Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Must Haves for New Babies V2

So... since my first post The Must Haves for New Babies I have thought of a few more items that I would really love to share. I will get straight into it.

First off is the humble singlet suit. Some times they can be surprisingly hard to find in stores but they are well worth the search. They are perfect for almost all ages pre-toilet training. I put them on under Hannah's clothes and found it particularly useful as Hannah's Daddy was not great at holding her as well as keeping her top down. So during winter it was great knowing she wouldn't have a cold tummy.

Next, I was given a "Fuzzy Factory Mocha Puppy Mat" as a baby shower gift and I have also given one to a friend as a gift. It was brilliant! I loved it and Hannah loved it. It's degree of softness was ridiculous. I only wish they made them big enough for adults! They are also completely machine washable which makes life so much easier on everyone!
Next up is the old Jolly Jumper! What an amazing invention. I also wish they made these for adults. Hannah was only a few months old when I introduced her to it and she loved it. I used to clip it onto the door frame of our bathroom and had Hannah jump in it while I had a shower and it was the best. A few minutes peace to myself, she was happy and she was also in my vision the entire time. I haven't tried the other brands but I am sure they would be equally as great and I would also love to try the musical mat that sits under it one day as well.

We had an Fisher Price Ocean Wonders Aqua Swing for when Hannah was really little and found it to be wonderful. The seat can rotate to go side to side or back to front. It has a light show, music and sound effects and the mobile rotates. It kept Hannah quiet during those new born weeks long enough for her Daddy and I to eat our dinner. And when I just couldn't get her to sleep, this did the trick!
Finally, A friend of mine gave us a Fisher Price Rain-forest Bassinet. At the time we were renting a house where our bedroom was upstairs and the rest of the house including Hannah's room was down stairs. So having her sleep in our room was definitely a safety consideration as she would wake up several times a night. I loved this bassinet! At a touch of a button you could turn on the mobile or have a dim light shine across the baby so you can check on them in the dark. It was at the perfect height and had some storage underneath. It always felt safe and sturdy. I spent a long time after Hannah was upgraded to a cot, trying to find another mobile that was as great and user friendly as the one attached to this bassinet.

Any way there you have it. My now complete list of items that I loved so far through my parenting journey. Having my time over I would definitely get them again and no doubt if we are blessed with any more children they will get much more use. I asked this in the last post, but were there any products or purchases that you recommend to other new parents? Anything you loved and wouldn't do without? Did you think of any others since reading the first post?

I hope you enjoyed reading :-)


Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Must Haves for New Babies

Just two weeks out from our fourth (and hopefully final) move in just under two years, naturally by this point you actually willingly downsize and throw as many non essential items as possible. It lead me to thinking this morning about some of our can't live without, would definitely buy again baby purchases.  I know when I was still a Mummy to be I used to LOVE to hear what other Mums had tried and tested to help make my life that little bit easier. Every Mum and Dad is different and your lifestyle may lead you to need different things but I thought I would share some of mine.

Firstly, this is probably one of my most valued possessions and during all our moves it was the only thing that I would have killed someone over if it had been damaged. Maybe... mostly because of it's price tag.
The Growtime Kimberly Change Chest! It was priced at around that $700 mark but wait till you hear its features! This chest of draws has a removable extension that convert it into a change table, which can simply be taken off when your children are out of nappies. It has plenty of room beside the change mat for all your nappy changing needs. The draws obviously are great storage and they also feature a ‘topple free’ safety system. The table is so solid which is one of the things I loved the most about it. An expensive outlay but it can be used for a life time!

Secondly Invest in a good pram. Hannah at over 1 1/2 is still using our pram, we didn't switch to a stroller and I must say I wish we had done some more research on the pram we were going to purchase. Having one that is easy enough to steer with one hand in all conditions is so valuable. If and when we are blessed with number 2, I will be getting an upgrade! 

Next is the high chair. We originally got a basic Hi-Low chair meaning the height can be adjusted and it was good but we have just recently, so recently in fact that we haven't even used it yet brought a portable booster seat. I wish we had got one of these to start with. Some problems we encountered with the Hi-Low chair is that it at times was difficult to clean, and when Hannah sat in the seat with the tray on there was no way she was going to be able to see over the tray as well as into her bowl. The portable booster seat is a much better fit and it also makes life easier when going on holidays for a week. You just take it along and the wiggling toddler is able to sit at the table with everyone else and is still long enough to sit through a meal... priceless!!!

In our car I have a Baby View Mirror and even when I am in the passenger side I miss it! I am constantly checking on Hannah when we are travelling even just around town. I check if she's falling asleep, chocking on her water, getting into the bags of shopping on the back seat, the list goes on. It was less useful when she was still rear facing but once she was turned around I have found it to be fantastic. Nothing beats safety when you are driving, by not having to turn around to check all the time.

For fear of this post getting a little long winded, I will add just one more. Maybe there is potential for a part 2 here somewhere. Finally another product I just loved is the Pigeon Training Toothbrush set of 3. I introduced Hannah to the stage one brush very early on. It was fantastic for teething. It comes with a little safety ring to prevent your little one choking. The stage 3 brush is pretty much a small toothbrush to prepare for dental hygiene. You can never start forming healthy habits too early!

Well there you have it, my top 5 must haves. I might just have to do a part 2 at some point because I am not even finished writing this one and I have already thought of at least 3 more items I would love to share.

What were your must have products when starting out with a new baby that you could not live without?

Monday, September 2, 2013

Cyber Safety

First and foremost: To all the bloggers and social media user readers out there... which I think it is safe to say nearly all of you, PLEASE, PLEASE take the time to watch the following YouTube clip and take the lollypop experience!

In an attempt to get this experience to reach as many people as possible I am sharing it again here.

It really touched home for me as recently I was approached by a stranger through a comment on one of my blog posts, who asked me if the baby in the photos was mine? And then he proceeded to ask me if he could have her photos? With no intention of allowing this, I asked him what he wanted to do with them. He replied, he wanted to put them on his website. I searched for him and only found a Google+ account which had nothing baby/children related on it. I blocked him and it left me with some big decisions to make about my personal blog and the photos I would put on there in future.
So I can definitely relate to the comment “There is no use in taking the ‘it wont happen to me’ attitude, as no one realizes when they are being preyed on.” from ICT’s & Pedagogy.
If this can reach even just one person who changes their settings or re-thinks putting up a particular photo or identifying too much about where they live and prevents this one person from becoming a victim, then this will be worth it.
Also worth mentioning here is Exif. “Have you heard about Exif – Exchangeable image file format? It’s a specification for how ICTs (e.g. digital cameras/phones etc) that handle image and sound files store information about an image. It’s so that all of the software and hardware involved can understand how to read an image or sound they are given.
Did you know that Exif can include location information. In fact, it can include the longitude and latitude at which the image was taken and store that information with the photo. Most modern mobile devices (e.g. smart phones and tablets) include a GPS and will add this information to every photo taken with the device.” as mentioned by David Jones in our learning journey this week at uni.
You can use this website http://regex.info/exif.cgi to check your images.
It may be a good idea to be smart about when you turn location services on for photos and when and how to turn it off. This website http://www.imore.com/daily-tip-turn-gps-geolocation-iphone-photos-protect-privacy provides some great tips on how to turn GPS or geolocations off.
We all have some power over how much information we share when we are using the internet and creating a digital footprint. We need to learn how to gain this power and how to use it effectively!
Finally here is a link to a UK website called Thinkuknow which I found very useful. The site covers a range of topics about how to teach students/our children of all ages how to use the internet/phones safely, and shows videos, that can help kids relate to the situations they may face.
Furthermore I have also been introduced to another useful website as a teacher, I think it will be worth it’s weight in gold called Know Your Meme I believe this one would be useful as a parent as well.
I really hope this information can help others but particularly parents out there to protect themselves and their families.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Fridge Door- Jam Drops

Jam Drops...
Beware... May cause personal injury!
I don't know why, but for some reason yesterday I felt inspired to cook some jam drops for the first time. After a short amount of research I found a recipe I wanted to tackle and set about preparing them. With the mixture done, I rolled what I thought was the suitable amount of biscuit batter for a normal sized jam drop, added the jam and placed them in the oven. 15 minutes later when I pulled them out I was shocked to see the results. They didn't resemble a jam drop at all and were pretty much one giant weird looking biscuit with lots of little shallow jam smears.

Oh dear, so I had a second attempt! This time I made them so small that (if I didn't know better by this point) I would have thought they would end up being an appropriate sized biscuit for a small doll and tried my luck at this baking gamble. After a short time, I crossed my fingers and opened the door to see two trays of perfect (compared to the last batch) little jam drops.

I took one tray out for a further inspection. The jam still bubbling, I found them to be satisfactory so I continued to pull the second try out when one slippery little bugger slid off the tray and in slow motion headed for my foot, of course landing jam side down on my toe! The biscuit continued to roll off onto the floor and jam still glued to my toes, the time continuing to go in slow motion. I shuffled to find a place to put the tray safely down and hesitated to put my foot in the kitchen sink but decided it was the fastest way to get my foot to some cold running water and to wash the still scalding jam away.
After a few moments of running water I applied some Burn Aid, which if you don't already have some in your first aid kit, it is highly recommended! And the next day was left with a nice batch of jam drops to present to the girls at "Messy Day" play group and a blister on my toe.

125g butter, softened
100g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 egg
190g (1 1/4 cups) self-raising flour
Plain flour, to dust
115g (1/3 cup) strawberry or raspberry jam

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line 2 baking trays with non-stick baking paper. Use an electric beater to beat the butter, sugar and vanilla essence in a medium bowl until pale and creamy. Add the egg and beat until combined. Sift flour over the butter mixture and stir until combined.
  2. Use lightly floured hands to roll teaspoonfuls of mixture into balls. Place on the prepared trays, about 5cm apart. Use a lightly floured finger to make an indentation in the centre of each ball. Spoon 1/2 tsp of jam into the centre of each biscuit.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, swapping trays halfway through cooking, or until the biscuits are cooked through and light golden. Remove biscuits from the oven. Set aside on trays for 30 minutes to cool completely.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Veronica Mars Fan... Pffft... That's an understatement!!!

Veronica Mars aired way back in September 2004, when after only a few episodes they got me hook, line and sinker! (Very recommended addictive series if you haven't seen it yet) Much to my disappointment the network started to air the episodes later and later every week making it almost impossible to sit up and watch. This lead me to buy the DVD sets which I must say I have gotten my moneys worth as I have watched them so many times!

After the third season the show was prematurely dropped and do you think they wrapped everything up in a nice little bow for the loyal viewers? Nope not a chance. No answers, no conclusion and no closure! Leading us to take to the Internet for any information about anything to get our fix. All I could find was a disappointing script of a proposal for season 4 which I'm not even sure if it was official or just a fan made product. Then nothing... and just as I thought I was starting to get over it and move on...

The whole world moved when a friend of mine posted a status update on Facebook saying how excited she was to hear they are releasing a Veronica Mars Movie.... Can it be?!?! After a short amount of research I found, yes it can be and many of the old cast is set to return!

The creator Rob Thomas took to the fans for funding to create the movie and raised $5.7 Million in just 30 days, demonstrating the level of dedication from the viewers. The movie is said to be released in early 2014.

Today I came across this YouTube clip which wraps up all of my feelings.

Early 2014 can not come soon enough! Might have to look into getting some gold class movie tickets for this one ;-)

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Re-acquainting With Your Camera- TV & AV

Today we continue to learn all the functions of our camera. We have already looked at the pre-set modes in Getting Re-acquainted With Your Camera and the Program AE mode in Getting Re-aquainted With Your Camera- Program AE. So to follow on from these in this post we are focusing on the TV and AV modes on the camera.

TV Action shots, TV= Time value. You can either freeze the action or create motion blur with the <TV> (Shutter-priority AE) mode on the Mode Dial.

Set the desired shutter speed by turning the dial to the right setting a faster shutter speed, and turning it to the left sets a slower one. To freeze the action or moving subject use  fast shutter speed such as 1/500 to 1/4000 sec. Or to blur an active child giving the impression of fast movement use a medium shutter speed such as 1/60 to 1/250 sec and follow the moving subject through the view finder. If you use the telephoto lens, hold it steady to prevent camera shake. To blur running water use a slow shutter speed such as 1/5 to 1/15 and using a tripod will prevent camera shake.

(Unfortunately my tripod is still in storage,
so there is a little camera shake but I just had to make do.)

*If you exceed the adjustable aperture range, the aperture display will blink to indicate that the standard exposure cannot be obtained. If the exposure will be too dark, the lowest aperture value will blink. Turn the dial to the left to set a slower shutter speed or increase the ISO speed and vise verse.

(My Dad will be impressed that his "prized" mandarin tree made the blog.)

AV Aperture-priority AE: Changing the depth of field, AV = Aperture Value which is the size of the diaphragm hole inside the lens. To obtain a blurry background or to make everything near and far look sharp, set the mode dial to <AV>.

The higher the aperture value, the sharper the picture will look with a wider depth of field. Use the dial to adjust the value. The larger the f/number, the smaller the opening will be. A higher aperture value will make the shutter speed slower. Under low light, the shutter speed can be as long as 30 sec. In such cases, increase the ISO speed and hold the camera steady or use a tripod.

The depth of field depends not only on the aperture, but also the lens and subject distance. Since wide-angled lenses have a wide depth of field, you need not set a high aperture value to obtain a sharp picture from foreground to the background. On the other hand, a telephoto lens has a narrow depth of field and the closer the subject, the narrower the depth if field. A further subject will have a wider depth of field. If you exceed the adjustable shutter speed range, the shutter speed display will blink to indicate that the standard exposure cannot be obtained. If the picture will be too dark, the 30sec shutter speed display will blink. If this happens, turn the dial to the left to set a lower aperture value or increase the ISO speed and vise verse.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Childs Play

Hannah received this wonderful sand and water trough as a very generous Christmas gift last year and now that winter has rolled around (despite that here in Emerald we have been having 13-24 degree days) unfortunately it has been sitting dormant collecting dust on our back patio.
My time in daycare has trained me to be a little creative, think between the lines and also to appreciate nature and using it to aid children's learning. So after thinking about it for a few days today I finally got around to going down to the nursery and getting a few buckets of river pebbles/rocks. I want to point out how proud of myself I am for being so strong lifting those heavy buckets (which weren't actually buckets but those big flexi plastic tub things) out of the boot of my car and over to the trough all by myself... such a big girl I am!
This type of experience is so perfect for Hannah as anyone who actually knows her knows that she is borderline obsessed with rocks and will spend hours in any rock filled garden picking them up, exploring them and moving them around. This type of activity aids children's learning and development by expanding their skills in sorting, comparing, texture, nature and environment, counting, dramatic play, weighing and many other skills that they will need to develop during their early childhood years.
The rocks cost all of $10 in which we ended up with way too many for what we needed them for. It makes a refreshing change from the expensive plastic toys for the shops.
Is this a kind of activity you would organise for your kids at home?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Sneaky Meatless Monday- have I been caught out already?

It's that time of the week again and this morning I racked my brain to come up with a meatless recipe for tonight's dinner. My Dad (one of the gentlemen in the house) was returning from his weekend away, so I text him to see if he would be joining us for dinner tonight or if he would be having something on his way. "No, Thanks!" he replied. So I decided on Mushroom, Feta and Cherry Tomato Quiche.

Then out of the blue I get a second text from my Dad "Can you get a pork chop out of the freezer?". I thought to myself in the spirit of my challenge to have one meatless day a week, maybe I could convince him to have quiche with us instead of the pork chop which was reflected in my text message reply. "Pork chop, thanks!" Ha ha

Has someone let him in on my plan? Cause I know he wouldn't have read my blog and I now he wouldn't have figured it out just yet. So the rest of the house hold indulged in the yummy quiche, potato bake and salad, while dad had his pork chop.

Do we count this week as a fail?

If you missed week one you can find it here- Sneaky Meatless Monday

P.S- Quiche recieved Ben's stamp of approval.
P.P.S- Recipe will be released by popular demand only :-)

Friday, July 12, 2013

Why Wait for New Years 4.0

This is my final post in the Why Wait For New Years series as semester two of uni commences on Monday and my priorities whether I like it or not must shift.

I noticed that since moving to Emerald... scrap that... moving back to Kingaroy in November 2012, I stopped walking. I love walking! So last week while Ben had Hannah for the afternoon I decided to take my dog Roxy for a nice long walk. The weather was more than beautiful and within as little as three minutes I realised how much I had missed it! The gentle breeze on my skin, the smell of freshly cut grass, the colours that radiate from everything the way only the setting afternoon sun can reflect and most importantly the sound of some much loved tracks on my Ipod in my ear.

It was more enjoyable then I anticipated to slow down and re-discover the little town I had left behind so many years ago and to take in all the little details I had forgotten. It started to get later and I knew I needed to turn around and head home to begin my evening dinner and bath routines but I found myself wanting to keep going and re-discover more. I arrived home re-energized and re-freshed after taking some time out to clear my thoughts and indulge in some 'ME' time.

If that isn't motivation to continue my fitness plans after the month goal I had set myself, I don't know what is! Some times the best inspiration and treasures in life are not complicated or expencive, to simplify and appreciate what we already have and know is all we need.

What do you enjoy the most when you go walking?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Information and Communication Technologies

This past week I have taken a step back from my Mumma Next Door blog as the semester two of uni commences next week. I have been spending much of my time this week in preparation for my two subjects I am completing this semester, HPE Curriculum and Pedagogy and ICT and Pedagogy. I am anticipating enjoying these subjects as they are both interests of mine and I enjoyed studying them while I was at school. ICT and Pedagogy is a prac subject so this will be my second prac so far and this one is for three weeks! Hopefully we have a better experience then my last one with Hannah. It was not easy as a Mother to leave her for 10 days!

Preparing for HPE has been limited as the study desk for that subject hasn't released much information yet, so hitting the textbook was pretty much all I could do... but ICT has kept me on my toes. It was recommended that I start working through some of week ones tasks as there is a lot to get through. It is a requirement that we should have a Twitter account, Diigo (a social bookmarking site) and a blog.

As you all would already know I have just recently started exploring Twitter again, but for the purpose of this subject I have created an account designated to teaching and ICT. If you are a (Pre-service or) teacher, in education, work in the ICT or social media fields and are on Twitter, please let me know so I can follow you and include you in my personal learning network. Personal Learning Network or PLN is a new term for me which I am pretty pleased to be able to use in context ha ha. A PLN is described as "Perhaps the most important resource you can have as a teacher." A personal learning network is an informal learning network that consists of the people a learner interacts with and derives knowledge from in a personal learning environment. In a PLN, a person makes a connection with another person with the specific intent that some type of learning will occur because of that connection. Alternatively if you would like to follow my teaching specific Twitter account my user name is @teaganchilds.

*Please note that my teaching Twitter account (@teaganchilds) is not related to my blogging Twitter account (@MummaNextDoor).

As for the blog requirement for this subject it was recommended for me to use a wordpress hosted blog. I jumped at this opportunity as my Mumma Next Door blog is obviously a Blogger hosted blog, I thought it would be a great chance for me to try out the competition and compare the two. I must say it is very different and has taken me a long time to feel my way around the system and get things to do what I want them to do. (By this I mean I am still way over my head and trying to figure everything out!) But I am getting there slowly. If you would like to have a sticky beak at my other blog you can find it by following this link: Childs Teaching Journey. This blog is a Uni and teaching related blog only, so if you are not really interested in that kind of thing, it will probably bore you. :-)

I already feel like I'm spending all of my time in front of my computer but I'm hoping I will learn a lot more about Twitter, blogs and Diigo (Which I hadn't even heard of before) and many other technologies in the next few months. So wish me luck for the semester to come. I'm hoping to do a Blogger Vs Wordpress blog later on after I get the hang of it.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Contact Me

My name is Teagan. I am a happy mother of a beautiful one and a half year old little girl. I am currently studying my Bachelor of Education- Early Childhood, and am a former child care Group Leader in which I worked for over six years.

Parenting and studying aside; I am really interested in food, photography and continually changing my lifestyle for the better, so you will find these topics will be what a lot of my posts on this blog will be about.

I always welcome feedback and contributions. So if you would like to contact me please leave me a comment to let me know you are reading and what you think about what I'm saying.

Alternatively you can email me at teagan.childs@gmail.com

You can follow me on Twitter, my user name is MummaNextDoor.

I am on Pinterest, my user name is tegs6.

I can be found on Instagram, teagan.childs

And The Mumma Next Door can be followed on Bloglovin by following this link:

Sneaky Meatless Monday

Leading a healthier lifestyle is becoming increasingly more important to me, as Hannah gets older. It is vital for me as a mother to model and demonstrate good habits and provide traditions that she will hopefully carry on long after she has left the nest and even pass on to her babies.

I have been toying with the idea of introducing a "Meatless Monday" for a while but my lack of vegetarian recipes and the fact that I have two very carnivorous men in the house which I must cater for; who will very quickly protest if I feed them anything lacking in their daily dose of steak, lamb or pork has put me off. Despite this, I have set myself two challenges:

1- The obvious, lead a healthier lifestyle including a diet which contains at least one meatless day a week (Monday). I know that meatless doesn't always mean healthier, so I will endeavour to try to choose healthier recipes.

2- This is the part which is going to make it all that much more fun... I am going to try and do it with out the two gentlemen in the house noticing and see how long it takes. I'm pretty sure that neither of them actually go out of their way to read my blog so I think I'm safe putting it on here, as long as my lovely readers don't bring it to their attention.

Week one will include a pumpkin soup. This is an easy one as we have been talking about having a pumpkin soup for a while now but just haven't gotten round to it yet. So a great way to start and no likely danger of my deceptive  plan to become exposed... just yet... I hope!

Pumpkin Soup

Approx. 3/4 of a seeded and peeled pumpkin chopped into chunks
2-3 large peeled potatoes chopped
1lt milk
Onion, finely chopped
Tablespoon crushed garlic
Tablespoon olive oil
Chang's fried noodles to serve.

Fry your onion and garlic in the olive oil until softened.
Add the pumpkin and potato then pour over the milk.
Boil for 1hr until pumpkin and potato is softened.
Blend until silky smooth.
Add a pinch of Chang's fried noodles and salt and pepper to serve.

P.S- I am in desperate need of some good meatless recipes so please leave the link to some of your favourites in the comments... pretty please :-)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Tweet, Tweet

Back in 2009 I took the plunge and joined Twitter, to see what all the fuss was about. Personally I wasn't all that "fussed". My only lonely two little posts were 21 April 09- is sussing out this twitter thing and 31 May 09- had her house broken into on Friday night!!! Then I lost interest and haven't been back on there since.

I had a thought today and for some reason I was compelled to jump on and see if anyone had started following me and maybe use it to promote my blog and connect with other bloggers. As I attempted to log in my password was incorrect... that's weird! So I reset my password and logged on only to discover that someone has HACKED my account! I had all of 5 followers but they would have been a bit confused when apparently I had been tweeting about hating my bawled boss and hating my job and being a single mum who didn't want to go to work on Monday followed by links to some inspirational... (I didn't click on the link to find out) the hacker kept referring to "be inspired by" and "I wish I could be like her"

Anyway I now have two Twitter accounts. My existing one @tegs6 and my blog account @MummaNextDoor. Please follow me and I would love to follow you in return. Leave your user name in the comments section below.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Why Wait For New Years 3 . 0

Okay... so I still haven't picked my a$$ up off the couch and got onto my step again this week ugh!!! The thought of it all just seems like too much effort, specially when the only space in the house big enough to host a step work out has a TV but no DVD player. So in order to do my step work out, it requires me to not only work my a$$ off... literally; but also un-plug, relocate and fiddle around with wires just to get the DVD player into the room before I even start.

So... no step work out this week and then I didn't factor into my little fitness plan that there would be school holidays right in the middle of my month; which means that there are kids and families at the park ALL THE TIME! Work outs in the park was supposed to be the next part of my strategy. This just left yoga, which thankfully was a good week of yoga for me.

I moved onto weeks 5 and 6 of the Light On Yoga Challenge from Little Old Souls and oh my gosh... this particular pose... my tummy and leg muscles are still soooo sore!

Picture from: This Link
But I must say I feel good! I hope that you are feeling great after your workouts this week too.

Missed out on weeks one and two? You can catch up here and here.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Re-acquainting With Your Camera- Program AE

We continue to learn all the functions of our camera to follow on from the Getting Re-acquainted With Your Camera post.  In this post we are focusing on the Program AE Mode on the camera. There is a lot covered in this post and it is a lot to take in. I'm feeling a little overwhelmed but I would say this is a good place to start if you are just starting out with having a fiddle and learning new settings.

In the <P> (Program AE) Mode, you can set various functions to be more creative. P stands for Program and AE stands for Auto Exposure therefore in this mode the aperture and shutter speed are in Program Shift, or auto to obtain the standard exposure. Therefore, you need to pay attention to the ISO speeds for a normal shooting. Program AE Mode is like Auto Mode, but you are allowed to control AF Mode, Metering, White Balance and etc, as shown below:

Aperture = Program Shift
Shutter Speed = Program Shift
Exposure = Selectable
ISO Speed = Selectable
Built-in Flash = Selectable
Picture Style = Selectable
White Balance = Selectable
AF Mode = Selectable
AF Point Selection = Selectable
Drive Mode = Selectable
Metering Mode = Selectable
To change the shutter speed and aperture program shift, press the shutter button halfway down, at the bottom of the viewfinder it should display the shutter speed. It should be 30" to 4000 or (30-1/400). The darker it is, the lower the number and the slower the shutter speed will be, although the lower the shutter speed the more likely to result in camera shake. The program can be shifted by pressing the shutter button halfway, then turn the dial to change the shutter speed and aperture setting combination.

So changing the shutter speed allows you to slow the shutter speed the darker it is and increase the speed the lighter it is. My little handbook says that if the shutter speed is too slow you may need to use your flash or increase the ISO to help with the camera shake and blurriness. Lets take a look at ISO.

ISO= Imaging Sensor's Sensitivity to light. You can set the ISO to suit the ambient light level. For example, when you increase the ISO speed to a higher number for low light, a faster shutter speed can be used and camera shake will be less prone and the effective range of the flash will also increase. On my camera the ISO button is located on the ^ arrow button next to the view finder. When pressed the ISO Speed will appear. You can select the speed using the arrows then press the shutter button half way down. With ISO 800 or 1600, camera shake will be less prone then with the basic zone modes. The flash range will also be longer.

ISO speed guide.
100/200 for sunny outdoors
400/800 for overcast skies or evenings
1600 for night or dark indoors.

If the subject is far away, a higher the ISO speed increases the effective range of the flash.

If you would like to use your flash but it didn't automatically activate, in the <P> mode you can pop up the flash by pressing the small round flash button on the front of you camera to the right of the zoom.
Image from: This link

Selecting the Picture Style which is a Mode to adjust the contrast, colour tone, brightness and etc. To select the picture style press the menu then camera 2 then down to picture style pressing set. Finally select the style you desire. Most digital camera comes with six picture style:
Standard- The image looks vivid, sharp and crisp. This is a general-purpose picture style suitable for most scenes.
Portrait- for nice skin tones. The image looks slightly sharp and crisp. This is effective for close-ups of women and children. The picture style is also selected automatically when the mode dial is set to portrait.

Landscape- For vivid blues and greens, and very sharp and crisp images. Effective for impressive landscapes. This picture style is also selected automatically when the mode dial is set to landscape.
Neutral- It makes the picture low saturation and contrast for natural colours and subdued images. This is for users who prefer to process images with their personal computer.
Faithful- This selection is good for users who prefer to process images with their personal computer. This Mode emphasis the texture and colour same as the subject under colour temperature 5200k, the image is adjusted colour metrically to match the subject's colour. The image is dull and subdued.

Monochrome- The picture will convert into Black and White colour.
What is White Balance? White Balance is a setting to balance the colour of your picture under different types of light. You can shoot in different white balance setting under the same light source. This adjustment will have the same effect as using a colour compensating filter. To set the white balance manually press the (v-down) WB button then use the < or > keys to select the desired white balance setting then press the shutter button halfway. Options are as followed:
 Auto White Balance (AWB)- The White Balance is automatically select the best colour reproduction. This is the best setting for normal use.
 Daylight- The colour of picture will look like shooting under the midday sun.
Shade (If you notice the shade is actually a bit bluish, shooting in this mode will remove the bluish when you shoot under the shade.)

Tungsten Light- The colour of light bulb, yellow-orange colour cast. This help you to remove the warm colour cast.
Cloudy- Shade and Cloudy are about the same. But Cloudy Mode will add a bit more yellow tinge to compensate for the bluish tinge.
Fluorescent Light- Indoors photo will look slightly greenish because of the fluorescent light. This mode will compensates the greenish colour.
Flash- Flash and Daylight are about the same. But Flash Mode will be slightly bluish. Therefore, it will compensates the bluish as well.

You can change the Automatic Focus (AF) mode to suit different subjects such as group photos, animals or sports. Press the AF button which is the > arrow next to the view finder on my camera. You can select by using the left or right key then aim and press the shutter button halfway. The camera will then auto focus in the selected AF mode.

One shot AF is ideal for still subjects and snapshots. When pressing the shutter halfway, the camera will focus once and will be locked in. If you are capturing a close up portrait focus on the eyes.
Al Focus AF is for subjects moving unpredictably such as animals. When you press the shutter button halfway, the camera will focus in the same way as One-Shot AF but if the subject starts to move the camera switches to Al Servo AF and focuses continually. Al stands for Artificial Intelligence if you were curious.
Al Servo AF is geared for sports photography and other moving subjects. While you hold the shutter button halfway, the focus and exposure setting will be adjusted continuously.

Selecting the AF Point- In the Basic Image Zone modes all the AF points are active with the AF point covering the closest subject will be selected to focus and therefore the camera sometimes not focusing on the subject you want. With the P, TV, AV and M modes you can select one AF point to focus where you want. To do this press the button above the arrow keys, note: this button is also the zoom button. When all AF points light up the automatic AF point selection is set. Use your arrows to select the AF point until the desired AF point turns red. Press set. Then aim the Selected AF point over your subject then press the shutter button halfway before continuing all the way down. The centre AF point focuses the best among the 9 AF points.

 Image from: This Link

Manual Focusing- flicking between manual and auto focusing on your lens can be great to experiment with. I have found that the manual focus can achieve nice clear pictures but it can be quite difficult to see if the picture is truly clear when you are not in nice bright conditions. Focus by turning the lens focusing ring until the subject looks sharp in the view finder.
Note: You can which between automatic and manual focusing in any mode. Also you can not use AF Mode if you are using Manual Focus. It is because once you selected Manual Focus, the AF Mode selection is disabled.

Image from: This link

Selecting the Drive Mode- there are 3 different types of Drive Mode for my camera, which are single, continuous shutter and timer. You can switch between the three by pressing the button to the right of the view finder, above the navigation keys. then < or > to select the mode you would like. Selecting the continuous mode allows you to hold the shutter button down to take up to 3 shots per second.

Metering Mode is a setting to measure the brightness entered the camera in order to get the correct Exposure. Most camera setting Metering Mode in Evaluative metering by default. Therefore, you will see the symbol like an eye. To change the metering mode press the < button then press the < or > to switch between the metering modes. There are three Metering Mode, each of them has different area in detecting the brightness.
Evaluative Metering- This is a standard mode which suitable to most scenes. It is an all-around metering mode, the camera will sets the exposure automatically to suit most scenes.
Center-weighted Average Metering
- The Metering is concentrated at the centre and averaged with the rest of the scene. It will gain more details at the background but the front subject will get darker in back light shooting. Center-weighted Average metering got darker picture compare with Evaluative metering.
Partial Metering
- This mode is more suitable for scenes where there are very bright and very dark scenes. The metering is in a small target which cover about 9% of the centre of the viewfinder. It is more suitable for back lighting subject. Brightness of both subject and background will be balanced in this Metering Mode, the details of background are lesser compare with Evaluative Mode.
*Please be aware that Exposure and Metering are different setting, but these setting will affect each other. If you decrease the Exposure, you will get a darker version ONLY, you do not gain details for that. But Metering Mode is the Area you want your camera to concentrate.
Any questions: please be aware that I am learning along just like you, so I will do my best to answer them if I know the answer or by doing some research.

Do you have any tips or information on the Program AE setting that you would like to share?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Fridge Door- Home Made Sausage Rolls

Ohhhh... are you guys in for a treat this week! Today my Dad and I did a collaborative effort to make his special Home Made Sausage Roll recipe. They are delicious!
Small pork sausages
Puff pastry sheets
Fennel seeds whole

Sesame seeds
Parmesan cheese shredded

1 egg
Plain flour

Cut the puff pastry in strips the to suite the length of the sausages.
Generously sprinkle fennel seeds and Parmesan cheese over the pastry strips.

Put the sausage on the pastry and roll it up 1 full roll and a little bit more.

Repeat till you have enough sausage rolls.
Beat 1 egg in a cup and paint the top and sides of the sausage rolls.
Generously sprinkle the rolls with sesame seeds.
Sprinkle plain flour in a baking tray evenly spread out then place rolls into the tray.
Put into a preheated oven (180-200 deg) for approx. 1 hr. or until brown enough to suite you.

Recipe in my Dad's words :-)


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Getting Re-acquainted With Your Camera

I have recently came across Improve Photography's: 22 Things You Can Do Today to Change Your Photography Forever blog/post and loved it! It's very first action on the list is "Learn every function your camera is capable of performing"

Great tip! I am no professional when it comes to photography and over the last few years I have gone from having limited knowledge of my SLR camera to pretty much mainly using the automatic setting or the pre-set modes. So Improve Photography's post has inspired me to get re-acquainted with my camera and learn all it's functions. I hope you will learn along with me.

My camera is a Cannon ESO 400D. Your camera may be different to mine but the main ideas should be similar.

In this post I will touch on your pre-set modes because it is good to have a thorough knowledge of these before we move on to more technical stuff :-) So we are talking about from the fully automatic setting and down. In the basic modes, most functions are set automatically and cannot be changed to prevent spoiling shots.


Fully Automatic- In this mode, all of the automatic focus points will operate which allows the camera to easily and automatically focus on your subject making the picture clear. To activate the automatic focus just hold the shutter button half way down, then fully down to take the picture.

Portrait Mode- Blurs the background to make the human subject stand out. It also makes the flesh tones and hair look softer then in the Fully Automatic mode. The further the distance between the human and the background the more the background will look blurred. The subject will stand out better in front of a plain, dark background. If you have a zoom lens use the telephoto end. If you hold the shutter button down, you can shoot continuously to capture different facial expressions or poses.

Landscape Mode- This mode can be used for wide scenery, night scenes and to have everything in focus from near to far. This mode disables the built-in flash and blues and greens also become more vivid and sharp then with the Fully Automatic mode. If you have a zoom lens, use the wide-angle end as it will add breadth to landscapes. As this mode disables the built-in flash it makes it great for night scenes, but you should consider using a tripod to prevent camera shake.

Close-up Mode- When you want to photograph small things up close use this mode and to make small things appear much larger, use a macro lens. Use a simple background to make the flower etc stand out better. Move as close as possible to the subject and if you have a zoom lens use the telephoto end.

Sports Mode- To photograph a moving subject use this mode and use the telephoto end of the zoom (if applicable) so you can shoot from afar. Use the centre Automatic Focus point and press the shutter button halfway, before pressing it all the way down to take the picture. While holding the button down the continuous shooting and automatic focusing will be functioning.

Night Portrait Mode- This mode is best used for shooting someone at night and obtain a natural-looking exposure in the background. Best used with the zoom set to the wide-angle end and a tripod or the self timer. Keep the person within 5 meters from the camera as the flash will activate to obtain a good exposure of the person.

And finally the Flash Off Mode- This is used in places where flash photography is prohibited or candlelight scenes when you want to obtain the candlelight effect. If your subject is a person under low light, they must stay still or they will look blurred in the picture. Under low light the camera is prone to camera shake so you could use a tripod or if you have a zoom lens use the wide-angle end to reduce blur.
Ok, I want to admit that I got confused when I was reading about the telephoto and wide-angle end of the zoom lens so I did some research (good ol Google) and I found this definition:
"A zoom lens has a zoom range within which you can adjust the zoom. When they say end, they are referring to either end of the zoom range - the point after which you can turn the zoom control no further in that direction."
  • Zoomed all the way "in" = telephoto end of the zoom range
  • Zoomed all the way "out" = wide end of the zoom range
Someone also adds: "the intended meaning is at or near the actual end. Like the "deep end of the pool" -- it doesn't mean right up against the edge, but the whole area near the that end."
*Most of my information is coming from my Cannon Instruction Manual. :-)

Any questions: please be aware that I am learning along just like you, so I will do my best to answer any questions if I know the answer or by doing some research.

Do you have any tips or information on the pre-set modes that you would like to share?

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Fridge Door- Savory Scrolls

Savoury Scrolls...

Another not overly healthy snack for little ones but I must say it is another quick easy recipe to create and the kiddies... and Daddies will love it. The fillings are only limited to your imagination and what your children's tastebuds will allow but the great thing about these scrolls is you can partially hide healthy food in them. Possibly some vegie purees perhaps?

3 Sheets of frozen pastry
Tomato or BBQ sauce
Grated cheese

Fry up your finely diced onions until they are fragrant and softened.
Lay out your pastry sheets on the bench.
Smear a layer of sauce to cover all bar approx. 1cm and a half around the outside.
Layer ham on top. Can be shredded or shaved, you could even used diced fried bacon (as long as what ever you are using is not too thick as this will make it difficult to roll) and diced, fried onion.
Layer some grated cheese over the top and start rolling your pastry into a long cylinder.
Slice into about 2cm sections and place on a lined baking tray.
Bake in a moderate oven until the pastry has started to crisp up and the cheese is starting to brown.
Allow to cool but it is best eaten warm.

Another variation is vegemite and cheese.

Note: Although these are best eaten immediately and I highly doubt there will be any left unless you made a bulk batch, they can be eaten the next day or frozen for lunchbox fillers.