My Friends Do Cool Stuff: Volume IV

There’s something different in the air tonight: I’m featuring two friends instead of one!

Everyone, meet Kelsey and Liz. They’re some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, and The Roommate and I are currently in talks to move in with them at the end of the summer (because I don’t know about you, but DC area rent is far less stressful when it’s split four ways instead of two).

Kelsey and Liz do something that I had honestly never heard of when I met them. I’d heard of karaoke, of course, and I’ve participated in it a few times at bars that fall everywhere on a scale of “dive” to “whoa, are we even allowed in here?”, but man, they take karaoke to the next level.

I present to you: District Karaoke.

That’s right, there are teams that compete all around the DC area in various match-ups, with both solo and group numbers. Points are awarded for creativity, and these girls get these points in spades. Here’s Kelsey and a few of her group members performing the final number from School of Rock on the 2000s themed night.

district karaoke 1
The Boyfriend is in this picture too, but it wouldn’t be fair to do a post about him. Just accept that he’s pretty cool.

As you can see, costumes and props are encouraged. One time, Kelsey sang “Say Something I’m Giving Up on You” (I don’t know the actual name of the song, but I think it’s by Christina Aguilera?) as Tom Hanks’s character in Cast Away at the moment he lost Wilson to the sea (I’ll give you a moment to sob). And here’ Liz in a solo competition, singing Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated” to a box of Ikea furniture.

district karaoke 2

So basically, Kelsey and Liz have discovered the absolute COOLEST way to get out and have some fun at a bar on a Tuesday night. Seriously, I’m not even a huge fan of the bar scene and I can’t wait to hear what they’re coming up with next. I’m hoping it has to do with Harry Potter, because that’s actually something that I talk about with them on a semi-regular basis.

Talk to you soon,

Mary

New Job, New Neutrals

Remember when I was really stressed out?

Oh, wait. That’s a perpetual state of being for me. Never mind.

But anyway, that’s an entirely different kind of flying altogether.

Today, I start a new job. Auqwkeujdfvjhqklqerhotjs. Starting new jobs is always a little stressful, and by a little, I mean I feel like an elephant is sitting on my chest and this morning I put on about triple the amount of deodorant I normally use. However, I’m confident – hell, more than confident! – in my Grown-up Professional Nails.

As soon as I heard that I had gotten this job and that my dress code had changed from “Just…just don’t wear jeans, please” to “Business Casual, but seriously, Business Formal would be nice too,” I realized that I had to take stock of my life and my choices and especially my nail polish collection. Gone are the days when I can wear mismatched Joker glitter hands to the office. Gone are the days when writing the word “Marvel” on my hands is a good way to start a conversation with a client. And gone are the days when I can wear a dress that’s just a tad too short and kind of hope that cute guy in Contracts notices…wait, different story (and for the record, I usually refer to that guy as The Boyfriend, and yes, that’s actually how we met).

I decided, then, that I needed to do a serious organization of my entire polish collection. Up until now, I had been keeping them in an old ModCloth box, all scattered about so that I had to seriously hunt for whatever shade I was looking for. This had to change so that I could work with my new office’s more buttoned-up dress code, in addition to my current goal of “Mary, please get your freaking life together.”

Step One: The Sorting

Dear GOD I have a lot of nail polish. This isn’t going to change at all – I’m still a Julep Maven, of course. However (and readers, help me out on this in the comments!), I’m considering switching my Maven profile from “It Girl” to “Classic with a Twist” so that I can get some more work-appropriate polishes in the mail each month. Might be worth my time.

I began by buying a box from Target. It had a lot of compartments, and wasn’t particularly expensive, so I thought it might be an upgrade from the previously mentioned cardboard box.

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From there, I began the tiring process of sorting my polishes by color. I realize now that I tend toward the cooler colors; I’ll wear just about any shade of blue or green or purple on my nails and feel pretty happy about it. Here’s what it all looked like when I had it separated out by color:

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Step Two: The Realization:

I kept the largest compartment separate from the others. If a color was kind of a reddish, or kind of a pinkish, or kind of a pastel, or just a nude of any sort, I placed it in what I’ll now refer to as the WORK COLLECTION. I’ve written that in all capital letters because that’s the way I’ll be referring to it from now on. However, I ran into a bit of a problem…

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I honestly have way too much nail polish to be able to fit in this box. When I tried to fit all of my blues into a little side compartment, for instance, the box almost broke under the weight, were forced into the WORK COLLECTION box out of necessity. Some of the bottles from various brands were just too big for the box to be able to close when they were inside. I also had neglected to take my tools into account: I have toe separators and striping tape, seen in the picture above, in addition to my tiny brushes, stamping plates, and dotting tools.

I think everything’s going to end up back in the cardboard box, honestly. But if having too much nail polish is a problem…it’s a problem I’m willing to accept.

Step Three: The Painting

For the pièce de résistance, I present the nails that I’ll be wearing on my very first day:

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Presented with my coffee table as a background. And with horrible cuticle stains.

Yeah, compared to what I normally post, they’re pretty boring. I think so too. But I’m moving from a young office full of newly-minted college graduates to one of the largest companies in the world, so conservative is the name of the game when it comes to my fashion from now on. The color is a fun nude with peachy undertones, Essie’s Perennial Chic. I had to go with this one because of the name – I grew up on Perennial Street, and I appreciate the symbolism of continuously-blooming flowers that literally and figuratively remind me of my roots (I was an English Major; I look for symbolism in everything).

I don’t think I’ll be using this color again, though – even though it’s a great nude for the office, it smudged like crazy even after an hour and an application of Seche Vite. You can even see the smudges in the pictures.

Smudges aside, I did manage to sneak in a little bit of fun! I decided to sprinkle a little China Glaze Fairy Dust on top of the nude, and in most lighting you can barely see it. It’s there for no other purpose than to make me happy, which I think is a necessity for what will surely be a stressful week, but it’s not so bold or noticeable as to make a statement to my new employers.

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Well, as I guess you can tell, I’m officially off to work!

Wish me luck,

Mary

Summer 2015 Challenge

beach panorama

Hey guys,! It’s Sunday now, but as of Monday, it’ll be June 1! It’s Sum-mer-time, and the living is eeeeeeeeeaaaaassssyyyyyyy…

(We sang that song in choir last year. I haven’t been able to get it out of my head since.)

In case you hadn’t known, I love attempting challenges. I’ve tried the Whole30, various distances of running, book lovers’ challenges, 30-day post challenges back when my preferred platform was Tumblr, and about a million other things for no reason other than to see whether or not I could do them. Sometimes I finish them; sometimes I don’t, but I always like having a project.

Because of this, I’m going to try and complete 30 entries I’ve chosen from The Odyssey Online’s 2015 Summer Bucket List. I picked 30 that seem realistic yet fun (and often a little crazy), but I nixed four that The Odyssey recommends because they would make me miserable – for instance, I hate camping with a fiery passion (camp, fire, see what I did there?), and I haven’t been able to carve my name on a tree since I watched Fern Gully in the first grade.

I’ve made a checklist page on this blog so that you can follow my progress – click here for the link!

Rules are as follows:

  1. All entries must be completed between June 1, 2015, and August 31, 2015.
  2. All entries must be accompanied by a blog post about how the particular activity went. Pictures not mandatory; some of them (skinny dipping?!?!!?!) are not things that should be posted on the Internet.
  3. Themed manicures should be attempted for at least 20 of these challenges.
  4. The challenge is completed when all 30 items link back to a post about that particular activity.

I’m looking forward to trying so many new things with the people I love this summer, and I’m happy that I’ll be able to keep everyone in the loop!

Are you doing anything cool this summer? Leave your summer plans in the comments – hell, I’d love to feature you in a My Friends Do Cool Stuff post sometime soon!

And please, just to be on the safe side, wear your SPF!

Love,

Mary

 

I swear I’ll figure out this blogging thing…

But Bloglovin’ said to put this code in a new blog post. Let’s see if this works.

<a href=”http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/14091385/?claim=gfkbups5jw9″>Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

If this is the case, follow me on Bloglovin’! I’ve been having so much fun with their app – it lets me read all of my favorite blogs, on all sorts of different platforms, all in the same place. I swear, I check it out more than I do Facebook or Instagram nowadays, and that’s certainly saying something.

Sorry for the shameless plug, and I’m sorry I’ve been MIA this week – I’ve been on vacation and getting a lot of stuff ready for my transition to my new job! I should be back on track by Monday.

In the meantime, I hope you’ve all been well, and I’ll talk to you soon!

Mary

An Ode to New Beginnings (and Confetti)

Sometimes, when I find a particularly cool nail polish look, I’m not afraid to repeat it. That’s the case with today’s nails.

The background is actually my old desk.
The background is actually my old desk.
Artfully posed on my work laptop.
And then I artfully posed them on my work laptop.

The black is Sinful Colors’ Black on Black and the confetti dots are Ciate’s Comic Strip (matte glitter and an AMAZING name? Be still my heart).

Usually, I tell you about what’s going on in my life before I show you the pictures of whatever manicure I’ve deemed appropriate for the situation, but this time I think it needs to be the other way around. You see, this style is what I did for New Year’s Eve 2014 a few months ago. At the time, I just thought they were a festive and colorful way to ring in a new year, and the perfect nail look to wear while sipping champagne with my friends. The Roommate even saw them and copied the look for her own New Year’s Eve plans, so I was pretty proud of the concept at the time.

confetti 3

I’ve decided to wear black confetti nails again today because it’s my last day at my current job. It’s been a hell of a journey here, and in the two years I’ve been employed I’ve celebrated victories, been crushed by failures, met great people, switched departments, and gained so much more respect for myself and what I’m capable of doing in a workplace. It’s thanks to this job that I feel qualified to take the next step.

Like a New Year, this is the end of one chapter of my life and the beginning of the next. This manicure reflects exactly what I’m feeling about that: the black is a reflection of my fears and concerns as I jump into something new; the confetti represents my joy at being able to grow and move onward and upward in my career.

It’s a bittersweet ending, but new beginnings are right around the corner.

Have a wonderful weekend,

Mary

My Friends Do Cool Stuff: Volume III

Before we begin, a Public Service Announcement: today at Starbucks, a barista was wearing a Captain America Tiara. I am happier than I’ve got any right to be about the fact that these things exist.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

On today’s episode of “Oh my god, these people are so talented, why the hell do they hang out with me??” I present my friend Melissa, who is the most talented artist I’ve ever met in real life.

She’s posing with a llama, because I saw no reason not to include a picture of her posing with a llama.

Online, you may have heard of her, especially if you’re involved in some video game fandoms. Her handle is LuckyBlackCatXIII, or Lucky for short. She’s actually done Let’s Plays on YouTube and has quite the following on various art sites. Within the next couple of weeks, she’ll be displaying her art at a few Conventions (as we speak, she’s flying on a plane somewhere over the Midwest on her way to a few weeks/Cons in California), and I’d freaking love it if you’d support her.

Want some examples of her art?

I’d really love to see more of the home world trio later on, too bad Lapis is fused with the cheese puff though. Damn it. 

Marisa Kirisame mini print! Out of the two main playable characters she&rsquo;s always been my favorite. I really loved her theme and outfit in Fairy Wars but I think short sleeves fit her personality more than long sleeves.

And that’s the tip of the iceberg. I’ve picked three of her most recent pieces from her website, but she does things in about a million styles and in every type of media, so there are sure to be cool things at her booth in Artists’ Alley at Fanime.

You can check out her art, her wit, and her very liberal use of emoticons at her Tumblr, which can be found at this link. I think this is also the best way to contact her if you’d like to commission something – she’ll definitely talk to you about doing a piece for your very own!

And just to reinforce how awesome she is, here’s a picture of Melissa and her girlfriend Chelsea as Grunts from one of their favorite games, Amnesia: The Dark Descent. These costumes and the characters both terrify me, but that’s kind of the coolest thing ever.

I promise, more mani pictures will appear within the next few days – my new stamping plates finally came in, so I can’t wait to show off the cool stuff I’ve been doing with them!

All the best,

Mary

“Beyond the Tartan” – An Exploration in Priorities

I got that first bit off the Carnegie Mellon website.

I was in Pittsburgh this weekend because The Sister, who is seven years old and who will forever remain that age no matter how many times she makes me do the math to prove she’s 21, graduated from college. She officially has a degree in Mechanical Engineering. I’m sitting here writing a blog about movies and my fingernails. You can tell who the smart one is.

Anyway, if there’s one thing that Carnegie Mellon kids are proud of (I mean, besides their ridiculously talented alumni and the crazy stuff they’re doing in the sciences), it’s their Scottish heritage. The actual school mascot is the Tartan. That’s a form of plaid. Compared to my UVA Cavaliers, I can’t seem to take it too seriously, but I digress. Tartan Plaid has a long and storied history, which I know nothing about.

It makes a pretty cool nail design though!

INSERT PICTURE HERE

No, that’s not a typo.

When I drafted this post, I had every intention of doing my nails in Carnegie Mellon Plaid in honor of my sister’s graduation. Then, I went to my friend’s house to celebrate her birthday. I got up far before my preferred time on a Saturday in order to make it to Pittsburgh. I attended my sister’s diploma ceremony, and went out with my family to a fabulous French restaurant (shoutout to Paris 66 in Pittsburgh for a steak that made me want to congratulate the cow it came from), and generally spent time with the people I love at the expense of painting my nails for the fourth time in a week.

I panicked at first, when I realized I simply didn’t have enough time to do a creative nail design. I’m trying to build up a blog readership here, so how could I possibly slack on my nail art? Would anyone read a post that didn’t have a ton of nail pictures or a fun review of a new summer color? Would I have to wait days to build back the momentum I’d lost?

Then I realized something: I was in Pittsburgh, a fun city that I don’t often get to explore. I was with my family, who I love and don’t see much since I moved out. I was celebrating The Sister, who has worked so hard to earn her degree. I had a chance to have fun with the people I love. My nails weren’t the priority. My blog wasn’t the priority. I had to focus on my sister this weekend, and as I type this on Monday morning, my nails remain bare. And I’m perfectly okay with that. Sometimes, you have to realize that family comes first.

So, I’m sorry(ish) for a post without some fun manicure pictures. To make up for it, here’s a picture of the graduate herself posing with some insane person. I’m ridiculously proud of The Sister and love her to bits and pieces.

Here’s hoping your weekends were as great as mine!

Mary

Rocking Reds, Pretty Pinks, Electric Nights

Happy Friday, everyone!

I have a confession to make: I almost never wear red nail polish.

I know, right? It’s THE classic nail polish color. Someone who can rock bright red nails is someone who can rule a boardroom by day and be the belle of the ball by night. It’s a power color that matches the vibe of the powerful woman I’m trying (with mixed results) to be.

So why don’t I wear it? Because it’s such a pain to take off! I guess there’s something weird about my nails, because I can scrub and scrub them with acetone, but it takes up to a week before the red stain on my fingers is totally gone.

That’s why, when I decided I was going to do my next manicure with more colors from my new Electric Nights Baby Beats collection (what can I say? I’m obsessed!), I was a little hesitant to use Red-Y to Rave. I know it’s not quite the type of bright red that would stain my nails (it’s more of a neon orange), but even having the word “Red” in the title is off-putting.

I settled for a compromise based on a classy French-inspired manicure my coworker was rocking today, and decided to incorporate Red-Y to Rave into a French with a safer – but still electric! – base color: Glow with the Flow, a bright pink that’s so vibrant it practically screams. I’m not a girly girl by many standards, and I have a rule against wearing pink clothing because I’m a blonde who has suffered too many Barbie comparisons over the course of my life, but sometimes pink nails are a great, breezy way to let a little more brightness into my life.

AND BOY ARE THESE NAILS BRIGHT!

pink and orange overview

pink and orange closeup

I’m loving the edgier look that the reddish-orange tips give the pink base – the almost-blinding neon appeal of Electric Nights is all still there, but it’s more my style, and not quite as reminiscent of a certain fashion doll. And the colors definitely matche the temperatures we’ve been getting here in the DC area – earlier this week, my car thermometer was reading 93! It’s the perfect occasion for red hot party nails…or at least as close as I’m willing to get.

Stay cool,

Mary

My Friends Do Cool Stuff: Volume II

One time, I tried cross stitching. It didn’t work.

Thankfully, the idea worked out for my friend Lauren, who I met when I was a second year in college (I went to a college that uses the term “second year” instead of sophomore…yes, we were pretentious). She seems to have figured out how to take all of the horrible thoughts that float through our heads and turn them into the most hilarious embroidered home decorations I’ve ever seen.

I personally have bought this adorable little snail from her. I think his sentiment sums up my life quite perfectly:

I can't even

My friend Katherine, who I’m sure will be featured in another MFDCS post because she’s a freaking entomologist (yes, you read that right. She’s a bug scientist), found the perfect workstation decoration:

Presented to you in SnapChat form.
Presented to you in SnapChat form.

If you’d like to get a slightly (or possibly more than slightly) inappropriate framed cross stitch for your very own home, check out LAUREN’S ETSY SHOP. Please be warned: there’s more than a little foul language. Unsuitable for kids under 13…maybe 15. I’m not so good at judging what’s appropriate.

Have fun,

Mary

Lady Thor’s Identity Revealed!

Sorry guys, I couldn’t pass this one up. Lady Thor has been one of the coolest developments in comics as of late, and today her identity was finally revealed! Click here if you’re not afraid of Thor spoilers.

I wanted to talk about this because…well, because I wanted to show off. My friends and I went as the Lady Avengers for Halloween this past year, and, what with being a blonde and all, I was selected to be our Lady Thor. Here is photographic evidence of me bringing the justice of Mjolnir down on our entryway table.

It was a ridiculously fun costume to wear, and I had such a great time that night! A random passerby even had our group join him in a group chant of “Avengers Assemble!”

Look out for some fun nail posts in the next couple of days, folks! In the meantime, here are a few more pictures of my amazing friends as the Lady Avengers:

 

 

 

 

 

P.S. We didn’t even know Lady Iron Man! We happened to run into her during the evening and got her to pose for this awesome photo for us.