Sugar and Vitamin C

What did you do in December when family and friends gathered around?
Some go to movies, some go out to eat, others it is shopping, and I imagine that there are those who go for manicures and such delights.
What did we do?  
For example, four kiddos and one Grandpa, making MARSHMALLOWS.

Have you ever prepared "homemade" marshmallows? Let's say that the fun part is licking the spoons, as opposed to washing the pan.

Then there is...

Finding an area conducive to FORMING and EMBELLISHING the set marshmallow (it takes at least 6 hours!) was next. Plastic table cloth, move chairs with cushions AWAY, set out plates of powdered cocoa, sprinkles, mint chips, powdered sugar, cookie cutters...nothing MESSY, mind you. 

We started out nice and tidy...??  No dustings of powder sugar on noses and such.

 The marshmallow, after resting in a pan, forms a soft, yummy sheet of mallow heaven.

Squeeeeeez the cookie cutters to maximize number of marshmallows...yes, they got to keep what they made. This became a serious, almost mathematical, equation. 

Okay things are getting interesting...flip flop one's marshmallow into "topping" of choice. Of course one little boy who will remain nameless, THREW, with his baseball arm, his marshmallows into the powdered cocoa...coating everyone and everything with brown freckles.

Creations go into plastic sacks...

No that isn't MUD on her hands,  just a creative mix of cocoa and powder sugar with sprinkles stuck into the mix. 

And on one's face.  
She promises she didn't lick anything !!!

Messy it is, but so much fun licking fingers coated with sprinkles, mint chips and powder sugar.
And that is where VITAMIN C comes into the story.

A few days later we visited our local Asian Market...
Upon entering, there was a huge wooden bin of oranges. A sign made note that these oranges were sold with attached leaves!!!

Brilliant orange with glossy green leaves, bumpy skin, and a name I can't spell.

We filled a bag with the oranges with the prettiest leaves.

Chinese New Year is approaching very soon. This year it is the Rooster's turn.  

We were redeemed, after all that sugary fun, we could indulge in VITAMIN C.
And yes the oranges were delicious, in fact SUPER SWEET !!!


May this particular year bring you inner happiness, connectedness with others and those experiences that bring you contentment and joy. 
And may we in America be aware of those with less,  being supportive of their needs. 
And seek freedom from tyranny about the World. 

smiles: sharon



Welcome 2017 !

Have you ever wondered aloud? Where have the years gone?  

This painting is in remembrance of my Grandmother Rhoda, enjoying an evening with one of her lady friends.
The ladies never went out in public without
 proper hats and cotton gloves. 
Luncheon dates were de rigueur. Chatting and gossiping, black coffee with cream and sugar, thin sliced spam on crackers. 
Tall ice cream floats, in the deep heat of summer.

The pièce de résistance was the  monthly ladies' bridge club. Bridge was played with concentrated seriousness.
Card tables were set up in the living room surrounded by chintz slip covered chairs. 
Delicate crystal dishes filled with pink mints, mingled with crisp new playing cards,
on the tatted ecru linen table cloth .

My mind is filled with memories. 
I miss my Grandma Rhoda. 
She lived a few months shy of 100.

Where do the Years Go? 

Are you ever overwhelmed by the fleeting essence of  TIME?

May your New Year be filled with warm friendships, harmonious family relationships, meaningful work, spontaneous fun, compassion for all, a time to nurture one's self and a sense of inward peace.

Smiles: Sharon


So Much to Express.......HAVE

 a giving-Christmas, a joyful-Hanukkah, a spirited-Kwanzaa....and blessed traditions that you hold dear to your heart.
This is a Season to include ALL.  To want the very best for each and every human being.
And that means You and You and You.

Our Chicago, daughter and her daughter drove two days to come celebrate Christmas in our home. 
Today there is much visiting, cooking, baking and time to see the movie, Moana.
Maryland daughter and hubby had to stay behind, as their lovable dog, Dulcita had surgery two days ago.  All are doing well, but sadly can't travel. 
Charlotte, daughter and family live around the corner, easy peasy to celebrate any day of the year.
Utah, son and family...get to enjoy SNOW and icicles, preparing meals for others, taking Swedish Oven pancakes to family and friends...yep, they ran out of eggs a few times. Borrowed from a neighbor and found that they were spoiled!  Crazy-daisy experience. 
And right now, waiting for a face time call from Shanghai, from son and family who are celebrating Christmas early.
We will watch them open gifts, chat, laugh and giggle, all thanks to the wonder of the internet.

Aren't we blessed?  Indeed we are.

It has been an over flowing week, with such wondrous happenings.
Sweet friends full of kindness and good cheer visited, bringing their violins, keyboard and gifts to share the Christmas spirit.

There just had to be hot chocolate with mini marshmallows and peppermint sticks for stirring, topped off with German Lebkuchen heart shaped cookies and biscotti.  No "sugar highs" in our home!  
Hmmm, in fact, they do look a bit "sugared-out." 

For those who love to bake, this month's edition of SIFT is crazy-daisy good.  Even if you just look at it.  The cooky tin I painted decades ago, seriously. I bring it out every Christmas.  

Swedish embroidery, German cookies, Swedish Dala horse and a sketchbook of colorful traditions. The candlestick to the left, was a gift from a dear friend to me...she brought it from her recent trip to Denmark.  

Painting surprise presents for moms and dad in my studio.  We were busy busy busy creating ornaments and accompanying gift boxes.  Then one cutie boy, decided he wanted to draw dinosaurs...Anything goes in this room.

 Christmas tree elves pop up in the most unexpected places...we caught him before he ate the last of the lebkuchen cookies.  Brazen elf. 

Another gift, the Swedish braided heart from daughter and hubby...and the gift of a music program in Washington, DC, The Christmas Revels.  An all Nordic, annual Christmas program of dance and song.  (We took a train to DC last week and spent time with them, Dulcita and Lemon..(the pups.)  They treated us to this program that is a 20 plus year tradition at Lester Auditorium in DC.

Last week was Santa Lucia, and I have already posted about this Furner tradition.  My sister-in-law sent me this beautiful snowflake ornament, resembling a German cooky that is iced!  Just had to put them all together: Sweden and Germany.  

Tomptes can be rather mischievous, but they are less likely to do quirky tricks if stuck on a page !!!  
Sending you all a happy heartfelt December.

One of my favorite passages set to music by John Rutter.  Seems so appropriate today. 

The Prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred...let me sow love
Where there is injury...pardon
Where there is doubt...faith
Where there is despair...hope
Where there is darkness...light
Where there is sadness...joy
Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled...as to console
To be understood...as to understand,
To be loved...as to love
For it is in giving...that we receive,
It is in pardoning, that we are pardoned,
It is in dying..that we are born to eternal life.

If you research John Rutter /this piece of music and word, you will weep with me, and your heart will be filled.

With love, Sharon



It is a time of JOY when our grown up children, with children of their own, choose to celebrate traditions formed in their childhood.  One in particular originates in Sweden
Here is our story
Lucia, Child of Light, Sweden's beautiful Christmas tide celebration.
Santa Lucia Day holds for our family a true place in our hearts and family traditions. Grandmother Mimi Sorensen's ancestors came from Sweden. And perhaps that is one reason why this special day is loved by our family. Celebrated in Sweden on December 13th (and in many homes around the worl,) this is a day of honor and remembrance of a young woman, who was said to be born 300 years after the death of Jesus Christ. It is a story of truth, legend and mystery.

For our family, it provides us an unique opportunity to create our own family tradition.
Early in the morning mom would awaken Mindy, dress her in a long white dress with a red sash. On her head was placed a wreath of candles. Real candles were used until melted wax was a bit of nuisance. Carrying a tray of buns, our Santa Lucia would awaken her brothers and sisters. They would put on their cone shaped hats decorated with stars, paint and glitter and wear pastel colored gowns. Each was given a lit candle to care over. 
This was a MAGICAL moment.
Mindy would lead the little blurry-eyed troup about the upstairs hall into dad's bedroom. Sweet voices singing, each would hold a candle and hoping that wax wouldn't drip onto their fingers, they sang their daddy awake.
Dad would wake up to the surprise and join them.
The Second Magical Moment

Slowly, carefully, our little family would wind through our festively decorated home, which for some strange reason was lit only with candles and soft Christmas lights that gave off halos. 
Before each of our lovely Christmas decorations: the creche holding baby Jesus, the dancing music boxes, the hand painted wooden crate that held Advent surprises, the fireplace with its faux manger scene complete with baby Jesus laying on real straw, the Swedish goat and tomptes, and the dining room table set with blue and white china, and dishes of delectable foods, by each of these lovely areas we would sing a joyful Christmas carol.
We SANG our way through our Magical Home
...and we hoped nothing would catch on fire.

Each Santa Lucia Celebration was culminated with a wonderful breakfast of sausage, bacon and Swedish Oven Pancakes, hot chocolate and marshmallows...oh, and whipping cream and fresh berries piled on top of the pancake.

One Year I painted the tile (shown at the top) for each family.  However, the original recipe  comes from a 1974 Sunset cookbook, Scandinavian Cook Book. Seeing is believing...the condition of this book is a testament of sorts, to how often we made these oven pancakes.  In fact we had them last week to celebrate our daughter's birthday.



It seems like yesterday, we were walking the cobbled streets of quaint Bavarian villages acting like children given too much candy to eat. Indeed eye candy abounds from  magnificent storybook paintings embellishing stuccoed walls, Hansel and Gretel cottages, crooked chimneys spewing real wood smoke, geraniums popping up like dandelions, feather comforters hanging over timbered railings basking in the sun, bratwurst with German mustard, thick pretzels and lebkuchen cookies, centuries old store fronts beckoning us to enter and indeed we did way too many times.

Each Christmas I pull out my precious little cache of card size German Christmas books. Can't read a single word of German, but the paintings tell their story on the walls of my mind. I am so delighted to share the covers of these little tiny pieces of art and see what your mind conjures up. There was a time in my art career when I painted these types of scenes, but that was so long ago I haven't a single photo to share.

I wish I could take you inside one of these books and share each wondrous  watercolor.   
Take Joy in your own Holiday Traditions.

For those so inclinded, sketchbooks are a super way to preserve those snippets of life that we love. 
A beautiful December to All
Smiles: Sharon



OOPS I MISSED A HALLOWEEN POST, I sure did.  So I will attempt a 30 minute catch up.  that means mostly photos...throwing in a few family ones for posterity...fewer words...impossible...and no proof reading...that heads this toward disaster.  so here goes.

 it is true...one childhood is not enough...especially for halloween. we saw so many adults dressed up, and i mean dressed up. old to young to youngest, all join the fun. 
anyway this is my little attempt to bring painting into the picture. 

i never got the left side finished, anyway it tells a story of my scariest halloween as a child...story saved for another day. 

i took sooo many photos of our yard and porch, now i can't find them so obviously they are still in the camera and haven't been downloaded...such is life around here. but at least my sketchbook got a touch of ORANGE...i love orange in the fall but other times of the year not so much..orange and black were our junior high school colors and i really disliked them at that age...so juvenile.

 Good ol' harry was soooo popular....every other kid was a character from this fantastic series of books...this red robed harry is our grandson...doesn't he look like harry, or am i prejudiced and below next to the scarecrow is his sister...the littlest was Anna from Frozen...she disappeared (probably to refreshment table) so didn't get a picture.

we are still foraging for leaves, dried berries and acorns...but the pumpkin patch was the real find...we took a car full of tiny to tall, fat to skinny, smooth to lumpy pumpkins home with us. 
 the kids grandparents from "out west"came for a two week stay...what a fun time for everyone...they were a big part of our october excursions...
 somehow i managed to get a bit of painting done with an autumn palette...have a show next week so under a bit of pressure to paint and play around with the fun-sters!

kids and art just go together like cocoa and marshmallows...sweet, fun and sticky.  here we are studiously, painstakingly working on pumpkins from the pumpkin patch. no messing around, this is serious stuff to get it just right.

across the atlantic or pacific depending which way you fly are the kiddos that live in china...this is a serious holiday for the ex-pats who live there and none get into it more than their papa...

papa is concentrating on carving while YiYi sits in her princess dress amidst the seeds and pulp.  note the type of pumpkin they have....pretty cute. then it is off to the most amazing clay...love the colors.  lots of cute characters made by 12 hands.

back to north carolina,  the kiddos made lunches for some lovely women who find themselves without a home and staying at the salvation army. they were guests of a local church who give them respite, a warm place to sleep, and three meals a day. lots of volunteers are needed for such an undertaking, so our family did lunches and a breakfast. 
bags were decorated...sandwiches made...brownies...chips...and personally chosen tiny candy bars filled them to the top.  we drove them down to the church and met the ladies who are having their most beautiful weeks in a long time.  so friendly and welcoming. we left with new friends.

well if you made it this far, let me just wish you a very giving, creative, loving november.  there is always time to think of another. i know that you are finding your own ways of sharing.
smiles, sharon
ps...30 minutes turned to 60 but it was worth it.



The sun slants earlier and rises later, sending slivers of golden orange and red
across the horizon.

The last cuttings of hydrangeas are drying in baskets 
along side pods, acorns, fading roses and sunflowers.
The joy is in the finding, the foraging, the digging. 

 Berries are my favorite to find...purples, brown, red, green. They dry beautifully. I use inexpensive baskets, line with dish towel or paper towels. Cut off the really large or decaying leaves. Lay gently in basket, allow air to circulate. Then the fun begins: photographing, sketching or using in still life arrangements.  

Have you ever held Magnolia branches with their glossy-green leaves with velvety brown undersides, in your hands? Honestly they are the texture of, well, velvet!
We are fortunate to have two trees at the back of our yard.  Year long they give us offerings of beauty.

Elena Nuez, from Spain, paints amazing designs on leaves, stones, paper. Click here to visit her website. Bicocacolors.com  She does amazing, diverse paintings on foraged and found objects in nature, as pictured below. 


Have been on a roll painting in gouache. LOVE IT ! Filling sketchbooks and pads of watercolor paper. 

In the South, BBQ is a BIG DEAL.  We went to a nifty BBQ restaurant with our daughter, husband and three Funny Bunnies.  While others had Barbie ribs, etc. I opted for BBQ tacos...yep, tacos. 
They were fabulous!
We ate outside enjoying the sweater weather temperatures, blue skies and grass for the kids to play on.
Kayla, who had been exploring, ran up to me with a handful of HUGE acorns. Wow, what a find.
We wrapped them in a paper napkin to take home.  But that wasn't good enough, she led me to a magnificent old Oak tree, laden, totally laden with thousands of acorns.  Shaking a branch they rained down on us.  Hard knocks on the head! 
Okay, this was serious foraging. 
  I left adults and tacos, to get plastic bags from the car, to fill up, of course. You would think we had found gold!  Cheers for exploring. 

Are these not amazing?  This is a sampling. We filled jars and bowls with their nutty brown goodness.
And not once did we see a squirrel...they don't know what they are missing.

Did you see the HUNTER MOON a week or so ago? We were pretty excited to see it, the Funny Bunnies and I.  Unfortunately the the kids had to go to bed before it was really high enough to see. 
I kept running outside with my camera.  This particular night was a bit cloudy, my camera couldn't focus the distance, but did get one shot.  The entire bright spot is the moon.

This morning, at 5:30 AM,  I was driving to a church to help serve breakfast to some women.
I drove STRAIGHT into sight of an enormous Crescent Moon, stark and brilliantly shining.
A perfect way to start the day...gifts from the heavens and sharing a meal with some lovely southern ladies, in need of a hands up.

This is the season of wanderlust.  A time to be in touch with nature as she settles into a new season.
I hope that you are finding some moments in your day to fill your senses with Mother Nature's free gifts to all.
Smiles: Sharon