My 2015 in Review

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2015 was a year of transition for me, many of them bittersweet. It started on January 1st. when my girl, my firstborn, Ellen left for college more than halfway across the country. As with most college freshman, the first year was a bit bumpy. But, one of the highlights of the year was when Andrew and I flew out west to visit her and went to Arches National Park and Moab.

2015 was the year I bought myself a tent and took my first solo camping trip in May when I needed some peace. In June, Andrew and I camped at Assateague Island National Seashore with the Neals. Visiting Assateague was something I had never done and had always wanted to do. It was such a relaxing and fun trip! I am thankful to Susan, Harry, Casey, and Kyra for sharing their time with us there.

July 6th. I started back into the W-2 workforce as a Part-time Specialist at Apple. I felt it was time to get out of the house and meet some new people while being around technology that I love. I work with and meet interesting and diverse people everyday, which I really enjoy.

For my birthday, Andrew and I took a quick trip to Dewey Beach and stayed at the Hyatt for free using points. I bought my first pair of Birkenstock’s and proceeded to get hellacious blisters immediately. Lol! We walked on the beach despite them and had a relaxing time. I have since grown to love those sandals but it took awhile!

At the end of July, Ellen returned home from college with her sweet little puppy, Gala. Of course, a new puppy and a very independent young adult bring their own challenges. More transitioning and changing relationships…

After years of a stressful relationship with my husband and recent votile exchanges between him and my children, on September 2nd. I felt I could delay the inevitable no longer. I gave him a letter thanking him for the good times we had but making it clear that they had long been over and it was time to acknowledge that and move on. Unfortunately, the peaceful parting I had hoped for was not to be and the kids and I lived a very stressful existence until we moved out. Ellen returned to Rexburg, where she goes to school, on September 30th. and Andrew and I am moved into an apartment on October 21st. Talk about big transitions!

I still have worries- worries about my dad’s health, worries about money and of course worries about Ellen and Andrew. But, life since the move has been much more peaceful. Andrew and I get along well and have a very relaxed lifestyle. We go for lots of walks, watch lots of comedy on Netflix and bake lots of cookies (and eat them too!) We are living small and simply, but that’s OK.

One of the final big transitions of the year 2015 for me was sitting in the right seat of my car again. On December 17 Andrew got his learners permit! He is very eager to drive and has done well so far. He is also very eager to have his own car to drive since we only have one, but unfortunately that will have to wait.

For me, I hope 2016 brings more peace, more creativity, less stress and worries, more travel and more fun times with friends. It probably won’t be the easiest year I ever have, but hopefully it will be moving in the right direction. Thanks for enduring my little walk down memory lane!

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Focus Enhancements Coming with the Fujifilm X-T1 Firmware Update

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Fuji has announced on their website that a firmware update is coming in June which will significantly enhance the focusing abilities of the Fujifilm X-T1 and X-T1 Graphite. More features to learn, but the new autofocus system sounds awesome. I’m looking forward to trying it out! Fuji has created a video to highlight the new features and you can read more details under “News” on Fuji’s site.

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Grow a Living Wall Book Winner!

Well, I only needed to flip a coin instead of using a random number generator, but I’ve picked a winner for my book giveaway! Tails = LaNae! LaNae, I have a book to send you… please email me a 1MoreCreative at gmail dot com with your address, with “BOOK GIVEAWAY” in the subject and I will get your book in the mail to you! Thanks for reading my blog and commenting!

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If you missed my review of “Grow a Living Wall” you can read it here.

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Book Review and Giveaway – Grow a Living Wall

The first green of spring has started bursting out of the ground, reminding me it is time to start thinking about planting. I always like to grow my own herbs for cooking and to include in my food photography. Homegrown herbs always look so much fresher than the grocery store variety. I normally grow my herbs in pots on the deck since our yard is never chemical free. This year I may try going vertical after taking a look at a new book “Grow a Living Wall – Create Vertical Gardens with Purpose” by Shawna Coronado.

2015-03-30 13.19.46 web logo This book is filled with lots of great ideas on how to increase your gardening real estate by going vertical. Part I starts out with the basics to consider: what type of wall is best for you, recommended tools, techniques for watering vertical gardens, soil and plants that work best, etc. Part II is filled with suggestions of themed gardens such as Herbal Cocktail Garden, Vegetable Balconies Garden, Fern Garden, Therapeutic Hanging Garden and more. This part is filled with lots of great photos to inspire you. It includes vertical gardens made with pre-made systems and lots of DIY options with instructions too!

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I haven’t decided which ideas I am going to use yet, but this book definitely has me thinking that I can add more crops without taking up more floor space on my deck! Shawna claims that vertical gardens can even help insulate your house from summer heat, which would be an welcome secondary benefit! Gardening helps you eat healthier, cheaper and now can save you a few pennies on your electric bill too! Gotta love that!

 

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I received my review copy of this book from the publisher who was kind enough to send me an extra copy to give away! You can win a free copy by leaving a comment below – try sharing your favorite gardening tip or thing to grow. I will pick a random comment on April 8th to receive the free copy of “Grow a Living Wall.”

 

 

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Food Friday – Brussel Sprouts

Fresh Raw Brussel Sprouts
When I was a kid, my parents made me eat my vegetables, ALL my vegetables. Even the ones I didn’t like. As a result, I learned to like most. Brussel sprouts were one of the few exceptions. I always thought they were cute as much as a vegetable can be cute, but I didn’t like their slightly bitter taste. As an adult, I am all about growing, learning and expanding my world. Recently this included giving brussel sprouts another try.

Fresh Raw Brussel Sprouts

I found I actually like these miniature cabbages if they are stir-fried lightly with some salt, garlic and olive oil (especially a flavored one from Cleo’s) or even raw. My mom was a pretty good cook, but I think she over-did the brussel sprouts a bit. It probably helped that I got my super fresh brussel sprouts right on the stock from Whole Foods too. If there was something you didn’t like as a kid, don’t be afraid to give it another try, you might discover you have been missing out on something good!

Fresh Raw Brussel Sprouts

All images copyright Brycia James. Most can be licensed at iStock.com by clicking on the image.
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Food Friday – Orange Abundance

Navel Oranges in a Wooden Crate

What do you do with two dozen oranges? If you are a photographer, you probably take some photos of them before anything else! You can’t just EAT them!

This week my neighbor, a sweet little Asian lady, brought a box of navel oranges over as a thank you for helping them clear the recent snow. At first I didn’t know what I was going to do with that many oranges, as I am the only one in the house who will eat them! But when I offered some to a friend, she mentioned I should take photos of them. Of course! So, instead of working on taxes all day today, I played with oranges a bit!

Navel Oranges in a Wooden Crate

Navel Oranges in a Wooden Crate

Navel Oranges in a Wooden Crate

Navel Oranges in a Wooden Crate

Then I ate some and they were delicious! Now, time to share and get back to the taxes. 😩

Happy Friday Everyone!

All images copyright Brycia James. Most can be licensed at iStock.com by clicking on the image.
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Food Friday – Cleo’s Fine Oils & Vinegars Food Shoot

Smoked Gouda Speared with Cherry Tomato and Drizzled with Balsam

Last week I had the pleasure of working with Cleo’s Fine Oils & Vinegars in Annapolis to create some food images for their new packaging brochures. It was only the second time I had shot food for a specific client. Usually I purchase and prepare food myself, style the shot and finally take the photographs to add to my stock portfolio. It was so wonderful to work with someone else and have their help and creative input.  Not to mention how many more images came out of a four hour shoot!

Linda, the co-owner of Cleo’s and her marketing director, Dee created eight different dishes for me to photograph, ranging from the smoked gouda and tomato hors d’oeuvres seen above, to salsa, salads, sides and yummy desserts. All the dishes incorporated one or more of Cleo’s flavored oils, vinegars and salts to create more complex flavors. The addition of Cleo’s ingredients definitely took the foods from ordinary to gourmet with little additional effort. Many of the recipes I photographed can be found on their website, such as this one for Chocolate Orange Mini cupcakes:

Mini Chocolate Cupcake with Espresso Sea Salt

Part of the beauty of adding flavored vinegars, oils and spices to your dishes is that it adds so much flavor without adding tons of calories or unhealthy ingredients. I have been a fan of quinoa for a few years now, but it definitely needs a little something to add flavor. On it’s own quinoa is rather bland. With the addition of a few veggies and some lemon white balsamic, quinoa goes from meh… to Mmmm!

Quinoa Salad with Avocado, Cucumber and Tomato

Vegetables become so much more interesting with the addition of a few extra flavors. A little olive oil is a heathy addition and flavored oils add that much more flavor. I have become a big fan of Cleo’s Agrumato Lime Olive Oil – I’ve always loved citrus flavors! Here are some roasted carrots with olive oil and thyme finished with Black Hawaiian Sea Salt we did for the shoot:

Roasted Carrots on Baking PanAnd here is a beautiful Japanese Carrot and Diakon Salad dressed with Cleo’s Pacific Spice Vinegar and Toasted Sesame Oil:

Japanese Carrot and Daikon Salad

I thoroughly enjoyed working with Cleo’s and love their products! If you are in the Annapolis area, you can find them in the Annapolis Towne Centre, or you can purchase from them over the phone and have it shipped directly to you. I look forward to working with them in the future, discovering more uses for their quality products and adding more of their tasty dishes to my food photography portfolio.

If you would like to add any of these images to your blog, magazine or other publication, you may license them at iStock.com by clicking on any of the images above.

Happy Friday! Eat well and enjoy today!

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