Archive for Happiness Through My Eyes
4

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!

SIGemailfbtwitterpinterestinstagramgplussubscribe

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

Welcome to the Happiness Through My Eyes blog circle founded by some seriously talented photographers I met one year ago in Amsterdam. Each month we pour out our happiness to you and link to each other to allow you a fantastic glimpse of bright happiness spots around the world. Let me tell you, it is fascinating! This month I link to Rebecca at Rebecca Spencer Photography based in Little Brickhill, Milton Keynes, England. Rebecca is an award winning photographer who manages to capture such emotion in her photographs! I always love her use of a shallow DOF. Be sure to check out her happiness for the month of September HERE!

I am so very excited to be introducing Bespoke Wedding Calligraphy to the design half of Kirsten Ashley Photography & Design! What exactly is a bespoke suite? The word bespoke comes from the  Old English word besprecan meaning “made to individual order or tailor-made”. One of the business foundations of KAPD is to create a tailor-made experience for every single client, so naturally this design idea feels right at home here! The month of September has been dedicated to the creation of a Bespoke Save-the-Date suite for Jen, a beautifuly stunning and talented 2015 bride. It is my joy to share the design process of this elegant suite customized to match her wedding colors and style.

It all starts on Pinterest. I know, right? You’re shocked… Pinterest is the best visual bulletin board for brides to give me an idea of their desired colors schemes and style. Everything from the florals, to the dress, to the shoes, cake, reception decor etc. The more information I have the easier it is for me to create a design that will fit in seamlessly with the days celebration. Here is a mood board that I used to culminate Jen’s vision for the day she says “I do!”. From this collage we agreed she is going to have predominately peach color scheme with hints of mint, sage, cream, and berry.

Next up is the design discussion. The bride sends me invite designs that she likes or element designs she wants to match. We talk fonts and style. Then it’s time for me to break out the pencils and watercolors to come up with a mock up. In some designs I will watercolor the complete design, but for most invitations, all of the design elements get painted separately, scanned in, and the put together in Photoshop. You can see below the different elements that went in to create the final proof and printed design.

The envelope design is by FAR my favorite part. My obsession with pretty mail {#longliveprettymail} is what helps my clients know they are in good hands. The scripts used for the addresses on the exterior usually match the invitation inside, so it is a matter of deciding on a composition that is both unique and stylish. Color mixing is a common daily activity here at KAPD, as most invitations require custom ink colors. Once the final color is mixed and the calligraphy is complete, the mock up of the exterior is sent to the client for review. Once the mock up has been approved, I mix a large batch of the custom ink color to be used on all invitations.

Kirsten Ashley Photography | Bespoke Wedding Invitations

One of the important steps of the process is creating a grid on each of the invitations so that the calligraphy is centered and evenly spaced. Depending on the type of envelope, I can sometimes use a light table to “see through” the envelopes so that the pencil line grid step is not necessary. Also, depending on the type of calligraphy, I will sketch an outline of names and address onto each invitation. It makes it easier so I don’t have to keep referencing my microscopic spreadsheet. You can see the pencil lines on the image below. These lines are erased once the ink is dry.

Kirsten Ashley Photography & Design | Bespoke Wedding Invitations

I really love to finish off invitations with a little bit of extra “oomph” that make them stand out among the standard mail. Stamps are one way to do this. I adore stamps because they last forever, even though the price of sending a one ounce piece of mail through the system is constantly rising. Some clients will opt for a spread of vintage stamps that add up to the correct postage. Either way it’s another way to coordinate colors, style, and the unique custom-made feel. Also, there are many ways to seal the back of the envelope. My favorite and a more traditional way is to use sealing wax and a custom seal. This bride’s style was a bit more vintage folk so we opted for a delicate lace cream and gold washi-tape closure. Other types of sealing include stickers, string ties with brads, etc. The sky is the limit on creativity.

Kirsten Ashley Photography | Bespoke Wedding Invitations

I am beyond thrilled with the finished save the date suite! Every piece added in is crucial to making the invitations “totally Jen” and perfectly tailor-made for her wedding! I want to thank her for allowing me the opportunity to make her shine on the days leading up to her wedding. I can hardly wait for her to receive them in the mail! Stay tuned as I am designing the wedding invitation suite and reception chalkboards as well! The finished images below show the invitations in all of their lovely detail.

Kirsten Ashley Photography & Design | Bespoke Wedding Invitations | Custom CalligraphyKirsten Ashley Photography & Design | Bespoke Wedding InvitationsKirsten Ashley Photography & Desing | Bespoke Wedding InvitationsKirsten Ashley Photography & Design | Bespoke Wedding InvitationsKirsten Ashley Photography & Design | Bespoke Wedding InvitationsKirsten Ashley Photography & Design | Bespoke Wedding InvitationsKirsten Ashley Photography & Design | Bespoke Wedding InvitationsKirsten Ashley Photography & Design | Bespoke Wedding InvitationsKirsten Ashley Photography & Design | Bespoke Wedding InvitationsKirsten Ashley Photography & Design | Bespoke Wedding InvitationsKirsten Ashley Photography & Design | Bespoke Wedding Invitations

I’d like to thank Jen again for bringing me such happiness and reason to celebrate through the month of September! If you are interested in having me design YOUR bespoke wedding, bridal shower, baby announcement, graduation, birthday party or tea party invitation suite, please visit my contact page or email me at kirstenashleyphotography@gmail.com. I look forward to hearing your stories and working to create something spectacular to celebrate your day!

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

Until next month’s happiness… Wishing everyone a lovely October!

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!

SIGemailfbtwitterpinterestinstagramgplussubscribe

 

 

 

 

 

6

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.

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!

SIGemailfbtwitterpinterestinstagramgplussubscribe

 

 

 

 

 

4

Then end of April is upon us, which means we’re already 1/3 of the way through 2014! My favorite months are all lined up in a row, the good seasons eagerly anticipating their turn to shine. April has been busy, but I still wanted to give you something to sink your teeth into for my happiness this month. If you’ve never been a part of a coffee tasting, you’re about to… get ready, get pumped, and love some coffee. To continue forward in the Happiness Through My Eyes blog circle, please join Anna Francken owner of Anna Francken Photography in the Netherlands as she delves into the joys of her heart for April. Anna and I met in Amsterdam in Sept of 2013 and I was delighted to find we had so much in common! We share a love for sealing wax and wax seals, old school dip and fountain pens, pretty mail, delicious food, wine and of course, coffee. Be sure to check out her post for this month! Her photography always makes my heart happy… AND she writes in Dutch & English, ’cause that’s how she rolls!

 

Once upon a time, long long ago, I was a Starbucks barista. Yes indeed. I was the shiny happy face that greeted you while you placed your order or chatted it up with you asking about your life as I handmade your custom Starbucks beverage. Aside from all of the caffeine deficient crazy folks that would stumble into our store, I really did enjoy this job. I had awesome co-workers, a fantastic boss, received a free pound of coffee every week, and free drinks while on shift {practically every day}. Don’t be fooled though, the job was hard work. I remember when I first started and my boss told me that it would take me about three months to have all of the drinks memorized and the step by step process of hand crafting a drink perfected. I thought she was nuts. I was the elitist overly smart kid with a masters degree… how hard could it be? I have never felt so foolish in my life. It was the hardest I have ever worked to be good at something. My inability to multi-task bit me in the ass every single day. However, when I finally managed to learn the system, I became pretty good at it and grew comfortable enough to build relationships with the regular customers in our store.

Kirsten Ashley Photography | Happiness Through My Eyes | April 2014  | A Proper Coffee Tasting

As a part of your training, you are taught how to properly conduct a coffee tasting. You can probably guess how ridiculously excited I was. Like a kid being taught to make sugar cookies for the first time. Starbucks, ever the corporate system, gives all of their employees a coffee passport. This book literally looks like a passport but contains all of the corporate information on each coffee blend as well as your own notes once you have completed a tasting of each blend. Guys, you know me… I’m an eager beaver over-achiever. I lit up like a slot machine on a jackpot pull. “You mean I get a handy dandy notebook to tell me all about the different kinds of coffee AND I get to write in it too?” Jaw dropping excitement. They even give you a sticker {GOLD STAR!!!} for each coffee you taste so you can “check it off” in your passport. If you make it all the way through and taste all of the blends, you are then promoted to a “Coffee Master”. Sadly, I never made it… our store was always too busy.

To conduct a tasting there are equipment essentials. You will need :: a french coffee press or italian moka pot, coffee grinder, whole bean coffee, water, and paring treats to bring out the flavors in you coffee. If you don’t own a french press, some of my favorite brands are Bodum, La Cafetiere, & Le Creuset or this pretty red press. I would go ahead and spend the money to purchase a nice one. The one you see pictured in these photos is a thermal press, which is really nice if you brew a full pot, and want to keep it warm and refill your cup. A french press is traditionally used to conduct a coffee tasting, but living in Europe has also made me a fan of the Italian moka pot. This three piece coffee maker produces a stronger espresso-like cup of joe that is extremely flavorful and packs a caffeine punch. Which method is better? It really depends on your personal preferences. The French Press will give you a rich cup of coffee that is a far cry above what comes out of a percolator, while the Italian moka pot gives you a traditional European style cup of coffee that has a similar consistency to espresso. If you are a true coffee lover, you will be delighted with either coffee brewing appliance.

There are several key components to a coffee tasting which include properly brewing coffee in a press, tasting characteristics, and the tasting process.  Lets start with grinding the whole beans. If you don’t want to bother with grinding your own, most coffee shops will happily grind your beans for you at the correct coarseness. The pro’s of having your own coffee grinder, is that the grounds are fresh and can make all the difference in taste. The image above shows the difference in grinds. The french press grind is more coarse than what you would put into a coffee percolator. I tend to grind mine a little finer because I really enjoy strong coffee. But be aware that the finer your grinds, the more coffee sludge will magically appear at the bottom of your cup of joe, kind of like tea leaves. I don’t mind the sludge, but it really bothers some folks. Most french presses are eight cup presses and will require a quarter pound of coffee grinds if you are measuring using a scale. Your press should also come with a coffee scoop that measures slightly bigger than a tablespoon. For my everyday coffee, I use six scoops for a full press, even though the instructions say to use eight. This may or may not be because my husband and I have different definitions of what “strong coffee” means. Your press will also come with instructions that tell you how many scoops you need to make a proper pressed cup, so have no fear!

To brew coffee in your press, measure the appropriate amount of grounds into the bottom of your press. Boil water on the stove using a kettle or saucepan {don’t laugh, I did this before we owned a tea kettle when we were first married}. When the water is boiling or your kettle is screeching at you, pour enough boiling water to fill your press leaving about 1/2″ to 3/4″ space at the top for the lid recession. DO NOT press the coffee. Let it sit unpressed for FOUR MINUTES. I know it’s painful to wait, but I promise you it’s worth it. When your timer dings {because you set a timer for FOUR MINUTES right?}, gently push the plunger down to press the coffee. Be careful not to press too fast or coffee can spurt out of the spout and burn you. It’s not fun and makes a huge mess. Also hold the whole contraption steady. I have a friend who smashed her press to smithereens… completely by accident. {facepalm.} Note that the longer you let the coffee sit in the press the stronger the brew will be. 

Now on to the characteristics of a coffee tasting. There are four “tasting terms” that are important to note while tasting your coffee blends. This is very similar to wine or liquor tastings, so if you’re familiar with either of those techniques, you’ll feel right at home! The four terms are: Aroma, Acidity, Body, and Flavor.

  1. The Aroma is all about how the coffee smells. The scent of the blend is directly related to the flavor of the coffee you are tasting. It is important to smell your coffee first because it is a well known fact that what we smell directly influences what we taste. Example terms of descriptive aromas are:  earthy, spicy, & floral.
  2. The Acidity of your coffee in a tasting doesn’t refer to how it would rate on a litmus test, it is referring to how it reacts to your palette. As you taste the coffee you will taste the acidity on different parts of your tongue, the front back and sides. Highly acidic coffees are often described as “bright, tangy with a crisp clean finish”. This is similar to how citrus tastes in your mouth. Low acidity coffees are smoother and more mellow. The taste tends to linger longer in your mouth.
  3. The Body of the coffee means the weight of it. Does it feel light or heavy in your mouth? Starbucks had us compare it to the different between non-fat milk, whole milk, & heavy cream. Full bodied coffees will linger and coat your tongue where lighter bodied blends will have flavors that dissipate quickly with a light finish.
  4. The Flavor of the coffee refers to how the coffee tastes. It is helpful to pick out the bolder flavors first and work your way through the blends complexities. Different people taste different things first, which is why it’s really fun to do this with a group. Some example flavores are cocoa, cherries, hazelnut, citrus, or vanilla. Paring blends with different foods can really enhance the flavors in the coffee, causing you to taste them immediately. See below for different food pairing options.


There are five steps to tasting your coffee: Smell, Slurp, Location, Bite & Slurp, and Write. Below you will find each step explained in full detail.

  1. Take a Big Whiff :: Just like in the explanation of the aroma above, smelling your coffee is the first step to tasting your coffee because your sense of smell is directly related to what you taste. Cup your hand around your mug, stick your nose in and take a big whiff. What do you smell? What kind of flavors pop up? Notice anything in particular? Discuss the aroma.
  2. Slurpity-Slurp :: I know your mother taught you to never slurp… but Momma ain’t here. Acutally, slurping your coffee is the best way to taste it because it allows the liquid to properly coat your tongue to ensure you get all of the flavors. So go on, slurp it up!!
  3. Location, Location, Location :: As you are slurping, note where the flavors are hitting your mouth. Is it the front, or back? Does it coat your mouth? Do the flavors die away quickly? Take mental notes
  4. Take a Bite & Slurp Again :: Now it’s time to pair food with your coffee. Take a small bite of your food pairing and spread the flavors out in your mouth. Now take a small slurp of coffee again. Note how certain flavors are greatly intensified. What are those flavors? Do different foods bring out different flavors? Which flavor is the most powerful?
  5. Write it Down Y’all :: Be sure to write down all of the information gleaned above about each coffee you taste. Much like tasting wine, it can be fun to keep a notebook of different coffees you have tasted from different regions. This way you can always look back and compare. Not to mention keep track of which coffees were your favorite and which ones you didn’t like at all.

Above you see some of the foods I enjoy pairing with coffee tastings. Good staples are good quality chocolate {milk & dark}, lemon cake, berries, nuts, cinnamon, & vanilla, & caramel. I also wanted to let you know which foods pair best with the coffees pictures in this post.

  • For Ethiopia Blend :: Pairs best with lemon and herbs. Citrus-y savory foods like lemon bars or lemon rosemary sables would be a great pick!
  • For Gold Coast Blend :: Pairs best with maple, chocolate and caramel. This blend goes AWESOME with breakfast and the lotus cookies paired above. It also happens to be my favorite blend from Starbucks!
  • For Komodo Dragon Blend :: Pairs best with herbs, cinnamon, & oatmeal. This coffee is extremely earthy so it pairs well with earthy natural foods.
  • For Tribute Blend :: Pairs best with chocolate, berries, and vanilla. Taste the flavors zing when paired with cherries or cranberries!

So there you have it. You are now educated on how to conduct a proper coffee tasting!!! W00t!!  This can be a really fun party to plan as an excuse to get your girlfriends together. Most of the time, people have done this with wine or liquor, but never with coffee. I am always amazed at what I find that I don’t enjoy. It’s never what I would have expected! I hope that you will go forth and taste your heart out. Coffee lovers of the world unite! I also want to shout-out a HUGE thank you to my father for sending SIX POUNDS of Starbucks coffee all the way to Germany. His kindness and love inspired this months happiness, for what could be better than opening a 14″ x 14″ box full of caffeine??? Thanks Dad! I love you!

I hope you’ve enjoyed my happiness for the month of April! Don’t forget to continue around the world to the next blog in the circle written by the lovely Anna Francken HERE! Be sure to leave a comment and show her some love!

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

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!

SIGemailfbtwitterpinterestinstagramgplussubscribe

 

 

 

 

 

1

MONDAY

1 :: Life Happens When – I always loved the quote “Life happens while your busy making other plans” by John Lennon. It’s completely 100% true. I am a planner… a scheduler… a devout list maker…. and sometimes I get so bogged down in feeling productive that I forget to take a look around me in the now. It isn’t until something earth shattering happens, like losing a loved one or a good friend moving away, that I refocus my eyes to see what’s directly in front of me instead of what’s always out of reach. I know that lots of women go through this sort of self actualization evident by Jessica Aiduk’s “Jessica’s Life Lessons” blog posts and Leah Remillet’s Building Balance Webinar. Some days you’re simply startled into the reality of what’s going on RIGHT NOW. If this resonates with you, my challenge to you in this season of life, is to remember to be full of grace, compassion, and flexibility. Be a kind and gentle to those around you. Flex your vision to encompass the now as well as the end of the day goals. You might find that there is a great deal of peace in snuggling into the current moments of your life.

2 :: Hello Outlet Mall – In the spirit of doing local things, I read that the outlet mall in Zweibrucken was open for Sunday shopping this past weekend! This is a huge anomaly as shops, grocery stores, home improvement stores, etc are ALL closed on Sundays here in Germany. D and I decided to investigate, although I didn’t check the hours they’d be open… so we wound up there at 11:30 am and they didn’t open until 1:00 pm. Refusing to be discouraged, we went ahead and walked around the whole outdoor complex just to see what stores and merchandise are available. I could hardly believe my eyes! All of the high end stores including a le cruset outlet, Ralph Lauren, Gant, & United Colors of Benneton and so much more!!! It was probably a serious godsend that the stores weren’t open… this way I wasn’t tempted to spend every single dollar I possess on new clothes and kitchen supplies. I further can’t believe we’ve been living here for two years and this mecca of shopping existed not 30 minutes away the whole time! {again probably a godsend} If you live in the Kaiserslautern area, you NEED to go check this mall out! They have Sunday shopping again on the 13th and 27th of April. Address for your GPS: Londoner Bogen 10-90, 66482 Zweibrücken, Germany

3 :: Sugar Rush – The sugar kibosh has been re-implemented at Casa Wollchlager to all around boost our heathy habits and prep for my husbands PT test. Y’all I’m dying. I swear Pinterest is taunting me. I’ve had more recipes for sugary treat goodness pop up in my news feed than ever before. There are days where I grab my husband’s arm and scream in crazed sugar withdrawal voice “I JUST NEED SOME SUGAR! PLEASE!?!?!?!?” He laughs at me as he pries my iron grip off… but inside I think he’s starting to freak out at my averse affects to lower sugar consumption. So to feed the beast, even if it’s just visually, this week’s recipe picks are all about SUGAR. Click on an image to take you to the recipe! Don’t forget to follow me on Pinterest and never miss a recipe! 1) Guiness Stout Chocolate Brownies 2) Softbatch Funfetti Sugar Cookies 3) Fudgy Vanilla Brownie 4) Softbatch Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies 5) Soft and Chewy Brownie Cookies

The nuttiness of the stout enhances the flavor making these Guinness stout chocolate brownies so rich and fudgy, it will be love at first biteSoftbatch Funfetti Sugar Cookies (from scratch not a mix) - Recipe at averiecooks.comFudgy Vanilla Brownie, also known as White Texas Sheet Cake, this recipe is AMAZING! #brownie #texassheetcake KristenDuke.comSoftbatch Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies - Move over butter. Cream cheese makes these cookies thick & super soft! - Recipe at averiecooks.comSoft and Chewy Brownie Cookies (from scratch, no mix) averiecooks.com

4 :: Just Breathe – Something about this new take on the traditional ballet flat has me over the moon with joy. I think it’s because I adore anything lace, and these delicate weave patterns make me feel like I’m wearing lacey shoes. LOVE! Click on a shoe to take you shopping online at Nordstrom! 1) Adrianna Papell – ‘Selina’ Flat (Online Only) – $71.16 SALE 2) BELLA VITA – ‘Taliah’ Flat – $79.95 3) Melissa – ‘Campana Papel V’ Glitter Flat – $79.95 4) kate spade new york – ‘banner’ lace & leather flat – $298.00 5) Melissa – + Jason Wu ‘III’ Cutout Jelly Flat $104.95 6) Sperry Top-Sider® – ‘Audrey’ Open Weave Leather Boat Shoe – $114.95

Adrianna Papell 'Selina' Flat (Online Only)Bella Vita 'Taliah' FlatMelissa 'Campana Papel V' Glitter Flatkate spade new york 'banner' lace & leather flatMelissa + Jason Wu 'III' Cutout Jelly FlatSperry Top-Sider® 'Audrey' Open Weave Leather Boat Shoe available at #Nordstrom

5 :: Happiness Through My Eyes | March – Are you excited about the handwriting extravaganza that’s going on tomorrow on the blog? I know I am! Join me in the latest installment of the “Happiness Through My Eyes” blog circle as I take you through my world on The Art of Lettering. From felt tip pens to dip pen calligraphy I will showcase some of my favorite writing styles, current projects, the best brands, and helpful tools for those just starting to learn. Don’t forget to check it out!

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!

 Hit the subscribe button to the left to receive the Kirsten Ashley Photography Blog in your email whenever it’s posted! Like this post? Hit the like button or leave a comment to show some love! OR you can constantly follow Kirsten Ashley Photography’s blog with Bloglovin.

SIGemailfbtwitterpinterestinstagramgplussubscribe

 

 

 

 

 

4

March has already come to a close! Where does the time go? For my happiness this month, as promised last Friday, get ready for an onslaught of handwriting bliss! The next blog in the circle is written by the magnificent Ana Quiroga in Barcelona, Spain. She and I share a great affinity for delicious food, her thermamix, le cruset and of course, fantastic photography. Be sure to head to her blog Los Baltasar and continue to follow the circle around the world!

Confession: I am an impulse pen buyer. As I walk down the aisles of plastic packaged writing instruments my heart gets all a-flutter at the thought that I could find the most perfect tool for a new handwriting style. I am also a pen hoarder. I have left jobs with gallon ziplock baggies full of felt tip signing pens that I had managed to stash in my desk. I blame my obsession with handwriting which began bright and early at age seven. Yep, seven. My mother would bring out her calligraphy set from college circa 1975 and would proceed to create beautiful swirls and swashes of lettering in styles I could only dream about. Passing notes with my girlfriends in high school was an art form. I carried around a make-up bag chock full of pens in every color of the rainbow. In a least one class a day I would set out to create a masterpiece only to be handed off in crowded halls between periods. It dawned on me that everyone’s handwriting has a story to tell. It would seem that mine would develop a severe case of schizophrenia, taking on a different personality as my mood shifts. College only fed the handwriting beast that craved picture perfect penmanship as I was required to create my own handwriting style to use on a daily basis.  My studio teachers would accuse me of being too “fonty” and “girly” shaking their heads and sighing with deep seated disappointment as though I was a broken thing that couldn’t be fixed.

But still I persevered. Fast forward to 2012, three years after college, when I am in the throws of chaotic wedding preparation. It was all color palettes and dress material… and which shoes? peonies or roses? and which shoes? and the invitation suite… and seriously which shoes? Some how or another like every bride, I stumbled upon Besty Dunlap, the original pioneer woman of modern calligraphy. I was starstruck by her loops and whorls and completely breathless at the delicate art she created by hand. Of course me being the DIY-er from hell, I thought to myself… “I can do that! Sure!” And thus, all of those years of handwriting obsession and practice finally paid off as I addressed in calligraphy by hand over 100 envelopes, return address envelopes, name tags, and other various bits of flora and fauna for our big Texas wedding.

By then I became painfully aware of the fact that I have this quirky insatiable need to bring the art of hand lettering to the masses. I’m an old soul who loves hand written letters in beautifully calligraphied envelopes with a custom wax seal. A mail isn’t just a letter, it’s an art form. Why do something boring, when you could make it beautiful and spectacular? No matter where life has taken me I always managed to come back to this place of pens, ink, nibs, and paper. The smell of fresh ink on cotton paper will always make me giddy. Seriously, why has no one bottled that scent?

This March I decided to incorporate the art of hand lettering into Kirsten Ashley Photography making it Kirsten Ashley Photography & Design. The details are currently still in the planning phase, but I am accepting orders for custom calligraphy and design work. The possibilities are so endless, which means if you can dream it, I can do my best to make it happen. From addressed outer envelopes to inner envelopes to business cards and branding identity design, I want to use the art of hand lettering to add a bit of sparkle to your life. I invite you to take a peek at past projects below.

Kirsten Ashley Photography & Design Calligraphy StylesJesse's Girl Photography Branding by Kirsten Ashley Photography & DesignAddressed Envelope by Kirsten Ashley Photography & DesignHoliday Card & Calligraphy by Kirsten Ashley Photography & DesignCalligraphy by Kirsten Ashley Photography & DesignHandmade Valentine by Kirsten Ashley Photography & Design

I know that there are other handwriting obsessed souls out there who are dying to learn modern calligraphy so that they too can send pretty mail. Well you’re in luck, as I have compiled a list of AH-mazing artists, each with different calligraphy styles, who teach classes in various states and even online!

Heather BloemDesign Roots – Heather was my first find and therefore became my favorite. Her calligraphy is outstanding and her classes for both beginners and experienced folks are fantastic with titles like Grit & Gold Calligraphy Workshop…. I mean who wouldn’t want to join in on THAT fun? She also sells supplies {which can be incredibly hard to find depending on where you’re located. I had her put together a custom package to ship to Germany and rarely have I been so excited to get mail!

Victoria & JennyMoira Ink Calligraphy & Lettering – These ladies have a knack for everything Victorian and super classy. I adore their website {all creams and pale pinks} and their calligraphy is ridiculously inspiring. These ladies conquer some serious territory one living in Portland and one in Philadelphia. Classes are offered here too for beginners and advanced in phoenix and portland. I am also in awe of their buisness brackets Moira Ink, Design House of Moira, Moira Design Studio & Moira Events all under one roof. Swoon!

Bianca Mascorro – Little Miss Press – Holy gold leaf and princess crowns Batman! I am positively obsessed with letterpress right now and this girl has seriously done it right. Bianca’s designs are stunning and her calligraphy is positively delicate. She offers a class called Champagne Calligraphy Brunch… that’s like my three favorite things all before noon! Be sure to sign up if you’re in the San Francisco, CA area!

I also wanted to take you through a glimpse of my handwriting world. I own way too many nibs, fountain pens, inks, wax seals and sealing wax…. but it makes me happy. It also tends to bring some sunshine to whomever is on the receiving end of what ever I use it for, so it’s definitely worth it. Here I will showcase some of my favorite nibs, different dip pen holders, writing styles, and every day writing pens.

Below are some of my all time favorite nibs and everyday use pens. I tend to favor Pilot as their ink is super black and the quality of the point is unsurpassed. Enjoy!

Kirsten Ashley Photography & Design | Nib FavoritesKirsten Ashley Photography & Design | Awesome Everyday Pens


For those of you just starting out I wanted to note a few things that have been particularly helpful in my calligraphy journey. Some of these things are common sense, but I have tried a great many brands and these in particular rock my world.

1) Practice Pad Marker Paper – Bought from Design Roots it’s great for slipping a guide sheet underneath the translucent paper for practice! 2) Guide Sheet – found on iampeth.com, guide sheets help your hand learn to size your letter appropriately at the correct slant. 3) Draftsman Mini Duster Brush – A LIFESAVER when brushing off any pencil outlines or guides. 4) Dr. Phil Martin’s Bombay Pen Cleaner – helps keep your nibs clean and removes stubborn acrylic residue! 5) Watercolor Calligraphy Pen Brush – Makes it easy as pie to make beautiful brush lettering. Just fill the pen and go! 6) Gouache – This particular brand is an inexpensive student grade, which I recommend if you’re just wanting to try out making your own differnent color inks. Once you get the hang of mixing to the right consistency, move on up to Windsor Newton’s Designer Gouache! 7) Glass Mixing Bowl – Found at IKEA and was supposed to be used for tea lights, these little dishes are great for mixing inks! The wide mouth allows both oblique and regular dip pen access! 8) Omnigrid Rulers – My mother first introduced me to these amazingly stellar rulers although she used them for quilting. You never have to worry about keeping your lines straight with this baby. Creating mock up lines is a breeze with it’s handy dandy grid system and helpful angles too! 9) Q-Tips – Found everywhere these little suckers will help you keep your nibs squeaky clean! 10) Small Round Brush – Once you get the hang of the watercolor brush, you can graduate to using a round brush. Make sure the brush you purchase has a very sharp pointed tip! 11) Mixing Brush – When you are mixing your own gouache inks, I’ve found it super helpful to have separate brush used just to help mix the gouache medium into the water. Sometimes it gets a little stubborn and having a brush handy is so helpful! 12) Magic Rub Eraser – Seriously y’all it’s magic. I swear by this eraser! It will get out even the most stubborn of pencil lines without ruining your dry ink!

All in all, I am thrilled at the opportunity to continue forward with my handwriting endeavors. Thanks for following along in my little pocket of happiness for the month of March. I look forward to working with some of you in the future on custom calligraphy designs!

To continue to the next link in the “Happiness Through My Eyes” blog circle, head on over to Ana Quiroga as she writes about happiness through her eyes in Barcelona, Spain click -> HERE!

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!

SIGemailfbtwitterpinterestinstagramgplussubscribe

 

 

 

 

 

5

That’s right folks! The end of February is here which means it’s time for me to share my happiness for the month. I am still giddy with excitement at being a part of this blog circle! To read the next post in the blog circle, please click the link to take you to London, England to the blog of Rebecca Spencer. Rebecca is a super amazingly talented photographer and was recently given the award for the Guild of Photographers to 10 photographer’s of the year!!! Huge congratulations to her, and be sure to check out her award winning work, you are in for a real treat!

This month my happiness was reluctant to leave the french pastry realm, so I zeroed in on my other favorite: French Madeleines. Once upon a time back when I was an architect working for OPN architects, I was having the worst day. I don’t remember exactly what happened, but it was one of those days where everything went wrong and I could barely hold back the tears that were threatening to escape. My husband {my fiancee at the time} was already living in our home in Germany. He would call me once a day over lunch so we could connect despite the seven hour time difference. On the phone that day, he told me to keep my chin up and surely things would turn around and get better. Sometime that afternoon, the receptionist was at my desk with a large box from my favorite Cedar Rapids french pâtisserie Croissant Du Jour. It was full of Madeleines!!! I swear their entire stock was in that box. My husband had magically delivered my favorite french cookies to my office and completely made my day! What he doesn’t know is that he made everyone else’s day too as I shared the magical deliciousness with all the OPN staff. While my love for these sweets began long ago, this particular day solidified the idea that french pastries can turn ANY day around no matter what bad things happened!

These light “cake-cookies” are one of my most favorite treats {other than macarons of course!}. I just adore their beautiful shell shaped bellies that set this cookie apart from any other. They are amazing with coffee and can be made in almost any flavor including almond, lavender, chocolate, and lemon. Many of you have probably seen these cookies a three-pack mass produced and sold at Starbucks, but I have to tell you that nothing compares to stepping into a french pâtisserie and tasting one made that day by an authentic french artisan pastry chef.

So this begs the question, Do you have to be a five star authentic french artisan pastry chef to make these delightful treats? I’m super happy to report that you don’t. You know what’s even better? These cookies are FAR easier to make than macarons!! {Woo hoo!} So the hunt began for the best recipe. What do I mean by the best? Iconic desserts like this can have a million variations and can even get “Americanized” {audible gasp} so I wanted a recipe that was authored by an authentic frenchman/woman. I stumbled across this recipe from 101 cookbooks by Heidi Swanson and was immediately hooked by the story behind it. She picked up this recipe from her friend Lanha, who got if from her sister Kaly. Lanha says “I enjoy making madeleines for Silvio {her French husband} because they remind him of his life in France.” SOLD. After perusing through the recipe it was actually easier than Martha Stewarts {SCORE!} and is authentically french {YES!}.

What is a madeleine exactly? Well there are only six ingredients {if you don’t count the flavor}: eggs, sugar, salt, flour, butter, & vanilla. I was kind of shocked. I expected to have go on a scavenger hunt to locate some particular kind of french marzipan or rosewater. The great thing about these cookies is that most of the time, anyone has all of these ingredients already in their kitchen on any given day. If you husband calls you at lunch and proceeds to tell you {not ask you} that Dave and Margery are coming over for dinner, you can whip up a batch of madeleines for dessert in no time!

Of course I made notes on the recipe so that your madeleines can be the absolute best on your first try. Note that these tips are based on my oven in my home at my altitude here in Germany.

  • Specialty Pan :: Unfortunately, these cookies require their own pan made specifically for baking madeleines. Most cooking stores have them, but mine {pictured above} is from William-Sonoma and can be purchased here. It’s important to note that madeleine pans usually come in two sizes: regular and mini. The only difference is that the mini madeleines bake in the oven for less time. How do you know  if your pan makes regular or mini madeleines? If your madeleine is mold is smaller than a large egg it’s a mini pan.
  • I’ll take my Butter Browned :: Browning the butter is what makes these cookies stand out from all of the other recipes I looked at. I know that it seems tedious, but the rich nutty caramel flavor the butter adds, is a key ingredient. Without this process you simply have plain ‘ole melted butter… and who wants their madeleines to taste plain? Not this girl! It does take a little bit of time and I’ve included a photo collage of shots throughout the process to give you an idea of what to expect.
  • Use a Timer :: It’s important not to underwhip/overwhip the eggs. Using a timer works like a charm!
  • Grease & Flour :: Do NOT skip this step. Even if you pan is “non-stick”. I did it once just to see what would happen and I had to peel my madeleines out of the pan with a knife. They looked like the zombie madeleine apocolypse. I was super heartbroken and frustrated… but fear not! Greasing and flouring your pan works like a charm every time! You can grease with butter {be sure to use unsalted}, crisco, or even cooking spray {I tried it and it works!}. Flouring the pan is easy, but due to the shape of the pan {and perhaps the person doing the flouring} it makes a mess. It’s recommended that you do this part outside, but I live on the 9th floor of a highrise and I’m not about to shake flour down on an unsuspecting German pedestrian. I spread out a long sheet of papertowels and sift flour on top of the pan to cover it. Then I shake it around allowing the flower to drop onto the paper towel making sure to knock on the back in the end to shake out any stubborn bits. Then you can simply fold the paper towel and shake the leftover flower back into your flour canister! Yay minimal mess!
  • Cookie Scoop It :: The batter in it’s final state drives me nuts. It doesn’t pour, your can’t transfer it with a spoon, and most of the time I make a huge mess… until I discovered that using a regular cookie scoop makes life SO much easier! You’re able to scoop small portions of batter and ladle it into the pan without spilling!
  • Don’t Deflate :: After baking your first round of madeleines you’ll find that your batter has all of these air pockets. Don’t stir it! Deflating the batter will make dense madeleines. Simply keep on scooping like normal.
  • Take Out & Release :: In the recipe it says to de-mold your madeleines immediately after taking them out of the oven. VERY important. Just dump them out onto a cooling rack shell-side up.
  • Wash Your Pan :: Between batches it’s important to wash your pan, then re-grease and re-flour. Yes I know it’s a pain… but the batch usually only makes about three pans full at most. So quit your whining and do it!

So here is your recipe courtesy of 101 cookbooks. It is her exact recipe with photographs by Kirsten Ashley Photography. Any comments from me are made in blue. Enjoy!

French Madeleines by 101 cookbooks & Lahna & Kaly
Makes 2 -3 dozen regular madeleines

Ingredients

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (6 ounces)
2 tablespoons softened unsalted butter (for greasing pan)
3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
a pinch fine-grain sea salt
2/3 cups sugar
zest of one large lemon {I use about 1/2 t of almond extract instead of lemon zest to make almond madeleines.}
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
powdered sugar

a bit of extra flour for dusting baking pan

Special equipment: A madeleine baking pan, regular or small

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Melt the 1 1/2 sticks of butter in a small pot over medium heat until it’s brown and gives off a deliciously nutty aroma, roughly 20 minutes. Strain (using a paper towel over a mesh strainer) – you want to leave the solids behind. Cool the butter to room temperature. By doing the butter first you can complete the rest of the steps while it is cooling.

While the melted butter is cooling, use the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter to grease the madeleine molds – get in there and make sure you get in all the ridges. Dust with flour and invert the pan tapping out any excess flour. Lanha uses “cooking spray” with flour to simplify this part.

Put the eggs with the salt in the bowl of an electric mixer with a whisk attachment. Whip on high speed until thick – you are looking for the eggs to roughly double or triple in volume – approximately 3 minutes. Continuing to mix on high speed, slowly add the sugar in a steady stream. Whip for 2 minutes or until mixture is thick and ribbony. Now with a spatula fold in the lemon zest and vanilla (just until mixed).

Sprinkle the flour on top of the egg batter, and gently fold in. Now fold in the butter mixture. Only stirring enough to bring everything together.

Spoon the batter into the molds, filling each mold 2/3 -3/4 full. I use a small cup filled with batter to keep things clean and manageable, it is easier than using a spoon.

Bake the madeleines for 12 – 14 minutes (7-10 minutes for smaller cookies), or until the edges of the madeleines are golden brown. Remove from oven and unmold immediately. Cool on racks and dust with powdered sugar. {I skipped the powdered sugar step as I like my madeleines plain!}

 Madelines are such a lovely treat for me! They definitely take me back to my time spent visiting France over the years. They make delightful gifts to friends or family in these cute boxes made from recycled cereal boxes! I hope you enjoy this food photoshoot as much as I did. Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard is a great read and so SO french! Be sure to check it out!

I truly hope you get a chance to bake this french cookie and share it with your friends and family. They never disappoint! Should you want a personal lesson in making madeleines be sure to email me at kirstenashleyphotography@gmail.com and I’d be delighted to set up a baking day for us!

To continue to the next link in the “Happiness Through My Eyes” blog circle, head on over to Rebecca Spencer Photography as she writes about happiness through her eyes in London, England click -> HERE!

Wishing everyone a most marvelous Friday!!

SIGemailfbtwitterpinterestinstagramgplussubscribe

Sign Up For Our Mailing List

Get on the list to recieve exclusive content and news about the goings on in the KACD studio!

awaiting activity ...