Monday, March 25, 2013

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and Photography Backdrops


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Are you ready for summer?  No?  But it certainly feels like summer here in Los Angeles!  arh….so, I prepared some ice cream to cool things off.  This is one of my favorite ice cream to make, besides the Dark Chocolate, French Roasted Coffee, Coconut, and Roasted Strawberry ones.  Boy, I do have quite a few favorites and I think that shouldn’t surprise you when it comes to ice creams. 

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I love this Vanilla Bean ice cream recipe because it’s pretty much the base for all great ice cream before you can add any other of your favorite ingredient to turn it into flavored ice cream such as those I mentioned above. 

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Many years ago when I was still living and working in Santa Monica, my Hubby, then boyfriend, and I loved to visit this Italian restaurant near the 3nd Street Promenade, called Lacanda Del Lago.  One of the items on the dessert menu was Affogato al Caffè Espresso (translated as Drowned in Espresso).  It’s basically vanilla bean ice cream drowned in espresso.  As simply as it sounds, it’s totally decadent.  It’s a dessert, and it’s also your after dinner coffee at the same time.

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Of course, you know I always like to recreate restaurant favorites in my own kitchen.  It’s very simple to prepare, just scoop a couple of vanilla ice cream in a glass, and pour a shot or two of freshly brewed and slightly cooled espresso over the ice cream and enjoy.  As always (with my clumsy self), I pour the espresso with my left hand and tried to capture a shot with the heavy camera on my right hand.  So…as you can guess, this is what happened….espresso everywhere!

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By now, I would have been in “panic" mode!  Because coffee would stain my photography backdrops!  And that had happened numerous time in the past.

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No, that’s not a pretty sight!  But wait!  I’m so happy that it happened today.  No, I’m not kidding!  But why am I so happy?  Because this is not my usual real wood photography backdrops!  Check this out.

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Use a damp paper towel and simply give it a wipe.

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The espresso is gone and the backdrop is like brand new again!  Yay!  Magical?  I certainly think so.  Some of you had asked me in messages and emails in the past on how I made my photography backdrops.  I was going to do a post with pictorial along with the steps by steps instructions, blah blah blah; until one day, I discovered Swanky Prints

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It was like a photographer’s dream came true.  Because Swanky Prints carry these vinyl photography backdrops.  Realistic, light weight and waterproof! 

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It was shipped to me rolled up as show in the picture below and all ready to use!  No sanding, gluing, staining, painting, and waiting (for the paint to dry) compared to making my own wood backdrops.

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The one I got from Swanky Prints was a 2 x 2 ft.  Same as the black and white real wood one I made long time ago.  And I also have a bigger one in blue (as shown in the picture below).  See the difference?  Not only the vinyl one is light weight, easy to carry, it’s also a space saver!!! 

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And guess what, you’re in luck today.  Swanky Prints is kindly offering all uTry.it readers a 25% off on your orders!  Simply use the code UTRY25 at check out to receive the discount.  Thank you Swanky Prints!

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So, while I’m enjoying my Affogato al Caffè Espresso, I’ll be very busy browsing through Swanky Prints’ Etsy store and decide what to order next!  See, told you I have a tough job to do here! 

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Disclaimer: I receive a 2 x 2 vinyl backdrop free of charge for the purpose of this review.  I occasionally do reviews and share with you on brands/products that I've tried and love.  It was a pleasure to have the chance to work with Swanky Prints on this review.  However, I am NOT affiliate with Swanky Prints in any way.  All opinions are 100% my own.




Vanilla Bean Ice Cream: (Printable Recipe)
1 1/2 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt
5 large egg yolks
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon liquor (I used vodka), optional

In a medium saucepan, heat the milk, sugar, vanilla bean and salt together until simmer.  Cover and remove from heat and let the mixture steep at room temp for 1 hour.

In a medium bowl, lightly whisk the egg yolks. Set aside.  Reheat the vanilla mixture until simmer.  While whisking the egg yolks constantly, slowly pour the warm vanilla mixture into the yolks.  Then, scrap egg yolks mixture back into saucepan.

With a flat bottom wooden spatula, stir the mixture constantly and cook over medium low heat until the custard is thick and coat the spatula.  Set a strainer over a large mixing bowl.  Strain the custard.  Do not discard the vanilla bean, simply wash and pat dry it, then add it to your jar of vanilla sugar. 

Stir in the cream and liquor, if using.  Set the mixture over an ice bath and stir until completely cooled.  Cover and refrigerate to chill thoroughly. Preferably overnight.  Churn the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

To prepare the Affogato al Caffè Espresso, simply scoop a couple scoops of vanilla bean ice cream into a glass and pour freshly brewed and slightly cooled espresso on top and enjoy.

82 comments:

  1. The ice cream sounds so wonderful with espresso. Must have now! I want an ice cream maker so bad.

    Love the photography too! I'm glad you shared a review on swankyprints.. really thought that wood was real!

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    1. Oh...you should totally get an ice cream maker! It was one of my best "investment" in the kitchen and I use it so often it's totally worth it. (I just got it last summer)

      The backdrop looks so real, huh? I totally love it. So convenience to use too.

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  2. Wow - I never knew they made such things as vinyl backdrops - very cool! My hubby is always saying I need a better background when I take photos. Maybe I'll have to do some online shopping tonight!

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    1. I know, those backdrops are amazing. My hubby loves it as much as I do because it doesn't use up his garage space like my other real wood backdrops do! hahaha....

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  3. Such a cool backdrop! I love it. Also this recipe sounds to die for, I just got some Madagascar vanilla beans and I would love to use them to make ice cream, thanks for this!

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    1. I agree, the backdrop is totally cool. I can't wait to get more other design. Oh...I love Madagascar vanilla beans too, perfect for this ice cream recipe. ;) Wish you and your family a wonderful Easter weekend, Natalie.

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  4. Wow, it look so real, like real wood. And you can change it to many colours too. Absolutely beautiful for food photography, right?

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    1. Totally, Mel. I'm in love with these vinyl backdrops. I wish I knew about them way before so I don't have to carry the real wood ones around. hahaha...Wish you and your family a wonderful Easter Sunday! :)

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  5. It snowed here today, but I'm still craving that ice cream drowned in espresso. :)

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    1. I totally agree. In fact, I've been making ice cream all year round! :P It's never too cold for ice cream in my book. Wish you a wonderful Easter weekend. ;)

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  6. This totally tricked me! I thought you were using a real painted wood surface. And I've always been iffy about those things. I don't like spending so much time on styling and prop collection because I've got things to do! This is such a clever clever idea. Thumbs up, Amy! And I love affogato. The first time I had it was last year and I've been dreaming of recreating it. Perhaps the time has come.

    ~Jayne

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    1. Thank you, Jayne. Yes, this vinyl backdrop is totally a time saver compared to making my own real wood ones. I don't think I can ever go back to the old ways! hahaha...

      I'm glad to hear you love affogato too. It's my all time favorite dessert. Make your own at home is the way to go! :) Hope you like this recipe. Take care.

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  7. This is so awesome!! I am always looking to improve my photography, and this is such a great find. Thanks for sharing!!

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    1. You're very welcome and thank you, Sarah. Yes, this is such a great find and I love the product. :)

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  8. The ice cream looks amazing, and so do the backdrops! I am going to go directly to their site! By the way, my husband is from Santa Monica, and his parents still live there:) Thanks for the great post and gorgeous photos, as usual, Amy!

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    1. Thank you, Sue. Oh, I miss Santa Monica so much. It's such a fun city! I still visit from time to time. :)

      Yes the backdrops are amazing. Totally convenience and I can't wait to get more designs from them. :)

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  9. I love your backdrop.. very beautiful shots as always! Affogato is quite popular here in KL.

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    1. Yes, the backdrop is so beautiful and convenience to use.

      Oh, didn't know Affogato is popular in KL. It's not as popular here somehow, but it's certainly is popular in my house! hehehe...

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  10. looks soft and delicious... thanx 4 d info.til nw i dont know abt this.will strt search here in foz..

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    1. You're welcome and thank you. Yes, the ice cream is lovely. Hope you'll give that a try.

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  11. Oh, how I crave this ice cream with espresso poured over it... Love your photography backdrops! Bookmarked it and will look into it more for sure!

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    1. Thank you, Julia. The ice cream with espresso is to die for! Yes, if you use photography backdrops, I highly recommend this one. :)

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  12. i sure could do with some luscious homemade affogato! the weather's been totally crazy hot lately! such times i wished i owned an ice-cream maker and be able to try your recipe ^^|| anyways, thanks for sharing an easy way to a nice "wooden" background ^^

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    1. Oh yeah, the affogato was so good. I only got my ice cream making last year and so worth it. I've been using it year round, even in the winter. hahaha...

      I love the backdrop, so convenience to use and so beautiful!

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  13. I also thought the wood backdrop was real. How did you keep your ice-cream from melting while you took the photos? I really feel like eating ice-cream after looking at your ice-cream. Yum yum!

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    1. Thank you. I know, the backdrop looks so real. That's why I love it so much.

      Actually, the ice cream started melting. Whenever I take pictures for ice cream. I have to make sure I take pictures really quickly. :P As you can see, it's already melting when I pour the espresso in...but that's also the yummy part. I love melty ice cream. :)

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  14. This wood backdrop is really beautiful and looks like the real wood. Thank you very much for sharing!!! I love your ice-cream too, it is real right? hahaha...

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    1. You're very welcome. I agree, the backdrop looks so real and so easy to use. And for the ice cream, that, that was real! hahaha...but my batch is all gone now. Gotta make more. :P

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  15. The backdrop looks like a real thing.
    The ice cream looks very tasty.

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    1. Thank you, Angie. Yes, the backdrop looks so real. I love it. :)

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  16. U got me fooled, Amy! The backdrop looks like the real thing. Awesome, my dear! For a moment, I thought u're gonna share taking ice-cream shots before they melt. Hahaha!

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    1. I know! The backdrop looks totally real and so easy to use. :) As for the ice cream...it starting to melt when I pour the espresso in and tasted so good. :P It's better when is started to soften anyway. hahaha....

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  17. What a cool backdrop!! Love the color. Love the ice cream.

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    1. Thank you, Belinda. Yes, the backdrop (and the ice cream) are totally cool! ;) Hope you're having a fun Easter weekend.

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  18. Hey..Love the backdrop and the recipe. i'm so going to try it, what with Summer here and the weather being so hot. However, there was one thing that I didn't understand. You have mentioned in the recipe "While whisking the egg yolks constantly, slowly pour the warm coffee mixture into the yolks." Can you please explain what is the coffee mixture that you are referring to here?

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    1. Thank you, Richa, for catching my "typo". :) I meant "vanilla mixture" not coffee. And I've already correct the mistake.. Thank you so much. :) I must be thinking of coffee too much! hahaha....

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  19. WOW Amy! I just learned something new today! The backdrop looks amazing, exactly like the real one. I'll definitely check on it. Thanks for the link :)
    I'd love to try your ice cream too!

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    1. Thank you, Ann. Oh yeah, I totally adore those backdrop. So convenience to use and look so real. ;)

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  20. What a great idea and very realistic-looking! Thanks for the tip!

    BTW, I think you meant damp paper towel rather than damn paper tower :))

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    1. LOL...thank you so much for catching my type! It would be funny if I really meant "damn" paper tower!
      Note to self: never write a blog post late at night when I'm only half awake! LOL

      I agree, the backdrop is very realistic, I totally love it.

      Wish you and your family a lovely Easter Sunday!

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  21. wow..what a idea..wood backdrop is really beautiful and looks like the real wood...ice cream looks really fabulous....will try sometime...

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    1. Thank you. Glad you like both the ice cream and the backdrop. I certainly love both of them! ;)

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  22. The ice cream looks decadent, and love the espresso idea. But I love the background even more.I am going to save the code.

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    1. Thank you, Minnie. I agree, the espresso brings the whole dessert to a new level. Glad you love the backdrop. Definitely check it out. I personally love it so much I will order more in the future. ;)

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  23. There are not many things on earth better than ice cream. I finally caved and bought an ice cream machine last year. With my David Lebovitz ice cream book, I have not looked back...and I've really come to appreciate vanilla ice cream in recent years.

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    1. Yay on your ice cream machine, Monica. I just got that last year as well. I think I need to get Lebovitz's ice cream book then. :)

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    1. hahaha...Thank you, Abbe. Yes, the ice cream was extremely good. :P

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  25. Love vanilla bean ice cream. I prefer it over French vanilla only because I'm a sucker for those black specs that you see in vanilla bean ice cream. :D. Lovely post Amy.

    Anne ~ Uni Homemaker

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    1. Oh yeah, I love the vanilla specks in my ice cream as well. This one does, but guess they just weren't showing as much in the picture. :)

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  26. What a fabulous background...and an amazing bowl of ice cream! I don't know which I like more (actually, I think the ice cream will always win!) Thank you so much for sharing!

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    1. LOL...yes, ice cream will always win in my book! :P but I certainly love that easy to use and beautiful backdrop as well. ;)

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  27. Wow - Swanky Prints has found their niche!
    Your ice cream is making me want to have an early lunch ;)

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    1. Yes they definitely did. Great products that they have. Glad you like the ice cream too. ;)

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  28. I have to get my ice cream maker out of the basement! And make this - such a great recipe. And thanks for the Swanky Prints info - looks like a great product.

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    1. Thank you. Oh yeah. I know you're going to love this ice cream. I crave for one from time to time. And the Swanky Prints backdrops are just awesome. I can't say enjoy good things about them. I just wished I know about them sooner so I don't have to spend time to make the real wood one. hahaha...

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  29. The ice cream looks cool with that lovely light yellow colour. The backdrop info is truly helpful. Let me check out Swanky prints now.

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    1. Thank you, Purabi. The yellow color of the ice cream is from the egg yolks. :) Very yummy. Yes, do check out Swanky Prints' product. I personally love them a lot.

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  30. Vanilla bean ice cream looks extremely droolicious...never tried vanilla ice cream with espresso.....that must be heavenly....loved that backdrop concept too....thanks for sharing.....

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    1. oh...if you haven't try vanilla ice cream with espresso, you've gotta try that soon. I got hooked ever since my first bite/sip.

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  31. The ice cream looks perfect and mix with coffee...Heaven! Love your pictures and thanks for visiting my blog!

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    1. Thank you, Erica. Glad you like my ice cream and pictures. ;)

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  32. Love making ice cream, and this vanilla bean looks so good. With espresso...even better.

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    1. Oh yeah...the espresso really take the vanilla ice cream to a whole new level! Really yummy.

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  33. Your ice cream looks very summery. I think the backdrops look amazing - I need to order some, definitely xx

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    1. Thank you. Glad you like my ice cream. I know right? the backdrop is just amazing!

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  34. I really thought that was real wood at first, brilliant idea, I'm heading over there to check out some!

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    1. I know....they look totally real and I'm loving it. :) They have quite many different pattern, color and selections too. Totally cool.

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  35. Your ice-cream look amazing...so delicious! I also LOVE your backdrop. So cool! i am painting mine and it's a pain.

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    1. I know...I used to paint mine and I'm so glad I don't have to any more. These backdrops are so light weight and easy to store. I'm totally loving them!

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  36. OH MY GOSH!! HAHA I thought that backdrop was totally outside!! I love the blurred vision of it to make it look like you are focused onto the ice cream, amazing!! Amazing is this ice cream too with the coffee. YUM!! I love vanilla, such a versatile flavor!

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    1. Thanks, Brittany. I know, the backdrop is so realistic. It might look more real than the real wood ones that I have. LOL....I agree, the vanilla is a very versatile flavor. I certainly love to match it with espresso the most. ;)

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  37. I absolutely love everything about this post Amy. Great job! The ice-cream in espresso is heavenly and you are so kind to share the brilliant product for your back drop. Next time, can I help you pour the espresso in return for a serving? :)

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    1. The backdrop products are simply too good not to share with my readers and blogging buddies. I'm sure many of you can benefit from it as well. It save me so much time and storage space compared to the real wood ones. :)

      I'm sure you can do a better job in pouring espresso than I do! And yes, I'll be gladly to share this Affogato al Caffè Espresso. It's just heavenly!

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  38. You are an absolute saviour!!! Thank God I have seen this post, I collect so much stuff for props, backdrops and food styling but this will be the best, and easiest yet! Place no space issues!

    Thank you so much for sharing!!

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    1. Yes, I love this product and it's too good not to share. ;) I think many bloggers, like you and myself love to collect props and backdrops and the like for our blog. So, I'm glad this post help you too. As I can't imagine myself making a real wood backdrop again when these are so convenience, right? ;)

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  39. Hi Amy, very refreshing and luscious ice cream. Love the one with espresso, pass me a glass please. Nice pictures.

    Thanks for sharing your backdrop tips. We food blogger not only cook and bake but have to collect culinary accessories, props, backdrops, etc... :))
    And for us taking pictures before eating is like a ritual. LOL

    Have a lovely Sunday.

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    1. Thank you, Amelia. Glad you like the ice cream with espresso. It was really yummy.

      I'm so glad I'm not alone out there...who love to collect baking pans, props and backdrops for my blog! hahahaa....

      Hope your Easter weekend was wonderful. ;)

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  40. Love the ice cream and the back drops. If you didn't mention it I would have thought those were real. Great tool for food photography!!

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    1. Yup...these vinyl backdrops are one of my biggest "discovery" for the century! hahaha....I'm loving their products and definitely great tools for photography. ;)

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  41. THAT is a great discovery. And a good idea.

    Ice cream looks good, too.

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  42. Oh! And I thought they are all wooden :D Such a great help for a food photographer, and it doesn't take place or effort! Also the recipe is as good :) Thank you for sharing Amy! :)

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