Sunday, June 17, 2018

How I do my nails!

While I'm no BeAuTy GuRu or nail blogger, I do spend a lot of time painting my nails! I find it really fun and relaxing to just hang out and paint them while watching shows. I'm also obsessed with glitter and holo, and I express that by putting it on my nails. I do get a lot of questions about them so today I thought I'd share a run down of how I do my nails and some of the products I regularly use! (Disclosure: affiliate links ahead!)

Without a doubt, the question I get most often is how I grow my nails long. Not to be a smartass, but the answer not break them. If you can manage to not break your nails then literally all you have to do is be lazy and not cut them until they've reached your desired length! Eventually you'll get used to being lazy, and let your nails grow too long (there is such a thing, for me picture 3 is definitely too long, but it's a preference thing) because you can't gather the energy to cut or file them down. Anyway, the tips I'll be sharing will help you not break your nails, which in turn will bring you long nails. As far as I know there is no miracle drug to make your nails grow lightening fast.

I'm also gonna share some gratuitous nail pics. Here's one right now!

polka dot nails
Made with Dollar Tree color polishes and these dotting tools.

Before I dive in I just want to clarify that I'm in no way a pro or certified to give any real advice! These are the things that I find work for me, after lots of trial and error. Also I'm just going to be upfront and say not all of these items are natural/vegan/anything...we're about to go to chemical city. I do strive to lead a more natural and waste-free life, and I actually am getting much better at it! But I haven't found good options for that when it comes to nail stuff yet. I'm especially looking for a reusable alternative to cotton balls that will work to remove glitter polish. PLEASE comment below if you can recommend something! ANYWAY. I want to help you and am open to answering any questions you might have, but please keep in mind that what works for me might not work the same way for you. Now let's get to it!!

STEP 1. Everything starts with clean nails. Even if you're not wearing any polish, it's important to wipe them down with some nail polish remover to have a clean, oil-free start. Leaving the natural oils on your nails will make your manicure chip faster because it won't stick as well. My favorite nail polish remover is Onyx Professional 100% Acetone. It's great for getting glitter polish off. Soak it on a cotton ball, let the cotton ball sit on your nail for a minute or two, then just rub it off! If you're not a slave to the glitter gods, you can probably get away with most other removers, because this one smells intense. It also helps to get all that dead cuticle shit off your nails (another thing getting in the way of a long lasting manicure). I usually order mine on Amazon, unless I happen to be at WalMart (it's cheaper there).

STEP 2. File away snags! Always file away any snags or super sharp points. Stiletto nails are cool but they're also prone to breaking more. Personally it's a style I'd only go with if I were wearing any kind of artificial nail. Anything that can get caught on something is a break waiting to happen! Keep your nail shapes rounded if you're trying to grow them out. I'm not super picky about my nail files, but make sure you're picking something with some grit to it...but not too much (#helpful). Those flimsy ones you get at the grocery store are shit and will just make things worse. Currently I'm using these from Ulta. Professionals will tell you to use glass files, and I guess they're right. However I just can't bring myself to use them's like scratching your nails on a chalkboard [cringe]. So yes, I use the nail files of plebs. Everything has been fine so far. The only important thing is to file in small strokes, in one direction. No back and forth sawing motions!

Sally Hansen Magnetic polish, Polar Purple
Sally Hansen Magnetic polish in Polar Purple. This line was discontinued, but you can still find some on Amazon!

STEP 3. Don't skip the base coat. Now it's time for your base coat. There's lots of choices out there and many focus on different kinds of nail problems. Base coats help keep your nails strong, helps the longevity or your mani, and prevents some (not all, sorry) staining. I feel like most nail problems are fixed with a good base and top coat (we'll talk about top coats later). Base coats should dry with a tacky finish, not a smooth and glossy one. Top coats and base coats are not interchangeable. Stay away from polishes that say they're 2-in-1 base and top coat. They're a lie! And don't trust anyone that says otherwise. One of my fav basecoats is this Revlon Quick Dry Basecoat. If my nails need a bit of TLC I'll use Sally Hansen Miracle Cure. Avoid things that have "hardeners" and instead look for things that will improve nail flexibility. Making your nails hard as rocks might seem like a good idea, but flexibility is where it's at. When nails that are too stiff are put in a compromising position, they'll break off. Flexible nails will...uhh, flex, but stay intact. Still hurts like a bitch, but you need to pick your battles.

STEP 3.5. Coat the tips to protect from liquids. Water makes nails weak! Coat the tips of your nails with polish as well to keep them locked up and dry. If your nails are long then give the undersides a coat of your base polish as well. Be careful in situations that make your nails super wet. Like showing. I'm always accidentally bending my nails when I get out of the shower and I HATE IT, but what can ya do (good thing I use that cool base coat to improve nail flexibility *wiggles eyebrows).  It's also a good idea to wear rubber gloves if you wash your dishes by hand!

STEP 4. Apply your color in thin, even coats, and let each coat dry before moving on to the next one. Waiting between coats is one I'm bad at (so impatient) - but it helps! Nails that are completely dry won't feel tacky or cold. The ice water trick is also a lie, so seriously just put on a tv show and WAIT for them to dry. I don't really have any tips on which brands to use for your polish colors. In my experience, polishes from any price point will work just fine if you're wearing a good base coat, top coat, and apply all polishes properly. While I do have a few pricier polishes, I also have tons from the 99 cent store, and most of them work fine. If you like neon colors I'd say those are worth spending a bit more on; cheaper ones apply very thin and it takes a MILLION coats to get them opaque (neon polish tip - start with a coat of white polish, then apply the neon on top). Another painting tip is DON'T FLOOD YOUR NAIL BEDS with polish. This is when you use too much product and it pools up in your cuticles and the sides of your nail. If you do this you won't get a proper seal, and your polish will start to peel off. If you do get a bit of flooding going on, just make sure to clean it up a bit before it dries. Fancy people might do this with orange sticks. The rest of us will use whatever pointy objects are nearby. Toothpicks work too.

Femme Fatale, thermal polish, Midnight Sun
Femme Fatale thermal polish in Midnight Sun. This color is also discontinued but I highly recommend checking out their other thermal polishes!

STEP 5. Seal everything up with a good top coat. If you only splurge on one thing, make it a good top coat. A good quality one will double the staying power of your nail color, at least. Both of my jobs are really hands-on, and when I'm not working I spend a lot of time clacking away on my keyboard. My paint jobs usually last about two weeks (even after 2 weeks they usually aren't that bad, but they do start to look a bit dull, plus you can start to see a little nail growth). My favorite top coat is Seche Vive. It gives your nails a super shiny, gel-like finish! Slightly cheaper is it's sibling, Seche Vite (yes, the names are stupidly similar, one is spelled with a V and the other with a T). Personally I like ViVe a bit more, but I also use ViTe a fair amount. Besides, I don't always want/need my polish to last for two weeks. I'd also recommend getting a bottle of Seche Restore, because the stuff gets thick and goopy after awhile. A few drops of Restore and your top coat will be like new! You can also use it with any other polish you have that's old and sad. It's like magic!

Other tips and tricks:

1. MOISTURIZE. Whether it's nail oil, cuticle salve, or just lotion. Moisturize your situation. Massage it into your cuticles. It keeps your nails happy and healthy.

2. Stop biting them!!! If this is a bad habit of yours, it's time to cut that shit out. Look, I've been there, ok. I know it's hard. And I don't really have any tips on helping you stop, it's just a mind over matter thing. Maybe these facts will help sway you. I can say that for me, keeping my nails painted helped. Because if I bit my painted nails then they wouldn't look cute anymore. Plus chips of nail polish in your mouth is not fun.

3. Don't pick off your polish. This is one I'm guilty of. When I feel awkward or anxious, I pick at my polish. But this is a terrible thing to do, because it can also peel off the top layer of your nail, making them super weak. I always regret it when I do this, and can immediately feel the difference in my nails once the damage is done. This is ESPECIALLY important if you are wearing gel polish!! Never, ever, ever pick off gel polish!

Phew. We covered a lot of ground today, friends. This is the first time I've explained my entire routine in depth. I hope you find it helpful! Please let me know if you have any other questions!

Feel free to share pics of your nail accomplishments in the comments!! Show off your nail art skills, the #1 thing I cannot do in any capacity!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Tales From the Bookshelf - January/February Reads

Hello! Been awhile since I've done one of these. My reading has slowed down a bit. So with that in mind this is a roundup of reads from the past two months. I've been making an attempt at doing more bookish-related things lately too, which has been fun. I've been going to a monthly book group called Book Pub, where we meet at a local pub to discuss a different book genre each month. I also joined Silent Book Club on Facebook, which I really like (most drama-free FB group I've EVER seen - I love it!).

Now, on to some books! Two novels and two comic volumes :)

Alias Grace, by Margaret Atwood
👽👽 (2/5 aliens)

Based on a true story, Alias Grace is about Grace Marks, who was convicted for the murder of her employer and his housekeeper/mistress. Grace is the definition of an unreliable narrator. The whole book is basically a debate on whether or not she really committed the crime, and even Grace supposedly doesn't know the answer as she claims to have lost her memory. This is my second book by Margaret Atwood (the first was The Heart Goes Last). I really want to like her books, but its been difficult. Alias Grace was so hard to get through. The perspective kept changing (which I usually don't mind) and there were no quotation marks!!! I watched the Netflix series first and really enjoyed it, though. So what gives?? I don't know. I also watched The Handmaids Tale hulu series and really enjoyed it (umm...if that's the right word). I recently bought the book at a used book sale so I plan on trying to read that, too.

Saga, Vol. 8, by Brian K. Vaughan
👽👽👽👽👽 (5/5 aliens)

As always, Saga is a winner for me. Not gonna get in depth reviewy for this one because 1) If you're not reading Saga yet, then a review of the eighth volume isn't a great place to start (but seriously, read it!) and 2) Spoilers for the people that are reading it. Also good to know - all volumes of Saga are available on my favorite reading app, Hoopla, for freeeeee!

The Wicked + The Divine, Vol 6: Imperial Phase Part 2, by Kieron Gillen
👽👽 (2/5 aliens)

This is a series I continuously go back and forth on. Not recapping this volume for the same reasons listed above. Honestly I'm not sure if I'd recommend this series? Which sounds silly considering I'm on book 6, but it's true. Half the time I can't figure out what's going on. I do love the art style (great character designs, so many colors!) and the character development has been interesting. Fans of this series chime in - am I just too dim to enjoy this???

Dietland by Sarai Walker
👽👽👽👽 (4/5 aliens)
This book was a pretty crazy ride! The protagonist is a plus sized woman named Plum, who's planning to have a weight loss surgery. One day a mysterious woman starts following her, which leads her down a rabbit hole connected to a national conspiracy. Along the way she meets lots of badass woman that live life on their own terms and encourage Plum to do the same (and not get a weight loss surgery). Some parts of the book come off as very over the top, but I think that's kinda the point.

That's all for now :) What have you been reading lately?

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Pokemon Go Community Day, February 2018 - Dratini Hunt!

Hello! So, as the title suggests, I still play Pokemon Go. I think it's so much fun :) I know it's a bit repetitive for some, but I think the events (like the one I'm about to write about) help keep things fresh. Gotta catch 'em all!!!

Pokemon Go Community Day February 2018 Dratini

When most people hear this they say, "Still? Why? I stopped playing that, like, weeks after it came out, no one plays that anymore." Yes, STILL! And good for you I guess? I always fail to understand why the fact that some people stopped playing means that there is no longer any point in anyone playing. And to be fair, millions of people still regularly play :) But, if you really just didn't care for the game style to begin with, I won't give you a hard time for that :P

In January Niantic started a monthly event called Pokemon Go Community Day. They let you know the exact date about a month prior, but so far both have been Saturdays in the second half of the month. The event lasts for three hours, and during it the Pokemon of the month is basically gonna pop up all over the place, and they will all have an exclusive move. There's also a 10% increase of those Pokemon being shiny variants (think of these like your holographic Pokemon cards), lures have an extension of three hours, you earn double XP, and also 3x the stardust! Even if you don't need the Pokemon of the month, the rest of those things are super lucrative for any aspiring poke-master.

February's Pokemon was Dratini! Those don't normally spawn where I live, so this alone had me super excited. I knew that if I was diligent about it, I could finally get a Dragonite! An added bonus was that if you evolved your Dragonaire (to refresh, it goes Dratini - Dragonaire - Dragonite) into a Dragonite during the event, your Dragonite would have an exclusive move that you could only get during the event: Draco Meteor!

Pokemon Go Dragonite Draco Meteor
My fancy new Dragonite! 

The week before my town had a freeze warning (and I live in California, I don't really do cold that well), so I wasn't sure if the weather would be good to go out in. My original plan was to plant myself down at a pokestop where I could sit indoors, use a lure and an incense, and wait for the Dratini to come to me. So at 10:45am my husband and I were sitting in a Starbucks (conveniently in spinning distance from two pokestops, oooh). We stayed there until we finished our breakfast and had only caught three Dratini in that time, so I knew I wasn't going to get my Dragonite at that rate. The sun was out and even with the wind it wasn't as cold as we were expecting, so we decided to take our hunt outside. There's a pond in town that has six pokestops around it, and I could see on my map that they all had lures, so we went to go try our luck there. Success! We walked laps around the pond, and in the span of 2.5 hours we got well over a hundred Dratini candies, more than enough to evolve our exclusive Dragonites. We also caught our first shiny's! My husband caught 2 shiny Dratini's, and I caught a shiny Dratini and a shiny Swablu.

Shiny Dratini, Dragonaire, Dragonite
Here's what the whole dragon fam looks like as their shiny variants.

We also caught our first Tyranitar! You can only catch them by participating in tier 4 raid fights. We'd done raids before, but no higher than tier 3 prior to that. Higher tiered raids require more people fighting with you in order to win. For a tier 4 raid you need at least four high leveled players to win. Since I'm usually playing alone or with my husband, getting enough people to raid with is hard. Anyway...while we were walking around the pond, another group approached us and asked if we wanted to raid with them. Uhhhmmm, YES!

Pokemon Go Tyranitar
New bb

I've read a lot of complaints about the Community Day events being too short. Three hours is pretty short, considering not everyone is lucky enough to have weekends off. However the point behind this is that Niantic wanted to get everyone out playing at the same time, so you can run around and meet other players, too. Sort of reminiscent of Pokémon Go's heyday (ah, the Summer of 2016 was a good time). Running in to a group to raid with us is a great example of this. I've walked around that pond millions of times in the past, but that was the first time I've played with strangers. I can understand both sides of the argument, though.

Compared to January's Community Day, I definitely had a lot more fun this time! January's Pokemon was Pikachu - but everyone and their mom already had plenty of Pikachu's. The special part about it was that all the Pikachu came with the exclusive move, Surf. It's cool to have for collecting purposes, but not much else. If you evolve your surfing Pikachu he loses the special move, and it's not like you're going to use a Pikachu in battle, with or without Surf, considering none of them are very high CP. I didn't even catch a shiny Pikachu that day :( But there were still the other bonuses, so all was not lost. I think they also used what they learned from the first event to make this second one even better, which works for me because we can't always expect perfection in round one.

I'm really excited about this happening every month, and look forward to participating in March's as well. They've already shared that the next Pokemon will be Bulbasaur! No word yet on which evolution will have the special move (I'm hoping for Venusaur). While I do already have a Venusaur, he's not super strong so I'd like another! It took me forever to get it, but not this time :) Andrew doesn't have one yet, so he's super excited. Fun fact - our wedding venue was a Bulbasaur nest! As I was getting my wedding makeup on, one of my bridesmaids (who's also really into Pokemon) told me about all the Bulbasaur, so I handed her my phone and said to get catching! By the time I came back from taking our "first look" photos, she had caught quite a handful. That's what friends are for, right?!