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

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Transformation Tuesday!

Oy. That’s a trend I’ve never gotten behind on Instagram. Nobody particularly wants to see pictures of me with my glasses and braces in the early days of high school, followed by a picture of how gorgeous I look now (that was sarcasm). I would like to reassert that I’m still a dork. Or a geek, if you prefer to call me that, and/or if you’d like to talk about Star Wars with me.

I do look cute in this picture though, so I’ll throw it in. If you’ve seen my face elsewhere on the blog, you can use it for comparison. But that’s not the point.

picture of me at age 2

The actual point is that, because I’m an addict who can’t help herself, I jumped on the Julep promotional train and ordered a few extra not-in-the-monthly-box colors just so that I could take advantage of the free Metamorphic Trio. There’s a pink (Tyra), a green (Tilda), and a blue (Bjork) transforming top coat, and I was determined to try all three of them.

These top coats could create about a billion looks, but I decided if I was going to do a true Transformation Tuesday, I’d have to really transform – I needed to start out with a color that I wear only rarely, a color that’s the opposite of my oh-so-beloved blue, a color that invites the fashion doll comparisons that I so desperately avoid…

Yeah, it’s pink. I decided to try out Tyra.

To start, I’m still not sure if these colors look better over similar shades (Bjork over blue, for example), or different shades (Tilda over blue or purple, for example). The promo email  suggested that the top coats should be used over bases that were at least in the same color family…

Photo belongs to Julep, not me. I took it from one of their promotional emails.
Photo belongs to Julep, not me. I took it from one of their promotional emails.

 …so, okay Julep, I defer to your expertise.

While I’ve still got some summer sun going outside, I decided to bring back an earlier favorite from my China Glaze Electric Nights collection: Glow with the Flow. It’s the brightest pink I own, and since I’ve recently gone through a total reorganization of my nail polish (more on that later) it was easy to pick out from the pastels.

Here’s what Glow with the Flow looks like on its own. I used three coats for maximum brightness.

glow 1

glow 2

And then…the pièce de résistance…the mighty morphing (coughPowerRangerscough) Tyra Top Coat!

tyra 1

tyra 2

I…I guess it made it shinier? And it added a vague light pink shimmer? Overall, I’m not impressed. Maybe I should have gone with a darker red or magenta instead of a bright pink in order to truly transform the color – I think my choices were a little too similar here. I’ll post some other transformations (should I put air quotes around that?) on some other days and let you know whether I think the Metamorphic Top Coat Trio is really worth it or if it’s something I’m glad I got as a free gift.

In the meantime, I guess I’m wearing fluorescent pink nails at work today, so that should be pretty funny if nothing else.

Take care,

Mary

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

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.

unnamed

 

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:

unnamed (1)unnamed (2)

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…

unnamed (3)

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:

unnamed (4)
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.

unnamed (5)

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

Wish me luck,

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 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