Favourite Pictures of 2018

I hate looking back at old work. I’m always striving to improve my skills and usually can’t bear to turn around and face my poorly aged practice work. I sometimes can’t believe how many risks, mistakes and stabs in the dark it took to grow and learn and move forward.

Photography’s ability to capture a feeling, memory, light, and moment – and create nostalgia – make it a little easier to reflect back on and feel good about. Looking back at the past year of photos my husband and I have snapped for the blog came with a fair amount of “I can’t believe I was so pleased with this” but it also brought back a lot of happy memories from all the things we did and the time we spent together. Here are some of my favourites.

Favourite Pictures of 2018 | Sophster-Toaster

I was down in the snow with Matt standing over me, trying not to laugh at him, for a good, long while when we were trying to get this shot on a sunny January afternoon.

Favourite Pictures of 2018 | Sophster-Toaster Favourite Pictures of 2018 | Sophster-Toaster Favourite Pictures of 2018 | Sophster-ToasterFavourite Pictures of 2018 | Sophster-Toaster

Something about this photo takes me right back to the soft light and sweet scents of warm spring afternoons.

Favourite Pictures of 2018 | Sophster-Toaster

Playing with bubbles in the backyard on one of the first nights the sun didn’t start to set until after dinner.

Favourite Pictures of 2018 | Sophster-Toaster

The beginning of Pepper’s hobby of sneaking into frame.

Favourite Pictures of 2018 | Sophster-Toaster Favourite Pictures of 2018 | Sophster-Toaster

We got out of the lake, I quickly combed my hair and threw on my new favourite outfit while Matt opened some beers and tossed our dinner on the barbecue. He took this picture while we waited for it to cook with very little instruction or guidance from me. I love the light and how he was able to perfectly capture the feeling of our entire weekend in one image.

Favourite Pictures of 2018 | Sophster-Toaster Favourite Pictures of 2018 | Sophster-Toaster Favourite Pictures of 2018 | Sophster-Toaster

We went to the beach many times over the summer, but this trip was special. The beach was packed so we walked far down to the “dog end” where it’s less crowded and people don’t mind a furry girl just trying to cool off. It was a terribly hot and muggy day and after a few minutes of playing in the water, we saw why. The sun suddenly vanished and big storm clouds started rushing in over the great lake. We stayed while they gathered but hightailed it out of there once the first lightning bolt struck far out on the horizon. The weird weather gave our pictures these amazing colours and made for quite a memorable day at the beach.

Favourite Pictures of 2018 | Sophster-Toaster Favourite Pictures of 2018 | Sophster-Toaster

Wanting to practice in a more urban setting, we went down to a scarcely used path downtown, on a lark, and took some of my favourite pictures of the year.

Favourite Pictures of 2018 | Sophster-Toaster

Needing somewhere dry to take pictures on a cold and rainy day at the cottage, we went down to the boathouse to pass some time. I went in with low exceptions, having tried this dark and difficult place before with nothing to show for it, but we took our time and found the light and turned out some images that really capture the quiet and stillness of the lake on a day like this.

Favourite Pictures of 2018 | Sophster-Toaster

I plunked a small table down in my overgrown front garden, set my camera up for full, harsh sunlight, said “let’s see if this works” and stunned myself when I saw the images.

Favourite Pictures of 2018 | Sophster-Toaster

In stark contrast, the images I took this day came so difficultly, I wrote about it.

Favourite Pictures of 2018 | Sophster-Toaster Favourite Pictures of 2018 | Sophster-Toaster Favourite Pictures of 2018 | Sophster-Toaster

I was taking test shots while setting the scene and someone burst into frame.

Photos by me and Matt.

A Year of Macaron Recipes

Alright, so not quite a year. I started this journey of writing one new macaron recipe per month in February of last year. At first, I just wanted to practice my macaron making and food photography skills but, somewhere around July’s lavender macarons, I realized what I was really doing was building a series of recipes that I could turn into a proper collection (and maybe even a real cookbook) someday.

I love experimenting with unusual and unconventional seasonal flavours. Even though it can be hard to know how to work with a new flavour, or what to pair it with, especially when you are inventing as you go, I feel like I’ve made some really interesting and delicious macarons this year.

Looking back like this, I can really see how much I’ve learned and how much better I’ve become at making these tricky little pastries. I’m so looking forward to continuing this goal of one new recipe a month for another year. I have a few big ideas in mind and I’m really excited to see what I come up with!


Chili Macarons with Bitter Chocolate Ganache

Chocolate Chili Macarons | Sophster-Toaster Blog

A spicy and earthy macaron for Valentine’s Day.


Vanilla Macarons with Whiskey Buttercream

Whiskey Cream Macarons | Sophster-Toaster Blog

Skills have already taken a running leap forward as I really learn the importance of humidity. Festive green macarons for St. Patrick’s Day.


Froot Loops Macarons with Froot Loops Buttercream

Froot Loops Macarons | Sophster-Toaster Blog

Something weird I had been wanting to try out for a while. It took a few tries to get the size and amount of crushed Froot Loops right, but I love the soft spring colours of this Easter time macaron.


Rhubarb Macarons with Rhubarb Pastry Cream

Garden Rhubarb Macarons | Sophster-Toaster Blog

The first time I looked to my garden for inspiration. The summer humidity was arriving and I battled it for these thin shells with small feet. The rhubarb pastry cream was divine but made the cookies soggy after a few days. Definitely a recipe to assemble as needed or for a large party.


Matcha Macarons with White Chocolate Ganache

Matcha Macarons with White Chocolate Ganache | Sophster-Toaster

I became obsessed with matcha last summer and drank it almost everyday. I love flavouring things with tea so I am no stranger to the steep, but the fact that matcha is a powder made these one of the easiest flavouring I’ve ever worked with. No one told me white chocolate behaved nothing like regular chocolate, so that was a huge learning curve.


Lavender Macarons with Lavender Buttercream

Lavender Macarons Sophster-Toaster Blog

It was a busy month of summer travelling and markets. I was excitedly preparing for a market at a lavender farm and wanted all things lavender, all the time. The summer humidity made it impossible to make shells that didn’t crack or otherwise form correctly in the oven. I had to make several batches of this flavour while I finally gave up on what was to be my “winter recipe” and develop a “summer recipe” that could dry in heavy humidity. I was eating ugly macarons for months.


Vanilla Macarons with Peach Buttercream

Peaches & Cream Macarons | Sophster-Toaster

Having figured out the formula for stress free (ie crack-free) summer macarons, this is when I really got bold with colouring.


Chocolate Macarons with Cashew Butter

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Macarons | Sophster-Toaster

I was already thinking about Halloween when I made these more classically flavoured shells with a somewhat nontraditional filling.


Vanilla Macarons with Absinthe Buttercream

Absinthe Macarons | Sophster-Toaster

These Halloween themed macarons were the best I made all year, in terms of technique. They were high, crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside and had gorgeous feet. The absinthe buttercream had such classic, old-world flavours while also being incredibly exotic and difficult to pin down. The colours were fun to work with, too.


Peppermint Macarons with Peppermint Buttercream

Peppermint Macarons | Sophster-Toaster

Poor November is so boring, it always gets overshadowed by Christmas. I couldn’t help but break out my holiday ideas early. Using peppermint tea as a bit of a twist on a classic Christmastime flavour, these macaron were both traditional and distinctive.


Juniper Macarons with Juniper Buttercream

Juniper Macarons | Sophster-Toaster

Finishing strong with something weird. The most delicious Christmas tree you’ve ever tasted.

The Sophster-Toaster Shop Turns 2!

I’ve been peddling my wares for two years now! I’ve learned and changed so much since the day I stumbled forth and opened my shop without a clue as to what to do with my dresses once they left the sewing room. I feel like every day I learn some new sewing trick, photography technique or sales and marketing tip that I can use to improve my product and my shop, but overall, I think the most rewarding part of this journey has been all the great customers, fans, bloggers and fellow artisans I’ve met along the way.

Let’s take a look at all the dresses I’ve designed this year: Continue reading