Posts from the “blogging” Category

Going Manual

Posted on 26 May, 2014

The photography and styling workshop gave me a well needed push to start branching out with my camera.

Since I got my camera I have stuck rigidly to either the Creative Auto or the no flash setting. I’ve occasionally pushed the boat out and used the setting with a flower for flowers or the portrait setting for a person. Other than that the other buttons were scary and probably unnecessary.

When I saw the difference between my photo and the same photograph on a manual setting with some tweaking I got the kick I needed to turn the dial.

 

red balloon, child wonder at a balloon

Ewan’s first balloon

I still mainly use some automatic option but I’m starting to venture around the dial. Often this leads to disappointment,things not in focus, the wrong point in focus, a completely white screen because I’ve done something funny with the white balance. I’ve a feeling that I have a long road of cursing my camera ahead but I’m figuring the more I play around with it the less scary it’ll get and hopefully at some point the better I will get.

Ballymaloe Litfest Bookshop

Ballymaloe Litfest Bookshop

The other day I sat in on friends developing a play from the book Secret Garden. I wandered around their rehearsal space taking photos and I thought that each of them were pure gold. This glee lasted until I got them home and saw them on the big screen. While they’re not as moody and magnificent as I had hoped I’m still proud that I’ve managed to take them by endlessly playing around with settings and ignoring the ever so tempting auto options.

red leather couch red books and key

Ballymaloe Food Styling Workshop

Posted on 19 May, 2014

Yesterday was a keeper of a day. I went to a food styling workshop at Ballymaloe LitFest and it was fantastic.  Anyone who follows the blog knows that I’m not exactly skilled in the food department.  The Elmo Cake is a testament to that!

What drew me to the work shop was the magazine Feast. Feast is Irish food magazine. Every quarter they produce a great line up of local food producers. you hear their stories and their recipes.  I’m not really a foodie so for me Feast is pure escapism. I’m all about the pictures.

Once it arrives in the post I put on the kettle for a cuppa and fall into their pretty images. The final section is a gloriously set table in some beautiful building with a table full of amazing food. What’s not to love…

Dining room,Feast Magazine, Winter 2013

Image Credit Feast 

So when I saw Donal Skehan and Sharon Hearne Smith, the photographer and food stylist for the magazine, were doing a Food Styling and Photograph workshop I was thrilled.

It was sold out but with some perseverance I got a place. As the lady at the box office said if you hang around and smile long enough good things happen. And so they did.

 

Donal Skehan and Sharon Hearne Smith BallyMaloe Litfest 2014

It was amazing. They were both so generous with their time and skills. They stayed an hour after their time and carefully went through everything! The changing fashions of food styling, how to prepare for a shoot, which camera settings to use, how to use light and shadow, editing. Everything!

Balyymaloe litfest food styling and photograph workshop

 

Even though my interest is in styling vintage items rather than food there was a lot still a lot I could take away from it. I was buzzing in the car on the way home thinking of all how I could set up shots and I’m so exciting about getting to know my camera better.

We all got a chance to photograph two dishes. Here are my attempts.

Balyymaloe litfest food styling and photograph workshopBalyymaloe litfest food styling and photograph workshop

Balyymaloe litfest food styling and photograph workshop

I can’t wait for my next vintage find so I can try out a few new tips and tricks:)

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Numbers, numbers,numbers

Posted on 31 March, 2014

I tried to take a selfie but got distracted by a rugby match

Yesterday was Mother’s Day here and naturally enough I was thinking about my mum and how I don’t tell her often enough that I love her, need her and my world would be lost without her.

I’ve also been thinking recently about what it means to be valued as a mum and where that validation comes from. As a stay at home mum I find I’m struggling with the job title.

I bumped into someone I hadn’t seen in years last week and he asked if I was up to anything other than “the obvious”, as he pointed towards Ewan in the pram. I couldn’t stop spilling out words about the blog and running a small etsy shop. I felt desperate for him to know that I was doing more than “the obvious”.

My reaction has been nagging me since. I have been thinking about why I have the blog and why I have the shop. I often say that it’s so I have something happening outside of caring for Ewan. When I met him I felt it was more about having something to tell people, I haven’t gone back to work but I have a blog!!

The reality is caring for Ewan is my full time job, the rest is squeezed in. It is nearly half one o’clock on Sunday night. The house is asleep but I’m sitting up typing.

If it was only about having a something for myself outside of Ewan, I would be in bed. I would spend my spare time doing something crafty, I would read, I would exercise, I would take photographs, take a long bath, read a magazine, study something, take a class or do any of a range of “me time” things that are on offer.

One reason is probably be validation. Validation that my choices are right, validation that I’m interesting and that I can take a nice photograph occasionally.

The validation script is meant to go something like this.

The numbers on the blog are going up,so people are engaging with my writing and pictures, so I made the right choice. Someone bought something from my shop, so they like my taste, so I made the right choice. Someone has published my post, so I wrote something worthy of publishing, so I’ve made the right choice.

When your at work you’ve different sources of external validation, employers, clients and colleagues.

But for me I’ve never been very good at receiving validation no matter what form it came in. Someone once said that my boss could tell me I was a fantastic employee and the company would fall down without me but I would dismiss the compliment in a heart beat. I would query the tone in which it was said, did she mean I had been a highly valued employ until recently? Did she mean the company would fall down without me because I’m over stepping my brief?

It is similar with blogging. I dismiss numbers because they are only numbers. Many of the numbers are robots scanning the internet and so they don’t count anyway. People buy my things because every once in a while I get lucky.

What I’m having to remind myself is that none of that matters and no amount of numbers or sales will make me feel validated. If less people look at the blog on a Monday then a Tuesday (which they do) does that mean Monday I’ve made the wrong choices but Tuesday it’s all good?

When I joined twitter recently the first thing I noticed was that people unfollowed me. Regardless of the fact that the number was going up I wanted to try and figure out how many people had unfollowed me! It is absolute madness.

If I hinge my validation on numbers I’ll be a crumbling mess with repetitive strain injury in my thumbs within a few months.

Yesterday Mum made it all so much clearer.

She said  “I saw Ewan painting on the blog, He looks so happy, you’re doing a wonderful job”.

And there it was, as simple as that. I’m happy, that is my validation.

I write until well after my bed time because I like doing it. I like sorting through the day, the week, in my head and sharing it with you.  I take photographs in the freezing cold because I like to take up my camera. I buy vintage items because I like them and I love looking for them. I decide to make an epic mess with Ewan painting because it might be fun.

Ewan is happy. If I worked full time I bet he’d be just as happy. But I know I have made the right choice for me because I am happy. Together our family of three is happy.

Sometimes it’s absolutely exhausting. Simple tasks are heart breakingly hard and those are the days that I look more and more at the numbers of the blog. How many people looked today? Did anyone like the post on facebook?

But no matter what the numbers say my day is still going to go one way or another.

All of the number checking on blogger, google analytics, instagram, facebook, twitter has nothing to do with why I started a blog but I’ve made the blog about these things in my own mind.

There is nothing wrong with looking for validation. I need people, I need feedback, I need to know that I’m not rambling in a vacuum, I like when people “like” my post. But by checking the numbers constantly I have taken the fun from something that gave me so much joy to start with.

I have tried not looking but it doesn’t work.

So I’m starting a trial.

I’m going old school. Back to my old Nokia phone and turning off my iphone for a month. I will still promote the blog on facebook and twitter but I won’t have it to hand first thing in the morning, when walking and trying to steer the pram, while the kettle boils, while my laptop starts up etc.

I will miss instagram but I can still look on the laptop I just won’t be able to post pictures.

It’s back to black for me. I’m looking forward to trying to keep my eyes and mind where I want them to be and not getting lulled towards a maze of numbers.

I’ll let you know how the dark ages goes for me. I’m excited and strangely a little nervous!

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2014, wahhoooo

Posted on 1 January, 2014

Happy New Year!

I hope you had a lovely evening last night. I don’t usually make resolutions, when I do it’s generally something like buy milk. But today I have time on my hands and with New Year enthusiasm I’ve made multiple lists of resolutions!

I now have a list for me, a list of things I want to do as a mum,a girlfriend list, a list for the blog and a list for the shop. It sounds ridiculous but some are easily achieved.

Here are a few examples; be nice to myself,  try another parent group,  make or get little surprises for Steve,  find nice postage boxes and for the blog my resolution is to enjoy it and not to beat myself up if I miss a day or two (that links to my first resolution too 🙂

See, very achievable! Do you do resolutions?

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2013 Top of the Posts

Posted on 31 December, 2013

Firstly, let me say thank you to so many of you that stopped by yesterday to read the blog. It’s lovely to read your comments, thank you.

Now down to the fun stuff. On the 15th of October I started this blog and I’ve been thrilled with the response it has gotten.

So without further ado I give you the top 5 most popular blog posts of 2013.

At 5 we have the Amber beauty, for number 4 we’ll have tea please, coming in at number 3 we go back to the car boot sale, lining up nicely for number 2 are these turkish delights, and finally the moment you’ve been waiting for. Taking the top slot of the most popular post of 2013 is The City Guide to Cork Vintage! Wahooooooo! Thank you all for reading the blog.

Did your favourite make the top 5?  I hope you have a lovely New Year.

See you in 2014,x

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First Posts

Posted on 15 October, 2013

Hello,

I’ve started a blog.

As a worrier by nature I’ve been fretting.

What will I write about for the first post? Should I introduce myself? Is that dull?  Should I say that I am unsure where to start or does that sound like I’m lacking in conviction and will give up after a week? Should I have some kind of mission statement or should I just start it and see where it takes me?

I opted for the start it and see approach.
I decided to go back and looked at the blogs that I enjoy. How did they start?
I started close to home with Irish blog writer Lilly Higgins . I came across Lilly Higgins through her first book, Make,Bake,Love ,which is covered in food splatters from use!  Later, I discovered she has a lovely foodie blog. It was a relief to hear her saying she too was nervous about starting. She stated her nerves then dived right in with a tale of cheese.
Enthused, I kept going. I have been following  A Cup of Jo  for years. She writes so naturally that I feel like I know her (how creepy of me!). Her first post was straight in there with her New Years plans of staying in and baking cookies. No frills just a quick and snappy post that began with a little peek into her life.Then I turned to my gateway drug of the blog world, Design Sponge. I first knew I had a problem when I used to queue for an extraordinary amount of time for the computer lab in college just to check out the new posts. It’s just as well that I didn’t have a computer at home so I could limit my design sponge soakage and actually finish college.After much searching through Design Sponge I found the founder, Grace Bonney’s first post where she lists her favourite designs, all kinds of everything that turn her head and why. It’s great to see how her blog has grown yet some of the staples keeping their place.

So, it looks like there isn’t an unwritten rule about how to start a blog. It seems you can start a blog however you like and what it will become will happen with time.I’m going to follow A Cup of Jo’s advice and write so my family and friends would recognise my voice. I’m Irish so I’ll try and sound and even spell like it. My favourite colours will have “U”‘s and I will recognise the S (not Z) in recognise!

With a beautiful, teething, baby boy things don’t always happen to plan but I will do my best to post very regularly.

I will invite you to nosy around my house as I have been doing to strangers on design blogs for years, I will
let you know how this new parenting thing is going and if I find something great when I’m second hand shopping I’ll rush home to tell you.

So here we go, a post about first posts and we are off.Thank you,
amos,x

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