30 October 2014

Baby OOTD #10 - Halloween edition

OK, so we have a problem. A Halloween problem... No, it is not the lack of a costume that is bothering me, but too many options! I am a Halloween (and dress-up) loving mama and have been known to go slightly overboard... 

This year I am not sure what to choose. We could have...

baby bat halloween costume H&M
From H&M

A baby bat.

black kitty halloween costume baby

black kitty halloween costume baby
Ears from H&M

A cute little black kittycat.

luke skywalker halloween costume baby jedi
An actual minireplica of Luke Skywalker's light saber... - I have a Star Wars obsessed husband.

Or mini Luke Skywalker. 

And we still haven't decided which one we will go for. 

What do you think - what is your favourite? Baby bat, black kitty, or mini Luke Skywalker?

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26 October 2014

Easy White Chocolate Halloween Ghost Breadsticks

These little white chocolate ghosts are super easy to make - and they would make a perfect sweet snack for a kids Halloween party. 

easy halloween ghost breadsticks

easy halloween ghost breadsticks

All you need are some non-flavoured breadsticks, white chocolate, and chocolate writing icing. Dip the breadsticks in white chocolate, draw little faces on them and let them dry overnight.

white chocolate, breadsticks and a chocolate pen

After dipping the breadsticks in white chocolate I stuck them in a jar to dry. I used a bit of rice to be able to keep them upright, but if you aren't too fussed with them being uniform all over, you could just lay them on a baking sheet. After the sticks were dry I drew the little faces on them with chocolate writing icing, and left them to dry over night.

ghost breadsticks

Pretzel sticks would work as well - in fact I wanted to use them as I think the sweet and salty combination would work great, but couldn't find them at our local supermarket. You could also use chocolate chips instead of eyes and a mouth, and stick them on before the white chocolate has completely melted. 

ghost breadsticks in a bowl

These tasted quite good - and I bet kids would love them. We might make a few to give to trick and treaters this coming Halloween...

A very simple and quick recipe to do for a Halloween party - ghost breadsticks! All you need is breadsticks, white chocolate, dark chocolate and a piping bag. Kids love these, and easy for kids to make too.

A very simple and quick recipe to do for a Halloween party - ghost breadsticks! All you need is breadsticks, white chocolate, dark chocolate and a piping bag. Kids love these, and easy for kids to make too.

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24 October 2014

10 tips: How to take great photos of your kids

I am a massively enthusiastic (amateur) photographer - and I love taking pictures of my little one. In fact, my in-laws often joke she is the most photographed baby on the planet. I don't know about that, but after nearly a year and a half there are some key things that I've learnt that can help you to take better pictures of your child. So here are my top ten tips on how to take great photographs of your kids. The first nine tips are for any camera - point and shoots, SLR's or even iPhones or other camera phones. The last tip is better suited for SLR's or more advanced point-and-shoots.

I've dotted some of my favourite pictures on this post, trying to illustrate the key points in visual form as well.

toddler girl basking in sunlight

1. Natural light, and lots of it.  

Go out, or take pictures near a window.  If you want to have a great photo, natural light enables you to capture colours much more accurately and gives depth to the picture. Additionally, kids are super-fast and having lots of natural light will enable your camera to perform much better. Because kids move a lot, pictures taken in poor light conditions often end up blurry, so it is important to try to take pictures when there is lots of light.

In terms of natural light, it doesn't have to be a sunny day or midday. In fact, pictures taken on a cloudy day enable the light to diffuse beautifully, and pictures an hour before the sunset can have this magical warm glow to them, both much better than harsh daytime light.

10 tips on how to take great photos of your kids. Simple photography tips suitable for total amateurs, including how to use light, composition and angles. This photography tutorial post is great for any parent that wants to take better pictures of their child, no matter what camera they use.

toddler girl looking at the camera

2. Get down on their level. 

Many parents take pictures of their kids from where they stand - so you always get the same viewpoint, about a meter above their kids, looking down. Booooring. 

Get down to their level to take pictures straight on. If they are babies busy doing their tummy time, get on your tummy. Get on your knees, lie down on the ground, crouch, bend down, what ever it takes to take that wonderful, engaged shot of your child. Getting down on their level enables you also to appreciate their surroundings much more and think about the composition and background in the picture.  

3. Commit to it. 

That means try everything to get them into the mood. If you want them to smile, blow raspberries, make funny faces, dance around, sing songs, make yourself feel silly and everyone else around you think you are crazy. Because if that is what it takes to get that money shot of your kids smiling, then it is worth it. 

If you want your child to look at the camera, you might like to use a toy or a hand puppet to catch their attention. Another tip I once got from a professional kiddy fashion photographer was a candy necklace - apparently kids practically run to you! 

toddler girl in park

4. Let them play. 

You don't always have to have them looking at the camera. Sometimes it is lovely to just let them play, let them forget all about the camera, and when they are engrossed in something, just take a few snaps. Show them at play, or the way they interact with other kids. This can enable you to take beautiful documentary style pictures.

5. Make sure they are well-fed, well-rested and in a good mood. 

This goes without saying, but trying to take pictures of your kid at the wrong time is a miserable experience for everyone involved. Early mornings or right after nap-time work the best in our household, but you know your child the best - just choose the times when they are at their most alert and in their best moods.

baby smiling

baby crying

6. Take pictures even if they throw a stroppy fit, or look serious. 

Because face it, kids aren't always smiley and they aren't always happy. It is quite cute to look at those stroppy fits in pictures later on. If I am taking pictures of my little one, and she gets annoyed or starts crying, I might take just one or two of her in that state. Not because I am cruel, but because it accurately reflects what kids are like - not always full of beans.

Additionally, some of my favourite pictures of my little one are when she has this contemplative, serious look on her face. It makes her look natural, and the pictures non-contrived. Like they are just snap shots of the real her. Try it!

baby running to daddy at farm

10 tips on how to take great photos of your kids. Simple photography tips suitable for total amateurs, including how to use light, composition and angles. This photography tutorial post is great for any parent that wants to take better pictures of their child, no matter what camera they use.

7. Think about the composition and background. 

Avoid placing your child in the center of the image. Use the rule of thirds, so draw imaginary lines, splitting the image into thirds along horizontal and vertical lines (3x3), and placing them in these imaginary intersections. When doing this, try to think about what else is in the picture. For example, are they running towards something? Leave space in front of them. Maybe try to capture what they are running towards. Are they walking away from a mess they have just made? Try capturing that in the same picture.

In terms of background, it is quite good to try to have neutral and clear background. I always try to make sure there aren't people walking behind, or lots of mess or toys, or lamp posts growing from the top of heads and so on. You might also want to think about the colour of their clothing - for example I like the picture below with green grass and red dress. It pops out nicely.

baby in red dress on grass

8. Take lots and lots of pictures. 

I can't stress this enough - if you want one brilliant shot, you might have to take a hundred or more of mediocre ones. Snap snap snap away. Kids move fast, and many of the pictures end up blurry, out of focus, with wrong focus point, them facing away and so on. The more you take, the more chances there is for that perfect shot to be amongst them. 

toddler girl on a swing

9. Limit their movement (when necessary). 

If you want to take a perfect portrait, you might have to limit their movements. Little kids probably won't follow direction, so the easiest way to get them stay still is to put them on a swing. While they are waiting for you to start pushing, you can usually get quite a few nice pictures of them while they are still. You could also give them a new toy and as they are mesmerised by it, they usually stay still for a moment examining it, when you will have your chance to take some candid shots. 

10. Camera settings: Focus on the eyes and use high shutter speed.

Focusing on the eyes is so important - if you can use an autofocus points on your camera, make sure they are on the eyes. You might want to deliberately focus on something else from time to time, but generally speaking focusing on the eyes makes the picture "pop" so to speak. When people look at pictures they are first drawn to eyes (numbers and primary colours are other key focal points as well).

High shutter speeds - for kids I would use 1/250 minimum, even more. 1/400 should be OK for normal photography, and if you are trying to capture pictures of them jumping or running around, you could try even higher shutter speeds. I find using "Shutter Priority" setting on your camera handy - it is sort of a semi-automatic setting where you set the shutter speed and your camera does the rest. Enables you to focus on taking pictures rather than fiddling with all the settings.

OK, so that was my top ten tips, although I think I may have crammed in a lot more individual tips under each sub section. So maybe it is more like twenty top tips.

What did you think of these tips - do you think they might help you? And what is you top tip for taking pictures of your kids?

10 tips on how to take great photos of your kids. This photography tutorial post is great for any parent that wants to take better pictures of their child, no matter what camera they use and is suitable for amateurs.

23 October 2014

Baby OOTD #9 - At the farm

We went to our local farm last Sunday to celebrate all things apple. And we checked out the animals too, and of course, took outfit pictures for this week's baby outfit post! 

baby toddler grey dungarees Next

baby toddler grey dungarees Next
This gorgeous dungaree outfit is from Next.  We got it as a gift from my husband's family quite recently. I've never been a big fan of dungarees on girls, I think they are quite boyish, but these ones are just so cute. I love the knee-length and the flare. And obviously the bunny face at the front. She actually has several different items with bunny faces appliqued on them... I think I might be a bit obsessed. I just love cute little animal motifs on baby clothes!

bunny dungarees Next

Bunny face - and it's ears are part of the straps! Can it get much cuter than that (the answer is: not much). 

What do you think of this outfit?

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21 October 2014

Our Sunday at the farm

There is a manor house near to us, and they quite often have different events going on. Last Sunday they were celebrating the National Apple Day at their farm and we went to have a look at all the things on offer. 

We checked out the stalls, and the sheep, and a sheep shearing demonstration. We had a hot dog and a crab apple cider - made from apples from urban and suburban apples, that otherwise would go to waste. What a great idea!

We entered into an apple peeling competition - for an annual family pass to the farm. I chose the biggest, waxiest looking apple I could find, and carefully peeled it, trying to make the peel as thin as possible, but not too thin so it would break. I did pretty well, and when it was measured, it was well over a foot. In fact, it was 42cm, and an inch short of the longest peel, and I was the first runner-up. So I made my husband enter too - he managed about an inch before his peel broke. Sadly, no annual pass for us. But we did get to eat the apples, and they were rather tasty.

We enjoyed the local ukulele band - jolly music, and lots of the good time oldies, fitting for a little farm event. Had a little dance too and checked out the strength test.

We went to see the animals - the big black pigs, the calves, the goats and the chicken. We even saw a rooster and some geese. 

And most of all - we had fun!

How was you weekend?


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17 October 2014

My hospital bag in hindsight: What was useful / useless?

When I packed my hospital bag (this was nearly a year and a half ago) I had no idea what to pack. I relied on those checklists you can find when you type "Hospital bag" on Google. In principle the checklists are great, and they certainly helped me, but when it came to the actual hospital stay I ended up a bit annoyed with some of the items I was lugging around, and desperate to get some other items. So here is my post about what I packed and what I (in hindsight) should have packed.

Partly the reason why I was logging around quite a few unnecessary items was because I had this image of a serene NCT-inspired natural labour, ending with a blissfully relaxed baby and me relaxing while baby was sleeping... Well, it didn't quite go like that, like it doesn't for most people I guess. But anyway, here is a list of what I had in my hospital bag.

What I packed:
Antenatal notes 
Magazines and a book
Small towel for a shower and face washes
Breastfeeding bra and nipple cream
Wet wipes
Shower gel, moisturiser, facial stuff, toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant and other personal hygiene products
Warm socks
Some loose trousers, tank tops and a dressing gown
An old T-shirt to give birth in
Disposable undies and old undies I was happy to chuck away
Sanitary napkins
Snacks for myself and my husband
Biscuits to midwives 
And obviously nappies, wet wipes and clothes, hats and mittens for the little one

And in hindsight what I should have left behind:
Magazines and a book - as if you have time or energy to read anything...
Small towel for a shower and face washes - useless, you get one from the hospital
Make-up - seriously, what was I thinking?
Warm socks - it is steaming hot in hospitals
An old T-shirt to give birth in - a hospital gown is much more useful and quite comfortable, and when in labour you won't care the hospital gown looks ugly
Disposable undies - disposable undies were horrible, too tight on the thighs, too loose on the bum, difficult to put on and uncomfortable. I'd recommend just packing your old undies that you are happy to chuck away!

The most important things I found invaluable were plastic flip-flops I could use in the shower, and a sleeping mask, to use during labour in those brightly lit delivery rooms. I particularly enjoyed a facial mist (mine was Vichy Thermal Spa Water)- it felt lovely and refreshing to use it when I was tired and feeling sweaty. Hairbands were great too to keep my hair out of my face. 

I should have left all those magazines and books home - no chance of reading them and made my bag heavy. And make-up - what was I thinking? Seriously - I must have been delusional, thinking I would read my magazine, and put my lippy and mascara on before the guests... I guess you won't really understand how tired you are after giving birth until you've actually done it yourself. Just brushing my teeth was an accomplishment enough!

And one tip I wish someone would have given me - pack your hospital bag in a cabin luggage. Because wheeling it around instead of dragging a heavy bag around the hospital is so much nicer.

If I were to pack one now, I would include:

  • Using a cabin luggage to pack everything in
  • My phone and charger
  • Camera
  • Several old dark panties to wear after giving birth
  • Nursing bras
  • Comfortable shirts to wear afterwards
  • Comfortable dark sweatpants to wear after giving birth
  • Slip-on fabric slippers
  • Plastic flip-flops for shower
  • Maternity pads (not normal pads due to potential stitches)
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Basic hygiene products (deodorant, soap, face cream)
  • Hairbrush
  • Warm socks if it is cold, otherwise probably not needed
  • Nappies and clothes for the baby
A checklist for the things you will actually use in the hospital after giving birth - from a mum who packed a ridiculously long list of useless products.

In hindsight, what would you have packed in your hospital bag? And what would you have left home?

16 October 2014

Baby OOTD #8 - Do you go practical or stylish for kids outdoor clothes?

This is what our lil one wore to the park this weekend. I am notoriously bad at dressing our lil one sensibly - it had been raining, was a bit muddy, and white tights... While cute, highly inpractical as I realised once she had gone down the slides a few times, fell over twice and sat on a puddle of rusty water on a climbing frame. 

In Scandinavia you usually dress your kid incredibly practically. Kids go out everyday, rain or shine, and as much of the year it is either raining, snowing or just plain freezing, you kit your kids out in these expensive and highly practical gore-tex wintersuits. For spring and autumn time you have these plastic overalls, they look like something fishermen might wear. Highly practical, but not the greatest lookwise. 

It is not the same in the rest of Europe though. I've heard from others that for example in France on the other hand kids wear really stylish and pretty clothes everywhere, even to the park, and are kitted out to the max, but parents make sure they won't get their clothes dirty or ripped or anything. So great looks, but not really practical and not really fun either.

In UK I find it is usually a sort of happy medium. People dress their kids, maybe not in the most practical fashion, but certainly not in their best Sunday clothes either, and let their kids play as they want, letting them be noisy, messy and mucky kids. If you are a practical parent, you'll dress them up in something dark. Maybe I should do that the next time...

So, do you guys dress your kids practically or not?

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