Summer Swatches

Summer Polish Collage

The craft stores may already have their Halloween decor on clearance, but I think there’s still lots of time left on this summer thing.  And for once, I can’t say that’s a bad thing – unlike previous years, I haven’t had a terrible problem with the heat.  And while I’d say that a major contributing factor has been the wetter-than-usual (and therefore cooler-than-usual) summer we have been “enjoying” in eastern Ontario this year, I think the lack of profuse sweating may actually be due to my rather profound weight loss – about 50 pounds since the end of February!  Also probably the hour-long swims I enjoy four or five times a week – a crack of dawn swim in my building’s indoor pool seems to bring my core temperature down to something approaching normal for the remainder of the humid day.  Totally awesome side benefit to this weight loss business; I highly recommend.

I also recommend this collection of sweet summer polishes that will see you through the final sultry days of the season in polished perfection.  Drawing from a wide array of indie vendors – Polish Me Silly, KB Shimmer and Painted Polish among them – there’s a nod to every great and vibrant thing about the summer, from gorgeous oceanic hues to drippy cherry popsicles.

WatermelonSquidding Me

First up we have Whimsical Idea by Pam’s Wacky Watermelon (here over Pure Ice’s lime green, Wild Thing) and Different Dimension’s You’ve Gotta Be Squidding Me.  I’ve used Wacky Watermelon in a few different manicures over the years, but Squidding Me is one I rarely pull out of my box of magic nail tricks.  And I really have no idea why, because it’s a gorgeous one – smooth jelly finish, and that flamingo pink hue shot through with purple shimmer?  Lush and vibrant, yet tremendously flattering, even for us pale, pale lasses (although I’ve no doubt it would look stupendous-er on those with darker skin tones.  Which is literally everyone else in the world.)

Lost MarblesSprinkle On

Taking a nod from the boardwalk, we have the two lacquers I always think of as my “bubblegum ice cream” polishes, Polish Me Silly’s pink I Lost My Marbles and Dollish Polish’s custardy yellow Get Your Sprinkle On! Get Your Sprinkle On! has always been a favourite – I think it looks like french vanilla ice cream topped with rainbow jimmies.

Whispering WavesMermaid

You’ve Gotta Be Squidding Me makes another appearance in this manicure as a fun, flamingo-hued base on which to layer another Whimsy, this time turquoise glitter Mermaid, alongside A England’s lush aqua holo, Whispering Waves.  This mani makes me smile – it’s very South Beach.  Somewhere in Sarasota there’s a granny rocking a velour tracksuit in these exact colours. 😉

Jello ShotChasing Rainbows

The white polish in this manicure, Painted Polish’s Chasing Rainbows, reminds me of colourful shells washing up on a white sand beach, while the pink polish, ILNP’s Jello Shot, reminds me of melted cherry popsicles. Also its namesake, the deadly, deadly jello shot (*shuddering in remembrance of hangovers past.*)

Citrus SmoothieBelle of the Mall

Finally, we have another manicure featuring a favourite polish, KB Shimmer’s coral pink glitter, Belle of the Mall, and Candy Lacquer’s Citrus Smoothie (once again over Pure Ice’s Wild Thing), a mad mix of citrus-hued glitters that remind me of sweet fruit salad.  Belle of the Mall is such a great polish; awesome consistency and the coolest Hawaiian Punch hue.  It’s summer in a bottle, just like all of these polishes!)

Springtime Polish Picks

Spring Main Collage

As I did for Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be a fun exercise to go through my lacquer collection and pull some Springy polish picks, with a few Easter gems thrown in for good measure.  A couple of these polishes are from actual Spring/Easter collections, but most just remind me of this time of year – cold, steely skies, crocuses and daffodils just beginning to poke through the snow, pastel eggs nestled in crinkly plastic Easter grass.

Starting off with the most obvious pairing, we have KB Shimmer’s Where My Peeps At and Smitten Polish’s Not Your Mama’s Easter Grass.  I think this combination looks like jellybeans nestled in chick fuzz nestled in plastic Easter grass.

Spring Collage Nails 2

Next we have another KB Shimmer pick, Full Bloom Ahead, paired with Different Dimension’s Luminosity. Full Bloom Ahead is one of my favourite polishes, and also one of the first indies I ever bought.  I think it looks like Spring flowers caught in an unseasonably late snowstorm.  Luminosity is just dang pretty.

Spring Collage Nails 1

Next we have yet another KB Shimmer pick – this time Make My Gray – paired with ILNP’s Mega.  I like the way the holographic rainbows in Mega’s depths mimic the steely grey glitters in Make My Gray.

Spring Nail Collage 4

Finally, we have the very eggy combo of Delush Polish’s 50 Shades of Yay paired with Glam Polish’s Ladies Choice.  50 Shades of Yay is one of my favourite, but rarely worn, polishes.  I think it looks like delicious rainbow Peeps cake (the delicious part being the cake; Peeps are the work of the devil, adorable though they are!)

Spring Nail Collage 3

Clash of Colours

v-day-collage-main

With Valentine’s Day less than a week away, I thought it would be fun to sort through my nail polish collection and pull my favourites in the supposedly clashing combo of pink and red.  I don’t go in for all that clashing malarkey – pink and red is one of my favourite colour combinations, hard at work in my wardrobe, my makeup and even my home decorating (“Lotta pink in here, huh?” sneered a plumber last year.  I wanted to ask him if his masculinity was quite finished being threatened by a colour, but instead I just smiled and paid him for a job very well done.)

Anyhow, lots of pink and red around here, a palette preference that apparently carries over into my nail polish collection, because I own an absolute ton of pink and red lacquers (as well as every variant in between, from cotton candy, to coral, to wine.)  We’d be here until Valentine’s Day itself were I to show you every one of my pink and red polishes, and so instead I’m whittling the list down to 10 favourites from KB Shimmer, Picture Polish, Emily de Molly and Whimsical Ideas by Pam.  There’s a little something for everyone here, from lush, berry-hued cremes, to fiery glitter bombs speckled with tiny hearts, so go on ahead and fall in love.

First up we have two of my oldest lacquers, Picture Polish’s raspberry and gold shimmer, Electric Dream, and O’Hara, a candy apple red spiked with tiny holographic shards.

v-day-collage-picture-polish

Next we have two polishes from Whimsical Ideas by Pam, primary red creme, Starbucks Holiday Cup, and Tutu Sweet, a vibrant bubblegum pink stuffed with silvery-white and hot pink matte glitter.

v-day-whimsies-collage

Here in the middle we find two picks from Emily de Molly that are representing the Valentine’s season in both name and appearance, glittery melted popsicle, The Unloved (index and ring fingers), and Heart Street, a very retro mix of red, orange, purple and pink heart glitters in a fiery red base (middle and pinkie fingers.)

v-day-emily-de-molly-collage

Finally, we have four polishes from KB Shimmer.  This makes sense, as KB’s terrific polishes make up the bulk of my collection.  The first pairing is raspberry pink creme, Grin and Gerbera It, and Such a Vlad-Ass, a cool, vampy blood red.

v-day-kb-shimmer-collage-1

And finally-finally, we have the second KB pairing, candy sweet pastel glitter, Sweet Egg-scape, and maybe the most perfect red creme to grace my fingertips in the past four years, Chilly Pepper.

v-day-kb-shimmer-collage-2

Pep(permint) Talk

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Mmm, peppermint, what an olfactory delight you have turned out to be!  It pains me to admit this, but there was a time not that long ago that I cared for you not one whit – too icy, too bracing, too toothpastey.  But in my advancing years, I’ve developed a newfound appreciation for some of the flavours and scents I used to shun, and dear peppermint, you are number one on that list, with a bullet (alongside black coffee, black pepper, bourbon, freesia and anything involving anise.)

And thank goodness for that reversal in scent preference, because otherwise I wouldn’t have come into the possession of this lovely little mountain of pepperminty goodness.  So shall we check out some of the peppy mints that have been sweetly scenting my holidays?  Yes, let’s!

First up, the overkill.  So did I need an entire pie’s worth of Rosegirls’ sublime Peppermint Coconut Mallow? No, probably not…although “need” is such a tricky word, isn’t it? 😉 Anyhow, when Rosegirls opened up for a pre-sale in November that included a number of beloved holiday scents, I purchased an entire pie of Peppermint Coconut Mallow, a perpetually popular pick that softens peppermint’s icy chill with mounds of creamy, dreamy marshmallow.  It’s a sublimely gorgeous fragrance – sweet, cool and creamy.  One of those scent blends you stockpile if you get the chance, which is precisely what I did!

peppermint-pie-frosted

Another favourite mint around these parts is Bath & Body Works‘ Twisted Peppermint. Sweet and icy where Peppermint Coconut Mallow is cool and creamy, Twisted Peppermint is a blast of candied arctic air.  To me, it is the smell of Christmas.  It also reminds me of the candy coating on a Freshmint Tic Tac.  This three-wick candle is going into reserve for next year, although I had it out and about over the holidays because I love the design on the label.  Actually, come to think of it, Bath & Body Works had very attractive packaging on all of their products this year.  Well done, BBW!

peppermint-wax-frosted

Then, succumbing to the beautifully photographed enabling of my blogger friend Julie of The Redolent Mermaid, I placed an order with Solstice Scents, a small, independent parfumerie that deals in the sort of gourmand fragrances that make my eyes roll with delight.  That’s how I came to possess this tiny – already deeply coveted – roll-on bottle of Snowmint Mallow perfume oil.  And oh my, this perfume – a blend of “Peppermint, Vanilla Cake, Sugar Cookies, Flaked Coconut (and) Marshmallow Creme” – is FABULOUS!

I will freely admit that gourmand fragrances are not everyone’s cup of highly sugared tea. I also recognize that the above-listed scent notes seem like they would be best served on a dessert plate as opposed to spritzed on your wrists.  But Snowmint Mallow manages to dodge the plastic problem that so many foodie fragrances ultimately fall prey to.  This is no hodgepodge of vaguely fake, desserty-type scents; Solstice has created a proper fragrance here that’s beautifully balanced and layered.  That it reminds me of a favourite mocha vanilla perfume I wore in high school is simply marshmallow creme icing on the peppermint-dusted vanilla cake.  At a holiday party an old friend pulled me close and shouted in my ear that I smelled “JUST LIKE HIGH SCHOOL! Oh crap, is this the Wu?  CLEAR THE DANCE FLOOR!”  I’ve also received a number of compliments from my husband and my mom, who sniffed my wrist and shouted with delight, “It smells just like you!” Can you ask for anything more in a perfume?  I think I’m in love.  I shall be needing reinforcements, or at the very least a larger bottle.

peppermint-perfume-frosted

Finally, here’s an impulse purchase from Bath & Body Works that became my must-have beauty product of the holiday season, Shea & Sparkle Scrub in – sing it with me one more time! – Twisted Peppermint.  This is a lovely little scrub, soft and smooth as opposed to hard and scratchy, loaded with fine glitter and scented with that distinctive Tic Tac fragrance (softened a bit here for use in beauty products, a wise idea when using mints on your skin.)  The nicest thing about this scrub is it washes away cleanly, leaving behind no glittery, slippery residue, making it safe for both bathtub surfaces AND glitter-phobes! Dee-lish.

peppermint-scrub-frosted

My Top 16 Nail Art Designs of 2016

best-16-of-2016-collage

Closing out another year of intensely fussy nail art with a look back at the 16 designs that ruled my 2016. Highlights this year include a growing mastery of the water marbling technique (if not the ability to get any two of my nails to look the same), a begrudging acceptance of once-hated charms, studs and other dangly bits, a more than passing acquaintance with tiny, free-handed designs and an absolute ton of lettering, both on my nails and on the page, one of many fun little tangential offshoots of this nail art business.

In nearly all respects, 2016 has been a miserable year, more like a deeply unpleasant dream than actual reality. But that warm, tiny little fissure of joy I get from a nail art job well done?  That’s real, and cherished – a bright spot amidst the gloom, and one I’d like to share with you.  I hope you enjoy this look back at some of my better efforts. 🙂

Miss Argentina, the droll, seen-it-all receptionist who mans the check-in desk in the Waiting Room of the Dead in the movie Beetlejuice.

Miss Argentina Hand

Custard Waffle Cone, With Sprinkles.  Yummy.

Dollish Polish's Get Your Sprinkle On!: Funfetti Frozen Custard

Beetlejuice.  This manicure is my favourite of the year; I think I really nailed the lettering. A more than fitting tribute for a beloved movie.

beetlejuice-fingers

Suicide Squad, a movie that had a lot of (Hot Topic-infused) style and not much substance.

Suicide Squad 1 Hand

Sandra’s Midnight Garden, because sometimes you just want pretty, pretty nails.

Secret Midnight Garden Fingers

Butterfly Garden, for when you’re in the mood to infuriate yourself with glitter placement.  Also, see above re: pretty.

Butterflies in the Sun

Sandra’s Fabrics.  Here’s another post with my name in the title, this time a play on the name of textile purveyor Jo-Ann’s Fabrics.

sandras-fabrics-side

Saturberries.  Because this is a strawberry manicure and I did it on a Saturday.  Sometimes it’s really just that silly!

Succulent Strawberries Shade

Super Mario Bros.  Boing, boing!

Super Mario 1

Floral Fingers.  The absolute height of 3D embellishment madness.

Floral Fingers 1

Fruity Fingers.  Although there is an awful lot of stuff on these nails, is there not?

Fruity Fingers Shade

What a Gem.  Although these nails are nothing BUT gorgeous little gemstone nail charms atop a smokin’ hot polish, so clearly I have no idea what I’m talking about!

What a Gem 1

The Division.  For my gamer husband, who is approaching 1,000 hours of playable game time.  It’s a sickness.

The Division Hand

Blurryface.  Twenty One Pilots was the non-stop soundtrack to my 2016.

twenty one pilots hand

Saturday Night Sushi.  Another lotsa-stuff-on-my-nails mani painted on a Saturday night.  Those microbeads were a nightmare to corral.

Sushi Hand

Dory.  I like this nail art more than I liked the actual movie.  Pixar, you be slacking lately.

Dory Hand

It’s the Bomb! A Lush Bath Bomb Round-Up

lush-bomb-collage

Lush bath bombs, that is!  And 12 of ’em, one for every month of the year, featuring (top row, left to right) Twilight, Frozen, Pumpkin, Lord of Misrule, (middle row, left to right) Autumn Leaf, Monsters’ Ball, Intergalactic, Yoga Bomb, (bottom row, left to right) Luxury Lush Pud, Northern Lights, Shoot for the Stars and The Experimenter.

So I’ve heard tell that rubber duckies make bath time so much fun, but I think the song should be updated to include bath bombs, because that’s where the real bath time fun is to be had.  Actually, for me, fiddling around with multi-coloured bath bombs is pretty well the only reason to take a bath – otherwise, I’m Team Shower all the way.  But who can resist intensely pigmented, glitter-sprinkled balls of bicarbonate daffily dancing about their tub?  Not this blogger!  Also not the eight bajillion people that took advantage of Lush’s buy one, get one Boxing Day sale (I hear it was a circus.)

And so, without further adieu, an assortment of the bubbly bath art that beautified my 2016, co-ordinated to the header photo collage.  Bombs away!

lush-bubbles-collage

Potential and actual repurchases include (top row) Intergalactic, Northern Lights, Twilight, (bottom row) Luxury Lush Pud, Monsters’ Ball and Lord of Misrule because they performed beautifully (vibrant colours, long-lasting bubble effect, cool bath art) and represented great value for an item with a fairly limited application.

lush-repurchase-collage

If you’d like to read my thoughts on each of these bath bombs, or check out the matching manicures I often did to accompany bath time, simply click on the name of your chosen bomb in the top paragraph and you’ll be directed to my rantings and occasional ravings on why, oh why, Lush’s scent descriptions rarely, if ever, match the actual product in question.  Lush: The Only Place Where Mint Actually Means Orange! Until then, Sandra out!

S is for Sandra

Stranger Manis

stranger-manis-collage

For someone who is presently showing off the SIX Stranger Things manicures she did this year, I actually have very little to say on the subject that hasn’t already been said.  It was an absolute delight, and I’m looking forward to the second season with equal parts joy and trepidation – joy because the first season was utter perfection, replacing Buffy – guys, REPLACING BUFFY – as my favourite show, and trepidation because I worry about the “too much of a good thing” effect the Internet will have on subsequent seasons.  But me of little faith shall have to just wait and see what the second installment brings, and content myself with these Stranger manis in the meanwhile.  Work I’m very proud of this year, every last one of them. 🙂

The Flea and the Acrobat

the-flea-and-the-acrobat

Right Here

Stranger Things fingers

Eleven

eleven

Barb

stranger-barb

The Upside Down

The Upside Down

Rolling a 7

ready-to-roll