2015 Year End Wrap Up

Hi everyone! I’m getting this in juuust under the wire, but this is just a random post with a little list of my favorite things of the year. I’m so happy you’ve chosen to read my blog for another year, thank you for your support! Let me know which of the below are your favorites, too, in the comments!

Some of my favorites from this past year:

Nail Polish:
I never shared this mani because the sun wouldn’t come out and I couldn’t get good enough pictures of the holo in my lightbox, but Orly’s Mirrorball is amazing! It’s an opaque silver holographic glitter that actually has a linear holo flare as well as the holo of each little piece of glitter. Kind of hard to describe, see what I mean in the photo below (but know that it’s way better in the sunlight!):

Mirrorball is on my middle finger.

Mirrorball is on my ring.

I also loooooved Essie’s Bikini So Teeny; I know it’s an older polish but I only got it this year, and while the formula isn’t great, that soft periwinkle is to die for! I used it a few times this past year, and it’s definitely one of my go-tos when I don’t know what to do to my nails. I’m not usually an Essie fan, but this color really is beautiful.

ILNP’s UltraFlakies – So, so, so gorgeous! I’m not 100% sure ILNP was the very first brand to come out with these new kind of flakies – the opaque, metallic kind, instead of the sheer ones that had been prevalent like Essie’s Shine of the Times – but I do remember every other indie brand quickly following suit, because these flakies are sooooo beautiful! They’re opaque, so you can layer them over any color to instantly transform your mani (those sheer flakies only looked good over dark colors, which made them pop), plus they’re incredibly easy to maneuver on the nail. I just love them so much! I’ve got some swatches/manis with them here, here, and here if you want to take a look at my favorites. ILNP is also well-known for their holos, but I think their UltraChromes (in both regular polish and flakie form) are where they really shine.

Potion Polish – This is a new indie brand, but I’m already super in love with them. I saw swatches on Very Emily, and was immediately captivated by the colors. I managed to score a few on sale during Black Friday, and I’ll have a mani with some of them up soon!

TV:
UnReal – I would never have given this show a chance (or really, probably even heard about it) if I hadn’t read a favorable review on one of my favorites sites, Pajiba. I’ve been reading that site for years, and I love it because there’s been a lot of times the reviewers have raved about a show or TV show I would never give a second look to, making me give it a shot and ending up loving it. I don’t watch The Bachelor, but I think its cliches and “rules” are common knowledge to anyone who watches even a little bit of TV, and I freaking loooooved this sharp look at that type of reality show. I’ve always liked Shirt Appleby for some reason, even though I’ve barely seen her in anything, and she was freaking amazing in UnReal, but my favorite by far was Constance Zimmer’s Quinn, the ruthlessly conniving executive producer of the show, and Breeda Wool’s Faith, the sweet and goofy country bumpkin contestant with a secret. It did almost veer a little too into soap opera-y at times, but it’s such a great juicy yet dark show to watch in the summer when everything is traditionally fluffy fare.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – Honestly, this one took me a few episodes to really get into. I never hated it, but it didn’t grip me from the very beginning; but after three or four episodes I was in love. I’m so glad Netflix picked it up – NBC would have definitely cancelled it after like, two episodes, and we never would’ve gotten to see this amazing show! Admittedly, this is such a weird concept for a comedy – a woman recently freed from a cult in an underground bunker tries to adapt to life in New York City – but this show is awesome. In the past I thought Ellie Kemper was annoying – I’d only seen her in a few episodes of The Office playing a super cutesy character – but she’s really great in Kimmy, and I was so excited to see Tituss Burgess on the show, too, since his D’Fwan character on 30 Rock was one of my favorites. It’s not a perfect show – there’s a supremely unfunny C-plot with Kimmy’s too dumb to live stepfather and bratty teenage half-sister, and the Native American stuff made me a little uncomfortable – but it’s given me some of my favorite quotes and anything that gets Carol Kane and Jane Krakowski on my TV is A-okay by me.

Jessica Jones – Jessica is basically Veronica Mars with Buffy Summers’ strength and just a dash of both of those iconic characters’ trademark quips. This show excels at my favorite world-building conceit: it’s the same as our world, but with one or two tweaks – here, it’s that some people have superhero abilities like flying and super strength. It keeps the show grounded and way more interesting to me than any of the other superhero fare that’s been around the past decade or two, the skintight, bright costumes and over-the-top villains with terrible plans for world domination (or something). In Jessica Jones, we get believable relationships, realistic situations, and a villain who is actually terrifying (and who the show wastes no time in calling out as a rapist, for once). It’s a bit dark and gritty, but definitely isn’t the darkest show I’ve ever seen, although I definitely can’t watch more than an ep or two in a row. Everything about it is so great, though, do yourself a favor and check it out if you haven’t yet!

The Real Housewives – Living with my sister for two years finally broke me down and I’ve watched more reality TV this past year than in my whole life prior. I started watching The Real Housewives of New York, a favorite of my sister’s, from the beginning on Hulu during the dead time of early January, and to my surprise I was super into it. Then my sister and I both started to watch RHOAtlanta and I loved that one just as much (Pheadra, please be my bff). However, I started RHOBeverly Hills a few weeks ago and could barely make it through season three – so boringgggg.

Music/Podcasts:

Kacey Musgraves – I am not a country music fan, but Kacey Musgraves might be my gateway drug. My sister loves country, and while we were driving together, I heard “Silver Lining” and my ears perked up. After “Merry-Go-Round” and “It Is What It Is,” I was in love, and had the first album memorized just in time for her second, Pageant Material, which I have basically been playing on repeat ever since. I actually got to see her for my birthday in September, and she was amazing.

“Bitch Sesh” – Just in time for my RHOBH binge on Hulu, Casey Wilson and Danielle Schneider began a podcast that I found because they streamed the first few eps on How Did This Get Made’s station. I’ve loved Casey Wilson since the late Happy Endings, and the podcast she and Danielle do together is positively delightful – these chicks and their guest of the day gently poke fun at the Housewives, their usually awful husbands, and their often-terrible choices, and it’s such a fun, frothy confection of a podcast that’s perfectly timed for my 30-40 min commute to and from work.

“How Did This Get Made” – This is another train I’m way too late jumping on, but this show is great. First of all, I’m obsessed with Jason Mantzoukas, so I already knew going in I’d love him on this show, but I didn’t know that June Diane Raphael was on the show, as well, with her husband Paul Scheer. Basically, this is a podcast where these three funny people and their guest of the week discuss/laugh about/make fun of/marvel at how some shitty movie got made. My favorite eps include “Reindeer Games,” “Crank,” “Burlesque,” and “Safe Haven.”

Movies: I actually saw way more movies this year than I remember the year before. I mostly went because I’m lucky to have two cheap theaters near me in LA (Los Felix 3 and the Vista, which is my favorite and is kinda like a mini Chinese Theater, right down to the cement handprints outside) so in the summer my sister and I would go see shitty or “meh” movies like San Andreas and Cinderella because it was too hot to do anything else, but I did have a few favorites.

Mad Max: Fury Road – Best movie of the year, 100%. Although it’s got Max’s name in the title, this movie belongs to its female characters – Charlize Theron’s Furiosa is the actual best, and while initially the cadre of models who play the wives made me roll my eyes, I loved that they actually had personalities and had a hand in their escape. Also, this movie is just plain up and down the best action movie ever – when I saw it opening weekend, the entire theater was totally transfixed and gasping with awe the whole time because there were so many awesome, crazy moments.

The Final Girls – This movie had a lot of actors i really liked in it (Alia Shawkat, Nina Dobrev, Adam Devine) and a fun premise: a group of teens get sucked into an ’80s slasher flick. It wasn’t the greatest movie of all time, but it was super enjoyable – I liked it a lot, after I was sure I’d be disappointed because of lukewarm reviews and the fact that the lead was Taissa Farmiga, who I am not a fan of. It’s got a lot of jokes about the cliches of ’80s horror movies plus was anchored by a surprisingly affecting story about the main character and her mom. The Final Girls was in and out of the theater in a blink, but definitely check it out if you love slasher movies (although TFG itself is not scary at all).

Crimson Peak – This is not a ghost story, as the main character, Edith Cushing (played by [name) tells the audience via her would-be publisher. This movie had a series marketing problem – it tried to make the film look like a horror story, when in fact it’s a dark, lush gothic romance with a touch of Rebecca. I don’t want to give anything away (although the big reveal is pretty clearly telegraphed by the movie itself), but if any of these words appeal to you – gothic romance, costume porn, black humor – you will love this movie.

Here’s to another year of new media to love, pop culture to devour, and nail polish to acquire! I hope you have a happy and safe new year, and I’ll be back with a new post in a few days. See you then – A x

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Holiday Mani #7: Glitter & Ice

Hello everyone, and merry Christmas if you celebrate! There are certain polishes that I feel like I can only use at this time of year – they just scream “Christmas,” even if they’re not traditional red and green, but I can only do so many holiday manicures each year so some of them don’t get enough love. This year I decided to combine a few of my old favorites so they can get their time in the sun!

ILNP's Christmas in Bordeaux, China Glaze's Frosty

ILNP’s Christmas in Bordeaux, China Glaze’s Frosty

Frosty is really gorgeous. It’s from what I think is the best China Glaze holiday collection (best holiday collection ever, really), 2010’s ‘Tis The Season To Be Naughty And Nice. I really liked that collection because they had traditional colors (a billion reds, metallics) but also hues that still came across as “holiday” without being too overused, like navy blue, olive, and plum. Anyway, Frosty is a semi-sheer white with iridescent shimmer that mimics that sparkle of sunlight on fresh snow. I think I did 5 thin coats to attempt to get rid of the nail lines at the tips of my nails, which I hate, but ughhh this color is so lovely and delicate, I’m gonna overlook it!

12.25.15 Fancy Finger Guns diagonal

For the glitter fade at the cuticle, I just sort of dabbed and swirled a little blob of ILNP’s Christmas In Bordeaux (CIB) on each finger to put the glitter pieces where I wanted them on my nail. I always say this, but I really wish ILNP would do glitter mixes again – I have a bunch of Barbra’s glitters that I picked up when they all went on sale as she made her move to exclusively holographic and multichrome polishes a few years ago, and while her current polishes are all beautiful, I still love her glitters because they were all so beautiful and usually unique. CIB is Christmas in a bottle with its evergreen, holly-berry red, and bright gold hexes, squares, shards, and micro glitter – understated, chic holiday glamour! It looks so lovely over Frosty.

For those who celebrate, how was your Christmas? It’s been unseasonably warm (and humid!) even here in Florida, which has made me a little grumpy, honestly, and it hasn’t really felt like Christmas. But my family tried our best to make it feel like Christmas – we switched up our usual tree ornaments for sparkly iridescent tinsel and DIY neon ball ornaments, did our annual Christmas Vacation screening on Christmas Eve, and had a smorgasbord of random tasty items as a sort of Christmas buffet. Also, not gonna lie, I was pretty proud of myself for the presents I got them this year – sometimes it’s pretty difficult to get things I’m sure they’ll actually love, but this year I did really well! I cleaned up pretty well, too, getting some fun stuff including a [Uber Chic Mat knockoff]! I only recently learned about these types of mats, but as soon as I saw them I immediately let my family know it would be a great present. I haven’t gotten a chance to play with it much yet, since I didn’t bring any polishes or tools with me this year, but I can’t wait to try it out once I get back to California! I might even do a little video or something, hmmmm. Anyway, my Christmas was wonderful, and I hope yours was, too! When I get back to LA, I’ll be doing a post with a round-up and swatches of some polishes I ordered during Black Friday/Cyber Monday, so watch out for that after the new year. Until then, thank you so much for another year of reading my blog! Have a wonderful rest of your year – A x

Holiday Mani #6: Christmas Color Block

Hi everyone! This mani is really simple but very fun, and definitely got me a ton of compliments.

From left: ILNP's A Fresh Evergreen, Nox Twilight's Disco Darling, Sally Hansen's Celeb City, China Glaze's Just Be-Claws

From left: ILNP’s A Fresh Evergreen, Nox Twilight’s Disco Darling, Sally Hansen’s Celeb City, China Glaze’s Just Be-Claws

I started off with a base of Celeb City, one of my favorite silvers which just so happens to be cheap as hell, then when that dried I sponged on a layer of Disco Darling. DD is from a brand called Nox Twilight, which I found out about 5 years ago from the blog Lacquerized which I used to love (and is now sadly defunct). She used a bunch of these polishes and even though they’re a Twilight (yes, those terrible books) beauty brand, I really liked a few of the shades and loved how cool the bottles looked. I found them online just as they were doing a sale, so I scooped up a few. Oddly, for being a Twilight brand, the names of these polishes have nothing to do with the books – for example, the colors I got were Disco Darling, Citrus, and Poseidon. Very weird. Anyway, Poseidon was a brilliant cyan but faded to gray within a few months of me receiving it (!) and Citrus was a nice coral with gold shimmer but not really my jam, so I gave it away – Disco Darling is the only one I have left, and it’s definitely the best by far. It’s a pretty opaque glitter, so you can get full coverage in 3 coats, but I like to layer it over silver to preserve my bottle, which is getting thick and is more than halfway done. :( Nox Twilight doesn’t make these anymore, but I think China Glaze’s Glistening Snow is pretty similar, if you like how this looks (of course you do, it’s gorgeous)!

I don’t know why it took me so long but sponging on glitter really is the way to go – like I said, my Disco Darling is getting pretty thick, but when you use a sponge to apply glitter polish, the sponge sucks up most of the polish base, leaving you with just the glitter so you don’t have that gross thick feeling of 3 layers of lumpy glitter polish. I put one thick but small swipe of DD on my sponge per nail and it covered wonderfully. Once my top coat was completely dry, I stuck a piece of Scotch tape to my palm a few times to make it less sticky (so it doesn’t pull up the polish underneath when I take it off), then cut it into small, uniform sections. I applied each at a diagonal in the middle of my nail, then painted on A Fresh Evergreen above the tape and Just Be-Claws below.

12.24.15 Fancy Finger Guns around bottle

As I’ve said many times before, I am not a red person, but there’s just something about Just Be-Claws – I think because it’s a nice cherry red, which has a bit of a pink undertone, plus the foil formula makes it look fun without being too “holiday.” Very weird that I’m so into a red! A Fresh Evergreen is just ridiculous amazing – it’s not quite dark enough to actually be evergreen, but it’s a little too deep to be a kelly green, either, so it’s pretty unique in my collection, and I just love the color. The holo effect isn’t my favorite – ILNP holos tend to be a little more scattered then I prefer – but it does look really pretty in the sun. I couldn’t capture it at all in my lightbox, though, but I didn’t have time to get an outdoor shot, sorry about that!

I just noticed as I was posting these that my cleanup job was terrible and my cuticles look busted - sorry! I was trying to bust out some manis in a hurry, so this isn't one of my cleanest.

I just noticed as I was posting these that my cleanup job was terrible and my cuticles look busted – sorry! I was trying to bust out some manis in a hurry, so this isn’t one of my cleanest.

I really love each of the colors I used for this, and particularly enjoy how it looks with all the different textures – glitter, foil, and holo. Very fun, and I hope you liked it, too! Thanks for reading, I’ll see you next time – A x

Holiday Mani #5: Tropical Holiday

Hi everyone! Apologies – I’m a few blog posts behind because I thought I had put them up already, so I’ll have a few in a row the next few days. As for today’s post, this is a semi mani fail – it’s not terrible, but it definitely didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped, so I’m apologizing in advance! I do really love this color scheme, though:

China Glaze Surfin' For Boys, Cults Nails Deal With It, OPI My Vampire Is Buff

China Glaze Surfin’ For Boys, Cults Nails Deal With It, OPI My Vampire Is Buff

I wanted to do something that was sort of like those “Christmas sweater” nails that are so popular this time of year. I actually did some two years ago, when I was just starting my blog, but I was so not feeling up for attempting stamping, so I used decals this time. The snowflakes and deer are from What’s Up Nails, my newest fav, and the chevrons are from some place on eBay that I can’t remember because they’re a few years old and I just found them, whoops.

12.15.15 Fancy Finger Guns curled

So I didn’t love these decals like the rest of mine from What’s Up Nails – they didn’t stick very well to my nails, and because they’ve got such tiny details, the not-sticking thing meant they didn’t come out perfectly crisp. You’ll see what I mean in the macros below. It’s not the worst case I’ve ever seen, but it just kinda annoyed me – the bottom of the big snowflake was all blobbed (unfortunately, I think you can see it better in my regular pics than the macro) and the deer’s antlers had way more detail on the sticker, but here I had to move polish with my tiniest dotting tool to make it look like two antlers instead of a just a blob of polish.

I also somehow managed to mess up the dots on my pinkie – on my thumb they’re perfectly fine, but my pinkie…I honestly don’t even know what happened. Plus, when I added topcoat on my pointer, Surfin’ For Boys bled and streaked coral all over the rest of the nail. Sigh. Overall these were not my favorite nails by a long shot, but I love the color combo! I wanted to do something that was similar Christmas colors but a little off – so originally I was going to do a more orangey-red and lime green with the cream (instead of traditional true red, hunter green, and white), but I realized I didn’t really have an orange-y red, so I decided to just go straight neon! I think the coral and acid green look really cool with the cream, which tones them down a bit so it’s not too stark, but still allows the bright colors to pop! It’s like a tropical version of traditional holiday, which is something I’m very used to, being from Florida – things like palm trees decorated with ornaments and flamingos with Santa hats are very popular there!

12.15.15 Fancy Finger Guns diagonal

So this was a bit of a let down, but I’ve got a two more holiday manis that should make up for it! Thanks for reading! See you next time – A x

Holiday Mani #4: Holiday Stripes

I really love the color combo of red and mint – it’s a little retro, which isn’t normally my jam, but I love it for some reason. I thought it would be fun to use some of my new What’s Up Nails wrapping paper decals and use this color combo for Christmas!

Sally Hansen White On, China Glaze Highlight Of My Summer, OPI Color So Hot It Berns

Sally Hansen White On, China Glaze Highlight Of My Summer, OPI Color So Hot It Berns

I started with a base of two coats of Sally Hansen’s White On (my butter LONDON Cotton Buds is still MIA) and top coat, which I did the night before, although you don’t have to wait that long – just 15 min or so, until you’re sure the top coat has fully dried. Then I applied my decal, smoothing it completely down, and used two small detailing brushes to paint on each section – I alternated which colors went where on every other nail for funsies. Immediately after I was done painting, I carefully peeled each decal up so the polish wouldn’t start to dry and stick to the decal. I really need a new red, though – even after letting this dry overnight and attempting to paint on my top coat diagonally to match the direction of the stripes, my OPI red STILL streaked a bit across two of my nails! Plus, you can see it sort of bled under the decals because the red lines aren’t as crisp as the mint ones. Grrrrr freaking reds, man.

12.14.15 Fancy Finger Guns upside down

Overall, this looks pretty cute, huh? This is definitely a little time-consuming, since I used two colors and had to paint each little section separately, but it’s not too bad once you get in the rhythm. It does look like wrapping paper (which is the description of the decals on the What’s Up Nails site), which is a fun mani this time of year. I bet this would look really great using metallics.

12.14.15 Fancy Finger Guns diagonal

I’m attempting to get seven or eight manis done total, so hopefully I’ll reach my goal! I know everyone loves holiday manis, and I do have a lot of holiday polishes I only bust out once a year, so I should try to use as many as I can! Anyway, thank you for reading! See you next time – A x