Sunday, July 31, 2011

My niece made me do it.

Yesterday we had a dinner date with some friends.  On the way there, my niece got hungry - too hungry to wait another hour to hour and a half for the dinner to be served.  So I took her to Walgreens, and as soon as we stepped inside, we were greeted by  this:

Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear in Set the Stage

This polish was in my mind because Twisted Knitter just posted about it the other day, and is doing a giveaway.  I had been planning on buying Sephora OPI Only Gold for Me, but when I saw this one, I felt it was a good substitute at one fifth the price.  And Niecey-poo fell in love with it.  So into our cart it went!

After she downed a bag of pistachios, she was ready to resume shopping for nail polish (!), so we also came away with this one:

Sally Hansen Hard as Nails in Ice Queen

This morning we were looking at some nail blogs, and I think she got inspired by Emerald Sparkled's black and gold nails post today, because she asked me to paint her toenails black and then put on the gold glitter.  Here are her toes:

They look pretty good, considering it was hard to get her to sit still long enough for them to dry!

Here are my nails from yesterday and today:

Orly Pure Porcelain

Earlier in the week we stopped by Ulta and I found this polish I'd been looking for. I'm so glad I got it; it' different from the other white polishes I own.  This one leans pink, whereas SpaRitual Driftwood leans yellow and Nubar White Peony leans grey. I love this type of color, so I'm glad I have them all.  And of the three, this one has the best formula.  This is only my third Orly polish, and except for Space Cadet, I'm really impressed with the formula and the brush.  If I found their range of colors more inspiring, I'd probably buy more of this brand.

So that was my manicure for our friends' anniversary dinner last night, and today I jazzed it up with my new gold glitter:

I'm taking a little time today and adding a new page to the blog of polishes that are available to swap.  I'm not sure if I'll be able to finish it today, though, so if you are interested, keep checking the Swap page!

Friday, July 29, 2011


*Nails of the 3 Days

On Wednesday morning, I switched to Zoya Kieko from the Summertime collection:

SO pretty!  I couldn't stop looking at my nails!

I think I may have mentioned that I recently bought the Zoya Anchor base coat, Armor top coat and Qtica Half Time drying drops, in an effort to minimize the shrinkage I get with Zoya polishes.  This was the first mani I used them all on, and it worked like a charm!  I had tried Zoya's Hurry Up! drops a few times before, and really didn't like them; they left my nails feeling tacky for the duration of the mani. I'm not sure if they've changed the name or formula since I bought them - the drops now listed on the website are called Fast Drops.  (Sorry for the lack of links.  I've been trying to open and can't get it to load at the moment.)  I was really surprised at how much better the Qtica drops worked for me.  Given that it's the same company, I really thought it would be the same thing in a different bottle. But there was a definite difference - no tackiness, and the Qtica drops seem to be more moisturizing to the cuticles than the Hurry Up! drops.

The formula on Kieko was fabulous.  I love the Zoya brush - the bristles are shorter and the brush smaller than other brands, and I find this gives me more control. Above is two coats.  This lasted really well through two days of cooking, washing dishes and doing laundry (in between rounds of mini-golf and a street festival), but I was starting to get some tip wear, so I added on a crackle:

China Glaze Cracked Medallion

I heart metallic crackles.

I had a lot of tip wear on my right index finger, and it's interesting to note that the crackle did shrink away from the edge because of it:

But this mani just has to get me through today.  Another busy day around here.  My nephew is returning home today.  I wish he could stay longer, but I'll be seeing him again soon when we go to Turkey.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Here's another mani I did last week and took pictures of, but didn't have time to post:

Essie Smooth Sailing

This one came out much darker on the nail than it looks in the bottle, and I liked it a lot more than I was expecting to.  The color is gorgeous, and has just a little bit of shimmer:

The formula was fantastic; I rarely have any trouble with Essie polishes.   This one later got a coat of OPI Servin' Up Sparkle, which my niece forced me to buy, but I really preferred it all on its own.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Later the same day . . .

Bundle Monster plate BM209
Konad Special White


It probably comes as no surprise that in order to get the stamp of approval from my 9-year-old niece, a nail color must be either 1) exceptionally bright or 2) glittery. This one made the grade:

China Glaze Papaya Punch
Island Escape collection, summer 2011

She does feel, however, that I should embellish it with some stamping.

This was one of the two colors I was looking forward to most when I bought the Island Escape collection (the other was Electric Pineapple).  It turned out to be much darker on the nail than I was expecting, but I like the color.  The formula, on the other hand . . . not so much.  Which is very unusual for me with China Glaze. This one was thick, gloppy and streaky - very difficult to apply.  I used two coats and still have some minor bald spots, but I didn't have time for a third coat.  And it's likely to get some stamping over top, per my niece's instructions.  She specified white . . .

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sweet Slumber

The kiddies slept in laaaaaaaate yesterday, so I got a chance to do some work on Maris.  I managed to finish the first front!  Here it is with the current mani:

Zoya Skye
Nars Arabesque

I chose a picture that was slightly blurry, so you could see the sparkle.  Skye is one of the polishes I had gotten in the Earth Day Polish Exchange, and this was the first time I'd used it.  It's a nice nude, not too sheer and not to opaque.  My niece, however, was unimpressed - until I added the glitter!!

Maris has been a good project to work on in my spare moments.  It's nice and mindless . . . just what I need!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Twig + Magical

Here's a mani I did a couple weeks ago, pre-kids, LOL!

Polish number five from the SpaRitual Evolve collection, Twig:

A nice, conservative color.  I did a very subtle stamping over it with China Glaze Magical:

SpaRitual Twig
China Glaze Magical
Bundle Monster plate BM210

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Me Time

Last night Hubby took the kids to see the Blue Man Group.  I opted out because I knew it would be too loud and frenetic for me.  They really had a blast, and I'm so glad he took them!  My nephew liked it so much, he posted about it on Facebook as soon as they got home!

So I got some "me time" in the evening, and here's what I did:

China Glaze Senorita Bonita
Island Escape collection, summer 2011

I wasn't sure I would like this color, but I ended up loving it!  It's similar to Zoya Danii, but with a lot more red.   And, of course, the amazing China Glaze glass flakes.  This is two coats.  The first coat went on rather sheer, and I thought it would end up being a three-coater, but the second (albeit thick) coat evened things out.   The only problem I had was that my brush was frayed at the ends. Again.

I'm starting to think that a lot of my 'shrinkage' problems are due to operator error. I noticed a few days ago that I've been swooping the brush up and off my nail just before I reach the end of the nail.  It looks like I've covered the nail while the polish is wet, but after it dries, it looks like it's shrunk!  I've been trying to make myself keep the bristles on the nail all the way to the end and then stroke down and off the nail.  It's really hard to do - I think I instinctively swoop up trying to avoid getting polish on my fingertips, because I've been keeping my nails pretty short.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Maris progress

Hi Folks!  I've got both kids here with me now as of last night, and we are headed out to a local water park today!  It's nice to have someone to play with :-)

My niece came yesterday, and on Sunday night my nephew and Hubby decided to watch a "boy" movie, so I had some time to do a little knitting.  I managed to finish the back of my Maris sweater, finally:

This design is quite boxy and cropped.  Here's a closer up look at the corrugated rib:

In order to keep the deep valleys and ridges, I'm planning on not blocking this one, but we'll have to see how it looks after sewing the pieces together.  But I'm getting way ahead of myself - I've still got two fronts and two sleeves to do!

Sunday, July 17, 2011


The other night I put on Zoya Shay, and last night, inspired by a little jaunt in Chinatown, I added some Konad:

left hand

right hand

base:  Zoya Shay
bamboo:  Konad plate m66
with Sinful Black on Black
circular design:  Bundle Monster plate BM208
with Zoya Sooki

I love the look of stamping on "mannequin hands" colors.  Sooki turned out to be a very good color for stamping too - it's very opaque.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Oops. My bad.

In a combination of not fully understanding the concept, tiredness, and over-enthusiasm, I signed up twice for the "crafty pay-it-forward."  I get it now.  It's not a swap.  I will receive one package from the person I left a comment for, and make something for five (other) people who leave me comments wishing to participate.

SO, since I signed up twice, I will commit to making something for ten commenters. If I get that many!

Handspun yarn, a piece of former craftiness.
This was a holiday gift for a co-worker a
few years ago.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Something fun!

Some of you may read my friend Andrea's blog, Stitch Parade.  The other day she posted a fun swap-type-thingy and I decided to participate!  I've never taken part in anything like this, but I just couldn't resist.  Who doesn't like receiving a fun, surprise package?  And so much the better if it includes hand-made items!

Andrea has the link back to where she got the idea from, but here's the basic idea: in choosing to participate, I agree to make for and send something to the first five people who comment on this post that they want to participate, as long as they agree to post it on their blogs as well and do the same for their first five commenters.  I know some folks are blogless and that would seem to exclude them, but I'm wondering if this could somehow be extended to those who use things like Facebook (which I don't), Twitter and the like.   So if you have ideas about this, please to chime in!

I looked at the blogs of a few of the people who have participated so far, and it seems to me that it has mostly focused on sewing.  Andrea mentioned that she had some ideas about what she would make for her buddies, and while she didn't say what those were, it got me to thinking.  She and I share a love of lists, and recently I began making a list of different arts/crafts I have done throughout my life.  Want to see?  This is what I have so far:

spinning - drop spindle and wheel
weaving - inkle
weaving - tapestry
weaving - four-shaft
basket weaving
rug hooking
tie dye
silk dying
fiber dying - natural and chemical

silk screening
paper making
paper marbling - western
paper marbling - sumi nagashi
small books

glass bead making
glass fusing
glass blowing

precious metal clay
bead weaving - loom
bead weaving - off loom

You may have guessed that I get bored easily!  Some of these things I had just a passing interest in and tried out, like tapestry weaving and rug hooking.  Others I was intensely involved in for quite some time, like calligraphy and glass bead making.  But knitting is the one hobby that I've done my whole life and never gotten tired of.  And I don't see myself ever tiring of it!

So all this is to say that as I've thought about what I might make for my swapping buddies, sewing is not the first thing that comes up.  I'll leave it at that!  Since I'm busy with my nephew and niece this month, I'm going to ask that if you decide to participate and are one of the first five, that you email me with your address.  I'm adding a page of contact info under the header.  I think this will save me having to scramble for addresses later on.

In other news, I'm having a great time with my nephew!  We did indeed take the water taxi downtown on his first day:

view from the Chicago River

and ended up at Navy Pier, where we played mini-golf!  Yesterday we took in a movie.  And today I'm thinking of taking him to Millennium Park to see the Bean:

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Beadless after all.

I had a tiny bit of spare time yesterday between buying oodles of groceries (hard to keep up with those teenage boys!) and picking up my nephew at the airport, so I took out the section of Saffron I had done with beads.  It just didn't look right to me; the beads were too small:

So I think I'm going to go back to the original plan of doing the embroidery, but all in the same color, so that the sweater is monochromatic, but highly textured.

In my cleaning frenzy on Monday, I managed to break a few nails, so I cut them all down, and then put on Zoya Erika:

Zoya Erika

Such a soft, shimmery shade.  I put it on at about 8:00 p.m. and decided to use Zoya Armor and the Hurry Up drops instead of a fast-dry top coat, in the hopes of avoiding shrinkage.  I went to bed a couple hours later and woke up with sheet marks!  Urrrrrrrrgh!  So I ended up topping it with fast-dry in the morning anyway.

I have a bottle of the Qtica drying drops on their way to me - a free gift with my purchase of the Smoke and Mirrors Collection - so we'll see if that one is any better.  The Hurry Up drops leave my polish feeling tacky, and obviously it never did cure.  I even got a gouge in my thumbnail a few hours after applying the fast-dry.  That tells me the polish was still uncured underneath.  This never happens to me when I use fast-dry topcoat immediately after applying polish.  So frustrating. Good thing I have some pretty pink to look at to calm my nerves.  Although there is a high likelihood that it will get covered with some metallic crackle.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Summer Morning at the Garden

Here are some scenes from our walk in the Chicago Botanic Garden the other morning:

In my opinion, you can never have too many pictures of flowers.  Or trees, or grassy areas.

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Happy Surprise

I think I've mentioned that my niece will be coming next week to spend about a month with us.  Well, I just found out this morning that my nephew (her cousin) decided to come tomorrow to spend about two and a half weeks!  I'm so excited to have them both with us, but it means that things are likely to slow down here for the duration.  I'll post when I can though!

My nephew came to spend a couple weeks with us at the beginning of February - the day before "Snowmageddon."  Pretty intense for a kid from Turkey who's never seen snow before!  Here's what the place looked like then:

The poor kid had to help me dig out!

So I'm excited to be able to do some summery things with him this time around! Like go to this water park that my niece loved last summer:

And ride the Water Taxi:

Now I'd better go get all my sewing projects out of the guest room!!

Sacred Sands + Tarnished Gold

Here's another polish from the SpaRitual Evolve collection, Sacred Sands:

This one applied much more easily than the others I've tried from this collection.  I like the color a lot more than I expected too; it's not as peachy as I was expecting. Rather, it has more pink.

Inspired by something I saw on Pinterest, I decided to add China Glaze Tarnished Gold Crackle on top of it.  Here it is in full sunlight:

I really like the effect.  It's very subtle and midas-y.  The shade of gold on this crackle is just perfect in my opinion: not too yellow,  not too brassy.  Just the right amount of sparkle.  I'll definitely be trying this again.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Two Piece Dress in Action

Yesterday morning Hubby took me on a date to the Chicago Botanic Garden, so I put on my new two piece dress for the occasion.  Hubby did the honors with the camera:

I think if you click you can see the belt.

Hope I didn't blind anyone with my
white, white legs!

In the rose garden . . . . mmmmmmm.

Outfit details:
Hat:  J.Crew
Two piece dress:  made by me!
Sunnies:  Ray-Ban Retro Wayfarers
Bag:  Frye Motorcycle Hobo
Sandals:  Frye Lola Gladiator
Belt:  Anthropologie

I'm so happy with this dress; it's breezy and comfy.  I'm glad I used the heavier muslin for the lining, so that I can wear this without a slip.  And one of the things I love about the Sorbetto pattern is that it hides my bra straps perfectly, so I'm not constantly adjusting!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Silver Shatter vs. Platinum Pieces

Yesterday SoKnitPicky left a comment asking if I noticed any difference between these two,  and I was curious too, so I did a little comparison:

L:  China Glaze Platinum Pieces
R:  OPI Silver Shatter
both over China Glaze Hey Sailor

I'd say this photo is pretty accurate.  Platinum Pieces is lighter in color, and the glitter pieces are slightly smaller.  Silver Shatter is more of a gunmetal color and the polish itself is slightly thicker, so it's easier to cover the whole nail.  With all the China Glaze Crackle Metals I've tried so far, I felt I needed to over-load my brush in order to cover the whole nail.  Both polishes need topcoat to really make them sparkle.

The difference is evident in the bottle also:

Friday, July 8, 2011


So here's the sweater I started yesterday in order to mitigate the boredom of Maris:

Saffron, by Kim Hargreaves

I've loved this pattern since it first came out in Rowan Magazine number 25 in 1999, and always had it in the back of my mind to do someday.  The other day I was thinking about the six balls of Rowan 4 Ply Cotton in Bloom that I have in my stash; I really wanted to make something RED but couldn't decide which pattern to do. And as that yarn is now discontinued, I felt a lot of (self-imposed) pressure to pick The Right Pattern.

And then I remembered that I also had seven skeins of Brown Sheep Cotton Fine in Candy Apple, and that it would be enough for this cropped cardi.  And so, out came the needles!

I got this yarn accidentally a few years ago.  I had made an online order for three skeins of Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece (a worsted weight) and instead received three skeins of Cotton Fine (fingering weight)!  I really liked the color though, so I got four more skeins and put them aside while I made my Beet Root sweater.

I think this deep, purply red is perfect for the sinuous, almost Arabesque design of this sweater.  The stitch pattern is easy to memorize and interesting enough to hold my attention, for those times when I feel like thinking a little bit.  And for the times when I feel like thinking not at all, I've got Maris.

I'm trying to decide whether or not to embellish the centers where the one purl stitch is. The original shows this done in all  one color:

Which I like a lot, but I think it may get lost in the deepness of the color I've chosen. There is also a swatch at the back of the magazine showing alternate colorways with contrasting color embroidery:

Sorry for the fuzziness.  I'm just too tired this morning
to redo it!

But I'm thinking that would look folksier than I really want.  I'm thinking beading might be nice - one seed bead at the center of each motif.  I think I have some really lovely #8 seed beads in bronze around here somewhere.

Any thoughts on the matter?

Thursday, July 7, 2011


I spent a couple hours on Tuesday afternoon watching Netflix and sewing all those snaps on Capri.  It's finally finished!  I even wore it (over my blue Sorbetto with the umbrellas!) out to dinner on Tuesday night!  I had Hubby take a couple pictures with my phone, but I just look too dorky in them to share! So you'll have to settle for seeing the sweater laid out on the bed for now:

I'm quite happy with it.  And here's a fake bokeh shot of a snap:

click to see faux bokeh

Yesterday afternoon I painted my nails after two days of nakedness.  That was weird!  I've been doing a lot of cleaning out, getting ready for my niece to come, so I just didn't bother.  But I couldn't stand it any longer!  I went with Zoya Rica from the Sunshine collection:

oooooooh - glittery!

And here's how it looks against my pale peach Maris:

Literally two seconds later, same window, same light.  Isn't that interesting?

Maris is coming along.  I'm almost up to the armhole on the back.  But as nice as corrugated rib is to look at, it's kind of boring to knit.  So I'm going slower on this than I'd really like to.  And I may have started something new . . .