Posts categorized "photography"

first days of school

This morning I stood on my front verandah and waved goodbye to Phoebe as she drove off to her LAST first day back to school.

Today's the day I have sort of been looking forward to, but also not. 

We've had 16 first days in the family. Emily started Kindergarten at our local primary school back in 2001. Phoebe followed her three years later. There were some tears and some excitement (that was from me, not the girls) when they both started school. They seemed so grown up to be starting school... looking now at the kids starting kindergarten, they seem sooo tiny. And I remember thinking that 13 years of schooling for each of them was going to take FOREVER. But of course, it didn't take forever, it has actually flew by, and here we are in 'our' last school year.

Of course, being the dutiful mother, I have documented most of these very important first days back to school with the 'first day back to school' photos. And while there have been some years that Emily and Phoebe groaned when I've wanted to take a photo of them returning to school, I persisted. Not all photos have shown happy smiley kids returning to school. Some showed their true feelings of leaving their long summer holidays of freedom behind them!

Back to school photo

But there were many photos where my girls obliged, smiling for the camera, either sitting on our front steps or standing in the garden. I have watched as school dresses have gotten shorter (or my girls have gotten taller), school hats floppier, hair styles have changed and braces have been put on the teeth and then taken off.

First days of school

And then, of course, I sometimes think back to my own first day of school. Well, I can't remember anything of it, to be honest. But I do have a precious photo taken by my dad on the morning of my first day. It was 1971 and I was 4 1/2 years old, heading off to Burnside Public School in North Parramatta. Green was not a favourite colour and yet I wore it for six years!

1971 Fiona's first day of school

I may not remember my first day of school, but here's a few random things that make me smile when I look at this photo:

  • I loved the old brown school cases we had back then, wish I still had this one.
  • I love the fact that my socks probably covered more of my legs than the uniform did.
  • My hair was always embellished with big ribbon bows.
  • The nerves were apparent in this photo, I'm twitching the hem of my uniform with my hands (maybe that's why the hem was short, to give me something to hold onto).
  • Shiney school shoes and bright white socks, always make me think of new beginnings!
  • I can pretty much guarantee there was a vegemite sandwich on soft white bread in my school case. This was my school lunch of choice for most of my 13 years of schooling (occasionally changed to a soft white bread roll as I got older). There would have also been a little plastic bottle of cordial (probably frozen to stay cool until lunch time) as well... and a couple of iced vovos for my recess snack.

And I'm so glad I persisted taking those photos of my girls. They may not remember that much from all their school days in years to come but the photos I've taken may just bring back some little fond memories, just as my dad's photo of me has done.

There is something about the first day back to school for the new year. It brings the idea of new beginnings, new learnings and more responsibilities within the school community. But this year it's also bringing in the end of an era in the Carter household. Our last year (or really, only 3 terms) of school has just begun!

Thanks for visiting.



[Story 3 / 50 stories for 50 years]

100% hands on fun food photography & styling workshop with Sneh Roy

A couple of weeks back I returned to Cook Republic HQ for another workshop with Sneh Roy. This time it was a practical food styling and photography workshop directed by Sneh. (You can read about my first Cook Republic workshop HERE).

We started the morning constructing our own morning refreshment. We were presented with table of delicious fruits, nuts, granola and yoghurts that we styled and then photographed.

Fiona Carter food photography

Sneh discussed several food styling methods and we were encouraged to style and photograph each one. Styling with only one prop was interesting…

Continue reading "100% hands on fun food photography & styling workshop with Sneh Roy " »

food writing + food photography/styling workshop with Katrina Meynink and Sneh Roy

Last week I attended a food writing and food photography/styling workshop taught by two very talented ladies, Katrina Meynink and Sneh Roy.

Before we started workshopping, writing, styling and photographing we were treated to a delicious morning tea prepared by Sneh.

Fiona Carter morning tea

Katrina lead the food writing discussion, giving us insights into the different food writing styles. Sneh chatted about food styling, lighting and photography before giving us full access to her kitchen and props.

This lead to our first assignment…. styling a scene with the focus on tomatoes. I used both my DSLR and iPhone to take the photos.

Fiona Carter tomato and basil food styling and photography

Continue reading "food writing + food photography/styling workshop with Katrina Meynink and Sneh Roy" »

rum balls recipe

Fiona Carter's rum balls collage blog

I have started many posts on this blog with "as a kid I loved making...."

Well today it's .... rum balls.

For many Christmas's I made rum balls, sweet and chocolatey rum balls flavoured with good old OP rum! They were made up of icing sugar, cocoa, copha, sultanas and rum. Made into little round balls and rolled in desiccated coconut. And I used to consume them in the masses (even though I was under legal drinking age for most of the years I made them). 

Forward many, many.... many years...

This year I decided to re-invent the rum balls. Of recent years, I've attempted to reduce the amount of sugar (fructose) that we consume, so the thought of making my old rum balls was not an option.

Fiona Carter's rum balls

I started looking around for recipes, experimented with my own ideas, and three attempts later, I came up with these. Now I know they are not completely "sugar-free" with the raisins and rum, but they are a whole lot healthier than my old childhood version!

Here's the recipe.


  • 1 cup raisins (or sultanas if you prefer)
  • 40ml rum
  • 2 cups almond meal
  • 1/4 cup chia bran (I use The Chia Co chia bran)
  • 6-8 tablespoons raw cacao powder** (I use Power Super Foods raw cacao)
  • 10 tablespoons raw coconut oil (I use Niugini Organics coconut oil)
  • 4 tablespoons rice malt syrup (or to your taste)
  • 40mls rum (extra to the soaking rum above)
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut
  • zest from 1 orange
  • PLUS the rum soaked raisins
  • EXTRA coconut for rolling the rum balls in

[** 6 tablespoons of raw cacao powder gives a nice chocolatey flavour, the 8 tablespoons of cacao powder gives a richer dark chocolate flavoured rum ball. The choice is yours, experiment with the amounts.]


Soak the sultanas in the 40mls of rum for at least 24 hours. The raisins will plump up and most of the rum will be absorbed by the raisins.

[24 hours later]

Place the dry ingredients (almond meal, chia bran, cacao powder, desicated coconut) into a food processor. Blend until ingredients look combined.

Add rice malt syrup and orange zest, then rum, then the coconut oil. If the coconut oil is soft, you won't need to melt it.

Put the mixture into a bowl and mix through the rum soaked raisins. Cover the bowl and put in the fridge to cool.

The mixture may separate a little. This is the reason I put it in the fridge to cool. You will find the coconut oil may set around the mixture. Just stir this through again before you start rolling.

Roll into small balls. I used a 1/2 tablespoon to measure the balls out. Roll the balls around in a bowl of desiccated coconut. You will find them quite sticky, the heat of your hands will melt the coconut oil a bit, but this helps the desiccated coconut to stick to your rum balls.

Fiona Carter's rum balls 2

Place them into the freezer until you are ready to eat them or package them up to give them away.

In the Australian summer, they need to be kept in the fridge at least. I quite like eating them from the freezer :)

Hope you enjoy them... I'm now working on a Kahlua and walnut truffle/ball recipe. I will be back if they are successful with another recipe.

Thanks for visiting.


Fiona x

Fiona Carter's rum balls collage blog

13 years of school photos

My gorgeous girl came home with her school photo the other day.

While looking at it, it dawned on me that this would be the last school photo she brings home to us. She's in her last year of school... THERE WILL BE NO MORE SCHOOL PHOTOS of her.

So here's a little trip down memory lane....

EFC 13 years of school final

The photos were taken at a similar time each year, from Kindy up the top left corner to Year 12 down in the bottom right.

That's my gorgeous girl... 13 years of school photos.

Thanks for visiting

Fiona x

This collage was made using PicMonkey:

PicMonkey Photo editing made of win

welcome 2013


Here's wishing you a happy, healthy and creative 2013.

The Sydney new year's eve fireworks did not disappoint this year. We watched the 9 o'clock display and the midnight show from Lavender Bay.

Before the fireworks got underway, we enjoyed a beautiful sunset over the harbour. The night was clear and still, so perfect for fireworks. Lavender Bay (and the rest of Sydney Harbour) was filled with boats.


We had a great view of the fireworks from my parent's apartment...



Then there was the midnight display, which featured the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It's always spectacular...


We are certainly very lucky to live in a beautiful city, and to see in a new year in such a spectacular way!

Last week we enjoyed some time away up at Hawks Nest. Just thought I'd share one of my favourite photos... Phoebe teaching Bella to "surf". Not sure how Bella would cope if a wave actually came her way, but she was still very cute sitting up on the board. 


I started a new crochet project while I was away... I'll be back very soon to show it here :)

'til next time, thanks for visiting, and enjoy your new breaks break!



when life gives you basil.... make pesto


I returned home from my parent's house recently with a huge bag of basil... beautiful fragrant lush green basil. When I'm in possession of such a large quantity of fresh basil (whether I've grown it myself or raided my parent's herb garden), there is only one thing I can think of to preserve it, MAKE PESTO!

Pesto... It is a delicious combination of basil, garlic, toasted pinenuts, parmesan and olive oil, and it is VERY VERY VERY EASY to make.


Basically this is how it's made. Wash the basil and carefully inspect for any freeloaders looking for a free meal (those little green caterpillars can be tricky to find on the basil). Toast the pine nuts. Grate the parmesan cheese. Peel the garlic.


Throw it all in the bowl of a food processor and blitz. Drizzle in the olive oil.

Many recipes will say to pick the leaves from the stalk and only use these in the pesto but I use the whole thing, leaves AND stalks. The stalks have the same lovely basil flavour as the leaves, and you will dramatically increase the amount of pesto you will make using the stalks.


Pack the pesto into little containers and drizzle some extra olive oil over the top (this stops the pesto from turning brown).


And this is the preserving part, the pesto freezes really well, so all that lovely summery basil goodness is now in my freezer ready to use when we need a quick tasty meal. If you've packed it into smaller containers, such as half a cup, you can defrost just enough for dinner.

I have to say, I love having my iPhone in the kitchen to be able to take quick photos on the go :)

Thanks for dropping by.



ribbons galore photography

Yesterday I spent an enjoyable afternoon in my little studio photographing lots of new ribbons for Ribbons Galore. I'm loving my new props, these vintage wooden bobbins which I bought last year from Europe. Here's a few favourite photos from the session...

Ribbons Galore new ribbons Feb 2012


Ribbons Galore new ribbons Feb 2012

Ribbons Galore new ribbons Feb 2012

The ribbons will be on the Ribbons Galore website next week... I'm busy added them to the website at the moment :)

Have a good weekend.


Fiona x

digital holga photography

If you love the look of Holga style photos but don't want to turn back time completely by purchasing the old-fashioned film style camera, you can purchase a digital holga lens adaptor to fit on your DSLR camera.

I recently purchased a Digital Holga Kitchen Sink Kit for my DSLR from HolgaDirect. It contains several lenses which all fit onto the digital holga lens adaptor (also included in the kit). This little kit was sent to me very quickly by HolgaDirectfrom Hong Kong.


Once the digital holga lens adaptor has been popped onto the DSLR (this replaces the actual lens of the camera) you can add one of the other holga lenses (like the fish eye, macro or wide angel lens). The DSLR camera then has no auto focus capacity, and you have to play around with your settings to acheive the right exposure for your photos.

I have only given the wide angle lens a test drive so far. Down at Balmoral Beach I snapped many photos experimenting with the settings. These are a few photos I really liked from all I took. Love the slight dreamy-ness of the images.




Now, these Holga lenses won't replace the real traditional cameras, but they are a good alternative if you want to play around with your digital photography creativeness. I really didn't want to go back to using a film camera!

While I was shopping at HolgaDirect I bought Emily a REAL Holga 120 Camera which she received this week for her 16th birthday. Emily really wants to experiment with the film format... looking forward to seeing the photos she takes!

Thanks for visiting!



PS I've created a facebook page for my Living on the Crafty side of Life blog, if you'd like to follow... click the button below. Thanks

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sydney to dubbo {via bali}

It seems like a long, long time ago, but Sydney, Bali, Dubbo was our itinerary last school holidays.

The first week of the school holidays was spent in beautiful Bali. It had been almost 18 years since my last visit (that was on our honeymoon). Bali had changed, alot, but it was still beautiful.

I have many of our photos in a flickr album.


One special group of photos I've placed in a COLOURS OF BALI album. I created this little collection of photos because Bali is so vibrant, I wanted to capture some of the colour that surrounds you there.

A few special things I'd love to mention about our holiday:

Our accommodation in Canggu, SABA VILLAS. Absolutely stunning. We stayed in a two bedroom villa, with our own pool. Total relaxation. I wanted to pick this place up and bring it home to our little plot of land in Sydney! Below is our pool and villa at night, more photos of the villa can be found HERE.

Saba Villas, Canggu

Our accommodation in Ubud, KAJANE MUA VILLAS. A beautiful, beautiful place in the Ubud style. Again our villa was lovely with our own pool. Although the villa complex is on Monkey Forest Road, our two bedroom villa was right up the back of the property with rice paddies around us. This was the pool area of our villa, more photos of this villa can be found HERE.

our private pool at Kajane Mua villas, Ubud

The Bali Elephant Safari Park, out of Ubud, where we had the most marvellous morning feeding the elephants then having a ride through the park and forest. Here's Em with one of the baby elephants, more photos are HERE.

Bali Elephant Safari Park, Ubud, Bali

Kafe cafe, this was a great find amongst all the hustle and bustle of Ubud. Probably the best coffee we found in Bali. Delicious organic meals and juices.

Gaya Galato {part of the Gaya complex}. Oh, my goodness, I would travel back to Bali just to have this gelato again. The gelato at the bottom was Spiced Chocolate gelato, one of the best flavours of gelato I've ever tasted. This was well worth the short trip out of Ubud to taste this gelato. They also sell cookies and biscuits. These guys should write a cook book, cause I'd make every cookie they were selling! They do offer home delivery, not sure this extends to Sydney :-(

gelato from gaya gelato, ubud

Ubud markets, alot of fun, alot of interaction with the stall holders {and bargaining}. These markets are much better than those we found in Semenyak or Kuta.

On a slightly more serious note:

There was one slight emerency on our Bali holiday. During a visit to Monkey Forest in Ubud, I was bitten and scratched by one of the monkeys. Without going into many details of the following couple of days, I had to try to find two different rabbies vaccines which I needed to receive within a few days of the bite. Rabbies is a big problem in Bali at the moment and one of the vaccines required after a bite is very hard to find in Bali and is very expensive once you do find it. Anyway we did find the vaccines in an international clinic in Kuta and have continued to receive the rabbies vaccine back here in Australia (the course is given over 28 days). My arms were like pincushions during this treatment, but hopefully all will be well. I'm just writing about this to let others know. Monkey Forest is a big attraction in Ubud, would I rush back there next time... no way, the monkeys are cute but certainly not worth the trouble they caused.

We returned to Sydney from Bali, had 24 hours at home to un-pack, wash clothes, re-pack and leave for Dubbo.

We went to Dubbo for Phoebe. She was picked to play in the Far North Metro team at the Soccer NSW State Titles, which were being played at Dubbo.

We had a great week, Dubbo is a fantastic country town and we certainly enjoyed our week there. We did watch a lot of soccer, sitting on the sidelines. The girls on the team had a fun week together, and played some fantastic soccer. Their team came fourth overall.





While I was in Dubbo, I had a chance to meet up with Narelle, Neek and Leah one afternoon. It was so lovely to have a chat with these gorgeous ladies. We chatted for so long, the cafe closed around us, and the owners showed us the back gate exit, saying we were welcome to sit there as long as we liked. We did stay for quite a while longer chatting away....


Emily and I did visit the Dubbo Zoo one afternoon. One of the first areas we visited was this {not so little} baby hippo...


Then the gorgeous giraffes...


And we found some more baby animals...


One our way home we passed these beautiful fields of rape seed. We could see the fields coming from far away with the specatular colour...


We returned to Sydney exhausted, but happy, after a varied holiday. We probably needed another holiday to recover from this one, but it was straight back to work and school....

And that's our last holidays summed up. It's take me several weeks to finish this post, but it's finally done and published!

Thanks for visiting. Will be back very soon with some Ribbons Galore updates.