If I met a historic person…

If you were able to meet a historic person, who would you meet? Have you ever contemplated this question before? Who would you meet? What would you ask them about their life? Or better yet, would you give them an insight into what is happening nowadays and ask their opinion? Beyond this, would you rather just have a conversation with them? When I was contemplating the initial question, I thought first on what I wanted to achieve with speaking to them. Some historical figures I would rather seek their insight into current struggles. Others, I would just plainly ask them something to the extent of a certain action in history and why they made the decision they did.

As a preface to continuing this piece I didn’t just choose one person. How could I when there are so many to choose from? I instead split this prompt into two sections. Hopefully the themes will come clearly through.

One group of individuals I would love to meet are the leading ladies throughout history. I have fervently believed for a very, very long time that without an exceptionally strong woman who stands behind her husband, history would not result in the manner it has. Now, what do I mean by “leading ladies”? Some that quickly come to mind: Marie Antoinette, Queen Elizabeth I, Empress Alexandra, Queen Josephine, and Catherine the Great. These are all women who lived in drastically different times, lived in different countries, and gained varying life experiences. If given the chance, I would just ask these ladies what wisdom they could impart to a young woman such as myself. What did the learn? What would they have done differently in their lives? These are just questions that are very basic, but seeing how different lives all of these ladies have lived, it would be a great opportunity to get their wisdom.

Another group of women I would love to learn from: the wives of Henry VIII. Two were killed by Henry, two died while he reigned, and two who survived his reign. What was it like to live in a country with such turmoil? What was it like to fall in love with a terrifying leader and be his queen only to perish under the same man? These are so fascinating of women; all vary in their personalities, why they loved Henry, and the lives they lived. These women shaped English history. One provided one of the strongest ruling women in human history. For these reasons, it would be an honor to sit with these women and just have a basic conversation with them and see what their perspectives were/are.

The last group of individuals I would love to meet in history are the American Founding Fathers: Ben Franklin, James Madison, George Washington, James Monroe, Thomas Jefferson, and many others. The most pertinent questions I would ask them is given the state of technological advances that the United States has seen since their deaths, what would their interpretation be of the Constitution and the questions that have arisen with over time. Such things as gun rights, gay rights, abortion, naturalization requirement of the President, and health care coverage are all questions I would love to get their insight in. They are the writers of the Constitution so I find it only fitting to see what their interpretations are.

Well, I wonder if many of you agree with me. Perhaps you don’t, perhaps you do. Maybe you even think of better questions than I did. I hope this is a fitting post for the last one of 2014. I also hope you enjoy and take this and think upon what historical figure(s) you’d like to see and ask their opinions.

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Fading Flower Nails

These are some of my favorite nail designs to do. Not only are they fairly simple, they wow people in two seconds. “Woah, did you do that?” Yes, yes I did.

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I don’t often break out the brush set for nail designs. It’s a bit of a pain for the nail polish dries quickly so you have to keep the brush clean constantly. But, for this design I used a fairly rigid brush, about 1/3″ long with a flat edge. Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of it, but may do a post about all of my brushes and how to use them soon. So look out for that!

I just painted a magenta-pink background, with two coats and let it dry fully.

Then, I chose a lighter pink from the background color, and a dark purple (almost black). I made two drops of each polish on my palette and dipped one half of the brush in one color and the other half in the other color. Be sure to wipe clear strokes on a piece of paper to thoroughly mix the colors. Then re-dip the brush in the two colors.

The hardest part of this design is to keep the shape of the flowers the same and to always remember that you need to keep the shading in the right order. Dark color going out! With one stroke, start at the nail edge and fan out into a point. Do the mirror image of this on the opposite side and you have a petal! My strokes were fairly large so I could do only 3 petals, but I think that’s good enough.

I also added little petals in between the major petals and looking back, this was a waste. I should have done green color to look like leaves, but oh well. Next time!

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Potlucks: Keep or Trash?

With Holiday season coming to a close, there have been almost too many potluck holiday parties I have been invited to. This is a good thing for my social calendar, but is a bad thing for my GI tract. The following post is my interpretation of potlucks and what are some good items to bring to a potluck, and what you should try to stay away from.

First, I’m just going to be up front in saying: potlucks need to be organized. Translation: they need to be set-up properly. The desserts need to be all together, the appetizers need to be right next to the utensils then the actual food. If this is not the case, people cut in line to get to the dishes they want to, or they fill their plate with an assortment of food which negates the whole idea of the potluck being a meal. Also, when it comes to organization, there needs to be food labels as to what everything is. Do NOT put items on your plate and you find out what it is upon the food entering your mouth. For a person who has one of the most temperamental stomachs on the planet, if I don’t know what it is, I don’t eat it. Also, people with food allergies, like gluten, where you can’t necessarily see everything that has gluten in it, potlucks are a dangerous playground.

Now, what to bring. I am a big fan of cooking, but potlucks are a time to bring store-bought items. They’re cooked well, most likely they come pre-labeled with all of the ingredients, and tend to be packaged nicely. But, if you’re set to cook an item, keep a few things in mind. Don’t bring something you have never cooked before, except if you have tried said item before bringing it to the potluck. One of my colleagues brought a casserole, and had no idea if it was good or not for she never made it before. Note: DON’T use your colleagues as guinea pigs to try new recipes. Bring items that you are confident in and you enjoy.

Second, bring items that don’t sound gross. Ok, this may be up for interpretation, but I think this is pretty self-explanatory. If it sounds gross (i.e. Buffalo Chicken Dip), it will most likely look gross, so don’t bring it. If there are no labels on the table for what each item is, and something looks like vomit, people will either eat it because it’s in front of them (note: DO NOT do this) or skip it because it’s ugly. On this subject, make items that are individually packaged, like cookies or cheese and crackers where you can take a few crackers and a few cheeses and that’s it. I hate the idea of bringing vats of dips and everyone touches the same spoon and puts their hands in the same bag of crackers for dipping. Christmastime is flu season people! Goodness know if people use their own utensils in these items too, which just give me shivers.

Lastly, the discussion of hot versus cold food. If your business or workplace has a full kitchen (with oven) bring whatever you want and heat it properly beforehand. Don’t bring things that need to be served quite hot and serve them warm. Again, that’s gross. I’m a huge fan of room temperature food, like cookies or pastries. Or I do enjoy chilled items like cold hummus dips (store-bought) or vegetable trays. Those can stay unopened in the fridge for a while and be safe to put out for a potluck.

So, this post was just about a few thoughts I had over the course of some of the holiday seasons I’ve been a part of and learned some lessons from. If you have other thoughts please comment below. I would love to hear horror stories or other good takes on what to bring or not to bring to functions such as these. Happy Holidays!

The Life of David Gale, a film

Long ago I watched the very end, literally 10 minutes, of the film “The Life of David Gale” and since I have tried to watch the film in its entirety, but it hasn’t been on cable for a while. Finally, it was on Showtime or Starz or one of the like so I watched it all the way through. This is not the best film to watch on a Friday evening when you are looking forward to the weekend, but it was a really thought-provoking piece, which had a cast of fabulous actors.

“The Life of David Gale” tells the tale of a professor’s last 10 years of life and how he ended up on death row with 3 days to live before being executed. He requested that his story be recorded by Bitsey (Kate Winslet), a reporter, so that his son remember how and why he dealt with the things he had to. Essentially, David, played by the magnificent Kevin Spacey, begins with him being a well-noted professor in Texas who gets accused of rape by a student who in reality seduced him. He loses everything, his wife, son, his job, and his participation in the anti-execution league as a volunteer. Because of these setbacks he becomes an alcoholic and loses even more. The only person who keeps in touch is Constance (Laura Linney) who allows David to stay with her. Constance however is battling her own demons of leukemia and was dying herself. Gale was arrested for Constance’s rape and murder and after many years of battling in the courts he was finally going to be executed.

The film was really, really well-done. Each actor had a critical role and played it marvelously. Winslet was great at being an investigative reporter and finally coming to the conclusion that Gale was in fact innocent. The end was probably the most amazing part of the whole film, at least the last 30 minutes. Bitsey figured out that Constance committed suicide and framed Gale. It was a play on the fact that the court system sentenced an innocent man to death. In reality however, Gale knew all along that he was innocent and even played a role in Constance’s suicide.

The whole question around execution is probably the central theme of this film. Is execution valid, moreover, is there any way that we can prove without question of a doubt that an individual did in fact commit the crime by which they are accused? With the leaps and bounds that science is making on a daily basis, with the addition of technology, it’s becoming harder and harder to disprove evidence in a case. But, a jury must also know the reproducibility and amount of error in the measurements that are taken in science. Herein lies the issue, in my mind. Science is great, especially in circumstances such as these, but there are such things as false positives. Also there are such things as instrumental error, sample error, and reproducibility error. All of these factors have to be discussed when someone’s life is at risk. I’m very proud of the science I do, yet there is a lot that is dependent on a variety of variable that non-scientists don’t know about. Expert witnesses may be experts but when it boils down to some theories, multiple perspectives are necessary and/or valid.

The film was an awesome piece of cinema and one that I would recommend to many viewers. It tells a great tale of a man who against all odds and with all the sadness in his life succeeds in proving something in death that he couldn’t prove in life.

Xmas Tree Nails

I have started really loving abstract nail art designs. So, for the week before Xmas I decided to take a risk and do an abstract Xmas Tree design with a range of different xmas tree colors, and of course, the classic green. I used a sparkly purple, silver, gold, black with sparkles and a green that dries like a glitter (and feels like leaves).

I first painted two coats of bright red. Once this dried I cut one inch long segments of striping tape. I used about 4 for each nail so that amounts to about 40 pieces. I laid two pieces to form the basic shape of the tree, then from those took two others and made diagonal lines. I painted thick coats of nail polish on two nails at a time and quickly removed the striping tape segments. The result is a cool basic xmas tree design with what looks like red garland.

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Let me know what you think!

American Horror Story: Coven

Seeing how I have had quite a few art projects that I have needed to complete for the Christmas season, I needed to find a television show to watch while I did the crafts. Luckily I stumbled across American Horror Story on Netflix and saw that they added episodes; actually, they added a whole season! Thank goodness, 13 episodes of pure glory!

When I watched the first season, I was really enamored by the traditional yet edgy story line. A scary house with a messed up family occupying it, an even crazier neighbor, and a history that would make for an epic scary movie. There were episodes that were a waste of time, but overall I really enjoyed the plot and the actors were glorious! The second season, Asylum, was a hit with almost every reviewer. Of course, I was not a fan. Didn’t like the plot, thought it was really too creepy, and perverse in many ways. However, they added great actors to the cast for this season, and it was a joy to watch them.

The third season, Coven, was reviewed as being drab and not edgy enough. I agree with both of these statements, but edgy for the sake of being edgy is just boring and unnecessary at times. A show can develop into a great season without having to rely on the grotesque to make a point. Coven was about a dwindling witch’s coven that runs an elite school in New Orleans to teach new witches how to harness their powers. It is run by Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) who is at times a push over then develops into a rather strong-willed teacher. Her mother, Fiona (Jessica Lange) is referred to as “the great” and is the most powerful witch of them all. Her greatest fear, however, is to die and be replaced by one of the pupils in Cordelia’s school. Now, the plot line is classic American Horror Story: twisty, has a ton of characters with interwoven plots that if you miss 5 minutes of an episode you might as well rewind for you will be lost. This may seem tedious, but it’s what makes this show so good!

Two actors that they brought on for this season were Kathy Bates (Madam Delphine LaLaurie) and Angela Bassett (Marie Laveau). Both of these women are not only amazing actors, but they added such an incredible amount of substance to the cast. Bates plays a crazed woman who was spelled to be immortal by Bassett and buried alive for centuries until Fiona unburried her and made her the Coven’s housekeeper. What better way as punishment than for a former slave owner to be in turn used as a sort-of slave. Two other actors that were brought on into this season was Emma Roberts and Gabourey Sidibe. Both played witches in the Coven; Sidibe had powers to make her harming herself reflect on someone else. Roberts played an amazing brat who thought she was the next supreme. Lastly, I’m going to have to shout out to one of my most favorite actors in the series: Jamie Brewer. Brewer was born with Downs Syndrome and is so high functioning she can memorize lines and act. It’s amazing to watch her!

In the end I really enjoyed this season and am looking forward to watching “Freak Show.” This show, because of its layout doesn’t surprise me that some seasons are better than others. If you aren’t a big fan of circuses you won’t like Freak Show; just like if you don’t like classic horror films in a house, you won’t like the first season. It’s simple. BUT, at least watch the first episode, you can jump into the series at any season’s first episode, so take the time and start watching. It’s amazing!

Nativity Set

I recently completed this extraordinarily cute nativity set. It came as a set with a few paints, two brushes, and a mixing palette. It was such a joy just to sit and paint and watch a bit of TV.

This is not going to be an all out post, but I am very proud of this!

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The one weird thing with this set is it just had 2 wisemen. Seriously?!