French Press 101

Ok if you're anything like me, you probably enjoy a little caffeine in the morning. Generally speaking, I'm not too serious about it but I do appreciate something beyond the Dunkin' Donut variety. I think I can recognize a 'good' cup from a 'bad' cup but I'm not at the level of buying special water to brew my coffee nor to I spend much time thinking about the chemistry of it all (while it is fascinating)  - at the end of the day, my goal is just to have a tasty cup or two in the morning before starting my day. What I'm finally accepting is that things like grinding your coffee right before you brew do have an impact that I can taste and appreciate. I've also recently learned that I've been making french press coffee all wrong, for years. Ha! Soooo, for all those in this boat - let's get to brewing some french press goodness properly so we can at least make our cups the best we can. By the way, if you're in the market this freaking gorgeous copper Bodum french press I photographed here is avail at Amazon.  And yes, this is an affiliate link meaning I get a small % if you purchase through it (hey, a girl's gotta save money for new gear and keep this business growing somehow, right?). Ok, let's get back to it! Ahem...tutorial time.

French Press 101

1. Get a bag of lovely coffee beans - I'm extremely lucky here in Seattle to have a great coffee shop in the bottom of my building (shoutout to Royal Drummer). They bring in new coffee constantly from a variety of roasters and I feel like I get to try so many offerings.  For today, I'm going to use Pink Bourbon (hailing from Jose Antonio Trujillo in Columbia) from Evans Brothers Coffee in Idaho.  Even if you don't have a coffee shop near you to snag beans, you can always get them at the grocery store. Check for the roasted date to try and get something as fresh as you can.

Danielle Motif Photography French Press 101

2. Grind your beans (coarsely) - The folks over at Bodum say that if it's too fine you'll clog the filter and create high pressure. No one wants high pressure right? (insert joke about not knowing why this is important, but I tend to believe what instruction manuals tell me so let's just go with it). I was using a coffee and spice grinder for years but felt like I never quite had the right consistency.  I finally invested in a grinder that does some of that guesswork for me. So far, it has been far more accurate. 

French Press 101

3. Measure out 1 tbsp of ground coffee per cup (4oz) of water and put it in your french press - I think this is where I usually fall a bit flat and I usually just eyeball it. Trying to kick the habit.  True aficionados will have a scale and measure out a specific amount.  I'll be honest, I'm just not awake enough to deal with that. Plus, it's another step - however, it's a real thing and people who want to spend the time and energy with that, definitely should.

French Press 101

4. Pour hot (not boiling) water into your french press. Most of them have little cup marks along the side to help you measure how much to pour in.  Now, a word about this - how do you know how hot is too hot? I don't and again I try to do my best here without getting too technical with it. So I boil up some water and then just let it sit for a minute to come down below boil temp and then pour it in. 

French Press 101

5. Stir the brew up with a plastic spoon for about :30-:45 - The concern about using anything metal is that you could hurt the glass. I haven't managed to screw that up yet, but makes sense to me. I apparently couldn't find any plastic spoons in my kitchen so I opted for a little mini spatula to do the job.

French Press 101

6. Put the plunger in and let it brew for 4-6 min - I've been reading a variety of write ups on this and while Bodum suggests 4 min, some people say a slightly longer amount of time will be best. Play with it and find what you like best.

French Press 101

7. Plunge slowly & pour and there you go! - I'm a sugar + cream kind of gal so I also add in a little of that for good measure. When in doubt about your efforts, just try it again tomorrow and test new timings and grind-sizes. You'll find what you like best. 

French Press 101
French Press 101
French Press 101
French Press 101
French Press 101

Here's the handy (affiliate) link for the Bodum French Press one more time for those in the back. Now go make some delicious coffee and have the best day ever with your caffeinated self. 

Travelogue: Santorini, Greece

8 years ago I took a solo two week adventure to Italy and Greece.  It was before I had been really doing any blogging, before I was on Instagram, and at a time when I knew photography was going to be a big part of my life and I wanted to discover more with it.  I took my little Canon Rebel with me, my kit lens, a fisheye, a hard drive, and a little Canon Elph point and shoot desperate for some sort of 'epihany' to point me in the right direction in my 30s. Besides the obvious excitement about an adventure and traveling to new places I was specifically hell bent on seeing the places that had been visualized so viscerally for me in cinema, music, and literature, and food shows. I had to have pizza in Naples. I needed to be on the twisty road to Positano.  I wanted to wear capris in Capri.  I wanted to have a Greek salad in Greece.  And most importantly, I absolutely positively had to see the caldera of Santorini. My personal links to the Mediterranean are limited to a teeny tiny % of my DNA being Iberian (which trust me, was enough for me to be ELATED about - proof! I have a connection there!) - however my romanticized version of this region and subsequent level of exception is just hard to encapsulate into words. In a previous adventure (my first to Europe) I also traversed more of its coasts.  From Barcelona and Nice through to Monte Carlo and Cinque Terre, I melted into this part of the world as though I had lived there my whole life.  The food, style, music, art, architecture, everything has resonated wth me since I can remember.  And with all this backstory, I give you the first in a series I would like to share of my adventures.  And while Santorini wasn't my actual starting point - it was perhaps the destination I was most excited about so we're going to begin there. It was the most magical place I've ever been.

Breakfast over the caldera in Fira.

Breakfast over the caldera in Fira.

Just as sun starts to dip, overlooking the caldera in Fira.

Just as sun starts to dip, overlooking the caldera in Fira.

Fira

Fira

Santorini sights. Doorways and donkeys.

Santorini sights. Doorways and donkeys.

Sunset on the caldera in the town of Fira on Santorini

Sunset on the caldera in the town of Fira on Santorini

Greek olives forever and always amen.

Greek olives forever and always amen.

The town of Oia at the northern end of the island of Santorini.

The town of Oia at the northern end of the island of Santorini.

Exploring on Santorini

Exploring on Santorini

Walkways and doorways in Oia

Walkways and doorways in Oia

Looking at Oia and Fira in the distance over the caldera.

Looking at Oia and Fira in the distance over the caldera.

Couple taking a moment in Oia

Couple taking a moment in Oia

Oia

Oia

Atlantis Books in Oia.

Atlantis Books in Oia.

Tuxedo cat perched in the best view in the town of Oia.

Tuxedo cat perched in the best view in the town of Oia.

One of the many churches on the island.

One of the many churches on the island.

Dinner in Oia on the edge of the caldera.

Dinner in Oia on the edge of the caldera.

Taking in all the beauty over a delicious meal

Taking in all the beauty over a delicious meal

Sunset in Oia is not to be missed. 

Sunset in Oia is not to be missed. 

HONEY LAVENDER ICE CREAM

Honey Lavender Ice Cream

If you live in Seattle, you probably know of Molly Moon's Ice Cream.  They've been around since 2008 and I've spent many a summer night (and truthfully cozy winter nights too) just sitting in one of the shops enjoying a rich scoop and taking in the waffle cone smells. Every single time a friend or family member would come into town I simply have to take them.  

(bit of legal here...the link below to Molly's cookbook on Amazon IS an affiliate link meaning I get a commission if you purchase through it - ok back to it)

Molly Moon Neitzel not only gives us tasty ice cream and a beautiful place to enjoy it in, she also put all her recipes into a seasonally organized cookbook!  Thank you, thank you Molly!  Last weekend I had an inaugural go of: 1) making ice cream 2) using my Kitchen Aid's ice cream attachment and I started with one of the classics from the shop - Honey Lavender. To my surprise it was relatively straightforward with just 5 ingredients: cream, whole milk, honey, lavender, and sugar. Definitely required a lot of setting the timer on my microwave and iPhone (I may have also tackled a recipe I found for honey lavender popsicles at the same time) but so worth the wait and it tastes so good. The biggest challenge I had was getting it cold enough, gathering pals to partake with me and drink up a bit of rose - no problem.  

Honey Lavender Ice Cream
Rose and Lavender
Rose and Lavender

THE HAMLINS

I cannot express how delighted I am that we're finally into blossom season!!  We're dipping into my favorite time of year for photos - spring and summer!!!  I was definitely lucky to kick it off right with Nicole, Eric, and their little one Ollie over at the Volunteer Park Conservatory.  We had the best morning checking out the stunning botanical gardens and then spending a bit of time underneath the beautiful blossoms outside.  Everything was so lush and green.  All the new growth and bright color was a perfect backdrop to photograph the Hamlins as they're about to welcome a new baby girl into their growing family.  It was also fun to see Eric and Ollie check out all the plants in the conservatory.  Eric has a major green thumb and it looks like the apple didn't fall too far from the tree. I think one of the highlights for me was seeing how much Ollie had changed since I photographed him when he wasn't quite standing on his own.  In the past he's been mostly observant and maybe a little skeptical of me and the camera but this go around he was super smiley, dolling out high-fives, and running around with boundless energy. There was a lot of engagement with the camera this time, some sneaky escapes from mom and dad to freedom, and omg - the back and forth it took to get him to hold that 'big brother' sign. Haha! Oh to be a toddler again. 

Danielle Motif Photography Maternity and Family Shoot at Volunteer Park Conservatory in Seattle
Danielle Motif Photography Maternity and Family Shoot at Volunteer Park Conservatory in Seattle
Danielle Motif Photography Maternity and Family Shoot at Volunteer Park Conservatory in Seattle
Danielle Motif Photography Maternity and Family Shoot at Volunteer Park Conservatory in Seattle
Danielle Motif Photography Maternity and Family Shoot at Volunteer Park Conservatory in Seattle
Danielle Motif Photography Maternity and Family Shoot at Volunteer Park Conservatory in Seattle
Danielle Motif Photography Maternity and Family Shoot at Volunteer Park Conservatory in Seattle
Danielle Motif Photography Maternity and Family Shoot at Volunteer Park Conservatory in Seattle
Danielle Motif Photography Maternity and Family Shoot at Volunteer Park Conservatory in Seattle
Danielle Motif Photography Maternity and Family Shoot at Volunteer Park Conservatory in Seattle
Danielle Motif Photography Maternity and Family Shoot at Volunteer Park Conservatory in Seattle
Danielle Motif Photography Maternity and Family Shoot at Volunteer Park Conservatory in Seattle
Danielle Motif Photography Maternity and Family Shoot at Volunteer Park Conservatory in Seattle
Danielle Motif Photography Maternity and Family Shoot at Volunteer Park Conservatory in Seattle
Danielle Motif Photography Maternity and Family Shoot at Volunteer Park Conservatory in Seattle
Danielle Motif Photography Maternity and Family Shoot at Volunteer Park Conservatory in Seattle
Danielle Motif Photography Maternity and Family Photo Shoot at Volunteer Park and Conservatory in Seattle
Danielle Motif Photography Maternity and Family Shoot at Volunteer Park Conservatory in Seattle
Danielle Motif Photography Maternity and Family Shoot at Volunteer Park Conservatory in Seattle
Danielle Motif Photography Maternity and Family Shoot at Volunteer Park Conservatory in Seattle
Danielle Motif Photography Maternity and Family Shoot at Volunteer Park Conservatory in Seattle
Danielle Motif Photography Maternity and Family Shoot at Volunteer Park Conservatory in Seattle
Danielle Motif Photography Maternity and Family Shoot at Volunteer Park Conservatory in Seattle
Danielle Motif Photography Maternity and Family Shoot at Volunteer Park Conservatory in Seattle
Danielle Motif Photography Maternity and Family Shoot at Volunteer Park Conservatory in Seattle
Danielle Motif Photography Maternity and Family Shoot at Volunteer Park Conservatory in Seattle
Danielle Motif Photography Maternity and Family Shoot at Volunteer Park Conservatory in Seattle
Danielle Motif Photography Maternity and Family Photo Shoot at Volunteer Park Conservatory in Seattle

TOMPKINS FAMILY

Last weekend I had an amazing time with the Tompkins family down in California!  Kasey and I went to college together and it had been so long since I'd seen her.  It was a total treat to get to meet her husband Jeff and their son Ian.  We went to Manhattan Beach for our pics and made our way along the boardwalk (incidentally a fave pastime of mine from college was to go sit on the pier and photograph the surfers here).  When we first started it was super overcast and then as we made our way towards ice cream...well, the sun came out in full force.  Now a word or two about little Ian.  This kid cracked me up the entire time.  First of all, he has these little curls that have a personality all their own.  Then add to that a love for his stuffed frog, bubble gun, truck, and chocolate ice cream and we had a lot of fun shooting.  We ended the session over at Manhattan Beach Creamery and we certainly enjoyed every bite.

Danielle Motif Photography Family Portraits at the Beach
Danielle Motif Photography Family Portraits at the Beach
Danielle Motif Photography Family Portraits at the Beach
Danielle Motif Photography Family Portraits at the Beach
Danielle Motif Photography Family Portraits at the Beach
Danielle Motif Photography Family Portraits at the Beach
Danielle Motif Photography Family Portraits at the Beach
Danielle Motif Photography Family Portraits at the Beach
Danielle Motif Photography Family Portraits at the Beach
Danielle Motif Photography Family Portraits at the Beach
Danielle Motif Photography Family Portraits at the Beach
Danielle Motif Photography Family Portraits at the Beach
Danielle Motif Photography Family Portraits at the Beach
Danielle Motif Photography Family Portraits at the Beach
Danielle Motif Photography Family Portraits at the Beach
Danielle Motif Photography Family Portraits at the Beach
Danielle Motif Photography Family Portraits at the Beach
Danielle Motif Photography Family Portraits at the Beach

Exploring Seattle Center

It's finally spring!  Tis the season for sunnier photo shoots and blustery days with longer daylight hours. Last week I had the huge honor of photographing one of the instructors from my day-job over at CreativeLive.  Khara and her family were in town while she taught a class and lucky for me, they wanted to get some candid photos.  It was one of those crazy Seattle springtime weather days.  We had rain and wind blowing through on and off for hours and then thankfully, right around our start time, things cleared up.  Khara's little one, Ze was so excited to check out all Seattle Center had to offer and sometimes it was tough to keep up with him.  I'm so thrilled that we were able to get a break from the rain and have a bit of fun.  

Danielle Motif Photography Family Photo Shoot at Seattle Center
Danielle Motif Photography Family Photo Shoot at Seattle Center
Danielle Motif Photography Family Photo Shoot at Seattle Center
Danielle Motif Photography Family Photo Shoot at Seattle Center
Danielle Motif Photography Family Photo Shoot at Seattle Center
Danielle Motif Photography Family Photo Shoot at Seattle Center
Danielle Motif Photography Family Photo Shoot at Seattle Center
Danielle Motif Photography Family Photo Shoot at Seattle Center
Danielle Motif Photography Family Photo Shoot at Seattle Center
Danielle Motif Photography Family Photo Shoot at Seattle Center
Danielle Motif Photography Family Photo Shoot at Seattle Center
Danielle Motif Photography Family Photo Shoot at Seattle Center
Danielle Motif Photography Family Photo Shoot at Seattle Center