Saturday, December 31, 2011

Magnetized

Have you guys seen magnetic nail polish? The only company that sells it in the US (so far) is Nails Inc., and while their version is cool, it is also $16. And I am cheap.

I figured out at some point before our trip that magnetic polish is widely available via drugstore (ahem, CHEMIST) brands in the UK, and so magnetic polish became subject #1 on my trip purchase wishlist.

I picked up a bottle by 17 at Boots in a black/silver shade called Gunmetal. At 6 Pounds w/ a 3 for 2 offer, I'm kicking myself for not having bought every shade they have (although I did get 2 other rad products that are in heavy rotation, so just as well I suppose). This stuff is AWESOME.

You get such a huge effect payoff for truly minimal effort. Using magnetic polish takes just a few minutes more than using regular polish . . . you lay down a base of polish without using the magnet, then on coat two you hover the magnet over each freshly painted nail for 10-15 seconds. The magnet hovering process adds 2-3 minutes to the overall manicure time, but I find this polish to be extremely quick drying, which evens things out time wise in the end.

This polish benefits quite a bit from a topcoat, which deepens the black areas of the nail and adds a ton of shine. It is best to wait as long as possible between magentizing and top-coating, in order to preserve the integrity of the design. I've been painting at night then top-coating in the morning, which has worked well.

Four gold stars, Boots 17. I can't wait for magnetic polish to become a fixture in the US!

Friday, December 30, 2011

MUA Extreme Metallics Eyeshadow Quads: #2 Go Getter

Next quad up is "Go Getter". This is the quad that spawned all six for me, the one I picked up at Superdrug in York. While almost all the quads contain at least one or two solid neutral shades, this is the most neutral overall of the six, comprised of a opaque and shimmering pale pink; a truly "extremely metallic", warm leaning silver; a shimmering sable brown and a rich chocolate brown with light shimmer:



. . . and swatched (bare skin, no primer, applied with finger) . . .



Once again, these shadows are uber impressive on the pigmentation front, the pale pink and sable most notably. The silver has a flaky texture and is a bit tough to work with and blend . . . however I've used it mostly patted on top of a base of the pale pink and sable and have loved it as a highlight in that application. The chocolate brown makes a great liner, and I experienced an impressive lack of fallout when using it that way.

Here's an EOTD:


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Teensy, Tiny Walgreens Haul

All of two items, yo. I thought I'd share my thoughts on them though, since I did have pretty strong opinions on both.

First up, a Wet and Wild Color Icon single shadow in Nutty (on clearance for $1.29, FTW!). I haven't had experience with Wet and Wild eyeshadows pretty much ever and I've been intrigued by all the decent buzz I've seen about them out there in blogland. I figured for a little more than a buck it was time to take one for a test drive. Nutty is a warm leaning taupe with a slight shimmer.



When I first ran my finger across the surface of the shadow to swatch it I *gasped* This stuff is super soft, like butter, so finely milled. I was shocked, SHOCKED, by the softness.

The pigmentation, however, was kind of meh . . . and the staying power was reasonable, but certainly not earth shattering. This shadow will probably get some use, but it isn't my new BFF. What it has done, however, is convinced me that Wet and Wild is a brand worth a little more investigation. for $1.29 I didn't expect to like much of anything about this shadow, and was pleasantly surprised that I did!

Up next, one of the new Jordana Color Effects eyeshadow duos. I'd read via Nouveau Cheap that these shadows were similar in texture to Urban Decay's . . . since Urban Decay is my gold standard, it was a no brainer to test these out. I picked up Splitting Image:



The duo consists of a shimmery medium/dark brown and a metallic true gold. The shades work well together, are decently soft and blend well. The true fun here comes from both their pigmentation (like, whoa) and their staying power. I wore these over primer, but my cheap e.l.f. mineral primer, and FOURTEEN HOURS IN, they looked EXACTLY as they did immediately after application. FTW. For serious.

Here are all three shades swatched (bare skin, no primer, applied w/ a finger), Wet and Wild at top and Jordana beneath:

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

MUA Extreme Metallics Eyeshadow Quads: #1, Smokin'

One of the greatest joys of our vacation (besides blowing the Meyers' mind, eating scones and cream and not having to drive in bloody LA traffic for nearly two weeks) was shopping. Makeup shopping, more specifically. In case you haven't noticed, I REALLY LIKE MAKEUP. I also really like bargains. Like, a lot. And there are some tremendous bargains to be had in the makeup departments of both Superdrug and Boots, the UK's two predominant drugstores. Or, "chemists", rather.

I'm not sure if the draw is that the brands carried in the UK are different from US brands, or if (as I suspect) they're actually measurably better. On the whole, that's up for debate . . . but as far as MUA's Extreme Metallics Eyeshadow Quads are concerned, we're dealing squarely with "better" and not simply "different".

I picked up one such quad ("Go Getter" . . . to be reviewed later!) in York and loved it so much that I searched Ebay and found a seller who was offering a set of all 6 quads for a reasonable price. Not quite as reasonable as the 3 Pounds w/ a 3 for 2 offer I scored in York, but reasonable nonetheless. I ordered that set of six quads and I'll be reviewing and swatching them all on this here blog.



The shadows are creamy, pigmented and, indeed, EXTREMELY metallic. They wear well, even with my inexpensive e.l.f. Mineral Primer (rather than my gold standard Too Faced Shadow Insurance). The colors are interesting and unique. The shadows are blendable and soft with minimal, manageable fallout . . . there's little not to love. I did have an issue with this quad in particular breaking up after a very short (4 inches?) drop to a carpeted floor . . . the aftermath of which you can see in the photo above). All of the others have held up well so far, though.

The quad in question today is Smokin', a collection consisting of: pale pearl white, pale silver, gunmetal and matte black:



And swatched (bare hand, no primer, applied with finger):



And on the eye:




The palest shades in particular (in this quad and the others) apply like a dream . . . I used the white here with a flat, paddle type brush on the lid, building the shadow up to near opacity . . .then used the same white shadow spread on the back of my hand and picked up with a blending brush and applied very lightly as a browbone highlight. The black had super minimal fallout and has been going strong on 7 hours now as a liner.

All of these quads get the IndieHomeEc stamp of approval . . . can't wait to share the others with you!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Copper Leaves

I came up with the idea for these pendants as part of our effort to have a less commercial, mostly handmade Xmas this year (at least as far as the adults on our list are concerned). About halfway through our vacation, in Potter's Bar, Boy's cousin showed me some maple leaves that a friend of hers had smithed from iron. They were beautiful . . . textured and realistic. These particular leaves were much more "ornament" than "jewelry", but they got me thinking that leaf pendants to wear could be fun . . .

While on our forest walk, I kept an eye out for small-ish, unusually shaped leaves and picked a few up, still unsure how I'd make the leaf pendant idea a reality. I remembered leaf pendant that I had as a teenager which had been plated in metal, but plating isn't in my repertoire of jewelry making skills.

It eventually dawned on me that copper would make a perfect metal match for the leaves I'd picked up, and that, while I don't have plating experience, I certainly have metal sawing and filing experience. And sheet copper, too!

I continued to collect leaves on our trip and, once we were home, I painstakingly traced a few onto paper. I used rubber cement to adhere those paper tracings to small, roughly cut sheets of copper and then used my metal saw and bench pin to cut the images out:



I used metal files to smooth the edges, a ball pein hammer and steel block to create texture and bend . . .



. . . metal black and a polishing cloth to create an aged effect and a metal hole punch to make space for a simple, jump ring bail.



I had great plans to present these finished pendants to you as an "easy, inexpensive" kind of metalsmithing project, but looking over that list of supplies needed and checking prices for all that stuff on Fire Mountain Gems (over $150, before metal costs and findings!), "inexpensive" maybe isn't the best word. Easy, though, fits the bill perfectly. And I'm really pleased with how they came out in the end!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Nail Fail

When something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Which has never stopped me from glomming like a lemming onto Fabulous! New! Products! Nutra Nail Gel Perfect 5 minute, UV free gel nail color was no exception.

I like my gel manicures. LOVE them. They're shiny, they are dry as bones the second I walk out of the salon (no smudges!) and they last up to three weeks (when all is going well), and at least a week chip free even when everything goes awry.

What I don't like about gel manicures? Having to fit in a salon appointment and paying $35 + tip.

Nutra Nail Gel Color was a seemingly perfect solution . . . gel that costs around $10 and that I could apply at home. I tried Peony first, a gorgeous metallic, candy apple red:



The instructions were clear and easy to follow. The polish did indeed set rock hard in 5 minutes. The shine was off the charts. The color was gorg. All seemed totally well . . . until I made my first chip, I shit you not, TWO HOURS after polishing. I hoped that chip was a fluke, but the chips kept coming. I experienced even more chipping than I typically do with regular polish (although there was no tip wear, which was surprising, but didn't make up for the chipping issue). And then when the time came, the polish was a bitch and a half to remove.

I went on to try a creme shade next, Dhalia, thinking that perhaps the formula might be a little hardier.



Dhalia went on a little less smoothly, but was still rock hard and super shiny within 5 minutes of polishing. This shade made it through day one looking pretty good, but by day 4 I had this:



UV free, at home gel: great idea, but no dice just yet. SADLY, since I'd have loved for this product to be a winner! I'll still be among the first to try out the next at home gel product, but this one, unfortunately, is a dud. Save your $10.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Merry

As this posts, I'll be home enjoying my family and our happy Xmas traditions, and I hope you are as well. Since I was way late in the game getting my trip posts up, I very nearly ran out of time before the holiday to show off the wreath I made on Thanksgiving day. I'm pretty proud, both of how it looks and of how quick and easy it was to make. The hardest part was actually wrangling my wreath form away from El Toddler-pants:



The original idea came from where all good things come from, Pinterest. I thought it'd be easier to use ribbon to achieve a striped look, rather than felt as was pictured. In searching for striped wreaths just now I see that ribbon is NOT an especially original idea, but it was, at the time, self-generated and I'm still proud, even if I can't claim the idea was mine alone. I used one spool of wide white ribbon (and ran out 7/8 of the way through, which you can probably see in the upcoming photo), one spool of 1 inch black grossgrain ribbon, hot glue and a handful of gold and red glittery things from the craft store. Initially I thought I'd make a bunch of flowers for the wreath "corsage", but once I was actually at the craft store looking around I got sidetracked by GLITTER, and that was that.



From sitting down to craft to taking photos of the wreath hung on the door, this project took about 45 minutes (including time spent unwinding and rewinding the too short white ribbon, freaking out about said too short white ribbon and holding the glitter balls in place for(seemingly)EVER waiting for the hot glue that affixed them to dry). Not counting toddler wrangling time, of course. Which left me pleanty of time leftover to trim our tree with this little dude:



Wreath . . . FTW!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Last Day

By this point in the trip, I'm not going to lie, we were ready to go home. Two weeks is a long time to spend away from home, especially with a wee guy in tow. Planning your own international trip with a toddler? Take note: a week would be too short, two weeks two long, 10 days sounds just about right.

We finally made it out to the Tate Modern on this day . . . Boy has been wanting to go there for THREE TRIPS now. Patient saint that he is, we thought it was high time he made it out. The first room we went into contained THIS: a two story black wall on which a crazy cool art film was being projected. We spent about half an hour trying to get Rhys to stand in the middle of the room for a photo. TIME WELL SPENT:



We followed that up with lunch (My boy. He likes fish sticks. And crayons.)



After which we saw a random bench that they Meyers fell in love with. "GUYS! This is my favorite exhibit! It speaks volumes about my existence as a baby. Really. Guys! Guys?"




Another pretty rad day!



As for the flight home . . . MEH! But we lived . . . and I'm glad for the whole thing. Glad for the photos. Glad for the memories. Glad for making my boy's world big. Glad for stamps in my toddler's passport. Glad for my little family and getting to spend two weeks just being a mom and a wife. I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat.

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Very Full Day, Indeed

We followed up our epic York day with another jam-packer. We stayed in London and visited the Golden Hinde, a scale replica of the ship Sir Francis Drake took around the world.



It was . . . small. And stoop-y. And I'd really have liked to get a guided tour to hear all the stories of how people lived on that boat (for years!), but a) the only guide was busy with a school group while we were there and b) the Meyers was in no mood:



He had his charming moments too, to be sure:



After the ship we met up with Boy's cousin's family (but not Boy's cousin herself, as she was working) and took a ride on a Thames Clipper. It was incredibly fun! Super inexpensive (and we got a discount using our tube passes, as the clipper is part of the London Transport system). The ride was scenic, comfortable (room to run, a snack bar and bathrooms aboard!) and a ton of fun:



. . . requisite moment of toddler angst notwithstanding:



We finished up the night with dinner in Covent Garden, a quick hello and goodbye with Paul's cousin and her kids:



. . . and dessert at Snog, a pop-tastic-ally decorated frozen yogurt bar that we visited EXPRESSLY to take photos in (although the yogurt was pretty top notch, too).


Thursday, December 22, 2011

York

Ahhhh . . . York. One of the most awesome places on Earth. For serious. York has it all: history spanning the Roman, Viking and Medieval eras, awesome shopping both modern and antique, spectacular pubs, delicious food, a glorious cathedral, museums and attractions galore. In fact, the only bad thing about York was the fact that we'd only have about 12 hours to spend there.

Anyone who has ever met a toddler can probably assume that scheduling a jam packed day is a recipe for disaster, so naturally I was a little concerned with both our short time frame in York, as well as the set in stone departure time train tickets we'd bought. The trains, those went well. We had varying success with the rest of our schedule of events.

I wanted to start the day off at Dig, an archeology museum where visitors actually hunker down with an archeologist and excavate recreated dig pits, touch artifacts and interact with history. I knew going in that Meyers was too young to fully appreciate the experience, but I thought the whole digging thing would go over well, which it did:



. . . until it didn't:



Another main goal for the day was to take our Sigma 10 20 to York Minster . . . which we did, but with less than stellar results. I love that lens, but it makes me feel like a n00b sometimes. I just don't really know how to use it to its full potential. I got a couple of shots I like though, between Meyers wranglings.





After lunch (Rhys' first sausage roll . . . ftw!) the Meyers took his nap (oh, glorious nap!) thereby allowing Boy and I an hour to go antique store browsing in peace. We did a quick run through of the Jorvik Viking Center (the Meyers was less than enthusiastic about a creepy, dark gondola ride through a smelly, menacing recreation of a Viking village . . . who would've figured?) and ended up the night with a pub dinner and a sprint (literally) back to the cathedral before our train departure in order to get a couple of shots of it floodlit in the dark.



Worthwhile run-back, yes?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Diana Playground and Hamleys

Our next day in London was one of my favorites. We started off the day with a bath for the Meyers, after which I took the best picture I've ever taken of him. (Thank you. I am very proud.)



We took Rhys to visit the Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens. This playground, guys. It was Fully. Realized. So many different themed areas for kids to play . . . a teepee village, a pirate ship, a camp with forts . . . all done in subdued wood and green tones, which set the stage perfectly for imaginative play. We expected to spend an hour here but spent nearly two, and even then I'm not sure we covered each play area.




After playing, we sat down for a snack and this starling flew up and stole a bite of muffin STRAIGHT OUT OF RHYS' HAND. Being the awesome mother that I am, I took a photo before comforting my poor, shaken son who was shouting "NO NO BIRD!!!"



When we were done at the playground and El Meyers was ready for his nap, I strapped him to me in the Ergo and we took off on a beautiful, long walk through Kensington Gardens towards Oxford Circus. We stopped for lunch at the McDonald's on Oxford street, which, I know . . . kind of a lame choice, but that's a sentimental location for me since we stayed in that area on our first trip to London when I was a kid and I had many a chicken nugget there. That McDonalds is also famous for being the one that Princess Diana took her boys to. In any event, it seemed a fitting spot for Rhys' first McNuggets (which he loved). After lunch we did a little shopping for us (Boots! Uniqlo!) and a little for Rhys at world famous Hamley's.



A pretty perfect day.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Potter's Bar

Oh, hai blogland! Remember how I said that the Xmas dust had yet to be kicked up a few weeks back? Well, it got to kicking! And now here I am, late December, with 3/4 of our November trip unblogged and a bit of time on my hands. I'll endeavor to get to it!

The next day of our trip, the day after all the museums, was spent in Potter's Bar with Boy's cousin and her family. This was the sleeper highlight of our trip! I knew we'd have fun catching up and letting Rhys play with his cousins, but the fun quotient wound up being just off the charts. Clara had made fabulous scones which we had w/ real cream and tea, followed by a walk through their woods to a pub near their home, a detour through a church graveyard to visit a spooky tree, a walk home, a home cooked dinner and a Dalek cake birthday celebration for Corvis. Internet, it was rad.