Sunday, December 30, 2012

2013 Blog Bucket List

Ok guys, this post is going to be a bit wordy, and not many photos, so I apologize for that in advance!  Today I am stealing a page from the book of my dear friend Debbie at The Crumpet and posting my Blog Bucket list for next year.  I am hoping that this will do the same things for me as it did for her this past year, which is give me direction and help me focus on specific things to improve.  Also, I would love for you guys to leave me comments of anything you would like to see more of, new things you'd like to see, and things you want to see me do better.  So please, give me your feedback!

Here is my personal list:

  1. Use all of my untrieds - I have too many polishes that I haven't used, and yet I keep acquiring more!  I'm determined to whittle this number down this year... ideally to zero!
  2. Improve my freehand nail art - This is a tough one for me, I just don't seem to have a steady enough hand or get the shapes right... I plan on attempting more freehand designs, because I will never get better at them if I don't try.  (Sorry in advance if you have to look at my craptastic attempts in the process!)
  3. Improve the lighting for my photos -  I've got a new light tent here in Sweden now, but I'm not to happy with the actual lights yet.  I will figure out how to get the most color accurate photos possible for you guys!
  4. Try nail art techniques that have been on my to-do list forever - Braided, Splatter, Ruffles... I see all these cute techniques and always tell myself I will try them out, then I forget.  I will be more organized with my ideas and make lists for myself so I remember to try all these fun things!
  5. Use my Instagram - I've got an account that I barely use and I have just added that info to the right sidebar of my blog.  I'll post more there so follow me if you'd like! :)
  6. Make a tutorial -  I've had people ask me for marbling tutorials, and I always refer them to My Simple Little Pleasures because, well, she's the best!  But I'd like to make some attempt at tutorials this year.
  7. Get a logo for the blog - Either make one myself or have someone help me design one.. I'd like to have a more professional looking logo because all I have right now is the simple one I made when I first started.
  8. Complete the New31DC without any halfassedness! - I am starting this in January and I was trying to get some posts done ahead of time... for the color days I just had swatches.  Then I thought to myself, would my favorite blogs do it this way?  NO!  So I will do this challenge and be awesome about it!
  9. Break 2000 followers - To be honest I am so amazed that I have over 1000 followers now, I never expected to have my blog be read by so many people.  But just like everyone else who blogs, I want more!  I want to share my love of nail polish with everyone!
  10. Become a go-to swatcher for a company or brand - Hopefully this will go hand in hand with improving my photography, then people will want me to take awesome macros of all their polishes!
So, what else do you guys want to see from me in 2013??

Iridescent Glequins with Orly Au Champagne

Hi guys!  Just a quickie for you today, and only one photo since all my photos of this mani were complete rubbish.  I did these nails a few weeks back after seeing some EPIC glitter mosaics on Polish All the Nails.  Seriously, if you don't follow her already, you need to.

I did my nails with a base of Orly Au Champagne and then proceeded to stick these loose glequins on one by one.  BTW, I totally just learned that people are calling these things glequins since Sammy from The Nailasaurus dubbed them some combination of glitter and sequins.  I think I'm a bit late on the pick up of that word! Anyway, I top coated with Zoya Armor, which is apparently bubble central, argh!!! The bubbles were not really visible in real life, but of course photos magnify all that.  Anyway, I want to get some smaller glequins and do more of these manis... they really appeal to my gaudy side!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Holiday Nail Art Challenge: Day 8, New Year's Eve

Hello everyone!  Today is the final day of The Crumpet's Nail Tarts Holiday Nail Art Challenge.  Our theme today is New Year's Eve.  When I think of New Year's Eve, I think of fireworks.  Lots of people have done firework nails, and I think they are awesome, but to make mine a bit more unique I decided to do them by water marbling!

I started of with my usual one coat of OPI Funny Bunny.  The colors I used for my marbling are: OPI Roadhouse Blues, Zoya Sooki (index), Color Club Almost Famous (middle), Ozotic 507 (ring), and Essie Braziliant (pinkie).  After I finished the marbling, I added some Hits Hefesto over all the colored bits representing the fireworks to give them more of that sparkle that real fireworks have.

So what do you guys think, do these look like fireworks?

I had so much fun on this challenge, and I hope you guys enjoyed seeing my posts!  Next up, the New 31 Day Challenge!!  I will be starting this with a bunch of other people in January.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Trind Nail Repair, Before and After!

Hi guys!  Today I want to tell you about a new addition to my nail care routine.  Since the summer I have been having a ton of problems with my nails... mostly peelies, which I had on almost every finger.  Then, when I moved to Sweden, my nails were tearing at the edges what seemed like once a week.  Every time I managed to get a bit of length, one would tear and I'd be back to cutting them all down.  I am going to attribute a lot of this to stress and my diet change... in Houston I was eating TONS of avocado, which as most people know, is great for your skin, hair, and nails.  When we moved I didn't have so much access to them, and they became a much smaller portion of my diet.  Also, I was very busy this summer and was not diligent with my cuticle oil and nail care, so I think that was part of the problem.

Here is my before photo, from November 14th.  At this point I had been back to caring properly for my nails and they were still giving me issues with tearing.  You can see that the corner of my index finger had torn off and I've got a few white marks on my nails from them being injured and weak.  They were just so sad!

Enter Trind Nail Repair!  I found this stuff at a department store here in Stockholm, and figured what the heck.. I'll try it!  I was pretty desperate at this point and was willing to try anything.  I didn't have much hope for success really, because I have tried nail strengtheners in the past and they did not seem to do much.  (I have tried OPI Nail Envy, Orly Tough Cookie, and Orly Nailtrition.)  I have been using Trind for a month and a half now, and I am definitely going to be repurchasing this when I run out!  My nails look healthier and feel stronger than they ever have.  The most amazing part?  ALL of my peelies are gone.  On both hands!  My right hand was always worse with peelies and they are completely gone.  I can hardly believe it.

Ignore the bit of staining that I have!  But look how healthy they look!  This is with absolutely nothing on them, directly after polish remover.  I did not moisturize after removal.

I have been using Trind almost daily, I put it on every time I change my polish.  They say to be careful not to allow it to touch your cuticles because it can cause irritation, but I have not noticed any irritation personally.  I still use my CND Stickey on top of the Trind to make my mani last a bit longer.

Now, I don't know if this nail strengthener is right for everyone, but it sure it right for me!  It is formaldehyde based, so please be aware of that if you are thinking of purchasing it.  Check out this post from Loodie, Loodie, Loodie about formaldehyde nail strengtheners and deciding if they are right for you.

I am also looking into finding the Trind Nail Balsam to try out as well, which I have heard is amazing.  I hope this post is helpful to anyone who is as exasperated as I was with my weak, peeling nails!  If you try this (or have already tried it) please let me know how it works for you... I'd love to hear if others have as much success as I did with this product.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Crowstoes Making Christmas Gradient (with macro!)

Merry Christmas!!!  I hope all my readers are having a wonderful holiday season filled with love and joy.  Despite being far away from our families while we are here in Sweden, Mr. Sparkles and I are making the best of our Christmas.  It is our first one as a married couple, and his first white Christmas.  We've got about a meter of snow outside, and it was snowing all morning... It is probably the whitest Christmas I've ever had myself.  Yesterday we went to an outdoor museum here in Stockholm, and it was lovely with all the snow.  They have a bunch of native animals there as well, so we got to see some fun things like reindeer, moose, foxes and lynxes playing in the snow.  Today we are making a Christmas ham for dinner and lounging around the house staying warm!

I did these nails today because I just had to use Crowstoes Making Christmas.  I've just gotten this and two other Crowstoes polishes in the mail from  Making Christmas is better than I imagined, but it was hard for me to capture the little holo bits in my photos.  It is so much more than a red, green, and silver glitter.  It is 100% my favorite Christmas polish and I can't wait until next year when I can use it again!

I layered MC over Zoya Sooki, which, in my opinion, is the perfect red crelly.

Mmmm look at that festive goodness!! This is certainly Christmas in a bottle.

What was your favorite Christmas polish this year?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Holiday Nail Art Challenge: Day 7, Santa and Elves

Hi guys!! The Crumpet's Nail Tarts Holiday Challenge is almost through, this is the second to last post.  We have done Santa and Elf theme today.  I did these on Saturday night and am still currently wearing them, which is rare for me!  These were inspired by two different sources... I saw the Santa hat nail on Pinterest, but the photo didn't link back to a website, so I've got no idea who to credit!  If you know who did the original, which can be seen here, please let me know so I can link them!  The elf portion of this mani was from a cute tutorial I saw on TotallyCoolNails, which is here.

The polishes I used for these were China Glaze Paper Chasing, Orly Star Spangled, and Orly Au Champagne.  The belts and the buttons on the elf suits were done with acrylic paints.  I stuck a pearl on as the ball of the Santa hat, which came from that same gem set my mom sent me. (Thanks Mom!  You're the best!)  The pearl was attached with a bit of Au Champagne, and then sealed with top coat... surprisingly enough, this is still on my nail, and that is after doing a bunch of dishes!  I guess I will be sealing my gems from now on because this one wore sooooo much longer than the ones I used the other day.

Merry Christmas, everyone!  I hope you all enjoy some time with your loved ones, eat some yummy food, and receive whatever you may be wishing for.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Holiday Nail Art Challenge: Day 6, Reindeer and Sleigh

Welcome back! Today is Day 6 of The Crumpet's Nail Tarts Holiday Challenge, and our theme is Reindeer and Sleigh.

When I saw this theme I instantly thought of the silhouettes of the reindeer pulling the sleigh across the night sky, so I did my best to recreate this on my nails.

My base color for this nail art is Hits Apolo, a gorgeous dark blue holo.  I sponged on some Color Club Blue Heaven and MASH Nail Art Polish in White to lighten the base a bit and make the silhouettes more visible.

I painted the silhouettes using acrylic paint, which was SO much easier than using polish.  (This was actually my second attempt at this mani, the first one failed because the base was too dark and painting the silhouettes with polish did not allow for enough detail.)  I know my reindeer aren't perfect, but I am trying my best to improve my freehand skills!  I actually like all the deer except the one on my middle finger... don't know what happened to him.  He is a "special" reindeer now.  I added one red glitter from China Glaze Party Hearty to the pinky finger as Rudolph's nose.

I hope you guys like these, and don't forget to see what everyone else did!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Poinsettia Water Marble

Here is another Christmas water marble for you!  I've used red and green to make a Poinsettia pattern.  (I have also just realized that I have been writing "pointsettia" and adding an extra t! Oops!)

As always, I've started with a base of OPI Funny Bunny.  This time I used 2 coats of FB because I wanted the colors to pop more.  I marbled with China Glaze Holly-day and Zoya Sooki.  I was a bit miffed by the bubbles I got, I have no idea why they happen or how to prevent them, so if anyone knows please share with me!

I hope you are all ready for Christmas, since it is quickly approaching!  I've finished my shopping and am looking forward to a few days off. :)

Custom Lacquistry Christmas Polish Giveaway

Hey guys!  I've got one more last minute Christmas present for you!!!  A chance to win the gorgeous one-of-a-kind custom Lacquistry!  Jenna was kind enough to work with me to design Holiday Wreath based on the bright ornaments I normally decorate my tree with.  I wish I had another one of these to keep for myself, but this is the only one, and I am going to give it away to one of you lucky people.

Edited to add: The above swatches are directly from Jenna, they show two coats of polish with no top coat.

Enter in the Rafflecopter widget below, and hurry, this giveaway is only open until the end of Christmas day!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Holiday Nail Art Challenge: Day 5, Christmas Decoration

Hi guys!  Today is the fifth day of The Crumpet's Nail Tarts Holiday Challenge.  Our theme for the day is Christmas Decorations.  I chose to do a Christmas tree.  I have been planning this mani since November, and I did it in the beginning of the month, and I've been saving it for this occasion!  (Which was difficult because I wanted to post it right away!)

I just knew I had to try to make a Christmas tree with a water marble!  Apparently I wasn't the only one with this idea, since I have seen one on Globe & Nail and my friend Jacki from Adventures in Acetone has done one as well.  Jacki and I actually discussed that we both had this idea back in Novemeber as well, and I was so amused since she and I always seem to think alike about our nail designs.  (<3 Jacki!!)

Anyway, the colors I used for this marble are China Glaze Holly-day and Ulta Professional Green with Envy.  As usual I used one coat of OPI Funny Bunny to prep my nail before marbling.  Both greens worked well in the water and together, so this was a pretty easy marble.

I wanted to add something that looked like the colored string of Christmas lights, so I used my dotting tools with multi-colors that would match.  The colors I used were Zoya Isla, Orly Sweet Peacock, China Glaze Paper Chasing, and Color Club Almost Famous.

So there you have it, some water marbled Christmas trees!  Hope you've enjoyed these, and I will try to get at least one more Christmas-y water marble up this week sometime for you guys.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas Color Block

Hi guys.  Here are the Christmas nails I wore today when I went shopping with my new friends here in Stockholm!  These were a design inspired by the little gold beads, which came from a holiday Dial-a-Gem set by Cina.  (You can buy these at Sally Beauty.)  My mom sent me the set as a surprise in a package she mailed me, and I love them... they are something that I wouldn't buy myself but I was excited to use.

I decided to do some color blocking with the gold accent.  I started off with one coat of OPI Smitten with Mittens as my base color.  This is one of a few HTF colors I have in my stash, and I can see why everyone is so obsessed with it!  It is the most gorgeous shimmering red, perfect for the holidays.  The shimmer is something like a combo of a small flakie and a glass fleck.  So lovely.  If you see this in a blog sale or anywhere, don't hesitate to snatch it up!!

I painted the green, which is OPI Live and Let Die, on half of my nail on the diagonal.  I didn't use any tape to do this, because I wasn't too worried about my line being 100% perfect since I would be covering it with the gems anyway.  Next, I dabbed one coat of China Glaze Party Hearty (the quintessential Christmas glitter!) over OPI LaLD.

After that was all finished I put a coat of non quick dry top coat over everything and set the gems onto that while it was still wet.  I did not seal them with more top coat after applying.  I will say that they didn't wear for very long this way... by the end of the day all my gems had fallen off.  I wasn't too worried about longevity though.  If you are, I would definitely recommend using nail glue to attach things like this.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Bloggers Unite: Nails for Newtown

I, like everyone else in the world, am so deeply saddened by the atrocities that occurred yesterday morning in Newtown, CT.  No family should have to deal with the fact that their child's presents will sit unwrapped under their tree, and that this event will hang heavy over every holiday for years to come.  I don't really know what to say that hasn't already been said about this.  I am proud to be part of a community that will band together in a show of support to the grieving during this time.

I have painted my nails with 3 coats of Ciaté Angel Wings, which was the most appropriate polish name I could have asked for.  All the angels at that school were taken from this earth far before their time.

Sat-ART-day Club: Anything Christmas

Today is my first Saturday participating in another nail art club from The Crumpet's Nail Tarts.  They have a weekly nail art day on Saturdays, with a new theme every week.  I may not be participating in these too regularly until after January, because in Jan I will be participating in the NEW 31 Day Challenge.  Check out more info on this over at The Crumpet.

Today's theme is anything Christmas, so I am going to show you guys this awesome holiday themed brushstroke mani!  I was inspired by designs by Debbie from The Crumpet, as well as Sarah from Chalkboard Nails.  They were both inspired by Gorgeois, who has a tutorial on this method here.

Here are all the colors I used, which include, China Glaze Gr8 (base color), OPI Smitten With Mittens, China Glaze Velvet BowChina Glaze Holly-Day, China Glaze Poinsettia, China Glaze Glittering Garland, China Glaze Ultamate Holiday, and Zoya Isla.

This technique was pretty easy, although I did have to practice a bit on a nail wheel first to get a feel of how much polish to have on my brush, how big to make my strokes, and things like that.  I am quite pleased with how this turned out though, it is abstract but still Christmas-y.

What do you think, is this a technique you will try?  I think I will try this again with different colors some time in the future.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Holiday Nail Art Challenge: Day 4, Presents and Gift Wraps

Hey everyone!  Today is Day 4 of The Crumpet's Nail Tarts Holiday Challenge, and we are doing Presents and Gift Wraps as our theme.  I made my nails into tiny gifts for you guys!

(natural lighting, overcast) 

Last week I teased this photo of the base for this nail art on my Facebook page.  This is two coats of Models Own Scarlet Sparkle, a beautiful red jelly polish with glowing red micro glitter in it.  It has that lit from within look that makes a polish really special.

(with flash) 

After my base was dry I stamped on this plaid design from MASH Plate 50 using my MASH Nail Art Polish in Black.  I am always afraid to use designs like this with straight lines in them because I am not so good at lining the design up on my nail, but I amazed myself by getting them really straight on the first try!  Don't you love it when that happens?

(with flash) 

Once my wrapping paper design was all finished I added the ribbons and bows using CND Gold Chrome.  I freehanded the ribbons with a striping brush, and then stamped the bows with a design from MASH Plate 28.  Since the bows were the same color as the ribbon they needed a bit more detail added to them, which I did with a small nail art brush and MASH Nail Art Polish in Black.

(light tent, no flash, daylight bulb)

I am soooo in love with how these turned out, I think they may be one of my favorite designs I've done yet!  I wore these to my work Christmas party too, they seemed so appropriate. :)

Don't forget to see what everyone else came up with for today's theme!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Holiday Nail Art Challenge: Day 3, Festival of Lights

Hey there!  Welcome back to the Crumpet's Nail Tarts Holiday Challenge.  Today's mani theme is Festival of Lights, so I have done some Hanukkah nails.  Keep reading to find out what I used!

I chose to feature the colors of Hanukkah in my mani, using white, blue, and silver.  The base color is Orly Au Champagne, and then I did a glitter gradient using China Glaze Lorelei's Tiara and Models Own Bluebelle.  For my accent nail I used 2 coats of Orly Lunar Eclipse and painted a Star of David using my MASH Nail Art Polish in White.

Hope you have enjoyed this, and don't forget to check out everyone else's interpretation of the theme!  And a very Happy Hanukkah to those of you who celebrate! :)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Holiday Nail Art Challenge: Day 2, Gingerbread Men and Candy Canes

Hello again!  It is Day Two of the Crumpet's Nail Tart's Holiday Challenge!!  Today's theme is Gingerbread Men and Candy Canes.  Yum!  Gingerbread is very popular here in Sweden for the holidays so I have been eating a lot of it lately.

So for this challenge I did some stamping as well as some freehand nail art (which I desperately want to improve at!).  I started off with two coats of China Glaze Pointsettia on all of my nails.  Once those were completely dried I stamped them using my MASH Nail Art Polish in White and a diagonal stripe design from MASH Plate 40.  Next I freehanded on my gingerbread friend.  I used Color Club Gingerbread Man for his body, because, well, I just HAD to!  Finally, I decided that I would add some dots onto some of the candy cane stripes, and I did that with my dotting tool and Poinsettia.

Which do you guys prefer, candy canes or gingerbread?