – pulling weighed buckets up to the rafters. The girls got 65 pounds, and the guys were given 120 pound buckets.

Generation Fitness

And then there was more climbing! This section of Fenway is usually filled with the smell of peanuts, hot dogs, and sausage. It was so cool to see the concourse turned into an obstacle course. (When else would regular folks get an opportunity to climb up to the rafters?!)

Spartan Race

Spartan Race

If these guys weren’t tired enough, I tagged along for one last challenge – they had to carry 60 pound sandbags all over the bleacher section:

Dunkin Donuts Bleachers Fenway Park

They went all the way up, halfway back down, across, up, and down again. They struggled, but did not stop.

Boston Public Schools

To all of the Boston Public School students involved with Generation Fitness – I had such a blast hanging out with you guys! Keep up the awesome work. It’s really amazing how you cheer each other on and support each other through every obstacle. Hope to see you all again soon!

Generation Fitness Spartan Race Fenway Park

On Being Thankful…

Thanksgiving ends up being a reflective time for me. I think about all that’s happened this year, where I was last year, and where I was five years ago at this time. It’s been an incredible journey, and I have so much to be thankful for.

Photography took on a whole new meaning. It’s been a long time hobby – simple snapshots, to learning how to develop black and white film, to having solo coffee shop shows, and participating in group shows with a magnificent group of artists. I hate to admit this, but my camera sat around collecting dust for awhile until the birth of my friends’ son. A beautiful, joyful little boy was born in January and my friends Colleen and Tim asked me to photograph the new addition to their family. The experience provided a much needed kick in the ass¬†burst of inspiration, and for that I’m thankful.

When Pinterest came into our daily social media mix, and I became increasingly inspired by all the beautiful photos of home improvement projects and recipes. Oh, the recipes… I’m not going to qualify for MasterChef any time soon, but I do enjoy creating delicious meals. Why not photograph them?

I began to play – I started to referring to photography as “play”. I discovered food blogs. Holy black hole of time consumption? Nah. I quickly became a regular follower of a few blogs and learned from them, but one in particular changed everything – I followed my gut when a special opportunity arose. Thank you, Diane and Todd! *HUGS*

I’m thankful for the amazing clients I worked with this year. I had so much fun working with all of you and look forward to working with you again! And I’m forever grateful for my parents and friends. Mom, thank you for always being surprised that I’m earning money through photography. (“And they paid you?!?!”) I’m not quite used to it either, and your reaction always makes me smile. (“Yes, Mom – Really – I got paid!”) Jeff, thank you for constantly pushing and encouraging me to take leaps of faith. Amy, thank you thank you thank you thank you for helping me land my first food photography client. And to my “lil’ sis”, Maliha – thanks for keeping me in check and on my toes. ūüėČ

This will be my 10th Thanksgiving that I’ll be working at the TV station rather than celebrating with my family. I’ll be watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade from my seat in the control room rather than a cozy couch. But I’ll celebrate Thanksgiving with both Jeff’s family and my parents this weekend. Not being able to spend the actual day with my family usually bothers me a lot, but this year is different for some reason. While my workplace provides a fantastic Thanksgiving dinner every year (for which I’m incredibly grateful – I can’t wait for apple pie!), I’m prepping a little comfort meal to have when I get home Thursday night.

I have a ton of squash sitting in my kitchen right now. (Yay, sales on locally grown food!) I’ve never cooked a carnival squash before, and need to use up a few things in my kitchen. So a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, and ta da – baked squash! What to stuff it with… Oh, I have a ginormous bag of quinoa, leftover dried cranberries from a cookie recipe, some fresh rosemary, and a boatload of other dried herbs. Nothing says “fall” or “Thanksgiving” more than squash, cranberries, and herbs! I tried something new and used a different lighting set up in the photo below – I’m not 100% happy with it, but it was a good experiment. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Carnival Squash

Stuffed Carnival Squash
Author: 
Recipe type: Main or Side Dish
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
 
I love this because it's so versatile. Sweet like a butternut squash, just about anything will taste delicious stuffed inside of a carnival squash. If I had some onion or celery on hand tonight, I would have added that in for extra flavor. Instead, I chose some generic veggie seasoning. The ingredient measurements are estimates - I eyeballed it.
Ingredients
  • 1 Carnival Squash
  • ¼ to ½ cup of cooked quinoa, depending on the size of the squash
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • 1 spring of fresh rosemary
  • salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Cut off the top of the squash and take out all the seeds
  3. Coat the inside of the squash with olive oil, salt, pepper, and toss in a sprig of rosemary
  4. Fill a baking pan with ¼" water
  5. Place the squash cut side facing down in the pan
  6. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes
  7. While the squash is baking, cook the quinoa. Stir the dried cranberries (or other ingredients of your choosing) in when it is completely cooked.
  8. Remove the squash from the oven, stuff with the quinoa mixture, and enjoy!
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1

Hundred-Year Retroactive Book Award and Other News…

I have to admit I love a good surprise… A friend of mine contacted me last minute to photograph the Associates of the Boston Public Library’s annual meeting and their Hundred-Year Retroactive Book Award competition. I had absolutely no idea I’d be photographing Jack Gantos, Ty Burr of The Boston Globe, Gregory Maguire, and Stona Fitch. How fun is that?! They each read from and discussed titles from 1912 best seller lists. I felt bad that my good friend Melissa – an aspiring children’s writer¬†– wasn’t there with me!

 

Associates of the Boston Public Library

From furthest to closest – Ty Burr, Jack Gantos, Gregory Maguire, Stona Fitch

 

Boston Public Library

From L to R – Gregory Maguire, Stona Fitch, Jack Gantos, Ty Burr

 

Gregory Maguire

Gregory Maguire, author of “Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister” and “Wicked”.

 

In other news, one of my clients recently launched their business website – check out Maxine Lorenzo Designs! The business features beautiful, sturdy, handcrafted leather tote bags. Congrats, Gayle!

Food Bloggers Support For Sandy – Roasted Butternut Squash

We watched and waited… A storm so big, weather models tracking it all over the place, and not knowing how bad Sandy would be if or when she hit. So odd that some models showed Hurricane Sandy taking a sharp left hand turn into New Jersey…

I was 11 years old when Hurricane Bob hit Rhode Island. Although the eye of the category 2 storm drifted right over us, I don’t recall the destruction being nearly as bad as what Hurricane Sandy brought. But then again, I was 11, living in the middle of the woods, and we lived without power for a week. Our neighborhood made the best out of the situation – we sat in each other’s garages, listening to battery-powered radios, and cooking on a camp grill. We ate a lot of canned soup and pasta.

I do remember the Coast Guard House being heavily damaged, and how big of a deal that was… It’s a Rhode Island landmark and institution – there is really nothing better than hanging out on their roof deck bar, overlooking Narragansett Bay during the summer. Once again, it has to be rebuilt. The wrath of Sandy stirred up the ocean, hurling the rocky shoreline up into the restaurant and all over the road, causing a lot of damage to what we Rhode Islanders call “The Wall”. But as the owner of the Coast Guard House said on the news, they’ll be “better than ever before”. Rebuilding has already begun.

In Westerly, RI, the damage is much worse. Houses were lifted off their foundations and tossed around like toys. Sand is everywhere. And to think that my little home state was spared the worst…

When I heard about Food Bloggers Support for Sandy, I decided to participate because it’s the least I can do to help my Rhode Island neighbors, and our friends in New Jersey and New York. In times of crisis, we tend to come together, and find some comfort through meals and the loving company of others. Warm, hearty meals are so soothing and satisfying…

Butternut Squash

I chose to share this recipe for roasted butternut squash because squash is so plentiful right now, and it can be roasted in an oven, or on a grill.

 

Roasted Butternut Squash

 

In times of stress, pasta is one of my go-to foods – it’s cheap, quick to make, and it reminds me of home. And it’s so versatile – you can add anything to it and have a wonderful meal within minutes, so adding the butternut squash over a bowl of pasta makes a perfect fall comfort meal.

The worst of Hurricane Sandy could have hit any of us who live on the East Coast. Those of us in New England are incredibly lucky this time around. Please consider donating just a few dollars to the Red Cross to help provide warm meals and shelter to our neighbors who have to rebuild.

 

Roasted Butternut Squash

 
 
Food Bloggers Support For Sandy - Roasted Butternut Squash
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • All purpose seasoning, to taste
Instructions
  1. Peel the butternut squash, cut in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds.
  2. Cut the squash into 1-inch cubes.
  3. Place the cubes in a large bowl.
  4. Combine the squash with the onion, garlic, olive oil, and salt.
  5. Spread the mixture in a roasting pan, and sprinkle all purpose seasoning on top. (Salt and pepper work too.)
  6. Bake for 45 minutes at 375 degrees.

 

Trip to Toronto – Home Cookin’

A few weeks ago, Jeff and I took a road trip to Toronto. I have so many photos, I have to break everything down into separate blog posts! Every fall, my friend Kelly and her husband Pat open their home to friends for a weekend of food, wine, and conversation. Folks from New York, D.C., Montreal, California, and occasionally from Hong Kong and Perth, make their way to Toronto to catch up with each other.

Kelly is solely responsible for opening up my culinary palette. We met during my freshman year of college, when my diet consisted of pasta, cereal, iceberg lettuce, chicken, and not much else. Being from Hong Kong, Kelly enjoyed convincing her friends to join her for dinner in Chinatown, and ordering in Cantonese so we had no idea what would show up at the table. Having a choice between cafeteria food and eating out, I was convinced to try new things. But Kelly also loves to cook, and she treated many of us to wonderful meals at her apartment. I learned to like asparagus. I learned that real Chinese food does not consist of chicken fingers or beef teriyaki. And ginger in chicken soup? Sure!

Friends Cooking Together

But now Kelly lives in Toronto. (*tear*) This annual weekend away started off as five of us renting a house in Niagara-On-The-Lake , and has now grown into a group of 15+ who invade Kelly and Pat’s house for a weekend. Kelly still cooks for all of us. We still go to asian restaurants, she still orders in Cantonese, and we still have no idea what will show up at the table. And we wouldn’t have it any other way!

Images of cooking

Friends cooking together

Boston Food Photography

Photos of friends cooking together

I have to give Kelly some props here – not only is she a fabulous cook, but she’s a very talented jewelry designer as well. Check out her website, Elementals Jewellery Design!

More to come!

Cheers, Hurricane Sandy!

Being a bit north of Boston, I’m certainly not experiencing the full force of Hurricane Sandy. My lights flickered once, but thankfully I still have power. I don’t live near the ocean, so flooding isn’t a concern. Yes, it’s windy as anything out there right now, and I’m really hoping the gigantic oak tree in front of my car stays intact!

What a perfect day to catch up on things around here… Yes, the sock drawer finally got organized, laundry got done, and my closets are about to get tackled. It’s one of those great days when there’s nothing else to distract me, and I don’t feel like I’m missing out on a precious fall day outside. And there’s one meal I love making on dreary days like these – a beef stew recipe a friend of mine found on the Food Network.¬†¬†I didn’t have any green beans on hand, but it’s still sooooo good!

How are you riding out the storm? Stay safe out there, everyone!

 

Beef Stew

 

A Look Inside Nashoba Brook Bakery & Cafe in Concord, MA

Catching up on blog posts…whoo-hoo! This one is a photo post. Michelle Martin of Table of Two¬†invited me to tag along with her to Nashoba Brook Bakery and Cafe for a blog post she wrote for the Boston Local Food Festival. The company makes slow rise breads, meaning that it takes a full day (seriously, 24 hours) to make a loaf of bread. The slow breaking down process of carbohydrates, proteins, and yeast makes the bread more nutritious.

It was a fun opportunity to photograph a bakery, working around all the action and resisting the smell of freshly baked bread. Thanks for inviting me along, Michelle!

Nashoba Brook Bakery

Nashoba Brook Bakery

Nashoba Brook Bakery

Nashoba Brook Bakery

A Visit to Travessia Urban Winery

I first learned about Travessia Urban Winery while volunteering for Wine Riot in Boston. A few weekends ago, I remembered I had a coupon for a free wine tasting, so we made our way to New Bedford, MA. We were completely thrown off by a winery located in a city.¬† (Is it just a tasting room? Where is the vineyard? WHY DID I NOT BRING MY CAMERA?! So grateful for iPhone cameras…)

Travessia Urban Winery

We were greeted by Jenn, Travessia’s tasting room manager and event coordinator, and she led us through a wine and Taza chocolate tasting.¬†Travessia Urban Winery is small, only producing 600 cases of wine a year, and all the wines are made on site – in downtown New Bedford – by the owner, Marcos Montez! All the grapes he uses are grown by three local vineyards in Southern Massachusetts, making Travessia a wonderful local product.

Travessia Urban Winery

Jenn then gave us a tour of the production floor, which is about the size of a small cafe. She explained their wine making and bottling process, showing us the steel tanks and oak barrels. My absolute favorite wine from Travessia is their steel-aged chardonnay. I’m usually not a huge fan of chardonnay – the oak flavor from being aged in barrels doesn’t usually appeal to me. But the steel-aging process gives their chardonnay a beautiful clean, crisp flavor. The wine and the laid-back vibe of the neighborhood tasting room left such an impression, that Jeff decided to join their wine club. It was such a fun afternoon! Thanks for the tour, Jenn!

Travessia Urban Winery

The reds were pretty good too!

All photos were taken with my trusty iPhone and I did not receive compensation for this post – positive impressions are my own. ūüėČ Travessia Urban Winery is located at 760 Purchase Street New Bedford, MA 02740. Please visit their website for hours and more details.

 

 

Apple Muffins for a Road Trip

Homemade apple pie did not happen again this year. We went apple picking, and I had the best intensions of making apple pie from scratch… Annyyywwayyyyy…

With a short road trip quickly approaching and still having apples all over my kitchen, I decided apple muffins would be the perfect snack to take in the car. I’ve slowly been whipping up recipes from B√©atrice Peltre’s cookbook, “La Tartine Gourmande“, and chose to make her millet, oat, and apple muffin recipe. And naturally, I just had to photograph them!

La Tartine Gourmande Millet Oat Apple Muffins

Millet Oat Apple Muffins

More posts are coming soon – I’m still sorting through and editing photos from our road trip up to Canadian wine country!