Friday, January 31, 2020

It May Be Winter But Don't Forget The Sunscreen.

Panorama, Morning, About, The, Clouds Yes, it is the middle of winter where it is still cold and the days are still short.  The sun can get bright enough to need sun glasses  even though the temperature is below zero.  Most people think this is the perfect weather to enjoy going without skin protection because there is no chance of getting a sunburn! But is that true?

Yes and no.  If you live in a southern state where winter makes the place bearable such as in Florida or Arizona, you definitely want to wear your normal amount of sunscreen because the sun is still direct and you can still get a nasty sunburn.

If you are in the north, where every part of your body is covered and you don't think you need it, you do.  You need to use sunscreen. Although you are fairly well covered, the snow tends to reflect light in the same way water does.  In other words, snow reflects up to 90 percent of the harmful UVA rays. These rays cause both skin cancer and is the source of almost all the wrinkles you find on your face.

In addition, when you are at higher elevations, your are more exposed to Ultraviolet rays due to the thinning atmosphere.  In fact, it has been found that UV radiation increases four to five percent for ever 1000 feet you rise in elevation so the higher you go, the more exposure you face.  Those who engage in outdoor activities need to remember this especially when they spend the day on the ski runs.  This is one reason it is recommended you wear a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more even if it is the middle of winter.

Furthermore, it may seem cloudy, gray, and cold but people often think clouds offer more protection than they actually do at any time of the year.  Even on a cloudy, cold, day, the clouds only block about 20 percent UVA rays so you really aren't being protected from potential skin cancer and seeing your skin age more rapidly.  In addition, the ozone layer which absorbs UV rays is thinnest during the winter so there are more rays coming through.

The other thing to remember about UV rays is that they penetrate glass so even if you are sitting in front of a picture window with your cup of hot, steaming, chocolate, you are still being exposed and could experience damage.  Furthermore, the damage tends to accumulate over the winter months without you being aware of it.

Don't forget to cover your scalp so you don't get a sunburned scalp.  According to statistics, six percent of the melanomas diagnosed are found on the neck and scalp while ten percent of those who die due to melanoma do so from this type of cancer.  So be sure to wear both a hat and your sunscreen.

One of the best reasons to wear sunscreen in both summer and winter is that it slows down the aging process by almost 25% as compared to those who did not use any sunscreen.   So rather than be one of the 20 percent of the population who ends up with skin cancer, use sunscreen every day, even on the coldest, shortest day so you protect your skin and slow down the aging process.

I wear a light weight broad -spectrum sunscreen every day summer or winter.  When I want a bit of color, I make sure I have a liquid foundation that contains sunscreen and I mix a bit of it with my regular sunscreen so I don't look like I'm wearing anything.  One of my students was surprised I had foundation on because it looked so natural.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

The Best 8 Places To Visit In February.

Miami, Florida, Sunset, SkylineFebruary is just around the corner along with Valentines day.  Are you thinking about taking off for a bit to enjoy a weekend or a week somewhere just to escape or to surprise your sweetie?  

There are some great places to check out both in the United States and the world depending on how much time you have and your budget?

Want to try somewhere exotic?  Try  the Nam Hoi in Vietnam.  This Four Seasons resort is said to have one of the top five spas in the world.  It is by the beach and close three sites designated as World Heritage sites by UNESCO.  In addition, if you make schedule your visit during the second half of the month, you can experience the healing of a world renown Malaysian healer.  This hotel is only about 30 minutes from the airport in Da Nang and is found along one of the best stretches of sand in the country.

If you prefer somewhere further north, schedule a visit to Trondheim, Norway around mid February to enjoy an event with all many leading chefs and restaurants to launch the Michelin Guide to Nordic Countries 2020 edition. This is the first time this particular event has been held in Norway.

You could always plan a visit to Mendoza, Argentina.  It is the summer time in Argentina so you'll enjoy nice weather and sunny days.  This place is known for its beef cooked over an open fire and it's Malbec flavored ice cream.  Furthermore, the city celebrates the beginning of the harvesting season.  It is said that February is the best month to head there to enjoy the city's offerings.

If you don't want to leave the United States, check out Saranac, New York for it's winter carnival running from February 2 to the 11th. The carnival offers parades, fireworks, and a huge ice castle.  In addition, one can enjoy skiing or explore the recently renovated Hotel Saranac originally built in 1927.

Do you like visiting museums?  If so, then head off to Seattle for Museum month.  During the month of February, all museums in Seattle are half price and you should be able to get a complementary ticket from the hotel concierge.  If you aren't sure it's worth it, it is because there are 40 institutions involved in this.  They range from the Museum of Flight, to the Seattle Art Museum, to the Aquarium.

On the other hand, you could check out Naples, Florida with the reopening Naples Grande Beach Hotel and other places. Even though, Naples underwent Hurricane Irma, it still has the reputation of being the paradise coast of Florida.  At the end of the month, Naples hosts the Naples National Art Festival with tons of artists who are offering wares in 18 different categories.

Prefer something a bit more exotic without leaving the United States?  Head off to Maui because you can get some decent priced flights there and it's off season so the prices of hotels are a better.  Furthermore, there is so much to see there from Haleakala to some beautiful beaches.

Want some excitement and fun?  Head down to New Orleans to enjoy the Mardi Gras It ramps up on Fat Tuesday which is February 25th this year but it starts in January and keeps going till Ash Wednesday about a month later. In addition, New Orleans is known for its music and it's food.

Have fun planning the get away for February.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Why Increase Your Intake of Fruits and Vegetables.

Fruits, Vegetables, Market, Nutrition I am always reading up on the latest recommendations for staying healthy via exercise or diet.  One things that comes up regularly is that Americans need to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.  I live in a place with two stores that carry fresh fruits and vegetables but the choices are limited so I order in a box of fruits and vegetables  every two weeks.  This way I get kale, spinach, Swiss chard, sweet potatoes, onions, bananas, and lots of other great things.

Many might wonder why so many recommend increased consumption of fruits and vegetables.  There are many reasons for this.

1.  The great thing about fruits and vegetables is that they are low in calories and fat.  They have no cholesterol unless cooked with something such as meat or cheese which adds it.

2.  Fresh vegetables are full of nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber, potassium, folic acid, and others.  A diet with sufficient potassium is theorized to help maintain proper blood pressure.  Some sources of potassium include sweet potatoes, white potatoes, white, lima, and kidney beans, beet greens, spinach, and lentils.

3. Fiber from vegetables can decrease cholesteral levels in the blood and decrease heart disease.  In addition the fiber can help with regular bowels, cut down on diverticulosis, and keep people feeling full.

4.  Folic acid helps the body form red blood cells and helps reduce certain birth defects in expectant women. Vitamin A helps keep the eyes and skin healthy, keep us from getting infections while Vitamin C helps with the absorption of iron, and keeps teeth and gums healthy.

5.  Over all, fruits and vegetables can help decrease heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and certain cancers while being much  lower in calories yet filling.  It is not recommended one obtains all their fruits and vegetables in the form of juices because many are high in sugar and low in fiber.

6.   The cost of beans and lentils is a lot less than paying for meat and considered much healthier.

With so many vegetables out there, it is important to eat a wide variety to maximize nutritional intake rather than relying on the same few recipes.  Last summer at the farmers market, I found a new way to prepare kale using kale, chickpeas, onions, sweetener, and lemon juice. If you eat meat, you could use chicken instead of chickpeas.

Now if you have family members like mine who think vegetables consist of French fries and tomato sauce or salsa with chips, there are ways to sneak them into your cooking so they are not as noticeable.

1. Chop your vegetables finely before cooking them in a bit of water.  When soft, throw into your spaghetti sauce you use in your lasagna, spaghetti, or other pasta dish.  If you have someone who will refuse to eat it if they see the vegetables, simply mush them up when soft and blend in.

2.  Make soup from scratch using the leftover water from cooking the vegetables.  Add beans, rice, meat, or pasta into it, some tomato paste or broth and spices.  You have a great soup for dinner.  I love making a minestrone type soup for meals.

3.  You can grill or roast vegetables to give them a different texture.  I have an electric grill to grill peppers, eggplant, zucchini but I roast root vegetables in the oven.  I've been known to utilize bbq sauces, or grilling sauces to help make the vegetables more interesting.

4.  Add vegetables or fruits to your salad.  try apple with spinach, or pineapple with tomatoes.  If you aren't a fan of things like cauliflower or broccoli, try grating the stems.  I've added grated carrots, beets, broccoli, cauliflower stems into my salads.

5.  I've looked at international cookbooks for interesting looking recipes for vegetables such as Kofta made with grated zucchini, onion, chickpea flour and fried like meat balls before being covered in a yogurt sauce.  It is so good.

Have fun increasing your daily intake of vegetables.  I'm off to make something out of my eggplant for tonight's dinner.  One hint for a great eggplant parmesan that is not greasy.  Instead of frying it, bake it till soft, cover with tomato sauce and cheese, then bake till done.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Keeping The Size of Your Wardrobe Down

Dresses, Apparel, Clothing, ClothesI have a problem, I think many other people have. I have way too many pieces in my wardrobe.  I have so many, I never wear half of what is in my closet.    I am sure many of you have the same problem.  I've started clearing things out by donating them to my local charities but I still have a question of what constitutes a basic wardrobe.

Before you start listing everything, I tend to have only one maybe two dresses because I live in Alaska where it gets too cold in the winter to wear one outside.  I tend to lean towards lots of pants, sweaters, and warm shirts.  I have too many because I can't wear them all and I've changed sizes over the years so some don't fit and I doubt I will ever wear them again.

For a nice basic wardrobe for women, it is recommended you invest in certain basics that can be mixed and matched to create an illusion of a much larger selection.  This cuts costs and makes it so you don't need a huge room to store everything in.  The idea behind such a small selection is that you can layer to create different looks.

As far as tops, it is recommended you invest in a couple of black tank tops because these can be worn under jackets, see through shirts, causal Fridays, or any time you need a little extra under everything. I have a couple tank tops I wear when I travel because they fit under a sweater and take very little room in my suitcase.

One should also have a couple of regular tee shirts because they can be worn tucked into a skirt or pants, worn outside pants, worn under a blazer, or in a pinch, they are great to sleep in.  I enjoy them under sweaters and again they don't take much room if you travel.  In addition, add in a couple long sleeved tee shirts because they can look professional when matched up with pants or a skirt.  Add a blazer or jacket for work.

Finally have a couple of blouses to wear over your tank tops to stay warm or create a nice layered look which when matched with a skirt or pants, it becomes more professional.  On the other hand, when paired with jeans, it gives a casual look with just a small change.

Invest in a couple of light weight sweaters that can be worn over tank tops, under blazers or coats, or by themselves.  When worn with a skirt, it creates one look but when worn with pants you have another look.  The sweaters can be over the head and a cardigan that fastens up the front.  Both provide a different look.  Then add in one little black dress and you've expanded your possibilities because the dress can be dressed up with a bit of jewelry and heels for a night look or use a scarf and plain shoes for a work look.  The dress can be combined with the cardigan or a blazer for a slightly different work.

As mentioned many times, one should have a blazer in the closet because it can be matched with so many other pieces and is extremely practical.  I love wearing a blazer over a tank top when I'm traveling because too many airports are cool and this keeps me warmer.

The final three pieces should be a skirt, pants, and jeans.  The skirt should be one that can go from work, to a night out, to a flirty afternoon event while the pants can look good on a Saturday afternoon at the mall, or at work.  Jeans are jeans but if they are nice enough, they can be worn to a conference when matched up with a tee shirt and blazer.

It is recommended one invest in black, some white, gray, or tan because these colors are easier to coordinate.  I do invest in some brighter colors for my tank tops and long sleeved shirts because they don't take much room and go with black quite easily.

Now for shows, it is good to have a pair of sandals, casual shoes, work shoes and dress shoes to match up with various looks.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

A Small Look At Carnivorous Plants

Sundew, Drosera Intermedia
Drosera - Sundew
 If I asked you to name as many carnivorous flowers as you could, I suspect you'd be able to name one.   The Venus Fly Trap because that is the one I automatically think of but there are others out there.

First is the Drosera genera also known as Sundew flower because they resemble the early morning dew covered flowers.  They range in size from 5 mm for the Australian Drosera pygmaea to the 60 cm King Sundew.

The Drosera use their leaves to capture and digest the nutrients from insects.  The dew like drops on the ends of the flowers is actually a gluey drop that releases a secretion when the insect lands on them.  This substance contains an ingredient that paralyzes the insects.  In addition the sundew can move their tentacles to curve around invading insects so as to maximize contact with them.
Nepenthes, Plant-Pitcher, Plant

Next is the Nepenthes or tropical Pitcher plants.  This is one of the largest  insect eating plants found in the tropical areas of Asia.  This plant tends to climb and grow up branches and trunks.  It is also known as the "Monkey Cup" because people observed monkey's drinking out of these flowers.

The "pitchers" are made up of sword shaped leaves with a slick waxy cover above it.  The cover is waterproof and emits a sweet scent that attracts insects.  When insects get close enough, they end up sliding into the pitchers which have a syrupy liquid used to drown the creatures.  Although the Nepenthes usually captures insects, the flowers occasionally manage to trap a rat or lizard.

This species covers several different types and colors.  They are often hanging in trees or can even be found growing around felled trees.

Venus Fly Trap, Fly Trap, Fly, Trap
Venus Fly Trap
There is the Venus Fly Trap also known as Dionaea muscipula.  This plant catches mostly spiders, scorpions, or insects.  The Venus Fly Trap has a pair of hinged leaves with hairs that trap the creature.

When the insect approaches the flower, all it has to do is touch the plant and the "trap" will spring capturing the insect or arachnid.  As soon as the plant traps the insect, it identifies the creature and begins the digestion process which can take up to 72 hours to complete.

The size of this plant changes throughout the year.  It reaches its largest size during the summer and has the brightest colors.

Darlingtonia, Cobra Lily, Carnivorous
Cobra Plant
There is the Darlingtonia California also known as the California Pitcher Plant or the Cobra Plant.  This plant is found in boggy areas with running water in California.  In addition, it is on the protected plant list due to being so rare.  It has curved leaves resembling a cobra standing upright, bright flowers, and a sweet scented sap designed to attract its prey.

When insects invade the plant due to it's sweet smell, they end up trapped and drown in the sap but it relies on symbiotic bacteria to absorb the nutrients rather than enzymes.

Butterwort, Pinguicula, Carnivore, Plant
On the other hand, there is a really interesting plant, the Butterwort which is carnivorous only part of the year.

This plant captures flying insects such as moths, flies, and gnats.  The Butterwort produces rosette shaped leaves and flowers from spring and summer.  The flowers are found in white, yellow, and purple while the leaves attract insects due to their glistening leaves.  When the insects land on the leaves, they become stuck and remain there until they die.

However, the plant goes through a carnivorous to non carnivorous and back cycle depending on the time of the year.

There are a few more carnivorous plants out there I'll cover sometime in the future.  Let me know what you think.  I'd love to hear from you.  Have a great day.

Monday, January 20, 2020

7 Stinkiest Flowers on Earth

Titan Arum, Nature Greenhouse
Titan Arum
 When we think about flowers, we think about beautiful flowers that emit a wonderful aroma.  Roses, violets, apples, all have delightful smells but not all flowers have that characteristic.  There are many out there known for their unique smells, most of which people would describe as stinky.

One is known as the Corpse Flower.  Its Latin name is Titan Arum.  This flower is found in Sumatra in the equatorial rainforest area.  People have described the scent as similar to rotting meat or decaying corpses.  This particular flower is classified as the smelliest flower out there.  Although it only blooms every four to six years, the flowers last only one to two days before they die but the scent remains for several days.  The unique thing about this flower is that it is composed of many little flowers called inflorescence.

Another is the Eastern Skunk cabbage located in eastern North America in wetland soils.  This plant smells like a dead skunk.  In addition, the flower is able to attract flies to itself and it can generate enough heat to melt the snow around itself so it grows through snow covered ground.  This plant is thought to have medicinal properties to treat asthma, epilepsy, rheumatism, and coughs.

There is also a Western Skunk cabbage found in the swamps of the Pacific Northwest.  It has the same ability to produce enough heat to push through snow covered ground but this one is eaten by bears after hibernation because it's a laxative.

Stapelia Gigantea, Flower Star, Cactus
Stapellia Gigantea
There is another flower that emits a rotted meat scent is the Rafflesia Arnoldii or second corpse lily.  It is considered the largest single flower in the world  at over 3 feet wide and is a parasite so it never grows in the earth. It is a protected flower in Indonesia and is classified as one of the three national flowers there even though it has a horrible smell.

One can check out the Stapellia Gigantea or Carrion flower.  It is also known as the Toad Flower or  Zulu Giant Starfish flower.  This plant is native to South America and it's scent attracts flies and maggots.  It blooms once a year in September producing a five pointed flesh colored flower.  The flesh colored flowers are covered with a fine hair thought to mimic dead flesh.

Another stinky flower is the Dead Horse Arum Lily or Helicodiceros because its scent reminds people of the smell of dead horses.  When the day is sunny, the flowers open up so flies crawl down into female flowers where they are trapped for the day.  The male flowers shed their pollen onto the female flowers and onto the flies so when they are released with the hopes the flies will cross pollinate other Dead Horse Arum Lillies.

Then there is the Hydnora Africana or Stinking Root Parasite.  It is a fleshy flower plant found in South Africa that grows entirely underground.  It is also a parasitic plant that flowers above ground.  When the flower pushes through to bloom, it is covered in dung beetles who are attracted by the smell and caught by hairs in the flower.  Its scent is described as similar to poop.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Best Places to Visit in January

Costa Rica, Landscape, Beach, SandIf you live in a place with lots of winter, you might be ready to head to somewhere a bit warmer.  January is a good month to visit many places world wide, some quite warm and some a bit cooler.

January is the perfect time to visit Costa Rica because it is in the middle of the dry season.  There are so many outdoor activities to engage in from the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve and Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge. I can tell you from personal experience that the food down there is quite good.

Another place to visit is Lima, Peru where it is the middle of summer.  There are lots of beaches, a shopping mall built into the side of a cliff, several museums, and if you choose the correct time of the month, you can participate in Foundation day, celebrating the Spanish settling in Peru.

Bogota, Columbia is suggested as a great place to visit in January.  Columbia has a reputation for drug cartels but the country has been changing and has become safer recently.  Bogota offers several museums, a chance to enjoy Columbian coffee, or pop over to Andres Carne de Res with good food, dancing, and great entertainment.

If you prefer to stay in the United States, head down to Park City, Utah to participate in the Sundance Film Festival from January 23 to February 2nd.  There are film showings, discussions, and multi-media presentations.  In addition, one can pop over to do some skiing at Deer Valley, and Park City Mountain.  There is the Utah Olympic Park from the 2002 Olympics that people can visit.

Or perhaps check out Chicago, Illinois with museums, sports teams, art, music, and comedy.  Chicago is also known for its wide variety of food from deep dish food to burgers.  The other great thing about Chicago is that the cost of hotel rooms drops significantly at this time of year.

Have you ever thought of visiting the Canary Islands?  January is the perfect time to visit since the temperatures are perfect and the architecture once you've left the flashy resorts is spectacular.  There is the Cactus amphitheater, or a home with rooms carved into lava bubbles.  This place also has a volcanic national park and an art museum where people can swim underwater.

If you live in a warm place and want to check out cold weather head up to Montreal to enjoy the Igloofest with all sorts of entrainment.  There is also wonderful French chateau architecture to enjoy and awesome food such as smoked meat sandwiches or hand rolled bagels.  If you want to snowshoe, head up to Mount Royal to enjoy the view.  When you need to warm up you can head down to the underground filled with shops, movies, and restaurants located under the downtown area.

If you could visit Panama instead of Costa Rica.  The country has two long coastlines filled with beaches.  There is a Jazz Festival hosted in Panama during January but if that isn't your thing, you could head off to visit the San Blas Islands  protected  by the Kuna tribe.  There are no hotels, only hammocks and huts. Furthermore, the capital's old quarter is being renovated.

It is usually recommended for people to visit Australia during January but with the bush fires, this is not a good place to go.  If you want to head off, look at one of these places.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Beauty Marks - Yes or No?

woman in white knit sweater lying on dried leaves Beauty is filled with styles that go in and out of fashion. At various times, a specifically placed beauty mark on the face has been important while at other times, the smooth face is preferred.

The reality is that most beauty marks found on faces are actually moles that appear but depending on the time, these might be popular enough that people placed one on their faces.

From medieval times on to the Salem Witch Trials, moles were seen as proof of the Devil having entered the body.  This is where the image of the ugly witch with the hairy mole on the over sized nose or chin came from.

At one point, society preferred the clear skin but Shakespeare loved beauty marks to the point, he often wrote about them.  Innogen from his play "Cymbeline" has a facial mole or beauty mark.  In fact, if you read his works carefully, you'll discover many of his female characters have moles or imperfections on their faces.

Sometime between Shakespeare and the 18th century, women in Britain became so enamored with moles that they used mouse fur attached to their faces but the government didn't like this idea so they out lawed the practice in 1650 but it didn't stop people. It was not only in Britain during the 17th and 18th centuries both men and women wore mouches or faux mole patches.  The word mouches is French for flies.

These mouches were used to cover up smallpox scars because smallpox raged across Europe killing both the ruling class and the commoner.  "Beauty marks" hid scars making the person look so much nicer.  These mouches became  so popular in Venice that there was a street in Venice dedicated to making them out of velvet, silk, taffeta, or leather.  These beauty marks might be made in the shape of a circle, star, heart, or half moon.

In addition, these mouches could convey information by it's placement.  Madame Du Berry, the mistress of Louis XV created a cheat sheet to decode mouches.  If the mouche was located on the cheek, it said you were a flirt but if the mouche were found near the lower lip, it said you were discrete.  Some placed the mouche on the right temple indicated the person was planning to break up with their current love.

Furthermore, it wasn't long before beauty marks signaled political choices.  If a woman placed the beauty mark on the left side of her face, it indicated she supported the Tory's while if it were placed on the right side, she supported the Whigs.

Beauty marks went out of fashion during the 1800's and recipes for getting rid of freckles and moles were abundant.  Society felt that moles were unattractive and undesirable so women did their best to get rid of them.  This attitude changed once again when Hollywood made movies which cause faces to be seen. Clara Bow and Jean Harlow were early proponents of the migrating beauty mark but  Marilyn Monroe is noted for hers but no one is sure if hers was real or drawn on.  It has been noted that her beauty mark was originally found on her lower left cheek but in 1959, it began appearing on her chin.

If you look at the stars over the decades, you'll notice there are always a few who sport the beauty mark such as Goldie Hawn, Elizabeth Taylor, Madonna, and Cindy Crawford.  Do you have a beauty mark?  I do and I'm proud of it because I'm joining several famous people.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Wigs, Wigs, Wigs, and More Wigs

Mannequins, Wig, Hair, Blond, Wig, Wig When my sister lost her hair due to chemo, she opted not to wear wigs but I know many women who do historical recreations who rely on the use of wigs to create "the perfect look".  I own a few hairpieces to fill out the look because I have super long hair and can create the basic hairstyle.

The term "wigs" comes from the term "periwig" used to describe the type of wig made famous by the return of King Charles to the throne  in 1660.  It refers to a style of wig we see worn by barristers in the English court even now.

Records indicate wigs were used as far back as Ancient Egypt.  They often shaved their heads to keep from getting lice and to stay cooler in the extreme heat.  At this point in time, wigs were made out of human hair for the highest classes, sheeps wool for middle class and vegetable fibers for the poor.  In addition, wigs protected heads from getting sunburned.  Women often decorated their wigs with braids, gold, ivory ornaments, or and hair rings while men's wigs were plain.  Those of higher social rank wore the more elaborate wigs.

Most other societies such as Greeks, Assyrians, Phoenicians  used wigs including the Romans who often made wigs using human hair from slaves.  Women in Roman society used elaborate wigs to add volume and create better hairstyles. On the other hand, societies in Asia did not use wigs except in theatrical productions or by specific specific entertainers.

The use of wigs continued in the west until medieval times when styles dictated that women cover their heads so the need for wigs decreased tremendously for a few hundred years but in the Renaissance, heads coverings disappeared and the use of wigs returned and their use became wide spread.

In England, Queen Elizabeth I loved wearing elaborate wigs and she set the style in England while King Louis XIII started the trend of using elaborate wigs in France when he began going prematurely bald and wanted to cover it up.  This caused the first wigmakers guild to form in France back in 1673 because wigs became an intricate part of fashion.  Over time, the wigs became higher and more elaborate, filled with flowers, birds, and so many other things.

Due to the demand for elaborate wigs, the number of wig makers skyrocketed in France, England, Europe, and America.  Many wigmakers traveled the country side producing wigs for the common man without the permission of the guilds.  Men wore wigs even in America but it was a shorter, less elaborate wig called a "Bob wig" in the late 18th century.

Soon after the French Revolution, wigs began fading out of popular use.  Men returned to a more natural look while many women used hair pieces to create the actual look.  Over time, the use of wigs decreased but in the early 1900's one person is given credit for using wigs to create different looks on the same models at a fashion show.  Since then, wigs how gained in popularity because they allow people to change their looks without changing their hair.

In fact, there are even places out there where you can get the perfect wig styled to your exact standards and leave with it, much like going into a beauty parlor to get it done.  Otherwise, you can visit a hair store, or order off line.

There are five things to keep in mind when buying a wig.  The first is the actual hairstyle of the wig.  Second is the length of the hair.  Do you want a short, medium, or long length.  Third is the texture of the wig.  Do you want straight, wavy, curly, or frizzy?   You might even think about style because certain styles look better with certain face shapes.  This site has a nice infographic to help you with that or you can visit the local wig store to check different ones out.

Fourth is the color of the wig.  When my sister changed to a dark hair color from being blond, she had to change her make up and even then the dark color didn't look quite right with her skin tone.  Sometimes it is not the blond or brunette, it is the shade chosen that makes the difference, so if one color doesn't work, try a different shade to see if it is better.  The last consideration is the cap size.  If the size is too small, it won't fit right and if it's too big, it may look like a wig and may not stay on right.

Not all wigs are constructed in the same way and that can effect its final look.  The ways they construct wigs are as follows:

1. 100 percent hand tied hair or hand knotted.  This type of wig is said to have the most natural look where hair moves and flows naturally.   In this wig, every strand is hand knotted to the cap and if you have sensitive skin, this is the one most often recommended because it is softer.

2. A Lace Front cap has a natural hair line.  This is the best type of wig if you like styles where hair is pulled away from your face.  In this hair is tied individually in the lace front part but not on the whole wig.  Unfortunately, this material is more delicate than others so it needs special handling and may not wear as well for an active life style but it does come ready to wear.

3. Monofilament Top Wig looks as if hair is growing naturally from the scalp at the part.  The hair is hand tied to the sheer base but not the whole cap.  This type of wig is the most popular type of wig worn and when purchasing the wig, you can choose from full top, parted, or crown areas.

4. Open Cap or Wefted Wig is the most basic of wigs.  The hair in the wig is lifted due to the teasing done at the roots before you purchase the wig.  It offers good ventilation and if you can't afford much, it offers the best wig for the dollar.

Wigs are made of either human hair or synthetic fibers.  Each has something going for it.

Human hair has the most natural look and feel.  They can be styled and can be quite durable but once you wash the hair, it does have to be restyled and tend to be the most expensive.  Synthetic hair fibers can provide a natural look and feel but they cannot be styled as well because you cannot use heat from blow dryers or curling irons unless you get one that is specifically designed for heat up to 350 degrees.

One last thing, if you buy a wig be sure to use products designed for wigs to make them last longer.  This includes shampoo, conditioner, brushes, and combs, etc.

I hope this helps you figure out if you want to indulge in a wig and if so what to consider.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear. Have a great day.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Hairstyles - Come and Go.

Hair, Beauty, Salon, Hairdresser  Hair styles have come and gone over time with some even making an appearance more than once while others faded into the mists of time.

Today, I'll be exploring several different hairstyles that evolved due to a variety of reasons.

The first one, the Bedford crop, made its appearance in 1795 due to a tax placed on hair powder combined with a shortage of flour caused the Duke of Bedford and his followers to ignore powdered wigs and revert to short hair.  They used a bit of wax to hold the side part in place but otherwise, their hair was natural.  This type of hair do made its appearance again and again over time as it alternated with longer hair styles.

The second, the Titus Cut, also appeared in 1795 but it was the first short hair cut for females.  In this style the hair was cut quite short and swept upwards to expose the neck.  The hair cut was a result of the French Revolution where they cut women's hair quite short so they could be placed in the guillotine.  The style disappeared when the French Revolution ended and long hair became fashionable again but it reappeared in various styles in the 1920's and the 1960's.

Then there are sausage curls which originally appeared in the 1830's in which women gathered their hair on each side of their head and force it into ringlets that framed their faces.  Although the style disappeared for awhile, it reappeared in the early days of the film industry when Mary Pickford chose to wear that style.  She popularized it again.

Of course, there is the standard bowl cut that has made its appearance throughout history.  It appears as early as the 12th century in Europe.  This simple style had the hair cut about the same length all around the head.  It got its name since a bowl was placed on the head and used as a cutting guide. It made an appearance in the 1960's again when the Beetles their version and soon it spread around the UK and America.

Another style that's been around for a very long time is the mullet.  Yes it was popular in the 1990's but it's been around since Homer's day but the term Mullet didn't appear till the Beastie Boys used it in one of their songs.  It is said the style kept men's necks warm and dry while making it harder to grab a warriors hair during battle.  It never really went out of style but kept coming back again and again.

There is also the Pompadour, the style associated with Johnny Cash and Elvis but it has been around since the mid 1700's when Madame Pompadour who was the mistress of King Louis XV.  This style has the hair coming off the forehead in a roll but before the country singers began wearing it, women wore it as part of the Gibson Girl style.

These are just a few hairstyles that have come into popularity, gone, and come back.  On Monday, I'll be looking at the history of wigs and their use through history.  I hope you enjoyed reading about these stories.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Foundation for the Face!

Make Up, Beauty Products, Cosmetics I use a bit of foundation myself but I always have trouble choosing the correct shade.  I always think I need something darker but I've learned to use just a touch with my sunscreen to get the proper look.

Foundation is not something new as it has been around for a very long time.  There are references to it being used in Ancient Greece and Rome.  Unfortunately, foundation at this point consisted of white lead which was quite poisonous or they used a white chalk to create the desired pale skin.

This trend of using white lead continued all the way to Queen Elizabeth's court in the 16th century.  It was better known ass Venetian ceruse, a mixture of vinegar and lead use to cover the smallpox scars on the face and make the skin quite pale.  Unfortunately, this mixture was deadly and could kill people.  In addition, it could rot people's teeth, cause hair loss, and permanently discolor users skin.

Around the time of Charles II in the 17th century, women preferred a darker skin tone due to having to stay inside to avoid the plague.  By the 18th century, pale skin once again became the desired skin tone. Fortunately, by the 19th century, people were using mixes of zinc oxide, glycerin, or calamine lotion to cover imperfections or discolorations, These liquids only came in red, pink, and white shades.

In Germany, an actor mixed zinc, ochre, vermillion,  and lard to create the first greasepaint used in theaters. He developed it to cover the line formed between his wig and his forehead.  Others were so impressed with his mixture, they wanted it so he began producing greasepaint commercially.  Pretty soon, greasepaint was the standard in theater for foundation.  Unfortunately, it did not work well in the movie industry during closeups.

Max Factor was unhappy with the appearance of greasepaint on screen so he desired a new type of make up in 1914.  He called it Pan-cake.  It was talc based and applied with a damp sponge so the powder laid beautifully on the skin to create a more natural finish, especially during closeups.   Hollywood fell in love with the way it made them look on screen and actresses begged to get some for their personal use.  Eventually he released it to the public in the 1930's because women wanted to recreate the glamorous look Hollywood starlets wore.

Liquid foundation finally appeared on the scene during the late 1930's and 1940's  as a leg film when women quit wearing stockings.  Women used this foundation on their legs to even the color out and "cover up" their legs. The mixture was resistant to being rubbed off, sweated off, and didn't transfer color to other things.

Women in America were able to obtain certain types of make-up during World War II because the government declared it would help keep the moral of the men up whereas most make-up in Europe and other war torn countries couldn't get it commercially.  After the war, make-up became available again to all.

In 1952,  Coty released a tinted foundation designed to sit lightly on the skin, was free from grease, and came in 6 shades. Since then, other lines have created a variety of foundations in so many different shades, most everyone can find something.

As I said earlier, I use a bit of foundation in my sunscreen to give me a bit of color, smooth out my skin, and keep me from looking so pale in the middle of winter.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear. Have a good day.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Iceland Part 2, The Countryside.

I signed up for three tours while I was in Iceland.  One of the tours took us out to look at four main sites but the day was rainy, cold, and quite windy so I spend the minimum amount of time outside taking pictures.  The rain and wind made the day seem so much colder.

The first stop was at the exhibition focused on the 2008 earthquake.  This exhibit is found in a small mall just outside of Reykjavik and just past the geothermal plant that provides all the hot water for the city.
This is one of the posters that explains more about the 6.3 earthquake and the damage it caused when it hit Iceland in 2008.  There are a couple of other posters providing more information and a glassed over area on the floor that covered what looks like a open lava area but it may be lights.

This shoes what one house looked like after the earthquake.  In addition, there is an actual kitchen dining room set up which shows broken dishes all over the place.  It was quite interesting to see the display.  

On the way to the caldera, the bus stopped long enough for us to grab a couple of photos of some Icelandic horses.  They are quite small but sturdy and they have no problem surviving the rough weather.  It was hard to get this photo because too many people wanted selfies with the animals.  

Before long, we headed off to visit a caldera, Kerikd crater.  This crater actually has a lake at the bottom but since it was winter and so cold, it had a layer of ice over it.  The last time I took this particular tour, we didn't stop here so I'm glad I got to see something new. 

From here, we head off to the Gullfoss waterfalls which are absolutely breathtaking, especially in summer.  Unfortunately, it was not quite as impressive because of the rain, sleet, and wind we had to put up with.  In addition, there was a bit of ice on the walkways we had to watch but overall, it is still a great visit.

Gullfoss Falls

Gullfoss Falls.

We had lunch at the Geyser park which had a huge number of active geysers.  There was a place which offered four awesome choices of soup so I chose to warm up first before I headed off to check out the geysers.

The geyser area has the original geyser which still sends off lots of steam but does not actually blow that often but another one, Strokkur, is much more active.  You can see it above as it bubbles and steams.  If you watch carefully, the water level begins to move and suddenly

The hot water begins to shoot up into the air.  There is a small fence around this geyser to keep people a safe distance away.

And it looks like a cloud when it has reached its height.  I feel lucky to have managed these three shots without anyone stepping in the way to take a selfie.  From here I headed back to the bus but on the way I passed a young geyser that boiled and bubbled but didn't shoot up.  In addition, I saw what looks like a small geothermal plant for the hotel and buildings at this park.

I hope you enjoyed these photos I took and shared with you.  I'll be back to my normal columns on Wednesday.  Have a great day and let me know what you think.  

Friday, January 3, 2020

13 Santas + 1 Cat = 1 Icelandic Christmas.

While on the Circle Tour, the guide shared information with us on the Icelandic Christmas traditions. It is interesting that Iceland has 13 different Santas at this time of the year.  Each Santa has a specific day they bring gifts to put in shoes placed on the window sills beginning on December 11th.  This continues until December 24th.  Each Santa has it's own identity such as the one who steals pans so he can eat crusts on December 14th, or the one who loves to lick bowls and arrives on the 17th.

The other interesting thing about these Santas is they are the off spring of two trolls.  Their mother, Gryla is a smart but evil troll who searches for children who do not behave well the whole year.  She takes them to make a stew out of.  Her husband, Leppaludi, is less smart and definitely quite lazy.  He is her 3rd husband.

Then there is the Christmas cat who is not a very friendly cat because it hunts children who did not receive any new clothing for Christmas.  Once it finds such children, the cat eats them.  You find cats all over the place.  As you can see, there is a huge Christmas cat sculpture out in the middle of the courtyard near the concert center.  It is ferocious looking and found in windows and all over the place.

The cat is also the household pet to the parents of the 13 Santas so that may be why it goes after children to eat them.

Christmas is a very very unique season over here.  In addition to these stories, the city of Reykjavik is decorated with so many lights that everything shines.  On a trip I took (more on that next column) I saw gas stations decorated with lights, cemeteries with crosses decorated in lights, trees stuck here and there covered in lights.

As I said, Christmas is everywhere.  This tree is just outside the Harpa Concert center.  I"m must sure how tall it is but it is quite tall and filled with lights.  

This is what many of the streets look like with Christmas bells hung above the streets.

Finally, even at the docks they have strings of lights strung across the boats tied up at the port behind the Harpa center.  

I hope you enjoyed the quick look at Reykjavik during the holiday season.  I'll share some last photos in the next entry before I move on to more of my usual things.  If you ever get a chance to visit this country do so,  It is so much fun.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Happy New Year.

Happy New Year, New Year Clock

Happy New Year from Iceland.  The video of the fireworks was taken at the Lutheran Church downtown.  Although, the use of fireworks is prohibited most of the year, Icelandic Search and Rescue is allowed to sell it as a fund raiser at this time of year.  Everyone fires it off beginning around 8 PM and all of it around midnight.