30 October 2009

A Sense of Community

Over the last few days I have been overwhelmed by the kindness of the online community. All the words of support have been a welcome comfort - both from established friends and from wonderful new friends. I am still waiting for the definitive word on Simon's tumours. When I know the final results, I will post about it.

I would be remiss if I didn't single out one person in particular - Gaylen. Not only did she bestow upon me the Nemo's Award, she also wrote a lovely entry on her blog, asking for fellow animal lovers to send out positive karma to Simon. Fittingly, the award is "a dedication for those who love blogging and love to encourage friendships through blogging" and it requires that I "write the reason why I love blogging."

I have come to realize that blogging has introduced me to a wonderful community of like-minded individuals - women who share a passion for the same things that I enjoy. Not only that, but the people that I have made contact with through blogging are some of the kindest, warm-hearted ladies. I am truly lucky.

26 October 2009

Lacquer Lundi

First, let me thank each and every one of you that has left a thoughtful comment on my last post. I really appreciate the kind show of support from all my online friends. I realize that some people consider animals to simply be pets. I, however, love Simon as if he was my child. Maybe I'm the weird dog lady, but that's how it is with me. He is part of my soul.

Next up is a reader comment: Rosaline said, "Like the others I love the LL posts. I on the other hand, never wear nail polish because I've heard it can do great damage to your nails, such as softening them and turning them yellow. As a nail polish user, would you do a post on the topic of how often you use polish, do you give your nails "a rest", and how often you change your colors. I've always loved nail polish and as you can see, all the exciting colors you show are making me long for wearing it. Thanks for LLs."

I believe it is an old wives' tale that nails need a "rest" or that nail polish will damage them. What needs to be kept in mind is that nails are dead cell tissue (the same as hair). Although I still get the very rare split nail, I haven't had a break for as long as I can remember. I attribute my strong nails to four things: I keep polish on my nails always (I have not had a polish-less day in over a year), I take 3000 mcg of biotin per day, I moisturize constantly (although granted that is more for my cuticles than my actual nails) and I was blessed with good nail genetics. As for how often I change my polish - usually every day or two - I get bored easily and I like having on a new colour. Besides, my students like checking out my latest manicure! Now, in the interest of full disclosure, my nails are lightly stained due to dark coloured polish. However, since I never go without polish and I prefer opaque (as opposed to sheer) polishes, I don't really care too much.

This week, I decided to dedicate LL to Halloween. I have a selection of frightening and fabulous colours, guaranteed to get you into the spooky spirit. I have included some special edition, Halloween-only polishes, along with some regular polishes that have the proper attitude for the season. I hope you think they're a scream! So, let's get on to the pretties:

Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear - Red Carpet
- purchased at Rexall (chain drug store) for $2.95 CDN

Thinking about making an appearance at a Halloween gathering as a sexy vampire? Than Red Carpet is the one for you! This blood red polish is sure to make you look like a sensuous sucker, ready to drain the life out of any party. The deep, rich base, packed with sparkly red glitter is a corpuscular delight that is perfect for you and you and Nosferatu.

Red Carpet applied like a dream and covered beautifully in two coats. It wore well - very minor tip wear after two days. Now, this is a polish you can sink your teeth into.

Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear - Black Out & Nfu Oh - #60
- Sally Hansen purchased at Rexall (chain drug store) for $1.53 CDN
- Nfu Oh purchased at fabuloustreet.com for $8.50 US

If you're looking for a grungy, punk-inspired look with a unexpected punch, then this combo is for you. Black Out is a gothically gorgeous shiny black creme, that provides the foundation for this manicure. The addition of Nfu-Oh #60, which is a charcoal base packed with light reflecting orange and green flakies, adds a whole other deadly dimension (click on the photo to the right for an amazing close up view of this stunning polish). So, whether you're dressing up as a strung out rocker chic or bewitching sorceress, this manicure is sure to frighten the bejezees out of everyone around you!

Both polishes are shown with two coats on the nail. This manicure held up well for the day that I had it on - only minor tip wear and no chipping. This is certainly a spook-tacularly boo-tiful combination.

New York Color - Times Sq Tangerine
- purchased at Rexall (chain drug store) for $1.36 CDN

Looking fashionable while carving up that hapless pumpkin is no longer a problem - just sport Times Sq Tangerine on your tips. This pumpkin coloured polish is sure to get the knife blade moving and as an extra added bonus, you won't be able to see all pumpkin guts under your nails when you're done!

Times Sq Tangerine is a great polish for the price - two coats applied well, dried quickly and wore amazingly well (only extremely minor tip wear after two days). This polish is so gourd, it will squash the competition (ahem).

Sally Hansen New Lengths Ceramics - Ghoulish Green & Glow in the Dark
- both polishes purchased at Shoppers (chain drug store) for $4.49 CDN each

Zombies are a Halloween staple (and an obvious favourite around Chez HZC) and what better way to channel your inner undead than with a couple of coats of Ghoulish Green on your leathery digits? You'd have to be brain-eating fiend not to see the appeal of this polish - it's pus-atively putrid! But, why stop there? Add a layer of Glow in the Dark, to ensure that your victims see you coming, even when the lights go out.

Both polishes applied nicely. The wear was great - only minor tip wear after two days. However, Glow in the Dark dries a smidgen bumpy, so a layer of top coat is required to smooth it all out. Also, be aware that it takes a good, strong light to activate the polish to glow in the dark - the high fluorescent lighting at school didn't do it for me.

24 October 2009

Sucker Punch

Last Saturday, I got the call from the vet. "Simon has at least one mast cell tumour that has to be removed. We'll schedule him for surgery on Monday."


For such a small word, it certainly can send you reeling. When you hear the C word, it's all you can do to focus, to listen, to process. This tiny word has the power to suck all the wind out of you, to drain all happiness.

I put down the phone and told my husband the news. I googled "mast cell tumour dog." I learned more than I wanted to know. Then, I curled up on the couch with Simon and cried - quietly enough not to alert my husband. Or so I thought. But, he found us and he cried too.

It all started the end of May, when Simon began vomiting every few days. I was scared. After all, Simon is an older dog. The vet diagnosed an ulcer and gave him meds to allow it to heal. All was well for a few weeks and then it started up again. I was scared again. The vet mentioned that mast cell tumours can cause ulcers. Now, I was terrified. The vet did thin needle aspirations of Simon's lumps and bumps. Simon has had a long history of lipomas, which are harmless fatty growths, so I hoped the results would come back benign as usual. No such luck.

Simon is now recuperating from the removal of two mast cell tumours and a growth on his eyelid. The vet was optimistic afterward, but I still asked that the tumours be sent out for grading. I haven't heard back yet. So, I have been on pins and needles all week, trying to keep my active boy calm so he can heal and waiting for the report. I just want this to all go away.

So, if you have any good vibes to spare, please send them to Simon.

19 October 2009

Lacquer Lundi

Sorry for the tardiness of this post, but things have been over the top stressful here at Chez HZC today.

So, let's get right to the pretties:

BB Couture - Laguna Lagoon
- purchased at overallbeauty.com for $9.00 US

Mint green is a hot nail colour this Fall, what with the release of Chanel's Jade. As much as I like Jade, I couldn't see paying $30 CDN for the honour of owning it. So, I went looking for something a bit more reasonably priced and found Laguna Lagoon. It has the same pastel green goodness, without the pocket book busting price.

Laguna Lagoon is a lovely mint green creme. It flows on smoothly and covers the nail well. I only needed two coats for complete opacity. It wore well for the two days I had it on - only very minor tip wear.

Sally Hansen Salon - Night Hydrangea & Nicole by OPI - Let's Get Star-ted
- Sally Hansen purchased at Shoppers (chain drug store) for $5.49 CDN
- Nicole by OPI purchased at Shoppers (chain drug store) for $9.99 CDN

Night Hydrangea is Spring 2009 release that was created in conjunction with clothing designer Tracy Reese. It is a gorgeous purple base with a silver micro shimmer. For the Futurama fans in the crowd, it is basically the exact shade of Turanga Leela's hair (yes, I am a geek).

Night Hydrangea (photo to the left) applied wonderfully. It flowed onto the nail well and moved around nicely. I needed two coats to achieve bottle colour. After one day, I only had minor tip wear. At that point, I decided to add another layer to jazz up the manicure and get a new look. I added one coat of Let's Get Star-ted (photo to the right), which is a colourless base infused with kaleidoscopic purple stars and glitter. Total tacky and completely wonderful!

My only complaint with Let's Get Star-ted is with application. It is nearly impossible to get stars on the nail without fishing them out of the bottle with the brush one by one. Also, it's necessary to apply two thick coats of topcoat to smooth over the stars' rough edges. Despite the negative, I ended up with a mancure that got a lot of attention - both my colleagues and my students thought it was pretty nifty.

Finger Paints - Artistic Azure & Covergirl Boundless Color - Disco Dazzle
- Finger Paints purchased at Sally Beauty Supply for $4.99 CDN
- Covergirl purchased at Wal Mart for $5.08 CDN

Artistic Azure is the perfect shade of medium teal. It reminds of the colour of night sky shortly after the Sun has set and darkness is setting in. My husband has declared this his favourite colour.

Artistic Azure (photo to the left) applied nicely, just like every other Finger Paint polish I own (man, I love this brand). It required two coats for opacity, but if I had been careful, I think I could have managed with a single coat.

Since it reminded me so much of the night sky, I added two layers of Disco Dazzle to simulate the emerging stars. Disco Dazzle (photo to the right) is a colourless base with sparkly silver hexagons and glitter. I ended up with a result that would be an astronomer's dream. This manicure lasted two days with only very minor tipwear.

The only hitch in the whole thing was removal. I ended up with a serious case of Smurf fingers. They were so bad that my cuticles and finger tips were stained blue the entire next day. Yikes!

16 October 2009

BWOF 7/2009 128 & Loes Hinse Hepburn Pants

Pattern: BWOF 7/2009 128 & Loes Hinse Hepburn Pants (view B)
Unfortunately, Burda does not have the line drawing for this blouse on the website.

Size: Blouse - size 36; pants - size S

Fabric: Blouse - floral polyester chiffon; pants - straw linen

Project Photo:

Comments: I knew going in that the silhouette of this blouse was not going to be one of my best. I typically stick to tops that have some waist shaping as find them to be more flattering on my figure. However, this blouse spoke to me and I figured I'd give it a go.

Let me start by saying that working with ravelly poly chiffon is always an adventure. There were a few moments that I questioned my sanity in working with a PITA fabric for a blouse I wasn't even sure would look good on me.

Due to the rapid fraying of this fabric, every seam is a french seam. I didn't want to go to all the trouble of making this blouse and then have it fall apart in the wash.

The only other issue with this blouse is the insertion of the elastic in the sleeve cuffs and the hip band. I'm fairly certain I was fishing elastic through those small channels for over an hour. Yikes! When I first decided to make this pattern, I thought the shirring was created using elastic thread - a quick and easy method. It was only when I got into making the blouse I noticed that thin elastic is run through small channels. Maybe I should actually read the instructions prior to making things from now on. Regardless, everything ended well and I ended up with a blouse that may not be the most flattering thing I own, but it is quite cute. I even received some compliments while wearing it, despite my misgivings.

In the photo, I am wearing the blouse over a RTW sweater shell. It was too cold that day to wear just a simple tank top underneath.

The pants are my TNT Hepburns that I have made about a bajillion times before, so not much new to say about them. Although, I am very pleased with how they look in a medium weight linen. I was concerned that a heavier weight fabric, with less drape than the fabrics I've used in the past would not suit this pattern. However, I like the look.

Conclusion: I will not be making this blouse again, as I don't think it's flattering enough to have multiple versions. However, I saw many blouses in this same silhouette in the stores the last time I went snoop shopping, so at least I'm in on the trend.

13 October 2009

Loes Hinse Bolero Jacket

Pattern: Loes Hinse Bolero Jacket (view A)

: XS

Fabric: Olive worsted wool tweed from Fabric Mart.

Project Photo

Comments: I love the Loes Hinse Bolero Jacket - it is my "I need a flattering, professional looking jacket in a hurry" pattern. I have never made a Bolero that I don't like and this one is no exception.

Made in an olive tweed fabric from Fabric Mart, this jacket went together in no time flat. I would estimate it took two hours total and that includes choosing the fabric, ironing the pattern, lay out, cut out, sewing and pressing. Instant gratification at its best! I used one large sage green vintage button as closure on the front.

I'm wearing my new Bolero jacket with the green RPL Hepburn pants I made a short while back and a milk chocolate brown Princess tank made a long while back. For accessories, I have three strands of a dark green malachite-like beaded necklace (doubled up around the neck) and a pair of bronze heels (I can't believe they got cut out of the picture - rats!).

Conclusion: Excellent jacket that will be made over and over and over...

12 October 2009

Lacquer Lundi

In my last Lacquer Lundi post, I professed my love for metallic polishes. This inspired me to go through my stash and dig out some of my untried metallic polishes and give them a go.

So, on to the pretties:

GOSH - Golden Brown
- purchased at Shoppers (chain drug store) for $6.00 CDN

The name says it all: Golden brown is indeed golden brown - that is, a medium brown base with a golden shimmer. What the name doesn't say is how pretty this polish is on the nail.

Golden Brown applies beautifully - nice and smooth - and it dries quickly. The coverage is good as well - two coats to get bottle colour. The polish held up well - only minor tip wear over two days.

I wish I could get my hands on more GOSH polishes - the few that I have, I really like. Although, there is a local source for a wide array of GOSH makeup, I have only found a smattering of polish in the displays.

Orly - Glitz & Nfu-Oh - #45
- Orly purchased at Sally Beauty Supply for $5.99 CDN
- Nfu Oh purchased at fabuloustreet.com for $8.50 US

I love Orly polishes and Glitz (photo to the left) is another winner. Admittedly, the golden (with a very slight orange tinge) metallic colour may not be for every one due to skin tone. However, I am smitten.

And, just to make a good thing better, I layered Nfu -Oh #45 over Glitz (photo to the right). The base of #45 is a deep flame orange that is packed with orange flakies, that flash lime green at certain angles. It is simply stunning!

Both polishes applied nicely. I used two coats of Glitz and one coat of #45. I can't comment on the wear of Glitz alone, as I immediately applied the #45 over top. The wear of the two polishes together was resonable however, minor tip wear after two days.

Revlon - Steel-her Heart
- purchased at Shoppers (chain drug store) for $6.29 CDN

Looking for a dark charcoal metallic? Then Steel-her Heart may be the one for you. The gray trend was going strong last fall/winter season and it still appears to be a fashion force. If you haven't worn dark colours in the past, but are looking to try one, Steel-her Heart may be the one for you. It reads as dark, but not "goth" - just fashionable.

This polish applied nicely and covered opaquely in two coats. It wore well - only minor tip wear after two days. My only issue with this polish is the same issue I have with all Revlon polishes - dry time. I find Revlon polishes take longer to dry on me than most of my other polishes. I'm not sure if it's a body chemistry thing unique to me or if others have the same problem.

Sally Hansen No Chip 10 Day - Boudoir
- purchased at Shoppers (chain drug store) for $6.49 CDN

Boudoir is pure brown in some lighting and olive-brown in others. However, regardless of the lighting, it is a beautiful metallic polish. Often I will change an outfit because it clashes with my polish. I didn't need to be concerned with Boudoir - it looks great with many different clothing colours - it's a real chameleon.

Boudoir applied nicely and covered well in two coats. The wear was okay - I didn't have any chips, but the tip wear was appreciable after two days.

10 October 2009

Just Stop It!

Okay, ladies. Enough is enough. I've had it with the humble mumble. Why are most women incapable of graciously accepting a compliment? Why do we feel the need to blush, act coy, or belittle ourselves in response to a little verbal affirmation?

"Um, yeah, uhh, well, uhh, thanks..."

"Oh, this old thing?"

"But it makes my ass look fat."

Seriously? Women fought for decades to have a voice - to earn the right to stand up and be counted, to be loud and proud and worthy of respect. And this where we are? Really? We can't even accept a stinkin' compliment?

Every where I turn I see this behaviour - from teenage girls to professional women, from my close friends to strangers in line at the grocery store. When did we get the message that it's unseemly to be prideful? I'm not talking about vanity or narcissism, I'm talking about simple acceptance and love for oneself.

So, I propose a revolution. Next time someone gives you a compliment on your hair, your dress or your exquisite sense of style, simply say "thank you." Don't run down a laundry list of why you shouldn't be praised and don't act like you're amazed that anyone would notice you.

Better yet, try this one on for size: "Damn straight I look good today - thanks for noticing!"

5 October 2009

Lacquer Lundi

Straight to the pretties:

Sally Hansen Insta Dri - Uptempo Plum
- purchased at Rexall (chain drug store) for $5.99 CDN

Uptempo Plum is a very, very (did I say very?) dark purple base with micro glitter. It would actually be quite nice if it didn't just read as black by an observer from any distance larger than 10 cm from the nail. Even in direct sun, it still appear essentially black (usually with these darker shades, the direct sun can reveal their true colour). So, that was a tad disappointing.

However, Uptempo Plum applied nicely and covered opaquely in two coats (I could have gotten away with one coat if I had been more careful about covering bald spots). Unfortunately, the wear on this polish was not spectacular - I had tip wear after less than 12 hours (and most of that time I spent in bed sleeping). The good news is that the tip wear appeared quickly, but it did not worsen for the next two days.

China Glaze - In Awe of Amber
- purchased at Sally Beauty Supply for $2.00 CDN

I am a sucker for a good metallic polish. At this time of year (autumn in Canada), I am an even bigger pushover for a beautiful copper, bronze or gold shade. In Awe of Amber, with it's pinkish-brown base and coppery-gold shimmer, is firmly in pretty metallic category.

In Awe of Amber applied nicely, although it is rather sheer. To build up to bottle colour and eliminate any visible nail line, required four coats of polish (which is a bit of a pain, as it takes longer to dry). This polish wore well for the two days I had it on - only minor tip wear.

Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear - Emerald City
- purchased at Rexall (chain drug store) for $2.95 CDN

Emerald City is a re-release of a polish that I have had on my wish list for quite a while. So, I was obviously pleased when I saw it at a local drug store in the new SH display. Emerald City is a glorious metallic forest green and it truly could not be any more perfect if it tried.

This polish required three coats for perfect coverage (but to be honest, two coats would be enough if you aren't completely anal about every little bald spot like I am). Emerald City is very similar in colour to one of my previous favourites, Rimmel 60s Camouflage. However, the wear on the SH polish is far superior as I only had very minor tip wear after two days.

Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear - Crushed
- purchased at Rexall (chain drug store) for $2.95 CDN

Crushed is such a pretty, glowing orangey-pinky-coraly shade. Although, it's not a new cutting edge colour, it is a good, solid addition to any polish wardrobe. I can definitely see sporting Crushed on my toes next summer.

Crushed applied wonderfully (as do almost all of my SHHANXW polishes) due to the nice formula and the excellent brush. It took three coats for opaqueness. I had essentially no tip wear after two days of wearing.

4 October 2009


Do you ever just get grumpy? There's no major reason for it - but, nonetheless, you're out of sorts, annoyed...pissed off. Whenever, I feel like this, I try to stay off of my blog because, really, does the world need another crabby pants ranting about some inconsequential crap? Um, no - there's enough negative energy on TV, on the radio, in the news and certainly on the internet, so I try not to add to the din.

But, nonetheless, that is how I have been feeling lately. Grumpy, schmumpy. Then I read Gertie's blog this morning and she has declared it National Honesty Month and she posted pictures of herself at her happiest. So, in that vein, I wanted to follow suit and present my happy pix.

I think I am my most blissful when I'm out on a long walk with Simon and my husband. The experiences of nature are wonderful - the furtive glimpses of local wildlife, the rustling of the leaves and the singing of the birds is always peaceful and serenity-inducing. Much better than an iPod any day.

There is a local nature preserve that has walking trails and I love to go there in the spring, summer and fall. The photo to the left was taken two years ago in the middle of autumn. Simon had just jumped over a large fallen tree and the look of sheer joy on his face is heartwarming. If you look closely, you can see me crouched behind the tree trunk, watching my boys - the one joyfully running and the one contentedly taking the photo.

Obviously, another of my happy places is creating. Whether I'm cooking up a new project, getting the materials ready or actively sewing at my machine, I love it all. One of my fondest wishes is to have my own dedicated sewing room with a view (so I don't have to work on the kitchen floor like in the photo to the left).

Several years ago, my husband and I bought a four acre parcel of land in the country, with the intent to build our dream house someday. Well, hopefully, in the next year or two, the dream will become a reality. We have been saving and investing and have almost settled on a house plan. In the not too distant future, we hope to have a new home - complete with a fab sewing room and stash storage.