The Big Two-Five

It’s weird to me how I can feel so old and so young simultaneously – I mean, I’m one of those entitled millennials that everyone hears about who enjoys double-brunch weekends and competes in a karaoke league. But I’m also a high-powered businesswoman type who works for a multinational corporation and could quite possibly climb the ladder and make something spectacular out of myself here one day. It’s all a contradiction.

A contradiction with PIRATES.
A contradiction with PIRATES.

Either way, I’m about to turn 25 and realized that…whoa, I’m certainly a grownup now. I’m in my mid-twenties. I can see 30 peeking over the horizon, and damn, I really should work on getting my life together in the meantime.

But that’s not the point. Right now, the point is to enjoy the fact that I’ve made it this far and that I’ve still got a hell of a road ahead of me, and it’ll be worth every step (I should have warned you that this would be one of those gushy introspective posts, huh).

So, sappiness aside, let’s talk about birthday nails! The traditional, I’ve heard, is the cupcake.

But there are so many other possibilities out there, my love of cupcakes notwithstanding. I mean, didn’t I just say I was going to try and be a little bit more of a grownup? I scoured the Internet for some more birthday nail tutorials.

My second google search led me to this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYjTlZCI9Hw

Which provided some more pretty cool options, described here:

  1. I might try an ombre again, although that’s never worked for me before, for the sold purpose of gathering some Birthday magic and hoping for the best. And of course, I’ll never say no to glitter. I’d probably use blue instead of pink though, because, come on, have you met me?
  2. BALLOONS! Oh HELL yes. These could be fun. Again, I wouldn’t go for the pink, but the idea seems easy and effective!
  3. Cupcakes again, but this one is a cupcake accent nail. The possibilities are endless.

So, ladies and gents, please watch the videos above and vote for whatever you’d like me to do to my birthday nails! I’ll go with whichever one you choose, although I’m probably going to put some blue in there whether you like it or not.

So let me know in the vote below:

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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…

star wars episode 1 crawl

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.

IMG_0327
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

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

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

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.

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

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