Saturday, July 28, 2018

Not Taking Selfies: Learning to Take my Own Pictures

I've been blogging and Instagramming (is that a word?) for a while, but I'm not an actual professional. Photographers are not lining up to take my picture, oh no. And the people who do actually argue over who has to do it next.  


Some have an Instagram hubby. I have Instagram children. And, they're really quite good at it. They take direction well and even humor me by taking more than just one picture.  The oldest is well past his Instagram picture taking duties and asking him would mean taking some of his teenage criticism. My big girl does so with a certain amount of drama and sarcasm while my youngest prides herself on being able to get the shot in just three goes. She even counts me down...3, 2, 1.


Jokes aside, I owe a large part of being able to keep this blog and my Instagram running to their efforts and support (of course the hubby, too). That said, I had to make an unexpected return to Hong Kong and I've been without the crew for nearly a month. Aside from their emotional support, I've quite literally had to find another way to take pictures, too.


I remembered that my girl Beth of @bjonesstyle had done a YouTube video about how she takes her Instagram pics and quickly rewatched it to get some pointers from her. I also ran out to Stanley Market and found a neat little tripod with the bend-y legs that can wrap themselves around practically anything. After discovering a good self timer app (coincidentally the same one that Beth recommended), I set off to figure this whole thing out.


And here's what I've learned taking my own Instagram pics:

First --- I'm even more self conscious about using a tripod than I am about having someone else take my picture. I feel silly when someone is taking the outfit pic for me (it's the posing), but having no one to pose for makes me feel even more foolish. It's so ridiculous because I really could care less what others think of me, but somehow this makes me feel exposed or attention seeking.

Second --- Angles are important. To take a picture that is flattering, you need to have the tripod set up at about thigh/waist height. This isn't an exact science, but I've had most success with this in the last month. If I attach my tripod to anything lower, I look bottom heavy; any higher and I look short.

Third --- I need privacy and space (this one links to the first lesson). To get ready, to figure out the right angle, to try out a couple of poses and really move around to see what works. I hate people looking and I also hate having to dodge the people walking through my picture. But, this kind of applies when having my picture taken without the tripod, too.

And finally --- I kind of like having this tripod. I don't feel like I'm putting anyone out by asking them to take my picture. I can take my time and take as many pictures as I want without anyone getting impatient. If I start to feel bold, I can really work on my poses without worrying about anyone giggling at the ones that just don't work.


That said, it's super hard to pose for no one because there is no energy or chemistry. I worry that my pictures reflect that vacant feeling.  I hope they don't. I'll keep practicing. I'll be glad when my kiddos get back because I miss them, but I also like the taking my pics. But it's good to know that I have a back up when they don't want to do it.

If you're thinking about trying to take your own pictures, I'd definitely suggest using the Photo Timer+ app. It counts you down and gives you options for # of pics and delay. The other thing you need to remember is to definitely take LOTS of pictures when you start. You'll save yourself having to do it again. The Photo Timer+ app lets you take up to ten at a time.

Happy self timer tripod picture taking adventures!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Like Mother Like Fabulous: A Conversation with Redress & Pizza Express

My big girl is growing up faster than I'd like but rather than lament how quickly she's maturing, I'm choosing to celebrate how our relationship is changing. I have to admit, I really love watching her develop her own personal style and I'm especially thrilled that she's interested in sustainable fashion, too. More than once, she's asked me to take her shopping and I'd be lying if I didn't say how much I was tickled to be asked my opinion about what she wears.

I know I won't always be her go-to for style opinions or other advice, but I hope that she'll always at least consider what I've said when she's asked me. I remember on my own experiences being parented by my mum as I engage with my kiddos. My mum was never one of those pushy mums who thrust her own opinion about things onto me. She waited patiently for us to ask her what we thought about situations before carefully sharing her views on the matter and never in away to change us. I appreciate this. 


Likewise, I feel like allowing my kiddos to come to me has proven more successful. It shows them that as parents we trust them, but also we are undconditionally supportive and honest. Goodness knows, my kiddos are more than honest with me about what I wear (and many other things). And, we've created an environment that allows it, so that's fine.


Back to the topic of this post...for a self motivated learning project this year, my daughter chose to explore upcycling. She had some hand-me-down cast offs from a friend and went about thinking of simple ways to change them into a new outfit. Of course, I directed her to Redress HK's website which gave her all the information she needed to not only understand what upcycling is, but to also explore the bigger environmental issue of textile waste.

When I mentioned this to Christina Dean the next time we spoke, she was keen to give my big girl a chance of her own to ask questions about upcycling, sustainable fashion, etc.

So that's just what we did.


After drafting up some questions for both Christina (Redress) and Liam (Pizza Express) about sustainability and some initiatives they're working on together as well as a few things she was curious about from her own upcycling project, we were set. I was so proud of how well she handled herself talking to these important grown ups. The key part of making this an engaging experience was making sure her questions related to things that mattered to her. How do the sustainable initiatives, ecofashion and sustainability affect her as a nearly teenager?


I also really appreciated the time and respect that these two hugely successful and no doubt busy professionals gave her to have a conversation with them about their work.  Since meeting with them, my Ella has been much more aware of her environmental footprint. She is a conscientious consumer when it comes to buying clothes (we've been on many thrifting adventures and sustainable fashion events together), and she's definitely aware of the need to be more engaged in the conversation about recycling, refusing plastic and ocean pollution with her peers. And more importantly, to make these conversations turn into action.

You can hear more of her thoughts in her own words if you click over to my Instagram profile and watch the #ellsiebells highlight, or watch it below.



Stay tuned for more Like Mother Like Fabulous posts. We've got some future collaborations planned.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

My 15/30 Packing Challenge (my take on the 15/30 Capsule Wardrobe Challenge)

Each summer that we pack up to spend an extended holiday in the United States, I have to say my least favorite part is the packing. I don't know why, but somehow a long vacation really throws me. I can easily pack for a four day weekend. Even a week at Spring Break is super easy to pack for, but somehow, when I think about being away for six or seven weeks, I just can't do it.

There are so many issues I have. . . 

How do I make sure I'm prepared for any occasion? How many pairs of shoes do I pack? How do I make sure I have choice? What if I really want a piece and but left it behind and it's the only thing that will complete an outfit? How do I make sure I don't pack something and only wear it once, if at all (this happens more than I'd like to admit).

Oh my gosh, I know these are First World problems, but they're still my problems.

So, this year, my friend Sabrina suggested the 15/30 Capsule Wardrobe Project, only for packing. She wrote a few posts on Sassy Hong Kong detailing her challenge. The pieces she chose, some outfits she styled and her final thoughts.


With these lessons in mind, I set about making decisions about what 15 pieces to bring for myself. The good news is that accessories, swimwear and shoes don't count (phew!) I did quite well, actually and managed to get it all done with 16 pieces. I know I'm one over the suggested amount, but I'm also actually away for more like 45 days. And, in Sabrina's challenge, she didn't allow herself to shop, but I fully intend on taking advantage of all the thrift shopping I can (with more restraint, though).

Here are the pieces:
three skirts (Maisha Concept, vintage red pencil skirt, secondhand flowy white skirt)
three dresses (secondhand navy floral dress, beige vintage Issey Miyake shirt dress, Mahps vintage white lace prairie dress)
six tops (chambray denim JCrew button down, two graphic tees, white Retrorhapsody vintage ruffle cropped blouse, black and white silk floral blouse from Savers, secondhand white and green palm leaf sleeveless blouse)
four pants (white vintage Guess jeans , Lee Jeans cut offs, yellow cotton pleated shorts, secondhand denim culottes)

So there you have it, I'll see how I do this summer. You can follow along on my Instagram feed to see how I style up these 16 pieces (check #15for30packing). The weather so far has been a bit cooler than I expected, so day three was not a cute outfit, but rather a stay warm outfit.

You can see for yourself in my stories today. My big girl was honest yeah, it's not your best, mumma.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Hand Me Downs, Hand Me Ups

Perhaps the best thing about getting hand me downs from friends is that they save you things that they know you'd love. Girlfriends probably know you and your style better than you sometimes. That is true for me, I have to say.


So it is through girlfriends that I acquired these pieces. The necklace, the dress and even the kimono (borrowed). So perfectly me, they just knew.


Hong Kong spring weather had been unusually hot. In fact, we were experiencing a heat wave. Hottest weather on record since the 1960s. Ugh. If you were to look closely, you'd see a perpetual sweaty upper lip in these pictures.


Weather be damned, though. I wanted to put together this boho look and glam it up with my silver snakeskin boots. Come hell or highwater...


Life has been busy, though.  I wore the outfit and it didn't get photographed. So I wore it again almost the next day (have you ever done that)? I mean, I kind of feel like if you wore it but it didn't get documented on social media, did you actually wear it? 


A bit like if a tree falls down in the woods but no one heard it, does it make a sound? 

Deep, I know.

*** I hope you don't mind the over edited photos. Only my little girl was on hand to take pictures and they needed a bit of touching up. I kind of thought the filter worked with the boho vibes of the outfit, don't you?

Friday, June 1, 2018

Real Mumma Talk: A Recipe for Work-Life Balance

People often ask me how I manage it all. The parenting, the work, the blog, making time for exercise and a social life.



You look great! How do you do it? They'll marvel. To be honest, it makes me blush. I feel like an imposter because I can hardly say that I have my shit together. I'm just trying to survive most weeks.


Okay, okay. That's being dramatic, but still. Some weeks are a slog. In fact, lately, most weeks have been a slog. Between managing a big recycling initiative at work, supporting my hubby who is healing from achilles tendon surgery, and helping my mum who has been in hospital twice this month, on top of the usual chaos, I'm pooped.


The dirty truth of the matter is this. What's my recipe for work-life balance? I don't have one and that's because there is no such thing. I would argue that it should in fact be called work-life imbalance. That's more accurate.


Sure, you can sometimes make tweaks and adjustments so that it feels like you're achieving balance, but in actual fact, there's always a sacrifice. And the sacrifice is this: you have to settle for not giving everything your best effort. I mean, really, who has time for that?


If I'm being honest, and I'm not afraid to be, I am not doing things to the best of my ability. That doesn't mean that I half-ass things, because I certainly don't do that. I do things pretty damn well. I just know deep down that I could probably do them better.


I could get to the gym four days a week. I could spend more quality time with my children helping them pursue all their passions and being a super helicopter mumma. I could be a better teacher and plan better lessons or provide more timely feedback. I could plan more blog posts in a week or take better photos. I could really curate my Instagram feed so that I could have a greater following. I could make sure that the hubby and I get more regular date nights or that I see my girlfriends for more fun nights out together.


But, I don't really do any of these things to my best ability because it means totally sucking at something else. And, I don't want to suck at anything. I want to be good. I just know that I don't have to be great.

And I'm okay with that. When a mumma can figure that part out, life can be so much better.  Not easier, just better.

***I even had to wait to post this because I've been too busy to even take blog photos. The big girl got a new-to-her camera so she's a keen photographer for me and I'm a happy guinea pig for her to experiment on. She's doing pretty well, don't you think?

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

My Moroccan Adventure & Links a la Mode, May 17th

We're about one month away from our next big break from school. Summer vacation! Such a perk, I tell you. I love being a teacher for the summers away (among other things).


So, in light of the fact that I have been flat out busy and don't have any outfit photos to post, and the fact that this trip to Morocco was a dream come true, here are just a few of the images.


The sad news is that right at the end of my trip to Morocco (like on the plane in Hong Kong), I lost my big SLR camera with all my own photos from the trip. I was gutted. It was such a dream to be there and I was so excited about learning to use my camera better along with all the photos that I took. I couldn't sleep. Enough time has passed now that I've forgotten what images were even on there and I realize that while I don't have the pictures, I'll always have the memories.


These pictures were taken by my friend Tomas Ovalle, a photographer I met on the trip. He along with my buddy Geoff the photo teacher at school (seen below) taught me many new things on my camera which I will some day have the opportunity to learn again. See more of Tomas's pictures here.


So, while I sit and dream of our summer vacation and all the adventures we'll have going to places we know, I will also dream about the places I don't know and having opportunities to explore them. The blue city Chefchaouen seen in all these photos was by far my favorite. As a girl whose favorite color is blue, I was transported. When I close my eyes and think back to my week in Morocco, I see blues.


Links à la Mode, May 17th, 2018
SPONSOR: Shopbop Zimmermann, No. 21 Shoes, Private Party Swimwear, McGuire Denim, Tome, BaubleBar, Striped Bikinis, Embellished Slides, One Shoulder Gowns, Men's Sundek USA

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

How to Wear a Jacket When it's Not Jacket Weather & Links a la Mode, May 10th

I have more jackets and coats than I care to admit, so needless to say when the weather warms and I have to tuck them away for the season, I get a little sad.


But then I remembered the sneaky way I keep wearing some of my layers. First, it helps to have light jackets in your wardrobe. This white mesh like jacket was a hand me down from a friend. It came with matching shorts that were a little too tiny for my comfort, but the jacket has the perfect element of structure and shape that I love.


I have a few other lightweight jackets and kimonos that I've been mixing in since the weather has turned. 


The other trick to wearing a jacket when it's not jacket weather is to keep your layers underneath nice and light. Tank tops are a perfect layer for warmer weather. I still feel so lucky that I have mild weather that allows this kind of dressing. I don't miss freezing winter temps or soggy spring days.


Another trick to continuing to wear jackets in the warmer months is to style them up with short skirts, culottes or even shorts! The blazer/jacket and shorts or skirt vibe is such 80s goodness.


And finally, ditch the boots or booties and throw on some sandals to complete the warmer weather jacket look.


Links à la Mode, May 10th, 2018
SPONSOR: Amazon's Shopbop Alix, Mar Y Sol Beach Bags, Le Specs Sunglasses, CLONE, Krewe, Katharine Kidd, One Piece Swimwear, Denim Skirts, Slides, Men's TOM WOOD

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