Monday, 23 February 2015

Garbage In, Garbage Out

Well hello there! Long time no blog. I hope you've all been keeping well, and having lots of lovely adventures?

I have a feeling this could be a long post, so if you're here for nails, there'll be some of those coming soon, as I have more pretties to show you. 

My blog has been quiet for a couple of reasons. Let's start with the easiest. 

When I first started, nail art was not the massive beast it is now. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't in its infancy or anything, but it was still pretty experimental, and perfectly possible to come up with something not seen before. There were a few big faces, but they were quite new to their fame and usually all had time for a quick chat in their comments.

As time went gone on, things changed, as they have a habit of doing. Big business saw an opportunity to make some money, and filtered its way in. This was inevitable of course, and not entirely a bad thing. More people found the fun of nail art, and of course, the big faces got *really* big. Nail art blogging became a paying business for some, which is great.

However, with that came a down side. Suddenly there were "rules" introduced about things like sponsored posts, (where companies send you items for review) and you had to put certain wording on your blog to make sure you didn't get sued (?). Who actually devised these rules, and who on earth would police them never really seemed clear to me.

Alongside that, because so many people were enjoying doing their nails, the outpouring of creativity meant that no matter what you did on your nails, someone had usually done it before. Which is fine if everyone can accept that two people might have the same idea, but all too often I would see people getting comments on their blog accusing them of stealing other peoples designs, and I became nervous about that happening to me. 

So I got to the point where I was sticking to polish reviews, or checking Google every time I wanted to post a design I was pleased with, and usually something similar had already been done so I ended up not blogging about it. 

All these things kind of sucked the fun out of blogging for me. At the time I couldn't work out why I wasn't enjoying it any more, and I even wrote a post about it (probably to try and understand it myself) but it's only now with hindsight that I can see the bigger picture.

So that's part of the reason. I will try to write this next part without massively oversharing, which will be a challenge for me. About a year ago, i had a health scare with my breathing which resulted in lots of testing at hospital over a period of months. Everything they tested for was negative (thank God) but once they'd run out of tests to do, the doctors just shrugged their shoulders and left me to my own devices. Meanwhile I was still ill, and pretty worried. My hair and nails had turned pretty awful (another reason for not blogging), I was putting on weight relentlessly, everything ached, and I got pretty down. I put it all down to stress and just tried to get on with things the best I could.

Out of luck with the doctors, I turned to the internet for advice. I posted my problem on a respiratory health forum, and as with most of my experiences with people on the internet, everyone who replied was lovely. A couple of the replies suggested that I get my thyroid function tested, so after having read a bit about it (of course), I went to the doctor, who sent me for a blood test. Lo and behold, my thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) level came back as abnormal. The doctor then ordered some more tests to see if he could see why my level was so high. However the two tests he ran came back as "within limits". My doctors words were "I see you're sick but I don't know why".  Once again I was sent away with a shrug of the shoulders. This whole thing so far had taken eight months. 

At least now I had an idea what was wrong with me I could try to work towards putting it right. My blood tests also showed I was deficient in certain vitamins and minerals (I'm convinced this is all related), so I've been taking several supplements since the beginning of the year to try to balance all these levels out. I am feeling better in myself, and the weight has stopped piling on, so something must be happening. I will book myself in for some more blood tests (if they'll do them) in the summer to check that I'm not doing myself more harm than good. 

So this brings us to the current day. I'm not cured by any stretch of the imagination, but I am feeling better than I was. Thyroid problems can make you lethargic and can suck out your motivation, so coupled with the other blogging issues, the whole thing came to a stop. I did manage to mess up all the posting dates on my past posts though, clever me, doh!

My new found interest in my health has led me to start paying attention in what I'm actually eating. Hence the title of this post. As I work full time, when I get home all I really want to do is feed myself as quickly as possible with the minimum of time and effort taken. Therefore I'm very much a convenience food cooker. If it doesn't come in a jar or a packet, I don't give it much of a second look, apart from potatoes. My Irish roots will not allow me to disrespect the spuds haha.

But although the convenience foods are quick and easy, they don't taste wonderful. They're not disgusting either, they're just "there", doing a job without being particularly inspiring. I also suspect that most of them are not that healthy, despite some claiming otherwise. 

So I have been experimenting with flavours. The picture in this post is my bacon and egg salad, which is okay, but was much improved with the addition of cherry tomatoes. Plus the leaves were a bit dry and could have used some kind of dressing, but I have no idea what type of dressing. Cheese maybe? More experimenting to do there.

I think all of this relates to my blog, as Making A Silk Purse Out Of A Sows Ear relates to improving yourself not only through beauty products, but also making yourself a more rounded person by improving skills and feeding your interests. And now I've got a bit more fire in my belly I intend to give it a good old go. I do have some beauty stuff I've been meaning to review for ages, so will get on to that soon too. 

If you're still reading, thanks for ploughing through my ramble! I have to say the Blogger mobile app is a hundred times improved since I last used it, the ease of being able to quickly write a post on my phone may also inspire me to do more. Anyway, I had better go before this post gets completely out of hand!

Until next time...


Monday, 1 December 2014

Pretty Jelly Diamond S-teal-er Review and Nail Art

Happy Saturday!
I hope you're having a great day.  Mine's gone pretty well so far, I haven't been up to much, mostly painting my nails and drinking tea, which suits me fine!  I do have some housework to be getting on with, which is why I'm sitting here blogging haha.
Today I bring you the third installment of my Pretty Jelly reviews.  I bought 4, and have already reviewed Bullet Rouge HERE and Grape Escape HERE
This one's called Diamond S-teal-er, which you would think makes it teal.  To my eyes it's more like an icy mid-blue, not really enough green tone in it (in my opinion) for teal, but that doesn't make it any less pretty.  And of course it's holographic anyway so who cares!
The holo is there, but it doesn't jump off the page with this one, although of course because I want to swatch a holo, it's grey and drizzly today, so that doesn't help.  Here's how it looks:
I still have a bit of glitter left in my cuticles from wearing Nails Inc's fine sprinkles, but oh well.
This is two coats, with just regular basecoat and no topcoat.  The formula on this one seemed a tad more gloopy than on the others I've tried.  Don't get me wrong, it wasn't too awkward, but it didn't quite seem to glide the same.  Dry time seemed a bit slower too, I wonder if I need to thin it a little bit?  I think the lump on my middle finger is a bit of leftover glitter, I obviously wasn't very rigorous with my last removal!  It had the same lovely high end finish as the others I've tried.
Here's a pic under the kitchen light to show the lovely holo:
I told you it was there!  Lovely holo rainbow.
I already knew when I started painting my nails what nail art I was going to do on this, as I woke up with it in my head (sad I know).  As Spring is on its way, I thought I would cheer it along with some flowers. 
Daisies are a double win, because they're one of my favourite flowers, and also they're mega easy to do with a dotting tool.  All you need to do is start from the outside of a petal and drag to the centre, repeat four or five times, then do a dot in the middle.  If you can make a dot, you can do these flowers.
So here's what I ended up with:
Pretty Jelly Nail Art
I used OPI Alpine Snow for the petals and Collection 2000 Hot Looks in Lemon Soda for the centres. I didn't topcoat it because I didn't want to kill the holo.  I took two pics I couldn't decide between, so I'm showing them both to you.:
And here's what it looks like with its holo kick:
Pretty Jelly Diamond Stealer nail art
So pretty!  And because I've been a bit lax at remembering to do it lately, here's what the brush looks like:
You can buy the Pretty Jelly polishes from the Etsy shop HERE and I paid $10, which equates to around £6.50.  Obviously alot of shipping on the top of that though because it came all the way from America.
The polishes are 3-free and cruelty free so happy days.
Unfortunately for me there are now some new, different, gorgeous, holo's in her shop, and I want them all! 
What do you think?
Until next time...

Orange and White nail art

Hi there!

Hope you're having a great start to your weekend.  Today should have been my first lie in for 12 days, so typically I woke up at 6.20am and couldn't get back to sleep!  I lay there with my eyes open for about half an hour, and eventually gave up and decided to get up.  And of course I've spent those extra hours productively, by painting my nails.

Ever since I did the L'Oreal Masquintense review (link here) I haven't been able to get the orange and white packaging out of my head.  So I've known what colours todays manicure was going to be all week.  I wasn't sure whether to do dots, stripes, or stamping though.  As my last couple of nail art posts have been stripes, and I wasn't really feeling dots today, I decided to go with stamping.  I picked a swirly image from Cheeky plate B, which I bought from Amazon, here's the link if you want to buy it, it's priced at £6.99.  The images stamp well, and it's good that there are 42 images on the plate, but I'm not sure I'd use all of them.  However I'm using one today!

For my white base, I wasn't sure whether to use OPI's Alpine Snow, or OPI's My Boyfriend Scales Walls.  I did a comparison on the two here but in the end I decided to go for My Boyfriend Scales Walls due to its better formula.  This means that I'll probably end up never using Alpine Snow as a base coat again, but it does come in handy for dotting etc.

Then I got out my oranges to see which ones stamped best.  In the end it was a toss up between two.   Essies Orange It's Obvious, which you can see here  and Color Clubs Wham Pow.  The Color Club is more neon though, so it won.

And here's what I ended up with:
It's not perfect, but I like it!  It's actually more neon than it shows in this pic, but still wearable.  Nice and jolly, which is always a good thing.

Here's another pic, closer up this time:
As you can see, I smudged the middle finger, and took a chunk out of my base coat at the cuticle on the same finger.  I also missed a spot on my little finger, but, hey, you get the idea!  I'll stop picking holes in my manicure now haha.

And here's how it looks to the outside world, seeing as I obviously don't go around holding a bottle of polish in my hand all the time (actually, I'm not sure that's really true...):
I like it because to me it looks like water marbling, without any of the mess.  I love how marbling looks, but I just can't bring myself to dunk my whole finger in a sheet of suspended polish and then spend time cleaning it back off again. 

I like this stamping design more than I thought I would.  I have a feeling you'll be seeing it a few times this summer, in different colours, and maybe gradients too.  Hopefully a bit more tidily done than this one!

Until next time...


OPI The Top 10 mini collection review - first 5

Hi there!

Hope you're well today.  Snow is forecast here AGAIN! Spring is playing hide and seek with us at the moment. 

I picked these pretties up at TK Maxx a few weeks ago, and have had them in my 'to swatch' pile since.  Here's how they look in the box:
OPI Top Ten Mini Collection
Apologies for the slightly rubbish picture.  I didn't find out until it was too late that it was impossible to get the polishes out without wrecking the box.  I believe these to be the 'light' half of the OPI Top Ten collection (Amazon LINK here) but I didn't see the other darker half in TX Maxx.

Without further ado, let's get on with it.  The first in the box is Alpine Snow:
OPI Alpine Snow review
I actually already own the full size of Alpine Snow, and I did a comparison post with My Boyfriend Scales Walls (HERE) which is one of my most popular posts.  The first coat is patchy, but the second coat evens it out, so this is two coats.  It's also pretty fast drying.  I was pleased to find that the brush in the polish was still a pretty decent size, even though it's a mini polish.

Next up we have Bubble Bath:
OPI Bubble Bath Review
I also own the full size polish of this one (why did I buy this set haha), and I already knew I didn't like it so much, too sheer for me.  This is two coats.  Of course it would be good for a french manicure, which is probably why it was formulated in the first place.  I noticed that the mini bottles are comfortable to pose with.

Next is Tickle My France-y:
OPI Tickle My Francey review
This was also quite disappointingly sheer.  At two coats I still had alot of VNL.  However I do like the colour, so I went with another coat, so this is 3 coats in this picture.  It is a very pretty nude.

Second to last we have Kiss Me On My Tulips:
OPI Kiss Me on my Tulips review
This is a bright pink that does nothing for my skintone, but no fault of the polish for that.  It reminds me a bit of Orly's Basket Case.  Perhaps I'll do a comparison on the two at some point.  At one coat it still had VNL, but this is two, and as you can see, hardly any VNL left.  Dry time was med/fast.

And last but not least we have Red Lights Ahead... Where?
OPI Red Lights Ahead Where review
This is two coats.  Too sheer for me.  It was relatively fast drying though.  Lifes too short for undies on a polish when I have other reds that don't need it.  Not too impressed with this one.

Here's a picture of the brush, which was pretty consistently good across all the polishes:
So there we have it.  That's the whole (half of the) set reviewed.  I paid £19.99 at TK Maxx and to be honest, if you're like me and don't like to see your nail line through your polish, I wouldn't recommend this set.  Oh well, live and learn!  One of these days I'll actually have that blog sale I keep wondering about having, and most of these will probably be in it.  I'm sure there's somebody out there who has the patience to apply more coats than I do.  I can't comment on wear time, as I haven't liked any of them enough to wear for any length of time.

They were all very shiny though, no topcoat in any of these pictures, and pretty fast drying, so it wasn't all bad.  Now I know the brushes are OK, I would buy more OPI minis, but I would check out the reviews first to make sure they're opaque enough.

What do you think?  Yay or nay?  Is VNL a big no-no for you too or don't you mind it?

Until next time...


Sci Fi Nail Art

Hi everyone!

Hope you're enjoying your Saturday, and are keeping nice and warm?  The roads all around my house have been closed today because of the snow, so I've been stranded in!  So instead of going out doing shopping and visiting the Post Office as I'd planned, I've been confined to the house.  That doesn't mean it's been a wasted day though, I've painted a picture, and have been doing some nail art too, so it's all good.

Not long ago, I saw this post from Work, Play, Polish (link) about Star Trek uniform nailart, and I couldn't get it out of my head.  I asked her if it was ok to have a go myself, and she kindly said yes it was fine.  Actually what I ended up with wasn't exactly the same as hers, and not as neat or nice, but I'm still pretty pleased with it.  Please excuse my middle finger cuticle, I nibbled at it in a fit of gin inspired (ginspired?) madness,  I've tried to blur it with my photo software so you don't have to look at it.

So here's the manicure:
After applying my basecoat, I applied Maybelline Express Finish in Cherry, which I blogged about (here) just one coat needed.  The blue is Nails Inc's Ebury Bridge, which you can see more of  (here) and the yellow is Collection 2000's Lemon Soda.

Then I marked off the bottom section of my nails using gridding tape, which I prefer to striping tape even though it's more expensive because it's less curly, and painted the bottom of my nails using the black from the Simple Pleasures scented halloween set which I reviewed last year (link)
Finally I used Rimmels silver polish Your Majesty and a dotting tool to make the badges and I was done.  I think they came out OK.

So this got me thinking of other sci-fi nail art looks.  I've already done one on the daleks (link) which looked like this:
dalek nailart
The base for this manicure is Jessica's holo polish Disco Diva, and this mani looked awesome in the sun.

So, back to today.  I decided I wanted to do some batman nails, so off to the internet I went.  I found two sources of inspiration.  This post from appletosh (link) and this youtube video by pixiepolish (link)

It didn't come out brilliantly, but it was a bit of an experiment.  In her video pixiepolish paints using acrylic paint and a cocktail stick.  I've never done this before, I usually use small brushes, but she made it look pretty easy so I thought I'd have a go.  As usual with YouTube, it looked easy only because she's reeeeaaaally good at it haha.

So here's what I ended up with:
As you can see, my thumb is lumpy bumpy, even with a thick coat of Seche on, and my Seche picked up some of the black paint when it smudged the thumb and dotted it all over my manicure.  I've had better nailart attempts haha.

However, strangely, I'm still quite pleased with it!  I think the ring finger came out really well, this is the second attempt at that, the first one was so rubbish I actually took it off and started again.  On the tutorial I saw, they painted his face on the bottom half of the nail, but I preferred it without.

If you ignore the thumb, it looks pretty good:
This is one manicure I'd like to try again, and get neater, because I think it's pretty ace.  Batman is too cool.

So there we go, three different ideas you can try.  Which is your favourite?

Until next time...


Artsy Wednesday - Pastels

Hi everyone, hope you're having a good week?

I'm on my holidays in Torquay, having a lovely time. The weather could be better, but that's the risk you take when holidaying in the UK. 

Silly me forgot to bring my laptop, so i'm going to attempt to make this post purely with my iphone 3gs. Don't expect too much! I won't be able to resize or colour correct, so sorry about that.  The theme this time is pastels, which is great for me, as they're my favourite!

Here's what i came up with:
I used M&S Limited Collection in Pale Lavender, then i masked off the top half and painted the end of my nail in OPI Mod About You.

I then used a Color Club striper to paint the white stripes, and then removed the tape.  A coat of Seche Vite, and voila, funky french!

I hope you like what I came up with, don't forget to check out what the other Artsy Wednesday girls did - 

Catrine - Unnaked Nails

Michelle - Lab Muffin

Alanna - Pretty Purple Polish

Maria - Maria's Nail Polish Blog

Melanie - Nail and Polish

Jessica - Beauty Gnome

Emily - An Accent Nail

Ameerah - Valiantly Varnished

Until next time...


2True Fast Dry Polish Shade 11 Swatches

Hi again!

Hope you're well today.

Here we have a surprise buy for me, a super-cheap £1.99 nude polish!  Now I'm not a big fan of nude polishes, despite loving my pastels, but this one caught my eye because I'm looking for an antique cream for a nail art look I've got in my head. 

I thought this might be the one I'm looking for. Unfortunately it wasn't, (not cream coloured enough) but I like it all the same:
It was streaky in one coat, and opaque in two, which is what's shown here.  The formula was a tiny bit runny, but nothing too awkward, and perhaps half a shade darker once on and dry than in the bottle.  It reminded me very much of the 'camel coats' we all used to wear, way back when...

It also reminded me very much of a bottle of concealer, and once I'd got that in my head I felt weird painting it on my nails haha!  Here's another pic:
And finally, here's a pic of the brush, partly because there's a flash on the packaging that says 'new flat brush' so I thought you might like to see it, and partly because I always want to show brushes on my polish review posts.  I'll include front view & side view to show that it is, indeed, flat:

And actually, the brush was the only thing that slightly let this polish down, the shape was actually fine, I did my little finger in more or less one stroke and pressed flat it went into a more slightly rounded shape, but it was just that little bit too stiff bristled to be perfect.  However, bear in mind I'm comparing it with Nails Inc and Jessica polishes that cost more than a tenner each.  No complaints on glossiness or coverage though!

Also not only are they £1.99 each, they're 3 for £5 in Superdrug, which is where I got mine, so they really are a bargain!  Thoroughly recommended.

Until next time...