Favourites of 2014

Faves of the Year Collage WatermarkedPersonal struggles aside (2014 shall hereafter always be known as The No Good, Very Bad, Super Stupid, So Relentlessly-Difficult-it-Practically-Burns Year), 2014 was a pretty fabulous year for nail art. Here, of course, I’m talking about the hundreds of amazing designs I’ve encountered over the past 365 days (the creativity displayed by the larger nail art community is simply staggering), but also my own work, which has seen an appreciable boost in quality, particularly in recent months. I’m wicked proud of about, say, 87 percent of the nail art designs I did this year – the other 13 percent being of the “Whuuuu?” variety – and I’ve really enjoyed the super rewarding experience of watching my technique improve with each and every lacquered brushstroke.

And so on that horn-blowin’ note, I thought I’d share this collage of my nine favourite designs from the past year in the hopes that you also think I’m as cool as I clearly think I am! 😉 But to bring it down all serious styles for a second, really, my most sincere thank you to everyone who has popped by to visit my little lacquered-up corner of the Intersky this year. Your interest, support and kind comments have spurred me on to what I think are bigger and better things, and I look forward to continuing to bore you with endless stories about Disney World, my cats and “the good old days” in 2015. Happy New Year!

If you are interested in checking out the original posts for these manis, please click the links below.

1. How’s That For a Slice of Fried Gold?! – Shaun of the Dead-inspired nails.

2. Diet Coke – nails honouring a friend’s fun aspartame addiction.

3. 999 Happy Haunts – my favourite design of the year, inspired by the damask-style wallpaper that lines the halls of Disney’s Haunted Mansion.

4. Zombie Kitty – Hello Kitty goes walking with the dead in these fun Halloween nails.

5. A Personal Choice – a sweet, creamy-looking gradient topped with my favourite homemade polish, Hawaiian Ham.

6. You Can’t Close the Beaches! – let’s just say the Mayor of Amity really should have closed the beaches.

7. Coral Reef – a super pretty mani featuring every colour and shape of the underwater universe I could squeeze onto my nails!

8. This Split is Bananas – tiny little banana splits with sprinkles! Plus I got to make a B-A-N-A-N-A-S joke.

9. Brrrraaaaaaiiiiinnnnnsssss – pastel zombie nails for the softer side of Halloween.

Silver Starburst

Silver StarburstIt’s not every day that I post a “normal” manicure that hasn’t been themed to within an inch of its life, but after a recent rash of holiday manis, I thought I’d take a break from my usual Tim Burton-esque approach to nail art (is there a single frame not filled with something? Then fill it with alllll the things!) with this simple, striping tape-enabled starburst design. I’m generally not one for getting all tangled up in wads of striping tape, preferring to keep my work predominately free-handed, but I wanted the silver starburst points (OPI’s sparkly silver foil, My Signature is “DC”) to be crisp and clean against the glittery blue background (Essence’s It’s Raining Men!) And because gradients are pretty (and pretty effective), I thought I’d throw in a couple of them, too.

Disney Girl Challenge: Anna (Outerwear)

Disney Girl Challenge: Anna (Outerwear)When a girl’s just gotta tromp through waist-deep snow after her tantrumy, emotionally damaged sister, shouldn’t she do it in style? And thank goodness for the Wandering Oaken Trading Post’s not-the-least-bit-varied but somehow still perfect women’s outerwear department for conveniently meeting all of Princess Anna’s cold weather fashion (and carrot) needs!

Disney Girl Challenge: Anna (Coronation)

Disney Girl Challenge: Anna (Coronation)As I commented over on Instagram where this manicure first made its appearance, Frozen is the movie experience that will! not! die! I’m truly boggled by its appeal and subsequent longevity, not because I don’t think it’s a good movie – it is, it really is, please don’t hurt me, Frozen-lovers! – but because I don’t think it’s any better, or worse, than any of the other animated offerings Disney has put forward in the last five to 10 years. The songs are cute and catchy – even if I think Let It Go is terrifically shrieky – the characters are sweet and engaging and it’s flat out beautiful when viewed from the comfort of your couch on your giant ass 3D television, but I could also say the same about Tangled and Enchanted and, going back to the glory days of Disney animation, even The Little Mermaid (which I recently rewatched, and guys, it’s not as good as we remember, Ariel’s really super annoying and Prince Eric is a stone cold moron.)

But the one thing that Frozen excels at, and the part of Frozen mania that I am totally on board with, is its gorgeously detailed set and costume design. I’ve joked in the past that Anna and Elsa have individual wardrobes that could rival the efforts of every other Disney lady combined, and when you factor in an entire castle’s worth of intricately animated fabrics and furniture, it makes for a truly stunning visual experience. Little wonder our world is awash in tiny Elsas and even tinier Annas – their world, and wardrobes, are just too vibrant and beautiful to pass up. That’s little girl (and maybe boy) pay dirt right there!

So jumping aboard this runaway Frozen train (I’d make a Snowpiercer joke here, but did anyone like that movie besides me? Did anyone see that movie besides me?), I thought I’d leap into the fray with this manicure inspired by Anna’s green embroidered “corneration” day dress. This mani also fits in nicely with my ongoing Disney Girl Challenge, a self-imposed bit of nail art lunacy I began a year or so ago in which I’ve attempted to capture all the ladies of the Disneyverse in wee, lacquered form. Somehow I had yet to tackle any of Anna’s beautiful dresses, an oversight now nicely corrected!

The A-Team

Without getting too nihilistic on you, friends who come here to see nail art but instead get lured into 1,200-word diatribes on my cats and/or The Lost Boys, 2014 was a bad, bad year. To be sure, there were some lovely, wonderful moments – new babies! an unexpectedly fun road trip! the discovery of Misfits! – but for my family at least, and a distressingly large number of my friends and acquaintances, 2014 was a year defined by loss, grief and hardships great and small. I won’t be sorry to see it go.

Okay, so 2014 sucked. But do you know what didn’t? These nail polishes! Which seems like the ultimate in ridiculous non sequiturs, but really, in a year that’s been as unpleasant as the past one, why shouldn’t we take a moment to appreciate the things that gave us a bit of joy, even those as immaterially material as silly old nail polish? No good reason that I can think of! And so I present to you this photo gallery of the polishes that rocked my world this year, a motley assortment of holos and flakies and industrially chunky glitters that prove that good things – and sometimes good, don’t-hate-the-world feelings – truly do come in small packages. 😉

Sitting atop the heap and not included in this gallery is my pick for polish of the year, Candy Lacquer’s everything-and-the-kitchen-sink glitter, Candy Cane Fiesta. I’ve expounded on its loveliness – some may say at length! – so I’ll say no more before it develops a swelled head.Blue and Green Christmas

The following nine are presented in no particular order or ranking – they’re across-the-board beautiful and so well made, I’ve found uses for them in multiple manis this year, and will continue to well into the new year. Here’s to the little lacquered things!

1. Polish Me Silly’s pink, white and blue glitter topper, Mr. Bubble.Mr. Bubble

2. Smitten Polish’s red shimmer-infused purple jelly, You Saucy Minx.You Saucy Minx

3. KB Shimmer’s Hawaiian Punch-in-a-bottle, Belle of the Mall.Sparkling Strawberry

4. KB Shimmer’s grass green glitter jelly, Get Clover It.Get Clover It

5. Orly’s silver holo of the year, Mirrorball.Mirrorball

6. Dance Legend’s cobalt blue jelly flakie, Sun Still Sleeps.Sun Still Sleeps

7. Candy Lacquer’s super fruity matte glitter, Citrus Smoothie.Citrus Smoothie

8. KB Shimmer’s Frozen-in-a-bottle, Snow Much Fun.Snow Much Fun

9. Polish Me Silly’s pink-to-gold-to-green chrome flakie, Stop Flaking on Me.Stop Flaking on Me

Polish Me Silly’s polishes are available through their Etsy shop. You can find KB Shimmer’s wares through their own site if you’re an American customer, or through Harlow & Co.’s site if you’re an international customer. Smitten Polish’s goods are available through their Big Cartel site, as are Candy Lacquer‘s. Orly polishes are available at brick and mortar Sally Beauty Supply shops, as well as their website. Finally, Dance Legend polishes are best and most reliably acquired through international stocklist Llarowe’s website.

That Name Again? It’s Mr. Plow!

Mr. PlowHello friends, and welcome back after what I hope were an enjoyable few days paying tribute to the holiday gods. I, of course, prayed a bit too hard to the god of heartburn, a totally predictable outcome when your mother’s Christmas morning breakfast table looks like this:Christmas Breakfast Table

I took a bit of a hiatus from both blogging and nail art over the holidays, and now that I’m getting back into the polished swing of things, I’ve found that without the built-in theming of a major holiday like Christmas, Hanukkah or Festivus to prod me along, I’m rather bereft of inspiration and ideas that don’t involve candy canes, elves or gingerbread.

And so when I’m stuck like this, I invariably turn to a favourite movie or TV show to help loosen the mental gears, in this case (and quite a few others) The Simpsons. I’m not sure I’d even consider it one of my top 10s, but the classic Mr. Plow episode from the show’s fourth season won out because it contains one of my favourite moments between Homer and Marge when Homer, after giving up the glory, danger and ultimate burden of manning Springfield’s sole commercial snowplow, dons his jacket for Marge with naught by his tighty whities beneath and struts around their bedroom purring the Mr. Plow jingle from his late night, public access advertisement. I really do love it when Homer and Marge get their freak on, because it’s invariably adorable and/or hilarious, and it’s nice to see a long-standing married couple on television who still have the hots for each other, even (especially?) if they’re animated.

And yes, those are underpants on my thumb. Hey, don’t look at me! Take it up with Marge; she’s the one who seems to find them so charming.

We’re Having a Fiesta!

Candy Cane Fiesta Collage WatermarkedAs we barrel towards Christmas and the upcoming new year, you’re going to be seeing a lot of best-of lists and retrospectives on 2014’s top this, that and the other thing. I always enjoy sifting through end-of-the-year wrap-ups – there’s a little something for everyone, and it’s a great opportunity, particularly in the world of nail polish and nail art, to shore up your loves (and sometimes loathes) with other like-minded bloggers, writers and reviewers to see where there’s overlap (who didn’t love holos this year?) and where you’re clearly ahead of the curve (chunky, pea green glitter? Really?)

So I thought I’d add my two cents to the discussion with this ode to my favourite polish of 2014, Candy Lacquer’s mega glitter bomb, Candy Cane Fiesta. The name alone may scream “Christmas!”, to say nothing of the predominately red, green and white mix of mostly matte glitters, a reputation only enhanced by the little baggie of snowflake, candy cane and Christmas tree glitter Candy Lacquer provides alongside the polish, but Candy Cane Fiesta is one of those rare, festively-themed nail polishes that has proven to be a real chameleon, displaying tons of utility well beyond the holiday season.

Here I’ve shown four manicures featuring Candy Cane Fiesta, a Christmas-in-the-tropics gradient, sticky, drippy fruitcake nails, Santa’s Orlando retirement nails and one of my favourite manis of the past year, a simple glitter-on-creme manicure that looks like strawberry ice cream with sprinkles! And we all know how I feel about sprinkles around here (sprinkles, yes; funfetti, NOOOOO.)

I just love the stuff, and I’m pleased as punch that I finally bought it (it was one of those ones I was weirdly on the fence about.) The mix of glitters is fantastic (every shape and size imaginable), the colours are vibrant and fresh (red, green and white, yes, but holo red, matte tomato, lime green and iridescent white, too) and the consistency is fabulous (loaded, but not dry or unwieldy.) What’s there not to love?

Their shop is now closed for the holiday season, but in the new year if you’d like to get in on this little love fest, you can find Candy Lacquer’s offerings here.

The Perfect Tree For Me

The Perfect Tree For MeEleven or maybe even 12 years ago when my husband (then-fiancé) and I were preparing to celebrate our first Christmas together, we went out and bought a quite large and impressively bushy artificial tree that has not, wonder of wonders, succumbed to my more destructive tendencies and continues to stand proudly in the corner of our livingroom every December. It’s my favourite thing about the holidays, and though I absolutely dread putting the thing up (the first year it took me two solid days and a small nervous breakdown) because I invariably harm myself in the process (one year I electrocuted myself on a broken bulb and every year my hands break out into a weird, itchy rash because I am thoroughly allergic to manhandling its plasticiness), I would not care to celebrate Christmas without it.

Besides, our tree is FUN. Look at this thing! With very few exceptions (a Jack Skellington ornament here, a little fox there) all of our ornaments are food and candy-themed, and the whole tree is draped in garland that looks like hard candy, gumdrops, candy corn and peppermints! Buddy the Elf would definitely approve!Christmas Tree Collage

I’ve done a few Christmas tree-type nail designs over the last couple of seasons, but I wanted to try something more personal. And so I took the macro approach to my own Christmas tree and focused in on all that fun candied garland against a backdrop of glimmering artificial tree (KB Shimmer’s Get Clover It) and tiny twinkling lights. O Christmas tree, indeed!

Dazzling Dance

Dazzling Dance Collage WatermarkedThis beautiful, sparkling topcoat, CND’s Vinylux in Dazzling Dance, is the first polish I’ve bought from CND, and I’m super pleased to report that it won’t be the last. My bank account is less pleased! A true topcoat, Dazzling Dance is an ultra sheer base of shimmery, purple-leaning blue shot through with microscopic holographic glitter. The blue base is sheer enough that it lends whatever polish you layer it over – in this case OPI’s deep purple, Do You Have This Color in Stock-holm? – a subtle, duochrome-like effect that beautifully enhances the base colour as opposed to changing or obscuring it. I particularly like the way the tiny holographic sparkles shine in lower lighting, giving this polish a really nice hit of visual interest and a look not unlike that of the first stars in the sky at dusk.Dazzling Dance

One small note: The girl at the store where I purchased Dazzling Dance was pretty adamant that it would “never set” unless I purchased a special CND topcoat to go along with it. I wasn’t going to argue with her about it, but *I* was fairly certain that she was thinking of CND’s line of Shellac polishes, which are part of a gel-based system that naturally requires all sorts of special, gel-only items. I think the confusion might have sprung from the fact that CND typically releases their collections in identical colours in both their Vinylux and Shellac formats (although I believe the three-piece collection Dazzling Dance belongs to, 2014’s Gilded Dream Collection, is limited to the Vinylux line only.) So if you’re told the same and if you’re less than enamoured with the thought of having to buy specific, proprietary nail care items to get one bottle of polish up and running, rest assured, Dazzling Dance is a pretty special polish that requires nothing more special than a regular old topcoat. Knowledge is power at the store, yo.Do You Have This Color in Stock-holm? and Dazzling Dance

She Hoofed Him One!

Dear MeLast year I did a holiday manicure featuring a pair of loved-up reindeer, or at least one very amorous boy deer and his slightly less enthused deer paramour, who, according to the long, meandering story I made up, marched across my manicure, trailing muddy hoof prints as they went, and decamped to my thumb, where the boy deer attempted to get fresh with the girl deer, who socked him one in the eye, hence his one wonky black eye (which is actually the elaborate cover-up story I concocted to explain why he apparently has elephantiasis of the eye or, from my perspective, “you loaded up your dotting tool with too much lacquer”-itis.)

And so I thought it only fitting that I continue the ongoing romantic adventures of my randy reindeer this year with this updated manicure that proves that no matter the circumstances (at the behest of mistletoe or clear out of the wild blue yonder), it might behoove (get it?) this guy to rethink his romantic strategies, because it looks like he’s once again sporting one heck of a shiner (although it’s smaller than last year’s, so progress?) Next Christmas, fella – we’re all rooting for you next Christmas.