Wednesday, February 29, 2012

It's better to give than to receive...

My husband is laughing at me. He thinks it's cute when I get so giddy over packing things up to send to people. I don't know why, but I absolutely LOVE putting together little gifts for people!

That brings me to the subject of this post: my giveaway winners!

Congratulations to Thalie and Stefanie! They each won a prize pack, and I might have slipped a couple of other goodies in there, just because I love to share things. You know... maybe. *wink*

Speaking of things I love, let me just say how much I love my new packing tape! It's made by Duck, and is the cutest pink and black zebra pattern! I feel like it makes my packages just a bit more fun, just a bit more happy. 

A bit more like me, really.

I've seen this tape in the store lots of times, but never could justify the almost-$3 it costs. But now I have packages to send, and I need to make sure they're secure, right? Hey, that's my story and I'm sticking with it...

Good thing I bought it, too, because although I was super-careful packing the giveaway prizes, after I was finished I saw that one of the boxes had fallen out of the envelope. Thankfully, I was able to cut into the package, replace the wandering box, and seal everything up again with my tape. Yay!

Anyway, it's almost midnight and I really should try and get some sleep. I've got more goodies in the works, so check back soon!

Giving gifts is so much fun!
See my disclosure statement for more information.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Dotted Line- an experiment in black and white nail art...

Man oh man, was last night rough. I think I should be sleeping right now, but I'm too tired to think about it. I was up all night with nausea and praying to the porcelain god, and I didn't even have the fun of getting drunk first! Oh body, why do you have to be so eager to host such disgusting viruses?

As a result, the fun nail designs I've been working on are stuck in a holding pattern while I get over this ick. Good thing I've got some stuff in the archives I hadn't posted yet! Today I'm showing a look I did with black, white, and silver holographic glitter. I mean hey, glitter is good for everything, right?

Don't answer that... :D

This is a super-easy design and you don't need that much to do it with! I used my Wet n Wild white polish, a silver from a Sally Hansen gift set I grabbed a couple of years ago on sale, a black striping polish, silver holographic rhombus glitter from Born Pretty, and a black stone from Viva la Nails.

It's super simple to do, too. I'll list the steps in order...

  1. Base coat. Always always always use a base coat to protect your nails and make your manicure last longer!
  2. Paint entire nail white. Use 2-3 coats to ensure opaque coverage.
  3. Paint one side of nail silver. I painted around 1/3 of the nail silver.
  4. Paint black stripe dividing white and silver. This can be as wide or as narrow as you want.
  5. Add white dots down the black stripe. I used a dotting tool, but you can use a bobby pin, a toothpick, a ball point pen... use what you've got!
  6. Add silver glitter pieces in the shape of a flower. If you don't have the glitter, you can paint flower petals on.
  7. Place a black stone in the center of the flower shape.  Again, if you don't have the stone, you can paint a dot, or use a drop of glitter polish, or a piece of glitter from a glitter polish. Do what you like, make it your own!
Of course, this could be done in any colors you like- pink and blue, red and black, green and yellow... That's one thing I love about nail art... you're free to pull inspiration from anywhere, and tweak it til you like it. Have fun with it, it's only nail polish!

Til next time!
The glitter and stone were provided by the shops listed in exchange for an honest review.
See my disclosure statement for more information.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Stamping with the China Glaze Electropop Collection

Sometimes the best intentions just don't work out the way you'd hoped. I received the entire China Glaze Electropop collection from Dolly's 1500-follower giveaway yesterday and absolutely fell in love. This collection is so bright!! It's like they made it specifically for me!

Of course, the first thing I tried with it was stamping. Unfortunately, this look started bad and just kept getting worse. I've done worse manicures, but this one is just not my favorite, by a mile.

Lots of sparkle, and even some out-of-focus-ness
to show that gorgeous holo hex glitter!
I started with a coat of my usual Qtica Natural Nail Growth Stimulator, then did two coats of NYC Oyster. This made my hands look a bit odd, but I knew I was going to stamp on it. I added a coat of NYC Pink Avenue for sparkle, which was nice. I'd like it more over other polish, though. (Both Oyster and Pink Avenue were part of a surprise gift from Melissa at The Daily Nail.) Then, because I wanted still more sparkle, I added a coat of China Glaze Techno!

Finally, I was ready to stamp. Picking colors was hard- I wanted them all on my nails, but I decided to stick with the most vibrant of them. Unfortunately, most of the colors I used were just too pale to really show up. Wicked Style (the bright pink) works nicely, but the rest just disappointed me.

Here you can sort of see Electric Beat (the blue) near the cuticle. The flash of blue at the free edge of my nail is a piece of holographic glitter in Techno. So sad...

I took photos of the rest of the fingers too, though. I only stamped my left hand, because the stamping wasn't looking pretty enough to replicate on my right hand. So, I'll let the other photos speak for themselves.

Oh well... it was worth a try! I still have ideas kicking around in my head, and now I know Oyster just doesn't look good on me. Knowledge is power! ;)

Til next time!
I love winning blog giveaways!!
See my disclosure statement for more information.

Friday, February 24, 2012

More Adventures In Stamping With the Salon Express Nail Stamping Kit

Ok, just ignore the photo from yesterday where I was trying to get the hang of stamping again. Turns out, all I needed was a polish that stamps well and a bit of practice!

The problem is, I was stamping onto Glitter Gal holographic polish with metallic polish, so it was HORRIBLE to photograph! But two photo sessions and much time in Photoshop later, I have a few shots to show you how well the stamps work.

Keep in mind, I've heavily edited the images to make them viewable. But I haven't touched the nail parts of the photos, and I've got a before shot to show you the difference.

Ok, enough yapping... let's get to the pics!

I should have moisturized, but I was so excited...
This shot actually shows four stamps, although it's hard to tell. The first finger (from left to right) has a flower in Heaven Creamsicle, but it doesn't show from this angle. Trust me, it's pretty.

The middle two fingers are a old franken I made myself. It is GORGEOUS, and even more clear than it seems in this photo. Seriously, I'm LOVING this polish for stamping!

The pinky has a portion of a butterfly, but for the life of me I can't remember which polish I used for it. My memory sucks...

So hard to see... *sighs*
I stamped these fingers first, so I was still getting the hang of it again. Still, you can kind of see what's going on here. The pinky is stamped with NYX NP 47 Le Prive, which is a really gorgeous duochrome, a slate/steely blue polish that shifts to a pale gold. Melissa at The Daily Nail sent me a care package of a bunch of fun gorgeous polishes around Halloween, and this is one of the beauties she included. Love it! I bet it'd be STUNNING over black!

The middle two fingers are stamped with a Maybelline matte metallic gold polish, and although you can't quite see the designs in this shot, the ring finger has what appears to be bamboo, and the middle finger has a portion of a rectangle with cutaway flowers in it. This looks really fun and funky in person, and I can see using the "full nail" designs like this in the future.

Ahhh, here we go. This is a pretty horrible shot, as it (like the others in this post) was taken in low light using available light instead of flash, because I was trying to keep the holographic reflectiveness of the Glitter Gal Purple Holographic from totally obscuring the stamping. With lots of color correction and a bit of Photoshop magic to make my cuticles not look so disgusting, we've got a somewhat presentable photo.
Unlike the original. This is a great example of how I edit my photos. I will always tweak the color balance on my pictures to try and reflect something more resembling what I see, rather than what the camera sees. I have no problem cleaning up the raggedy cuticles I always seem to have, because really, who wants to see that?

But I do NOT retouch the actual nail art part of my photos. That's a point of pride for me, really... I want you to see what I did, not what I wish I'd actually been able to do. When I do make Photoshop mockups, it's always clearly marked, and it always looks like Photoshop instead of my real nails.

I'm not the best nail artist by far, but I do want to present MY work, not some fantasy drawing. So... yea, that was quite a rant... oops. :D

Anyway, the bottom line is that I LOVE THIS STAMPING SET!! Honestly, if you have any interest in getting into stamping, this is the way to get started. Check your local stores for their as Seen On TV products, and you can play too! And again, please share what you've done. I wanna see!

Til next time!

Blah blah was provided by the manufacturer for consideration.
See my disclosure statement for more information.

Finally, an affordable drugstore stamping kit!

Holy WOW, I'm excited about this!! My husband and I went to WalMart to walk, as is our habit, and meandered over to the As Seen On TV section, mainly to have a giggle at the silly products. It's always good for a few minutes of fun, you know?

Imagine my surprise when I found THIS! Holy CRAP, do you see what that is? It's a drugstore nail stamping kit- not just stamping disks, not just a stamper, but a whole kit with everything you'd need (except the polish) to get started stamping your nails!

I may have squealed out loud over this. I may even have hopped up and down a bit while I hugged the kit to my chest, swooning over the awesomeness of it.

My husband's reaction? He chuckled, shaking his head at me. He doesn't understand my love for nail art, but he does like to see me get excited. Once I saw this kit contained awesome image plates, I absolutely had to have it.

That's right... not one plate, not two... but five!! Five plates with adorable images, but I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's look at this bit by bit, shall we?

Just look at what the kit contains- You get the nail design stamper (which is DOUBLE-ENDED, people!!), the scraper, the image plate holder, and FIVE image plates!

And these aren't the usual floral plates... while you get an assortment of really cute florals, you also get cute things like an apple, a palm tree, a seahorse... really cute stuff! The plate with animal print and patterns is what made me hop up and down, though.

What can I say, I'm silly.

Let's look at the plates up close... they're worth it!


Yes, you can click those images to see them larger. How adorable are they? I really like the double heart in the center of plate SE 21, the flower on SE 18, just about everything on SE 19, and the flower on SE 20. And OMG, do I even have to mention SE 22? I LOVE those images!

There's just one issue with SE 22- the images are definitely not full-nail. They might cover my pinky nail, but definitely not any others. Still, these are very usable images.

I can see myself using these as partial-nail stamps, to decorate half the nail, or french tips, or whatever. They're still absolutely adorable! Totally worth the price of the kit!

Oh yea, the price... I haven't mentioned the price. Can you believe this whole kit costs a whopping $10? Me either! Heck, you can barely get a single Konad plate for $10, much less the whole setup. I'm in LOVE!!

I'm also really excited about the double-ended stamper. One of the problems with the traditional stamper that comes with kits is that it's just too big. It can be hard to line images up on smaller nails using the big stamper, and a double-ended stamper can be hard to find, or more than you want to spend.

So, let's look at what it would cost to pick up these items from Konad, since that's the brand that started the stamping craze. If you were to buy them separately, you would end up with:
  • double ended stamper and scraper: $6.90
  • image plate holder: $2.90
  • 5 image plates: $6.50 each, total $32.50
  • Total for whole set: $42.30 before tax and shipping.
Pretty awesome deal, don't you agree? I know I'm over the moon! Of course, you don't get the Konad name, but in all honesty, I've used Konad plates and stampers, and I'm not seeing a huge difference in quality here. This is the best value I've seen yet when it comes to stamping kits.

Now comes the embarrassing part: I am SO out of practice when it comes to stamping. I had my stamping set in a sweet little cloth bag, and I seem to have misplaced it somehow. It's been way too long since I did any stamping, and BOY does it show. But I feel like I need to show the stamping I did, even though I'm WAY out of practice.

I pulled out a selection of polishes I'd been wondering about to see how they'd do on black and white. Sadly, most of them didn't work as well as I expected, although the Heaven polish surprised the heck out of me!

Also? Don't blame the bad stamping on the image plates or the stamper. I'm definitely to blame, as I'm getting used to the whole stamping process again. It definitely takes some getting used to!

So, I know what I'll be fiddling with for the next few weeks. I have so many ideas bouncing around my head! YAY!

Also? This is the fastest I think I've ever reviewed anything. I was so excited to see this, and even more excited that it's everything I was hoping for.

This may have been as As Seen On TV set, but it's definitely nothing to laugh at. This set is worth every penny, and quite a bit more!

As far as I know (after some quick googling) these are for sale at WalMart, CVS, Walgreens, and maybe Rite Aid? You may find them other places as well, I don't know... if you see a section for As Seen On TV items, look around! You just might get rewarded with awesome stamping!

I love this kit! You should go buy one today!
See my disclosure statement for more information.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I absolutely love a good sale!

Ahhh, holidays. One of my favorite holiday traditions is hitting the post-holiday sales. Stores invariably overstock with holiday merchandise, and once the big day has come and gone most of that merchandise will end up deeply discounted.

This year was no different. Last night my husband and I went walking at WalMart and I decided to look through whatever items happened to be left in the Valentine's day section. I'm so glad I did...

See, the day after Valentine's day (or any other holiday, really) WalMart usually knocks 50% off the prices of whatever merchandise is left. After a few days, they generally knock it down to 75% off. Last night, I found several goodies that were 75% off, and brought home what you see to the right!

While I was happy about the string glitter, I was especially excited to find the rhinestone sticker. I've had a theory for a while now, and was looking forward to testing it.

The full price of this sticker was $0.98, but with the sale it was a whopping $0.24! I decided that even if I couldn't get the rhinestones off the backing, I could simply trim around them and apply them to my nails that way. Sure enough... it worked!

Unfortunately, the silver backing came off a few of the rhinestones when I pulled them off the backing. That's easily fixed, though... I'll dab a bit of silver polish onto the back of the stones before I use them. Problem solved! So for 24 cents I got 74 rhinestones in various shapes and colors... not bad!

The glitter came in packs of 4 and were $0.20 each, so I picked up two. I do have two duplicates (red and purple), but I really like the colors so I'm not complaining too much. The little pots they come in are pretty sweet, too!

All together, I ended up with everything you see in the photo to the right. 20 cents each for the 2 sets of 4 colors of string glitter, 29 cents each for the 2 sets of 4 micro glitters, and 24 cents for the rhinestone sticker- that comes out to a fantastic price of $1.23! Color me giddy, because I'm still grinning ear to ear!

Remember- you can find nail art goodies everywhere, from the Dollar Tree to WalMart to the thrift store. All you need to do is keep your eyes open!

Til next time!

My husband laughs at me when I get giddy over a sale!
See my disclosure statement for more information.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tutorial- How to make custom sponge tools

Whew, it's been a busy few days! But I'm finally back with the tutorial I referred to a few days back. I'm going to show you how to make your own sponge tools for fun and interesting nail art!

Before you start, you need to gather your supplies so you won't have to stop halfway through and bug your family about helping you find the glue stick, the way I might have done here.

The list is simple enough. Basically, you can use whatever you have on hand!

Supplies for sponge tools:
  • Sponges
    • Don't feel like you have to use what I used! Use whatever you have around the house...
    • Kitchen sponges, makeup sponges, whatever sponges you
  • Scissors
  • Sticks of some kind. I used coffee stirrers and bamboo skewers.
  • Some sort of adhesive. (Not pictured)
After that, it's really simple- cut the sponges and stick them on the end of the sticks! However, I went to a bit more trouble and showed different options you have.

To start with, I used the sponge from an old set of sponge rollers I have on hand. This particular roller had broken, so I decided to recycle the sponge into a tool for sponging.

I decided to cut it into different shapes to see what sort of effects I could create. I cut off small round sections from the end of the sponge, then cut them into half-circles and quarter-circle wedges.

I also cut the sticks into small segments that would be easier to control. I eventually cut the ends of the sticks into points, but I don't have pictures of that. I kind of forgot...  oops!

Then, I decided to cut a small opening into the sponge so that the stick would go inside of it. That would make it a bit more stable when stamping, I think.

This was so awkward to photograph, since I needed two hands to actually work the scissors and hold the sponge! So, pretend this photo is of me snipping into the bottom of the sponge segment.

You can also use your sticks to just sort of tear into the bottom, if you like. It all depends on what shape the bottoms of your sticks are. If you're using a bamboo skewer, you can just sort of shove it into the end of the sponge.

At this point, you would put glue on the end of your stick and shove it into the little hole you'd made in the base of the sponge. Unfortunately, I'd lost the glue stick I'd gotten out to do this tutorial with as soon as I started photographing, so after looking for a good 45 minutes, I decided glue wasn't important and I made do with what I had.

Instead, I painted the stick with a glob of nail polish and shoved it in. Surprisingly enough, this worked really well! I did find the glue stick after I'd finished this tutorial (of course!), and used it on later sponge tools... but the ones with nail polish held up just as well!

Who knew?

And now comes the fun part... seeing the different patterns and stamp styles you can get with the different tools! Believe it or not, they really do look different...

No matter how I tweaked this, it was hard to make it understandable. The colors basically match up the sponge shapes
to their patterns when stamped onto paper.

Stamp pattern of the center of the flat side of the half-circle section.
Stamp pattern of the edge of the quarter-circle wedge.
Stamp pattern of the flat edge of the quarter-circle wedge.

Stamp pattern of the side of the round.
Stamp pattern of the flat portion of the round, by the hole.
Stamp pattern of the flat portion of the round, by the hole.
Stamp pattern of the scratchy side of a kitchen sponge.
That last photo shows what the scratchy side of a kitchen sponge looks like when you stamp with it! I actually think it's pretty... very interesting, almost like when you splatter nail polish from a straw!

So, the idea here is simple: don't feel like you always need to spend money on expensive nail art tools. Sometimes you can do cool things with stuff you already have around the house!

Til next time!

My mind never stops with the ideas...
See my disclosure statement for more information.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A hint about homemade nail polish decals...

I hate my blog posts without pictures!
I love you guys, you know that?

Because I don't want anyone to go through making the same mistakes I've made (and also because it's just plain funny), I'm sharing a simple tip to make life easier for you if you decide to make custom nail polish decals.

If you need to sneeze? Turn your head. If you happen to have a couple of hundred tiny little nail polish decals drying on a sheet of paper and you sneeze over them? They're light enough to be moved by the resulting breeze.

Did I say moved? I think that's too polite a term...

... these things blew all over the place.

One sneeze, and suddenly my paper full of decals wasn't quite so full anymore, and there were tiny bits of dried nail polish everywhere except where I wanted them. I groaned, and I may have said a not-so-polite word. My husband, ever supportive and concerned for my well-being, immediately asked what was wrong.

I didn't want to tell him.

I did, though. I explained that I sneezed, and scattered the nail polish bits from here to kingdom come.

I'll give him credit. He did try not to laugh. He failed though, and pretty dramatically. He apologized through his giggles, and when I didn't laugh along, he said, "But baby, you have to admit... it is kind of funny."

Eh, who am I kidding. At that point I started to laugh too, and suddenly it wasn't quite so overwhelming anymore.

I hope this gives you a giggle...

Also, I'm experimenting with embellishing the nail polish decals, seeing just how far I can expand this idea. So far? I have so many thoughts! Here, have a simple teaser...

And now, back to the drawing board. Or sleep... sleep might be good right about now... Whatever. :D

Til next time!
Sometimes I think my life is written by a soap opera writer.
See my disclosure statement for more information.