13.8.15

and the winner is...



My apologies for the delayed announcement, but the winner of a paperback copy of The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster is...

The Lemoncholy Life Of Annie Aster


Woot woot!! Congrats, Daniela! I'll be sending you an email today!

And thanks to all who entered! :D




7.8.15

the nail files: the final linkup *wipes tear*

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**Link up with us to show off your cute manis (either done by yourself or in a salon), nail polish purchases and/or recommendations, nail polish tips--whatever nail-related thing you'd like! Yay for nails!**

***

Oh em to the gee, guys. It's the end of an era.

http://tmblr.co/ZjsrOxzQWIgi


Okay, so maybe "era," is a stretch, being that the nail files hasn't been around that long, but still, it's been such a big part of my blogging life that I miss it already. I had a great time going through my pictures from way back in 2012 and I love that it's easy to see how much better I've gotten, both at doing nail art and taking photos of said nail art. Yay for proper nail art tools and a light box. Haha!

Here are a few collages of what I consider my best manis from 2012 to now.

*cue Greenday's Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)*

Ah, the first year. I became a Julep Maven and got my very first set of dotting tools. Oh the fun I had trying to make symmetrical dots! (Read: I cleaned out the white wine section of the liquor store, haha!) Towards the end of the year, I got on Pinterest, which opened up an entirely new world of nail inspiration. I learned so much from step-by-step tutorials!

The highlight of 2013 was getting a feature on Ellen's IG. I did the centre mani for her website (it's a mani of those two adorable little girls from England: Sophia Grace and Rosie) and it's been the Nail Art cover photo on the site, ever since. Definitely one of the cooler nail-related things that've happened to me. For obvious reasons. Ha! This was also the year I added nail art brushes to my nail art arsenal, along with vinyl decals and striping tape. I did two nail art video tutorials this year as well, and because they took so darn long to edit and upload, they were also my last. ;)

For Christmas of 2013, my baby brother bought me a light box, and it made all the difference for 2014's pictures. I also upgraded my lens that year, and I think the photos show a remarkable improvement. This was also the year that I bought rhinestones and studs to up my game. Haha! Gotta love the mega-shine that comes from a rhinestone! Nail care also became a priority in 2014, so it marked the end of my dry-ass skin and cuticles. Ha! In addition to all that, I went to my first Julep Maven Meet-up, in Toronto, and it was super awesome to meet Jane Park and try out new polishes. Yay for sneak previews!

With my polish collection larger than ever, 2015 has been the most diverse year, in terms of colour selection. Because, you know, four years in, I pretty much have every colour ever made. Haha! I started getting lots of inspiration from mega-talented nail artists on Instagram, and tried my hand at far more intricate designs. Some of these manis took forever, but they were pretty freaking awesome and therefore worth the time investment. Except, of course, when they failed. Because yes, even four years after I started, I still have #nailfails all the time. *deep sigh* Haha!

So there you have it. We've reached the end of the very last nail files post. Thank you so much for stopping by, leaving a comment, and/or linking up over the last few years. Without you, the nail files wouldn't have gone on for as long as it has and I've loved seeing your pretties each and every week!! And a special shout-out goes to Kimberly, who's been linking up since the very beginning. #nailfileshighfive

Stay sparkly, people!



And don't forget to link up your last nail files post! :D






4.8.15

book review (with tribute mani!): the lemoncholy life of annie aster

I can’t believe that I’m writing this review. Mostly because when you see someone work their tail off and the payoff finally arrives, it can feel like a dream. Enter, THE LEMONCHOLY LIFE OF ANNIE ASTER by Scott Wilbanks, my marvelously talented critique partner. 

Side Note: In addition to a review, it should come as no surprise that I did a tribute mani, because not only am I so darn proud of Scott that I considered making a sandwich board sign to wear around town advertising his release, but the cover of his debut novel is too pretty for life. 

*swoons*



The synopsis, from Goodreads:
Annabelle Aster doesn’t bow to convention—not even that of space and time—which makes the 1890s Kansas wheat field that has appeared in her modern-day San Francisco garden easy to accept. Even more peculiar is Elsbeth, the truculent schoolmarm who sends Annie letters through the mysterious brass mailbox perched on the picket fence that now divides their two worlds.
Annie and Elsbeth’s search for an explanation to the hiccup in the universe linking their homes leads to an unsettling discovery—and potential disaster for both of them. Together they must solve the mystery of what connects them before one of them is convicted of a murder that has yet to happen…and yet somehow already did.
From writing my own manuscripts and reviewing books, I learned early on that some authors are writers, while others are storytellers. And after reading the first page of Scott’s work, it was clear that he is the latter. His creation of a world that’s partly based in San Francisco during the mid-nineties and simultaneously in Kansas, a century earlier, flows seamlessly. As a literally-minded gal, I can get lost easily in complex plot, so adding a time-travel element could have been the kiss of death regarding my ability to fall into the story, but that doesn’t even almost happen with THE LEMONCHOLY LIFE. I was sucked in from the very beginning and rode the cresting wave of tension right to the very end. 


Like most things that are extraordinary, in order to truly enjoy THE LEMONCHOLY LIFE, you must invest in the process and give yourself over to the rhythmic beat of the prose. Scott's not just a storyteller, you see, he's a "proser," meaning that the way Scott delivers his story is just as important as the story itself. Okay, so "proser" may not actually be a word, but you know what I mean. Haha! Don’t shy away from the effort, though. It’s more than worth it. 

Because yes, his characters are truly original; layered, flawed, deeply feeling characters who immediately feel like real people. And yes, the plot is like driving through a mountain range—extreme highs and lows, sometimes on the same page. But the part that really sets Scott apart is his ability to see beneath the surface and bring that depth to life. It’s the unusual, often ignored aspects of the real world that Scott is a master of revealing, and he does so in his own, beautifully-crafted way. Add that to his extensive vocabulary which produces the most perfect words for any situation, and you’ve got a tale that is unlike anything you’ve read before. 


So if you can carve out a chunk of time to acquaint yourself with THE LEMONCHOLY LIFE OF ANNIE ASTER, you’ll be privy to a tale about the triumph of the human spirit and friendship, with a healthy dollop of mystery, just in case you needed another reason to pick up a copy. Because, you know, murder makes every story better. Ha! 

And because I want everybody in the entire world to read THE LEMONCHOLY LIFE OF ANNIE ASTER, I’m giving away a copy! This is an international giveaway, as long as it’s understood it may take a while to arrive, depending on where the winner lives. The rafflecopter will be live for the next week, so good luck!







31.7.15

the nail files: all the sparkle

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**Link up with us to show off your cute manis (either done by yourself or in a salon), nail polish purchases and/or recommendations, nail polish tips--whatever nail-related thing you'd like! Yay for nails!**

***

For the last week of Sparkle Month, here on the nail files, I decided to go all out and use as many sparkles as possible. Naturally, it made my freaking week. Because sparkles rule!! Haha!



I can't even with this mani, guys.

Can't. Even.

It's so beyond sparkly and I love every single element. Plus, depending on the light, it looks different every time I look at it!


The silvery-sparkle nails have two coats of Mirrorball, but there are three layers of sparkles on my feature fingers. First, I did one coat of Steal the Spotlight and when that was dry, I added two thin coats of Mermaid Tale and Monster Mash, with each colour filling half of the nail. I reversed them as well, just for a little more visual interest. Not that this mani actually needed it. Haha!

For the final touch, I added two rhinestones to each feature nail.


Like I said earlier, loooooooooove.

*sighs happily*

So that brings us to the end of Sparkle Month, and I'm sorry to say that I have another sad announcement. After a lot of thought, I've decided to stop hosting weekly linkups. In April, I recommitted to blogging more and I've found that my nail files posts take twice the time to write/put together as other posts. When I first started hosting, I wasn't writing as much and had more time, but now, things have changed and unfortunately, in order to have a more well-rounded blog, I need to let the nail files go.



But before I shut it down, I'm proposing one final linkup: next week, on August 7th--a swan song to the nail files, if you will. Whether you choose to do a recreation of a past nail files mani, share your ultimate favourite nail colour, or even a collection of pictures that highlight past nail files manis, any post is welcome! Frankly, I'll probably do a combination of all three because I really am sad to say goodbye. That's not to say that I won't still post pictures of my nails, but it'll be mostly on Instagram.

So put your thinking caps on for your last link up post, next week. Let's go out with a bang! :)

Hope you all have an awesome weekend!

24.7.15

the nail files: simple sparkles

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**Link up with us to show off your cute manis (either done by yourself or in a salon), nail polish purchases and/or recommendations, nail polish tips--whatever nail-related thing you'd like! Yay for nails!**

***

I've had a crazy busy week, this week, so that meant I needed a simple mani (as I really don't like having naked nails--oh the horror! haha!). This one took no time at all and I love how it turned out.



To start, I did two coats of Shelly. When that was dry, I used Erin for the tips by carefully starting at one side and then dragging the brush to the other side. I did this twice, to get a solid, straight-ish line. While that was drying, I applied the three loose pieces of holo diamonds. One coat of Glisten and Glow's HK Girl Top Coat sealed everything together.


I love how fresh and simple this mani is, but the contrast of the light grey and light teal give it a bit of an edge. And, of course, the holo diamonds are freaking gorgeous with their sparkle-factor (thanks again, Beth!). 

What are you rocking this week? Link up and show off! Also, we've got one week left in Sparkle month, so if you've been thinking about joining in on the fun, get your mani ready for next Friday!

Have an awesome weekend!





22.7.15

pretty flower pics from the garden

When The Remix was cutting the grass a little while ago, he asked me if I'd seen the flowers growing in the backyard.

"Oh yeah," I said. "They're peonies."

"Yeah. I know," he replied. "But have you seen them this year? They're huge! And I think there are more than before."

Intrigued, I stopped painting my nails and ventured into our backyard. When we got to the back garden, I couldn't believe how right he was! Not only were they bigger, but there were a whole lot more of them. Last year, all we had were small-ish, light pink peonies, but this year, there were also dark pink and white peonies, along with a flower that is definitely not a peony, but still super pretty. I'm not a gardener, but I'm pretty sure it's called a Fluffy Fluff-Fluff (probably not, haha!). 

I got my little gardening shears (pink, of course) and cut all the big blossoms I could find. By the end of my shear-fest, I needed two vases to hold them all. And because they were so freaking gorgeous, I took a whole whack of pictures.

Here are some (because, you know, sometimes it's just nice to look at pretty things. You're welcome. Haha!):








17.7.15

the nail files: sparkly sea creatures

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**Link up with us to show off your cute manis (either done by yourself or in a salon), nail polish purchases and/or recommendations, nail polish tips--whatever nail-related thing you'd like! Yay for nails!**

***

While scrolling through my IG feed, looking for some sparkle inspiration, I came across a mani done by Alice from One Nail To Rule Them All and totally fell in love.


But since this is Sparkle Month, I tweaked her design just a bit, to include some glitter. Also, I kind of liked that with my minimalist mermaid mani last week, another "under the sea" kind of mani means I'm almost doing a theme within a theme. Obviously, it was too awesome an idea to resist. Haha!

Here's what I used:


And the mani!

For the base:

This was my first time using a saran wrap technique and I LOVED IT! After two coats, the blues totally blended together to create a nice "watery" look.

I started with one coat of Snowcone, waited about ten minutes, and then added generous dots of Snowcone, Skinny Dip, and White Tips, in a random pattern. With a crinkled ball of saran wrap, I dabbed all the colour together, making sure to use different sides of the saran wrap ball.

I waited another five minutes and then added a coat of Glisten and Glow's HK Girl Top Coat.


For the octopus:

I used a very thin striping brush and outlined the head of the octopus. Then I decided where the tentacles would go and made thin lines to make sure they were even. I wasn't too worried about having the tentacles line up completely, but I tried to space the surrounding tentacles evenly, on my ring and pointer fingers. I thickened each tentacle, added the curls at the end, added a thin line of Harmonious Mess, for contrast, and waited for it to dry.

Back on my middle nail, I filled in the octopus head and tentacles, continuing the same thin line of Harmonious Mess.

When all the polish was dry, I used the same thin nail art brush to pick out purple hex glitter from Can't Be Tamed and added them along the bottom of each tentacle. The final touch were the octopus eyes, but I put them up too high and had to add the smiley face because otherwise, it looked kind of weird. Haha!


The starfish:

I used the same thin brush as I used for the octopus (cleaned, of course, haha) and outlined the starfishes. Then I filled them in and while Mayhem Mentality was still wet, blended Key Lime Twist into the middle. When that had dried, I picked out gold hex glitter from Sashay My Way.

A final coat of Glisten and Glow's HK Girl Top Coat sealed everything together.

Whew! Definitely a high-effort mani, but one that I'm so happy I did because it's so much fun!


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

Have an awesome weekend, everyone!





16.7.15

the time I became a duck defender

It’s our second summer in our new house and it’s safe to say that we’re still totally loving it. There’s a fantastic view over the field across from us, a delightful cross-breeze that keeps the air fresh and cool, and a pond that’s lovely, but hell-bent on giving us a run for our money. Ha!

Between the mink, muskrats, and random enormous birds, our fish population has been cut in half, but the fact that we got baby ducks this year basically evened all that out. We've had ducks before, but no babies and let me tell you, baby duck cuteness is pretty much unparalleled.


The little family lives in our neighbour’s pond, but use ours as a place to hang. The first day they came, I just about died and since then, I've taken approximately 1598 pictures of them. Because I seriously don’t know if I’ve seen anything more adorable. 


But one day, something awful happened.

The mama and her ducklings were swimming around, minding their own business...


...when another female duck and a mallard flew into the pond. I thought everything would be okay, because we've had more than one duck on our pond at a time, but then I heard a loud burst of quacking and when I looked out of my window, the mallard had driven the mama out of the pond, pushed her up against our fence, and was attacking her. The ducklings were huddled together in the middle of the pond, freaking the freak out, while the other female couldn’t have cared less and was still eating.

Naturally, I lost my damn mind and ran outside to help the mama. Running around the pond to where the ducks were, the mallard flew away while the mama went back into the pond. Thoroughly confused, I came back inside and Googled what the hell was wrong with the mallard.

And that’s when I learned a horrible truth: ducks are dicks.


According to every website on the internet (I know because I checked as many as I could find, hoping that the information was wrong), mallards routinely attack single females until they’re worn down enough to be mated with. In other words, mallards are duck rapists, although the science community refers to it as "forced copulation." And the single females most likely to be attacked are ones with ducklings. Even worse, often times there are multiple mallards attacking a single female.

One exceptionally horrific account came from a man who’d videoed an attack. As in he stood there, saw what was happening, and RECORDED IT FOR FUTURE WATCHING. To make matters worse, on his horrible video, he said that he didn’t intervene because “it was nature and what could he do anyway?”

Well I am of a different opinion than that stupid asshat, and because I want our pond to be a "forced copulation"-free zone, I started Single Duck Mama Watch, which first began as me running outside every time I’d hear the mallard land. 

Jennifer Lawrence The Hunger Games animated GIF

At first, he'd fly away when I got within a few feet of him, but after the first few running attacks, he’d fly into the pond instead of flying away, so I had to up my game.

That led to Single Duck Mama Watch: Level Two, which involved our airsoft rifle. 


Now, to be clear, this is an airsoft rifle that shoots (biodegradable) pellets. At most, they sting. So when the mallard would start trying to go after the mama, I’d shoot him. I guess it’s important to say that our rifle isn’t that great and the aim is way off, but after a few hits, he’d fly away. However, as rape-y as this guy was, he wasn’t dumb and soon realized that the pellets didn’t actually hurt him, so he'd just scoot away until he was annoyed enough to leave. It took a lot of pellets, though, so I had to go back to the drawing board, temporarily reverting to the mildly more effective Level One. 

I wasn't sure what else I could do, and was pretty upset about it, but then I remembered that we had small clay rocks in one of our gardens and Single Duck Mama Watch: Level Three was born.


Larger than the pellets, and jaggedy, I figured that they’d work pretty well. And being that I have pretty good hand-eye-coordination, I was confident that I could throw more accurately than the rifle fired. And even if I missed him, they'd make a splash and hopefully scare him off.

Well, it turned out that he wasn't too bothered by the splash, and proved to be quite the agile swimmer, so it took a couple of days for me to finally make contact with him. But when I did, he couldn’t have gotten out of the pond fast enough. And since then, whenever I go outside, he flies away immediately. 

Suck it, duck dick!


It's been a few weeks since there's been an attack and the single duck mama and her flock have come back almost every day. I know it sounds a little Dr. Doolittle-ish, but there's a part of me that believes she knows that I've got her back. Or wings. Whatever. The point is, it's been awesome to see the little ducklings grow up without worrying about their mama.


The got big so fast!

So rest easy, Single Duck Mamas of the world, Jennie is here for you.

*restocks pile of rocks, just to be safe*






10.7.15

the nail files: minimalist mermaid

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**Link up with us to show off your cute manis (either done by yourself or in a salon), nail polish purchases and/or recommendations, nail polish tips--whatever nail-related thing you'd like! Yay for nails!**

***

It's week two of Sparkle Month, and I have to admit, it was a tricky one for me. I love sparkles like, a lot, but for some reason, it was nail fail after nail fail for me. Isn't that just the worst? Anyway, I persevered and ended up with a more delicate kind of sparkle than I usually do, but the good news is that it wasn't a hot mess. And thank goodness for that. Haha!



I started with two coats of Vanna and after that dried, I got started on the sparkle.

Using the nail polish bottle's brush, I wiped it a few times on the rim of the bottle to get a really thin coat, and then dabbed Oscar onto three quarters of each nail. Because there wasn't much polish, I was able to move on right away to Carly, where I used the same technique of wiping off excess polish before adding blue sparkles on top of the gold.


To finish, I used Harper to create a teal tip to each nail, but tried to blend it down some, so the line wasn't perfectly straight. The extra, larger glitter pieces in Harper really make the tips shine in natural light.


Vanna is such a wonderful, warm, creamy colour and although the formula is a bit on the thicker side, once I figured out that both coats require a floating application (meaning the brush doesn't actually touch your nail, therefore having the polish float with its coverage), it went on nicely. The thin coats of glitter dried almost instantaneously and the combo of the blue and gold micro-glitter is dainty and pretty while still having some punch.

While rocking this mani, I found myself getting distracted by all the pretty, and from my experience, that's the mark of an awesome mani. So although it took a looooooooooooong time to finally get it right, it was worth it. I think. Haha!


What are you rocking this week? Did you have a nail fail of your own? Are you a sparkly sparkle-fest? Link up and show off your pretties, guys! :D