Black and White Houndstooth Stamp!

At the last minute I decided to do a new mani design after my Zoya Pippa and OPI White Shatter nails took a beating the last couple days. I randomly picked a design and dove in with the plan of it just getting me through the weekend. What I didn't count on was falling in love with the finished product!

Some of you might remember how much I dislike working with my OPI Alpine Snow. White can be tricky in general but whenever I use this it seems like I'm 10 times more messy than I am with anything else. I'm not sure if it's because of it being a stubborn white or if I'm just not used to the large brush of OPI polishes but either way I kind of dread using it. This is one time though that I'm so glad I used it anyway!

I decided on a black and white design using the houndstooth design on plate m63 of my MASH plates. I've been eyeing this design for a while but kept picking other things. Now I'm wondering what took me so long! I didn't take a picture of the Alpine Snow because I was distracted by the hurricane update and then just started stamping. But I do have a picture of it from my 4th of July designs that I'll share just so you can see how it looks on its own.

(Ignore the 4th of July design on the other nails.)

This is two coats which isn't too bad considering it's a white which usually aren’t all that opaque. It goes on very streaky during the first coat but should even out with the second. I'm not sure if it's just my bottle or the formula but it's been kind of clumpy from the start and I've only had it a short time. It’s most definitely not anywhere near as smooth as my other polishes. It's just another thing that frustrates me about using it. Sorry OPI! Anyway, moving on to the good part!

How fun is that? I'm so in love with it that I don't even know what to say because I keep staring at my nails instead of typing. The way the black and white look together is fantastic and looks much better in person than the camera shows. You can see a small mistake on my index finger which the camera makes more noticeable than it is in person. I'm very low on my mini bottle of Orly Blackout so I decided to just leave it. Orly has been stamping pretty well for me so I might stick with it for black but a full size bottle instead. We'll just have to see how it goes when I'm actually at the store.

I'm not sure how normal it is to take the time to have nice looking nails in preparation for a hurricane but I couldn't just leave them all chipped and horrible looking. Plus I was pretty bored since the hubby was playing something on the ps3 and I was sort of sick of hearing about the ever changing forecast.

I hope those in the path of Hurricane Irene stay safe and everyone else send positive thoughts to the east coast!

Never a dull moment.

I've mentioned here a few times that things have been pretty hectic around here for the last month but I haven't really shared anything. I've been waiting until there seemed to be a resolution to the mess and it took this long to get there. I'll start from the beginning.

The first week of August, Nick (the hubby) was in a car accident. Yeah, that kind of mess. He's fine and thankfully only had a minor injury to his leg which I'll get to in a bit. The real damage was to the car. Unfortunately it was totaled which is really sad for a car that was less than a year old. Sigh. To make a long story short, someone decided to be an idiot and cut of another car. That caused a domino effect of cars slamming on their brakes and into each other. My hubby actually managed to slow his car and not hit the person in front of him but another vehicle slammed into him which pushed his car into the one in front of his. In total, five cars were involved and the person that caused the entire thing was long gone.

Like I said, he is okay! He did end up with a small tear in his calf muscle from bracing for the impact which turned into a large colorful bruise and is now a hard lump in his leg. Considering what could have happened this is very minor and something we're very grateful for! The car did its job and took the full impact and even left him whiplash free. It's truly amazing the impact cars can take! The other drivers refused medical treatment at the scene so we can only assume they're all fine but you never know what pops up after the adrenaline wears off. Another good thing is this accident was completely not his fault so all the cost will actually go on the insurance of someone else. Who exactly that will be is another part of the mess with so many people involved.

He had a rental for a week and a half and initially we decided he could just use my car for a while since I work from home and don't really need it during the day. Except life was having too much fun and threw another wrench into the mix. Right before all this happened I decided I couldn't stand being at home all day everyday anymore so I started applying for new jobs in my previous line of work. Two weeks after his accident I was offered a new job. Something that would usually be very exciting was suddenly an 'oh crap' moment because it was just about the worst timing. We suddenly had a mad dash to decide what he would get for a second car and getting one quickly before my new job started. Phew!

The good news is he now has a brand new car he is very happy with and I had my car back just in time to start my new job. How's that for a month? We found it pretty stressful especially dealing with insurance companies and the company that owned his lease that he lost in the middle of it all. Actually, we're still dealing with them and it doesn't look like it will end soon. The insurance company was the easier of the two as they agreed right away to the pay off amount for his lease. The real problem is the company that owned the lease is taking their sweet time processing that pay off check.

So that's the way things have been going here lately. I am enjoying my new job though. It's taking me a bit to get used to the new schedule since my days had been pretty laid back for a while but it's nice having something to really do all day since our at home business really doesn't need me most of the time. We're also going away for a long weekend in early September which we need after all this! I'm hoping after the trip our life will settle back down and find a new rhythm that lets me get more manicures done!

But we have to get through Hurricane Irene first. Fingers crossed!

Zoya Pippa with OPI White Shatter!

Sorry for the smaller number of posts this month! I just realized August is almost over and I only have a handful for the entire month. Unfortunately life has been in the way for the last several weeks and I'm not doing any where near as many manicures as I would like. Hopefully things will settle a bit soon and I'll get back on track. I'll share about the things that have been going on in a post this week! Anyway, back to the nails.

Today I decided to do a final burst of summer before settling into the wonderful fall colors all the brands are putting out. Fall is my favorite season so I'm looking forward to it but I'm still holding onto summer a little. So, I decided to finally whip out my Zoya Pippa to share! I bought this color during a promotion a couple months ago and only used it on my toes until now. It's a very bright yellow so it can be a bit overwhelming but oh so pretty!

This color was so hard to photograph! All my pictures were showing it so much lighter than it was in person and I just couldn't post that. I try so hard to give you accurate color representations and I couldn't let myself settle. After walking from room to room and trying different lighting I grabbed a different camera. I had to fight with that one to take a clear picture and finally managed a clear and accurate picture which you see above. Phew!

As for the color itself, it's a bright mustard yellow that always grabs attention! Its formula is a bit thinner than other Zoya's but still very smooth and easy to work with. Yellows are notorious for being streaky though so I used 1 coat of OPI Alpine Snow before using Pippa and it worked perfectly! Above is only one coat of Pippa over the white. If I was going to wear this color on its own I would have done a second coat but I planned to use the shatter so I left it as is. Still though, considering it's a thin yellow polish it covered really well with the white base!

Then to tone down the yellow just a bit I used my OPI White Shatter which was really just an excuse to use it again. It's so much fun watching it do its thing that even my Hubby stood nearby watching over my shoulder. He was impressed that it happened so fast. It's like magic in a bottle!

Even with the white the brightness of Pippa still shows through! I know so many people are tired of the shatters especially now that every brand seems to have their own version but I still love it every time. Of course I used Seche Vite over the top to smooth everything out and give it a shiny look as the shatters dry very matte. Plus the shatter does leave a rough texture on your nails so if you're used to the smoothness of most nail polish a top coat is a must. I also used a coat of Seche Vite over the yellow before I shattered.

For those of you that have never used a shatter before I want to point out you must wait until your nails are completely dry before using any shatter or crackle to get the right reaction. It's another reason I use Seche Vite to help it dry quickly and solid.

My last grab of summer before embracing fall is complete and I think I succeeded with this being a very bright and sunny mani! I'm looking forward to the blues, grays, browns and other fun colors of fall and all the designs I can do with that. Of course my pinks will still make their way in there too as I can never be completely without my favorite color.

I hope you're having a good week!

Stamping Tutorial! (Picture heavy)

**I've decided to start using watermarks on my photos after seeing someone use one of my pictures that they saved off Google. I hope you're still able to enjoy the pictures and just simply pretend the watermark isn't there. Sorry I had to resort to this!**

As promised, here is my stamping tutorial! I know I would have never jumped into stamping if not for tutorials posted by other nail lovers so I wanted to offer readers of this blog that same help. Stamping can sound complicated at first but I assure it's not only easy but fun! I should also warn you that it's completely addicting as proven by the numerous posts on this blog that involve stamping. So, I lets get to it!

First you will need image plates which are offered by several different brands including the well known Konad. I use MASH plates which are duplicates of many Konad designs for a much lower price. Bundle Monster is another popular one and also affordable. No matter which of these brands you pick this tutorial will still apply!

You will also need the following:

Scraper (you can also get away with an old credit card)
Nail polish remover
Q-tips or cotton pads (I prefer q-tips)
Paper towel or something to protect your work surface
Nail polishes
Top coat

Once you have your colors and design picked out you will need to apply your base coat (if you use one - you should!) and base color. I almost always use two coats but you can decide based on the color you’re using. Next I would recommend using a top coat (I use Seche Vite) on your base color before stamping. This will give you a bit of a buffer if you make any mistakes later allowing you to use a q-tip and some remover to take off the design without removing your base color. This has saved me several times!

When your nails are dry you're ready to stamp! The first picture shows how I typically set up my stamping tools. I always do this at my dining room table so I can spread out a bit and have a sturdy flat surface to work on. I use a sheet of paper towel folded in half to protect my table and I use q-tips with remover to clean the plate and stamper as I go to prevent the color from building up.


Step 1: Brush some nail polish onto the image of your choice. I usually only put the polish on half of the design (especially full nail images).

Step 2: Use your scraper (or old credit card) and firmly 'scrape' the polish across the image which will fill in the rest of the design. This is where the paper towel comes in handy as some polish will be pushed off the plate so be sure to protect your work surface! Sometimes you will need to scrape twice depending on how much polish you put on the design.

Step 3: Press your stamper firmly and evenly onto the design to pick up the image. Check your stamper to be sure the design transferred properly and isn't too thick or smudged. If it is, use remover and a q-tip to clean the stamper and start again. If it looks smudged on the stamper than it will on the nail as well.

Step 4: Line up the image with the side of your nail and gently but firmly roll the stamper from one side of the nail to the other. (This method is the best for full nail designs but some smaller designs can simply be pressed onto the desired location.)

Tada! You should now have your selected design stamped across your nail. Here is how my final result looked.

If you're happy with how it looks you can repeat the process for your other nails. You will get some of the stamp on your skin but it will remove easily with remover. If you made a mistake you can simply use the tip from above and remove it gently with a q-tip and nail polish remover while leaving your base color intact. If you do this I recommend adding a layer of top coat again before re-stamping. Then of course a layer of top coat over all your designs to keep them looking beautiful!

Important tip: As you stamp all your nails you will need to clean up the stamper and image plate as you go. I usually do two nails in a row before cleaning the plate but usually clean the stamper after each transfer. It's important to keep the color from building up on any of the tools so you get as clean of a design as possible. I recommend using q-tips instead of cotton pads since they tend to fall apart but it's up to your personal choice.

Picking your polish: The good news is you can use just about anything you want. Konad makes special stamping polishes that they recommend but you don't have to limit yourself to just those. Plenty of brands work very well with stamping; it's just trial and error and personal preference. I've used Zoya, Sally Hansen, OPI and Orly with great results so don't be afraid to try whatever brand you have in your collection!

As for color, the general rule is the more opaque the polish the better it will stamp but you won't know if it will work until you try. Play around with different combinations and see what works. There are so many choices and the designs you could make are just about endless. Play with your polishes and have fun with it. You just might surprise yourself and love something unexpected!

What I used: For the design in this tutorial I used Zoya Jolene as a base color and Sally Hansen Complete Manicure 'I Pink I Can'. I also used Zoya Anchor as my base and Seche Vite as my top coat. My image plate is m63 by MASH and my scraper and stamper are by Konad. You can also see my bottle of Zoya Remove+ and my cute pink q-tips (I told you I love pink!)

I hope this helps some of you jump into stamping or help if you're having issues. I'm by no means an expert but this is what works for me and I've had great results. Like anything else the more you practice the better you'll get and before you know it you will fly through the process in no time. Don't get discouraged by mistakes, we all make them. Just clean it up and start again. Sometimes you have to play around with how much polish you use on the image and the way you apply it to your nail. Overall, the steps in this tutorial should set you on the right path to making beautiful designs!

Happy stamping!

Zoya Dove with Caitlin stamping!

Today I have another stamped design to share that I created with two of my Zoya colors. I know I said my next stamping manicure would be a tutorial but I did this at about this morning and was so tired that I completely forgot to document the entire process. I will do it though, I swear!

Anyway, this design was actually picked by my hubby after I didn't like the first image he picked. Overall it came out really well except for one nail. The weird part is I never even noticed the mistake until after I had cleaned up and put a layer of my top coat on. Talk about not paying attention! It's pretty noticeable in the pictures but less so in person so I've decided to just leave it, at least for now.

Above is Zoya Dove which I truly love more than I ever thought I would. I actually bought this color during a promotion Zoya offered that gave away Dove and Caitlin together with a purchase. I knew I wanted Caitlin from the moment I saw it online but assumed I wouldn't like Dove too much and was planning to swap it before it even arrived. Except to my surprise, I loved it! This is only my second time using it as a full mani and the first was with the newspaper design so I really need to find more excuses to use it. The formula is very smooth and the color is easily opaque in two coats. It's a great color for fall and pairs really well with Caitlin which I also used in this design. You can see another design I did with these two colors reversed from June.

For the above design I used MASH plate m60 with Caitlin to make the thin plaid image. This one was a bit trickier than others since the lines of the image are so thin they had a tendency to drag across the nail a little which might have been what caused the mistake I mentioned before. If you look at the base of my ring finger you can see a chunk of Dove is completely missing the design. I still can't believe I didn't notice while doing it. I guess I was even more tired than I thought.

Besides the little nail fail I really like how this looks. Caitlin and Dove work perfectly together and both are great for stamping. This mani is very fall-ish which I'm kind of not ready for so I might not wear it for too long. I still want to enjoy the bright colors of summer before giving into the upcoming change of seasons. Fall is my favorite though so I'll be enjoying all the fantastic seasonal colors coming out but I still want my bright summer fun for a bit longer!

I hope everyone had a good week and will have an even better weekend. We have a lot going on here that’s pretty stressful that I'll share later but it's nice to lose myself in a fun mani for a bit!

Zoya Laney & Jolene with stamping! - Updated!

This is my first time ever wearing silver nail polish and I was a little worried I wouldn't be happy with it. Surprisingly I am. I wouldn't say its my favorite one I've ever done but its fun and a change for me. Plus I was able to play with one of my new colors mixed with one of my favorites. What's better than that?

Zoya Laney is from my most recent Zoya order that also came with Charla and Gilda from my most two recent posts. It's actually shocking that I ordered this color at all and even my hubby was a bit surprised since I've never reached for a silver polish before. Life is fun when you change it up a bit, so here we go!

This is Laney with only one coat which I almost never do but the coverage was pretty decent and I was planning to stamp over it anyway. You can see that it was a little streaky which was a bit frustrating but I decided to just hope that the designs would minimize it.

For me, Laney seemed to play some tricks on me. On their site they describe Laney as, "Silver metallic duochrome. A frosty hint of green creates a unique "oil-slick" look." The description sounded interesting so I was really curious how it would look on. When I looked at the bottle I could see the green hiding inside the silver pretty well. Then I put on the nail and it seemed to lose most of what the description promised. On the nail there is no green to be found and I cannot see an 'oil-slick' look at all. It is metallic in the right light though so at least that part is coming through. I'm not sure why the features of this color didn't translate and maybe it would a bit more had I done a second coat but I'm still happy with this color. I've always preferred silver jewelry over gold so I guess that's not too surprising.

Since I decided I needed more stamping designs in my life I pulled out my MASH plates and picked a design from plate m64. I used a flower/paisley full nail design using Zoya Jolene over the silver Laney.

I really like the pink and silver contrast but I wish I had picked a thicker design so that the pink showed up more. Besides that though, I'm happy with how it looks. I almost used black but decided at the last second to use the same pink I currently have on my toes. Plus Zoya Jolene is one of my absolute favorite Zoya colors so it's pretty hard for me not to reach for it.

As usual the stamping went wonderfully and I've noticed I'm getting faster and faster with the process! I really should make a tutorial for stamping soon since it wasn't until I saw one that made me finally jump in and buy a set. Maybe next time I stamp I'll do a whole tutorial for those interested.

Hope you have a fun weekend!

UPDATE: So, apparently Laney does have flashes of green on the nail after all but only in the right lighting. In my house the green is completely missing in action but at the restaurant we went to tonight, you could see the green a bit when my hand moved just right. I haven't seen the color in the sunlight yet so maybe that will bring it out even more. I'll update if it makes a difference!