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Saturday, August 2, 2014

Blanket Vest

I do believe the novelty of 'lets pose for Mummy' is wearing off.

I made this hooded vest out of a woolen blanket and lined it with some fabric I found at Vinnies. Except for the toggle at the front the whole thing is completely upcycled.

I drafted the pattern for the vest body from a vest she used to wear all the time as a wee one. I added extra length through the shoulders, sides and length. The hood was the same pattern that I used for the Woolen Coat. Should I do it again, I would make the front panels a lot bigger for a proper cross over (and I think I will).

I managed to sew the leather and blanket sandwich (for the toggle) with much persistence on my sewing machine. A task, for the blanket coat, I had to complete by hand. I'm sure my machine hates me.

I top stitched the front of the vest (right up over the hood) with one of those fancy stitches on my machine. White cotton on cream blanket is subtle but so very pretty a finishing touch. Another task my machine must resent me for making it perform.

I do believe I will have to make me a grown ups version for camping. I think I might even add a touch of embroidery to mine for extra loveliness.

These photos were taken on the Olympus OM-D E-M10. I do believe the more I use this camera the more I am liking it. Its portability and clarity of image is just stunning.

One of the main things I have had to get use to was the difference between what you were seeing in the view finder, what you were seeing on the screen at the back of the camera and what the final outcome actually was. To be honest it kind of did my head in for a while. I guess the 'unsureness' of capturing a correct image was worrying to me. 

I have started trusting the camera to capture the correct image if all the settings are saying it is fine.

Another thing I found interesting was when using the view finder to take the photo you will notice that it adjusts and accurately shows you if the final image is under or over exposed. A tool I do not have on the DSLR I own.

You can follow the other bloggers trialing this camera by searching out the hashtags #myfamilylens and #VoicesOf2014.

Friday, August 1, 2014


Oldina is a place near my home and a place close to my heart.

It is a pine forest open to the public. Its appearance changes with the intermittent logging for the forestry and the re-growing of the pines for the future.

It is not a 'nice' place. It is damp underfoot, it is chilly under the shade of the looming pines and often looks desecrated by either the forestry operations or by the hoons on their motor bikes. It is always cool beneath the pines on the hottest of summer days.

Still this place warms my heart. The memories of the many times spent, the smell of the needles under foot and the exploring that I did here as a child.

To one side is a steep looming hill. In my youth it was covered in huge pines and was a regular achievement to reach the top with your friends or youth groups. Along the way you would slip, slide, brace yourself against trees to catch your breath and find forts left by others.

In the BBQ areas by the river I hear ancient voices of sausages being cooked, laughter and a spot of light camping on the most Australian of days.

There are secrets hidden amongst the trees and memories that can now only be treasured. The pines hold my thoughts, wishes and desires as I walk through the imposing giants of trees. Memories that only I can capture in my head. Fleeting moments and thoughts that link my authentic Tasmanian self back to this place.


I captured these images with the Olympus OM-D E-M10 that I am currently trialling. I went to this space to capture this story of memory. 

I was intent on using and mastering the wifi remote function of this camera. Before I left home I downloaded the free app that connects my iphone (also works on an iPad) directly to the camera. I set up my tri-pod and camera and within a matter of seconds I had connected my iPhone to the Olympus camera. In the field I used the remote function within the app to stand away from the camera and take the shots. I can't imagine how invaluable this function would be to the fashion blogger or the photographer taking a long shutter exposure without outlaying the extra expense of buying a camera remote.

I seem to never appear within photos as I am always the one behind the camera, however with this remote function I did manage to take my own portrait. The remote allows you to control all functions as you would on the camera body itself, all whilst viewing exactly what the camera is seeing directly on your screen. Now that's pretty cool.

The second amazing thing about the wifi function was how easy I could import my proper DSLR photos to my phone. With my current obsession with instagram I would buy this camera just so I could import my photos directly to my phone and edit them through my apps. 

As far as my coveted iPhone has evolved it still lacks in its picture taking ability. You can imagine how much the quality of your instafeeds will increase should you use the wifi function on the Olympus to import some proper DSLR photos.

These functions are not hard to master. Installation is easy and so accessible to even the most novice of technical types. You can see by the photos I have taken (above) that after a light play around with my in-phone apps you can create some pretty amazing images...and fast. All without cords or carting around a ton of computer equipment. This gives new meaning to editing on the run.

This is a bloggers camera. Its portability, its size and its quality all give it huge ticks to those wanting to increase their skills and online professionalism.

You can follow the other bloggers trialing this camera by searching out the hashtags #myfamilylens and #VoicesOf2014. It has been fantastic to watch everyone explore their cameras and what they can produce. It's also nice to see everyone's experience so far, its worth your time to take a look at what is being produced.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Apple Shed - Tasmania

Authentic Tasmania is the way I would describe this place. The Apple Shed in the Huon Valley is rustic, unique, original and completely authentic in its Tasmanian feel.

These are some of the photos off my DSLR taken on The Photo School day.

How i wish we had a place like this closer to home. Four and a half hours drive is just a little bit too far away for a Sunday drive. 

Kudos for those involved in its re-creation. You guys got 'it' just right.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Photo School @ The Apple Shed - Tasmania

On the weekend I attended a day of photography run by The Photo School and held at the The Apple Shed in Tasmania's Huon Valley.

I was blessed to meet so many people I have 'known' and admired through social media and hang out with my good friend LookSee (Naomi Fenton). This was a fantastic way to start my maternity leave and do something for myself before the craziness of the a new baby begins. 

I would have gone to the School just to meet these people, or just to hang out in the picturesque Huon Valley but I also learned a bit about achieving great results from the camera on my phone. I also greatly enjoyed watching another professional and their photo editing techniques. Everyone uses Photoshop and Lightroom in different ways and it really intrigues me to watch someone else work the programs. Lastly I really enjoyed the talk about 'light'. Light is invaluable to artists and I always enjoy listening to others talk about it. Tasmania has great light, it should be celebrated more.

Recently I have been listening to many creatives talk about art, especially art photography, and hearing their reassuring words about the validity of phone photography as a medium. I love my DSLR but sometimes you just don't have it on your body to catch those fleeting moments and a camera on a phone is the only option. With the increase in technology I think it is amazing that with a 5 mp camera on your phone and a great app you can achieve some amazing results. I keep having to remind myself that my first DSLR (top of the range for its day) was 8 mp and that I can create better results with my phone than I did with that camera.

The images above were taken and edited on my phone. I will do a second post on the photos I took with my DSLR very soon.

Why don't you go stalk some of the other photos taken on the day. On instagram have a look at the hashtags #theappleshed #thephotoschool

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

DIY Girls Birthday Party - Pt four

This is the last post in my series of DIY Birthday party posts celebrating the sixth birthday of my little girl. I really hope you have found inspiration in my posts to create your own floral themed girls birthday party. I hope that I was able to show that children's birthday parties do not have to be stressful, expensive or (my least favorite thing) tacky.

Please feel free to visit my other posts around this celebration:

Part 1 - Party decorations and the cake
Part 2 - Invitation designs and free downloads
Part 3 - Party activities and free downloads

As a part of each birthday celebration I try to make something to give that is completely handmade. It's not all about the plastic and the made in China toys in our house. 

This year I decided she could really use a new winter coat. When she was little my friend Claire made her a winter coat out of recycled blanket which lasted her for years. The blanket material means that the garment is long wearing and so very warm, a must in a Tasmanian winter.

I used a pattern from the 1978 Children's Wardrobe book written by Ann Ladbury and Designs by Sally Tuffin. I found this book in pristine condition, all patterns uncut and a bevy of simple designs that can be transformed for today's fashions. I used the traditional Duffle Coat pattern and cut the pattern from a beautiful cream woolen blanket and the hood lining was a fantastic shirt I picked up in an Op shop and saved for just a project like this. I left the blanket edge as a feature on the pockets and along the bottom of the coat.

The photos I have taken for this post were completed on the Olympus OM-D E-M10. I was very fortunate to be offered the loan of this camera as a part of the Voices of 2014 program. I will be trialling this camera for a two more months so expect to see some more photos coming from this little beauty.

The photos above have very limited 'after editing' applied so you can see the quality I am getting from this compact, yet professional camera. I left the photos 'clean' in this series so that you can get a true idea of what to expect from the camera in its most raw form.

In the next posts I will be exploring the cameras more technical features such as the intriguing Wifi transfer and remote capabilities, and the interesting Art Filters that are conveniently already a part of the camera functions.

I am a fan of the compact nature of this camera, it is very easy to carry around with you in your handbag, yet still has the performance capabilities of any normal DSLR. I could imagine that anyone from a world traveler, a professional photographer or a photo snappy mother would be happy to have this camera easy to hand without the bulk of carrying around a normal sized DSLR camera.

The past week or two I have been spent learning the features of the Olympus OM-D E-M10 so I can't wait to take my new skills further in the next posts I complete. I have been teaching photography this year to high school and college students and I have trialled quite a few different brands of cameras however this is my first experience with the Olympus brand. So far I have not been disappointed and I hope that I can adequately share with you the features of the Olympus camera. If you are in the market for a new camera then please keep an eye on my next few posts.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

DIY Girls Birthday Party - Pt Three

For the third part in this DIY floral themed girls birthday party series I am going to share with you some activities to do during the party.

We had the normal birthday party games like pass the parcel, pin the tail on the donkey and a minty lolly wrapper game I re-invented from a car trip game to a party game.

My girl is very into craft and making so I thought I would attempt some actual craft activities during the festivities. I wasn't sure how the kids would take to it as its not really a 'usual party doing'. I didn't force the kids to partake in the making but just set up a table with the craft on it to the side of the main area. 
Unbelievably some of the kids made the things and most of the others at least had a go at drawing. I am not sure if it was because the party was mostly attended by girls, if there was a lack of sugar consumed or with the availability of quieter activities I feel that the party was surprisingly calm and gentle. My girl does not like being in big loud groups or frantic activities. I often find her shunning those times when I pick her up at after school care. Perhaps she just chose a group of children to attend the party that are much like her.

In the craft area I set up paper, pencils, scissors, printouts (below) and paper brads all ready for the action.

I had been pinning printables for a while and thought this was a fantastic opportunity to finally print some out. The printables are all free and would have been better printed on some stiffer card rather than the generic A4 paper I used.

The first printable is from Playful learning and the  fox and deer are part of a table top theater set.

The second printable is available from Appracadabra Printables and even though I printed these mainly for the strong man there are a few others in this set which are just as lovely.

The third printable was less for the kids and more for adding extra party decorations, however you could use them where ever you like. These beautiful water colour birds  would look amazing hanging amongst the ceiling flowers and are available from Rebecca's Misc.

Unfortunatly I ran out of time to cut these felt flowers but I feel that if you were looking for another flower based activity I would have totally tried this one out. It would have been great for all the children to make their own flower head band inspired by the parties floral theme. You can find two versions of this activity one here and another here. 

The best thing about these activities is that there is no messy glue or paint to control, no children sent home with ruined clothes and no resentful parents. All the actives could be completed by the six years old's with minimal help from an adult. What more could you ask for?

Other girls party ideas are contained in these posts:

Part 1 - Decoration and table ideas
Part 2 - Invitation designs

Friday, July 11, 2014

DIY Girls Birthday Party - Pt Two

In my first DIY floral girls birthday party post I showed you some cheap decorating ideas for the party table. In this second part of the DIY girls floral birthday party post I thought I would share with you the invitations I made up in the same modern floral theme.

I was lucky to come across this very generous free printable from The Creative Monster in a beautiful floral illustrated picture that fitted my ideas perfectly. You should have a look at her other freebies where you will also find the PDF version of the full pictures above - she is very generous with her designs.

I created the invitations for a 6th birthday party in Illustrator. I have included single versions of the heart and floral circle motif just incase you want to replace the number on the invitations I pre-created with a different number or make up your own version inspired by the ones above.

You will need to fill in your own details on the invite - for example on the front cover You are invited to (insert child's name here) and the party details after the when, where, time, and RSVP.

All the fonts I used in this project are also free to download on line. The fonts I used are as follows:
The A4 version, above, I used by printing out the template, cutting up the separate squares and placed on some blank cards then securing them with some washi tape and glue. The long version, I imagine, could be placed on some white card and glued on. I used the long version as a electronic invitation to send to those that the post would not make it to.

I hope this helps someone out. Please let me know if you have any trouble with the links above. In my next post I will be showing you some free printables and craft ideas I used in the party itself.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

DIY Girls Birthday Party - Pt One

Today is my little girls 6th Birthday. On the weekend we had her first official birthday party. Now that she is at school I have found it increasingly difficult to escape the pressure of organising a proper birthday party. 

I decided on a "Flower" themed event. It was girly but I was trying to avoid the 'tacky' that often comes with kids birthday events.

I thought I might share with you some ideas I had when creating the flower themed 6th birthday party over a few posts. I am going to start with the room where all the cake and eating would be done.
Firstly I made some flower garlands to hang from the ceiling. I bought $2 worth of tissue paper in a multiple of colours and spent about an hour making up a variety of tissue flowers. I didn't use any particular tutorials but if you google tissue paper flower tutorials there are a multitude out there. 
Once I had my flowers made up I used some white string and a needle to thread them together. In between the tissue flowers I filled the string with some fabric flowers and some craft pom-poms. I left gaps between all the additions and mixed up all the colours. I was really happy with the effect once I had stick taped them draping randomly from the ceiling. It was pretty, delicate, modern and defiantly not tacky.

To dress the table I used a vintage white floral tablecloth from my stash. On top of that I placed a vintage white lap table with a pretty floral motif painted on it. I scrounged around the house and collected all of my plastic (yes plastic) flowers that I could and placed them on the table to make the rest of the decorations.

I don't normally like using paper party wear but I decided to use paper cups, napkins and hats. I mixed up spots, stripes and colours. Clean up was easier and to be quiet honest I didn't really trust six year old's with my good thrifted floral china.

The cake - I am almost too embarrassed to tell you about the cake - but I guess I am going to use the excuse that I am pregnant, working full time and literally had zero time after work that week to find time to make one myself. In other words I totally cheated. 

The little girl asked for a chocolate cake so from the local supermarket I bought two mud cakes, some cream, pitted cherries, pre-made icing and some sugar flower decorations. I whipped the cream, smooshed the cherries and placed them between the two cakes. I whipped the icing around the cake and placed the decorations on top. It literally took me 20 minutes to prepare the cake. I am a cheater but I am also totally proud that I could pull off a cake without paying someone else to do it for me.

In my next post I will share with you the invitations and a free printout for you to use. If you are a busy Mum (like I am) then I don't think it hurts anyone to share beautiful ideas to make all of our lives easier.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Pre Natal Depression

Obligotory bump picture
Everyone that knows me knows that I don't 'do' pregnancy well. All this bullcrap about glowing and pregnancy 'being an amazing experience' is one of the biggest myths that women tell each other. 

When it comes to talking about pregnancy I relate more to people that talk more like This or This and the woman that wrote this post could possibly be my soul sister.

Whist I do believe some women could possibly enjoy being pregnant I will not lie to myself and the world around me that I am one of those people.

I am grateful that we are pregnant. After my husbands illness it was something we did not know if   we got to experience again. However I really resent that I have  to be the one to do all the hard work. Nine (ten if we are truthful) months is a long time.

Usually I am a very active person. I do four things at once and have 100 projects on the go. Being tired, feeling like crap 24/7, not being able to bend, drink alcohol, and eat normal food really impacts on my quality of life. I get to lose my job that I studied 10 years at Uni for and the most certain part of my future is going to the osteopath to get my back put back in once the trauma is over.

I have an alien living inside me and upon exiting me, like the a-fore mentioned movie,  I will endure a 2hr sleep pattern , extra skin and blubber, leaky boobs and many of the other joys of child bearing.

I hope to be able to leave the house without baby spew on me in the first six months and have at least attempted the house work at some stage in that period.

I don't get pregnancy cravings. I have never had a braxton hick. My hormones don't go crazy out of control and I often wonder if these things are yet another myth created by women.... perhaps I am unusual.

I do get turned off food, either because of the smell or the repercussions of a night of extreme heart burn ending in a spew. Foods I am avoiding at the moment are:

*Fried Food
*Tuna (anyone eating tuna)
*Promite (Savory toast spreads in general)
*Tomato Soup
*Carrot Cake
*Stews with a tomato base or with a fatty bit of meat involved
*Banana (fruit, bread, anything)
*Creamy foods

I am on antibiotics due to a secondary infection after having the flu and only being allowed to take hard core drugs like Panadol. My gall bladder aches but I have managed to avoid an actual attack since the diagnosis. I am beginning to feel tired again. I have put on very limited weight so far as I believe the stairs at my place of work are keeping me active. However I feel that, like the last pregnancy, the weight gain will come once I start breast feeding.
Yes I am whinging. No I do not feel guilty. It is how I feel.
I can not wait till the baby is born and I can at least share the responsibility/pains/joys of raising the child with my Husband. I intend to try my very hardest to be easier on myself and enjoy my last baby. I have stopped worrying about work and the future. I will not stress about the large pile of unfolded washing and dishes sitting on the sink. I will not listen to any stories of perfect mothering techniques or guilt from not going back to work soon enough/staying at home long enough from anyone. I will mother my last baby how I feel is best. I will leave the hospital and get home as soon as I am able. I will parent in a more natural manner and not listen to people who tell me the correct methods of breast feeding, sleep techniques and other hocus-pocus ideals of a life that doesn't actually exist. I will not engage with a new mothers group that does not allow people to be less than perfect.
I am older. Wiser.
Perhaps I will share with you my story of my first birth and labour. It will be a brutally honest story that could potentially turn people off getting pregnant at all. Perhaps I wont share it, we will see.
The truth of child bearing and child raising is far from the ideal that most people tend to hold themselves to. I feel it is a truth that needs sharing more than it does. Child rearing is not for everyone and the endless amount of stars that have to align for a woman to become a mother means that it is not something that everyone gets to (or wants to) experience.
We need to stop being so hard on ourselves and share in the many and unique experiences that women endure, even if that does mean being brutally honest sometimes.
It is not all 'rose coloured glasses' in my world, and you know what? That's OK too.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Handmade Art Book

"And in and out of weeks and almost over a year" ...."Be Still"
                                                     - Words featured in this book

I made another accordion shaped handmade book. I love these hand made art zines, you can design two panorama art works and then fold it up into a lovely little book shape.

The first one can be found here.

It has two sides and the brief was to create two collages - with words as the feature on one side and pictures on the other.

Used: Collage, Fine liner, Coffee Stain, Paint chips, Old book pages, Old music sheets, National Geographic, Washi Tape, Tissue paper, Type writer, Hessian on covered ends, Gesso.