How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

How much are you freaking out over Florence + The Machine’s new album? I pre-ordered my copy months ago, and I am now the proud owner of a hard copy CD and a printed booklet of beautiful and ethereal shots of the woman herself, Florence Welch.

Her latest album, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, is named after the third track, which she wrote for “someone [she cares] about.” She encourages all of us to share it with the people we care about, and I’m not one to disappoint a musical goddess, so of course I had to provide the link:

Honestly, I think it’s a masterpiece. In honor of this album, I of course had to do an appropriate manicure. My nails have been taking on either a very bright or a very dark tone as of late, so it was fun to use the white to lighten them up a bit. And, as always, making them blue makes me happy and fits in perfectly with the theme of the album.

I promise, I’ll take a blue hiatus for a couple of weeks, seeing as I’ve posted so many blue manicures lately (it’s my favorite color!). At least comfort yourselves with the thought that I used a white this time. And it was blacklight reactive, for reasons I’ll go into later.

The hangnail was unfortitunate…and painful.IMG_1850
The blue background makes it more fun.

The colors are mostly repeats that I’ve used in other manicures: Essie’s Bikini So Teeny and China Glaze’s DJ Blue My Mind. The new blacklight-reactive twist is Julep Dana, which has blue shimmery undertones if you hold it in just the right light. How blue, how beautiful indeed!

But…why the album nails? Well, one of the things that kept me very busy this week was my trip to…SEE FLORENCE IN CONCERT!

My friend Helena and I were able to get pre-sale tickets (which were my main reasons for buying the actual CD instead of downloading HBHBHB) and wound up sitting five rows away from the stage. I swear, Florence and I made eye contact at one point. It was amazing.

I’ll be out of town this weekend, but many new movies and manicures will be headed your way. While I’m gone, I’ll leave you with some cool concert shots I got when I wasn’t too busy rocking out and singing along.

Stay beautiful,

Mary

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Shimmery Pool Blues

Happy Friday, everybody!

My apartment complex recently celebrated one of my favorite days of the year: the day the complex’s pool opens! I personally am going to spend plenty of time lounging in a deck chair in my swimsuit, covered in SPF 70 and reading my book of the week. Whenever I get too hot, I’ll do a couple of laps and call it a workout.

Pool-blue nails are always something I’ve wanted to try, and the premise seemed simple enough. I saw them on another nail art blog a few months ago, before I bought my tiny brushes and dotting tools, and figured that if saran wrap and a steady hand were all that was required, I was good to go.

First, I painted my base coat of Julep Moni, which unfortunately isn’t visible on the Julep site. You can find a similar color here. Honestly, I was tempted to keep these the way they are, maybe with a matte top coat, because light blue nails are one of my favorite things – they feel so breezy and sophisticated for someone like me whose personality can’t really pull off the pinks or the reds.

But then…the electric blue! I used Julep Annie for the top layer. It was at this point that I realized that I have waaaaaay too many Julep polishes, and/or I’ve been a Maven for too long, because it was sold out too (I don’t even have a single regret about this). Here’s another similar color. Or, if you want something that’s still on the shelves, you can once again use my beloved China Glaze DJ Blue My Mind.

You have to work fast, and you’ve got to have your acetone and Q-tips ready, because I got pretty messy while I was doing these. After the lighter blue dries, you paint a thick layer of the bright blue on top and dab it with the saran wrap enough to let the lower layer show through. The end result looks like this:

pool nails 2

pool nails 1

And boom. Pool nails for a quick dip on your relaxing weekend.

I’m going to get back to my book now.

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

“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

Am I blue? Am I blue?

Ain’t these tears in my eyes telling you?

All right, I got that from an episode of Justice League – that’s right, my superhero obsession goes far beyond The Avengers, and truthfully far beyond Marvel. Here’s the YouTube of Batman singing. I still laugh every time, proving that I am not the most mature of the 24-year-olds.

Anyway, yesterday my mom and I went out for an absolutely lovely Mother’s Day brunch, and we followed the day up with shopping for…new corporate clothes! That’s right, I’m moving a step up from business casual and starting a new job at a very large company in my area. I put in my two weeks’ notice today, which has fueled my anxiety to no end. I’m leaving my first “big girl” job out of college, and while going to a new company is a great step in my career, it’s also an end of a saga in my life that I enjoyed to no end – I met The Boyfriend at this company, I networked and learned from amazing people, and I met great friends who I hope to keep in my life even if I can’t see them every day anymore.

The blue, then, is twofold. I’m a little bummed to be leaving my job, so I could say I’ve got the blues. However, more importantly, on my shopping trip I acquired the Baby Beats set of mini bottles from China Glaze’s Electric Nights collection, which are some of the most gorgeous summer neons I’ve had the privilege of owning. Seriously, every single one of them makes me think of dancing the night away to some techno music under blacklights, or eating a snow cone on a boardwalk just as the sun begins to set. Basically, picture a hot summer evening full of color and energy, and you’ve got this collection.

Electric Nights
And then I ruin it with the horrible photo.

At the register at Charming Charlie’s (not where I got the collection – that was at Ulta – but I knew at the time I would be painting my nails that night), I asked an employee to pick a color, any color. Between all the craziness in my nail polish collection, I could have worked with anything. But she said blue! I think it was a sign – blue was exactly the color I was feeling.

I started with DJ Blue My Mind, one of the Electric Nights polishes in my new mini collection. It’s GORGEOUS, and I’ll definitely be featuring it in some upcoming summer nail art – it’s just such a cool, pure blue that makes me think of skies and seas.

But then…I was struck by some inspiration. Why paint one blue when you can paint two blues (and sound like Dr. Seuss!)? I scoured my collection for one of my favorite Essies, Aruba Blue. While DJ Blue My Mind reminds me of skies and seas in the daytime, Aruba Blue reminds me of the two at night – the vibe together is fun, funky, and perfect for a party feeling to take away some of the stress I’m under with the job switch. I used a technique I saw in a magazine sometime in high school, before my nail obsession began, and painted a dark blue stripe down the middle of each nail.

The final result:

 Funky blues

Since I probably won’t be allowed to have such crazy colors on my nails at my new job (don’t worry; posts about spicing up neutral nails are already being drafted!), I’m taking advantage of being fun and funky while I still can. I’ll worry about maturity in a couple of weeks; for now, I’ve got the blues and I couldn’t be more proud of them.

Have fun, guys,

Mary

“I’m Not Really a Waitress” this Mother’s Day

Hi all!

It’s a bit of a somber Mother’s Day for my family – in the year 2014, I lost both of my grandmothers. Don’t worry; they both had great lives and were well into their 80s and 90s, respectively. They had families that loved them, lots of grandchildren (don’t get me started on my cousins), and overall full and happy lives. Losing them both in the span of a few months was rough, what with the family drama that always comes with a death, but I’d say my family and I made it through, and we’re stronger for it.

The purpose of bringing this up on Mother’s Day is this: my grandmother on my mom’s side, my Nonna, Marcella Sciamanna Brehm (and for all you non-Italian speakers out there, that’s mar-CHELL-ah she-MAHN-ah), loved nail polish almost as much as I do. I remember her taking me to the nail salon right before Christmas or other family events so that my nails could look half as good as hers.

I change my polish a LOT – you’ve figured that out by now – but Marcy (I couldn’t say “Grandma” as a kid, so we decided that we were on a first-name basis from the time I was a year old) had one singular color that she chose week after week. It was a deep, vampy, sophisticated red: OPI’s I’m Not Really a Waitress. We used to play a game based on this funny polish name:

Marcy: The color is “I’m Not Really a Waitress.”

Me: Yeah, Marcy, I know you’re not a waitress. But what’s the polish color?

Marcy: “I’m Not Really a Waitress.”

Me: I never said you were a waitress! Could you just tell me the polish name?

…and so on. We found it far more amusing than we should have.

Her funeral and burial were held in Florida, her home state of over 20 years, in August, 2014. My sister and mother and I all decided that, between the tears and many glasses of wine, there was one thing we had to do to pay our last tribute to the force of nature that was Marcy. For the funeral, all three of us painted our nails in I’m Not Really a Waitress.

Marcy Nails

If you can, give your mom the biggest hug in the world, and give anyone else – grandmothers, great-grandmothers, aunts, other maternal figures of any type – a call, an email, a card, a gift, or anything to say you care. Let’s celebrate the wonderful women in our lives today and be eternally grateful for everything they’ve done for us. I know I am.

Lots of love,

Mary

I believe whatever doesn’t kill you simply makes your nails…stranger.

It’s been a rough week.

I’m sure I’ll talk about why it’s been a rough week later (Eek, major changes in the life of a twentysomething? Call the authorities!), but if there’s anything I like to do when life’s been a little crazy, it’s slow down, take a few deep breaths, maybe do a little meditation or go for a nice long run, AND THEN PAINT MY NAILS THE CRAZIEST COLORS I CAN POSSIBLY FIND.

I feel a little bit like screaming right now, but since my apartment has very thin walls and the neighbors probably wouldn’t appreciate the high-pitched shriek of a Soprano I (who totally nailed the high B at her last Christmas concert, but I digress), I’m going to let my nails do the screaming for me. Usually, to me, this means neon, but I’m feeling contradictory. There’s only one possible solution: GLITTER.

I couldn’t choose between my two favorite solid glitter polishes for this week, and because I get reckless when I’m upset, I decided that I didn’t have to pick one or the other. That means that I’ve done one hand in glitter teal and the other hand in glitter purple. Any resemblance to the Joker is intentional (and if you’re as into comics as I am, let’s talk about the Joker in comments! What do you think of Jared Leto??).

green hand

Please ignore my middle nail - I broke it in a desk drawer and it hasn't forgiven me.
Please ignore my middle nail – I broke it in a desk drawer and it hasn’t forgiven me.

I didn’t intend to use yet another Julep for the blue-green hand. The blue-green I wanted is a Butter London in Henly Regatta that I picked up for $7 at a South Moon Under last summer when I was a little tipsy after a dinner with my friend. Thankfully, the nail polish was the only impulse buy she let me get while we were there – SMU is expensive! Unfortunately, it didn’t last long. I remember the first couple of coats going on so perfectly last summer, although it took three or four to get the full opaque effect, but this application was just awful. The polish was barely a liquid and wouldn’t go on smoothly no matter what I did. I had to switch to a similar Julep I had, Julep Jennine, which did the job nicely in only two coats.

The purple, China Glaze’s Tail Me Something is, strangely enough, a gift from Rachel in Minneapolis. I have never met Rachel, but she was my Santa in the Redditgifts Makeup and Nail Polish Exchange last year (which was a blast, and which I highly recommend if you’re a Redditor), and sent me so many cool polishes and tools that I’m still thanking her about a year later despite not knowing her last name.

The Roommate and I also had a blast shooting these photos of my nails – I usually take the pictures myself, but in this case I wanted to show off the crazy, glittery mess of a contrast. At one point, she was holding a standing lamp in one hand and the camera in the other. I finally laughed a little after my rough week (this time the Joker reference wasn’t intentional at all) and we were able to get some cool shots:

joker hands

 

linked joker hands

Well, anyway, I’m off to a crazy weekend – it’s Mother’s Day Weekend, so I’m taking my mom out for some nice things and hoping she doesn’t comment on my mismatched hands. In my opinion, it’s the best form of therapy.

Wishing you a great weekend,

Mary

AVENGERS (AND NAIL FANATICS) ASSEMBLE!

Hi guys!

Welcome to Movies and Manicures, which is a blog that may or may not focus on those things in the title. Unless you live under a rock or are nowhere near as nerdy as me (both likely options; I won’t hold either against you) you know that the movie Avengers: Age of Ultron is coming out in the US TODAY, Friday, May 1.

OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD

I’ve been waiting for this movie since…well, I suppose I’ve been waiting for it since Captain America: The Winter Soldier came out last May. No, wait, maybe since Guardians of the Galaxy last August? Either way, I’m a Marvel movie fanatic. When I was seventeen and only had a crappy Internet connection on a computer that was older than I was (and which I pretty much used only to read/write horrible fanfiction…ah, the teenage years), I waited up to 15 minutes (a LIFETIME, I tell you!) for the Iron Man trailer to buffer so that I could watch it again and again and again.

Well, now we’ve come to the end of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase 2. I think we’ve all done some growing up in the meantime. I sure have – I’m a college graduate now, and I bite my nails way less than I did back then. However, that doesn’t stop me from doing some crazy things to them, and this weekend was the perfect opportunity.

Please ignore the terrible claw position I had to use.
Please ignore the terrible claw position I had to use.

Okay, okay, I’m new at this nail art stuff. While I got into painting my nails pretty consistently a few years ago, I stuck to solid colors with the occasional glitter or accent nail. I’m just happy you can read the letters, to be honest!

Anyway, AVENGERS. The Boyfriend and I are going to see the movie tonight (Friday) because a) we’re old fogies now and can’t handle midnight premiers when we both have work at 8:00 the next morning and b) I absolutely have to see important movies on their opening weekends so that I can guarantee a seat in a packed theater. Empty movie theaters make me sad – the collective laughs and gasps and overall energy of a crowded theater make the movie-going experience infinitely more fun. In fact, my very favorite movie theater moment was when I saw Inception on opening night and the entire theater gasped in unison at the ending.

The picture above is of my right hand, which I based off of the Marvel Studios logo. I’m right-handed, so I’m not even going to attempt complex designs if I have to paint with my left. Letters, luckily, are easy enough. I started with one of my tiny brushes, but I found that it made too thick of a line to accurately get a letter on my nail (see my wonky M for an example). I switched to my smallest dotting tool, which did the trick…passably. One of my goals from now on is definitely to work on my left-handed stability.

I wish I could tell you the name of the red polish I used, but it is a few years old and in a mini-bottle I got in a kit from Sephora. It’s OPI by Sephora, so I’m going to guess it has some relationship to OPI’s Big Apple Red, but I may be mistaken. The white lettering was done in Julep Brigitte (link below).

Want to see what I did on my left hand?

Check it out!

Tiny Iron Man wanted to hang out too.
Tiny Iron Man wanted to hang out too.

In order, we have the Avengers logo on my thumb, Captain America’s shield on my index finger, Iron Man’s arc reactor on my middle finger, Thor’s hammer on my ring finger, and Black Widow’s hourglass on my little finger. They’re a little iffy – Cap’s shield in particular – but for a beginner, I think the idea comes through.

This took forever, just so you know. I knew it would be complex, so I broke it up over the course of a few days – I did all of the base coats on Wednesday night so that they could completely dry, and I did all of the designs on Thursday with my set of tiny nail brushes and dotting tools. The colors involved are as follows:

If you couldn’t tell, I’m a Julep Maven because they just send me nail polish. It comes in the mail. I don’t even have to pick it out or anything. I’m sure I’ll talk about my undying Julep love in future posts, so stay tuned.

I’ll be back this weekend with my thoughts on the movie. In the meantime, send me links to your own Avengers (or other superhero) nail art in the comments!

Talk to you soon,

Mary

P.S. I also wanted to show off my shirt. I got it at Target for way less than I usually pay for clothes, so I’m pretty proud of it.

photo