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Welcome to the Home Sweet Home blog circle, where a group of talented photographers around the world share why their hometown/state is the most fantastic place to visit! Should you find yourself in Texas, feel free to follow along with this series to find some of the most amazing hidden gems in the Lone Star State. After reading this post, be sure to follow the blog circle around the world to Anna Francken’s blog in Utrecht, The Netherlands. Her photography is always stunning and full of delightful European details!

This month D and I traveled to San Marcos, Texas to visit my baby brother in his college town. For those of you oblivious to Texas geography, San Marcos about four hours slightly southeast from Abilene right smack dab in the middle of the gorgeous Texas hill country. My husband was in shock at the terrain {“You mean Texas has hills??? and roads that don’t just go straight???”} and we had the best time touring the town, despite the monsoon like downpour all weekend.

Like any place, what do you do when it’s raining out side? You make your way to the local brewery and sit down for a pint. In our case, my brother PT had found the most amazing local brewery in Blanco, TX called Real Ale Brewing CompanyThis delightful town sits about 45 minutes north of San Marcos. He’s been trucking it up there since the beginning when the tastings were free for as much as you could stomach. Currently it’s still the best drinking deal in town with samplers starting at just $4.00!

Real Ale Brewing Co began brewing in 1996 with a passionate heart for being Texan and brewing in Texas. Their goal is to brew the best possible beer around because “Texans are a thirsty bunch”! Real Ale Brewing is a unique company in that they only sell beer in the great state of Texas so that they can focus on quality rather than quantity.

We’re Texans. We care about Texans. So, we want to make sure the people we care about have the highest quality beer possible. And let’s face it, Texans are a thirsty bunch. – Real Ale Brewing Co

They start with water from the nearby Blanco River using no preservatives or artificial colors. We’re talking artisan ale here folks. They have everything from a Belgian Style Tripel {Devil’s Backbone} to a Rye IPA {Full Moon} to a German-style Pilsner {Hans’ Pils} to the ever popular, and my favorite, a blonde ale {Firemans #4}. They have 9 signature beers followed by 3 heavy hitters in a larger size. Plus their seasonal brews, PLUS their Brewers Cut and Mysterium Verum. It’s a brewers paradise I tell you.

D and I each started with a sampler, mine included the Devils Backbone, Hans’ Pils, Full Moon, & Brewhouse Brown Ale, while D’s only varied by The Devils Share. I was floored!!! I hadn’t had beer this tasty since living abroad. My brother’s Scots Gone Wild was matured for 12-14 months to deliver tart flavors that will blow your mind! It’s beautiful to see such craftsmanship both in a product and all of their marketing materials. You can buy awesome t-shirts, tour the brewery all while sipping their tasty wares. They’re even dog friendly!

This company has it down and I HIGHLY recommend that you visit them should you find yourself in the hill country. Stop in, they say they’ll “welcome you with open taps”!

So take that road trip you’ve been meaning to take this summer and head out to the Real Ale Brewing Company in Blano, Texas. Their address is 231 San Saba Court Blanco, Texas 78606. Call their office for more local information on opening times and tours at (830) 833-2534. If you’re a love of a quality hand crafted beverage made by those who are passionate about Texas, you will absolutely LOVE it!

Be sure to hop on over to Anna’s blog next to see her view of her home in Utrecht, The Netherlands. Add a comment or hit the like button to show some love!

Until June’s insight into the great state of Texas, I am wishing ya’ll a beautiful month!

Did you know that you can have posts from Kirsten Ashley Photography’s Blog sent directly to your email? Be sure to sign up here! Emails not your thing? Then check out Kirsten Ashley Photography’s Blog on Bloglovin! Here you can follow along just like on the old Google Reader and never miss a post!

 

 

 

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This post is a part of the “Home Sweet Home” series created by my fantastic international friends. The best part? You can follow the blog posts from each of us {as we have linked to each other at the end} and go all the way around the world to read about what makes each of our hometowns memorable. This month I link to Ana Quiroga who lives in Barcelona, Spain. Ana’s post are always full of the vivacious life that only Barcelona can provide! Be sure to click the link and head on over to Ana’s post after this one for a spectacular read and amazing photographs!

I have been DYING to explore downtown Abilene since we moved here in January! I have been so busy with wedding season this year that we have not been able to get out much. Which means I was extremely psyched to get the chance to walk around and photograph after church last Sunday. The most amazing thing about downtown Abilene on a Sunday? It’s a ghost town!!!! A little sad for businesses and hangry stomachs around lunch time, but it’s FANTASTIC for photographs! I can hardly wait to book a downtown urban session with a lovely couple or family…. heck a 2015/16 senior photoshoot would be so much fun!!!

I was delighted to find a coffee shop and a brewery, and while they were not open, D and I will definitely be trying them out very soon! The whole of downtown has a very art deco/art nouveau 1920s architectural style. I love the building details in the pre-cast concrete and stone. Apparently my favorite high-rise is full of loft apartments! How great would it be to live in one of those?!? *sigh* It just goes to show my passion for urban living is still alive and well.

Abliene Photographer | Kirsten Ashley Photography & DesignAbilene Photographer | Kirsten Ashley Photography & DesignAbilene Photographer | Kirsten Ashley Photography & DesignAbilene Photographer | Kirsten Ashley Photography & DesignAbilene Photographer | Kirsten Ashley Photography & DesignAbilene Photographer | Kirsten Ashley Photography & DesignAbilene Photographer | Kirsten Ashley Photography & DesignAbilene Photographer | Kirsten Ashley Photography & DesignAbilene Photographer | Kirsten Ashley Photography & Design Abilene Photographer | Kirsten Ashley Photography & DesignAbilene Photographer | Kirsten Ashley Photography & DesignAbilene Photographer | Kirsten Ashley Photography & DesignAbilene Photographer | Kirsten Ashley Photography & DesignAbilene Photographer | Kirsten Ashley Photography & DesignAbilene Photographer | Kirsten Ashley Photography & DesignAbilene Photographer | Kirsten Ashley Photography & DesignAbilene Photographer | Kirsten Ashley Photography & DesignAbilene Photographer | Kirsten Ashley Photography & DesignAbilene Photographer | Kirsten Ashley Photography & DesignAbilene Photographer | Kirsten Ashley Photography & DesignAbilene Photographer | Kirsten Ashley Photography & DesignAbilene Photographer | Kirsten Ashley Photography & DesignAbilene Photographer | Kirsten Ashley Photography & DesignAbilene Photographer | Kirsten Ashley Photography & DesignAbilene Photographer | Kirsten Ashley Photography & Design

As you can see Abilene is chalk full of hidden gems like the National Children’s literature Museum, The Grace museum and so many other fun finds! I could not have asked for better lighting or prettier skies!

Be sure to hop on over to Ana’s blog next to see her view of her home away from home, Castilla and Leon. Add a comment or hit the like button to show some love!

Until May’s insight into Abilene Texas, I am wishing ya’ll a beautiful month!

Did you know that you can have posts from Kirsten Ashley Photography’s Blog sent directly to your email? Be sure to sign up here! Emails not your thing? Then check out Kirsten Ashley Photography’s Blog on Bloglovin! Here you can follow along just like on the old Google Reader and never miss a post!

 

 

 

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Happy Halloween everyone!!! As a treat this month’s Happiness Through My Eyes is debuting on this fantastic holiday. For those of you new to HTME, several amazingly talented photographer friends of mine have teamed up to create a blog circle posting about the happiness in our lives once a month. The fantastic part is that these ladies are literally spread out all over the world! This month I link to the fantastic Ana Quiroga in Barcelona Spain. Ana and I share a love for food, tea, and Le Creuset! She has an incredible photographer’s eye and I adore her creative style! To see her happiness this month click HERE.

I always thought birthdays were about presents and cake. Sure there was plenty of celebration involved too, but it is only later in life after marrying an incredible intelligent {albeit full of himself} man that I realized birthday celebrations could be something more. To my husband D, birthday’s are all about the experience. Anything that could give you a great story {ie:“So there was this one time in Prague when we locked ourselves in a room for an hour to see if we could escape…”} is so much more fulfilling than anything tangible. So began the tradition of celebrating birthdays with an experiential vacation.

For my birthday this year I chose Prague, a HUGE bucket list travel destination! We chose to drive the six hour journey in a rented car, stopping at Esso stations along the way through Germany to get gas. I was all kinds of excited as neither of us had been this far east. D had done spectacular research on things to do, architecture to see, and restaurants/bars to stop and replenish our energy. So I came up with the top ten reasons to visit Prague to share with you this October! There was definitely an abundance of happiness to be had on this fantastic vacation!

I’m really not sure how we managed it, but our Air B&B apartment accommodations were one street over from the Rodeo Drive of Prague. Out my front door and down the street was a five star hotel with a five star heated parking garage {complete with a car wash!}. My jaw hit the pavement strolling past Tiffany’s, Gucci, Fendi, Jimmy Choo {shoes!!!}, Hermes, and La Perla, just to name a few! There was a moment where I cursed my suitcase and everything in it because I knew whatever I wore, I’d look like a hobo in any of these stores. I went inside a few, determined to ignore the disapproving sneers at the holes in my comfy flats and my north face rain jacket. While I was unsuccessful at beating back the stares, the shopping was glorious. So many beautiful things, even if you just walk past the windows!

The most quoted phrase from my husband on the trip was “The Eastern block this…..” and “The Eastern block that….” or “Welcome to the Eastern Block….” which was soon shortened to “The EB”. The culture of Prague is unlike anything I have encountered yet on my travels. The language for starters is fascinating. It has been a long time since I visited a country where I had trouble pronouncing “Hi” and “Thank You”, much less remembering them. Also the currency made me feel like I was spending thousands and thousands of dollars… as one hundred Czech Krone {100 Kč} = $4.58. So I’m pulling out 1000 Kč bills from the ATM feeling like I’m draining my bank account only to do the math and find out that the equivalent is about $46. Ha! Definitely an awesome part of the adventure.

Dude, Prague is OLD…. Like amaze-balls old. Prague was founded in the 8th Century by Libuše and her husband, Přemysl, founder of the Přemyslid dynasty. During the 14th century, the Holy Roman Emporer Charles IV reigned until 1378. My brain explodes at the thought of how much history this city contains. How many souls wandered these streets and the stories they could tell…. The Czech Republic {formerly Czechoslovakia} has been a crucial territory during both World Wars, the Cold War, and the Velvet Revolution suffering from destruction and bombings and bloodshed. I was amazed to see how much beauty the city still holds, as the major landmarks seem untouched, simply weathered by time. If you are at all a history buff, the city is your ticket to historical paradise.

Enter the best bar experience OF MY LIFE. Folks who know me are aware of how fancy pants I am when it comes to cooking and tending bar. Nothing ordinary for this girl, only complicated drinks like lavender martinis, vanilla passions, cherry chocolate bourbon soda, and tangerine gimlets strike my fancy. I have often thought, “If only there was a bar that served ONLY fancy pants drinks. Where nothing is ever simple, and flavors run wild.”. Well, I am ecstatic to tell you that my dear sweet husband found the bar of my dreams. The Hemingway Bar sits one block off the river near the Charles Bridge. You have to make reservations in order to get in, and I high recommend that you sit at the bar to witness the most incredible mixology/bar service of your life. Right away I was tipped off to the stellar branding as we sat at the bar noting their slogan “Fine Mixology and Luxury Spirits”. Simple, timeless, & classic. The staff is all male dressed in slacks collard shirts and suspenders. They all have an air of 1920’s speak easy charm. I had died and heaven is really a bar…..

Our bartender, Peter, is simply the best. Menus were brandished seemingly out of no where upon our arrival as we were greeted and helped into our seats. My first drink was the ELIZABETH HADLEY RICHARDSON which contains the following: El Dorado 12 years old rum, Sandeman Port Tawny, Creme de Griottes chocolat from Gabriel Boudier, star anise tincture, and spray of Xante, paired with a chocolate chip cake for tasting in it’s own mini cake plate complete with glass cover. I was floored. I didn’t know ANY of these ingredients. Watching Peter work his magic was like watching a mad scientist chemist. The drinks were mixed in beakers or shakers of various sizes. Flavors and alcohol were added in different size pony & jiggers or eye droppers or spray bottles. Cocktails were stirred with long swivel spoons and various size ice cubes, every one tasted by Peter himself before it was served to ensure quality. Each signature cocktail had it’s own particular glass, and garnish. It was the most elaborate display of mixology I had ever seen. Watching him shake the drinks was my favorite part, as he had a style and flair all his own.

The Hemingway even does a special presentation on absinth as they stock 43 different kinds from several countries. Their bar stock alone is enough to make anyone’s mouth hang open agape. They stock over 200 rum varieties, 16 types of gin, 14 types of vodka, 15 different tequilas, 14 blended scotch whiskeys, 62 whiskeys separated by country and region, a variety of vermoths, bitters, ports, and the most impressive champagne list I have born witness to. Did I mention you can also order cigars in the smoking section downstairs?

So if you should find yourself in Prague, The Hemingway Bar is a MUST EXPERIENCE. Every drink we ordered was fabulous and watching Peter mix the cocktails was even more enticing. He even made me my own signature cocktail based on my pallet preferences! We were sad to leave knowing we would never have another bar experience like this one ever again. I give five starts to this bar for achieving high class atmosphere and first class drinks.

Oh the doors. They speak for themselves, literally. With so much decor and detail I was able to add at least a dozen or so to my fenestrations collection! Some of the more ornate doors guarded embassies while others welcomed individuals into places of worship. There were so many that I could hardly put my camera away before spotting another one and pulling it all back out again!

D is also a huge fan of puzzles. He is always playing logic games and I envy his ability to think outside the box. He found the Mind Maze and it was one of the most fun experience I have ever had on a vacation! Mind Maze is a live action adventure game where you are locked in a room for 60 minutes. Using only your brain to solve logic puzzles and find clues the goal is to find your way out of the room in the allotted hour. D and I thought it would be the ultimate team building experience….. and how right we were! We chose to do the alchemist’s chamber mind maze, which looked like something out of Harry Potter. I am proud to say that we were able to find our way out of the room in the given amount of time! We worked well together and he figured out some bits and I figured out others. I’ll admit I was really nervous that he would figure everything out first and I’d be standing there gawking at his brilliance. Parts of the maze were super challenging and once we figured things out there were many times where we felt stupid and had the “ohmigosh DUH!” moments. If you like to solve riddles and puzzles, this is another MUST DO activity while staying in Prague. D and I left the Mind Maze on an adrenaline high that lasted us the rest of the day!

I wish I could tell you more, but I don’t want to give anything away to future players. Be sure to make reservations in advance. The maze can be played in a group of two to five people. The staff is super nice and they will give you hints over a walkie talkie if you get stuck and need help. Are you game?

While in Prague, be sure to walk across the bridge up to the Prague castle. The castle really isn’t much other than it’s a rather large complex with gardens all around, but the view down on the city is well worth the hike. My breath caught in my throat upon first glimpse of the marvelous city of spires. Also, the walk along the river is quite scenic offering different vistas along each side of the valley.

I definitely experience some of the best meals of my life while on this vacation. I have to hand it to my husband as he did the research knowing that I like fancy pants cuisine way more than I enjoy fancy pants cocktails. Most of these evenings I left my camera at home to enjoy the meals without the added pressure of photographing everything and worry about poor lighting. The following two restaurants were my favorite and I will explain each in turn.

LA VERANDA – Elišky Krásnohorské 10/2, 110 00 Praha-Josefov, Czech Republic +420 224 814 733
AH-mazing food. The best quail and pumpkin risotto I have ever tasted in my life. This restaurant is Michelin rated with an excellent wine list. Their dessert menu is also to die for. It has a cozy atmosphere and be sure to sit upstairs if you can. It also happened to be right next door to our apartment. Score!

GRAND CRU RESTAURANT & BAR – Lodecká 1181/4, 110 00 Praha 1-Nové Město, Czech Republic +420 775 044 076
Best meal of my LIFE. Astonishing French cusine served only they way the French can. I had the largest Halibut steak I have ever seen. My husbands lamb with fig was melt in your mouth scintillating! This restaurant is known for its wine stock {over 1000 different kinds!} so we had a wine pairing with every course. These paired wines were absolutely outstanding! I highly recommend getting the cheese course before your dessert. And as always, NEVER pass up a French dessert! Their resident sommelier was extremely informative and knowledgeable about every wine that was served at our table that night. We could have stayed at this restaurant forever with its warm glow and insatiable aromas! As this place is extremely sought after, call in advance to make a reservation to be sure you get a seat!

There were many other amazing places we ate along with food from street vendors and local bakeries! A Czech bakery is a must for breakfast with their delightful Turkish coffee and kolaches!

Prague is a city of architectural wonders…. One that practically rivals Paris in it’s ornate Renaissance / Baroque styles. The you have modern marvels like the “Dancing House” by renown architect Frank Gehry, that leave you breathless in awe. There is more of a juxtaposition of styles in this lovely city of spires. Every where you look there is grandeur, everything you see has such exquisite detail that you find your self staring unabashedly. I was also quite fond of the colors that adorned the buildings and rooftops in Prague, as the palette is unlike any other. Boulevard upon boulevard of tall hand carved town-homes…. almost too much beauty to take in at once!

All I wanted for my birthday was to have an iconic shot of the Charles Bridge that I took myself. In true pro photographer form, D and I got up at 5:30 AM to make our way to the bridge. I could scarcely believe how empty it was! This particular tourists attraction is usually packed with people and street vendors alike which makes it practically impossible to get a clear shot during the day. It was so peaceful in the wee hours of the morning, just me, D, and the bridge {plus or minus a few other photogs}. I was super excited to shoot while manually focusing as the light was too dim for auto focus. It was such a dream to get the shots I wanted! If you are a photographer and are looking to get this shot, getting up early is the only way to do it!

Don’t forget to follow the blog circle around the world! Visit Ana’s blog in Barcelona and see her happiness HERE.

Until next month’s happiness… Wishing everyone a lovely November and Happy Halloween!

Did you know that you can have posts from Kirsten Ashley Photography’s Blog sent directly to your email? Be sure to sign up here! Emails not your thing? Then check out Kirsten Ashley Photography’s Blog on Bloglovin! Here you can follow along just like on the old Google Reader and never miss a post!

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October 27, 2014
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MONDAY

1 :: Home from the Czech Republic – Last week D and I took a much needed five day vacation to Prague! It has been a bucket list trip of mine for a very long time…. and it did not disappoint! The city provided me with some of my favorite travel photography to date… and hopefully I can share some of it with you before we pack up our life here in Germany. I highly recommend visiting this beautifully ancient city if you live in the area. We decided to bite the bullet and drive the six hour journey, but D and I were pleasantly surprised at how nice the drive was. There are plenty of Esso stations along the way and most of your drive is through Deutschland. Prague is definitely worth the visit for it’s iconic architecture, incredible food, and cultural experiences. Although it was the first country I have visited in quite some time where I didn’t speak ANY of the language… talk about intimidating!

2 :: Fine Mixology – Back in college, my girlfriends and I had girls night every Wednesday. We always had a blast coming up with a new signature drink for the night. Fancy cocktail glasses, syrups, flavored liquors… it was a foodie chemist’s wonderland. Even though college has come and gone, my love for fine mixology has always been ever present. So much so that my Pinterest feed makes me feel like an alcoholic…. it seems as if every third pin suggestion is a mixed cocktail. lol So in the spirit of MIAM, this week’s recipe picks are all about some seriously original mixed drinks. Click on a drink to take you to the corresponding blog! Cheers to you and stay thirsty my friends! 1) La Llorona (The Weeping Woman) | Muy Bueno Cookbook 2) Cranberry Thyme Gin & Tonic | www.acozykitchen.com 3) Pink Champagne Granita with Pomegranate | Made By Mary 4) The Lavender Collins | Buzzfeed.com 5) The White Ginger | The Boys Club 6) Cherry-Chocolate Bourbon Soda | Katie at the Kitchen Door

La Llorona (The Weeping Woman) | Muy Bueno CookbookCranberry Thyme Gin & Tonic | www.acozykitchen.comPink Champagne Granita with Pomegranate | Made By MaryThe Lavender Collins (so pretty!!) <3 2 oz Gin, 1 oz Fresh Lemon Juice, 1.5 oz Lavender Syrup, 3 oz Club Soda (+/- to taste) #MyVeganJournalThe White Ginger | The Boys ClubCherry-Chocolate Bourbon Soda {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

3 :: Harry Potter Throwback – On our recent road trip to Prague, D and I packed the car full of HP audio books. I realized that I had reread the later books in the series quite often, but had never reread the first HP book. I had forgotten how charming it is packed full of such rich details {so many more than the movie!!} that you feel as if you too are seeing the wizarding world for the first time just like Harry. The audio books have the added bonus of adding the character’s accents, which you don’t normally hear when you are visually reading. Upon returning home after the completion of the first book, D and I have since decided to reread the whole series through audio. Jim Dale, you are one heck of an audio author! Also for you avid HP fans, J.K. Rowling has announced she will release a backstory on Dolores Umbridge on Oct. 31st of this year on Pottermore.com, the perfect treat for Halloween!

4 :: Oleeeeeeeeeee Ole Ole Ole – Well it took three years, but I finally made it to a 1FCK soccer game!!! It was awesome! My favorite part is the spirit of the fans, and the scarves!!! D had been to a game before and brought me a scarf, so I felt like I was a legitimate fan sitting there proudly displaying my red and white loyalty! If you live in the KMC area, this is a must do activity in which the whole family can enjoy! Tickets aren’t very expensive {$25} and you can park at one of the park & ride sites and take the bus directly to the stadium so you don’t have to battle parking! I was super stoked that we tied the game 1:1 at the last possible minute against Dusseldorf. Below you can see the celebratory stadium! SO much spirit!!!

1FCK Kaiserslautern | Kirsten Ashley Photography & Design
Happy Monday Ya’ll!!! It’s my hope that Monday In A Moment brightens the beginning of your week so you can power through to the end!

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September 08, 2014
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MONDAY

1 :: 90 Days Out – So D mentioned in passing the other day that we only have about 90 days left in Germany. I blanched. Seriously? 90 days? THAT’S IT?! There is a huge part of me that formed a “already out of Germany” mindset as soon as we found out we are headed back to Texas. We may still be living in Europe, but my brain is completely elsewhere. And I hate that. The next three months are going to FLY by and I really don’t want to take forgranted the time that we have left here. So I am doing what I can to live in the now, and make extraordinary memories even though we are getting ready to pack up our life here. I encourage everyone to cut themselves a slice of this life adjustment because as cliche as it is, life really is too short. Take a moment to revel in this time period in your life, the age your kids are at, where your siblings are in their lives, your parents, etc. It will never be the same again.

2 :: Make it Tonight! – These yummay pinterest picks were chosen based on there easy to throw together ingredients. I have trouble with intricate meals on weeknights even though I LOVE them… so get in the kitchen and whip up something good! Click on a photo to take you to the recipe! 1) Spaghetti Carbonara – via gimmesomeoven.com 2) Blueberry Corn Salad – A Healthy Life For Me 3) Loaded Turkey Meatballs – Lexiscleankitchen.com 4) Fragrant Garam Masala Chicken Stew with Peas and Potatoes – Better Homes & Gardens 5) Orange basil ricotta pancakes – Running to the Kitchen

Spaghetti Carbonara | Gimme Some OvenBlueberry Corn Salad - A Healthy Life For MeLoadedTurkeyMeatballs1Fragrant Garam Masala Chicken Stew with Peas and PotatoesOrange Basil Ricotta Pancakes. #glutenfree

3 :: SALE!! – This week’s shoe picks are all about the end of season sale! Check out these beauties some of which are up to 60% off!! Click on a shoe to take you shopping at Nordstrom.com! 1) DV by Dolce Vita – ‘Pamona’ Pump – orig: $78.95 SALE: $39.47 2) Steve Madden – ‘Marnee’ Sandal – orig: $99.95 SALE: $49.96 3) DV by Dolce Vita – ‘Danilo’ Sandal – orig: $88.95 SALE: $44.47 4) Betsey Johnson – ‘Stun’ Sandal – orig: $129.95 SALE: $87.06 5) Vince Camuto – ‘Benningly’ Patent Leather Ballet Flat – orig: $97.95 SALE: $48.96 6) Yosi Samra – ‘Mirah’ Leather Ballet Flat – orig: $118.95 SALE: $46.97

'Pamona' Pump'Marnee' Sandal'Danilo' Sandal'Stun' Sandal (Women)'Benningly' Patent Leather Ballet Flat'Mirah' Leather Ballet Flat

4 :: Weekly Photo Recap – Here’s what you might have missed last week! Be sure to follow me on Instagram and never miss the daily goings on in the KAPD studio!

Kirsten Ashley Photography & Design | Custom CalligraphyKirsten Ashley Photography & Design | Rhine River, Germany | Traveling TuesdayKirsten Ashley Photography | Senior Photographer 2015Kirsten Ashley Photography &amp; Design | Custom Branding Design | CalligraphyKirsten Ashley Photography & Design | Bernkastel-Kues, Germany

5 :: Wine Fest Season – As mentioned a couple Monday’s ago, we are officially in wine festival season here in Germany! D and I took a road trip this past weekend to the Bernkastel-Kues Festival, one of our yearly favorites! The last time we went, we were with our dear friends, Tony and Jen {getting married April 2015!!}, and suffice to say they were dearly missed. I had forgotten though, how beautiful the Mosel valley is. Holy wine vineyards Batman! They are all you can see along the ridge slope as far as you eyes can see! Bernkastel-Kues is such a quintessential quaint German town, with lots of timer patterned architecture, dirndls and lederhosen, a castle, and insanely gorgeous scenery that doesn’t look real! The fest had all of the local vineyards sampling their best Rieslings both Spätlese and Auslese, trocken and halbtrocken…. D and I came home with three bottles, the best being a 2005 Auselese from the Mosel Valley. YUM! So I thought I’d share a little insight into our adventures from Saturday. Enjoy!

Kirsten Ashley Photography & Design | BernKastel-Kues WeinfestKirsten Ashley Photography & Design | BernKastel-Kues Weinfest

Happy Monday Ya’ll!!! It’s my hope that Monday In A Moment brightens the beginning of your week so you can power through to the end!

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August 04, 2014
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MONDAY

1 :: Homeward Bound – At long last we finally received word on where we are moving for the year 2015! Drum roll please….. …. …. …. We are moving to ABILENE, TEXAS!! Who would have thought? After three long years of being over 5000 miles from home we will move three hours away from Garland. My brain simply cannot process this information! Not to mention the fact that my husband and I have only experienced our marriage living abroad, never living in the good ‘ole US of A. We have never had simple conversations like, what kind of delivery pizza would you like, papa johns or domino’s? or Where do you want to go to the store, Kroger or Whole Foods? There is a whole new chapter of our life racing our way and the best part is? We’ll be home for Christmas this year! Stay tuned for more details…

2 :: No More Bookings – In line with our moving day news, I am making the official announcement that I am no longer taking new clients for the year 2014. With all of the PCS paperwork, packing, housing closeouts and more, my time is extremely limited and my calender is booked through December 1st!  I want to thank everyone for letting me be a part of this outstanding community full of talented photographers and amazing clients.

3 :: Ode to Kate Spade – Browsing through the new arrivals at Norstrom shoes, I found myself choosing Kate Spade design after Kate Spade design… and figured why not? She’s awesome… she deserves her own MIAM shoe pick shoutout. Without further ado, I give you Kate Spade New York… how I love her so! Click on a link to take you shopping at Norstom.com! 1) kate spade new york – ‘lauretta’ pump – $350.00 2) kate spade new york – ‘toast’ flat – $228.00 3) kate spade new york – ‘aiko’ cutout pump – $398.00 4) kate spade new york – ‘licorice too’ pump {rose gold} – $328.00 5) kate spade new york – ‘lennin’ flannel pump – $350.00 6) kate spade new york – ‘lisa’ pump – $328.00

 

KAPD - Monday In A Moment #52 | Kate Spade New York | 'lauretta' pumpKAPD - Monday In A Moment #52 | Kate Spade New York | 'toast' flatKAPD - Monday In A Moment #52 | Kate Spade New York | 'aiko' cutout pump (Women)KAPD - Monday In A Moment #52 | Kate Spade New York | 'licorice too' pumpKAPD - Monday In A Moment #52 | Kate Spade New York | 'lennin' flannel pump (Women)KAPD - Monday In A Moment #52 | Kate Spade New York | 'lisa' pump

4 :: Weekly Photo Recap – Here’s what you missed last week! Be sure to follow me on Instagram and never miss what’s going on in my studio every day!

Kirsten Ashley Photography & Design | Healthy LifeKirsten Ashley Photography & Design | Male PhotographyKirsten Ashley Photography & Design | Glamour PhotographyKirsten Ashley Photography & Design | Happiness Through My Eyes - July 2014Kirsten Ashley Photography & Design | Weilerbach Germany | Travel Photography

5 :: Yummy Summer Dishes – Summer makes me crave light and fresh foods! Not to mention ice cream… woah man… So this week’s Pinterest Recipe Picks bring you just that… a touch of freshness with a sweet treat to boot! Enjoy! Click Here to follow my Yummay board on Pinterest! 1) Blueberry Coconut Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate bits (dairy-free) – Boulder Locavore 2) Thai Cashew Coconut Rice with Ginger Peanut Sauce – Host The Toast Blog 3) Grilled Summer Vegetable Pasta Salad with Lemon-Basil Vinaigrette – Spicy Southern Kitchen 4) Black Bean Quinoa Burgers – Queen of Quinoa 5) Drunken Cherry Ice Cream Recipe – Savory Simple

Blueberry Coconut Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate bits - BoulderLocavoreThai Cashew Coconut Rice with Ginger Peanut Dressing.  This rice salad is seriously addictive and always a huge hit at potlucks!  Pasta sala...Grilled Summer Vegetable Pasta Salad with Lemon-Basil VinaigretteBlack Bean Quinoa Burgers - a vegetarian and gluten-free option everyone will adore // Queen of QuinoaDrunken Cherry Ice Cream - Savory Simple

6 :: Giggles – D and I had the pleasure of babysitting are two favorite monkeys this past weekend and I still can’t believe how much the girls have grown. S was particularly giggly that day and I was enthusiastically trailing after her with a camera to capture the joy. The one to the far right is my favorite…. her laugh is absolutely infectious!

Happy Monday Ya’ll!!! It’s my hope that Monday In A Moment brightens the beginning of your week so you can power through to the end!

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I am super happy to be jumping back into the blog circle this month! I have missed it dearly but with family in town, they became priority one. Don’t forget to follow the circle around to the next entry by the lovely Anna Francken coming to you from the Netherlands. Anna’s photography always cheers up my days as it is jam packed with delicious details and clean bright images. Check out her post HERE!

My brother Patrick and I are seven years apart in age. For those of you who are bad at math, that means he was in 5th grade when I was a senior in high school. As the years pass that age gap becomes harder and harder to believe, because as you grow older the age line blurs. Before he turned twenty-one, I always referred to him as Master Patrick… but now that he’s older, we figured it was time for him to become king, particularly since it’s in his hands to carry on the family name.

I recently had the joy of hosting my baby brother in my home in Germany for six weeks and I cannot even begin to tell you how heartwarming it was! It had been two years since my brother and I saw each other face to face, which in my opinion is WAY too long. I couldn’t believe it when he walked off the plane… I hardly recognized him… he was all grown up! I was now the big sister in name only as he towered above me. We were able to talk to each other like adults over adult beverages. We traded life plans and accomplishments all while having a grand sibling adventure.

Being a photographer, usually your brothers or sisters are your first target for practice and new techniques. As I had mine on hand for six weeks I wanted to make the most of it. Besides, every college student needs fantastic photos of their European adventure! Patrick and I made our way around Germany, France, and Belgium with a devil-may-care insouciance. I loved seeing his reaction to immersion into a new culture. He was more often mistaken for being Frenchman as the locals would walk right up to him speaking gregarious french. I have never been so proud.

Of all the cities we visited, I enjoyed traveling with Patrick to Berlin and Paris the most. In Berlin I was reminded how much of a historian my brother has always been. He was walking me around explaining all of the landmarks and their significance in the different wars. It was like having my own personal tour guide. I truly adore how he knows things like this and it reminds me that we are more alike in our old-souled ways than I remembered. In Paris, it was so much fun to watch his reaction upon setting eyes on some seriously famous landmarks. I feel like everyone should experience Paris in your early twenties. At that age, you are at such a remarkable time period and your surroundings make a deep impression on you at this point in your life.

Kirsten Ashley Photography & Design | Happiness Through My Eyes  - July :: King Tudor's European AdventureKirsten Ashley Photography & Design | Happiness Through My Eyes  - July :: King Tudor's European AdventureKirsten Ashley Photography & Design | Happiness Through My Eyes  - July :: King Tudor's European AdventureKirsten Ashley Photography & Design | Happiness Through My Eyes  - July :: King Tudor's European AdventureKirsten Ashley Photography & Design | Happiness Through My Eyes  - July :: King Tudor's European AdventureKirsten Ashley Photography & Design | Happiness Through My Eyes  - July :: King Tudor's European AdventureKirsten Ashley Photography & Design | Happiness Through My Eyes  - July :: King Tudor's European AdventureKirsten Ashley Photography & Design | Happiness Through My Eyes  - July :: King Tudor's European AdventureKirsten Ashley Photography & Design | Happiness Through My Eyes  - July :: King Tudor's European AdventureKirsten Ashley Photography & Design | Happiness Through My Eyes  - July :: King Tudor's European AdventureKirsten Ashley Photography & Design | Happiness Through My Eyes  - July :: King Tudor's European AdventureKirsten Ashley Photography & Design | Happiness Through My Eyes  - July :: King Tudor's European AdventureKirsten Ashley Photography & Design | Happiness Through My Eyes  - July :: King Tudor's European AdventureKirsten Ashley Photography & Design | Happiness Through My Eyes  - July :: King Tudor's European AdventureKirsten Ashley Photography & Design | Happiness Through My Eyes  - July :: King Tudor's European AdventureKirsten Ashley Photography & Design | Happiness Through My Eyes  - July :: King Tudor's European AdventureKirsten Ashley Photography & Design | Happiness Through My Eyes  - July :: King Tudor's European AdventureKirsten Ashley Photography & Design | Happiness Through My Eyes  - July :: King Tudor's European AdventureKirsten Ashley Photography & Design | Happiness Through My Eyes  - July :: King Tudor's European Adventure

So I hope you enjoy this “ode to my brother” of sorts…. he brought so much happiness to my life these past couple of months! This also gave me a chance to get creative and try new things in posing, lighting and post processing. I look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments below!

Don’t forget to continue on to Anna’s happiness for the month of July in the Netherlands by clicking HERE!

Until next month y’all! May you find a small bit of happiness in every day.

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MONDAY

1 :: Notes on the Fam – I know there have been some serious crickets on the blog for the past six weeks! I have been super busy hosting my whole family here in Germany! We had such a marvelous time together and it pains my heart to think that it’s over… BUT, we made some great memories and inside jokes and my dad and brother finally got to spend some quality time with my husband. I seriously can’t thank them enough for coming all the way across the ocean to visit. There’s something about sharing your life with your family that makes it so real. I was super stoked that my father brought both of his Cannon 60D bodies and some luxurious L series lenses for us to play with while he was here! Since I’m a sony user, it was awesome to be able to experiement with a different type of system and know that I can be confident on whatever kind of camera I’m using! So now that the fam is safely home and the 4th of July holiday is over and my husband FINALLY went back to work, I can now get back to my regularly scheduled business life! W00t!

2 :: Germany for the WIN – Also because my brother was here, we were serious world cup watchers all the way through the tournament. Imagine my delight at being able to follow Deutschland all the way through to the end! I have now had the priviledge of living in a foreign country when they win the World Cup. It’s seriously fantastically awesome. Even my little town exploded with fireworks, car horns, and a whole lot of shenanigans. I have to congratulate Germany on a job well done. It was a well earned goal {yay Götze!} and a brilliant victory!!!

2 :: Get Your Flippy Floppies – We are deep into summer ya’ll and I know I’m living in a foreign land when I have to get used to my flip flops every summer instead of simply wearing them year round. I know you’ll think I’m crazy, but I miss weather so hot you could fry and egg on the sidewalk. I’ll probably bite my tongue for saying that later. These are my lovely flip flop picks of the week courtesy of DSW! Enjoy! Click on a shoe to take you shopping at DSW online! 1) Roxy – Mai Tai Flip Flop – $15.95 2) Ivanka Trump – Ackley Flat Sandal – $39.95 3) Reef – Stargazer Flip Flop – $26.95 4) Sperry Top-Sider – Snapper Flip Flop – $19.95 5) Tommy Hilfiger – Celcey Flip Flop – $22.95 6) Tommy Hilfiger – Rayce Wedge Flip Flop – $29.95

3 :: #HappyMailswap14 – Design Roots had a sign up about a month ago for a happy mail swap and I am thrilled to have been able to sign up! What is a happy mail swap? Well it’s exactly what it sounds like…. you swap happy {seriously pretty} mail with someone living in a far corner of the world. She even had us list our favorite paper goodies to include in the package! I am psyched ya’ll! There are few things in life better than receiving mail that isn’t a bill… add some frills and beautiful typography, it’s enough to make anyone swoon. I am adopting a personal mission into Kirsten Ashley Photography & Design that I will do my utmost to spread the joy far and wide through the USPS {or Deutschland Post as the case may be!}.

4 :: Six Weeks Social Media Recap – Here’s the past six weeks in a nutshell! Normally I only recap one week at a time, but due to the extended gap, I figured it would be fun to update you on all the goings on. Enjoy! Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and never miss what’s going on daily!

5 :: Summer Adventures – While the fam was visiting we traveled a great deal. I wanted to share a few photos of our adventures together to jump back into the swing of things this Monday! There are plenty more where these came from… so get ready for an onslaught of photos!

 Brugge, Belgium | Kirsten Ashley Photography & DesignBrugge, Belgium | Kirsten Ashley Photography & DesignBrugge, Belgium | Kirsten Ashley Photography & DesignKirsten Ashley Photography & DesignLavender | Kirsten Ashley Photography & DesignRhine River Cruise | Kirsten Ashley Photography & Design

 Happy Monday Ya’ll!!! It’s my hope that Monday In A Moment brightens the beginning of your week so you can power through to the end!

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MONDAY

1 :: Wedding Season is Upon Us – Everyone I know in the bridal industry is already stretching their muscles for the long sprint to the end of summer as wedding season has begun! My instagram feed is full of flower arrangments, dresses, photographers, and venues alike. As I was a June bride myself, I get giddy when I think of other girls planning their own special day. Yes, if you’re a control freak like me if you try to do too much it does feel overwhelming. My biggest advice is to outsource anything and everything you can to people you trust with tasks that suit their strengths. Utilize your bridal party and close family and friends that you know will be in attendance. Trust me, the last thing you want to be worrying about as you enter your reception is “Where did the straight glass vases for the bridesmaids bouquets disappear to?” while your brand new husband is desperately trying to get you to forget about it and look at all the joy around you. So tuck in as I highlight some of my wedding favorites this year!

2 :: THE shoes – If you love shoes and your wedding footwear is to be the creme de la creme, then shopping the Nordstrom bridal boutique is for you! My jaw dropped as I scrolled through the options. Whatever your price range, from Manolo Blaniks to Nina, they have you covered. I could easily recommend beautiful magical stiletto heels, but this week I am going to recommend options for the outdoor bride. Having that stiletto ruined in mud and grass is NOT ideal, so lets look at some other possibilities shall we? If you do go with heels, Nordstrom makes these handy dandy “heel protectors” in a variety of colors so that those points don’t sink into the ground. GENIUS. Click on a shoe to take you shopping at Nordstrom & Etsy! 1) David Tutera – ‘Blue’ Wedge – $118.95 2) Etsy – Navy Blue Wedding Shoes/Ballet Flats with Ivory Lace – $67.00 3) Sarah Jessica Parker – ‘Bobbie’ Sandal (Nordstrom Exclusive) – $365.00 4) Betsey Johnson – Blue ‘Gown’ Sandal – Was: $129.95 SALE: $97.46 5) Jimmy Choo – ‘Kole’ Sandal – $1,595.00 6) Nina – ‘Emma’ Crystal Embellished Ankle Strap Pump (Online Exclusive) – $118.95 7) David Tutera – ‘Winter’ Wedge Sandal (Online Only) – $164.95

David Tutera 'Blue' WedgeSJP 'Bobbie' Sandal (Nordstrom Exclusive)Blue by Betsey Johnson 'Gown' SandalJimmy Choo 'Kole' SandalNina 'Emma' Crystal Embellished Ankle Strap Pump (Online Exclusive) | NordstromDavid Tutera 'Winter' Wedge Sandal (Online Only) | Nordstrom

3 :: just CAKE – OMG, the cake. Seriously it’s my favorite part about any wedding. I say, try to do what you can to have an outstanding tasting cake that also looks beautiful {trust me your guests will thank you}. Sounds impossible right? Not so much. Do you due diligence with cake tastings. Do you research and find vendors in your area that have what you are looking for and make an appointment. Destination wedding? I highly recommend you plan a trip to the location just to do vendor recon. Have family in the area with great taste palettes? Fantastic. Have them  attend your cake tasting appointment for you. Trust me, they won’t mind, for who doesn’t love free cake? I’ll have you know that my father and brother did my cake tasting for me and managed to locate the BEST vendor in town that suited my needs. When I was able to come home from Germany, we went back to discuss the final details such as flavors and design. So here are my top cake design picks for this wedding season!

Beautiful lace wedding cake by Cotton and CrumbsLace Wedding cake from Layered Bake Shop McKinney Texas!Vintage bird cakeRomantic creation ~ Cake Design: Cotton and CrumbsSouthern Belle inspired #wedding cake ~ Kelsea Holder Photography, Zest it Up Events | bellethemagazine.comPink + Gold http://www.theperfectpalette.com/2013/11/10-wedding-color-palettes-you-need-to.htmlOmbre Flowers

4 :: Custom Wedding Calligraphy Addressing – You are in luck! Kirsten Ashley Photography & Design now does custom wedding calligraphy addressing! From outer envelopes, to inner envelopes, to menu’s, to place cards. The sky’s the limit on ink and envelope color combinations! Contact me to chat about what I can do to make the day you say “I do!” customized and lovely!

Custom Wedding Calligraphy | Kirsten Ashley Photography

5 :: Stay Organized – Just another tip… stay as organized as possible. Newly engaged? March your cute butt down to an office supply store and pick up a binder and a set of twelve tabs. Choose the things that are the most important to you, your main priorities. Where do you want to spend the bulk of your budget? These categories get a tab of their own. Here was my list: Chapel {or church}, Reception, Cake, Shoes, Dress, Flowers, Photography, Invitations, Save-the-Dates, Rehearsal Dinner, Bridesmaids, Groomsmen, Transportation, & Honeymoon. Also, utilize Pinterest!!!!! This social media platform has revolutionized the way brides can view the vendors in the wedding industry. Binders not your thing? Create a board for every high priority topic and pin your little heart out. Need insipiration? My wedding boards are still up and running… feel free to take a look! Wedding Colors | Wedding Hair | My Shoe Obsession | Reception Decor | Just Cake | His Ring | Bridesmaid Dresses | Bouquets/Boutineer

6 :: Free Shipping on Prints & Canvas – This week from April 21th – 23rd {Today through Wednesday} Kirsten Ashley Photography & Design is having a Free Shipping Flash Sale on all prints and canvas. Have you have a session with Kirsten Ashley Photography? This free shipping offer applies to you! Simply access your private gallery via the client page and add prints and/or canvas to your shopping cart. There is no coupon code necessary. If you spend a minimum of $15 on an order you will receive free shipping at the checkout! This free shipping offer also applies to the Fine Art Print categories : Mother Nature, Foodie, Architecture, Adventures & Fenestrations. Get in on this free shipping offer before it ends on Wednesday!

Happy Monday Ya’ll!!! It’s my hope that Monday In A Moment brightens the beginning of your week so you can power through to the end!

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April 18, 2014
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Happy Easter weekend folks! If you’ve been keeping up with me on social media, you know that this spring in Germany has been extra everything good. Extra sun, extra blooms, extra awesome weather… you name it, it’s extra! D and I managed to get out to a local Ostereimarkt or Easter Egg Market in Siegelbach near Kaiserslautern. I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I think I figured it would be alot like a Christmas Market, but just Easter themed. I was sort of right, and way wrong all at the same time.

Nothing could have prepared me for the most amazing Easter eggs I have ever seen in my whole life. I have been super curious as to why Germans hang these beautiful creations from trees both inside and out. Well, this year I did my research and found the answer “The tradition of hanging decorated eggs on an Easter tree (usually a cluster of branches brought into someone’s home and kept in a vase) comes from Germany, were originally handmade ornaments were hung instead of eggs. The ornaments represented different Bible verses, all the way from Genesis to the Gospels. Children would add one ornament per day to the “tree” all the way through lent up to Easter. Sometimes just one ornament was added per week, then one each day during the week before Easter. Another meaning of the Easter tree is the medieval legend that the tree which provided the wood for Jesus’ cross came from a long line of trees which began with a beautiful tree in the garden of Eden. This shows the dual death/rebirth nature of the cross.” – WikiAnswers

There were about twelve booths that had distinctly different hand painted/created egg designs. I picked my favorites and managed to converse with the owners with the help of an extremely kind German woman. The people present at this event were some of the kindest Germans I have had the privilege of talking with. The hand illustrated bunnies were my favorite. What can I say, I love the classics. I looked up the book Die Häschenschule and it turns out the story is about The Bunny School. It’s a classic German children’s picture book much like Peter Rabbit. The calligraphy eggs had me over the moon with excitement! They sport the traditional Bible verses that were originally painted on the eggs. D even bought me one with my name! It also hit me like a ton of bricks that I definitely needed to calligraphy some eggs for Easter! It was one of those “Ohmigoshwhydidn’tithinkofthat?!?!” moments.

Kirsten Ashley Photography | OstereimarktKirsten Ashley Photography | OstereimarktKirsten Ashley Photography | OstereimarktKirsten Ashley Photography | OstereimarktKirsten Ashley Photography | OstereimarktKirsten Ashley Photography | OstereimarktKirsten Ashley Photography | OstereimarktKirsten Ashley Photography | OstereimarktKirsten Ashley Photography | OstereimarktKirsten Ashley Photography | OstereimarktKirsten Ashley Photography | OstereimarktKirsten Ashley Photography | OstereimarktKirsten Ashley Photography | OstereimarktKirsten Ashley Photography | Ostereimarkt

If you are interested in purchasing these beautiful eggs feel free to contact the following vendors. Be aware that some of them speak little English. 

For the Die Häschenschule or The Bunny School Eggs:
Marianne Strasser | Stockborner St. 10 67688 Rodenback | 06374 2668

For the calligraphy eggs:
Werner Müller | Waldstraße 7 66625 Nohfelden-BOSEN | 06852 1235 | wmuekalli@t-online.de

I want to wish all of you a wonderful Easter weekend, full of celebration, family, and love. D and I will be attending the early service {9 am} at Frontline Community Church. Come on down and join us if you’re on the hunt for a church here!

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