July 29, 2016

Harry Potter release party nail art!!!


Okay, it's the script to a play, not a true novel like the rest of them, but IT'S HARRY POTTER AND IT'S WRITTEN BY JK ROWLING SO IT'S CANON SO AHH I'VE BEEN PEEING MY PANTS LIKE ALL WEEK.

My favorite local bookstore is having a midnight release party for which I am SUPER pumped.  I haven't missed a Potter midnight release since the fifth book came out (book #4 had a morning-of release party, a bit more kid-friendly).  There's going to be a costume contest and, thanks to the inspiration of my friend Joanna, I'll be dressing as a wizard masquerading as a muggle.  Or, I guess, a no-maj since we're in America.  But anyway I have a super silly outfit planned, parts of which came from the thrift store, and I decided to do my nails to not-really-match.

You've seen all of these polishes on the blog before: they're the Houses and Horcruxes and We'll Take the Lot collections by Twisted Colors (who has tragically stopped selling polish).  I debated only using the Houses and Horcruxes collection since they're more recognizably Harry Potter themed, but decided to use all 8 of my Potter polishes because how could I leave the others out? <3

Since these have all been featured on the blog before, I won't go into detail about their names or their coverage.  Follow the links above for more details on each specific polish!

I actually kinda messed up the order on my left hand!  I meant to paint them on in the order of which House I most relate to: Ravenclaw (that's where I've been sorted on Pottermore), Hufflepuff (where I always kinda felt I'd end up when I was a kid), Gryffindor, Slytherin.  But I accidentally reached for The Sword before The Cup so there we go.

On my thumbs, I painted Deathly Hallows symbols over white with Fairy Dust because holo sparkles = magic.

This part of the manicure totally doesn't show up on camera, but I used a scented top coat by Dream Polish so that my nails could smell MAGICAL!  One Good Jump on my right pointer finger is chocolate scented, so that is also magical and just makes me smell delicious as I sit around.

It's super fitting that this midnight release is happening so close to my blogiversary, because I got to look back at my old photos and sort of see how far I've come.  I first swatched them all in my first year of blogging, and while the photos look fine, it's nice to have a redo with my new lighting setup and macro lens.  So I'm going to force extra photos down your throat, including some of the old ones.

This is, to this day, one of my favorite nail polish photos I've ever taken.  And it was only in my fifth-ever post!  I just love the depth of field on it, and the way I have my fingers positioned against the bottle.  This was long before I had a soft box for my lighting, so the glare is super harsh.  I don't even think I was wrapping a white pillow case around my LED lamp at this point! :D

Back in the day, my idea of a macro shot was to take a picture with the best focus possible and crop it tightly to one nail.  It technically worked, but it certainly doesn't capture the depth of a polish the way an actual macro lens does!

Oh yes, it's time for a storm of macros.  Here we go...

My macro lens isn't perfect - it is so very macro that I have to hold it about 1-2 cm away from my nail, and its depth of field is so narrow that I often struggle to get a good plane of focus on my very curvy nails.  Still, it clips on to my cell phone's camera and it only cost like $15 on Amazon, so it's pretty decent.  And it definitely has more of a true macro look than simply cropping a regular photo!

The silver glitters in The Locket are holographic, which you can especially see when you look at the ones in the bottle.  LOL I CALLED THEM "SHINY" IN MY ORIGINAL POST DID I NOT EVEN KNOW THE WORD "HOLO" YET?


That "perfectly stacked 90 degree angle" hand pose was so uncomfortable for me.  I almost feel like you can see the discomfort in the photos.  My current slanted hand pose is so much more relaxed and natural-looking for me.  Back then, I was trying to emulate some other bloggers' poses, but eventually I learned that I had to find what was comfortable for me, because when a hand pose feels better, it looks better.  And, doesn't my watermark look so much better wrapped around my middle finger's cuticle than crammed randomly between whichever two nails?

Well, that's enough reminiscing for now.  I may or may not do some more looking back and re-creations over the next week or two, who knows?  In the meantime, be sure to enter my blogiversary giveaway first thing on Monday!  And please, no calls on Sunday.  I'll be reading some new Harry Potter content all day <3

July 27, 2016

Zoya Seashells: Cece and Bay

So, remember how last January Zoya announced that they were discontinuing the Pixie Dust texture?  As it turns out, what they meant was "we will not create new Pixie Dust shades for a year and a half."  I'm pretty sure it was just a marketing gimmick to get people to buy Pixie Dusts like crazy that month.

Anyway, the bright summer shades that they released in Pixie Dust texture are really great!  I snagged two of them in minis during a recent sale (because not waiting for a sale is silly.  There's always at least one every month!). 


Cece  is a bright, grassy green.  It applies very smoothly, and it was opaque in two coats.  A third would probably deepen the sparkle, but I was happy with two coats.

I love the yellow-gold undertones in this!  It adds depth that some of the original Pixie Dusts didn't quite have.


Bay was also a smooth application, but the lighter color required three coats.  The blue sparkles remind me of clear, sparkling waters and make me want to go to the beach!

Bay also has a goldish undertone, although I don't think my camera quite caught it.  It adds to the image of the sun sparkling on clear blue water!

There are four other Pixie Dusts in this year's summer collection, plus six matching cremes that are supposedly one-coat wonders.  I did snag one of those cremes, and it will be featured on the blog soon, so we'll see if Zoya's claims of OCW are true!

What do you think of this summer's collection?  Do you own any of them yet?  Let me know in the comments!

July 26, 2016

Second Blogiversary Giveaway Extravaganza!

My goodness, how time flies!  Can you believe I've been blogging for almost two whole years already?  It's certainly been an eventful two years I've gotten a second nephew, moved into a great apartment, won a bunch of spectacular giveaways, shed some pounds and built some muscle, finally made some friends in Maryland, read some great books, gotten rid of my crappy old car, learned how to crochet, watched approximately 50 years' worth of television (old and new), completely changed my nail shape, finally dyed my hair blue again, and published 118 blog posts!  That's all certainly worth celebrating!  And I'll be celebrating in the traditional way for bloggers: with a fantastic giveaway!

This year's prize packs are much larger than last year's, so as a result there will be one Grand Prize and one runner-up.  I bought some of the prizes specifically for the giveaway, a couple of wonderful people have sent me donations, and rather a lot of them are from my personal stash that I'm simply working on de-cluttering.

The giveaway will run from August 1 at 12:01 am through August 15 at 11:59 pm EDT.  I will contact the winners by noon on August 16, and they will have 36 hours to respond and claim their prizes.  If they do not respond within that time frame, I will have to choose another winner in their place.  So be sure to give me an email address that you check often!

After I mail out the prizes, they are out of my control.  I am not responsible for any damages or lost packages - although I will do my best to prevent those issues by carefully wrapping everything in bubble wrap and by getting tracking info for each prize pack!

As in the past, I'm running this giveaway through Rafflecopter.  And as always, the only two entries that you must complete to be eligible are your e-mail address and your location since I can sadly only ship within the USA.  Once you complete those entries, you can earn a multitude of extra entries by completing bonus tasks!

If you choose to follow me or any of the giveaway's sponsors, and you unfollow any of us immediately after the giveaway, you will be noted and blocked from future giveaways.  These entries are optional so if you don't want to follow anybody, you don't have to!

This giveaway is in no way sponsored, paid for, or endorsed by Instagram, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Rafflecopter,  or any other platform on which it can be viewed.

Okay, now on to the good stuff - descriptions and photos of the prizes!


Pixy Stix Nail Polish 

I bought this set specifically for the giveaway.  I haven't tested them out and I didn't buy myself a double, so I don't know how well the scents work or what the polish quality is like.  But I do know that these polishes are 5-Free, so that's good!  And, awesome bonus, those dots on the caps are nail art stickers!  These came from Target and were pretty inexpensive.

Zoya box

A few months ago, I purchased three Zoya gift boxes in a sale that they had.  But each box had at least one polish that I already owned, so I mixed and matched them up a bit.  This box includes Daisy, Cole, and Zahara.

Wacie Nail Co: Wintrella

Stacie of Wacie Nail Co was kind enough to donate this in honor of my blogiversary!  Thank you so much, Stacie <3 

Assorted nail accent stickers

These are from some KISS sets that I bought at Target (half for me and half for the giveaway, because I wanted some of them for myself). 

Jamberry sample sheet 

I love my Jamberry nail wraps, and my representative Sara loves to send out sample sheets!  As a result I have doubles of a couple of sheets, so I thought I'd spread the love.  I will include an instruction sheet for application.  You will need your own heat source (I use a blow dryer, and my space heater has also sufficed in the past), a rough nail file, and scissors.

Water decals

From my stash.
Trendy Nail Wraps

From my stash.  I've never actually tested out this brand of wrap, so please don't be mad at me if they don't work very well!

Rica Glossy Glam Topcoat

From my stash, never used.

Various indie glitters

From my stash.  The only brand I know for sure is Firecracker Lacquer; I don't remember where the other two bags came from!

Gift code to Born Pretty Store


Anne of Mani on the Move was generous enough to donate this prize!  Thank you, Anne!  Born Pretty Store carries dozens of brands of nail polish, nail art tools, and nail care goodies.

Assorted loose glitters, nail caviar, and applicator funnel

From my stash.

Polish cozies

As you know, I sell crocheted goods under the name Kate's Crochets.  I made these specifically for the giveaway!

Striping tape variety pack

From my stash.  They don't photograph on the roll very well, but I'm including 8 rolls of different colors!


Zoya box 

This is the third of the Zoya gift boxes that I bought to mix and match.  This one contains Jolene, Rayne, and Azalea.

Jamberry sample sheet  

I love my Jamberry nail wraps, and my representative Sara loves to send out sample sheets!  As a result I have doubles of a couple of sheets, so I thought I'd spread the love.  I will include an instruction sheet for application.  You will need your own heat source (I use a blow dryer, and my space heater has also sufficed in the past), a rough nail file, and scissors.

Wacie Nail Co: Origin

Stacie of Wacie Nail Co was kind enough to donate this in honor of my blogiversary!  Thank you so much, Stacie <3

Assorted indie glitters/nail art studs

From my stash.  Brands include Anonymous Lacquer, Firecracker Lacquer, and unknown (the black ones).

Water decals

From my stash.

Assorted nail accent stickers

Some are from my stash and some are from a kit that I bought half for the giveaway, half for myself.

Polish cozy

As you know, I also crocheted goods under the name Kate's Crochets.  I made this specifically for the giveaway!

Assorted loose glitters

From my stash.

Striping tape variety pack

From my stash.  They don't photograph on the roll very well, but I'm including 5 rolls of different colors!

Okay, so, the runner-up prize is practically big enough to be a grand prize too.  Is anybody really complaining about that? ;)

Good luck to everybody who enters!  As always, I wish I could send something to all of my lovely readers.  <3

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you're on Instagram, you'll definitely want to check out my other giveaway!  This one is open to Instagram users only.

July 20, 2016

Watermarble Nail Art!

When I started really getting in to nail art, it didn't take me long to discover the art of water marbling.  I tried it once, but the polishes that I was using didn't marble well.  After a few attempts I gave up and would all but growl at every water marble tutorial video that I saw.  (This How Not to Watermarble tutorial by Simply Nailogical resonated really strongly with me.)

Then, for whatever reason, I recently decided screw it, I want to give this stuff another try!  I had this amazing neon mani planned out in my head, with negative space and utilizing my KB Shimmer zig-zag nail vinyls.  I've been fairly obsessed with neon manis lately, in case you couldn't tell.

Blessed by the Nail Art Gods, it actually worked this time!  The marbling worked so well that I wound up bummed that I had cut off half of my nails with the vinyls.  This mani looked a bit better in my head, but I'm still super happy with it because it's my first successful water marble!

I used my favorite neons that I own for this: Sephora Pink Bikini, Papaya Daiquiri, Brazilian Sun, and Caipi Freeze.  The last two, the yellow and green, are so similar that you can't really tell them apart in the marble.  I just love the way these polishes pop over white!

What do you think of this design?  Should I do a video next time I try water marbling?  Let me know in the comments!

July 12, 2016

Polish Addict Nail Color: Beatles Thermals

My Beatles fan side is definitely happy today!  Polish Addict Nail Color first released these two shades last summer, and re-released them this May.  The second I saw their names on Instagram I knew I had to own Hey Jude and Strawberry Fields Forever - especially Strawberry Fields Forever!  (If you've been around for a while, you'll be familiar with my inherent need to own strawberry things and all things related to that song.)  But because funds are limited - and so is space in my Helmer! - I got mini bottles.  I've left my pinky out of shots because a) 3 fingers looks less crowded on a mini bottle than 4, and b) my pinky nail is still too short to shape and I think it looks weird next to my other long nails.

Hey Jude

First off, I have to say that I really like the glitter density of Hey Jude.  The amount of glitter in the first coat matches the amount that I see in the bottle!  Very nice.  And the glitters applied very nicely, as smoothly as if they weren't even there.  The yellow and green glitters are most noticeable in the photos, but there are some teeny tiny gold holo glitters that really make this polish special.

Two coats of Hey Jude was enough to be opaque.

Hey Jude is a thermal, but I barely noticed a difference even when I plunged my fingers into ice water.  My camera definitely wasn't able to pick up the transition.

Based on the transition photo in the shop, it looks like my bottle is stuck in the warm phase.  I've heard that heat can damage thermal polish, and it was hot when my order was in the mail, so maybe the heat killed it?  But Strawberry Fields Forever is still very reactive, so I'm not sure.  An older review of Hey Jude also said that she couldn't see much of a difference in hue, so maybe the thermal formula is just odd on this polish.  But thermal or not, I still really like the teal color!

Strawberry Fields Forever

Like Hey Jude, the glitter density of Strawberry Fields Forever gets a round of applause.  The amount of glitter on my nails matches the amount that I see in the bottle perfectly and effortlessly!

Also like Hey Jude, two coats of Strawberry Fields Forever is great for opacity.  In fact, I think it was almost a one-coat wonder!  But I do prefer the look of two coats, especially since it's a glitter polish.

The thermal color changes are wayyyy more noticeable than with Hey Jude!  Strawberry Fields Forever is yellow in its warm state and berry-pink when cold.  When it's transitioning, it kind of reminds me of a half-ripe strawberry!

I actually had a hard time photographing this while cold or even transitioning because my hands were so warm that it kept turning yellow before I could get the focus right!  Summer is hard.

I love, love, love this polish.  It definitely meets my standards for strawberry themed things!

The multitude of gitters are fairly holographic, which is gorgeous.

I'll say one thing for my stubby pinky nail - it looks pretty nice in macro shots! 

I plunged the bottle into a bowl of cold water to get it to transition a little bit for this bottle shot.  Because why not?

Sadly, these two polishes are now gone from the shop (why do I always put off publishing reviews until the polish is gone?), but their Beatles-related sister Abbey Road is still available in the shop!

What do you think of these polishes?  Are you a Beatles fan too?  Let me know in the comments!