Hey Cupcake!

I was a little Miss Baker today! I actually love baking. It's always fun to create something whether its nail designs or cute little cupcakes. Because I love it so much I'm the one my family asks to make all the goodies. My Aunt Claire is having a party at work tomorrow before they go on a week vacation so they're doing a Fourth of July theme. So she asked me to make her American flag cupcakes. She suffers from Celiac disease so the recipe has to be gluten free to accommodate her allergy. The great thing is Betty Crocker makes a whole line of gluten free baking mixes including a chocolate cake mix which I used here to make the cupcakes.

Then for the frosting I used Duncan Hines creamy home-style vanilla dyed with icing gel dye for the red, blue and yellow. The red was the hardest to make and took a tube and 1/2 to get this color. The blue and yellow were quick and simple. I'm happy with how they came out. Quite festive and patriotic!

She's bringing a total of 12 cupcakes to the party but now wishes we grabbed two boxes. It will work out though since she's not the only one bringing food so I'm sure there will be plenty to go around. Hopefully everyone will enjoy them and the gluten free recipe doesn't hurt the taste or texture. The batter tasted pretty good though and its by a major brand so I'm pretty confident they'll be great!

Two weeks ago I had even more fun with cupcakes and decided to make character ones. My hubby loved Cookie Monster when he was a kid and was even nicknamed that because of his love for cookies. I saw a picture online that someone did and decided to give a shot. I used frosting instead of dyed coconut like the instructions I saw since we're not big coconut fans. Here's a picture of the end result!

How cute is that?! "C is for cookie and cookie is for me!" I used a Duncan Hines chocolate cake mix with Duncan Hines creamy home-style vanilla frosting. I dyed the frosting blue (similar to above but lighter) and used a star piping bag tip to make the fur. A small chocolate chip cookie is placed into a slit in the side of the cupcake (right above the paper) to appear as though it's being eaten. Then I used a drop of frosting to attach brown M&M's to white chocolate melting chips to make the eyes. I'm so in love with these! They didn't last long either even though they were almost too cute to eat. Almost!

Next post will be back to nails! I'm planning my Fourth of July designs and I'm getting so excited to do it!

Essie Turquoise & Caicos!

Que the island music, put on your suit and grab a drink - we're going to the tropics! Well, at least my nails have. If I happen to (magically) go on a vacation to the Caribbean this year this will be the color I will pick. It's like a little vacation in a bottle.

In my mind, I'm already on the beach. Sigh. Anyway, this is Essie Turquoise & Caicos and it's safe to say that I love it. It's actually my first Essie (I don't know where I've been) and I'm really happy with it. After the first coat I was actually thinking I would need three to get a solid opaque color but it ended up only needing two.

The formula was smooth but a tad on the thin side compared to some of my other colors. It wasn't a bad thing though. First coat was a bit sheer but the second one filled everything in for a perfect finish. It has a really pretty color that shows well in artificial and natural light. Essie calls it a "flirty and pretty tropical aqua" which I think is pretty accurate. It's true to the first part of its name as it shows as a definite turquoise but not in an obnoxious way, at least for me. The brush was a good size too so applying was a breeze. Ah, a beach breeze in the Caribbean. Oops. I drifted away again.

I said I wasn't going to stamp with this one but I caved. The bright turquoise color was just screaming for something. Plus I was inspired by a mani that Let Them Have Polish did with Ulta3 Pacific Fever and stamping. It looked awesome and I wanted to do something close but a little different. So I went through my plates and picked out a little flower and vine design after debating three different images. I used MASH plate m26 with OPI Alpine Snow to help create my little tropical manicure.

Yes, I'm addicted to stamping but how could I not? It was just perfect for this color! I'm really happy with how the image came out too. Since some of the details were tiny I was a bit worried it wouldn't come out clean especially after the issues I had with the argyle image I did last week. I'm happy to say it came out beautifully! Further proof you don't absolutely HAVE to pay $7.00 a plate to have pretty and detailed nail art. I guess I'll have to give the argyle print another shot after all. =)

I will definitely be checking out more Essie colors in the future. I wish I had paid attention sooner. Now I need to figure out what I'm doing for a Fourth of July/Red Sox game mani for next week! There are so many choices and only two hands to work with.

Mini Ulta haul!

I just got back from a trip to my local Ulta and have a little haul I wanted to share. I love going to Ulta! My only complaints are they need to carry more Zoya and I wish their nail polish wasn't so spread out around the store. Took me ten minutes to find the OPI shatter collection! Why they had it tucked in a corner on a little table is beyond me. Anyway, here's what I bought!

I finally found OPI White Shatter! I've wanted this since it came out and I first saw the pictures of the other shatter colors. When I finally found the collection the main display was all black and red. Honestly? The red doesn't look appealing at all. I usually enjoy red but as a shatter I just don't really get it. Anyway, the white was on a lower display hidden in the back and it was the only one left! Woohoo! I grabbed it and went straight to the checkout. I think I was so happy to finally find it in store that I just wanted to make it officially mine.

I also grabbed Essie Turquoise & Caicos which is a just a perfect name. I'm excited to try this one. It seems perfect for summer and almost like a little vacation in a bottle! I bought 'Baby' Blue from Nicole by OPI too but I'm going to pretend it's not from the Justin Beiber collection (so not a fan of his) and just enjoy the color. It's a nice sky blue which I needed to add to my stash. I already have a plan for this color for an upcoming mani. Then we have the mini bottle of Orly Black Out. I needed a black for some stamping manicures I want to do but didn't really need a large bottle since I never wear solid black on my nails. Actually, I don't even wear solid black in my wardrobe either. I almost bought Liquid Leather by China Glaze but grabbed this little one instead. We'll just have to see how it works out.

My hubby has decided that I'm completely addicted to nail polish and he's pretty much right. But what can I say? They're just too much fun. Also? Apparently OPI came out with a Shrek collection at one point that I never even heard about. My Ulta was sold out so I didn't even get to see the colors. I know at least one is called What's with the catittude? and I just love the name. I don't even know what the color is but I want it. That's probably what my hubby means when he says I'm addicted. Oh well. He bought a new PS3 game while we were out so we both got our new toys and everyone is happy.

Tomorrow is a mani with my one of my new pretties!

Zoya Jolene with stamping!

Oh how I love this color! One of my first purchases with Zoya actually included a color that I hated once I tried it. Zoya Moxie was a color I loved on the site and the tons of swatches I saw online but once I applied it at home it was all wrong. I then found the swap discussions board on the Zoya Facebook page and found a wonderful woman that was willing to swap my Moxie for her Jolene. A few days later my little package arrived and it was a match made in heaven! As soon as I saw the bottle I knew I had fallen in love! I'm actually going to have to order a new bottle soon as I keep reaching for this color. Here is Zoya Jolene from last night. =)

This color simply makes me smile. You can clearly see the bottle is getting low in this picture. My signature color in my wardrobe is pink which I wear year round but if I had to pick a nail color it would be this one. Zoya calls Jolene a perfect summery and bold pink which I totally agree with!

It's a bright, happy, sunny and very pink polish. It's another cream which at the moment tend to be my favorites. For me, Jolene is opaque in two coats but I have seen some people say they need three. The formula is very smooth and applying it is always a breeze. I did notice it stained my nails a bit even with the Zoya Anchor base. It wasn't bad and not really noticeable to other people but I know my nails and will notice every little difference. I love the color too much to stop using it for this reason but I may try other bases with it to see if I can prevent the staining.

My hubby is really intrigued by the stamping method after looking through my MASH plates and my first attempt last week with the fishnet stamp with Zoya Caitlin and Dove. So, he voted for me to stamp over Jolene with white using plate m60 using the argyle print. Here are the results.

I used OPI Alpine White with a coat of Seche Vite. To be honest, I'm not totally in love. It didn't come out quite as crisp as I wanted and I think it would have been better using a different pink instead of the high contrast white. Here's a picture to show what I mean about the lack of crisp clean lines.

I tried changing the amount of white I was using to see if it would help and it didn't. These are MASH plates and not Konad so perhaps the Konad version is better. I may still use this image but with different colors to see if it will look at bit better. I'm going to leave it on for at least a day or two and then change to something else. The real question is what that will be!

MASH plate stamping with Zoya Caitlin and Dove!

I just stamped for the first time and I'm so excited! I've been wearing Zoya Caitlin since this past Friday and it's easily become a favorite for me. I mentioned in my swatch post that I really wanted to stamp with her and decided to give it a try today. I used the MASH image plate set that I bought on Amazon and talked about here. These are not Konads but many of the plates are duplicates so you can get the look of Konad without the price. They have great ratings on Amazon and so far I'm very happy with them!

For my first attempt at stamping I used MASH plate m57 which is a dupe of Konad's plate m57. The comparison pictures are below.

                                         MASH m57                                      Konad m57

Pretty close huh? I decided to go with the fishnet image on the bottom left. I used Zoya Caitlin as a base (with a layer of Seche Vite topcoat) and Zoya Dove to stamp. I also used the Konad stamp and scraper and a few q-tips to clean up the edges.

I'm actually really happy with out it came out. This picture was taken inside with lamp light. You can see a clear mistake I made on my ring finger where it smudged a bit but I'm okay with it. I think for my first time stamping it came out pretty good. It has definitely made me fall in love with stamping and I can't wait to try out other designs! It's pretty cloudy today so getting a picture in sunlight is impossible but here's a shot in as natural light as I could get with New England weather this week.

I'm actually surprised with how little polish this actually uses. I knew that with the stamping method it's actually a very thin layer of nail polish that is stamped on but still it seems to be a very minimal amount used even with full nail designs on all ten nails. Clean up is pretty easy too. I used q-tips dipped in nail polish remover to keep the plate from having too much buildup and to clean the stamp and scraper. I did the entire thing on some paper towel and this is the end result.

Not too bad in my opinion. The thing that surprised me the most was how easy and quick it was! I only completely re-did one nail and that was my first one. I didn't time myself (I probably should have) but it didn't take long at all. It's really as simple as brush some polish on the image, scrape off the excess, press the stamp down on the image to pick up the pattern, line up the edge of image with the side of your nail and roll across the width of your nail. TADA! You have instant nail art without any training, tiny brushes or artistic talent. I can't wait to play with my whole set of 25 plates and see what designs I can whip up.

Nail stamping, I'm you're newest addict!

Beauty and the Beast come to life!

Am I the only one that still has a favorite Disney movie from childhood? I loved pretty much all the movies that came out while I was growing up but Beauty and the Beast was always my absolute favorite! I actually have the movie on DVD and still turn to watch it once in a while. It's just a sweet movie that I can't help but love.

So as a little surprise, Nick bought tickets to see the Broadway show of Beauty and the Beast and we went last night. It was actually pretty fantastic and we watched the show from only 3 rows away from the stage. There were a more adults there than children and everyone there was engaged in the show from the moment the overture started. The actors did a fantastic job and really brought the classic story to life. The woman that played Belle was wonderful and a surprising favorite was Gaston. He's supposed to be the character we hate but the guy that played his role just filled the stage. Of course he still had to have his over confident and blatant cocky ways but he became a crowd favorite pretty quickly. He had one of the loudest cheers at the end behind Belle and Beast. Lumiere was also a big hit and the guy that played him truly seemed to have fun with the role.

My favorites were the dance numbers, specifically the "Be Our Guest" song. From Lumeire to the enchanted dinnerware the entire song was fantastic. It ended with ribbons shooting over the audience. The other great dance number was a scene inside the bar with Gaston, his little sidekick and the local town people. It was a big hit with the whole crowd.

I always leave a live performance at a theater feeling fantastic. It's always so great to watch actors show their talent and really bring either a real or fictional character to life before your eyes. It was a fantastic night out that also included an awesome dinner at a restaurant that was near the theater. Such a great night out with my hubby!

A simple act of kindness.

It seems like people don't really help others out very often anymore. It's quite sad actually. So many people are so wrapped up in their own worlds and seem almost scared to help someone nearby. We saw this very thing happen this weekend.

We stopped at a local mall to pick up a few things and on our way to our car we saw a woman frantically trying to catch her small dog. The dog was running free in the parking lot and up to random people walking by. He was a small black and white dog that was probably about 15 pounds at most. He seemed to be having fun playing a little game of cat and mouse with his very scared owner. The parking lot was quite busy and with the dog being so small he could have easily been run over. As we walked down the aisle six different people passed the woman and her dog and either ignored her or held up their hands as if there was nothing they could do.

When we had come up on the woman the dog decided to trot further down the aisle for a nearby grassy patch as his owner repeatedly called his name. As he ran further away the woman turned back to her car to grab some french fries hoping to draw his attention. In the mean time my wonderful hubby followed the little dog around the bend into the next aisle of the parking lot. As the owner and I turned the corner there was Nick crouching near a grassy patch with the little dog sitting in between his legs enjoying some attention. The poor woman was so relieved and quickly snapped a leash onto his harness. She was still shaking a bit as she thanked us. She was obviously very grateful and happy that her little dog was once again safe. Why didn’t anyone else try to help before we even showed up?

Turns out she recently adopted the dog only a few weeks ago and he came from an abusive home. He was actually beaten and isn't always the most trusting of people. He jumped out of her car while she loaded some bags and decided the parking lot was as good as any place to play. Somehow though, my hubby was able to gain his trust very quickly. I don't know if the little dog just liked something about him or if it was the smell of the fudge we had just bought that was inside a bag Nick was carrying. Either way the little dog was safe because my sweet man decided to make sure that was the outcome. Because of him the whole thing only lasted about 5 minutes and that woman, her son and their excited dog were able to go home as a happy little family.

I've always known I have a keeper but this just proved how sweet of a man my Nick really is.

Zoya Caitlin

I truly am in love with Zoya. No other brand lasts as long for me as Zoya does and I can easily get a week of wear without damage. I would recommend this nail polish to anyone!

I bought Zoya Caitlin during a promo they had a few weeks ago which offered Caitlin and Dove as two freebies with any purchase. This is my first full mani with Caitlin and I'm in love. It went on very smooth (like all Zoya's I've tried so far) and was actually pretty opaque in one coat. I did use two just to cover the little spots that I missed. I then topped my nails off with Seche Vite which is one of my absolute must haves! (Ignore my broken nails in the pictures below.)

The color is actually a little difficult to describe. Zoya calls Caitlin a "Smoky purple-tinged medium gray with smooth, opaque creme finish. Sultry, mysterious and impossibly chic, a shade that will have everyone intrigued." The purple shows more in artifical light than natural for me. The picture above was taken indoors with only lamp light and you can see much more of the purple side of this beautiful color. Below is a picture taken in natural light by a window.

The color definitely gets attention. I made a trip to the grocery store and in a matter of five minutes I had two compliments from perfect strangers. It's not a color you see everywhere and it's quite intriguing as the description says. It's a perfect fall/winter color but can we worn year round for a nice break from the bright colors of summer. It's also perfect to wear to work even in the most conservative environments. It's considered a cool toned color but from the talk I've seen online it seems to work for a wide variety of skin tones. I think it would be a great alternative for people who like the dark color nail trends but aren't comfortable going for black or deeper grays.

I haven't been able to stop looking at my nails since I applied it and actually want to try some stamping with this color as well. All in all it's a beautiful color that I think I will return to frequently. It's a great addition to my growing collection!

MASH me baby!

My MASH stamping plates have arrived! I'm so excited for them to finally be here. The shipping time wasn't bad at all but the tracking number never worked. For some reason USPS kept rejecting it even though it was clearly one of their tracking numbers. Oh well, I'm just thrilled it's here and it ended up being a little bit of a surprise in my mail box. I took pictures as I opened the package to share.

The packaging was pretty good. It showed up in a bubble mailer with the plates inside a small plastic bag.

Then each plate is individually packaged in its own little baggy. It works pretty well since it keeps the plates from damaging each other and it's easy to sort through them before actually opening the packages. Plus there's a blue plastic film over each plate for further protection.

I purchase this set on Amazon as a set of 25 different image plates for $16.99 plus $3.99 for standard shipping. The original price is listed as $24.99 but they seem to always be discounted at some level. They do go in and out of stock a lot so if you see them listed as unavailable keep checking back. They're quite popular so I'm sure they won't be going anywhere but they do sell out sometimes. You can see the full listing with over 30 reviews here.

Unfortunately, I can't do anything with them since my stamp and scraper haven't shown up yet. I ordered them at the same time but they were shipped by different sellers one day apart. The tracking actually worked for them and it says it's out for delivery but it never showed up. The mailman came hours ago and delivered three other packages with no issues but not my Konad stamp and scraper. So annoying! I tried calling the post office and was redirected to a different branch which just put me into a never ending loop of ringing and a message that all attendants were busy. Then they closed at . So I'm hoping it will show up with tomorrow’s mail. If it doesn't I'll be at the actual post office demanding some type of real answer!

UPDATE: 6-8-11 --- My stamp and scraper finally showed up! Last night the tracking worried me because it changed from "out for delivery" (which it had been saying all day yesterday) to "location unknown." I was thinking I would end up in a battle with the post office just to get a tiny little package! But thankfully it showed up in my mail box today and all is well. If only I had time today to stamp!


Oh what a world! I had severe breakage on two nails today and it's just horrible. I was helping my Aunt Claire put an air conditioner in her bedroom window when it happened. She let go to grab the plug but I had no idea that was what she was going to do at that exact moment. So I had to quickly grab it to keep it from falling out of the window and snap snap. Just like that my index and middle finger on my right hand became stubby little pathetic things and had torn my newspaper mani to hell. It was truly a sad moment. Especially since my nails still looked perfect after 6 days! Such a sad way for it to go.

So now my nails are short and I'm not happy about it. At all. I'm deciding on what color I should paint them to kind of distract me from the damage. Hopefully they will grow out quickly so I can get back to trying some fun designs. Especially since I'm only days away from my new nail stamping kit being delivered! I'm so looking forward to it. Plus I did an exchange with a woman on the Zoya discussion board and have a wonderful bottle Breezi on its way to me as I write. I cannot wait to test her out!

Waiting on the mailman.

I sometimes wonder if everyone gets excited when they're waiting for something they bought to be delivered the way I do. I adore shopping online. The only part that sucks is the 3-7 day wait for the package to arrive. Right now I'm waiting on a nail stamping kit and I'm so excited for it to get here! Before I ordered a set I looked through tons of pages of pictures that people have posted using Konad and Bundle Monster image plates and I loved them! There are so many that I want to try. But since I'm just starting out and have never done a true nail stamp in my life I decided not to jump into the Konad plates quite yet. I want to get a feel for it and see if it's the right thing for me before I spend $7.00 per image plate.

Instead I ordered a beginner set by MASH. It's 25 image plates that are actually duplicates of the Konad designs. It has great reviews on Amazon with a 5 star rating and over 25 individual reviews. Most people seem really happy with the quality and many claim to have compared them directly with Konad. I can't wait to for them to get here so I can try them out!

I will definitely write about them when they arrive and my first attempts with them. I'm sure it will be a little messy at first but that's all part of the fun anyway.

Addiction in the making.

My name is Brynn and I am a nail polish addict. There, I said it. They say the first step is admitting it so I figured I could just get that out of the way. Now we can get on to the fun!

I've always loved painted nails and for several years I religiously visited a nail salon for full acrylics. Like many teens I thought they were awesome and absolutely loved them. Then when I stopped I couldn't believe the damage they left behind! I never expected my nails to be so weak and brittle with an obvious line across each nail from where the last fake nail had been which seemed to take forever to grow out. They were horrible. But instead of treating the issues to bring them back I just let them do what they wanted. I also picked right back where I left off in my horrible nail biting habit which only made things worse. Before I knew it several years had passed and there hadn't really been much improvement.

Fast forward to middle of last year and I randomly decided I wanted to buy some nail polish. I didn't have a single bottle in my house and hadn't in years. My first manicure at home was pretty messy on stubby weak nails. Even still I realized how much I had missed it. I loved how much better my hands looked with some polish and I felt good. So that led to more bottles and learn on the job nail care. Well it worked and I'm happy to say that today they are healthy, strong and grow quite quickly.

Only a week ago did I try my first design which was a simple scotch tape single stripe mani for Memorial Day. I was simple and not much of a risk but it seemed to open a floodgate since all it did was make me want to do more. So I started checking out different tutorials online and came across a picture of newspaper mani. I instantly fell in love and new I had to try it. I hunted down a newspaper and some rubbing alcohol and went to work. A little while later I had newsprint nails and realized I had found a new love. Here's the picture.

I think the color actually was perfect for this technique. It's Zoya Dove which is a color I didn't love at first but after doing this it has now found a permanent home in my collection. My Hubby was very confused when he first saw what I was doing but ended up really liking the outcome. Some family members on the other hand have declared it weird and told me I had too much time on my hands. Oh well, you can't please everyone. I've been wearing it for four days now and I've gotten tons of compliments on it. The woman at my bank loved it and even asked for information on how to do the same thing.

There was no turning back now, I wanted to learn more designs, learn new techniques and see what else I could do. So why the blog? I could certainly do all of that without starting one but as soon as I completed the new manicures I wanted to show everyone I knew. I talk about everything nails all the time but I'm saying it to people that aren't really as into as I am. So instead of driving my friends and family crazy talking about nail polish and nail art all the time I decided I might as well make a blog and other nail addicts and I could share in our addiction together.

I know there are plenty of nail blogs out there and I won't pretend to be an instant expert about nail art. I'm actually far from it. I'm still learning but I decided I might as well share the journey and have some fun along the way. I've always loved writing and I love blogging. So it's a great marriage between an old love and a new one. I know we will have some fun!