We all know bigger isn’t always better, and when it comes to weddings smaller scale events are just as significant, and often less stressful and more affordable than the large and lavish variety. As a wedding photographer on Martha’s Vineyard for over thirty years, I’ve witnessed nuptials of all shapes and sizes. More recently I’ve noticed a trend towards more intimate affairs, and the concept of Micro Weddings really seems to be catching on. Basically a Micro Wedding is a wedding on a smaller scale, that involves a lot of the same details but for a small group of people, generally 50 or less. Here’s a look at what makes Micro Wedding so appealing.
With average wedding prices in the tens of thousands, many brides and grooms simply can’t afford a large wedding, or are choosing to forego the big expense in favor of a longer honeymoon, or a downpayment on a house. Micro weddings can be significantly less expensive as they require less resources and involve less people, freeing up money for other things that can contribute to the couple’s new life together. Typically, brides and grooms are constantly reworking their numbers and spreadsheets once a new RSVP card is received, trying to see where they fall in their budget. With a micro wedding your money can go further and you may be able to do something on a smaller scale that you wouldn’t have been able to provide for a larger crowd.
It’s no surprise that weddings have become big business and it’s easy to forget about the essence of the ceremony when there’s so many vendors to organize, details to consider, and guests to appease. Often the pomp and circumstance of a larger wedding can overshadow the basic meaning of a wedding, which at the core is a celebration of a couple’s love and future together. With a Micro Wedding brides and grooms can be more selective with their guest list, which creates a more intimate gathering with those nearest and dearest. While the task of writing a guest list can be the hardest part of a Micro Wedding, brides and grooms can take comfort knowing that those they invite are among their most dearest to share in their commitment.
It’s a well known fact that wedding days seem to go by faster than most other days in our lives, and many brides and grooms struggle to find the time to sufficiently interact with all of their guests before the party comes to an end. Micro Weddings mean less guests so it’s easier to get more quality time together without being stretched so thin. Less guests also means the event becomes more manageable as a result. With a smaller group the day can be more fluid and less rigid, and plans can be changed on the fly if needed. On Martha’s Vineyard weather can be an important factor for any special event. If rain and wind are in the forecast you can push back the ceremony or figure out a change of venue a lot easier when accommodating less people.
Given the smaller size and scale of a Micro Wedding your options and vendor pool can actually increase. Perhaps you wanted to book that venue on the water that you couldn’t afford with 120 people, but when accommodating 40 people it’s very much within reach. Some venues might not even be able to accommodate a large group but once your numbers go down you realize there’s even more places to tie the knot than you had thought. Or maybe there’s a preferred caterer or private chef that you can swing with a smaller head count that will increase the quality of your guests’ experiences. When it comes to making choices for your Micro Wedding you can be even more creative and innovative!
I’m all for reducing waste and being more eco-conscious when it comes to weddings and special events, and I’ve written about it before on the blog. We all know weddings can get expensive, and excessive, and lavish choices can often have serious implications for the environment. Micro Weddings on the other hand, tend to mean more control and less excess, which is a win-win if you’re wanting to reduce your costs and your footprint. Even thoughtful considerations on a small scale can make for a big impact on your big day.
Is there anything more comforting than a simmering pot of soup on the stove, bubbling up with its rich flavors, while its savory aromas waft through the air? When the soup’s on I’m filled with an automatic calm and an undeniable sense of comfort, it’s practically what I sustain on all winter long! It’s not just a food but a feeling.
As winter sets in, even the late season veggies call it quits, and my garden starts succumbing to the nip of winter frost. The temperatures cool on Martha’s Vineyard and the tempo of the Island slows down and chills out too. The days are shorter and the light is fleeting, so we cherish it that much more. Evening beach walks are no longer a viable option so I make the most of the precious sunlight by day.
With colder temperatures becoming the norm, gone is my patio furniture, replaced by a huge stack of wood that sustains our home. In our vegetable garden our unheated tunnel adds protection and instead of freezing acts like a refrigerator, keeping any remaining produce chilled. Winter leaves us without an abundance of fresh vegetables, but I still want to continue to eat healthy, so I turn to soups to provide comfort and nourishment.
A whole pot of soup can supply several meals throughout the week, and I’ve even been known to enjoy it for breakfast. There’s really no rules when it comes to savoring soup, and I’m in constant pursuit of the next batch.
I recently discovered one of my new go-to soups in Whole In One by the talented nutritionist Ellie Krieger. In Whole In One Ellie shares a handful of scrumptious soup recipes, but her butternut squash soup is particularly tempting this time of year. She adds a drizzle of tahini for a creamy richness and a crispy chickpeas for a fun, healthy, crouton-like crunch. Ellie describes this soup as a “glorious bowl of goodness that is the epitome of modern comfort food,” and we concur. It’s hearty, protein rich and spiced for the season. And the best part, like all of her recipes in Whole In One, it can be made in a single pot with no fuss and limited clean up, which my husband Philippe loves, because in our household whoever cooks doesn’t do the dishes!
Butternut Squash Soup with Tahini and Crispy Chickpeas, from Whole In One by Ellie Krieger
Makes 4 servings, Serving Size: 2 cups
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
7 ½ cups butternut squash, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 2 pounds)
1 cup canned no-salt-added chickpeas, drained and rinsed
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
⅛ teaspoons ground turmeric
Pinch of cayenne pepper
5 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons tahini
½ cup packaged crispy chickpea snacks
(plain or lightly salted)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 4 minutes; add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more. Stir in the squash, chickpeas, salt, cumin, black pepper, turmeric, and cayenne.
Add the broth and bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until the squash is very tender, about 20 minutes.
Use an immersion blender to puree until smooth. (Alternatively, allow to cool slightly, then puree it in several batches in a regular blender.) Stir in the honey.
Place the tahini in a bowl and stir in 2 tablespoons of cold water. Add more water by the teaspoon until the tahini is loose enough to be drizzled. Serve the soup drizzled with the tahini, garnished with the crispy chickpeas and parsley.
The soup will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for 3 months.
Per Serving: Calories 390; Total Fat 12g (Sat Fat 1.5g, Mono Fat 6g, Poly Fat 3g); Protein 13g; Carb 58g; Fiber 8g; Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 550mg; Total Sugar 12g (Added Sugar 4g)Excellent source of: copper, folate, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, protein, thiamine, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin K. Good source of: calcium, iron, molybdenum, niacin
When we’re craving a hot bountiful bowl of deep broths and substantial veggies we turn to Susie Middleton’s Ramenesque Noodles in Rich Vegetable Broth recipe from Simple Green Suppers, the cookbook we photographed for her in 2017. This hearty creation is also vegetarian, but packs a ton of flavor and a punch of protein. Her rich vegetable broth is enhanced by miso, tamari, and ginger making a “lovely destination for a tangle of noodles and a variety of sautéed vegetables.” Her colorful selection of late-season veggies make it bright and beautiful, and it’s a mixture you’ll want to recreate again and again.
Ramenesque Noodles in Rich Vegetable Broth
Makes 2 servings
4 to 5 ounces dried Chinese curly wheat noodles or baked ramen noodles
½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus 2 pinches
1 tablespoon white (shiro) miso
1 tablespoon low-sodium tamari
1/2teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
3 cups late-season vegetables, sliced or chopped into similar-size pieces (a combination of four or five of the following: bell peppers, onions or shallots, mushrooms, eggplant, cauliflower or broccoli, bokchoy, napa cabbage, and/or red or green cabbage)
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
3 cups Rich Vegetable Broth (the recipe calls for Susie’s Rich Vegetable Broth which is also in Simple Green Suppers, but you can substitute with your favorite vegetable as needed)
2 soft-cooked eggs or poached eggs (see Note below), optional
Freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 to 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
¼ to 1/3 cup sliced sliced scallions (any parts)
Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil and cook the noodles until done, about 2 minutes. Drain them well in a colander and rinse briefly under cold water. Let dry a bit in the colander, then transfer to a medium bowl and season with a big pinch of the salt.
In a glass measuring cup, whisk together the miso, tamari, sesame oil, and 2 tablespoons of water. Set aside.
In a medium Dutch-oven or large saucepan, heat the grapeseed oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the vegetables and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are browned in places and starting to shrink, but still a little bit firm, 5 to 7 minutes. (Alternatively, you can stir-fry each type of vegetable individually and set aside separately, for arranging in the bowls at serving time; add a little oil to the empty stir-fry pan before continuing with the recipe.) Add the ginger and cook, stirring, until just softened and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the Rich Vegetable Broth and bring to a boil, then turn off the heat. Whisk the miso mixture into the hot broth and remove the pot from the stove.
Divide the cooked noodles between two wide, deep soup bowls and ladle the broth and vegetables all over. (Or arrange the separately cooked vegetables “around the clock” over the noodles, then pour in the hot broth.) Add 1 egg to each bowl and season the eggs with a pinch of salt and a couple of grinds of black pepper. Garnish with generous amounts of chopped cilantro, sesame seeds, and scallions. Serve right away with a fork, spoon and napkin.
Note: to poach 2 eggs: Fill a wide, deep skillet with water. Add 1/2 teaspoon of white vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and bring to a very gentle simmer (about 180°F). Crack 1 egg into a small bowl and slip it gently into the simmering water. Repeat with the other egg. Lower the heat to just below a simmer and leave the eggs to cook for4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to lift the eggs from the water and serve immediately, or if cooking ahead, transfer to a plate to hold.
Sometimes there’s nothing like a creamy chowder to warm your soul, especially here in New England. But my favorite chowder doesn’t include clams it includes conch, whelks really, which can be caught daily in the waters around Martha’s Vineyard.
My friend chef Deon Thomas dedicated a whole cookbook to the northern sea snail and his New England Conch Chowder promotes sustainability by using the abundant local shellfish. The dish is a spin off from the classic New England Clam Chowder, and it’s a totally dairy and gluten free soup that uses coconut milk and herbs and spices for added flavor.
New England Conch Chowder
Makes 2 servings
1 lb ground conch / 454g
1 medium diced sweet potato
1 medium diced onion
2 cups diced chayote / 270ml
2 cups diced celery / 200ml
1 cups chopped green onions / 64ml
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger / 7.5ml
1 de-seeded and julienned red jalapeno
¼ cup chopped dill / 9ml
2 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves / 6ml
1 tablespoon fish sauce / 15ml
2 tablespoon MV sea salt / 29.58ml
½ cup coconut oil / 118.3ml
4 cup organic coconut milk / 960ml
2 quarts hot water / 1.892L
½ cup cold water / 118.3ml
3 tablespoons cornstarch / 44.37ml
In a 5-quart pot bring the coconut oil to searing temperature, add the ginger and thyme leaves stirring quickly, sautéing for aromatics.
Add all the ground conch and stir with a whisk to brown evenly, separating the conch as it begins to congeal.
Add half the coconut milk and half the hot water, cover and cook for 15 minutes then add the diced vegetables.
Add remaining coconut milk and hot water and continue cooking for another 15 minutes at high heat.
Add the chopped herbs, pepper julienne, and fish sauce, reduce flame and simmer.
Mix the cornstarch with the ½ cup of water to a slurry and thicken soup to desired consistency.
Simmer for another 5 minutes and remove from heat.
From total new builds to renovations, additions, deep energy retrofits, and a whole host of other construction projects, our commercial spaces and residential homes on Martha’s Vineyard are in a constant state of flux. As architectural photographers we are often enlisted at the completion of these designs, and for good reason–to help capture an impressive new space that has been carefully considered, respectfully constructed and thoughtfully designed.
Have you ever picked up a real estate guidebook to browse images of beautiful homes while imagining yourself inside their aspirational spaces? Architecture photography allows people to obtain a visual understanding of buildings they may never get the opportunity to visit, creating a valuable resource that allows us to expand people’s knowledge and understanding of places unknown.
For our clients, including local builders, architects, interior designers, real estate and construction companies, our photography provides valuable documentation of some of their most prized and often most complex work. When you think about the endless hours that go into a building project isn’t it only right to honor that commitment by showcasing it as accurately and professionally as possible? That’s where we come in. Our photography enables our clients to better educate and entice their perspective clients, and we present their work in the most beautiful way they can.
Essentially, beyond the basics of building and construction, architecture is a thoughtful process of design and function. More than the structure itself, it represent its time and place and inhabitants. That’s why when we approach an architectural photography project we are looking to highlight the beauty of the building, but also its purpose, its uniqueness, its essence.
There’s a lot to consider and in order to capture all of these elements we begin by documenting the spatial design and architectural details of a place. Next, we focus on the unique features, additions, and customized design elements that make the space come alive. When we initially take on a project we consult with our client and scout the location with them, so they can point out those distinctive characteristics that set the building apart. By facilitating this type of collaboration from the beginning, we can develop a strategic approach for the rest of our work. This ensures that our final images most accurately reflect the space, its character, and our client’s intentions.
Its no surprise that potential buyers and clients are often drawn to properties by images, and the accurate, attractive photographs we provide can be very valuable to our clients. Using composition, angles, images and other photography fundamentals, we illustrate the exceptional characteristics that best represent the space, resulting in dynamic images. We assess how all of the the elements fit together by adding and removing props and accents as needed, for example fruit and flowers might enhance a kitchen, while books and glasses could help define a reading area.
As always, using the right tools in our toolkit for is critical, and the lenses we use for architectural photography allow us to depict any interior or exterior with a wide eyed perspective–without distortion or converging lines. With the help of our professional lenses we can precisely capture the area, and effectively shoot smaller spaces like bathrooms and closets.
One tool we can’t directly control is the natural light, but we can thoughtfully consider it, as we always do. When we scout a location for our architecture photography we are able to note the angle of the sun and how it lights up a room. The space’s potential for natural light allows us to determine the best time of day to photograph what room and when.
Mother Nature can also present us with weather challenges and seasonal factors that can affect our architecture photography too. For interior shots we can shoot year round, and winter is a particularly great time on the Cape and Islands. Many second home owners and rental clients have left or moved out of the space for the time being. Without the leaves on the trees there is more natural light streaming in, and when snow is present it creates a beautiful glowing effect that can be reflected into a space.
As for capturing exteriors, late spring, summer and fall are good times of year, as you want to consider the state of the landscaping and how you want it showcased. Fortunately our drone can capture exterior shots of our architecture projects all year–it’s especially great for expressing the nearby physical features of a property. By capturing the building’s natural habitat, like a wooded area or nearby coastline, or proximity to a neighboring structure, a broader context of the property can be shared. With a bird’s eye view a whole new perspective is gained and the location is further revealed.
How often are you at a restaurant and notice plates being cleared from tables that are still loaded with perfectly good food? Or you see overstocked products at the market set to expire with no buyer in sight? All of this unwanted or forgotten food amounts to tons and tons of waste. While it can be called waste it is certainly not garbage, and should be handled accordingly.
Food scraps that are thrown into the trash are hauled to landfills, and on Martha’s Vineyard that means they first have to be processed through a local refuse district and taken off-Island. The carbon footprint to move our trash is a big one, and it’s not the right path for food scraps. According to Island Grown Initiative (IGI) garbage is the Island’s number one export. Annually 6,500 tons of food that has been grown, processed, and transported to or around the Island is only shipped off again as waste. It costs $622,180 per year to transport and dispose of organic waste in landfills off-Island and food waste represents 261 trucks on the Steamship Authority boats each way every year!
In the same place where food scraps are being thrown in the trash, farmers and gardeners are buying compost and animal feed produced from other communities. We think there’s something wrong with that, and thanks to IGI’s food rescue efforts less and less of that is happening here. IGI’s Island Food Rescue (IFR) is a pilot project that aims to provide solutions to utilize wasted food in ways that enrich the Island community and support the local food system.
Now local food waste is being processed and reused in the form of compost to help support future agricultural efforts that will enrich our soils, increase our bounty and feed our people. It’s a win for the local businesses that can effectively see their food repurposed, their trash bill decrease and their carbon footprint reduced, a win for the farmers, gardeners and backyard growers that can benefit from richer soil, and a win for the community that can feast upon the fruits of the land that is being nourished by the compost in the future.
We recently had the opportunity to catch some of the IFR project in action. We visited local restaurants including Linda Jeans and Waterside Market to see how they’ve assimilated the system into their restaurant operations, and the best part of it all is how simple and convenient it is. Basically a restaurant signs up with IGI and receives a large compost bin called a “toter” that they keep beside their dumpsters. They educate their staff on what is compostable and what isn’t, and IGI’s collection truck (complete with a hydraulic lift and power washer) comes as needed to pick up the waste and clean the toter. The food waste is then trucked to the Island Grown Initiative Farm ( formerly Thimble Farm) mixed with carbon and loaded into their in-vessel composter and hooray, food waste is saved from the trash and turned into a valuable resource for gardeners and farmers! Businesses then receive a monthly report that outlines how many pounds of food scraps they diverted from the waste system.
Recycling food waste at the IGI Farm
Once picked up by IGI, the food waste takes about a month of active composting, and then another six to eight months of curing. With IGI’s huge tumbler, food waste is fed into the machine and comes out as semi-finished compost in three to five days.
It’s all part of IGI’s commitment to build a regenerative food system on Martha’s Vineyard. You’ve likely heard that word a lot recently, and it’s an important one to understand. By adopting regenerative farming practices we can give back to the land in the same way it gives to us, by respecting it, recycling as much waste as possible, and adding composted material from other sources that can help contribute to its biodiversity and sustainability. Additionally, regenerative agriculture can remove carbon from the atmosphere (as plants and soil naturally pull carbon from the air) and ultimately work towards reversing climate change. It’s been estimated that by farming just a tenth of an acre through regenerative practices one can offset the carbon emissions of one American adult per year! By simply and strategically working the land around us not only can we give back to it, but we can can make some significant contributions towards a healthier environment.
With the compost from local businesses going back into nearby land the health and vitality of the Island’s ecosystem is strengthened. It’s a simple concept but innovative in it’s approach– why wouldn’t we want to repurpose our local waste to help provide for a more plentiful future?
Already this year over 200 tons of food has been collected from Island businesses and local schools, including 6 tons alone just from the Ag Fair. All that waste yielded 145 yards of compost, of which 126 yards have been used for IGI programs like Island Grown Schools’ Community Garden, Orchard, and the regenerative fields at Island Grown Initiative in Oak Bluffs. Think about it. That’s over 200 tons of food that was not processed as garbage and was not lost to a landfill but put back into the land we love for the betterment of our soil, our produce, our animals and ourselves. It’s not rocket science but it is a smart way of doing business.
Food rescue efforts in action at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School.
So what can you do to be part of the solution?
Firstly be mindful of the food you purchase and try to use as much of it as possible. Our eyes are often bigger than our stomachs, so be realistic about what you can eat when you’re buying and preparing food.
Secondly compost! Build a compost bin in your yard or buy an enclosed composter. Use your compost for your garden, share with friends and family or donate it through the Martha’s Vineyard Refuse District. For $2 a bin, anyone can bring their 5 gallon counter compost to a local participating transfer station, and IGI will handle the rest. Click here for a list of those foods that are compostable and those that are not.
Thirdly, if you’re a business owner that is interested in implementing IGI’s composting collection service sign up here! Enrolled businesses include 7a, Artcliff Diner, Atria, Beach Road, Cronig’s, Kitchen Porch, Little House Cafe, Stop n Shop, Harbor View Hotel and dozens more. Happy composting!
I’m beyond excited to announce the release of the latest cookbook we’ve provided photography for–WHOLE IN ONE: Complete, Healthy Meals in a Single Pot, Sheet Pan, or Skillet. The book by acclaimed nutritionist Ellie Krieger, is one of my most exciting projects to date and working with Ellie was a dream come true!
If you’re a health-conscious foodie you’ve likely heard of Ellie Krieger. Ellie is a world renowned nutritionist and New York Times bestselling cookbook author, plus she’s host and executive producer of the Public Television cooking series Ellie’s Real Good Food, and Food Network’s hit show Healthy Appetite. On top of thatshe’s also a James Beard Foundation media award winner, and a regular contributor to the Washington Post–needless to say she’s a dominant presence in the food world! I have followed Ellie for years and have watched her develop an honest, approachable brand, while remaining devoted to educating her fans on great food and good health–two things I hold in high regard.
I have been a huge fan of Ellie’s astute approach to nutrition since viewing her show Healthy Appetite, and I’ve always hoped we’d have the opportunity to work together. When she selected me to collaborate on Whole in One I was beyond thrilled. The book marks Ellie’s seventh cookbook and my third, and for me the process has been unparalleled. Working with Ellie has truly been an honor. If you follow her work you know she is a consummate professional, who brings a deep passion and palpable energy to every project (and plate!) she takes on.
We shot the the book in her New York City test kitchen last fall and I couldn’t be more excited with what we produced. Along with a very strong, professional team we worked tirelessly, sometimes capturing up to 15 shots a day. We visited a local prop house where we scoured through a seemingly endless supply of textiles, ceramics, surfaces and backdrops until we found the perfect design aesthetic for the book.
With the help of our skillful food stylist Suzanne Lenzer and talented prop stylist Maeve Sheridan, and we poured over each dish, careful to capture the most mouthwatering shots, while maintaining a careful balance between our own creativity and the attainable nature of Ellie’s dishes that she’s come to be known for.
With Whole in One, Ellie focuses on delicious, healthy meals that can be made in a single pot, sheet pan or skillet, ensuring a good meal with limited clean up, that can be easily integrated into your dinner routine. Our creative challenge was to showcase both the convenience of these singular meals along with the simple, yet dynamic and thoughtful ingredients at play. Whole in One is Ellie’s modern take on healthy cooking that’s intended to be approachable and inviting, and we worked hard to represent that visually in every shot. As chef, dietitian and trusted voice in the world of healthy cooking, people turn to Ellie for her expertise and I’m deeply fortunate she turned to me for mine.
You can find the book on Amazonhereand at your local booksellers. Enter for a chance to win a copy by following us on Instagram at @randibairdphoto.
WHOLE IN ONE
Complete, Healthy Meals in a Single Pot, Sheet Pan, or Skillet
By Ellie Krieger, with photography by Randi Baird
Hachette Books | Da Capo Lifelong Books
October 15, 2019 | $28 | 256 pages | 9780738285047