A cup of Joe

The best part of waking up… Who are we kidding, the only thing getting us up is COFFEE. So many of our morning routines require a cup of java before anything else can be done. The rich scent arouses our senses before the first sip

But how does the delightful brew become the caffeinated fuel running our day to day? It all starts with a tiny seed originally discovered in Ethiopia. There is a lot of skill required to take a simple bean and turn it into a delicious cup of coffee.

We had the chance to work with Leslie Mah, the roaster and head of operations for Sudden Coffee, to represent her field for our project, Women’s Work.  

Leslie Mah

Leslie’s passion for coffee has brewed since she was a child and channeled that interest into a thriving career which is quite a feat in a male-dominated industry. In 2012, “Roast” Magazine conducted a survey that found only 13 percent of professional roasters were female.

“You can’t taste the gender of who roasted the coffee. That always just made me laugh. I don’t taste a cup of coffee and go, ‘Wow. That’s a male perspective’.”

Leslie Mah

Leslie faced many challenges when she first starting her career. However, she quickly began to understand the nuance of being close to the roaster and soon was in sync with the machine.

Soon she became flexible and understood that every coffee has its own personality. A roaster helps the bean express itself through patience and a trained palate. Neither of those traits depends on gender. In 2016 Leslie proved how precise her pallet is with her 2nd place win at the US Cup Tasters Championship.

“I wanna stay in coffee. I wanna be in coffee no matter what. And I want to continue to use my palate and my love of sharing taste with the world. If I could, I would roast forever.”

Leslie Mah

We find that so many times women are denied even the chance to prove their skills. A woman’s inability to lift a 150 lb bag of coffee beans over their head doesn’t prevent them from creating a delightful cup of Joe and Leslie is proving that fact everyday.

Leslie Mah – Women’s Work

Sugar Rush

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there. The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugar plums danced in their heads.

But, who are the creators of those delectable treats? It’s not the cheerful St. Nick with a little round belly, that shakes when he laughs like a bowlful of jelly. The magical sweets are created by the Candymaker, also known as a Confectioner. These sugar-rush masters make it difficult to settle our brains for a long winter’s nap. They have the ability to take simple ingredients, the right amount of time and heat to manifest treats we literally dream of!

A career that is fueled by a love of sugar is not meant for everyone. We asked Candymaker, Davina Soondrum aka @misswonka, what inspired her to venture down the path of sweets.

Davina Soondrum aka @misswonka

I could not think of anything more addictive than making others happy by something I created.

Davina Soondrum

She is a self-proclaimed sugar pusher at heart and found inspiration from such icons as Sylvia Weinstock,

Royal Wedding: Sweet Endings with Sylvia Weinstock

Jacques Torres from the PBS show Dessert Circus,

Dessert Circus with Jacques Torres

and Marcel Desaulniers, author of “Death by Chocolate”.

Death by Chocolate

These three idols, however, did not spark the sweet tooth within Davina. They just encourage it. Roald Dahl’s whimsical tale of a young boy and his adventure in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was what excited her passion for confections.

Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

This fantastical tale ignited Davina’s imagination and will forever be the catalyst of her career.

I am the maker of music, the dreamer of dreams

Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

When we first met Davina she was a candymaker at Shane’s Confectionery but has since then moved on.

Shane Confectionery

Today she creates delightful goodies as the pastry chef at Lacroix while simultaneously working on her pet project called “Hey, Sugar”.  With her personal confectionery circus where she see herself as the ringmaster. “Hey, Sugar” allows her to research and develop chocolate bars, infused cotton candy sugar, hand pulled sugar confections, and gummies. YUMMY!

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There are exciting things to come from Davina and we can’t wait to try all over her tasty treats.

Happy Holidays from the Crisman Team!

We love local

Ready! Set! Black Friday! When the last plate is cleared from the Thanksgiving table that is when some of us start knocking out that Christmas list. If you are like most of us you do a lot of your shopping while sitting on your couch. You quickly swipe through items to purchase and with a touch of your finger your list is complete. But, how do you find unique presents for someone equally unique? Well, we recommend Peg and Awl. A Philadelphia based company owned by wife and husband duo Margaux and Walter Kent. Their shop from the heart has a wonderful catalog of carefully crafted standout items. Each item created out of repurposed material. They rescue neglected treasures and reinvent them into products that can be used in your everyday life.

As you might have guessed, Peg and Awl was a shop from the heart. Born out of the need for Margaux and Walter to create. Their individual passions came together to bring Peg and Awl to life. At first, it was for themselves but then quickly became something for everyone. The practical objects like Waxed Canvas Tote or The Marlowe Lunch Bag ( a few of us in the office have one!) have become popular staples that fit well into everyday life. After asking around the office we created the team’s must-have list! We hope you enjoy our picks.

Peg and Awl – Apothecary Cabinet

Apothecary Cabinet
A long time ago I realized I need to go vertical with my storage. I just have too much stuff. The beautiful Apothecary Cabinet adds unique shelving to any wall in your house. Its versatile design allows me to place it anywhere. It could go in the kitchen and hold all of my spices. It could live on my bedroom wall and store all of my aromatherapy oils… I told you I have a lot of stuff!

Noel Pattani, Production Coordinator
Peg and Awl – Bathtub Caddy

Bathtub Caddy
After several days on the road (which just happened), there is nothing that can set you right again then a hot, relaxing soak with a glass of tasty wine. The Bathtub Caddy keeps your glass and scented candle safe and dry as you dunk your head under the water to hide from the world.

Robert Luessen, Producer
Peg and Awl – All Black Weekender

All Black Weekender

Between work and my hobbies I find myself throwing my life into a bag. The All Black Weekender makes travel a little bit easier. Its versatile shape allows for easy storage. We all know how crammed overhead compartments can be. This durable duffle bag is meant to endure years of seeing the sights. I picture me and this bag aging well together.

Micheal Ryan, Photography Assistant
Peg and Awl – Shanty Man Log Carrier

Shanty Man Log Carrier

When I first saw a log carrier product, there was a bit of smh. As I’ve previously communicated, I grew up in the woods. I’ve been cutting firewood since kindergarten and I love the entire process. Nighttime gatherings of firewood have once again begun at our house. The general idea of grabbing wood from outside, carrying it in, and stacking it inside was feeling a bit off. You can only carry so much before you’re cradling it against your body.  In the end, you’re either with a dirty shirt or a cold house from too many small log runs. Now I get it – I really need this Peg and Awl log carrier. Actually… I just ordered it.

Chris Crisman, Photographer

Happy Holidays from the Crisman Team!!!


Drinks that we are thankful for

By Robert Luessen

I’m not sure if it’s the food or the festivities, but Thanksgiving has always held the top spot on my list of holidays. There’s something that resonates for me about bringing together people to share a meal without the pretense of gift-giving or extracurricular celebration. It also helps that Thanksgiving is by far the best eating and drinking holiday on the calendar.

Photo taken by Jillian Guyette

Not that I have a ton of free hours in the day to devote to holiday preparations, but I always manage to carve out (pun intended) the time to devote to cooking a feast for my friends and family. These coveted seats at the table have no shortage of fine wine or tasty cuisine. Years ago, long before I helmed the entire Thanksgiving dinner I cut my teeth by helping in the kitchen.

Naturally helping in the kitchen came with a drink. For as long as I can remember, at the start of every Thanksgiving, my aunt or uncle would mix up a batch of Poinsettias to get the day started. I wish I knew the origin of this drink to my family’s holiday. I have a sneaking suspicion it falls into the same category of all well revered holiday mainstays; someone started it, no one can remember who or why, and nobody cares. Thanksgiving morning isn’t itself without one:

Poinsettia Cocktail

  • 1 oz Vodka
  • 3 oz Cranberry Juice
  • 1/2 cup Champagne
  • 1 strip Orange Zest
  • Crushed ice

Combine ice, vodka, and cranberry juice in a rocks glass. Stir to chill and top with champagne. Garnish with orange zest. Enjoy and refresh a maximum of two times before dinner, no more, no less.

That said, sometimes the holidays can feel more like a marathon than a sprint. Whether it’s days stuck at home with family whom you may not agree politically or socially, or you’re actually busting your butt to cook two Thanksgiving dinners for almost 40 people in 72 hours (something I may be all too familiar with and everything is fine). Multi-day affairs in my opinion call for either a lower octane option like beer or an easy drinking lower alcohol option like an aperitif. A drink that will waft you through the day (or multiple) without regret. Take it easy and try a Lillet Highball:

Rosemary Lillet Highball

  • 2 oz Lillet Blanc
  • Soda water
  • 1 sprig Rosemary
  • Crushed ice

Combine ice and Lillet in a collins glass. Stir to chill and top with soda water. Garnish with a rosemary sprig. Keep on refreshing this and you’re good to go.

Despite my calls for moderation and pacing, I can’t argue that at the end of the evening there is always time for brown liquor. Once the desserts have been served and the dishes are washed then it’s time to break out the good stuff. Below are some of my recommendations for after meal sippers

Whiskey try Hibiki Suntory
Bourbon try Michter’s 
Scotch try Balvenie Doublewood 12 yrs
Brandy try
Copper & King’s Butchertown 
Cognac try Hennessy VS
Aged Tequilla try Don Julio 1942

 One should always save room for the last sip of the night.

Robert Luessen
Photo taken by Jillian Guyette


Personal Work – A cure for what ails you

By Chris Crisman

Did anyone play the lottery this week? Our team certainly did and a $10 ticket turned out to be less about the chance of winning a gazillion decimal points. It became a time to share the possibilities of a future. Some of us would shut it down and coast, some of us would devise a plan to share the wealth and give back to everyone that could use it, some of us simply dreamt of just taking a break. It’s a tantalizing exercise to contemplate the opportunities you could have, the challenges that would arise, and just how you would find ways to balance it all.

We are approached to work on so many jobs and it is hard to deny the randomness to how each year shakes out for us. We try to move forward on as many opportunities as possible and they need to have the right values to do so. When looking back on a year we seem to strike the right balance of projects. To be able to find creative fulfillment and financial stability with our work. Sometimes we are presented with a special Unicorn project that we dream of working on but no matter how much we fight for the job it still gets away. Even though you think you have dominance of the situation, there will always be a number of variables that are out of your control. Embracing this reality has really kept me from going insane.

Another aspect of our work that helps balance the inevitable presence of impending insanity – personal work. It is as easy as putting a pin on a map. Just you and your camera traveling to beautiful locations can be unpredictable magic waiting to happen. 

 Alternatively, you can dedicate your time and other resources to hone in on exactly what it is you want to express; this is my preferred method. With these projects – or singular images – you can easily give you and your team back the control, vision, taste, and your calendar that often seems out of your hands.

It all sounds simple, but I still struggle. I struggle with the where, the when, and the how. I struggle with whether I am choosing the right concept or idea to focus on. Will the small detail of a coat on the guy actually ruin an otherwise perfect image? Above all else, I struggle with the why. If I make this picture, will anyone care? Will it inspire someone who sees it? Anyone? Beyond all else, is there a chance that this work could possibly change the way people see the world? I think about all of this with every project that I undertake – especially the ones where I am able to have complete control of the end result.

I’ve already mentioned embracing randomness- this idea goes both for things you can and can’t control. Alt-country artist Sturgill Simpson who was right when he said, “Some days you kill it, some days you just choke”. The reality in this sentiment rings clear for me. I won’t always be a winner, but If I keep my head down and focus clear, I will continue to find a balance throughout my career. One last thing, don’t spend more than $10 playing the lottery, even if I’m sayin’ there’s a chance.

THAT ONE TIME WE WENT TO PRISON

A long narrow hallway lined with tiny barred cells enclosing angry men flinging obscenities is what we expected to find at a maximum security male prison. The entertainment industry depicts the American correctional system as a scary place. So, when we were given the opportunity to enter Oregon State Penitentiary we were filled with excitement and a bit of concern.

As you might have guessed, entering a prison is no easy task. There are several obstacles to navigate in order to be approved for entry. First off, background check for all members of the entire crew. Second, a thoroughly vetted equipment list. This list was scrutinized and whittled down three times. Each list included visuals of what was included. A location like this is only possible with the use of battery powered lights. Without them, it would be difficult to get down to three bags. 

The third obstacle was squeezing two portrait subjects into a tight schedule during the facility lockdown. We reviewed the Tour Guidelines for visitors which informed us of their hostage policy that states there are inherent risks in visiting a correctional facility. After several weeks of back and forth with Oregon State Penitentiary, everything was set and ready to go.

Oregon State Penitentiary is nestled in the sleepy town of Salem. Driving through the town you wouldn’t expect a maximum security prison would live just up the road. If there was a maximum security prison, you wouldn’t expect it to be lined with large, lush trees and meticulously maintained landscaping. The stark difference from the picturesque greenery and the castle-like exterior of the prison is striking. We stood on the steps of the Oregon State Penitentiary with nothing but our gear, our IDs and just a little bit of nerves.

Once inside we went through a series security checkpoints. Every step of the process was efficient. The staff was friendly and helpful through it all. We quickly moved to our first location and set up to shoot in cell block D. Once we were in the heart of the facility, it was evident how calm and quiet space it was. Unlike our chaotic expectations, we felt comfortable in the space. Of course, there was a bit of excitement buzzing around, we were a photo crew, something completely out of the ordinary. Even with our unusual presence the men lounged in their brightly colored cells patiently waiting for the lockdown to end.

Our first subject was Megan Lowe, a Corporal Correction Officer at OSP. She began her career at the Oregon State Correctional Institution (OSCI) in 2014. She was inspired by her father to follow a career in correction. Megan’s petite frame was weighed down by the required gear but her presence was enormous. Watching her walk down the block you saw her confident control in the space. She was one of the reasons we felt so safe there. She provides the order needed for peace.

We spent a few short but fulfilling moments with Megan. She allowed us to collaborate in her domain and we could not have asked for a smoother experience. Wrapping up in the housing block it was time to pack up and move on to our next location to meet Patrice, another staff member of OSP.  She is also doing amazing things but that is another story for another time.

To Be Continued…


Do you want to know what I did last summer?

I’ve always felt connected to trees. I grew up surrounded by them and being an only child in a relatively remote area, I will always call them my friends. We heated our home with wood throughout the duration of my childhood. The interesting part of that is that we never cut down a living tree. You see, my father had the responsibility of managing a large forest parcel adjacent to our land which was owned by a family that lived about 300 miles away from us. They chose to have this land logged twice during my upbringing. When a tree is harvested, the loggers are usually only interested in the stock of the tree. what’s left behind is a normally a very significant part of the tree consisting of a variety of small to large limbs.

Titusville, Pa

In the spring of 2016, I was back home visiting my folks with my son, Calvin. One afternoon, Calvin and I decided to go on a long walk of exploring on my parents’ property. The great motivation for my son was to search for salamanders near our creek, Indian Run. On the way back from the creek I saw what I thought was a large fallen tree in the distance. We navigated closer to find an enormous Red Oak that had rotted near its base and had been forced to the forest floor by a significant wind storm.

Fallen tree and Calvin for size

My first impression of this fallen giant was its sheer enormity. It really was quite big and it appeared to have taken down another dozen trees in its descent. Another thing I noticed quickly was how beautifully clean it was for about the first 20 feet from the ground. After a few minutes of admiring the tree and of course taking some photos of the monster,  I decided to head back home and engage my father on our find.

Dad and Calvin examining the Red Oak

My dad was certainly interested in the tree and had a vague recollection of hearing an enormous crash in the woods a few months prior. He journeyed back out with us to examine the tree and he realized that this was the largest tree on his property.

Dad next to a cutting of the Red Oak

Fantasizing for a moment, I told him that I thought this tree could be preserved and given a second life through milling and repurposing the slabs, boards, or any other way you might want to craft it. He agreed and we wasted no time in beginning a process that one could only describe as a labor of love.

Fallen giant

You’re probably wondering why I’m telling you a story about cutting up a tree.  Well, over the past decade I’ve found that diversifying my creative outlets has always led to growth in my photography and it’s creative expression.  The clearest example of this was in 2008 when the economy went through the great recession. Business slowed and instead of sitting around and waiting for the phone to ring, my wife and I chose to renovate our kitchen and the first floor of our house. Through this process, I was forced to make design decisions in a creative realm that was quite foreign to me. With my wife as a guiding light, I was forced to have an opinion on everything we chose to create in that house. I began to reflect on how those decisions could influence my photography and the design that it was packaged within. The tree milling process is quite similar and will force me to learn and grow in a creative space that is foreign to me.

Julianna

Back to what we actually did this summer. In a perfect world, this tree would have fallen on level ground that was easily accessible by a log skidder. In reality, this tree was on a hillside and if I wanted to drag it out of the woods I would at least need to take out a dozen healthy trees to drag it out of the woods. I hated that idea. Being someone who is willing to compromise, compelled to follow through on a goal, and always up for a challenge I decided to find a way. The solution was a chainsaw with a very long bar and a contraption known as a Granberg Alaskan Mill.

Alaskan Mill Starter Kit

As you can see, this device looks something like a metal shop experiment gone wrong. It really was the right solution. 

Handling this machine is nothing short of grueling. It took me about an hour to cut each of the 8 slabs you see. My body was wrecked after just one cut and I made a number of mistakes along the way. 

After milling the last slab of the first of two major chunks of the tree, my father and I still had to get the slabs out of the woods. Fortunately, my father has always owned a reliable tractor and a much more reliable trailer. Gravity helped us the most at this stage of the game and after about 5 hard hours of difficult labor, we finally got these 14’ beasts out of the woods.

Dad with his trusty trailer

The process has been quite rewarding. I still have a long road to go in finishing the conversion process, but when it happens I will surely be proud to show off the results.

Calvin and the 14′ cuts of the Red Oak

To be continued…