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. 🙂

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!

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.) 😉

005

Mickey’s Hidden Agenda

Hidden Mickey Main Collage

Hidden Mickeys are a Disney thing.  Hunting them all down – and there are over 1,000 of them in Disney World alone – is like an unofficial, parks-wide scavenger hunt for three circles in the shape of Mickey Mouse in a place where you would not normally find them – a little cluster of stones on the lobby floor of one of the resorts, the profile of three logs stacked together in a fireplace, this artfully arranged pile of leaves.

Mickey wreath

Anyhow, whilst recently cleaning up my nail art supplies, I ran across this KB Shimmer polish, Hidden Agenda, a neat thermal colour-changer that morphs from a peachy-grey blush to a steely metallic blue.  I thought it would be fun to dot Hidden Agenda onto a nude base in the shape of Mickey’s head – presumably the hidden Mickeys would stay hidden as against the nude background, only to emerge in glorious icy blue when exposed to the cold.

Hidden Mickey 4

Of course, that presumed that Hidden Agenda was the same colour as the base I chose, which, as you can see, it most definitely was not.  I remember it being much peachier than it’s showing here, but the effect still mostly stands.  Cute.

Hidden Mickey Collage

I haven’t been talking about Disney much lately, because…well, because the world is completely screwed up, and that includes Disney.  There’s some curious shenanigans going on at the executive level, to say nothing of the worldwide park closures (I’ve no idea if this is true or not – the House of Mouse is notoriously guarded when it comes to its official numbers – but I read the other day that for every day the parks are closed, Disney loses $30 million.)

I’m sad that my favourite place on Earth is well shut up behind padlocked gates, and I’ve no idea when I’ll get see it again.  I’m upset that 35,000 cast members have lost their jobs.  I’m tired of the Disney bloggers and the vloggers who can’t respect a stay-at-home order to save their own lives, let alone mine.  And I’m mad at the guests who could not see well enough to stay the hell home in the days leading up to the closures.  You actively prolonged this entire situation.  Hope you enjoyed your vacations.

I’ve also always viewed Disney’s as a kind of barometer of how well my own life is going.  Do I have the financial means to take a Disney vacation this year?  Is my passport up to date?  Am I feeling fit enough to tackle a Disney vacation?  And if the answer to all those questions is yes, then I dare say I’m doing okay, life-wise.  I might just sort of have my shit together.

But Disney’s hurting right now, and I’m hurting, too.  There’s no fun there right now, just gigantic neon question marks over a fog-shrouded future.

Wow, okay, so now that I’ve bummed everybody out, it’s time to get on with the day and stop dwelling on the negative.  Disney – indeed, life – will “open up” once again.  We’ll be able to go back to the people and the things that we love.  That much doesn’t need to stay hidden, even if for the next little while, we might.  Stay safe and stay home, friends.

Socially Distant

Socially Distant 1

There’s a line from the 2009 movie Zombieland that has been going through my mind now for days.  For those who haven’t seen it, Zombieland is a comedy set in a post-apocalyptic America besieged by the ravenous undead.  Jesse Eisenberg plays Columbus, a nerdy introvert and borderline agoraphobe whose ultra risk-averse and rules-oriented approach to life and death (and un-death) has him convinced he may be one of the last human beings left on the planet.  He’s wrong, of course; Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin soon join in on the post-apocalyptic fun.

But before he meets the trio who will go on to form his cool new functional family, he spends a lot of time surviving alone, a lot of time wondering if he’s the last man on earth, and he remarks at one point, with a great deal of sadness, that he was never much for people, but now that there are no more people, he misses them.

And that’s where I’m at right now as I at least enter my fourth week of this weird new state of what I’m coming to call Hiding From the Flu.  Not to fear, I’m in no danger of breaking the quarantine.  I’m still quite a ways from running out onto the street and madly dashing about, licking and touching everything and everyone in sight.

But I do miss people.  I miss random human connection.  I miss coffee nights with a lifelong friend.  I miss wantonly scruffying the cat who comes by our back porch to extort food from us.  And I really, really miss my parents, who are just a 22-minute drive east, and who I have not seen now in over a month.  We’re your pretty typical, not-too-touchy WASP-y types, but I’d really like to reach out and give them a hug right about now.

Here’s some topical nail art for the times.  Sending you love across the socially accepted distance, people, because I do indeed miss you.

Socially Distant 2

Monday, Monday?

Flowers 1

Hey friends, show of hands if you, too, feel like time has lost all meaning (“Time’s gone all David Lynch!” as Buffy might say.)  I actually woke up on Friday morning and had NO clue what day, week or month it was, let alone the hour.  Turns out it was 7:34 am.

Like a lot of people, I’m bored and unmotivated and more than a little frightened.  But I’m also going to shut the hell up about all of those things, because somewhere – somewhere close by; friend of mine is an epidemiologist – someone has it much, MUCH worse than a nagging case of boredom (very much enjoying all the memes taking celebrities apart for griping about ANYTHING.  Please tell me again how difficult this is on you from the comfort of your multi-million dollar ranch.  Y’all got as much to complain about as I do.)

Anyhow, once I sorted out what day it was, I decided to do my nails.  Absent the four or five manis I’ve done since we moved, I really haven’t been keeping up with my nail art, and I’ve missed it.  It’s comforting in a “Wow, has nail polish always smelled this bad?!” kind of way, and if ever there was a time for a bit of creative reassurance, this would be it.

So I sat down at my coffee table in the livingroom, cranked up the twenty one pilots, just like in the old condo days, and did these pretty floral nails.  And I felt much better afterwards.

Floral 2

So, small lesson here?  In the midst of all this chaos, fear and uncertainty, try not to fall too far down the rabbit hole (and definitely not to the point where you no longer know what day it is.)  Keep up with the things that bring you joy and relaxation, no matter how insignificant they may seem in the grander scheme of our new, CORONA ONLY world.  Because we’re still living, odd though the circumstances might be, and every now and then we need a reminder of WHY.

Stay safe and sane, friends.