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…

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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.

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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.

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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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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

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

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