madeit in Australia

madeit.com.au is an e-commerce site dedicated to showcase handmade items created by crafty people who physically reside in Australia. It doesn’t matter whether sellers do create for a living or as a hobby, as long as it’s their creation, it can be listed in their store on the madeit website.

As the world is big and I’m not quite ready to expose myself to it, I liked this idea and so az pictured set up a store about a year ago.

I was still doing some markets in 2015 and spending a lot of energy to get my stall stocked and a lot of time being present on said markets. Unfortunately, I think, apart from a few very successful upmarket designer-type markets, the down the road once-a-month small to middle-size market is pretty much dead, a lament repeated by countless other market stall holders I became friends with. Market insurance and market stall fees keep going up, customers continue to be happy spending money on food and anything to do with the kids, but by large, they hold their purses tight. And if they shop they expect to be able to use their credit card, pay wave, chip and what not … all of which is not that easy and uncomplicated and seldom free and mostly not feasible for small businesses.

Anyway. Since I was still focusing on markets I didn’t put too much effort into my store on madeit and – no surprise – had a bit of a slow start.

Towards the end of last year I stepped it up, and madeit itself has undergone some changes and began the new year with some well thought-through and exciting changes, with a new look newsletter, improved blog and quality presence on social media platforms. All makes sense and looks awesome and it’s so exciting to be a part of it.

And to top the excitement, January has brought me a couple of features in the shopping guides and a stint as a guest pick-editor plus a few sales … insert happy little dance emoticon.

Following madeit more closely has also exposed me to the craft and creativity of other sellers and their fabulous products. A few birthdays are already sorted :)

If you like to support handmade in Australia, check out madeit.com.au  :)

madeit

 

 


Love Pulses

Since 1960, the United Nations promote international awareness and action on certain issues by creating special observances designated to days, weeks, years or decades. Scrolling down the list, one can find such wide ranging topics as Human Rights, Co-Operation, Anti-Apartheid, Volunteers, Thanksgiving, Microcredit, Physics, Freshwater, Rapprochement of Cultures, Natural Fibers, Family Farming, Crystallography, the Potato and many more.

While 2015 brought us the Year of Light and Light-based Technologies as well as the Year of Soils, 2016 is the Year of the Pulses. I confess, I didn’t see it coming. I should have remembered an interview I saw years ago, where Matt Preston, the well-known, mostly colourfully suited and tied food critic and judge on Masterchef, was raving about ancient grains and announced Quinoa as the true trend for the upcoming (then 2012) year, and sure enough, we got the International Year of Quinoa in 2013.

Maybe I should have paid attention to the recipes in magazines over winter, and the ‘super home-cooking ideas’ from a certain supermarket, because, looking back, there were a lot of peas and lentils and the like. Hm. Well, we know now why.

Funny enough when I googled ideas for images for the Year of the Pulses towards the end of last year, I found quite the confusion, as many times it was the Year of the Pulse, or the Year of Pulses, a funny little translation mishap possibly, which in most cases seems to have been rectified by now.

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In any case, 2016 and Pulses it is.

Stock up on your pulses, ‘get creative’ with green and yellow peas, lentils, chickpeas and eat ‘delicious, nutritious and sustainable’, as the slogan of the Global Pulse Confederation tells us. Yes, there is such a thing.

Well, I’ve started off with a little bit of creativity, we’ll see how it translates into the kitchen.

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Clean Sheet

It’s a new year. Yay. It was a lovely festive season in our house, and once the rush and bustle of the festive season was over we had a lovely evening at a friend’s place, where the new year began with laughter and chatter and sparklers and bubbly.

Now the new year is a week old. Facebook and especially Instagram feeds are still flooded with New Year resolutions of all kind, and frankly, I’m getting a bit fed up with them all.

I remember that even as a child it made not much sense to me when the adults talked at length about what they were wanting to change the following year. I’m probably to pragmatic about that. If you want to change it, just do it. Which proves why this slogan of a very famous sports brand is not only very clever but also very to the point. No more excuses. No more blabla. Just do it.

Anyways. As different religions and regional cultures celebrate new year at different times of the year, each with their own outbursts of great plans and resolutions, we are but a small drop in the ocean and are mostly taken ourselves way to serious yet again.

If anything I quite like to be reminded that January is named after Janus, the Roman god of gates, doors and beginnings, who, with his two faces was said to look both forward as well as backwards. For me, New Years is more for reflection and looking backwards than looking forward with great plans.

Forward is a clean sheet. Clean like the new calendars, which are still empty and stress free and not filled to the brim with things to do, to remember, to organise, to buy.

Here’s to a new year, with all that it may bring our way :)

Hello2016

 

 


Hedgehog of a Different Kind

We had the first fresh mangoes on the weekend. So I guess we’ve declared it to be SUMMER.

The mango is widely considered to be THE summer fruit in Australia. 23 Million Australians enjoy about 8 million trays of mango every year.
Last year was even a record year of 9.5 million trays but we’re already told that the national crop will be down due to troubles with flowering and a late season.

The juicy stone fruit originates in Malaya and eastern Asia, where Buddhist monks took mango plants on voyages as early as the 4th and 5th centuries BC. By the 10th century AD Persian traders had taken the fruit to the Middle East and East Africa, and on Portugese ships it made its way to India, South America, the Philippines and West Africa. The mango arrived in Australia in the 1800s and has been cultivated commercially throughout tropical and subtropical areas around the world ever since.

In fact, the mango is the national fruit of India, Pakistan and the Philippines, and the national tree of Bangladesh, where it even gets a mention in the national anthem “The fragrance from your mango groves/Makes me wild with joy,/Ah, what a thrill.”
I read that the EU contemplated a ban on the import of Indian mangoes last year, due to them not meeting their health and hygiene regulations. Seeing that India only accounts for less than 1% of the international trade even though they are worldwide the largest producer, I suspect they might not be too worried.
Apparently all things mango are the third national obsession in India, alongside cricket and Bollywood.

In Australia mangoes are grown in the tropical and sub-tropical regions of the Northern Territory, Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia.
The mango harvest is made up of several varieties “Kensington Pride” is the most common (65%), followed by Calypso™ (20%), “R2E2” (6%), Honey Gold™ (4%) and Keitt (3%). 92% of the Australian crop are consumed in Australia, 95% as fresh fruit and the rest in the food processing sector. Only 8% are exported.

Traditionally, the first tray of mangoes is sold at the annual Brisbane Mango Auction at the Brisbane Markets in late September/early October, and all proceeds go to charity. This year’s winning bid of $30.000 was split between Diabetes Australia and Life Education Queensland.

Ah mangoes. They are best eaten fresh, and straight from the fridge. Nothing more refreshing on a hot summers day than a mango hedgehog. However, as they don’t last long (because they don’t last long, and because they DON’T last long) I have always a pack of frozen fruit in the freezer, for smoothies. Yum Yum Yum

References 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Mango


Change the Face of Men’s Health

There is the Chevron a la Magnum, the Dali (don’t confuse it with the handle bar), the Walrus a la the guy from Myth Busters, the Painter’s Brush which is the thing Brad Pitt sprouted for a while and several others, in fact too many to remember.

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You might gather from my tone I’m not a fan of facial hair and I have put a total ban on it in our house. The husband had one before my time and tried to re-create it some years later when I was already around. He tried it briefly. Very briefly.

But as the goal of Movember is to ‘change the face of men’s health’ and raise awareness for prostate and testicular cancer, poor mental health and physical inactivity (which are but some of the health issues faced by men), and with a husband and two sons, I feel it is triple important to spread the word.

What still gets me the most, and I think is the most unspoken fact, is that Suicide is still the most leading cause of deaths for Australians aged between 15 and 44, with three in five being male.

So who cares that the dog is a girl and I fail as a photographer because she hates the camera no matter how much I’ve tried to train her to be the perfect dog-model, and there’s no mo’s in our house.

There are plenty of ways to participate, check out the website, there is also an option to donate $50 or more using Visa Checkout and they’ll boost your donation by $25, for free, which is pretty cool.

Fact is, men are dying too young, spread the word, people.

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Time Flies

So they say and it is true.

I am finding myself at the computer so many hours of every day yet I don’t seem to find the time to write much for my blog.

I’ll have to do better again.

On the up-side, being so very busy, and even busier in the weeks leading up to Christmas, is a good thing. It means my little one-woman business is establishing itself a little bit better all the time. Happy days.

Spending so much time at the computer editing and creating, I continue to find great joy in the ease of Instagram, which -for me- has nothing whatsoever to do with the computer, as I don’t use big camera photos on there, but only smart phone images, which I can edit sitting on the couch with my feet up.

I found myself a little group of pages that I follow and where I participate in their daily or weekly themes when I find the time. The good thing about Instagram is that the world won’t end if you didn’t manage to catch up for a couple of days, like it does on Facebook, where you’re seeing your statistics plummet into oblivion if you neglected your pages just for half a day. I have largely given up paying too much attention to the Insights, because it’s quite depressing sometimes to be honest, but Facebook tends to send those kind reminders ….

Anyhow, as Instagram makes my heart light and still feeds my creative eye and mind, I felt it was time to send some thanks to those that engage with me there, with a snippet of some of my posts that were featured on other sites, yay :)

InstagramThankYou


Part of Our World

This post is totally unrelated to photography, but totally related to az pictured’s daily fairings during school holidays, which just finished for us.
You see, my young one is a great singer. Choir boy, soloist, rock-star in the shower. And he has this tendency to burst into song ….. constantly and always and everywhere. Sometimes with no break for hours. Of course, he doesn’t even realize, that he’s singing. I am used to be working largely in silence and solitude. So when he’s home, shut doors are just not enough in this blue board house of ours.
Naturally, I love him to bits, he’s my baby boy, my fairy child.
But at the end of those school holiday song days that feel like they are 20 hours long, my mind is going in circles with bits and pieces of a gazillion songs, all started or partially sung, and none finished.
Just for fun, I spent two days writing down his musical bursts. Read them and feel free to test your musical knowledge, figuring out song titles/band names/stage pieces/advertising slogans/snippets from movies ………
And then imagine hearing this list back and forth, with a plentyful of ooohoooo’s and aaah aaah, lalala’s inbetween.
You are welcome :)

You gotta put your hands in the air, yes your hands in the air, doo doo doo doo, doo doo doo doo
Somewhere beyond the sea, somewhere waiting for me, I’ll go sailing.
The pines were roaring on the height, the winds were moaning in the night,
We must away, ere break of day …
YOU SHALL NOT PASS!
The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain.
I think she’s got it, I think she’s got it
Hm hm the fresh food people, bringing fresh food to you
I need a dollar, dollar, a dollar is what I need, yeah yeah
And she will be loved, she will be loved.
Papa, paparazzi
Take on me, take me on, I’ll be gone in a day or twooooooooo
Doesn’t that sound familiar, doesn’t that feel close to home, doesn’t that make you shiver.
Settle in to play ‘do you remember so and so’,
Number three is never say her name
Hold on, if you feel like letting go. Hold on, it gets better than you know.
I’m gonna take you for a ride on a big yet plane, hey hey
Tonight we are young, let us set the world on fire, we can go higher aaaaahhh
Degrumph went the little green frog one day, and the frog went grumph grumph grumph,
But we all know frogs go ladidadida, ladidadida, ladidadida
You’re unpredictable
Hey Mr Tallyman, tally the banana, daylight cometh we wanna go home
I don’t care, I love it. I don’t care, I love it, I love it
We will, we will rock you, sing it, we will, we will rock you
I love rock and roll, put another dime in the juke box baby, I love rock and roll,
take your time and dance with me
My life is brilliant, my love is pure, I saw an angel, of that I’m sure,
Forever young, I wanna be forever young
I won’t hesitate no more, no more, it’s not ok, I’m yours
High and mighty alone we are kings, whirlwinds of fire we ride
Providence brought us the crown and the ring, covered with blood and our pride
I am a gummybear, a yummy gummybear. I am a yummy, yummy, yummy, yummy gummybear, oh yea
Who will buy my sweet red roses, two blooms for a penny,
Any milk today, mistress, any milk today mistress, two blooms for a penny
Who will buy this wonderful morning? Such a sky you never did see!
Who will tie it up with a ribbon and put it in a box for me?
I’m nothing special, in fact I’m a bit of a bore
If I tell a joke, you’ve probably heard it before
But I have a talent, a wonderful thing, ’cause everyone listens when I start to sing
I’m so grateful and proud, all I want is to sing it out loud
Red: the blood of angry men!
Black: the dark of ages past!
Red: a world about to dawn!
Black: the night that ends at last!
And this is what she had to say, a pearl necklace, she wants a pearl necklace,
she wants a pearl necklace
Do you hear the people sing? Singing a song of angry men?
It is the music of a people who will not be slaves again!
When the beating of your heart echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start when tomorrow comes!
Be a man, you must be swift as a coursing river, be a man, with all the force of a great typhoon, be a man, with all the strength of a raging fire, mysterious as the dark side of the moon, of the moon
Prince Ali – fabulous he – Ali Ababwa, genuflect, show some respect:
Down on one knee.
We go together like rama lamma lamma ka dinga da dinga dong
Remembered forever as shoobop sha wadda wadda yippity boom de boom
Chang chang changitty chang shoobop, that’s the way it should be, wha ooohhhh, yeah
And it’s not easy to be me. Up, up and away, away from here, well it’s allright
You can all sleep sound tonight, I’m not crazy, or anything
Honestly, I wanna see you be brave
With what you wanna say
Down, down, the prices are down. Down, down
You got the moves like Jagger, I got the moves like Jagger, I got the mooooooooves like Jagger.
Collecting your jar of hearts, tearing love apart
You’re gonna catch a cold
And she will be loved, and she will be loved
What do you want from me? What do you want from me?
Can’t read my, can’t read my, no-one can read my pokerface
Come on Barbie, let’s go party
In the circle,
I can go the distance,
Strangers like me,
Part of your world

PS For the record: the music taste in our house is eclectic at best. Nothing is off limits. It’s part of our world.

PPS When I say the ‘young one’, he’s not too far off being a teenager, and there is an every so slight change in his lower register already

PPPS If you’re puzzled by some of the song combinations you might want to check out this link and this one, they might explain a lot


Pink Me

Early paper and ink quality wasn’t all that great and, unfortunately, when you’re looking at your old colour photographs from long(er) ago you’ll notice they’ve mostly turned a weird mush of yellows or pinks. They are likely otherwise undamaged, but the discolouration is usually not very pretty.

Like in this photo from my collection from the early 80s.

As I’m in the process of resorting and reprinting and digitizing all of our private photo albums, every now and then I’m tackling a few photos in Photoshop and fix them up.

Now, it sounds a bit easier than it is. With this particular photo I have the great advantage that I have a memory of this day. I remember it was taken just after the summer holidays, when a small pop up studio set up in the local mall. My mother used to take me there almost every year to get my portrait done and have the prints go to the grandparents as Christmas presents. It was a good idea to do it well before the festive craze (I know now where I’ve got that from) plus having portrait photos taken just after summer, before the long winter pale sets in.

So, I remember my then favourite top as being very pink, I also remember that I would have been quite tanned from many weeks at the Italian Riviera, with my hair going very light.

All this helped a lot when I set out fixing the colours in this image. There was no other damage, no cracks or weirdness, so it was really just about getting the colours right.

Obviously, this process is much harder when I don’t have a memory about the occasion. When restorating the colours in clients’ images it requires sometimes a bit of emailing back and forth, to get the exact tinge of a dress, of a flower bouquet, of the hair.

But for now, this ‘pink me’ is all good again.

PinkMe


‘I could never resist the call of the trail’

LightTrails1

So Buffalo Bill said. I can’t resist it either. Well, not quite the same trail, but a trail it is nonetheless.

For me, it’s the light trail. Chasing it with my camera has been something I wanted to do for ages. Since I finally have acquired a remote shutter release, this last Winter nothing stood in my way.

So I thought I’d share my first attempts and all the wisdom I have found whilst following ‘the call’ :)

Firstly, finding the right spot is not quite as easy as I thought it would be. Zebra Crossings are lit at night, so the reflections of the passing cars can be seen in the photos. More ghost trails than light trails maybe.

LightTrails3
The better spots are where you have a fixed subject, building, bench or the like, and the traffic goes past parallel, between you and said subject. You don’t have to worry about headlights.
If I say ‘worry’ I mean that headlights are just too bright and if you’re too close they brighten just about anything and everything and ruin the trail. Aim to get more breaklights than headlights.
If you thought your spot is awesome and only cars drove past: it may be a totally different story if you have only 4x4s drive past, as their breaklights are so much higher, it makes the whole photo look different.
That being said: Try to utilize the lights of a bus. I was lucky, getting a bit of an ambulance in one shot, too.

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Avoid roundabouts. They’re like the Wild West, too many comings, too many goings, really hard to anticipate anything.

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Unless you have the eyes of an owl at night, I highly recommend a miner’s light of some sort. I got myself a $5 one from the Dollarshop. If you don’t want to wear it on your head, you can wear it on your wrist. Much better than having to take out the phone and shine it’s light around.
Needless to say to wear appropriate clothing. An hour goes by in no time, and many nights I was glad for my gloves and thermal underwear, thank you very much.
Good shoes protect your feet and ankles, as you might stumble around in areas that are a bit difficult to access, especially in the dark.
Make sure you’re safe, especially as a woman. I always tell my husband where I’m going, and I am most aware of my surroundings and very, very distrusting. Late passers by trying to start a conversation with me ‘what you’re doing’ sort of way could attest to that. But hey, the trail has to be safe, sorry guys.
With daylight savings coming soon, light trail time is over for this year, but I’m sure I’ll be hearing the call again next Winter.

LightTrails4


The Most Important Rule for Food Photography

During our Open Day visit at The Little Black Cow Farmstay a few months ago, we got to see, amongst many other wonderful things, an old butter churner. It was a funny coincidence, as I had already planned of making our own butter at home.
Every school holidays there are a few new recipes being tried out. Some stick with us forever and become family favourites, some remain a one off.
Ages ago I watched Matt Preston doing one of his cheat recipes on MasterChef and printed myself that recipe from their website: No Prove Bread with Butter and Raspberry Jam.
Well, jam is not exactly difficult and I make it regularly, I was more after the bread and the butter.
Bread making is lovely and a journey. For years and years I used to make our own baguette and it was just to die for. But bread making takes time and one cannot rush the proofing, and the kneading is a labour of love. I cannot do it when pressed for time or feeling hectic …. therefore it hasn’t happened in a long time.
This No Prove Bread was too easy, and absolutely wonderful. Not really a dense type of bread, more a Ciabatta, but oh so yum.
And we made our own butter. I don’t have one of those fancy kitchen machines, I still have a handheld mixer which has done me great service and I would never want to exchange it for anything else. Let’s just say it has personality.
Gotta love it when recipes are vague. Looking easy peasy in the video, the words only read ‘Mix until mixture splits’, and I think we almost got to the end of my poor handheld mixer. After looking at lovely thick, creamy, swirly waves of thickened cream and sourcream mixture for what seemed like ages, within half a second the whole gorgeousness turned into watery slush with bits in it, which was of course the butter.
We made garlic & herb butter out of it, that was to accompany our freshly made bread and the barbecued steaks that were sitting in their marinade.
It would have to be a strange person who can resist the smell of freshly baked bread, so we tested it with Nutella. Yum.
As it was evening and neither the right time nor the right light for an elaborate photo shoot, I had great plans of doing that the next day. Half a loaf of bread was meant to be left for that.
Unfortunately it grew legs. The teenager and the husband confessed. My apologies for their greed :)
And so I have discovered the most important rule for Food Photography: make sure there is enough food to take photos of

So all I can present you with are some measely shots from my phone. I was requested to make the bread again for a Sunday morning, so I have two more photos, minus the yummy butter.

Bread1

Bread3

Bread2


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