Saturday, January 31, 2015

Skinny Dipping (With Friends): Orly Dare to Bare

Hi! Remember me, the girl who used to write this blog? I feel pretty bad that it took THIS LONG for me to get this post together, but real life is a beast. As a result, my blogging groove has disappeared and it took me FOR.EV.ER. to get pictures I was happy with.

However, this nude polish post came at a fairly good time, because the week before it was supposed to go up, I landed a job interview. While I didn't get the job, the first interview is supposed to be the hardest, so at least I'm glad I got it out of the way, and I identified a few areas needing improvement should I (miraculously) land another interview elsewhere.

But to get back to the business of polish, I'm really glad I do a series on nude colors, because what is more work-appropriate than that? I know Orly does a really inconsistent job with their collections and their marketing is not great, but I feel like they were more on point in 2014 than they weren't. Compared to their Galaxy FX, Baked, and Smoky collections, I think Blush was severely underrated. I have four of the six Blush colors -- I blogged Cheeky last year; today it's all about Orly Dare to Bare.

Three coats with SV.

Dare to Bare has some pink/blush tones in it, but not enough to make it terrible on me. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who has fair skin with heavy yellow/olive tones, though it would look gorgeous on just about anyone else. Is there a dupe for this one out there? I don't know, probably, but for the amount you get in an Orly bottle, this one is hard to turn down.

The same thing goes for its formula. It's a creme that's not as thick as most cremes, but not as translucent as a jelly-creme on the first coat, so the coverage and opacity surprisingly were really good for a nude polish. No streaks! Dry time was good with SV, and I wore this for five days with barely visible tip wear and no chips until Day 5, when I decided to put some more air in my tires and it was so cold I couldn't feel my hands and chipped nail polish all over the hubcaps when taking off one of my pressure valves. OOPS.

If you're looking for this polish, the clearance section at Sally's might be a long shot at this point in the year, but you never know -- because that's where I found mine. I knew I needed Cheeky and Naked Canvas from the Blush collection, but thanks to Sally's clearance, I was able to snag this and Flawless Flush for next to nothing during a red tag sale near the end of last year. But if you can't find it in person, check blog sales, destashes, eBay, whatever ... it's not hard to find! And then grab all of my Orly Blush picks, because that collection is so underrated (and work-appropriate), it's ridiculous.

The job hunt isn't going as well as I'd hoped, but I guess not much lives up to the hazy optimism of the holiday season. You know what I mean? I have to be honest, I'm starting to have doubts about my resumes and cover letters on top of whether I'm even applying for the right kinds of jobs in the first place. A majority of my connections are in a field that is not having its finest hour right now, so networking is a bit of a challenge, too. It's hard to map out what you want to accomplish in a year when the thing that you need to hold you down is what is uncertain!

The truth is that it's not so much about me "staying positive" as much as it is about me staying distracted. Apart from job hunting, here are a few other things I've been up to:

  • Trying to come up with and stick to as realistic of a budget as possible. !!!
  • Trying not to get sick. This is a doozy when you don't have health insurance, but you have reactive airway, and it's flu season. (I'm not so much worried about the flu as much as I am worried about what came after it, because last spring's allergies really tore me a new one). This also includes trying to get back on a regular sleep schedule, which is more difficult than it should be. I finally conked out at 7 a.m. on Thursday morning.
  • Trying to find an exercise routine that I don't hate because I hate them all, but not as much as I hate the 25 pounds I gained since 2011.
  • Going back to brushing up on my French (and Spanish ... and Portuguese) on Duolingo. Je mange du beurre.
  • Trying to spend time with my family, because for various reasons, this is an uneasy period for a lot of us.
  • Figuring out how to redesign and restyle my parents' house (and also B's) on a limited budget.
  • Plugging away at my Goodreads 2015/PopSugar Reading Challenge. Last week, I finished Eddie Huang's Fresh Off the Boat (3/53, and "turned into a TV show," respectively). Not only am I looking forward to seeing the upcoming ABC show (despite Huang's reservations) (sidenote: I already love Constance Wu's character) (FEBRUARY 4, Y'ALL!), but I can't NOT read anything written by a fellow child of the [Asian] diaspora. I hope I get a chance to share more about this book later, as I had a lot of feelings about it. So did my stomach.
  • FaceTiming with my sister, her cat, and her roommate's cat. Our longest chat was 6-7 hours. SOMEONE PLEASE HIRE US.
  • Researching sources for 100% cotton yarns and attempting to learn the brioche stitch once and for all. See this cowl? I'M COMING FOR YOU IN 2015.
  • A Twitter friend and I are watching all the Oscar movies nominated for Best Picture this year. I'm 4/8 right now, but there's one movie I have absolutely zero desire to see, so I keep putting it off. Eventually, I'll get around to it. However, I would really love it if two other nominees won.
  • If you've been seen every episode of "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" to date, then you know that Kwazy Cupcakes, the Candy Crush-like game Gina was playing last season, is an actual thing. A real, beautiful, addicting thing. HOWEVER ...
  • For one week, I was trapped in the hell that is Level 29 of Candy Crush. As a result, I don't think my brain is capable of solving any puzzle or problem that ISN'T Level 29 of Candy Crush. B thinks this shows I am persistent, but does not think I should use this as an example in a future job interview.

That's not everything, and there are a couple of potentially huge (not job-related) things coming up, but for the most part ... yeah. I KEEP PRETTY BUSY for someone who doesn't have a job or her own family or basically a life. Sorry, y'all. I didn't mean to go all Pity Party on you! I'm just a little frustrated right now. If you're job-hunting, too, and it's kind of just ... going? High five. I feel you, sister.

Thanks for reading my word vomit. Next month's edition of Skinny Dipping will be relatively on time and less pathetic. :) #dispolishdoe! Hopefully I'll be able to get a post together for next week.

P.S. My dad suggested I start a blog. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA ^infinity.
P.P.S. I have never told my parents about this blog. They would judge me so hard.
P.P.P.S. I really need to get it together, but, DUH.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Shopping My Stash: A Marsala match?

Hi guys! Posting late today because I am the actual worst (and something about life + not sleeping for 2 days).

So, Marsala. As soon as it was announced as the Pantone color for 2015, I had the following reactions:
  1. "That is dangerously granny chic." (before I got a read on the color) 
  2. "What will Steff say? This needs to be an SMS post this year."
  3. "Oh, that is actually FASHION." (I got a better read on the color ... but not much better)

I am wild about last year's color, Radiant Orchid, but (1) I understand that it's not for everyone and (2) it's not really a FASHION shade. Marsala, OTOH, is both of those things *and* I believe Steff mentioned that it easily can be interpreted as neutral, which always is nice. However, I have always been drawn toward bright and saturated colors, so it's no surprise that marsala never really was on my radar and that I'm having such a hard time getting a good read on its range.

Luckily for all of us, every other brand came forth on Instagram with a product suggestion in that color. Seriously, EVERY OTHER BRAND. And then I saw this post:

And I was like, "Yeahhhhhhhhhhh, I have that!"

So now, some terrible pictures of butter LONDON Tramp Stamp:

Three coats with SV.

Yeah, so despite the ratchet pictures -- which I am totally re-doing when I get a chance, BTW -- you can see that Tramp Stamp is really nice! I was not entirely convinced this would look good on me, but it does. I've actually had this bottle in my stash for a few years, 4 maybe?, but I've never worn it.

Part of the reason I wasn't immediately enthused about marsala is because it is somewhere between mauve, cranberry and brown, and frankly, if I want to wear a brown shade, I'll just wear brown -- there are some great browns! But part of what drew me to Tramp Stamp is that it looked like a color that would have been right at home in the OPI Russia collection, which is one of my favorite collections from when I started getting into polish. And truth be told, I am attracted to any shade that could fit in that collection.

I didn't have any issues with formula or application on this butter LONDON. Dry time with SV was good, but I probably would get much better wear with the bL P.D. Quick top coat (don't ask me why this is, I only discovered this last year). If you're interested in this shade, it's not hard to pick up because I feel like it's one that people don't really go nuts for.

I'm so glad I loved Tramp Stamp, though, because if I love the other two marsala polishes I own as much as I loved this, I might become a marsala convert! Wouldn't that be wild? If for some strange reason you have not read Steff's blog post, she did a pretty interesting write up of the color. :) Also I kind of love her pick!

Sorry for the late/lame blog post, guys. I hate that my first Shopping My Stash post of 2015 was so blah, but I have been running on empty this week and I had a surprise job interview yesterday (I didn't get the job, but no worries) so I am WIPED OUT. I'm going back to sleep. I totally will re-do the pictures of this polish later, though, because I think it deserves better. In the meantime, Skinny Dipping will go up next week.

Talk to me about your favorite past Pantone color, your thoughts on marsala, whether you own any marsala polishes ... suggestions for future Shopping My Stash posts ... I don't know. I'm out. Have a good a weekend!

Monday, January 5, 2015

OPI Fashion a Bow + Holiday 2014

Every Christmas, it happens: OPI releases several reds in its holiday collection.
  1. I pass on one or two because SERIOUSLY DO WE NEED ANOTHER RED?
  2. something (or someone ... *cough* JANICE *cough*) makes me want it
  3. I NEED IT
  4. I can't find it anywhere
  5. I score it at a steeply discounted price
This holiday season, that red was OPI Fashion a Bow. I didn't want Fashion a Bow until Janice talked it up, and then when I went to take advantage of Ulta's OPI B2G1 last month, I realized it wasn't in the display (neither was Love is Hot and Coal), what the blazes??? I resolved to order it online after the holidays, but during a last-minute TJ Maxx visit on Christmas Eve Eve, I found the OPI holiday Gwens for $3.99 a pop.
I KNOW. I still can't believe it. It was so surreal to see those polishes at TJ Maxx for $3.99 when they were $9 across the street at Ulta!

So yeah, of course I pounced. And this polish is gorrrrgeousssssssssss.

Three coats with SV.

If you are in the market for a lovely warm red jelly, GET THIS POLISH. It's definitely on the orange side of warm red, but trust me, it's red on the nail. I can't gush over this polish enough. The color was perfect, the application was perfect (barely any clean-up, guys!), its opacity was perfect (you can stop at two coats), and its dry time was perfect. Wear time was about as good as I could have asked for -- I've had it on since Wednesday night and I didn't notice any major tip wear until maybe Sunday morning. Oh, and no chips! I'm pretty happy.

Don't forget to poke around your local TJ Maxx or Marshalls for this polish. I've even seen this polish at Kroger, but it was $8.99 there, I think -- not much of a save, admittedly, but to me FAB is worth it. Because it truly is FAB, of course.

I'm superstitious enough to have continued my NYE tradition of wearing red polish, and I think I can say I loved this one just as much as I loved Essie Silken Cord, which I wore last year. But maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan, NYE was such a clusterfuck this year. I had grand plans of meeting my friends at our favorite Irish bar in Richmond to hang out and see the bagpipe players at midnight (basically, what we did last year), only I had a to-do list that was a mile long because I somehow am a VERY Busy Unemployed Person. I got to B's house at 11:29, so we opted to stay in and watch the CNN NYE countdown with Silver Fox and Kathy Griffin. Then we made dinner and watched "Edge of Tomorrow," which I mostly slept through, although I have to say that I really liked what I saw. I even started watching episodes of "Avatar: The Last Airbender," FINALLY! I'm also super excited that I was able to start 2015 by seeing people I've meant to see but haven't in forever; I went to see "Big Eyes" with a friend from my old job (we very much enjoyed it -- Tim Burton, make more movies like this, please!), and I got to hang out with Katie from The Daily Varnish for a little bit yesterday. We had so much fun, and I'm hoping we get to pencil in more hangouts this year. :)

Before I go, some Insta snaps from Holiday 2014:

Black Friday, Rach-style

Annual Christmas Yeti pilgrimage

The botanical garden's 2014 holiday light theme was "a legacy in lights" (before becoming the botanical garden, the land was bought as the grounds for a bicycle club).
According to the press release, more than 500 plastic bottles were recycled and turned into some of the flowers seen here.

B at the botanical garden

A stove simmer I made the night of my parents' early Christmas/32nd? 33rd? anniversary dinner

We're not Jewish but my sister made rugelach anyway. She made two kinds, Nutella and triple berry jam.

The bus line my sister took back to NYC ... we died laughing every time we said its name

I-64 on Christmas Day

My aunt's dog in his Christmas sweater

My aunt and I saw this on Boxing Day, and it wasn't as bad as I was afraid it would be. I am not the biggest fan of La Streep (nothing against her, but there are other actresses in Hollywood) although I have to say, her singing was better here than in "Mamma Mia," which, good god my ears are still burning.

A gift from one of my dad's former employees, who I've been spending lots of time with lately


Sometimes there are years when your friends just knock it out of the park, you know????? I don't have a picture of it, but my best friend from high school got me a Scotty dog sweater, and it's everything. B also got me an external hard drive for the express purpose of storing nail photos and blog stuff, which I am super excited about!

While I loved all my Christmas gifts and the people who thought of me this past season, there is one present that I think you all will enjoy more than the rest.

Ladies, allow me to present the motherlode.

Krysi DIYed some nail polish ornaments for me! THIS GIRL I SWEAR

CAN WE TALK ABOUT THIS FOR A SECOND?!?!?!??!?!?! Krysi did an awesome job of picking 10 polishes I did not already have, and she gets forever bonus points for including a polish I did not even know existed. (Try to guess which one. And while you're at it, try to guess which one was B's favorite ornament!) I love them all! Anyway, don't hold your breath waiting for me to blog these polishes ... just know I am totally going to be wearing and treasuring them, always. And I can't wait to put the ornaments up on my tree next season. :)

I feel like I glossed over 2014, especially the holidays, which is odd for someone who loves Christmas as much as I do, but I felt it was more important to step back so I could better deal with things as they happened. However, this made what I was able to capture all the sweeter, so I'm okay with it.

This is all I've got for today. Thanks for reading! I hope your holiday season went well (or passably so), and that your return to work and/or school this week isn't too intense. I'll try to have Shopping My Stash up on Friday -- I gotta talk to Steff once I see how Tuesday goes -- but until then, I'd love to hear your thoughts on OPI holiday red regret/lemmings, OPI Fashion a Bow, any movies you saw this holiday, or a great gift you gave or got recently. Let's chat.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Best Stuff from 2014

Happy New Year! I'm so sorry I disappeared for most of December 2014. As I've said, I have to be one of the busiest unemployed people I know! It's ridiculous. I pull more all nighters now than I ever did in college. I'm not sure how things unfolded to make me busier now than I was when I was working --  I began a new position in January, which took up almost all of my time this year -- but that's how things have been. I'm not pleased. At first I enjoyed the novelty of not blogging every damn polish I put on, but then I realized this blog has been an outlet for me and I wish I could have put more time into it. When work and other things got in the way, I would choose sleep or a mental health weekend over blogging. --That's life, I suppose, but I also really miss documenting real life happenings here as well. I've journaled in some form on and off since I was 11, and Stuff has been the closest thing I've had for the last three years.

TL;DR version: I've been busy, Real Life is batshit, I miss blogging, here's some of my favorite stuff that I've blogged in 2014. I'm hoping this post makes up for my absence this year!

Let's get started.

Essie Silken Cord

China Glaze Red Stallion

Funky Fingers Mrs. Mint

China Glaze Lotus Begin

RBL Footpath

Orly Cheeky

Sinful Colors Hip to Be Square

Zoya Neely

Zoya Goldie

butter LONDON Cotton Buds

butter LONDON Poole

Sally Hansen CSM Perfectly Poppy

Nicole by OPI Yoga then Yogurt

unnamed Blue Cross Summer Brights purple

Zoya Rikki

Smitten Polish A Wedding Dress That Isn't Bright Turquoise

China Glaze Capacity to See Beyond

butter LONDON Wellies

My favorite posts from my Valentine Week of polishes:

China Glaze Igniting Love

Sally Hansen CSM Loves Me Not

Essie Big Spender (I paired it with HARE polish Test Your Love!, but I liked Big Spender WAYYYYYYY more)

I continued blogging some TV-related NOTDs.

Essie Trophy Wife

Formula X for Sephora Danger Zone

Laura Mercier Bewitched

HARE polish Damn Fine Coffee

Essie Armed and Ready

Zoya Sarah

JulieG Tahiti

My love affair with textures endured. I wore more than what I was able to blog here, but believe me, I am GUTTED that Zoya is discontinuing their PixieDust line.

Sally Hansen Sugar Shimmer Taffy Tart

Zoya Dhara

Nicole by OPI Sing You Like a Bee ... which I guess is a texture

IDK if it was Anna's fault, but I fell HARD for pink nails this year.

L'Oréal Members Only 

Sally Hansen CSM Summer Lovin'

L'Oréal Acid Watermelon

butter LONDON Teddy Girl

Steff and I celebrated one year of Shopping My Stash, our joint series that has become one of my favorite blog features!

Valentimes: OPI Bastille My Heart

April showers: Illamasqua Raindrops

May flowers: Sally Hansen Salon Forsythia

July: Barielle Sailor's Delight

August: OPI My Boyfriend Scales Walls

Occult-ober: Orly Buried Alive

November: Orly Fresh

December: HARE polish Free-Spirit of the Season

Anna and I also celebrated two years of our Skinny Dipping nude polish series with a giveaway. Some of my Skinny Dipping selections this year have been among my favorite pictures I've blogged, ever.

OPI Don't Burst My Bubble + OPI Lights of Emerald City

Essie Cocktails & Coconuts

Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear Pearl Up

China Glaze Five Rules

OPI Can't Taupe This!

Deborah Lippmann Human Nature + Fairydust

Madeline and I celebrated Rex Manning Day.

Urban Outfitters Crowded + Wet n Wild Mega Rocks Stick it to the Man

September was full of crazy things. I saw Hall & Oates with B in Charlottesville ...

Deborah Lippmann Maneater (discontinued)

... I marked my 28th birthday with a blue manicure ...

China Glaze Man Hunt

... and went with B to Cleveland, OH for Steff's wedding, where many wonderful things happened. I got to meet Anna and her fiance, Jacqui and her husband, and Steff's cat, Remy. B and I also went to the Christmas Story house. Take a look at the megapost.

I keep saying this, but there were FAR more NOTDs that I didn't get a chance to blog here, so there were, in a sense, many sleeper hits. The only one I have a photo of was this:

Essie Style Hunter ... get it. 
Style Hunter and Hide & Go Chic were the true stars of Essie Spring 2014, AFAIC.

Anyway, that's 2014, and here's hoping 2015 is a year in which both Stuff and I can be more consistent. This year, I let many things fall by the wayside that I shouldn't have, I let correspondence go unanswered, took forever to reply to comments, etc. -- I had so much on my plate from work, that blogging felt like work ... coupled with my perfectionist tendencies, things can be more anxious than fun. Additionally, I had so many ideas of what I wanted to do: nail polish inventory, a blog sale, a blog makeover, bringing back stalled features ... but I simply did not have the time. It was so frustrating. 

This is why I truly appreciate those of you who kept up with me this year -- thank you so much! I have no idea what's in store for 2015 (I can't think past Shopping My Stash themes, tbh), but I hope you'll continue to join me. If you'd like, you can keep track of my utter dearth of adventures on Instagram, where Sterling Meowlory Archer makes frequent appearances. I also signed up for a Goodreads account this month, and I'm planning to do the PopSugar 2015 Reading Challenge, so feel free to check out what I'm reading -- cross your fingers, hopefully this will lead to more of these posts.

Here's to a new year for all of us, which I hope is filled with love, happiness, professional and personal fulfillment, great TV, great albums, and even better polishes. (Side notes: I am so ready for the new Sleater-Kinney album and Carrie Brownstein's memoir to come out, it's crazy. TV-wise, I can't wait for "Agent Carter"! I love Peggy and Hayley. I'm also going to see Fleetwood Mac in March ... I CANNOT WAIT.)

Cheers and love to each and every one of you!