Experiments in Jelly Sandwiching & More YA Gushing

October 8th, 2013

I’m sorry for my absence these past two months! I don’t have an excuse for my blogging negligence. Well, I have an excuse, it’s just not a good one. I’ve been consumed by YA. My husband keeps saying he’s a YA widower. Specifically, Vampire Academy and the spin-off series, Bloodlines, have been particularly distracting. Ugh, love it so much. If you haven’t read this series, and you’re into YA, please don’t let the deceptively cheesy title dissuade you, it’s awesome (and only mildly cheesy). You simply must read it. Its got a bad-ass, no apologies, somewhat morally ambiguous female protagonist, vampires, love triangles, soap opera-y intrigue, brooding heroes… in other words, pretty much everything you’ll ever need in life. It’s also a smidgen on the smutty side – yes, please! The next installation comes out next month and I can hardly contain my age-inappropriate angst until I can get my hands on book 4 of Bloodlines. In case you’re wondering, yes, I am ashamed of myself. I’ve been, not even kidding, harassing every single person I know to read this – sure, my friends and coworkers hate me now but I did cause a wait list at the library for book 1 and I’m proud of that.

VA/Bloodlines hasn’t been my only distraction. I’ve also been checking out the books recommended by you all in the comments section of the last post. I just finished City of Bones this morning. Boy, that was a bizarre roller-coaster of double-you-tee-eff. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read it but about half way through, I thought to myself… is this going where I think it’s going? Then I immediately thought no, no way, that cannot be where this story is going. Well, that was precisely where the story went and I found myself at the end of the book having to recover from a holy-shit-record-scratch-wha….-WHAT?!?! -WHAAAAAAT?!?!-moment. That was followed by frantic texting to other YA addicted peeps. Their feelings were similar to mine, i.e., straight baffled. I didn’t love the book but I think I’m going to stick with the series just to see how this creative cluster is going to unravel.

I only have one, slightly better excuse for abandoning you guys… I started writing a novel. *cricket sounds* I know, I know… ridiculous lofty goal. I dunno, the new iPhone update came out and I was so frustrated by it that I started fantasizing about ways to destroy it. Think me pummeling my cellphone with a baseball bat, Office Space style with Still by the Geto Boys playing in the background. That frustration gave me a pretty good idea for a dystopian themed science fiction story. I’m only in the beginning stages now and I’m still making decisions about things like whether to tell the story in first person or third person, whether to have only one or multiple point-of-view characters, etc.. I’ve written one exploratory chapter so far and I’ve come to a few conclusions. First, fiction writing is really hard so I’m going to stop hating on the writing of others, especially YA authors. Second, fiction writing is a lot of fun and I wish I had explored it academically when I was younger. I mean, I’ve always enjoyed writing, hence this blog, but there’s something really cool about going through the process of getting into a character’s head, figuring out their motivations and how their thoughts and actions shape events in a story. I’ve spent a good portion of the past two months thinking about characters and plot development, etc..

My adventure into fiction is just for fun but please be tolerant of my blogging flakiness while I evolve into the angsty, tortured writer I was always meant to be. : P

In any case, enough blabbing about fiction, now for some nail polish. A couple of months back, I was experimenting with evolving manis and layering. This is one of those NOTDs. I got a lot of compliments on it and a friend even tried her own version using Chanel Blue Satin and a silver glitter polish whose name escapes me at the moment.

Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Inky

Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Inky. Inky is a good descriptive name for this color because ink-like is exactly what it is – it’s a very, very pigmented, uber dark night blue, almost black. This swatch is two coats, but it’s definitely a one coater. The formula was a bit on the thick side, I thinned it a little before application. This brand is new to me – the brush is similar to the Pro-wide but slightly less wide. Beware, this a hardcore stainer. My nails and fingers were smurfy, to say the least, and I had to whip out the Bubble White to get it off.

Sephora by OPI Only Gold for Me over OCC Inky

I topped Inky with Sephora by OPI Only Gold for Me, (RIP SOPI *spills a bit of my drink*) a sort of antique gold glitter polish composed of both medium size hexagonal and small circular glitter. This is just one coat of polish – although I did use the dabble method to get evenly dispersed glitter on the surface of the nail.

Layering Rehab over Only Gold for Me over Inky

I finished it off with 3 coats of my beloved Lippmann Rehab, a dark blue jelly, that is still one of my favorite colors ever, even after all this time. I really loved the final look, sort of like a hex version of Essie Starry Starry Nights. Gosh, I love jelly sandwiches.

Are you guys over the jelly sandwich thing yet? Because I’m totally not.

Annnnnnd, excuse me while I cheese out for just one more minute, have you read Vampire Academy/Bloodlines? If so, what team were you on?! (*hint* there is only one correct answer to this question, hahaha.) Also keep the book recommendations coming, I’ve been zooming through these and I have to keep replenishing my to-read pile.

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Disclaimer: Sephora by OPI Only Gold for Me and Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Inky were sent to me for review. Lippmann Rehab is from my own collection. 

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Random Cremes From Essie & My Newest Obsession

August 11th, 2013

Recently, I discovered the glory that is audiobooks from the library. I can download them on my iPhone and listen while I get ready in the morning, garden, do my nails, cook, clean, drive, walk the dogs, and pretty much any normally quiet daily activity.  As a result of all this “reading” that I can now do, I’ve been expanding my book choices into the unprecedented. As an unreasonable book snob, I vowed never to read anything that could be considered YA. But after several friends convinced me to give The Hunger Games a try and the possibility of listening instead of reading, I decided,  ”meh I guess I can listen to it – what’s the big deal?”

Well, the big deal is that it totally triggered my fandom like whoa. I. am. obsessed. The angst, the cheesy love triangle, the dystopian future, the battle against an oppressive government, the action and actually competent, badass female lead. Yes, YES!! I can’t believe my book snobbery would have kept me from checking this series out sooner. I listened to all three books in 3 days and then walked around in a daze afterwards, depressed that the series was over and missing the characters. I cannot wait for the Catching Fire movie to come out in November (and I really hope that they take the time in the movie to represent the nail art that Katniss wears throughout the books.) I’m slowly collecting the China Glaze Capitol Colors Collection as an extension of my fandom too. *squee*

In any case, I present you with some random Essie swatches. These are some colors that had been on my lemming list for a while and they did not disappoint.

Essie Case Study

Essie Case Study is a taupe-ish dark clay brown, with a touch of green, it’s sort of a chameleon. Definitely work appropriate with a twist – I wore this one to my first homicide trial. This is 3 coats but it would have been fine at 2 coats.

Essie Glamour Purse

Essie Glamour Purse is a mushroomy muted brown leaning taupe. GP had excellent application, another 3 coater that would have been fine at 2. In addition to being work apropos, it was very flattering to my skintone.

Essie Going Incognito

*cat calls* Essie Going Incognito. Gorgeous, just a freaking unbelievably gorgeous deep dark blue toned emerald green. I would classify this one as more of a crelly than a creme – the application is somewhat thin because it’s buildable. The shine is eye-popping. I LOVE this one and it’s a contender for the top twenty, possibly even to knock-out a different green.

Essie Lilacism

Essie Lilacism is a delicate lilac creme. I suppose I will stop calling lilac one of my white whales because at this point I’ve encountered a few that I consider flattering, including Lilacism. I started lemming it after I saw it on a friend from work. While I loved the color, I was disappointed with the application. It’s a PITA, very thick while also thin causing it to apply unevenly. It required 4 coats to even out on the surface of the nail. Despite the application woes, it did wear well. With Seche Vite and Sally Nail Quencher I got a full 5 days of wear with no chips and minimal tip wear.

Essie Plumberry

And finally, Essie Plumberry. This color could not be more aptly named because it is without-a-doubt a plum toned berry creme. My photo, sadly, does not capture this color very well. In real life it’s a little deeper, darker and moodier. The photo captures more of the berry tone and not as much of the plum. Wonderful application – 3 coats but would have been good at 2. While I don’t usually wear colors like this often, I lemminged it after seeing swatches on another blog. I can see why berry, like red and pink, tends to be more popular. My love for more unique colors aside, this sure is pretty and it does flatter my skin-tone (and probably would flatter most).

Did you lemming any of these colors too? And now that I’m taking a foray into YA, any other books I should check out?

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Disclaimer: These colors were sent to me for review by Beauty Stop Online. BSO is a new-to-me e-tailer that carries several of the biggie brands. Essie retails on their site for $5.99 a pop. 

 

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Two Shades From Nicole By OPI Fall 2012 Target Exclusive Collection

July 13th, 2013

A month with no posts?! Worst. Blogger. Ever. I’m so sorry, everyone. The past month has been hectic! My husband and I had our first anniversary. He started a new job. I sat second-chair on a first degree murder trial and I wrote briefs like woah. So rest assured, my abandonment was not for frivolous reasons, although I did cheat on you guys and nail polish with Star Trek: The Next Generation… I just can’t stop watching. Curse you, Netflix, curse you.

I’m late to the party on this Nicole by OPI collection which was exclusive to Target and came out last fall. I only have two colors from the collection here, but you can see the whole thing on The PolishAholic. Both these colors are in the same family as OPI Warm & Fozzie and OPI Sprung from the Mariah Carey Collection.

Nicole By OPI - For Gold Times Sake

Nicole by OPI For Gold Times Sake is probably my favorite example of this finish so far. It’s very tough to describe – it has a gold tinted base color with irregularly sized, very reflective micro-glitter flecks in copper, gold, amethyst and blue. The color builds with each coat, this is 4 coats. The overall look is a dirty-tarnished antique gold. It’s hard to photograph partly because it’s so reflective that it acts almost like a mirror which darkens the color in the photo. My camera just doesn’t do it justice.

Nicole by OPI - For Gold Times Sake Side

I tried to take a shot from a different angle to see if I could capture the color without the reflection of me and my camera. You can see the specks of color more in this photo but it still does the polish no justice.

Nicole by OPI - Just Busta Mauve

Nicole by OPI Just Busta Mauve. While For Gold Times Sake was my favorite, the nail polish collecting community went ga-ga for Just Busta Mauve when it was released. It’s not really what I would call mauve. Which leads me to the conclusion that the word mauve is included in the name more as a play on the word “move” than it is an honest description of the shade. To my eye, the color is made up of various sizes of micro-glitter flecks in teal, fuchsia, and copper. The base color is tinted but I can’t discern the color, it’s best described as murky… I guess? Like FGTS, it’s buildable to opacity – this is 4 coats.

As I’ve said before, I really like the metallic glass fleck trend… but I’m really, really, really hoping to see more variation in the available colors soon. As for these polishes, although they were released last year they are still readily available. I can’t attest to brick and mortar availability but Target online has both  For Gold Times

What do you think about these micro-glitter metallics? Love it or leave it?

______________________________________

 Disclaimer: These polishes were sent for review by Target’s PR representative.

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A New Outlook on Life & Maybelline Color Show Sequins Silver Gleam

June 12th, 2013

If you’ve spent any time on my site at all lately it has probably occurred to you that I’m prone to feeling overwhelmed by life. Sometimes I just seem to crumple under pressure, feeling like even the most seemingly benign tasks are insurmountable. What’s strange is that I’ve never been that way before – this is something new to me and it started a few years ago, about year after I passed the bar. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what in my life changed such that I constantly feel that way. I’m still not really what is causing it but I finally decided to try to do something about it.

First, I sat down and identified a few things that seem to contribute it. I think was spending too much time watching television, particularly netflix. Don’t get me wrong, I love TV and still do but I was watching it to a depressing excess. So for the past month, I’ve spent the excess time I would have spent watching an entire season of any given TV show in one sitting, reading great books and gardening. That was a good first step.

I then moved into phase two and three – home and work. My husband and I are messy people. When he moved in, we never really unpacked and I’m a bit of a pack rat. You know the type, I can’t throw away a magazine because I might need to re-read it some day! This extra frying pan? What? I know we have 3 just like it but I can’t get rid of it – what if we need it in the future!!?? If one were to rate my organizational skills, words like “poor”, “needs improvement” and “deficient” would come to mind. It finally started to get to me so I decided about two weeks ago – this is it, spring cleaning time. After working really diligently for about 10 days, the house is SPOTLESS. No more piles of magazines, closets, drawers, cabinets, all cleaned out. I gave away about 6 bags of clothing and 4 boxes of stuff. The result has been astonishing. We have found that now that there is less clutter, it’s been really easy to maintain the organization. We actually put things away now since everything has its own place. It’s honestly amazing. You don’t think about it much until the mess is gone but it’s a lot harder to leave a cup out or neglect to fold the clean laundry when these things are not sitting next to 15 bottles of nail polish, a pile of sweaters, a couple of magazines and a cluster of dog toys.

And, finally, work. The spring cleaning coincided with a particularly busy week at work. In the past 2 weeks I’ve had roughly 5 briefs due. I’ve gotten them all done, with minimal fuss. It was like I had a moment of clarity. This too was amazing. I love my job but I always feel like I’m playing catch up. If I had had the same number of briefs due a couple of months ago, I certainly would have had to work several late nights. I would have stressed myself out to the point of getting ill. But ever since we started putting everything in order, I’ve been so much more efficient – like in the zone – the legal arguments have just been flowing out of my brain in a constant stream.

I think what I’m getting at is… cleaning your house is like a magical elixir. It’s the fountain of youth, people! I feel really great and I’m going to stick to it. So… to celebrate this new lease on life, I thought I would drop some bling on everyone. I’m a little late to the party on this one, but it’s worthy of posting anyway.

Maybelline Color Show Silver Gleam

 

Maybelline Color Show Sequins Silver Gleam is a gorgeous buildable glitter. It’s silver micro glitter, small hex glitter and medium silver and holo glitter suspended in a clear-ish base. This is three generous coats – plus two coats of Gelous and one of Seche. You probably could get away with less top coat but I’m pretty particular about the smoothness of my glitter polishes. I’ve read a few reviews that complain about the formula on these – I didn’t notice an issue per se (well, not more than what would be typically expected with a glitter that can build to opacity) but it’s definitely not going to be a creme-like-smooth application process. In any case, this polish is a show stopper for sure. The collection was limited edition, sadly, but they’re still available online for reasonable prices. You can see a few more shades from this collection on Imperfectly Painted.  Ugh, after seeing her beautiful swatches I feel like the one that I really need is Cocktail Dress. Ebay, here I come.

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Disclaimer: This polish was sent to me for review by Maybelline’s PR representative. 

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Some Random Swatches from Nail Girls London and a Sad Story About the Worst Mani Ever

May 28th, 2013

 I recently traveled for a wedding in a small town in the mountains of North Carolina. Things were so hectic right before I left that I didn’t have time to do my nails (that and I was wearing a really fabu color that I didn’t want to take off, Nicole By OPI A Phil’s Paradise, review and post coming soon). Normally, I take my mani kit with me everywhere I go, but I couldn’t on this trip because the airline had some seriously oppressive baggage weight limits. So, my only option was a professional manicure. I never, ever get my nails done professionally, never. In the last five years, I’ve been once… for my wedding. And I really regretted not having done them myself. But I figured, eh, it’s just this once, what’s the worse that can happen, right? Famous last words.

My poor sister-in-law scoured the town looking for a reputable nail place. She went to about 5 different places before finding a salon that didn’t totally skeeve her out and had appointment availability. (Just to be clear, this salon was a random local NC salon, it was not affiliated with the Nail Girls salons in England). The nail tech was really nice but it was the worst manicure I’ve ever gotten. She took a scorched-earth approach to my cuticles, pushing them back so hard that it still hurts. She didn’t even remove all the polish I was wearing before she started painting. The paint job was uneven at the cuticles and had bald spots everywhere. While I did ask for her to fix certain issues, there was so much going horribly wrong that there was no way to keep asking for corrections without seeming completely rude and insane. So, mostly, I just kept my criticisms to myself and silently endured the crimes against my nails. 30 dollars and nearly 12 hours later, I fell asleep and woke up with sheet marks. SHEET MARKS!! I had to go to Sally’s to buy a bottle of China Glaze Ruby Pumps and Seche Vite to paint over the original OPI Vodka & Caviar mani and save the day. In conclusion, I will never, ever, ever get another professional manicure ever again, ever.

I’m sharing this sad tale of woe and despair for two reasons: first, doing your own nails is the way to go, period. Especially if you are neurotic like me.  If you don’t like doing them yourself, that’s totally fine too but make sure that when you do find a good nail tech you stick to him or her like glue because not all nail techs are created equally. And a truly bad manicure can have some long term consequences. It’s probably going to take at least a month for my cuticles to get back to normal.

In any case here are some swatches from the new-to-me-brand, Nail Girls London. Overall, I’m really impressed with this brand – good formula, good application, and great colors. I also really love the color name concept – don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the wacky OPI names but there’s something so intriguing and mysterious about a naming system as simple as ‘actual color + number’.

Nail Girls Teal 1

Nail Girls Teal 1 is a Dolphins-ish teal (ugh, sorry for the sports reference but I didn’t know how else to describe it and I happen to be a Floridian), leaning more green than blue. This color is seriously flattering, I got a ton of compliments when I wore it. The application was smooth and easy. Teal 1 is extremely pigmented and this mani was perfect at two coats.

Nail Girls Taupe 5

Nail Girls Taupe 5, is a gorgeous mushroomy greige. The base color is similar to Chanel Frenzy, but Frenzy is a smidge deeper and darker. What makes Taupe 5 unique is the dark ash-like particles suspended in the color. The specks give the color a cookies and cream type effect, but not too obvious. The over all look reminded me of throwing clay. This is unique, but work appropriate – conservative enough that I wore it for a trial. This NOTD was 3 coats.

Nail Girls Taupe 5 Bottle

The ash-specks are much more visible in the bottle shot above.  Although I really loved this color, the ash-specks do make the color look somewhat grungy, which I suspect will turn some people off to it.

Nail Girls Purple 8

And, finally, Nail Girls Purple 8 is a mushroomy griolet (think grayed-out-grape). The consistency during application was a bit like a jelly polish so this is 4 coats. The formula here was on the thick side, but not terrible. I was really impressed with the wear time. This was a Monday to Friday mani with no chips and minimal tip wear.

In terms of where to purchase these, I was able to get confirmation – these polishes are available on the Nail Girls London website (careful, it’s definitely not a .com lol). And they do ship throughout the United States because they have a distribution center here. (Which does makes sense since these polishes are manufactured in the United States.) These retail for £10.50 a pop, with the current exchange rate that is a little under $16 US.

 So, have you tried Nail Girls? Any other colors I should seek out? What about nightmare manis? Been there?

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Disclaimer: These polishes were sent to me for review by Nail Girls London. 

Edited to include updated information about shipping and also to explain that my manicure-nightmare was not at the hands of a Nail Girls manicurist. 

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Experiments in Layering: Hits Phenomena Moonbow + Essie Grape Crush

May 14th, 2013

I started writing this post during that week that my site went on the fritz. I gave up after I banged my head against my computer and had to go outside to burn a WordPress effigy. Last week, I finally figured out what caused the issue in the first place. As it turns out my website does not like the WordPress Jetpack Plug-in. I deactivated it, along with everything else, when I was trying to fix the problem originally. It didn’t help instantly, but after being deactivated for a couple of days, I logged back in to find that everything was working perfectly. Fast forward to a few days ago, I tried to check my stats and I realized that that function is dependent on Jetpack so I reactivated the plug-in. Instantly, the site stopped working again and it took about 24 hours after deactivation for the site to function normally. At the very least, I finally know what happened but I’m flying completely blind in terms of site stats. Haha.

In any case, back to the post, I got an email recently from a newly minted nail polish collector who was interested in layering techniques. I don’t layer often because my nail polish OCD compels me to wear a color in its unaltered form the first time I wear it. But when I do layer, I love it. And some colors scream “layer me!” despite my obsessive tendencies.

Hits Moonbow

Hits Moonbow, from the Phenomena collection, is precisely that type of color. This polish is ridiculous. Just ridiculous. It’s a color-shifting multichrone glitter suspended in a cloudy base.  The glitter shifts from green and fuchsia to purple and occasionally it flashes gold. When I first saw photos of this color I was instantly obsessed, I had to have it, stat! However, from the swatches I saw, it didn’t look like a glitter polish, it looked like… well… magic. So I was a little disappointed when I received it and discovered that while it was still quite magical, it didn’t really look the way it looked online. (This is the second time this has happened recently *makes Mikayla is not impressed face*). My next hope was that it would be a buildable glitter, meaning the whole surface of the nail would be completely covered within a few coats. It is buildable, sort of. The glitter will cover the surface of your nail but it takes about 4 coats. That would be fine, except that, for whatever reason, the glitter does not coat the tip of the nail very well. The end result looks a bit like tip pull. You can definitely see what I’m talking about in the photo above – needless to say, it’s not very flattering.

Hits Moonbow Top View

Because of that issue, I don’t recommend wearing this color on its own. It is gorgeous for sure and it definitely has a crash-inducing-stare-at-my-nails-while-driving quality to it but it looks infinitely better layered over another color.

Hits Moonbow over Essie Grape Crush

Case in point, Hits Moonbow over oldschool Essie Grape Crush. Looks much better, right? Grape Crush, a sheer purple glaze, is from an older Essie collection that consisted of all sheer glazes (as opposed to more modern jellies). For reference and comparison Essie Cherry Pop, which is still widely available, is from the same collection and has the same look and consistency. The beloved Essie Night Cap is also from that collection. I somehow neglected to photograph Grape Crush on its own – bad nail blogger, bad. I’ll make that up to you, I do plan to post the whole collection soon. I’m only missing one more polish, Essie Apricot Fizz, to complete the set of 6 from the original collection! In any case, this NOTD is 3 coats of GC and 3 coats of Moonbow. I know, I know that’s too many coats. But I liked the end result and I didn’t have any drying issues after a coat of Seche.

Hits is a new brand to me. I’m a little biased because it hails from the mother country, Brazil. The Phenomena collection is my first experience with this brand and I was pretty wowed by it even though it wasn’t what I expected. There are a few more Hits polishes on my lemming list, including pretty much ALL OF THE HOLOS. My one gripe is that the bottle is pretty small so you end up with that noticeable, and uber distressing, dip in the bottle after just one mani. It gave me some serious angst, another aspect of my nail polish OCD, so I do plan to get a back up bottle.  These bad boys retail for approximately $6.50 to $7.00.

When I was on the hunt for Moonbow and company, all the e-tailers had it listed as out of stock. That day, I placed orders with both Llarowe and Ninja Polish for several other colors. I included a note in the comments section of my order for both e-tailers that I really needed this color and asked that if they happened to have a bottle laying around in the stock room to please add it to my order and charge me for it. Ninja Polish did just that (excellent customer service on their part), meanwhile Llarowe very kindly included a bottle of it in my order without charging me. Even though I do want a back up bottle of this color and I was very grateful, I felt badly because I like to support small nail polish related businesses whenever I can. I figured that the best way to repay that kindness was to gift the bottle that I bought to another blogger and keep the gifted bottle. I did that in hopes of spreading the awesome around because more swatches = a better world, right? In any case, I don’t say this often but I highly recommend both e-tailers. They are both great so you can’t go wrong with either one. 

 Thoughts on Hits or Moonbow? What about nail polish OCD? Do you have it? If yes, how does it manifest for you?

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