Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thrifty Costume Design 101

It's that time of year again where little goblins invade our streets in search of treats for their little jack-o-lanterns or big pillow cases. Halloween happens to be one of my favorite holidays; not for the gore and spirit factor but mainly because it is a time that people can show off their creativity. Growing up I always enjoyed participating in costume contests and throwing a Halloween party, and still do.  

Today Halloween has become quite a money maker. A survey from the IBIS World shows that an average family spends $22.50 on Halloween candy. I can attest to that as I spent $20 today at the grocery store picking up candy. 

On an average 6 billion dollars was spent on Halloween last year; averaging out to be $66 per person. Although those are some scary figures my intent is not to be a Debbie Downer but rather to inspire you to be thrifty and creative.

Princess Beatrice Photo: Courtesy of Reuter

For instance do you want to be Princess Beatrice (she's the one on the right)? Go to your local thrift store and hunt for a small plastic wall mirror that has an ornate ribbon like design to it, take out the glass, spray it tan and viola, you have the front of her hat. Couple that with a dress donated from someone's grandma's closet and you have a Princess Replica. Total cost probably $15 
Garden Gnome
How about being a garden gnome? Simply create a red hat from hard paper stock, cut a mustache/beard out of white felt, belt your favorite blue blazer, and you are well on your way to Gnomeville. If you don't have any of those items at home, no worries, you can surely find them at a thrift store for under $10 

Want to be a Smurf? Goodwill has the white pants to start your costume out right. Add a blue shirt and a pointy white hat made out of felt and you have now transformed yourself into a Smurf. Total cost under $10

Whatever or Whomever you choose to look like this Halloween enjoy yourself, be safe, and be thrifty. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

"Off With Her Head"

Although we are nearing Halloween, I can assure you that this blog post does not include gory guts or rolling heads. Today I'm writing about a peculiar tale that dates back to 1865, Alice In Wonderland.
Alice In Wonderland

Tea Party

It all starts when Alice falls down a rabbit hole meets a slew of characters, The White Rabbit, The Mad Hatter, The Caterpillar, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, The Cheshire Cat, The Queen, Knave, and King of Hearts just to name a few. From tea parties to lawn croquet with a flamingo and finally a the Queen's famous quote "off with her head", the story has many layers of creativity and whimsy.

The Rabbit

The Mad Hatter

It's no wonder that a local artist chose Alice In Wonderland as his theme.....and you don't have to climb down a rabbit hole to see this display because it is the centerpiece of his front lawn. 

I first saw his display about six years ago when I first moved into the area. The theme that year was the Tour de France. He had about a dozen bikes set up on his lawn as if to mimic the actual race. I was awestruck by his attention to detail and how he was able to take straw stuffed people and position them to tell a story that is immediately recognized. I have seen him replicate Gilligan's Island, The Lion King, and The Super Bowl. All of them fantastic!

Twiddle Dee & Twiddle Dum

Cheshire Cat

The Playing Cards
This has now become one of my MUST stops this time of year. If you live locally take a ride up Bridge Street in Hamilton to experience this scene. I'm sure you will be amazed at the time and detail that this artist puts into his work. I can't wait to see what he comes up with next year, but until then I will stop and imagine myself falling down a rabbit hole and enjoying a cup of tea with my new friends.

The Caterpillar 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Don't Delete This Email..It's A "Must Read"

Indigenous art: A carved head adorns an aboriginal church in Nootka Sound on British Columbia's Vancouver Island.
Lucidio Studio Inc./Newscom

How many emails do you get in a day? Are you ever tempted to press delete without reading them? I am definately guilty of pressing the delte button before reading some messages. Not yours of course, I'm talking about some that you know are not "must reads". Last week while I was going through my inbox I came across an email that I nearly clicked delete but for some reason hesitated. As I scanned through the content it mentioned a "must see" documemntary about a whale. This movie was being shown at a local movie theatre that I had never gone to before so I thought it would be a great stop. 

The theatre:
When I walked in I was pleasantly surprised. The Cape Ann Community Theatre is a quaint  living room style cinema, that shows first-run independently produced films from around the country and around the world to local audiences who might not otherwise discover them. This was exactly the case with the feature film that we had come to see. 
Photo By: Mardi Carter

The movie....
The Whale is a true story about a young Orca whale, named Luna that seperates from its family and finds its way into the Nootka sound. The Nootka sound is an inlet of the Pacific Ocean on the west coast of Vancover Island in the Canadian province of British Columbia. I was not familiar with this particular sound but after seeing this movie I either want to move there or visit for an extended time. The scenery was breathtaking; its no wonder that Luna wanted to stay for a while. In fact the story tracks her visit to the sound which lasted about four years.

Orcas are extremely social creatures that crave constant contact with their extended families. So when Luna lost her family she went looking for a substitute; and she found these substitutes in the people of the Nootka Sound. She followed and played with vessels, canoes, ships, kayaks, and anyone who would give her attention, play with her or pet her. The people fell in love with her and she fell in love with them. The story tells us about a friendships, about amazing moments in life that are given to us, and what we do with those moments. 
Unfortunately this story has its ups and downs. Because of two differing views between the First Nations tribe who thought Luna was a reincarnated spirit, and the fish-and-wildlife officials who were convinced that he needed to be forced back into the wild people are torn with what to do with this beautiful visitor......
Photo By: Mardi Carter
If you want to know what happens next you really need to catch this film at a theatre. It's Rated G- perfect for family movie night, and totally worth it.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Is It Time To Harvest, Hunt or To Wine?

Grapevines Plucked

This past weekend my family got together at my dad's house for a Harvest Day. I always thought that it was just a time to gather, barbecue, pick some crops, press some grapes and carve some pumpkins, but apparently there is a real purpose for this season, and has been for many generations. Since my father grew up on a farm in Portugal he is familiar with what to do during each farming month, he is also familiar with the moon cycle which has always been a guide for farmers.
Grapes Pressed 

Certain moons call for harvesting while others for hunting. Full moons have traditional names, from many different cultures, and coincide with the months or seasons of the year. For example:

  • January – Wolf Moon
  • February – Snow Moon 
  • March – Storm Moon 
  • April – Pink Moon 
  • May – Flower Moon 
  • June – Strawberry Moon 
  • July – Buck Moon 
  • August – Sturgeon Moon 
  • September – Harvest Moon
  • October – Hunter's Moon
  • November – Beaver Moon
  • December – Cold Moon

Garden Harvested
This past Tuesday evening, October 11, was the Hunter's Moon. It got its name because Native Americans used this moon as they tracked and killed their prey during the autumn moonlight. It is also called the Wine Moon because of its color; my dad calls it the wine moon because that's when he typically plucks the vines and presses his grapes for his wine. It's quite a time, and the Indian Summer weather that we had added to the beauty of our Harvest Day. 
What about you? Is it time for you to Harvest, Hunt, or Wine? 

Pumpkins Carved

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Indian Summer

Last week we had some chilly days her in New England so I did what every normal New Englander does; I regrettably switched my summer wardrobe to fall, and sadly began to layer up. The only good thing about switching wardrobes is that you weed out some pieces that you don't particularly care for anymore, and replace those items with new ones. 

I know this is inevitable so I typically take it in stride rather than kick and scream; but then something wonderful happened this past weekend, just like that !BAM! we got above normal temperatures that were to die for. I'm talking a solid weekend of 80 's and above, an Indian Summer. 

If you live in a region that doesn't experience this type of weather change, an Indian summer refers to a period of considerably above normal temperatures, and typically occurs in the Northern Hemisphere between September and mid November. Even though I had packed up my shorts I welcomed the sun with open arms. I went back to the attic and got down my summer gear and headed straight for the beach, oh yeah, now that's what I'm talking about! 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What A Gem

Do you like museums? I do! 
Are you the kind of museum goer that stands next to each piece of artwork and reads all about it? I'm not. 
In fact I'm totally the opposite. I love to visit museums, and look at all the magnificent colors, textures, shapes, and sizes, but the information connected to each piece hardly ever makes it into my little brain. I guess that's just the way I'm wired, I'm visual. 

This past weekend when I was visiting with my family in Maryland (hi guys!), we took a trip into the city to visit the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History 

in Washington DC. There are several halls in the museum, each focusing on a specific topic. There is the hall of human origins, one for dinosaurs, another for ocean life, and the list goes on an on. My favorite by far is the Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals. Spectacular!

I'm not even sure that I have a word to describe the beauty of the gems that they have in this exhibit. This collection is known to be one of the most significant collections of its kind in the world. There are more than 15,000 gems in every possible color imaginable. The most brilliant gem of this collection is of course the Hope Diamond. People were lined up to catch a glimpse of its sparkle and waiting anxiously as it rotated on its turntable to snap a picture of it. Not even a stinky fart that someone left behind cleared the room. Pewwww! 

I must admit that I was awestruck by it too, no not the fart the diamond but some of my most favorite gems were vibrant hues of blue, red, green, orange, and yellow.  

If you ever find yourself in Washington DC you must make a stop at this museum.You will not be disappointed. Promise!