Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas, Holidays Around the World: Disney's EPCOT

Merry Christmas!!!

Today we wanted to start a new tradition/series: Disney Day.

Our Instagram Walt Disney World tag is:

Our plan is to post about Disney one day per week here on zee blog.

As it is Christmas, we wanted to bring in something festive.

When we visited Walt Disney World at the beginning of December (2015) - 
we took advantage of the "Holidays Around the World" 
celebration at EPCOT.

Each country around the World Showcase has a "themed event" 
that takes place several times a day.

Some of the events have 4 showings, some have 8 showings.
So make sure you grab the times guide for this.

Some of the performers are done by late afternoon -- 
so don't expect them all to appear all day long into the night.

The pamphlet says: "Share in the sights and sounds of the nations of 
World Showcase as each country's holiday heritage 
comes to life amid joyful music and time-honored tradition."

If you want to see what goes on at each country - this is really an all-day event.

It takes time to get around the Showcase, and you want to 
make sure you stop for drinks and food so you don't pass out.

After each performance you can line up to take pics with the performers - so make sure you add time in for that if you want those pics. :-)

Mariachis and Dancers

Mexico has Mariachis and Dancers for Feliz Navidad, including a piñata.
They have a child from the audience try to whack the crud out of it.

When we walked by it but it was swarmed with people, 
so we couldn't really get close enough for pics.

Sigrid and Julenissen

Norway features Sigrid and Julenissen - 
Sigrid tells the story of Julenissen, 
a mischievous Christmas gnome who visits Norwegian farms.

Chinese Lion Dancers

China has the Chinese Lion Dancers for New Year's -
they are usually two acrobats and a narrator.


Germany features Helga, talking about 
German Christmas traditions and the Nutcracker.

Spoiler alert:
A full-size (costumed human) Nutcracker comes out at the end.

La Befana

Italy has La Befana, an elderly witch who arrives on 
the Eve of Epiphany to give gifts to children.

(We missed out on Italy's Befana this year.)

The American Adventure

At the American Adventure Pavilion you can meet Santa and Mrs. Clause.

The story of Hanukkah is told, as well as the story of Kwanzaa.

(We missed Hanukkah this year.)

And the Voices of Liberty sing 
a cappella holiday tunes inside the main building.


In Japan the Daruma doll seller talks about Japanese New Year's traditions.

(She is hilarious, as you can see ^^^.)

Morocco Holiday Entertainment

In Morocco there is a performance about different Moroccan holidays.

(We missed Morocco this year.)

Pere Noel

In France Pere Noel (Father Christmas) talks about how 
French children write letters to Santa.

Father Christmas

In the United Kingdom Father Christmas 
has a bell performance and talks about how Christmas is celebrated in his country.
A child from the audience helps with the bell performance.

(I didn't really get any good pics of this, as it was already night time.)

Canadian Holiday Voyageurs

And in Canada, there is a rousing performance of holiday tunes from around Canada.
This is basically a rock concert, and was very good.

(But there was too many people to get a good pic of this.)


The great thing about Holidays Around the World is that it is 
included in the price of park admission.

It isn't a ticketed event that you have to pay more to participate in - 
like the Christmas party at the Magic Kingdom.

And it happens all day long -- instead of just from 7pm until midnight -- 
which most of us can't quite make it to midnight anymore. ;-)

Also, there are specific locations around the 
World Showcase with Holiday Treats and Shopping -- 
so there's even more to do besides the performances!

Let us know if you have any questions about this event. :-)

And again, Merry Christmas, friends, and
thanks for visiting us today!!!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Improving Your Doll Photography: Simple Method of Reflecting Light Onto Your Doll

We posted these pics yesterday on Instagram, so if you follow us there - 
you probably don't need to pay attention to this, haha.

But we wanted to show you what using a simple piece of white paper 
can do when photographing your dolls.

Yes, you can buy a reflector, or you can get a big white poster board thingy.

But let's say you don't have those things with you.
So look for - a piece of white paper! Woo!
And someone to hold it for you....

So we decided to bring Zoya with us on our holiday voyage.

Zoya ^^^ in a Caroline wig (she is an Ivy doll)

We took Zoya outside.

In a Truly Me #28 wig.
Kit's hat.
Cat ears from Seasoflavender's Etsy.
Cardigan by Clarisse's Closet.
Dress by Sylvie and Bruno.

But her face didn't have a lot of light on it.

And it just wasn't a sunny day, not even sunny with some clouds day.
Just cloudy and dull.
Sometimes cloudy is good.
But cloudy and dark is just not helpful.

So we employed/enslaved a family member 
to hold a piece of white paper under her face.

And you can see the difference in the lighting. ^^^

We had the hand move the paper around, different angles.

Some angles are better than others.
So make sure you experiment.

You can get these little shadows above the eyelashes --
but overall, we liked it better with the paper.

It gave us those catch lights in her eyes 
that we talked about in Monday's blog post.

And then we moved her over to another side 
of the porch for a different background.

Still using the piece of paper.

Still forcing a family member to help us. ;-)

So grab a piece of white paper and a family member 
this holiday season when photographing your dolls!!!

Merry Christmas Eve, friends!

And thank you for visiting us today!!!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Improving Your Doll Photography:
Catchlight and a Light Box

I'm not really sure what kind of post this is.
An Honest Editorial?
A new series?
A one-off thing?

Who knows...
But you guys can let us know if you want us to turn this type of thing into a series. ;-)

First thing -- we are NOT professional photographers.
We are not even unprofessional photographers.

We are the amateur of the amateurs of the amateurs.

But we have spent a good deal of our life 
looking at art and art photographs 
(for reasons which we would get into but then 
you'd know for sure that we should be institutionalized).


We know what good photography should look like.

Whether or not we can produce it ourselves is an entirely different matter.

But we wanted to at least try to help y'alls out with our tiny bit of knowledge.

Which brings us to catchlight.

See this post:
...for help with studio lighting (i.e. indoor photography with professional lighting).

And in that post you'll read this about catchlight:

"The Eyes Have It

Where do your eyes end up on this model? On her eyes. 
And what helps draw you there? 
The lovely white glint in her eyes. This is called a catchlight.

A catchlight is a white spot in a person’s eyes and is key to make the person look alive.

“Catchlight: Light that reflects in a subject’s eyes and adds life to the portrait. Either a flash or reflector panel is used to create catchlight.”

The easiest catchlight is made by turning on your camera’s flash, 
using it as a 'fill-flash' and getting a reflection off the eye."

From wikipedia:

"Audiences usually perceive eyes without specular highlights to be lifeless or evil, and for this reason many cinematographers specifically eliminate catch lights on antagonistic characters."

Read that ^^^ again.


There doesn't seem to be an online consensus as to 
whether I should be calling it "catchlight" or "catchlights."

Like the effect is just catchlight.

Or the eye lights are called catchlights.

We're just going to go with it as "catchlight" - a lighting effect.

Haha. Derp again.

We do post doll pics without catchlight -- 
but we try to make the majority of our pics have it.

It makes the doll look alive, vibrant.

And once you notice it, you'll be able to tell 
that it really does help improve a photograph.

Can you imagine Vermeer's "Girl With a Pearl Earring" 
without catchlight?

Those tiny white dots make a huge difference.

For Vermeer's work they are the 
difference between a live, breathing subject and just a lifeless painting of a girl.

For your doll photography, they don't have to be white dots, of course.

Just brighter glints in the eyes.

And both eyes.
Just one eye won't do the job.

Blogger won't really post my high-quality pics,
so visit our Instagram: see what we are talking about.

Look at our pics and look for the catchlight.

Look at your own pics.
Look for the catchlight.

This is a fun game, isn't it?

Haha. ;-)

Lately we have been working with a light box, experimenting really... you can see in these blurry pics:

(Thanks, Blogger for the blur)

It's our attempt at indoor studio photography.

Again, we aren't pros.

But we are trying, haha.

And we know a lot of people -- 
-- especially sellers and sewers/sewists --
-- use indoor photography.

So we wanted to get the box and take it for a spin.

Or 5,000 spins.

This is similar to the kit we bought:

It is a 30" cube thingy.

Big enough for the dolls. 
You can probably fit about 3 dolls in there as a group shot.

Our biggest problem is getting them to remain standing, haha.

So putting more than one in there at a time is risky. ;-)

But anyways -- a lot of our recent pics have been in this box 
and we have been pretty successful at getting catchlight -- without flash.

Again, see:
...for examples.

So if you want to get that catchlight inside without flash, we recommend the box.

Just surround it with lights.

The box fabric will diffuse those lights.

And have the doll face whichever side of the box is brightest.

In our case, it's the side next to the open window.

And then that catchlight will appear.

If it doesn't -- keep adjusting the position of your doll, 
and your camera until you find it!

This side of the box ^^^ above allows us to get 100% light diffusion 
and we just poke our camera lens through the slot.

100% light diffusion means an all-over light that removes background shadows, 
and lights the doll's face enough to get that catchlight.

And remember -- you want glints in both eyes!!!

The Eyes Have It!!

Again, we aren't pros -- but we wanted to give y'alls a head's up 
about catchlight and how important it can be!!!

And now you know what those glinty eyeball things are called!!

So feel free to do more advanced research about how to get them. :-)

Thanks for visiting us today!!!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Maple Insists:
Christmas Ornaments, The Ugly...

If you haven't been following this series of posts, here are the previous two:

After that last post a couple followers unfollowed the blog,
so I know I am doing something right!

***If you don't have an appropriate sense of humor,
I don't recommend reading my "Maple Insists" posts, jfyi.***

So today I, Maple the Magnificent, discuss the "ugly" Christmas
ornaments I stirred up online.

Now, sometimes I have difficulty separating the "bad" from the "ugly,"
but after much deliberation, I think I ended up with a good group of uglies.


Sometimes you just can't "un-see" things.
Even if you want to.

And this atrocious sock monkey is one of them.

I pre-apologize to everyone who loves this thing and bought five -- 
but good golly this thing is hideous.

I need some eye-bleach to rinse this out of my retinas.
And a concussion so my brain can forget about it.

Even this poor monkey's facial expression says: 
"Please, kill me! I'm dead inside."

It would be a mercy killing.

And the worst part?

No, it's not the dead-eyes, nor the colors, 
not even the bizarre appearance of underwear over the pajama bottoms. ???

No, it's not any of those things --
instead it is the weird circular 
shapes over the sock monkey's boobies and crotch-region.

I don't even wanna ask -- but really Hallmark, you need 
to have someone with a perverted mind look at your ornament prototypes.

It's all fine and good to use a circular design, 
it's another thing entirely to have those circles align with certain body parts.

I mean, unless that's the kind of Christmas tree you are going for....

Next up, continuing with our animal theme...

Ever wonder what would happen if you combined a lion with an egg?

What? -
That never crossed your mind?

Well, apparently it crossed someone's mind.

Perhaps it was a drug-addled mind.


A lion-egg with a straw afro.
And crazy eyes.

I won't tell you what I thought of immediately when I saw this, 
but just imagine two of these lions side-by-side.

The adults will know what I am talking about.

AND, just in case you wanted a whole animal-egg zoo,
there are others to purchase....

Though I'm not sure why.

The only non-hideous one is the elephant.

Maybe someone designed that one first.

And then they went ahead with the others,
but really they shouldn't have.

And speaking of animals you shouldn't put on your tree...

This depressed tiger.

It was all going well, until they put a face on that thing.

They really shoulda just left him faceless.

He looks like how I feel after spending a month and a half 
prepping for holiday that is here and gone in a matter of hours.

"Is that it?
Is that what all my hopes and dreams were riding on???"

Yes, my tiger friend.

And now you have to 
a) pay off all that credit card debt you just racked up 
buying gifts, and food, and decor and then 
b) you have to prep your taxes.

And, again, if you want the complete zoo:

A hippo, about to eat that poor, shell-shocked tiger.

A giraffe with a neck and head that is just way too small.

A zebra about to give up on life.

I don't even know what that elephant is doing.

But I'm pretty sure that lion is trying to run away.

Right about now you are saying - "Well, they can't get much uglier, right?"



Just. No.

I think this is a gourd or something, covered in knit alpaca hair.

It's so hideous.

This isn't a pleasantly plump Jolly Ol' St. Nicholas.

This is the "Super-Size Me" Santa with a gut so large he needs 
a wheelbarrow, a crane, and a fire truck to get around.

No one should be that shape.

Even a make-believe fantasy character meant to make children behave.

And speaking of shapes people shouldn't be....

This gnome looks horrified.

He woke up to go skiing, but alas!

His body had turned into a pinecone!!!

And he never took another pee or poop again.

Why would someone make this?

Can't you see the silent scream of horror on his face?

Who thought this was a good idea for an ornament?

Probably the same person who thought this was a good idea...



My synopsis of this: When sisal animals go too far.

This is another ornament that should have 
never gone beyond prototyping.

His butt's a pinecone!!!

Why'd they think that would work??

And he has swizzle sticks for legs?!?!

I think I can see tears in it's eyes...

It's like the Christmas Ornament version of The Island of Doctor Moreau.

Some experiments should not be allowed to live.



That's all I got for my
"Christmas Ornaments: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly" series.

(At least for 2015...)

I hope I have entertained the five of you
with a strong enough gut to read my Maple Insists posts.

I hope you all have lovely holidays and good vacations from school and work. :-)

Thanks for visiting us today friends!!!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Custom Doll of the Day: Julia

Welcome back everybody!

Today we are posting about Julia,
our #28 base doll whom we switch wigs around on.

This is our Instagram page for her:
....if you want to see more pics of her.

But below are some of the pics we have taken of her so far....

So here she is ^^^ as the normal Truly Me #28.

We also have another #28, Karen, who we are keeping as is.

But Julia we bought specifically to scalp and swap wigs onto.

First we tried a Saige wig...

Her cardigan is from

Her romper is from

And her shoes are Maryellen's Meet Shoes.

Next we tried a Grace wig on Julia...

Her top is from

Her shortalls are Our Generation, from a gardening outfit.

And she has on black tights from

And then we took her outside for pics with some of her friends...

Which wig will Julia wear next???

Who knows, haha. ;-)

But stay tuned to find out!

Follow our Instagram for the latest pics, as we take them:

Thanks for visiting us today friends!!!

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