Jonathan and Melissa Helser | On the Shores

Monday, February 27, 2012 Posted in Personal 

Have you ever met someone that you can't help but to thank God for every time you think of them? Well, that's how I feel about Jonathan and Melissa Helser. There are not enough words in the English dictionary to sum up the depths of my love for this couple. Their worship has led me to the feet of my heavenly Father time and time again, and this past weekend I had the honor of photographing their cd release. The concert was held at the Carolina Theatre, in downtown Greensboro. Stephen Roach and Luke Skaggs (with Songs of Water) kicked off the evening. (You HAVE to check out their music...I can't even describe how amazing it is.) Then, John Mark McMillan took it up to a whole new level. (I've listened to John Mark's music for well over 10 yrs. It was fun getting to worship with him again...especially with my camera as well). Then the rest of the evening is a blur of Awesomeness...dancing, crying, singing, laughing. The emotions you experience at a Helser worship gathering never ceases to amaze me. The Helsers played all 12 songs of their new cd, On the Shores, (a record for them), and by the end of the evening, all the weight I had been carrying on my shoulders had been lifted. My favorite part of the evening was being able to worship God with not only my voice, but with my camera as well. Since I was shooting for the fun of it, I had the time and freedom to be intentional with my compositions, and stepped out of my comfort zone and shot only in b&w. The creativity that I experienced was like a breath of fresh air. (It kind of made me want to start shooting bands on the side.)

Here are a couple of my favorite images from the night...

Side note: The Helsers lead worship at For the Love Workshop. We are getting SOOO very close to releasing the details. Like, within-the-next-week close.

Sold out Theatre!

Stephen Roach with Songs of Water.

John Mark McMillan

I love the way Melissa dances with wreckless abandon.

One of my favorites of Jonathan

Molly Skaggs (piano) and Melissa Helser

Luke Skaggs (guitar) and Joel Case (drums)

Chris Comfort (synth and bass)

Jake Stevens (electric guitar)

Head over to iTunes to purchase On the Shores by Jonathan David Helser and Melissa Helser.

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  1. chris miller Mar 5th, 2012 9:07PM

    These photographs are incredible Ginny. I didn't have the pleasure of meeting you that Saturday night, but I look forward to the day when I do. I have only heard beautiful things from both Jonathan and Melissa. Bless you!

  2. Mike Feb 28th, 2012 2:38PM

    LOVE. LOVE. LOVE. I just died and went to heaven. Your work never ceases to amaze me, Ginny. All B&W was a total win. Stunning. Absolutely stunning. I'm thinking your pursuit of bands on the side would be a very good thing.

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Instagram | Favorite Things Friday

Thursday, February 9, 2012 Posted in Personal 

Chase Jarvis says, "The best camera is the one that's with you." As a photographer, I am all about capturing the split second of time that will be treasured forever. Unfortunately, I don't carry my big camera around with me all the time to capture all the spontaneous things that I get to experience on a day to day basis. But what I do have is my iPhone and Instagram. Instagram is an app that allows me to take a photo, apply a vintage filter to it, and share it with all my friends. I have taken hundreds of Instagram photos, and every one of them is a split second of my life that I'll only relive through the photos.

"The best camera is the one that's with you."
~Chase Jarvis

Canon Beach, OR

Silly faces with my nephews

My sweet niece and I

An unforgettable ride on a ferris wheel with my friend, Todd.

Storm in Chicago

Crater Lake with the Youngrens, Stotts, and Keary

Somewhere in Oregon

Waiting for the fog to clear at Crater Lake

San Diego Sunset

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Coffee Roasting | Favorite Things Friday

Friday, February 3, 2012 Posted in Personal 

I really missed blogging this week. Which is a feeling I haven't felt in a long time. So, I'm excited to kick off this new tradition. We'll call it "Favorite Things Friday". I got the idea from a Christmas card I received from Trent and Dara. They are my dear friends in NYC. In their Christmas card, they photographed all of their favorite things. It was so neat checking out what each of them loved. So, earlier this week, I thought it would be a great way for me to celebrate Fridays. I will post about everything from my favorite apps to my favorite books, and all sorts of things in between. This week, I wanted to share with you one of my favorite hobbies. Coffee Roasting.

Coffee Roasting

If you tuned in last week, you saw my step by step guide to how I make French Press coffee. This week, I wanted to show you how I roast my own coffee. I'm not an expert on the subject, and this post will by no means cover the in-depth topic of home roasting. However, I will include links throughout this post to the articles I read that got me started. I have to credit Sweet Marias and Beaty Bass for teaching me everything I know.

My History in Coffee Roasting

I started roasting 3 years ago with a stovetop popcorn popper and a thermometer. It was the cheapest way to start this hobby, and it taught me to use my senses to tell what stage of the roasting process I was in at all times. Since the lid of my stovetop popper was always closed, I couldn't tell when the roast was done just by the color of the beans. I learned to tell by the smell of the smoke and the sound of the cracking. If you're interested in starting to roast your beans using this method, then click here. You'll learn all that you need to know to get started....and it's super cheap.

Then, last year, Beaty sold me one of his used coffee roasters. I jumped at the offer, because the smell of the smoke would saturate our house for at least a day after roasting indoors. With my new coffee roaster, I was able to roast outside, and I didn't have to hand-rotate the beans throughout the whole process....I could start the machine and play on Instagram until they were ready to go. Here's a link to some drum roasters like I have.

My Process

Last week, it took me forever to write the steps on top of the photos. So, this week, I'm just going to upload the photos and write the steps underneath.

First, you'll need a coffee roaster. I have the Gene Cafe Roaster.

You'll also need 2 colanders, an oven mitt, and green coffee beans. My all time favorite is Guatemalan Huehuetenango. I also prefer beans from the Indonesian region. (You can buy your beans from Sweet Marias).

Fill up your drum with unroasted coffee.

I set my temperature on 482 degrees and set the timer on 17 minutes. However, I don't rely on the timer to tell me when my roast is ready. When it's ready, I manually stop the machine. Don't'll see what I'm talking about. It goes without saying, but make sure you press "Start".

After a few minutes, the beans will emit a grassy smell, and they will start turning yellow. Here's a picture guide to show you the different degrees of roasts.

You'll start noticing that as your beans turn from yellow to light brown, there will be flaky outer layer that will start to appear around your beans. This is called chaff. At this point, I'm no longer playing around on facebook and Instagram. I start sitting attentively by my coffee roaster, paying close attention to the sounds and smells of "First Crack".

First crack happens around 400 degrees. It sounds a lot like popcorn popping. What you're hearing is the coffee bean rapidly expanding, which starts releasing chaff. After First Crack, you can technically remove the beans and enjoy a nice light roasted batch of coffee. However, I prefer a rich cup of coffee. I like deep chocolate and caramel flavors So, I see my roast through to the Second Crack.

Here's what chaff looks like. You'll notice at First Crack, a lot of chaff starts flying out and the smoke takes on a smoky smell.

Here comes the most important part...

First crack will last anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute. After that, there will be a period of 30s-1 minute where not much is happening. All of the sudden, the smoke will increase in intensity and will start pouring out of the machine as a light blue color. The smell will change to a richer coffee-like smell. Then, you will hear, what seems distant at first, but more prevalent as time passes, a light crackle. This is Second Crack. The difference between the sound of First Crack and Second, is that the First Crack sounds like popcorn and Second Crack sounds like Rice Krispies.

About 15 seconds into Second Crack, I press the emergency stop button, grab the drum (with an oven mitt), and pour the smoking beans into a colander. Then I pour the beans from colander to colander for about 2 minutes. This cools down the beans rapidly and lets the extra chaff blow away in the wind.

After two minutes of tossing the beans back and forth, I pour the beans onto a cooking sheet to cool off even more.

Final Product

**Jazzy-cat couldn't handle the jar of coffee getting more attention than her. So, she had to jump in the photo.

Last Notes:

  • Right after the coffee is roasted, beans will release massive amounts of CO2. I go ahead and put them in a jar, but I don't seal the jar for 12 hrs.
  • Coffee achieves it's peak flavors in between 4-24 hrs. However, if you put them in an airtight jar, they are good for 6 days.
Thanks for tuning in. If you're a home coffee roaster and have any other tips, then please leave a comment below :)
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  1. e cigarettes amazon Sep 12th, 2014 8:11PM

    I blog quite often and I truly thank you for your content. Your article has truly peaked my interest. I will bookmark your site and keep checking for new information about once a week. I opted in for your Feed as well.

  2. John Feb 28th, 2012 9:10PM

    Thanks for getting Lil and me started on roasting. We have really enjoyed it, and we love trying different beans.

  3. ~marci Feb 3rd, 2012 5:56PM

    Good stuff Ginny! Wish I were closer to join you for a cup of that coffee :-)

  4. Katie Feb 3rd, 2012 12:13PM

    Thanks for sharing!! I can't wait to start roasting my own coffee! :)

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