27.2.15

the nail files: chrome 'n cashmere


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***

This week was a fun one for me, albeit slightly unproductive on the writing front. But we all need a break sometimes, right? That said, within the madness, I found time to do my nails. Because, of course. Haha!




For base coats, I did two coats of Paper Mache, Rollin' in Cashmere, and Gilded Chrome. When that was dry, I got a large dotting tool and added three dots of Gilded Chrome to my pointer finger. 


I'm sad to say that this will be my last mani with Gilded Chrome, as the sparkles have all clumped together to such a degree that it was a nightmare to apply. I added some thinner, which made it sort of better, but I think it's time to just accept the demise of this beautiful, sparkly polish. Should we have a moment of silence and bow our heads? Haha!

Hope you all have an awesome weekend, and here's hoping for a productive next week. Or, at least somewhat productive. Overachiever, I am not. Haha!


20.2.15

the nail files: cold days call for hot pink!


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***

I've been seeing pops of bright, springtime colours lately and although there's still massive amounts of snow outside, I decided to join in on the fun.

Related: Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeease let it be over soon. Haha!

What I used:


The mani!


Each finger got two coats of either Oxygen or I Vant to be A-Lone Star and then, when dry, I added a hot pink triangle along the base of my nail, finishing off the look with a hot pink round stud.


Yup, this was a super easy and simple mani, but man, does that hot pink ever make it cute!


Sometimes, studs really are the easiest way to add some pizazz. If, for no other reason, the studs are automatically symmetrical. Haha!

Hope you all have an awesome weekend! And don't forget to link up and show off your pretties!



13.2.15

the nail files: vday glitter gradient


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***

A couple of weeks ago, I saw a picture of a glitter gradient...and nearly died because it was so pretty. (If you know me at all, you know that this is an honest statement. Haha!) I'd seen comments on a few Pinterest posts, saying that it's possible to get great glitter coverage in two coats, if you use a sponge. Well, those two things came together for this mani, as I decided to try the technique for my very first glitter gradient.

Spoiler alert: IT WORKED SO FREAKING WELL!!




See how pretty?!?! I can hardly stand it!!

*sighs happily*

And best of all, it really wasn't that hard! Just like the comments suggested, I did two coats of glitter, applied with a sponge, and got full coverage. FULL COVERAGE, people. Whyyyyyy haven't I used a sponge to apply glitter before?!? # whinyrhetoricalquestion

To prove it to you, I took pictures as I went. Not that I thought you'd call me a liar, but it's good to cover my bases. Haha!


As you can see from the step-by-step, it literally took two coats. And it'd be even easier if you aren't allergic to latex, because then you could use that nifty stuff that's been all the rage, as of late. But, if you're allergic, like me, then plain old scotch tape works well. I'd recommend doing two swipes of each glitter on the sponge before applying.

Here's a pic in non-direct light, inside. which really  shows the depth of the gradient.

 This pic was taken inside my light box, with studio lights on either side.

I honestly can't get over how pretty this mani is. No matter what the light, it really shines. And in direct sunlight, I practically have to wear sunglasses. As many pictures as I took, though, none of them really captured the shine, which is saying something because I took about a million. Haha!

The rest of the mani was easy-peasy, with two thin coats of Push and Shove (overtop the special base coat), and two coats of Black Expressionism. To round it out, I added three gemstones, in the same colours I used for the gradient (silver/white, light pink, and dark pink).

Even though there aren't any hearts on this mani, I think it's absolute a Vday mani. I mean, sparkles, pinks, and gemstones scream Valentine's-Day-y, don't they? (Say yes, please.  Haha!)

I had a lot of fun playing around with a few different Vday nail styles, but this was absolutely my favourite.

So what are your plans for Love Day? My favourite Vday memory is from when some friends and I arranged a Vday pub crawl for singles called: Looking for love in all the wrong places. Haha! Man, were those super fun. Whatever you end up doing, I hope you have an awesome time! And don't forget to link up! :)


6.2.15

the nail files: pane-ted love


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***

First off, I'm sorry you're welcome for that song being stuck in your head for the rest of the day. I just couldn't help myself. Haha! Secondly, it's time for the nail files!! WOOT WOOT!

Keeping with the theme of Valentine's Day, this week, I'm sharing a fun, albeit time-consuming mani that incorporates negative space. I've seen some "stained glass" nail art on Pinterest, and figured I'd try it out. Spoiler alert, I LOVE IT. Haha!




On naked nails (with a coat of OPI Matte Nail Envy), I used white Rite Stripe to make a border around each nail. Then, I added lines to make differently shaped, stained-glass-y sections, until the nail was full. With the feature nails, after the border was done, I added the heart and then filled in the rest of the nail.

The best thing about Rite Stripe is that it dries super fast, so by the time I was ready for colour, it was dry. Using a small nail art brush, I filled in each heart, one with Dance Baby and the other with That's Shore Bright. For some sparkle, because it was obviously lacking in that department, haha, I filled in all the surrounding sections with one coat of Mirrorball. Then, with the same brush (but cleaned off, obviously, haha) I filled in a few random sections on my non-feature fingers with Rebel and Rollin' in Cashmere. 

When all of the sections were dry, I went over all the lines again with Rite Stripe


I really love manis that incorporate negative space, and this stained glass effect works so well with it. I love the pops of colour, and how it's totally appropriate for V-day without being super V-day-ish. Definitely a technique that looks way harder than it is! The beauty is that the sections don't have to be even, so you can just wing it. Yay for winging it! And now that I've shared that tip for a stained glass mani, I'm going to pack my things and go. Haha!

What did you rock this week? Are you hopping on the Valentine's Day Theme Train, or just doing your own thing? Link up and show off!






30.1.15

the nail files: super sparkly hearts


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***
Despite the fact that Christmas felt like three days ago, January is just about over. But it's not all bad because the end of January means that Valentine's Day is coming, which is a great opportunity for a couple of theme manis! And you all know how I feel about theme manis, right?


Haha! Oh, Kenya, you're a total nut bag and I love ya for it.

So this week, I played around with a couple of new ORLY glitters I got on sale, including the hottest holo of the season: Mirrorball. (And YES, you read that right, I found a bottle of the elusive Mirrorball on sale!! EEEE!)



After two coats of Paper Mache were dry, I got out a large dotting tool and made three hearts on my ring finger, along with the larger one on my pointer finger, using La Vida Loca. I was nervous about doing the big one, because symmetry is hard (haha), but I was too impatient to use Joey's technique of making your own decals. Luckily, this time, it worked out. *wipes brow*

When that was dry, I added two coats Explosion of Fun to the three smaller hearts and Glitterbomb to the larger one. And can we just stop for a second to talk about Glitterbomb? It's, quite literally, the bomb, guys and gals. Sooooo much sparkle in this one, which obviously explains why I'm so obsessed with it. Haha!

Originally, I'd planned on leaving my white nails plain, but then I realized that was a ridiculous idea considering I hadn't used Mirrorball yet. So, I used a medium dotting tool for my thumb, middle, and pinky finger, and then used a smaller dotting tool to dot around the hearts.


Like I've said before, when the light hits these glitters, it's like HOLY SPARKLEPANTS, and the crisp white background makes them pop out even more. I love these polishes, people. Looooooooooooove them. It's going to be really hard to hoard them use them sparingly. Haha!

So what are you rocking this week? Are you already in the Vday spirit? Link up and show off!

Hope everyone has a fantastic weekend!




23.1.15

the nail files: not-so-perfect plaid


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***

Last week, Bailey shared a post that showed off her amazing collage and she used such a pretty colour pallette, it inspired me to do a mani! (Thanks, Bailey! Haha!)




At first, I wasn't totally sure how I was going to use all of these colours at once, so I perused Pinterest for a while until I stumbled upon a great many plaid manis. Now, straight, freehand lines aren't totally my bag, but I decided to risk it all and give it a go. High stakes in nail art is a real thing, guys. Haha!

(inside, with flash)

When the base coats of Shelly and Billie Jean were dry, I got out my narrowest flat nail art brush and started with two, wide vertical lines. I chose Rooney for the base lines because it's a translucent polish, so I didn't think it would be that dark. Naturally, it was impossible to get those lines straight, on account of my curved nail beds, but I'd come too far to stop, so I kept going. Haha!

(inside, no flash)

After Rooney was dry, I chose a long, thin nail art brush and used Shelly to make thin lines in the middle of the thick Rooney one. Still following? Good. Haha! After that, I used Felicity for the overlapping thin lines that were centred in what was left of the exposed Billie Jean. Then, I topped it off with glitter from Chantel, leaving out the diamonds.

(inside, with flash)

I'm not completely happy with how they turned out, because I prefer crisp lines, but taping everything off would have taken forever. For my first time doing so many lines, it's not too bad, I guess. If I were to do it again, I'd use a much lighter pink underneath, because the brown pretty much covered it and the exposed sections weren't bright enough. Still, I like the look of the plaid, so it's a design that I'll definitely try again. 

What were you rocking this week? Did you find inspiration somewhere unexpected? Link up and show off!




22.1.15

book review: the one I left behind

First book review of 2015! Woot woot!! Haha! And man oh man, do I ever have a good one to share.  

I've included the Goodreads synopsis, because there's a lot going on and it sums everything up quite nicely. Take a read and then keep scrolling for my review.

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Bestselling author Jennifer McMahon is back with a gut-wrenching mystery about an architect whose troubled mother has been found 25 years after being kidnapped-by a killer who is still on the loose.

The summer of 1985 changed Reggie's life. Thirteen, awkward, and without a father, she finds herself mixed up with her school's outcasts-Charlie, the local detective's son, and Tara, a goth kid who has a mental hold over Reggie and harbors a dark secret. That same summer a serial killer called Neptune begins kidnapping women. He leaves their severed hands on the police department steps and, five days later, displays their bodies around town. Just when Reggie needs her mother Vera-an ex-model with many "boyfriends" and a thirst for gin-the most, Vera's hand is found on the steps. But after five days, there's no body and Neptune disappears.

Now a successful architect who left her hometown behind after that horrific summer, Reggie doesn't trust anyone and lives with few attachments. But when she gets a call from a homeless shelter saying that her mother has been found alive, Reggie must confront the ghosts of her past and find Neptune before he kills again.

With her signature style, Jennifer McMahon portrays the dark side of adolescent friendship and introduces characters who haunt the imagination, along with a disturbing web of secrets, betrayals, and murder.


Holy guacamole, guys. This book was incredible. In-cred-i-ble.

I started it about half-an-hour before I had to go to bed, and before I knew it, hours had passed. Soon, my eyes demanded sleep but the second they opened up the next morning, slightly crusty (tmi? Haha), I got right back to it, even bringing my Kindle into the car so I could be a horrible and silent passenger finish on the way to a birthday party.

Also? I’m honestly not exaggerating. Whenever I had a free moment, I read until something forced me to put it down. Curse this adult life filled with responsibilities that eat up my reading time! Haha!

The plot was extraordinarily windy and twisty, and it made me feel anxious, worried, and above all, curious--the very best combination for a thriller, in my humble opinion. And served up alongside the unpredictable plot was unbelievably deep character development, which is another must-have for an edge-of-your-seat thriller.

They’re layered like onions, guys and gals—just like real people (who probably should start attending regular counseling sessions with a trained professional, but whatever, I don’t judge, haha!). But even though nobody’s really “innocent” in THE ONE I LEFT BEHIND the characters’ vulnerabilities and flaws drew me in, making me care very deeply about their journeys, not matter how messed up the journeys happened to be. 

So yeah. If you’re into thrillers, suspense, and/or mystery, you’re going to want to pick this one up. Like, soon. Probably today, even. And then clear your schedule so you can read it in one sitting.


Linking up with Heather for Book Club Friday (a day early, haha). Stop by and check out some new reads!




16.1.15

the nail files: the mani that almost wasn't (or, how to wear a lot of glitter at once)


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***

For the last several months, I've been buying a lot of nail polish. Like, a lot of nail polish. The holiday sparkle collections were freaking bananas this year, so I'm now just getting around to one that I picked up a while ago. 

I have to say that of all the sparkle collections I look forward to, ORLY is the one I anticipate the most. Then, I use them sparingly because they're so pretty that I never want to run out. Hoarder says what? ;)

Anyway, I pulled Steal the Spotlight off of my rack this week, happy to play with the teal and pink sparkles, but then Explosion of Fun also caught my eye. Stuck in a battle of opposing yet equally as awesome sparkles for the better part of an hour five minutes, I decided the only way to end the stalemate was to use both, even though they're both super bright and didn't really go with each other. Like, at all.

So, this nail files post reads more like a story than a how-to. Because I like to keep it real, I wanted to share the process of a mani that I struggled to balance, almost to the point that I gave up. The end of the story is that one should never give up, and that if you keep adding stuff, eventually, it'll all work out. If only life was as easy, eh? Haha!


My first attempt had two feature fingers, one with Steal the Spotlight and the other with Explosion of Fun. To make the sparkles really pop, I put them over two coats of Turned Up Turquoise and Gayle. The rest of my fingers got two coats of Paper Mache. When the base colours were dry, I added two coats of each glitter: Steal the Spotlight, Explosion of Fun, and Snow Globetrotter

But it just didn't feel right. My middle and ring finger were hella bright, but my pointer, pinky, and thumb just looked...plain. Even with Snow Globetrotter overtop. I hummed and hawed for a while, and then considered adding dots to the white nails with the ORLY polishes, but then thought maybe it was better for the ORLY nails to get white dots. As you can see, I was trapped in another circle of what-shoud-I-do. #nailartishardsometimes

That's when I decided to throw caution into the wind and use both sparkles on my thumb. Filled with confidence, I removed the white base and glitter toppers, and added one half-coat of Turned Up Turquoise and Gayle, followed by the glitters. But when it was all done, I still didn't like it. In fact, I liked it less than the white. *headdesk*

As you can see, the final product was much different from where I started. Had I known I'd make so many changes, I would have taken pictures as I went. I get that the story becomes somewhat anticlimactic now that I've showed a picture, but I'm going to keep going. Haha!

Determined not to waste what I'd done already, mostly because getting that much glitter off takes forever and I'd just finished, I realized that I'd tipped the balance too far on the sparkle side, which meant I needed more white. It was then that I looked back at Snow Globetrotter, which was sitting on my coffee table, in a single stream of sunlight. There may have even been a surge of string instruments, and maybe even some wind that blew back my hair.

Okay, so it wasn't that dramatic, but it felt like something of a miracle. Haha! 

But seriously. This sparkle, guys. *swoons*

I scooped out some of the larger white hex pieces, along with a few of the smaller ones, and placed them on the ORLY nails. I don't want to say that I was so relieved it finally all fit together that I spun around in a circle and sang a song of triumph for my dogs, but that would make me a liar. 

Outside, you pretty much need sunglasses to handle these two polishes. Love, love, love!

So although this mani took forever, and required both brain power and on-the-fly troubleshooting, I really like how it turned out. Actually, scratch that, I love how it turned out. It was really hard to photograph the ORLY sparkles because they're so beyond glittery, which is why I love them so much. Natural light brought them out the best, but in low, indoor light, they're still seriously cool. I heart you, ORLY sparkles (even though you're a challenge to work with sometimes)!! Haha!

What were you rocking this week? Got any tips/tricks to share? Link up and let us know!

Hope you have an awesome weekend!!




9.1.15

the nail files: winter nail care made easy!


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***

Last week, I was delighted (read: freaking psyched) to get contacted by Julep's Community Outreach Coordinator, who was looking for bloggers to share tips on how to winterize your nails. They included a great tutorial of their own, which includes six steps...


But since I'm super lazy efficient when it comes to nail care, I figured I'd share my bare-minimum guide with you. Haha!


A part of me wanted to actually name it The Lazy Gal's Guide To Winter Nail Care, but it wouldn't fit nicely in the collage. Ha! Also? Let's not talk about how I JUST realized that "Nailcare" is one word here when it's supposed to be two words. *headdesk*

As you can see, my winter routine is about as simple as it can get. This is the process I go through every time I change my nail polish, which is about twice a week. That said, I'm blessed in the cuticle department, so if you're someone whose cuticles need extra attention, you're probably best to stick with Julep's tutorial. Aside from that, they're pretty similar, but I'm still going to walk you through mine, because I'm an egomaniac inclusive like that. 

Steps for Winter Nail Care Made Easy

Once your nails are polish-free, you're ready to start Step 1, which is filing your nails down. I like to rock a shorter squ-oval, which is a square shape with curved edges. Also, I'm pretty sure that "squ-oval" is a real nail term but, uh, don't quote me. Haha!

Step 2 is all about the buffing. I have ridges on my nails, so if I don't buff them, they're visible through the polish. Don't buff too much, though, or you'll weaken your nails and make them susceptible to breaking, which is the worst so BE CAREFUL. You've been warned. 

For Step 3, I roll on a generous amount of cuticle oil. I'm OBSESSED with Julep's Essential Cuticle Oil, both because of how it works but also because of its lovely, calming scent. Plus, it comes in a bottle with a roller so you don't have to deal with messy brushes and accidentally tipping over a huge bottle of cuticle oil onto your carpet, consequently ruining it forever. Not that I know anything about that, of course. 

I leave the cuticle oil on for a while and then move onto Step 4, where I moisturize. I prefer lighter moisturizers, and Julep's Bare Body Milk works great. I like to add a drop or two of peppermint oil to it too, because mint makes everything smell fresh and winter-y.

And that's it, folks! Well, aside from actually doing your nails, that is. You know, because naked nails aren't nearly as fun as awesomely-painted nails. Haha! I usually wait about half an hour to let the moisturizer do its thing, and use the time to decide on colours. 

Inspired by Julep's picks for winter nail polish colours...


I picked out a dark blue I already had, a new mushroom-pink from the January Maven box, and my ultimate favourite hex glitter.



Dark colours are perfect for winter, and the added dot of mushroom-pink gives this mani a bit of flare. And, of course, I had to have some sparkle because if you can't wear glitter on your nails every day then I don't even know. Haha!

What are you rocking this week? Link up and show off!

And what is your winter nail care routine? Are you lazy like me or do you go all out?