30.4.14

a letter to my (not-so)dear winter coat

(Not-So)Dear Winter Coat,

We've had a toxic relationship, you and I, and I am delighted to no longer be held hostage by your warmth. We were together for far too long, but because the snow is almost gone and the sun has decided to actually emit heat instead of just hanging uselessly in the sky, taunting us with memories of non-Tundric temperatures, I can finally let you go. 

Wait. What was that? You're offended that I called our relationship toxic? Surely you jest, Winter Coat. We've only been fighting constantly for the last five months. But if you need a recap, I guess that I can break it down so you will understand why I'm going to burn you in the backyard shred you into pieces with sewing shears hang you in the back of the closet, never to be worn again. 

First, there's your hood. I believe the term used to describe it online was "fashion hood," which didn't mean much to me, as I'm not much of a fashionista, but even in my wildest dreams, I am quite sure that I never thought it would mean this:

I mean seriously, could your hood be any bigger? Probably not. 

Never before did I need to worry about gusts of wind while walking outdoors, and it is a relief to no longer fear that I may catch flight like some bootleg version of the old man in Up!, should an unusually strong current come along. Not to mention the echo, echo, echo. I'm loud enough, thank you very much. I don't need the extra amplification.

Although, I will admit that I kind of liked doing this…


But that small bit of cool was greatly outweighed by your other major problem: shedding. Or, to be more precise: moulting. Yes, I knew that you were down-filled, which was one of the reasons I bought you in the first place (because Mamma's gotta keep warm) but I did not sign up for leaving a literal trail of feathers in my wake. 


I believe it was a combination of your thin material and penchant for tiny stabby feathers that caused the moulting situation, and I am delighted to no longer need to carry a first-aid kit in my purse for when an aggressively hateful feather decided to emerge and impale itself in my delicate skin. Not to mention that I can finally retire my mini sticky roller because I won't have to worry about finding feathers stuck to every article of clothing I own. Oh how light my tote will be!


So goodbye, Winter Coat. I will be shoving you to the back of the front hall closet, and will most likely be replacing you once the cold weather comes around again because you made this winter far more rage-y than it needed to be. I'd like to say that I wish you the best but let's keep it real. I don't. Because you suck. 

Love (and we both know that I'm using this term loosely),

Jennie



25.4.14

Book Club Friday: Confessions of a Paris Party Girl



I feel pretty confident that most women, at some time, have dreamt of living in Paris. I mean, not only are French women über chic and basically every piece of food is made with copious amounts of butter, but there's also culture and history everywhere you turn. Oh, and the wine. Let's not forget about the wine. After all, France pretty much invented it (err…probably--someone check that, will ya?). And when you put all of those things together, it makes about zero sense NOT to go to Paris, but since that would involve a substantial amount of cash, and the ability to leave your normal life for a while, why not live vicariously through someone else? Enter, Confessions of a Paris Party Girl

The author, Vicki Lesage, is a US midwest native who currently lives in Paris. And, if I may be so bold, I'm pretty sure that, if we met in real life, we'd probably have the best night ever drinking far too much wine and solving the majority of the world's problems. Seriously. Like, war would be over, people. Or, at least that's what we'd do if Vicki weren't currently pregnant with her second child. Haha!

But this book is about Vicki's life in Paris, pre-les-bébés. A time when she strolled around the Parisian streets with a confident swagger that would put Kate Moss to shame (only sub in "stumbling mess" for "confident swagger," ha!). And who doesn't love a few shouldn't-have-had-that-last-beer stories? Especially when they have cute French guys and amusing experiences that illustrate just how different France is from The USA. And these are real stories, people, not fiction, which is hard to believe at times because Vicki can get a little crazy. Fun crazy, obviously, but crazy nonetheless. 

But the most interesting part of the book, for me, was the latter half. Just when I was growing a bit tired of stories involving bars, Vicki meets Mika, her future husband and suddenly, the tone got more mature. Truth be told, I read a couple chapters at a time in the first half, but then read the last half all at once. It may have been the book's shift from hanging out in Paris to staying in Paris permanently that got me more engaged, or the addition of Mika, but for whatever reason, it went from a good read to a great one and when I was finished, I went straight to Vicki's blog to read more. And that's the best part about Confessions of a Paris Party Girl, because if you love it then you can get even more, like, immediately! Plus, Vicki has a new book coming out in May called Confessions of a Paris Potty Trainer so you won't have to wait long for the next instalment. 

How awesome is that?

Hint: the answer is VERY!

So if you're in the mood for a light, non-fiction read about an American partying it up in Paris and then falling in love, you're going to want to pick up Confessions of a Paris Party Girl. And to take your reading experience to the next level, I recommend having a glass of wine handy. You're welcome for the excuse to day drink. Ha!

Thanks to Heather for hosting Book Club Fridays! Finding new books to read is just the best!

Disclaimer: I was contacted by Vicki Lesage to review Confessions of a Paris Party Girl but because I keep it real, my review is entirely honest. 

the nail files: SURPRISE! i love the new china glaze collection! (wait, you're probably not that surprised, ha!)


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Here's the scoop: it's no secret that I'm a hard-core glitter-addict. Like, to the point that if I could walk around wearing a disco ball as a dress, I probably would. You think I'm kidding, but I'm not. Haha! Anyway, so when I saw China Glaze's Surprise Collection, I dropped my mug of tea on the floor and raced to the car swung by Sally's to see if they were as incredibly awesome as the pictures suggested. And you know what? They were even BETTER!


the best gif ever


The one I'm showcasing today is Don't Be a Flake.


I also picked up Gilded Chrome, which was a new release from Finger Paints but although it's a super fun, full-coverage glitter, it kind of got overshadowed by the Surprise collection. Err…sorry, Finger Paints? Haha!

(Side Note: Dear Finger Paints, Please don't be mad about this post. I promise that, sometime in the near future, I'll do a post solely about you. Still friends then? Okay, good.)

Outside, no flash.

I started with two coats of Oxygen and when that was dry, added a 1/3 coat of Gilded Chrome. Then, with a small-ish flat brush, I put on two coats of Don't Be A Flake, moving the bits around until they were in the right place.

Inside, no flash.

So let's talk about why I'm obsessed with China Glaze's Don't Be a Flake.

1. The name is hilarious.

2. The three colours of hex bits have contrast and sparkle. I mean, there's a Tiffany-esque blue WITH a glossy black AND a pink holo. All at once. It's madness! UTTER, GORGEOUS MADNESS!

3. The overall look is peppy and fun and oh-so-different than anything else I have and I just loveitsomuchthatit'shardtofunction.

Do you have any of the China Glaze Surprise Collection? If so, which one are you obsessed with is your favourite?

And don't forget to link up! There's pretty polish to be seen!


18.4.14

the nail files: easy easter mani


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The last couple of weeks have been big on the nail art front and even though it's Easter--an opportunity for super fun ideas--I needed a little break. So, I opted for a simple, yet still very fun and festive mani this week.



Inside, no flash.

Like the title suggests (or just says directly), this mani was very easy to do and took me about half an hour (thanks to quick-dry top coat). To start, I did two coats of each colour: Dance Baby, Blu, Bea, Highlight of my Summer, Harmonious Mess, and Paris. Then, when it was totally dry, I picked out pieces of hex glitter from Paris and placed them in the middle of my nail with the edge of a bamboo stick (three times). 

Outside, no flash. Just look at that hex glitter shine! *sighs happily*

There are two different colours of hex glitter in Paris, but I didn't pay any attention to that, pattern wise. I just picked out pieces and put them on my nails. It took way less time than polish dots, and in the sunlight, the sparkle gives off the perfect amount of pop. 

I hope you all have an awesome weekend, whether you celebrate Easter or not!! But since you don't necessarily need to celebrate Easter in order to partake in the chocolaty-goodness component, Cadbury Cream Eggs for everyone! Haha!


16.4.14

how feedback makes for a more delicious manuscript


A couple of weeks ago, I finally finished my revisions. 


Total time invested: over nine months. That's a lot of days at the computer, people. A whole lotta days. And the second I finished, I sent the manuscript to my Critique Partners and Beta Readers, and then settled into a fun Saturday night and relaxing Sunday. But, when Monday rolled around, it wasn't long before I found myself at odds with what to do.

So, naturally, I watched every episode of the current Big Brother Canada season, played all of my lives in Candy Crush, and then, when I got a little peckish, went out for a donut. Because that's what we Canadians do when we're bored. We eat donuts (stereotypes exist for a reason, people, haha). So, off to my local Tim Hortons I went, in search of sugary, circular pastries. And as I drooled over looked at all the donut options nestled behind the shiny glass case, I began the Which Donut Will I Get Decision Dance, which is kind of like the I Have To Pee Dance, but with less urgency.

Usually, my decision is easy, as I'm partial to the Vanilla Dip, but the sprinkles weren't colours that I liked and because aesthetics are important to my life, I was forced to reevaluate. You probably think I'm joking, but I'm not. Haha! And it was while I mulled over the other options that I noticed a sad little donut in corner of the case: the Old-Fashioned Plain.

"Now who the heck would every want to eat that?" I thought to myself. "No wonder it's in the bottom corner where you can hardly see it. It's dull, and small, and kind of sad. Especially when you compare it to the yummy Honey Dip donut. Yeah, they should probably just stop making those things all together because who the heck wants to eat a such a sad donut?" 

And because I was still accustomed to having to think about my manuscript ALL THE TIME, I  was suddenly hit with the realization that manuscripts are a lot like donuts and, although it was hard to admit, my very first draft was just like an Old-Fashioned Plain, which is when I got a big ole love surge for everyone who’s ever read my manuscripts because it was their feedback that inspired the revisions that got me out of the Old-Fashioned Plain zone. So, without further adieu, here's a delectable pictorial explanation of how reader feedback makes for a more delicious manuscript.

Keep reading and it'll make sense, I promise. Haha!

Going It Alone – Old-Fashioned Plain Donut

Yahoo! You sat down and managed to hack out a whole novel! All by yourself! There are words! And sentences! And paragraphs! Not only that but there are characters, plot arcs, and settings too—everything a book needs to have! You’ve even read through it a couple of times and it's ridiculous how good it is. You should just quit your job and write for the rest of your life! Why did you think it would be so hard? Writing is easy!!

But just like the honeymoon period of any new relationship, there’s a pretty good chance that you're unbelievably biased, and no matter how good you think your manuscript is, it's fairly likely that all you have is an Old-Fashioned Plain donut.


You see, the dough of the Old-Fashioned Plain donut is dense and there isn’t much pizazz. It has the basic ingredients that all donuts need, but it’s a bit dry. Only kind of sweet. It has the potential to be amazing, but as it stands, it's just a sad donut in the corner that most people wouldn't look twice at. Let alone get psyched about. 

Now, if all you want to do is write novels for yourself, then who cares if your work stays like an Old-Fashioned Plain donut? Again, I stress that this is totally okay. Writing is something you do because you love it and nothing should ever deter you from doing what you love. But, if you want to put your Old-Fashioned Plain donut in a store for people to buy, there’s a distinct possibility that you’ll get overlooked in favor of…well…a more flavourful treat. Just like I did when I went out for donuts and hated pretty hard on the Old-Fashioned Plain. But in order for your manuscript to become a more flavourful treat, you need to branch out because you don't know what you don't know and unless someone tells you what you don't know, you'll never be able to fix it because you'll never know what to fix.

If you feel like Kim after reading the last bit, go back, read it again, and then we'll move on to how just a little bit of feedback can make your basic donut much tastier. Haha!


The BFF Reader Donut – Honey Dip

So you’ve decided that you want to take your Old-Fashioned Plain donut manuscript to the next level! Yay! The good news is that means your manuscript is about to get better. The bad news is that you actually have to let someone read it. Haha! I know when I was starting out and needed a reader, the first thing I thought was: Hey! My BFF loves the kinds of books I write! In fact, she was the one who told me that I should write a book in the first place! I’ll get her to read it! YAY FOR FEEDBACK FROM MY BFF!

So, I gave it to her and then stared from the corner as she read it waited very patiently for her to finish.

And you know what? She loved it! More than loved it, actually. She said it was the greatest book she’s ever read! There were a few things she was confused about, and she found some problems in my timeline, but aside from that, it was perfect! Yay!!

So, armed with the minor feedback from my BFF, I made some revisions and then began to query my manuscript,  CONVINCED that I was three seconds away from getting a six-figure book advance and becoming close personal friends with Jennifer Weiner. But soon, my confidence began to wane. Apparently, although my BFF loved my manuscript, agents didn't, which was demonstrated by the vast amount of form rejections that clogged up my inbox. I got a few non-form rejections with horrifically vague comments like: non-sympathetic protagonist and editorial work needed, which is when I realized that although I'd made a few changes to my manuscript, tweaks here and there, not much had changed. Just like the jump from an Old-Fashioned Plain donut to a Honey Dip. 


The dough of my manuscript was fluffier because I'd kneaded it more (I don’t know if this is actually true for donut dough but it works for me here, so it says, ha) and the thin coat of glaze made it shine, but it was still pretty plain. It was better than what I started with, but there was still major work to do.   

The lesson I learned? Feedback from a BFF or equivalent is an absolutely natural first step for a budding writer, but it's not the kind of feedback you need in order to produce a really great manuscript. Sure, there are exceptions to this rule. Like, for instance, if your BFF is Jennifer Weiner. Or Martina Cole. Or Marian Keyes. (I think you see my point here, so I’ll stop.) But if that's not the case and you want to write for publication, you need to seek out a more unbiased opinion. 

Side Note: The manuscript I referred to here has been shelved. Indefinitely. Because it was my first and not very good. But thanks for all the encouragement, BFF! LOVEYOURFACE!


The Beta Reader Donut  Chocolate Dip

So now you’re ready for the next step and have trolled the internet or your local writing community to wrestle up a Beta Reader because it’s time to get some totally honest feedback about the thing that you’ve worked on for longer than anything else in your life, aka your manuscript. (Spoiler Alert: you've actually only just begun--the real work is still to come. Errr…sorry? Haha!)

Rest assured that giving your work to a Beta Reader is a scary, scary thing, but if you’re lucky enough to get a good Beta Reader (or two) then the payoff is worth the sleepless nights fear. The good news is that you’ll hopefully get an idea of how your manuscript stacks up to the BIG names, because your Beta Readers will be fans of books in your genre. The bad news is that you’ll probably get an idea of how your manuscript stacks up to the BIG names because your Beta Readers are familiar with your genre. Haha! But seriously, it’s a double-edged sword and a good chunk of a Beta Reader’s feedback will probably break your heart, which is why it’s so different than feedback you would get from a BFF because a Beta Reader doesn’t have to worry about what will happen when you sit across the table from each other the next time you have a birthday. But if you can suffer through the pain absorb the feedback meant to strengthen your work, and revise accordingly, when you're finished, your manuscript will be just like a delicious, Chocolate Dip donut.


It will be light and fluffy like the Honey Dip donut, due to the extra kneading, but there’s an extra layer of goodness: chocolate. A lot of people love chocolate, you know. In fact, some people even live for chocolate. And in a lot of cases, chocolate would be enough to attract, and then satisfy someone's craving. After all, it's chocolate on a donut. But…there’s still some potential to produce an even more delicious donut. I know, I know, it sounds crazy, but it's true. Which is exactly the same thing when it comes to Beta Reader feedback. It's far more helpful than BFF Reader feedback, and can create a tasty manuscript but there's another type of feedback that can make your manuscript downright delicious.


The Critique Partner Donut – Vanilla Dip

From my experience, a Critique Partner is different from a Beta Reader because they are often another writer who…well…critiques your work. It’s a partnership—a close relationship that’s cultivated in the trenches of writing warfare where you band together and drink all the wine create epic fiction. So, it should be no surprise that it’s hard to find a good CP. Like, really hard. But once you do (and I swear that you will, eventually) this is where the real magic happens. 


With feedback from a Critique Partner, you'll have the soft, fluffy dough from the BFF Reader Donut, the icing from the Beta Reader Donut (in this case though, vanilla instead of chocolate) and then the sprinkles, which are the little something extra. Why? Because a CP won't let you do good work, but will push you to do your awesomest work. And although your CP loves you like a BFF, they know that constructive criticism is the best way to show that love. For instance, I like to say to mine: If you love me, you WILL FIND THINGS THAT DO NOT WORK IN HERE

I get that sounds somewhat twisted but the only way to become a better writer is to be challenged. And since a CP will have seen the progression of your manuscript, they know where you've been, where you want to go, and they will help you get there when you can't see the forest for the trees. (Or, the dough for the flour, in this case? Mixing metaphors is hard, guys. Haha!)

The good news is that after your CP gives you the soul crushing suggestion that you may need to remove a secondary character that you love because they're ruining everything, which would require an entire rewrite that you don't want to do even though you know your CP is right, the feeling you get after you accept that fact, make revisions, and then give it to your CP who says YOU NAILED THIS, is comparable to the feeling one would get after running a marathon, blindfolded, only way WAY WAY WAY better! Probably, anyway. And do you know how I know that? Because it's happened to me. More than once (Thanks, Scott and Gina!).

Also, there's the added bonus that you get to critique your CP's manuscript, which always ends up pointing out things you need to adjust in your own work. A double-score, that little bit is. Sort of like getting a donut and a Timbit at the same time. THE SAME TIME, people. And who doesn't want more donut? Not this gal. Of that, you can be sure.

So there you have it: my interpretation of how getting reader feedback makes for a more delicious manuscript. In particular, Beta Reader and Critique Partner feedback have been invaluable for me and it was through their insightful comments/concerns/suggestions that I was able to stretch myself and grow, therefore upgrading my Old-Fashioned Plain manuscript all the way to Vanilla Dip status. And I will be forever grateful to them because, really, which one of these would you want to eat first? 

Note: If you pick Old-Fashioned Plain, I'm not sure we can be friends anymore. Haha!

There are lots of places online where you can look for a Beta Reader or a Critique Partner, so if you're interested, start looking around! Or find a local group in your area! I promise, it’s worth the effort. And, just for the record, although BFF Reader feedback probably won't take your manuscript to Vanilla Dip level, it's not the worst idea to let them read your stuff. Every writer needs a cheerleader. ;)

Also, I understand that you may be thinking: Hey Jennie, how come the donut’s names are Honey Dip, Chocolate Dip and Vanilla Dip but they're all way different? Shouldn’t it be Honey Glazed and/or Vanilla Dip With Sprinkles? Well, I agree. But I don’t make the names. Go talk to Timmies. They’re the ones in charge. Ha!

 So writers, what do you think about this? Do my delicious examples ring true? Where do you get your best feedback from?



11.4.14

the nail files: making a move at the gavin degraw concert

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On Wednesday of this week, I went to a Gavin DeGraw concert and to sum it up in one word, it would be: thebestconcertever. Haha! It has been YEARS since I've been able to go to a concert and because I was so freaking excited I could barely function, I did a tribute mani. Because, you know, it gave me something to focus on instead of staring at the clock all day, waiting for 8:00pm. (We all know I'm not kidding about this, right? haha!)

What I used:


"Make A Move" is the name of Gavin's current album.

For the base, I sploged (technical nail term--not really) Immortal, You Don't Know Jacques!, and Black Expressionism on a makeup sponge and, similar to a gradient technique, dabbed all over my nail. I wanted to make a cool, non-solid background, and I'm happy with how it turned out. In total, I did three sploging coats to get opaque coverage. 

Once that was dry, I used the medium detailing brush to write "Make A Move" and the music notes. For the sparkle dots, I used Gilded Chrome and a medium dotting tool, and for the notes, I also used Gilded Chrome, only with the medium detailing brush.


One of my favourite songs by Gavin is "Dancing Shoes," so that explains the shoes. Haha!

For the shoes, I stared with two coats of Billie Jean. Then, I painted the top third with Paper Mache (not pictured because I forgot). Once that was dry, I did the criss-crosses with Stripe Rite in White, using the brush that comes with the bottle. The shoelace "holes" were made with one medium dot of white and then a smaller dot of black in the middle. For the finishing touch, I did a half-circle with the medium detailing brush and Billie Jean. 

Please note that the half-circle was the hardest part. I tried to use a paper reinforcement as a guide but it didn't create a straight line. Or maybe it was because of my shaky left hand and insanely curved nail beds, but for whatever reason, I'm not too jazzed about how the line turned out. I mean, I don't think the line looks REALLY bad, but it could certainly look better. Ah well! Guess I better practice more! 

*remembers the insane amount of time two little lines took*

 *develops a twitch* 

Or maybe I won't practice. Whatever. Haha!

I hope that everyone has an amazing weekend! YAY FOR WEEKENDS! And don't forget to link up and show off your pretties!





8.4.14

5 tips on how to avoid scaring the crap out of yourself while home alone

My handsome hubby, The Remix, got a little promotion at work last month. YAY! It meant he had to go away for a week for training, though, which resulted in me spending spending an extended amount of time alone in our new house.

And you know what I found out? This house is scary at night. Probably because we're in the countray. Yes, the italics and additional "a" are completely appropriate on the latter part of country. We're nestled in between farms. On a dirt road. That literally has more horses on it than cars. In short, our home would be an excellent set for an episode of Criminal Minds, because it's so isolated. 

Luckily, though, over the last week, I figured out how to make it less scary for myself and in the interest of scary-free houses everywhere, I humbly offer the following tips.

1. Do not hang towels on door frames. In the glorious daylight, a towel hanging on a door frame looks…well…just like a towel hanging on the door. But at night? That towel turns into a ghost. A scary ghost. The scariest ghost in the history of the world, in fact, because it's not only watching you sleep and attempting to murder you by inciting a heart attack, but because it's directly in front of your escape route. Namely, the door. Not only that, but the murderous ghost is next to the light switch and at three in the morning, when you drag yourself to the bathroom and your heart stops because there's a hovering ghost blocking your way, there is no other choice but to close your eyes and launch yourself in the general direction of the light switch. Yes, the sudden brightness will blind you, but the payoff is that the ghost turns back into a towel and you can go pee. So, to avoid the cycle of blinding night-terror, keep all towels off all door frames. 

2. Close all drapes and blinds. At first, I thought that living in the country meant that I'd never have to close the curtains again because aside from this pervert, there's nobody around. But, on the first night of being alone, I realized that all scary movies have a scene where someone comes up behind you, and you only see them when it's too late, making you super scared directly before, and then during your murder. Frankly, I'd rather just be surprise-murdered instead of scared and then murdered because the confusion would cancel out the pain. Hopefully. 

Upon rereading the first part of this tip, I feel that I should note my ideal situation would be for no murder to occur at all. BY NO MEANS IS THIS A MURDER INVITATION.

Good, so with that cleared up, back to the drapes and why you need to close them. Haha! It's because when it's dark outside and you have the lights on inside, a window becomes a reflective surface. But not a perfect one. It's more of a ghostly reflection, and those are way scarier. So close those curtains people! And if you can't, for reasons like this one…


in which a big-ass window with no drape is directly at the bottom of the staircase that leads to the bedrooms, then it's very important to never look directly at said big-ass window when you scamper up to bed. Yes, it will take practice but you can do it. I believe in you.

3. Don't look in any mirror. All the reasons I stated in #2 are applicable for mirrors as well, but since I understand that it may be challenging to wash off your makeup without some mirror face-time, I offer the following suggestions. First, make sure that all the lights are on and don't ever close your eyes. Ever. Eyes open, people. ALWAYS. And you must maintain eye contact with yourself for the duration. If you look away, even for a second, you can't look back. Why? Because when you do, the killer from I Know What You Did Last Summer will probably appear behind you with a long, shiny scythe. So just like Eminem in 8 Mile, you've only got one shot. And if you don't manage to succeed in maintaining direct eye contact with yourself, just leave the bathroom and wipe whatever product is left on your face with a pair of jeans from your laundry hamper. 

4. Change your text ringtone. Because hearing Will Ferrell screaming "We're going streaking!" is startling when you know you're home by yourself, in the middle of nowhere. A soothing double tone, or perhaps an uplifting pixie-ish tune are far better options. 

5. Do not accidentally begin watching American Horror Story, Coven. Pretty much everyone watches television when they're alone. Maybe not for a long time, but most likely, some television is involved. Now, I don't really watch television, as much as I'm on my computer or phone while glancing up at it from time to time. But it was that carelessness that led to The Night I Hardly Slept, otherwise known as last Tuesday, because I didn't see the show change on the channel where I had previously been watching something funny (as that's what I watch, almost exclusively). The story seemed interesting, though, which made me put my computer away and start watching for real. And for the first seven minutes, it was a very engaging story but at minute eight, ten thousand terrifying things happened at once and I'm pretty sure that I've been scarred for life. So be aware of what's coming up next on your television station of choice, people!

The Remix is home now, thank freaking goodness, so I can change my ringtone back to the hilarious Will Ferrell but the next time I'm home alone, I'll be making sure to implement the above-mentioned tips as soon as the sun begins to set. Haha!!

Do you have any tips for me to add to my list? How do you not scare the crap out of yourself when you're home alone?




4.4.14

the nail files: two of my favourite little lovebirds (alternate title: he liked it so he put a ring on it)

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Last weekend, two of my favourite little lovebirds decided to get hitched. So, to celebrate, I did a tribute mani. You know, because that's how I mark important events.

No, I'm not kidding. That's really what I do. Haha!

There's a chance I got carried away so I'm going to do things a little differently and show you a picture of the finished product first before going through the steps.

Are you ready?

Then scroll on down!

*cue harp*


As you can see, it ended up being a bit of an ambitious design, so bear with me while I break it down for you. 

Polish used:

Tools used:

To start, I did a gradient with Blu, Snowcone, and Margritte's Masterpiece. To watch my gradient tutorial, click here.

When that was dry, I drew a thin line with the long striping brush and You Don't Know Jacques!, trying to keep it as straight as possible. Please note that this didn't really happen. Haha! But that's why I started with a thin line, because I knew I wouldn't be able to do it on the first try. Gradually, I increased the thickness of the line and when I thought it was wide/straight enough, I painted the additional branches for leaves and used the medium detail brush with Mackenzie to make the leaves.


Next up were the birds. With the medium dotting tool, I used Tart-y For The Party and Charged up, starting with the bottom dot and gently swirling the tool in a circle to make a wider dot. I didn't want to use a larger dotting tool because my very round nail beds don't make for an even circle that way. (If you have flatter nails, you could totally use a larger dotting tool and just "dot" instead of "swirl.") For the top of the bird, I did another, slightly smaller dot, also with the medium dotting tool and a bit of swirling. Then, I used a small dotting tool with Sun Worshiper to make the beaks and Black Expressionism for the eyes. I waited until the very end to do the hearts, and used the medium dotting tool and Pool Party.

For my thumb, I used You Don't Know Jacques and the medium detail brush to write the initials. To add some dimension, I opted to use three different pinks for the hearts: Pool Party, Flip Flop Fantasy, and La Vida Loca, and both the medium and the small dotting tool.

And yes, because I know you're just dying to know (or maybe not, haha) I did my other hand as well. BUT because I'm not a glutton for punishment, I only did hearts, randomly placed and randomly sized with the same colours and technique as my thumb feature.


So there you have it: my little lovebird tribute mani. It was a very labour intensive mani that took a while but I just HAD to do it because I'm so EXCITED!

HAPPY ENGAGEMENT, A and J!! 

A + J FOREVER!!

I hope you all have an amazing weekend filled with springtime weather! And make sure to link up and make the rounds! There's pretty manis to be seen!







3.4.14

chai canada cake


My Mum spends a big chunk of the year in Scotland, with her husband, and last Saturday was her goodbye dinner. So that, combined with having time since finishing my revisions, meant that it was fancy cake time! YAY FOR FANCY CAKE TIME!

And for her trip this time, my Mum got herself some new luggage, which served as my inspiration because it was so freaking awesome.

I mean, how super cute is this design, eh? Haha!! YAY CANADA!

So with the design plan done, it was time to decide on flavours, and because my Mum has a more sophisticated palate, I knew that a standard chocolate or butter pecan wouldn't do it. So, off to my recipe books I went. In the end, I chose to make a chai tea cake with lemon cream cheese icing. It sounds weird, I know, but it turned out to be delicious, spicy, and zesty, all at the same time, so I thought I'd share the recipe! You're welcome. Haha!

What you'll need:

For the cake:
2 cups - self-raising flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
1 tbsp. chai tea powder
1/4 cup sweet butter (I used unsweetened)
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar (I used dark brown)
2 egg whites
2/3 cup buttermilk

For the frosting:
1 cup cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract

And here's how to make it!:

Mix flour, baking powder, salt, and chai tea in a medium bowl.

 Beat butter and sugar until smooth.

Add the egg whites slowly, beating well.

Slowly add the flour mixture, and then add buttermilk. You're going to have to scrape the sides a lot, so have a spatula ready for this step.

Pour cake into greased pans (for these two cakes, I had to make two batches of batter. If you were making cupcakes, one batch of batter would make a dozen). My batter was thick, so I used my fingers to spread it around. 

Bake at 350 for 25 minutes (20 minutes for cupcakes).

After removing from the oven, wait five minutes and then move the cake from the pan and let cool, completely. While you're waiting, you can make the frosting.

For the frosting (which I didn't take pictures of): Beat the cream cheese and confectioners' sugar until soft and light. Add the lemon and vanilla and then beat until smooth. Easy peasy!

After the cake was cooled and the frosting was ready, I got out my cake decorating kit and got to work rolling out and colouring fondant.

And here's what the finished cake looked like!




And finally, the inside.
Mmmm… cake…Haha!

The lemon cream cheese frosting was an excellent pairing to the chai tea, as the citrus cut the spice just a bit. Don't get me wrong, it was still pretty spicy, and lingered on your tongue but it was a good kind of lingering. Ha! The cake was very dense, similar to a coffee cake, and it smelt absolutely fabulous while baking. To be honest, it's probably the best smelling cake I've ever made. Someone call Glade because I've got a great new plug-in scent for them! Haha!

So if your cake tastes are more unconventional, of if you're just up for a change, give the chai tea cake a try! It's worth the effort!