Posts categorized "photography"

san francisco tourists

Last December we travelled to San Francisco. The decision to go on a family holiday was very last minute. Within a month of travelling, we booked onto one of QANTAS's new direct flights to San Francisco, booked our accommodation with Air BnB and packed out bags. We stayed about 12 days in San Francisco, so we had plenty of time to wander the streets and see the sights.

Here's a list of some of the touristy things we did whilst in the city.

Golden Gate Bridge

There are several places to get a great view of the bridge.

Fiona Carter Golden Gate Bridge

Wander around Crissy Field, a large parkland near the Bridge....


From the ferry, passing Alcatraz Island in the afternoon....

Fiona Carter Golden Gate Bridge

Another perspective of the bridge is to ride across on a bike. There are companies along the wharf areas that hire bikes. You ride over the Golden Gate Bridge and down to Sausalito. You can either ride back over the bridge to San Francisco or catch a ferry back to the wharf areas (with your bike).

Alcatraz Island

Book this early as the tours to the island book out, this was the one activity we booked before leaving home. The island is a short ferry ride from the wharf area of SFO, you enjoy pretty views of the Bay and Golden Gate bridges and back to the city during the ride over to the island. (Book the tour to the island HERE)


When you arrive at the island you wander up the hill from the wharf to the prison. One of the first landmarks on the island you see is the water tower with reminders of the American Indian occupation of the island from the late 1960's. 


The Alcatraz cell house was really interesting. You wander around with the audio tour which guides you around the prison, while listening to stories told by former prisoners, wardens and family of prisoners.


The kitchen and dining hall...


One of the stories talked about the prisoners amusing themselves in their cells by crocheting blankets.


The Cable Cars

We jumped on one cable car, and wound up riding them for the rest of the afternoon criss crossing the city.



The drivers and conductors provide the entertainment, they are really funny, from singing to directing traffic (yes if cars are in the way, they jump off the cable car and tell the drivers where to go). There are three main cable car routes across San Francisco. The turntable areas can get busy, my tip is to wander up to the street to the next stop and jump on the car there. And buy a ticket before you get on board.

Union Square

This was very pretty at Christmas time. The big Christmas tree and the ice skating rink made it very festive. Many well known shops are in this area of town with Macy's taking up prime real estate over looking the square.

Twin Peaks

Fantastic views of the city, the whole bay area and in the other direction out to the ocean. The road to the top winds around the hills until you reach the top of the peaks.


The Embarcadero

There is a great system of wharves on the bay side of San Francisco from the Bay Bridge round to Fisherman's Wharf. One favourite was the Ferry Building Marketplace. Great farmers markets, food hall (many of the foodie and coffee places of San Francisco have stalls/stores in this area) and restaurants.

As you're wandering along the wharf system, pop into Pier 39 and see the SFO bay resident seals.


The Painted Ladies

San Francisco is full of beautiful old style houses, but this little strip of houses looks very impressive with the city skyline as their backdrop. If you're in the area, visit Alamo Square to see this row of Victorian homes.


That's the first part of our San Francisco trip. I'll be back with my favourite part of our holiday, seeking out the best bakeries and coffee in San Francisco.

Thanks for visiting.


Fiona x

[Story 5 / 50 stories for 50 years]


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!



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