Saturday, 23 November 2013

Sometimes I just don't want square pictures

instagram; star wars; photoshop express; iphone; snappy snaps; photo editing apps for phones;
I love Instagram, but sometimes I just don't want square pictures. 

I have always enjoyed taking pictures but carrying around a full sized slr camera is not always an option, especially going to and from the day job and when I'm out with the small boy, but you never know what you might just see do you! For me the main appeal of getting a smart phone was having a great camera in my bag, but not being able to get more than pictures destined for social media networks out of my phone has been a bit frustrating. 

I want to to able to take pictures good enough to print and frame.  

Early contradiction though - I still love the Star War pictures we took back in the Summer!

In a bid to get better quality pictures out of my phone I've been trying out different photo editing apps over the past few months and Photoshop Express has definitely been the best one to quickly polish up my pictures. I have a full blown version of Photoshop in my studio but you know sometimes you just want to have a little simplicity in your life. On the train on my way to and from the day job, if I'm not reading or daydreaming I tend to edit my photographs, so this app, which can be used on android and iphones, is perfect. 

You'll know I've made a deal with myself to frame more pictures and I am really enjoying popping into my super friendly Snappy Snaps and printing images out. I know Snappy Snaps isn't the cheapest place to print pictures but the team in the Victoria branch are so nice that I look forward to saying hi and catching up with them.

Last week on a little walk about, me and the boy went to buy him new jeans and have a sneaky hot chocolate together, I took this picture of him. It's OK but nothing special photographically but it was a special moment that deserved capturing.

Using the exposure filter and the black and white option the picture looks much sharper. And the high chair in the back of the picture is pretty much blended out.

This is my favourite one though. I used another filter which gives nice mocha tones.

Photoshop Express is super easy to use and the free version gives pretty much everything you need to smarten up camera phone pictures. You just click through the changes and you always have the option of going back to your original image. When your done you just save your edited image to your camera roll. Easy as pie. 

I know I am really late finding this app, and I hang my head in shame, but I bet I am not the only one, so for those who like me are not 'early adopters' enjoy!

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Nine things to end the year on a high.

With just nine weeks of this year left I figured I needed a little plan to make sure I end the year on a high. The dark evenings and not feeling so great lately is making it quite difficult to motivate myself to do anything much. Then of course I feel bad that I haven’t done anything on my list of things to do, oh the vicious circle of a constant ‘doer’.

We have of course moved home this year, a big thing for the Rawls family and for Strange Fruit and we’ve had a holiday – the first overseas holiday for us all in over three years, there are just always more important things aren't there? But our holiday was lovely and oh my, how much am I missing that sunshine right now.  However back to my plan!  Nine things that will make me feel great at the end of the year. Not convinced about my motivation yet - but a girl needs a plan! 

1.  Unpack a box a week – we still have so many boxes.
2.  Loose 9lbs – my scales are in a box somewhere so off to Boots I must go for a weigh in.
3.  Go to bed by midnight – I think this will be the hardest thing on my list for me to do!
4.  Get or make an African print skirt. 


5.  Design a new greeting card a week – a great way to end the year for Strange Fruit.
6.  Finish the living room make do and mend makeover – let’s just say progress is slow!


7.  Go for a 30 minute walk every day. See goal two!
8.  Print and frame one picture or trinket a week. How cute are brooches in frames? 
9.  Make some time for cooking. I have so many recipes saved but never made.

With the aim of getting to bed by midnight all images are via Pinterest today. 
Wish me luck – am most definitely going to need it!

Thursday, 7 November 2013

We went to Paris with mostly no plan and it was wonderful.

vintage; paris; eurostar;marche aux puses saint-ouen; galeries lafayette; weekend in paris; a la mere de famille
We went to Paris with mostly no plan and it was wonderful! The only aim we had was to visit a flea market, drink lots of coffee and of course lots of wine; so bucks fizz on the Eurostar was a great start! 

Fueled up, we walked from Gare du Nord to our Best Western Premier Hotel, le Carre Folies Opera in Montamatre. The hotel was a bit of a disappointment as they often are. We paid for an executive room and twin beds, we got a weeny room and had to ask house-keeping to come and split the bed for us. The location was great though we were right by Folies-Bergere and just around the corner from this fabulous confectionery store A la Mere de Famille you can see why it appealed to me! The floor is amazing and I just loved the typography

At 250 years old this is Paris's oldest sweet store and rumour has it that dancers from the Folies Begere used to pop by for a gumdrop or two, I can't imagine why they wouldn't.

Our next stop was Galeries LaFayette, I have not seen the inside before an wow was it worth the walk. Such a shame they knocked down the original staircase in 1976, bet that was just lovely.

The ceiling at Galeries LaFayette
More walking and lots of photos of doors, spending the weekend with a fellow lover of architecture was so much fun. Neither of us know much about the technical stuff but we know what we like and we like the use of french blues and greys on buildings but mostly we like mustard front doors!

The French do mustard so well, even their doors
We made it to flea market by Porte de Clignancourtthe Marche aux Puses Saint-Ouen on Sunday morning and it was an experience, not one I would repeat if I actually wanted to buy anything. Lovely for looking around. I knew the market was overpriced but the prices could only be considered as having comedy value. It appeared nothing was under 300 euros.

A shop entrance - in the expensive bit of the market

Apart from the ultra groomed shoppers sitting in the back of chauffeured black Mercedes we didn't see anyone actually buying anything. With the advertised starting prices I'm not surprised. I am all for bartering but what's the point when the starting price is more than the cost of a small semi in Derby? 

My very modest Paris shopping haul 
 I did pick up a frame for 4 euros in the bric a brac section of the market and on our walk back to our hotel we found a great vintage shop where I brought a little piece painted in 1933 for 15 euros.

Artists impression of  an elephant in 1933
The vintage Habitat 1964 village was a great find. They sell of course wonderful vintage pieces, oh if only I had kept some of the furniture from my first flat. I worked across the road from Habitat in the early nineties and lets just say lunchtimes were expensive! Lunch at the "buvette" run by Tartes Kluger was so tasty - I now need a Julia Child's quiche recipe. Only in Paris can a lunch of cafe creme, quiche and salad taste so good.
We brought some of those little wheelie shoppers in anticipation of buying too much to carry, fat chance! I promise I will never think the prices at vintage fairs are over priced again and I will happily increase my eBay bids knowing that actually vintage shopping in the UK is always always cheaper than shopping at Marche aux Puses Saint-Ouen - not as glamorous but definitely cheaper!

Serious Mummy points - I brought the boy a light saber lamp in Galeries LaFayette- just 25 euros
Walking around Paris was great, we had no plans we stopped when we wanted, we didn't pack loads into our days and we fell into our Eurostar seats home happy and exhausted. Paris made a wonderful change from spending my weekend decorating, now I just need to make sure the boy doesn't use that lamp as light saber for real!

Even the Boris bikes are stylish in Paris, no garish branding here, how French