Saturday, November 27, 2010

Making a Joyful Noise

It has been an Upchurch family tradition for as long as I can remember that the youngest "reading" child present at the Thanksgiving gathering is charged with reading Psalm 100 before grace is asked. It happens from time to time that an exception is made, but not this year.

This is my sister's granddaughter, Hayden, doing the honors for us all this year.

She is 7 years old, smart as a whip, and the Bible from which she read without any hesitation belonged to her Great-great-great-great-great Grandfather James Baird (b. 1821, d. 1892), who was my mother's Great-great Grandfather.

We were all so very proud of her. 

Friday, November 26, 2010

One Week In....

Last Thursday I got a shellac manicure from Stephanie Gregory at Amplify Salon & Spa here in town.  These are supposed to last two weeks with no chipping or degradation of color or shine.  I told you then that I would keep you posted on how it was holding up, so here goes....

Over the past 7 days I have wrapped dozens of books at the store.  This aspect of the season is the chief reason I have not bothered with manicures of any sort for years during the holidays.  Color would wear off every time I had to use my fingertips to smooth the paper, and something about wrapping paper dried my nails out so badly that they were prone to breaking and peeling and chipping.  Using lotion to keep cuticles and hands replenished is a trick when you need to handle books -- unless whatever you've used has a good chance to fully absorb, you just don't want to to do this because the residue can mark a book.

Well, amazingly, 7 days in the only evidence that there is any age on this manicure at all are the nailbeds, which have (of course, and as expected) grown out a little bit.  If I were not wearing a big color, I seriously doubt i'd notice it nearly as much -- but even what I do notice is only because I am watching it with eagle eyes!  Most folks don't even notice it unless I point it out.

There is one miniscule area of wear on one fingertip.  When I say miniscule, that means I didn't even notice it until I started really studying my fingers for purposes of writing this update.

The color is as true red as it was the minute I walked out of the salon, and the shine has not "matted out" a whit.   There hasn't been the slightest transfer of color from my nails to wrapping paper (which always happens with regular polish).  The only nail snag I have had at all this week happened when a knife I was using scored the tip of a nail -- and I was able to lightly file it down to smoothness with no problem, and without compromising the integrity of the shellac.  (This is actually where that one tiny area of wear is, by the way.)

Women who take extraordinary care of their hands -- cuticle oils, lotions, always wearing household gloves when their hands are going to be in dishwater -- might not even have these tiny issues -- and certainly someone whose nails are slower to grow might not, either. 

In short (okay, so it's too late for that, exactly) my shellac manicure has exceeded every expectation I had for it, and I am completely pleased.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Great Experiment

My very most favorite salon, Amplify, is offering a new sort of manicure that is called shellac.   I run hot and cold on making my nails all fancy, mainly because a really nice manicure gets ruined so quickly.  For those who don't realize this, something unkind happens to fingernails as one gets more fully mature, and the ridges alone make keeping a really pretty manicure difficult.

Even when my nails are at their healthiest and strongest, holidays in retail are murder on them.  We offer free gift-wrapping at the store, and as the requests for that heat up, the nails just get ruined.  It's just not ever been worth it to try to keep my nails looking pretty from mid-November until after the first of the year.

Anyway,  the owner Jami and I talked about it, and she had Stephanie (one of the nail artists) call me.  She put some of my biggest concerns to rest, and I decided to take the plunge.

I decided to document the first application and its wearability, because some of my friends around the country have been interested, but nobody particularly wanted to be The First.

Hey.  I figure if it stands up to the torture it's going to go through, then for everybody else it's going to be life-changing in a "this really isn't important, but it's cheaper than a facelift for a little vanity boost."

So.  Here we go.

I arrived at the salon this afternoon to find out their power was out, and I came home disappointed.   (The shellac machine needs electricity to run!)  I had scarcely settled in with my cup of coffee when they called to say, "Come back!  We have power!"   Run back I did, and I took these with me.

My nails were in horrible shape, with peeling and ridges beginning to cause little snags and tears, and I was having to perform triage on them daily.

The special stuff that has to be used for this process has at least one potential drawback:  a sort of limited supply of color.   That's not a huge problem for me, mostly -- I'm pretty traditional, generally opting for neutrals, or clear.   Stephanie tells me that she can mix colors by layering, too.  Again, this was, for me, not a sticking point.   She took extraordinary care with a basic manicure:  shaping, whipping my cuticles into shape, but nothing out of the ordinary had to be done to my  nails before the application began.

This is a HUGE plus in my book.  I don't want my nails damaged, and I don't want them looking fake.  I just want my nails to be presentable, and pretty.

Stephanie began the process, which involved a base coat followed by "curing" in the special shellac machine.  This took practically zero time.  This curing process happened again after each application of color as well.

There's no heat involved, no windy breezes -- just incredibly brief exposure to UV light.  When I say brief I mean probably less than 10 minutes per hand.

When it was all finished I got up to get my purse and started to hand it to Stephanie so I could ask her to dig into my wallet for my debit card and keys, and she said, "Nope -- you are totally dry and set, and you can do that."

Oh. My.  She was not kidding.  The color is incredible, and shiny wet looking, but I dug my wallet out, grabbed my keys, ran my fingers through my hair -- all with absolutely no effect on my nails!

So, which color did I pick?

This looks a little orange, but I assure you -- it is FIRE ENGINE RED, and it is just glorious!

I thought of clear; I thought of the neutral shade that looks like what I usually default to; I thought about the dusky pink-ish color.   Truly I did, but I picked the red for two reasons:

First, this test will be easier to follow if there is COLOR on my nails.

Second, why the heck NOT?

I'll keep you posted how this all actually DOES, but in the meantime, a huge thank you to Jami Lewis, owner of Amplify Salon and Spa; and to Stephanie Gregory, Fingertip Wizard!

Have questions? Post them in the comments section, and I'll answer what I can 
(no technical stuff, of course, but just real-world girlfriend type stuff.)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Baby, It's Cold Outside

We had our first sub-freezing temps of the season this morning.

I took my long Saturday jaunt after it warmed up just a touch, and I surely hope the Borders family wasn't looking out their window when I passed their house, because I was peeling off a layer by that time. 

If they were, my deepest apologies.

Anyway, I brought in an 8 miler right at just about a 14.5 minutes a mile pace, so that felt good.  

Take THAT, Balloon Lady!

But I digress.

As I opened the back door and stepped into my kitchen I found my husband (the most astonishingly interesting husband on the face of the planet) at the kitchen sink dicing up some of these

to put into one of these

to make some of THIS.

I am the luckiest woman on the planet, because my husband knows how to turn up the heat!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Talons and Teeth

I enjoy my early morning walks, and will miss them when it gets too cold -- and I get too wimpy -- to head out before having my second cup of coffee.   You get to witness things you miss if you're still in bed, or zipping by in a car, the sorts of things that cause you to reflect on life in general.

For instance, this morning I had just finished the first half of my 4 mile jaunt, and was heading homeward.  I came off Melton Road (which I use to cut through to get to and leave Vaughn Road Park), turned right onto Wiley Road, then left onto Vaughn Lane when something sort of big caught my eye:

 coopers-hawk-1.jpg (331×450)

Now, I actually do see these hawks (and no, I did not take this picture) from time to time, but what I hadn't seen them do before was swoop out of their tree and chase one of these down.   

Squirrel.JPG (471×342)

I mean, talons were out and the hawk had actually begun to grab its prey, and I had flashbacks to every episode of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom I ever watched with my Daddy, and I knew I needed to just let that whole survival of the fittest thing happen -- AND catch it on my iPhone camera.

As I whipped it out of my back pocket and lifted it to take my shot, the hawk startled, dropped his squirrel breakfast, and flew away.  I didn't get a picture, and worst of all, I feared I had somehow set off a little chaos theory thing.   

I am sure the squirrel was grateful, and I began to think lofty thoughts about how the little guy always gets picked on by the big guys unless a bigger guy steps in to intervene.  I was hearing tiny well-tuned violins playing as I scripted out the magnificently written, moving devotional I was going to make out of this.

Until I turned onto Aimee Drive, and began making my way up the first rise.  That's when I spotted a man in surgical scrubs out in his yard with his froofy dog, which looked sort of like this.

maltese.jpg (300×328)

Go on.  Get all gooey and gushy, and say "Awwwwww" a few dozen times.  It's okay.

You should click on that, by the way.

Okay -- you done now?

'Cause here's what happened!

That adorable little hound of hell came flying out in the street after me -- not once, not twice, but about 5 times! That boy's teeth were set to full bite mode, and I had the canine spit on my ankle to prove it.  

It took both the Very Nice Man in the Surgical Scrubs and me making many very strange noises and gestures, but finally Whackadoodle Dog gave up, satisfied he had scared off all threats to his master's peace and well-being.

It was at this point I began to rethink my Inspiring Message from the earlier incident.

Yes, I had saved Mr. Squirrel from the Big Bad Hawk, because I was bigger and badder, but I got my comeuppance from an animal with a festive bow on its head.  

Of course, now I could write a moving devotional about humility, I suppose.....

No animals were harmed in the writing of this blog. All of the pictures above are dramatizations of actual incidents, and none are the property of the writer.  It is entirely possible that the hawk pictured is not exactly the breed of hawk we have here; and the squirrel may be the Yankee version; and the dog?  Well. 

It was froofy-puffy white and that's as close as I can get to what sort of dog it actually was since I was traumatized.