Fave Fridays: Sharing some Insta-Love

Are you an Instagram addict lover like me? I love browsing through my feeds and seeing gorgeous photos – it just makes my day!

I try to post as well, and sometimes when time isn’t on my side, I do a simple point-focus-shoot and then post. But other times, when life is less hectic (in other words, the kids aren’t screaming or trying to kill each other), I like to play around with photo apps. And boy oh boy, I have downloaded quite a few.

Here’re some of my favourite (and most frequently used) photo-editing apps on my iPhone.

Snap Away

#1: Wordswag (Download link here)

Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 11.34.46 am

My latest download – and there is so many ways to play around with the words, fonts, colours, effects that it is quite a joy to use. A picture paints a thousand words, and if you have a quotable quote to say, use this app to add some pizazz to your words!

#2: Little Moments (Download link here)

This is a photo app developed by popular Aussie mum blogger Chantelle of Fat Mum Slim. I love the clean look of the app, which is in line which how her overall blog looks like, and I love the fact she got a few other people on board to also contribute their own style and photo effects. Oh, and if you are a fan of her daily Instagram challenges, this app also prompts you every day, and is pretty smart in letting you post direct to Instagram (some apps are less intuitive).

#3: A Beautiful Mess (Download link here)

Another gorgeous app, and one that is pretty affordable at just US$0.99! One of the first few photo edit apps I purchased, and definitely worth it, with such pretty fonts, filters and doodles. This app is developed by sisters Elsie and Emma of A Beautiful Mess blog – and I love their gorgeous photographs on their blog, and their app reflects this too!

#4: Rhonna Designs (Download link here)

What I like about this app, and what sets it apart from the above two (in my opinion) is its big array of pre-loaded designs and “stamps” to use on your photo, which helps add a bit more zing to it. Bad part is, I am pretty limited in my graphic design ability and end up using the same few prints some times, which makes my photos look too repetitive for my liking! Still, a decent enough app.

#5: Burst Mode (Download link here)

Are you a parent too? Then you will understand that sometimes kids make the worst photograph subject. I first used this app when I brought the boys to a outdoor water playground, and boy o boy, this was a fabulous app as it would take about 100 photos in about 3 seconds – and you can SURELY find a good shot!

#6: Hyperlapse (Download link here)

Recently released by the same people who brought us Instagram, Hyperlapse is pretty awesome. I used it as we drove up to Canberra, and I love how it looks! Like this:

(Pardon the shaky hand – it was one bumpy road!)

#7: For the selfie lovers out there: MeituPic (Download here) and Mei Yan Xiang Ji (Download here).

Oh, to make your face glow? Even out those wrinkles? Shave off a few years? No app does it as kawaii-cute as these two, I reckon!

#8: Video? Photo? Can’t decide? Have both in your Instagram pic using PicPlayPost (Download link here)

Love this app being so easy to use. Simply select the photos and videos you want, add them in, and voila! You are ready with a cracker of a Insta post to impress! While you CAN put more than 1 videos in, do note that it all plays AT ONCE, so if the audio will be pretty messed up. Less is always more!

Well, this is my list of fave Insta apps – any of yours on the list? Any more to add? Do share! This is a part of my ongoing weekly series, entitled Fave Fridays – where I introduce a favourite thing of mine to you guys! Come and link away if you have a Fave Friday post too!

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Running An Online Store – Highs, Lows and The In-Betweens

I worked in my previous employment for more than 10 years, and so, coming to Sydney and having to fire up my resume and find a new job proved pretty challenging. There were plenty of jobs out there, but I had my own set of requirements. I wanted a job that was (1) part-time of a max of 3 days a week, allowing me time with the kids, (2) paid well (muahahaha…) and (3) minimal travel required, as I didn’t drive till February of this year, and the hubby would need the car to go for his fieldwork. Now, #3 probably limited my choices the most! Haha!

Well, I am thankful that I got the opportunity to explore other possibilities, and decided to start up an online store. Doing something that I love and believe in – beautiful clothes – and giving me the flexibility to be around for the kids!

Ad5

It’s been one long road!

And through it, I got to experience some of the best – and worst – of what Sydney has to offer.

Coming from Singapore, and having a little knowledge of business setups and whatnots, I was a little off-centred when it came to trading in Australia. There was a lot of meandering steps to take, one after another, and there were no “quick” ways to go about it, but to wait patiently for one step to be finished before I could move on to the next.

Registering for a Tax File Number was the first step – and one I was thankful I already had done a while back, when we had to register Xavier for childcare benefits.

Then came the tedious part. Registering first for an ABN (Australian Business Number). This took a few days. Once approved, I had to register for a Trading Name. This took another few days. With the Trading Name set up, I could then apply for other things under my business name: domain name, bank accounts, payment merchant options like EFTPOS and Paypal.

And then I also had to get acquainted with the Shopify platform – where I hosted my online store. Finding the right theme, colour schemes, fonts, adding of products… It was a tedious process!

I also had to find out more about SEO and advertising options, to get my brand name “out there” – from using bloggers’ reviews to Google Adwords to Facebook Ads. I am still grappling with which is the most effective method, but being a blogger myself, I reckon word-of-mouth and an honest blogger’s review might be the way forward for me.

But I’ve learnt so much in the process. Dabbling in my own graphic design, for example. Such as the banner above, which I used PicMonkey to achieve. I don’t kid myself into believing I am a graphic genius, but while I cannot articulate the style I want, I think it is better for me to experiment it. Side note: I did try using Fiverr.com once. Paid USD5 for a button ad that I absolutely hated, and while I asked for a change, it was also a weak attempt, so I reckon I shan’t waste more money there till I absolutely know the look and details of what I want. Another lesson learnt: If you don’t know what you want (or you don’t communicate well), you won’t like it when you get it.

Oh, and brushing up on my bookkeeping skills – and I even prepared my own set of statements for tax filing purposes this year. *pat on the back for me!*

Ironing, cooking, cleaning doesn’t inspire me. But running  an online business does, and I am ever grateful to have the chance to do so. Kudos to my dear friends and partners at Missy Stella & Co for the collaboration! Oh, and when I get an order than comes through or an email enquiry, or a compliment on the range I carry – what a joy it is!

I will be running a voucher giveaway on the blog in a few weeks (have other blogger collaborations lined up this month, so wouldn’t want to clash with them), so stay tuned, and till then, please hop on over to Missy Stella Australia’s Facebook page to show some love and support – and if you have friends, family or colleagues living in Australia or New Zealand, be sure to point them over to the store!

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Hallo Spring!

Spring

Spring is one of my favourite seasons. Nice cool breezes and the sun’s out more often. Which translates to more trips to the beach (and more sand in the car haha), and more fun outdoors (and more slathering of sunscreen).

Love it!

The Little Lady Of The House

Zoie Sep 2014

Meet Zoie. 16 months of age.

She has the sweetest smile and cutest dimples, but truly a little tigress in the making.

She doesn’t walk as yet. I say “doesn’t” cos she can easily cruise along, and stumble when we hold her hands, and she can crawl up a flight of stairs unaided. So I reckon it is simply a choice she is making now.

I don’t blog about her enough, I think, so let me use this post to recount her milestones thus far. (I know full well the limits of my memory, so jotting what she can achieve is probably my only hope of remembering.)

First Few Words:

Chocolate.”

“Maameee.” (YES! *fist pump in the air*)

“Kor-Kor.” (Term she calls her older brothers).

“No-no-no-no.” (With a finger wag too.)

“ssssssss.” (Meaning yes. Give me that biscuit/cookie/milk NOW.)

“I-you.” (Short for I love you)

“Bye-eee.”

Fine Motor Skills:

She can one-finger-swipe the iPad like a pro.

Zoie blocks

She loves such toys, and can play them pretty well. Compared to her two older brothers at this age, she seems waaaaay more advanced than them (in this aspect in particular).

Fave food:

zoie fruit

She eats well – but she prefers to feed herself (fine by me!). She loves holding on to pieces to chicken or fruit and taking a bite by herself. She has a penchant for chocolate (oops) and fruits (phew!) but mostly is game to try anything. A Chinese girl through and through – she loves her noodles!

My weakness when it comes to Zoie is… clothes. I love browsing for new outfits for her, and the thing about living in a country that experiences the four seasons is a double-edged sword. Sure, you get to buy awesomely cute sweaters and jumpers and tights… but it also means you need a wardrobe overhaul once the hot weather hits! So I love shopping and buying her new clothes is no issue – but shopping on a budget isn’t as fun. Well, I make do with select pieces from Target (I like their in-house designs) as well as my online shopping addiction with Carters and Gap. In fact, *cough* I may have just bought a LOT of clothes online, to be sent to Singapore, and for me to cart back when we go back for a holiday!

So there you have it – my little dragon princess. The apple of our eye, and adored by her brothers.

I am blessed. :)

Counting my blessings with…


Messy Me Versus The House

sahmThere are some women who are born to be homemakers. As in, they have the natural flair and God-given ability to keep their kitchen sparkling clean and smelling lemon-ly nice, with crisply ironed clothes hanging off impeccable clothing racks, and with beds that are nearly tucked in and pillows well-fluffed. There are sweet smells of chickens a-roasting and cakes a-baking, and there are clean tables and neat cupboards. And where the cupboards are filled with containers that are cutely labelled and fridges with yummy overnight oats. They are probably best buds with Martha Steward.

I wish I was one of those women. But Martha may well choke on her pecan pie if she saw the state of my house.

So alas, it wasn’t meant to be. I didn’t choose to be a housewife. But the housework sure chose me.

There are things that I can do. I can cook. Though not spectacularly well. I can iron. Though not spectacularly well. I can clean. Though not spectacularly well.

Do you see the pattern here?

Oh, the woes of a homemaker who isn’t that good at making homes (and beds and dinners).

But I have my moments. My moments where I will have the urge to take up that bottle of Easy Off Bam Power Cleaner to attack the soap scum in the bathroom; or that carpet cleaner powder to scrub the stairs, or to re-arrange the kitchen cupboards and store my stuff neatly. These are but short spurts, like fireworks – bright, intense, full of intent and passion… And fizzling in the reality of the cold, cold, night.

And I know I am not alone in my silent screams and anguished cries against the Tyrant that is unceasing household chores. There are many of you, like pyjama-clad me, out there. With that laundry bin that never runneth out and the sink that overfloweth.

And what are we against that Tyrant, and how shall our once oh-so-beautifully manicured hands stand up to the harsh chemicals and soap suds and grime?

So we do what we can. Rage against the machine one swipe at a time, one rinse at a time and one laundry load at a time. Pushing back on the darkness and mess that threatens to form. Commanding the bludgeoning toy cabinet, “Thus far, and no further!”

To all my fellow comrades in this unending and unyielding and unrelenting battle, deep in the trenches of bathroom scum removal, we have but one hope.

That our kids will quickly learn the ropes of housework and relieve us of some of the agony.

Heh heh heh.

(Just another long ranting post from my “Being a SAHM” series!)

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