Friday, August 31, 2012

August's Prompt Contest Winning Entry

"SilverBill" Bill Tillman
Congratulations Bill Tillman, on winning our August prompt contest. Bill's first short story is due out on Amazon Kindle in early September. Campfire Tales includes two tales from the Tohono O'Odtham (Desert People) nation, just southwest of Tucson in the Sonora Desert.

Here is the winning entry: A billow of French erupted from the kitchen area of The Blue Boiling Point Café. Lydia knew that meant one thing. Gérard, the executive chef, had boiled something to non-edible. The passionate Frenchman would now storm around his kitchen with red ears. The ears were always a sign of: MAD CHEF ON THE BOIL, as if painted on his barrel like chest.

Far worse the lobsters would be in a very snappy mode, endangering all the understudy chefs with possible loss of an important digit. It all started with moon eyed Michele, her heart was captured by bumbling Bérnard the busboy. Oh yes, Bérnard was indeed handsome and built like a Chicago Bear. Which in fact of a trail broken dishware, bent cutlery and such had earned him the name of Bérnard Bear. 

Now Gérard had spied Bérnard fiddling with the range knobs! The natural conclusion was that Bérnard had turned up the heat on the lobsters. Poor Bérnard had only wiped the knob because it was smeared with tomato paste.

“But, but, but Master Chef Gérard I only wiped the knob because it was covered in red tomato paste.” Pleaded Bérnard as he towered a foot above Chef Gérard and shuffled from foot to foot.

What! Someone has not washed their hands before handling food or cooking instruments! It had to Héctor, Chef Gérard’s cousin. Héctor had a bad habit of sampling everything by thumb when no one was looking.

“Héctor!” Bellowed Gérard, the executive chef. “What have you done to my precious lobsters?” Héctor looked panicked, his head swung from side to side looking for a place to escape. “Uncle Gérard I just turned down the water the poor lobsters were going to boil. I would not want it on my conscience to have murdered the lobsters.”

With a great sigh Gérard stood up straight and addressed his nephew. “Héctor, you did not turn the knob down or off. What you did was to turn to the right, thus turning the knob to maximum. Why you worried about the lobsters being boiled? The are not to be eaten unless they have been boiled to perfection.”

“This is how our customers want their lobsters, boiled and half shelled!” Gérard squeaked in the voice of one driven to exasperation. “This is not a shelter for lost lobsters, non, non mon ami this is where people come to eat famous Blue Boiling Point Café seafood cuisine.”

“I know uncle, but it just seems unfair to the lobsters. No one asked them if they wanted to be someone’s lunch or dinner. They have a right to live free of human cannibals.” Héctor pleaded with his uncle with hopeful eyes brimming with unshed tears.

“Héctor I am going to send you on a Lobster boat tomorrow, I want you to see the hard work it takes to catch lobsters. Then you can tell me what you think. Okay?” Gérard said gently to Héctor, he wanted him to understand about catching & eating lobsters.

Bill Tillman
Christian YA Historical 

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This could be you next month! Be watching for our prompts, usually found at the end of our Tuesday posts. Using the prompt, write a short, short story in our comments section. You can enter each week during the month, using that week's prompt. At the end of the month, a winner will be chosen. The winning short story will be showcased in our final post of the month. 
We request that winners wait at least a month before entering another contest.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Food & Restaurant Critic versus Cookbook Author/ Prompt Contest Winner!

One of my favorite shows on the Food Network is Chopped, a reality-based cooking television series. Four chefs have short periods of time to create luscious meals from outrageous ingredients. Three judges from the world of food judge and critic their dishes on different criteria. Whoever doesn’t “cut” it is chopped or doesn’t advance to the next round. This sparked my interest in food critics.
Also, as the proud owner of a shelf full of books about cooking, I wonder how you would go about creating a best-selling cookbook. Who writes all the cookbooks we see at the local bookstore or on Amazon? Which would be the best career for the character in your next novel, cookbook author or critic?
The terms food critic, food writer, and restaurant critic can all be used to describe a writer who analyzes food or restaurants and then publishes the results of their findings. While these terms are not strictly synonymous they are often used interchangeably. Those who share their opinions via food columns in newspapers and magazines are known as food columnists.
Food critics and "restaurant critic" are synonyms, in practice. Both suggest a critical, evaluative stance that often involves some kind of rating system. The distinction, if any involves the range of possible investigation. "Food critic" has a more contemporary vibe, suggesting that restaurants, bakeries, food festivals, street vendors, and taco trucks are all fair game.
"Restaurant critic" is the more traditional title and can connote a more restricted sphere of operations — traditional restaurants, with perhaps those serving French cuisine being the exemplars. The internet has slowly become more important in forming opinions about restaurants. New generations of discussion forums and rating systems have become influential such as Mouthfuls, Yelp, and eGullet, as have some food criticism blogs like GrubGrade.  
For most of the past century, the most highly visible food critics have been those who have written for daily newspapers throughout the world and a few who have been restaurant reviewers for influential magazines, such as Gourmet in the United States. Television has become an outlet for many shows involving food or restaurant critics.
 A cookbook is a kitchen reference publication that typically contains a collection of recipes. Modern versions may also include colorful illustrations and advice on purchasing quality ingredients or making substitutions. Cookbooks can also cover a wide variety of topics, including cooking techniques for the home, recipes and commentary from famous chefs, institutional kitchen manuals, and cultural commentary. Anyone can write a cookbook, given they have recipes. How did the cookbook get its start?
The earliest cookbooks on record seem to be mainly lists of recipes for what would now be called haute cuisine, and were often written primarily to either provide a record of the author's favorite dishes or to train professional cooks for banquets and upper-class, private homes. The first recipe books to be compiled in Europe since Late Antiquity started to appear in the late thirteenth century. About a hundred are known to have survived, some fragmentary, from the age before printing.
 Cookbooks that serve as basic kitchen references (sometimes known as "kitchen bibles") began to appear in the early modern period. They provided not just recipes but overall instruction for both kitchen technique and household management. Such books were written primarily for housewives and occasionally domestic servants as opposed to professional cooks. Related to this class are instructional cookbooks, which combine recipes with in-depth, step-by-step recipes to teach beginning cooks basic concepts and techniques. In vernacular literature, people may collect traditional recipes in family cookbooks.
 Professional cookbooks are designed for the use of working chefs and culinary students and sometimes double as textbooks for culinary schools. Such books deal not only in recipes and techniques, but often service and kitchen workflow matters. Many such books deal in substantially larger quantities than home cookbooks, such as making sauces by the liter or preparing dishes for large numbers of people in a catering setting.  
Single-subject books, usually dealing with a specific ingredient, technique, or class of dishes, are quite common as well; with books on dishes like curries, pizza, and simplified ethnic food. Popular subjects for narrow-subject books on technique include grilling/barbecue, baking, outdoor cooking, and even recipe cloning.
Community cookbooks (also known as compiled, regional, charitable, and fund-raising cookbooks) are a unique genre of culinary literature. Community cookbooks focus on home cooking, often documenting regional, ethnic, family, and societal traditions, as well as local history.
Cookbooks can also document the food of a specific chef, cooking show chef, or restaurant. Many of these books, particularly those written by or for a well-established cook with a long-running TV show or popular restaurant, become part of extended series of books that can be released over the course of many years. Popular chef-authors throughout history include people such as Julia Child, James Beard, Nigella Lawson, Edouard de Pomiane, Jeff Smith, Emeril Lagasse, and Claudia Roden.  
So your character who needs an occupation can be either author or critic. Try a twist. How about a football player who writes a cookbook packed with his favorite pie recipes? Or a stay-at-home mother of triplets who is a blogging food critic of baby nutrition products? The food industry is evolving and your next novel can evolve with it.

CONGRATULATIONS BILL! YOU'VE WON THIS MONTH'S CONTEST! We loved the humorous story about cooks and lobsters. We will run the story on this Friday's blog. Please drop us another email and tell us where to send your gift card. Make sure and watch for next month's contest as we look at vacation spots...Where does the main character in your next novel need to vacation?
Today’s writing prompt: Josie reached into her great grandmother’s heavy plastic suitcase and wiped off the dusty book. Must be forty years old, she guessed, as she lifted it with care. The title read, “Cooking for…”

Friday, August 24, 2012


She plopped down on the horsehair sofa and buried her face into her hands. Captain Le Voi must think her a heathen. When would she ever learn to tame her tongue? She stretched out and laid her head against the bolster, her feet propped on the rolled arm. Mama would have a fit of vapors if  she were to walk into the library and take notice of her unladylike behavior, but what did it matter now. Jonathan Le Voi would be half way to New Orleans.

She hadn't meant to call his character into question . . .

Horsehair sofa? Have you ever heard of the term? I come across it all the time when reading, but what is meant by it? What do you see when given such a description?

This sofa came to us just like this. It was given to us by an elderly lady. I can't decide on fabric to have it redone in, and since I don't have a place for it yet I'm in no hurry.

The type of upholstery on this sofa is diamond tufted.

Here is another semi-diamond tufted with channels.

This was one of my favorites. There is enough detailed work to give it character yet there is also a simplicity to it with its clean lines.

In my opinion, the fabric on this piece is absolutely hideous. And although I don't have an after picture, you can trust me that the new fabric was just as bold and . . . awful. It definitely did not represent the era.
Now this one, I absolutely loved this one. And wouldn't you know it, I don't have any after pictures. It was redone in a white and blue floral fabric. A hundred and twenty dollar a yard fabric. I remember it distinctly because we had a difficult time telling the difference between the front and back of the fabric. The weave was that good.

If you look closely at the arms and legs you'll see a creature. Can you tell what it is?

Here is another beauty. I think the customer's choice of fabric worked with the dark wood. If you look at the feet you can see the tiny white wheels. They're clay and fragile. Sometimes we get pieces in with wooden wheels.
Okay, so what about the horsehair sofa? The truth is all of those sofas had been considered as horsehair sofas at one time or another. Why? Well, during the 19th century horsehair was a common stuffing for upholstery. Here is a picture of a piece that came to our shop.

And, yes, it came to us exactly like that. If you look closely you'll see a brown mess underneath some of the whit cotton. That was some of the guts of this sofa.

Here is the same piece after it was redone.

This isn't a DIY segment. I've watched plenty of those shows and of course the professionals make it look easy. I'm not saying that there aren't some easy projects, but I've seen chaos of wannabe DIYs. It's not pretty. It's kind of like asking a toddler to fold fitted sheets. Unless you're one of those people who has a knack for details  you get what you pay for.

I'm not a historian of upholstery so it's hard for me to tell you what kinds of tools the upholster used back in the day, but I can tell you that I have great admiration for their artistic skill, especially since I know how difficult it is with our many modern conveniences such as power tools.

We've taken apart furniture where the upholsterer not only used the old hammer and tack method, but also hand sewed the seams together.

Here, let me show you:

This has been partially stripped and the new deck has been put on. We now sew the corners with a sewing machine. The original fabric had been hand sewn. Each of those pleats had been tacked with tiny tacks. We used an air staple gun. Much quicker.

The insides are done.

Here my son is tacking the back. Even though we have modern tools, recovering furniture is still intricate and tedious.

Take a look at this chair. The new fabric is loosely laid up there so we can judge where we want the stripes to land (I will tell you right now plaids are the most difficult patterns to work with, silk makes it even more difficult) anyway, if you look closely you can see a bit of that plaid fabric attached to the outside wing. See it?

Ahhh, there it is. Hubs is lining up the stripes and pinning them to the chair, then he's chalking out his pattern. I can't tell you anything else about this process, not because it's some ancient Chinese secret but because all the snips and clips and holding your mouth just so to make it all fit together baffles me.

This picture was taken by my daughter. She sewed up the white chair, but as you can see the plaid chair is next to it.

I suppose you're wondering what other sorts of things we upholster at our shop.

Well, we've done dentist chairs and RV seats. These babies were one of the most difficult things I've worked on. They were almost grounds for severe discord in our household. I think I quit fifty times that week but hubs wouldn't hear it. *g*

Right now we're working on boat seats. Let me tell you something about vinyl, there aren't very many second chances. Once you sew vinyl it's pretty much a done deal or you have to start over. The sewing machine needle leaves holes and you can't move the threads with a pin to fix the hole.

Here is something hubs did that really impressed me--

He custom made these from a customer's drawn out plans.

Between my daughter, brother and I we have hundreds of pictures. Obviously you can tell my favorites are the antiques, of which I have a lot more pictures, but we do all sorts of stuff in our shop. We even fixed the bear head of a mascot costume. I'll try and add the picture later today.

Upholstery is one of those trades that you almost need to apprentice at in order to pick up all those tricks. My husband is often telling me I need to hold my mouth just right. I've tried, it doesn't always work. 

I have to work today, but if you have any questions, please ask, I'll try to answer.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

$10 Amazon gift card anyone? August Prompt Contest!

August is rolling to an end, and our monthly prompt contest is here! Write a short story, 500 words or less, using this month's prompt and win a $10 gift card. Anyone can enter, published or unpublished. The only thing we ask is if you won before to please wait a month before entering again.

This month's prompt is: A billow of French erupted from the kitchen area of The Blue Boiling Point Café. Lydia knew that meant one thing. Gérard, the executive chef, had…

Let's see some creative, mind-boggling twists in your always wonderful stories! You have until Sunday night, August 26th at midnight to enter and we will announce the winner on August 28th. The story will be featured on our Friday post, August 31st. So enter today...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Cupcake Creator versus Coffee Shop Owner

 Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Buttercream.jpg

Cupcake creator or coffee shop owner or both? To me, these are careers that can include the best of two worlds, chocolate and hot tea. You couldn’t be a cupcake creator without chocolate somewhere and most coffee shops include hot tea on the menu. A raspberry-filled chocolate cupcake with a hot green tea latte with soy milk? Yum yum.

The origin of the cupcake can be traced back to 1796 in the cookbook, American Cookery by Amelia Simmons. The recipe called for “the cake to be baked in small cups.”  The earliest documentation of the term cupcake was in “Seventy-five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes, and Sweetmeats” in 1828 in Eliza Leslie's Receipts cookbook.
Cupcakes have become more than a trend over the years; they've become an industry. Rachel Kramer Bussel, who has been blogging about cupcakes since 2004 at Cupcakes Take the Cake, said in 2010 that "in the last two years or so, cupcakes really exploded" with more cupcake-centric bakeries opening nationwide.
Cupcake Wars, a popular Food Network reality-based competition show, is currently in its sixth season. If you’ve ever considered being a cupcake creator or baker, this is the time.
Coffee shops or houses have been around even longer than cupcakes. A coffee house was reported open in Istanbul in 1555. During the seventeenth century, coffee appeared in Europe and triggered a flood of coffee houses. In the beginning, they were strictly for men and the site of political and social debate.
Coffee shops in the United States arose from the espresso- and pastry-centered Italian coffeehouses of the Italian American immigrant communities in the major U.S. cities. Coffee, music, and conversation were a mainstay in most coffee shops. Starting in 1967, Seattle became known for its thriving countercultural coffeehouse scene; the Starbucks chain later standardized and mainstreamed this espresso bar model.
Before 1990, true coffee houses were found only near colleges or artistic colonies. As with the cupcake, coffee houses are now a growing venue worthy of consideration for a career in ownership.
So we’re back to the question: Cupcake creator or coffee shop owner or both?
This week’s writing prompt: Celia stared at the bubbly froth covering her white chocolate caramel cappuccino and wondered why she ever…

Friday, August 17, 2012

Writing Vocations - Journalism

Who shapes your public and/or political opinions? Do you read newspapers, periodicals or online news publications? Do you have a favorite news broadcast or channel? If so, journalists are not only involved, but they are helping to shape your opinions. 

Benjamin Franklin Working a Printing Press
The Wikipedia definition of journalism is, “The investigation and reporting of events, issues and trends to a broad audience. Webster’s describes journalism as, “The collection and editing of news for presentation through the media, writing designed for publication in a newspaper or magazine.”

Someone in my family swears that a certain news channel is the only one she can trust. She watches the channel throughout the day. In my opinion, this borders on information overload. When I have to know the news, I prefer to get my information from several different sources. “ the multitude of counselors, there is safety...” Proverbs 11:14 NKJV

The professional journalist gathers information through eyewitness, personal interviews and research to create a palatable story for presentation on air or in article form. Once she’s done her info gathering, a journalist creates her post or article. The good journalist will keep his or her personal opinion on the sidelines to present an unbiased story.

Journalists are often required to travel. War breaks out in Syria? An earthquake in India? Almost immediately, journalists are dispatched. They go to the heart of the action, sometimes living in extreme situations. As a writer, have you ever done this much research? 

Many writers are journalism graduates, but not all journalists end up as writers. If you include a journalist in your story or novel, I urge you to research the lives of some of our premiere journalists. I've listed a few below. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Executive Chef versus Sous Chef

“You have developed an allergy to milk.” These simple words changed my life in ways I couldn’t imagine. I’d suspected this for a while, and the thoughts of eating and living healthy had crossed my mind, yet never stayed too long.
This diagnosis, along with other health issues, made me stop and take a look at food. Books, blogs, and the Food Network confirmed what God had been speaking to my heart for a while. Stop, look, listen. No, I’m not talking about crossing the street, but listening to the signals my body had been giving. Stop eating junk, look at labels, and listen to the experts.
Since this is where I’m at on my journey, I thought I’d take the next three career blogs and talk about the food industry. Let’s start with the most basic. A chef. I had no idea there were so many types of chefs: executive chef, sous chef, pastry chef, personal chef, grill chef, and fry chef to name a few. And then there are line cooks, kitchen-hands, and stewards. Today we’ll contrast the executive chef and the sous chef.
The Executive Chef is in charge of all things related to the kitchen, which usually includes menu creation, management of kitchen staff, ordering and purchasing of inventory, and plating design.   In French, the word chef means "chief." A head chef, also sometimes referred to as "chef de cuisine" or "executive chef," is in charge of the whole kitchen.
Every part of a foodservice operation, including menu planning, purchasing, hiring and staffing, is part of an executive chef's job description. That means he or she also has overall responsibility for all the food that comes out of the kitchen. You may have noticed one key job function missing from an executive chef's job description: cooking. That's right; he or she typically doesn't cook. The tools of his job are a desk, phone and clipboard; not a knife, whisk or sauté pan.
The Sous-Chef de Cuisine (under-chef of the kitchen) is the second in command and direct assistant of the Chef. This person may be responsible for scheduling and substituting when the Chef is off-duty and will also fill in for or assist the Chef de Partie (line cook) when needed.  The sous chef (pronounced "SOO chef," from the French word for under) is in charge of all the cooking. This person is responsible for inventory, cleanliness of the kitchen, organization and constant training of all employees. The "Sous-Chef" is responsible for taking commands from the Chef and following through with them. The "Sous-Chef" is responsible for line checks and rotation of all product. In some kitchens, sous chef's job is to directly supervise the entire kitchen staff, including the line cooks, prep cooks and dishwashers.
While his or her job is still mainly supervisory, the sous chef may also do some actual cooking, for instance, stepping in to replace one of the line cooks if necessary.
Even though their responsibilities differ, an executive chef and sous chef both need people and management skills. Formal training is a must in either career for advancement in more exclusive restaurants. Many chefs start as dishwashers, however, and gain experience as they work up the ranks. You will need to be dedicated, creative, and determined to succeed as either type of chef. You will need patience to deal with difficult staff and customers, and communication skills to ensure your staff feels like you consider them a part of your team.
My son, Jonathan

Writing prompt: A billow of French erupted from the kitchen area of The Blue Boiling Point Café. Lydia knew that meant one thing. Gérard, the executive chef, had…
photo from Wikipedia Commons

Saturday, August 11, 2012


I'm taking a bit of detour from the 'typical' careers. My sole, lifetime career has been motherhood. I started out young. I became a single, teen mom a few weeks before my 19th birthday. Of course, I thought my daughter hung with the sun and moon, but life was far from perfect. Her father and I weren't married, something I was quite aware of. I held the repercussion of my sin every day, fed her, stayed up late nights with her, changed her diapers and I suffered the consequence, not just the shame but the constant turmoil of young heartache.

Somehow, the relationship between me and her father survived. Okay, that somehow was a God thing. 100% absolutely a God thing. A little over two years after her birth we gathered together with friends and family in our church and were married. Turns out our second daughter was conceived the night of our wedding. In my mind it was God's way of forgiving our sins and blessing our union.

My husband and I had decided at that time that no matter what, we did not want anyone else raising our children. My job would be to be a full-time mother.

I'm going to go off on a little bunny trail here because I have to say, I can't imagine being a mom and working full-time, even more I can't imagine being a single mom and working full-time. My heart goes out to single mothers. It's a tough job when there is the support of a husband/father. When fathers are absent it makes it even tougher.

I'm going to be honest here, there have been times when I've felt or wished I had a single mom, especially when my husband and I disagreed over suitable punishments. However, the emotional support I receive from my husband is  incomparable. Single moms don't always have that support system.

BUT, unless you've been a stay at home mom and have never worked outside the home, you can't imagine the stigma we receive. LAZY. Yep, all the derogatory remarks I've heard over the last twenty-two years can be summed up as laziness.

Not only are we looked down upon by society, but our children are rarely happy with us. It's part of being a parent, building boundaries and keeping them, although I will admit that I haven't always been good about those boundaries.

As mothers (most of us) we give our hearts, our every breath to provide a safe environment for our children. Clothes are washed, food is prepared and placed on the table, beds are made, floors cleaned, the water bill is paid, errands are achieved, activities are attended, and yet as far as the children are concerned, it's never enough. I can't help but wonder how many people I could employ at my complaint department.

Mothers are under paid and under appreciated especially since the world would cease to exist without us. And yet, somehow, even through all the ups and downs of raising children, it's the most rewarding job ever.

Today's blog post is way late. I had remembered sometime Friday morning as I watched my husband reattach a teddy bear's ear that I was supposed to write a post on upholstery. It was one of those straws that had broken this camel's back.

You see, Monday morning my teenage son ran away. He wasn't running from us, but from consequences he needed to pay with the law. I won't go into all the details, just know my kid is a troubled kid caught up with drugs and alcohol. But I'm sure you can imagine the turmoil wrecking our home. My two older daughters didn't seem to understand our sorrow. In their minds there was no need to worry. My youngest daughter blamed herself since my son had told her he was thinking of running.

Hubs and I could barely talk to each other because it always came back to unbearable pain. Every time an ambulance or police car flew by our hearts stopped. Whenever our phones rang or jingled we waited with bated breath, wondering if that was the call to tell us he'd been found, dead or alive. Every morning I woke and checked his bed, praying he'd came back home while we were sleeping. Every night after work we pounded the streets, talking to people and passing out flyers.

Motherhood, excuse my language, sucked at that moment. I wanted to quit. I was tempted to leave my daughter at my mother's and just walk away. I didn't want to do this anymore. But I knew God had called me to this, called me to be a mom to these children.

Again, I can't imagine going through this as a single mom, but I tell you what, my husband and I were in the pain together. We weren't doing each other any good, except that we both knew the pain the other felt. There was no consoling each other, we couldn't. Our friends, family, and the Body of Christ showed up in droves. They offered help, they offered their love and they took my son to the foot of the cross.

We were fortunate that our son was found in only a matter of days. I pulled out scripture and brought it to God to answer us swiftly. Our journey is far from over, but one of the many things God has shown me is that a mother's prayers are effective. Motherhood begins with prayer and it never ends. And when things go array we have to trust that God has heard our prayers and that His ways are higher than our own.

I don't leave you with any great wisdom or training research. If you're a mom you know your wisdom comes from experience, training comes from being rooted in the Word of God, but I do leave you with this, when things seem more than you can handle know that God's grace is sufficient and His power works through our weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Food Stylist Versus Floral Designer

Our characters and their careers can make or break a story. From stay-at-home moms to nuclear physicists, the people in our stories need something to do. What better way than to give them an interesting job? We can place them in a chaotic workplace with outlandish co-workers and poof! We have story.
Every Tuesday in August, we’ll be contrasting and comparing similar careers. Today we’ll talk about Food Stylist vs. Floral Designer. What could these careers possibly have in common? More than you would think.
Turn to any Food Network show and you see beautiful displays of luscious-looking food, many a product of a professional food stylist. Food stylists combine culinary art and science to prepare food for cookbook and advertising photographs, television commercials, and scenes in movies. Stylists are responsible for finding unusual ingredients and preparing food so it looks freshly made and appetizing. File:Cold meat salad.jpgA food stylist works for advertising agencies, cooking networks and other types of lifestyle media to make a chef's recipe or food product look like a masterpiece. Food stylists are hired to do the shopping, chopping and marinating for celebrity chefs, magazines and television shows and often do most of the work themselves.
In addition to choosing, preparing and composing plated food, food stylists use numerous techniques to make appear the food as attractive as possible. One example would be using heavy cream instead of milk with cereal to prevent flakes from becoming soggy too quickly. Another would be applying lipstick to strawberries for a bright, glowing color.
Some of the skills a food stylist needs are an eye for artistic arrangements of food, with pleasing mixtures of colors and textures. Also a vast knowledge of food, nutrition, and cooking techniques is a must. Good people skills and business management will help a food stylist go far.
Being a food stylist requires always performing at the top of your game, because food doesn’t always behave. A Food Stylist is only as good as the last photo or commercial, so it requires an individual who is detail-oriented, organized, and focused.
File:Wrist corsages.jpgFor contrast, turn to a HGTV show, and you’ll see where a floral designer has probably been. Floral design is the art of using plant materials and flowers to create a pleasing and balanced composition. Evidence of refined floristry is found as far back as the culture of Ancient Egypt. Western design historically is characterized by symmetrical, asymmetrical, horizontal and vertical style of arrangements. In additional to flower arrangements, the art of floral design includes making wreaths, nosegays, garlands, boutonnieres, corsages, and bows.
There are schools of floral design, though formal training is not required to be a floral designer. But for people who aspire to run their own competitive floral design companies or work for top florists, there are programs from brief, online courses to bachelor's degrees in floriculture. These degrees teach everything from types of flowers and how to handle them to the basics of business management. Many floral designers have high school diplomas and no formal training in floral design, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook handbook. They learn to be floral designers while working for a florist.
Floral design programs are available online and at some community colleges that teach about different types of flowers and how to handle them. The different techniques for arranging them as well as pricing are covered, as well as cutting and taping techniques and ribbon tying. More advanced courses may teach botany, hydrology and pest management. In addition to learning to arrange and care for flowers, a florist who wants to run a shop needs to study accounting, marketing, management and inventory control.
How can we compare these two seemingly opposite careers? Both require an artistic eye for color, texture, and arrangement. To be excellent in either field, you need good people and management skills.
No longer do we think of an artist as a person who wears a beret and paints portraits. Today’s artist has numerous opportunities to explore in our modern world.
Writing prompt:  Maggie watched in anguish as her twelve-flavor ice cream display for the Dipsy Dairy commercial slid…                                        has articles, samples, downloads, free magazine at
Photos from Wikipedia commons

Friday, August 3, 2012

Financial Vocations

In the month of August, we will discuss vocations, beginning with today's post on Financial Vocations. I chose three positions with similarities:

Bookkeeper, Accountant, Comptroller

Many confuse bookkeepers with accountants. If you call an accountant a bookkeeper, you may want to duck. If you call a bookkeeper an accountant in the presence of an accountant, get your apology ready. Of course I’m only teasing, but there are clear differences between the two. A bookkeeper does not always need a degree. An accountant has a degree and is usually certified (I’ll get into that later).
Public Domain
The bookkeeper is “the keeper of the books,” which refers to the financial books. They may go by other titles, such as: accounting clerk, accounts receivable analyst, accounts payable analyst, accounting technician. Their job is to record and perform daily transactions. Sales and purchases are tracked via receipts and invoices. These tasks, once performed manually, are most often done through accounting systems. 
If you are a historical writer, your clerks will handwrite entries in ledgers and journals, then total the columns on each page. It is their job to make sure these columns balance. The manual system of bookkeeping is less common today, but was used well into the twentieth century. These journals resemble your checkbook transaction register. Robert "Bob" Cratchit, fictional clerk for Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge of A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, undoubtedly used the manual journaling system.
Per Webster’s Dictionary: Accounting is the system of recording and summarizing business and financial transactions and analyzing, verifying, and reporting the results; also: the principles and procedures of accounting.

Accountants are most often employed in the commerce industries, where their expertise is needed in making financial decisions. The accounting position requires a college degree and certification. The certificates vary, depending on their state of residence or the area of their expertise. The Certified Public Accountant or CPA, provides services to the public. If you have a Real Estate Investment Company and own multiple properties, you will probably need to have a CPA on retainer to audit your books and file your taxes. 
In some states, the PA or Public Accountant is similar to the CPA, but they are not certified to do audits or reviews. The CMA (Certified Management Accountant) works directly for an employer. There is also CIA (Certified Internal Auditor) and ABA (Accredited Business Advisor). These are all degreed positions that require certification and updated education (recertification).
The main purpose of the accountant is to audit journal entries and business processes. They give oversight to the position of the bookkeeper and prepare and file annual reports and taxes. 
The Comptroller (pronounced controller) or Financial Controller is a management-level position requiring a degree and ongoing certification. The comptroller supervises the quality of accounting and financial reporting of an organization, including government entities. The name comptroller evolved from fifteenth century French “Compte” (an account) and Middle English “Countreroller,” which is someone who checks a copy of a scroll. From the French “contreroule,”or “counter-roll” (copy of a scroll) “compteroller,” who specializes in checking financial ledgers. Comptroller is often mispronounced phonetically. 
The comptroller is an accounting and audit expert charged with implementation and monitoring of internal controls and should not be confused with the Chief Accounting Officer (CAO) or Chief Financial Officer (CFO). 

Research for this article includes the following: