Saturday, August 14, 2010

Stars without makeup

.....but are they really?

A couple of weeks ago, there was a big to do about celebs going without makeup. It all started with Jessica Simpson who did an au naturale photo shoot for Marie Claire, saying, basically, that she was confident in her own self and didn't care what other people thought. Personally, I think she is soooooo much better looking without her makeup.

The Today Show decided that they would go bare-faced for a day. And of course other celebrities have been sporting the natural look as well. Now, sure, this is not really a new thing, the going without makeup, but those who just simply wouldn't (because of their television status) did. Kudos. Awesome. They handled it well. It was wonderful to see. And they got more and more comfortable as the show went along. And they also talked about other female celebrities that were and had been, doing the same and why.

Now, unfortunately, it seems to me that they didn't exactly follow the rules all the way. The eyes and the lips told a different story to me; and in some cases I questioned skin tone. Now it could have been that they've been wearing makeup for so long that their eyelids and lashes and lips were stained. Or maybe their lips, lids, and/or lashes were tattooed (can you tattoo lashes?). Doesn't really matter, and it was sort of sad to me that some of these women (one in particular) couldn't seem to show her all the way bare true self, even for a morning.

What do you think? Am I just seeing things?

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Creative environments

There is virtually no problem you cannot solve, no goal you cannot achieve, no obstacle you cannot overcome if you know how to apply the creative powers of your mind , like a laser beam, to cut through every difficulty in your life and your work.

Creativity defined
A new idea is often a combination of old elements. Creative people are able to devise new combinations depend on your ability to discern relationships between seemingly disparate items; to fine the juxtaposition of ideas which were previously thought to be unrelated.' They have the ability to combine ideas in a unique way or to make useful associations among ideas.

Work in a creative environment
The perception of creativity itself is slowly but surely transitioning into a mutated and adapted life form. In the traditional world, a “creative” person usually meant someone with talent excelling in a specific creative discipline defined by fairly concrete parameters. Copywriters write copy. Art Directors direct art. Talented visual designers who can make anything look good. Brilliant copywriters who can come up with that magnificent tag line which stops you in your tracks. And don't forget Information Architects who devote their existence to usability and being an advocate for the end user. To be around other creative people who understand where you're coming from, is exhilarating. Creative people need stimulation.

Design schools offer a variety of specialties in creative arts

Just about all reputable and accredited design schools offer on-line programs. If you're serious about becoming a professional in a creative field, you can find yourself with a degree within a couple of years, depending on the amount of time you have available to spend learning. Taking classes from home definitely has its advantages.

Finding a way to make this happen

One of the things to consider when searching for a new education program is the cost. Most online colleges offer the same financial aid programs as traditional colleges, so make sure to ask about these. They will assist you in securing the financial support you need to move ahead with your education. Regardless of your income or financial situation, you may qualify for financial aid programs that can make your education affordable. Another consideration is the time involved.

Making an informed choice

There are a wide variety of design schools that offer on line programs. Before picking one, you should spend some time comparing some of them to get an idea of differences in terms of tuition and programs. It's fairly easy to find schools on line that can offer you a high quality education, so be sure to request information from more than one. If you take classes on line, it doesn't matter where that college or design school is located, so you can select one of the best. Be sure that the schools you check out and consider offer the kind of programs and classes you're interested in.

A smattering of the kinds of design specialties most design schools offer

If you are creative, you probably will do well in any of the following areasMost design areas are pretty closely related, and it's possible to cross over from, let's say graphic design to fashion design or vice versa, making finding jobs a little easier. If you are passionate about one particular area, then go for it. Talent and skill combined with passion is a win-win situation.

  • graphic design
  • web design
  • fashion design
  • Interior design
  • multimedia and animation
  • professional photography
  • film and video

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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Summer reading

It seems like half of the country is steaming in the extreme summer heat this year. Here in Kentucky, we have had day after day of temperatures in the high nineties, with heat indexes in the hundreds. Everyone is looking for ways to stay cool.

Yesterday we had a power outage. Fortunately it only lasted for three hours. I was scared it would be longer; it's happened that way in the past.  It's especially bad for me because I run a bed and breakfast. What are you going to do with 8 guests, no light, no TV, and no air conditioning? Well the answer is "creative problem-solving" and the remedy is exhausting.

First thing I do is gather up all the candles in the house and some matches, enough so that every room has one of two. Then make a giant pitcher of ice cold lemonade, which I keep in the frig as long as possible. Then I tell my guests to sit quietly, if possible or go out to dinner or lunch, depending on the time. If they decide to stay here, and have a computer, they can watch a movie which will make the time pass a little faster.

Thank goodness the power outages don't happen too often cause, of course, reading during one would be next to impossible unless you like to read by candle light.  But staying cool in ninety degree weather, although requiring a little thought, is possible. I find that if I stay visiting friends, and sit or lie in one place, I can stay a lot cooler. To entertain myself I have my computer, my TV, my CDs and DVDs, and of course lots of books.

Reading a good book can be a joy. We've gotten so used to our TVs and computers it seems, that book reading is usually the last thing we think of. However; Amazon and other online bookstores advertise a fine selection of books for summer reading. I put together a great group that just may have some appeal to you. See the carousel below.

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Monday, August 2, 2010

Sanctuary: A guest post by Rebecca Rasmussen

Rebecca Rasmussen is the author of the novel The Bird Sisters, forthcoming from Crown/Random House April 19, 2011. She lives in St. Louis with her husband Hans and daughter Ava Lily, and teaches writing and literature at Fontbonne University. Visit her at or at

Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary in New Mexico offers an alternative to euthanasia for the captive-bred wolf, an animal of grace, intelligence and mystery; a symbol of what is wild and free, yet forced to live in captivity in a world obsessed with possessing a part of that wildness.

*note:"If you’re interested in helping wolves –today’s topic – please visit this wonderful organization"

As a guest writer, Rebecca tells us about her new novel, Sanctuary: "The reason I began writing this second novel about wolves is because sometimes I think we, as a population, are so focused on protecting our families – Are the kids reading enough books and eating enough leafy greens? Is my husband taking his cholesterol medicine? What time is soccer pick-up again? Are the kids looking both ways before they cross the street? – and we often forget (I do this all the time! Guilty. Guilty. Guilty.) that there is an entire world that would benefit from that kind of staunch protection. 
I wonder what would happen if we took care of our animals and our earth, if we asked of them half the questions we ask ourselves and our families on a daily basis, whether or not the precarious state of our wild animals, our old growth forests, our rivers and lakes, would be any different than it is today."

Excerpt from Sanctuary: A novel-in-progress
by Rebecca Rasmussen
     Chana turned up in our vegetable garden on a cool June morning. Her stunning Arctic coat was blackened by old blood. At first, we thought her wounds—the blisters and lesions on her hind legs and buttocks, her exposed ribs—had been inflicted in the wild. But when Chana finally allowed Lee to come into the garden, on his hands and knees, he saw the spiked collar embedded in her fur, a cardinal sign of domestication and abuse. What we didn’t know then was that she’d traveled nearly two hundred miles from her home in Elk Springs or that her owner had kept her on a two-foot chain since she was a pup and visited her with his steel toe boots each time he lost his temper. The way he figured, or so he said in court: beating a wolf was better than beating his wife.

     After we’d successfully adopted Chana, Lee and I heard about the others. There was Bruno, whose owner had struck him with a tire iron at a trailhead in the Medicine Bow Mountains because he wouldn’t get in the car. There was Stella, who’d been tranquilized by an aerial hunter in Alaska and brought to an irresponsible breeder in Colorado. There was Mr. Shyloh, Coco, and Whitney—all awaiting euthanasia at Animal Control in Fort Collins—and hundreds of wolves and wolf dogs just like them all over the country. And there was Ishi, a skittish Timber/Malamute hybrid, brought to us by a man who said if we didn’t take her, he would drive Ishi down the road and shoot her. We did what we could.

     Neither of us had experience with wild animals, though Lee was much more of an adventurer than me. I was the kind of person who read books about bears and mountain lions, but did not welcome the opportunity to encounter either on a hiking trail. As far as pets went, I’d grown up with the usual: a cat, a dog, a fish, and a hamster. Unusually, however, each of our pets was eventually “liberated” from its enclosure. When I was eight, I remember my mother taking Henry, my hamster, and me to the forest preserve and convincing me to let him go.

“You want Henry to be happy, don’t you?” my mother said.
“And want him to be free, don’t you?”
“And you love him?”
Yes. Yes.
“Then you know what to do, Adie.”

     In one graceless motion, I took Henry out of his cage, kissed him ceremoniously, and sent him to his death.
When I was old enough to understand what had happened, I was also old enough to understand that, in Henry’s case, I was as much to blame as my mother. I loved Henry because he was cute and fluffy and little. I loved him because he drank water out of a bottle, like a baby. I loved Henry as though he was a stuffed animal, which, along with my mother’s loathing to clean his cage, sealed his fate, for which I have always felt sorry.
He was just a hamster, people have told me.
They were just wolves.

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