Succulents, Not Succulent

Succulents 2

Well, trust me to take this floral manicure, which I did in service of the theme of succulents for a nail art challenge I’m doing on Instagram, and turn it into a discussion on Brooklyn 9-9.  Actually, I suspect I could turn just about any subject into a commentary on one of my favourite TV shows, I think about it just that often!

Anyhow, there’s this character named Charles Boyle, who’s played by Joe Lo Truglio, who you may remember as the creepy/skeezy/gross guy from any number of Judd Apatow movies (thinking of his character in Superbad here.)  I was definitely not a fan before seeing his work in Brooklyn 9-9, but as beige pants-loving, foodie cop Charles Boyle, he’s an utter delight.  No one loves fermenting mason jars of unidentifiable foodstuffs in their desk drawers more than Charles. 🙂

But Charles’s taste in food runs quite contrary to his ultra beige, Mervins-clad demeanor – Charles likes it weird, Charles likes it gross, and Charles probably likes it best if he kills it himself (he once fought off a rampaging turkey that had penned the squad into a bathroom with naught but a handily repurposed straightening iron.)  He also likes to discuss his foodie pursuits in THE most repulsive manner possible, always using the most descriptively disgusting language he can find – words like “moist” and “mouthfeel” and in one particularly nasty bit, the phrase “Oh, lucky you, you got the toenail!”  Long story short, don’t ask Charles Boyle to bring anything to the potluck, because it’ll definitely be offal.  Or worse.  And with its toenails still on!

At one point, another character submitted a list of words Charles was forbidden from uttering, and “succulent” was right at the top.  I get it, it conjures up the same sort of images in my mind as when I hear the word “moist” (which is apparently one of the most reviled words in the English language, didya know?)  To my mind, it suggests lush, almost juicy dampness.  Which, when I see it all written out like that, IS rather disgusting!

So it’s a real shame that succulents, the plant, have gotten swept up in the wellspring of negativity towards their name, because they’re so, so beautiful – such charming little plants with their heathered rainbow hues.  So I put them on my nails.  Hey, beats the heck out of trying to recreate one of Charles’s culinary nightmares!  You’re welcome. 😉

Succulents 1

Nailed It!

Nailed It 2

There is a show on television – you may have seen it, but I haven’t – called Nailed It! wherein hopeless home bakers seek redemption and cash through a reality TV-style baking competition.  It’s hosted by Nicole Byer, who I DO know from Brooklyn 99 as delightful car thief Doug Judy’s baby sister, Trudy Judy (“baby” nothin’ – Trudy Judy takes care of her own business, you simple little barn animal!)  Anyhow, I always see the show’s title and think it’s actually some sort of nail art competition, which definitely falls on the not-so-edible side of things (though apparently so too do most of the baked goods produced by the contestants, hey-oh!)

I’m not sure there’s much of an audience for a show about both baking and nail art, but if there were, this manicure, which was inspired by a gorgeous cake I saw on Instagram, would certainly land me a spot on at least, like, the first two episodes. 😉

Nailed It 1

LOVE these nails, gigantic, unwieldy golden charms and all.  If I had any complaints, it would be that the roses are not quite red enough (how very “Off with their heads!” does THAT sound?) and the gold not quite yellow enough.  I used a frosted, almost icy-looking gold here, whereas the original cake used a lush marigold yellow that I far prefer.  Just in general, these nails read far more “edgy tea set” than bitchin’ Queen of Hearts cake, but I love them all the same.

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Yosemite Sandra

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Before I get to the part where I explain that this is a mani done in the style of the granite that makes up El Capitan in Yosemite National Park – that random enough for ya?! – have you guys seen The Dawn Wall or Free Solo?  They’re documentaries ostensibly about rock climbers – with all the gut-churning, straight-down photography your frayed nerves can handle – though really they’re examinations of man’s own relationship to man, nature and the very universe itself.  It’s real triumph of the human spirit sort of stuff.  With a higher than usual chance of watching said human plummet to their death off the side of a gigantic geological feature.  Super lightweight stuff!

And I’ve been obsessed all summer long.  The Dawn Wall, a Netflix release, follows professional climbers Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson as they scale the infamous Dawn Wall of El Capitan in Yosemite.  Spend the summer low-grade haunting the online rock climbing world and you too will come to learn that what Caldwell and Jorgeson do – or did; The Dawn Wall was filmed in 2015 – is called free climbing, meaning they use ropes and clips and a buddy belay system, all necessary things when you’re attempting to scale 3,000 feet of one of the world’s most intimidating rock formations.  Beset by crap weather, unexpected media attention, a mid-point bitch of a pitch that just refused to be bested and their own considerable demons (early on in his career, Caldwell and some teammates were taken hostage whilst climbing in Kyrgystan; upon returning home, he lost most of his left index finger – one of those crucial bits of anatomy if you’re a rock climber – to a table saw) it took the pair 19 days to summit El Cap, much of it spent pinned to the side of the Dawn Wall in frighteningly flimsy-looking tents.

Free Solo, a National Geographic movie and winner of 2019’s Best Documentary Feature Oscar, follows professional climber Alex Honnold as he also attempts to scale El Capitan, this time in 2017 whilst following a slightly less vertiginous route than the one set by Caldwell and Jorgeson, but without the benefit of ropes, clips or a buddy.  That’s what makes Honnold a “free soloist” – he’s free of a rope and climbing solo.  I haven’t actually seen Free Solo yet, but I’ve watched a terrific number of videos of Honnold – a really funny, bright and articulate guy – talking about his sport, his charitable efforts, his diet, lifestyle and drive.

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It’s all utterly terrifying – anti-social tunnel vision taken to its most extreme limits – and yet also completely compelling.  If I wasn’t opposed to living destitute out of a 1991 Dodge Caravan, or partaking in any activity many thousands of feet off the ground that will surely lead to my death, or if I had any aptitude whatsoever in the area of climbing or outdoor sportery, this would be quite attractive to alt-world me.  Me-me is hiding under a blanket on her couch (me-me also attempted to hang from her fingertips off the kitchen door frame the other day, in imitation of a climbing training exercise.  Probably don’t need to explicitly point out that it didn’t go very well!)  It also goes without saying that both of these films are about 1,000 percent easier to hack as a viewer once you know that all parties involved achieved their goals and are now safely on the ground.  Oh, who am I kidding – all of these guys got back to climbing just as quickly as they could, and are probably out there right now, spidering across the face of some 2000-foot-tall granite monolith, scouting handholds and footholds and plotting their next record-breaking ascent.

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Anyhow, using that ultra easy, brushed-on polish technique I keep promising a tutorial on, I painted this manicure that looks like the granite walls of El Cap.  Apparently it’s a total bitch to climb, something I’m really going to have to take their word on!  It’s also a very pretty type of stone, burnished orange in hue and streaked with black fissures.  I tried to capture all of that here, using a mess of KB Shimmer holographic polishes, including bronzed terracotta, Men Are From Mars-ala, burnished orange, Rust No One, and chocolate brown Oh My Ganache.  I then added in those veins of black using Lilypad Lacquer’s Rainbows in Space.  I really like how the holographic polishes mimic the glittery look of granite.  I bet when the sun hits it just right, the whole rock face twinkles.

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Really lovely, and so long as I don’t rip my arms off trying to hang from my kitchen door frame, it’s a look I’m absolutely going to try again.

The Ice Wall

The Ice Wall 1

Been watching a lot of rock climbing-related media these days, so presumably that’s why these nails, which I had intended to mimic this sort of gemstone-type look, came out looking less like sapphires and more like an imposingly impassable ice wall.  Except even that’s a pretty tenuous connection – none of the movies I’ve been watching (Free Solo, The Dawn Wall on Netflix) have featured ice climbing, which is fantastic.  Really, who wants to cling to the edge of a geological feature thousands of feet in the air, engaged in a batshit activity that taxes every ounce of physical and mental strength you can muster, AND be freezing cold at the same time?  Not this person!

Yup, these nails are super ice cave-y.  It’s the rich, almost icy indigo blues I chose – it’s a very deep, layered, frosty kind of look.  Very pretty, but not at all a sapphire.  One for the “Try it Again” files, methinks (whilst cold weather climbing in general can go straight into the “Try it Never” files.  Maybe just climbing in general – as much as I’m enjoying these movies, I’m not sure I’m ever going to be on board with any activity that will most likely end in my Wile. E. Coyote-esque death.) 😉

The Ice Wall 2

 

Clueless About Plaid

Clueless

I did this manicure for the prompt of Back to School in a nail art challenge I’m following along with over on Instagram.  Come by and see me sometime – park_or_perish is my handle.

Having dabbled in Cher Horowitz’s fashion sensibilities for much of the mid-90s, particularly on the first day of grade 13 – come on, all those little velveteen dresses and stacked Steve Madden loafers were AWESOME! – Back to School to me always means Back to Clueless, a place – or is it a state of mind? – I’m never actually particularly far from anyways.  And what’s better than Cher’s yellow plaid outfit she chooses – or is it her computer that chooses? – to make her big entrance at school?  Ooh, Snickers. 😉

Talkin’ ‘Bout My Renovations: Part III

Reno Collage 1

I’ve already dealt with the agony of the renovations we had carried out to our condominium apartment this past spring.  You can find those panic-inducing jaunts down Unpleasant Memory Way here and here.

But now, months later, it’s time to revel in the glorious ecstasy of our very-nearly-all-the-way-completed renovations!  Revel, I tell you!  Because we have friggin’ EARNED THIS.  There’s really just some patching and painting in the bathroom that remains.  Otherwise, this place has been updated and improved in every way possible – new tiles, new carpet, updated plumbing, new fixtures, new furniture, intensive cleaning, fresh paint throughout, and a much-needed toss and re-org of our storage areas.  And with the move away from our old, raspberry red walls to this fresh new turquoise hue, it sort of feels like an entirely new apartment.  Which was kind of the entire point of the thing, was it not?

So now that we’re firmly on the other side of stupid here, I feel comfortable sharing the after photos of these renos that yes, I have griped about virtually non-stop (spend two months without a bathroom and tell me how chipper you’d be!) but that I am also so, so pleased to finally have completed.  Pretty well from the very first day we moved into this unit, we’ve had a major project (or projects, plural) going on in a state of half-completeness – it was time to just tackle this stuff head on and get. it. done. already.

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Below you’ll find some photos I snapped of our apartment in its current state of post-renovation spic-and-spanness.  All joking and frustrations with the process aside, we’re really pleased with how our home looks, and even more pleased that it’s once again just that – a home.  Not a work site and not a gigantic stressor.  I hope you enjoy this little peek into our newly updated surroundings as much as we are enjoying living in them.

First, the bathroom, and arguably the reason why we undertook this entire crazy endeavor in the first place.  Our bathroom was old and falling apart and to flush the toilet you had to take the top off the tank and plunge your hand all the way to the very bottom in order to jostle the little flushy flange up and into place.  Seriously.  So it was continue on with that, or just fix the damn thing already.  I think it says a lot about how the renos ultimately went that there were a lot of days where I really missed the old ice-cold-plunge-up-to-the-elbow routine.  At least it was a (semi) functioning toilet.

Bathroom Reno Collage

Our new toilet is much nicer, wall-mounted and all that condo-required jazz, and something called “comfort height.”  This means you’re kind of sitting way high up off the ground – a matter of inches, maybe two at best, but it’s been months, and I’m still unable to shake the feeling I’m perched on an honest to goodness throne.  But it flushes, so I freakin’ love it, no matter its size!  We also took down the gungy old celery green tiles on the bath surround and replaced them with clean, glossy white subway tiles.  We also had a new, blissfully deep tub installed, and all new fixtures, including this dope Victorian faucet and tap.

Faucet

We really didn’t reinvent the wheel with our bathroom reno; it was simply a matter of updating the old, broken elements.  So our vanity stayed the same, although we replaced the countertop, sink and fixtures.  We also had the rabbit warren of gently rusted pipes and other outdated plumbing components under the sink dealt with – untangled and updated, freshened and cleaned.  And you can’t see it in these photos, but the scarred-up cement floor (loved stepping out of the tub onto that) has been replaced with the same porcelain tiles we installed in our hallways and kitchen.

Sink Reno Collage

Speaking of our kitchen, I painted the entire thing (ceiling, too, and man, was it a shoulder-destroying dink.)  I repainted all of the cabinets, including the lowers, which we took from a darker version of the turquoise now on our walls, to a rich, charcoal black.

Kitchen Construction Collage

We also added the above-mentioned porcelain floor, as well as actual doors on our pantry!  It’s really so weird walking into the kitchen and NOT seeing three boxes of Cap’n Crunch and a wall of Kraft Dinner just sitting there (what, we kind of eat like toddlers!)

Kitchen Collage

In the diningroom off the kitchen, we took the walls from a faded raspberry pink to a lovely, soothing turquoise.  I actually painted everything in our apartment – including what felt like miles of wainscotting and molding – but for our bedroom.

Diningroom Collage

We also binned our old, sagging diningroom chairs and replaced them with these smart, tweedy-type seats.  We also had all of the flooring not covered in porcelain tile carpeted in a plush, grey-brown wool, including the diningroom, the livingroom and the two bedrooms.

Livingroom 22

Looks pretty nice in the warm, pink glow of an August sunset, does it not?  Now I just need some twee little lampshades for our Game of Thrones-esque chandelier.  My father hates the thing, aesthetically, and also because every time my parents come over for dinner, he somehow manages to drive his head straight into it, even if we’re nowhere near the table!  I love it.  It looks like it could kill a man.  It certainly has eyes on my dad.

Livingroom 20

Nice to see you back on the wall and alight with fresh battery power, Nightmare Before Christmas cuckoo clock.  This guy hangs on the wall opposite our diningroom table, and in this instance, it’s my mom who hates the thing.  My parents are lovely people, but maybe not totally sympatico with my whimsiquirkalicious approach to home decorating.

Livingroom 9

Down two steps into our sunken livingroom, I repainted six bookcases, as well as the walls, the trim and two full walls of VERY GRUNGY baseboard heaters, the 2,000 or so individual vents of which first needed to be cleaned out with two 500-count boxes of Q-Tips, a bottle of bleach cleaner and about six hours of my time.  We also took this opportunity to cast a critical eye over a lot of our possessions, repurposing a number of things, while outright tossing others.  We then tried to organize whatever was left into a more intuitive, easier-to-use fashion – like things with like things, for instance.  Like all of the books you can’t see in this photo, because they’re hidden behind the lower shelf doors (bless you, IKEA Billy bookcases, you hide all manner of bookish sins, such as my raggedy, grease-splattered cookbooks, and three solid shelves of RPG manuals.)

Livingroom 21

And these are indeed your standard IKEA Billys, simply sexed up with a crisp white paint job and a strip of molding so they look like built-ins.  Bit of an IKEA hack for you there.  I love these shelves because they hold so many of my favourite things, starting with the Shelf of Stephens.  Somebody (mebody) might have a King problem, no?

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These shelves also hold precious mementos from our lives – a glass candy jar filled with Disney Magic Bands, The Greatest Picture Ever Snapped – and dear gifts from even dearer friends, including Funko Jack and Sally, a darling gift from one of Mr. Finger Candy’s gamer buddies; a trio of Sally’s little grey potion pots, a Christmas present from my brother-in-law and his wife; and our beloved Nightmare Before Christmas snow globe, a wedding present from lifelong friends.  Yeah, we’ve got a lot of NBC stuff.

Livingroom 12

Livingroom 3

Livingroom 5

Over in the actual seating/TV-watchin’ part of the livingroom, precious little has changed, save two new chairs, some new lighting and, of course, a whole crap ton of painting.  SO. MUCH. PAINTING!

Livingroom 13

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But this area also benefited from a bit of organizational tidying, if only to free up space for a couple of very important items, arguably the only two “possessions” we give a shit about in this world – the little wooden boxes containing our cats’ ashes.  We miss our girls so much, and we like having this discreet reminder that they’re still here with us, even if only in spirit (thank goodness only in spirit; they would have been SO PISSY about the renos.)

Shelf Collage

Walking back down the hall to the second bedroom, I – yup, you guessed it – painted the walls and trim, and my husband took apart and then, once the carpet was installed, put back together again that heavy-as-crap daybed, which actually has three very large and useful drawers beneath it that we have stuffed with our Disney mementos, and enough static bag-encased computer components to open a Best Buy.

Livingroom 18

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Speaking of computer components, the second bedroom closet is now pretty well devoted to those things you play ON computers, video games!  PS3 games, PS4 games, Vita games (a what now?), Wii games, DS games, and a whole metric crap ton of The Sims for PC.  Those are mine, and I just can’t part with the boxes – it was those tantalizingly detailed boxes that drew me to the game in the first place, back when I used to haunt the aisles of EB Games while my then-fiance pre-ordered the eleventy millionth sequel to, I dunno, Call of Duty. 🙂  This closet also houses, as you can see, old Rock Band peripherals, even more computer parts, and two honkin’ huge concert amps.

Livingroom 17

Next door in our bedroom, not much changed, save a major reorg on our closet, as well as the items in our under-the-bed drawers (mostly a lot of unframed, unhung artwork and other decorative items.)  This room is due for a painting, and I really ought to have tackled that before the carpet went down, but I just ran out of time.  And energy.  And motivation.  So a project for another day.

Livingroom 19

And that’s pretty much it!  Wow, that felt sort of anti-climactic after nearly 1,700 words and a dozen and a half photos.  Also the three months and change it actually took to carry out all these renovations.  And you may be saying to yourself, “None of that looks like it should have taken three months,” an assessment I agree with wholeheartedly!  But there were other considerations at work here, chiefly the fact that we live in a condo, and that complicates things greatly.  So greatly, I wrote those two other posts about it, Part I and Part II of this three-part series about our quarter year in full reno hell. 🙂  If you’d like to check out those posts and don’t feel like going all the way back up to the top of this post to do so, please click here for Part I and here for Part II.

Thanks so much for following along on this crazy arse journey.  Glad it’s done, even gladder that we can now enjoy it a bit. 🙂