Saturday, January 30, 2016

BIRTHDAY FLOWERS

A NEW BEGINNING

It all starts with one like my favorite singer Ane Brun sings. My very first blog post was on 29th of Jan in 2012. 2016 gretchen gretchen blog is 4 years old. Small joyful girl, I think. 

Ever since 2012 I've been changing things here in gretchen gretchen blog. But it has always been about creativity and inspiration. First I blogged in Finnish and English, then I decided to continue only with English. 


This is the third design I have on my blog and I have made all of them by myself. The second one was born after making a mood board. You can find a video I made of the mood board here. I have had many different kind of topics like DIY, food, photography, style, vintage, ceramics, art and concept, slow living, video, food photography workshops and personal posts. Which one you are interested? Just click the word you like and you'll find my favorite blog post of that topic.

I had a bit different kind of birthday blog post in my mind after Christmas but everything changed in my life on 30th of December. My dear mom got sudden attack. She died on 4th of Jan. So even though I try to be positive about blog's birthday you might understand why I choose to photograph only flowers and keep this blog post short. Flowers, gardening and indoor plants were my mom's favorite hobby or lifestyle I could say. 2012 I made a blog post about visiting her and I told you about her orange tree. Grown from a orange seed bought from grocery store in 1965. So it's now 50 years old. It has followed my mom always till now. Once I asked my mom why my flowers and plants doesn't look as good as hers? Ok maybe the question of watering but she did tell me that she talks to the plants, touch them and of course take good care of them.  

Literally this is a new beginning for me. Time heals they say. I have promised myself that I will cherish her memory in every way. She started oil painting only few years ago and I saw her skills growing quite fast. I got so much good from her I just hope I can use it well. I will end this blog post to one of my mom's favorite song Petit fleur by Sidney Bechet you can find it here. 


Life is simple. You only need love and care. That's about it.

xoxo
Kreetta

Sunday, January 17, 2016

HOW TO MAKE A BEAUTIFUL FLOWER ARRANGEMENT

CERAMIC FLOWER FROGS

flower frogs and photo by Kreetta Järvenpää www.gretchengretchen.com

How are you? It's been awhile I've been blogging here. I will show you this time my ceramic flower frogs I made before the Christmas. You can use them in making a beautiful flower arrangement. I was also honored to be featured in Happy Interior Blog by Igor Josif. Go and stop by his lovely blog and read the story about these flower frogs. I won't write the same story here.  Instead I write something very personal. But Igor wrote a very nice story. Thank you so much Igor!

flower frogs and photo by Kreetta Järvenpää www.gretchengretchen.com

You might know that my mom has suddenly past away two weeks ago. I'm feeling a bit better but still I am in the middle of mourning my mom. It's amazingly difficult to accept to losing her. I'm also sad about her life - not continuing. It is still unreal and somehow I only see her smiling in my eyes and I almost wait to see her when I go to her home. But no, we are going to have her funeral on next Friday. This time has been hardest ever for us. I love her so and I have decided to make funeral flower arrangement for her by my own hands. I'm sure it helps me on the way to accept that her death is part of life. We all have our own way of dealing with sorrow. I have to make things to feel better. I'm going to bake too like she did a lot because I feel I got my talents from her and I will use them to make her never forgotten. 

flower frogs and photo by Kreetta Järvenpää www.gretchengretchen.com

I already bought the base for the flower arrangement and next I will go to Pinterest find the flowers I want to use in my arrangement. After that I will order them from florist and of course because it's the winter time there might not be flowers like peonies. Peony is one of my mom's favorite flowers but also roses were deeply in her heart. I try to make a photo of the arrangement and show it here but I don't promise anything because it might be too hard task on the funeral day.


I want to make a flower arrangement to be a bit like poem. I've never done one before so it will be my first one. But it is the most important one too. This pic above is from my mom's hands in August 2014 when I had my birthday party in our garden. I invited women from my family and friends to make a flower garland with me before the party began. It was great fun even though I was so so excited that I could not concentrate to make it myself, funny. But I enjoyed a moment with my dear people around. That was enough for me. Also the birthday party was very lovely and I have very good memories of that. We danced the summer night away in the garden - my mom, me and all the lovely people.

I wish you a very cosy and happy Sunday!

xoxo
Kreetta 

ps. If you want to see the blog post about the flower garland you will find it here.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

EASY CHRISTMAS DECORATION DIY - SIMPLE WHITE ORNAMENTS

HO HO HO BAKING SODA DOUGH!

diy baking soda dough photo by Kreetta Järvenpää www.gretchengretchen.com

I saw this DIY in Facebook by Kodin Kuvalehti. It is really simple and easy. I don't know if you are a bit like me...I have always a bit hurry before Christmas when I start to get these crazy ideas what I like to do before and for the Christmas...this time I got plenty of time to make these because they are so easy. That is a very very good thing, I think. Photographing them today was the hardest part. We have sooo low light at the moment but luckily I have a tripod.

diy baking soda dough photo by Kreetta Järvenpää www.gretchengretchen.com

First you make the baking soda dough. This recipe is from Kodin Kuvalehti.


INGREDIENTS

1dl corn starch
2dl baking soda
1,25dl pure water

Combine ingredients in the pot. Boil over medium heat until the mixture starts to thicken into the smooth texture. Remove from the heat. Put the damp cloth over it. Let it cool for awhile. The important thing is to have enough moisture in dough. It's hard to make pretty ones when the dough is too dry. So keep your dough moistured. I kept mine in damp cloth and in a plastic bag waiting for baking. But this dough is the easiest ever to bake. Thickness of the dough should be about 5 mm and use spatula in lifting your pretty ornaments on to the baking sheet.


MAKE YOUR ORNAMENTS WITH

rolling pin
cookie cutters
plastic or wooden board (you can use plastic wrap around the wooden board like I did)
stick to make holes
spatula
baking paper
texture from different kind of things (this part is my favorite!) like I used dried poppy seed pod and pearl necklace. Never ever use the most obvious - that is my motto, I admit.

ginger pears photo by Kreetta Järvenpää www.gretchengretchen.com

There have to be also a reason why to make a DIY. I need these ornaments for the Christmas present tags. We have made some homemade preserved ginger pears. Some of you are going to get them - some not. This is our first year with these so either other way you might be lucky.

diy baking soda dough photo by Kreetta Järvenpää www.gretchengretchen.com

After you have baked your ornaments, they go to oven or you can also let them dry over night in a room temperature. But as I said I'm always a bit hurry (and impatient) to wait for the result so I baked them in oven in temperature 75 C degrees about one hour. Depends on how thick they are. I guess that's about it. Of course you can play with colors from spices or water colors or proper food coloring but I liked pure white. Simple.

diy baking soda dough photo by Kreetta Järvenpää www.gretchengretchen.com

So off you go and have fun with your family and friends! Make many beautiful ornaments. 



It's time to Wish You A Merry Christmas!

xoxo
Kreetta

ps. You will find me in Instagram @kreettakreetta
 

Friday, December 11, 2015

NEW CERAMICS + iPHONE PHOTOGRAPHY

TRADITIONAL CHRISTMAS MARKET AT RYTI-HOUSE

ceramics and photo by Kreetta Järvenpää www.gretchengretchen.com
Weekend is here. So great. Tomorrow I will be at Ryti-house in Huittinen. It is my sister's family's place. I have all packed and hope we are going to have a great Saturday full of Christmas feeling. There will be traditional Christmas Market. I will be selling ceramics like flower frogs, vases, pendant, small cake stands and bowls and small paintings and small prints of my photos taken by iPhone. They are super cool :)

I wish you a beautiful weekend and maybe we see at Ryti-house tomorrow!


xoxo
Kreetta

ps. Christmas Market is on Saturday 11.12. from 11 am to 17 pm address Raskalantie 218, Huittinen. See the FB event here.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY WITH A SMART PHONE - COMPOSITION

LEADING THE EYE

I decided to continue writing about smart phone photography. In my last blog post I went through 6 tips about how you can make your smart phone photography even better. If you haven't read the previous blog post you will find it here. I decided to go through all the tips one by one. Explain it a bit more depth. Today I write about composition.

Last time I wrote shortly about it like this:
 
"This is very important. Rule of thirds, negative space, diagonals, leading the eye...there are plenty of things to consider but most important especially in Instagram is to simplify. You are looking either at someone's single pic or at someone's grid in small size on your phone. You will decide in matter of seconds, will you or will you not follow this feed. Not only one pic has to be good but all those pics have to be good as a grid. It is a good idea to keep things simple. Begin your composition with your main subject. Add or arrange things as long as you find the balance."

ODD NUMBERS 
I guess with this you are very familiar. When building an interesting composition this works very well. Amount of fruits, plates, ingredients etc. 1, 3, 5 looks better than 2, 4, 6 like you see above. 

GROUPING
Make groups from things you are photographing like above. I have group of two (herbs) and group of three (herbs, seeds, mushrooms). All together they are also odd numbers like seed pods are too.

RULE OF THIRDS
I think this one is the hardest for me to explain. Because I don't think about it at all. It is somewhere deep in my brain. But it means "the pic is divided into nine equal parts by two equally spaced horizontal lines and two equally spaced vertical lines, and that important compositional elements should be placed along these lines or their intersections." (Wikipedia) In pic above my bowl of dried sage is in one intersection like mushrooms too. The linen napkin's edge is also in right upper intersection.

NEGATIVE SPACE
Nothing to look at? Very important area. It shapes forms around the subject. It's as important as the subject. Without it there isn't a rythm or direction in the pic. Above pic there are negative spaces between the two group, inside the frame, between subjects.

LINES AND CIRCLES
You can build your pic with help of thinking of shapes like triangle, circle, square, cylinder, rectangles, polygon etc. For us it is easier to follow familiar shapes. When we are talking about leading the eye the work is done by lines and shapes. In Instagram photography it is better to trust more simple way of buliding pics so they are often very flat and have quite simple composition. You can also lead the eye with technical camera things like depth of field. But when you are photographing with smart phone that is hard to do, that's why it is important to have a good composition to keep the pic interesting.

BREAKING THE RULES
After you know all these - you can forget them. See the pic below. Which rules I broke?


I hope you find this useful and interesting. I'm sure there are plenty of things still untold but I'm sure you will take a nice step ahead with your smart phone photography. These pics are all taken with iPhone and during this time of the year - we don't have so much light so that too makes this kind of photography more challenging.

I hope you have a great week ahead of you!

xoxo
Kreetta 

ps. These tips are useful in general when talking about photography.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

HOW TO MAKE A BEAUTIFUL PHOTOGRAPHY FOR INSTAGRAM FEED?

FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY WITH A SMART PHONE

iPhone pic by Kreetta Järvenpää www.gretchengretchen.com
Instagram is more popular than ever before. Are you there already? If not - should you? If you are - what kind of feed you have? If you feel you should do better you might like to read following tips I'm blogging here today. How to get a better looking Instagram feed photographed on your smart phone. I think it is possible, you don't have to have a real camera. 

The bottom line in every media is storytelling. What kind of story you want to tell? This time I'm not telling you how you should tell your story, I'm telling you how should you use your smart phone to take beautiful pics to tell your story.

I have iPhone and I use VSCO app and lately I've tried a bit of Afterlight too. All these pics in this post I've photographed with iPhone.
 
iPhone pic by Kreetta Järvenpää www.gretchengretchen.com
There are few ground rules to remember when working with smart phone.

1. Lighting

Avoid difficult lighting conditions. In other words too dark and too harsh light. I recommend shooting in natural light. Make sure you don't photograph in straight sun light. Smart phone isn't the best in difficult conditions so make them easy - you have a chance to succeed. So find a shadow, photograph on gray day or diffuse the light with white fabric, white paper or block the light with neutral color cardboard (white, grey, black)

Find the direction of light. Easy test is just to look at where the shadow falls from your hand on a surface. Usually I prefer that the shadow in the picture is somewhere else than above the subject but I have seen that done too. I think the rules are meant to be broken. (but before that it is good to know what you are breaking) Avoid the light that makes sharp shadow - we want soft light. We want soft shadow. The hand test tells you if it is a good place to photograph with your phone.

2. Location

Location is very important. If you don't have a good location where the light is good and surroundings are fine then you have to create it. You follow the light. I'm photographing mainly still life and food with my iPhone so the space I need isn't so big. I can build the place where I photograph on the table, on the floor, on the terrace, on the ground where ever I have a good light. Try to find a good place at your home, office, workspace, garden - wherever the light is good. Use that spot. You can make your pic there. I use same places at home and at workspace.

3. Time

Yup. You need time to make photos. You get faster the more you do it. But it also happens to professionals that nothing just happens...if you know what I mean. Well, it is important also to let go and try again later or next day. It might also help if you can work together with someone who is also interested about same subject as you are. Make something together and see what happens.
4. Style
Learning by doing is such a cliché but it is a very good way to get better. Also I recommend you to watch what other people are doing. You can learn a lot only by looking at other people's work. How do they do it? I trust odd numbers. Remember you have to be careful with colors. With styling you can build a certain feeling to your pics. Do you want to go with certain colors, composition, subject, cropping or angle of view.


5. Composition
This is very important. Rule of thirds, negative space, diagonals, leading the eye...there are plenty of things to consider but most important especially in Instagram is to simplify. You are looking either at someone's single pic or at someone's grid in small size on your phone. You will decide in matter of seconds, will you or will you not follow this feed. Not only one pic has to be good but all those pics have to be good as a grid. It is a good idea to keep things simple. Begin your composition with your main subject. Add or arrange things as long as you find the balance.

6. Edit
What do you do to your picture is very important. Cropping happens here. I recommend to try manual photo processing first and if you want to use filters, that should be the last thing to do, and I never use filter 100%. Just enough to make a difference. But as I said rules are meant to be broken - always.


iPhone pic by Kreetta Järvenpää www.gretchengretchen.com
I hope you haven't got too overwhelmed by all these things I've been telling you. One thing at a time. Forcing is never the right answer. Give time to your creative process.   

Here are a few beautiful instafeeds you might like to check.

Our Food Stories
Local Milk 
Fröken Skicklig 
Cannelle et Vanille  
Mimi Brune (only iPhone)


Most of all - have fun!

xoxo
Kreetta 

ps....I notice that all these tips could be worth writing a blog post. Have to think about it.


Friday, October 16, 2015

GLUTEN FREE AND DAIRY FREE PEAR CAKE

PEAR + ALMOND + WALNUT

pear cake  photo by Kreetta Järvenpää blog: www.gretchengretchen.com
How I adore these small pears! I've been telling everybody that now you can get Finnish pears - go and get them before they ran out or the season is over. 
  
pear cake  photo by Kreetta Järvenpää blog: www.gretchengretchen.com

I decided to bake a pear cake with same recipe I made a plum cake. I got the recipe from Nigel Slater's beautiful cooking book The Kitchen Diaries. It is my absolutely fave book as I told you in previous blog post where I told you about pork ribs we made with my husband from this very same book.

pear cake  photo by Kreetta Järvenpää blog: www.gretchengretchen.com

Gluten free and dairy free baking has been very challenging for me. It is always hard to get very good and moist result...until I found oat flour from grocery shop. It's only what it is called - oat. Nothing else added.

pear cake  photo by Kreetta Järvenpää blog: www.gretchengretchen.com


PEAR CAKE RECIPE BY KREETTA (changing/using recipe from Nigel Slater's plum cake/The Kitchen Diaries book)

6-7 small pears
butter 150g
indian sugar 150g
eggs 3
oat flour 75g (gluten free)
baking powder 1 1/2 teaspoons
ground almond 100g
shelled walnuts 50g

You need a 20cm cake tin, about 6cm deep. Bake in 180 'C degrees about 35-45min.

Chop the walnuts and almonds. Beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Cut the pears at least in three but if you make them smaller they get more soft and that I recommend. Mine were too big so they could have been more softer...but in photograph they look very nice ;) Mix flour+baking powder and add them gently into the mixture. Fold almonds and walnuts into the mixture. 

Scrape the mixture into the cake tin. Place the pear pieces on the cake mixture. They will sink so it might not be so precise how you do it. Bake the cake. It's quite big so it's for 10-12 people.

pear cake  photo by Kreetta Järvenpää blog: www.gretchengretchen.com

When you are photographing food, it is good to know when it should be done. This time it was the right moment to photograph the cake before it went to oven. After that it changed color to brown - even though it's it ok and pretty - I think I like the green pears more.

pear cake  photo by Kreetta Järvenpää blog: www.gretchengretchen.com


This cake is tasty and moist. You can serve it with vanilla ice cream or without. I think you can also serve it people without saying it's gluten and dairy free. One cake for all. Of course if there are people with peanut allergy or they are vegan - then you have to change the plan. My piece of cake is on my favorite plate by Arabia. Of course it's vintage and the design is called Maisema (Landscape).

Have a great and creative weekend!

xoxo
Kreetta
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