Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Polished Criminals Giveaway - Eye Candy London

Polished Criminals has reached a mind-boggling 1,200 followers, and to celebrate, she's giving away three polishes from Eye Candy London!

So click here or the picture above and enter the giveaway...and if you're looking for swatches, spend some time browsing her archives. She does a really great job!

Memorial Day Marbling

I actually did two Memorial Day manicures this holiday weekend. My best friend V was over and brought chicken for Mr. IJAH to grill. So in keeping with the patriotic holiday, the same polishes I used on my manicure got put on V's nails as well:

We started with a base of Milani Whitest White, taped off the center triangle, and then added dots of China Glaze Salsa, China Glaze Frostbite, and just a weee little bit of the Milani, and then used my tiniest dotting tool (which is really a pointed end like a toothpick, which would work just as easily, but wasn't as handy, since my dotting tools are right at my polishing "station" :) to swirl the colors together. Remove the tape, let it dry for a bit, and then we added stripes of Pure Ice Strapless and a franken that I put together after realizing that I don't actually own any red glitter polish! So I pulled out my little container of red glitter, a clear top coat, and an empty mini bottle (I bought a batch of 20 bottles from TKD for frankening fun!) and went to town. I also got into my daughter's makeup (yes, my eight year old has more makeup than I do, because I don't wear the stuff) and took a few scrapings of a red eyeshadow to put into the bottle to add a bit of red tint to the clear topcoat - you can't tell it's there if I didn't tell you about it, but you'd be amazed at the difference that the tiny bit of tint made in making the line of glitter look more like a solid line.

V and I were both really excited at how well the diamonds on the thumbs turned out, and she wants to try diamonds on all of her fingers the next time. She really loves the dry marbling effect, so I get to play with color combinations on her nails a lot. ^_^ She's got a job interview coming up this week, so stay tuned for what her nails will be sporting on that day!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

99 Things - Babbling Non-Polish Post

I'll start this with the same text as the blog from which I got it:

I found this meme at Art Evolve, who said she popped over to The Polished Pixie and saw this super cute post that she got from Jenna over at Jenna Froggy Has a Life, who got it from ChiChi over at I'm Just Me... ChiChi, who got it from someone else, who got it from someone else... I'm stopping myself before I go on forever... :P

So, there's a list of 99 things, and you are supposed to bold all the things that you've done. I'm a sucker for meme's like this, but I'm also a babbler, so expect at least one or two explanations along the way...

1. Started your own blog (duh!)
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland
8. Climbed a mountain9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo (only if school plays count!)
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightening storm
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch

15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables (I'm not sure - does a family garden that you helped weed and harvest count? I haven't grown my *own* since I've been a grown-up...)
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping 
27. Run a Marathon (longest race I ran in high school track was 5 miles)
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse (it doesn't specify - I've seen total eclipse of the moon, but not the sun)
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors (I'm assuming "ancestors" means farther back than your parents. ;)
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
...but then, I stay satisfied no matter what $ level I'm at, honestly. I enjoy buying stuff, but I don't mind when I can't. I know that's weird of me. ^_^
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
 (not that I actually remember this, but I'm certain at least two of my accidents in my childhood would have required an ambulance ride.)
47. Had your portrait painted (umm...but it's a nekkid one, and not technically "my" portrait - I was a model for an artist's rendition of the three muses)
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving - WANT WANT WANT!!
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone (only one - my tailbone!)
78. Been a passenger on a motorcycle79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper - when I won the National Honor Society Merit Scholarship my senior year...though I'm pretty sure there was at least once or twice before that.
85. Kissed a stranger at midnight on New Year’s Eve
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (a fish is an animal right?)
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Got a tattoo
94. Had a baby
 ...x7 plus 4 miscarriages...
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee

Wow, that's almost half of them. And there's a couple I'm not sure - I was present during the filming of a documentary once, and I signed a waiver to allow them to use my likeness, but I'm not sure if I was actually in the final cut or not. And it's been soooo long that I don't remember what documentary it was, so I can't check! (My high school was used in the opening scenes of a cheesy TV movie where the Russians invade America, though. :) I have met someone who is famous in certain circles, but not country-wide - I've met a few authors who are famous in their arenas, for instance. My parents once met Roddy Piper. ^_^

Now that you know a bit more about me than you probably wanted to know...if you snag this meme and put it on your own blog, let me know! And feel free to ask if something got you curious - I'm a ridiculously open book most of the time.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Week 22 - Memorial Day Splatter

This is my first attempt at a splatter mani. It's not as easy as it looks, I've got to say. It either wanted to come off the end of the straw in a big blog rather than splatter, or not at all. I started with two coats of Milani Whitest White, and then played blowfish with China Glaze Salsa and Frostbite. I felt like it wasn't quite finished after that, though, so I also splatted a bit of NYC Starry Silver Glitter, and then I added a single rhinestone star to each finger. I only felt so-so about this manicure until I went outside to take pictures in the sunshine...and it just POPPED in the sunlight!



Pastel Color Blocking

I did this manicure back on May 16, but it was my entry for Amandalish's Nail Art(ish) contest, and she asked that I not post it to my blog until after the contest was closed, so this is scheduled to post on Monday, May 28. :) Though I didn't design it thinking of that contest, after it was created, it just screamed "Spring!" to me, so I decided it was my entry. There are rare times when what little girly-girl I have inside of me peeks out. This would be an appropriate manicure for a baby shower, I think, though it really wasn't my intention when I started out. I just sort of wanted pastel color blocks, and this is what came out!

First off, I have to point out that there are twelve layers of lacquer on these nails. And that's *before* adding the flowers with a dotting tool. Seriously, twelve. That's what I get for having every color I picked out for this be ridiculously sheer.

First, I start out all manicures with two coats of Haken Nail Magic. I've only been using that for a few weeks, so other than saying it's far better than the Nail Life strengthening base coat I picked up at Sally Beauty last month, I'm not ready to review it yet. I wouldn't normally mention the base coat when talking about how many coats of polish I used, except that in this manicure, they just kept adding up. My normally paper-thin (admittedly, stationery thickness rather than notebook paper, but still, that thin and *that* flexible) nails will not bend or flex right now, except maybe at the corners. You thought those scrapbooking stickers looked like nail armor? This may not look like it, but I nearly have plate mail on these puppies! ^_^

So, okay, two layers of base coat. Then we have three coats of China Glaze Innocence. And if I were doing anything that didn't cover my tips, I would've needed a few more, as I still had not only visible nail line, it was still actually translucent. Then I added a layer of Seche Vite so I could use tape to do the color blocking...and no matter how dry my polish is, I don't trust it not to pull up with tape, because I've had it happen on a manicure that was two days old! So, tape. Then I added two coats of Sinful Colors Purple Diamond. Another layer of Seche Vite, and tape again, followed by two coats of Sinful Colors Cinderella on my tips, followed by yet another layer of Seche Vite! That's twelve layers of lacquer there, peeps.

With how many coats of polish I'd done, and how long I had to wait for all of that to dry, I decided not to add artwork to it that evening, because I only had a few hours left until I needed to go to bed, and I wanted, if at all possible, to avoid sheet marks. Somehow I managed it, yay!
The next evening I mixed together China Glaze Frostbite, Pure Ice Strapless, and Pure Ice Splash, and used a dotting tool to make flowers. I only mixed up tiny bits at a time, and added another drop of one polish or another between each flower, so they're all slightly different colors. I tried adding some Milani Whitest White a time or two, and I even threw in some China Glaze Sea Spray once, but I didn't like the color that resulted from either of those, so most of the flowers are some varying mix of Frostbite, Strapless, and Splash. Then I used my go-to single coat white, Milani Whitest White, to dot the center of the flowers and random curvy patterns around them. Yet another coat of Seche Vite (that's thirteen layers, now, not counting the flowers! Technically, that's fifteen layers at the center dot of each flower! :) and I was done, and really happy with the way they turned out, too!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Nail Fail with Shells

A lot of people have said they like this manicure, but to me it's still a nail fail to me. You know how you sometimes have this image in your mind of how you're expecting something to turn out, and then when something goes wrong, you just can't look at the results objectively? Yeah, that's where I am with this.

I had an image of doing a gradient (in shells) from black to pink, with the shells kind of mixed in the middle? Yeah, that didn't work. Also, you know how Seche Vite tends to layer over nail polish like a coat of plastic or resin? I had a mental picture of these shells sitting in that layer of resin...except that after two coats of Seche Vite, I was too scared to add more. I don't know what chemical reaction was going on here, but the SV dried up with the texture of fruit roll-ups. Seriously. Fruit leather on my fingers. Totally not the clear resin I expected to be encasing these pretty crushed shells.

I started with my standard two coats of Haken Nail Magic, two coats of China Glaze Sex on the Beach (appropriate for putting crushed seashells on, don't you think?) and then I dabbed SV on spots on the nail, added shells, added SV to the next spot, etc.

I don't remember if I mentioned it on the blog here or only on the Facebook polish group, but I wanted to report on how my latest base coat has been doing in strengthening my extremely thin, flexible, bendy, breaking nails. I also have a (usually mild) problem with flaking on the ends, but due to the flexibility of the nails, they usually break off before the flakes get serious.

When I started doing my nails seriously last winter, I picked up a bottle of Sally Hansen Miracle Cure. It did help slightly with the flakes, and my nails would get a millimeter or two past the end of my fingers before they broke, which was an improvement, but it didn't stop the flaking, and it didn't improve the strength or ridiculous bendy-ness of my nails. So when the bottle was getting low in March, I picked up a "strenghtening" base coat on a trip to Sally Beauty the first week in April. Nail Life Nail Revitalizer was the worst base coat I've ever had for my nails. A plain base coat is better for my body chemistry than that stuff. (I'm not dissing the product - I've heard other people say it works for them. But it does not work for me.)

I would've stopped using it sooner, except that I only get paid once a month, so I had to wait 'til the beginning of May to buy a new base coat. By that time, I had more serious flaking problems than I've ever had, even before I started "treating" my nails. So among my other nail purchases the first of May, I bought Haken Nail Magic. I immediately noticed a dropoff on the level of flaking, which was a good thing, but I wanted to wait a few weeks to give a more thorough report on how my nails are doing.

I've had one single nail break in nearly four weeks...and it was one where the flakes had started cracks before I started using HNM. I still have some thin areas where the flakes haven't grown all the way out yet (I was getting flakes in the middle of my nail with the Nail Life, not just on the tips like I normally get!) but I'm not getting any new flakes, and my nails are literally longer than they've ever been in my life.

Compare how long they are right now with how long they were five weeks ago:

And that thumbnail on my left hand is the one that broke three weeks ago, so it's my shortest nail. My nails have actually started clacking on the keys when I type! ^_^ 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

It's Electrifying!

My latest playdate with my friend V resulted in a really pretty peek-a-boo manicure. She emailed me a picture of a striping tape mani that she liked before she came over, so the only questions were color and pattern. V's favorite colors are fall - oranges, yellows, reds, bronze - it's her favorite palette and has the benefit of looking good on her, too. So after a few minutes browsing through all my swatch sticks, we decided on a base color of China Glaze Harvest Moon, followed by a coat of Electrify. Adding in the striping tape, we covered it all with a thick coat of OPI Suzi Loves Cowboys, and she was literally squeeing over the results:


You know, we take a dozen pictures of V's hands, with different angles, lighting, and such, and yet they almost all come out looking exactly like this. I have no idea why I can't take a decent picture of her nails in any other position. ^_^

Monday, May 21, 2012

Clothes, Cosmetics, and Chat's 2-year Blogoversary Giveaway

As the title implies, Laura over at Clothes, Cosmetics, and Chat has been entertaining us in the blogosphere for two whole years now, and she wants to celebrate by giving somebody else a gift! The prize? Check it out:

Check those out! No7 Twinkle, Natural Collection Twinkleberry, Miss Sporty 450, Max Factor Fantasy Fire, and Accessorize Aztec! 

Now, I hang out on her blog for the nail art, because that's my hobby, after all. But as the name of her blog would imply, she also has posts on makeup, fashion, and accessories. She's a one-stop shop for all things girly! Click here or on the picture above to enter her giveaway, and spend some time going through the archives if you aren't already a follower. You won't regret it! :)

Monkey See, Monkey Do Monday

And I'm actually posting MSMD *on* Monday this week. ^_^ I've seen nail art done in top coat on matte polish before, but I was using a particular piece of nail art as inspiration this week, so I felt that even though I wasn't copying the design exactly, it was close enough to qualify for Monkey See, Monkey Do. And how appropriate is it that I'm copying a manicure from Copy That, Copy Cat?

Linda didn't specify what polish she used in her manicure, but it sure looks like that's Avon Matte Black as Night. (I don't own this polish, but I am awesome with the google, I am.)

While I love the matte finish, I dislike how quickly matte polish chips off my thin, flexible nails (we're talking hours, here - matte polish hasn't lasted a day without patches coming off, though I'll add the caveat that I only own two matte polishes, so that's not a statistically significant sample, there!) so instead of using a matte polish, I used a matte top coat. While it will still chip off quicker than a mani sealed with Seche Vite, it will at least last through the next day after I put it on. I took a lot of different pictures at different angles, and none of them are as great as CTCC's photography, and I don't think any of them stand out as "the best" picture I took either, so here's one randomly chosen:

I used Nubar Forest and OPI Suzi Loves Cowboys for my base colors - one on each hand, with an accent on the ring finger using the color from the opposite hand. Two coats of the base colors were more than opaque and smooth, so I then topped it off with NYC Matte Me Crazy. I used China Glaze No-Chip Top Coat, a nail art brush, and a dotting tool, to add the shiny designs on top.

Other bloggers who are doing the Monkey See, Monkey Do Mondays have a little widget to include other bloggers who are participating. I can't seem to get the "Then click to get the InLinkz code so you can add this collection to your own blog too!!" link to work for me, so instead, I'll send you over to Amber Did It's post, who does have the listing of other participants! :)

I've got a question for you (look, the interactive part of the post!) Seriously, though, I'm honestly curious - what do you say to Nuggles who ask you, "How do you get that so perfect?!" I look at that accent nail in the picture right above this and think, "The inner and outer petals aren't separated on that one - I totally slipped with the brush and the two lines merged into one!" How is that perfect? Or the center nail on my right hand, where one line of the petal is totally blobby, and the tips don't even meet on the inner *or* outer petals. I could continue to list off how maybe half my nails look exactly how I wanted them to look...but none of that is what my Nuggle co-worker wants to hear...and I don't want to come across as if I'm criticising myself, either, because I totally love this manicure. When I create a manicure that is just a fail and not what I wanted in the first place, I take it off. But by no means is this anywhere near perfect. So what do you say to this question?

Lots more pictures after the cut. Click through for picture spam! (Just don't ask me which ones are with and without flash, because I don't remember. ;)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Monkey See, Monkey Do - Lightning!

I know it's not Monday, but I really don't want to wait until Monkey See Monday to post these, and I haven't been participating before now, anyway. So without further, wait, let me explain...there is too much. Let me sum up! I have this awesome nail art pinned to my pinterest board:

It was created, of course, by Theodora over at Red Hair and Black Nail Polish. And I wasn't feeling very creative last night, but V had naked nails, so I let her loose on my pinterest board, and said, "Pick something!" She tried to get my opinion several times, to which is wiggled my hand at her and said something along the lines of, "Nyahahaah! Not choosing! You pick something!" Of course, because V is my bestest bud ever, she just laughed at me and didn't take offense. (I did tell her that I didn't want to attempt water marbling on a weeknight, so that eliminated some of her chocies, but other than that, I pretty much didn't veto anything that wasn't already marked "I can't do this, I just think it's awesome.") After much hemming and hawing, she decided on the lightning.
So, to start out, I love that shade of blue for this art. That deep, rich blue, with the rich shimmer/shine/glow to it, is perfect. It's also a color I don't have in my palette. However, I did manage a pretty darned good approximation! I laid down one coat of NYC Skin Tight Denim Creme, and layered one coat of China Glaze Frostbite over it. Look at the gloriousness that resulted!

Yeah, I think that's as close to the color we were going for as we were ever going to need. We mixed things up a bit for the accent nails, though. Instead of Frostbite, I put one coat of Pure Ice Strapless over the NYC polish. Then I sponged on a bit of Milani Whitest White, followed by a tiiiiny sponging of Pure Ice Splash. A nail art brush with Whitest White produced the lightning (which I'm nowhere near as artistic with as Theodora was!) and I added tiny strips of Sally Hansen Celeb City here and there to add that touch of spark to the lightning bolts.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Week 20 - Bows

I have a lot of pictures pinned on my pinterest boards. This one in particular has been on my Inspirations for Nail Art board for a while, and I felt inspired to try it on my nails this week.

Since this week's challenge theme is bows, I also randomly threw a bow on my accent nails in rhinestones, just because I can. ^_^ Didn't it come out pretty?

So I started with my normal 2 coats of Haken Nail Magic for a base coat. I have really thin, flexible, and most annoyingly, prone to peeling nails. I tried Sally Hansen's Miracle Cure for a few months (one full bottle, basically) but it really didn't seem to be helping much. I bought a Nail Life basecoat for thin and peeling nails at Sally Beauty, but after just a month I could already tell that it was helping less than the Sally Hansen had, because I had a rapid increase in the amount of peeling I was dealing with. So the next time I had money for supplies, I picked up Haken Nail Magic. It's only been a few weeks, but I already know it's working better than the Nail Life was. I'll give it another month or so before I pronounce it to be working better than the Sally Hansen, but so far I haven't had any new peeling spots, and I haven't had any breaks since I started using it. That's not necessarily the base coat working, though - my nails go through cycles of growing out, and then several of them breaking in a very short period of time. It might just be growth time. I will keep you updated! :)

After the basecoat, I applied a single coat of a polish that has been in my stash for years and years. I'm not sure it "perle" is the color of the polish or the style (like "shimmer" or "creme") but the brand is Jean-Michelle Laque Luisant. I then brushed an off-center curving line with China Glaze Liquid Leather (except I painted the entire nail of my ring fingers) and filled in the larger side of my nail with it, and wrapped the end of the nails with the black all the way across. After a second coat of liquid leather, I used a dotting tool to add dots to the perle sections. I added a coat of NYC Matte Me Crazy to all of my nails except the ring fingers, then added Seche Vite to that one and applied rhinestones in a bow pattern. I've decided I like having a matte top coat. It gives that smooth silky finish to the nails without the excessive chipping of an actual matte polish. ^_^


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Glam Polish - 1500 Follower Giveaway!

Glam Polish is having a giveaway to celebrate hitting 1,500 followers, and what's she giving away?

Seriously? Seriously! China Glaze's soon-to-be-released collection, On Safari. You know you want it. Click here or on the picture to head over to Glam Polish's page and enter! :)

Scrapbooked Talons

A while back, V and I went wandering through Hobby Lobby thinking, "What can we put on our nails?" A previous post showed one result of that trip, with embroidery floss. For this manicure, I pulled out another item we purchased on that trip, from the scrapbooking section. These decals were intended to be placed on page corners, but I decided to trim them down to decorate my nails instead. ^_^

First, for a base, I did a gradient with two new polishes I just picked up at Walgreen's the other day: Sinful Colors Zeus and Neptune. Honestly, I could have kept this as a beautiful manicure all by itself! The two colors go sooo well together - I described it to one friend as the horizon just after the sun has gone down. You still have that pale purple color along the horizon, and the farther up you look, the darker blue it gets until you start to see the sparkle of the stars shining.

One thing I am annoyed by is my inability to clean up well at the moment. I'm out of pure acetone, and I just can't seem to clean up as well with polish remover. And while I can put on straight polish well enough to not need too much clean-up, I did this gradient by putting the two colors next to each other on a plastic palette, picking them both up with a fan brush, and then painting sideways across my nail. The sponging effect has its place, but when you want a smooth blending of colors, you can't get better than painting them together with a fan brush.

I actually did this manicure twice. My first attempt with the stickers didn't come out nearly this well. I had to figure out how best to trim them to fit my nails. Also, I need to buy some of The Best Glue Ever that Robin Moses is always touting, because these stickers just don't react well to top coat. Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble, they were! Came out looking gorgeous, though, and everybody who saw them thought they were awesome. :) This first picture was the best one I got for color accuracy, but I included a shot of my other hand as well.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Glitter Obsession's 1000-Follower Giveaway!

Wow, 1000 followers. I can't imagine. But I really like the blog, so it's not that surprising! :) She's having a four-prize giveaway, and the prizes are awesome! Click here or the picture below to check it out:

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Week 19 - Floral Mani

This week's theme from the 52-Week Challenge is "floral". I glanced through my Pinterest nail art board for inspiration, and noticed that I've pinned a lot of french mani's with flowers on them. And thus today's nail art was born.

I started with one coat of China Glaze Fast Track, which would the perfect nude to match my skintone, if I put three coats on. With just one coat, it's very sheer, with that gorgeous sparkle shimmer throughout. Taped off my nail ends and added Tree Hugger across the tips. Once that was dry, I pulled out my handy dandy dotting tool (you know you have kids when whenever you hear the phrase, "Handy dandy," it's in Joe's voice in your head!) and first added white dots in Milani Whitest White (my go-to polish for one-coat solid whiteness), then yellow dots (China Glaze Solar Power) with my next-smaller dotting tool, and finally (with the larger dotter again) a single dot of white in the center of the flower. I added a few curving stripes in Sinful Colors All About You, added a nice layer of Seche Vite, and plunked a nice yellow rhinestone in the center dot of each flower. Add a second coat of SV once that's all dry, and you get this:

I just really loved the colors and how well they worked together in this manicure, and I've gotten a lot of compliments today. My husband said it had an Oriental feel, while one of my co-workers said it looked "modern". What do you think of it? I really like this next picture of it because it shows off that base shimmer of Fast Track.

I will indulge in some photo spam after the cut, so if you'd like to see a few different angles and shots of my phabulous phalanges, feel free to click through. :)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Gorgeous Giveaways - Varnished Valkyrie!

That's such an awesome name for a blog: Varnished Valkyrie. I really love it. ^_^ She started this giveaway when she had 62 followers, and she's up to 410 now! But time is running out! The giveaway is almost over, so if you want a chance to enter to win Mattese Elite Revolution, Warpaint Beauty Matte Top Coat, China Glaze Techno...

Oh, and this ol' thing:

Click on the picture or here to enter her giveaway! And of course you need to spend some time browsing her archives if you aren't already a follower, or you'll be missing out on a lot of pretty paint, cute nail art, and well-worded prose. But hurry, because you're almost out of time!

Out of order week 17: Earth Apprection

This is what happens when you ask your husband to go through your swatch sticks and pick one or two colors for you to make a manicure out of. He picked two magnetics and a matte green, leaving me to try and figure out how to make a coherent mani design out of that! At least I have three different magnet designs to choose from, which helps. I also decided that this would qualify for my skipped challenge of week 17 - Earth Appreciation. It's not only green and brown, both beautiful nature colors, it employs a magnetic field to create this design, part and parcel of the necessary balance of our Earth's ecosystem.

The colors Mr. IJAH chose were Nabi magnetics Cappucinno and Green, and Zoya Veruschuka (aka Veruschka, as my bottle label says one thing and their website says another.) I used Nabi Green on all my nails except my ring fingers, on which I used Cappucinno. I used an arrow design magnet, though as I occasionally get it off-center, it sometimes looks more like a wave, which is what prompted me to use an angled french tip for the Veruschuka.

I put Veruschuka down the sides of my thumbs, which I think really accented the wavy stripes of the magnetic polish, and I did arrows on my ring fingers. The two pictures above didn't show how striking the Cappucinno came out (you can barely see the striping in those pictures, but it was very obvious and pretty in real life) but the picture below is a little blurry, which helps show the gorgeous sparkle of the Cappucinno and it also shows the striping a bit more clearly.

A bonus manicure! My son, J, is 5. He doesn't ask for his nails to be painted as often as his big sister does (she's 8, and B does her own nails more often than not), but he just came over and asked me to paint his nails the other day. I asked him what design he wanted, and he requested lightsabers. I was very sad to tell him that I didn't think I could draw those on his little bitty nails very well, but suggested we do a gradient from white to blue, instead, to indicate the lightsaber's colored blade. He thought that was an acceptable alternative, so we did some sponging with Sally Hansen's White On and Blue Me Away, which resulted in this:

J can sit still well enough to get his nails painted, but there will never be a time you can get him to hold still well enough for cleanup afterward, so he made do with the polish around his nails. (Also, it is impossible to paint a 5-year-old boy's nails neatly in the first place, even if we hadn't been doing sponging! :) He was very happy with the end result, though, and he wanted his picture taken just like Mommy does. Now, this is a nail art blog, not a social activism one, so if you don't want to hear my little segue into gender issues, feel free to skip the rest of this post, as you've already seen all the pretty pictures. But I've gotten comments from time to time, and I've seen a lot more comments to other people on the web, about allowing little boys to wear nail polish. I get a lot of comments about the fact that his hair is long, because people initially assume he's a girl, and they get embarrassed when they realize after the fact that he's got a boy's name, or they hear us refer to him as "him" rather than "her". (No, we don't bother pointing out the error to strangers, since we don't consider it that important that other people are well informed of his gender. He thinks it's funny when they think he's a girl, so there's no stress or trauma there.) Yes, my son has long hair. That's by his choice. He wanted his hair cut a few months ago, and I asked him whether he wanted short hair or just wanted the hair out of his eyes (he wouldn't let me cut it at all for a few years, and I had to reassure him I wouldn't be cutting it off each time I had to trim it *grin*), and he got all excited about the idea that he could get the hair out of his eyes and still have long hair! So yeah, he has long hair and bangs. Yes, in American culture, I'm not surprised when people assume he's a girl, because it's common in our culture for boys to have short hair and girls to have long - and at 5 years of age, he doesn't have any gender-specific characteristics for them to make a clear assessment other than hair. But while we're not on a righteous crusade against gender stereotypes in our household (I never got annoyed at my mother-in-law for consistently buying only pink and purple clothing for our daughter, because B likes pink and purple), what I am crusading for is for the kids to learn that it's okay to be themselves and to grow up being willing to stand up for their own ideas of what they like and control over their own bodies. I do argue over terminology in our house - having long hair or painting his nails does not make J "look like a girl". He's a boy, and therefore any way he chooses to look, still looks like a boy. I don't make my daughter play with cars or guns. I don't make my son play with dolls or nail polish. But I think it's just as okay that he loves Legos, lightsabers, and long hair and nail polish. It's fine for B to play with dolls, wear makeup on occasion, and like learning about guns. It's also perfectly okay in our house for B to be a cross between Princess Barbie and Wednesday Addams. We don't blink if she comes down in pink and lace on one day, and black and red the next. You never know if she's going to paint flowers, butterflies, or blood drops on her nails. And that's okay. She's our Princess Wednesday Barbie Addams, and we love her in all her gothy sparkles. And if J decides he wants to wear camo pants and painted nails, that's fine with me.