Friday, August 28, 2009

Nails: Bewitching Polka Dots

I was restless painting my nails last night. I tried several different colors and designs before settling on this black and silvery-purple polka dot pattern....and I've decided I'm definitely a fan on polka dot nails.

Polka dots are a particular favorite of mine to begin with, and they're very easy to do free hand on your nails. I started with a base coat, followed by one coat of Zoya's Raven -- a dark black with very subtle shimmer to it. (This is the first Zoya polish I've ever tried, actually. I ordered three bottles during a promotion the company had a few weeks back, and I'm sure I'll get to reviewing them all at some point.)

The dots were made with Orly's Spellbound, which is more silvery than the picture of the bottle bellow illustrates. It's also very shimmery.

I started my dots by the base of the nail (just by dotting the regular polish brush, not using a special one) and worked my way up to the tip. The dots aren't all uniform in size, but I kind of like it that way, I think it looks visually interesting.

After hearing so many great reviews, I also decided to splurge on a bottle of Seche Vite dry fast top coat. While I'm happy with how it's kept my nails from getting dents or accidentally being imprinted by fabric textures, so far I'm not super impressed with the shine or keeping my nails from chipping. Maybe I'm doing something wrong in my application?

I've been having problems lately with my nail polish chipping or peeling at the tips very shortly after application. I think it might be a basecoat problem....that I need to find a good one, other than the sever year old bottle of Jordana base coat I've been using. Anyone have suggestions?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Help Me Find a Place to Live in Northern Virginia!

Exactly what the post title says -- anyone have advice on moving to Northern Virginia?? I'm looking for an apartment or houseshare there beginning in mid-September.

I'm very easy to get along with...willing to live with guys or girls...I'm no neat freak but I keep common areas clean...I work an office job so I want somewhere that's relatively calm on weeknights...I don't smoke or own pets...I do own a car.

My ideal roommate situation is one where I can come and go with freedom and live my own life, but be around friendly, laid-back, upbeat people who want to hang out sometimes.

Needs: Available parking space; within .75 miles walking distance of an orange line Metro; no drugs or cats in the home.

Budget: $900 maximum.

Drop me a line if you can help! :)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Food + Masks from the Asian Supermarket

I'm staying with my family on Long Island, NY, and took a trip to a local Korean supermarket this afternoon to feed my Asian food craving. The store, H and Y Supermarket, isn't as charmingly sketchy as the Asian groceries I frequent in Maryland, but it was alright. I got two containers of sushi, miso broth, Concord grapes (tart black grapes with seeds, yum), kiwis, a salad and...these good things:

Chapagetti. Strange name, tasty instant noodles. Ever since my Korean friend made some for me in Maryland I keep getting the occasional craving for it.

"Men's" Pocky?? I didn't know biscuits could have a gender! I guess it's more masculine than those Lotte cookies with strawberry koalas on them, but still...these are covered in bitter chocolate and taste very good.

Korean face masks. (My poodle Chestnut felt this would be a good time to hop on my bed and get in the shot, hehe.)

Five of them are made by Dermal, one is made by Tundisi. I've seen other bloggers use them so figured it can't hurt to try one myself. I've highlighted the different varieties below:

I don't know what "charcoal collagen" means...or how my skin will react to any of these...I'll post a review once I try one.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Casual Mens Clothes Shopping Adventure

I recently went clothes shopping with a male friend who has little (read: almost no) interest in fashion. Sure, he cares about how he looks -- something he lacked when we met as teens, though has happily grown into in his 20s -- but he was clueless about where to get clothing or what to try on.

Thankfully, he was an eager and willing participant when it came to trying on plenty of clothes during our shopping adventure.

Over the course of two days, we went to several affordably-priced retailers with heaps of men's clothes. We saw it all -- from shirts labeled "medium" that looked more like XXL at the regional department store Bon Ton, to turquoise, acid-washed men's skinny jeans at Pac Sun.

Despite its poor size selection, Bon Ton was still the first place he made a purchase: a pair of Calvin Klein jeans with a low-rise waist, straight leg, medium wash. The pants have a grayish/rusted wash which is stylish but subtle. And they are cut much less baggy around the hip area than most of his other jeans, making them significantly more flattering to his physique.

The next day he got a black button down shirt and a plaid short sleeved button down at Sears. Pretty standard fair, but keep in mind we were looking for additions to a wardrobe largely comprised of polo shirts purchased by his mom and screen print tees that went out of style after high school.

The patterns on these shirts look more subtle in person, I took the photos in a dark room so the colors are skewed.

(This would look great with a suit jacket and jeans.)

(Dark jean friendly -- didn't look as good with the new CK jeans, since it was too gray all over.)

Finally, we hit the jackpot when it came to our main quest for the trip -- t-shirts. My friend wanted casual t-shirts he can throw on to go to school instead of wearing one of the aforementioned polos every day. (He says his screen print tees are relegated to in-house wear and don't see the light of day. Probably a wise move.)

And we found them at (drum roll please)...Old Navy. Five dollar tees that look awesome and feel awesome.

For $25 he left with five well-fitting, attractive, versatile shirts. In black and light gray he got this classic tee with a round neck, though it's also available with a v neck.

My favorite shirt though was this ringer tee with contrast trim that he got in greenish turquoise, charcoal gray and navy blue. It feels soft and really makes the shoulders look broad. I think it's one of the most flattering, effortlessly cool things I've ever seen my friend wear.

And to think he was relucatant to go into Old Navy! It typically isn't the first store I hit either, but from what I recently saw, I think their quality has significantly improved in the past few years.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Nails: Make Mine Mango

I finally got tired of Shrimply Divine after retouching it a couple of times over a week or two. So on a whim I picked up three bottles of Revlon polish on sale for $3 each at a Target. I picked these colors because they were bright, summery and I think they're appropriate enough to wear to work. :)

I also got some polish removing pads, figuring they'd be more convenient than getting a bottle of remover and cotton balls while traveling. I was wrong! These felt pads precoated in acetone remover were AWFUL -- first, because I prefer using non-acetone remover since it's more gentle on my natural nails, and second, and most importantly, they didn't work.

Each pad said it would do ten nails. I barely got through two or three. I held them on each nail for a minute or so and they still didn't work well. The pads dried out very quickly. I ended up going through five of the six packets in the box to do both hands. :( Maybe other people have had better luck with pads like this?

Anyway back to the goods:

Make Mine Mango, Red Hot Tamale and Cherry Berry. I packed these with me and brought them to Maine, where I am currently on the second leg of my trip.

Though orange is my favorite color, it doesn't look particularly good on my skin. But Make Mine Mango has a lot of peach and persimmon undertones that I think make it versatile for a number of complexions, including pale, rosy ones like mine.

I also like that it's tropical yet understated -- not a loud, brash orange, but a soft, gentle, breezy and relaxed color, in my opinion. Something that says "I'm having an effortlessly fun vacation and enjoying sunshine"....which, well, I am!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Boston, Here I Am!

I've spent the last couple of days in Boston, Massachusetts, soaking up history and culture, and spending time with one of my oldest friends. I ate delicious lobster bisque in Fanuiel Hall

took a DUCK tour (the bus, a converted former military vehicle, takes you by land and *by sea* past some of the city's highlights)

saw sea lions chilling in a tank outside the aquarium

visited the U.S.S. Constitution (named by George Washington, one of the six original frigates authorized for construction by the Naval Act of 1794)

ate my first Tibetan food (yak dumplings)

took a Sam Adams Brewery tour

visited the birth sites of Presidents John and John Quincy Adams

took a trolley around Lexington and Concord (where the first battles of the Revolutionary War began -- the photo is of a statue of a Minute Man that is featured on the Mass. state quarter)

hung out with my friend during her new band's practice, and went out to dinner with her and another high school friend, followed by a walk past Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox.

And I did a bunch more stuff, and my vacation is only half way through! Now I'm on to Maine and New Hampshire, the plan being to play it by ear. :)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Brazilian Carnanval Inspired FOTD

Alexandra Dean over at All Things Girly is hosting an international-themed contest, asking participants to do a look inspired by a particular country. My inspiration was Brazil -- specifically, Brazilian carnaval. I embraced the green, blue and yellow of the country's flag for my makeup, and feathers, bright fabrics, shine and jewels for the rest of my outfit. (Even though I'm much more low key than the real celebration, of course!)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Shrimply Divine Nails

This is two coats of Sally Hansen's "Shrimply Divine" -- a true bubblegum, Barbie pink that, well, lacks the coral/orange undertones of real shrimp. It's still a lovely color, very bold, bright and fun.

I'm not thrilled with the formula, though. In fact, I've found the quality of all the polishes I've tried from Sally Hansen's Salon Nail Lacquer line to be hit or miss. Some, like this, are too thin. Others are too thick. Some, like "Wine Not," are just right. It's too bad, since the line has lots of attractive and work-appropriate colors. (Though I wear whatever polish I feel like to the office! But if you're in a more conservative environment, this line has many options for you.)

In terms of polish quality, I'm more a fan of the company's Hard As Nails Xtream Wear line. I've found it to be more consistent. It also offers a wider assortment of colors, which is good if you like funky ones like I do, but might not be good if you prefer sticking to pinks and nudes.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Blonder Ambition

I had light blond highlights in my hair for about four years. I loved the look, but decided to grow it out about a year and a half ago, figuring that it'd be nice to have a change of pace.

By the way, I've had practically the same haircut since I was a young kid -- side part, worn curly. Over the years it's gained and lost layers, highlights, and side-bangs, but for all intents and purposes it's always been pretty similar!

So...I have an appointment to get my hair cut and highlighted this Friday and as usual, I'm not exactly sure what to do. How much shorter and how much lighter to make it.

My hair is currently a bit above my shoulders in the front and an inch or two below my shoulders in the back:

This is how it looked the last time I got a haircut, in Dec. 2008 (the bottom still has old highlights):

My highlighted hair about two to three years ago:

And my hair when I dyed it brown in summer 2007 (semi-permanent, made my hair too dry):

I need a style that is relatively low-maintenance, since I only get my hair cut twice a year and don't want it to look super weird when the highlights start to grow out. Suggestions?