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.

Oops…

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…

Mary

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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….

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Fine dining…

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The most gorgeous room with a fireplace…

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And of course the best guy who ever lived.

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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.

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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,

Mary

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

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.

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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,

Mary

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,

Mary

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,

Mary

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,

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

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