09 December 2011

Bright Spots in a Bitter and Busy Morning

A perfectly made Merrimint Mocha.

A Christmas Candy Cane Manicure (Sally Hansen Gem Crush Cha-Ching! with FingerPaints Well-Cultured Pearl)

And what's that in the background?

Why, I'm learning Japanese! My boyfriend and I are learning together. His interest stems from the fact that he's part Japanese, and I've just always been interested in learning an Asian language but never had an outlet to do so. Also, I really want to travel there some day, and as I found out on my trip to China, traveling would be much much easier with a basic grasp of the language.

Although I must say, we got by shockingly well with only "thank you," "toilet," and "beer" in our vocabulary.

Anyway, we decided to give it a shot hoping that having someone to work with will make the process easier. So far, so good despite only having my lunch hour to work on it.


05 November 2011

Tutorial: Peel-off Nail Polish

So I've been having a big problem with nail damage since I found myself obsessed with nail polish. I like bold colors, and as a result, I've been changing my polish color often. You know, since bold colors don't necessarily match everything. And there are only so many green things I can wear in a row.

Now, I don't mind the time it takes. I do it in the 20 minutes before hitting the sack for the night. BUT removing nail polish almost daily requires the use of nail polish remover almost daily. And no matter how hard I try, I cannot find a remover that is gentle enough for that. My nails end up thin, and brittle, and damaged no matter what.

So when I found this little tidbit about using School Glue as a basecoat during my nail blog browsing, I decided I MUST try it out.

What you need:
  • Elmer's School Glue - I emptied out one of my old Orly nail polishes (that I hated the color of) and stuck it in there so I'd have a brush handy.
  • Nail Polish - I used Finger Paint's Sketch-n-Etch. I love this green.
  • Top Coat - I used Essie's Good To Go

    Basically, you just paint on the Elmer's Glue as your base coat, and let it dry. It will make your nails look all weirdly matte. I've found that the thinner the coat you use, the more staying power it has. The thicker, the more likely your polish will be to come off before you actually peel it off. (Please excuse my icky-poo cuticles. I swear they don't look that bad in person.)

    Then you just paint your nails as usual. Polish, then top coat. I also find it helpful if I extend the topcoat all the way to the cuticles on all sides if you want to keep your polish on for a little longer. This way you get some extra adhesion to bare nail that will just scrape off when you go picking at it later.

    When the day is done, and you're all finished with your polish, just go at it. I use tweezers to find the edge, and after I loosen that, the rest of the polish just peels right off. Honestly you can even use your fingers.

    And after that, you're left with clean, undamaged nails! You can see on my middle finger where I got a little sloppy with the polish itself, extending beyond the range of the glue. But little spots like that scrape off easily with just another nail.

    Now this method is, of course, not great if you want to keep your nail polish on for more than a day or so. It's not meant for longevity of a mani. But for it's purposes? My conclusion is that it works like a charm. So a very special thanks to ABC-Lolita for the original tutorial, and for saving my nails from further remover related damage!

  • Annual Halloween Decoration Photo Dump

    The day before Halloween, we woke up to a winter wonderland.

    But sometime in between me going to work (I work in a church choir on Sundays), and returning home armed with some extra candy, it had mostly melted and the sun had come out.

    So, I present to you the annual documentation of our family Halloween Decorations. (Previous years can be found here and here.)

    Considering we're a household consisting of two grown children, the amount of decorations we own and add each year is slightly obscene.

    The snow helped the pumpkins hold up quite well. In fact they're still looking good now, a week after carving. They are making our now leaf-stained (thanks to the unexpected snow) stoop look much more festive.

    Our neighborhood pumpkin smashers seemed to have graduated and gone to college or something, since they've not fallen victim to that either. Or maybe they've simply grown out of it. OR maybe they have some respect for the carvings. Probably the Squidbillies one. Because come to think of it, all the ones we've had smashed have been uncarved...

    We've also extended our decorating beyond the front yard, adorning our very overgrown apple trees with hanging scariness.

    Overall, I hope everyone had a safe and happy Halloween!


    29 October 2011

    Pumpkins and... Snow?

    So the boyfriend and I have been talking about going to a pumpkin patch, picking out pumpkins, and doing the whole corn maze/hay ride thing for a while. I haven't been to a pumpkin patch since I was at least 8, and he finds this absolutely deplorable. Scandalous even. But as far as I'm concerned, I'm not too upset about it. I don't even remember if I LIKE pumpkin patches or not. Not to mention, the whole hay ride thing is usually combined with the word "Haunted" in these parts, and I'm not so sure how I feel about that.

    So I wasn't all that brokenhearted when we, late Friday night, FINALLY got a few hours where we were both free. No classes, no rehearsals, no work, just free for the first time in weeks. Unfortunately that free time didn't start until about 7:30 at night. Not exactly prime pumpkin patch visiting hours. So we just phoned it in, ran to the local grocery store, and nabbed ourselves some $5 pumpkins.

    We even cheated a little bit with the carving itself, using pre-made stencils instead of designing our own. I went with the ever adorable Hello Kitty in a witch costume, and he went with the sheriff from Squidbillies - a show on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim that he thinks is absolutely hilarious. I have yet to see it.

    So with the puppers primed at our feet to make sure she doesn't miss out on a thorough sniff inspection of any accidentally dropped pumpkin chunks, we set to work.

    We were lucky to find some old Pumpkin Masters carving knives in a drawer in my house, because let me tell you, without them? These stencils would have been IMPOSSIBLE. All the little lines and whiskers and shit were just a huge PITA.

    After all the cursing and swearing, however, we both agreed the effort was worth it. They look great all lit up, and the little kids who come trick-or-treating will love the Hello Kitty one. Well, the girls will at least.

    So we set them on my stoop, all lit up, and admired our work for a few minutes. How great they'll look on Halloween! We took a few pictures, and then the boy went home and we both retired for the night.

    But then, I woke up to find the animals in a state of combined depression and confusion. The puppy was moping. The tabby was watching the events outside with worry and consternation.

    Because what was happening? Snow. In October. Not unheard of, but certainly early. And before today was over, the pumpkins were covered. All our hard work, just totally encased in that fluffy whiteness that's not supposed to show up for a few weeks yet.

    Well, at least they'll stay fresh...


    22 October 2011

    A Project! Finally!

    What is this fabric covered thing against the wall?

    Covered in cats in kimonos? This lovely charming fabric I've been stashing for years, indecisive about how to use it?

    Why... it's a magnetic makeup board!! My months and months of browsing Pinterest have brought a number of great DIY and organizational ideas to my attention, and this seemed to be not only the easiest to achieve, but also the most useful for the next project that was on my "to do" list during the great purge: Organize my makeup.

    I had always stored it in a massive Caboodles steel finish train case thing, and as I was going through it and getting rid of what was too old/too crappy to use anymore, I realized two things. 1) I have an awful lot of makeup for someone who never wears it, most of which I have forgotten about because it's always packed away in the train case. and 2) Taking this into account, when I do wear makeup, I probably should broaden my horizons away from the same brown eyeliner/shadow/mascara that I use EVERY TIME. So this seemed like a perfect project for me. It will get my makeup out in to the open... easy to find, easy to grab, hopefully more tempting to use.

    The idea was pinned originally from this post at Laura Thoughts, and it was a pretty simple project as it was there, but I changed it a little even so. I didn't go the sheet metal route that she did, since I couldn't find a frame I liked. Instead, I picked up a massive magnetic dry erase board at Walmart for about $5, grabbed some spray adhesive, a stapler, and my fabric, and then set to work. Covering the board only took about 15 minutes.

    Hot gluing the magnets onto my makeup was a little more time consuming, but that's mainly because, well... I have a lot of makeup. In total the project took me about two hours and cost me maybe $20 tops. Quite honestly, the magnets were the most expensive part of the whole project, and if I had been willing to wait and get them online I could have cut costs quite a bit. I paid $6/50 magnets at Michael's, and I ended up needing just under 100. So that was the bulk of the cost. What can I say. I'm impatient.

    And yes, that is Hello Kitty Eyeliner. I like Hello Kitty, okay?

    Actual Crafty Content Coming Soon...

    I promise. In fact, I finished a project tonight.

    I must say, I feel terribly guilty for my continued absence from posting. Who knew this thing would end up having such an impact on me?

    But the honest truth is, I've been cheating on you, blog. I've been seeing another website... Pinterest has stolen my free time away from you, and knitting, and pretty much everything but history. I am sorry.

    But I have remedied my ways. I return, the prodigal daughter with renewed inspiration and stories to tell.

    Fall has of course brought the usual Octoberfest events for this Oompah playing French Hornist/Trumpeter, as you may have noticed from the photo of Franziskaner and my trumpet from last post.

    The beer has flowed freely through a number of gigs (never too much to interfere with playing though!), the most exciting of which you can see above. We got to play a hockey game! BUT that's not what I'm here to talk about. I'm here to talk about the grand purging of belongings.

    The past few weeks in addition to my cheating with Pinterest, I have been cleaning, and organizing, and throwing out/donating pretty much everything in my room. I was gifted what amounts to a small library of history books from a friend/mentor recently, and as I lugged box after box of books into my teeny tiny bedroom it quickly became clear... I have too much stuff. Considering I am still living in my childhood bedroom due to financial necessity, I simply have too much stuff.

    So, in order to fit the books, which professionally are a huge huge help, things had to go, and they had to go fast. The cleaning began with a frantic determination that really bordered on panic... I imagine the episodes of Hoarders I have been watching with my boyfriend lately probably didn't help that, but anyway...

    This photo was snapped as I was in the middle of the most frantic of the purging. Don't ask me why I keep an empty bottle of Jack on my dresser (I won't tell you), but as I was cleaning and dusting it ended up on my bed and Genghis curled right up with it. He must have had a hard day what with the napping, and the eating, and the throwing up on my carpet. Must be a hard life.

    Freaking cats.

    But maybe, he's just upset. Maybe all the cleaning and the trashing of things in what I'm sure he considers his room may have disturbed him.

    Because clean and trash I did. Good lord. And several weeks in, I'm still not even close to done.

    So far there have been five industrial sized garbage bags of clothes taken to the salvation army. I bit the bullet and finally got rid of all the size twos I had hanging around since high school with the hope I'd once more fit into them. The reality is, I'm not a large woman but my bone structure, even if I lose the 20 pounds I need to, will never ever let me into a size two again. I have hips. I have hips and I intend to love them.

    Additionally, my newly discovered obsession with Pinterest has sparked the fashionista in me. So I was ruthless in ditching things I know I will never ever ever wear, regardless of where they came from or who gave them to me. Some things are simply not my style and it's about time I accepted that and made some room for stuff that is.

    The cleaning process combined with Pinterest has also sparked interest in belongings that have long been lost in the clutter, such as nail polish. In fact I've added to my collection quite a bit since I rediscovered it, and I plan to feature it occasionally on here in the future, so heads up. (The above color is China Glaze "Dorothy Who?" for the curious.)

    In general, the purging has been great for me, and for my inspiration to actually finish projects. I've rediscovered my sewing machine, and intend to begin doing that again, actually sewing garments this time. I've also rediscovered jewelry making, although now that a Charming Charlie's has opened in the area, I'm not sure how much you'll actually see of that.

    On the docket for next post is actually a Pinterest inspired DIY that I finished tonight after purging the bag of makeup seen below. So stay tuned. I'll be back.


    (P.S. my Pinterest username is Turandot23 if anyone is on there! =D)

    06 October 2011

    A Photographic Taste of a Three Month Hiatus.

    Beefy tonguey goodness

    Drink trumpeting

    Sleepy cat

    Coal town

    Flood waters run deep

    Gin and tonics

    This long overdue blog post brought to you thanks to the Flikr App for Android


    22 July 2011

    The First of Many History Trips

    "Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

    "Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.

    "We are met on a great battle-field of that war.

    "We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live.

    "It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

    "But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground.

    "The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.

    "The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.

    "It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.

    "It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us

    "—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion

    "—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain

    "—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom

    "—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

    - Abraham Lincoln, November 19, 1863

    (Translation: The boy and I went to Gettysburg. It was awesome.)