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Sunday, May 20, 2012

iPhoneography: Friend or Foe?

      As a photographer, I have mixed feelings about smartphone applications Instagram, Hipstamatic and the like. On one hand, these applications bring photography and artistic expression to the masses. On the other hand, they somewhat blur the line between those with talent and those without.
        Refusing to be close-minded and allowing curiosity to overcome, I recently purchased an iPhone and downloaded a handful of creative photography apps. Over the last month or so, I have enjoyed chronicling my adventures with Instagram, capturing 360º panoramas with the aptly named 360 Panorama, and creating collages with Frames. I'm finding it increasingly difficult to disapprove of these "one-click" edits!

I'd love to hear from my fellow shutterbugs 
on this subject. How do you all feel about iPhoneography and its effect on our craft?

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Year of The Beard

       In 2011, mustaches reigned supreme. They were featured on everything from lollipops and jewelry to pillows and glassware. The obsession with facial hair continues into the new year. 2012 will be the Year of the Beard. Check out the oh-so-awesome crocheted beard above from The Monkey Cannon on Etsy. I gave this one as a holiday gift, and my husband is truly jealous. Okay, I won't lie. I want one, too! My face gets cold in the winter; maybe I shall be a bearded lady. Along with a variety of manly beards, The Monkey Cannon even crafts beards and bearded hats for the little ones. What little man wouldn't want to be just like Daddy with his own little beard? If you can't grow one, buy one!

Below are more examples of beard art found on Etsy.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Beer Review: Southern Tier Pumking

       This is my favorite time of year for beer. Pumpkin brews have been distributed, holiday beers are on the way, and stout season is upon us! This time last year, I reviewed five pumpkin beers and proclaimed Terrapin's Pumpkinfest as my favorite. Unfortunately, Pumpkinfest has not been available in my area this year; so, my husband and I headed over to Pensacola, FL in search of comparable pumpkin suds. I'd say that we were more than successful.
       Southern Tier Brewing's Pumking Imperial Pumpkin Ale is aptly named, as I believe it to be the king of all pumpkin ales. Poured into a pint glass, it's a beautiful copper with an inch of bubbly cream-colored foam that fades to a thin rim. A few streams of bubbles rise steadily to the top. Pumking is, by far, the most fragrant brew I've had the pleasure of smelling. The aroma is sweet and enticing, with cinnamon and allspice, tons of nutmeg, notes of vanilla, and a slight hint of LBA (liquid butter alternative), like buttered popcorn. Each of these is also present on the palate. The hint of buttery flavor is akin to the buttery crust of a pumpkin pie!
       With so many pumpkin brews, I've experienced one of two issues. The first, as is the case with Blue Moon's pumpkin seasonal, is weak pumpkin flavor with barely a hint of spice. The second, the opposite problem, is a strong spiciness that overwhelms any pumpkin flavor. Southern Tier's Pumking is sublimely well-balanced between true pumpkin flavor and the spices of the season. Even better, it retains the basic flavor of beer itself, with a pleasingly bitter hoppy finish.
       Pumking is decadent and super creamy yet not terribly heavy. I'd certainly categorize it as a sipping beer, particularly as it warms. If you can manage to get your hands on a bottle, pint or growler, do not hesitate! If not, better luck next year. I've been told that it's no longer available in Pensacola or the surrounding areas. Next August, I'll be looking into ordering a case for myself. I imagine it would be the perfect accompaniment to Thanksgiving dinner. 9.0% ABV. Rating: A+

Hoppy Holidays!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Nudes in November

On 11/11/11, Karen Cassidy's Blue Velvet Studio in Mobile, Alabama will host it's 3rd annual "Nudes in November" art show during the monthly LoDa Artwalk. I am ever so pleased to be exhibiting my photograph, "You Tarzan, Me Jean," in this show alongside the works of many talented artists. I hope very much that you will join us for this beautiful and tasteful display of the human form.   

"You Tarzan, Me Jean".    © Sharon Whelton.    Model: Jean Savage.
Please do not use this photograph without permission for any reason. Thank you.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

1955 Pontiac Star Chief Hood Ornament

The 1955 Pontiac Star Chief has the most stunning hood ornament I've encountered thus far. Not only does it look swift and sleek, the amber insert lights up. It's just too cool!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Beer Review: Victory Golden Monkey

       Victory Brewing's Golden Monkey is both the first Tripel and first Victory beer I've reviewed, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. If you are unfamiliar with Tripels, an excellent definition can be found on BeerAdvocate's website. This particular Golden Monkey was bottled on November 18 of 2010. Poured from its 750ml bottle into a glass, it's hazy and straw-colored with a white one-finger head that is soft and fleeting. The aroma is very yeasty with citrus, banana, honey and floral notes. It smells quite sweet and a bit spicy.
       Golden Monkey's flavor is a bit less complex than the nose would imply. It tastes strongly of over-ripe banana with hints of lemon and clove. It's spicy with a slightly bitter finish. As it warms, the spiciness intensifies. Overall, the flavor profile of this brew seems very similar to Sierra Nevada's Kellerweis Hefeweizen, though not as bready. At 9.5% ABV, it's warming but not overwhelmingly boozy. With a medium body and moderate carbonation, I wonder if I'd do better to buy a fresher bottle. l doubt I'll ever find out. If I'm in the mood for banana and clove, Kellerweis continues to be my top choice. Rating: B-

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Beer Review: Dogfish Head Black & Blue

        Dogfish Head Brewery's Black & Blue is described on the bottle as a "malt beverage fermented with black raspberry and blueberry purée." The label is lovely, featuring a gentleman with a black eye. The brew pours strawberry-colored and very hazy with an ivory two-finger head. The aroma is strongly berry with bready malts. It's slightly boozy on the nose. The flavor of this brew is huge. It's very tart with a bit of sweet malt. It's by far sweeter in scent than in taste. Again, the alcohol is very present but not overpowering. Black & Blue is well-carbonated and crisp. It verges on refreshing but has a slight stickiness. Fruity brews have always appealed to me, and this one is no exception. 10% ABV. Rating: A-

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Cruisin' the Coast

I've been waiting for this week all year. It's finally time for Cruisin' the Coast! As of today, there are over 5000 antique, classic and hot rod vehicles registered for the event.  That's over ten times the number of vintage automobiles I've ever seen in one venue. I had originally planned to go with my family for the weekend, but got a bit impatient and headed over with my husband yesterday. Here's some of what I've gotten so far:

many more to come soon...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Beer Review: Abita S.O.S. (Save Our Shores)

     Abita's S.O.S. (Save Our Shores) is labeled "A Charitable Pilsner," and according to the back, "For every bottle sold, Abita will donate 75¢ to the rescue and restoration of the environment, industry and individuals fighting to survive this disastrous oil spill."As if that's not a good enough reason to buy it, the bottle is a definite keeper, with a beautiful painted label.
     Poured into a glass, S.O.S. is the color of straw and slightly hazy with a white one-finger head and steadily rising streams of bubbles. The aroma is bready with a bit of hoppiness. The flavor starts off yeasty, with sweet white bready malts; then, there's a bit of lemony hops. S.O.S. has a spicy, tangy grapefruit finish. It's very well balanced. The mouthfeel is clean, crisp, and refreshing. The carbonation seems just right. Pilsners are generally not my first choice, but I'd certainly drink this one again. 7% ABV. Rating: B.


my new Etsy shop

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Future Beer Reviews

Yesterday, my husband and I drove over to Pensacola, Florida for a beer run. Upon recommendations from friends and, we visited Richey's Liquor Store and Four Winds International Food Market. We brought home several brews that I plan to review over the next month or so. Here's a list of reviews you can look forward to reading:

Abita SOS
Dogfish Head Black and Blue
Dogfish Head Chateau Jiahu
Dogfish Head Midas Touch
Great Divide Smoked Baltic Porter
Harviestoun Old Engine Oil
Rogue John John Dead Guy
Rogue John John Juniper
Rogue Northwestern Ale
Rogue Somer Orange Honey Ale
Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale
Sweetwater Waterkeeper
Victory Golden Monkey
Victory Storm King Stout

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Extreme Couponing? Get Real!

Back in May, I wrote about TLC's "Extreme Couponing" and the resulting coupon craze. Now in its second season, "Extreme Couponing" is still giving many consumers false expectations of coupon savings. Walking out of your local store with hundreds of dollars in free groceries, toiletries, etc. is not realistic

Here's what is:

In the last four months, I've saved $149.72 just by using coupons, plus another $38.38 by taking advantage of sales. I spend approximately 2 minutes each day scouring my favorite online printable coupon source(s) and another 5 minutes clipping coupons on Sundays. This is a far cry from the 40 hours per week those crazy ladies supposedly spend on their coupon habits.

Unrealistic: doubling coupons.
Realistic: Most stores do not double coupons! Here in southern Alabama, there's only a small handful of stores that double coupons, and those that do typically only double coupons up to 50 cents. As most of these stores charge more for their items to begin with, you're better off shopping elsewhere.

This is just one of many reasons I frequent SuperTarget. 

#1) Lower prices: Check out this article from CNN Money stating that, "Target isn't beating Wal-Mart [prices] on all items but it is on those that really matter to consumers."

#2) Stacking Coupons: This means that Target accepts one manufacturer coupon and one Target coupon for the same item (unless prohibited by either coupon).

#3) Multiple Coupon Formats: printable coupons from their websitemobile coupons delivered to your cell phone, and coupons by mail.

#4) Gift Card Promotions: For example, in July Target offered $5 gift cards with the purchase of 4 select Head & Shoulders products. With two BOGO (buy one, get one free) coupons and one $1 off coupon clipped from the P&G insert found monthly in Sunday papers, I took full advantage of this deal. At regular price, the 2 shampoos and 2 conditioners I purchased would have cost $28.66. Instead, I paid $13.08 and received a $5 Target gift card! (Note: These were the 23.7oz bottles, not the standard 13.5oz bottles.)

#5) Buy 4 (or 5), Get 1 Free Deals: Most of the time, the items offered in these deals are also on sale. For example, last week Target had most Kashi foods on sale with discounts between 35 and 50 cents. Most Kashi items were also included in a buy 5, get 1 free deal. I used 4 coupons: $1.00 off 2 Kashi snack items (Target coupon), $1.50 off 2 Kashi TLC Bars (, $1.00 off 1 Kashi TLC Pita Crisps (, and $2 off any Kashi item ( I paid $9.50 for what would have cost $20.29!

#6) Clearance Items: Target generally has an extensive selection of clearance items, from clothing to home decor to groceries, up to 70% off. And they allow you to use coupons on these clearance items. Frequently, Target's coupon site and mobile coupons include discounts up to $5 off specific clothing brands. Find one of these brands on the clearance rack, and you're likely to get it for next to nothing!

#7) No Hassle: In the past, when I shopped at Walmart, I often had problems with coupons printed from the internet. The cashiers would spend a ridiculous amount of time examining my printed coupons and would even consult managers on whether or not they were valid. Not only did I feel like I was being accused of dishonesty, I sometimes had to wait several minutes for managers to come by. In the middle of summer in Mobile, Alabama you don't exactly want to stand around while your ice cream melts in your shopping cart! I have never had this problem at Target. In case you do come across an issue, I suggest you print a copy of Target's coupon policy, and take it with you on your shopping trips. 

Couponing can easily spiral way out of control. Many people feel the need to purchase products they'll never use simply because they have a coupon. Stick to a few easy rules to keep things under control. Only clip/print coupons for items you buy regularly. Don't waste money on Sunday papers that don't have coupons you'll use. Visit the Sunday Coupon Preview to have an advanced look at coupon inserts before you fork out the cash for a paper, and make sure those coupons, at the very least, offset the cost of the newspaper. There's no sense in spending $2.00 on a paper for 25 cents in coupons! 

My first post on "extreme couponing" can be found here. It includes more links you may find helpful.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Coupons for Crafters

Here are some valuable Michael's Arts & Crafts coupons for my fellow crafters. 

Choose from these: 
save 50% off any regular priced item, 
60% off custom order framing, 
and 15% off Bead Gallery Strung Bead Collection, 
or print all three. Coupons are good until Sept 17th. 

Check out this autumn owl necklace I made with beads and pendant purchased at Michael's.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Free Sample Sunday!

Here are some more free samples!

Target is giving away free samples of the new Kleenex Cool Touch Tissue here.

P&G has added new items to their brandSampler. Sign up here.

Get a free sample of Shout Color Catcher here.

Most samples take 6 to 8 weeks for delivery. Enjoy!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Cathy's Pimiento Cheese

8 oz cream cheese - softened
8 oz extra sharp cheddar cheese* - finely shredded
8 oz pepper-jack cheese* - finely shredded
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 to 4 roasted red peppers - seeded and roughly chopped
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

*Cathy recommends using only premium quality cheese such as Cabot.

Put softened cream cheese and mayo in a mixer and beat on low to medium speed for about one minute. Slow mixer speed, add Worcestershire sauce and red peppers, and beat on slow until combined and peppers are chunked up. Add shredded cheeses and beat just until combined. Pack into tightly closed containers and refrigerate. Let sit out for about 15 minutes before serving.

For more heat, add a teaspoon or so of Tabasco or Sriracha, or use habañero-jack instead of regular pepper-jack. If you are unfamiliar with Sriracha, then Google it, because you are missing out!

Cathy recommends spreading her pimiento cheese on pretzel bread, while I've been enjoying it on Kashi's TLC Zesty Salsa Pita Crisps.

Big thanks to my mother-in-law, Cathy Whelton, for sharing this tasty recipe.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Beer Review: LA-31 Boucanée Smoked Wheat Ale

New to my favorite package store in Mobile, Cottage Hill Package, is the LA-31 line of beers by Bayou Teche Brewery in southern Louisiana. Boucanée smoked wheat ale is brewed with cherry-wood smoked wheat. It pours a beautifully clear copper with just the slightest hint of foam that's gone in an instant, leaving not a trace of lacing. The aroma is malty and slightly sweet with a light smoky scent that intensifies as it warms. The smoky flavor is distinctive but not overpowering. It's bold but super smooth with a bit of bready malt and a hint of sweetness from the cherry-wood. It may be my mind playing tricks on me with thoughts of smoked sausage, but I get a little saltiness on the finish. Boucanée is crisp and appropriately carbonated. The mouthfeel is light but satisfying. This brew would compliment a variety of Louisiana favorites such as sausage gumbo and barbecue. I definitely see a six-pack of smoky deliciousness in my future and can't wait to taste and review the LA-31 Grenade (pronounced grruh-nod) that's currently residing in my fridge. Boucanée has an ABV of 5.7%. Rating: A

Monday, September 5, 2011

Custom Classic Car & Truck Portraits

I am now offering my photography services for custom classic car and truck portraits. I'll have a new website soon, but for now here's the info:


  • a minimum of 1 hour of shooting time at the location of your choosing within 25 miles of Mobile, Alabama.
  • 2 shots of you with your car or truck. 
  • 1 8x10 image of your choosing printed on archival paper. Additional prints and/or sizes can be purchased separately.
  • I will arrive on location approximately 30 minutes early to set up my equipment and discuss any further details with you.
  • Within 2 weeks of your photoshoot, I will email you a link and password to view 10 to 15 carefully edited images in a private online gallery. 
  • $100 for each additional car or truck.
  • $10 for each additional person and/or pose.
  • $0.50/mile one-way for locations outside of the 25 mile radius of Mobile, Alabama.

Though my new website is still under construction, you can view my portfolio here.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions!