“Beyond the Tartan” – An Exploration in Priorities

I got that first bit off the Carnegie Mellon website.

I was in Pittsburgh this weekend because The Sister, who is seven years old and who will forever remain that age no matter how many times she makes me do the math to prove she’s 21, graduated from college. She officially has a degree in Mechanical Engineering. I’m sitting here writing a blog about movies and my fingernails. You can tell who the smart one is.

Anyway, if there’s one thing that Carnegie Mellon kids are proud of (I mean, besides their ridiculously talented alumni and the crazy stuff they’re doing in the sciences), it’s their Scottish heritage. The actual school mascot is the Tartan. That’s a form of plaid. Compared to my UVA Cavaliers, I can’t seem to take it too seriously, but I digress. Tartan Plaid has a long and storied history, which I know nothing about.

It makes a pretty cool nail design though!

INSERT PICTURE HERE

No, that’s not a typo.

When I drafted this post, I had every intention of doing my nails in Carnegie Mellon Plaid in honor of my sister’s graduation. Then, I went to my friend’s house to celebrate her birthday. I got up far before my preferred time on a Saturday in order to make it to Pittsburgh. I attended my sister’s diploma ceremony, and went out with my family to a fabulous French restaurant (shoutout to Paris 66 in Pittsburgh for a steak that made me want to congratulate the cow it came from), and generally spent time with the people I love at the expense of painting my nails for the fourth time in a week.

I panicked at first, when I realized I simply didn’t have enough time to do a creative nail design. I’m trying to build up a blog readership here, so how could I possibly slack on my nail art? Would anyone read a post that didn’t have a ton of nail pictures or a fun review of a new summer color? Would I have to wait days to build back the momentum I’d lost?

Then I realized something: I was in Pittsburgh, a fun city that I don’t often get to explore. I was with my family, who I love and don’t see much since I moved out. I was celebrating The Sister, who has worked so hard to earn her degree. I had a chance to have fun with the people I love. My nails weren’t the priority. My blog wasn’t the priority. I had to focus on my sister this weekend, and as I type this on Monday morning, my nails remain bare. And I’m perfectly okay with that. Sometimes, you have to realize that family comes first.

So, I’m sorry(ish) for a post without some fun manicure pictures. To make up for it, here’s a picture of the graduate herself posing with some insane person. I’m ridiculously proud of The Sister and love her to bits and pieces.

Here’s hoping your weekends were as great as mine!

Mary

Advertisements

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

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

Hi all!

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

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

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

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

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

Marcy: “I’m Not Really a Waitress.”

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

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

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

Marcy Nails

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

Lots of love,

Mary

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

It’s been a rough week.

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

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

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

green hand

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

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

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

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

joker hands

 

linked joker hands

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

Wishing you a great weekend,

Mary

We can’t always be as cool as the Avengers…

So today, my nails are bedecked in one of my favorite spring/summer polishes, Essie’s Bikini So Teeny. The way they describe it is “Cornflower Blue,” which always makes me think of a line from Fight Club:

It must’ve been Tuesday. He was wearing his cornflower-blue tie.

Bikini So Teeny
Let’s just ignore the fact that it’s a Monday.

BUT NOW LET’S TALK ABOUT THE AVENGERS!

Overall, I thought it was…pretty good! It wasn’t as good as the first one, but few sequels are (a notable exception is one of my Two Very Favorite Movies of All Time, which I’ll talk about later). I’d rank it about in the middle of the Marvel Cinematic Universe – better movies include the original Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Worse movies include The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, and Thor: The Dark World.

The action scenes though? If you’re in a movie theater to see something with explosions, robots, magic, and flying people (as I often am), you will not be disappointed. The fight choreography was just phenomenal, and the scenes that they teased with the Hulkbuster were pretty much everything I had hoped for in my wildest superhero dreams.

I won’t spoil too much more of what happened, but the new characters and the character development they brought in made me so happy too, despite the changes to the canon. The character that surprised me the most, though, was Hawkeye. I had read a study a few years back where they determined that Jeremy Renner’s character had only had 12 minutes of screen time in the first Avengers movie. Let me tell you, they more than made up for that one in Age of Ultron. He completely stole the show.

The only thing that kind of got me down? The villain, Ultron, started out warped from Day One. He just kind of…appeared. And BOOM, he was evil, despite having been created for “world peace” or something. I didn’t quite get the whole logic behind his destroy-the-world plan – usually you know something more of the villain’s motivation than “puppets.” I might have gotten caught up in the action of it all, and the character development, and the way that they tried to ramp everything up from movie one with mixed-to-positive results, and therefore I might have missed something important about his character or motivations…but still, Ultron rubbed me the wrong way.

Either way, though – Avengers: Age of Ultron is a part of the MCU, and it’s better than many of them. I’m probably going to see it again. And again. And again.

AVENGERS (AND NAIL FANATICS) ASSEMBLE!

Hi guys!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Want to see what I did on my left hand?

Check it out!

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

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

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

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

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

Talk to you soon,

Mary

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

photo