Christmas008Christmas started early in our Surrey photography studio this year during our first ever Mini Christmas Card shoot day.  The studio was decorated with twinkling lights and Christmassy props.  It was lovely to see so many happy families getting into the festive mood!  We love getting Chritmas cards, and our favourites are always personalised ones, where you can see how much a family has grown over the years.

Here are some of the pictures that should be winging their way around the world on Christmas cards this year.  Please email (info@mangostudios.uk.com) us if you would be interested in having a Christmas card mini shoot next year and we will keep you posted on dates and times as soon as they are released.

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We run three mini photo sessions each year.   A mini shoot is the perfect way to update your family photos.  Each shoot is 30 minutes long and suitable for families with up to 2 children.  If you have a larger family these sessions are not suitable as we will need more time to capture your family perfectly.  You can book a portrait shoot with us instead.  Please see our website for more details on our family portrait shoots.

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What is the cost of a Mini Shoot?

Our mini shoots are fantastic value for money.   Our Spring and Autumn shoots are £275.  This includes a 30 minute location shoot, 4 beautiful 10″ x 8″ prints and the same 4 digital images.  (The normal price for this is £600)

Our Christmas card mini shoots are £50.  This includes a 20 minute studio shoot, 1 digital image to make your own cards with, the option to purchase other pictures.

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When are the Mini Shoots?

We run mini shoots in May, October and November.  They book up very quickly as they are such good value. If you are interested in booking a mini shoot, please let us know and we will keep you posted on the 2015 dates.

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Thank you to all the families that came in.  We hope you have a lovely Christmas and look forward to seeing you in the New Year.

 If you would like to BOOK  a Mango Studios photo shoot please contact us HERE.

or call us

Becky: 07748 186 463  or Liana: 07976 625 552

Address
Mango Studios
Highway Farm
Downside
Cobham
KT11 3JZ

 

Grab a pen and paper and prepare your minds to be inspired and your tastebuds to be tingled!  This week we would like to introduce you to someone who is every parent’s dream come true!  Nicky is not only a local mum to three gorgeous girls, (7 year old twins and a 4 year old) she is also the brains behind The Little Cooking Company based in Surrey.  She is what American’s would call a bespoke personal chef, and in this blog she has very generously given us plenty of hints and tips on how to feed your hungry families, keep the food bills low and lots of new recipe ideas including a lovely dish you can prepare for your family this festive season.

festive food ideas Surrey

Yummy food photography by Mango Studios from a recent winter cooking session with Nicky

The Little Cooking Company offers a whole host of services that will take the weight off any busy mother’s shoulders! From preparing delicious dinner party meals to offering bespoke cooking lessons in the comfort of your own home.  However my personal favourite is the Weekly Meal Preparation Option! Nicky will come and meet you and your family to discuss what food you like. She will then design a menu for you for the week, go and buy the food, let herself into your kitchen, cook all of the meals, clean up the kitchen, put the beautifully prepared meals in your fridge (enough for a week!) and leave your house smelling delicious and full of healthy food!  What more could you ask for?!

After speaking to Nicky last week and reading her hilarious blog, peppered with side comments like, “wipe snotty nose, separate two fighting siblings, get load of washing out of the dryer,” I came away feeling inspired and ready to tackle my dreaded weekly shop!

Be warned when you read on your tummies will start rumbling!

festive chicken dish

What type of food makes you smile?

I love eating food that is as good for me as it is delicious – my heart sings when I’m offered a hearty salad full of leafy greens, roasted vegetables and wholesome grains, perhaps topped with some slices of bright green avocado. At this time of year, after a busy week, I’m particularly partial to a large bowl of fresh pappardelle tossed with chunks of roasted butternut squash, red onions, a modest amount of creamy blue cheese and a sprinkling of toasted pine nuts for crunch.

Rigatoni with Roast Butternut Squash

Were any of your children fussy eaters, if so what is their favourite meal?

My eldest daughters are total gourmets and delight in telling people that mussels are one of their favourite foods. My littlest, however, can definitely have her fussy moments. If she’s been difficult during the week, I at least know that a roast dinner on Sunday – plate piled high with roasted root vegetables, sautéed buttery cabbage and a generous portion of juicy roast chicken – will help to restore the balance.

Do you have a traditional Christmas meal or do you add something a bit different?

We have a fairly traditional meal – roast turkey with homemade cranberry sauce, sausages wrapped in bacon, roast potatoes, mashed carrots with thyme & orange, Brussels sautéed with pancetta and walnuts – but I try a new stuffing recipe each year. Last year we enjoyed a rustic sausage, fennel, butternut squash & sage version but I haven’t decided on this year’s yet. My favourite part of the meal is the bread sauce – Delia’s recipe is a winner!

You say you really enjoy meal planning.  This is something I think most people dread each week.  Is there a way to make meal planning simple and enjoyable?

The night before I shop for my family, I have a look in the fridge and freezer and see if there’s anything that needs using up. I make a note of these, grab a glass of wine and sit down with any new cookbooks, food magazines and my iPad (for extra recipe ideas). Menu planning is much easier if you have (child-free, if possible!) time to think about which days you need something quick, and when you can spend a little longer in the kitchen. Challenge yourself to cook one new dish each week and watch your repertoire grow.

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 How do you find time to do your food shop each week and think of meals for clients?

I spend a lot of time in Waitrose and I am ALWAYS thinking about food, reading cookbooks and researching online…I have been known to come up with menu ideas in my sleep. I keep a notebook for jotting down ideas, and have a well-stocked store cupboard so that I know that I always have the ingredients for a nutritious family meal on hand.

Food is so expensive at the moment, does healthy, tasty food mean you have to spend a fortune or is it possible to keep the weekly food shop bills low and still have great meals?

By eating seasonally (i.e. not buying strawberries in December and asparagus in March!), it is possible to enjoy delicious meals without breaking the bank. When in season, fruit and vegetables are cheap and abundant. At this time of year, nutrient-packed root vegetables & dark green leafy veg should form the basis for your meals. Save your pennies & up your fibre intake by stewing some British apples to add to your morning porridge. Another tip is to get used to eating vegetarian meals a couple of times a week, and if you do like to eat meat, choose cheaper cuts of higher welfare animals. Lamb shoulder is one of my favourite cuts of meat – endlessly versatile and half the price of leg.

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 Is there such a thing as a home-made healthy snack for children?!

Absolutely! Children are growing and need calories to do all that endless running around, so just make sure that the calories are providing more than just a sugar rush. Flapjacks are a perfect sweet snack for kids – especially if you add extras like sunflower seeds & chopped dried fruit to the oats and honey. A favourite snack in our house is plain popcorn. I put about 50g of dried kernels (sold in most supermarkets) in bowl, cover with the lid and stick it in the microwave on high for about 3 mins. Sometimes we add a handful of raisins & a sprinkle of cinnamon but the girls are usually very happy without!

The Little Cooking Company:  Roasted Pears with Blue Cheese & Cranberries – Serves 6

Ingredients:

3 ripe but firm pears

Freshly squeezed lemon juice (2-3 lemons)

3 oz Stilton, coarsely crumbled

¼ cup dried cranberries

¼ cup walnut halves, toasted & chopped

½ cup apple cider

3 tbsp port

1/3 cup light brown sugar

¼ cup olive oil

Bag of rocket or lamb’s lettuce

Sea salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 190 C. Peel the pears and slice them lengthwise into halves. With a small, sharp knife, remove the core and seeds from each pear, leaving a well for the filling. Trim a small slice away from the curved side of the pear, allowing it to sit in a baking dish without wobbling. Toss the pears in lemon juice to prevent them from turning brown. Arrange them cut side up in a baking tray.

In a small bowl, gently mix the crumbled blue cheese, cranberries and walnuts together. Divide the mixture between the pears, with a little mound on top of the hollowed out well.

In the same bowl (to save on washing up!), combine the apple cider, port and brown sugar, and give it a little stir to dissolve the sugar. Pour the mixture over and around the pears. Bake the pears in the cider mixture for about 30 minutes. If you can remember to, it’s a good idea to baste the pears every so often. When they are tender, take them out of the oven and set aside until just warm, or room temperature.

Just before serving, whisk together the olive oil, ¼ cup of lemon juice and ¼ cup of the basting liquid.

Divide the leaves between the plates and place a pear on top of each pile. Drizzle each pear with some of the dressing, sprinkle with salt and serve warm.

Serving Suggestion:

Serve on individual plates or place the pear halves on a large bowl of dressed leaves, and encourage everyone to help themselves. A smaller version of pear slices and a tsp of the cheese mixture in a chicory leaf would make a beautiful & very tasty canapé.

Other variations:

Other cheeses, nuts & berries can be substituted for the stilton, cranberries & walnuts. Try pecans or hazelnuts, goat’s cheese or a creamy brie, and even chopped apricots. It’s the sweet, salty, creamy & crunchy combo that you are trying to achieve.

We would like to thank Nicky for all of her helpful hints and tips and we hope everyone will leave this page full of a new zest for cooking!

You can book a 3 hour bespoke cooking session in the comfort of your own home, including all ingredients, recipes & specialist equipment for £150.

Nicky also offers an innovative New Baby gift option where she will prepare healthy meals for new parents!  Perfect for a baby shower gift.  We would have loved that when we were new mums!

 Please visit The Little Cooking Company website for more information and subscribe to Nicky’s blog for more culinary inspiration.

You can contact Nicky on:

Email: nicky@thelittlecookingcompany.co.uk

Phone: 07968 348 887

If you would like to BOOK  a Mango Studios photo shoot please contact us HERE.

or call us

Becky: 07748 186 463  or Liana: 07976 625 552

Address
Mango Studios
Highway Farm
Downside
Cobham
KT11 3JZ

 

Its that time of year when the internet is full of pictures of houses covered in Christmas lights and excited children decorating their Christmas trees, visiting Father Christmas and doing lots of lovely festive things, but how do you capture those Christmas lights perfectly to make your pictures extra twinkly?  Here are our top 5 tips:

ONE: Don’t Wait Until it’s completely dark:

The best time to photograph Christmas lights is late afternoon, when the sun is just going down. Make sure it’s not sunny.  A slightly lighter sky (rather than pitch black) will make a more interesting background behind the lights, with textures from the clouds and different colours.  If you take the picture when it’s too light though, the Christmas lights won’t show up.  It’s also good to use reflective surfaces such as snow, water or ice to help lighten the picture.

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Found on theresnoplacelikehomeinthesouth.tumblr.com

 

TWO: Keep your camera as still as possible: 

If you can, use a tripod to prevent any movement.  If you are using a point and shoot camera try to lean on a wall or fence to steady it.  If your camera has a time shutter release, use it to keep the picture as sharp as possible.

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picture from wikihow

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picture from wikihow

 

THREE: Turn your flash off: 

Don’t use your flash as it will ruin the natural warmth and glow of the Christmas Lights. If you are using a digital SLR you can increase the ISO to 800 to give a bit more light. If you are using a point and shoot camera and want to capture your little ones in front of the tree lights, use the Christmas lights to light your subject.  You might have to play around with different posing positions but it will be worth it in the end.

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 FOUR: Open you aperture 

To achieve perfect Christmas light Bokeh (Bokeh is a term used by photographers.  It comes from Japanese language, and literally means ‘blur’) you need to open up your aperture, but remember to keep your camera really still if you are focusing on a particular object. If you do this then the object should be sharp but the lights in the background will be perfectly blurred and look all warm and cosy!

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picture from Sarah Alston Photography

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Christmas Bokeh

If you are going to make a Christmas book then this would make a great background

FIVE: Close your aperture! 

Confused?!  If you would like your lights to have a starburst effect rather than be blurred then you need to do the opposite and close up your aperture to at least f/18. This will make your lights sparkle.  Remember to put your camera on a steady surface or tripod and use a high f/stop, a low ISO and a long shutter speed.  (example ISO 100, f/22, 30 second exposure).

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Have fun, and remember to always have your camera ready to capture that perfect Christmas picture.

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM MANGO STUDIOS 

 

If you would like to BOOK  a Mango Studio session please contact us HERE.

or call us

Becky: 07748 186 463  or Liana: 07976 625 552

Address
Mango Studios
Highway Farm
Downside
Cobham

For Christmas this year give your family & friends the opportunity to create some wonderful memories they can treasure for a lifetime.

For £100 you can purchase one of our beautifully presented Christmas Gift Boxes  which include a voucher for a Family Portrait Session at our lovely Surrey photography studio plus one 7″ x 5″ mounted photograph.

Call us on 07748 186 463 or 07976 625 552 or email info@mangostudios.uk.com to order your Gift Box this week.

 

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We look forward to seeing you and your family in our Surrey studio in the New Year!

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR 

FROM 

BECKY AND LIANA

 

If you would like to BOOK  a Mango Studio Family Portrait session please contact us HERE.

or call us

Becky: 07748 186 463  or Liana: 07976 625 552

Address
Mango Studios
Highway Farm
Downside
Cobham
KT11 3JZ

 

 

Those of you who follow us regularly will know that we love meeting other local mums who run their own businesses.  We also like to share their knowledge and talents with you in case it is something you might need in the future.

This month we would like to introduce you to an amazing woman and friend of Becky’s: Kelly Chandler. Kelly is an award winning wedding planner based just outside of Cobham.  In 2003 she set up The Bespoke Wedding Company using her expert knowledge in project and international event management. Kelly heads an amazing team that will manage anything from the most intimate country wedding to grand city weddings.  She also specialises in arranging stunning and very complex marquee builds for couples who’s ideal wedding venue is their own home.

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Kelly knows that all brides dream of having a beautifully unique wedding.  Organising such events requires incredible attention to detail and spot on time management.  The Bespoke Wedding Company manages eight to ten exclusive weddings a year.  This ensures that each wedding gets Kelly’s full and undivided attention.

The proof of Kelly’s success was evident when within only four years of trading, The Bespoke Wedding Company won ‘Best Wedding Planner’ at the Wrapit Industry Awards in 2007.  Now, Kelly is a judge for the Wedding Industry Awards.

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Through her years of experience Kelly now holds a wealth of knowledge and a little black book filled with the best wedding contacts a bride could wish for.  From the most exclusive venues to award winning caterers, Kelly will find the perfect combination for each of her couples.

 

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Kelly described her own style as natural classic, but she admitted to having a cheeky side and loves working in finite detail with and for her diverse clients to deliver what THEY want for their wedding.
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I asked Kelly if she had a particular favourite wedding.  She told me about a recent celebration at a beautiful stately home, where she actually included a fountain inside the marquee.  She said the colours were gorgeous in duck egg blues and pale pinks, but then there was a surprise night club area in another section of the marquee.  She even incorporated a ‘man snug’ area for the boys to relax in and drink whiskey in Chesterfield armchairs!  That sounds like an amazing party!

 

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Kelly’s talent lies in the fact that she truly listens to what her clients want.  The pictures above and below are an examples of Kelly’s ability to make every couples dreams become a reality, no matter what the brief is.  The wedding photographed below incorporated a Russian themed drinks reception, elegant indoor lunch location, circus workshop and Moroccan afternoon tea party – all in one quirky London nightclub!

 

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Kelly can extend her planning service to other special occasions, celebrations and private parties where attention to detail is needed.

Seeing what Kelly does, has made us wish we could get married all over again!  So if you know of anyone looking for the best bespoke wedding or party planner, then look no further.

These pictures are just a glimpse of what The Bespoke Wedding Company has to offer.  To see more of Kelly’s work and get more information please visit her website: The Bespoke Wedding Company

You can contact Kelly on 01483 282858 | Or email her at weddings@thebespokeweddingco.com

We would like to offer any of Kelly’s clients (past or present) 10% off a Mango Studios Session Fee*. This includes Newborn, Watch Me Grow and Family Portrait sessions.  

To BOOK a Mango Studios photo shoot please contact us HERE.

or call us

Becky: 07748 186 463  or Liana: 07976 625 552

Address
Mango Studios
Highway Farm
Downside
Cobham
KT11 3JZ
*(Cannot be used with any other promotions, Mini Shoots or photo shoot parties)

 

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