Friday, October 31, 2014

On Fridays We Wear Army Nails and Flip Flops

Happy Halloweeeeeeeeeeeen! Thumbs up to the universe for allowing October 31 to fall on a Friday this year - that works out nicely, hmm? 

You probably don't remember this, but for the last 2 years I've been wallowing in self pity on Halloween rather than doing something awesome and costume-related with my buds. My friend Jrod throws an annual Halloween party in Boston, but having been in Vancouver for the last couple of years, I've been missing out. #FOMOnightmare.

SO you can imagine my delight that I'm able to attend this year :)

My costume is going to be a mish-mash of Mean Girls references - army pants and flip flops, and a tank top with the boobs cut out. Sidebar - cutting the boobs out of a shirt is a more daunting task than you might think. Go ahead and try it if you don't believe me. Symmetry is a cruel mistress.

Anyway, to go with my army pants, and to incorporate the Plastics' love of pink, here are the nails I'll be rocking tonight:

Pink nails with army print accent nails

I kiiiiiind of love 'em! This was my first time trying an army print, so I looked up a few Pinterest pictures and YouTube tutorials before launching into the project. This is the tutorial I relied upon most heavily in the end.

Starting off, I painted my pointer, middle and pinky nails two coats of Sinful Colors Pink Forever.

Next, I applied one coat of Essie's Case Study (also used recently in this leopard print mani) to my thumb and ring finger and allowed it to dry. Then, one by one, I applied the following polishes by stippling them into random overlapping squiggles with my dotting tool, allowing each to dry a bit between colors:
  • Essie Sew Psyched (muted green)
  • Revlon Parfumerie Balsam Fir (dark green)
  • Forever21 Love & Beauty Hunter Green (bright green)
  • Revlon Stiletto (black)
Pink nails with army print accent nail

I love when relatively easy nail art looks really detailed or difficult - like this army print, or leopard print, or even polka dots. People - these army nails are literally just a bunch of different randomly sized squiggles of different colors. You could use a toothpick to stipple them on, if you don't have a dotting tool. Or you could even go directly from the nail polish bottles and just use the regular brushes. You can do eeeet.

Completely random sidebar, this video made my day yesterday when I saw it. I watched it several times and laughed out loud each time:

Anyone else love Flula and Mamrie and Grace Helbig and Miranda Sings and that whole gang of YouTube misfits? Who honestly needs cable these days? WHO?

Alright now I obviously want to know if you're dressing up for a costume party this weekend and what your costume is! Will you be handing out candy to trick-or-treaters? Tell me everything.

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

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Children of the Corn Maze & Other Amherst Adventures

This past weekend I took a spontaneous day-trip to Amherst with my friends Kara and Kyle for some reminiscing about our college days at UMass Amherst. October is such a perfect time to be in that part of Massachusetts, and I'd personally been craving a Pioneer Valley trip the entire month thus far, so it was just the thing to lift my spirits.

Drive from Boston to Amherst

When I think of Amherst in the fall, I think of beautiful foliage splashed across the hills surrounding the valley, pumpkin patches, farm stands, corn mazes, haunted hayrides, apple cider, and the UMass campus teeming with students wearing North Face jackets, UMass gear and Ugg boots. Since Kara, Kyle and I were only going to be there for the morning/afternoon, we couldn't pack all of those pleasures into this one trip, but we picked a nice selection of Amherst-area activities and gave it our all.

We made it to the Valley by around 10am, and after swinging through Northampton for some coffee, we made a bee-line for Mike's Maze in Sunderland - a local corn maze and farm stand that I'd been to once before with David some years ago. And what a gorgeous day to do a corn maze!

Corn stalks on a perfect day
And looking north, here was the gorgeous view of Mount Sugarloaf from Mike's Maze:

View of Mount Sugarloaf from Mike's Maze in Sunderland

Sidebar, Mount Sugarloaf is also a great attraction on a fall day if you're in the Pioneer Valley. It's a short hike with lovely views of the Connecticut River and the surrounding hills.

While I'm sure all corn mazes are different, Mike's Maze does a different maze design every year and also incorporates a whole game/challenge into the maze. This year's maze design was a raven, and you can (and should) check out the bird's eye view of it here. The game aspect involved a bit of animal trivia and some drawing, and while that part was obviously mostly for the kids, we still got into it pretty unabashedly that morning. Here's an intense shot of Kara completing one of the drawing challenges, while Kyle makes sure she doesn't go over the allotted 30-second timeframe to do so.

What a nice day to be lost in a corn maze...

After we found our way out of the maze, we were each rewarded with a free sugar pumpkin to take home. Did you even know there was such a thing as a "sugar pumpkin"? Apparently that's what the smaller pumpkins are called - and they actually have differently textured flesh that makes them better for baking with than larger pumpkins. Now you know. 

From Sunderland, we drove into Amherst and through the middle of the UMass campus as we made our way towards the town center for lunch. If you are a UMass alum, you don't need me to tell you where we went for lunch that day. You already know. For everyone else, our lunch stop of choice was Bueno Y Sano - aka the best Mexican restaurant in the entire world. Yep, even better than the ones in Mexico probably. But seriously, Bueno is famous in Amherst (and beyond) for its in-cred-i-ble burritos, tacos and quesadillas. Most people go for the burritos but I'm more of a chicken soft taco girl myself. I ordered two of them while Kara and Kyle each nommed on different types of burritos. Everyone was more than satisfied with their choices - and it was SO good to eat at Bueno again after my 3 or 4 year hiatus.

We followed up lunch with a stop off at a local watering hole - McMurphy's. It was definitely one of the most popular bars in town when we were students, and it's one of the few that has remained relatively unchanged in the years since we graduated. Many of the other bars have changed owners or been renovated or moved completely to new premises in the last 7 years.

Same goes for UMass itself! An impressive number of new buildings have gone up all over the campus. Guess that's what they did with all of our tuition money haha! Has anyone else gone back to their college campus and been like, "Whaaa? Where'd all this new shit come from??"

We took a stroll through campus and checked out our Student Union and Campus Center while we were there. Again - things changing left and right. There are some really fancy new common areas and dining facilities inside of those buildings that have the whole place looking like something from THE FUTURE. Kids these days. They're growing up spoiled! (Shakes fist at young'ns.)

The proper way to conclude our Amherst trip was to drive past a few of our favorite college apartments of yore (#RUSSELLST, #TRIANGLEST, #EASTST, #BESTYEARSOFOURLIVES) for some ceremonial sighs and memory-lane'ing, and then stop into Hadley's The Donut Man for some treats on our way out of town. I was thrilled to see that Donut Man still sells my much-beloved Frozen Hot Chocolate drink - which is just effing out of this world, guys. Tastes EXACTLY like a delicious Swiss Miss hot chocolate, except it's a frozen, ice-blended version. Mmm... I'd like one right now, in fact.

All in all, I'd say this day-trip to the Valley was a roaring success. And, as Kyle keenly pointed out, having had such a lovely time in such a short amount of time (a span of just about 4 or 5 hours, not including the drive) will hopefully encourage us to head to Amherst more often in the future. In other words, students of UMass... see us in a bit.

When was the last time you headed back to your college? Leave a note in the comments and let me know where you went to school! I'm curious :)


Friday, October 24, 2014

I Like My Nails Matte and Scented.

Hey thanks to everyone who listened to me whining yesterday. I appreciated all of the advice and messages that you guys sent, and I promise I'm taking it to heart as best I can. I need to stop listening to sad music and start holding my chin up... but sometimes it's really, really easy for the sad music to win. (Thanks Sara Bareilles. Thanks a lot.) Sometimes it's really hard to not cry on the subway. Sometimes waking up alone feels like the worst way to start the day. Sometimes rainy days feel like a metaphor for my entire life.

But sometimes nail polish on a Friday is a reminder about the little things that can make me smile. So. There's your segue into nail polish today.

These nails were supposed to be autumnal but they came out more Christmas-y in the photos...

So I guess now would be a good time to mention that there are only 61 shopping days till Christmas.

I used a Revlon Parfumerie polish, in the color Balsam Fir. It's a beautifully dark hunter green - quite a bit darker than it's actually appearing in these photos. And since it's a "Parfumerie" polish, it does have a "balsam fir" scent to it, which lasts a couple of days and withstands several hand washings.

My accent nail is Raisin Rage from Revlon, which I also used recently for my Fierce Autumn Wedding nails.

I topped my nails with a matte top coat from Revlon, but it didn't have the dramatic mattifying result that I remember it having the last time I used it. Can you even tell there's a matte coat on these??

What are you rocking on your nails today?
{Linking with The Nail Files, Friday's Fab Favorites, and Beauty Buzz}

Thursday, October 23, 2014

An Inadvertent Heart-to-Heart

I have been a bad blogger this month. Truthfully it's because my mood hasn't been that phenomenal lately thanks to all of my many aches and pains (physical and emotional), and part of me wants to not bother trying to put on a show of being chipper here on my blog. I don't want to be fake, but then again no one wants to read a blog from a person who is just betching and moaning all the time. (No, I didn't take a poll of the room to come up with that last conclusion, but it just seems logical.) My solution, mostly, has been to just remain quiet and not post much at all. "If you don't have something nice to blog, just blog nail polish pictures every Friday."

But I don't want it to be that way. I like blogging - or at least I did. It's a great hobby, generally. A good way to keep writing, a good reason to hone my photography skills, a good way to keep a little record of my life. In Vancouver it was also a good way to make new friends, though that aspect of blogging has yet to trickle over into my new Boston life.

... The scary part is that my Boston life isn't even really that "new" anymore. I feel like something in my life should have made more forward progress by now, but instead my bedroom still isn't even really finished being "put together." I have stacks of random photos all over my bedroom because my life feels so uncertain that I'm scared to commit to hanging anything onto my walls. There's still no living room furniture in my apartment. Part of me feels like I'm relying on my friends too much for stimulation, rather than working on making myself feel more complete and capable and self-sufficient. I should be taking up some new hobby, like the guitar or meditation or yoga. Actually, don't even get me started on the topic of physical activity like yoga, because it's just a reminder that I'm unable to workout due to the neck/shoulder/arm/back pain I've been dealing with since the summer. My life this month has been a series of trips back and forth to the chiropractor in Cambridge, twice a week, an hour each way, for 15-minute appointments that may or may not even be helping. Only over the last few days have I been able to fall asleep without pain medication or muscle relaxers.

This still doesn't even cover all the things going through my mind lately. It's really been a rough week/month/year. Making it all just a little bit rougher is the fact that my 30th birthday is just a few short weeks away. Six months ago, that wouldn't have been a big deal to me at all - I'd have felt pretty decent about it, like my life was ready for me to turn 30. Now I feel like everything is off-track, like I'm entering my 30's in a panic rather than a party. It doesn't feel like a cause for celebration, that's for sure.

Believe it or not, I started this post with the intention of just sharing these pretty fall leaf pictures. Apparently I needed to share some feeeeeels, too. Hope you guys don't mind. I don't have a tidy conclusion to my stream-of-consciousness blah's or an easy segue into my leaf pictures, but... um... here, look at these now:

Colorful New England fall foliage

Colorful New England fall foliage

Colorful New England fall foliage

Have any cheerful thoughts or gigg-worthy memes or videos to share with me to relieve me of some of my Debbies? Please, for the love of god, leave me something to smile about in the comments below.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Seeing Spots: Fuchsia and Polka Dot Nails

Don't spit at me, but today's nails are not even slightly autumnal. They're also a bit more "16-year-old girl" than "adult about to turn 30 in a few weeks," but it's my hot body and I'll do what I want!

Fuchsia nails with black and white polka dot accent nails, Maybelline Clearly Spotted
Clearly I just can't get enough of this Maybelline Color Show Polka Dots polish. I keep reaching for it! 
Fuchsia nails with black and white polka dot accent nails

This is two coats of Fuchsia Fever by Revlon on my pinky, pointer and thumb nails. Two coats of Snow Me White by Sinful Colors on my ring finger and middle fingers. My ring finger is topped with two coats of Clearly Spotted by Maybelline. On my middle finger, I used my dotting tool to add polka dots in Revlon's Stiletto. (On my left hand, I did fuchsia polka dots on my middle finger, but wasn't as pleased with how it looked.)
Fuchsia nails with black and white polka dot accent nails, black and white glitter polish
You can see my other manis using Clearly Spotted here and here. I'm quite fond of both of them.

Fuchsia nails with black and white polka dot accent nails

Tonight my brother Rob is picking me up and we are heading back to western Massachusetts to visit with my family for the weekend. My sister Mallory is turning 31 on Monday, so we thought it would be nice to go see her and give her a present or a high-five - or maybe even both. Probably both. I'll also get to see my nephew and niece, who are both just as clever and hysterical as can be. Maybe I'll even get to hit up an apple orchard while I'm there! I certainly know a great one in the area...

What are you up to this weekend?
Any family time planned?
Show me what you're rocking on your nails via Twitter or Instagram!

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

Monday, October 13, 2014

New England in the Fall: Everywhere Else Can Suck It

Sooo not to brag or anything, but New England in the fall is simply the bee's knees. October, specifically, is the month to come here if you're looking to do any leaf-peeping. That means you better get here pronto if you want in on the action this year.

My neighborhood isn't lacking in deciduous trees, so I've got a front row view of Mother Nature doing her annual color-changing thang. Things look different around here every single day, and I have been snapping plenty of pictures around my hood each time I go out for a walk or to run an errand. Here's a bit of what's been in my lens:

This weekend I tried to get back to the gym a little bit, but only to do cardio. I still can't do many other exercises without my shoulder hurting, so at the very least I can put in some 30-minute sessions on the elliptical here and there. Can't be letting myself get soft during Halloween month, when we're all supposed to look super fly in our skanky costumes. Just kidding, my costume won't be skanky - though it will feature some exposed bra. Can't wait to show you what I mean, but you'll just have to wait till Halloween to find out. My friend J-rod throws an annual Halloween party that I've missed out on the last 2 years, being away in Vancouver, so it's especially exciting for me to be here for it this year.

Stay tuned for probably more fall pictures from my neck of the woods.
Do the leaves change where you live?
Are you dressing up for Halloween?

{Linking with Finding Beauty}

Friday, October 10, 2014

Fall Foliage Nails

Oh well hello there, Friday. Fancy seeing you here again.

It's been another week of muscle relaxers and chiropractor appointments over here, trying to make my shoulder stop misbehaving. I can't tell if the chiropractor is helping or not, but at least I've got a man massaging my neck for me twice a week. Don't tell him I said that.

In other news, I have been taking walks outside in the refreshing sunshine that Boston has had this week - and the autumn leaves are really looking spectacular. I've got a ton of pictures to share with you soon, so please come back on Monday to leaf-peep some of thooose!

On a related note, my nails today were inspired by a tree right outside my window that has slowly been turning from green to yellow over the last couple of weeks. Everyday it's a little more amber and a little less emerald, which inspired me to break out my makeup sponge and do a sponge mani with green, yellow and orange.

I'm not entirely thrilled with how these came out - honestly, they're not what I envisioned. But they're not awful, so that's why I'm sharing them.

I started out by painting all of my nails this Hunter Green color from Love & Beauty. Next I used some white polish on a makeup sponge to dab some random splotches around my nails. (The white splotches would serve as my "blank canvas" for the next steps.)  Once the white was dry, I repeated that step with a yellow polish (Little Miss Sunrise by Essence), then an orange polish (Metallic Mango from Milani), and finished it off with another dabbing of the yellow polish.

At the very least, this is something out of the ordinary and different. It can also be done with pretty much any color combination you'd like, so... go forth and dab with your sponges, ladies.

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

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Friend Date Night: The Paint Bar

Autumn on the Charles, painting from The Paint Bar Boston
This past Friday night I met up with my friends Steph and Kara at The Paint Bar on Newbury St in Boston for an evening of getting our Bob Ross on. Whoop!

The Paint Bar is one of the best business ideas, ever. It's a painting class that all skill levels can enjoy, with an instructor teaching the whole class how to paint a particular picture, step-by-step. There's also a bar with plenty of wine and snacks, so you can drink and nibble while you paint and socialize with your friends. Choose a class and reserve your seat online (they usually sell out), and list your friends' names at checkout to make sure you're all seated together. Sounds fun right?? So much better than doing the same ol' thang with your friends on a Friday night. Unless that "same ol' thang" for you is getting free passes to Discovery Zone with all-you-can-eat pizza and ice cream or something. In which case... keep doing you, ma. You sound like you have a good life.

Anyway, after arriving at The Paint Bar on Friday and tying on our aprons, we headed to the back of the shop to fill our palettes with the designated amount of each paint color. There's a little sign that tells you exactly how many pumps of each color you need for the painting you'll be doing that evening - i.e. 2 pumps black, 6 pumps white, 1 pump brown, etc.

Paint containers at the Paint Bar, Newbury St Boston

The painting we were going to be recreating that night was called Autumn on the Charles, which was a lovely riverside scene of an autumnal tree with the Boston skyline in the background. Once everyone had arrived and prepped their paint, we got started.

Blank canvases ready for painting

A friendly instructor stood at the front of the room demonstrating and explaining each step of the painting, while another employee manned the bar. Between each step, they turned up the music in the room, so there was a fun and laid back atmosphere the whole time. Definitely not a formal painting class with a snobbish instructor. Kara, Steph and I got our gab on while we painted, sipped, and snacked. I've been on muscle relaxers for the past couple of weeks, so no alcohol for me. But don't worry - I ate enough snacks and drank enough Coca Cola to make up for it. Shout out to the Rice Krispies Treat that I enjoyed that night. Yum.

Here's a sort of step-by-steppish picture guide of the painting in progress:

Friends painting!

We used a cool cross-hatching technique to make the sky:

Cross hatch sky painting

Sky and river painted

The Paint Bar, Newbury St, Boston

Boston skyline painted

The John Hancock tower and the Prudential Center are the two big "skyline" giants in Boston:

Boston skyline painting, John Hancock Tower, Prudential Center

Painting the tree was pretty scary after all the work we'd done on that skyline and sky:

Tree painting, Charles River, Boston skyline

Autumnal tree scene next to the Charles River, Boston, painting

Autumnal tree, Boston skyline painting

Finally - all finished! Buildings outlined in black and Citgo sign added in:

Autumnal tree, Boston skyline next to the Charles, painting

The cool thing about this class is that everyone is painting the same thing, but no two paintings end up looking alike. Despite being given detailed instructions on how to do everything, the painter inevitably brings his or her own style to it. From left to right, here are Kara's, mine, and Steph's paintings:

The Paint Bar, finished paintings

Kara's painting
.  kara's  .

My painting
.  mine  .

Steph's painting
.  steph's  .

There was kind of a yellow-lighted hue to the room at The Paint Bar, so I took this picture in the whiter lighting of my bedroom...
My painting, better lighting

Autumn on the Charles, Boston Skyline painting

The moral of the story is - go paint with your friends. You'll have fun and you'll get some artwork out of it. I plan on giving my painting to my sister Mallory, since it doesn't really "go" with anything in my room.

In other news entirely, today is my 2-year blogiversary :) I believe that's the cotton anniversary, so looks like mama's gettin' a new pair of jeans! Old Navy, here I come.

Is there a Paint Bar equivalent in your town? Would you do something like this with your buddies?

{Linking with Wonderfully Creative Wednesdays and Craft Frenzy Friday}