Autumn Leaves

Apologies for my absence, lovely readers! I was out of town in Nashville for a few days, and the week leading up to that was crazy at work, so I was running around with chipped nails like a pleb. But now that I’m back, I’ve whipped up a cute, fall-appropriate mani I can’t wait to share with you!

Whoops, forgot to add Essie's Barefoot & Topless, which was my base coat.

Whoops, forgot to add Essie’s Barefoot & Topless, which was my base coat.

So you may have noticed that I’m very into nail decals, especially the ones from What’s Up Nails. If you’ve been a reader for any length of time, you’ll know that I am super lazy when it comes to nails – I always want to do super cool, intricate designs, but then I realize how much work/time it would take and just settle for something more plain. But with nail decals, you can make your nails look fancy in no time at all, plus they make sure each design is uniform, which is something that always bugs me when I try to hand-paint stuff. What’s Up Nails had a sale a few weeks ago, so I scooped up a few different decals, including this adorable fall leaves one.

My pointer looks like crap because I'd forgotten to add top coat after I put down the last layer of Barefoot & Topless, so everything smudged when I pulled the decal back up.

My pointer looks like crap because I’d forgotten to add top coat after I put down the last layer of Barefoot & Topless, so everything smudged when I pulled the decal back up.

Now, having just raved about how easy decals are to use, I will say that this leaves one was a bit trickier – I had to use my tweezers to sort of punch through each leaf cutout and make sure the inside came out so I could paint through the hole, since most of them stayed firmly attached when I peeled it off the backing. I kept the little golden leaf cutouts, though – maybe I’ll use them for another mani!

11.19.20 Fancy Finger Guns around bottle

As for the colors…last year at fall I was allll about the jewel tones – deep purple, teal, and orchid. This year I’m really feeling those traditional fall colors – rich reds, muted oranges, olive greens, and shimmering golds – and once I pulled out polishes in these tones I was majorly into it. I wanted to use polishes that were all foils, or at least shimmers, and luckily I found some in every color I wanted.

11.19.20 Fancy Finger Guns upside down

Orly’s Emberstone is supposedly infused with minerals to create a “multidimensional effect.” I don’t know about that, but it IS gorgeous, and once I remembered I had it I was kicking myself for not having used it in forever – it’s a beautiful, glitzy pinky-coral. Just Be-Claws is one I got earlier this year – I’m not a red fan, but I just couldn’t resist this gorgeous, incredibly rich cherry red foil from China Glaze’s holiday collection last year. OPI’s Goldeneye is one that I rarely use, and I almost gave it away but I’m so glad I didn’t! It’s a bright yellow gold loaded with sparkly shimmer. Harvest Moon is an old fav of mine that’s getting some major use this year – I’m recently obsessed with copper, and when the light hits this one it’s magic! Last but not least, the golden-green shimmer of my fall dreams! My sister just finished her bottle, so I’ve got to keep a close eye on mine in case she tries to steal it – although I couldn’t blame her, it’s absolutely beautiful.

11.26.15 Fancy Finger Guns macro

I managed to see some fall leaves myself when I was in Nashville a few days ago – alas, the bright colors had mostly gone already, but there was still some lovely color! Nashville was incredibly fun – it’s way smaller than LA, so traffic was almost hilariously a non-entity, and because it’s small there was more than enough time to do everything we wanted to in three days. Nashville is quite a foodie town – half the “to do in Nashville” lists I found were mostly restaurants – and boy, did they deliver! Some of my favorite food spots we hit were Virago (sushi and cocktails), Whiskey Kitchen (the wait was insane on Friday night, which is why we popped over to Virago in the first place, but we scored on Sunday and got right in), Edley’s Bar-Be-Que (their cornbread alone is to die for), and Mellow Mushroom, a delicious pizza joint right next to Vanderbilt (although that one is a chain, but I’d never had it before so it counts!).

We also hit up most of the other must-see tourist-y things like the Parthenon in Centennial Park and the pedestrian bridge, but the most fun thing we did was the Pedal Tavern! You bring your own booze and drink while pedaling this weird cart contraption down to Lower Broadway where the honky-tonk bars are. It sounds weird, but it’s incredibly fun (although I felt bad for the cars stuck behind us!) – our guide Larry would pop out from his seat during stop lights to refill drinks and played fun songs the whole time, in addition to being great at giving tips about what to do in Nashville.

Imagine this but at night, with a billion cars and people around and a group of older lady bffs who kept yelling about their sports teams while downing whiskey. Awesome.  via

It’s basically this, but at night, with a billion cars and people around and a group of older lady bffs who kept yelling about their sports teams while downing whiskey. Awesome.
via

I highly recommend a trip to Nashville if you can – since we went in early November the weather was beautiful – chilly and no humidity – and there’s a lot of fun things to do (and especially eat!). Thanks for reading, everyone! Until next time – A x

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Halloween Mani #7: Spooky Gradient!

Hi lovlies! This is going to be another lightning-quick post as I just got home from a Jimmy Buffet concert at the Hollywood Bowl with my folks and I’m about to go to sleep for DISNEYLAND tomorrow! I’ll have a weekend round up at some point, but since it’s getting to be the end of the month, I want to pump out as many posts as I can so I make my goal of 13 Halloween manis. So this short and sweet post is about my gradient nails!

10.23.15 Fancy Finger Guns bottles

I loooove China Glaze’s Harvest Moon. I mean:

Look how gorgeousssssss Harvest Moon is!

Look how gorgeousssssss Harvest Moon is!

It’s from their 2012(? no time to Google!) Hunger Games collection, which I hated at first but now I own almost all the colors, and this is one of my favs – I adore a burnt orange, and this one is a gorgeous, reflective foil, to boot! I did a rough gradient (using my usual damp sponge routine but didn’t take too much care to ensure a smooth, even gradient to keep it ~*spooky*~), and I think the deeper orange makes this a really chic look as opposed to the more kitschy or cutesy Halloween manis that pop up a lot (sometimes even my own designs)!

10.23.15 Fancy Finger Guns diagonal

I also added an accent glitter nail on my pinkie – the copper doesn’t quite match, but it looks pretty close in real life. It’s really a struggle for me to keep the same design on all my fingers, it’s like nail polish ADD or something!

10.23.15 Fancy Finger Guns curled

P.S. this is the mani that cracked 400 followers on IG for me! This is very exciting – I know I’ll never be a “big” nail blogger, but seeing my number grow higher and higher during the less-than-a-year I’ve been putting my designs on Instagram has been really lovely and affirming. I don’t do anything too complex, but I appreciate everyone who likes checking out what I keep coming up with. If you’re one of my IG followers, thank you so much for your support! And doubly thanks since you’re taking time to read my blog post, and I know the nail game is mostly IG now, so it’s really swell that you want to read some words written by little ol’ me. Thanks so much, and I’ll see you in a day or two with my next mani! – A x

Books & Polish

This “fall-themed polish” thing is really throwing me for a loop because I’m actually liking the colors! I mean, no brown, burgundy, or nude will ever take the place of my beloved saturated blues and greens or neons, but I’m shocked that I can actually appreciate these more subdued polishes.

11-13-13 bottle shot

Today’s polish combo includes two polishes I’ve never worn before – OPI’s Warm & Fozzie and Designer…de Better! from the Muppets collection last year. A lovely friend of mine got me a mini set that has those two plus Wocka Wocka and Excuse Moi! The OPI mini are really mini! The brush surprisingly isn’t too awkward, but I felt like a giant trying to paint my nails.

So little!

So little!

I don’t even know how I ended up on these colors together. I wanted to use Milani’s Dark Coffee, which I have only previously used as the apple stem in my poison apple manicure, and came across this box of minis where I decided on W&F and thought eh, let’s throw in D…dB! too.

11-13-13 fingers normal

I think this might’ve looked cooler if I had done all different finishes, like crème, foil, metallic. The two OPI foils don’t look the best together, in my opinion, but altogether it’s still kind of cool. I meant to make a step-by-step collage to show how I did it but I forgot because I’m the worst, sorry! :/

Slightly out of focus so you can see the flecks of color in Warm & Fozzie.

Slightly out of focus so you can see the flecks of color in Warm & Fozzie.

First I painted a base coat of W&F – which annoyingly was super sheer and needed three coats – then added a light coat of Seche Vite and waited an hour or so. You can see on my middle finger it looks darker – I layered W&F over Dark Coffee to see if that would help the opacity problem, and it did, but I thought the polish lost a little of its pretty duochrome-ness, so I ended up not doing that on all my nails. After the base color was dry, I cut a bunch of angled tape pieces, stuck them to my palm a few times so they weren’t quite as sticky, then positioned them where I wanted them. I painted the lower section with one thickish coat of Dark Coffee, which applied really nicely, and the smaller upper section with 1-1.5 coats of D…dB!, which is surprisingly opaque. I removed the tape after a few seconds and added top coat when it was all dry.

My new $1 purchase, a historical fiction about Charlotte Bronte as a spy or something. SOLD!

My new $1 purchase, a historical fiction about Charlotte Bronte as a spy or something. SOLD!

W&F, despite being sheer (one of the most obnoxious polish problems, in my opinion), is pretty cool because it seems to change color. It’s a bronze-y brown foil packed with red, gold, and green particles, and in certain lights it shifts from a light brown/copper to a more greenish-gold hue. I also ended up really liking D…dB! because at first glance it seems like a boring taupe-champagne, but it has these awesome copper flecks scattered throughout that make it really unique. It’s really shiny and reflective, too! I still think OPI could’ve done a better job with that collection (the Muppets are a colorful bunch, yet half the collection is just reds, and the glitters were boring) but I like that even though the colors aren’t the flashiest, some of them have little extras that keep them from being completely boring.

Dark Coffee actually looks like perfectly melted chocolate. You can also see the copper flecks in D...dB! and the multicolored flakes in W&F.

Dark Coffee actually looks like perfectly melted chocolate. You can also see the copper flecks in D…dB! and the multicolored flakes in W&F.

The bookshelves in the background of my pictures are from an awesome place called The Last Bookstore in downtown LA. Downstairs there’s a mini stage where they have readings and books are organized into the usual sections like YA, History, Religion, etc.

First floor view from upstairs.

First floor view from upstairs.

Upstairs there’s a $1 wonderland with hundreds of books. It’s a huuuuuuge bookstore in what used to be a bank, so there’s still vaults and other cool set-ups scattered around.

11-13-13 vault

Sure, the $1 section has a lot of weird old cookbooks and business and travel guides from the early 90s, but there’s some good stuff in there too, if you root around. Last time I came my friend A and I were there for probably 3 hours, maybe more.

They even have some sections color coordinated!

They even have some sections color coordinated!

Upstairs also has a bunch of small artists’ shops that feature everything from jewelry to paintings to vintage goods. A bunch of their wares are placed around the bookstore as art installations that are for sale if one tickles your fancy.

11-13-13  instaillation

I love this place, I’d say if you’re a book lover and are in the downtown LA area you should definitely pop in. You can do lunch and cocktails at Cole’s before you go, which is what we did. It’s an au jus place (apparently the inventor of that style) with delicious cocktails and desserts, and it’s a really short walk from one to the other.

Thoughts on this mani? Anyone been to The Last Bookstore?

Thanks for reading! See you next time – A x

Baby’s First Water Marble

China Glaze Harvest Moon, Glitter Goblin, Fantasy Makers Rest in Pieces

China Glaze Harvest Moon, Glitter Goblin, Fantasy Makers Rest in Pieces

So I was due for a new mani and even though I had a few ideas for Halloween nails, I wasn’t really into any of them. I went looking through my polishes and remembered how much I loved Glitter Goblin from last year’s China Glaze Halloween collection.

LOVE. China Glaze makes some awesome Halloween polishes (although admittedly the last two years haven't been as stellar).

LOVE. China Glaze makes some awesome Halloween polishes (although admittedly the last two years haven’t been as stellar).

Isn’t this lovely? I’m not even an orange fan usually, but I adore this. Tiny burnt orange and holo silver glitter pieces in a clear base, sparkly as all get out.

The world's tiniest gif. My usual app isn't working :( Blurred, as, always, for sparkle.

The world’s tiniest gif. My usual app isn’t working :( Blurred, as, always, for sparkle.

10-14-13  before 1

It’s not an incredibly dense glitter, making Glitter Goblin perfect for glitter gradients, which is how I usually use this. Here I layered two coats of GG over one coat of another China Glaze, Harvest Moon, from the Hunger Games collection. It’s a great burnt orange/copper foil (although that does make it hard to see the orange glitter in GG because the two colors are so close). I decided to attempt a water marble for the first time ever, and chose to use black and clear polishes so the glitter would show through underneath. My first try was using Wet’n’Wild clear and W’n’W Black Creme, both of which I’ve featured before. It…did not go well.

Barf.

Barf.

The polishes were drying super quick in the water so that I couldn’t easily drag my toothpick through and make shapes, it would just scrunch into unattractive blobs, as you can see above. On the one nail (my middle one) that had a kind of cool shape, the black bled through the clear layer. Cue aggravated sigh. I couldn’t admit defeat though, and set about experimenting, so I tried a bunch of different clears (some base coats, Gelous) with a bunch of different blacks (Color Club Revvvolution, W’n’W Ebony hates Chris, Fantasy Makers Rest In Pieces) and none of those were reacting well together. I was getting SO ANNOYED before I realized the W’n’W clear actually worked well, but it was the black polishes that weren’t working – except for Rest In Pieces.

Yes, my toothpick is a cocktail umbrella.

Yes, my toothpick is a cocktail umbrella.

I wanted to have a full manicure that actually looked good, so I did a few gentle swipes of remover over each nail and got off the previous, failed black water marbles. I added another coat of GG because some of the color had come off with the remover (and actually I think it got some of Harvest Moon, too, because the color wasn’t as vibrant during the second attempt, making it harder to see under the black, blergggggg). When that dried, I used W’n’W clear as I did the first time, plus Rest In Pieces, and hallelujah! The polish didn’t dry quickly and I was able to drag some designs into it.

Right hand.

Right hand.

Left hand.

Left hand.

I’m still not THRILLED with this – I couldn’t really make any shapes I truly liked, and Rest In Pieces wasn’t as opaque as I wanted (which I guess is why it worked, the polish is slightly runny/thin) – but it’s miles better than my first attempt! And actually, RIP is kind of cool with this because it’s a black with teeny, tiny purple glitter, which you can see in the macro looks really awesome with GG’s glitter.

Please forgive my raggedy-ass cuticles. It's been a rough week.

Please forgive my raggedy-ass cuticles. It’s been a rough week.

Watermarbling looks so cool when I see it on other people’s blogs, but dude, it’s a LOT of trial and error, clean-up (I used tape around my nails but it still got all over my fingers, as seen in the first attempt photo), and I’m all for experimenting – that’s why I started this blog, after all – but water marbling is a lot more work than I usually want to do. Painting my nails is a relaxing thing for me, so I think it might be a long time before I attempt water marbling again. I’m glad I finally tried it, though!

Continuing with my list of favorite Halloween-y movies, Scream is definitely top five.

"What's your favorite scary movie?"

“What’s your favorite scary movie?”

I really don’t know how anyone can not love Scream. After decades of mainstream horror being relegated to endless, ever-shittier sequels of once-popular ’80s movies (Halloween, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street), Scream was a crazy hit because it was so fresh. It was perfectly gory, wickedly funny, and super meta, with the characters savvy about horror pop culture and using their knowledge to escape the villains. I’ve seen this movie a lot and I still love it, if only for the sweet, sweet ’90s outfits.

This is the only group pic I could find and it isn't even that bad, but TRUST, the outfits are hilarious.

This whole movie is such a ’90s time capsule, I love it. The cell phones! Sydney’s computer! Video stores!

Of course, as with any successful horror film, like those before it Scream has a bunch of sequels. Scream 2 wasn’t terrible, Scream 3 was terrible, and Scream 4 was actually a pleasant surprise, for me anyway, but original-flavor Scream is still the best. If you’ve never seen it, you’re doing yourself a disservice – there’s some great jumpy moments, the “who’s the killer?” reveal is awesome, and it’s a really clever and funny film in addition to being scary. Oh man, and it stars practically-baby-faced, newly famous Courtney Cox whose character Gale Weathers (…yeah) is the best, seriously.

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Do you have any pathetic water marbling attempts like this one or have you managed to actually triumph over it? Do you have rose-colored ’90s memories of watching Scream like I do?

Thanks for watching! See you next time – A x