Friday, September 23, 2011

BlogHer Book Club: Faithful Place

Faithful Place by Tana French is a gripping story of a Dublin police detective and the love of his life who went missing 22 years earlier. Filled with family tensions, love lost and all the turbulent emotions of growing up in a broken family, this book is both a fascinating mystery and an intense exploration of human existence.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

For My Little Man

Today the sweetest boy alive turns 4.  I am so proud.


You are my favoritest boy in the whole wide world. I love you. Happy Birthday.

music: Little Wonders by Rob Thomas

Monday, September 12, 2011

Movie Madness

 My husband has been out of town for two weeks, and this weekend had a heavy slate of movies I've been anticipating, so I spent quite a bit of time indoors in the dark by myself.  It was heavenly.

Click the links to read my reviews for, Contagion, Warrior, and The Debt.

Friday, September 9, 2011

How To Perfectly Polish Your Nails

I feel like most women know the basic steps for doing an at home manicure, and are confident trimming, filing, and maintaining their nails and cuticles.  But I see many that still feel apprehensive about tackling the polish application. And of course, not everyone has the time or budget to get professional manicures, so feeling confident about doing it yourself is essential (assuming you even wear nail polish, of course).  I personally paint my nails at least once a week, more often twice, so I thought I would give you some easy tips to help you perfect your at home manicure.

- after you have filed your nails to the length and shape you like and pushed back your cuticles, take the time to buff your nails smooth.  Everyone has some degree of ridges in their nails (I have big ones on my thumbs!), and getting the surface smooth and even will help the polish glide on easily.

- use a base coat. ( I use OPI) A basecoat dries super fast, and helps the polish adhere to your nails.  It also keeps your nails from getting stained if you wear dark polish.  Note: If you are doing a full on manicure rather than just changing polish, wipe your nails with rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball before applying the base coat.  This ensures that the nails are clean of lotion or cuticle oil.Just make sure you don’t leave any cotton fuzzies behind!

- How to apply the polish:
1) dip your brush into the polish, don’t wipe too much off on the side of the bottle! You don’t want a huge drippy glob, but you need adequate polish to really glide on and cover your whole nail without redipping.

2) lightly touch your brush to your nail, right in the middle.  This gets the first touch of polish out of the way without getting extra polish too near your cuticles where it might blob over off the edge of your nail.

3) touching your brush close to the edge of your nail, right in the center, edge it backwards until it is as close to your cuticle as you can get it.  Then, using the flexibility in the bristles, sweep your brush over to the side, keeping close to the cuticle and painting a strip of polish along the side of the nail to the tip.

4) repeat on the other side of the nail.

5) run the brush back over the center strip of the nail, covering any spots you missed when doing the sides, and smoothing the two streaks of polish together.  That’s it! Don’t go back over anything, because by this point either the brush will be out of polish or your nail just starting to dry enough that you will get brush marks instead of the smooth finish you want.  If there are tiny spots you missed, or the polish is thin in some spots, you can fix those on the second coat.

6) redip polish in bottle and repeat steps on next finger until both hands have a first coat.

7) wait one minute, then repeat everything again, starting with the same finger, for the second coat.

8) after one minute, apply Top Coat.  Seche Vite is the absolutely my favorite of the many options out there, and will leave your nails with a really glossy salon finish.  You want a very thick coat when you apply it – it dries fast!

That’s it , you’re done!!!

In case my description was less than clear, here's a little video I did to demonstrate the first coat:

color used in the video: OPI Red Red Rhine

Tips to keep from wrecking it:

- apply a quick dry spray.  Duri Drop n Go is amazing! It really dries your nails fast!  If you don’t have quick dry spray, let your nails dry for about 3-4 minutes, then (gently!) apply cuticle oil to your nails.  The oil will make your nails slippery, helping things that would normal ding your polish slide right off.  Not fool proof, but better than nothing.

- paint your nails before bed.  It can take up to 24 hours for polish to fully cure.  If you are spending the first several hours of that asleep, you don’t have to worry about denting your polish when you try and unbutton your pants to visit the restroom or whatever.  Just give your self 10 minutes or so before hand so you don’t end up with your sheets’ thread count imprinted in your nails!

- PRACTICE!!!  I do my nails all the time, so I’m pretty good at painting them (even with my left hand).  But I wasn’t always adept, and if I go a really long time without doing my nails my skills definitely suffer.  If you are less than confident, start with a pale pink polish – the color allows for more mistakes because no one can really see the chip of the blotches you got on your skin.  OPI Bubble Bath is the perfect pale pink polish because it doesn’t stay streaky like some of them do so it is really forgiving of less than perfect technique.

Ok, hope this helps!  Happy manicuring!

ps; one last tip: if you are painting your nails a dark color, consider doing the first coat with pure black polish (OPI Black Onyx for example).  The black will give you more depth and richness from your main color than if you just did two coats.  This is especially helpful with dark polishes that are less than opaque even after multiple coats.  Nothing worse than having deep plum nails with pale streaks where the polish is too thin, and doing more than two coats (plus base coat and top coat) just increases drying time and your risk of wrecking all your hard work!

pps: okay, last tip for real this time. You might be tempted to buy a base coat/ top coat in one - don't.  They are really meant to do different things, and your manicure will last longer if you get separate bottles of each.  base coat is meant to act like double stick tap, adhering both to your nails and to the polish you paint on top.  Top coat is meant to leave a super shiny, extra hard finish that helps your polish resist chipping longer.  No combination formula is going to do either of these things well, so you (and your nails) are better off using one of each.

Happy polishing!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

BlogHer Book Club: Slow Love

I did NOT like this book.  The author writes well enough, lots of flowery, metaphoric phrasing, and it all sounds very philosophical and deep thoughtsy, but in general all the contemplative prose and meandering diversions do is disguise the fact that the author isn't really saying anything at all.  According to the cover subtitle, Slow Love is "how I lost my job, put on my pajamas, and found happiness," but in truth she talks way more about a highly dysfunctional relationship that she a) keeps referring to in the past tense even though it clearly hadn't ended, and b) is so pathetic on her part that the fact I can't slap her became unbearably frustrating.

Each chapter starts off as if it will be a specific portion of the story, and then meanders off into random tangents and backstory. However, instead of then tying those little historical glimpses in to the larger theme of the chapter, the just continue to trail off and away and back to this idiotic relationship that literally has nothing whatsoever to do with her getting her life back together after being fired.

I'm going to give the author the benefit of the doubt and assume that she is not completely lacking in any personality or metal function in real life (after all, we are talking about a successful magazine editor and writer) and only comes across that way in this book.  But oh, my god.  She fails completely (in my opinion) to communicate any aspect of actual depression or sense of fighting against the feeling of becoming undefined and untethered after losing her job.  Instead we get ambivalence, schmaltzy philosophical monologues that are unrelated to just about everything else, and disconnected irrelevant anecdotes.  She is hungry all the time - but never explores why.  She is tired all the time, or suffering from insomnia - but instead of giving us insight in to what her inner struggle was, why her mind was racing, we get a recitation of all the things she tried that failed to fix the problem.  Is this a book about finding oneself after losing your job (and as a result a primary portion of your identity?) or is it simply a middle aged woman wailing about how she hasn't found true love while admitting that she accepted dates only because it meant someone would be buying her dinner, and offering little to no evidence that she ever did anything to find it?  There is no apparent emotional connection to her own life or focus to this story, which makes it damn hard to care about her as a reader.

It did start to pick up around chapter 10, becoming a little less aimless and the digressions tying in to the relevant point.  But by that point the damaged had been done and I had a really hard time getting invested.  There are probably many people who loved it and think I'm just a crazy person.  They may be right.  For other perspectives, and to join in the discussions about this book, check out the BlogHer Book Club.

ps: I also think the title is absolutely terrible. It sounds like some kind of tantric sex manual.  no thanks.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Random And A Rant

We have a weather station thingy that has the temperature inside and out, and the humidity, and all other various lights and symbols, none of which i have the slightest idea what they mean or how they relate to me.  Basically I'm checking the temp and the humidity and I'm good.  And because we have it set to do inside and out, ie channels 1 and 2, there is a blank setting as it cycles between the three channels.  So it will blink 73 degrees, inside, 79 degrees outside, ---, 73 degrees inside, etc.

Except when it doesn't.

Lately we have been getting a mysterious third channel on occasion.  I don't know when a third sensor was installed, or who hooked it up to our monitor, but they apparently installed it in the bowels of hell because that channel is almost always 121 degrees.  Fahrenheit.  And 68% humidity, which I think we can all agree is excruciatingly high at those kind of temperatures.

I don't know where that is, but I DO NOT want to go.

In other, totally unrelated news, we have been sent home our first fund raising packet as parents of a school age child. And I have found myself irrationally enraged by it.  I get that the PTA needs money to continue offering our school whatever great services they currently offer, and honestly I have no problem ponying up in support of my kids' education.  if they had sent home some sort of letter explaining that it costs x amount of dollars per kid to provide for field trips or whatever, I'd have whipped out my checkbook and made room in the budget no questions asked.  But instead, you ask me (cause let's not kid ourselves, a 5 year old ain't selling nothin') to hit up family, friends and neighbors (whom we barely know) for money?  In exchange for junk trinkets and overpriced wrapping paper?  Hell.  Muthafucking.  NO.

I do not sell things.

No offense to people out there who are salesmen - it is often a thankless job and there are many people who do it really well and really enjoy it.  I do not.  The surest way to get me to refuse to do something is to push me into it, and there is nothing I hate more than a pushy salesperson.  In most instances, the best way to get me to buy something is to leave me the hell alone with it and some cash.  Trust me, that money will find it's way out of my pocket in no time.  I also have a complete issue with doing anything that might involve talking to strangers- just ask my husband what it's like to get me to order pizza or call the phone company.  So you can imagine how thrilled I am to be expected to sell things to complete strangers.  Things they do not need, or want, in support of a school  they could most likely not care less about.  Fun times.

Oh, and don't forget about the "show" they supposedly put on instead of letting my kid have outside playtime like usual, telling them all about the great prizes (ie, tiny rubber frog) they would get.  And when I explained how the system actually works and that she has to sell a certain amount of items in order to get the frog (making that sucker cost about $40), it made my daughter cry because she really thought they were just getting a toy.  Thanks for that, PTA!

What it boils down to is this: I hate to be forced into doing your job.  My job is to support my child, and her school and teachers as best I can.  And if that involves giving money, or baking treats for a bake sale, or chaperoning on a filed trip, I'm all game.  But I draw the line at being coerced into shelling out iffy products to people who have no responsibility to this school whatsoever.  My son's preschool is also doing a bake sale - and along with the order form and catalog was a very nice note from the director explaining the program and saying our participation was appreciated but not mandatory.  They weren't trying to manhandle me into performing, and they didn't try and brainwash my kid into being a good little salesman.

You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.  So I guess basically I object more to the methods than what they are actually asking me to do.  Kind of how I don't like evangelical Christians*: I'm happy for you that you drank the Kool-aid, just stop trying to shove it down my throat.

And NEVER ask me to sell it.

*no doubt I will soon find out where channel 3 is after that comment

BlogHer Book Club: Rules Of Civility

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles, is an intriguing story full of exquisitely crafted phrases and captivating description. however, what it more than makes up for in language, it lacks in emotion. Populated with more than its fair share of fascinating characters, this book never delves far enough beyond the facade of propriety; rather, the reader is stuck with only a surface view of events. We may be privy to the narration of the main character (a delightfully smart and self assured young woman making her way in 1938 New York), but we are spared the messiness of her true emotions, and as a result the books fails to grip you as well as it should.

Read the rest of my review