Welcome to the World of Tim Burton !!
In Shanghai, China, no less.

And guess who was there to enjoy the colossal art of one of the most creative artists/filmmakers ever?
The Furner Family
(papa and "littlest" furner were absent)

Let us entertain you. 
Mama  Sarah and her young one's spent the day meandering the "yellow brick road" through oddities, sculptures, drawings, murals and all sorts of non-sensical fun, that only Tim Burton can conceive.

Nothing is the "last of its kind" in Burton's mind, only the beginning of another adventure.  So lets follow along while four kids have the best day trip ever.

Where does the zaniness start?  Daydreaming, Mind-Drifting, Sketching, Paper, Pencil, Watercolors and OODLES of IMAGINATION.  I bet that some of the world's problems could be fixed with an imagination like his....
(original sketches)

From this mural do you recognize any emblems, themes, designs in his public works/films?

Hansel and Gretel never had it so good.

Next time your child scribbly-scrawls on your freshly washed walls, run for the plasticine and cover it for posterity.  One never knows where the next Tim Burton might come from. 

I do believe I will make sure the Grand-Kiddies have oodles of Play doh, air clay and paper clay to mess around with.  Anything goes, freeform style...with lots of doo-dads for interest.

Have you found a wall in your home to paint with blackboard paint? So much fun for kids and adults alike.  

Office supply stores carry clear plastic envelopes that you can clip to  a clipboard.  Insert a paper design, or just make up your own art with White Board Colored Markers.  Cheaper than white boards.  So much fun. 

Lots of potential Tim Burtons out there...young and old. 

The exhibit is several levels, hours of brain-tickling fun.
But what about something to just "hang around" on?

Now that is what I call "hanging on."  

Or sliding...

Need a new friend with "eye-appeal?"

Or maybe you are more into "group activities."

 ...visions of sugar plums danced in their heads....

By now the young explorers were ready to let their own imaginations burst forth just like Tim.

Been to your local art or science museum lately.  Total inspiration where ever we live.   Most have interactive areas for kids to play and play and play....while mom's check their phones for messages...Just Kidding.

Time to say goodbye to our Shanghai Imagination Explorers.  This has been a family outing  to share with Candy Grammy. 

Off to play with chopsticks and eat dim sum.
Now who will be the first to create a chopstick collage.

Loads of love and appreciation to Mama Sarah who lovingly shares all of their adventures with me via text, email and photos.  Aren't I fortunate? 

All photos by Mama-Sarah


I don't know how much social media you visit, but I do love Instagram. On IG I can choose what I  enjoy seeing, being inspired by and interacting with. I limit my choices: A few family and friends; photographers..specifically still life, food and travel; and art related, like painting and sketching.  I have found some pretty awesome folk out there who make me want to try new things.

SO WHAT IS THE SCOOP? If you have followed me for awhile you know I am quite smitten with photography.  Many photographers inspire me to try my hand at that which appeals to me.  Combine IG inspiration and online photography classes and I am ready to GO GO GO!  KIM KLASSEN is my  online mentor, if you will.  Her passing of technical knowledge nudges me in a direction I want to aspire to, Story-line Photography.

OKAY THE SCOOP: Since it is approaching autumn one of my favorite still life "styles" are the darker, moodier, more mellow, slightly secretive images...think: walking into your dark kitchen in the middle of the night, but the moon is radiantly-shining through a window onto your vase of fresh flowers...AWE !  Last week I was determined to create my own version.

 Photographers know that the behind the scenes work and experimenting is to be kept just that "behind the scenes."  Just present the final gorgeous, inspiring image.  Then accept with graciousness the applause.  (sorry overly dramatic)

INSTAGRAM PROJECT: mellow, darkish, moody evening-tide  serving of my favorite Chai tea made with full bodied spices, milk and sugar. Definitely deep, rich and darkish like moonlight over a lake.

Well my friends, it "tain't" always what it appears to be on IG, magazines, periodicals, ads, etc.

First decision, PROPS, we all know props are V.V.Very. important, they move the story along.

Kitchen counter, lots of interesting wood textures, shiny but spotty copper tea pot, celadon green tea cup from Hong Kong 
Move them around..play..set the scene..balance..line..composition
That is the easy part, the fun, creative part. But what about that dullish gray background with crazy metal heart? Or the sterile edge of the stove peeking into our little scenario?

Here in lies the SECRET. Lighting.  
Which means (if you don't have a studio) making do with whatever one can find to manipulate the light source. 

Look closely and you will see the light is everywhere, so how to STOP and SHINE light. 
More props. Black plastic (clean) shutter to block the wall and stove.  Wedged-in white foam-core board to bounce light on to the scene.
Now that was a challenge. 

Next making the Chai Tea...if I had only done it first...

First good shot, pouring the thick tea laden with spices into cup. Hand shot, cool.  So far so good.

(more behind-the scenes)
I didn't have enough tea (due to sampling) so decided to make more to fill the cup up.
But I was distracted on the right side of the board fiddling around.
Out of no where, the acrid smell and singe-ing sound of milk caught my attention.

The pan of beautiful dancing spice, milk and sugar double-bubbled, EVERYWHERE. The white foam-core board slipped next to the hot burner, with no hot pad in sight.
Yes a mess was born from the "behind the scenes" chaos!!!!!

It didn't take much for me to be no longer interested in sipping tea. 

Moving away from the behind the scenes disaster. 
Persistance and NO FIRE won out. 

Love the last line on the script...All is well.

Obviously I did a bit of post photo processing after the work of cleaning up scorched sugar, milk and spices.

And now it is one week later and I am still cleaning the stove. Still taking pictures. 

Another IG posting, letting the light peek in through fern.   NO carrots cooking on the stove.


Perhaps you noticed that some of the above photos have a different look, coloring, lighting to them. That was done in post-editing in Lightroom using Kim Klassen's amazing Presets. 
Kim has a beautiful website, many on-line classes that are beautifully instructed and inspiring.
If you are into photography you might like to checkout this amazing resource.
I used the following KK presets:  Caramel and Mood Swing.

October is chasing us...may your part of the hemispheres be filled with glorious slanting light, deep shadows and the brisk air that awaits us in Autumn. 

Thanks for following along with me.
Smiles: Sharon 

The Girl with the Olive Complexion

Once upon a lifetime there was a little girl with a olive complexion, eyes like her Grandmother Rhoda...dark brown, pigtails, scrawny legs and arms and rag-a-muffin dresses made of tiny prints and eyelet trim. 
Who lived in a remodeled OLD Swedish Church with STEEP stairs, smack dab in the middle of a farm.
This little girl didn't have other little girls to play with, rather there were only boys who liked to climb haystacks, jump from sloping metal roofs into piles of hay, and splash through irrigation ditches.
She went along with WHATEVER....
But alone in her bedroom she lived in another world....no BOYS, no ANIMALS, no HAY STACKS,
Alone....not for long...as there was her constant IMAGINATION to entertain her.
Crayola Crayons for Katy Keene paper dolls with daring bosoms, (they were dressed cowgirl style),
old Victorian storybooks her Aunt L. gave to her...full of amazing black and white illustrations
a deep dark closet to hide out in
and pasture grass to lay flat on her back, dream on the clouds and whistle away dandelion tufts.

Pretty good childhood.

But one day, the girl with the olive complexion had somehow managed to get a package of CLOVE chewing gum. AH, the aroma, the spicy chew...yum.  She fell asleep daydreaming, no less. 
She awoke to her undone pigtails glued together with tasteless dull gray sticky GUM.

Into the deep tub.
Out with the soap, the oil, nothing budged that gum.
Chop chop chop
no more pigtails.

The little girl with the olive complexion grew up to have children of her own, a husband, grandchildren, a home, a lovely life
and there was more.
She loved to draw, paint and make things.

And out of her past tumbled images of playing in a big bathtub, her hair grown back and siblings to play with.

Smiles: Sharon


Would you be brave enough to share a photo of your bedside table, publicly?
Horrors I wouldn't. 
Truth be told, until two weeks ago I had two bedside tables next to one another!
When I finally acknowledged that it was out of control, I cleaned up my "act." 
What is left on my tidy table? There is the ubiquitous box of tissues, cups of pencils, pens, paper clips, Post-it notes, practical-utilitarian lamp, odds and ends of notebooks, forgotten to-do lists, several magazines and a stack of books.  Yes, on one table.
Of course, my tablet and phone are on top of everything !

Now why in the world would I share this...nothing cool or sophisticated, unique or clever, just every nightstand stuff.

I wanted to share one item on my table: my MAGAZINES. (Actually I don't subscribe to magazines, that gives me the excuse/reason to go to the bookstore and pick up my favorites. HMMM and maybe see something else.)

So in no order, here are my CURRENT favorites:
Click on name of magazine to go to main website, if interested.

SWEET PAUL: what can I say. This is simply a divinely fun magazine.  It captures one's imagination with inventive recipes, crafts, flowers, articles and interviews.  I believe Barnes and Noble is going to be carrying it soon.  Anthropology does. I order on the website.  The covers are delightful.  Extensive website and fun blog, instagram, etc. 

BELLA GRACE: this magazine has caught the photography world by storm. I should subscribe, it can sell out quickly. Again the theme of this beautiful magazine is thoughtful, sensitive, meaningful photography and writing.  Interactive pages where you can write you own responses to their theme. Love the feel of the paper! Quarterly. Digital back copies. 

CLICK: this photography magazine focuses mostly on photography of family, friends..people in general.   Featured photographers, how-to's, online classes, blog, instagram...lots to look at.

MARIE CLAIRE IDEES: a favorite French magazine.  Marie Clair has many magazines, but this is my very very very favorite.  Full of creativity, like none other, gorgeous photography, recipes, painting, stitching, knitting, funky furniture etc.  No, unfortunately, I don't read French, but I can figure out most things from a photograph and guess work. Quarterly, so I look for it at Barnes and Noble.  I am lucky if I find 2 in a year. I found a link on Zinio, you can see magazine there and subscribe!!!!  Hmmm I think I just might subscribe. 

WHERE WOMEN CREATE:  same format as Where Women Cook, only these particular talented ladies create with all sorts of imagination, products, handmade goods/with panache and flair. Very creative are these ladies.

WHERE WOMEN COOK: ah, here we can meet the blog world's cooking stars.  Love reading about cooking entrepreneurs, their recipes, imaginative photography.  It should a scratch and smell magazine.

Through the years I have enjoyed most of Somerset Studio magazines: Somerset Studio, Artful Blogging, Altered Couture, Art Journaling. But with time, tastes change and we move on to other reading materials. Certainly all of the printed media coupled with thoughtful writing and gorgeous photography has influenced me.