Kylie Purtell - A Study in Contradictions

Thursday, 21 May 2015

4 Ways to Save Time Around the House | PR

This post bought to you by Absolute Domestics

Cleaning my house is the bane of my existence. I hate it. I’ve always hated cleaning. It’s why my Mum used to tear her hair out when I was a teenager at the state of my bedroom. Calling it a bomb site would be kind. Post-apocalyptic war zone would be closer.

Becoming an‘adult’ has not changed me. I still hate cleaning. However now that I inhabit a house with 3 other people it’s inevitable and must be done. Way more often than I would like! Still, these days I find I’m much more calm when the house is in order. It’s just finding the time to get it that way that I struggle with.

I’m at Tafe 3 days a week now, with an extra day dedicated to doing Tafe work, which leaves 3 other days for the cleaning and tidying. But using my precious leisure time to clean makes me feel so ripped off, so I had a little chat with the people at Absolute Domestics about ways I could save time cleaning and spend more time playing.

1. Clean As You Go

It's a mantra the hospitality industry lives by: "Clean as you go." And it holds true on the home front too. Tidying up as you complete tasks is one of the most efficient ways to cut down on massive clean-ups at the end of a long day or week.

That means washing up or stacking the dishwasher immediately after meals, wiping down the shower glass as you exit the bathroom, folding washing as soon as it’s dry and packing up paperwork as you finish the task at hand.

2. Share Responsibility

Whether you have a family, are a couple or live with housemates, keeping your house tidy should be the responsibility of everyone living in that space. Even small children should be encouraged to put their toys back in the box once their game has ended. Not only does this save on cleaning time, but it also encourages an appreciation for the effort and reward of having a nice home. And God knows small children need to be taught that lesson!

And if life's super busy or you'd like a few extras tended to along the way, there's also the option of having a home cleaner come in occasionally or regularly to ensure those tricky areas or last-on-the-list jobs such as the bathroom and vacuuming are dealt with. Professional cleaning agencies such as Absolute Domestics offer regular or one-off cleans so you can claw back some hard-earned rest time around the home.

3. De-Clutter

One of the best ways to sabotage a space is to have copious quantities of clutter. It's just items to clean around, find spots for and dust over. So if you're looking to cut down on your cleaning time, de-clutter your home. Keep only a few important ornaments around that really add to the aesthetic appeal of the room. Store anything else sentimental and ditch anything extraneous. You'll never see a house in a magazine overwhelmed with clutter.

Reducing your number dust collectors also gives the impression of cleanliness and means fewer things to dust and clean. De-cluttering is the number one thing on my list at the moment. I’m determined to get rid of all the crap we’ve collected. We have an entire room of it, for heaven’s sake! Getting rid of some of this stuff will also be a great way to earn a little extra cash flogging it via some of the FB buy/sell/swap groups I’m part of, and everyone loves a little extra cash!

4. A Place for Everything

Keeping your home looking clean is so much simpler if everything has a logical designated place. This might mean investing in some toy chests for the kids, a new cupboard for books and DVDs, or just a more systemised approach to how kitchenware gets put away.

I can honestly say there is nothing I hate more than coming home to a house in a constant state of CHAOS (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome) and I’m determined to get on top of it. Applications are now open for any of the clean freaks amongst you to come and tackle the job ;)

Are you a clean freak or do you have to work at it like me? Have you ever had a cleaner come and do it for you?
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Tuesday, 19 May 2015

What is ISO? {Photography Basics} | Photography

what is iso
Howdy, and welcome to the next instalment of my Photography Basics series. We've already covered how our camera works, as well as what shutter speed is and how you can use it in your photographs. Today, I'd like to talk about ISO.

After aperture and shutter speed, your ISO setting is the third thing that can help you get the correct exposure for your photos. Most how-to guides in photography talk about aperture second, however ISO is much easier to understand and get your head around, so we'll talk about that today.

Just remember, that changing your ISO setting is the LAST thing you do when trying to get the correct exposure for your image if you really need to keep the shutter speed and aperture you've chosen but still need more light. It's one of those settings that people often have no idea what it means or what ISO does, but it can be a really useful little thing to know about when it comes to shooting in and mastering manual mode on your dSLR.


What is ISO?

ISO is related to how much light your camera's sensor picks up. The smaller the ISO number the less sensitive your camera is to the light that your shutter speed and aperture let in. Adjusting your ISO allows you to use the same shutter speed and aperture setting with more or less light.

For instance, say you want to take a photo of your child jumping, and you want to use a faster shutter speed so that they appear to be hanging in mid-air, but it's late afternoon and shady where you want to take the picture. Remembering that a fast shutter speed lets less light in to your camera, you'll notice that your picture may be too dark when you take it.

To fix this, you need to change your aperture and ISO settings. You can choose to use a larger aperture to allow more light in to your camera and help to offset the smaller amount of light the shutter is letting in, or you could slow down your shutter speed. Remembering back to what we learnt about shutter speed though, if you slow your shutter speed down you are more likely to get movement in your picture. In this case, using a slower shutter speed or wider aperture might not be desirable for what you're trying to achieve. So what do you do?
A higher ISO setting makes you camera's sensor much more sensitive to light
Click on the image to see a larger version

You adjust your ISO setting. By selecting a higher ISO number you're making the sensor in your camera more sensitive to light, allowing you to use that faster shutter speed, leave the aperture at the setting you want, and your higher ISO makes the light that is getting in to your camera brighter.

What's the downside of using a higher ISO setting?

The downside to using a higher ISO setting is that by making the sensor, and therefore the pixels of your image more sensitive to light, you're also making them more susceptible to noise, or grain.

Now in some cases that's not a problem. If you're wanting to create a certain effect with your photos then that extra noise or grain might be exactly what you're after. But if a clean, crisp image is what you want, then using a higher ISO setting can be a problem.
As the ISO increases, so does the amount of noise/grain
Click on the image to see a larger version

These days, digital cameras are getting better and better at dealing with the noise created by using a higher ISO. In particular, some of the high-level professional dSLRs on the market are exceptionally good at this and you can shoot at much higher ISOs before noise/grain becomes a problem.

What should my ISO be and when should I change it?

As a rule of thumb, always start out with your ISO on the lowest setting, 100 (some cameras will go down to 50 but that can have other unexpected results so 100 is generally the accepted starting point). If you're shooting photos outside on a nice sunny or even overcast day, then an ISO setting of 100 should be fine, you just change your shutter speed or aperture to get the correct exposure.

However if it's getting dark, or you're shooting at night or indoors with limited light and you don't have, or don't wish to use a flash, then you may want to think about using a higher ISO to compensate for the lack of light. If a wider aperture or slower shutter speed are not desirable, then upping the ISO can often do the trick, with very good results.
Notice the extra noise/grain in the image on the right? That's the side effect of using a higher ISO to let in more light
Click on the image to see a larger version

When you think about changing your ISO, remember that for every step up you make, you double the sensitivity of your camera's sensor. So when you go from ISO 100 to 200, you're getting twice as much sensitivity (light). When you go up to 400, you're getting twice as much sensitivity (light) as you were at 200. At ISO 800 you're getting double the amount of sensitivity (light) that you were at 400.

what is ISO in photography
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Just remember, the higher the ISO the more amount of noise/grain you'll introduce to your photo. So a photo that might be crystal clear at ISO 100 won't be the same at ISO 800, particularly if you want to crop and zoom in to a section of the image. There are lots of software programs available at the moment, as well as things you can do in Photoshop, to reduce some of this noise, but none of them are perfect and they won't remove it all together.

Practice changing the ISO on your camera and taking photos of the same thing at the different ISOs. Go really crazy and crank the ISO up as high as it will go and have a good look at what affect it has on your image (an example of which you can see above). And most of all, have fun experimenting, it's the best way to learn!

Have you ever experimented with changing your ISO setting before?

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Monday, 18 May 2015

One Perfect Moment {Easy Like Sunday Morning} | Life

One Perfect Moment is all about those moments, big or small, that make you wish they'd last forever. Those moments you want to stop in time, when everything feels perfect, even for just a split-second. Snapshots of the mind. Moments to treasure forever.

Sunday mornings. They're just made to be lazy aren't they?

In our house, there are no special rituals or fancy breakfasts. It's just laid-back, slow-paced chilling.

The girls can watch as much TV as they want.

I have the world's biggest coffee.

There's strawberry jam on toast.

And no cleaning.

Mondays are for cleaning.

Sundays are for relaxing.

Yesterday was no different and I spent the day playing with the girls, catching up on the blog world, backing up my external hard drive and planning the shoots I need to do for Tafe this week (I have 4 to do in case you were wondering!).

I also managed to squeeze in a bit of reading time on the lounge while the girls played around me.

Fifteen whole minutes of reading and drinking my coffee, before Zee decided to launch herself off the coffee table and on to me. Thankfully I wasn't so immersed in my fictional world that I didn't realise what she was about to do, otherwise the lounge and my e-reader would have been covered in coffee!

We spent the dying hours of the afternoon at Pughs Lagoon, soaking up the glorious winter sunshine, feeding the birds and swans and ducks. The girls loved getting out of the house, having a run around, kicking the ball and just generally terrorising the poor birds! I even remembered to put the camera on Auto and hand it over to Dave so that I could get #inthepicture myself. So glad I did.

I love days like this. They're nothing particularly special, but there is just a vibe that goes with them. Even the girls pick up on it.

They're just days filled with small moments, that as a whole, form one perfect moment and set us up for the craziness of the week ahead.

Sometimes I wish every day could be like Sunday!

What are Sundays like at your place? Do you have anything special for breakfast?
Linking up with One Mother Hen and The Multitasking Mummy

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Sunday, 17 May 2015

Twenty {52 week project} | Photography

A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2015.
{Punky} She truly has the most beautiful eyes. Both my girls do. Big & beautiful, and blessed with their Daddy's gorgeous lashes.

{Zee} I can always find her in the playroom, converting it from a tidy, organised space, to the scene of a toy bomb explosion. But it makes her happy. And whether she's playing with the dolls house or reading a story to herself, this is her space. Hers and her sisters.
and Worth Casing Wednesday with Agent Mystery Case

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Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Nineteen {52 week project} | Photography

A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2015.
{Punky & Zee} Two peas in a pod. That's the best way to describe them. They are becoming the best of friends. Punky is always telling me that Zee is her best friend. Despite the fact that Zee is learning to fight back when Punky gets a little rough with her, they love playing together. They close themselves in their bedroom and all I can hear is screaming and laughing. It fills my heart with so much joy, and I can only hope that they continue to be best friends for the rest of their lives.

Wordless Wednesday with My Little Drummer Boys
and Worth Casing Wednesday with Agent Mystery Case

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Tuesday, 12 May 2015

A Day in the Life {10 on the 10th | May 2015} | Photography

Amazingly I actually managed to complete another 10 on the 10th for the month of May. Admittedly it wasn't hard, it was Mother's Day after all so I was taking photos all day.

So I'm sharing my favourite 10 photos for the day, most of them taken at my Mum's house where we had lunch...
My Mother's Day card, made and signed by Punky herself (Zee did her best to sign her name too, as you can see from the scribble, lol!)

This girl is just so full of life, and she loves a little selfie session

Helping Grandma read her card and open her presents

Punky was not impressed that the melts Mum was given were not edible, a fact she discovered after she tried to take a bite out of one!

Checking out the new iPod speaker Grandma got. Punky had figured out how to use it before Grandma did!

The girl who made me a Mum

Having a little rest on the rocking chair after lunch

Life. It flows freely when she is around

One of Dave's signature looks

Once again the selfie queen loves seeing herself on the screen

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Monday, 11 May 2015

One Perfect Moment {Glorious Weekends} | Life

One Perfect Moment is all about those moments, big or small, that make you wish they'd last forever. Those moments you want to stop in time, when everything feels perfect, even for just a split-second. Snapshots of the mind. Moments to treasure forever.

You may have noticed that today's edition of One Perfect Moment is a little late in the publishing. I don't have any excuse other than that I had a lovely weekend and the thought of sitting down at the computer didn't even cross my mind.

On Saturday my sister and our good friend B went to Castle Hill to the maternity clothing store, Angel Maternity, so that my sister could stock up on some new clothes. At 28 weeks pregnant she's getting to the pointy end where you're rapidly growing and it becomes hard to find decent, good quality clothes that will make it through the last 10 weeks.

Thankfully she found everything she needed, and so we headed to Rouse Hill to have some lunch and check out Big W who had a sale on knitwear. It was a madhouse at Rouse Hill Town Centre, being the day before Mother's Day and all, but we finally managed to get ourselves a parking spot and headed up for some lunch at Coco Cubano.

Despite the busyness, we chose a good day to go, because the Sydney Boutique Markets were also on so we had the chance to wander down the streets of the town square and check out some of the stalls. It looked like a really good market, with lots of new stalls I've not seen before, so we will definitely be going back to have a proper look at the next one.
Spending Mother's Day with the girl who made me a Mum.

Lucky for me, we discovered that the Big W knitwear sale was 50% OFF! So I managed to get myself not just a nice black cardi but also a black jumper as well. Usually I go for the birghter colours, but being that I'll be at Tafe for the rest of the year, and it's best to wear black while wearing in the studio, I needed something that was going to get me through the Tafe winter.

I spent the rest of Saturday relaxing (I even managed to get in a nap!) and Saturday evening curled up on the lounge with Dave watching TV. The perfect way to end a lazy Saturday.

Sunday was of course Mother's Day, and after having a sleep-in and a family cuddle in the morning, we then headed over to my Mum's house for lunch, which then turned in to dinner as well! It was so nice to just hang out with everyone, with no stress or anywhere else that we needed to be.

After lunch we sat around and played Balderdash and after that was done Dave gave the girls a bath before dinner. After a pizza dinner we packed up the sleepiest of sleepy girls and headed for home. Again, I found myself curled up on the lounge with Dave, eating my favourite ice cream (Coles Lemon Meringue in case you were wondering!) and watching 6 episodes back to back of The Walking Dead.

It was seriously the best kind of weekend, spent with the people I love, in glorious weather, with no stress or hassle, no rushing around. We actually got to sit back and enjoy each other's company for a change, with nothing to do but enjoy each other's company.

A glorious weekend filled with perfect moments.

Did you have a lovely weekend? How did you spend Mother's Day?

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Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Dymocks 2015 Top 101 Books List {Reading Writes Chapter Six} | Reading

Every year Dymocks updates it's Top 101 Books list and this year is no exception. The books that make the list have been voted for by the members of Dymocks Booklover club, of which I am a member (and this post is in no way sponsored or endorsed by Dymocks either, in case you were wondering, I just like to share!).

It's always interesting to see the books that make the list. There are always the old favourites, like the Harry Potter series, classics such as To Kill a Mockingbird and Pride and Prejudice, and of course a smattering of fairly new releases, the ones that have stuck in people's minds. Not to mention the books that have recently been made in to movies or TV shows.

I'm pleased to say that there are a number of new books on the list, quite a few of which I haven't read. I've read 24 of the books on 2015's list and there are many that I am keen to add to my To Be Read list. At the moment I'm working my way through Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, which sits at number 20 on the list, as well as watching the TV adaptation of Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall, which made it on to the list at number 84 this year.

The latest list is quite varied, and I'm keen to get in to my local store soon to take advantage of their current 3 for the price of 2 offer on the Top 101 list. It was this offer that saw me buy the first Outlander book last year, and I'm so glad I did. The offer runs until June 1st so you have plenty of time to grab a few for yourself. Again, this post is in no way sponsored or endorsed by Dymocks, I just thought you'd like to know where to grab yourself a bargain.

And so, without further ado, the Dymocks 2015 Top 101 Books list is as follows...

1. THE BOOK THIEF - Markus Zusak
4. MAGICIAN - Raymond E. Feist
5. THE LORD OF THE RINGS (BOOKS 1-3) - J. R. R. Tolkien
7. THE HOBBIT - J. R. R. Tolkien
8. JANE EYRE - Charlotte Brontë
12. THE DIVERGENT SERIES - Veronica Roth
13. GONE GIRL - Gillian Flynn
14. THRONE OF GLASS - Sarah J. Maas
15. THE BRONZE HORSEMAN - Paullina Simons
16. THE HUNGER GAMES SERIES - Suzanne Collins
17. THE NAME OF THE WIND - Patrick Rothfuss
19. NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR - George Orwell
20. OUTLANDER - Diana Gabaldon
21. THE POWER OF ONE - Bryce Courtenay
22. GONE WITH THE WIND - Margaret Mitchell
23. THE NIGHT CIRCUS - Erin Morgenstern
24. BURIAL RITES - Hannah Kent
25. THE ROSIE PROJECT - Graeme Simsion
26. WUTHERING HEIGHTS - Emily Brontë
27. BITTER GREENS - Kate Forsyth
28. VAMPIRE ACADEMY - Richelle Mead
29. THE CATCHER IN THE RYE - J. D. Salinger
30. MAZE RUNNER - James Dashner
32. THE ALCHEMIST - Paulo Coelho
33. CLOUDSTREET - Tim Winton
34. FANGIRL - Rainbow Rowell
35. ELEANOR & PARK - Rainbow Rowell
36. SHANTARAM - Gregory David Roberts
37. LITTLE WOMEN - Louisa May Alcott
38. ANNE OF GREEN GABLES - L. M. Montgomery
41. WE WERE LIARS - E. Lockhart
43. THE KITE RUNNER - Khaled Hosseini
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45. A FORTUNATE LIFE - A. B. Facey
46. PAPER TOWNS - John Green
47. REBECCA - Daphne Du Maurier
48. THE SHADOW OF THE WIND - Carlos Ruiz Zafón
50. FALLEN - Lauren Kate
53. PEOPLE OF THE BOOK - Geraldine Brooks
55. WHITE TIGER - Aravind Adiga
56. CATCH-22 - Joseph Heller
58. THE MESSENGER - Markus Zusak
59. THE GRAPES OF WRATH - John Steinbeck
60. PERSUASION - Jane Austen
61. ANNA KARENINA - Leo Tolstoy
62. A FINE BALANCE - Rohinton Mistry
66. ICE STATION - Matthew Reilly
67. OBERNEWTYN - Isobelle Carmody
69. THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO - Alexandre Dumas
70. JASPER JONES - Craig Silvey
71. THE TIME TRAVELLER'S WIFE - Audrey Niffenegger
73. ON THE ROAD - Jack Kerouac
74. THE GOLDFINCH - Donna Tartt
75. ANIMAL FARM - George Orwell
77. THE GREAT GATSBY - F. Scott Fitzgerald
79. WONDER - R. J. Palacio
80. GOOD OMENS - Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
81. LIFE OF PI - Yann Martel
82. MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA - Arthur Golden
83. THE PASSAGE - Justin Cronin
84. WOLF HALL - Hilary Mantel
85. ERAGON - Christopher Paolini
86. GREAT EXPECTATIONS - Charles Dickens
87. HUSH, HUSH (BOOKS 1 & 2) - Becca Fitzpatrick
89. LES MISÉRABLES - Victor Hugo
91. THE LITTLE PRINCE - Antoine De Saint-Exupéry
92. THE PRINCESS BRIDE - William Goldman
93. A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS - Khaled Hosseini
95. THE GREAT ZOO OF CHINA - Matthew Reilly
96. THE HELP - Kathryn Stockett
97. IF I STAY - Gayle Forman
98. THE ROAD - Cormac McCarthy
99. THE STAND - Stephen King
100. GIRL ONLINE - Zoe Sugg
101. I AM PILGRIM - Terry Hayes

How many have you read? Are there any on the list that you'd like to read? What books would you have voted for?

Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT.

If you want to see what books made the list in previous years you can check them out by clicking the images below...

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Monday, 4 May 2015

One Perfect Moment {New Arrivals} | Life

One Perfect Moment is all about those moments, big or small, that make you wish they'd last forever. Those moments you want to stop in time, when everything feels perfect, even for just a split-second. Snapshots of the mind. Moments to treasure forever.

A Royal Princess.

I must admit to being a little bit excited about the birth of another royal babe. So excited in fact that I ended up being awake till the early hours of Sunday morning, waiting to see the Princess make her debut as she headed to her new home.

I was working on my Tafe stuff and was just about pack up for the night when I clicked over to Sky News and they were saying that the Duke & Duchess would be leaving with their baby girl within the hour. So of course I stayed up to watch. I was going to be tired anyway, what difference would another hour make.

I was watching when Prince William arrived back from picking up Prince George so that he could meet his sister. I must admit that seeing them walk in to the hospital together was the moment I started to tear up.

All I could think about was the moment I first saw Punky after Zee was born. I hadn't seen her since Sunday night, and it was now Tuesday evening. Despite the fatigue after a 28 hour labour, I could not wait to see my big girl.

A few days before Zee was born I broke down while I was talking to J my Doula, and confessed that my biggest fear about having another baby had nothing to do with the labour & delivery, or how I was going to cope with two small children under two, but in how Punky would be effected by the new arrival.

I needn't have worried.

Punky was shy when she first saw me. I'd be away from her longer than ever before in her life, and hospital's can be a scary place for a little one. She walked in, with her hair in pigtails, looking a million times more grown up than she had when I tucked her in to bed before I left for the hospital 2 days before.

Dave lifted her on to the bed and then bought Zee over and she stared at her with interest. I don't think she could quite comprehend what it was before her. That this little bundle, that so resembled one of her dolls, was actually alive, and moving.

I will never forget that moment when I first saw both my girls together for the first time. My heart felt like it was the size of Jupiter, and fit to burst with all of the emotions I was feeling. Creating a family with the love of my life, bringing these two beautiful little Princesses in to the world, it's the best thing I've ever done.

The sheer joy that comes when a new soul joins us earth-side is universal and awe-inspiring. Humbling. There is no better feeling in the world than those first few days with your new baby and family. It's like being wrapped in a warm, fluffy blanket of love, and no matter the aches, pains and fatigue, it feels as though that blanket of love is big enough to envelope the whole world.

As I watched the Duke & Duchess walk down the steps with their precious cargo and jump in to the car, homeward bound, I felt the tears at my eyes again. The memories of my own first night at home as a family of four were fresh in mind, and my heart was bursting with happiness for them, knowing too well the happiness they were heading towards.

Whether a Royal Princess or simply a Purtell Princess, the love and bond of family is the same. I know they will be cherishing these perfect moments exactly the same way I cherish mine.

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Sunday, 3 May 2015

Eighteen {52 week project} | Photography

A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2015.
{Punky} She's been loving her new playroom. Plays in there for ages, with her toys, reading books, watching & playing the iPad in the evenings for quiet time. It was the best decision, moving the girls in together and creating this play space for them.

{Zee} Self awareness. It's growing in this one. She comes to me with her favourite Peppa Pig t-shirt, a hair elastic or other thing that she wishes to wear. She's starting to know her own mind, have opinions on what she will or won't wear. I wonder if she'll be as enamoured of pretty dresses as her big sister is, or develop her own style. A little bit of both, I think.

Wordless Wednesday with My Little Drummer Boys
and Worth Casing Wednesday with Agent Mystery Case

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