Saturday, July 30, 2011

China Glaze Ahoy! -- out of my comfort zone

Happy weekend, y'all!

The China Glaze Anchors Away collection confused me profoundly. OK, maybe not profoundly, but enough to make me think I would like certain polishes only to see them in person, change my mind, and start eyeing the other ones in the bunch. Ahoy! is definitely one of the colors I eventually started eyeing, and I bought it last month at Ulta at a local NB meetup before we went out for Mexican food. (For the record, there was no enabling at all from the other ladies, just my pathetically low resistance to anything nautical.)

Two years ago, my OPI-loving, non-pink-wearing, creme hoor self would have passed this one over without blinking.
China Glaze? PINK? Jelly? GLASS FLECK? Ha! Not happening. Nope.

Not one bit.

I promise I'm not staring at my nails right now.

This was three coats for full opacity with SV. If it's the jelly look you're after, you can stop at one coat, when the base color looks a lot lighter. At three coats, the base is a warm-leaning fuchsia/raspberry, deeper than these pics can show. (The culprit HAS to be the glass fleck freaking out my phone.)

For something that is planets away from my comfort zone, I like this a lot on me. I've had it on for a day already and I only wish the base color was cooler than it appears in some lights; other than that, the glass fleck is gorgeous. I think I'll hang on it! Am I broken, or are my tastes evolving? --Don't worry, I'm not going to start wearing glitter any time soon!

Anchors Away was this spring's offering from China Glaze. The whole caboodle is very very ETF, and you should still be able to find them at Ulta. I would say to grab them before the Metros come in, but Ulta charges too much for ChG and you can get a much better deal online from an e-tailer on Amazon, eBay, or 8ty8/H2T/VNS/etc., especially if you order more than one polish.

Y'all up to anything good this weekend? I took my dad to the movies this afternoon as a delayed Father's Day outing -- I kept trying to get him to go see "Captain America," but he opted for "Cowboys & Aliens." Oh boy. Let me do you a solid and tell you to go see "Captain America" instead ... unless you're like me and want to have babies with pretty much every other guy in "Cowboys & Aliens," it's disappointingly bleh, and even then, it's still crazy underwhelming. Oh well. They can't all be winners. :(

I also went to the Verizon store to see what, if anything, could be done about my phone. Sadly, I'm not eligible for another upgrade until December, so I'll have to purchase a replacement in the meantime. Until I decide on one,
though, I'll do my best to keep the pics coming. :)

Have a good Sunday, and thank you for reading!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Essie Meet Me at Sunset

Short story: I might need a new phone, and I might be getting one in the next couple of days. :( (The "long story" version will be at the tail end of this post.) I don't think that'll change too much about what I do here, except for perhaps the quality of my photos, but I didn't want to not blog in the meantime.

On to the polish!

I'll be honest, the promo pics for this one didn't blow my hair back. I was --and am -- pretty happy with the "turban orange" color from the StrangeBeautiful Vol. 4 set. In fact, that polish immediately leapt to mind when I first saw the Essie Braziliant collection at Rite Aid! I passed on it and contented myself with Smooth Sailing.

Fast forward a month or so later until I saw my friend Anna's pics of Meet Me at Sunset on MUA and my grabby hands needed it! Funnily enough, I finally watched "Doctor Who: The Waters of Mars" yesterday (and yes, this reminds me of the warm-toned Martian landscape) wherein The Doctor said something about water being patient and eventually wearing you down. Sounds a lot like a lemming, doesn't it? Luckily, I was able to swap with a total sweetie pie for it. And I pretty much love it. Yes. Yes, yes I do.

Please note that my skin is a lot more "yaller" than these pictures make it look! I think what makes Meet Me at Sunset so striking to me is that it goes really well with my skin tone and while it brings out the yellow, I don't quite look jaundiced. I don't know how to explain it, LOL.

Three lovely coats with Essie Good to Go.

If this polish had a drop more red in it, I would say it's what I hoped Essie Vermillionaire would be! One finish Essie does exceptionally well is the jelly-creme hybrid, and Meet Me at Sunset is no exception. I say "jelly-creme" because it's a creme finish, but it's got a little jellyish squishy goodness going on, too (other Essies like this include Pretty Edgy and Turquoise & Caicos). If you stop at the first coat, you'll see the jelly factor.

I'll even venture to say that this is a fairly work-appropriate orange, as it's surprisingly subtle for something in that color family. I don't know how else to describe it other than to say, yes, it's orange, but it's not ... WHAMPOW! ORANGE! It's a tad muted, which makes it pretty wearable, and while it's not completely a burnt sienna/fall kind of shade, I'll probably pull this one out again in a couple of months. It reminds me of leaf piles and pumpkin spice coffee and my favorite corduroy blazer and outlet shopping in Williamsburg (...) and knitting and football (...) and oh my god, I'm getting so excited for fall already!

Meet Me at Sunset is from this summer's Brazil-themed collection -- I'm not sure if this was a retail-only collection while the Resort collection was salon-only. I say this only because I noticed that Essie also put out two summer collections last summer, in addition to the yearly wedding collection. Last summer's were also a 4-piece Resort collex (Lapis of Luxury, Turquoise & Caicos, etc.), and a 6-piece unnamed summer collection (Pretty Edgy, Demure Vixen, etc.). So I don't know what the deal is this year, whether anything was spurred on by the L'Oreal takeover or something e
lse entirely! It also turns out that this Braziliant collection has been released in the usual salon version (no "Essie" sticker on the bottle, just the usual embossed E cap), in case you were wondering. :)

OK, so here's the deal with my phone.

Long story: My beloved little Droid Eris started behaving on the fritz eleven days ago. It does everything it needs to do (accessing mobile web, apps, texting, pictures and voicemail? A-OK!) except for letting me make calls where the person on the other end can hear me. >_< The Verizon store hasn't really helped, and my tech-savvy BF lives 2.5 hours away, so my tech-savvy dad thinks it's time to get a new phone.

It was kind of funny at first because I thought it was a BF-only problem. I was leaving my friend's engagement party across town and called to ask if I should pick anything up for dinner on the way back. The phone call went something like this:

Me: "Hello? I saw a corgi! Did you get a cat? ... hello?" (We'd gone pet-gazing at PetsMart, as we do on Saturdays, and he joked he might get a cat when I came back)

BF: "Hello? ... (pause) ... hello?"

BF: "... hello? Um, I can't hear you, so if you're talking to me ... hello?"

Me: "Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?"

BF: "... hello? SHIT."

Me: "Helloooooooo?"

BF: *proceeds to leave me something like a voicemail even though it's ... not
exactly a voicemail*

Initially I thought it was because coverage can be spotty where he lives, but nope! I was inconvenienced on a few other occasions -- for example, when I couldn't talk to my sister about meeting up, or listen to my friend tell me about a disastrous date, or call another friend when I saw his car in the parking lot for the midnight "Captain America" showing (which was amazing, BTW). I had to text all of them, much to my annoyance. The Verizon store I went to didn't really help ... I'll go to another one and see what they have to say. I've had my phone since April of last year, so we've been through a lot together! Poor little soldier. :(

As always, thank you for reading!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Orly Green with Envy, a no-brainer favorite

Before I get into anything, I just want to say a huge THANK YOU to my first few followers! It doesn't matter if you're in it for the polish or the rambling or if you're simply humoring me -- I'm very happy to have you along. :D

Once you get to know me, you will find out that basic decision-making definitely is
not one of my strengths, whether I'm choosing a new career path, where to grab lunch, or which polish to wear. At least I have the nail board to help me with the last one! Next week is Orly brand theme week + "old favorites" week, so I went for a twofer.

Orly Green with Envy is one of my all-time favorite polishes, and I love it on my fingers and my toes. It even has "desert island" status to me, I love it so fooking hard ...
... even if it too is a bish to photograph because it's one of those freaky teal/turquoise shades. It does leans on the green side of that, though!

This is three coats with Essie Good to Go. Here it is in the sunlight, leaning blue,

and here it is under my kitchen lighting, which is more color-accurate. Sorry for the lobster hands! I think I need to invest in an OttLite and make a lightbox for these problematic colors.

Green with Envy is a jelly, if you're into jellies***. The formula is a bit watery but the polish applies and dries well. I love Orly so, so much -- I think it's a pretty underrated brand. I love the rubberized cap, I love the skinny (but wieldy!) brush, I love the 0.6 oz bottle ... and just ... love. I get good wear out of the Orlys I've tried, which makes me a very happy panda!

Also, I can't believe I almost forgot this, but SpaRitual has a dupe for Green with Envy. It's called Emerald City -- it is *exactly* like Green with Envy, but I guess the ingredients are slightly different for vegan ingredient purposes.

I can't remember if Ulta carries Green with Envy, but I know you can find it in the core Orly display at Sally's and it's very ETF online. I've also run across it at a few CVS stores in hoity-toity sections of town. I bought mine at Sally's last year with the $5 coupon for getting a Sally card, so I paid practically nothing. In fact, unless Ulta has a B2G1 going, I actually recommend going to Sally for Orlys -- they retail there cheaper than they do at Ulta, and you can't beat their clearance prices. Usually there's a pretty good deal going on, like the one last month when I bought three of the Happy Go Lucky polishes when Orly was $4.99 a bottle. :)

(True story: After I learned what a jelly was, I decided I was most certainly not a fan of them -- I like my polishes extremely opaque, thank you very much! Well, it turned out that three of my favorite polishes when I started collecting two summers ago *were* jellies: this one, OPI Dating a Royal, and OPI Green-wich Village. I didn't even realize they were jellies because (1) I keep my nails pretty short anyway and VNL is usually not an issue, and (2) three coats is Standard Rach. It never once occurred to me that these polishes could be squishier in texture than my beloved cremes.)

While I'm on the subject of favorites, here's my favorite Amy Winehouse recording of this song. Now after watching the official video with Mark Ronson (who, like most hipsters, I keep finding adorable even though I shouldn't), I find it kind of eerie that she wasn't in it at all.

This video isn't that video, but it's the same audio version that I have, and a damn good one.

DAMN YOU, 27 CLUB. ;__; RIP, Amy!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

China Glaze Frostbite, my "Captain America" midnight mani

My Summer 2011 movie season comes to an end tonight with Marvel's "Captain America: The First Avenger." I hope it's EPIC WIN, kinda like this color! (Just not like the photos you're about to see. Those are EPIC FAIL.)

If you know anything about Cap, then I hope you at least giggle at my pick! If you do not, I suggest you locate, with the quickness,

(1) a picture of Chris Evans' chest (this won't help, but helloooooooo.), and
(2) your nearest movie theater so you too can give Marvel Studios your money this weekend.

I'm not into nail art or anything like that on myself, so here's my super simple, rinky-dink "Captain America: TFA" mani, something we've all seen a kajillion times, China Glaze Frostbite. And after these photos, I guess it's a good thing we've seen it a kajillion times!

Early morning sunlight. Um, no.

The pics were so washed out, I thought doctoring them in Picnik would be my best bet. :( My kingdom country for a real digital camera! And PhotoShop! (Cap would smack me so hard right now.) Here is one attempt.

Still ... not quite there ... so I waited for afternoon light.

*Much* better! But then in the shade ... not so much.

Later in the evening I drove my mom to Ross, and while browsing the home decor section, I decided to try snapping a pic in the store lighting. Color me silly ...

SUCCESS! This was a smack-me-in-the-face reminder that different lighting obviously yields different results for different finishes and colors. In this case, artificial was best, followed by afternoon sunlight. Until now, I've been relying on morning and afternoon sun 99% of the time.

I used my standard three coats of Frostbite with Essie Good to Go. Something tells me Poshe or even SV would have been a better choice of top coat. Completely drying top coat is not enough for me today -- I wanted maximum shine! :(

Another thing: this polish REEKS. I'm not sure what the culprit is (pigment?), because two of my SH XtremeWears, Pacific Blue and Wet Cement, smell exactly the same way. My brush was a little wonky and seemed to stay in one direction if I pressed too hard on it, but this wasn't as big of a deal as the smell. You'd never know it by the amount of China Glaze polishes I have, but I'm not a huge China Glaze fan. Maybe it's the bottle shape, the ridiculous drying time, or the inconsistent formulas that get my goat. Maybe my body chemistry is simply not compatible with China Glaze. I'm not sure.

However, I'm glad I have Frostbite in my collection! I only wore cremes (my one twoo wuv) and didn't start wearing shimmers until last October. When I asked the nail board for more jewel-toned shades, this was always among the suggestions. Now that I'm wearing it? Oh yeah, I absolutely see why this oldie but goodie comes so highly recommended!

Frostbite is from China Glaze's 2007 Winter Ski Collection. If you don't have it, it's in the core ChG display at Sally's with collection mates Vertical Rush, Avalanche and Black Diamond. It's also easy to buy online.

So yessss. Frostbite = epic color win, epic photo fail. "Captain America" = to be determined.
If you're heading out to watch the movie this weekend, enjoy! :D

(BTW, Cap fans -- if you have any favorites or recommendations for ETF titles, this girl would be much obliged!)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Essie Beach Bum Blu, a surprise summer fave

After watching the "FNL" finale and a couple of Season Two "Dexter" episodes with my friend Krysi on Friday night, I decided to go get a couple of beers at one of my favorite local establishments. It's been forever since I've knocked back any beers (+2) alone (+2) in public (+1), so I wasn't sure if it was a good idea, especially once I realized I was drinking on a not-so-full stomach. Surprisingly, I enjoyed myself quite a bit, and I'm glad I went out! (Plus, the bartender hooked me up with a very nice Bell's that was WAY better than what I usually have and so of course I can't remember its name! Grrr.)

This sort of brings me to how I came to today's NOTD, Essie Beach Bum Blu -- I generally like Essie and most aqua-colored polishes, though I usually avoid frosts like the plague (or an episode of "Glee"). This polish had been sitting in my stash since spring and I felt that maybe mid-July was a good time to take it out for a whirl.

Well, to quote Sergeant James Doakes,

Because I *love* this polish!

Here it is with three coats and Essie Good to Go top coat. Gorgeous, no? Look at how this baby glows. Now here's a frost I can get down with! I think it's perfect for summer.

In the shade:

In all its frosty glory:

This polish is a hair greener than it appears here. And although I've never worn Minx, this is what I imagine it's like.

The application and the formula were great. The polish flowed onto the nail, and it wasn't insanely brushstroke-y, something frosty polishes tend to be. I love that it straddles the line between frost and metallic, and its particular shade of aqua/turquoise has enough depth to separate it from the typical frosty aqua offerings (I don't have this polish any more or any pics of it, but China Glaze Adore comes to mind). It dried quickly on its own as well as with the Essie GtG top coat.

Now my friend LizzardVanReptile said this stained like a mofo upon removal. I can't comment on that yet, but I will on Thursday when I slap on my "Captain America" mani. (I just bought my midnight ticket. *happy dance*)

: No staining on my nail plate with my base combo of Essie Fill the Gap and Gelous, but lots of staining around the cuticles and skin. I think this was due to the fact that I kept trying to use the same corners of the felt square I was using!

Beach Bum Blu is one of the retail-exclusive polishes in the Essie retail line, available at Wal-Mart, Target, CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid and other drugstores. I think I picked mine up at Target for $7.79.

Do you have any polishes that were surprise summer favorites, any favorites from the Essie retail line, a favorite seasonal beer, or a favorite season of "Dexter"? :)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Wet n Wild FastDry Sea Witch, and Happy "Dance with Dragons" Day!

OMG. Happy "A Dance with Dragons" Day, y'all!!!!!

Anyone getting this today? I'm not yet, partly because I am obsessive about waiting for paperbacks and equally obsessive about owning matching editions. (This has become a recent #firstworldproblems-worthy nightmare because of the new "HBO's ~NEW SERIES~ OMG" editions, and I liked the Youll cover art, damn it.)

More importantly, I'm still less than 300 pages away from finishing "A Clash of Kings." >__<

Naturally, I wanted to mark this momentous day with a themed NOTD, so I dug into my stash looking for a blurple? indigo? to match the cover of my copy of "CoK." (Heh heh heh.) I came up with Wet n Wild Sea Witch, which was almost too perfect -- I seem to be doing water/nautical-themed polishes this month, and Sea Bitch is the name of Theon Greyjoy's boat.

As I loathe (Prince) Theon Greyjoy and I despise these stinking WnW FastDry brushes, I was prepared to detest this polish with every fiber of my --

Ooooooooooooooh. Pretty!This is three coats with SH Insta-Dri, which for some reason decided to bubble insanely. I wonder if that was the humidity or the ceiling fan going on in my room (I know ... but in my defense, it was at the lowest possible setting).

It mostly looks like my middle two fingers here, but the blue shimmer freaks out pics. On top of that, we all know purple is a notoriously difficult color to photograph!

Exhibits A and B:

And here it is under artificial light in my room last night -- the best color matching photo I could find. Sorry about the lack of clean-up at this point!

Sea Witch is from this summer's WnW Mermaid's Cove collection, along with the famous Waves of Enchantment and several other polishes. Apparently the displays for WnW polishes this year have been even spottier than usual, so I was quite tempted to grab it when I originally chanced upon it in late May at a CVS in Charlotte, NC. However, shopping with my boyfriend in tow tends to curb my impulses, and I stayed on my best behavior. As soon as we got in the car, I regretted it, of course! So you better believe I practically cleaned out a display at another CVS two days later when we'd gotten back home.

I wish I had taken pictures of what Sea Witch when applying the first, second and third coats. On the first coat, it looked like a magenta with a blue flash; by the third coat, it became a lovely violet with blue shimmer. The first coat was kind of streaky, but I'm not sure if that was because of the formula, the awful long brush stem, the raggedy brush itself, or the thinner I put in my Gelous before polishing. I went thin on the first coat, and then thick-medium for the last two coats.

All in all, I actually like this polish! It's pretty smexy. (But I still hate the brush stem and Theon Greyjoy.)

As a thank you for making it through this post, I would be remiss if I didn't include a clip of the *real* HBIC Sea Witch:

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Inaugural post: Chanel Riva, and hello!

Hi! Rach here, and welcome to the inaugural post here on Stuff I (S)watched. "Another nail blog?" you ask.

Well, yes ... and no.
After some thought, blogging seemed to be the ultimate outlet for me to share some of my favorite hobbies. While the focus of this blog certainly will be nail polish, there are other things I'd like to include that are -- how shall I put it -- sort of supplementary to my polishing experience. I'll address that stuff after the polish part of this post.

But it took me forever to decide on the right time to start blogging. And after seeing so many great swatch pictures online, I told myself I’d have to wait until I got a real camera.
As you can see, I didn’t exactly wait that long. For the past few months I’ve been experimenting taking NOTD pics on my 2010 HTC Droid Eris and found that with the right lighting, I can come up with some decent images! I realized that if pictures were what was holding me back, then I was going to be waiting a long time. In that spirit, I present the first polish featured on SIS:

Chanel Riva was a LE polish from Chanel’s Côte d’Azur collection last winter. I want to say it was released in November, because that’s when I bought it from the Chanel website with a free shipping code (w00t!).I swatched it on a couple of fingers but I hadn’t really worn it since buying it. During swatching (and eventually wearing it), I will tell you that the formula is streaky and milky and takes at least three thin-medium coats to smooth out.This is four coats with Poshe top coat. Three coats is par for the course for me, so four isn’t going terribly out of my way. But oh, it was worth it!

I would’ve loved to take more pictures outside, but there were a lot of bees on the deck, and I hate bees.

As with most Chanels, the secret shimmer in this polish is only apparent in very bright sunlight, otherwise Riva looks like a baby blue creme indoors. Frankly, I don’t have a problem with that, but I can understand not wanting to pony up $25.
Also, depending on one’s body chemistry and the actual polish used, some top coats don’t play well with Chanel polish. I’ve found that regular top coat + Seche Vite dried a bit lumpy, and SV alone results (“resluts”?) in fantastic tip wear and a bit of chipping. I tried Poshe, and so far it seems to be working out. Poshe isn’t self-leveling like SV and I have yet to master the art of using it, but so far, it seems to be doing the job.

Now that I've concluded the polish swatch/observation part of this post, I always think it’s fascinating to find out more about someone’s favorite things! Though I can’t promise this will be fascinating, here are some of my favorite non-polishy things which I plan on sneaking in here from time to time, also known as

Stuff You Would Put in a Trap to Catch Me

- ONTD (OhNoTheyDidnt) This one’s kind of a twofer: celebrity gossip blog + LOLs aplenty (this includes some amazing .gifs -- TDK pool party .gifs were my e-highlight of Summer ‘08.)

- Dogs, but especially Pembroke Welsh Corgis. I don’t know what made me cotton on to the idea of having one, but they’re so cute, and such a great breed for my lifestyle (yeah, you know you saw that episode of “Dogs 101”). If I had a corgi, I would name it Snozzbert and knit it Christmas sweaters and love it and pick up guys in the park and post a jillion pictures on Tumblr and basically, we could be short and fat and happy together.

- Television. When my sister started watching “Community,” she told me that Abed reminded her of me … on steroids. I’ve learned to lock this down in public over the years, but once you start talking about one of my favorite programs, my dork starts showing A LOT, most especially for a little show called

- “Friday Night Lights.” While I am incredibly sports-impaired for someone who grew up in Southwest Virginia (Hokie country), I found it very easy for me to relate to the show. Dustin Rowles on said this show will “make your heart swell three sizes bigger.” And I completely agree, except for the part where my heart didn’t exactly stop at three sizes. :) If this hasn’t convinced you, Google “Tim Riggins.” You’re welcome.

- Mountain Dew slurpees. Caffeinated like crazy, comes in a size GINORMOUS (go to Sheetz or 7-11. Seriously.), and still cheaper than quality frozen coffee. I lived off of these in college, and can drive almost anywhere if I can drink these along the way.

- Knitting. I’m self-taught, which is great when people are impressed and conversely, explains a lot when people are not impressed. I think I’m at intermediate level, and I taught myself how to knit in the round a few years ago but could not fathom how to finish the “Doctor Who” adipose creature I was making! Until I can get proper human instruction, I’m sticking to scarves. My favorite scarf patterns are cable and aran ones. I’d also like to start learning brioche stitches, double knitting and Fair Isle. Ravelry is one of my favorite places, although I lurk more than I post there.

Having said all this, THANK YOU for stopping by today. I do hope you enjoyed this post or found it helpful, and that you’ll drop by again! :)