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Oyster ToolsDecember 4, 2015

2015 Holiday Wishlist Featuring 40 Oyster Gifts for Every Oyster Lover

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Holy Kumamoto! How is it December already?? I know that I have been falling behind on my oyster blogging, but to make it up to you all, I’m pumped to present this fantastic 2015 Holiday Oyster Gift Guide! Never disappoint the oyster lovers in your life ever again.

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Oyster ToolsAugust 30, 2015

A Closer Look At @InAHalfShellBlog on Instagram

Today is In A Half Shell’s 2 year Instagram anniversary! Out of all social media platforms, Instagram has to be my favorite. As an avid photographer, it’s been an indispensible tool for the way I showcase oyster culture from around the world. Last week, I crossed my 10,000th follower mark. To celebrate this milestone, I thought it would be fun to share some highlights and insights of my IG journey.

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A Quick “Oysterview”

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Posting habits: It’s all about delivering quality over quantity. I don’t post every day, but try to maintain a consistent schedule. I am such a stickler for good photography that if I don’t have a worthy image to share, I won’t. In my earlier days, it was about capturing what I was eating at the raw bars. Today, I’m more intrigued by what’s happening on the farm and in my kitchen.

Creative tip: Favorite filter is a little misleading, because I actually apply some sort of treatment to 97% of my photos before posting. They’re just not always done through Instagram. Currently, my favorite photo editing apps are VSCO Cam and Darkroom. For text, I use Over.

Most Growth in the Last Year

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The first year of being on Instagram was pretty quiet compared to the second year, where I accumulated ~80% of my followers. This definitely correlates to the amount of energy and effort that I put into Instagram.

What I invest my time doing on: 80% liking other oyster photos and talking to fellow Instagrammers about oysters, 20% creating quality posts. It’s fun to see what other people are eating/doing and thinking about around the world. I take time in the morning and evening to catch up on my feed, and try to respond to as many inquiries as possible. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with all of the comments, but there’s a “Manage” tool in Iconosquare that makes it more, well, manageable!

What I don’t often do: Selling stuff, promoting places/products that I don’t have personal experience with, and super-text heavy images. I think this goes back to the idea of emphasizing quality over quantity. There are a lot of instances where businesses, brands, and even individuals have asked me to help them “spread the word” for them, but many times, it just doesn’t make sense (or fit my aesthetic). After a couple years, I feel like I am even MORE selective than I used to be about who I follow and what I share. Having such a high benchmark has helped maintain a much more loyal and engaged following.

My biggest hashtag addictions: #oysterlove #shellfie #oystersommelier are my go-to’s. I think posting anything oyster-related with #oysters #oyster definitely has put it in front of the right people. Going more broadly with food-related hashtags like #foodporn #nomnom #eeeeeats is also a good way to boost likes, but not necessarily from the right people.

People Like Stylish Stories

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First of all, I want to note that posting more Instagrams does NOT mean that you’ll automatically get more likes. In fact, posting too many could actually lead to lower engagement and even people UNFOLLOWING you. Especially true when I post a bunch in a row… nobody really wants one account to dominate their feed.

Here’s a closer look at a few of my most well-liked posts. I’ve noticed that they all have these things in common:

  • They’re killer photos (if I don’t say so myself)
  • They all have interesting captions
  • They’re all posted in the morning (don’t underestimate good timing…)
  • They’re all shot in this top-down style that IG’ers just love (no matter the subject)

I feel like my best photos express an aesthetic that is unique to who I am and how I see the oyster world. It’s relatable and gives you a hint into what my personal life is like. Aesthetically, having a few components and element of surprise really helps. Good lighting is SUPER important. The first two shots use natural sunlight, while the third was lit by artificial lighting (because my old kitchen was super dark and crappy).

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Ask And You Shall Receive

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Meanwhile, likes are not the same as engagement. The posts that I see the most conversation on are completely different from the ones that receive the most likes. Besides the posts that are giveaways (where people are incentivized to comment), engagement spikes when people feel compelled to learn more or give me an answer. Helping, not selling, is key—and it works both ways. Sometimes I’ll ask my followers what they think of something, and usually, they’ll answer. Weird, “did you know” posts (like the oyster crab) also captures people’s attention.

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Last Few Words

So there you have it! I hope this overview was informative to those who have been curious. If you’re wondering about how you can step up your own IG game, here’s a few articles that I have found to be helpful:

5 Insightful Instagram Statistics That You Should Know by Sprout Social

Food Photography: 7 Tips for Instagram by Click It Up a Notch

Ten Household Items That Can Improve Your Food Photography by Pinch of Yum

Oyster ToolsJanuary 28, 2015

Where to Buy My NY Oyster Map in NYC

My New York Oyster Map highlights 30 of NYC’s best places for oysters, but how do you get your hands on this map? It’s a question that my friends have asked me for months now and I finally have an answer.

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Kinokuniya Bookstore – 1073 Avenue of the Americas, between 40th & 41st St

Nepenthes – 307 West 38th Street, between 8th and 9th Ave

KIOSK – 540 LaGuardia Pl, between W 3rd and Thompson

Greenwich Letterpress – 39 Christopher Street, between Waverly Place and 7th Ave

Project No. 8 Travel at Ace Hotel – 22 W. 29th Street & Broadway

Spoonbill Books – 218 Bedford Avenue & N 5th St, Brooklyn

Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store – 232 5th Ave & President St, Brooklyn

Order it Online

If you don’t live in NYC, but still want to get a copy, you can order it online for $8 (plus shipping).

Meanwhile, my friend Jeremy sent me this photo a few days ago while he was shopping in Tokyo. Small world!
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If you’re a retailer and would like to carry my map, and/or along with All-You-Can-Eat‘s many other delightful food maps, email me and I’ll make it happen!

Oyster ToolsNovember 27, 2014

Holiday Gift Guide for Oyster Lovers

‘Tis the season to be giving, and while no one is going to pout about getting a box of oysters for the holidays, here are some other gift ideas for that special bivalve lover in your life.Stylish Gifts for Oyster Lovers

#1 Gold Leaf Oyster Ornaments by Oysters and Pearls – Set of 6 ($40 via Etsy)

#2 Nell & Mary Oyster Tea Towels ($20 via Nell & Mary)

#3 Freret & Napoleon The Signature Oyster Necklace ($82 via Freret & Napoleon)

#4 Hand-Painted Oyster Watercolor Archival Print by The Oyster Emporium ($29 via Etsy)

#5 Sir | Madam Oyster Placemats – Set of 4 ($76 via Step. and Lizzie)

#6 Mark Lexton Oyster Cufflinks ($195 via Mark Lexton)

#7 New York Oyster Map by Yours Truly ($8 via All-You-Can-Eat Press)

#8 Meet Paris Oyster: A Love Affair with the Perfect Food by Mireille Guiliano ($15.48 via Amazon)

#9 Wellfleet Oyster, Clam, and Crab Knives with Leather Wrap by R. Murphy Knives ($150 via Food52 Provisions)

#10 Howler x Oxide Oyster Shot Glasses – Set of 2 ($45 via Howler Brothers)

#11 Jacobsen Salt Co. Oyster Salt Cellar Pair ($16 via Food52 Provisions)

#12 The Oyster Bed Cooking Tray – Le Petit Half Dozen ($79 via Kickstarter until 12/1)

#13 Littledeer Half Sheller Shucking Board ($40 via Williams Sonoma)

#14 Abalone & Tortoise Small Oyster Plate by Alison Evans ($52 via Table Matters)

#15 Oyster Paintings by Kim Hovell ($35-60 prints via Etsy, $$$ real deal via Maine Cottage)

#16 Silk Mini Gulf Oyster Pocket Square ($35 via NOLA Couture)

 

Which gift are you wishing for?

Oyster ToolsMay 28, 2013

Reviewing SimplyShuck Oyster Trays

It’s been a year since I accepted B’s proposal, but figured this was as good of a time as any to celebrate our engagement with our New York friends. Besides, it gave me a good excuse to try out my brand new simplyshuck oyster trays.

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Jeremy from simplyshuck was kind enough to ship three trays (one of each size — 3, 6, 12) over from the UK for me to try out. These trays are made of British stainless steel with a reflective finish. So reflective in fact, that they act like makeshift mirrors. The construction of it feels solid and streamlined. Each oyster slot is shaped like an egg with a tapered point and the entire tray seems to be made of just one sheet of metal.

The shorter ends of the tray are slightly convex, giving the rectangular frame some smoother edges. A subtle simplyshuck logo is etched into the side. Simplyshuck also offers several other oyster shucking accessories such as an oyster gloveknife, and innovative oyster holder. As someone who enjoys sleek, minimalistic design, I quite like the styling of the simplyshuck trays. They are a clever update to the traditional oyster plate.

The silver trays look great on their own, but splendid when topped off with oysters. We had the party set in our friend’s private courtyard and I loved how the tray surface reflected the tree leaves from above. I can imagine that they’d also look quite pretty under a blue sky. They also reflect a bit of the shell, which gets overlooked far too often in my opinion. There are three different tray sizes to suit various needs.

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