Sunday, October 5, 2014

Nail Art Challenge #19 Harvest

A skittle manicure in the colours of the North Eastern fall.

This manicure was inspired by crunchy leaves and festive knobbly decorative gourds. I wasn't 100% sure that the colours were going to work together (or look at all good on me) until I finished, but in the end I was extremely happy with the transition.

I'm generally way more into cool colours, but I have been playing with bronze tones as neutrals a lot lately as an introduction to warmer colours, and I feel like pulling this off gives me a lot more license to play with warm tones.

Random bonus shot:

Prior to the above mani my nails were possibly the longest they've ever been without the assistance of silk wraps. The polish colour here is two coats of Starlight Polish Phoenix which shows a flame orange sparkle in the bottle and in sunlight but mostly looks like an acid green sparkle in pictures.

I kept them this long through helping someone move, and then broke the last quarter inch off of the ring finger getting out of my car. :/

For the best really as using a smartphone with nails this long is intensely annoying.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Holy cow! Talk about fast service!

I put my order through at Fashion Project at 11:44 am yesterday morning and it was in my hands by 10:30am today.

Boston to southern NY in less than 24 hours with no rush or expedited shipping charge.


I haven't tried anything on yet but it all looks awesome. My only complaint is that it would have been nice if the 4" stilettos were wrapped separately from the light coloured dress, but in this case it did not seem to cause a problem.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A fantastic budget fashion find

I tripped over a REALLY PROMISING site today and it solved a small dilemma. I really needed to pick up a nice outfit for some pre-wedding functions but it's hard to feel good dropping any kind of real money on YET ANOTHER wedding related thing at this point. 

I noticed a pretty dress while poking around on my Pinterest and followed the link to the original posting page. What I found was Fashion Project.

click on the above image to reach the website via my Invite link

It initially reminded me of Tradesy in the layout and in that both have listings for pre-owned items, but I quickly realized that this site was both considerably better organized and charity oriented.

Fashionproject is basically a charity thrift shop website. They re-sell donated fashion items at fantastic prices and then donate 55% of the net of each sale to charity. The charity differs from item to item and is noted on the search page. The amount of the charity contribution is shown on the listing. There is free shipping on all donations and orders over $100 and there are even coupon codes available if you dig around online!

The pictures of the items are professional and well lit from multiple angles, and the sizes are searchable and listed in the title. There are listings for clothing, bags, shoes and accessories.

I picked up a couple of things I really needed anyway for way less than I expected to pay AND supported a couple of charities in the process. I paid in the early afternoon and had a tracking number by the end of business hours!

They have "Personal Invite Links" which give the original linker a $20 credit if a person ends up buying through that link. *

I'm not saying you should definitely use my link, but it would be pretty cool if you did!

The dress I got is by Pins and Needles for Urban Outfitters (without actually giving any money to Urban Outfitters, which I feel completely sweetens the deal) and the other item was a pair of satin and leather pumps by BCBGMaxazria for a total of $54 with shipping (after a 20% off code which I found via Retailmenot). I've since found an Ebay listing for the same dress new with tags going for as much as I spent for the entire purchase.

The donation from my shoes went to NEADS/Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans, and the one from the dress went to Suited for Change. Based on what they listed 33% of the gross went to the charities. The site is run out of Boston so many of the charities are Boston local charities.

After I posted the link in my personal Facebook one of my friends found a *gorgeous* Sue Wong dress for literally 1/5 of what that label tends to go for. I will definitely update with my impression once I receive the items and with pictures once I wear them.

The owner of this blog is not compensated to provide opinion on products, services, websites and various other topics. The "Personal Invite Links" for this particular page is standard to all users. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely that of the blog owner.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Nail Art Challenge #17 - Rock Some White While You Still Can!

A clean and simple manicure in piano-key white to ride out the last week before Labor Day.

I just took this mani off and re-polished my nails last night, so I figured it was high time to post the pic I took over a week ago!

The original plan was to do...something...? with this once the white dried, but it was so clean looking and I was so busy with wedding stuff I decided to leave it alone and let it speak for itself.

This is hands down the best white I've found so far and I achieved great opacity in two coats with a bit of additional touch-up in places though I'm still on the lookout for something that will be 100% opaque in two coats.

I don't know which product is responsible for the current state of my nails but I've been using the Orly Bonder Basecoat with the Gelous coat as a second layer for a while now and it's REALLY REALLY working.

I spent much of Monday moving a friend into a new apartment. At that point my nails were one week's growth longer than the pic above and I packed, lifted and carried all day with pretty much nothing but tip wear and a little bit of cracking/crumbling along the sides to show for it!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Nail Art Challenge #16 - Supermoon

A softly marbled, glow-in -the-dark(!), cling-wrap manicure inspired by the face of the full moon.

It took me a while to figure out what to do for this fortnight's challenge. My original plan had been to do a half-moon manicure but obviously I just did one. I didn't want to go too white because the next challenge is Labor Day/white themed.

I ended up Googling pics of the Moon and realized how beautifully marbled it looked, so I thought that may be something to work with. I'd never done a marbled manicure before so I wasn't sure how to approach it. I knew I'd seen what I was looking for, but all I could think of was sponging, which would be too even. 

img source
A bit of nail blog searching later and I stumbled over saran wrap or cling film manicures (link is to a Google image search) and I knew I had it!

I've linked to a tutorial here but basically you do a base layer of one colour which you let dry. In my case this was a dark taupe. I wish I had something a bit cooler grey but you got what you got. Once that layer is really dry you apply a coat of the second colour (white, here) and while it is still wet dab at it with a piece of crumpled plastic wrap until you achieve the desired effect. I ended up going back in a few times with the white as it is very sheer and I wanted a really diffuse uneven effect.

Some people just topcoat it there, but you can also put a coat of something sheer over the top for added depth. I used a yellowy glow-in-the-dark polish to smooth out and soften the design... and also because glow-in-the-dark makes everything better! I couldn't get a pic of the glowing that made any sense, but here is a brief video from my instagram.

I'm beyond psyched at how this came out. I think it is probably the closest I've gotten in any of these challenges to nailing PRECISELY what I had pictured at the outset. This technique was quite easy and also works spectacularly well to make lapis, turquoise, and tarnished copper effects so I will DEFINITELY be revisiting in the future.

I hope you all had a fantastic view of the Supermoon on Sunday, I ended up going out for a late run with my Fiancée and while we usually don't like getting caught out after dusk it was absolutely worth it to watch the moon rise. We even got to catch a small group of bats on the wing.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Review: L'Oréal Mousse Absolue permanent haircolor in 300 - Pure Darkest Brown

About a year ago I decided I wanted dark hair for my wedding and started growing my hair out a bit to open up my style options. I'm used to my hair being extremely dark espresso brown with almost purpley undertones. Not the sexiest colour, but it set of my skin tone fairly well.

I've noticed my hair colour getting lighter and more mousy over the last several years, but now that I'm not growing it long I rarely keep my natural hair colour for more than a few months so I was never terribly fussed. Now that I'm keeping it dark the amount of change in my hair colour has become REALLY OBVIOUS. Suddenly it's kind of... blah with blah undertones?

May 20 2014 - my hair completely virgin with fairly minimal product
This is the day that convinced me it was well past time to tweak the colour
I thought most people get darker hair as they get older (aside from the grey thing) but perhaps I'm just weird like that? Oddly my Fiancee's hair has also gotten lighter as he ages. Though I am sure part of it is due to the hair on the crown of my head being darker than the hair on the edges (the different cuts show off different hair), part of it is very likely due to heat damage, and I even wonder if a bit of it is due to using a tea tree shampoo (lately I go back and forth between Giovanni and a Trader Joe's clone of the same).

I had a really hard time finding a non-permanent hair dye in a colour I liked so I finally bit the bullet and picked up a permanent colour in early July... at which point I promptly banged my head on a shelf hard enough to split my scalp (no stitches or anything, but still no fun), delaying the hair dying for a good week and a half while that healed.

While I do look great in all shades of black hair - from cherry, to soft neutral, to blue black - these shades can look a bit stark on me. They really amp the olive in my skin tone and make me look extra exotic and I always feel sort of "Gypsy-ish" with black hair. I wanted to keep things a bit softer so I opted for a neutral-to-cool toned dark brown - L'Oréal Mousse Absolue permanent haircolor in 300 - Pure Darkest Brown.

Colour aside I chose this brand primarily because it is reusable! With the (notable lack of) length and thickness of my hair, mixing a huge bottle of dye at once is a massive waste. I was really excited to find something I could literally rinse off and put back on the shelf until I was ready to use it again. The reviews weren't particularly awesome, but I'm not worried about covering grey and a bit of damage actually makes my hair more manageable.

There are A LOT of detailed descriptions of the packaging out there so I'll leave that bit to everyone else, except to say that I think it worked out really well for me and look to see more products like this in the future. It comes out in a mousse texture which was very easy to work with and didn't drip in the slightest. It was also a comfortable size for my hands and the dispensing button was easy to use through gloves and with long nails. The packaging was easy both to setup and to breakdown for cleaning and storage.

I've used it twice now and probably have enough left in the bottle for a third application, so I definitely got my money's worth. The colour is EXACTLY the "just this side of burned" roasted coffee bean colour I had wanted and my hair feels noticeably thicker. It seemed to fade a bit fast but I wasn't doing anything in particular to preserve the colour and also spent a lot of time in the sun this last month. I'd rather have something that faded fast then something that left a fakey regrowth line.

Day after dying - blow dried with only a Carol's Daughter heat protecting leave-in applied

Caveat: this is the weirdest smelling hair dye I've ever used.

I always wonder why hair dyes are so perfumey and now I know. This literally smelled like something that liquified in the bottom of a vegetable crisper. While I personally can tolerate that better than the massive perfume aisle stink bomb I'm used to with hair dye your mileage may vary. No one else has mentioned this in reviews so maybe I got a weird bottle?

The provided conditioner did a good job of neutralizing this dye smell without (again) the usual massive perfume aisle stink bomb effect. I think I would call the scent fairly similar to lilac but not at all overpowering.

cheap - about $11.00 at Target
multiple applications in one bottle with shorter hair or root touch-ups
multiple sets of (nicer than usual black nitrile) gloves provided
no annoying mad science mixing and shaking with your finger over that hole in the end of the bottle
no wasted mixing bottle packaging
I liked the resultant colour
easy to use mousse texture
faded naturally (no fakey line of regrowth)
no horrible flower smell (however: see cons)
thickened my hair up a bit
nice shine
plenty of provided conditioner
did not piss off my sensitive scalp

Smells like hot garbage: literally
seemed to fade fast (with the caveat that I did NOTHING to prevent this)
slightly long developing time
I imagine the mousse texture would make it harder to pinpoint greys for root touch ups if you were doing it without assistance

Disclosure: I purchased this product and all other mentioned products with my own money and this review was not sought or compensated for by L'Oréal Paris or any other entity.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Nail Art Challenge #15 - Creature Feature

An ultra vampy and completely freehand retro half moon gel manicure in shades of glittering starlet gold and sugar-sweet fake blood.

I went to an outdoor festival from Thursday of last week to Tuesday, and I knew it was going to involve a lot of stress on my nails. I've done this trip every year for about fourteen years and I usually I chop my nails off beforehand for simplicity's sake, but they were sooooooo long this time I just couldn't bear to. I opted instead to do a home gel manicure and hope for the best.

I had not yet used the gold glitter so I knew I wanted to do something with that, and when I saw the cherry color next to it I thought immediately of those ultra vampy 60s & 70s Dracula's Bride types, walking the line between menacing and seducing the protagonist with their long almond shaped nails practically dripping with blood.

The Iconic Vampira
The length is somewhat annoying (especially with my touchscreen smartphone) but they held up like champs despite a lot of wet and mud and physical labor. In fact I'm STILL trying to decide whether to trim them down! I love having the Red Carpet Manicure home set for exactly this sort of situation, but be forewarned, doing home gels takes a LOT of time, patience, and fussy attention to detail.

It probably wouldn't have taken something like two hours if I hadn't opted to do it completely freehand, but I'm never happy with the moon shape I achieve using stickers to mask it off. This method does have the very large advantage of having every layer completely cured before you move on to the next, so its easier to fix mistakes without messing up the base colour. The wine colour is VERY translucent though, so it took many layers to build up the depth of colour to my liking which caused a bump I'm not terribly fond of at the edge of the moon shapes.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Nail Art Challenge #14 - Light Up the Night

A dramatic inky black manicure with a fireworks inspired set of feature nails.

I was going for an explosive firework effect on the ring finger with trailing sparks on the middle and pinky fingers. Sadly any shot I could get in focus completely flattened the fire of the micro glitter, but hopefully the inset gives you a little better idea of the twinkling "spark" effect of that polish. It really is quite pretty in real life.

The Midnight Glitz (middle and pinky fingers) is a combination of large black and pale gold larger sized hex glitters with flat black and holographic micro glitters. Below is a swatch sample with two dabbed layers. I feel a little better about my shots after doing an image search of this polish as it seems NO ONE can get a good picture of it. This is as close as I've seen anyone get.

I always find pairing base colours with (non rainbow-y) multi-coloured glitters to be a challenge. This one seems  to work best with a dark metallic grey.
I don't know how well it would work over a brighter polish and I'm not terribly thrilled with the larger glitters, but it was EXACTLY the combination I needed to coordinate with the larger holo in this manicure. I wish I had used a layer of it under the polish I used for my ring finger. It looks pretty sexy in the bottle so it might be cool on its own if you can manage to build up enough layers.

I will definitely be either thinning the base of the large scale holo glitter or seeking another like it. I love the glitter but the base is like jelly.

Bonus shot: I FINALLY did my toes too.

Lemon Meringue Pedi- Shoes by Børn

Double extra bonus link: This is a shot of all the products I used to achieve the Light Up the Night manicure, including the non-polish pre prep and post mani quick dry stuff.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Nail Art Challenge #13 - Under the Sea

A carefully matched Ombre Manicure in increasingly deep aqua/jade tones.

I guess it's pretty clear I have a thing about this colour! I don't think you could buy a set that close all at once.

I love wearing manis like these and it came out better than I could have hoped, but I'm not looking forward to the upkeep on these fussy satins! I've had the two darkest satin colours *over a decade* and boy was that obvious when I started using it. That dark jade colour fought me every moment. The only polish here under a year old is the glittery accent colour.

I'm glad I got back to these posts, the odd thing is that I actually DID the last two manis but didn't get a chance to take pics of them before they got too messed up.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Nail art Challenge #10 - MomMommaMomMommyMumMomma WHAT?!?!

A no nonsense, in your face, but still somehow incredibly cheery mani in a bubble gum pink creme and a midnight blue jelly with silver hex and micro-glitter for Mother's Day.

If you've ever met my Mom this combo probably makes a great deal of sense.

I've already had to touch this up a fair amount but that could be due to a number of factors.

I have been trying the Orly Bonder base coat lately because my CND Stickey is getting low, but I don't think it has the staying power.

I like that the Poshe topcoat doesn't shrink on me like the Seche Vite, but it doesn't seem to have the gloss or strength.

It could also be the Sinful Colors as it's not the best quality polish. Though I can't complain too much considering the price.

You may or may not have noticed that I COMPLETELY SPACED on the May the Fourth be With You mani (pun intended) so I'll be making that up at some point. Wedding stuff happened, work is INSANE right now, and I simply lost track of time. Sorry!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Nail Art Challenge #8 - Showers/Flowers

A springy ombré manicure in shades of soft lilac.

I'm so excited to see the violets and hyacinths finally starting to bloom around here so I decided to go all out purple this week and break out a pre-packaged ombré set I had bought over the winter.

Overall this looks pretty good, but I'm not thrilled by the base shade. The colour on my thumb (which I usually call muddy or mauvey lilac) is one of the very few shades that REALLY don't look good on me. I had been hoping it would come out brighter, but such is the way with internet buying. I will probably re-use the darker shades and the glitter but the lighter ones I suspect will get pretty dusty, though I did use them in the Muppet mani.
It's lucky I just happened to be really bored sitting in my car for a little bit this afternoon and used the opportunity to take a few shots in natural sunlight because my regular camera doesn't capture this colour family well AT ALL. This is fairly true to colour on my monitor if *slightly* washed out, on my camera this shifted to a very blue periwinkle->indigo ombré.

The polishes are not really great quality and if you ever wondered what people were talking about when they mention Seche Vite shrinkage, my middle finger is a fantastic example. The colour actually shrank at BOTH ends despite adding a layer of the Gelous on top. It's very hard to get the proper coverage without flooding your cuticles. I am going to have to remember to glob on more and cleanup with a fine brush and remover afterward.

I still feel that the Seche is worth it for that shine and the fact that I was able to pull my laundry out of the dryer within half an hour of finishing. It also completely smoothed over the fact that my nails are kind of a peel-y mess under all of that polish.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Jus Cleanse - the long view

A week later, my view on the Jus by Julie three day cleanse.

Day One - Jus by Julie Cleanse - Three juiced up days
Day Two - Jus Head

I'm not a fan of cold drinks, or bananas, or really sweet things, or tannic/astringent aftertastes, or drinking lots of liquid... 

Okay, so in retrospect maybe this was not the best idea for me. 

img src:

I do want to start by saying that I never felt underfed. As much as I wanted to eat food at points, that all seemed to be issues of missing the texture or flavor of my normal eats. The only times I felt hungry were the two points where I was significantly delayed in starting my next drink on time and that went away immediately once I got to my supply. If anything I found my drinking "schedule" kept skewing late because of a combination of being a slow drinker and not being terribly thrilled by the flavors.

I'm kind of glad I did it now, but there were points I was definitely not having fun.

The first issue was thawing. I took out Sunday's supply pretty early on Saturday evening and put it in the fridge to thaw. I woke upon Sunday expecting a cold but immediately drinkable breakfast and found six blocks of ice. It wasn't the biggest deal, but it did put quite a delay on breakfast. I didn't want to heat up the juices too much so I carefully thawed them in warm water baths. If it had been a work day I would have been pretty much screwed.

(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, FILE)
I also got to experience my biggest dose of food jealousy that night, The Fiance and I met my Mom and Best (Wo)man at the wedding venue to get some pics and measurements, and afterward we went out to dinner. I got to watch them tackle a massive plate of nachos and their delicious smelling entrees while I nursed a lemon water. It's probably best that happened day one and not day three or I probably would have cheated.  

Monday daytime was okay, but the evening was VERY unpleasant. The giant headache I mentioned in my last post was compounded by a hefty dose of  carsickness-style nausea. My mouth also felt like it was lined in moss. Anything outside of lying very quietly in bed with my head slightly elevated became pretty much out of the question. Supposedly the headache and nausea are among the expected "detox" effects of juice cleanses.  It's pretty ironic that this thing that is supposed to make you feel better can make you feel so very terrible. Happily I had no *ahem* gastrointestinal problems at any point. Even when I felt nauseous it was all head nausea rather than belly nausea.

Tuesday was WAY better but I did get a brief nasty headache again in the late afternoon. I also had to talk myself out of the idea of eating a real food once I was done with the last drink *cough*several times*cough*.

Last gulp of the last drink.
Yes I was excited enough to immortalize this.

I am not a fan of tanking my digestive system so, as much as I kind of wanted to throw Fondue Fest 2014 on Wednesday, I ate very light for the first couple of days after the cleanse.

The aftermath:

I dropped 6.5 pounds over the course of those three days and I've actually managed to maintain that so far.
I think that weight was sort of "extra" winter weight (and by that I mean all my pants fit properly now!) and I have been eating somewhat better since so it seems to have been a good reset in that regard. I seem to be happy with smaller portions, I'm making smarter decisions about snacks, and I'm taking more time to make sure I have good meals available rather than trusting that I'll find "something". 

My friend who did this cleanse and is big into sweets was hoping to tone down her sweet tooth but didn't feel it had done much in that regard. I didn't feel like I had to tone down on the sweets but that's exactly what has happened. I felt like I was drowning in ripe banana the whole time so while I wouldn't turn down something like a cookie from scratch, I'm now actively disinterested in prepackaged sweet junk. I tried to drink some Cherry Coke yesterday and got exactly one sip down. I don't even put sugar in my coffee anymore!

I haven't tested this since, but I had one mini bag of Doritos on Friday which tasted oddly cardboardy and disappointing. I'm very torn on the idea of not eating Doritos as they are kind of a double edged sword. I find them so tasty I can go through a large bag  in one sitting.

My skin looked *great* during the cleanse and my lips were particularly soft. It was a fantastic reminder that hydration makes a real difference.

I would not do this particular cleanse again due to the unrelenting sweetness, but I would definitely buy blends by the Jus by Julie company if I had a local source. I'm actually pretty sad I didn't get to try the Island Coconut blend at all.

The juices themselves - Day one

I guess it was tolerable but it was a lot sweeter than expected. All of the "green" drinks left a strong astringent sensation in the mouth afterward which got REALLY old.
ACK - VERY SPICY for me but flavor-wise pretty good. It actually didn't taste mapley at all and the lemon was pleasantly tart without being too sour. I was hoping the spicy would get easier to tolerate as the days passed but if anything it got worse.
The headaches started during this juice all three days. This really is pretty sweet, I really wasn't previously aware of how much I dislike sweets. I was however previously aware that I dislike both mango and banana. Bleah. Of all the drinks to have twice in one day this is the last one I would have picked.
Not bad flavor wise but but the texture was kind of a miss. The fruit pulp kept precipitating out of the liquid. It probably would have been way better if left icy enough to be a smoothie. The flavor was a bit too banana for me to actually enjoy it.

One of the more okay flavors. I pretty much live on nuts and seeds - peanut butter in particular, so even sweetened this was a sort of a flavor oasis in the midst of things I dislike. It tasted like a banana flavored Bit O Honey candy and I could really feel my body responding to the GLORIOUS PROTEIN.
After a full day of fruity juices this got hard to finish.

Day two was the same as one with the exception of #5 which was

This was not bad at all, it read like a chocolate shake. I didn't really taste the strawberry and for once the banana wasn't overwhelming 

Day three was the same as one with the exception of #4 which was
Probably the only one I actually enjoyed and would seek out again. This was a really nice tart "red berry" flavored lemonade. It would be a pretty amazing drink mixer.

Disclaimer: I paid for this entirely out of pocket and have had no contact from or affiliation with the Jus by Julie company or any related entities outside of the actual purchase.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Nail Art Challenge #7 - Bowie-spiration

No, of course I didn't do the lightning bolt, everyone does the Aladdin Sane lightning bolt.

If that is the sum and total of your exposure to the visual world of Bowie I recommend pouring a big glass of wine and parking yourself in front of google image search and youtube for an evening of amazing.

People often refer to Bowie as a chameleon, but that implies that he blends in or adapts to whats around him. For the better part of 50 years Bowie has MADE what is around him.

And he was awful nice, really quite out of sight. 
And he sang all night long

As much as I love Thin White Duke era Bowie it's a hard look to express in nail polish *laughs*, so I decided to go Ziggy Stardust era and used this stunning Kabuki inspired look in fuchsia, white and gold as my muse.

I started with a base of gold and did a half moon mani with white. I then edged that half moon by sponging on a coppery glitter in a black base (Sparks Fly) and sponged pink on to the tips.

This was fraught with technical difficulties. It was my first attempt at using a sponge and the polishes I used weren't really suited for what I was trying to make them do.

I had to put so many layers of white there was a really visible step down and a very stark white edge.

I managed to cover much of that with a detail brush and more of the Sparks Fly but it was still a bit messy for my tastes.

My attempts at test swatching that black did not prepare me for how sooty it would look.

The pink came out about how I wanted though it is a bit more solid in real life. It got kind of washed out in this shot.

My cuticles were also an utter mess afterward and it was a LOT of effort getting them clean. My dislike of cuticle cleaning is a MAJOR motivator in keeping a steady hand while painting so this will probably not be a go-to technique for me.

I do like how the topcoat brought out the fine copper glitter though, and I'm looking forward to revisiting that polish under better circumstances.

I've picked up what will hopefully be a better white for future attempts (Essie Blanc) and when I do hit the sponges again I will investigate ways to "tape off" my cuticles first.

For more amazing Bowie nail art check out this pile of posts form MonkeyNailArt (just scroll on past the penguins, or don't, they were cute too).

Monday, April 7, 2014

Jus head

I have kind of a giant headache tonight so no big update on the Juicing.

Though perhaps that *is* the update on the juicing?

I've now had all but one juice flavor and I can say so far that it's not horrible and I can see this working pretty well for some people, but I personally won't be doing this again. 

I can say however that my skin does seem to be appreciating it and I still have not had much in the way of hunger issues.

More post when I'm not freezing and huddling with the cats in dim lighting.

I will leave you with this pic of tomorrow's spicy lemonade drink thawing on the stove. See that dark bit at the top? That's where all the solids collected before freezing. 

That warm orange tinge is from all the cayenne pepper. 


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Jus by Julie Cleanse - Three juiced up days

Trying something a little different this week and I figured I'd share. A friend of mine did a three day juice cleanse a couple of weeks ago and I decided to give it a shot, so I'm going to do a few posts here over the next few days about how I'm doing on it.

I had a roommate that would do the Master Cleanse from time to time and that is just WAAAAAYY too much cleanse for me. A) I don't tolerate spicy things very well B) All you get to ingest is spicy C) Did I mention spicy? Enough about that though, on to what I'm actually doing.

Clicky this logo for the Jus home page

I liked this cleanse because it doesn't involve any sort of *ahem* flushing - I'm going to let you research that for yourself, it's only three days long, you can have coffee or tea in moderation which is MEGA IMPORTANT for me, it's aimed at health rather than weight loss, and you're drinking different things throughout the day.

Basically you get eighteen bottles of various blended juices designed to be spread out over the three days. You drink them in the order listed on the bottles. There are a couple of change-ups, but for the most part each day is the same set of six juices. Here's their FAQ for more detailed information.

The cleanse is fairly expensive, $150.00 before discount (plus shipping) for three days. My friend had gotten a Groupon deal which was expired by the time I looked but I did find a Living Social deal for it. That is also now expired but I'm sure if you keep an eye out another will pop up.

I set up have my juices delivered this past Friday, and they came in a rather nice insulated bag which I put in the freezer to keep the juices good until today when I planned to use them (remember this bit, it will come up later).

My day got mega delayed today between getting up late and a field trip to my wedding venue for measurements, so I'm currently only on my fourth of the six blends. While I'll leave reviews of the individual juices for tomorrow I will say that it is both very filling and ENTIRELY too sweet for my tastes.

Oh, and you better like bananas (Spoiler alert: guess who doesn't like bananas).

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Nail Art Challenge #6 - Celebration of Spring

A dead simple active length manicure in an eye catching tender new leaf green.

Not very arty as nail art goes, but that green was just so beautiful I had to let it shine.

A little late I know, I'm sorry. I got the painting done last night but the silver polish I was wearing prior took SO LONG to remove I ended up finishing up after bedtime and I cut my sleep pretty tight as is.

I went to bed so fast afterward I was dead sure I was going to have to fix sheet marks today! Have I mentioned lately that I love Seche Vite?

I got the creme polish from Color Club in a Birchbox shipment sometime last year and I'd been pretty dubious about trying it, but looking at it now this mint colour looks so amazing on me I'm tempted to find some matching clothes. Sadly I dont think it's going to be very durable but I'd love to revisit it, so I may try it again with a couple of layers of Gelous Advanced Nail Gel Coat as that really seems to extend a mani. I got surprisingly good coverage in two fairly thick coats due to time constraints, but I think this would do better with three thin coats.

The glitter topper (macro shot here) has perfectly matching satin green glitter in bar, tiny dot, and hex combined with a superfine holo glitter, in a very slightly green tinted base. The base and glitter makes it look a touch darker than real life in this pic. I really love glitter polishes with satiny glitter (rather than reflective) so I will definitely be revisiting this colour as well. I have one other shade in this line and may go back for more.

Monday, March 17, 2014

L'Wren Scott

Deeply saddened to hear of the passing of designer and former model L'Wren Scott.

If you or a loved one is in emotional distress please remember that you are not alone.

Her bold, highly structured, ultra feminine style is one of the first that really spoke to me when I started getting into this whole fashion thing. Her name on a look is always reason for a pause, a click through, a closer look.

Autumn/Winter 2009-10 RTW

Rather than link to an obit I have linked to her SS14 collection as a celebration of her life and talent.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Nail Art Challenge #5 - Pick a Muppet, any Muppet

A Muppet-Tastic mani made up with monster blue, shades of lilac, lilac and blue glitter, and googly eyes.

I am a MASSIVE Muppet fan and from moment one I knew I was doing my very favorite Muppet, Gonzo. Not the most amazing likeness but I think it does the job in a gestural sort of way. Once I remembered I had a stash of googly eyes there was no stopping me!

The polish fought me a bit but a great deal of that was simple time constraint. I didn't want to put a layer of topcoat between details so I knew I had to do it all in one shot.

Initially I had been worried that chopping my nails so much shorter was going to lose me working space but I think this scaled out pretty much perfect. I only did this on the left hand as two Gonzos just doesn't make sense. *laughs*

I think the lilac and blue hex glitter was just the right detail to pull it together as a full mani. I had real doubts at how this was going to turn out as I was doing it but in all I'm really happy with it!

Did I mention the googly eyes?

Added bonus, this massive sinus infection (oh, I apparently had a massive sinus infection, by the way) has me so clogged up I didn't have to smell any of the remover or fresh polish!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Sick, ill, and other adjectives not related in any way to 90s rap

Picture: SOLENT

The plan for something like three days ago was to give a rundown of some of the neat makeup and beauty stuff I've picked up in recent days, but I got so sick starting Thursday that I don't want to get anywhere near my makeup or brushes, much less take detailed pictures of what I look like right now.

On the plus side uh, I'm finally playing around with my new (to me) netbook, and my hair is doing interesting things?

It just does this on is own. I wish I could harness the power of my roots because they are mighty!
Seriously though, I haven't forgotten about you and I've gotten some really neat stuff I want to share.

More when I'm  not glued to my bed, a teacup, and a box of tissues.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Yikes! Stripes!

I'll give you my horizontal stripes when you pry them out of my cold dead hands.

I may be "too petite" or "too curvy" for horizontal stripes by some measures, but I also have a pixie cut and elfin features, which I feel gets me a firm buy on a couple of the rules on account of my rather Gamine appearance.

From Wikipedia: The word gamine is a French word, the feminine form of gamin, originally meaning urchin, waif or playful, naughty child.

From me: in the 20th century it took on the implication of a small, slim, doe eyed, impish woman with a noticeably French (sometimes boyish) flare.  

Two of the most well known gamines are of course the Audreys.

Hepburn and Tautou, that is.

Their style is iconic, but just a tad too sweet for me, and anyway I'm talking about stripes here. When you're talking about gamine and stripes, you're talking about 50s/60s actress and tragic figure, Jean Seberg.

Jean Seberg in stripes (<-- that is a Google image search, go bask in the stripey goodness for a minute, check out all those homages, Madonna, Winona, Emma... I'll wait) is probably the single most definitive style influence of my last decade.

If I were limited to a single outfit for the rest of my life - a striped boatneck with slim but relaxed jeans would be pretty high up in the contenders.

March 2010 - I miss platinum hair just about every day, no joke

I've always had a soft spot for 60s style and cutting my hair off threw that into overdrive, so when I'm feeling like exploring the somewhat harder edges of Gamine I look to late 60s actress, Warhol muse, and also tragic figure - Edie Sedgwick.

Don't get me wrong, I dearly love me some Twiggy too, but for the goth girl in me - it'll always be Edie.

I've never gotten the hang of big earrings (I prefer bracelets), but a lifetime of cropped hair (contrasting roots and all), kohl, black leggings, and sack dresses would suit me just fine too.

On a related note: I've been going through old pics of myself this week and have noticed a distinct change in my eye makeup styling from the go-to look of my teens and twenties to now.

March 2003 - all hail the crappy webcam selfie!

I used to have a pretty adept hand at extremely heavy kohl and strong cut crease styles using little more than black liner and shadow (applied while commuting to college on a train every day, no less). When I started using the internet to research makeup I realised I had independently discovered many tricks commonly used to make small eyes look as large as humanly possible, yet I pulled it off with full, heavy black lining, which is usually said to shrink eyes.

Looking at the way I do makeup now I feel that I may have actually lost a few tricks along the way!

It's something I've been playing with lately and I've got a new concealer on the way so hopefully I'll have more to say on that (and maybe the gumption to take some closeups) later.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

How to give a girl a heart attack in one very considerate step.

I purchased iteration one of my wedding dress in September, when I got the box I remembered noting how light the box was. Dress two arrived today and I felt like the box was much heavier so I checked the UPS notifications.

Dress version one - 2.8 lbs shipping weight.

Same dress in one size *smaller*, slight fabric change, purchased in February... 6 lbs?

I had the dress shipped to work and was going to wait until after to open the box but as the day went on I was starting to have visions of crossed shipments or the entire dress being in the wrong fabric.

Finally I caved (and by finally I mean it took less than an hour) and when I cracked it open I found... black heavy duty ripstop nylon with a 1 cm wide gold pinstripe???

The wedding is NOT Marching Band themed

Hello coronary!

Once my heart migrated back down into my chest cavity I looked UNDER the nylon and found my dress. *laughs* Apparently they had also sent me a VERY heavy duty garment bag! I hadn't gotten one with the first dress so this was a completely unexpected bonus.

I have since pulled the dress out, though I haven't yet tried it on and it appears to be up to spec, and by that I mean IT'S TOTALLY AMAZING.

Due to various reasons I had not yet started in on the garment bag I was making and I'm pretty glad of that, though I will probably still make something anyway as I would prefer there be a storage appropriate buffer between the nylon and the silk of the dress.

So exciting!!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Nail Art Challenge #4 All is Full of Love

A stark Enamel White/Piano Black manicure inspired by the video for Bjork's All is Full of Love.

I thought of doing something more classically Valentine themed but just couldn't get the video out of my head. I decided instead to go really really stark and mechanical to match the gorgeous robots in the video and try a new technique while I was at it.

If you are not familiar with either the song or video they are both quite stunning.

All is Full of Love - Bjork (Director:Chris Cunningham)

Between dings, smearing, hairs getting stuck in my topcoat (twice!), and new tool learning curve I'm amazed this came out half so well as it did. This one fought me pretty much from beginning to end.

The colour and very slightly translucent finish of the Essie Marshmallow is just what I was looking for, but I would really like a white that is non-streaky in less than four(!) layers. I am too fidgety to dry, much less maintain nail polish this thick. Every second that I go without a fast dry top coat is another opportunity to get dings, and boy howdy did I ding this up. Luckily the colour was forgiving, but fixing mistakes never comes out quite right.

As far as the black, this was my first time using a striper brush, that was certainly an experience! I can't say as I'll be reaching for that tool again any time soon. I set the initial positioning by laying down tape to get the line straight which worked out pretty well, but it was not down flush (only as a guideline) so I had to pull it up to avoid  the black bleeding under. Even with a target line figuring out and maintaining the right position of my hands to get the brush at the best angle was incredibly awkward. And that was with my GOOD hand!

The black polish got sticky on the brush very fast so it was hard to work slow enough to keep things neat. I used topcoat over the white so I was able to use a file to clean up the black a bit once it dried, but even then the final layer of topcoat somehow smeared the black. *sigh* I did do the full design on both hands and the right came out shockingly good, but I had a lot more problems with smearing on the black on that hand.

You wouldn't think such a simple design would be so fiddly but there was very little room for mistakes here. In the end I'm pretty happy with how it came out, though I do think it would look much better if the white was not as built up. A vertical line probably would have been more flattering to the length of my nails but that would be too close to my last challenge mani.

I expect I will be removing this pretty soon as the white is not holding up well. The Poshe polish is easier in some ways but doesn't seem to hold up like Seche Vite. I think I may have to take down the length of my nails a bit as well as my typing accuracy is questionable even in the best of circumstances.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

My weekend wedding project

I got an email today informing me that my wedding dress is en-route and should be arriving Wednesday!

Adventure Time!

I have a tiny apartment with two cats that REALLY seem to like getting into my closet and batting at hangy things; so  the dress will be living at my parent's house.

I am not interested in an unplanned dramatic unveiling potentially involving the "design assistance" of my parent's three dogs; so the dress will ALSO be living in a garment bag.

pic via
Enter: my weekend project.

I have a butt-tonne(1) of unbleached muslin(2), mad sewing skills, and and a nearly embarrassing number of sewing machines. There's no way I'm paying someone for a pre-made garment bag, not when I can almost unquestionably do better.

Unfortunately I can't find DIY directions to precisely what I want to make. It would have a tie or button front rather than a zipper(3) and a pocket for random extras. I'm also interested in instructions for adding side gussets but I'm not 100% on that, I'm still contemplating whether I even need those. Foster-Stephens, Inc seems to be the main online source I've found for nicer muslin garment bags and there are some excellent examples here.

This instruction set by TheDreamstress seems like a pretty good starting point though, and I do appreciate seeing details like French seams. Archival items should have fussy details!

This instruction set from Historical costumer Genoveva has a really nifty fold and carry feature.

For anyone interested in sewing I HIGHLY recommend picking up two specific books on couture sewing. The first, Couture Sewing Techniques by Claire B. Shaeffer, is the more accessible book - I have an earlier version. The second is Couture: The Art of Fine Sewing by Roberta C. Carr, it is denser and the images are EIGHTIES-TASTIC but it does go into more detail.

Don't let the word couture scare you, what it boils down to is by having these books you will have a handy step by step reference for the "best practice" way of doing a number of sewing tasks. Once you know the "right" way of doing something you can then make your own decisions of how fussy and involved you want to get. Its a heck of a lot easier to decide what fussy details to leave out than to discover after the fact and try to make up for the essential step you've already missed.

I find it kinda funny (I find it kinda sad) that I have all of these random fussy sewing skills that I never use for anything I actually wear. I have been starting to think of what kinds of alterations my current wardrobe could use, so it'll be good to get back in the sewing... saddle?


(1) One of my favorite units of measure. My very favorite is similar but involves a very naughty word

(2) A loosely woven cotton fabric. Hooray for Joann' Fabric and Craft's 50% a single item coupons!

(3) I've caught the placket of my jacket in its own zipper FAR too many times to trust a zipper with a silk wedding dress. Also I really don't feel like paying more for a 72" zipper than I paid for enough fabric to make two of these bags.