Apologies, Updates, and a Return to Brights

Good afternoon, lovelies,

Welp. It’s June. It’s Late June. I have…not been keeping up with this blog. Like, at all. In fact, I got a new phone at some point and didn’t even bother adding the WordPress app to it.


I’m so, so sorry.

sad david tennant in the rain

Really I don’t have a great excuse, but it’s been kind of crazy around here lately. I’ve had to go from a person who works at home half the time to a person who has frequent flier miles and status at hotel chains. Yep, if you haven’t heard: I travel for work now.

airplane view
Actually a typical view. It never ceases to amaze me.

As such, I’ve now gone weeks with bare nails, because I’m supposed to keep my hands professional, and because I have to remember to bring my nail polish with me when I travel so that I can do touch ups. It’s significantly harder than it looks, particularly since it’s a struggle for me to even remember to bring toothpaste half the time.

(I keep thinking that all these business trips will turn me into, I don’t know, a Business Bitch, capable of taking over the world with nothing but her account ledger and a stern look, but so far I appear to be the same person, but with rental cars.)

Anyway, I’m on a quest now that I’ve more or less settled into being gone Monday-Thursday of each week. It’s called “Maintain Normalcy.” I mean, it’s kind of rough always being gone – I’ve had to quit my karaoke team since I’m never in town on Tuesday nights, my running routine has gone crazy, and I’ve been bad about reading the six million books on my reading list. But if there’s one habit I’m determined to get back into, it’s manicures. I just feel so much more like me when I’ve got some color on my hands.

So here’s something a little out of the box, for me at least: Julep Lindsey, a summery peachy pink! It’s a normal enough color for work – let’s hope I can ease them into having a consultant with designs on her hands eventually – but still on the crazy side compared to what I usually wear to my client site (aka nothing/bare nails/sadness). Forgive my lousy cuticles – when getting back into the nail habit, you’ve got to start somewhere!

Let’s hope this is an indication that my future’s looking “bright.” What, too much? 🙂

Hopefully I won’t let it go six months without posting again…


My Friends Do Cool Stuff: Volume V

Okay, okay, I know it’s been a while since I did a MFDCS post. I’ve had pseudo-posts, like about that time when The Boyfriend was in The Music Man or when The Roommate went to a Masquerade, but I used to write about my friends’ jobs and hobbies in depth, and because I have phenomenally awesome friends, I decided it was just about the right time to bring this series back.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Katherine.

katherine on a log in hawaii
Here, we see her in her natural habitat. Or in Hawaii, which, let’s be honest, is everybody’s preferred natural habitat.

Katherine is an entomologist. She studies bugs. She is a bug scientist. That picture up there is of her collecting samples, which quite frankly takes an amount of courage that I doubt many of us possess.

The actual definition of entomologist is here: “a scientist who studies insects. Entomologists have many important jobs, such as the study of the classification, life cycle, distribution, physiology, behavior, ecology and population dynamics of insects.”

So, um…WHAT??? How freaking cool is that?

(Also, she’d probably like me to remind you that “bug” isn’t a terribly specific term. She works with parasitic wasps, which are actually called microhyms in scientific circles, and which definitely don’t make me want to scrub all my skin off in a panic.)

She is currently working on her PhD after graduating from an Ivy League college, so if you thought you were talking to the smart one in my group of friends then I regret to inform you that you are sadly mistaken. Katherine can look at a wasp underneath a microscope and determine which of the hundreds of categories available it falls into. Then, she is responsible for categorizing them like this:

a bunch of samples on cards
Look closely. There are wasps on these sticks.

And blowing them up into ridiculously detailed posters like this:

giant blown up pic of a bee

Really though, she’s one of less than ten people in the world – that’s the ENTIRE WORLD – who study the taxonomy and systematics of these wasps. She even presents at conferences, such as the meeting of the Entomological Society of America.

In this photo: An entomologist looks more professional than I ever will.

And the best thing ever? Katherine is as big of a nail art junkie as I am. This is the answer to your question if you wondered how on earth we’re friends when I write a blog about my fingernails and she works for the freaking Smithsonian in her spare time. Her recent hymenoptera-inspired manicure looked like this:


And she would like to comment that “the little grey dots on the green are parasitized stink bug eggs on a leaf.”

…I’ll just leave it at that.

Buzz you later,


Birthday Balloons!

Well, it’s happened (two weeks ago…). I’ve passed the Quarter Century Mark. Obviously, this has caused major changes in my life, and I am now a functional adult who knows how taxes work and has her retirement plan set up and who even has an organized sock drawer.

…I really have no idea what functional adults are like. Was I even close?

So The Boyfriend surprised me this weekend by …

Taking me to a freaking BED AND BREAKFAST! I’d never been to one before, but this place included sprawling views….


Fine dining…


The most gorgeous room with a fireplace…


And of course the best guy who ever lived.


And for the nails? Of course I wanted to do something special to them. I started out with the Birthday Balloons tutorial (see this previous post for the video), and kept the balloons themselves pretty basic. In fact, I probably could have done with some more highlighting or light reflection by adding some more white to it, but oh well.


And what better way to celebrate the giant milestone that is a 25th birthday than with…the number 25? I used my dotting tools (call me weird, but I can get a more precise line with them than with my tiny brushes) to paint the appropriate numbers on my middle and ring fingers. That way, when I bend my fingers over so that you can’t see my thumbs, the 25 seems symmetrical, if that makes any sense.

Either way, I’m willing to bet that good things are in store for Age 25, especially if this kickoff was anything to go by.

Many happy returns,


(P.S. More Star Wars CoverGirl reviews coming soon!!)

The Big Two-Five

It’s weird to me how I can feel so old and so young simultaneously – I mean, I’m one of those entitled millennials that everyone hears about who enjoys double-brunch weekends and competes in a karaoke league. But I’m also a high-powered businesswoman type who works for a multinational corporation and could quite possibly climb the ladder and make something spectacular out of myself here one day. It’s all a contradiction.

A contradiction with PIRATES.
A contradiction with PIRATES.

Either way, I’m about to turn 25 and realized that…whoa, I’m certainly a grownup now. I’m in my mid-twenties. I can see 30 peeking over the horizon, and damn, I really should work on getting my life together in the meantime.

But that’s not the point. Right now, the point is to enjoy the fact that I’ve made it this far and that I’ve still got a hell of a road ahead of me, and it’ll be worth every step (I should have warned you that this would be one of those gushy introspective posts, huh).

So, sappiness aside, let’s talk about birthday nails! The traditional, I’ve heard, is the cupcake.

But there are so many other possibilities out there, my love of cupcakes notwithstanding. I mean, didn’t I just say I was going to try and be a little bit more of a grownup? I scoured the Internet for some more birthday nail tutorials.

My second google search led me to this video:


Which provided some more pretty cool options, described here:

  1. I might try an ombre again, although that’s never worked for me before, for the sold purpose of gathering some Birthday magic and hoping for the best. And of course, I’ll never say no to glitter. I’d probably use blue instead of pink though, because, come on, have you met me?
  2. BALLOONS! Oh HELL yes. These could be fun. Again, I wouldn’t go for the pink, but the idea seems easy and effective!
  3. Cupcakes again, but this one is a cupcake accent nail. The possibilities are endless.

So, ladies and gents, please watch the videos above and vote for whatever you’d like me to do to my birthday nails! I’ll go with whichever one you choose, although I’m probably going to put some blue in there whether you like it or not.

So let me know in the vote below:


So, if my calculations are correct, we are exactly six weeks out from the new Star Wars movie. Apparently there has been an awakening. I have felt it.

Seriously though, I’m more excited about this movie than I’ve been for just about any movie in the past few years. Avengers who, amirite? (Unless you’re the Marvel Studios executives, who I’m sure are reading my little blog, in which case oh my god I love you I love you can I have a cameo in Infinity War???)

Shameless plug in the hopes of getting into your good graces.
Shameless plug in the hopes of getting into your good graces.

Anyway, because few things are as important to me as this movie, I obviously had no choice but to buy the entire Cover Girl line of Star Wars-inspired nail polish. It was a business expense, of course, and I’m sure I’ll file it that way on my tax returns (that was a lie). I’ll be posting a review of each of the six Star Wars shades every week until the week of December 18, a.k.a. the day we’ll be telling our grandchildren about when they watch Star Wars and we describe the hardships of having to actually, you know, drive all the way to the IMAX theater instead of having the movies beamed directly into our brains.

So, we begin, a long time ago (or last night) in a galaxy far far away (or at my kitchen table) with…

star wars episode 1 crawl

P.S. I found the coolest website in the world, the Star Wars Crawl Creator, which is how I made all of these kickass crawl pictures. Check it out sometime. Put it in your work presentations. Your bosses will thank you.

Let’s start by going over the Star Wars collection as a whole. It’s nice, I suppose. I mean, it’s fine. It’s CoverGirl nail polish, which typically isn’t my thing when I’d usually go for an OPI, Essie, Julep, or Indie of some sort.

But anyway, I had to get my hands on some of the collection, and that began with Speed of Light, a tan-ish, green-ish, grey-ish high gloss polish.

I only say green-ish because that’s how it looks in the pictures; it’s really more of the blandest grey you can imagine.

It even matched my bedspread.

I can’t even think of good things to say about this color. I could definitely get away with wearing it to work, I guess? But really, my biggest problem is that the name is so misleading – absolutely nothing about this color reminds me of the speed of light. Even less about it reminds me of Star Wars, or does anything to increase my excitement for The Force Awakens.

Maybe it’s the color of the Millennium Falcon on a bad day, but even that’s pushing it.

There are also about 10,000,000 comments on the Cover Girl Website about how the bottles don’t have the Star Wars logo on them despite the website showing it in their pictures, but I would have forgiven that oversight if it were even a little bit more interesting of a color.

Verdict: Speed of Light might as well be bantha fodder.

Tune in next week for more reviews, and may the Force be with you.


Everybody make a scene.

this is halloween everybody make a scene

Ohhhhh Halloween. How I love thee. Even a week into November, which is when I finally sat down to write this post.

Halloween has always been my Very Favorite Holiday for honestly more reasons than I can count. It’s the one time of the year when I get to wear fantastically crazy costumes without looking weirdly out of place. It’s the reason I dyed my hair black that one time, and the reason I once wore a velvet hoop skirt to work. It’s an excuse to gorge yourself on candy and celebrate the macabre in a way that would get you stared at and possibly put on a few watch lists if you were to try it in June.

My costume for this year was mildly inspired by the upcoming Suicide Squad movie, but really it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while. Because I was Professor Plum in a group costume last year…

group clue costume
I’m the one second from the left.

…I already had a n oversized purple blazer that I knew I wouldn’t get away with wearing at any other time in the year. I kept it half because it was so wonderfully bizarre and half because I wasn’t terribly thrilled when my mother called it the ugliest thing she’d ever seen (love you, Mom!).

Either way, I bought a cheap makeup kit at Target (where I spend far too much money anyway) and a green wig off of Amazon, and boom. I’m the baddest villain in town.


My nails actually came from a different source, however. They were inspired by something I did the night before, which was in the realm of one of the craziest things I’ve ever done. The morning of October 30, my roommate Liz asked me if I’d like to join her in singing with a Red Hot Chili Peppers cover band at a local concert venue. In twelve hours.

(Insert frenzied screaming here.)

Look, I sing all the time. I do competitive karaoke, for crying out loud. I’ve been in choirs, I’ve had solos, and I’ve done some strange things in various musicals and sketch comedy shows (college was weird). But I’ve never sung in a rock band before, and, to borrow a quote from my sister, my taste in music tends to stray toward bands of the angsty British persuasion. I’m not even too familiar with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, to be honest.

But I’ve been reading this book, Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson, and in the introduction she says the following:

Over the next few years I pushed myself to say yes to anything ridiculous. I jumped into fountains that were not meant to be jumped into. I took impromptu road trips to hunt down UFOs. I chased tornadoes. I wore a wolf (who had died of kidney failure) to the local Twilight premiere while shouting “TEAM JACOB” at angry vampire fans. I rented sloths by the hour…I had a storeroom in the back of my mind filled with moments of tightrope walking, snorkeling in long-forgotten caves, and running barefoot through cemeteries with a red ball gown trailing behind me.

And how cool is that? I love this philosophy. I love the idea of building up such a stockpile of wonderful memories that they can take the edge off the stress of daily life. And so I couldn’t say no to what is probably going to be my one chance to sing in a rock band.

 Thankfully for me, I only had to learn two songs – Under the Bridge and Aeroplane. Both have female choruses that are easy enough to pick up even with 12 hours’ notice, and since they needed someone in the screechy soprano range I guess I fit the bill.

Next thing I knew, I was in front of a cheering crowd in a green spider dress with black eyeliner smeared all across my face.

Im the witchy blonde who still cant believe she wound up singing with a rock band.
I’m the witchy blonde who still can’t believe she wound up singing with a rock band.

But ah, the nails! I hate to disappoint, but they weren’t particularly elaborate – when you’re unexpectedly singing in a band, you don’t have a lot of time to make sure your nail art is on point. I did something incredibly basic, a black base coat (OPI’s My Gondola or Yours?) and some little green rhinestones on all of my fingers. This was actually my first experience with rhinestones, and I think I’ll play around with them a little more, particularly on my Christmas nails – they’re so shiny!

Anyway, I hope you’ve had a wonderful Halloween and that your November’s gotten off the right start.

Stay Spooky,


It’s the most won-der-ful tiiiiime of the year…

But Mary, you say. It’s early November. Isn’t the most wonderful time of the year, you know, next month?

Oh contraire, my beautiful readers. There’s something pretty spectacular that happens from November to February, and which I refer to as my equivalent of the World Series (which I don’t want to actually talk about; I’m a Washington Nationals fan). No, I’m talking about…

the oscars

Look. Some people play fantasy football. Some people collect coins. Some people mud wrestle crocodiles (I’m not too sure what other people do for hobbies). But if I have one day, one day out of the year in which I get to celebrate everything I love in entertainment, it’s the Academy Awards. Bad host? Good host? Bad gimmicks? Mess-ups by solo performers? Show-stopping speeches and right-on-key songs? I live for this kind of thing.

And so, here it goes, here it goes, here it goes again: remember when I started up that Summer 2015 Challenge and failed miserably? Remember when I said I love challenges and that no matter what I’ll keep attempting them?

It’s time for my Yearly Oscar Challenge, folks!

anchorman jump

My BFF Helena (and those of you who are also my BFFs should know who you are and that I mean no offense here…just as a disclaimer) and I have had this challenge going on for literally years. LITERALLY YEARS. We’ve decided that it’s our goal, one year or another, to see every single last movie that has been nominated for the Best Picture Award.

It’s harder than it looks.

So, let’s get this party started. Here is the long list of all the potential Best Picture Contenders as of November 4, as updated by AwardsCircuit, a full two days before I published this blog post:

  1. Spotlight
  2. The Revenant
  3. Bridge of Spies
  4. Room
  5. Brooklyn
  6. Steve Jobs
  7. The Hateful Eight
  8. The Danish Girl
  9. Son of Saul
  10. The Martian
  11. Inside Out
  12. Joy
  13. Mad Max: Fury Road
  14. The Big Short
  15. Straight Outta Compton
  16. Black Mass
  17. Carol
  18. Sicaro
  19. Concussion
  20. Beasts of No Nation

WELL. That’s a whole lot of movies that I need to see between now and February 28. Thankfully I’ve got a head start: I’ve already seen The Martian, Inside Out, and Mad Max: Fury Road. I think I might through Beasts of No Nation into my Netflix queue so that I can see what it’s all about. Other than that, I’ll make my way through whichever ones interest me most until the actual list of nominees is announced.

I should also establish ground rules: I must see all Best Picture Nominees before February 28. Accompanying manicures are STRONGLY ENCOURAGED but not required.

Dear Helena, you ready for this?

Let’s go, fellow movie buffs,


Hello, Daddy. Hello, Mom.

I’m your ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch….CHERRY BOMB!

And more importantly:

mushu i live

Wow, what a month. I’ve officially survived the sleepless nights, hard deadlines, and crazy stress that came with my first product launch at work, and I hopefully escaped with some of my sanity intact. But, for obvious reasons, I haven’t had the time I would have liked to devote to this blog. For that, dear readers, I apologize.

Anyway, I’ve had a minor obsession with the song “Cherry Bomb” ever since I saw the Great Planning Montage in Guardians of the Galaxy, which remains one of the best movies I’ve seen in many years. I don’t like to brag, but I can recite every single line of dialogue that Groot says through the whole film.


And of course I’ve loved Joan Jett ever since I was a little girl and my dad let me listen to his Hit Ladies of the 1980s cassette tape whenever we were in the car. That tape introduced me to some of my favorite music of all time, including hits from the Bangles, the Go Gos, Tina Turner, and even Pat Benatar, whose songs I continue to sing on the karaoke stage to this day (no, seriously, I won my matchup in competitive karaoke when I sang “Heartbreaker” as Miss Piggy lamenting the end of her relationship with Kermit. Don’t you mess around with moi). So hearing some of Joan Jett’s earlier work in the form of a Runaways track, during a superhero movie no less, was a particularly wonderful moment for me.

Now that the weather is getting colder, I’ve decided to shelve my bright nail polish colors for…a certain amount of time. I can’t promise it’ll be all fall and winter, because come on, I’ve got neons and I’m not afraid to use them, but for now, let’s see what I can do with the earth tones, jewel tones, and deeper colors that always accompany this particular change of seasons.

I follow OPI on YouTube, to the surprise of no one, and I recently came across a tutorial for some deeply vampy nails that I couldn’t help but fall (season pun?) in love with. I even bought these three particular colors (not a wise move, but I’ve recently been told that I can call it a business investment due to the blog, and I’m completely ok with that) so that I could try and replicate the tutorial exactly. Here’s the instruction video, for reference:

Oh, and I forgot to mention: the style in question is called CHERRY BOMB. How unbelievably perfect.

If you’re too lazy to watch the video, the colors in question are:

Side Note: How does OPI even come up with these names? I get that they’re Venice-inspired (let’s pause for a moment while this Italian-on-her-mom’s-side girl swoons a little bit), but the names don’t seem to have much to do with the colors. Oh well. The colors are gorgeous anyway.

I began, as instructed, with two thin coats of Amore at the Grand Canal. I couldn’t help but compare it to Julep Ellen and Julep January, which are usually my go-to reds. I also couldn’t help but lament the fact that I was painting my nails red. I hate it when I do that. I’ll post funny pictures of my red-stained nails when it’s time to take this off.

Then I pulled out my makeup sponges. I’ve had…less than stellar luck with makeup sponges in nail art before, but that’s because I’ve always used them to do gradients and I can’t seem to get the hang of it (dear readers: if anyone here can do a decent gradient, TEACH ME YOUR WAYS). I started as they suggested by slowly dabbing My Gondola or Yours about halfway up my nail, and then I finished with the purple.

Yes, if you were paying attention, I did it BACKWARDS. I blame how tired I am, because…wow. It did not look good, and I took it off before I took any pictures because I was too upset with the final results. Since the polish was still half wet when I attacked it with my cotton balls, and since Amore at the Grand Canal is such a deep red, and since red stains like no other, I looked like I had just returned from committing a bloody murder.

I stomped my feet in frustration and then tried again the next day.

As instructed, I began with two coats of Amore at the Grand Canal, and desperately prayed it would behave itself this time.

Then, I used my sponge and dabbed on two layers of O Suzi Mio, the purple, and I did it before the black color. Freaking finally.

And I finished with a little bit of My Gondola or Yours?

Honestly, I wasn’t impressed with it until I put on a shiny top coat, but then I found that it looks PHENOMENAL if you do it right (and please note that I did it passably, not right!). My roommate Liz said that the mix-up wasn’t even that bad in a Halloween sense, but wow, this is the first ombre I’ve ever done, and I feel like I’ve gone through a Nail Artist’s Rite of Passage. Now I just need to, oh, I don’t know, figure out my perfect nude, work out how on earth to use stamping plates, and get over my fear of the striping tape that’s been gathering dust in my collection for months now.

I’ll post again soon,


Ugh, is she really doing a housekeeping post?

Well, the answer to your question is yes, but this time it’s…literal housekeeping. Plot twist?

I recently moved from my two-bedroom apartment into a four-bedroom townhouse with The Roommate (who will hereafter be known as Katie, because that is her name), and Kelsey and Liz, who I talked about in a My Friends Do Cool Stuff post about competitive karaoke. I’m actually going to be doing competitive karaoke this season as well, because come on, who passes up an experience like that?

Anyway, moving sucks big time, and while we were able to get the furniture from Point A to Point B rather quickly (aka in a single day), the unpacking and reorganizing was one of the most unpleasant things I’ve done in a long while. A big thanks to my mom for coming over and helping me out with that. I promise I’ll learn how to be a functioning adult sooner or later.

However, now that my room is finally set up and looking pretty spectacular, I wanted to show off my favorite new wall decoration: THE RACK!

monty python rack
Bet you weren’t expecting the Spanish Inquisition.

No, it’s actually a nail polish rack that I ordered off of Amazon. I adore it. Most of my furniture is black, so it matches spectacularly, and it’s a great way to display all of my colors and not have to root through an old ModCloth box or a deceptively lacy tackle box in order to find the shade I’m going for. I think it’s going to make both painting and blogging so much easier in the future.

nail polish rack
And yes, my mom took this picture too.

I’m sure I’ll actually organize it by color soon – I actually did it when I first moved in, but then the rack fell off the wall and I lost a few colors in the ensuing battle. Let’s have a moment of silence for some glitter that I’m still not sure how I’m going to get out of the carpet. Goodbye, security deposit; it was nice knowing you. Thankfully, Katie is pretty handy with power tools, and she was able to use some screws and what I can only assume is sorcery to finally get the rack to stay up.

Well, now that you can see my entire collection in its somewhat-grainy-in-the-picture glory, what would you like to see next?

No, really, I’m soliciting advice here.

Thanks for reading,


Admiral Ackbar and Out the Door

I hate to brag, but this has been a ridiculously productive weekend. I did my grocery shopping for the week, I cleaned my room (with my mom’s help, which I add because she reads this blog and I’d definitely hear about it if I took all the credit myself), I did a few loads of laundry, I got some extra documentation written for my job, and I Skyped with one of my best friends for two and a half hours about her upcoming wedding. Lots of high-pitched screaming noises were involved, which could indicate that sometimes I’m capable of being a girl or that sometimes I’m capable of being a velociraptor.

Self portrait.
Self portrait.

So, in the end, I wound up doing a manicure that’s deceptively simple while looking quite fancy. A few months ago, while I was rebelling against all of the neutral nail polish that I had bought for work, I picked up a bottle of China Glaze’s It’s a Trap-eze! It seemed far more fun than the lavenders, pastel pinks, and nudes that were already in my Ulta shopping basket.

My first thought about the name of this polish is that Admiral Ackbar had something to do with it, and as such I wondered why such an esteemed citizen of Mon Calimari was related to something so glittery. Perhaps it had to do with the celebrations after the destruction of the Second Death Star.

admiral ackbar it's a trap
And yes, I use this line in everyday conversations.

Sure, I guess it could be circus-related, but come on. The name is weird. Even a trapping trapeze is weird to me.

It sure is glittery, though…

trapeze nails 1

trapeze nails 2

This is all one polish – no futzing around with multiple layers of a solid base and then multicolored glitter on top. This all mercifully came in the same bottle.

trapeze nails 3

It was a little tricky to work with because it was pretty runny compared to a lot of my other polishes, and it tended to slide off my fingers and into my cuticles if I didn’t do it just right. What you see above is three coats of the polish because the white is so translucent around the glitter. However, I happen to love it, because a lot of the glitter got caught underneath the next coat of white as I put more on for a sort of layered effect and I JUST FIGURED OUT WHY THE POLISH IS CALLED IT’S A TRAP OH MY GOODNESS THE GLITTER IS TRAPPED BETWEEN LAYERS! THAT’S BRILLIANT!

Ahem. Sorry about that.

There’s one more component to this manicure, and it’s something new (to me) that I’ve been meaning to try for at least a year, if not more. I’ve been a Seche Vite fast-drying top coat devotee ever since I originally bought my first bottle of it a few years ago, but I’ve since heard about a similar product called Out the Door, which promised similar results without the gunkiness that usually happens when you get halfway through the Seche Vite bottle. I decided Out the Door was worth a shot, so I picked up a bottle on Amazon.

out the door

The results? I would definitely buy this again! It’s half the price of Seche Vite, does the top coat job admirably (I took the above pictures after taking my laundry out of the dryer and had no smudge problems!), and apparently won’t gum up. I’ll see about that last claim – for now it’s too soon to tell – but I’m happy to use as much of the bottle as I can for now.

Best wishes,