Monthly Archives: November 2013

5 Steps to Improve your Photography


If you have been around this blog for a while you know that I have a hobby of taking self portraits.  While the proclaimed ‘selfie’ has been around since the days of Myspace, taking a simple self portrait is more of an art.  For me it began in last year with a new photography series I wanted to do revolving around one themed self portrait a week with my friends. Every week we had a theme based off a song title or lyrics and we each brought what that meant to us in a self portrait.  Challenges like this can be fun and a great way to keep you accountable as you learn more about your art and craft.  I really push people to start taking self portraits when they want to get better at photography because it can help you grow both technically and creatively.

f r o m   B o n n i e   o f   A   C o m p a s s   R o s e

1. Start taking Self Portraits. You never need to find a model or tell someone else how to pose. Forget about needing a tripod or a remote.  I take most of my self portraits without either of these items.  All you need is a sturdy surface and the self timer on your camera.

2. Take One Photo Every Day. There are many challenges out there to keep you occupied with your camera every day.  There are even social media groups that participate these types, including on Instagram.  Perhaps you do not want to be tied down to a specific or limited theme.  Just keep your camera available and shoot what sparks your fancy.

3. Do not Delete. Just because some of your photos did not turn out right, do not rush to delete them off your camera.  Learn from your mistakes.  The best way to figure out how to improve your photography is to study the photos where you did not achieve what you wanted with those where your photo turned out perfectly.  Learning to trouble shoot can take you to the next level as a photographer.

4. Be Inspired. Find ways to inspire your photography.  Look at elements within a photograph and go from there. Perhaps focus on locations. Where can you take a photograph and what mood would it set?  Start being observant to the world around you and find things in your part of the world that make you enjoy photography.  When you love what you do, it shows through your work.

5. Take a Class. Love photography and want to improve?  I offer B.Lux Photography courses and in December I am introducing two new classes, with more to come in 2014.  No matter where in the world you live, if you have have the willingness to learn you can take these online courses.

BLUXB. In Focus | An beginner’s course or a refresher for intermediate photographers who want to take back the control from their camera and learn how to shoot in manual.  We discuss both the technical and the creative aspect of photography as we get to know your camera.  Tired of getting fuzzy or outof focus photographs?  Not sure why the colours never look right? Having a hard time with lighting and want to know how to work with many different types of lighting situations?  Do you want to take better photographs?  You have the technology in your hands and you have the creative mind! Now put it together with this course and really push yourself as a photographer.  This four week course includes a bonus teacher free week with a final project at the end of the course.

B. Retouched | Do you like to photograph people and take portraits?  Not sure what to do with the photos in post processing? In this four week course we learn how to use photoshop specifically for the need of retouching people and faces in your photography.  Learn how bring out their natural beauty and how the steps differ depending on the person’s age.  From spot retouching, to smoothing skin, and even how to apply make up!  The final project in this course will teach you how to take your black and white photo and bring it back to colour with the retouching affects in photoshop.

B. Transformed | An introductory class to photoshop for photographers and bloggers.  Whether you are diving into photoshop for the first time as a photographer or are wanting to take your photos to the next level on your blog.  We get started with learning the basics to help get away from feeling overwhelmed and start getting creative. In this online course you get on screen videos of how to work in photoshop. From working with layers, filters, brushes, and simple retouch & healing tools.  We then look at how you can protect your work, make it web ready, organize and archive your photographs. Help photoshop work with you.







M A K E   F R I E N D S   &   F O L L O W   L O U I S A!
*photography belongs to Bonnie Rose Photography © 2007 – 2013 All Rights Reserved | 


Expat Life: Thanksgiving


This year we celebrated our first American Thanksgiving, a proper feast with other people for the first time in three years.  As Thanksgiving lands on my birthday every 5,6, or 11 years I was happy to do without it our first year in England.  However, as an ex-pat sometimes there are cultural traditions from ‘home’ that you forget you really do miss. It was not until we started preparing for this year’s feast that I found the memories of past Thanksgivings all coming back. I have celebrated so many Thanksgivings in Europe growing up in England, Germany, and Italy and this years was another one for the memory book. A big thank you to my amazing friends and hosts for this wonderful feast!

We celebrated with my American expat friend who is married to an English guy, their kids, and two other English families. It was a really fun experience.  We started off with mulled cider and an array of canapes, had our Thanksgiving dinner, played a Thanksgiving themed quiz, shared what we were thankful for on the back of leaves, and finished with desserts.  The kids even put together a ‘haunted house’ for us to explore during our evening together.  I think the best part was the conversation and experiencing the cultural differences.  For example one of the dishes was a jello salad with cherry cola, creme cheese, pineapples, bing cherries, and walnuts. I had never  had it before but found it very delicious. The whole ‘salad’ description was a bit off putting to the English crowd, as well as it being served with the rest of the main courses and side dishes when it was really a ‘pudding’ (which is the english word for ‘dessert’). This really reminded me about getting teased in the US for loving to eat ‘beans on toast’ which is a cultural norm food here in the UK. There was also talk about beer as the hosts managed to find Coors Light beer. While I normally would not drink this in the states, it seemed only fitting for an ex-pat Thanksgiving in England.

We split up all the dishes between the families and everyone brought their part to the Thanksgiving dinner.  I brought my apple pie made with coconut oil which you can find the recipe for on yesterday’s post.






P O S T S   BY   K A T E

M A K E   F R I E N D S   &   F O L L O W   K A T E!


*photography belongs to Bonnie Rose Photography © 2007 – 2013 All Rights Reserved | 

Thanksgiving Apple Pie


Happy Thanksgiving! Today we are celebrating with a few other expat families here in England.  It is my families first time to celebrate in three years and I am really looking forward to it! While my husband was in charge of the turkey and stuffing I have been busy making a pie.  What I love most about this apple pie is I use coconut oil to make the crust.  On this day of Thanksgiving I am going to be sharing my recipe so you can enjoy it too!

5 cups of flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vinegar
2 cups of coconut oil
1 egg, slightly beaten In a standard measuring cup and filled with water to make one cup liquid.

Directions: Mix flour, salt and sugar. Add in the coconut oil which should be in its liquid consistency. Then combine this mixture with the egg-water and vinegar. This will make a soft dough that is easy to handle and will not break or crumble while rolling. This should be enough dough for 3 double crust pies. However for this pie pictured below I cut halved the recipe and used it to make one double crusted pie with all the details you see below.

Once your crust is mixed wrap up in cling wrap and put in the fridge to chill while you work on the filling.

*Secret Ingredients

To start I peeled the skin from the apples, cored  them, and then sliced them up into a bowl.  I then sprinkled the three listed ingredients over the apples and shook them in the bowl until well mixed.  I will state there are a two things I added for flavour as my secret ingredients that I cannot share.  But feel free to experiment and make this pie your own.

You can then take out the pie dough and start rolling it out with your rolling pin (i used a pint drinking glass before we bought our rolling pin if you need an alternative).  Make sure when you are working on the bottom layer you make it much larger than the circle of the pan to take in account for the sides and a little overhang.  Do not cut off the overhang yet.  Press out any air by pushing the dough into the pie pan.  You can now fill it with your apple mixture.

For the top layer you can simply repeat with just placing the crust on top, sealing it around the sides with a fork, and making a few air holes for the steam in the middle.  Or you can be creative like me.  I decided to make a lattice, add a braided border, add leaves where the plaits met, and a heart in the center.  Then take a little egg and milk mixture, and brush over the top. Sprinkle with some icing sugar and you are set to go!

You will want to have your oven preheated at gas mark 6  and put the pie in for 15 minutes. After the fifteen you can lower the temperature to gas mark 4 for a remaining 25 minutes.





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 Bonnie Rose Photography © 2007 – 2013 All Rights Reserved |

Live More Simply

This week I have some extra goodies to share with you across the blog-o-sphere. First up is a guest post with my fellow TCK, Third Culture Kid, Casey over at the True Colours blog with Life in the UK. For her travel segment I wanted to share more about Bonfire Night and specifically with my experience in the town of Lewes. Lewes has the largest Bonfire night with several bonfire societies and legendary firework displays! It is a photo heavy post to transport you right to the main event.

uk guest blogger weekNext is a guest post with my November sponsor, Kim, over at A Moving Story blog. Here you can read my Reflections of Gratitude: Living Simply. I share my personal story as an ex-pat with 5 simple steps to live life more simply.  I would love to know how you could implement the five steps into your own life towards happiness and a life of contentment.  Do let me know in the comments.


Thank you so much for these lovely ladies reaching out to me to let me share.



3 Must Have Items for Travel


Welcome to another #TravelTuesday link up on A Compass Rose! Next week will be our monthly themed Travel Tuesday and since it will be for the month of December the prompt shall be ‘Holidays’.  Share the places you have traveled to on your holidays, your wanderlust lists of where you would love to go during the holidays, why people should travel to your city for the holidays, or anything you would like! Dream big and let us travel vicariously through your post for next week.

This week I wanted to share with you all some thoughts my sponsors and I have on traveling.
I asked these lovely ladies the following question and you can read their replies below.

“You are going on a trip, what are the three must have items in your travel bag?”

TravelTuesdayCRYSTAL | The Happy Type
1. This is easy! Chapstick (because dry lips are the pits)
2. Hand Sanitizer (I apparently touch EVERYTHING)
3. A pack of toilet paper (When you have lived and traveled in Asia a small cache of TP is GOLD)

KIM | A Moving Story
1. A pashmina. I am terrified of airplane blankets. Pashminas can serve as a blanket, jacket and nose scarf in stinky places. One can never be over-prepared when traveling!
2. A Sharpie marker. I rarely go anyplace without at least one sharpie. It comes in handy when marking up maps, labeling purchases and taking notes on the road.
3. Haribo Gummi Bears. I like to have Gummi Bears on me in case I go someplace and don’t like the food. They’re a great snack if you happen to get sick and want to slowly reintroduce food, and let’s be honest, they’re great motivators if you need to bribe someone (hotel clerk, bellman, taxi driver) to hook you up. Unlike chocolate, they don’t melt, travel well and have many uses!

KATE | Diaries of an Essex Girl
1. My kindle
2. A hair brush
3. Definitely a toothbrush too! As long as I’ve covered hygiene and entertainment for any long journeys, I’m a happy lady.

LIX | A Classic Notion
1. My camera is my number one priority. I love the experience of traveling, but traveling without being able to capture the images I see would be an absolute nightmare.
2. Unless it’s a very short or very wildlife-involving trip, at risk of being super boring and sounding like a tech addict, I’ll also take my laptop — to transfer photos into and to stay connected to the people I love.
3. For the third, well — my meds. Paroxetine because you can’t quit cold turkey and lorazepam and ibuprofen just in case. And my wallet. And deodorant and a hairbrush and a toothbrush and toothpaste, probably. I can be a little obsessive about personal hygiene.

MELANIE | Melanie Fontaine
1. My camera
2. A good guide book of my location that includes my map and my phone.
3. My camera because travel photography fascinates me to no end, the guide book so I never lose my way and the phone in case any of the other two fails.

LOUISA | My Family & Abruzzo
1. The iPad so my 5 year old can play Angry Birds Star Wars on the plane/in the car.
2. Baby wipes (especially if you’re flying with a certain low cost airline)
3. These days, my iphone.  Goodness, I sound like a tech freak now.  I do read a lot of books and I draw too, I promise!

LINDSEY | A Broad’s World
1. My camera
2. My backup camera because I’m clumsy and have broken one too many while on holiday.
3. My handy dandy first aid kit, because who knows what I’m going to eat or accidentally step on.

BONNIE | A Compass Rose
1. My camera bag with everything I would need for my photography. We are talking the camera body itself, lenses, memory cards, external drive (for backup), cords, batteries, tripod or monopod, LED light, etc.
2. A journal.  Whether it be on my phone or an actual book I can write in with a pen.  I love writing down inspirations as they happen, writing poetry, or just writing about my experiences.
3. Packing Merry Poppins Style. Okay so perhaps this is not an ‘object’ but I like to see what all I can pack in my bag so that I am prepared for all occasions without feeling like I am lugging around my kitchen sink. Packing is an art!


Share your Travel stories and wanderlust addictions.




1. Share a post about travel! From road trips to trips abroad and from past travels to dream vacations. You can write about travel tips and tricks, favorite places to stay, or anything in between! Just make it about traveling somewhere!
2. Grab the lovely button. If you run into trouble, just make sure to mention Bonnie in a link! ;)
3. Linkup goes live every Tuesday after 9 am GMT.
4. Hop around and meet new travel loving bloggers! Link up will be open for a few days, make sure to check back to visit some of the newer travel posts!
5. Please only one linked up post per blogger. Save other posts for future linkups!
6. The First Tuesday of every month will be a themed prompt if you want to join in!

 Q: You are going on a trip, what are the three must have items in your travel bag?


*Photograph courtesy of Ryan Aherin during his travels to Japan

Thank You & An Update


Thank you so much for all the wonderful birthday wishes that you sent to me through the blog, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. You are so sweet and I greatly appreciate all your kind words on my birthday.

Status Update:
My laptop is currently not working at the moment. I should have it back to running order in a few days. Luckily I can still make posts on my blog via my husband’s laptop. However since my husband uses Linux and all of my programmes and fonts are over on my computer you may see a little less sparkle on the blog. Also since the laptop I am using has overheating problems I cannot be on it very long. Will be responding to comments, emails, and everything once I have my laptop working once more later this week. Thank you so much for your patience.

Ps. Travel Tuesday will still be running tomorrow.


My 31st Birthday

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Today is my birthday. Thirty one years ago in Oxfordshire,I was born to an American couple stationed at Upperheyford with the US Air Force on their second tour to England. I was a premature baby who got very sick, needed surgeries and the doctors did not think I would make it. I survived and continued moving and traveling around Europe with my family until I turned seventeen and we moved to the USA. They say things happen for a reason. While I cannot apply that logic to all facets of life (like death and loss), it fits in this regard. Due to being premature I did not have to choose which citizenship to keep when I turned eighteen. Had I been born even just a couple weeks later I would have had to choose America or England as my nationality. I have always been proud of the fact that I was born English and claimed certain British traits. I have even had an English accent twice in my life. Perhaps I would have chosen England. Today as a Third Culture Kid (TCK) I claim ownership to all the countries and cultures I have lived or spent a significant part of my life within growing up. I love being labeled a TCK because I do not have to be from a certain country nor sound or speak a certain way. I am a TCK.

I celebrate my 31st with my ex-pat family today at home in England so grateful of that fact. Thankful that we can live here together in a life we all enjoy so very much. To share it with my husband and sons who have never felt against the decision to live outside the US and share the love of travel. The biggest reason being that they love me so much. Unconditional of the fact that I may not think or act ‘American’ as others have judged me for in the US. To them I am perfect and I could not ask for a better family to love.

Photography © Miriam Pinkston 2013