Needs More Unicorn

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My interpretation of Lisa Frank styles, extra heavy on the neon rainbow animal prints, which I’d just like to proudly point out were totally free-handed.  That’s why I’m not sure if I’ve got a tiger print here or a zebra one.  What I am sure of is that I’m ultra super proud of these nails, even if to truly be Lisa Frank-inspired, they need a heck of a lot more unicorn.  Funnily enough, I DO have a unicorn nail charm, but it’s gigantic – my bitty little nails can’t handle her girth, and besides, I didn’t want to cover up all this neon animal print goodness. 🙂

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Sweet Insta-Inspiration

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Kicking off this sunny summer Monday with the fabulously frosted layer cake manicure I did this weekend, inspired by a recent online rabbit hole I fell into of over-the-top cake decorating accounts on Instagram.  I can bake fairly well (however, pie crust as delicious as my mother’s will forever elude me) but I can’t decorate for shit – just ask the TURQUOISE, hideously malformed, liquid fondant-covered abominations I once optimistically called tea cakes, or the batches upon batches of Christmas cookies I gave up on flooding and just started adding gargantuan green frosted genitalia to.  Happened just about every year like clockwork until I FINALLY figured out that I’m utter crap at the decorating side of baking, and I should just stop.

But I can admire other bakery artists’ incredible work, like manvscakes, COCHOBAKE and brittanymaycakes, whose sweet, striped creations – heavy on the vibrant hues and whimsical, outlandish toppers – were the inspiration for these nails.  I love the more-is-more-is-more approach to the bakery arts, especially all of the brights at play in these fun cakes, a technique (you know, over-the-topness) that transfers pretty darn well to the lacquered arts. 😉  Hoping for sweet weeks for all of you, friends, filled with as much inspiration and colour as these cakes and these nails.

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Stranger Manis: Steve and Robin

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Hey look, it’s everybody’s favourite new pairing of the Stranger Things Universe, co-workers and co-conspirators Steve and Robin!  These two were an utter delight this season, whether it was slangin’ ice cream or busting Russian skulls, and I hope we see more of their adventures next season (with or without the other half of the Scoops Troop, who will be getting their own manis soon so we can round off this unlikely quartet.)

All of the nautical stripes on Steve and Robin’s Scoops Ahoy uniforms were a righteous pain in the butt to paint – Streak City.  But their ice cream parlour duds – particularly those best feature-destroying sailor hats – are the cutest things ever, and I HAD to give them the manicured treatment.

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So I think season 3 proves that Steve Harrington is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the BEST THING EVER, right?  So fantastic, I’ve actually stopped referring to him as Steve’s Hair or the Guy Who Runs Steve’s Hair, and now simply call him Steve.  You know it’s love when I stop making jokes. 😉  Except…it shames me to no end to note that it was only a couple of weeks ago that I finally put it together that Steve’s last name is Harrington, as in a TON of HAIR.  How did I not put that together before now?  Steve’s evolved into such a great character, although I’ll always have a soft spot for douchey season 1 Steve – he really reminded me of a boy I was quite spun for in high school.

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And Robin is such an amazing new addition to the cast!  She’s smart and funny and thoughtful and brave, and she’s played with so much charm by Maya Hawke, who is Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman’s daughter, and wow, does she ever sound like her mom, and now that I’ve told you this little bit of trivia, it’s all you’ll ever hear.  Close your eyes and you can almost hear Robin describing the finer plot points of cancelled-after-the-pilot TV series, Fox Force Five (“Fox, because we were a bunch of foxes, Force, because we were a force to be reckoned with, and Five, because there were one, two, three, four, five of us,” and yes, that was a Pulp Fiction reference.  I’m very old.)

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As I mentioned in my last Stranger Manis post, I have a lot more nail art coming that has been inspired by season 3, which itself is an endless font of incredible set design and neon-tinged ’80s nostalgia.  It seems practically tailor made for this kind of fan art, so I’ll be happy to oblige. 😉

Strawberry White Cake

Strawberry White Cake

Because every end-of-the-week should start with cake, should it not?  Even if it’s of the totally inedible and wildly impractical (ugh, those little Fimo berries) lacquered variety.  Also, this is my second cake-inspired manicure in the last five days – think I should add something sweet to my weekend shopping list? 😉

Stranger Manis: Scoops Ahoy!

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AHOY, FRIENDS!  Please join me today as we set sail on an ocean of flavour.  My name is Sandra and I’ll be your captain on this delicious journey.  Can I interest you in a USS Butterscotch?

Actually, I am quite interested in a USS Butterscotch, and thanks to a fun collaboration between Baskin-Robbins (31 Flavors for you American peeps) and Netflix, I could pop on down the road and have one (you know, once the store opens in, oh, six or so hours.  Little early for ice cream right now.)  I have tried the Upside Down sundae, though.  Mr. Finger Candy and I shared one some weeks back, before the third season of Stranger Things had even dropped, and it was delicious, but as deadly as its namesake.  One little inverted cup of pecan-studded chocolate ice cream (the nuts, whipped cream and cherry were on the bottom, with the caramel sauce and ice cream layered on top of that; cute) nearly did us both in.  I can’t imagine the pain I’d be in if I actually set sail aboard Scoops Ahoy’s signature dish, the USS Butterscotch.

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I really love that Stranger Things is now enough of a part of the cultural lexicon that these kind of cross-promotional collaborations are downright commonplace – Stranger Things is EVERYWHERE this month.  I won’t complain (okay, I’ll only moderately complain about the awkward – and frequent – New Coke mentions in the third season.  They were shoehorned in all over the place, and a huge, climactic action sequence comes to a literal screeching halt while one character expounds on the goodness of New Coke.  It’s pretty painful.)

Stranger Sundaes Collage

But overall, I’m just totally in love with Stranger Things season 3, particularly the Scoops Troop and the nautical-themed ice cream parlour that serves as their place of employment and base of Russian spy-busting operations.  MANY more Stranger manis to come, please stay tuned.

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Talkin’ ‘Bout My Renovations: Part I

To paraphrase one Walter Elias Disney – smart man, done some things, you might be familiar with his work – it all started with a crowbar.

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Okay, to back up a bit, it actually all started with this crowbar last year when I began ripping up the engineered hardwood in our apartment in anticipation of springtime renovations to our home.  We were looking at the total replacement of our bathroom, as well as some small work in the kitchen, a whole mess of painting, and entirely new tile and carpet throughout.  It was going to be a lot of messy work, and like a couple of loons, we were also going to try to live in our apartment while it was being renovated.

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So naturally the very best time to begin tearing up the floor, splinter by agonizing splinter, was eight months out from the start of the work, just to make the intervening time as uncomfortable, awkward and dangerous as humanly possible.  That our lower limbs did not succumb to gangrenous affront is something of a miracle to me, after half a year of wandering around on bare concrete floors with partially exposed, toe-puncturing nailing strips lying in wait.

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A month out from the planned start of work I began filling out the approvals paperwork required by our condo board.  Roughly a month later I had the paperwork finished, after jumping through hoop, after hoop, after hoop stipulated by the board.  Some of the hoops were understandable and reasonable – of course we can’t use gravity-assisted toilets in a stack condo, we’d be pissing on our neighbours’ heads.  It has to be a wall-mount unit, duh.  Other hoops were less reasonable – thinking here, of course, of the hideously expensive, ungodly HEAVY and completely unwieldy underlay we had to purchase, the installation of which, in retrospect, is what set the entire job back by about three weeks.

In response to a letter of complaint I sent to our property management firm, the property manager disagreed with my pissed-off assessment that the condo board appears to be made up of a bunch of weekend DIY-ers who have no business approving decisions related to major infrastructure.  She has absolutely no evidence to back up her assertion, but I certainly do – the board-mandated underlay, for instance.  Also the toilet that was board-mandated and approved – I even included printed schematics in my submission! – except when we went to install it, it didn’t fit.  I don’t know how I managed to hold it together, but there’s a boardroom in my building that’s lucky it didn’t have a wall-mounted, low flush porcelain crapper thrown through its window.

Toilet Collage

But to use the underlay as an example, had any one of my neighbours on the board actually taken a good look at the product in question – 10 to 12 millimeter-thick, National Research Council-rated padding to lay under hard flooring types such as ceramic – they would have noted that it was 1) total overkill (are we soundproofing our home or a concert venue?) and 2) a completely inappropriate stipulation given its cost, availability, and general immovability.  Two young, fit guys STRUGGLED to heave those gigantic rolls up to our apartment, and it took another young, fit guy two full, very sweaty days – plus setting time! – to actually install the underlay.  To say nothing of the many, many framing and trim workarounds we had to employ after the fact to accommodate a floor pad that was now more than half an inch higher.

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And while things are beginning to change, the age mix in our building still skews pretty heavily toward folks born in the 1930s and 40s – people in their retirement years on fixed incomes.  I can’t imagine they’d be super pleased to bear the various costs – to their wallets, homes and bodies – of this product that they are being forced to use by a board that has not done its due diligence.  I’ll amend my earlier critique to now call them a bunch of rubber stamp-happy, weekend DIY-ers who have no business approving decisions related to major infrastructure.

And I suspect I am not alone in this assessment, because once the work actually began in earnest, it became quite clear that we were some of the only people adhering to the rules and regulations set forth by the condo board.  Rules and regs regarding the booking of the service elevator, rules and regs regarding the kind of materials we could use in our renos, rules and regs regarding the disposal of construction materials, and rules and regs regarding the behaviour of contractors in and around the building.  Again, some of these stipulations are valid – I’ve got no problem keeping a watchful eye on strangers in the building, even if I invited them in; that’s just good safety policy.  But most of the stipulations were cumbersome and pedantic, like the board was given a 100-point checklist titled Little Ways To Really Piss Off Your Condo Owners, For Fun and Profit!  As such, I think a lot of my fellow residents said, “Oh, sod THIS” and went their own way, without board approval or, more importantly, board oversight.  Because you don’t have to jump through their hoops if they don’t know what you’re doing.

Which led to all manner of sneaky subterfuge happening in the building, and I’m not just talking about the couple I found banging down in the women’s sauna one evening.  Or the naked ladies boogeying to the Dirty Dancing soundtrack in the women’s change room.  Or the guy trying to stuff two thoroughly dead and dried-out Christmas trees down the garbage chute one pre-dawn May morning.  It’s amazing what people try to get away with when they think no one’s looking.  My neighbours are animals.

Change Room of Fear

But animals who apparently know well enough to keep The Condo Man out of their business, which includes co-ed naked sauna-ing, Dirty Dancing and inappropriate disposal methods, yes, but also includes more serious infractions like carrying out their renovations however and with whatever they see fit, without making submission to the board for approval.  Which is a super big piss-off when you’re actually playing by the rules and paying dearly for it.  That ridiculously expensive and cumbersome underlay, for instance?  The guys who installed our carpet and through whom we sourced the underlay – they’re probably the biggest, oldest flooring concern in the city – confirmed that we are some of the only people they have sold it to in our building, where the construction is never-ending and this material has been mandated into use by the board.  And yet we are the ONLY people I saw schlepping this stuff around.  If it’s a required material, why do we seem to be the only residents actually using it?

At the end of it all, I’m glad we stayed on the side of right, even if it cost us time, money and precious, precious sanity.  Plus I now get to be a righteous ass – WE DID THINGS THE CORRECT WAY, SO GTFO.  But there were many, many times when I questioned why we were adhering to the process so strictly, and seeing no immediate benefit in return.

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But really, this entire process was an ordeal, and that was all before ground had even been broken, so to speak (don’t joke; a giant hole in our floor was pretty much the only problem we didn’t have!)  In the next installment of this three-part series, we get down to work on transforming our home and losing our minds.  I hope you’ll come back and join me as I wade a little deeper into this journey – somebody needs to throw me a life preserver when the memories get to be too much. 😉