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

June Band of Bloggers

bandofbloggers_header

Toes in the water, sunshine on the skin, evenings spent watching blinking fireflies or brilliant fireworks, all the little indulgences that only summer can bring.  As it’s arriving soon (in the northern hemisphere), for June we want to know the special ways you indulge during the summer months.  Any activities you look forward to?  For some, it involves dodging bugs, to searching for respite from soaring temps.  But for everyone, it means longer daylight hours.  What is your summer indulgence?

I’m not sure how much of an indulgence something can be if it cost 75 cents at the secondhand bookstore, but one of my favourite things to do in the summer is bury myself in a stack of Christopher Pike young adult thrillers and pretend I’m 12 years old again.  I was just discussing this with a friend the other day, but those beloved books (all published in the late ’80s and ’90s, for those not familiar with Pike’s work) really hold up quite well.  You know, provided you’re into Egyptology, time travel, teen cannibalism, lizard people from Mars, mild drug use, vampires, devastating childhood trauma and a hell of a lot of female characters named Ann.  Last summer, whilst in the midst of a major Pike-a-thon, I created this manicure.  I may have also rhapsodized a fair bit about my deep, abiding love for the 1980s YA teen thriller; you can find that post here.

Christopher Pike Collage

Continuing with gratification, what’s the most indulgent fragrance purchase you have ever made or been gifted?  A special bottle of perfume, exclusive wax opening, or pricey, fancy pants candle?

Every Christmas my parents gift me with a two-wick Voluspa candle in one of my favourite fragrances, French Bourbon Vanille.  This candle is a real luxury item – silky smooth, clean-burning coconut wax, a lush, gourmand fragrance, that beautiful mercury glass container – and it’s got the price tag to go along with it – $38 Canadian.

That my parents willingly – I’d say even gleefully – purchase this for me every year is nothing short of amazing, as they are not the type to splash out on something as banal as a candle.  My parents have always been exceedingly financially responsible.  It’s what has allowed them to enjoy a comfortable life, all while continuing to be quite generous with their only daughter (come on, you knew I was an only child!)

Having said that, my parents are still a long way off from Dickensian tightwads.  They spend their money on the things that matter to them; luxury candles simply aren’t one of those things.  Dollar Store firestarters will do just fine, thanks!  But my, do they love purchasing this candle every year.  I think it gives them a weirdly illicit little jolt – “Wayne!  We’re buying a $40 candle for our kid.  Is she bonkers or are we?”

Voluspa In the Dark

Lastly, how would you indulge if $ was no object?  It could be a luxe fragrance you desire, a pampering spa package, a legendary retired scent, etc.  What is your dream way to treat yo’self?

If finances and environmental impact were of no concern, I’d enjoy freshly laundered linens every day, and fresh cut flowers thrice weekly.  Thrice!  I love bedding down in clean sheets (bolted downstairs at 9:30 pm on New Years Eve, actually, to throw a load in the machine so I could begin 2017 unencumbered by 2016’s scuzzy sheets) and fresh flowers are simple sunshine in a vase.  Love the little luxuries associated with both.

Luxurious Photo

Please feel free to answer these questions for yourself in the comment section below.

And we hope you’ll visit these Band of Blogger blogs and help support the blogger community!

Amanda at Thrifty Polished

Deb at It’s Always Something

Jaybird at The Candle Enthusiast

Jessica at The Meltdown Blog

Julie at The Redolent Mermaid

Lauren at LoloLovesScents

Liz at Furianne

Sandra – me! – at Finger Candy

If you are a blogger and would like to join the Band of Bloggers for our monthly posts, please contact us.

Literary Inspiration: The Guardians

Guardians Fingers

The fourth prompt in my pal Julie’s reading challenge was to tackle a book that was a gift or loaner.  It just so happens I was gifted with a number of books this past Christmas, so I was all set in that department.  My choice?  The Guardians, a novel by Canadian novelist Andrew Pyper.

The Guardians is a mystery – also a haunted house story – so without giving away too much of the plot, it’s about a group of friends who return to the small Ontario town they grew up in following the death of a childhood friend and teammate.  So Guardians as in the hockey team the boys play on, and also, as it turns out, guardians of dark, disturbing secrets – your pretty traditional Stephen King-ish fare as told through the lens of small town Ontario life (as opposed to Maine, Maine, always Maine.)  It was well written and flowed nicely (I did have the dubious benefit of being ridiculously ill when I read it, so I had an entire day to devote to nothing but its reading) but the ending completely fell off the table.  I felt like my cat when she tracks a fluttery thing off the side of the television – I kept flipping through the final two or three blank pages, apparently trying to will a more definitive ending.

These nails represent the lettering on the Guardians’ jerseys.  The book doesn’t actually stipulate the Guardians’ colours, so I went with my high school’s combo of purple and gold (which I realize is far more football than hockey, but I really wanted to use a purple polish today, the end!)

The Guardians Book

Hello Cuteness!

Hello Cuteness

Classic Hello Kitty nails, featuring a couple of the Kitty-themed gifts I received from my husband this Christmas (there’s delightfully always a few!) – a much-coveted nail art tutorial book to provide the inspiration, and actual Hello Kitty polishes to colour in Kitty’s world.  Tangential, but for reals, my husband is the master of Hello Kitty Christmas gifts; I even have some not-a-joke HK jewelry that completely rocks my polka dotted socks.

The book, one of those hard-to-get-your-hands-on items by Masako Kojima, is chock full of fun and very doable Hello Kitty (and Friends) designs.

HK Book

The detailed and easy-to-follow tutorials that accompany every manicure are clear and well laid out; I’d say based on the results of this manicure, the first I encountered in the book, its approach to instruction is very successful.  But I would, because these are my nails, I did this manicure and I think it turned out so well!  So not super unbiased or anything. 😉  This cute little book also includes a sheet of over 125 nail stickers tucked inside the front cover, for all your Kitty and My Melody and Chococat needs.  Love that saucy black cat.

HK Book Pages

And then just to kill it with the over, I did this manicure using four of the five mini polishes included in the Hello Kitty (by OPI) nail polish set I also received this Christmas. Oh, AND, I painted these nails using the double-ended detail brush/dotting tool that came with the polish set!  So basically a total Hello Kitty overload. Just the way Sanrio and nature intended!

OPI Kitty Collage

Literary Inspiration: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

HP Collage

Being one of maybe only half a dozen people in the entire world who had not yet read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the second last book of the Harry Potter series, I thought the theme of magic and fantasy in my friend Julie’s reading challenge was the perfect time to rectify this literary shortcoming.  And then, as always, I did some thematically-appropriate nails, this time a swirly, twirly, free-handed mani inspired by Felix Felicis, the good luck libation Harry wins for his extracurricular activities in Potions class (which just might include whipping up this delightful Every Flavoured Bean sudser from Dreaming Tree Soapworks.  That or, you know, accidentally flaying Malfoy alive in the girls’ toilets.)

HP Nails Again

So what did I think?  I actually found it VERY slow going.  Until things really began to take off in the final 100 pages, much of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince felt as though it was treading (Inferi-logged) water – Ron’s got lady troubles, Harry’s got friend troubles, Dumbledore’s got Horcrux troubles, Malfoy’s screwing around in the Room of Requirement and Slughorn’s being obstructionist.  Lather (with this fun soap?), rinse, repeat.

HP Soap Collage

Yet despite believing that the story could have used a bit of trimming, I ultimately find no fault with its fans for wanting to spend as much time as possible in Harry’s bewitchingly magical world.  It’s such a special place; I don’t mind treading water for that (just not that skanky lake water filled with dead bodies; damn, Rowling, things got real dark real fast! Thank goodness for that glowing green light out in the middle of the lake.  Let’s just grab this invisible chain and haul ‘er up and see what we’re dea– oh.  Holy hell, Rowling, why the nightmares?!)

Literary Inspiration: The Walking Dead

the-walking-dead-collage-again

After kicking off my friend Julie’s reading challenge with my favourite novel, The Virgin Suicides, an ultra light and breezy choice (sarcasm), I thought I’d lighten things up a bit by diving into the comic book world of The Walking Dead, where of course nothing bad ever happens and everyone lives in perfect happiness perfectly, forever and ever (further sarcasm.)

The second challenge prompt called for a book inspired by art and literature, be it art history, a book on technique or, say, a comic.  I went the comic route, seeing as The Walking Dead Compendium 1 is right on my bookshelf (as is 2, for that matter), and as a casual viewer of the show, I’ve always been a little curious as to the similarities and differences between it and the books.

Compendium 1, a MASSIVE, forearm-taxing beast written by Robert Kirkman, Charles Adlard and Tony Moore, clocks in at 1,000 pages and covers the first 48 issues of the comics.  Save a childhood obsession with the graphic novel Tales From the Crypt, comics as a storytelling format have never really been my thing – I prefer novels.  And indeed, I had a bit of a hard time getting into a decent reading rhythm with the comics, with the dialogue either entirely absent (Rick waking up from his cop coma) or spurting from characters like word vomit (pretty much anyone upon introducing themselves to THE GROUP; after that you won’t hear from them again until they die.) Which might just be the style of comics in general, although if the show is any indication, I think that one may be particular to The Walking Dead.  I also found there to be a weird condensing of seemingly-pivotal moments (Rick’s awakening, Shane’s death, THE GROUP’s introduction at Woodbury) in favour of endless scenes of morality talk (but again, that might just be The Walking Dead.)

the-walking-dead-book-and-fingers

But after an initial period of hesitation, I started really, really getting into the story, digging hard on the parts where the book and the show would intersect and then deviate once again (Carol and Tyreese!  Super unhinged Hershel!  Sexy Dale and Andrea time!)  It was all going so well.

Where the comics lost me, though, and where I ultimately stopped reading, was with the introduction of Woodbury.  Fans of the show will remember that during the third season a new villain was introduced by the name of The Governor.  Completely insane by any definition of the word, The Governor of the TV show was an authoritarian psychopath with fish tanks full of walker heads in his livingroom, a zombiefied daughter in the closet and a super big hate-on for Rick Grimes.  So not a good guy.

But The Governor of the books is the WORST guy, a violent and sadistic rapist who cuts off Rick’s hand within about six frames of meeting him (there’s that pacing thing I was talking about) and gleefully, and repeatedly, assaults Michonne over PAGES.

As a matter of personal principle, I don’t watch or read anything that heads too far down the path of sexual assault (cruelty towards animals and torture porn as well.)  My tolerance for that is practically nil.  It’s insulting and uninspired writing used by lazy authors who can’t think of a motivating event for their female characters beyond rape (looking at you, Game of Thrones.)

So when the books – which to that point had been bleak, yes, and shocking, also yes, but still very much in keeping with the PG-13 tone of the show – took a hard, hard turn into ultra heavy sadism (there is one image I wish I could unsee that will haunt my dreams forever) I checked the hell out.  I feel like there may have been a switch in authors at this point, the change in tone – and not one for the better – is just that jarring and unpleasant.

So The Walking Dead Compendium 1 and I parted ways at about the halfway mark.  But as always, I had to do a bit of nail art to go along with my choice of book, this time a mani showing off my ultra tiny lettering skills, because every other option was just too depressing or inappropriate.  Which is just The Walking Dead for you (I should create a macro for that phrase.)

the-walking-dead-fingers

Literary Inspiration: The Virgin Suicides

virgin-suicides-collage

At the end of last year as part of my annual assessment of greatness (doesn’t that sound like something George’s dad would come up with on Seinfeld?) it came to my attention that despite quantitatively reading more than I ever have before, I read just two novels in 2016.  Otherwise, the bulk of my reading was online – my blog, other people’s blogs, and so much infuriating on-the-fly political news, my blood pressure practically demands that I return to the comforting paper (or electronic) embrace of a real novel.

And so I’ve been following along with a casual reading challenge created by my friend Julie of The Redolent Mermaid in an effort to not only read more, but read better.  Also grammar gooder. 😉 And because there’s nothing I love more than making life difficult for myself, I’ve added two sub-challenges to the main thread:

1. Where possible, all selections will be made from my own bookcase.  Despite being an avid lifelong reader, I actually fell out of favour with reading as a pastime some years back – that’s not a recent development.  As such, I have a serious backlog of gifts, loaners and hopeful recommendations that require my attention, if only to finally be able to say, “I read that!”

2. To keep it relevant to my blog, I have to do a manicure inspired by whatever I’m reading at the time.

virgin-suicides-book

Which presents a bit of a challenge (within the challenge’s challenge) when the first book you pick to fulfill the theme of a beloved or favourite novel is The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides.  The entire depressing story is right there in the title – how exactly do I draw nail art inspiration from that?  Carefully, very carefully, and respectfully, being mindful of the overall feeling the book inspires in me as opposed to a strict adherence to its events. Which, absent any context or enjoyment derived from Eugenides paying out the story, are just so, so bleak.

If you watched the 1999 Sofia Coppola movie starring Kirsten Dunst, you’re already familiar with the story and tone of The Virgin Suicides.  The film is faithful to both, chronicling the year in 1970s Grosse Pointe, Michigan over which all five teenage Lisbon girls – Cecilia, Mary, Therese, Bonnie and Lux – take their lives.  The story is told from the perspective of a group of neighbourhood boys whose trainwreck-like obsession with the girls stretches into adulthood, upon which they reconvene one last time for a final forensic analysis of a shattered family, a decaying neighbourhood, the girls’ inexplicable deaths and, indeed, their own passing lives.  Really lightweight stuff!

I think Sofia Coppola’s adaptation of the novel is about as perfect as one can be, particularly that feeling of floating about inside a hazy, pastel-hued cloud.  But in both the film and the novel, there’s nasty little moldy bits creeping in along the edges of all that cotton candy fluff – cracks in the rose-coloured glasses that have let in the rot.  In the book more so than the movie, this is represented by the Lisbon family home, a staid suburban structure whose internal and external disrepair mirrors its residents’ rapidly decaying mental states.  And as the Lisbons incrementally retreat from their friends, their neighbours, the world, the family home, once a bustling hub of shimmery teenage girl activity, becomes a stale, airless crypt housing little more than living ghosts and their moss-covered memories of what can never again be.

virgin-suicide-nails

Super uplifting. 😉  And I can’t really explain why it’s my favourite book 20 years running, except that it just is. The weird heart wants what the weird heart wants, I suppose.  I just hope I did it right with my interpretation of the book’s tone, that feeling of life’s bright spark being born under by decay.  Let’s leave it on that cheery note!