27 April 2009

Lacquer Lundi

Here's an odd little tidbit about me - I don't like fruit. I will eat the occasional clementine or raspberry (probably about twice a year), but for the most part I'm not a fan. Apparently, even as a toddler I would turn up my nose at fruit, but I loved my veggies, especially lima beans. I know, I'm a freak - who actually likes lima beans? They're weird and green and chalky and they look like delicious little alien zygotes...but, I digress.

Even though I don't like to eat fruit, I certainly do love the smell of fruit. That is why Revlon's Fruitful Temptations, a line of seven fruit scented nail polishes, was so intriguing to me. While at the drug store the other day, I happened upon a display and purchased three (Mad About Mango, Not So Blue-berry and Pretty in Papaya) of these lovely scented polishes. The first two are swatched below.

Revlon - Mad About Mango
- purchased at Rexall (chain drug store) for $5.49 CDN

In the bottle, Mad About Mango is a gorgeous medium peachy-orangey-coral* colour. It actually dries slightly darker than what is seen in the bottle.

I had some issues with application, as I often seem to with Revlon polishes. The first coat was difficult to apply - it would drag and wrinkle at the slightest provocation - but the second coat applied more smoothly. It took two coats to get the bottle colour and I could have applied a third coat to eliminate all hints of streakiness. It also took a long time to dry (even with a quick dry top coat) - three hours after application, I still managed to dent and smudge three fingers.

These problems aside, this polish is worth it just for the novelty of the scent. (When I wear this polish, I'm instantly transported back to 1978 because it's like wearing scratch and sniff stickers on your fingers!) It has the most delicious sweet mango scent that is evident as it's going on the nail and even more so after the lacquer is dry, even under a top coat. The scent lingered for the entire day that I wore this polish.

* Cidell - I know you hate coral, but remain calm, at least it's not culottes! :)

Revlon - Not So Blue-berry
- purchased at Rexall (chain drug store) for $5.49 CDN

This colour is absolutely gorgeous - an exquisite blue-tinged lilac with a lush silvery frostiness. It also contains subtle hints of pink and turquoise in the shimmery sparkles. I don't own any other colour quite like this one.

This polish applied much better for me than the Mad About Mango. It went on easily (all three coats) and covered well. My only issue again is with drying time - it is certainly slower than many other polishes out on the market. I probably could have sped things up by applying a quick dry top coat, but I wanted to see if the scent was stronger without it.

In the end, I wore this polish for two days and the scent remained pleasantly evident all that time (and I don't think it was any more potent than with the top coat). My students were amazed and amused by these polishes and immediately demanded to know where I purchased them. So either I'm a totally hip trend setter or a teenage girl trapped in a middle aged body. Either way I'm not going to stop wearing painfully age inappropriate nail polish so I prefer to assume I'm the former.

China Glaze - Tree Hugger
- purchased at Head2Toe Beauty for $ 2.99 US

I had to have green for Earth Day, didn't I? And what better polish than Tree Hugger? Unfortunately, I don't think this is the best shade of green for my skin tone. It makes me look a wee bit like a reanimated corpse (you'd think I'd be down with that based on my blog title, but in reality, not so much). Morbid references aside, this is still a fabulous colour, just not on me. I may save this polish just for pedicures because having the feet of the living dead somehow seems acceptable - I mean feet are kinda fugly anyhow, so why not play it up a little?

This polish, which is part of China Glaze's Ecollection, applied well, although I found it to be rather sheer and the first couple of coats were streaky. The third coat however evened everything out. I wore this for three days and in that time I only had one minuscule chip and some minor tip wear.

Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear - Purple Potion
- purchased at Zellers (chain discount store) for $ 2.17 CDN

Another selection from the Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear line. Although it required three (smooth and easy to apply) coats to get full coverage, it is well worth it.

The colour is so nifty - it is a reddish purple that flashes turquoise when my hands are in motion - I believe this is referred to as a duochrome polish (see the two photos below for a comaparison of the purple vs the turquoise). When I saw this polish in the bottle, I didn't expect to like it as much as I do, but I figured for the price, I could hardly go wrong. Now, after seeing it on the nail, I'm actually considering picking up an extra bottle the next time I see it in store.

I wore this polish for two days with nary a chip and very little (almost non-existent) tip wear. Once again, the Xtreme Wear line turns out to be a salon quality polish at bargain basement prices - how can you go wrong with that?

26 April 2009

Better Grey than Never - Part 4

Although I have begun spring sewing in earnest, I had a few pieces of the Better Grey than Never Capsule that I haven't posted about yet.

I made a Loes Hinse Bianca top to go with the onionskin Tango skirt that I posted about a while back. Now I can wear the top and skirt together for a two piece dress look or the pieces can be used as separates. To finish off the edges of the top (hem, wrist and neckline), I just plain old serged them, with is the same treatment I used on the hem of the skirt. No muss, no fuss.

I made a Loes Hinse Sweater Set from some polyester knit fabric purchased from Emma One Sock a couple of years ago. At the time I bought several pieces of this "buttermilk" fabric intending to make a bunch of easy-care work garments. That was until I tried wearing this fabric in warmer weather. I literally felt like I was stewing in my own juices inside an oven bag (yeah, I know - eww). Apparently my thermostat runs a bit too high to be comfortable in this fabric year-round. So, I will be keeping these two pieces for cooler weather. (The cardigan has large sew-on snaps for closures).

I also made another Loes Hinse Bianca top (I love the way this baby fits me - I can't stop making them!) from a olive wool knit purchased from Timmel Fabrics. To add a bit of interest to this top, I added three strips of fabric to the front. The edges of the strips were serged with a contrasting thread and then attached with two parallel lines of stitching to secure the centre. Easy-peasy with neato results (see photo the right for a close-up shot of the strips).

ETA: I was asked what buttermilk and onionskin are called in Canada (for instance, what to ask for at Fabricland). They are both just polyester knits. Buttermilk is opaque, substantial and smooth to the touch, while onionskin is lightweight, usually pebbly textured and typically transparent.

20 April 2009

Lacquer Lundi

Did you know that the most expensive bottle of nail polish ever made retails for $250? In 2005, a collaboration between Allure Magazine, Johnson Matthey, Platinum Guild International (PGI) and Essie Cosmetics produced a sheer polish laced with platinum dust, under the exclusive brand 'I Do.' To get your hands on the one and only special edition bottle (shown to the left*), which has a platinum lid and base, add another $54 750 to the asking price. Yikes!

For some other if-you-have-to-ask-you-can't-afford-it products, check out this link.

* I borrowed the bottle image from Platinum Today (Johnson Matthey).

Now to the pretties:

Sally Hansen Insta-Dri - Sonic Bloom
- purchased at Zehrs (chain grocery store) for $5.99 CDN

This is one single coat of Sonic Bloom - yep, one single coat. I was in a hurry and didn't have time to mess around waiting for polish to dry. Sally Hansen Inst-Dri to the rescue. I applied Sally Hansen Insta-Dri base coat, then one coat of Sonic Bloom (no top coat - no time for it - I was literally running out the door) and my manicure was completely dry and dent-proof within five minutes. Talk about super duper lightning fast! Between the dense pigmentation of the polish and the extra wide brush (which admittedly does take some practice and patience to master), this polish is the answer for women with hectic lives. I love this polish so much that I own it in 11 of the 24 colours offered.

This polish is a gorgeous dark pinkish red colour that seems very 1950s to me. If I had the matching lipstick, I could really rock this look (check out the 1950 Avon ad halfway down the page on the right hand side of this cool website).

Color Club - Fashion Addict
- purchased from Head2Toe Beauty for $2.50 US

Ever since I discovered holographic polishes, I have been smitten with them. The play of shifting colours is positively mesmerizing. I simply cannot stop staring at my nails when I'm sporting a fabulous holo! I must look like a complete flake when I'm out walking the dog, entranced by my own hands!

Fashion Addict is from Color Club's Catwalk Queen Collection for Spring 2009.

In artificial light, Fashion Addict is a shimmering lavender tinged silver. But, take it outdoors into natural light and it comes alive with all the colours of the rainbow. It is truly stunning.

The formula of this polish is excellent. It is so highly coloured that it could be a one-coater with careful application - however, I used two coats to make it fully opaque on all nails. It slides on easily, dries quickly and it wore well for the day that I had it on (I had planned on wearing it longer, but I split a nail that had to be repaired, so off came the polish).

If only they made fabric like this - I would make a full length gown and wander around looking like an alien space princess - then I'd really get some strange looks when I was at the park with the dog!

China Glaze - Tickle My Triangle
- purchased from Head2Toe Beauty for $3.29 US

This is another holographic polish - I just bought a bunch of them (addicted much?) last week so they will be making Lacquer Lundi appearances over the next while.

This polish is from China Glaze's exceptional Kaleidoscope Collection (which is apparently being discontinued, so if you want 'em, get 'em while you can).

Tickle My Triangle (am I the only one that giggles like an immature 12 year old when I read that name?) is a gorgeous hot purpley-pink base full of light reflecting holographic glitter. Like Fashion Addict above, it is quite pretty indoors, but in full sun is where it earns its keep.

The consistency and application of this polish was flawless, with two coats making it fully opaque. It should be noted that although I do use a base coat with holos, I do not use a top coat. Unfortunately, I find that the top coat lessens the holographic effect of the polish, so I skip it.

Even without a top coat, it wore quite well for the two days that I had it on. Considering I was using my hands a lot to sew during those two days, there was not an unreasonable amount of tip wear. I find sewing is quite rough on polish - between the constant handling of fabric and all the pinning (I am constantly jabbing my nails when I pin together my fabrics - I never noticed it until I started wearing polish all the time), nail polish can get quite a workout.

As you can see, I went a little nuts with the pictures, but I am in love with this polish and I don't even really like pink!

19 April 2009

So Very Sad

I got an email from Marsha, of Textile Studio:

Textile Studio's Sew Long Sale

I have the BEST clients in the world,
and that's why it's hard for me to tell you
that I have to wind down the fabric side of my business.
I've tried to hold on during this economic downturn,
but higher costs and the lack of reasonable available credit
has made it impossible for me to continue. This saddens me,
as I've made many good friends over the last several years
and I will miss you all! It was always a treat for me
to see the gorgeous garments you created from your Textile Studio purchases,
and to receive your thoughtful thank-you notes.
I'd like to thank each and every one of you for the support you've provided
since I opened my webstore 5 years ago.

I need to clear my inventory, as I will be vacating my studio shortly.
So EVERY FABRIC on my site is 25% to 60% Off
with many marked down well below my wholesale costs.
This inventory clearance sale will run through Sunday, April 26th.

Another amazing fabric vendor is closing up shop and I it makes me so very sad for Marsha, for myself and for all the other sewists out there. This darned economy is really taking no prisoners, is it? All this makes me wonder: When we come out of this downturn, what will be left when the dust settles? Will all the fabric resources have evaporated by then?

Aside from feeling blue, I also have a measure of guilt. I haven't exactly been a good textile consumer lately - if you look at my stats on the side, you'll notice that I haven't bought any fabric this year. None. Yeah, I know - me, the ultimate fabric ho and I haven't bought a thing. For one thing, I have a lack of storage space - after filling a guest bedroom closet, packing an armoire and placing rolls under the master bed, I am a bit pinched for further storage. I can't help but realize that I could probably consistently sew for the next decade and still have fabric in the stash. Secondly, although the economy hasn't changed the money flow into my home yet, it could in the near future. My husband is a manager at Chrysler and we all know how that's going (here's hoping that it all works out). So, I have cut back - severely - even though we are actually in great financial shape right now, I can't help but plan accordingly for any possible future. Gotta keep the hound in biscuits, you know!

So, tell me, how has the economy affected you and your hobbies? Have you made big changes or has it been business as usual?

13 April 2009

Lacquer Lundi

I have always been amused by quizzes that provide some insight into my inner workings. As a teenager, the only reason I ever bought Cosmo was for the quiz. In that vein, I present, What Nail Colour Are You? Apparently, I am:

Ironically enough, even though I am 0% pink, that's exactly where we will be starting today. And just to prove that I really am a yellow girl, that's where we'll end the tour.

So, on to the pretties:

Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear - Petite Pink
- purchased at Rexall (chain drug store) for $1.53 CDN

I was looking for a less in-your-face colour for the week, as I knew I was going to be very busy and might not have the chance to switch up my manicure as often as usual. Lighter colours don't show the wear as much as darker colours, so I choose this subtle light pink to start off the week. I am not normally a pink lover, but I have to admit that this subtle, shimmery pink is quite pretty. This Xtreme Wear polish is just as wonderful as all the rest I have used. The formula is great - I could have gotten away with two coats, but I used three as I don't like when the whites of my nails are easily visible through the polish. The polish applied nicely - not too thick, not too thin - and the brush is easy to manipulate. I got great wear as well - no chips and only light tip wear after three days.

Rimmel Play Fast - Pop Quiz
- purchased at Rexall (chain drug store) for $3.26 CDN

This is such an interesting polish - I don't think I've seen anything quite like it elsewhere. The base is a very light peachy-pink, jam-packed with small glitter that flashes dark peach, light peach and gold. It has the most amazing glimmer in the sunlight - mesmerizing! The polish applies well (due to both the consistency of the polish and the nicely shaped brush) and dries quite quickly. Three coats are needed to make the polish approximate bottle colour, but the extra work is worth it. The polish wore well over the two days I had it on - no chips, a bit of tip wear and a few cracks (which I think is actually due to my top coat getting a bit thick - note to self: pick up some polish thinner).

China Glaze - Cherry Pie
- purchased at Sally Beauty Supply for $3.99 CDN

This polish is part of the Summer Days collection From China Glaze for summer 2009. It is a bright orange-red base with lots of shimmering glass flecks which reflect light in the most beautiful way.

The first coat goes on fairly transparent, but a second coat evens everything out. A third coat makes the polish almost fully opaque and adds a real depth to the colour.

I have all the other offerings in this collection and after trying Cherry Pie, I can't wait to try the others over the next few weeks, so stay tuned.

China Glaze - Solar Power

- purchased at Sally Beauty Supply for $3.99 CDN

You can't help but smile when you're sporting a sunny colour like this one. This colour, which was part of the Ecollection from Spring 2008, is certainly not for the wall flower. It is bold and bright and attention getting. Almost every person that saw me when I was wearing this polish commented (favourably) on my nails. This polish applied well (as with most China Glaze polishes), but it was streaky for the first coat. It's not much of an issue however as the second coat evened everything out. Compared to other yellow polishes I've used, which can be a streaky, chalky nightmare, this polish was minimally annoying.

This will certainly be in regular rotation for me during the summer months.

11 April 2009

Spring Fling

I have officially decided to shut down the winter sewing. I am dying to transition into spring sewing - the lighter (in weight and colour) fabrics are calling loudly to me from the stash cupboard. Although the weather here is still chilly, I can't help but dream of warmer days. The patterns most firmly demanding my attention are the skirts and dresses, so that is where I will begin. I have several vintage and modern dress patterns that have been on the the to-do pile for far too long - it's well past time to let them see the light of day!

As well, Prom is coming up and I need a new dress to wear. Well, I don't actually need a new dress, but I really want a new dress, so a new dress I shall have! I am leaning toward Vogue 1043 in a gorgeous black and white floral shantung purchased from Fashionista Fabrics around this time last year.

I am also very enamored with Vogue 2960, which I originally had plans to make ages ago. I have another fabric, a silk pique, from Fashionista Fabrics that would be smashing with this pattern.

Right now, I am not sure which to choose, so I think I will make a muslin of both and then decide. However, a little input from my readers is always helpful. So folks, which one should I make for Prom?

6 April 2009

Lacquer Lundi

Up until now, all the polish swatches I have shown you have been singles. However, sometimes I like to layer polishes for a different effect. Depending on how the layers are applied, many nifty looks can be achieved. Usually, I like to start with an opaque polish and then layer something sheer or sparkly over top to add an extra dimension to my nails. Another wonderful use of layering is to refresh a tired manicure - small chips and tip wear can be completely disguised by the addition of an interesting top coat.

In each grouping below, I have a picture of the base nail polish by itself and another photo of the base topped with a second polish. In each case, you can see how a second layer can change the mood and character of the underlying polish.

On to the pretties:

Orly - Close Your Eyes & Nfu-Oh - #51
- Close Your Eyes purchased at Sally's Beauty Supply for $5.99 CDN
- Nfu-Oh purchased at fabuloustreet.com for $8.50 US

Close Your Eyes is just luscious. The colour reminds me of ripe summer berries. It has a rich magenta base with copper shimmer that makes the polish glow on the fingers (photo to the left). As with all the Orly polishes I have used, the application is wonderful due to the great polish consistency - not too thick, not too thin. I especially like the cap to which the brush is attached; it is nicely shaped and rubberized for easy grip-ability. This polish wore well for the day I had it on (I would have left it on longer, but I was jazzed to try layering over it.

Nfu-Oh (pronounced "en-foo-oh"), a South Korean company, makes some amazing polishes. The one I have for you today has a sheer purple base chock full of fine shimmer and colour-shifting flecks (large flakes that dry smooth on the nail, unlike large glitter which can leave the surface of the polish bumpy). Depending on the angle at which you look at this polish, it flashes orange or green. In the photo to the right, the Nfu-Oh polish has been layered over the Orly. I have also included a close-up picture; enlarge it to see how the flakes are both orange and green on the nail. This polish is nice indoors, but it comes alive outdoors under natural light - the first time I walked outside, I actually gasped at the beauty. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to capture the brilliance and personality of this polish in a photo. The only downside is that the polish is a bit runny and blobs of polish run down the brush during application. Although it is a bit annoying, it certainly does not discourage me from using this product.

One of my favourite parts of the Nfu-Oh experience is the bottle. It is adorable. I love the Victorian feel of the packaging and have never seen anything quite like it elsewhere. From the front, with its anatomically correct corset and floral design, to the back, with its laced up ribbons tied in a bow over a full gathered skirt, the entire bottle is a small work of art. Even the heart-shaped top of the bottle is embellished with design. So cute!

Scroll down below for some more Nfu-Oh fabulousness!

Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear - Marine Scene & New York Color - Starry Silver Glitter
- Marine Scene purchased at Zellers (chain discount store) for $2.17 CDN
- Starry Silver Glitter purchased at Rexall (chain drug store) for $1.36 CDN

Sally Hansen is one of my favourite polish companies. Considering it is "just a drug store brand", I have consistently been happy with their offerings. My favourite Sally Hansen line is the Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear. The array of colours is excellent - my collection of 32 bottles range from subtle sheer pinks and mauves to in-your-face blues, greens and oranges. The price can't be beat - usually under $3 and often under $1 on sale. The quality is excellent - application is a breeze and I get days of chip-free wear. Today's polish is no exception. Marine scene is a lovely sheer turquoise shimmer that reminds me of the ocean. Since I like my polishes somewhat opaque, I applied four coats to build up to bottle colour.

For an extra bit of sparkle, I layered Starry Silver Glitter over the turquoise base polish. NYC (New York Colour) is another cheap drug store find. I enjoy the pure gaudiness of the small silver glitter combined with the large hexagonal shaped royal blue and hot pink glitter. (Being a chemist, I can't help but be amused every time I look down at my nails - it's like benzene is on an acid trip!) This glitter fest just screams to be looked at - so much so that a young cashier at a local diner complimented me on my nail polish. I prefer to think it's because even at 38 I am still hip enough to impress a teenager!

Finger Paints - Lavender Highlight & OPI - Stars in My Eyes
- Lavender Highlight purchased at Sally's Beauty Supply for $4.99 CDN
- Stars in My Eyes purchased at my hair salon for $7.00 CDN

"I love you. You love me..." Every time I looked down at my nails while wearing Lavender Highlight, I couldn't help but hum this tune. Although not his exact shade of purple, this polish reminds me of Barney.

I really liked this Finger Paints polish - this brand has given me great results in the past and this was no exception. It went on smoothly and the consistency was good. Only two coats were required to even out the colour and eliminate any streakiness. I have to admit I wasn't as careful with it's application as I would be if I planned on wearing it without another polish on top.

To give this manicure a bit more oomph, I layered one coat of Stars in my Eyes over the purple base. This OPI polish has a silver shimmer with a hint of purple that gives an interesting frosted look to the nail. I got many compliments the day I wore this to work - both from colleagues and students. It seemed to be a look that appealed to all ages.

Sally Hansen Insta-Dri - Jumpin' Jade & Nfu-Oh - #56
- Jumpin' Jade purchased at Zehrs (chain grocery store) for $5.99 CDN
- Nfu-Oh purchased at fabuloustreet.com for $8.50 US

Sally Hansen Insta-Dri polishes are pretty great once you get used to them. First off, the brush is different than any other I have ever seen - it is quite large and paddle like (it is around twice the width of other brushes). So, if you have small nail beds or you aren't confident with a larger brush, you may end up with more nail polish on your skin than on your nail. I, however, like this extra width as I find I can get polish on the nail with far fewer swipes than usual. And with this polish, it's a good thing as it is fairly thick and dries very quickly and with every extra stroke you run the risk of lumps and bumps. I think the brush and the formulation are an acquired taste - some will love it and others will hate it.

Jumpin' Jade was very pigmented and although I used two coats, I could easily have gotten away with just one. This is great for the quick manicure. I estimate one coat would be dry to the touch in one minute and dent proof within five minutes - talk about out the door fast!

I layered the Jumpin' Jade with another Nfu-Oh beauty. Like the one above, it is packed with sparkling, light catching flakes. This time the translucent base and the multitude of flakes are an eye-catching kelly green. This would make the best St. Patrick's Day manicure - it looks like a leprechaun threw up on my nails!

5 April 2009

The Tudors

Has anyone else been watching The Tudors? It is a period television series based on the early reign of King Henry VIII. Although much of the plot is historical in nature, it has a large dose of soap opera drama and intrigue tossed in for good measure.

Season 1 revolves around Henry's growing rejection of his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, due to her inability to provide him with a male heir. As he petitions the Catholic church to allow him to annul his marriage, he is embroiled in international turmoil, while having several affairs, siring an illegitimate son (who later dies) and courting Anne Boleyn. Anne, unlike the other court tarts realizes that Henry can eventually be manipulated to marry her if she plays hard to get.

Season 2 begins with the King basically declaring himself the head of the Church of England. This, coupled with his secret marriage to a preganant Anne, causes the Pope to threaten excommunication if he doesn't go back to Catherine. Anne quickly learns that her life as the Queen is not all it's cracked up to be when she gives birth to a daugther (the future Queen Elizabeth I) and Henry's eyes wander to Jane Seymour.

Season 3 begins tonight, but I won't be watching it as I am still working my way through the DVDs for Season 2.

Although the storyline is highly engaging, I must admit I watch for different reasons - the costumes, the jewellery and the sets. This show spares no expense to do it up right. The costumes are sumptuous works of art, the jewelry is jaw-dropping and the settings are exquisite. Click here for a collection of photos to see for yourself.