Sunday, 12 May 2013

Sunday Smörgåsbord

It may have been another unintentionally quiet fortnight in the magpie's online nest (sorry, folks), but not so in the real world. School has been supremely busy, and weekends have been jam packed! Lots of highlights which I can't feature on the Smörgåsbord, for reasons which will become apparent, but which I would love to share...

1. Ate at Dans le Noir last weekend to celebrate my wonderful big sister's birthday. In essence, you eat in the dark. When I say dark, I mean utterly, thoroughly, oppressively dark. You cannot see your own hand in front of your face. It's incredible. Oh, and you have no idea what you are going to be served for dinner. You can (and should!) read all about it here. We opted for the Chef's special menu, which turned out to be camel, crocodile and kangaroo. Insane! Now you understand why I have no photographs...

2. I took my little school chamber choir to compete in their first ever music festival this week (I only auditioned them in October). They were fantastic and won their class - so proud!

3. Slept for a maximum of two hours on Friday night. I took my class of seven and eight year olds camping in the woods. We had a whale of a time! Scavenger hunt, toasted marshmallows, camp songs and an uphill night hike. The last one awake fell asleep at 2:30am, one woke me homesick and afraid of the dark at 3:30, and the majority were then awake at 5:20. I feel fine now, but I have my suspicions that it's going to be a long week...

1. Finally opened our Chocolate Frog from Universal, Florida. Sadly, in spite of its being in date, the chocolate was grim, but at least I have the pretty box as a memento!

2. Dressing up for a big night out. Winged liner!

3. We hatch ducklings at school every year - not an easy task for my poor colleague who spent most of the Easter holidays turning the eggs! There are always some that don't hatch, sadly, so each one that makes it is a little miracle! Isn't she pretty?! I also though she looked particularly good against my hot pink nails. Perhaps she'd like a bow..?

4. Lovely meal out with friends at The Parrot Inn, Forest Green. As instructed by this door sign, we engaged in feasting, fuddling and fun. And no, fuddling is not a naughty word.

5 - 7. Bank Holiday day trip to Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth. Spinnaker Tower (5). Bathed in glorious sunshine and indulged in a little retail therapy: luscious coral polo (6) from Ralph Lauren outlet at an amazing discount and half price Cath Kidston (7)!

8. Homemade Fennel, Pear and Red Pepper Soup for dinner this evening. Delicious. I know I always promise recipes and then fail miserably to post them, but I promise I will churn out a glut of wonderful recipes at half term!

So much more to share, so little time. Sigh. I will do my very best to keep up with some midweek posting, but I may be AWOL again this coming fortnight due to exams/reports/school trips/making a start on packing up the flat (we are moving next month...). Please do continue to stop by though, and find me on Twitter and Pinterest via the links at the top right of the homepage.

TTFN, pp x

Magpie Must Haves ~ Snap Appy

Five of the best photography apps

My iPhone is permanently chockablock full of photos. I have never really grown out of the snap happy impulse of childhood, and love the ability to document everything wherever I go at the click of a button. I do have a reasonably good point and shoot digital camera, but I'm now in the process of researching digital SLRs to take my photography to the next level. In the meantime though, I have the camera in my pocket: my iPhone 5. This article, by my friend and amazing wedding photographer, Ria Mishaal, reminded me: irrespective of its spec, the simple fact that it's always at your fingertips often makes your phone the very best camera there is.

Now that so many of us have half decent cameras built into our phones, a whole host of apps have been developed to enhance your photos, so that even an average snap can be manipulated into something rather more impressive at the touch of a button. With that in mind, I am listing my five favourite photography/video/image editing apps for you, and encourage you to get snap appy with your smartphones!

1. Instagram (FREE)

If you haven't heard of Instagram, I can only assume that you have been living under a rock for the past year or two! Aside from the app itself, and what it can do for your photographs, it can also be used in a social networking capacity. Each time you use Instagram to take a photo or edit an existing image, it will upload it to your personal photostream, which you can choose to make public or keep private as you wish. It offers a range of filters that can really enhance an image, from black and white options to those that increase the vibrancy and contrast of colours in an image. It is worth noting that Instagram images are all cropped square, which can either be very handy, or at times a hindrance, depending on your requirements. I use Instagram to edit many of my photographs that I want to share on the blog precisely because working with all square images facilitates laying them out simply and effectively.


2. Camera+ (£0.69)

Camera plus is essentially a more advanced version of Instagram, only minus the social networking. It has many more options for adding exciting effects to your images, from colour filters to vintage style overlays. A really great editing suite for your smartphone.

3. 8mm (£1.49)

A simple yet effective app that turns your HD video function into an old 8mm video recorder. Really fun for shooting little scenes here and there: landscape rolling by through a train window, waves rolling on the beach, 
children at play. Very charming.


4. Photosynth (FREE)

A clever little app that allows you to take 360° photos. As you rotate on the spot, Photosynth takes a series of photos until you arrive back in your original position. It then seamlessly stitches these images together to create the 360° effect. Really wish I'd remembered to use this at our wedding!


5. iMotion HD (FREE)
I fell in love with stop motion when Ria and her husband Jake put together some stop motion footage of our Brighton engagement shoot. We loved it so much that they very kindly agreed to doing the same on our wedding day, which resulted in a beautiful video montage of some of our wedding photos, interspersed with snippets of stop motion. This app allows you to create your own scenes in stop motion, either automatically or manually, and for a free app I think it does a great job.


I would love to hear any recommendations you may have, either for photography apps, or for a good entry level digital SLR. I've been considering the Nikon D3100...

pp x