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blog of the week!


Exciting news!!! Last night, Bella Eats was featured on CBS19 News in Charlottesville! I was absolutely thrilled when Marijean Jaggers (STL Working Mom) asked if I would like to be the Charlottesville Blog of the Week. Um, yes please!  Many thanks to Marijean and CBS19 for the great coverage. Picture 2 Here are links to the two videos that were shown - an initial promo clip and then the full story. Enjoy! The Bella Eats Introduction Bella Eats as Blog of the Week You can read my full interview on Marijean’s blog, but here are a few highlights...
Bella Eats was born nearly one year ago - October 31, 2008.  It began as a food diary - a way to hold myself accountable to my healthy lifestyle goals and to track my training for the Charlottesville Ten-Miler... ...While I enjoyed the support of the food diary community and the wonderful emails I received from readers who were inspired by my training and eating habits, what I really discovered about myself in those first four months was a renewed passion for cooking, writing and most of all, photography... ...There are two food issues that I feel passionately about and would like to push more on the blog:  daily cooking at home and using seasonal and locally-sourced ingredients... ...By testing out recipes in my own kitchen and then posting them on Bella Eats, I feel like I am a filter for the countless recipes available in cookbooks, magazines and online that can sometimes be overwhelming for those with little kitchen experience... ... I always try to give credit to the source of ingredients in my recipes, and have started a "Local" page with links to area food providers and businesses that support local food...I have big plans for weekly City Market recipes next summer and would like to start conducting monthly interviews with local farmers and business owners.  While I realize that these Charlottesville-centered posts may not be as helpful to my non-local readers, I hope that they will be inspired to learn more about their own local food communities... ...I've learned so much since starting Bella Eats - about photography, writing, cooking and baking.  I have no formal training in any of these areas and have certainly had my share of disasters over the last year, but have found that there is no better way to learn than to practice.  The food blog community is strong and supportive and I've "met" some really amazing people through our blogs...There is an amazing amount of knowledge out there to tap into, and I'm excited to be providing a fraction of it to my readers...
I'll be back tomorrow for the next installment of Bella Eats Pie, but here's a little teaser of the first test this week, Chocolate and Salted Caramel Mousse Pie... mousse pie-1
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on photography...


I get lots of comments, compliments and questions about my food photography.  To this I say, THANK YOU!  Photography is a passion of mine and there is nothing more flattering than having others notice your passion and comment positively about it.   My interest in photography began when I was a little girl.  I grew up with a father who was an amateur photographer and always had a camera in his hand. We even had a dark room in our house.  I got my first camera when I was 10-ish, and was always the girl documenting all events with my friends in middle school and high school.  I took a class to learn more about manual photography and developing and even started a photography business with a good friend our senior year.   I rebelled against digital cameras for years, still prefering to take all of my social photos and architecture model shots with my Minolta SLR camera.  I finally gave in and my father gave me my first digital camera my second year of college, a Kodak 3 mega-pixel point-and-shoot.  It was used for my social shots out with friends, but for my detailed architecture photos nothing beat the SLR...I was still hooked on film. The digital SLR has come a long way since then, and I am now lucky enough to own a Canon EOS 5D.  It has completely sold me on digital, although I still dream about picking up a vintage Polaroid camera sometime, just for fun.  I have several lenses for the DSLR, but for my food shots I typically use a Sigma 35-70mm.  We also have a Canon Digital Elph SD850 that I use when I am away from the house.  It takes great shots and is much more portable than the DSLR. I've compiled a few tips that I keep in mind when photographing food for the blog.  But to start,  I AM NOT AN EXPERT!  I simply have a love for photography and several years of practice.  There are many other sites out there that could give much more technical how-to's than I ever could, and I recommend that you do some research if you are truly passionate about learning more.  A couple of sites that I've enjoyed looking at: orange practice practice practice!   I know you've probably heard it 1000 times, but that is truly how I learned about light and composition.  You have to experiment with different settings on your camera and different lighting configurations in your home to figure out what works best for you.  Photography educators recommend keeping a journal, although with the digital age I don't know if its necessary anymore since most cameras store information about camera settings used for particular shots. But if you're like me and learn through recordation, start a journal.  Try different settings and record each small change you make, noting which pictures use which settings.  There are no excuses to not practice and experiment now that everybody has digital cameras...there's no waste! sweet-potato composition. I'm very careful with setting up my photos when I take them.  I probably take 20 different photos for every 1 that turns out how I want it.  I try to keep the background simple, focusing on the food and keeping clutter out of the shot.  Try lots of different angles to get the perfect one that will showcase exactly what you want to show.
oats Whole-dish shots aren't always necessary.  Sometimes a picture of just a portion of the dish is enough. yogurt1
Color and texture are important.  Boring-looking food will mean boring photographs.  A sprig of fennel or parsley, a dash of ground pepper or a drizzle of dressing can take a photo a long way.
soup-2 Prep shots are fun too, and help to bring some variety to the blog. cookie-prep dates brussels light. Daylight is always best.  I love the weekends when I can take my photos during the day.  During the week I have to take a lot of my shots in the dark and I have some pretty sophisticated equipment that helps me out.  For a point-and-shoot camera, (which are great!  I have one that I use often) the best bet is to keep the flash off because you don't have much control over it.  Bring in lamps that you can use over your food.  You want to try and light the food evenly so you don't get any major shadows (which will happen with the flash from a point-and-shoot).  If you want to experiment with the flash on your camera, try putting a piece of white posterboard on the opposite side of your camera and flash, to help bounce light back onto the opposite side of your food.  This should help with the harsh shadows. This shot was taken with just the daylight from my window.
The night before I took this shot with just the light from my dining room lamp...not pretty.
Now I have an external hot shoe flash for my DSLR camera that is directional, meaning that I can point it away from the subject of my photographs and bounce light off of the ceiling or a wall for better lighting.   It makes evening shots much easier for me...
photoshop. I try to use Photoshop as little as possible, but I do use it.  My camera takes huge photos, so I have to reduce every one that I take.  I also will "auto level" the shots not taken in daylight or when I'm not happy with the general color.  This usually helps, but can't completely make up for not having the right lighting when you actually take the picture.  I always try to compose my pictures when I take them so that I don't have to crop them in photoshop when I'm done.  The less time I have to spend on each shot the better. Here is an example of a shot before and after "auto-leveling" in Photoshop. biscuits-2 biscuits inspiration. Look at other great photographers and practice trying to emulate the things they do.  Don't copy their backdrops, props or styles, but you can learn a lot from looking at the different angles and compositions of other artists' photographs.  Check out some of the "visual inspiration" blogs and websites listed on my blog.  Some of the mouth-watering food photography that I aspire to? I hope this was helpful!  Feedback is always welcome...if you have any tips that you would like to mention, please comment!
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quick dinner and taggings!


Today was just as hectic as I thought it would be, and it the day isn't over yet!  My breakfast (pictured last post) held me over 'till about 11:30, but I didn't get to eat until 12:15.  It took me about an hour to eat the lunch I packed (pictured last post) because I was so busy.  I was hungry again by about 5:00 and ate my yummy snack, pink lady apple slices dipped in Oikos plain yogurt.  The sweet/tartness of the apple perfectly balanced the good!


I left work at 6:00 and came straight home to do a Taebo workout dvd.  It had been FOREVER since I had done one of these, so I started with a basic workout.  It was way too short so I did another to get about 35 total minutes of fast-paced cardio and 20 minutes of stretching.

And now I am going to scarf down my dinner, a veggie salad (that's lite ranch on top) and small helping of leftover mushroom barley risotto, while catching up on some blogs.  I brought some work home with me so that will probably take up the rest of my evening.  :(  


But first, I've been tagged by Amy at CoffeeTalk!  So, here's the deal:


  • Link the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
  • Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself.
  • Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links.
  • Let each person know that they've been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
  1. I decided that I wanted to be an architect when I was in 6th grade.  I finished my undergrad degree in architecture, worked for 2+ years in an architect's office, finished my graduate degree in architecture...and now work in a landscape architecture office and LOVE it.  Go figure.
  2. I'm part Finnish, and my maiden name had the classic double vowels of a Finnish last name (I kinda miss it...).
  3. I've had a love affair with peanut butter and bananas since I was a baby.  I called peanut butter banana sandwiches "p-bo nannas" when I was 2.
  4. I was a vegetarian for 9 months.  Now I'm just REALLY picky about the little bit of meat that I do eat. (I promise to write my food philosophy soon...)
  5. I went to Astronaut High, they didn't teach us to be Astronauts.
  6. My husband and I lived in the highest incorporated town east of the Mississippi for a year...anybody know what town that is?
  7. I'm addicted to looking at real estate listings online, even though we're not in the market to buy a house.  I guess I could have worse addictions, right?!?
Tag-lings: (I'm sorry if you've been tagged before...I'm new and don't have a big blog list yet!)
This was fun!  But I know this kind of thing isn't for everybody, so absolutely no pressure to take part.   :) Have a lovely lovely evening!


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getting started...


In an effort to find new motivation to eat healthfully and exercise regularly I discovered the world of food + fitness blogs.  Amazing.  So many resources out there that I never knew of!  I decided that the ultimate motivator for me could be writing about my own progress, so here I am!  I have no idea if I will ever make this public...for now I am excited just to have my own visual and verbal diary in which to record my struggles and my triumphs.  So here goes!!! The timing is perfect.  Tomorrow is Nov. 1st, and being the slightly OCD person that I am I always feel better when I have a logical start date.  You know, like the first of the month.  Or Monday.  Or the day after a big holiday.  Also, tomorrow I am starting a program to train for the Charlottesville 10-Miler, one of the hilliest and most challenging 10-mile races in the country!  I participated in the program last year but had to stop just shy of my goal due to injury (more on that later).   That's all for now.  I will update my story and reasons for keeping this blog sometime this weekend, and will officially start tracking my efforts tomorrow!  WooHoo!  :)
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