23.1.15

the nail files: not-so-perfect plaid


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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! And please use the button and/or link back to this blog. Thanks!**

***

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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**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! And please use the button and/or link back to this blog. Thanks!**

***

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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**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! And please use the button and/or link back to this blog. Thanks!**

***

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? 




2.1.15

the nail files: favourite 14 manis of 2014


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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! And please use the button and/or link back to this blog. Thanks!**

***

Happy New Year, fellow nail polish enthusiasts!!

Hard to believe that we've moseyed on into 2015, eh? I hope that 2015 slows down a bit because it feels like 2014 went by in a flash. Also? I'm REALLY SORRY about not posting a nail files last week. I woke up on Boxing Day and was all: I feel like I forgot to do something...HOLYFACENUTS I FORGOT TO POST THE NAIL FILES.

Fridays at 4PM

Seeing as I had no reserve manis to share, and I was slightly hungover from all the wine turkey, by the time I remembered that I forgot (ha), it was way too late. Again, I'm so sorry about the flake. If you had a post from last week, please link up both this week!!

And speaking of this week, figured that I'd do a little round-up of my favourite manis from 2014, but they're in no particular order, because it was hard enough picking from 52 + manis in the first place. It blows my mind when I see how much better I've gotten at nail art (and at taking pictures of my nails). When I was scrolling through the pics from this year, I kind of impressed myself, which is totally weird and slightly narcissistic, but it happened and I'm owing it. Haha! 

So now, on with the nails!

*bangs gong*

(If you want the step-by-step, and names of polish used, click on the picture and it'll take you to the post. Except for a couple, which blogger REFUSED to link, so I have the hard link below the title that you'll have to cut and paste. Sorry!! Blogger really stinks sometimes.)


Surprise!

 Flower Power


Rhinestones + Neon = Love!

Making a Move at the Gavin DeGraw Concert


Glamorous Ghosts


I Love Me Some Wrap...ping Paper


Shark Attack


Peek a BOO

Holiday Rose Tutorial

Two of My Favourite Little Lovebirds (Alternate Title: He Liked It So He Put a Ring on It)


Pop the Champagne!

Party Penguins


Pink 'n Green
http://www.jennieshaw.ca/2014/09/the-nail-files-pink-n-green.html

Snowy Tips
http://www.jennieshaw.ca/2014/11/the-nail-files-snowy-tips.html


Here's to a wonderful, fun-filled 2015!! I can't wait to see all the wonderful manis you'll be doing!



31.12.14

pop the champagne mani


It's New Year's Eve! Woot woot! 


And the best way to usher in 2015?

Popping a few bottles while sporting a festive mani, of course.

(You saw that one coming, right? Haha!)


Hope you all have a super fun (and safe) New Year's Eve, and catch ya never, 2014! Haha!

(Also, sorry about completely forgetting the nail files last week. I swear it'll be up this week!!)



30.12.14

top 10 reads of 2014


I'm starting to see a lot of 2014 best-of lists, so I figured I'd comb through the books conveniently displayed on my (completed!) 2014 Goodreads Challenge page and put together my own. You know, because of peer pressure and all that. ;)

To build the anticipation, I'm starting at 10 and working towards one. OH THE TENSION. I can hardly stand it! Haha!


when beyonce’s album dropped

I've written formal reviews for some, but I've also summed them up in a few sentences because sometimes, you just want to get to the point. 



10. Yes Please

Yes Please

Super funny and heartfelt. Not what I was expecting. NOT like Bossypants, but Amy has some very insightful essays with powerful, loving messages. After reading this, I like her about a million percent more and since I was already a super fan, I'm basically one second away from friend-stalking her. 

Note: Amy, if you're reading this, totally don't take that literally. I'm just using it as an example of how much I loved your book! I'd never stalk you. That'd be crazy.

An additional note: Your new couch is super cute! 

*hires lawyer to avoid imminent restraining order*

9. Anatomy of a Misfit

Anatomy of a Misfit

Best YA of the year, as far as I'm concerned. I got pretty heavy into YA this year, for the first time ever, and although there are some fantastic reads out there, Anatomy of a Misfit has become my favourite. It was funny, snarky in the best way, but there's also a depth of emotion, almost like the book wears its heart on its sleeve. It's uncomfortable at times, but only because it took me back to the painful emotional onion that is teenaged estrogen, and considering that I was in high school almost twenty years ago, that's pretty impressive.


8. True Vines

True Vines

Women's Fiction at its finest--a true emotional journey, but True Vines stands out because it's done to perfection. The pace is quicker than most, which kept me very engaged, and the real raw-ness of the story leaps from every page. Probably not one you should read on a plane or in public, though, because it's a bit of a cry-fest in parts. You've been warned. Haha!


7. The Rosie Project

The Rosie Project

If Sheldon Cooper were to write a memoir about dating Amy Farrah Fowler, this is probably as close as you could get. Of course, you'd need to substitute Amy for a free-spirited woman named Rosie and Sheldon's role would be played by Don, a geneticist, but the social incompetence combined with intellectual brilliance rings true. The Rosie Project is delightful with its prose and the love story is heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time. 

6. The Humans

The Humans

This is a book that'll make you think, long after you've finished the last page. "An alien living among us" isn't a new tale, but Matt Haig's take is utterly original. It got a ton of buzz that's still going strong and that's because it's a universal story that secretly (and then overtly) presses a social agenda of basically being a good person and making the most of what life has to offer. Plus, it's funny, so there's that too.


5. A House in the Sky

A House in the Sky: A Memoir

Holy incredible story of survival. Haunting. Terrifying. Awe-inspiring. If you can get over how this memoir came to be, meaning that Amanda Lindhout chose to be in an unstable place during an unstable time, then prepare to be amazed with what the human spirit can accomplish. Also? You need to shut it because everyone makes mistakes and it's what a person does afterwards that really counts. A House in the Sky certainly isn't an easy read, but the good news is that you know the story ends well because, well, she wrote the book. Trust me, you'll be holding onto that fact desperately because it really gets grim. But those moments are where Amanda shines the brightest. Like to the point that you'll see spots. And in its essence, that's what this book is about--the strength of the human spirit.

4. That Night

That Night

I freaking love Chevy Stevens and she nailed it with That Night. It's a hot old mess of emotion and a thriller that kept me guessing until the end. There's a forbidden romance too, which gave it some extra spice. It certainly isn't creepy like other books Chevy Stevens has written, but it's the kind of book that you can immerse yourself in. Toni, one of the main characters, felt so real that I had to suppress the urge to start a crowd funding site so she could get some help investigating her sister's death. Don't start this one at bedtime, because you'll be awful cranky at work the next day while you try not to fall asleep at your desk.

3. The Queen of the Tearling

The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling, #1)

Incredible fantasy. Dark and foreboding, with a kickass heroine who takes no crap from anyone. She may have no idea how to run a kingdom but by golly, is she going to try. And I love me a heroine who's as fearless as she is determined. The world building is some of the best I've ever read, meaning I fell into it with little effort and for me, that's pretty rare. I can't freaking wait for the rest of this series.


2. First Grave on the Right

First Grave on the Right (Charley Davidson, #1)

I'm super late to this series but the good news is that means I can binge-read them all. Think I'm kidding? I literally just ordered three more in the series and will be stalking my mailbox starting tomorrow. This book is like a double masters class in How To Write Dialogue and The Line Between Bitchy and Snarky. I laughed out loud throughout the entire book and the steamy scenes are downright naughty. Oh, and it's a mystery/crime novel as well, so the pace is out-of-this-world, just like Charley Davidson, the Private-Investigator-slash-Grim-Reaper who I'm sure you'll fall for, just as hard as I did.


1. The Enchanted

The Enchanted

This book, guys. I can't even. It's haunting and beautiful and gruesome, all at the same time. The writing is phenomenal and the story so consuming, it will stay with you for a long time. Even though I wrote a formal review, I'm still not sure that it captures how incredibly different The Enchanted is. There's no real way to describe it other than to say it's completely unique and moving. It may not be for everyone, but it's a book I think everyone should read. 



So that's my list, what's on yours? Did you have a favourite book of the year? If so, please share! I love hearing about books I haven't read!