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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

Just a quick post to share my Halloween costume with you guys.  The pictures aren't the greatest but I think you will get the general idea.  This year my costume plans changed at the last minute when I was asked to participate in a group costume for work.  The group had decided on being the Addams family and I was asked to portray the part of Morticia.  However, with the recent occurrence of Hurricane Sandy along the East, and a family illness, we had a few parties absent today.  But, we had a good representation with our small group.  So here are some shots of my costume.

Morticia Addams hair and makeup

Morticia Addams hair and makeup

Morticia Addams hair and makeup

Morticia Addams hair and makeup

Morticia Addams costume

You really can't tell from the photos but I had the same netting flowing from my sleeves as I do on the bottom of the dress.  I just found a costume at the local Walmart and bought some of the gauzy web material from the Dollar Tree and added it to the bottom and sleeves of the dress.  It gave it a great effect but boy was it aggravating to try and walk in that.  I can't imagine how Carolyn Jones moved around in her Morticia costume with the hobble skirt.

Here is our group photo with Wednesday, Morticia, Gomez, Thing, and Cousin IT.

The Addams Family
And finally, here are the folks I work with that decided to dress up.  The costumes ran the gamut from Puritan to Penguin.  You can just barely see her but, behind the penguin is Tippi Hedren with a bird on her shoulder.

The cute doggy is in training to be an assistance pet through the Companion Pets for Independence so she is in our office building most every day.

Halloween group photoThe Addams Family

We had a fun time with a potluck lunch and entertainment by Elvis himself. Thank you, thank you very much!

How are you celebrating today?

Monday, October 29, 2012

To Catch A Thief Review

To Catch a Thief Banner
To Catch a Thief is one of my favorite Hitchcock films because Grace Kelly is drop dead gorgeous and Cary Grant is irresistible, not to mention how beautiful the scenery of Monte Carlo is.

The film, made in 1955, is unlike most of Hitch's films in that it isn't too dark or troubling.  I would really classify it as a romance, with a touch of comedy and just enough suspense.

The story takes place on the Riviera, where "The Cat", the famous and long retired cat burglar, John Robie, played by Grant, has been living well in a beautiful villa on the French Riviera for the past 15 years.  In prison during the war when the Germans bombed it which allowed him to escape, he chose to stay and fight with the French Resistance, and became a legend which led to his parole.  Now, a string of professional jewel robberies has the police suspecting The Cat has come out of retirement.

Cary Grant Monte Carlo landscape

Since the only way to prove his innocence is to catch the thief himself, Robie hooks up with an insurance agent whose company is paying out the claims on all the robberies and begins a game of cat and mouse with the thief. 

John Williams and Cary Grant
Along the way he runs into Jessie Stevens, played by Jessie Royce Landis, and her American Heiress daughter, Frances, played by Grace Kelly.  They are vacationing in Europe with hopes to land Frances a husband.  

Grace Kelly and Jessie Royce Landis

Robie, posing as a lumber tycoon from Oregon, wants to keep them and their diamonds company until the thief strikes.  Frances, however, learns early on who he really is and displays a wild enthusiasm for helping him steal.  Of course, Robie isn't there to steal, but has trouble convincing her of that when her mother's jewels are stolen.  This is especially insulting to Frances since it happens at the time that she and "The Cat" share a romantic interlude.  I think this is one of the movie's greatest scenes, where their evening together is framed beautifully by Hitchcock, cutting back and forth between the fireworks outside on the Riviera and the fireworks going on inside.

Grace Kelly and Cary Grant fireworks

The next day, Frances takes them on a wild ride in her sports car along the coast of the French Riviera that has Robie a little worried.  (This scene is a little surreal given it is the same road that later claimed the life of Princess Grace.)

Grant and Kelly French Riviera car ride

In comes another sexy kitten, Danielle Foussard, played by Brigitte Auber. She is the daughter of one of Robie's old pals and would like nothing better than to run off with him to South America.  When her father is murdered and pegged as the thief, she lashes out at Robie at his funeral.  

Brigitte Auber

By this time, wise mother Jessie has set her daughter straight about Robie, and together they set a trap for the real thief at a swanky costume ball.  This leads to an exciting chase on the rooftops, complete with wrestling and gunshots, as Robie unmasks the true thief.

Kelly and Landis at costume ball

It's not too hard to figure out who the real thief is, but that really isn't the point.  The visuals are splendid--there's plenty of beauty to fill up every screen, whether it's shots of the blue blue sea with loads of sunbathers, French chefs in mile-high hats or a flower market filled with pink and red blooms. 

Grant and Kelly on French Riviera beach
Red and Pink Flowers
The costumes by Edith Head are lavish.  Grace Kelly is stunningly beautiful and sophisticated.  Cary Grant is charming and debonair.  The chemistry between the two is electric and believable.  

To Catch A Thief
The movie is full of witty dialogue and solid acting, typical of a Hitchcock film. Look for Hitchcock's standard cameo appearance in about the first 10 minutes of the film, sitting on a bus to the left of Cary Grant.

If you're looking for a different kind of Hitchcock film with more romance than dark story line, then in my opinion, this is a must see.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Autumn Walk

Recently I have began a walking routine, - which is a major accomplishment for me because I hate to exercise.   I have put on some extra weight, so I know that it is necessary for my health.  I don't enjoy it, but I endure it.  The one thing that makes all this walking worth the effort is the magnificent view that comes with living in a remote country setting during the Autumn months.  So, I wanted to share with you guys what you would see if you were out walking in my neck of the woods.

Autumn landscape

Autumn landscape

Autumn landscape

Autumn landscape

Autumn landscape

Autumn landscape

Autumn landscape

Autumn landscape

Autumn landscape

Autumn landscape

Autumn landscape

Autumn landscape

Autumn landscape

Autumn landscape

Autumn landscape

Autumn landscape

What do you see when you go walking?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Weekend in Pictures

Today is my one and only daughter's 25th birthday.  She is my only little girl, born smack dab into the middle of five brothers.  This past weekend I got to spend some time with her and her family to celebrate her upcoming day.  

I baked her a cake.

25th Birthday Cake

And spent time with my granddaughter.

Playing with my granddaughter

Later we went shopping and I found this wonderful square pedestal cake plate.

Square white pedestal cake plate

And these gorgeous spectator pumps by Aigner.  
(I also bought two Cloche style hats but I'm saving that for another post.)

Etienne Aigner spectator pumps

Etienne Aigner spectator pumps

The rest of the weekend was spent at home drinking lots of coffee.

Coffee drinker

Watching my grandson share his breakfast with a friend.

Sharing with his owl

Cleaning my puppy dog's sleeping area, which is a big area, by the way.

Tucker, my English Mastiff

Working on covering up our new water line through our yard.

Installing a water line

Enjoying the last remnants of summer that's still hanging on.

Clematis in bloom

And admiring the mist rolling into the valley behind our home.

Mist in the valley

So, how did you spend your weekend?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Soup Weather

When the weather turns chilly, I think there's nothing better than a warm cup of soup.  Here's one of our favorites that I made recently.

Retro Gran | Potato Soup

Potato Soup

6-10 medium potatoes
8 oz. cream cheese (softened)
1 stick butter
1 can cream of celery soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
2-4 cups heavy cream
salt to taste
pepper to taste

Peel potatoes and cut into cubes.  Place into stock pot and add water, just enough to cover the potatoes.  Cook until soft.  Add cream cheese and butter and cook until completely melted.  Add remaining ingredients and let simmer.

I like to garnish with cheddar cheese and bacon.  Yum!

Do you like soup on a chilly day and if you do, what's your favorite?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Acrylic Nail Removal


I suffer with fingernail issues.  Some of them are soft and some of them are dry and brittle, breaking and cracking easily.  Pretty much all of them seem damaged in some way.  I do have a few that will grow fairly strong and lengthy, but that just looks silly, having one or two long nails and the rest short.  So, way back in the early Spring I decided to have acrylic nails put on.  I would go back every few weeks to have them filled in and repainted.  But, as anyone who has acrylics knows, this can be a time consuming and expensive adventure, so I decided the time had come to remove them.

Removing my acrylic nails at home:

I didn't have time to go back to the salon to have them removed, nor did I really want to pay for something that I thought I could do myself.  So, I bought some acetone and sat down the other evening to soak my nails.  I soon realized that this was going to require some effort, not the instantaneous effect I had hoped for.  I did a little research online on acrylic removal and started the process over again.

soaking fingers acetone

This time I heated a bowl of water up in the microwave, poured my acetone into a ziploc bag, and placed the bag into the bowl of warm water, creating a double broiler effect.  This was to heat the acetone up, since it is a solvent and highly volatile, you don't want to place it directly in the microwave or on the stove.

The instructions I was following said to let your nails soak for 15-20 minutes, then you should be able to peel the acrylic right off.  (Here's where I want to tell you what happened with mine and give you some tips on how to not have it happen to you.)

First, that acetone gets hot, and I mean hot, - quickly, so I wouldn't suggest bringing your bowl of water to a boil like I did.  Almost immediately after putting my baggy of acetone into the water, I placed my nails into the bag to soak, and OUCH!  Hot!!  Room temperature water is probably plenty warm enough, won't make that mistake again.

After about 20 minutes of soaking, after I let it cool down somewhat, I pulled one hand out to test it.  This is what your nail will look like after about 20 minutes of soaking.

acrylic nail removal

I thought I would try my pinky fingernail first because it had grown out the farthest and was already somewhat loose.  I pried on the acrylic and - SNAP, off it came bringing my fingernail with it, down to the quick.  ** Insert expletive here. ** 

It was obvious that I was not doing something correctly and 20 minutes wasn't going to touch this stuff, so I stuck my hands back into the little baggy of acetone, mindful not to put in my little pinky that was now bleeding.  I could feel the acrylic getting gummy and would use my fingers to rub it off.  Fast forward to the end, 2 hours later.  Yep, you read that right.  I sat there for 2 hours soaking my fingers in that little baggy of acetone before I got most of the acrylic rubbed off.  And I'm pretty sure that I have damaged my nails further in addition to totally drying out the skin on my fingers.

So where did I go wrong?  Here's what I learned, after the fact:

  • Trim your nails down and rough up the acrylic a little with a file or buffing pad.  When you file down the nail before soaking it in acetone, it helps the solvent work in two ways: there’s less product to remove, and  rough surfaces have more exposed surface area for the solvent to be absorbed into.
  • You can rub vaseline around the outside of your nails to keep the acetone from drying out your skin and cuticles.  Make sure not to get it onto your nails though because you want that acetone to penetrate the acrylic.
  • After you've soaked for about 10 minutes or so and the acrylic is gummy feeling, you should take one of the  wood sticks that come with a manicure kit, I'm not sure what they are called, to GENTLY push the acrylic off your nails. You would lay it on the top of the first layer of acrylic and gently, at an angle, push the acrylic towards the top of the nail.  (DO NOT attempt to push from the base of the acrylic where it meets the nail. This is what I did with my pinky nail and it's the reason why it broke off in the quick.) 
  • The acrylic should 'flake' off with little pressure. If it gets difficult to push it then you need to soak the nails again. Try soaking in five minute intervals after the initial ten. Before submerging back into the acetone, use an acetone soaked cotton ball to swipe the loose acrylic off your nail.  This keeps from gumming up your acetone.
  • Solvents can become saturated (meaning they can’t dissolve any more solute), so make sure to always use fresh acetone.  For the 2 hours that I sat there, I just continued to use the same acetone that I started with and I think, had I refreshed it, things might have moved faster, even the way I was doing it.
  • You will want to continue this process until all or most of the acrylic is removed. If your nails are particularly thin, pushing, even gently, on your nail is painful after awhile. If that happens you can use your buffer to LIGHTLY buff the remaining acrylic off your nail. Just be sure to use gentle pressure and keep the buffer parallel to your nail.
  • After you've buffed off the remaining acrylic, you are pretty much finished.  But you might want to give your nails a little boost to keep them healthy while the damaged parts are growing out.   You could do that by applying cuticle oil over the ENTIRE nail and the cuticle and leaving it for at least five minutes. Then you will definitely want to apply lotion to your hands. The acetone really dries them out.  
  • After you've applied the lotion, gently wipe the nail with alcohol to cleanse it and then apply a nail strengthener according to directions.  I like Nail Envy, it seems to work pretty well for me.  I would probably reapply the Nail Envy, daily without removing whats already on there.   You could also use it as a base coat for your polish.
  • If your nails are really soft, it would probably be a good idea to cut them down to the tips of your fingers so as to minimize any day to day damage.

The future of my nails:

I am on a mission now to have healthier, stronger nails.  Here's the plan for my dry, brittle nails:
  • Keep nails short. Long nails are more likely to split or break.
  • Use moisturizer. Apply moisturizer to my fingernails and cuticles several times throughout the day and before bed. Possibly wearing cotton gloves while I sleep, to help seal in the moisture.
  • Apply nail polish. A thin coat of clear nail polish can help keep moisture in my fingernails.
  • Limit use of nail polish remover. Don't use nail polish remover more than once a week. When I do need to use nail polish remover, choose the acetone-free variety.
  • Ask doctor about biotin supplements. Changing my diet or taking daily multivitamins isn't likely to strengthen my nails. However, some research suggests that the nutritional supplement biotin might help strengthen weak or brittle fingernails.
  • Drink lots of water.  Since my nails are dry and brittle, it might indicate a lack of moisture, so drinking plenty of water should help.

I hope this helps any of you out there considering removing your own acrylic nails.  Learn from my mistakes!  I will keep you posted on the progress of healing my unhealthy nails.