Springin’ Sprinkles

If I have learned anything over the last year and a bit of pandemic life – and that is highly debatable; in most respects, I actually feel like I’m regressing – it’s that our existence is fragile, and we could all use a hell of a lot more sprinkles. I’m talking here about metaphorical sprinkles – those sparkly, too-fleeting moments of hope and joy and love and understanding – but also the real kind, the ones composed of corn syrup and cellulose gum and palm oil, and a certain childlike glee in having your foodstuffs adorned with the same.

It was with that thought in mind – “Want pretty sprinkles for sweet foods!” – that I placed an order for a beautiful mess of items from Sprinkle Pop, a candy maker I found through the always dangerous platform of Instagram (dangerous in that I can always find some completely random new area of interest to occupy my time and money. Bespoke sprinkles – *snort* – is just the latest.)

Sprinkle Pop’s surprisingly tasty adornments – flavoured jimmies, metallic spheres, glittery dragees, and colourful mixes loaded with tiny, hand-piped extras – come in three sizes, eight ounce jars, four ounce jars, and two ounce sample packs. The sample packs give you about a quarter cup of sprinkles, which in my (newly acquired) experience will decorate about three dozen cupcakes, or two sprinkled-spackled cakes. Here’s the Robin’s Egg sprinkle mix (perhaps my favourite) sitting prettily atop some cupcakes I recently made (chocolate with salted caramel buttercream icing, in case you feel like driving yourself mad with desire, and yes, they were totally delicious!)

I chose six sample packs, three perfect for the just-passed Easter season (from left to right, Hangin’ With My Peeps, a mix of pastel jimmies and tiny royal icing Peeps; Egg Hunt, another springy rainbow mix studded with hand-piped bunnies and carrots; and Robin’s Egg, with its sweet, speckled eggs) and three just-because-they’re-pretties (from left to right, Royal Plume, a fun mix of bright, peacock-inspired hues; Love You a Latte, a soft, Valentine’s Day-appropriate blend of coffee-flavoured jimmies; and Leprechaun Loot, which is clearly going to have to wait until next year to properly exercise its lucky charms.)

Then because I have plans for them, I bought two mixes in the slightly larger four ounce size, Dark Unicorn, a sugar’corn-studded blend of blacks and brights and neons, and Strawberry Shortcake, which is delightfully self-explanatory.

I even managed to derive some nail art inspiration from Egg Hunt!

Neat! Important, necessary, critical to my existence? Definitely not. But a sweet diversion in a world that could use a lot more sprinkles, and a fun thing in my life.

Sprinkle Pop Tie Dye

I’d love to say these cool, tie dye-patterned nails were an intentional thing, but like all delightful creations, they began in a very different place from which they wound up. I was going for another fluid art look, this time in a bouquet of spring pastels, so inspired by some springin’ sprinkles I recently purchased from Sprinkle Pop (more on the fab world of bespoke sprinkles next post.)

But I jumped the gun and didn’t let my little self-made nail decals dry thoroughly, so when I topped my finished mani with a requisite coat of Seche Vite, it smudged up into this still-pretty tie dye concoction that reminds me of Hypercolor shirts from the ’90s (a type of tie dye, I suppose, if watery pastels mixed with sweat is your bag. Yikes, the ’90s were a rough time, sartorially speaking!)

Ice Cream Hunt

I’ll keep this short, because I’m pissy at the utterly counter-intuitive nightmare that WordPress’ block editor has become (shouldn’t have to Google a “how-to” on every. single. action I try to carry out) but Mr. Finger Candy and I found this fun, new-to-us ice cream shop in Carp, Ontario called Carp Custom Creamery, and their heavenly, undoubtedly totally calorie-free confections are ah-mazing. So amazing, a recent jaunt out to the wee Town of Carp for a much-coveted tub of Easter Egg Hunt inspired some fun, thematically-appropriate nails for the long weekend.

Carp Custom Creamery sold over 1,000 litres of Easter Egg Hunt this season, and its run is now finished for the year, but I can assure you that they have many, many more tempting treats, including ice cream cakes, waffle cone tacos, hand-spun milkshakes and so many delicious flavours of ice cream, it’ll make your head spin. My husband and I found this place one bitterly cold February day when it seemed totally reasonable to be standing out in -17 degree temps, holding a cup of Pop Tarts ice cream aloft (I’d do it again in a frozen heartbeat!)

Depending on whatever miserable – but necessary, sigh – public health-related lockdown measures are in place on any given day (also feeling pissy about Ontario’s ever flip-flopping, wholly ineffective approach to the pandemic) you can roll on up to Carp Custom Creamery for cups and cones, shakes and tacos, or grab a few pints for home. On our last trip, we sampled the super popular Coffee Break (if you’ve ever had an affogato – espresso poured over rich vanilla ice cream – this creamy, caffeinated confection tastes exactly like that), Peanut Butter & Jelly (tasted exactly as you’d expect) and Nerd (black cherry ice cream studded with tart Nerds candy; it was SO unexpectedly delicious, and just look at that gorgeous grape colour! I sense another manicure coming on!)

Okay, feeling less cruddy now. I guess ice cream has a way of doing that. 🙂 Anyhow, TL;DR;JD (too long; didn’t read; just drooled) get thee to Carp Custom Creamery – you won’t regret it.

Feeling Fluid

The ingenuity of the nail polish world never ceases to amaze me. Just when you think you’ve seen every variation of a nail lacquer – truly, how different can those 50 mint green polishes be from one another?! – something new comes along, opening up a whole new world of nail art possibilities.

Shocker to no one who’s been following this sorry excuse for a nail blog over the past year, but there’s been a certifiable dearth of actual nail art embedded in the actual ones and zeros contained therein.  The long and the short of it is, I’ve had zero interest in fiddling with my nails.  And when I have, it’s been gardening season – and at that time of year, they are anything but tidy little finger canvasses! 

Then I ran across this trendy fluid art polish I purchased last year, Baroness X’s Nacre, and I decided to treat myself to a pretty new manicure.  We shall not speak of my first attempt, which I chalked up to a lack of practice over the last, oh, eight or nine months.  But my second attempt went swimmingly, and I’m so pleased with the results! 

Here’s how fluid art polishes work.  Containing a higher than usual percentage of oil, fluid art polishes interact with more traditional, water-based lacquers in exactly the way you would expect oil and water to combine – breaking apart into delicate lace, puddly little cells and swoopy streaks.  I created the manicure shown here by dabbing three polishes – hot pink, orchid purple and plain old white – out onto a small silicone mat, one on top of the other.  I immediately topped the tri-coloured polish pile with a generous blob of Nacre, before pinching the mat between my fingers, smooshing the four polishes together. 

You will not think that this will do a dang thing – and it didn’t work for me the first time I tried it – but when you pull the mat apart, you’ll see the polishes spread out and split up into lacy cells, right before your very eyes.  It was really so cool – effects polishes, when they behave, can produce the neatest looks.  And Nacre is a great choice for experimentation, as it doesn’t have the most colour presence beyond that lovely mother of pearl shimmer.

After creating six or seven of these little cellular strips (I was just doing my one hand) I let them dry for an hour or so.  Then when it came time to actually do my nails, I treated them exactly like nail decals, carefully cutting each delicate strip into a shape roughly the size of my nail bed, and then “sticking” it in place atop a single light layer of clear base coat.  I then cleaned up the raggedy bits by my cuticles with a detail brush dipped in acetone, before topping with Seche Vite, as always.  Et voila, a rather stunning and spring-y fluid art manicure, and a small, encouraging step back into the nail art world. 🙂

Smurf Genome

Wuh oh, now we’re into the chromosomal make-up of a Smurf, and apparently they glow in the dark! Can’t say I remember that from the Smurfs’ adventures with Gargamel and Azrael (“adventures” being the most politically correct way of saying their entire lives were devoted to not being genocidally wiped out by a bi-polar, misshapen baldy and his raggedy cat.)

But I digress!  This is Polish Molish’s Smurf Genome, another lacquer I nabbed during Polish Pickup‘s September release.  And it would seem that much like the polish I highlighted yesterday – Nailed It’s magnetic Neural Network – and then the one the day before that – Different Dimension’s likewise magnetic It’s Electrifying – Smurf Genome is what I call a gimmick polish, or something beyond the standard, be it magnetic, thermal (one of those coming in a day or two), fluid art (ditto) or glow-in-the-dark.

And boy howdy, do these Smurfs ever glow in the dark!  The glow power, if you will, in this polish is STRONG – just the kickback off your phone screen will be enough to fire up your falanges. 😉  And the polish au naturel is darn pretty too, featuring a vibrant, blue jelly base positively stuffed with red hex and iridescent shard glitter.  Beautiful, and a fun polish to add to my collection.

Neural Network

To all those about to go “Whu…?” – I salute you!  Because there’s lots to whu…? about here, as in two different blog posts on two different days, and featuring two different polishes, no less!  It’s almost like I’m a semi-functioning nail blogger again (although, barely – WordPress’s not-remotely-new block editor is an exercise in extreme frustration.  Every time I’ve walked away from a post lately, it’s because I’ve just spent the past 45 minutes sifting through online tutorials, trying to find the answer to a question that used to be easily, readily apparent.  Life’s not crappy enough, WP?!)

This pretty polish is Nailed It!’s Neural Network, another magnetic polish I grabbed during Polish Pickup‘s September release.  Like the magnetic polish I featured yesterday, Different Dimension’s It’s Electrifying, Neural Network is packed with glittery metallic flakies.  Can’t speak to the hue of snapping synapses, but I imagine this burst of jagged metallic rainbows is a pretty good mimic for a neural network’s mimicry.

This polish is so gorgeous, but the flakies, just like It’s Electrifying, obscure the intended magnetic effect.  I didn’t see much difference between Neural Network in the bottle and then magnetized on my nails.  Perhaps there was a tiny deepening of the base colour, a peacocky, bluey-purple-green, but nothing that made me stand back and go, “Yup, Nailed It.” 😉

Still, it wore like the dickens and made my nails look pretty for a week.  Who’s going to argue with themselves – or a computer trying to mimic themselves – over that?!

Go With the Flow

Marble Collage

I was recently the lucky recipient of these lovely Zoya polishes – pink Kristie, blue Maren, turquoise Harbor, and purple Jessica – thanks to the kind folks at Nail Polish Canada.  I swatched them all, of course – see my previous post for those details – but I also wanted to do a bit of nail art with my new, candy-coloured polishes.

Problem: I’m SO out of practice these days, both in terms of nail art ability and actual nail care, that a good mani for me is one in which my nails are not encrusted with a solid quarter-inch of gardening grit.  I figured at best I’d come up with something ultra easy, like a simple dotticure.

Instead I decided to shoot for the moon and do a water marble manicure, perhaps THE most difficult nail art technique, one that requires you to float polish on the surface of water.  Because that just sounds SUPER easy (spoiler alert: it’s usually not, and it’s always hella messy!)

Except….this time, with these polishes, it wasn’t.  Even after my extended absence from the nail art realm.  I think it’s because these four lacquers – rich cremes, all – are brand new, and at the peak of their polish power, having not picked up months’ and years’ worth of oil and grime.  All four are of a completely identical consistency as well, making it ultra easy to float the polish on the surface of water AND toothpick-out a swirled design.  TL;DR?  These Zoya polishes make water marbling EASY, even for the woefully out of practice.

Marble 5 - Fingers

Speaking of, I realize that without photos of the water marbling process, this must all sound like utter gibberish.  So might anyone be interested in a little tutorial?  Because I’d like to give this technique another try, see if I could come up with a slightly more consistent design finger-to-finger (much as I like the every-digit-for-itself approach.) 😉  Please do come back soon to see how I work out with that!

Splash Into Summer With Zoya

Zoya Collage 1

Throughout this pandemic period, I have been losing things – sunglasses, car keys, paperwork, and, if the above is any indication, occasionally my own dang marbles.

Perhaps the thing that’s irked me the most about all of this forgetfulness is that I seem to have lost the ability to paint my nails!  Pandemic concerns aside, I’ve been busy for pretty well half a year now settling us into our new home, and I’m finding the property – a single family home with a lot of landscaping – to be quite demanding of my time.  As such, I’ve barely done a lick of nail art, and the thought of giving myself a manicure just for fun has been incomprehensible (mostly because for the majority of the spring and summer, I’ve been sporting a gungy gardening mani – cracked, breaking and caked in a whole lotta dirt.)  I am woefully out of practice, and boy howdy, do my nails look it, too.

So I was thrilled when Nail Polish Canada recently asked me to use and review one of Zoya‘s new six-piece summer collections.  Gave me a wonderful excuse to get back to the nail art and blogging that I love so very much, and the even better excuse to get my nails in shape and give myself a number of pretty manicures.  So thank you for the timely reminder to do something nice for myself – and my nails – Nail Polish Canada and Zoya!

Zoya is a long-standing polish manufacturer whose name, in my experience, is synonymous with quality, consistency and a leading edge approach to animal and human welfare.  Their polishes are Big 10-free (that would be free of all of those toxic ingredients you can hardly pronounce), cruelty-free and VEGAN, which delights Mr. Finger Candy, who is vegetarian but leaning vegan, to no end.

Moreover, Zoya’s polishes are uniformly great, with a nice self-leveling formulation that you will fall in love with if you’re not great at painting your nails, or if you, like me, have nearly completely forgotten how!  I’ve yet to use one that hasn’t applied well and worn like the dickens.  Zoya’s creme polishes also come in about a bajillion beautiful colours, making them perfect for nail art.

This is Zoya’s six-piece summer Splash collection.  I had my choice of two Splash collections, and I chose B because of its lush, vibrant cremes, and those two perfect beachy shimmers.  Let’s jump in the pool and take a closer look at these lovely polishes, shall we?

Kristie 2

First up is Barbie pink Kristie, the perfect summertime hue.  This would look fantastic on toes dangling off the edge of a diving board.

Fisher 2

Next we have the first of two shimmers in the collection, Fisher.  This is a lovely Cinderella blue shot through with silvery-purple microshimmer.  I used a top coat with Fisher and the other shimmer because they were both just the tiniest bit dull, and I wanted to bring out every ounce of that beautiful shine.  This colour reminds me of beach glass.

Jessica 2

Jessica is next on (the pool) deck with this deep, glossy raisin.  Tons of shine in this one, even without the benefit of topcoat.

Maren 2

Next up we have Maren, a gorgeous ocean blue that is the very definition of “Splash”!  I own a number of these cobalt blue polishes, but Maren stands apart from the others with its warm, barest-of-green-leaning hues.  Beautiful.

Corrina 2

In the penultimate spot we have Corrina, the perfect shimmery shell pink.  This is such a flattering hue, and while I think it looks beautiful on my freckled Celtic hide, it would be absolutely gorgeous on people with darker skin tones.

Harbor 2

Finally, we have the one true blue(-green) polish of the collection, Harbor.  Small word of warning, though, when it comes to Harbor, and indeed, nearly all turquoise or green-leaning hues – they will stain, so use a base coat.

TL;DR;JCOTP (too long; didn’t read; just checked out the photos): Zoya’s vegan, cruelty-free, non-toxic polishes are some of the best ones out there, and this Splash collection is a gorgeous slice of summery fun.  Get yours at Nail Polish Canada by clicking the embedded links above, and please come back later on this week when I’ll have some cute, Zoya-ful nail art to share with you.

Chionodoxa

Blue Flowers 1

That’s the name of these cute little blue blooms that have flower-bombed my front beds and lawn.  They’re big time bee-bait, though, so I’ve been admiring them at a distance (except for when I dashed outside to recklessly plunge my hand into the buzzing bed of buds to snap this photo of these inspired-by nails I recently did.  What can I say, guess I’m willing to suffer for my art.) 😉

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