Short Thoughts on Long Nails

David Foster Wallace, from
David Foster Wallace, from “Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself.” Highly recommended.

I never thought I’d be the kind of woman with long nails. Growing up, I bit my nails to the quick. It took hard work and a couple years, but I finally broke free from the nervous habit by keeping my nails painted. Jagged edges were my trigger, so I put a glass nail file in my bag for easy touch ups.

Miracle in a bottle.
Miracle in a bottle.

One product took my nails from short and round to long and oval: Duri Rejuvacote. Two years ago I was perfectly happy using Nailtiques, but Rejuvacote delivers much faster results. I’m planning on cutting my nails short tonight; removing my contacts is getting dicey. But it’s nice to know that I can grow them back out quickly, if the femme fatale yearning overcomes me once again.


Monet Water Lilies Manicure


monet manicure
Little pieces of art

I have a vivid memory of when I first saw one of Monet’s Water Lilies paintings. They’re amazing at all different angles–and so hard to capture up close. I recently thought back to that trip and decided it would be fun to try to recreate that painting on my nails.

Tea optional.
Tea and yogurt optional

First I painted my nails a solid royal blue. You could also begin with purple, black, or an aqua base, depending on your color scheme. I decided to go with royal blue, black, purple, aqua, and green polishes. Next, rip up a few makeup sponges in half and stamp each color on, shade by shade.

monet nails
Step one: royal blue base


The secret is that you really give a lot of paint on the sponge, and tap it over and over again in one place until you get the level of opacity you want.

After stamping on aqua, green, purple, and navy blue polish
After stamping on aqua, green, purple, and navy blue polish

I just went color by color – aqua, purple, black, and green. After each dried completely, I put on a coat of my favorite glitter top coat, Zoya Maisie. The little mylar glitter flakes look like water lilies themselves. It’s a messy process, but it’s easy to go outside the lines and then wash up excess polish with soap and water

After my Zoya topcoat
The final product

What do you think?

Music and Makeup: Love Like a Sunset Nails Inspired by Phoenix

sunset ombre nails
Here comes a visible horizon, right where it starts and ends

Two of the most beautiful shows I’ve been to this year were the same band: Pheonix’s triumphant performances at Coachella and Outside Lands. It’s hard for me to pick which set was better, but I’ll lean toward Coachella for the favorable weather and the impact of seeing it the first time.

Phoenix has one of the simplest yet most moving visuals I’ve seen. At the front of the stage white lights illuminated the band through the mist of a fog machine. Behind Phoenix was a huge LED screen that shifted between solid colors: blood red to stark black to bright aqua to lime green to wild magenta in quick succession. Here’s an clip of the show. It’s worth it to watch straight through, but if you want to skip ahead, the light show gets crazy beginning at 2:48.

[SEIZURE WARNING: intense flashing lights ahead]

Remembering this set fondly, I decided to do a sunset manicure inspired by the song. Luckily for klutzes like me, this is a very simple look: all you need are three shades of polish and a makeup sponge.

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Nail Art for Klutzes: Bougainvillea-Inspired Nails

flower nails
The colors are pretty close, right?

Last year I had the incredible luck to move into a great place in SF with 3 awesome roommates. The house itself is pretty shabby chic, but it has the great bonus of a backyard.

When I was growing up in rural-suburban Pennsylvania, I’d garden every weekend with my family. We had three acres so there was always plenty of projects to work on. Sometimes I’d get tired of mulching and think, when I grow up I’ll live in the city and I won’t have to do any gardening! My last place was just like that – close to downtown, very little light, and 2 measly window plants I tried desperately alive. I missed gardening terribly and would look longingly out the window at the private garden below.

So when I moved to a house with a backyard, I didn’t want to let it go to waste. I bought a dozen potted plants for the patio and planted tomatoes, a jasmine bush, and sunflowers that have finally bloomed (and are 12 feet tall!). My friend whose room I filled was the resident gardener when he lived in the house, and he planted a bougainvillea plant the year before that has had tremendous success. I was admiring the color combination the other day when I decided to do a flower-inspired manicure. And as always, this is a klutz-friendly tutorial.

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Nail Art for Klutzes: Nude Glitter Manicure

nude glitter nails
Cat sighting!

Remember that nude manicure from the interview makeup tutorial? I wanted to glam them up a bit, and I thought I’d try something new. I love the look of metallic glitter over nude polish – it’s flashy but also chic.

Best of all, glitter polish I used is on sale! Sephora is ending its Sephora by OPI line, which is a shame since I really like all of the polishes I’ve tried from that line. But the upside is everything is currently 50% off, so take advantage it before they are all gone!

Keep reading to see the super easy (two step!) manicure process. Totally klutz-friendly.

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Nail Art for Klutzes: Art Deco Manicure

art deco mani
Literal pearl clutching

I’ve always been fascinated with the Art Deco movement. Bold geometric shapes, strong colors, exuberant luxury, what’s not to love? When I was in middle school I participated in a contest where you had to represent an art movement on a hat. I chose Art Deco, and built a Chrysler Building model that I put on top of a top hat with the brim surrounded in pearls and a pink boa. Just as ridiculous as it sounds, but I won the competition!

chrysler building manicure
Imagine this on a top hat surrounded by pearls and a pink boa. Yep.


Thinking back to that hat inspired this much more subtle take on the Art Deco aesthetic. And best of all, this is nail art that even klutzes like me won’t screw up. Don’t worry if you can’t paint a straight line – check out the tutorial below!

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Novels and Nail Art: Inspired by Tao Lin’s Taipei

taipei by tao lin
Did I mention I like sparkly things?

Last week I finished Taipei, the new novel by Tao Lin. It’s not exactly an enjoyable read, but I think it’s the best fictional representation I’ve ever seen of life right now, in 2013. The novel is filled with drugged-out wandering around cities, desperate Facebook stalking, and house parties where no one seems to like each other. The prose is bleak yet hypnotic, and though the characters are cut off from their emotion, I found the novel deeply affecting.

I decided to do some simple nail art inspired by the gorgeous cover. To get this look, I applied two coats of Sinful Colors in Secret Admirer. I usually shy away from blacks, but what I liked about this shade was that it was filled with silver microglitter, so it’s more wearable than pure black. You can check out nice swatches of that shade on its own here. To get the holographic effect of Taipei’s cover, I added two coats of China Glaze’s Fairy Dust. It has a mix of fine prismatic glitter that looks great over dark manicures without overwhelming the base. It’s a very subtle look indoors, but like the book, it has a gorgeous rainbow effect in sunlight.