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!!)

EPISODE I: SPEED OF LIGHT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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It even matched my bedspread.

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

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

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

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

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

Mary

Monday Macabre Masquerade

Wow, there is something about Mondays and M-named manicures that I just can’t resist. Maybe it’s that M is my favorite letter, for obvious reasons.

This post features something entirely new: The Roommate’s nails! This past Saturday, The Roommate came over to me while I was sitting on the couch and watching the recently-added-to-Netflix season of Doctor Who, placed her hand on the coffee table in front of me, and said “Hey, do my nails.”

(I think she was actually a little nicer about it, but the story’s funnier this way.)

I inquired as to the occasion for the nails, and she informed me that she had been invited to a friend’s going-away party, which was themed as, you guessed it, a Macabre Masquerade. I know, The Roommate has awesome friends.

First, she made sure to dress accordingly…

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My friends are gorgeous.

And then I asked her to pick out the colors of nail polish that she’d like me to use on her. She ransacked my collection and returned to me with Julep Lilian and Julep Ellen. When I asked what she wanted me to do with them, she looked me straight in the eyes and said one thing:

Blood.

Well.

I’m not one to back down from a challenge, so if it’s blood she wants, it’s blood she’ll get. I did the base coat of Lilian, and then got out my trusty dotting tools – seriously, is there anything they can’t do? Both The Roommate and I were over the moon (you can interpret that in a werewolf way, if you’d like) with the final results:

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Once Lilian had dried enough, I painted a VERY THICK french tip in Ellen on the ends of The Roommate’s nails. Using my dotting tools, I made two or three or four little red dots at various points further down the nail – the more uneven the better.

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Then, using a thinner dotting tool, I dragged some of the wet polish from the french tip down to meet the individual dots, creating this dripping blood effect. I had no idea how it would turn out, and I was kind of blown away when it was all said and done. Let’s hear it for experimental gory nails!

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I would definitely use this manicure again for a Halloween party, a season premiere of Game of Thrones (you know you can’t argue with me on this one), or any other somewhat-spooky event. However, I wouldn’t recommend doing what The Roommate did, which was forget to take her nail polish off before a fancy dinner with her boss. Oops.

Many Scares,

Mary

MERCURY BUBBLES BLAST!

Nail polish can mean so many things to me. It’s how I de-stress when I’ve had a long day, and I’ve even read about the meditative effects of stopping everything in your life and focusing on the one task of polishing your nails perfectly when you need an extra boost of relaxation or creativity. It’s how I get to show off my fun side when I have to dress in pencil skirts more often than I don’t have to dress in pencil skirts. And, lately, it’s how I’ve been connecting to friends and family old and new both through this blog and through my various other nail-polish related social media.

So anyway, about the Mercury Bubbles. Sailor Moon, and more importantly Sailor Mercury, and I have had a long and complicated relationship in the past, and by that I mean I adored the show in the fourth and fifth grades, promptly forgot about it until college, and then remembered its hilarious combination of awfulness and wonderfulness when I used it to bond with my hallmates in my dorm.

In preparation for an ocean-themed party, here is my best friend Bri in the middle as Sailor Moon. I was dressed as Ophelia, because of course the English major dressed as Ophelia.
In preparation for an ocean-themed party, here is my best friend Bri in the middle as Sailor Moon. I was dressed as Ophelia, because of course the English major dressed as Ophelia.

If you’ve read anything on this blog (and if you have, which means you’re one of my dozen or so readers, I can’t thank you enough!) you’ll know that my favorite color is blue. Additionally, I always found myself relating more to the brainy or nerdy characters in my favorite TV shows, mostly because growing up a geek sort of leads to that inevitable conclusion. So when the hallway-wide Pajamas-and-Sailor-Moon parties began, I immediately declared that my favorite character was Ami Mizuno, better known as Sailor Mercury.

In fact, it even got to the point where my one friend gave me a poorly (sorry, Lynda) photoshopped picture of some of us as the Sailor Scouts for my birthday that year.

Im on the left.
I’m on the left.

And even to this day, Sailor Moon is bringing old and new friends together. I’m still in touch with all the girls in the pictures above, and I’ll be a bridesmaid in Sailor Moon’s wedding this fall (sorry, it’s not Sailor Scout-themed). More importantly, I’ve connected more with my cousin over Facebook and through this blog, and she was kind enough to send me some pretty spectacular nail polish when she figured out my love of Sailor Mercury.

Icy Rhapsody - Sailor Mercury Inspired Indie Nail Polish - 15 ml
Pictured: Not my nails. This is the official image from the Etsy shop.

The color is a Mercury-inspired silvery-blue called “Icy Rhapsody,” probably because of Mercury’s Freeze attack (which I accomplished in elementary school games of dress-up by throwing blue beanbags at my opponents). You can find the color on Etsy at this link. The shop is called Yume Lacquer, and I’m so excited to mention them here as they’re my first official Indie polishes! Yep, I’m a full-blown lacquerista now. Or at least I’ll pretend I am.

Here’s how the color looks on me. I’m absolutely in love with it.


I think it’s a great color both for lying by the pool in August and for making my nails sparkle in January, and I can’t thank my cousin enough (she also got me a Final Fantasy color from Yume Lacquer and some Doctor Who-themed perfumes from Fresh&Geeky, which I’ve been wearing daily because, come on, one of them is called Petrichor). It’s a great way to show my Mercury love, and to represent how Sailor Moon has helped me bond with so many amazing people.

Mercury Power,

Mary

He’s a what? He’s a what?

And more importantly, she’s a where?

Yep, that’s right, somehow I’ve manged to go the entire month of July without updating this blog. I wish I could say that I had better excuses than work, but I haven’t. I could say I’ve been busy, but I just haven’t been able to manage my time as well as I’d hoped recently, and for that I apologize.

One of the things that’s kept me busy these past few weekends is attempting to see Sterling Playmakers’ production of The Music Man as many times as possible during its run. I was in a production of The Music Man myself a few years ago…

I'm the one on the left, and I'm not sure what the Mayor's Wife is going for with her hand there...
I’m the one on the left, and I’m not sure what the Mayor’s Wife is going for with her hand there…

…so obviously this show is very near and dear to my heart. More importantly, The Boyfriend has a pretty large role in the Sterling Playmakers’ version – he plays Marcellus, who sings the fabulous Shipoopi while wearing a plaid wool suit that I swear I’m going to acquire photographic evidence of before the show closes. For the record, I didn’t kiss him on the very first date, so I suppose I’m not usually a hussy.

He's pictured here with Sara, aka Ethel, with whom I had a stern talking-to about their onstage
He’s pictured here with Sara, aka Ethel, with whom I had a stern talking-to about their onstage “romance.”

And of course, I won’t leave you hanging about what I did with my nails for opening night. The band uniforms are always depicted as red and white in this show, so I thought it was appropriate to do some red and white stripes on the majority of my nails using Julep Ellen (which is far more of a red in real life than the “deep berry creme” described on its page) and the classic Julep Brigitte.

The black music note accents were done with Sinful Colors’ Black on Black and my trusty dotting tools – I used a larger dot for the two notes themselves, and then a very thin dotting tool to draw the staffs and the connecting bar. And I was SO MAD when the note smudged a little when I put on the Seche Vite top coat – seriously, isn’t that the exact opposite of what Seche Vite is going for?

Smudged and chipped, but the effort is there.
Smudged and chipped, but the effort is there.

Either way, if you’re in the Norther Virginia/DC area, I’d recommend stopping by Potomac Falls High School and seeing The Boyfriend in his ridiculous suit, as well as one of the happiest and most uplifting musicals of all time (and this is coming from someone who loves things like Les Mis and who can’t stop listening to Fun Home, so enjoying a happy musical is rare).

Goodnight, my someones,

Mary

Monday Mad Max and Mixed Metals

Wow, I’m so proud of myself for that alliterative title I can’t even tell you.

I’ll tell you this: starting a blog a few weeks before starting a new job is definitely not something I would recommend. I’ve been loving both of them, but it’s so hard to keep to a regular posting schedule when I could be called to the client site at any point and when I sometimes have to give presentations at top secret government facilities (and that last part is almost true!).

But anyway, you’re not here for apologies, and neither is Max Rockatansky. More importantly, neither is Imperator Furiosa, whose name I always picture as being said by Emma Watson (It’s Furi-oh-sa, not Furio-sah!).

Their movie, Mad Max: Fury Road, was the inspiration for today’s metallic manicure.

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I started with the silver chrome,  the pretty holographic Julep Angie, because what else does a War Boy do when he knows he’s about to enter Valhalla (hint: it involves silver spray paint)? These nails live, die, and live again indeed.

I followed it with a metallic gold, Julep Savoy, that I got this past winter in a Julep box. I want to say I’ve used it for a Christmas manicure before. Now, it reminds me of the metal on the cars, and in Furiosa’s prosthetic arm. I’m also loving the mixed-metal look, which I love to incorporate into my jewelry on an almost daily basis (more on that in a second).

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The finishing touch was something I didn’t know would work, but I’m in love with the results. I dotted on a thin line of black polish, Julep Ledi, and then drew my brush across the dots to connect them in an uneven way. If Furiosa could unevenly brush motor oil over her head in order to make herself look a little more fierce, the last thing I wanted for this was a well-defined line. I’m willing to say my hands look almost as badass as Furiosa herself.

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As for the movie? I loved it. It was basically one giant car chase, full of explosions and sandstorms and gender politics and emotions and pretty much everything else I adore in a movie. I’d love to go see it again, even though Jurassic World took priority this past weekend. I won’t go into much further detail, partly to avoid spoilers but mostly because everything that can be said about this movie has already been said by much better writers, and I encourage you to check out what they have to say.

I would also like to add one more piece of metal onto this post – I’ve started a subscription to Rocksbox, and it’s been a blast! My favorite new piece is this triangular gold necklace from my first box – I wore it when giving the aforementioned top secret presentation, and I definitely felt more put-together. And hey, let’s give it up for daily mixed metals: I wore it with a silver Tiffany’s bracelet that I wear daily and felt like I could conquer the world…or at least Immortan Joe’s citadel.

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Have a lovely day,

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.

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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

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:

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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

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

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.

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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