Thursday, 29 October 2009

Mia

first mouthful

A few days ago, we had our 5 month check with the maternal nurse; I was so relieved to find that Mia put on 525 grams in 3½ weeks - so it seems that whatever the problem was, it has now resolved itself. The timing ties in exactly with Mia's neck being adjusted by the chiropractor, so while I understand that path might not be for everyone, our experience has been nothing but positive.

I must say thay I was sort of surprised that Mia had put on so much weight; she has been rolling everywhere for over a week now; she is rolling both ways and even pivoting to change direction - she also seems to be sleeping more {alas still not through the night though} It seems to me that she's not old enough to be rolling about, even though she's developmentally 'right on track' *sigh* don't they grow up so fast...

For the past three weeks or so Mia has been showing a lot of interest in food, she intently watches me eat, and she tries to grab at whatever is on my plate - I've been delaying starting her on solids though, just until she reaches 5 months, then we're planning to slowly start introducing various foods to her.

That said, last night after her evening feed I remembered that I had some milk left over in the fridge, it was 24 hours old so I didn't want to freeze it, instead of throwing it out we decided to mix it with some farex and offer it to her... I can't say that she loved it, in fact she looked quite sceptical of this new experience, but I don't think it will take too long for her to see the potential.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

digital SLR photography

vintage nikkormat

and while we're on the subject, I've had a few friends of late ask me about my camera and if I have any thoughts on a good place to start with digital SLR photography... to start I am going to say, "what do I know?" "really, I know nothing." "I am not formally trained, I'm hit and miss, sometimes I'm even downright crap..." "BUT! I do love taking photos, and I do love improving my skills, trying new things, and dreaming about my next piece of equipment whether it be a vintage SLR, a new lens or an accessory"

Ok, as I was saying, I have recently found myself being asked my opinion on what to buy to get started in the world of digital SLR photography... And I do find that I am quite opinionated on the matter (of course only based on my very limited experience) but, this is what I have found...

my camera

I started with my DSLR, a canon 400D with a twin lens kit, and for a while that was enough; I did set myself a few limits in the beginning though; 1. No flash (not under any circumstances) I don't like what it does to the resulting photo, and I decided early on if I wanted to shoot with flash then I would do a course, as I really think that it's that hard to do well; and 2. no shooting in auto mode, it's not like I am ever shooting in difficult or high pressure situations (which I admittedly dodge like the plague after one roaring success of a photo shoot, and one that was an unmitigated disaster - so for now, even though I've had quite a few offers, it's just not where I'm at... but that I suppose is another story for another time)... Anyway, the reasons that I chose not to shoot in auto was because I wanted to learn for myself what my camera could do.

After about a year of primarily shooting with my 18-55mm set at the widest available aperture (ie: in Av mode), often 5.6f because I usually had it zoomed to 55mm, I decided to purchase the canon 50mm 1.8f lens, at around AUD$125 I think that this lens is a bargain, sure you have to 'move' yourself instead of using the lens to zoom, but it has a huge aperture of 1.8f, meaning that you can shoot in lower light conditions, and you can create very narrow depth of field, meaning that you can get some lovely bokeh in your portraits (lots of blurry bits around your subject)... On the flip side, in the right lighting conditions you can also make the aperture a tiny 22f and create all sorts of wonderful flares in your image.

So that's primarily what I have used until now... That said I am only now starting to get a little antsy and want to do more creative stuff, hence the recent aquisition of a vintage argo flex 75 for some 'through the viewfinder' photography; this move has really reveiled one of the limitations of my 50mm, and that is that it has a focal length of 45cm (meaning that I have to be at least 45cm away from my subject before I can acheive focus) in the past I've run up against this regularly enough, and found that while it does limit me I mostly work around it. However with my Ttv I can't be floating 45cm above my 'contraption' it's just too awkward, so instead I am reaching again for my 55mm - but now it's given me a serious reason the invest in that 100mm macro lens (with a focal length of 31cm it should mean that I can actually get my Ttv photos printed)

In my view the 100mm is probably a 'nice to have' not a 'must have' if you are just starting out, unless your interest is in macro photography, and really i'm not the person that you should be asking if that is the case, I have my eye on the 100mm macro for the following reasons : 1. For its macro capabilities 2. Its shorter focal length, and 3. Its wide aperture (2.8f) for low light and narrow DOF.

Ok, so for starting out I reackon that is enough : but for the sake of prosperity let's talk accessories, this is a list of stuff that I have that I have found to be useful :

First is my tripod, it's not expensive, and I certainly don't take it everywhere, but it is indespensible for taking family (and self) portraits, and for holding the camera still in low light (usually while using the self timer setting) and hopefully it will see more action now that I've aquired my next item;

remote

A remote control; a useful little device for focusing the camera and tripping the shutter from up to 5m away... mine was a much anticipated birthday present, and for a mere AUD$39 I am envisaging much easier family portrait sessions. So if you want to take a photo of your fam for the Christmas cards this year, I think that this is a useful addition to your gear.

white balance

Next is a simple little 'white balance' lens cover, again not necessary, but certainly useful if you have issues with colour cast in your photos. In lamens terms, colour cast is when the light makes white look not so white, for example in the early morning sometimes my photos take on a blueish cast that the AWB (auto white balance) setting on my camera doesn't seem to be able to allow for. This little lens cap allows you to take a photo with your WB lens cap on, then set your custom white balance to suit your conditions perfectly. At a mere AUD$15 - $17 it's not a large investment for better colour.

While you're at it you probably should have a think about getting an external hard-drive (if you haven't done so already) not only do digital photos take up a huge amount of space over time, they also need backing up so that you don't lose all of your precious memories should your computer crash.

And last, to keep all of my gear together is my 'five million dollar mansion' aka crumpler camera bag. While crumpler have an extensive range of bags, this one suits my needs perfectly as it fits quite a large array of gear without being too large, currently mine holds an SLR with a 50mm lens, my 75-300mm lens, my canon ixus, 2 battery charges & one lead, my DSLR with a 50mm lens, my 18-55mm lens, a spare lens cap, my instruction book, my download cables, a remote control, and a mini tripod. Not bad for only five million!


So I guess the obvious question now is "where do I purchase all my stuff?" well over time I've got my stuff from all over, my 400d was from Dick Smith Powerhouse, as I was only a newbie, they gave me the best price (out of them, teds camera house, and JB HiFi), my 50mm was from Photo Buff (a grey importer who has since disapeared, and just a note, I don't recommend grey imports but I was so naive at the time and didn't even realise until much later - oops!) My vintage cameras are from eBay and etsy.com; my hard-drive is a Maxtor, but you can buy them from dick smith, officeworks, or many other similar retailers, my camera bag is from Crumpler, and my accessories are from digital camera warehouse, who I often look at for pricing on my dream lenses, they always seem to quite reasonably priced to me, and they carry a huge range (which is something that I can't say about the local 'camera specialist' at my local shopping centre; if I manage to save enough for my 100mm then DCW will be where I purchase it from.

So if you're interested, this is my list of DSLR stuff to start out with... But most importantly I think that you should just jump on in and play, to me there is no right or wrong, as long as you enjoy the results then you're on the right track.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

through the viewfinder

the other view

A long time ago I stumbled across the art of Ttv photography, or 'through the viewfinder' photography, and for me it was one of those 'wowee' moments "I want to do that!" I thought... and for a long time that's all it was; I would think about it every now and then, an idea just idling in the recesses of my mind.

Then a few months ago it came bubbling up again; but this time I got serious, and I found myself a beautiful argo flex 75.

argoflex 75

So what is this Ttv? I hear you all ask... Usually after I've just been asked 'whether my (new) camera works' and 'if I can get film for it?' to which I reply, oh no, I don't want it to actually shoot film (although I could if I wanted to)... I want it for 'through the viewfinder' photography.

the viewfinder

Well for all of you that have asked (and for those of you that are now wondering) Ttv photography is where you compose your photograph using one camera and then you use another camera to take a photo of the first cameras viewfinder; which is why you often see beautiful TLR (twin lens reflex) cameras being used as the first camera, they can be held at waist height and you look down to see the viewfinder on the top of the camera. Then second camera, that you take a photograph of the viewfinder with, is usually a digital camera.

my Ttv  contraption

One of the things that you will generally notice first with Ttv is the funny black sleeve that often appears over the bottom camera, although it may look a little strange, it really is just a way to cut the glare on the viewfinder, enabing you to take a clearer picture of it.

aerial view

Since I had already received my argo flex for my birthday, my present request from my kids was a sheet of black cardboard and a roll of cloth gaffer-tape. I then spent Friday evening amongst my supplies, cutting and fitting my 'contraption'. It still needs the gaf tape applied to toughen it up, thus making it more portable, but as I've already discovered, it does the trick.

in a sea of black

So now, once you've taken your photo all you will see on your display screen is a sea of black with a square floating in there somewhere - this is where your photo editor comes in. It's not hard, I just download my image onto my computer, then in iPhoto (or you could use Photoshop, or similar) I rotate and straighten my little square, then I crop it leaving just the tiniest border of black around the edge of it, and voilĂ  - one Ttv photograph.

That's it! And I think that the results are stunning...

through the viewfinder

If you are interested, as I was, in this Ttv stuff, then there are so many resources online that you can look at : the one that started me off was Andrea's stunning article here (she also links to heaps of useful stuff at the bottom of her post, like the indispensable 'contraption' template that I based my contraption on, and flickr groups that you can join to share your pictures)

I would seriously love to hear if any fellow Melbournians have been giving this a go, or would like to have a go - how cool would it be to all head out with our 'Ttv rigs' together?

Monday, 26 October 2009

granny love

red & pink pretty

A long time ago I saw this amazing crochet blanket on flickr, and the penny finally dropped for me... Crochet could be beautiful and contemporary. I added the picture to my flickr favourites and remembered that once I had even had a go at learning how to crochet - unfortunately I couldn't make head nor tails of the beginner instructions that I had and never made it past making a chain.

I stashed my crochet hook away and resigned myself to the knowledge that crochet was much too hard for me.

squares

Recently a few crochet projects have caught my eye, the first was a lovely crochet flower that the uber-talented Michelle had made; and the second was that blanket again, but this time made in cotton by Tania, another breath-takingly talented lady.

Well I was inspired again, but this time I was armed with the gift of hindsight - I've already taught myself to knit mostly by watching tutorials and how-tos on YouTube.com, so on a quiet Thursday night I sat down with a ball of yarn, a hook, and a selection of 'knitwitch' vids and figured it out... It didn't seem to be all that hard!

supplies

During the same week I also found a new blog, all bright colour and crochet, a veritable feast for the eye - attick24. On this beautiful blog, Lucy links to many, clearly laid out, tutorials that she has published in the past. She also talks about the lovely yarn that she purchases to make her blankets - it was while looking at her stuff that I decided that "i could do this, and not only could I do it, but I would make mine usings Debbie Bliss' baby cashmerino"

granny squares

So the very next day, while angus was at kinder, I visited the yarn store and bought six balls of yarn, it wasn't until later that I realised the implications of buying 4ply {and that would be small squares} but I was hooked now, my squares were looking pretty good {well I think they do? they might be total rubbish, but I'm not talented enough to tell the difference, so who cares}... and then I did a little more reading and decided that it would be better if I crochet the squares together as I go, instead of stitching them together at the end.

So the next week, pocket money burning a hole in my, well, pocket, i headed back to the yarn store and purchased another nine balls of yarn, in lots of delicious colours.

coloured cashmerino

And now I find myself randomly crocheting granny circles, all in different colour combinations, all the while making me giddy with the yumminess of it all, the process, the yarn, and of course the output.

granny circles

This project for me is not just about the outcome, it's about slowing down, sitting in the sun, and creating something beautiful. This blanket may well take me forever to make, and that's ok; I started this project as a long term, when I feel like it, project. I won't be putting any pressure on myself to get it done, and will be intersperced with many other creations I am sure, but one day I will have a handcrafted granny blanket that I will be proud to call my own.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

33* things to do before I'm 34

Day 1 :: Through the viewfinder

1. Fly in a hot air balloon

2. Remember to be kind to myself {definitely better at this}

3. Take lots of Ttv photos with my Argo flex {i did ~ and then the novelty wore off!}

4. Shoot with my nikkormat {yep}

5. Enjoy four weekends away to create {done}

6. Go away for a weekend with my family {really should do this}

7. Crochet sunburst granny blanket {yep, and it's still not finished}

8. Finish my FLS {done}

9. Make a habit of walking (at least) three times each week {in warm weather}

10. Make a crochet flower for my knitting bag {nope}

11. Get a great haircut {done}

12. Reply to my emails. {definitely better at this}

13. Take a NIA dance class {nope}

14. Visit Lark {still haven't done it... must do}

15. Own at least one outfit that I can wear to dinner {luckily it was warm for my birthday, so yep}

16. Eat my greens & take my multi {multi yes, greens not so much}

17. Catch up with my friends more {impossible with so many kinder runs this year}

18. See a movie (in a cinema) {yep, a couple}

19. Take A&D on Puffing Billy {cam did this for me}

20. Go to the beach every day of our summer holiday {so cannot remember}

21. Sit in the sun {I do try, bless my vegie garden}

22. Take a photograph every day {not}

23. Find a beautiful kodak duoflex (and maybe a yashica too!) {see point 3}

24. Beautify my bedroom {not yet}

25. Grow a tomato plant {definitely this spring, they are already at seedling stage}

26. U-Pick @ the strawberry farm {didn't}

27. Ttv a butterfly at the zoo {see point 2}

28. Read a new book {I read four! twilight, new moon, eclipse & breaking dawn... twice.}

29. Meditate {yep}

30. Grow a daffodil {plenty of leaves, no flower!}

31. Purchase 'that' lens {still on the wish list}

32. Master the sun salute {nope}

33. Stop yelling & cursing... "all we need is to stop blowing our tops and start using our brains. Taking the path of least resistance is the key to a peaceful life!" Dr Christopher Green {getting better...}

* and yes, 33 on the 22nd felt mighty fine this year ~ I am excited to see what the coming year brings for me...

Monday, 19 October 2009

extending it



Do you remember the beehive beanie that I knit a while back? The first one that I knitted was based on the twoandsix pattern and was intended for Angus, but it worked out a little smaller than I was expecting, so it ended up being Daisy's beanie ~ then I knit another one, a bigger one with some modifications, for Angus.

At the beginning of Winter each beanie fit beautifully, but now I find that they have a tendency to slowly rise up while the children play, until they have exposed ears and a big pointy peak on top ~ as we are now into Spring and the weather is warming up I didn't want to start any new beanies, but with a few grey cold days still happening we found that we are not quite yet out of beanie weather. What to do?

rib extension

My solution was to pick up* the stitches at the bottom of the beanie {which was the original cast on round} and knit a 2x2 rib ~ a beanie extension!

a much better fit

I continued knitting the rib until it was long enough to double over and still look good. The doubling meant that the bottom was thick enough to balance out the thickness of the purl bands that make the beehive look.

it's too hot for beanie's today!

* image from this post

Friday, 9 October 2009

progress

~ and some thoughts ~


I've been knitting a row here and a row there and the february lady sweater is slowly taking shape. I thought before I get too far in, I'd better try her on and make sure that I am knitting the right size ~ and yes I am happy with the sizing. I saw a wonderful sweater a few weeks ago, I can't remember where, but instead of having buttons and button holes it had six buttons attached to the sweater, three on each side, then there was a separate piece with two button holes it in that could be placed in any of the three positions to hold two of the buttons together. I loved it when I saw it, and when I realised that my sweater would pull a bit if I used the traditional button - button hole configuration, this sweet solution instantly popped into my head. perfect.

back

Mia has started the dribbling stage, and it made me think of the wonderful bibs that Di used for little C when he was... littler ~ i'm thinking that the fls may be put on the back-burner while I knit up some of these for my littlest.

I'm all set with my itty-bitty-booklight from smiggle, but now I want to find an itty-bitty bit of time to make this lovely corner bookmark from the ever-amazing kirsty

Thinking about this beautiful top from Gap that andrea(scout) was seen wearing, and wondering if it would be all that hard to make {other than obviously coming up with more time than I currently have}... then wondering if 'gingham' is particularly 'me'... then thinking that I should try to grow my nails again and start looking after my hands...

Giving some thought to cutting my own hair, then quickly dismissing the idea. Then wondering if there are any local hairdressers that would actually follow instructions as I know exactly what I want, but don't have the skill {well I don't think I do?} to do myself.... note to self, must make a Saturday morning appointment, soon.


Trying to decide what to do tomorrow... just me and the littles again, Cam's helping a mate move house... and it is supposed to be sunny?!?!

Thursday, 8 October 2009

spring days and more bubbles

more :: blowing bubbles

more :: chasing bubbles

it's all too exciting

How fabulous are these spring days? ... I am trying to remember to make some time in my day to get outside and chill with the kiddos, and it's a wonderful thing. I'm feeling so much more relaxed, and it's providing me with a much needed contrast to the daily grind ~ not to mention that it makes me appreciate my kids so much more.

I'm thinking that I need to get to and make a picnic quilt {like this one} but with a waterproof backing of some sort.

I also need to come up with a shade solution for Mia, so that she can join us in the great outdoors. At the moment the bright light bugs her and she gets grumpy quick smart; it's ok right now as she has 3 big naps each day, but I'm sure it won't be long until she'll be awake for longer.

So for now it's Angus, Daisy & I outside chasing bubbles {again}.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

favourite smells

my favourite smells

While taking the fresh towels off the line this afternoon my nose was filled with the lovely scent of jasmine, one of my favourite smells ~ I looked around to discover that this little fence was a-bloom ~ I didn't realise that it was covered in jasmine, but am delighted that it is.

jasmine

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

why I shouldn't try to bluff my kids

contemplating bubbles

A story :: As a parent I think that we've all had our moments when we realise that our approach is just not working; well today I've had a few of those moments! We went to visit one of my friends this afternoon, during our visit she took some time to entertain our children by blowing bubbles and having them chase them, they had a lovely time until it started to rain. I took that as my cue and decided to head off home.

Angus and Daisy decided that they didn't want to get into the car, although they did climb into the boot temporarily ~ so I decided to bluff them and do the old "oh well, if you don't get into the car then I will have to leave without you" trick ... apparently this was fine with them, so I climbed into the car, started the engine, and pulled out of my car park as if to leave ~ full well expecting them to change their minds when they realised that I was going to leave without them.

Unfortunately for me they didn't change their minds, and were very happy for me to leave them at my friends house ~ so of course the situation escalated into me man-handling two aggrieved parties into their car-seats, amongst a chorus of "I want to stay at [my friends name]'s house"; "I don't wanna go home with you!" ... It was horrible, and I found myself ringing Cam for some love and support ~ mostly because I felt like such a goose for threatening them and then finding that they couldn't give a rats if I left without them anyway; nothing quite like the feeling that the littles aren't finding you as indispensable as you thought.

While Daisy went straight to sleep once the car got moving, Angus spent the next 10 minutes yelling at me from the back seat, venting his displeasure... it wasn't until we got home and he discovered a lovely big puddle out the front that he finally stopped grumping, and it wasn't until I produced a couple of bottles of bubble blowing solution that I had stashed away, and let them chase some bubbles, that he finally forgave me for bringing him home.

Monday, 5 October 2009

weekend lawning

lawning!...

Mowing the lawn at our place is a huge job; so it was extra nice watching the 'boys' tackle this one... Cam did the mowing and the emptied the catcher into this pile; Angus then filled his little barrow and trundled down the hill to empty it into the compost heap, then lugged his barrow back up the hill for another load. When the barrow got too cumbersome he switched to the 4-wheel plastic pram, and puttered up and down using that. Cam estimated that he did about 80 trips up and down, happy as a clam. Boys!

Friday, 2 October 2009

giving thanks

friends


After enjoying reading about so many things that others have been feeling grateful for this past month*, I feel that I should stop and acknowledge some of the things that I am now feeling grateful for, but first let me talk about why. This past month for me has been really hard! I've struggled to get enough sleep, to juggle my three kids, my life, to get food on the table... a lot of the stuff that used to happen much more easily is now either really 'hard' or not happening at all. Much of this worry has come about because I am still having issues with Mia's feeding ~ I thought that we were all going ok, but her last check up told us that she is still not putting on enough weight. While she's not losing weight, she just isn't putting on the minimum 100gram weekly average that she should ~ and while I try not to stress about it {because I know that just makes things worse} I can't help but feel that in some way I am failing.

So today, after 24 hours of 'pumping' {because god-dangit, if she can't build up my supply, then I will be doing that for her} I decided to forgo her usual after bath breastfeed, and pump whatever was available into a bottle to feed her instead; that way if it was only the measly 5ml that I suspected, then I could supplement her with some 'spare' milk that I had squirreled away in the freezer a while back. I was delighted when I pumped a respectable 50ml's, and even quite amused when we fed her the bottle later and discovered that 50ml's seemed to be exactly the amount that she wanted... it made me stop and realise that mother nature is such a wonderful thing {although not so much that I won't be trying to rest up, drink plenty of water, and 'pump' this weekend}

It also made me realise that I need to 'lighten up' {easier said than done I fear}; and so I want to acknowledge and thank those of you that have been there for me in so many different ways this past month :: my husband who has picked up so much of the slack and listened to my many concerns over and over again {and not complained once when dinner has been MIA again} :: to my Mum for taking 'those little bloody monsters' off my hands when it all got too much :: to my sister who comes and 'shares the load' for a part of most weekends :: to my knitting girls for giving me a child free break each week to laugh, whinge, share and connect :: to my friends who have listened and provided me with much needed perspective, empathy, advice {and play dates!} :: and to you guys who leave all manner of supportive comments in this space.

So while this past month has been hard, it has also been a great reminder to me of all of the wonderful people and things that I am blessed to have in my life: not to mention a happy {if slightly hungry} little girl who is four months today ~ and yes, she is still perfect!

*********
and

Thursday, 1 October 2009

renovations


I've spent some time changing the look of my space here; hopefully it will be the kick in the pants that I need to start posting regularly again. So tell me, do you 'get' the banner? or is it just a little too cryptic?