Monday, January 26, 2015

My Current Favorite Instagram Accounts

As someone who tends to thrive on being visually stimulated (do with that sentence-starter what you will), Instagram is my favorite app for killing time. Nevermind the fact that it's pretty much the only app I use. Just never-you-mind that.

I compiled a list of my current favorite Instagram accounts and consequently determined that they can be divided into three categories: pretty, funny, and Vancouver/Boston. Ask me if I care that Vancouver and Boston have no business being in one single category. GO ON, ASK ME. No, I don't care.

The pretties are accounts celebrating things like visual design or hair/beauty, the funnies are accounts that serve no purpose other than making people laugh, and the Vancouver/Boston accounts feature beautiful cityscapes that stoke my longing for the Pacific Northwest while also helping me better appreciate my current East Coast home.

Ready? LEGGO.
* P R E T T Y *

Pretty things in soft, pretty pastels. A soothing and inspiring account!

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So many good outfits, posted in bursts. Love it!

source  .

One of my favorite blogs and favorite Instagram accounts.

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Has me immediately "longing" for my long hair again.

source  .

* F U N N Y *

Just a ton of laughable posts - it was hard to choose one to feature here.

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This account is nothing but constant gems. I legitimately scroll through his feed and just laugh out loud at almost all of them. His captions usually make the pics even better.

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Not quite as hysterical as thefatjewish or fuckjerry, but still good for a chuckle

source  .

* V A N C O U V E R / B O S T O N *

Some of the most beautiful photography of Vancouver, by photographer Patrick King. He captures so many different aspects of Vancouver - you'll love it!

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Beautiful pictures of Vancouver compiled from other Instagram accounts.

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Another account that shares pictures from others. There's a really wide variety of photography styles and Vancouver-related subject matter.

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This is actually an account run by the twin brother of my friend Kara's boyfriend. Cory takes beautiful pictures around Boston and is so far my favorite Boston Instagrammer!

source  .
Now I obviously must know what your favorite Instagram accounts are. Are you following me yet? Find me at akabaileyblog, and leave a comment below with your account name so I can follow you too!


Friday, January 23, 2015

Blueberry Gumdrops and Mint Apple Nails

My mani sounds way more scrumptious than yours does. SAWRY LOLOLOL JK NO I'M NOT. #nomnomnom

Blueberry Sweet on You Gumdrops by OPI and Mint Apple Nails

Using Mint Apple by Sinful Colors and Blue-Berry Sweet on You from the Nicole by OPI Gumdrops collection, I whipped up this look featuring a polka dot accent nail. Too many months without a polka dot mani makes one weak... I always say. (Yes, always.) And it's been way too long since I last dotted my nails, so I was feeling pretty weak. Yep, I'm blaming my weakness on the lack of polka dots and not on the lack of workouts. LAY OFF ME, I'M INJURED.

Blueberry Sweet on You Gumdrops by OPI and Mint Apple Polka Dot Nails

Anycrap! For these nails, I did 3 coats of Blue-Berry Sweet on You on my pinky, pointer and thumb nails, and 3 coats of Mint Apple on my middle finger. I used 2 coats of Snow Me White (Sinful Colors) on my ring finger, topped with Mint Apple polka dots.

Blueberry Sweet on You Gumdrops by OPI and Mint Polka Dot Accent Nail

As usual (and especially since it'd been so long since my last polka dot mani), I did some practice polka dots on a piece of scrap paper before going to my nails with my dotting tool. If you want to step up your polka-dotting game, here's an entire blog full of my favorite tips for making perfect polka dots on your nails. You can also browse through all of my polka dot manis here.

Blue-Berry Sweet on You, Gumdrops, Nicole by OPI, Mint Polka Dot accent nail

Elsewhere in my life, there are a few other things going on...

1. I'm still looking for a roommate... yeah, a roommate for February 1. Like, a week from now. I seriously thought it would be easy to find a roommate, but joke's on me! I've listed my place on Craigslist, HotPads, PadMapper... so far no great leads. Um, know anyone cool who needs a place to live near Boston? I'm about to have to pay for the entire month of February by myself, soooo........ send me your freshest homeless friends. Please 'n thanks.

2. Deflategate. I mean, geezus people. Can we say buzzkill? I don't have an explanation for this shit, but I'm not making any excuses either. It just sucks for last weekend's amazing game/win to be tainted by all of it, and it makes me feel a bit more sheepish about broadcasting how excited I am that the Patriots are in the Super Bowl. (But really though....... WHOOHOOOO!!!!!!!!! PATRIOTS FTW!!)

3. GUYSSSSSS - I'm hosting Craft Club #4 this weekend! It's happening a little late in January, but we're squeezing one in nonetheless! Sunday's craft is going to be collaging, so I'm excited to host my friends and show them my techniques for making collages. I actually haven't really had anyone over at my place at all yet since I've lived here, so this is kind of like breaking-in my apartment in some way. Better late than never! And it seemed like a good idea to host Craft Club here while I've still got the entire apartment to myself :) You can, of course, expect a recap and some pictures of our crafting adventures here in a week or two, if you're into that sort of thing. Note: You oughtta be into that sort of thing.

What do you have going on this weekend?
Have any polka dots on your nails or homeless-but-employed friends to send me?

{Linking with The Nail Files, Friday's Fab Favorites, and Beauty Frenzy Friday}

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Quick Hike in Blue Hills Reservation

The weekend before last, I headed south of the city to do a short hike up Great Blue Hill in Blue Hills Reservation in Canton, MA with my friends Kara and Steph.

Blue Hills Reservation from Boston

Blue Hills Reservation is a state park that's popular with Boston hikers and nature lovers because of its close proximity to the city. I'd never been there before, but it's quite close to Steph's condo, so it's definitely been on my list of things to do with her sooner than later.

The three of us made our way from Steph's home to the Great Blue Hill trailhead at the Trailside Museum, which is located at the far end of a parking lot for the Blue Hills Ski Area. From there we began ascending a stone staircase that led us up into the woods, following a red-dotted trail. The trail soon turned rocky, rooty, and increasingly icy.

Trail to Great Blue Hill
Icy rocks on trail to Great Blue Hill in Blue Hills Reservation
At times, the ground underfoot would switch from forest floor to large granite boulders. On these stretches, the icy granite was too slippery for our boots, so we had to shift off to the side and follow a makeshift trail that had formed on less slippery ground. No biggie.

Soon our trail crossed over a summit road (the chump's way up to the top of the hill!) before continuing back into the woods on the red-dotted path. Eventually we came to the summit of the 640-foot hill, where there sits an attractive stone building called Eliot Tower. This cool, lodge-like building features a large fireplace where - a sign warns - you are not to make any fires, under any circumstances. Passing the fireplace-that-couldn't, we climbed a set of stairs to the observation deck on the top floor of the tower.

Great Blue Hill is the largest hill for miles and miles, so the view from Eliot Tower features a pretty sweet view of Boston, even on a cloudy day:

View of downtown Boston from Great Blue HIll

View of downtown Boston from Great Blue HIll
In addition to Boston, you can also see Canton, Milton, Quincy, Weymouth, Braintree, Dorchester and the ocean.

A short walk from Eliot Tower is the renowned Blue Hill Meteorological Observatory, which is one of the oldest weather observatories in the country. We warmed up in their "gift shop" briefly before beginning our descent back down the hill.

View of downtown Boston from Great Blue HIll
This hike was icy and steep-ish at times, but completely manageable. On a summer day, it might even be sort of fun to jog up it... though I'm told the trail gets much busier in the warmer months.

Brief though this was, it was still a nice way to get back into hiking. I feel like it's been forever! There are a ton of amazing places to hike and snowshoe in the winter around New England, so I've been plotting out some trips with different people to get me into some real mountains again.

Have you been out hiking in your hood lately?
Any hiking, snowshoeing or other outdoor winter sporting in your near future?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Donut Villa: Uh Huh, This My Sh*t

GREAT news, guys. I finally found a down-home breakfast/lunch diner near me! I've been on the hunt for one of these places since moving to Medford, and last weekend I discovered where my hood has been hiding one. And believe it or not - it's less than a mile from me. #FacePalm.

God only knows what was going wrong the last 10,000 times I Googled "breakfast near Medford" during the last several months, but prior to last weekend, the only results I'd find were for Dunkin Donuts. Now, Y'ALL KNOW I love my Dunks, but it's hardly the breakfast diner atmosphere that I require on my Saturday mornings. From Pittsfield to Amherst to Boston to Cape Cod to Portland to Vancouver - I've always managed to find a local breakfast diner that could make my morning by serving me up a spectacular-yet-basic plate of over-medium eggs, bacon, wheat toast, home fries, and maybe even some French toast. And now, Donut Villa in Malden, MA has claimed that coveted spot in my current neighborhood. Hoozah!! Cue the "Thank God I Found You" dedications.

Donut Villa, Malden, MA, coffee and menu
And you're welcome for the reminder about that song's existence.

Situated inconspicuously in the middle of a small strip mall on Highland Ave in Malden, Donut Villa is a low-key breakfast/lunch diner and bakery with a no-fuss menu that features not one single item over $10. In other words, uh huh, this my shit.

Donut Villa, Malden, MA, breakfast and lunch diner and bakery

You can choose to sit at a table or at the counter on diner-style stools. I've been twice now and experienced both. Sitting at the counter gave me the opportunity to chat with the person beside me, a really charming older woman named Muriel who has been coming to Donut Villa for nearly 30 years.

French toast, bacon, eggs, and coffee, breakfast from Donut Villa

Each time that I've been into the diner, I've ordered The Hungry Girl Breakfast. It comes with two eggs, choice of sausage/bacon/ham, toast, homefries, choice of two slices French toast/pancakes, coffee, and your choice of milk/OJ. SO MANY CHOICES. I go over-medium, bacon, wheat toast, French toast, coffee, OJ, and ask to hold the homefries. It's a completely sufficient amount of food for $9.95. I've cleaned my plate each time... What can I say? I was a hungry girl.

John, the salty old man who owns the joint and cooks all the food, is a huge Patriots and Red Sox fan, with memorabilia and championship plaques proudly hanging on the walls of his diner.

Red Sox and Patriots memorabilia in Donut Villa

Maria and Dawn, the two sassy women who make up the waitstaff, come off a bit tough at first - classic New England women - but I got a softer vibe from both of them upon my second trip in to the restaurant. It's obvious that they have a lot of regulars, and they know most of the people who walk through the doors.

The diner is cash only, but if you accidentally go there cash-free (like I did on my maiden trip), there is a Dunkin Donuts next door with an ATM that you can run to use. Ironic that that's where I had to head to get cash for my Donut Villa bill, but... YA WIN SOME, YA LOSE SOME, DUNKS.

Oh, and obviously... Donut Villa also serves up donuts. Made in-house by John daily for the last 25+ years, they are the first thing you see when you walk into the diner. Did I get a picture of them? Well no, I didn't. But I'm not making them up, guys. They exist. And they're good. I had a powdered cinnamon sugar donut the first time I went in, but was too full  to indulge in dessert after my second breakfast there. In retrospect, it's a regret of mine. Should've gotten the donut...

Anyway, this place is definitely my new jam. I've told all my friends about it, and now I'm telling you guys about it too. They're open Monday through Sunday, 5:30am - 2:00pm, and you should go give them your money in exchange for food and donuts, pronto.


Friday, January 16, 2015

A "Mreh"-nicure & Some Cool News

The mediocre mani you'll see below was four G.D. attempts in the making.


Each time was with different polishes, but they all just kept turning out like straight garbage. Whether it was a wretched polish formula or an inadequately opaque glitter, nothing was pleasing me. When I finally landed on this combo of a galaxy-esque polish and accents of silver glitter, I was ready to leave it on whether it was fabulous or not. Spoiler alert (from the first sentence of this blog): It wasn't extremely fabulous, but it's fine. It's FINE. UGH.

Holographic galaxy nails with silver glitter accents

The blueish-purpleish-holographickish polish is Mysterious Curse from Orly, and I haven't featured it on my blog since waaaaaaaaaay back in October 2012 when it was on my list of favorite Fall nail polishes.

Holographic galaxy nails with silver glitter accents
.  WHY do my hands look like they are full of jaundice and sans any circulation?!  .
On my ring finger and thumb nail I did two coats of Pure Ice Beware (an old favorite of mine that also hasn't been featured here in awhile), topped with one coat of Platinum Adorn (a glitter with silver hexes and fine silver bars from Maybelline's Color Show Jewels line).

I hadn't used Beware in quite awhile, even though it used to be on pretty heavy rotation on my nails. Here are some other ways I've used it:
Orly Mysterious Curse with Pure Ice Beware silver glitter accent nails

Not much else to say about these nails - they're just mreh for me, personally. I wish some of the other polishes I'd tried first had worked out because their color combinations would have been much more interesting than this.

On a brighter note, to make up for the ridiculousness of my multiple nail failures, the universe ushered into my life two exciting positives yesterday:

1. I finally ditched the non-smartphone Samsung Brightside I'd been using for the last 2+ years and replaced it with my first-ever iPhone! It's an iPhone 5S, and owning it is simultaneously thrilling and terrifying. On the one hand... Data. Internet. Apps. On the other hand... the dreaded screen shatter. Don't think for one second that I haven't noticed all of my friends' iPhones screens break into a million pieces, Apple. I immediately purchased an Otter Box to go with mine. Wish me luck!

2. .... And this one's a biggie...... I bought a plane ticket to Panama for April! YEAH, PANAMA THE COUNTRY. NOT THE CITY IN FLORIDA. A few months ago, my cousin Catherine mentioned to me that she was planning a trip to Panama during her April vacation from school (she is a high school Italian teacher), to which I promptly responded, "I am coming with you." And I meant it.

Besides Canada, I've never traveled to another country before, which is why it's such a huge deal to me. Traveling to exciting places has always seemed way out of my league... but it isn't, in reality. In reality, I have the means to do it and the time to take off from work... and those are two of the most important obstacles to clear if one wants to travel. And I do want to travel. Real bad.

So pats on the back for me. Here, here. Whoop, whoop. :)

And speaking of pats... DOSE PATRIOTS DOE! Big football game on Sunday - pretty much the highlight of my upcoming weekend so far.

What are you up to this weekend?
Any big trips planned for your 2015?
Whatcha rockin' on your nails?

{Linking with Friday's Fab Favorites, I Feel Pretty, and The Nail Files}

Monday, January 12, 2015

Homemade Art: A Collage Just Because

So here's something I haven't mentioned yet on my blog because the situation has been just too insane for me to bring up "in public":  My roommate moved out at the end of December while I was in Washington, DC. I still don't intend to go into the details of the entire situation (sawry), but suffice to say that I came home from my trip to an empty apartment, and my immediate reaction was, "Whoa..." followed almost instantly by "HELL. YES."

The lease is still partially in her name until the end of January, so I now have until February to find a new roomie. In the meantime, however, I am absolutely DRINKING IN the fact that this entire enormous apartment is all mine right now. With all of this newfound space to spread out, I've been cleaning, singing (so much singing), making hot chocolates, and doing art projects to my heart's delight.

I began this collage just before leaving for DC, and finished it shortly after coming home (riding the high of my apartment freedom). The model featured in this collage was pretty much the inspiration for the entire thing - I love the soft, natural jade greens of the field grass she's surrounded by, so I started with that and added tiffany blue, teal, orchid, natural wood and crisp whites to the palette.

.  click for larger view  .
Here's how it was all laid out before everything was glued down...
After arranging the pieces the way I like them, I then take close-up pictures of each part of the collage. Then I remove all of the pieces and glue them back down in the correct order:

 The finished product:

I love the color scheme and the way that parts of the collage extend past the ends of the canvas. That does mean that it can't fit into a frame, but I think it's a small price to pay for the unique detail!

When I finish a collage, I'm often left with lots of scraps of magazine clippings from the project. In this case, there are enough scraps that I'm actually making another collage from them. That means the next collage will be in a similar color scheme, but will have its own feel. I can't wait to finish that one and show you!

It feels good to be making some little crafty projects like this - and I'm reminded that it's not that hard to find the time to be creative here and there.  It's particularly enjoyable if you happen to have an entire apartment to yourself to turn into your own personal crafting station.

{Linking with Craft Frenzy, The Creative Collection, and The Weekend Social}

Saturday, January 10, 2015

#ChopChop: I Got My Hair Cut!

So I've been feeling the need to do something drastic since 2015 began, and my top 3 options were either a tattoo, a piercing, or a haircut. This past Friday night I (probably wisely) opted for the latter and had a good many inches chopped off of my hair:

 As a reminder, here's pretty much what it looked like before the cut:

Here's the damage:

My stylist was Edda at the James Joseph Salon in Medford. This is the second time I've seen her, and she's really just the bee's knees - very knowledgeable, honest, and takes the time to do a great consultation. Hearing that I was wanting to make a real change, she recommended that I get lots of length removed and some layers put in, to add movement, remove damage, and frame my face.

She was also very excited to give me some curls with my blowout, which is why it looks so short in the first pic, above. A view from the side:

Here's a straightened version from the next day, so you can see it's not super duper short:

And I didn't realize until that picture was large on my computer screen that I look a bit grumpy in it. My bad. I felt fine, promise.

With at least 6 inches taken off in some places (and even more in the shorter layers), this was an utterly refreshing haircut. I'm happy to report that there was no remorse at any point while the chop was happening, which does tend to happen sometimes when a long-haired girl goes in for a big haircut. (Holler if you hear me on that one.) This style suits me for right now, and I am pleased with it - though I'm simultaneously certain that I'm going to let it grow out quite long again now. My hair tends to grow quickly - which is why a haircut was probably the wisest choice out of the tattoo-piercing-haircut debate.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'd like to a) apologize for the high ratio of selfies in this blog post. That's uncharacteristic of me, and b) head out to watch the Patriots' playoff game with my friends. TEWDLES!