Tumbling Into Iridescence

Starbucks Collage 1

Look what Santa Finger Candy left under the tree this year for a girl who is either exceptionally dehydrated, or in desperate daily need of trenta-sized black tea lemonades (if it’s the summer and it’s really hot, then quite possibly the latter; I have always found Arnold Palmers (iced tea and lemonade) muy delicioso.)

Bless you, Starbucks, and your beautiful excess!  This tumbler (with reusable straw) holds about four cups of liquid, and aside from taking it down to the gym with me, I kind of don’t have any clue what I’m going to do with it!  Sadly, both my financial and caloric budgets will not allow for daily trenta anything, but I think it’s going to make a gorgeous, holographic chalice for half of my daily intake of water.  Now, that I can afford!

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And as always, I thought this one was definitely in need of a matching (Mickey) mani; all the better to hold it up in various lighting conditions and take photos. 😉

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Well, That Was a Year

2018 Collage

If you follow this blog with any sort of regularity (and thank you for that, by the way, that’s very kind of you!) you know my 2018 is ending on a real down note.  At the beginning of the month we rather unexpectedly had to have our absolutely adored kitty, Weegie, put down.  The fallout from that was that Mr. Finger Candy and I just sort of drifted through the Christmas season, present in body, but nearly totally absent in soul.  For someone who never shuts up, I’ve had a hard time articulating why this particular death has hit me so hard.  I’ve lost quite a few beloved pets over my lifetime, and even more adored people, and yet this is the one that’s broken me.  I suppose this is what some well-meaning dumbass would optimistically term a formative event, and I’d begrudgingly have to agree – I certainly don’t feel like the same person I was at the beginning of the month, a change not necessarily for the positive.

But there’s no better time than the start of a new year to hit the reset button, and I’m looking forward to trying, trying again in 2019.  Because even without the heartbreaking events of the last month, 2018 was a wild roller coaster of big ups and bigger downs.  Sometimes actual roller coasters, even!  It just didn’t feel like the most cohesive of years, and I flubbed quite a few personal goals.

But supposedly we learn from our mistakes and all that good stuff, so I thought it might be helpful to look back over the hills and valleys of 2018 and take note of the things that worked, the things that didn’t, and hopefully find a path through 2019 that’s a lot less fraught with grief than 2018’s.  To a better year for all of us.

The Good

I started off the year on a positive note, promising myself that I’d limit my wax and beauty purchases to a small handful of orders from favourite vendors.  My discretionary spending was quite out of control, and my scented wax stores were fit to bursting.  So I put myself on a casual low buy, which though no real direction on my part morphed into a regimented no buy; there were a few months there where our financial behaviour could best be deemed as stupidly tightfisted.  But there just didn’t seem to be anything I wanted to buy, and besides, saving money felt better than buying stuff, which was kind of the point of reining in my spending in the first place, no?  Anyhow, this one was a proper New Years resolution, the kind you make with every intention of breaking, but somehow, I held fast.  Now, with three lovely, highly anticipated orders in my hot little hands (and hot little warmers) I’m set for another year of waiting and watching and planning and melting. 🙂

2018 Wax Collage

2018 is also the year I taught myself a video editing program, upped my photography and video game and started our YouTube channel, Park or Perish!  Amusingly enough, I can lay all three of these newly acquired skills at the tender little furry paws of our cat, Weegie.  There was a time (oh, just the last four or so years) when our sweet baby beast would NOT abide by either her fur mama or papa sleeping for any longer than it took for her soft food dish to run dry (roughly every hour and 45 minutes.)  So I’d find myself awake at all inhospitable hours of the very early morning, with precious little to do.

Then one morning as I sat there just staring at the sky, literally trying to will the sun into cresting the horizon, I suddenly thought about all of the photos and video I had shot of our Disney vacations, and wondered what more I could do with them (other than drive you lovely readers bonkers, that is.) 😉  And so that morning I downloaded a little iPhone-based editing program called iMovie and edited together my first project (a collection of photos of Weegie looking unbelievably saucy, of course, backed by Tom Jones’ What’s New Pussycat?)  Since then I’ve produced 27 videos for Park or Perish!, and some of them aren’t even all that bad!  I particularly like sound editing – it’s incredibly satisfying when two tonally disparate clips finally snap into place (nearly) seamlessly.  This is a major milestone for me; as I’ve mentioned a time or 20, I am unbelievably tech-unfriendly.  That I could even find the program in the App Store in the first place was something of a miracle.  Here’s the most recent video I posted, a fun round-up of our adventures at Disney this past year.  I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed putting it together.

Speaking of Disney vacations and saving money (now there’s a couple of antithetical concepts) we were able to enjoy two of the former this year precisely because we prioritized the heck out of the latter. We eased up a bit on our “Disney or death!” approach to discretionary income as the year wore on, but generally, if we had two cents to scrape together, we’d throw them into the vacation pot.  It was through this kind of financial nit-pickery that we were able to take two Disney vacations in 2018, both fully (and reassuringly) paid off before we had even stepped foot in a park.  We also became Disney annual passholders this year, because it made the most financial sense given the extent of our plans.  Every little bit helps, and I was incredibly proud of us for hitting this Disney financial goal.

Passholder 1

And speaking of those two vacations, they were wonderful; some of the best moments of my year were had at Disney World.  It’s just where we go to cut loose, explore and have an awesome (frequently margarita-enabled) good time.  We are so fortunate to be able to enjoy such incredible vacations – some people can’t swing a single lifetime trip to Disney, let alone two in one year (actually four in 365 days, but who’s counting besides ourselves and every single one of our friends who has jokingly enquired as to whether we plan on just moving into Cinderella Castle full time (dare to dream!)

Character Collage

Just about my favourite moment of the year was spending Halloween, our 14th wedding anniversary, bombing around the Magic Kingdom rock star cosplaying as two different video versions of Tyler Joseph, the lead singer of twenty one pilots (the October release of Trench was another neon yellow bright spot in an otherwise pretty gloomy year.)  I can’t speak for Mr. Finger Candy (who was the recipient of most of the delighted compliments, including a number of longing and appreciative glances from one very interested lady and a couple of even more interested dudes) but I loved playing rock star for the day, even with that black gunk smeared about my neck and hands (black stage makeup, by the way, and no, it wasn’t difficult to take off at the end of the night.  Messy?  Yes!  Sooty black water droplets allllll over the bathroom.  But not difficult.)  Also, my man looked hella hot in his meggings and shorts combo, and no, I’m not remotely joking.

Tyler Two Pilots Collage 2

The Bad

Losing our beloved cat.  Taking her to the vet one snowy Monday morning, knowing in my already breaking heart that we wouldn’t be bringing her home again.  Holding her paw until the very end.  Lots of uncontrollable sobbing.  That was my December.  I don’t wish to ever experience another one like it (oh, that we could control such things!)  But isn’t she adorable?  Gosh, at one point she was a complete LARD; look at that tummy!  That’s some serious Weege the Hutt action right there.

InstaWeege

Losing Weegie also brought into sharp focus the good relationships in our lives – the people who have been there for us at this awful time, in supportive ways big, small and occasionally virtual – and those that are no longer worth our precious, middle aged time.  It was really its own special kind of compounding heartbreak to realize that with some people, we just didn’t rank, not even in the midst of our grief.

On the other, infinitely more positive hand, this event clarified the truly excellent relationships we do have in our lives, people we are so profoundly grateful to call our friends.  They are such fantastic humans, a realization ultimately worth so much more than the one about the social boobs.  I actually feel sort of hashtag-blessed. 😉

But getting back to the crap, after making incredible strides towards improving my health in 2017, I backslid in 2018 HARD, maintaining my diet and exercise regimen for most of the year before apparently just giving up altogether in the last three months and gaining 25 pounds.  I apparently like to eat my stress and grief.  And everyone else’s as well.  I aim to jump back aboard the treadmill express in the new year, and overhaul our diets while I’m at it.  Please stop the rich holiday food, I want to get off!

And this blog?  My beloved Finger Candy, which turned five impressive years old this year with nary a whisper of fanfare?  I have no idea what this blog is even about any more; I’m not even sure if nail art is my preferred focus.  I’m in a state of blogging flux; I hope to find some solid ground soon.

Okay, that’s it, 2018 – you’re drunk, go home.  Don’t let the door hit you on the arse on the way out.  And cheers to 2019 as it makes its hopefully spectacular way in.  Happy New Years, friends.

Literary Inspiration: Small Spaces

Small Spaces Collage

My blogging buddy Jay of The Scented Library sent me this spooktacular young adult read just before Halloween.  And what a fitting find it was, too, neatly checking off all of the things I love in a book – whimsi-gothic cover art reminiscent of a Tim Burton movie poster, supernatural shenanigans afoot, an above-the-title pull quote from R.L. Stine!  But showing just how well she actually knows me (see, friends, you need never have met a person face-to-face for them to just get you) Jay acknowledged that while very cool, a recommendation from Stine carried ever so slightly less cachet than one from MY favourite young adult author of choice, Christopher Pike (difficult, as I’ve heard he’s a grumpy old sod who resolutely refuses to play the publicity game.)  Also, this last-last minute entry towards Jay and Julie’s 2018 reading challenge satisfies the theme of a book with purple cover art, which I was then inspired to turn into what I think is a rather lovely, evocative manicure.  So really just the most perfect gift – with thanks again, friend. 🙂

Yes, yes, but what of the novel itself?  Geez, patient puss, I was just about to get to that. 😉  Without giving away too much of the plot, Small Spaces, by author Katherine Arden, is a fog-shrouded, atmospheric little supernatural thriller, more taut novella than novel, which I think is to its great advantage.  Small Spaces clips along at a nice pace; I had it finished up within three or four sessions, and I was loathe to put it down once the action really began.

Small Spaces 4

Creepy, unsettling and shiveringly, delightfully scary, Small Spaces tells the story of 11-year-old Olivia “Ollie” Adler, an outcast by choice following the death of her mother the year prior.  On a field trip to a local farm, Ollie wanders away from her classmates and has an unsettling run-in with an employee – he intones that there is great danger coming, but suggests that if she hides, and confines herself to small spaces, she just might survive the threat.

And that’s pretty much all I can tell you without giving all of the rest of the story away, because the book plays it so straight, truly what you read is what you get.  There are some surprisingly delightful moments in Small Spaces, but it’s a simple book, with a straightforward narrative that it wears on its earnest, young adult sleeve.  I really, really enjoyed it; it was a nice little diversion from the usual, and proper spooky, too.  A fine read for a cold and gloomy day.

Scarecrows – this nail art is supposed to depict scarecrows standing in a mist-laden field.  And I can’t say anything more about it than that, except I think this manicure turned out really rather well; holographic polishes, especially when they are sponged on like they have been for this gradient manicure, always have a bit of a heathered grey tinge to them, perfect for fog-shrouded books AND nails.

Small Spaces 1

Literary Inspiration: Blue Shoes and Happiness

Blue Shoes Collage

Sneaking a last minute reading challenge book and matching manicure in under the 2018 wire here with Blue Shoes and Happiness, an entry in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series of books by Alexander McCall Smith.

This gentle, deeply inoffensive little book about Precious Ramotswe, a lifelong resident of Botswana and proud founder of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, came as a recommendation from my mom, who could see, after the dense, multi-layered insanity that was Too Big to Fail, that I was in need of something with a softer touch.

Please don’t tell my mom, who adores this book series, but I…*lowers voice, glances about *…didn’t love Blue Shoes and Happiness.  Nothing happened!  There were some lovely descriptions of Botswana, and what the land means to Mma Ramotswe, a traditionally built (her words) rancher’s daughter besotted with her nation, but otherwise, it felt a bit soft, a bit simple.  Oh dear lord, PLEASE don’t let my mom see this; she will crap a brick if she sees I’ve besmirched her beloved books!

Blue Shoes Collage 2

I think part of my problem might be that I was thrown in the deep end of the No. 1 puddle; Blue Shoes and Happiness isn’t the first (or even the fifth) entry in the series.  Compounding this feeling of being wildly out of step with Mma Ramotswe’s world is the fact that events started in a previous book find closure in Blue Shoes and Happiness, whereas other events started in Blue Shoes and Happiness are left to be resolved in some later book.  The assumption here is that you will continue reading the next entry in the series to see how X situation is resolved, but you know what they say about assumptions.

The titular shoes in this case, and the inspiration for these simple nails, actually belong to Mma Ramotswe’s assistant in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, Mma Makutsi.  Mma Makutsi, proud graduate of the Botswana Secretarial Collage (with a 97 percent average, as she’s more than delighted to tell every single person she meets) has a weakness for beautiful shoes, something of a problem when you walk to work (itself housed in the back of an auto repair shop) on hard pan dirt roads.  But Mma Makutsi falls hard for a wildly impractical pair of too-small sky blue shoes with lipstick red linings.  Buy them, she must!  So she does, and they’re too small, and she hobbles about for a bit looking like her feet have grown two blue satin-covered sausages, and Mma Ramotswe gently tells her she’s being a fool, which by that point, owing to a weird back-up of blood rising from her feet, she heartily agrees with, and we all go home happy, having learned a positive lesson of some sort, though I’ve no idea what that lesson might be.  It was pretty silly and SO not my usual, but I tried to read it with an open mind, for my mom.

Pretty much the only thing Mmas Ramotswe and Makutsi can agree on is that donuts are yummy; much to Precious Ramotswe’s traditionally built consternation, they are as much a presence in the detective agency as the dim bulb apprentices who drift by from her husband’s auto repair shop out front.  So for the Mmas, a wee donut on my thumb.  And for my mama, my very best shot at this book.

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Twas the Day After Pinkmas

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I love the pastel approach to Christmas; my dream Christmas tree is actually a rosy pink artificial behemoth covered in soft white twinkle lights.  One day, my pretty, one day.

But for now I’ll content myself with my admittedly pretty dope, food ornament-covered tree (also a bit of a behemoth, though getting on in years) and this festive glitter polish, KB Shimmer’s Merry Pinkmas (also getting on in years; you can see a bit of the separated whitener that’s settled at the bottom of the bottle.)  I think it looks a bit like Strawberry Shortcake in a bottle, and it’s one of my favourite old glitter polishes to bust out around the holidays (it also sees a bit of action on Valentine’s Day; can’t ever go wrong with that pink and red combo.)

Pinkmas 1

A Very Merry Mani

Foodie Tree Collage 3

Hoo baby, we’re in the holiday soup now – it’s the final weekend before the Christmas holidays, and the festive is about to go. off.  Like most folks, I’ve got a lot of social engagements over the coming days, and time has gone all whackeroo.  I swear it was the beginning of the month just last week (it has been, as Counting Crows might say, a very long December.)

I’m actually feeling pretty neutral about the holidays; relaxed to a fault, even.  Save a few stocking stuffery-type things, Mr. Finger Candy and I have no gifts for one another.  It’s kind of a bummer not having pretty presents wrapped up under the tree, but not remotely a bummer when you consider that instead of jewelry or video games or a new coffee maker (shame that, as we kind of need one) we’re gifting ourselves with another trip to Disney World in February of the new year.

Last weekend we hosted my husband’s family for our annual Christmas get-together, and then tonight my mom and dad are hosting another family event that is sure to leave us all desperately wishing for Santa to bring us pants with elasticized waistbands, because my mom does not know the meaning of the word “moderation” when it comes to a holiday meal; if you don’t stagger from the house (with leftovers!) offhandedly contemplating a wee pit stop at the emergency room, she has apparently failed as a mother. 😉

Christmas Breakfast Table

Then this weekend we’ll be dropping in on our friends’ holiday open house, where we always have a nice time catching up with folks we haven’t seen in years.  And speaking of, I’ll be capping off the Christmas social season with an evening in the company of some ladies I’ve known since high school (and in a couple of cases, beyond.)  We try to get together every Christmas, for brunch, or drinks at the pub, or this crazy random party we attend every year that brings out our very best-worst impulses to overindulge and spaz out on the dance floor to the Beasties and the Wu.  Okay, so I actually really love that part. 😉

So we’ve got lots of fun stuff coming up this week, and I’m sure that will pull me out of this neutral zone of disinterest that I’ve been occupying since the beginning of the month.  And I really hope it does, because so far the only thing about the holidays I’ve actually been able to fully get behind is our Christmas tree – I think this year’s edition is perhaps the nicest one I’ve ever decorated.  I’m so glad I put it up early so the Weege could have a chance to loaf beneath its twinkling lights; she loved the Christmas tree.

Foodie Tree 26

I’ve spoken about my tree before – it’s 15 artificial years old this Christmas, and we have history.  As in I have been electrocuted twice whilst lighting it, plus all of the bottom branches are broken, so a full quarter of the tree is held up by, well, itself.  And one year I really super overdid it on the twinkle lights (2,100 of them; how proud Clark Griswold would have been) and nearly suffered a nervous breakdown for my efforts.  These days I stick to a much more manageable 600 or so.

And with the exception of maybe a dozen or so ornaments, every decoration on this tree is of something edible – fast food, candy, baked goods and other sweets.  It’s such a beautiful tree, and every year it proves to be just about my favourite thing about the holidays.

Foodie Tree Collage 1

I purchased a great load of these ornaments over 15 years ago at a 75% off sale at a local Christmas shop, but we’ve amassed far more since as gifts (nearly every one of those Starbucks ornaments) and random retail finds.  My favourites include a glittery glass t-bone, The Christmas Pickle, and that wee rasher of bacon dangling tantalizingly over the photo of our cat, Weegie.  New additions this year include some squashy – yes, squashy! – cupcake and donut ornaments, the cool pewter ornament we got at the Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam dessert party at Disney, and two small photo tributes to our dearly missed kitties, Weegie and Porky.

Foodie Tree Collage 2

And because it’s just what I do (or it’s what I did – I really have no idea what this blog is about any more) I whipped up a glittery Christmas mani inspired by my tree, nail charm ornaments and all.  It’s a whole lot of high maintenance look, but then again, so is the tree!  Here I paired those little charms (from Daily Charme, all) with KB Shimmer’s Get Clover It.  Very merry, indeed. 🙂

Foodie Tree 2

Foodie Tree 3

Not Your Usual Holiday Meltdown

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After a year spent excitedly throwing myself onto and then most likely staggering off of any number of actual roller coasters, I find myself, here at the end of 2018, riding the Emotional Roller Coaster Express.  It’s been a real “Stop the world, I’d like to get off” kind of month.  But upon reflection, that’s been my entire 2018 – wild vacation highs followed by protracted periods of gutting real life lows.  On the whole, I haven’t enjoyed this ride.  In fact, I’m totally sick of it (instead of just getting sick by it.)  Zero stars on TripAdvisor, this attraction sucks.

Pretty much the only thing I didn’t biff this year was my commitment to cutting back on my discretionary spending.  I mean, I did just turn around and plow that money straight into Disney vacations, so file that one under the “Re-Prioritization” files.  But after 2017, when I spent every bit of money I had on things that I thought would make me happy, but didn’t, I knew a shift was in order, and I curbed my spending HARD.

Part of that curbing was limiting my wax purchases to three orders, a custom order from Sniff My Tarts (due any day now!), a hugely anticipated order from The Melting Duck and this order from Rosegirls, a holiday tradition of mine for three seasons now.  I love receiving these whimsical Mario blends every year; it wouldn’t feel like Christmas without them.  Just being handed this sweetly scented package put a smile on my face, possibly the first genuine one in weeks.  Also, not for nothing, but by limiting my purchases to a few absolute must-haves, it made what was becoming kind of boring and accepted (oh look, another wax order) a Very Special Event.  It’s nice to actual derive some enjoyment and delight out of my treats again.

Mario Wax 3

All right, enough emotional shop talk, on to the wax.  Let’s take a look-see and peep the Super Mario-themed blends I picked up in 2018, shall we?

Mario Wax 4

First up, a sextet of adorable little muffins (“Title of your sextet tape!”) in, top row, starting on the left, Jumping on Clouds, a candy floss-dominant bakery blend of Vanilla Crunch Donuts Fluff Puffs, Marshmallow Smoothie, Cuppa Cake and Cotton Candy Frosting, Starbeans Cafe, a gently caffeinated combo of Espresso, Vanilla Crunch Donuts and Vanilla Bean Noel and Thwomps, an incredibly unique, “Wow, this one’s got a taste!” blend of Pine, Peppermint, Sugar Cookie Dough and Campfire Marshmallow.  I’m not entirely sure I like Thwomps, but I don’t dislike it either (which means in about a month’s time it will become my most favouritest scent blend EVER, trust.)

Then on the bottom row, once again starting on the left, we have Warp Zone, a spritely combination of Monster Cookie Fluff Puffs, Peppermint and Vanilla Crunch Donuts, Koopa Klaus is Coming to Town, a rich, ultra comforting blend of Sugar Cookies, Coconut and Baked Zucchini Bread (and an all-time favourite of mine) and Bob-omb Blast, an improbably delicious blend of Blackberry, Campfire Marshmallow, Vanilla Bean Noel and Glazed Donuts.  It is so weird and I love it about as much as I’m confused by Thwomps.  Both feature Campfire Marshmallow; is that the weird at work here?

Mario Wax 4

Finally, we have a pretty random assortment of chunks, top, and a new item called Mario Melts, bottom.  In chunks, I grabbed Yoshi the Red Nosed Dino, left, a beautifully hued and ultra tart combination of Raspberry Sauce and Pistachio Marshmallow Fluff (another favourite, if not THE blend that turned me on to scented wax in the first place) and Go Tell it on DK’s Mountain, right, another “Why do I like this?” fave featuring Fresh Pine, Sweater Weather and Vanilla Bean Noel.  How bizarre that all my Mario usuals are my usual unusuals, no?

Then in the Mario Melters, little layered, bar-shaped wax chunks, I ordered another annual favourite, Up on the Castle Top, left, a bubblegummy blend of Berry Creme Brulee and Rice Krispie Treats (it does not smell like pink bubblegum, but rather this berry Bubbalicious gum I loved as a kid) and then the new wax on the block, Koopa Klaus Needs a Latte, right, a combination of my beloved Koopa Klaus is Coming to Town and Espresso.  Holy smokes, this one is great; Mr. Finger Candy’s going to be all over this coffee ‘n’ cookies combo.  I also think the potential for someone to actually mistake this wax for something edible is nearly guaranteed, particularly at this time of year – it looks EXACTLY like these homemade Twix bars I like to make, and smells just like them, too.

Mario Wax 5

So there we have it, a highly anticipated Rosegirls wax order over one year in the making.  I really wish a lot of things had gone differently this year, particularly in the last month, but I will continue to be proud of myself for reining in my more destructive shopping impulses so that I can once again enjoy the things I do buy, like this special little wax order.  Gotta take pleasure in the small – and smell 😉 – victories.