Yosemite Sandra

Yosemite Sandra 1

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.

Summer Swirl

Summer Swirls Collage

Sounds like a type of ice cream, doesn’t it?  LOOKS like a type of ice cream, maybe one of those lurid, multi-hued, bubblegum-studded monstrosities that goes by the name SuperKiddo or Diabetes in a Cone. 😉

Alas – or perhaps not, depending on your views on Red Food Dye No. 3 – this is a manicure and not ice cream.  Bit of a bummer, that, as I hear it’s supposed to be hotter than the surface of the sun today, and ice cream *could* help.  So could sitting two inches off the air conditioner.

This manicure looks so much more impressive and difficult than it actually was to achieve.  Looks like one of those horrible – and horribly messy – water marble manis that has bested me time and time again, but not!  Because these are little nail decals I made to mimic the look of a water marble, and they were dead easy.  All I did was dab five polishes (turquoise, yellow, magenta, pink and a shimmery, golden green) out onto the back of a Ziploc bag, ran a dotting tool through them to create the swirled design (you could use a toothpick or a hair pin or the head of a sewing needle, should you not have a dotting tool) and then let it dry overnight.

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And I may have let them dry a tad too long, because the most difficult part of this manicure was prizing those little decals-to-be off the plastic bag, a nitpicky job I outsourced to Mr. Finger Candy.  I think I may have made the decals a tad too thin and let them dry too long – the whole removal process would have gone much easier if the decals were a little less brittle and a bit more pliable.  Notes for next time.

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Application itself was likewise easy.  All I did was give my nails one light coat of one of the polishes I used to make the decals, in this case the vibrant magenta.  Then, going nail by nail, I painted on another light coat of the magenta polish before immediately laying one of the decals over top of it.  I pushed the decals down gently with my fingers, making sure to really nestle them into the edges of my nails.  I used the blunt edge of a cuticle pusher to do this, but again, you could use the slanted side of a toothpick or even your thumbnail.  Then I roughly trimmed off the excess by simply – but lightly and carefully! – running the pointed end of my cuticle pusher along the edges of my nails to separate out the waste.  When all of my nails were done, I applied two coats of a diamond hard, high shine topcoat – Seche Vite to the rescue once again – and then cleaned up the raggedy bits along my cuticles with a detail brush dipped in acetone.

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I love these nails!  And this technique is one I will definitely be turning to again; it is soooo much easier and tidier than water marbing, and produces nearly identical results. Plus, check out these amazing macro shots I snapped.  I think the one on the left looks like some sort of insane, alchemy-based fire, and the one on the right looks like bubblegum taffy in the midst of being pulled.

Summer Swirls Macro Collage

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A blogging buddy of mine, altercontroldelight, does a very similar kind of technique, except she really knows what she’s doing – she’s got a whole system that involves making the decals on a silicone mat, which makes SOOOO much more sense than trying to prize the delicate little buggers off the back of a plastic bag, duh!  She’s also a fan of unexpected colour combinations and cool, fluid designs, and I’m a fan of that.  Again, another note for next time. 😉

Merry and Bright

Merry and Bright 1

Well, consider that check and checked, thanks to this dazzlingly festive polish, Ceramic Glaze’s Hong Kong Diva, and a couple of cheerful gingerbread men nail charms from Daily Charme.

This is the part where I usually ask where all the time has gone, and issue a plea for just a few more hours to be added to each day, just until Christmas.  Except I feel like I have things pretty well in hand this year.  Tomorrow we host my husband’s family for our annual holiday meal; afterwards my parents will stop by to help us clean up the leftovers and indulge in a yearly viewing of Home Alone.  Next week I’ve got lunch and donut dates with my parents, and weather pending, a cool evening light show.  And I have just a handful of little gifts to pick up, so I’m feeling pretty good about things!  Check back with me in a couple of days, though – as things spiral towards Christmas, undoubtedly we’ll all be feeling the pinch.

Also, a macro shot, because this polish is gorgeous!  Such a wonderful pick for this time of year – festive, fun and sexy.

Merry and Bright Macro

Tree Time!

sELFie Bottle

I put up our tree today!  This is exclamation mark worthy because I’m never so seasonally motivated, particularly when it comes to our tree (we have history.)  But we’ve got some fun things planned for later on this holiday season that require a bit of planning right now, and so that’s what I’m doing.

Also, I woke up this morning just feeling festive!  So much so, I managed to convince my husband to watch Babes in Toyland, a favourite terrible Christmas movie from my childhood starring Keanu Reeves and Drew Barrymore, while I melted some Christmas Wish-scented wax (pine, peppermint and cookies) and painted my nails with this festive glitter bomb, KB Shimmer’s sELFie.  This polish looks so pretty on its own, but I love it topped with this tiny bejeweled nail charm.

sELFie Fingers

These sort of ultra dense, glitter-packed polishes always look fantastic in super macro close-up, and sELFie is no exception – lovely!  A fun and festive mani for a fun and festive day.

sELFie Macro

So Boo-tyful

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As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  Or if the last photos you took of a nail polish are better than anything you could take today, use them again.  I think the first one is a little more concise, don’t you?

This is Painted Polish’s Brains & Boo-ty, a Halloween polish I received last Christmas and first swatched in the new year.  As its time with me has always been just a tiny little bit out of seasonal step with its intended holiday, I thought it would fun to revisit this Halloween glitter bomb during the actual spooktacular season.  Except the photos I took in the winter still look pretty great.  It seemed a shame not to reuse them…and so I did!  Gotta recycle where you can; we all need to do our part to fight climate change. :/

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Brains & Boo-ty was released some years ago; as such, it’s unfortunately no longer available from any of the usual stocklist suspects, although Harlow & Co. carry a number of other Painted Polish glitters that look like Brains & Boo-ty in composition, if not in colour (love these perfect Halloweenie hues.)  And hey look, so glittery all up close – it’s kind of hypnotizing, like a Halloween disco ball.

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So Bluetiful!

So Bluetiful Bottle

All right, NOW we’re cooking with gas on this mystery polish business!  This lovely speckled specimen is Enchanted Polish’s mystery lacquer for the month of March, and it is stupendous – the kind of polish I was hoping my last turn at the mystery hokey pokey was going to turn up, but regrettably never produced.

So Bluetiful Fingers

Glittery jellies are my nail polish kryptonite, and March 2017, with its navy blue-leaning black glitter, purple, colour-shifting shimmer and fine sprinkling of holographic glitter, is one for the Top 3 list, absolutely.  What a stunner!  I think it looks like a very vibrant robin’s egg.  It’s also quite beautiful way, way up close and personal (shame about that little bubble, perfectly outlined though it may be – with thanks to my new husband-procured Olloclip macro lens, which could pick out a dust mite on a flea on a dog, I swear.  Or, you know, something less gross and buggy!)

So Bluetiful Macro

Brains & Boo-ty

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Hey look, just in time for Winterween, the cold weather Halloween holiday I just made up, here’s a festive lacquer from Painted Polish to keep your nails looking their spookiest. This is Brains & Boo-ty, and it presumably belongs to last year’s Halloween collection, although it caught my eye this Christmas.

This is actually the third Painted Polish lacquer I received this holiday, and just like its gift mates, Aurora and Chasing Rainbows, Brains & Boo-ty is fantastically fun, super well made and easy to apply.  It’s the trifecta of polish awesomeness!  But really, I’m terrifically impressed with Painted Polish’s offerings, and I’ll be keeping my eye out for more fabulous lacquers going forward.

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Brains & Boo-ty’s neat-o mix of purple, orange and lime green holographic glitter (which applied so nicely in just three lump-free coats) was just begging for the macro treatment, which I happily obliged.  Winterween looks pretty great up close and personal, doesn’t it?

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Finger Candy Claus outsourced the acquisition of these Painted Polish lacquers to Harlow & Co., should you feel moved enough by the Winterween spirit to also covet this gorgeous polish. 😉