I’m Back!

Hello, dear readers! I apologize for my absence – I did start a blog post to explain why I’d be gone for a while, but then I got so busy with packing and everything that I totally forgot to finish it, and then I just realized I haven’t posted ANYTHING for almost a month. The reason for that is because I moved! I’ve left Los Angeles and California for lovely Nashville, TN, and oh man, does it feel good. I’ve been wanting to move out of LA for a long time and a few months ago everything kind of came together, so I (and my sister, who I’m living with in Nashville, too) decided Nashville was a good choice and began the process of moving. It was super stressful choosing a place to live without seeing it in person, finding movers, and just dealing with the thousand little things you have to do when you move anywhere – let alone cross-country – but we’re in our new place, the movers finally arrived with our stuff this week, and it’s beginning to feel like home!

We arrived last Thursday (I can’t believe it’s barely been a full week since we arrived!) after a few days on the road with our family – since my sister and I both had to bring our cars, we decided to do a little road trip and hit up Vegas and the Grand Canyon, neither of which our family had gone to before, before hauling ass to Tennessee. I’ve got a little photo gallery below of our journey if you’re interested! It actually wasn’t too bad of a trip – the Grand Canyon was unexpectedly slammed, so it took an hour of waiting in line just to get into the park, and we hit some scary intense winds in New Mexico and Oklahoma, but luckily just missed some storms so we had pretty great weather the whole time. Other than that, it was podcasts and traveling on I-40 for 2,000 miles, and it wasn’t too bad! Our family got to spend a few days in Nashville before they flew back home, and they really enjoyed it (especially the food!), so overall the trip was a success!

My fellow lacquer-heads might be wondering how did I move my *mumbley amount of* polishes cross-country? To transport my babies – aka my polishes – I wrapped each one in tissue paper for protection and put them back in the plastic shoeboxes they were housed in at my LA apartment. As there are no IKEAs in Tennessee, I picked up a Helmer at the Burbank IKEA but left it in the box so the movers could put it on the truck. I’m very excited to finally have a Helmer, but super not looking forward to putting it together, ugh. Anyway, I stacked the shoeboxes next to and on top of each other in my trunk and packed other stuff around them, and they were totally fine the whole way! I was afraid they might get weird from heat or something, but since we were traveling in March, it wasn’t too hot out yet and even when we stopped at hotels, it was pretty overcast so the sun wasn’t beating down on our cars. Success! The unfortunate thing now it that I have to unravel allllllllll my polishes because some got mixed up – I was just racing to get them all packed before we left – and I’m not sure what’s what. So that’ll be my task this weekend.

I don’t want this to get too long, so I’m going to post again later today with some actual nail photos, so keep an eye out for that. Thanks for being so patient during my absence, I’m going to try to get back to a regular posting schedule as soon as I build my new lightbox (my previous one was made out of a cardboard box, so I just trashed it before moving and now I need to make a new one)! See ya soon – A x

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

Halloween Mani The First: Eyeballzzz

It’s the first day of my favorite month! October is my favorite month because I love fall and also HALLOWEEN, and while it’s still hot as balls here (grumble grumble), I’ve nonetheless busted out my vampy lipsticks and have had Halloween decor up in my apartment since mid-September. This insidious lingering heat will NOT stop me from celebrating fall and all things spooky, and one of my favorite things to do in October is pull out some fun Halloween-y manicures. This year my sister convinced me to do 13 manicures (inspired by ABC Family’s “13 Nights of Halloween” haaaa), so here goes:

10.01.15 bottles

I was inspired by this mani that I found on Pinterest. I was afraid this would look too cutesy, but I actually really love it! First of all, it’s super easy to do – after two coats of Sinful Color’s Black On Black had dried, I used different sizes of dotting tools dipped in alternating white and yellow (butter LONDON’s Cotton Buds and Zoya’s Pippa) to make pairs of dots to be the eyes, then dipped a toothpick in Black On Black and added tiny dots in each set to be the pupils. I also put the pupils in different places to switch up where the eyes were looking. 👀 Although, what I like most about this mani is that because of the different directions of the eyes, the mani looks the same straight up or upside down.

I didn’t want to do the same thing for my whole hand, so I did two coats of butter LONDON’s Brick Lane on my pinkie and thumb. Brick Lane was one of the polishes from bL’s “Brick Lane” holiday set that I got last year for Christmas, and it’s AWESOME. It’s a burnt orange with subtle (like, invisible unless you’re in direct light) golden shimmer, and almost covers perfectly in one coat. I only have bright oranges, but I’ve totally fallen for this one! It reminds me of mulled cider, fuzzy sweaters, and dead crunchy leaves – so basically, fall in a bottle. Love it!

10.01.15 curled2

This actually wore really well on me, too – almost four days without chipping! I loved it so much I kept this mani on for almost a week, but it kinda messed up my Halloween nail art schedule so now I’m gonna have to play catch-up, whoops. No regrets, though, this design is too fun!

10.01.15 diagonal

Thanks for reading! See you next time – A x

Cactus Nails for Kacey Musgraves!

Hi everyone, how’s your week been going? I am having a tough one – I took Tuesday off for my birthday and had a lovely day, but for some reason it’s made the rest of the week just drag ughhhh. But last Friday I got to go to the Kacey Musgraves concert at the Wiltern here in LA and it was so great! I didn’t get the best photos, but I gotta say, my nails were pretty on point – I think Kacey would approve!

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Kacey Musgraves is known for her love of retro country with some added glitter and neon flair – so she’ll wear authentic cowboy boots but add bulbs so they light up, or have her band wear suits with bolo ties, but they’ll be pink and have rhinestone lapels. I saw her Crossroads performance with Katy Perry a few months ago and she had these great neon cacti as part of her set decor, so that’s where the inspiration of these nails came from. I decided to do a pink/green theme because it felt sufficiently fun and girly to suit Kacey’s style.

Yes, that is a tiny cowboy hat that I bought at Joann's just to pose with these bottles.

Yes, that is a tiny cowboy hat that I bought at Joann’s just to pose with these bottles.

After painting on two coats of You Drive Me Coconuts, my fav neon pink, I used my smallest dotting tool to make a bunch of little upright lines spaced out, then went back to make curved arms coming out like saguaro cactus. I was not totally perfect in my execution, but as the first time attempting a freehand cactus pattern, I feel like it came out pretty good!

Sorry about the cut on my ring finger!

Sorry about the cut on my ring finger!

Shockingly, I somehow actually did a better job on my right hand.

P.S. It's really difficult to pose while taking photos with your non-dominant hand, as you might notice based on how awkward this photo is!

P.S. It’s really difficult to pose while taking photos with your non-dominant hand, as you might notice based on how awkward this photo is!

On my thumb and ring fingers, I topped one coat of Wild Cactus with two coats of Holiday Splendor. I haven’t worn Holiday Splendor in foreverrrr and man, I forgot how gorgeous it is! So sparkly and it’s the prettiest jewel-toned emerald. So great.

The funny thing is, I did my cacti in the opposite direction on each hand. That's what happens when you're distracted by tiny house shows on HGTV while doing your nails.

The funny thing is, I did my cacti in the opposite direction on each hand. That’s what happens when you’re distracted by tiny house shows on HGTV while doing your nails.

Kacey’s show – aptly named the Country & Western Rhinestone Revue – was great! It was hot as balls at the Wiltern because there’s no AC and it was in the 90s, but even the heat couldn’t get me down. She did a few covers – a great, fun version of These Boots Were Made For Walkin’ where she pranced around in light-up boots and played tambourine as the song of the night – and No Scrubs, which was freaking awesome and got my sister and I way too excited, ha. At one point the band left and Kacey performed alone on stage, singing Merry Go Round with her acoustic guitar – she sounded perfect, and it was amazing hearing the entire venue sing along exactly. (Actually, the audience sang along well to basically every song, even the ones from her new album, which made up the majority of her set list. I know I personally am obsessed with it and knew all the words after a few listenings!) Another great moment was when she had everyone quiet down so as not to scare the newest member of the band that she brought out – a puppy she’d just adopted the day before in Washington (which I already knew because I’m a creep and follow her Instagram). Maybe my favorite performance was when they did an extended version of Die Fun, my favorite from the new album (tied with Dimestore Cowgirl) – it was gorgeous, and I really hope they release it for purchase one day because I can’t find any videos of it online but it was so great!

SO SPARKLY! via Mashable

SO SPARKLY!
via Mashable

Thanks for reading! See you next time – A x

Chatbooks Review + Free Book Code

A few weeks ago Kristin from Lacquerstyle posted a code on her Instagram (@kgrdnr) for Chatbooks, with a cute photo of her holding a little book that was made up of her nail photos. What is Chatbooks, you ask? IT’S AMAZING – a gorgeous little high-quality 6″x6″ book of photos that’s an easy, chic, modern-day photo album.

The cover photo was one of the first photos I posted once I started my FFG Instagram, and the filter kinda made it print weird.

The cover photo was one of the first photos I posted once I started my FFG Instagram, and the filter kinda made it print weird, I think. (I don’t use filters anymore.)

There are a few options for creating books – you can link your Instagram account or directly upload photos from your phone or computer. Once I saw Kristen’s post, I immediately headed over to the site and connected my Fancy Finger Guns account, then spent wayyy too long figuring out which photos to exclude (my beginning photos weren’t always great, of course), editing captions (sometimes they were too long for Chatbooks to fit it the text), and generally creating a perfect mini coffee table book of my nail photos. I ordered it the next day, and while my confirmation email said it would take about two and a half weeks, three days later I got a shipping confirmation! It took about 5 business days to get to me, and I was sooo excitedddd when I finally got my hands on it!

8.12.15 book with bottles

I’m not a huge or famous nail blogger, but I’m really proud of this little blog, and making this book – having something tangible, in print – is such an awesome way for me to sort of put my hobby on display in a chic way. I mean seriously, how cool is it to have a mini coffee table book of your own photos? (I’m definitely doing some of my personal IG account soon!)

8.12.15 book open bottles up

I really wanted to put this review up because a quick search showed me practically nothing but mommy bloggers showing off Chatbooks filled with photos of their kids – which is great! It’s nice to have a super affordable, easy way to print your favorite family photos instead of making cheesy scrapbooks or shelling out $$$ at a printing store. But I wanted to show that Chatbooks are great for other things, too – if you have a blog or website with photos, I highly recommend you get a Chatbook (or three – each is up to 60 photos, and if you get a full 60-page book they print the dates and your title along the spine, which looks super profesh!) to display in your home or give as gifts, or even to use as a portfolio for jobs if you’re in a creative field.

My blog is almost two years old now (!) but I only started its IG last March. I got rid of quite a few of my earlier manicures or ones that I wasn't fans of anymore, so now I have about 40 to go on my next book.

My blog is almost two years old now (!) but I only started its IG last March. I got rid of quite a few of my earlier manicures or ones that I wasn’t a fan of anymore, so now I have about 30 to go for my next book.

I think Chatbooks would also be a fantastic idea for souvenir gifts of vacations, music festivals, family reunions, bachelor/ette parties – basically any special or fun event. I recently made one for my mom’s birthday of photos from her visit to see me when I was studying abroad in college, and she loved it – now she has a pretty, professional-looking book of our favorite photos from that trip and it’s so, so lovely to thumb through and remember our adventures! Everyone has those huge, ugly, old-school photo albums in their garage with pictures from decades ago, but I love the idea of having a little stack of these neat, slim, modern-looking photos books to replace those.

The space allocated for text is decent, and I've also seen people have a photo on one side and a full page of text on the opposite side if you need a lot of writing.

The space allocated for text is decent, and I’ve also seen people have a photo on one side and a full page of text on the opposite side, if you need a lot of writing.

I’m definitely gushing here, but really, I’m so happy I found such an affordable way to print my favorite photos in a beautiful book! (I swear they’re not paying me to advertise, I just really love Chatbooks, you guys!) One catch is that if you do the method where you upload your own photos, it’s $6 for only 30 photos and $1/page after that (still up to 60), whereas the Instagram connect option is $6 for the full 60 pages, but even that isn’t a bad deal, especially considering you get to add captions, locations and dates, choose your cover, and basically customize it any way you want. In conclusion…hop over to Chatbooks and get one! I even have a code so your first book is free – enter LHUUAAKT at checkout. I guarantee you’ll love it!