Taking flatlay pictures

Apart from cooking, baking and exercising, another (less obvious) interest of mine is photography. I used ‘less obvious’ because many pictures that I have taken these days are quickly snapped, blurred at times and lack inspiration. I blame it on uncooperative kids. ;p

img_7510

Take a glance at my Instagram account and you can tell that it mainly comprises pictures of my kids and food. While I cannot control the appearance and sometimes the mood (they refuse to smile at the camera) of my children, I could certainly style my food better. Impressed by the flatlay shots taken by instagrammers, I attempted to do likewise and have come to the conclusion that it is not so easy to take a good #flatlay shot. An afternoon with Canon Singapore on Creating Better Content workshop confirmed that.

I went back, armed with the renewed desire to take better pictures and to give #flatlay shots a shot. The following are some pointers that I have noted:

:: Use a basic background

My wooden dining table is often used as the background and in order to have more variety, I search for towels and cloth. Little did I realise that I could actually use design paper as my background.

img_6593

This picture was taken during the workshop and you would have thought that I was laying all these props on a marble top eh? It was actually a design paper! Soo desne! I went back and bought a few of such papers for my #flatlay challenge. I try to choose simple backgrounds that don’t distract the viewer from the main subject.

:: Use natural light

I think we all know that natural light gives the best effect. Taking a shot somewhere that near a large window or glass doors is ideal because it often have a great supply of natural light. Unfortunately, my place is rather dim and I often take pictures under warm lighting. Using photo editing apps (Splice, VSCO , A Beautiful Mess, etc) will help in this case. It certainly makes sense to enhance saturation, lighting and/or warmth where possible/ if necessary with these apps.

img_7350

This is the shot I took on my dining table. Nope, I didn’t buy a marble table; I merely use a design paper and edit it to make it look better. Is this nice?

:: Have a theme
:: Think of colour palette
:: Pick things that look good from top
:: Leave space between each object

img_7089

Taking a good flatlay photo involves a lot of work, IMHO. You have to take the above into consideration and it certainly takes time. I entitled this picture as ‘A Beary Good Breakfast’ and got Faith to help make the bear design on the bread. The colour palette that I have chosen is in the shade of brown and yellow and I tried to scout for things that look nice from the top.

Alas, I feel that there is much room for improvement. I think I must continue to look for props to spice up my flatlay pic. Time to build my prop box!

:: Experiment with different layouts

img_6587

It really does take a long time to come up with a good flatlay pic. During the workshop, the participants were given props and time to come up with a few flatlay pics that they want to submit for a simple contest. You should have seen the hard work put in by them in arranging and re-arranging the props and playing with different layouts. Tough job!

img_6598

In the end, I settled for this. I tried to keep the frame full. I did my best.

img_6770-1

After the workshop, these are the photos that I took, bearing in mind the pointers that were given.

img_6669

Monday Blues’ breakfast

img_7382

Sometimes, when I’m at the eatery, I will try to take a flatlay shot of the food but I have to take a quick one because the husband is rolling his eyes and the girl (Ms TamChiak) is crying out for food.

img_6618Credit: Estella

It was an enriching session and Faith and I enjoyed ourselves. The girl wanted to try her hands on the Canon camera and I think I will start her on that using my personal one. I just hope she won’t destroy it. Nah..

Thank you, Canon Singapore and Claudia of The Loving Mom for this lovely sharing session! Looking forward to future sessions!

 

Musical Exploration at Music Adventurer Workshop 

[Review]

How can you tell which instrument your kid is interested in apart from giving them the exposure to interact with them? At least this is what I believe. Workshops such as the Music Adventurer Workshop seeks to achieve that by getting young kids to explore real music and musical instruments, on top of the basics to introduce and prepare them in this musical journey.

Faith had completed all the sessions of the Music Adventurers Workshop (4-6 years old) by Musichaus during the June holidays (I wrote about the first session here). From those sessions, she was introduced and given the opportunity to play the various instruments such as the ukelele, keyboard, xylophone and wooden percussions. Apart from that, she also learnt musical terms such as Forte (loud) and Piano (soft) and got to play the instruments in 3 and 4 beats during the four sessions.

On my own, I wouldn’t be able to share such knowledge with her because I just am quite handicapped when it comes to music (I can sing all right). I couldn’t even understand the tau gey (musical notes)!

Besides introducing the various instruments, the children were treated to storytelling times in which Teacher Trina would incorporate music and movement based on what they have read. The children were also encouraged to use their vocals to, for example, imitate the sounds of the different animals as read from the story.

img_0891

In terms of movement, you bet there were lots of it. We (the parents) sat in for the first and last 10 minutes of each session and I could testify that the kids moved A LOT. So much so that I was a little uncomfortable. I mean, were they learning? It was definitely a different kind of learning environment in which the kids were encouraged to move about, dance to the music and to practise their beats using the instruments.

img_0139

After each session, Teacher Trina would give us feedback as to how our kid responded to the lesson. Based on her summary, I asked Faith what she had learnt when we got home and to tell me the musical instruments that she was introduced for that day. And she could! Oh, me of little faith! And I thought she wasn’t paying attention with all those running about. There were also occasions that she could tell me what she had learnt when we read a story that was similar to what Teacher Trina had shared. So, she did learn! It didn’t come immediately of course but she would share her learning with me when her memory was triggered.

I certainly like the idea of incorporating language arts and music in this workshop because I believe they can be intertwined. Teacher Trina termed this as musical story time where percussions and paino were used to enhance the experience of reading. I must also commend Teacher Trina for being patient with the young kids. If you have seen how she dealt with them, you would agree with me that it was truly admirable of her to be able to engage the kids for 90 minutes even though I think that time duration is too long for young children to stay focussed.

img_1572

At the end of the day, Faith did acquire some knowledge about the basics of music and the various musical instruments. Most of all, she had fun and looked forward to each session and that’s good enough for me. To me, it’s a good way to spend her school holiday though I’m rather reluctant to crowd her school days with enrichment classes. I’m hoping that Musichaus would continue to hold such workshops in December! Anyway, I have given feedback to Teacher Trina and she said she would consider. 😉

However, if you are thinking of sending your little ones to such a class on a regular basis, these sessions will be conducted every Thursday, 3 – 4pm at Trehaus and they will commence on 7th July 2016. The theme for the lesson is Classical Music and you can find out more via their website.

Trehaus Cowork
442 Orchard Road, #03-01
Singapore 238879
Tel: 9843 8077
Email: enquiries@trehauscowork.com

Disclaimer: Our sessions were sponsored in exchange for a review of the workshop. No other forms of monetary compensation was given and all opinions are mine. There are quite a few good coffee joints at Claymore Connect and since this is a drop off class, you could enjoy some time on your own with a cup of caffeine, i.e. if you enjoy it. 

A morning spent at a terrarium workshop

“Oh no! I’m late! I’m late!”

I was panicking as I drove to Hortpark. There was a traffic jam caused by an exit closure due to the SEA Games and I had to think of an alternative route to get to my destination. Alas, there was still heavy traffic along the way and I contemplated turning back home. However, the little girl was adamant on going and kept insisting that she wanted to go to the garden. Thankfully, I heeded her advice. Because both of us had great fun that morning. image Faith and I were invited to a terrarium workshop by the good folks at Actualyse. The workshop itself was conducted by Cath of The Plant Story. By the time we reached the indoor open concept cafe, we were half an hour late and we went straight to making our own terrarium.

imagePhoto: Actualyse

In simple term, a terrarium is a low-maintenance indoor garden in a glass container and is ideal for people who don’t have the time to care for a garden or just don’t have a “green thumb” like yours truly. What you would need is a clear glass container and plants suitable for terrariums. To start making the indoor garden, you would need gravel or small pebbles, charcoal pieces, potting soil and some decoration pieces.

image

Initially, I was a bit worried that Faith might not not be up for the job and would create a mess instead but decided that I should just let her try. I must say, she did well! She was careful at every step, perhaps sensing her mama’s anxiety and in the end, she created and decorated her own garden without much mess!

image image image image

Obviously, she received help from me who was actually clueless as to what I should do. Thankfully, I met very helpful participants and fellow moms who guided me along.

imagePhoto: Actualyse

image

Photo: Actualyse

image

This is the end product and I must say the little girl was proud of her work!

image

Please don’t drop it!

image

Photo: Actualyse Can you sense my joy and pride?

It was a short one hour session (minus our half-an-hour lateness) but both Faith and I had a good time of bonding through working on the terrarium. If you are interested, you should definitely find out more about this workshop whose DIY kit starts from $35/- and workshop fee is at $10/pax or $20/pax for a private session. You can also have the option to add a hand-made Murano glass animal to further personalise your gardens. Everything is provided for. You just need to get ready to play with dirt and not mind the mess (not a lot actually).

image Photo: Actualyse

Through that session, I got to understand Faith a tad more. That she can be an orderly person and is capable of understanding and following instructions and attempting more difficult tasks (at her age). I should never underestimate a 2.5 years old girl! It is much like what the founder of Actualyse, Isabelle Loo, believed in, that each one of us has a unique blend of capabilities and skills, and in setting up actualyse.com, a one-stop education and learning resource portal, she hopes to help people discover the best ways to nurture and unleash that talent.

It’s a reminder to me as a mom, to respect Faith as a unique individual, and to help her discover and nurture her talent(s).

image Photo: Actualyse

It was indeed an enriching and fun session, thanks to the good people of Actualyse who organised it for us. You could get yourself updated on the latest news, information and trends on education and learning via the Catalyst Library at actualyse.com and perhaps, for a start, register and find out your own unique strengths smarts through their simple Multiple Intelligences quiz?

image Photo: Actualyse

The Plant Story HortPark, Singapore. 33 Hyderabad Road (Off Alexandra Road) #01-01 (Beside the Lawn) Singapore 119578 Opening hours: 10am to 7pm daily. Closed on Wednesday and major public holidays.

Cake Topper/ Doll Making Workshop

IMG_2562Hello! How adorable are these wooden dolls which act as cake toppers too!

I first caught sight of these dolls such as this through etsy as I was looking for cake toppers a few months ago. They can be rather expensive and I was looking to doing them on my own. However, due to a lack of time, I couldn’t source for the materials and gave up the idea until Jasmine ran a giveaway on her FB page. Participated but didn’t win. However, that did not deter me from joining the workshop. Da man knew that I love to attend such workshops and gave his blessing while my in-laws and he took over to care of baby Faith. It’s ME time! Woohoo!

So, I made my way down to A for Arbite which is the hosting site for the event. I was the first to arrive for the workshop (eager!) and had a quick bite before the class commenced.

IMG_7813

Liza and her family came shortly and what a joy to have great company!

IMG_7831

The workshop was conducted by Wei Mum of Little Craft Loft and I was so amazed by the ‘barang barang’ that that were needed to do up these dolls. When I say ‘amazed’, I mean I’m captivated because all the stuff are what you will use when you do craftwork = KAWAII! They include cloth, stickers, ribbons, etc.

IMG_7844 IMG_7846

So, the steps (in summary) involved in making these dolls:

First, you outline the facial features.

First, you outline the facial features.

Then, you paint it and glaze it.

Then, you paint it and glaze it.

Prepare the clothes!

Prepare the clothes!

The finishing touch.

The finishing touch.

Wei Mun is a very patient instructor and because of that, I enjoyed the session a lot. I’ve got great company – Liza and her hubby, Winston, and little Xander! My lunch was paid for by this generous and funny family too. How blessed I am!

LIza and Winston

LIza and Winston

IMG_7833

IMG_7836

IMG_7847

So, the cake toppers were done and they will be part of the cake which I will be baking for Faith’s first birthday. What a good way to spend my weekend and a very relaxing one to have my ME time. Love it!

IMG_7853

IMG_7839

Do check out Little Craft Loft for more updates and perhaps you might want to make these dolls yourself!

Fisher-Price® Joy of Learning Workshop

Time passed so quickly. Faith is already six months old and ready for another stage of her development!

As the little munchkin grows, I find myself not knowing what to do to engage her at times. Being a new mother and a SAHM, I have to keep up with reading on relevant books and materials so that I could be well equipped in handling her. Thankfully there are workshops and online resources that reach out to people like me. Here’s one by Fisher-Price® that is coming up and I would be going for it. The following is a little information on it.

Fisher-Price Joy of Learning

The Fisher-Price® Joy of Learning Workshop is an interactive, informative, and practical workshop to arm you with a clearer understanding of your role as principal caregivers in this scheme of play and offer tools to better engage and nurture your little ones through joyful play activities. Recognising the irreplaceable role of play-based learning, when our little ones are provided with settings where they can readily interact with us whilst actively investigating, exploring and manipulating toys and items in their surroundings, they are not only ‘playing’ but developing critical skills for daily living and relationship-building.

Conducting the workshop is Ms Carrie E. Lupoli, educational and parenting expert, spokesperson for Mattel Fisher-Price® “Joy of Learning” in S.E.A and founder of Singapore’s premier private education agency – Live & Learn Consulting.

Four topics of interest will be covered at the Fisher-Price® Joy of Learning Workshop:

1. The Roles and Responsibilities of Parenting
2. Understanding Developmental Milestones
3. How Children Learn Best
4. Age Appropriate Play-based Ideas for Optimal Growth and Development

Date: Sunday, 9 June 2013
Time: 9am – 2pm
Venue: Raffles City Convention Centre
Fairmont Singapore & Swissotel The Stamford, Atrium Ballroom, Level 4
80 Bras Basah, Singapore 189560
Cost: $50 (inclusive of a goody bag worth more than $100)

This workshop is open to parents with children up to 5 years old and expectant mothers only. However, children are not allowed as it is a hands-on workshop for parents.

If you are interested, please email your name and mobile number to fisherprice@asiaprwerkz.com

Tefal cooking workshop @ ONAKA

It’s 4pm on a serene Saturday and nestled within the PSA building, five bloggers were getting ready to learn wonderful cooking techniques from the chefs at ONAKA restaurant using Tefal Comfort Touch Frypan. The cooking workshop is a collaboration between Tefal Singapore and omy.sg and I am privileged to be one of the bloggers attending the event.

IMG_0567Held at ONAKA (which is an acronym for Optimum Nutrition And Kitchen Arts), the head chef, Jason Vito, and sous chef, Benson Tong showed their passion for cooking healthily by their deliberate choice of the ingredients used and providing us with nutritional knowledge of the food as they cooked. It was much like a Science lesson. As they demonstrated a three-course restaurant quality meal using the Tefal Comfort Touch Frypan, I am assured that good food is within the reach of any homecook. 

I. Garlic prawns on toast

ONAKA’s belief in eating consciously and living mindfully naturally extents to the quality and ingredients used in their food preparation. For this dish, rye bread is used for its many benefits over white bread. Did I mention that they bake their own bread at ONAKA?

IMG_0638

Heating up the Tefal Comfort Touch Frypan, Chef Jason added olive oil and saute the rosemary, kaffir lime leaf, garlic and chilli. Turning the heat to high, prawns were then added to be seared which turned red within minutes. Lastly, white wine (Chef used drinking white wine) was added and the restaurant was IMG_0646suddenly perfumed by the savory aroma and filled with sputtering music. My senses awoke and appetite whetted.

Before platting the prawns on the rye bread, Chef Benson showed us that even without a panini press, we could achieve the same result for a toasted rye bread using the frypan and he’s right, it worked well! With a sprinkle of extra virgin oil and lime juice and a brilliant use of blended soy lecithin and lime juice as garnishing, a very delectable garlic prawns on toast was presented before us. And it’s not surprising that we polished it off within minutes.

IMG_0632

II. Roasted Mushroom Soba

The next dish would require more time for preparation since the mushrooms have to be roasted to remove its strong smell since some may not like it. However, once the ingredients are ready, the cooking time should just take about 10 minutes.

IMG_0653

From the look of the ingredients and the name of the dish, you might think that it is rather Japanese, no? Well, it is essentially Japanese, in my opinion, but Chef gave a twist to it by adding truffle oil during plating, thus staying true to their incorporation of “East meets West Healing Kitchen” concept.

IMG_0665 IMG_0686 IMG_0696

The dish is quick and simple to make, as I have mentioned, as long as the ingredients are ready and mise en place. Chef first blanched the soba in boiling water for about 2 minutes. Then, he added olive oil to the heated pan and sauted the roasted mushroom. Mirin was poured in and subsequently dashi and tamari (soy sauce) were added to taste. Finally, the cooked soba was added to the stock and brought to boil before Chef plated the dish and garnished it with nori, daikon cress and truffle oil. Yes, it’s that simple! Is it possible to make this dish at home? Absolutely! What’s even better is that this dish can be made just by using one frypan! I love it too that the Chefs at ONAKA create recipes that could be re-created in the comfort of our homes and kitchens. Awesome!

IMG_0705

Don’t you love this roasted mushroom soba? You can tell from the picture that it is a healthy dish – good for our stomach! Have I shared that ONAKA means “stomach” in Japanese? Oh! Just for information’s sake, Chef shared with us that the best dried konbu has to be from Hokkaido.

III. Butternut Squash Pancake with Banana Ice Cream

Desserts! Who can resist? I must warn you that this portion is big and good for four people. I could have this for my main actually. IMG_0728

Butternut squash was used instead of pumpkin which was stated in the recipe. And why not since the former is sweeter and definitely a winner. If you do not know how it looks like, here is a picture, together with the rest of the ingredients. The fun-loving Chef Jason decided to add a face to the squash and the latter came alive with a smile.

The preparation time for this dessert takes about 60 minutes since you have to roast the squash and rest the batter. Just some additional knowledge – when we mix the batter ingredients, it is advisable not to mix it too much as overmixing causes carbon dioxide to escape, resulting in flat, tough pancakes. The presence of carbon dioxide creates light, fluffy pancakes. The batter is then rested in the fridge for about 30 minutes to allow more carbon dioxide bubbles to develop. According to Chef Jason, baking powder is added so that a fluffier pancake can result.

IMG_0747 IMG_0750IMG_0753 IMG_0758

Using the Tefal Frypan, Chef Jason heated it up to medium hot, added some oil and then a ladder of batter and let it fry for about 2 minutes. 8 to 10 pieces of roasted squash were then added to the batter. Chef commented that the pancake should not be too cooked since by doing so, it would result in a dry pancake. After ensuring the bottom of the pancake was well cooked (you should see a brown side), he did the flip.

gif online creator
I thought the flip fully showed off the frypan’s non-stick capability. Not a trace of batter was stuck and the bottom of the pancake was beautifully and evenly cooked. The frypan’s awesome!

IMG_0771 IMG_0779

Once that was done, the rest was simple. Just cut the pancake into eighths and garnish with banana ice cream and mixed berries.

IMG_0813

Thanks to the good folks at Tefal and omy.sg, we could enjoy this terrific cooking experience with the affable chefs at ONAKA who were so willing to share their culinary knowledge with us. I am indeed motivated to cook healthily for my family and now equipped with Tefal Frypan and Saute-pan, I felt almost empowered and definitely encouraged to come up with wonderful dishes to share with you!

IMG_0648

Join me in this culinary journey and do check back soon. I will be sharing a creation of my own recipe with you.

Read the experiences of the other bloggers on the official website.
More pictures of the workshop are on my FB page.