Visiting Harry and David calls for a Facelift

Visiting the Vineyards and Orchards of Oregon

Visiting the Vineyards and Orchards of Oregon

It has been over 18 months since I last made the pilgrimage from Florida to Oregon. It’s a trip that is comprised of several airports and many hours to leave the land of sweltering sun to arrive at the land of lush hills and fantastic fruit. That fantastic fruit goes into many things, from gift baskets to wine, and I’m always excited to enjoy them all. When the team at Harry & David asked I join 12 food writers to tour their Oregon facilities, I was flattered and overjoyed. After a six month writing hiatus due to family illness, I knew that if I were to accept this trip, not only would I have to get to writing again, my site would need a facelift.

There is no doubt that food writers are skilled at taking photos and showcasing their craft. This blog was launched with the help of several people, one of them being Jaden Hair, the amazing recipe developer and food columnist at Steamy Kitchen. I was so impressed by her site and work, we connected on Twitter. She was gracious enough to chat with me about my site, and gave me a gentle nudge in the right direction to do my best to showcase food and wine. Unfortunately, over time, I got a little sloppy and a little lazy, a function of being pressed for time, and the quality slipped.

Barrel Room at Cameron Winery in Oregon

Barrel Room at Cameron Winery in Oregon

A visit to a vineyard or winery is always spectacular. It’s something that everyone should experience, at least twice. And while I can do my best to explain the smell of the the barrel room, the texture of the grape leaves, the heat of the sun on my face as it ripens the grapes, it’s much more tactile and real if you can see the images that created those words. It is similar for wine reviews. I can describe the smell of the ripe red fruit and what foods the wine would pair with, but visual cues help bring those ideas home.  The same is true for recipes. When I looked at the sites of my fellow writers, all listed below, I was blown away at the careful detail that went into their photos. It showcased their craft in all of it’s delicious glory. I realized that i needed to do the same with my reviews. So, it’s time for a facelift.

Harry and David showcasing Delicious Oregon Pears

Harry and David showcasing Delicious Oregon Pears

Our facelift won’t be finished before my visit to the above pear orchards of Harry and David. It did start already, thanks to fellow H&D guest Heather Scholten of Farmgirl Gourmet. While chatting about the visit, I told Heather how much I enjoyed her site, and asked if she had any constructive criticism for my work. She was quite gracious and said it was fine, and agreed that focusing on better photos would help. I mentioned how I needed to really work on the design to spruce it up, and minutes later my email had our first improvement in it. Heather went and whipped up a quick banner, faster than she can whip up a batch of Soft Molasses Cookies. Our conversation has inspired me to modify many things that I’ve been letting go, and they’re already underway. Your input is always appreciated, so feel free to leave a comment below if you think there’s something I can add, change or delete to make this site a better resource for all of your wine and food pairing needs!

Having a Good time with Wine in Oregon

Having a Good time with Wine in Oregon

It’s much easier to relate having a good time with wine when you see people doing it, than when you read about people doing it. I had a great time visiting Appassionata vineyards, a joint venture with Dr Loosen  in Northern Oregon with Jay Somers of J Christopher Wines, while with friends April Simpson and Terry Simpson of Eat Pack Go. I now look forward to having a good time with wine with these amazing food writers at Harry and David in southern Oregon! Be sure to visit their sites for all of your belly filling needs!.

*Aggie’s Kitchen – @aggieskitchen on Twitter
Foodie, but not a food snob. The healthier the better. Come hungry! Central Florida ·

*Brenda Score – @FarmgirlsDabble on Twitter
Midwestern girl, raised on a farm, now living in the ‘burbs. Sharing my recipe box & a little everyday life! Minnesota ·

*Heather Scholten @FarmGirlGourmet on Twitter
Food Blogger * Recipe Developer * Gardener * Old Home Renovator * Crazy Mom * Loving Wife * Pit Bull Advocate* Cheney, WA ·

*Maggy Keet – @ThreeManyCooks on Twitter
Food blog by cookbook author, Pam Anderson and her daughters, Maggy & Sharon. ·

*Brian Samuels – @MyFoodThoughts on Twitter
Boston-based lifestyle, event + food photographer and blogger – Boston ·

*MarthaStewartLiving – @MS_Living on Twitter
Endless inspiration from the editors of Martha Stewart Living. -New York, NY ·

*Sommer Collier – @SpicyPerspectiv on Twitter
Professional Recipe Developer and Freelance Food Writer cooking up Easy-Gourmet Recipes and SPICY Conversation ·

*Dara Michalski @cookincanuck on Twitter
Food blogger, recipe developer and freelance writer. I am a Canadian living in the U.S. Cultures happily colliding. Utah ·

*Gaby Dalkin – @What’sGabyCookin on Twitter
Private Chef. Author. Professional Recipe Developer. Freelance Food and Travel Writer. Avocado Lover. Los Angeles ·

*Carrie Cook Minns – @CarrieMinns on Twitter
I write. I cook. I photograph. I eat. I laugh. Portland, Oregon ·

*Julie  – @PBFingers on Twitter
Blogger. Freelance writer. FitFluential ambassador. Dog lover. Believes eating peanut butter out of the jar with your finger is perfectly acceptable.
Ocala, FL ·

*Sandy Coughlin – @SandyCoughlinRE on Twitter
Author of The Reluctant Entertainer; love cooking & hosting dinner parties. – Medford, Oregon ·

When I started to browse the sites of the 12 other writers going to Harry and David next week, I was reminded that people not only like recipes, they LOVE them chock full of  photos. The image helps them connect with the content and form a desire for the product. If you can’t see how it looks, it’s hard to imagine enjoying it by words alone sometime.

See you in Oregon! And let me know where I can use a nip and tuck by commenting below!

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23 thoughts on “Visiting Harry and David calls for a Facelift

  1. Can’t wait to see your site “facelift!” I just did the same things a few months ago. I was so happy with the changes. I think your site looks fabulous and I’ll be looking forward to hearing all about your trip to Harry & David. What a great event! I’m jealous ;)

  2. Great post Matt. Thank you for the shout out. It looks like your site ia coming right along. Thank you for inspiring me with mine…i am almost ready to push the button. Eek. I cant wait to meet you next week. Keep up the great work.

  3. I can’t wait to hear about your trip to H&D’s. They’re a great company and I can only imagine the experience will be amazing. When will you be there? Your site looks great, by the way. Looking forward to coming back for more.

  4. I am excited to visit H&D! I’ve been a customer for years! We arrive Wednesday evening and come home Sunday. I’m hoping to visit a winery or two as well!

    Thanks for the kind words on the blog!

  5. Thank you Heather! I appreciate your making a header for me! And our chat was very envigorating!

    I hope you push the button soon, I look forward to seeing your site when you do! Cheers!

  6. invigorating too :p

  7. Thanks so much Kate! I am making a little change here and there, modifying the social media icons, etc. I don’t know when the BIG changes will be done – but I’m excited to do them!

  8. My “blogging” facelift came in the form of a new camera and some graphic design skills (or a friend who can help) – For me.. It is all about a gorgeous header image and even better images embedded into each blog post (with a watermark with your logo or url).

  9. Can’t wait to meet you Matt! And enjoy a glass of wine or too :) Safe travels this week!

  10. Kristina Sloggett says:

    you are going to have a great time in Oregon – I am in Portland and we are having PERFECT weather right now! Have fun with H & D folks – I have loved that company for years! The blogger company will be great as well!

    it looks great around here! I like a “clean” uncluttered look, this is nice!

    cheers and safe travels, spabettie

  11. Thanks Lora! I agree, updating the site is fun, though a slight challenge. It’s important that people still enjoy the site and content when you make them! I’m trying to make sure that when I change something, it’s for the better!

  12. Oh – great idea with the watermark! Though I always hope people are honest, I’ve seen my work taken before.

    I agree photos are huge – and I lament some of my older posts being skimpy with them! I may modify some of my favorite older posts. Once I get up the new content that is :)

  13. Thank you Aggie! I think we’re probably arrive at the same time, given our 12 hour trek from Florida! I look forward meeting you and having a good time with wine together :)

  14. I am very exited about returning to Oregon! I love the warm weather of Florida – but it will be beautiful to see the changing leaves and enjoy the crisp weather!

    I have been a H&D Customer for years – we sent 3 or 4 gifts through them in the past year alone – so to be able to see the inside show is exciting!

    Thanks for the good words about the site! Still major renovations to come – but slowly.

  15. Kate @ Diethood says:

    Oh you are so lucky!! I love H&D! I always look forward to their catalog and I spend a fortune! :)
    Your site looks really good…so clean and crisp.

  16. I bet you had such a great time!
    Have fun with the blog changes!

  17. Thank you Kate for the kind words on the site!

    Visiting H&D was a great experience. It’s amazing how much the company cares for it’s employees! That shows in every place we visited. Tons of longevity, 20, 30 even 50 years! Amazing!

  18. I had the most amazing visit! And the fact that I was able to break the story on their newest product was an honor!!

  19. Brenda @ a farmgirl's dabbles says:

    I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of your facelift!! :) Thanks for the shout-out!

  20. Annette
    I was lucky to visit a few wineries in Ashland OR this weekend! Great places! And you should see the newest wines coming out of Oregon in my latest post :)

  21. My pleasure Brenda! I need to figure out if I’m going to do a full redesign, or just add functionality using the existing theme and icons and what-not!

  22. Heather did a great job on your header…clean and crisp! Your site is coming along fine. I think images are a bid deal whether you have a foodie/wine blog or not, but even more so for you. We want to taste, feel, hear what you’re talking about in your images. Glad you’re back at it! ;)

  23. Great post Matt. It was so fun meeting you and having fun, wine and laughs. It was sad that it had to end so soon. Until next time!

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