Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Few Garden Treats

This week's theme for Texture Tuesday is garden, a place I really need to spend more time. Several different textures were used on each of these photos.

My fairy friend watches over the garden. He looks a little wistful right now because his elfin fairy friend lost her wings and I've yet to glue them all back together. 

The reading fairy guards the front door. However, she rarely seems to look up. I know what's it's like to be so absorbed in a book.

The garden fence has the remnants of a birds nest hanging from it. Just this morning a hummingbird flew by it, taking some pieces for its own nest. Miss Gracie and Nipper were quite surprised and were a bit disappointed when it flew away. 

My new hydrangea bush just started to bloom this week. It was planted a few months ago and now has lots of buds, all ready to break into beautiful flowers. Finally!


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Making the Most of My Holiday Weekend

I hope you are enjoying your holiday weekend. I am plum tuckered out right now! Today was spent at the Pleasanton Antiques & Collectibles Faire in Pleasanton, California. After a late breakfast, the sis and I headed out for a 50 minute drive to this quaint town. I am so happy with my (big) purchases but more on that later. Yesterday we visited with mom and brought her lunch and flowers. Of course, she thought I was a nut for taking 300+ photos of the little bunch of gerbera daisies. But wait until you see the gorgeous colors of that bunch! After I returned home, I continued taking some photos. The photo above was a little bit of a surprise. I happened to see the reflection of my room in the mirror and had to capture it.

In between activities, I'm watching old 1940's war movies in commemoration of Memorial Day (as opposed to cleaning the house!).  Last Memorial Day, we attended an event at Moffett Field that featured actual planes from WWII and tales from some of the men who fought. To learn more, you can read my post here. Right now, my baked salmon with dijon sauce, roasted mini purple, red and yellow potatoes with mushrooms, followed by asparagus from the farmer's market awaits me. And to think, there's still one more day to this holiday weekend!


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Flowers From Modern to Vintage

Do you think these flowers are real? Well, yes they are. I simply applied some textures to them and made   a few adjustments in Photoshop Elements. They remind me of a painting or photo one would find in an old, antique magazine. 

Of course, the actual flower is quite pretty but how much fun it is to create another version unique in its own way.

I've always loved photographing flowers. Many years ago, I'd go to the annual tulip festival at Pier 49 in Fisherman's Wharf and rove from plant to plant photographing from among the 50,000 tulips they would have on display. Other favorite spots top on the list are public gardens such as the Portland Rose Garden and San Francisco's Conservatory of Flowers.

Images created with textures by Kim Klassen of Kim Klassen Cafe.
Visit her site for more information about Texture Tuesdays.
A bonus photo would mean that I happened to capture an insect of some sort on a flower. Bumble bees are my favorite but a lady bug is a close second. A macro lens is a must have for close-up photos to capture the intricacies of each petal. Of course, when you have a flower-eating kitty, it can be a challenge to keep your flowers intact!


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Three Top Sites Any Blogger Can't Live Without!

It's the latest addiction for many bloggers. A new social sharing/cataloging site described in the following ways:
  • a virtual pinboard
  • a place to catalog the things you love
  • a social catalog service
Pinterest describes itself this way: "a place where you can create collections of things you love and "follow" collections created by people with great taste". It's amazing the new services that are developed on the web. This one is so easy and best of all, it's free. Once you register, a "Pin It" bookmark is installed and then wherever you go on the web, you can simply "pin it" to one of your own boards when you see a graphic you want add to one of your collections. You are given some names for boards to start out, but you can change those and add as many as you like. Above is a sample from some of the boards I've created. Once on their site, you can browse thousands of other boards and follow those you choose to or even repin images from those. It's a wonderful place to refer to images you've seen and want to save. 


I highly recommend this site for every blogger. Wow, where do I start? Picnik does so much and it really does make photo editing fun. Upload your photos and you can edit, share, print, create in a nutshell. But that alone does not do the site justice. It has a lot of robust features that include effects (lots!), frames, curves, touch up with burning and dodging, text and more. It's so simple to use and well designed. The only limitation I've discovered is that it only allows 200 photos to be stored at a time. Also, there is both a free version and a premium version which is $24.95 per year. However, the premium version gives full access to all tools which I've found to be worth it.

My favorite tool in Picnik is the collage builder. There are many different variations with size and number of images to choose from. It's so far the easiest way to create a collage that I've discovered. Aside from size and number of images in the collage, you can also choose the color, size and spacing of the border lines, rounded edges, and tilt (they call it "kookiness"). I guarantee, you will love this tool!

Kind of a funny name, isn't it? I was turned on to this site a short time ago and found it had some fun, handy and unique items for photographers. If you're a blogger, you're probably a photographer also, right? I mean, most of us do take photos to place on our blogs and that makes us all photographers. Not only it is fun to browse their store, but I discovered it's one of those sites with a brand personality. Quirky and fun; if you are familiar with Trader Joe's and their Fearless Flyer, then you know what I'm talking about.

I recently placed an order with them and what did I find at the bottom of the bag? I little toy dinosaur! When I emailed them about returning an item, I wound up with a funny exchange that went like this:

Me: Hello Photojojo, I got the teal and burgundy camera straps last week. I LOVE the teal but sadly, I'm not crazy about the burgundy. I'd like to exchange it for another teal. Can you just send another teal with my item that's on backorder?

Photojojo: Hey Sharon, Sure, that sounds like a plan to me! Just send me a tracking number when you mail this back. Want to let me know as soon as that's done and I'll make it happen?

Me: I'm sending by priority mail today. The code is: 999999999

Photojojo: Thanks so much :)  I've added the teal strap to the other parcel so it'll come in that shipment, coolie?

Me: Super coolio, can't wait - I'll just tie a pink ribbon onto that one!

Photojojo: Nice!

Photojojo: Hey Sharon, Just a lil' update! We got that one strap back. Another teal one will be in the package shipping out next week. Thanks for your patience :)

Me: Yippee!

Photojojo: You're welcome!

All emails from Photojojo were signed:
Toejam & Earl Fanatic and 
Photojojo PR/Customer Support

I just love that kind of service and quirky brand. Anyway, I got a great new camera strap and who knows what you may find? A fun site worth looking at and even if you don't buy anything, sign up for their newsletter with fun photo tips.

So those are three favorite sites of mine. Please let me know what some of yours are!


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Don't Think of It as Decluttering

This past weekend, I spent some time organizing and thinking about how to declutter some areas. It's always a challenge as a) I like a lot of the things that are in my space and b) it's really hard to let go of things. As I happened to be reading a huge stack of magazines (ahem, working on downsizing that pile), I came upon this page. Isn't that a lovely sentiment? You are actually filling it with possibilities as you declutter. I love that!


Sunday, May 15, 2011

A New Ezine That's Not to Be Missed

I'm so happy to let everyone know that Amy Powers' latest issue of Inspired Ideas is now available. This digital magazine contains 245 pages of pure eye candy and inspiration. I know that these ezines have been a labor of love for Amy and it thoroughly shows. For just three dollars and thirty cents, how can you go wrong? 

I'm so honored to be one of the contributors to this issue. You'll find lots and lots of ideas for birthday gifts and fun items for parties. You can take a peek into the issue here. Everything in it is just so pretty - I'm sure you'll love it as much as I do.


Friday, May 13, 2011

Treasure-Hunting Finds

Last weekend, I did a little garage-saling. A house I had been to last year that had fabulous finds had one again. She was a home stager and I've found they tend to have great items. Couldn't resist these paper cones with French writing.

Blue is really not my color but this beaded bowl called out to me. Likewise, the shabby chic style wire bowl will come in handy.

Lovely whites. The box may just go in my bathroom, or it could hold supplies in my creative space. So many possibilities. The strawberry table linen is perfect for Spring. I just need to keep Nipper, my black and white tuxedo, strawberry-eating cat off of it!

Since my kitchen is French country, I just had to pick up this picture of the chef. As you can see, I have yellow walls (with red accents), so he fits right in. Anything French interests me, so I picked up this little Paris sign as well.

The home owner remembered me from last year and had saved this cake for me. She came running out to me with it when I walked up. I had purchased all of her faux food last year since we use those for lobby displays at my place of work. And yes, I do have my own collection of faux food at home on my tea cart! You may know that my Miss Gracie jumps into all my photo shoots that involve food, especially real cupcakes and desserts. As you can see, even the faux food attracts her but there was no licking the frosting this time!


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Quatre Petites Génoises Individuelles

One cupcake, four ways. I have a weakness for pretty cupcakes. Oh, I don't eat them (actually, they don't taste that great). But, they are too hard to pass up to photograph. The bakers at Whole Foods Market are certainly artists. 

Photo textures by Kim Klassen Cafe.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

An Inspiring Photography Workshop by Tracey Clark

Last weekend, I attended two fabulous photography workshops by Tracey Clark of the Shutter Sisters at Tea House Studio in Berkeley. The first day focused on indoor photography and day two covered outdoor photography. The biggest surprise? Tracey Clark is a hoot! She is such a funny, smart, talented down-to-earth lady. I feel so fortunate to have met her and taken her course as I've been participating in some of Tracey's classes on Big Picture Classes for the last year.

With a group of about 15 inspired and inspiring women, there was much excitement. The art studio was filled with light and an eclectic mix of items to photograph. We experimented with color, texture, angles, focus, light and more. It was fascinating to see how two people can photograph the same object yet wind up with such different images. The creativity oozed while people set up vignettes and shots before we shared them in the afternoon.

Something else happened last weekend, too. My mom turned 81 years old! Here she is just a few months ago, looking lovely as ever. I can only hope to look as good as her when I am her age. Must be those Swedish genes!

Happy birthday, Mom! I love you!


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Texture Tuesday or Tea Party Tuesday?

It's Tuesday and that means it's time to use some of the wonderful textures from Kim Klassen Cafe on our photos. Today's theme has us using a tea or coffee cup in a photo along with at least one of her textures. I've chosen to use the tea cup and hey, why not make it a tea party?

Some of you may recognize the tea cup as Royal Albert Country Roses. I still love this setting as much as I did when I purchased it 14 or so years ago.

The table is set and ready for you!

Silverware? How about goldenware?

Do you notice the direction of the light as it hits these teacups? I really like the way it hits.

Well, we might as well stop and have a break. Would you prefer the plain or chocolate dipped Madeleine?

Playing up the pink ribbon in this photo, I used two pink textures along with a brown one. It's just softly sweet.

We're about to have our dessert now, so let's refill our cups.

Oh, it's finally time for the pink princess cake! Why don't you just put your feet up while I cut you a slice? I hope you've been inspired today. Perhaps you'd like to try a texture on your photos, plan a little tea party (it's okay to just invite your animal friends!), or to find a quiet space to sip a cup of tea. Whatever you choose, enjoy your day!


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Inspiration in a Day

Isn't this a wonderful sign? It was in the art studio where I took Tracey Clark's indoor photography class yesterday. What a perfect day it was with gorgeous weather, a great instructor and lots of women whose work has inspired me already. The location was Tea House Studio where several artists share the space. It's a place where you can easily spend a few days just taking in all the artwork not to mention the best book collection with a theme of creativity. So how was your day?