Monday, March 30, 2015

OOTD Free Spirit

I'm liking these long flowing cardigans that are all the rage now.
Perhaps they can help me pretend that I'm a little bit taller than I actually am. maybe help me pretend that I'm A LOT taller than I actually am.
This extra long cardi is the Free Spirit Cardigan in Ink Blue, another item from Birdsnest and is from their Boho Bird collection.  I've lost count of all the Boho Bird pieces that I have now but I do love them all and like the fact that they are designed in Australia.
The grey top I have on underneath is by 'Teaberry' and is a handy little three quarter sleeve number and is great for just throwing on with virtually everything.  I like it with my new black skinny leg cotton jeans by Lee Cooper.
My necklace I got recently, which I ordered online from My Name Necklace.  The little disc has a tree engraved on it, to represent my family, and then I have my husband's name and all my kid's names engraved around the edge.  Unfortunately it could only fit five names so mine is not on it, but I figured I shouldn't forget my own name...even if I do need reminding of my children's now and again.  Seriously, sometimes I do.  Actually sometimes it takes me about three attempts to put the right name with the correct child.
This is my rear view.  Any more interesting than the view from the front??
Probably not.  On my feet I have my R.M. Williams boots.  You can't really see them but I used to live in these.  I will introduce you to them properly another day.  They are worth the introduction.  They are kind of an iconic Australian thing. 
Kind of like this rusty old shed and set of yards.

Friday, March 27, 2015

How to Dress like a Mum: Fashion Not Frump

Being a mum is awesome, don't get me wrong.  I love my kids, they are fantastic.  There is, however, a BUT side to being a mum.  You always feel a teensy bit guilty when you say 'I love being a mum BUT....', well, don't.  There are things about being a mum that are just reality.  It is just the way it is.  For example, "I love being a mum but I hate the lack of sleep."  Or...."I love being a mum but I hate that my back is destroyed and I'm in fairly constant pain".  Or..."I love being a mum but I hate that I don't have any time to spend on myself."  Sound familiar?  Do  you feel guilty for thinking...hey...I agree!?!  Yes, sometimes we do want to be a bit selfish and spend a little bit of time on ourselves, and THAT is perfectly ok.  It's natural.  It's normal.  Plus, we work hard as mums.  We deserve it.  Anyway, this is why I am launching into a little 'series within a series'.  My Friday 'Mum & Style' posts will have a look at 'How to Dress Like a Mum' for a few weeks.  We shall see where it takes us!

So, back on topic, the point that I am getting at is that often, as a mum, we come last, just due to the whole nature of the thing.  Kids need to be fed and dressed and bathed and cleaned up after...and taxied about...and then there is all the other household jobs...and then you might even have a job as well...not to mention a husband/partner/significant other who creates a bomb site of a mess whenever he gets home.  Hands up anyone else who is always the last to have a shower and fall in to bed in their household?  I know I certainly am.  Anyway, with everything we have to do it doesn't leave us much time to think about getting dressed, and sometimes we are just too tired to bother.  I know I drag my hair up into a ponytail every day because I just can't deal with it.  I rarely put on makeup (tinted moisturiser is my new best friend), and I certainly don't spend very long choosing something to wear.  I can't.  If I leave my kids unsupervised for too long while I'm staring at the contents of my closet I will go back to discover that part of the house is indeed missing.
As mums, with our limited time (and the fear of our house being torn apart while we are not looking), we need outfits that we can just effortlessly throw together without too much thought.  Outfits that no matter what we do they will look good and not look like we have been dragged through a bush backwards....which is often how we feel.  So this means NO tracksuit pants...unless of course you are heading to the gym after school drop off.  It's just as easy to throw on a pair of jeans, and sometimes they are just as comfortable...these black ones I am wearing here are a stretchy why not look a little more tailored for no more effort whatsoever. 
Plain tops are easy too because they go with everything, and shades like grey, black, white and navy are fabulous for mixing and matching.  It is handy to have an interchangeable wardrobe because often you find yourself dressing in a hurry and grabbing at the first thing handy.  Bright colours are fantastic too, of course, it's a personal choice, but I do love how I have gathered together enough bits now to create a more versatile wardrobe. 

Pieces I have that I find are really handy are:
  • Jeans (blue denim, black and a lighter colour....I have a light grey pair)
  • Plain coloured tops (some with a little detail) in grey, white, soft peach, khaki (a colour that suits me) and navy/grey shade.  Black is great too (however it's a little hard on me) Striped tops are nice too
  • Camel coloured warm coat (plus I'd love a navy one)
  • Denim skirt, both straight and A-line
  • Brighter shirts with patterns (something a little more dressy for when you're 'stepping out')
  • A simple knit dress (this one is the perfect example of what I mean)
  • Cardigans
  • Boots for winter, ballet flats, a comfy slip on sneaker/flat and Mary Janes are nice too
The trick really is to have a wardrobe of easy wash, hard wearing clothes that are comfortable and that you are not going to get too upset about if the kids put their sticky fingers all over.  Things that need dry cleaning are not a good idea. You certainly can be fashionable and not frumpy, and what's more, it's really easy to build a wardrobe like this.  Shelve the tracky dacks for the gym!

What clothes do you have that are comfortable but still fashionable?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

OOTD Buckle Up

In my last outfit post I told you how I used to be scared of wearing red.  I also used to be scared of bling.  But then the cowgirl in me tried some on....and it's awesome.  Bling is kind of like drinking.  Everything in moderation.
I don't know what I'm doing in this pose here...but I'm seriously sucking my stomach in.
This is actually the first time I've worn my blingy belt.  It's by Thomas Cook and it has Hereford coloured cowhide (not sure if it's real... however it looks it because it's hairy!) and brown and blue blingy bits.  Loving that word too.  Bling!  The cotton blend knit cardigan I was talked into by the saleswoman in a little shop in my town that I happened to wander into.  I'm actually glad because I really like it, despite taking some convincing at the time.  The brand on the label says 'Best', which I've never heard of, but it is lovely.
Am I running?
No!  I'm obviously gearing up to take off!  I'm flying!!
Overall I was pretty pleased with how this outfit looked.  And I'm blinging myself stupid with the blingy belt.  Scaring off snakes hopefully.
I'm really sorry about the close up crotch shot, but this is the belt.
Happy happy bling bling!!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Weekly Vlog 10

Hello!  And welcome to another Weekly Vlog!  This week is my birthday and I receive a very unexpected present, my computer has a coronary and I'm forced to buy a new one, my boys get a long overdue haircut, I get the giggles....a husband takes me out on a 'date' of sorts, and we spend, what is probably one of the last fine days of the season, at the beach!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

How to Take Photos of Food

For today's Tips Tuesday I am going to have a bit of a look at Food Photography.  Now Food Photography is not my area of expertise at all, and certainly not the Food Styling part of it, that's a whole career in itself.  But, I have, in my travels as a photographer, had to take photos of food for the magazine I work for, as well as my blog.  I also, like a lot of people, take shots of food to upload to my Instagram account (when I've encountered a particularly delicious bit of cake at a café or a 'too-good-too-be-true hot chocolate).  So today I thought I would discuss taking food shots for your blog or for sharing on social media.
Taking shots of your meal that you order in a restaurant or café so that you can share it with friends (and perhaps make them jealous!) is such a common thing nowadays that you probably don't even get a single sideways glance when you whip out your camera and make your partner wait for ten minutes while you get the perfect shot of his steak sandwich.  With the use of the Smartphone camera this has become a lot easier, and a lot less obvious, and straight away you can send that piece of cake into cyberspace and have your friends drooling over it in no time.  Usually you are trying to get the shot done as quickly as possible, (I know I as not to draw too much attention to myself in a crowded café) but try to remember a few things.  Go for some different angles; so not always just front on.  Stand up and quickly get a shot from above, or to make it a little more a spoonful of the cake, or have a few crumbs on the plate, or even the fork resting on the side.  Get a little inventive.
These nut butters looked better when taken from get the lovely textures of the different types and it really makes you want to stick your finger in and have a taste!  This is what food photography is all about.  You want people to look at your photo and almost taste the food.
Sometimes you might get all 'clever in the kitchen' and feel the urge to do some baking.  Why not share your creations on social media?!  These cupcakes I made for my was someone's birthday, can't remember which one now (!).... but I felt they were worthy of a photo.  They probably would have looked nicer resting on a different surface, instead of the cooling rack...even the bench would have looked fine, but I am happy with the background in this shot.  There is just a bit of kitchen flotsam and jetsam floating around in the back there, but as I have taken the shot with a shallow depth of field, the background is sufficiently out of focus to look quite good.  So to get this blurry background, remember to set your aperture to a lower number.  (Tip.  Lower the number..Less in focus!)
Sometimes you might want to take a really set up shot, kind of like a product photo.  You don't always have to have a white background, by any means, but sometimes you might want to have a nice clean background so that your food really 'pops'.  This photo is just some random bits I threw you can see...I'm no food stylist...but I have put it together to highlight the white background.  Make sure you can either shoot near a window or set up a light box, with your artificial light sources coming from both sides.  You may have to adjust the white balance, but you can do this later during your editing.  I have taken this shot from above, so just using a white piece of paper, and set it up next to a large window, but you can also use something white (either paper or material for example) and create a seamless backdrop, (ie. where the white covers the back 'wall' and then curves around to cover the 'floor' as well.  For smaller items you can use a piece of paper.  For larger items I have the back of a window blind that does the job.)
Sometimes food photography can be a bit like a work of art, or even be quite abstract, like the photo above.  Three guesses as to what it is!  Is it the centre of a flower?  Is a spinning vortex of death?  No!  It's what I found when I took the lid off the chocolate flavoured gelato!  This was how it looked before I put a spoon in and ate probably the entire contents in one hit!  The pattern was too fantastic to not take a photo!  Don't be scared to get out the macro lens on your food!  You can come up with some unusual abstract, yet fantastic photos.
Occasionally, with my magazine work, I need to showcase food as part of the article.  This will occur if I am doing a story on a cafe or a food producer, for example I have done a number of stories on farms that make their own cheese.
For these two photos above I have been conscious that the food displayed was fairly bland in colour.  In both cases they really needed the 'pop' of colour with the flowers (I could have used something else to create the same effect) to help lift the photo.  This was particularly the case in the second photo because it was a lot of 'white on white'.
Taking photos of food on display is something else I do a bit of.  It does tend to look better if it's not too cluttered.  This photo above is not the greatest as it has a little bit too much going on.  It's not bad but I find myself getting a tad distracted.  The photo below is better.
It's not as 'busy', and the bench top, despite having a pattern on it, works in really well.  It gives it a lift.  Think about what your food is resting on and what is in the background when you take the shot.
Markets are great places to practice taking photos of food.  These meringues were delicious by the way.
You can get a real sense of a 'story' when you take photos at a market.  Here it obviously was a beautiful day, there is farm fresh produce available, it was a country market, which is hinted at by the wicker baskets and chalk written was an all round lovely morning.  This photo has made the food seem fresh and natural...which is what it should be.

Sometimes I have to take shots of meals!  They always look delicious!  And that is your aim when taking these types of photos.  To get up close and personal and make them look like you can taste them.  A few of my shots like these have ended up within advertisements in the magazine, so the food really does need to look delicious so readers see it and think..."oooo...that looks sooooo good, let's go to that restaurant".
Think about the angle that you are taking the photo from.  For example this wrap would have looked boring if I had taken the shot from the other you wouldn't have seem what was IN the wrap.  Plus the chips are this end.  It's a bit of a no brainer but sometimes in the confusion of doing things in a hurry, which is often the case when I'm out on these types of jobs, it's things you don't think of in your haste.
Sometimes you just have to do the best you can.  This is a dessert and that burgundy blob is sorbet...and it was melting as fast as you can say "wait a minute it's melting."  I had the chef (who put this dessert together) standing behind my shoulder, so this was a pressure shot.  Sometimes you've just got to do the best you can with the time you have.  Needless to say this photo wasn't used, and the other shots I got of this dessert were worse...the sorbet was one big puddle!
This dessert (yes! It is a dessert!) was much easier to photograph.  It just sat there like good 'pretend eggs with little pretend edible bits of twig in them'.  Yes, weird I know.  I played with this one a bit, turning it around until I got the right angle.  Later this shot was cropped a bit to get that edge of the glass in the top right corner out of the photo, which improved the shot too.  Editing can be your best friend, so keep that in mind with your food shots.
When taking photos of someone else's creation keep in mind that you are not the only 'artist' at work.  The chef was hovering over my shoulder here, but this was his dish, with a lot of fore-thought and planning gone into it, plus he was someone that was proud of his craft.  Always try and do food justice when you take a photo of it, particularly when you share it with your friends!
I hope this post was helpful!

Monday, March 23, 2015

OOTD Spot On

I never used to wear red much.  It used to alarm me.  Like I felt I was standing out in the crowd too much.  I still don't like to stand out.
But, having said that, I've discovered lately that red actually sort of suits me.  Weird.
It was a good kind of weird when I found this little red blouse on the 50% off rack outside a store called 'Port Phillip' in town.  I thought the white spots were very cute and it is that sort of fabric that you like to have in a 'stepping out' shirt (ie. one you wear when you are going somewhere nice.)
This 'stepping out' shirt is by R.M. Williams and so are the jeans.  I used to live in these jeans exclusively.  I have a few pairs.  One is definitely now exclusively a 'farm pair' due to the rips.  They are the 'extra low-rise' ones and I love them.  They conveniently sit below that left over baby tummy that simply refuses to go away.  Be gone baby padding!
Just to mix up all the grumpy facial expressions....this is my cheeky look.  Either that or I have done something wrong.
Just enjoying the view....

Saturday, March 21, 2015

A Break & Happy Birthday

I have had a bit of a 'forced' break.  Due to a bit of stupidity on my behalf (opening up a virus email), I was without a computer for half of the week, then on discovering that my computer had a 'non-related' virus and that the hard drive was starting to fail....I went and bought a new laptop.  My old one was a remarkable 5 years old so it really was about time.
So, I am typing this from my swanky new red laptop (it's very pretty) and apologising for being missing in action for the week.  It took me a while to transfer data over and I just didn't want to cause myself extra stress by trying to get my normal blog posts done.  I managed my usual outfit post on Monday (due to having one sitting waiting in the wings) and also my Weekly Vlog on  Wednesday...but Tips Tuesday with its photography advice, Thursday's outfit post and yesterday's 'Mum & Style' post had to have a break.  Next week, hopefully, all should be rolling out as per normal.
As well as getting a new computer I did, in fact, have a birthday (as you can probably figure out from the photo above), so it wasn't a completely bad week...although considering the age I have turned things could be seriously heading down hill!
Hope all of you have been well in my absence..looking forward to getting up to speed again next week...although have enjoyed my little 'break'!