Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Mandarin Magic

Late on Saturday night (or maybe it was in the wee hours of Sunday morning) whilst I was editing photos from one of the gorgeous newborn shoots I had in the previous few days, I came a cross a Facebook post about mandarin picking around Wisemans Ferry. As you will know from previous posts, we really enjoy picking our own apples.

So on Sunday morning we loaded into the car and headed to the Watkins Family Farm for some DIY Mandarin Picking. It was set in the most beautiful valley and the weather was divine! I was a little concerned that we were late in the season and perhaps there wouldn't be many mandarins left for picking. I needn't have worried. I was concerned that whist Kyah would enjoy roaming free in a orchard, she may get frustrated at not being able to pick the mandarins herself. I was even worried the boys wouldn't be able to reach the high fruit if all the low ones had already been picked. I needn't have worried.

We had an absolutely fabulous time. Everyone got to pick a heap of fruit! And eat it too! There were also mushrooms to pick, and chickens, goats and sheep to feed, and best of all, a tractor to sit on. We ended the day with lunch down at Wisemans Ferry and the boys loved watching the cars being driven onto and off the ferry and seeing it go across the river. It was a wonderful Family Funday Sunday.

Here is my photo essay.

The Details:
Watkins Family Farm
1006 Singleton Rd, Laughtondale (Near Wisemans Ferry)
You only pay for the mandarins and mushrooms that you pick. No entrance fee.
Imperial Mandarins
$10 per bucket for Mandarins
$10 per bag for Mushrooms
Honey and eggs also available for purchase
It took us 1.5 - 1.75 hours from Sydney's Northern Beaches.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Apple Picking

After the success and enjoyment spent apple picking in Bilpin last year, we decided to go again this year. So following the Easter Long Weekend we went back to Bilpin at the foot of the Blue Mountains and once again visited the Bilpin Springs Orchard to pick a few baskets of delicious apples fresh from the tree.

It was a little more crowded than last year but the apples were still delicious, plentiful on the tree and the kids loved racing around eating the fresh apples and enjoying the space and fresh mountain air.

We bought home enough apples for several apple salads, a few apple pies, a heap of apple sauce and a quite a few lunchbox snacks! Delicious!

Here is my photo essay.

Monday, May 19, 2014

A Day With The Tim's

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of spending the day with Tim Pascoe and Tim Williams talking, learning, living photography.

Shooting, editing, work flow, tips, tricks, lessons learned. It was a hugely fruitful day learning and listening. Meeting new friends. Feeding my already growing passion.

Light. The story. Creating drama. Clean lines. Finding and creating clean backgrounds. Using the hand-light-finder. Shadows and highlights.

Not to mention the wonderful models we had to shoot at the beautiful location, McCarrs Creek. I can't believe the wonderful captures I was able to create it bright bright sunlight and also under the shade of the beautiful Mortan Bay Figs.

I learnt so much!

Thanks Tims!

The Details:
Tim Pascoe ~ Photographer
Workshop, May 2014
Location: Warriewood, NSW Australia
"After 14 years of shooting professionally I have realised that not only do I love to be the one taking the photos, but I love seeing people passionate about photography and grow as a photographer. Over the years I have seen the industry change dramatically and have had to adapt as it changes. It's my desire to see people who are passionate about photography in it for the long haul and able to stay relevant, but true to yourself. 
If you are wanting to make a career of photography or are already a professional photographer and wanting to equip yourself for the journey ahead, then I hope we will see you at the next workshop."

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Octonaut's to the HQ - Take II

Beau Turns 3!

After seeing his brother have an Octonaut's Party back in December, there was no denying Beau his own Octo-themed celebration when he turned 3 in January (I know I am very tardy with writing this blog post). 

After all the work that went into making the decorations for the first party, I was more than happy to get some more use out of the 3 foot high Octonaut characters and the schools of jellyfish we had made! But after all the hard work of hosting parties (Ruby Wedding Anniversaries and Octonaut Parties) I was feeling too tired for another huge extravaganza at the house. So we headed to the park, secured a cabana early and set up the Octonaut decorations around the playground.

It was fantastic. I didn't have to spend a week before the party cleaning and tidying (& cleaning & tidying & cleaning & tidying &…). The kids could run wild and they were not in fear of break anything in our house. We had fruit, croissants, cheese and an Octo-Alert cake. We had the Octonaut party game which we had created for Noah's party "Peso's Rescue Mission" where all the kids were given "creature cards" and had to rescue their animal from a huge fishing net . Once again it was a huge Octo-success. 

We had beautiful weather and the kids exhausted themselves! Happy Birthday Beau!

Octonaut invitation

Octonaut Birthday Party

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Time on the Farm

At the end of March, we travelled down to the Southern Highlands for a long weekend of family time. We stayed just outside of Robertson on a farm called, Brenchley Farm. A 4 bedroom house with all the necessities - bunk beds, a sandpit, a huge undercover circular verandah (perfect for scooters) and a football field for the children and a large modern kitchen, BBQ, large lounge area and a central log fire for the adults. My parents and my sister and her boyfriend came along and we took turns cooking meals, providing a weekend of culinary delights and quality family time.

But better than the food or the house, was nature. Two gorgeous horses, some cows, wide open spaces, an apple orchard, citrus and fig trees, sunrises and sunsets. And time. Time to make wishes on dandelions. Time to feed horses. Time to stand and watch for the fairies in the sunbeams through the forest canopy at the nearby Carrington Falls. Time to sit by the fire. Time to smell flowers and find toadstools and early easter eggs.

Here is my photo essay.

Brenchley Farm, Robertson NSW
Brenchley Farm, Robertson NSW
Brenchley Farm, Robertson NSW

Brenchley Farm
A Modern Farm House in Robertson, NSW
Brenchley Farm is perfect for families, friends or couples looking for a special getaway. 
It's your country retreat in the heart of the Southern Highlands offering peace and tranquility, comfort and convenience. 
4 Bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.
Prices range from $310-$650 per night.
For more details see: http://www.stayz.com.au/accommodation/nsw/southern-highlands/bowral/94471?gclid=CJq8wraQ0L0CFYHhpAodn0MAxw

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Ruby Wedding Anniversary - A Photo Essay

Way back in November, my sisters and I hosted a surprise 40th Wedding Anniversary party for our parents. We invited 30 of their nearest and dearest family and friends and created a 3 course sit down feast. For months beforehand we met and talked and planned and trialled and created dishes and scoured Pinterest and made decorations and deceptions {it is no easy feat to keep a secret from ones parents for several months}.

The theme was easy. Ruby. We added a hint of blackboard chic, and simple elegance. I created a "blackboard" poster with facts about our parents and their 40 years of marriage. The table was decorated with personalised black bonbons - which contained trivia questions, and a black and  white photograph of each guest with our parents taken some time in the last 40 years. We set up a Photo booth for the guests including some vintage frames, a few "ruby" accessories and fake mustaches for guests to don.

The tables were set up outdoors and we decorated the back yard with glass jar lanterns which my brother-in-law made. Some were dyed red and others left clear. These made the garden look truly magical. We inserted black and white photographs of our parents into all the photo frames in my sisters house, making every room a little tribute to our parents and their marriage.

The menu centered around our parents favourite dishes. Starting with a tomato and a watermelon gazpacho amuse bouche, the entree was a prawn cocktail (Heston style), the main was a slow roasted lamb shoulder, and for dessert my sister created a spectacular ice cream and affogato bar.

With a lot of preparations, I think it was an amazingly successful and special night for our parents.
Decorations and table setting for Ruby Wedding Anniversary
Ruby accessories and moustaches for Photo Booth fun!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

No "No's" Parenting

Today I was talking with a friend on Skype when my adorable little 10 month old, teething, sick daughter bit me hard on the shoulder. "No!" I yelped. "That hurt Mummy! Don't bite."

There are 2 possible reactions to this scenario from my daughter:
1. Her bottom lip starts to tremble and big crocodile tears well up in her eyes, or
2. She giggles conspiratorially.

Today she did the later. Clearly, she was trying to thwart my meagre parenting prowess to my friend who was observing from the other side of the computer screen. Upon observing all this, my friend then told me how they recently had guests who have made a conscious decision to never, yes NEVER, use the word "no" with their children.

I believe at this point, my jaw dropped open and my daughter took the opportunity to bite me again. For a split milli-second I contemplated not saying "no" to her. But what else does one say to a 10 month old when they bite you?

"I would appreciate it if you didn't bite me…"??

I am not convinced that at 10 months of age my daughter would have grasped the full extent of the message I just conveyed to her.

But I did try with my sons, ages 3yo (on Saturday) and 5yo, to use more positive language and eliminate "no" from my parenting vocabulary. I was unsuccessful.

"No Beau! Do not sit on your sisters head!"
"No Beau! Do not crash tackle your sister when she stands up in the bath! Even though you know that she is not supposed to stand up in the bath."
"No boys! I will not read you another story. It is way past bed time and Mummy just needs a time out! All this trying to not say "no" has done my head in!"

Ok. Well I am sure if I had put more effort into that last one, I could have found a way to eliminate the "no" from the message - though it would have still been there in the semantics, just not in my spoken words.

So tonight, after they were all in bed, and feeling pretty lousy about my failed attempts to not use the word "no" for an afternoon, I googled "Parenting trend don't say no" and first up on Google was none other than Dr Sears. Here is what Dr Sears had to say about "no":

"“No” is a power-packed word, quick on the lips, easy to say. Your child will hear you use this word often, and you will hear it from your child as well. It’s necessary for a parent to say “no” to a child so the child can later say “no” to himself. All children—and some adults—have difficulty delaying gratification. “I want it now” is a driving desire, especially in toddlers. Learning to accept “no” from someone else is a prelude to saying “no” to herself."

From this little introduction I take away that in fact saying "no" to my children is an important parenting technique, helping them develop a healthy internal dialogue and ability to delay gratification. Dr Sears did suggest 18 ways to say no positively and these I did read and take some comfort in them - I have definitely mastered "the look" and "the voice". Perhaps some I could take more heed of, and try to practice a little more. But "no" is definitely part of my parenting practice and parenting vocabulary.

What about you? Do you say "no" or are you a no "no's" parent?