Monthly Archives: June 2013

Paleo Dinner Party

Bonnie Rose Photography © 2007 – 2013 All Rights Reserved –
I can cook. My husband however has an amazing passion for cooking.  His culinary interests surfaced over the last few years of our marriage and now he does the majority of the cooking and meal planning for our family.  As expats what has made living in England so exciting is easy resource to organic and local produce.  We can order our meat from the nearby butcher, pick up our fruit and veg from local food markets, and even have our vegetable boxes delivered from organic farms. In fact it has been months now since I last stepped inside a grocery store as we can get everything else we need delivered to the home.  This is a huge difference from living on military bases where you bought what you could find and tried hard not to shop on or the days after payday.  I believe being able to have such an amazing access to high quality, variety, and fresh foods have been the foundation of my husband’s journey  in cooking.  
In a month we will have my mum and sister over to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary with a vow renewal in the Snowdonia region of Wales.  As we were researching places to stay our biggest concern was about having an adequate kitchen.  My family adores Ryan to pieces and they are so excited to have him cook for them again.  We have been compiling his favourite recipes as we look forward to entertaining with my family and our friends in Wales.  Which makes this a perfect opportunity to participate in an entertaining competition with Taylor Wimpey. I have been asked to put together a menu of a starter, main, dessert, and drinks to serve as I bring my family together this summer.  I am trying my best to keep this mainly paleo as my family all eats a similar diet.  Since we are a multi cultural family who has lived in many places I made sure to reflect different aspects of that in the menu and ingredient choices. 

Welcome Drink – English Garden
Starter – Bacon and Cider Mussels
Main – Courgetti and Meatballs
Dessert – ‘Get Some’ Ice cream
Wine – Sangiovese
Welcome Drink: English Garden
Bonnie Rose Photography © 2007 – 2013 All Rights Reserved –

This will be directions to make per individual glass.
Four fresh mint leaves, chopped
1/2 a tsp of grated ginger root
3 slices of cucumber
1 tsp of stevia or fair trade raw cane sugar
Soda water
Put the mint, ginger, and cucumber at the bottom of the glass. Fill the glass with ice. Add one part gin to three parts soda water. Stir so that the ingredients mix throughout the drink. While you are stirring add the sweetener. 
The Starter: Bacon and Cider Mussels
Bonnie Rose Photography © 2007 – 2013 All Rights Reserved –

1Kg of mussels, scrubbed clean and de-bearded. 
2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
150ml of cider (an alcoholic cider, for my American readers)
1tbsp of Apple Cider Vinegar and add water until the mixture equals 150ml 
One bunch of parsley, chopped
150gr of smoked bacon lardons
Grass fed unsalted butter
Coconut oil
Directions for Mussels:
In a pot (or pan that has a lid) melt a tbsp of butter and fry the smoked bacon lardons until crispy. Take the lardons out and set aside but keep the fat in the pot.  Melt a tbsp of coconut oil. Add the mussels, the cider, and garlic. Cover and let them steam for about four minutes or until they have all opened. You will want to shake them around in the pan occasionally to prevent them from burning. Take the mussels out and set aside, leaving the cider mixture in the pot. Add the parsley and half of the bacon and cook for two minutes.  Pour over the mussels and then sprinkle the remaining bacon over the muscles. 
The Main: Courgetti and Meatballs
Bonnie Rose Photography © 2007 – 2013 All Rights Reserved –

Ryan’s Paleo ‘Courgetti’ and Meatballs
My family grew up in southern Italy and so Italian food has always been a quintessential part when we get back together.  What I love about ‘real’ Italian food in my home of Napoli, is that the dishes keep it simple.  You can taste every one of the ingredients with each bite.  It is probably why I am not a huge fan of ‘American-Italian’ food which can contain a lot of dishes that are covered in heavy sauces, smothered in cream and cheese, and have chicken thrown in for good measure. This recipe is perfect as I feel it meets my needs for Italian food while satisfying the needs of a Paleo diet. 
3-4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1 chopped chille (omit if you do not like spicy)
500 gr of freshly chopped tomatoes
Fresh basil to taste, chopped
6 oz. of  wine, Pinot Grigio 
Sea salt to taste
Coconut Oil (or butter)
Directions for Sauce:
1 tbsp of coconut oil melted in a pot and add the garlic. Let the garlic cook on a medium low heat, just until it gets brown but before it gets crunch.  Follow with adding the tomatoes on an increased high heat setting.  Crush the tomatoes as you stir them in the pot until you get a thick liquid texture with chunks of broken down tomatoes.  If you are adding peppers, now is the time to add them and let them cook for two minutes.  Add the remaining ingredients.  Let it stay on high heat until it starts to boil. Then cover and put on low heat to simmer for at least 30 minutes.  You do not want to cook all the water out of it, but if you wanted to simmer it for longer you can. 
For a family of four we use 3 courgettes. For two people I would suggest two. Take the courgettes and chop the ends off and discard. Slice the courgettes in a mandoline into your preferred size.  If you do not have a mandoline you can use a knife or if you wanted really thing noodles could use a vegetable peeler.  If you use the peeler you will then need to cut them into strips afterwards.  Put a colander in a large bowel and add the courgette noodles to the colander   Add enough sea salt to distribute evenly with the noodles to help suck the water out of them to make them pliable.  Set aside.
Time to Start the Oven: Preheat oven to 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5
500 grams of meat
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 egg
This is per preference, but my husband likes to mix 250gr of minced pork with 250gr of minced beef. However if you want all beef or all pork you can use 500gr of your choosing.  
Directions for Meatballs
Crack and beat an egg in a bowl and mix with the meat and the onion and mix together evenly with your hands.  The size can vary but golfball size meatballs works well or you can make a bigger meatball per person.  Once your meatballs are formed take a skillet or pan and heat up 1/2 a tbsp of coconut oil.  Add the meatballs and cook them until they are nice and brown on all sides. 
Final Preparation
Take a casserole dish and add the meatballs. Take the sauce that has been simmering and pour on top of the meatballs. Put in preheated oven, uncovered, for about forty minutes.  Put the noodles on plates or in bowls, spoon the sauce and meatballs on top. If desired grated parmesan on top. Garnish with two our three basil leaves. 

Dessert: “Get Some” Ice Cream

This is a recipe from the Life hacker who bases a lot of recipes off of a Paleo idea. 
You can read more at:

4 whole eggs (pastured of course)
4 yolks (in addition to the whole eggs above)
2 tsp vanilla (I use Bulletproof Vanilla)
1 gram vitamin C (ascorbic acid) or 10 drops apple cider vinegar or lime juice to taste.
100 grams (7 tbs) grass-fed butter
100 grams (7tbs) coconut oil (or substitute half Upgraded Cacao Butter for amazing taste)
50 grams (3tbs + 2tsp) MCT oil (important for consistency)
80 grams (5.5tbs) xylitol or erythritol (or more to taste – you can add up to 160 grams if you want)
~100 grams water or ice (just under 1/2 cup; add less than you think you need, then increase the amount).
(optional) 1/4 to 1/2 cup of low-toxin Upgraded Chocolate powder

Directions for Bullet Proof Ice Cream:
Blend everything but the water/ice in blender. It takes a while to get the butter blended into perfect creaminess.
Add water or ice and blend some more until well blended. Ideally, you want a yogurt-like consistency for creamy ice cream, or add more water for a firmer, icier texture
Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and turn it on.
This will make perfect consistency ice cream. 

Bonnie Rose Photography © 2007 – 2013 All Rights Reserved –

I recommend Sangiovese or if you want something with a twist of something different, Valpolicella.  Although if your guest prefer a white wine, you could offer the option of the white wine that you used from the sauce to compliment the menu. However I have to state that my sister is a level II sommelier and she most definitely take the lead when it comes to choosing and pairing wines with our meals this summer.  I look forward to hearing what she has to say about this menu.  
Final Notes: 
I do not like the negative connotation that the word ‘diet’ draws up as some think that its something you do for a short period of time to lose weight.  I believe that eating is a way of life. At home we have a diet that is based off of Paleo and is rooted around information you can find from the Bullet Proof Exec.  
This was a post for the Taylor Wimpey Dinner Party  competition.  You can read more about Taylor Wimpey and the competition here:


*Photography unless cited belongs to Bonnie Rose Photography © 2007 – 2013 All Rights Reserved –

Self Portrait: ‘Grounded’

When you have always moved ever few months or couple of years, you live a life where people are always coming and going.  If you are lucky the better ones come back through your life again.  In this nomadic world you are constantly the ‘new girl’, introducing yourself all over again, and answering the dreaded question from where you come.  From growing up as a third culture kid as a military child overseas it prepared me for the role of a military wife living the island life in the Pacific.  Through out it all I have felt like a gypsy being blown by the wind.  Being called to far off places and locations I have never been.  While yearning for all the places, all the countries, and all the cultures I have taken as my own.  It became the fire that fueled our path to move overseas as expats.  Somehow on this new path I have reached the realisation that I finally have an anchor.  A person who can be my strength when I feel weak.  My comfort when I feel lost in the unknown.  My support when I lack the confidence.    My guard to block out the negative and censor the unwanted cruel words of others.  When I can get lost in my head of self doubt and he brings me back and keeps me grounded.  When he is with me I do not need to worry about what has been or what could be for we live in the present.  Which means so much when you are a girl with many dreams in both the day and the night.  Yet he keeps me close. Grounded in reality.
Self Portrait ‘Grounded’ by Bonnie Rose Photography © 2007 – 2013 All Rights Reserved –


I try to do one every week and post on a Saturday. 

 If you would like to link up with me, add this button to your blog. 
I would love to see your photography!
A Compass Rose

Best Week Ever/1

As we come to the end of the week and the end of another month 
I would like to start a new series ‘Best Week Ever’.  
I like to live positively and think that every week could be our best week ever.
It will be my end of the week posts about everything we have been up to here in England.  I realise with so many social networking sites bits about my expat life is a little all over the place.  Or with my blogging schedule there are things I would love to share with you but run out of days in the week to devote a post to another subject or story.  Without further adieu here is the first installment of Best Week Ever on A Compass Rose.  Let me know what you think! 
1. Bieber Fever. It has hit my house. I asked both my boys how they wanted their hair cut and they answered ‘Justin Bieber’. After doing a google search to confirm what kind of a look they wanted with their hair I got out my hairdressing bag and got to work.  My eldest chose Bieber prior to 2011 and my youngest chose Bieber circa 2013.  The result? Two happy clients.
2. Book Club.  I finished Sense & Sensibility for the #JaneAustenBookClub.  It was my first time to read this novel.  Due to seeing the film so often it was hard not to picture Alan Rickman as Col. Brandon. It was also a little harder to get into for some reason.  Minus a completed blog post for the book club, I am all set to reread Pride and Prejudice for July. Anyone else in?
3. My husband loves to cook. He was not really encouraged to do so growing up but as an adult it has become one of his top passions.  Somewhere in Hawaii with our mainly vegetarian diet he found a love for all these new vegetables and tastes he had not had before and I believe it is what unlocked the flood gate to his culinary interests.  Having not grown up eating canned vegetables I honestly get weak in the knees every time my husband cooks with something new for the first time.  Do not let me fool you I can cook. It is just I look in the fridge and think ‘omg what am I going to fix for dinner??!’ and he looks in the fridge and comes up with some combination I would never have dreamed up.  This week we had garlic chicken wrapped in bacon and covered with chile spices. Yes please. 
4. Recipes. I finally blogged about Pims after having been asked so many times by readers and friends in America about it.  It really is a staple of all get togethers in the ‘summer’ (if you can call it that) in the UK.  At a fete it will have the longest que and will be the first thing to run out before the ice cream.
5. I Challenge You! To keep myself accountable and to be inspired by all of you, I have started my first link up for the #SelfPortraitSaturday challenge.  This is a project I started last year and decided to continue this year.  However I need you to help encourage me to do it every week.  Share your selfies whether you use a camera or a phone and make sure to link up before the end of Friday GMT.
6. Suits! I blogged this week about getting a Suit Tailored in Bangkok. Also my husband now has his suit, tie, and pocket square for the Vow Renewal in August.  I just cannot wait to see him all dressed up.  Honestly there is nothing sexier to me than a man in a well fitted suit who knows how to put the look together.  For a split second I thought I might forgo my wedding gown and wear my white suit (inspired by Angelina Jolie) that I wore to leave my reception.  However I do not feel super beautiful in it for whatever reason this week.  So I do not know. We will leave it at that. 
7.  Photography. We learn from our mistakes.  Sometimes false truths that we are led to believe before realising that we were misinformed.  Since I love photography and want to share with you my passion for it, I want to dispel with the lies.  You can read more about it in the post this week: Photography and the Lies I Believed
8. To my Winos. I am still doing the #FMSPhotoADay challenge on Instagram.  For the prompt ’empty’ I decided to do a shout out to all my blogger friends who are always sharing their photos with wine to share with you the sadness in my house that is the empty decanter.  What can I say? It has been a tight month.  I am looking forward to going on vacation later next month with my sister so she can talk my ear off about wine and give me a wine tasting.  She is a level II Sommelier and I could not be more proud of her.  So as empty as my decanter is when the budget is tight, so is a piece of my heart when my sister is not near. 
9. My Day Out. Yesterday I had to run into town to return a whole bunch of library books as well as pick up Pride & Prejudice for next months reading.  It was so lovely out while I was in town.  It was warm enough to get away without a jacket and the sun brought everyone outside.  Which was good since as soon as my kids got home from school it rained through to the evening.  Want to see some videos of life here in Bath, England? Those are up on  Instagram too. 
A   L i t t l e   B l u r b   a b o u t   B l o g g i n g   o n   A   C o m p a s s   R o s e :

I am constantly over analyzing every aspect of blogging and of my blog.  Which you might notice is why the design has undergone a evolving face lift over the last week. 

After coming off the Blog Every Day In May challenge I have been trying to streamline my posts so that they are all relevant to ACR.  I really want to join in every link up and think the giveaways are lovely.  However, I want you to know that I will try my best not to bombard you with things that are not related.  
I feel as a blogger over the last few months I have felt pressured to ‘fit in’ and to do what everyone else is doing.  If I give into that mentality I will lose myself, my voice, and my love for blogging.  So here is me just saying that I will continue to strive towards the best I can be for you my readers.

Lastly if there is anything you like, love, or do not like let me know.  Blogging is a learning curve. 

Google Reader is shutting down on Monday.  However there is a wonderful solution: Bloglovin’.  Do you follow ACR on Bloglovin’ yet?  I would love to keep you as a reader, if you have an problems let me know. 

Q: Would you link up to this If I made it an option for next week? A ‘Best Week Ever’ link up?


*Photographs belong to Bonnie Rose Photography © 2007 – 2013 All Rights Reserved – 

Photography: And the Lies I Believed

Bonnie Rose Photography © 2007-2013 All rights reserved – 

“I T  I S   A L L   A B O U T   T H E   M E G A P I X E L S”
It seems like I have always had a camera in my hand.  I started with film and then as the digital came about kept upgrading as newer generations of cameras came on the market.  My dad purchased a nicer digital camera after the birth of my first son in 2005.  This sparked a new journey for me with photography.  It looked like a DSLR but had a fixed zoom lens with 8-megapixels.  Eight years ago 8mpx was really awesome and I thought thats how you choose a camera.  It was a great camera for the year and half we lived in California. 
The Truth: Of course cameras have advanced much in the last eight years. However you really should not get a camera solely on how many megapixels it has whether it is 2005 or 2013.  Are you blowing up your photographs to a large size to produce wall art for your home?  Or are you just sharing things on facebook and making small prints for family?  Do you even print your photographs?  
“I   H A V E   T O   H A V E   A   F A N C Y   C A M E R A” 
I was in photography mode again with the birth of my second son in 2007.  I met up with other military wives for photography outings and they had with them pricey DLSR cameras, interchangeable lenses, and light reflectors.  I remember being in awe as I watched them photograph and listened as they talked about only shooting in manual.  We would return from our photography outings and everyone would share the photos we took that day. I felt gutted seeing the amazing photographs the other military wives took of my own kids with their cameras.  I was sold into the fact I had to have their camera to get photographs like that.  
The Truth: You can put any camera in the hands of a photography pro and they will me probably produce amazing images or pieces of art.  You can put the same cameras in the hand of an extreme novice who knows nothing of manual settings, lighting, or composition and you will probably have nothing but rubbish photos with no eye appeal, bad exposures, horrible white balance and subjects that are blurry. 

Bonnie Rose Photography © 2007-2013 All rights reserved – 

“I   H A V E   T O   H A V E   A   C A N O N”

When my husband and I started looking at DSLRs I was adamant about getting a Canon. Why? I was in love with the photography of a young fashion photographer from England and she used a Canon.  In fact almost every photographer who shot fashion photography that I knew used Canon. There seemed no question in my mind.  My husband however loved Nikon and had read up on how well they made their lenses.  Our first DSLR was a D70.  To be followed by the D200 and then the D700.  
The Truth: A camera is a camera. It seems like the biggest competitors are Canon and Nikon, but you can buy a different model and still be a photographer.  To me I equate it to whether you use a PC or a Mac.  You can use both, switching between the two can be a bit challenging at first, and neither is really better than the other.  I have a friend that shoots with her Pentax and loves it.  It comes down to preference. After years of being a Nikon user I love the way it feels in my hands and the sound of the shutter. When I hold a friend’s Canon it feels so light like I’m holding a toy.  I’m not saying I could not switch to Canon down the road. I am just not going to throw a fit about not owning a Canon like I would have back in 2007.  I know better. 

“A L L   P H O T O G R A P H Y   E Q U I P M E N T   I S   E X P E N S I VE ” 
When we looked into getting a brand new camera I was scared.  Scared by the dollar sign and the numbers following it when looking at camera bodies and lenses.  I worked with other photographers as a hair and make up artist and I saw the types of equipment they used.  Expensive lighting set ups, complex backdrops, and so many gadgets that the numbers just kept adding up in my mind until it got overwhelming.  I would see the photographs these photographers were producing and compare it with ones photographers who had less were producing and to be honest they looked the same.  Or the photographers who had less expensive equipment were producing better images. 

The Truth: I hate to say it but photography is an expensive hobby. If you think otherwise you are sadly mistaken.  However there are many tricks of the trade that you can pick up instead of cashing in for the next latest and greatest piece of equipment.  We have bought all our cameras from other photographers off of Craiglist in Hawaii.  When it comes other equipment you do have choices.  You could buy a really large light reflector from a well known company and cut off your arm in the process.  Or you could find a cheaper model on amazon or ebay for a much more affordable option.  Or you can get creative and find other ways to bounce light on your subject.  While I own three large reflectors (with multi sides of white, black, gold, and silver) I have used other things as well.   Mirrors on the beach with the sunrise, windshield sun shades from my car, white poster board, and even natural light reflectors. What is a natural light reflector?  Shoot your subjecting near a white surface like white stone steps or the white pillar of a building. 

Bonnie Rose Photography © 2007-2013 All rights reserved – 

“P H O T O S H O P   C A N   F I X   A N Y T H I N G ” 

You get home and upload your photographs to your computer and realise that one shot you really wanted is over exposed.  So you play around with it and eventually resort to putting it in black and white and still try to tweak the photograph.  What is photoshop for if you cannot fix your wrongly executed photograph? Likewise that model that you did not meet before hand has shown up and bless her heart, but her skin is horrible. You shrug it off and assume that you can do what you can with lighting and then photoshop her skin in post processing.  
The Truth: Photoshop is awesome. As is Lightroom.  Actually if you are a photographer I recommend you use Lightroom before you put a photo in photoshop.  While photoshop is more geared towards graphic design artists Light room is for photographers.  Post processing has been around before the digital age and is the digital version of a photographer’s darkroom.  In post processing you can take a great photograph and make it look amazing.  You can take an SOOC (Straight Out Of the Camera) photograph that looks perfect and in post processing make it stellar! However you can take a bad photo and it will still look rubbish, or rubbish in a fancy dress, after post processing.  There is a thing of being ‘too photoshopped’ and photoshop cannot fix everything.  You want to aim to get the photo right in the camera. But do not dismiss post processing as a fad.  It is an amazing tool in the hands of those who know what they are doing or have the time to play around with it to figure it out.

 “I  N E E D   A N   E X P E N S I V E   D E G R E E” 

 Upon high school graduation I went off to a private Christian University to get a bachelor’s degree because is that not what everyone does?  My passions?  Theatre and moving abroad.  So I majored in Theatre and minored in Missions.  I remember hearing about the awesome photography course complete with use of the darkroom, but it was rumored to have filled up before the class began registration.  I wish I had tried harder to smooze my way into that course because maybe my career in photography would have started sooner.  But I assumed I needed a degree to become an adult.

The Truth: There are many photographers out there that do go to school and get degrees in photography. However thats not the only way to go about becoming a professional photographer.  It was not until our third upgrade of DSLR and three years into my career that I took my first photography course focused on different types of lighting.  I am self taught.  That means I bought books, I looked online, and I picked the brains of all the photographers I knew or came into contact with while working as a hair and make up artist.  Most importantly I took photographs.  There is no better way to get better at something without practice.  You do not even need someone else to photograph to get better.  When I want to work on portraits I do self portrait photography.  Otherwise I work on landscape and stock photography.  If you are passionate about something and have something you want to do in your horizon  do not not wait for it.  Run toward your dreams and take photographs all the way there!

“I  N E E D   A N   E X P E N S I V E   C A M E R A” 

 We started off small and as we could we sold back our camera to other photographers and upgraded again.  We have never bought a brand new camera which has saved us money.  When I made the jump from the Nikon D200 to the Nikon D700 I could not figure out how I got by in photography before.  I could shoot in bad lighting situations and still be able to produce quality images.  As I held my D700 I heard about the next series of cameras in the line of Nikon, ones that were ‘better‘ and more expensive.  I wondered if my need for the next best camera would ever dissipate   

The Truth: You do need an expensive camera.  Yes the cameras get better the more expensive they are but its not just about what camera body is in your hands.  It is about the glass (the lens) and the quality of it.  You could have a great camera and crap lens and not be any better off than someone with an okay camera and a really high quality lens.  Lenses are not all made equal and they do not all do the same job.  I use my 85mm for different shots than I would use my 50mm lens.  Also a 50mm 2.8 differs from a 50mm 1.8 and 50mm 1.4.  Do not believe me?  Get all three 50mm lenses and test them out on the same shot to compare the differences.  Or google it for a quicker answer.  Expat life can be expensive when you start out and I sadly parted with my D700 to help us in our endeavors   Going back to my D200 I felt very depressed about photography as a whole.  It was hard for me personally to do something that felt like ‘taking a step back’.  However it has helped me realise this is just another lie I have been lead to believe.  Although my photographer eye can see a difference, it has pushed me as an artist to really work on my skills.  These are not simple point and shoot cameras and I have been learning how to get the image I want from the D200 with the lenses I own.  Which is the point.  You can capture amazing images and create breath taking art with what you have.  You just need to continue practicing and understand your camera like it is your best friend.  

Behind the Scenes on a shoot with Bonnie Rose in Mililani, Hawaii

Y O U   A S K  &  I   A N S W E R
with Bonnie Rose on ‘Photography’

Q: Hello Bonnie! Do you have any recommendations for online photography courses or helpful websites for beginners? Thanks!

 Yes!  Hands down my favourite online resource is CreativeLive out of Seattle, WA. They offer free courses online with amazing photographers and its Live.  Since the person who asked this lives in England, we are in the best timezone for watching these live photography courses.  I could watch the repeat showing in morning before work or watch it live as it began after work.  I recommend following CreativeLive on Twitter so you are always up to date with the new courses coming your way. I have been blessed to have watched a few of my favourite photographers that I have followed for years on Creative Live.  They made that possible. I just wish I had known about them sooner. 
More about Creative Live:
Q: I need help picking a wide angle lens!

It really depends on what you want to use it for and your budget. For me I love prime lenses the best.  The two I own are used way more often than any of my zoom lenses.  I have the 50mm 1.8 and 85mm 1.4 for Nikon.  As I shoot a lot of portraiture those two lenses have been my best friends.  When I  upgrade further I will get the 50mm 1.4 lens.  However when we are traveling or sightseeing I find that those do not always cut it and I need a wide angle lens.  I’ve been toying with whether I should get a 24mm or the 35mm.  To be fair so far I have borrowed a zoom lens 17mm-35mm 2.8 and it has been my absolute favourite.  I even loved the distortion it would cause to tall buildings before me when shooting at 17mm. It is really weighs a lot on preference as well. I recommend borrowing lenses (from friends or you can borrow lenses and cameras online) and testing them out for a day.  Photography is not a cheap hobby or business and knowing for sure which lens you want to buy before you make the purchase is ideal. 
I hope you have enjoyed this next installment of my Photography series.  
If you have any questions make sure to comment!

*All photography pictured here belongs to Bonnie Rose of Bonnie Rose Photography © 2007-2013 All rights reserved – 

Memories Brought back by the Bachelorette

I am not one to do weekly recap posts on television shows and my husband will probably skip reading my blog today once he reads ‘bachelorette’ mentioned. I began watching with season two of the Bachelor and then with season one of the spin off, the Bachelorette while I was engaged. Fast forward to today and that is a decade of watching a show with generally the same plot, just new characters.    To be fair I would rather watch the Bachelorette over the Bachelor any day. Guys all vying over one girl  vs a season full of catfights.  No competition there. Why do I get sucked into it every season?

The dates?  The romance? The premise that you can find your soul mate?  

 My favourite thing about the show is watching their dates in far off countries. Especially when they go places where I want to travel, places I have been, and those that hold a special place in my heart. The last two episodes of The Bachelorette have touched me because of the locations.  Since this blog highlights on travels I would like to touch on the two places and why they mean so much to me.

On the Bachelorette Season 9 Episode 4, Desiree goes to Seaside Heights on a date and gives her date to a lovely couple whose house was hit by Hurricane Sandy.  I actually stopped watching this episode when it got to this point.  I continued watching it this week before starting the new episode.  It was hard to watch.  Seeing all the devastation from their view up in the helicopter.  Harder to imagine that we were just there for a summer vacation with my family last August.  We had gone there a few times growing up as my father’s dad lived nearby in Newark. He loved to take us to the boardwalk when we visited every few years from Europe.  You may have even read my posts about Seaside Heights and the Jersey Shore.  My husband has yet to go to New Jersey and my sons really want him to experience the summer staying at the beach house, walking minutes to the ocean, and enjoying the the fun, food, and games on the Seaside Heights board walk of the Jersey Shore.  I hope that despite the tragedy this wonderful place can be restored to an even better state than it was before. So that many more can cherish the same memories at the shore. 

This week’s episode Desiree took the men to Munich, Germany.  A city I love so much and a country I used to live in for a few years. I was watching every second with a huge amount of wanderlust.  I have been on that same mountain top that they were on and have been snowboarding in the Alps many times.  It is the place of so many happy memories with my father and going on snowboarding adventures together as a family and with our friends.  It was actually my first location choice for our vow renewal because of how special of a place it is for my family. I honestly cannot wait for the day that my husband can whisk us away to southern Bavaria. 

Being married for just about ten years with eight and six year old sons, date nights with just my husband and I are few and far between.  We have had friends watch our kids or have had arrangements set up when we were both working.  But we have never had an actual babysitter who we could regularly call up so we could go on frequently schedule date nights.  It is something I wish could be changed in the next ten years.  My husband by far wins with who has gone out with other adults more during our time here in England.

I have been out with my husband for his Uni function (so not a one on one date), once with his Uni friends without Ryan (to get me out of the house), a girls night out with my friend from  Hawaii who was visiting in London, and a girls night out in Bath with a fellow expat.  Other than that if I go out it is with the whole family in tow.  I think that is why I still watch the Bachelor/Bachelorette because I live vicariously through their dates.  I know not everyone gets the London Eye shut down for their date or a famous band to serenade them for dancing in the city streets, but I still like the idea of sweeping a girl off her feet.  That and who would not want to just jet across the world to visit a new country just for a date?  

I cherish my photographs from our vacation last summer at Seaside Heights on the Jersey shore even more after Hurricane Sandy hit and destroyed a place of such found memories.  Since the passing of my father I take photos of everything because I never know what I will not have the chance to photograph again. Even now going through old photo files on external drives, you will never hear me say ‘I wish I took less photos’. If anything looking back at old photographs I wish I knew back then what I know now about photography, composition, and lighting.  I definitely wish I had more photographs of my father and more photographs of all the places I have lived and travled through out the world.  While majority of those I can not or not easily take photos of now, I have also realised I do not have a lot of photographs of my husband and I together.  Since that is something I can change I have been working hard and on making sure we tackle that feat this year.  Photographs are truly precious to me.
Question:  What past moment in your life would you most like to have a photo of?
I asked this same question to my sponsors and here were their answers:

Jessica Lynn: “If I could have a photo from any past moment in my life it would definitely be one of me, my mom, and my week-old daughter together. It was just three months ago, but I regret not taking a picture of the three of us when she came out to visit.

Tara: “I can’t think of one specific moment, but in general, more photos of me and my parents. I lost both my parents last year and it was sad to realize I could count the number of photos, after the age of 14 (and I am 27, by the way), of me with one or both of them on one hand! I photograph

Rachel: “I’d love to have a photo of the first kiss between me and my boyfriend.”

Tammy:  The moment I met my hubby. :) that moment our eyes locked on each other.

Melyssa: “I’d like to have a photo of my nana making me mac & cheese. I don’t even really like mac & cheese, but because she always used to make it for me, I associate that memory with the feeling of home. It was never about the mac & cheese, it was just about her love. I’d like a picture of that.

Lisa Ng: “I would love a photo of the first time I held my son. I have plenty photos afterward, but just not the very first time.

Thank you to my lovely sponsors for taking the time to participate today. Make sure you check out the blogs of these wonderful ladies and I’ll ask the same question to you, my reader, below:
Q:  What past moment in your life would you most like to have a photo of?

Tailoring in Bangkok, Thailand

The first time I went to Thailand was for a Summer in 2004 with my husband to do mission work. We had heard from the other American students all about getting suits made while in Bangkok.  I would have loved to get one however I was about to start my second trimester and was already showing.  A maternity suit that would not last though out  my entire pregnancy was not on my current shopping list of souvenirs from South East Asia.  In 2006 I returned to Thailand and went on to visit Cambodia with my mum to go to the Asian Mission Forum.  Before leaving to go back to California my mum surprised me with getting a suit tailored in Bangkok, Thailand.  There are many tailors to choose from and some may have their perks. But basically whichever you choose you are going to be getting a suit custom made for you for way less than it would be in the US.
I have memories of waking down the the street of designer stores with my dad as he picked out the suits he liked best to have a tailor make him.  It is what inspired me to have a seamstress make the designer bridal gown I fell in love with for my wedding.  Aside from that I did not know exactly what to expect when we first entered the shop.  Upon arrival we were sat down in the reception area, looking through books of photos to choose the design we liked best.  Once that is decided you choose your fabric.  I also was getting blouses made to wear with my suit and was excited to choose the fabric and colour for those.  I have never had a blouse fit me perfectly from a department store.  Either it is too tight on top, or fits the bust perfectly but is too lose in the midsection.  I have to say after getting my blouses back, you can never go back to off the rack.  If you do, you will want to get them tailored before wearing them.  
My three piece suit (Jacket, trousers, and a skirt) are still in my wardrobe seven years later.  I have gotten to wear it on multiple occasions despite not having an office job.  The photo pictured below of me in my suit is from the Balvenie Whiskey tasting at the infamous Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles, California.  While I still love my suit I would love to go back to Thailand and come home with three more suits and maybe seven blouses.  I know my husband is still a tiny bit jealous he did not get to go.
Q: Have you ever had a suit tailored for you? Where did you get yours made?  Would you go to Thailand just get clothes?


Recipe: Pims & Simple Oat Cookies

Earlier this month we went to the village fete in Monkton Farleigh, this weekend a fete in Batheaston, and in two weeks time we will be at another nearby. Nothing says Summer in Great Britain than a lovely village fete, a jug of Pims, and an array of baked goods. If you find yourself lacking a fete nearby, you can bring the best elements to your home. This blog post includes recipes we have used recently at our home here in England. The first is a recipe for how to make Pims. You pretty much cannot go to any function during the summer without having Pims available. It will also be the cause for a long que and the first thing to run out. 
I mention Pims quite a lot in my blog and tweets during the summer months and have been asked by those in America what it is exactly. Pims in the bottle itself is a gin-based drink containing ‘a secret mixture of herbs and liqueurs’. There are several different recipes for different drink variations but the most common one calls for Pim’s original, ice, lemonade, and the fruit/veggie garnishes. If you are not accustomed to lemonade in England it is not the same as its American variety. Lemonade in England is a lemon flavored carbonated drink. If you do not have any fizzy lemonade on hand we have made it with sparkling water and fresh lemons and it has turned out just perfectly. I have included the print ready recipe from the official Pim’s website. Make sure to check it out for their other drink varieties.


The next recipe I want to share is a really simple oat cookie or biscuit. It is easy because you can make it with just 4-5 ingredients and ones you probably have at home already. They are perfect for those last minute guests that come over for tea and are sure to please the masses. They are also simple enough for kids and makes a great family activity for after school.

170g (6oz) butter
115g (40z) caster sugar*
225g (8oz) self-raising flour
57g (2oz) porridge oats
1 tsp vanilla extract

*I like to substitute with organic set honey.  Just use a little less honey than the amount of sugar needed to make sure you get the right cookie dough consistency.  

Directions:Preheat the oven to 180 degrees or Gas mark 4. 
Greece a cookie sheet with coconut oil.
Cream together the butter and sugar/honey until light and fluffy.
Add vanilla extract.
Sieve in self raising flour.
Set aside one ounce of the porridge oats and mix the remaining oats into the mixture.  
Knead the cookie dough and then roll into twenty small balls.  
Roll each ball in the remaining porridge oats and press down on a greased baking tray.
Bake cookies in the oven for about fifteen minutes or until golden brown. 

These lovely oaty biscuits are small, perfect with tea, and if your family is like mine the biscuits will disappear quickly!  I hope you enjoy both of these recipes and let me know how you get on if you try them out. 

Q: Have you had Pim’s before?