Canada 150 Ale

Canada Day One-Fiddy

Canada is celebrating its 150th year of Confederation this Saturday (also known as its sesquincentennial anniversary; rolls right off the tongue, don’t it?) so I thought it would be fitting to create a manicure honouring a beloved (?) Canadian beer, the Labatt 50.

For any non-Canuck readers out there, 50 Ale, a product of the Labatt Brewing Company, is pretty much on par with Budweiser or PBR (as in it’s yellow, wet, carbonated, contains hops and will get you seriously screwed up on the cheap if you drink about a dozen of them.  And I never have, partly because I’m an old fuddy duddy who turns up her nose at wildly inappropriate alcohol consumption, but also because 50 is nigh undrinkable. I think I’d sooner down a Schlitz.)

“But wait!” you may be saying.  “I thought you Canadians hailed from the land of fantastic beer.  Isn’t every second building in your city a microbrewery now?”  And the answer to all of those questions would be YES (I actually know someone who rents farmland on which to grow his specially-cultivated hops.)  A big old YES…50’s just perhaps not one of those beers.  Then again, we also have LXD (Labatt Extra Dry), Molson Dry (*shudder*) and a high octane, out-of-production animal by the name of Molson XXX, which is the first alcohol I ever drank.  It tasted like cardboard and nightmares.

But 50 will always hold a special place in my heart, and presumably also in the hearts of many, many Canadians across this great country.  It’s the beer of university house parties, homecoming weekends, moves and cottage weekends, and one epic night of karaoke at the Duke of Somerset.  So I can think of no better way to usher in Canada’s 150th than by raising a sudsy pint to the beer that’s been here for the big moments, the little moments, and all those other moments in between that we just call Canadian life. To the next 150!

Levels

Levels Side

This looks like the display on a stereo from the 1980s.  You know, something to measure the boom, bass and thuds.  Or it’s the digital speedometer from a high school friend’s plush Crown Vic.  My husband thinks it looks like the socks he wore to my parents’ for dinner last night.  It could also be a gene sequencing test.  So basically these are Choose Your Own Adventure nails – and which path will you take? 😉

Beachy Keen

Beachy Keen Fingers Front

For all my friends longing for – or on the cusp of – a nice, relaxing beach day.  Me, I don’t do beaches.  Me + sun = crispy red lobster, so I tend to abstain.  I’m also totally that pooh that sits there in a long-sleeved rash guard, sarong, wide-brimmed hat and SPF 70, fussily rotating the beach umbrella into the shade every 23 and a half minutes.

So no actual beaches for me!  But I’m quite content with this very beachy manicure, which utilizes a new-to-me technique, water spotting.  In water spotting, you drop a few polish droplets onto the surface of water (here a basic white creme to mimic the sudsy surf rushing ashore a sandy beach.)  Then taking a spray perfume or cologne, spritz onto the surface of the polish, creating a semi-transparent, lacy effect like the rushing surf. Then you dip your painted nails into the polish as you would with a water marble manicure.  And since no shoreline would be complete without at least a few seashells and starfish, I added a few of those, too.  Surf’s up!

Beachy Keen Fingers Side

Motivation Manicure: A Dieting Story

Motivation Manicure Fingers

Or “How to Persevere with Your Long-Term Health and Dietary Goals When Your Motivation is Beginning to Wane.”  Except that is WAY too long a title, so Moti-Mani it is!

Regular readers and casual dropper-byers alike may remember that I’m now four months into a rather major overhaul of my family’s general health and wellness.  As in we possessed neither of those things, and I was inching dangerously close to a pit that had nothing at the bottom but razor sharp rocks.  Also diabetes, stroke and heart attack, but I thought the pointy rock thing was apt.

So I hitched up my pants (hahahahahahaha, there was no hitching, silly!  I couldn’t even get my pants BUTTONED) and decided to do the only thing I hadn’t yet tried – make a real, concerted effort to save my own bloody life.

Nearly four months in, I’m pleased to report that I’ve shed a little over 40 pounds and four dress sizes.  Better yet, I now sleep through the evening (or at least as long as my cat will allow.)  I don’t get winded walking up a flight of stairs.  I no longer wake feeling like a UFC match took place in my stomach during the night.  My skin is bright and (mostly) clear.  I have lots of energy.  I no longer sweat while eating.  Or breathing.

And while those are all FABULOUS side effects of a healthier approach to diet, exercise and general wellness, remembering to appreciate those seemingly minor gains for the major motivational milestones they actually are is a trap all of us fall into at one time or another.  We have a tendency – in all aspects of life, really – to dismiss the mundane inanities of everyday life in favour of THE BIG SHOW.  We live for those big moments, and that includes the things we feel passionately about, the things that motivate us.

How that tends to manifest itself in the dieter’s mind is a fixation on a major, end-of-diet treat (an expensive vacation, a crossed-off item on the bucket list, a five-star tour of France where you do nothing but eat cheese for 10 straight days, I don’t know your life!)

For me, that major treat is a ludicrously expensive, long and splashy trip to Disney World, one of my favourite places on Earth, and a spot I’ve been avoiding since gaining ALL the weight.  I think about that still-very-nebulous vacation every day as I’m thumping away on the treadmill, imagining that each on-the-spot step is actually me hauling nimble ass towards the Haunted Mansion for the first of the day’s 13 straight rides.  It’s wonderful motivation, an achievable big dream I can almost reach out and touch.  It also sort of has a smell (popcorn, Dole Whip, propane and chlorinated It’s a Small World water, in case you were wondering.)

And that’s what this manicure is, the nail art representation of a beautiful dream that I’m taking much-needed steps towards making a reality every single day (me standing on the Hub grass of the Magic Kingdom waiting for one of the evening’s innumerable fireworks bonanzas as the sun sets in a pastel sky behind Cinderella’s castle, but of course.)

Motivation Manicure Bottle

But plans of dream vacations will only take you so far, as being so far off in the distance themselves, they can begin to feel unattainable – gigantic dreams turned pipe dream. With a long, hard slog ahead and no clear horizon in sight, it’s just far too easy to give up altogether, particularly after suffering a (completely normal and unavoidable) setback.

So I’m choosing instead to also celebrate those little, in-the-middle victories – the increased energy, the improved mood, the sleep-filled nights.  Because it’s good to always keep your eye on the big prize, but it’s also worth checking in every now and then with the smaller successes as well.  They’re the real motivators, and the real reason to continue doing just what I’m doing – because it feels good, and because I feel good. Nothing more complicated than that. 🙂

Summer Solstice Scents

Summer Solstice Main

While the rest of North America swelters under a record-breaking heatwave (no climate change to see here, nosiree!) here in Ontario it’s pretty much summer business as usual. That means it rains a lot, especially on important milestone holidays (can’t wait to see the hurricane that will accompany Canada’s upcoming 150th) alternating with periods of crap heat and brutal humidity.  It’s absolutely nothing compared to the conditions that Phoenix is experiencing today, but then again, what is?

So I feel quite fortunate that the heat and humidity in my neck of the global woods is not so oppressive that I can’t enjoy this recently-acquired quartet of Solstice Scents fragrances – and on the Summer Solstice, no less. 😉  No finer time to delightfully delve into a handful of beautiful bakeries, fine florals and one apple-jacked pick for Fall.

As it was with my first Solstice order, I had zero issues with this purchase – it was remarkable only in its unremarkableness.  Oh!  Except that Solstice quite generously refunded nearly $9.00 in shipping overages, a lovely little treat I discovered only after noticing that a refund had gone through my account; I had had no idea one was coming to me in the first place.  It would have been pretty easy for Solstice to not inform me of a potential refund or to simply not issue one at all.  But they did, and in the most low-key, efficient and friendliest manner possible.  Customer for life with that kind of service, really.

Also?  This is a nice little personalized thank-you, and beside it, a thoughtful compendium of perfume-sampling tips (such as the important reminder to let your perfume sit a bit before passing final judgement; like a great stew or a fantastic soup, perfumes need a bit of time to settle and develop after bottling and shipping.)

Summer Solstice Cards

I picked up four 5 ml perfume oils this time around, with each blue cobalt rollerball retailing for $15.00 US.

Summer Solstice Main Up Close

And while my heart truly belongs to that most cherished of peppermint-vanillas, Snowmint Mallow, I think I can find a little room in there for these lovely and light summer scents, and that one autumnal outlier.

Summer Solstice Collage

Starting with the Fall favourite, Corvin’s Apple Fest is a scent I chose so I could layer it with another Solstice fragrance I own, Vanilla Pipe Tobacco.  By itself, Vanilla Pipe Tobacco is a sweet and sticky herbal fragrance – heady, like steamy night air rising from a sun-warmed cornfield.  I bought it because my grandfather smoked a pipe, and he always smelled a bit like the pouches of pipe tobacco he kept rolled up in the pockets of his Arnold Palmers.  Being a farmer, he also often smelled like sweet corn.

But my grandfather smoked highly aromatic cherry tobacco, and what Vanilla Pipe Tobacco was missing was the tart and tangy element only a touch of fruit could provide. So I picked up Corvin’s Apple Fest with the hopes that it would be lovely both on its own and as a blender, and indeed, it’s both of those things.  This is a really beautiful apple fragrance – fresh and sweet and juicy, with the barest hint of something tarty, cobbler-y or crisp-y.  A great season-jumping addition to my fragrance collection.

Corvin's Apple Fest

An unexpected favourite was Lemon Ginger Creams, a tart and tangy hit of lightly-spiced citrus.  This smells exactly like a lemon-glazed gingersnap, if there is such a thing, and if there isn’t, there should be one now! Like, right here with me right now, on a plate, waiting to be eaten.

Lemon Ginger Creams

A more traditional pick for my scent palette was Chantilly Cream, a sumptuous blend of fuzzy peaches, juicy mandarins, lightly-spiced vanilla and whipped cream.  This is a gorgeous gourmand fragrance that effortlessly tows the line between lip-smacking dessert and sweet scent, a lovely choice for those not spun by anything with “cake” in its title.  Ooh, I love this fragrance – soft and mild and sweet, perfect for those sultry summer evenings.

Chantilly Cream

And finally – as according to the tenants of Beauty Retail Law, there must be at least one per order – we come to the fragrance I am the least jazzed about, Blossom Jam Tea Cakes.  Oh, how I wanted to love this scent!  It was the first one into my basket, and I also seriously debated picking up a burnishing glace in the same fragrance.  But as always, I’m glad I ultimately held off, as there’s just a little something here in this lilac-tinged, lemon tea-and-cake blend that, to my nose, errs awfully close to something approaching powdery baby wipes.

Oddly, though, I don’t dislike this scent.  In fact, I find myself returning to my wrists to sniff it time and time again, marveling with each pull at the ever-changing kaleidoscope of fruity, floral and barely bakery notes.  It’s kind of delicious, and in hindsight, I might sort of love it.  I clearly have some conflicted feelings on the subject of this perfume.

But given that I’m so deeply undecided on Blossom Jam Tea Cakes, I’m going to take Solstice’s fragrance-testing advice and tuck it away for a bit, see how its scent develops in a few months’ time.  Provided I don’t, you know, drain the bottle this summer taking undecided whiffs off my wrists (reminder to self: don’t do this in public, it’s weird!)

Blossom Jam Tea Cakes

Once again, just a beautiful, beautiful order from Solstice Scents.  It wasn’t my first and it shan’t be my last. Shan’t!  I’m just so impressed with their scent offerings and presentation, and their customer service is second to none.  A very happy – and deliciously-scented – camper, indeed.

Very Versailles

Versailles 2

I suppose it’s not too surprising this manicure turned out as Baroque-n as it did – I have been watching an awful lot of the new live action Beauty and the Beast lately, and its wall-to-wall pastels and gold filigreed adornments speak to that part of me that sometimes likes her surroundings to be flouncy, ultra feminine and possibly way, way, WAY too much.  Not, like, enchanted talking furniture too much, but just a lot of pink and excessively gilded molding. 😉

Kitty in Stripes

Kitty in Stripes Hand

After posting a tutorial of my own yesterday, I thought it was high time to tackle another manicure from a Hello Kitty nail art book I was gifted over the holidays.  The first mani of the book was a classic Kitty desgin – red and white polka dots, yellow-nosed and red bow’d Kitty.

Kitty in Stripes Book.png

The second design of the book keeps things similarly simple, this time introducing bold horizontal stripes in the classic combo of black and white, with just the barest hints of candy floss pink and glittery gold accents. Another easy tutorial to follow, resulting in a very pretty Kitty, indeed!

Kitty in Stripes Up Close