Month: July 2014

Busy Girl Nails summer challenge 2014: neon

Busy Girl Nails summer 2014

The Busy Girl Nails nail art challenge is back for summer 2014! I love these challenges, even though I don’t often get to do all of the weekly art prompts. I’m going to try to complete all five this year.

This week’s prompt is “neon”, so I went with a bright turquoise green base (Wet n Wild Fergie “Miami Spirit”) and striped a neon yellow-green on top (Zoya “Mitzi”). In retrospect, I shouldn’t have used a matte for the striping–it dried too fast to apply as I intended–but it looked okay once I smoothed a glossy topcoat over everything. (For those of you wondering, without topcoat, Mitzi is a matte, and Miami Spirit is a tad darker and has a satin finish.)

Neon stripe nail art

You can find the YouTube how-to video for this type of striping here via Cute Polish–it uses a floss wand instead of a special brush. I used a more haphazard application instead of straight stripes, but those look cool too.

Ten on Tuesday: Pink Panther, belated presents, and Morgan Freeman on helium

1. We watched The Return of the Pink Panther last night–we actually had to get a copy on VHS from the local video store (!). My husband says he suspects a lot of nostalgia is involved in my memories of this movie being so, so much funnier than Steve Martin’s remakes of the series. Any movies that appeal to you in part because of nostalgia?

The Return of the Pink Panther

2. I looked up Peter Sellers this morning and was surprised to learn that he had such a brief and troubled life–something I never knew before. It seems like so many great minds are total train wrecks when they’re not creating their art.

3. I’m supposed to get a belated birthday present later today from one of my besties and I can’t wait to see what it is. The husband says he’s a little jealous that he didn’t think to buy it, which makes me even more puzzled as to what it could be!

4. The Surgeon General is finally zooming in on the problem of skin cancer and tanning beds. Read the article in the Washington Post here. As we’re smack dab in the middle of summer this seems like a very timely report, but it bugs me that it’s taken this long for the SG to focus on the issue.

5. I’m having one of those ill-advised urges to get bangs again…someone stop me!

6. Pretty sure this day will be spent lounging on the deck reading. I would add “and also eating chips and guacamole” but I have neither at home and I’m too lazy to go to the store.

7. In case you’ve ever wondered what Morgan Freeman sounds like on helium…


8. My little edamame plant has pods on it! Now I’m waiting on the strawberry plant to flower…

9. The mint plant is also going bonkers. Need to dry the leaves for tea this winter!

10. Ugh, I forgot how hard it was to come up with ten things! O_o Happy Tuesday everyone!

Music Monday: Chem 6A

I’m pretty sure this was the anthem of my teenage years. Also: I was listening to these guys before they went mainstream. Their first two albums (The Legend of Chin and New Way to be Human) were pretty good. Didn’t care so much for their later, more radio-friendly stuff.

Product review: Pimsleur French 1

(Disclosure: I received the product mentioned in this post for review purposes; however I was not compensated for writing a review and as always all opinions are my own.)

Pimsleur French

One last Pimsleur review for the weekend! My final language choice for the year is French. I’m not French and it’s not that I’ve ever had a particular inclination to travel to France, but I do think it would be a lovely language to learn. It might be useful and it certainly sounds nice.

Like the other Pimsleur gold CD sets, this course consists of sixteen discs and thirty-two lessons, each roughly thirty minutes in length. You start out with basic phrases such as, “Excuse me, do you speak English?” which of course would be very helpful if you were a tourist overseas and struggling to get about! The lessons use rote learning to help you memorize words and phrases, and are geared toward travelers or those who want a conversational grasp of the language rather than vocabulary lists and grammar drills.

Overall I think that out of the four languages I’ve been playing with, French is proving the hardest for me to absorb. I don’t know if it’s the accent, or if it’s simply because I have zero prior exposure to the language (unlike Spanish, which is fairly common in my home area, and German, which I’ve already been studying a bit). Honestly, I feel like I’m struggling to grasp this language in an audio-only format. I don’t think this is Pimsleur’s fault, I think it’s just my own personal speedbump. I’m still determined to peck away at it, but it’s good to be aware that if you find a language intimidating from the outset, the audio only approach might not be the best for you. (I do really love my other Pimsleur discs, for Spanish, German and Italian.)

You can find this set on Amazon here. Now tell me: what other languages (if any) do you speak?

(I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.)

Thought Questions, #141-#147

Unsplash Alicja Colon

(photo by Alicja Colon via Unsplash)

Time for another week of Thought Questions! Be sure to check out my friend Celeste’s blog too as she is also answering these questions each week.

#141: Is there ever a time when giving up makes sense? Yes, when the thing you’re doing is causing real and irrevocable harm to your life.

#142: What makes you proud? Type “faith in humanity restored” into the search bar on Pinterest. I know a lot of cynics say things like “Oh, I bet that photo was staged”, but I think more of these are legit than we realize. It makes me proud to see people standing up and doing the right thing for others.

#143: How do you find the strength to do what you know in your heart is right? I honestly don’t know how to answer that. I guess it requires a lot of willpower and bravery. And practice, if that makes sense. Being bold doesn’t happen overnight.

#144: Where do you find peace? In the woods.

#145: When have you worked hard and loved every minute of it? Probably when I got my promotion last fall. There have been a lot of rough spots since then and this spring drove me pretty well over the edge, but things are looking up now. I enjoy challenges and learning new things, so the change in pace was great–I was getting really bored with my old job!

#146: How short would your life have to be before you would start living differently today? I suppose really, it would have to be pretty short, wouldn’t it? Humans are slow to change. But I have made a lot of unprompted changes this year, so I guess I could say that it doesn’t matter–if something needs to be changed, I will change it.

#147: Is it better to have loved and lost or to have never loved at all? Better to have loved and have those good memories. I always think of Aragorn and Arwen when she says she’d rather have a few years with him as a mortal than an immortal elven life alone. (Yes, that was totally nerdy of me. #sorrynotsorry)

Product review: Pimsleur Italian 1

(Disclosure: I received the product mentioned in exchange for an honest review. However I was not compensated for writing a review and as always all opinions are my own.)

Pimsleur Italian

I mentioned yesterday that I’m working to pick up a bit of “traveler’s” Spanish and German this summer, and I also wanted to learn a little Italian. I would eventually like to become more fluent in Italian, since it’s one of my “heritage” languages, but for now a basic grasp of conversational bits–introductions, getting around in a foreign city, etc.–will come in handy if I get to take my dream trip to Europe in the next few years!

Because Italian and Spanish are so similar, if you have any experience speaking one, you’ll probably pick up on the rhythms and pronunciation of the other more easily. (For example, saying “thank you” is “gracias” in Spanish and “grazie” in Italian–they sound very similar!) I felt like it was really easy to fall into the rhythm of this language. Like all of the other Pimsleur CD sets, this one uses native speakers to get you used to the sound of the language and help you perfect your accent. You start out by listening to a short conversation in Italian, which is then broken down word by word so you can practice the different words and phrases. By the end of a half-hour lesson you’re ready to listen to the original conversation again, but this time you’ll be able to follow what’s being said.

I really like the set-up of the lessons. I can pop in a CD while I cook, clean or walk on the treadmill and go through the phrases with ease. If you feel like you miss a word or don’t quite nail the pronunciation the first time, you don’t have to worry about pausing or rewinding the audio, because they’ll repeat the new phrases several times over the course of the lesson to make sure you’ve really gotten the hang of them. There are sixteen discs in all, each with two half hour lessons, and the lessons dovetail neatly into each other so it’s easy to pick up where you left off with each new study session.

You can find Pimsleur Italian 1 on Amazon here. Tomorrow I’ll have another Pimsleur review for you, so come back for that!

(I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.)

Product review: Pimsleur German 1

(Disclosure: I received the product mentioned below for the purpose of a review. However I was not compensated for writing a review and as always all opinions are my own.)

Pimsleur German

I have a mini-series of language CD reviews to kick off today. I was lucky enough to get these Pimsleur CDs for review and wanted to share my thoughts on them! I’ve mentioned before that I’d like to learn to speak German, as it’s part of my heritage. This is basically a crash course in conversational German, covering the basics you’d need to get around as a tourist–introductions, finding the hotel, making small talk with native speakers, etc.

The genius of the Pimsleur system is that it focuses heavily on mimicking native accents and pronunciation, so you really get a feel for how the language should roll off the tongue–something that I’ve always found difficult, if not impossible, with text-based learning. The set consists of sixteen discs covering 32 lessons, each roughly half an hour in length. Each lesson covers some new small piece of conversation and uses rote practice to help you get comfortable expanding your vocabulary.

I feel like German is one of those languages that takes a bit more “work” in the pronunciation department (as opposed to, say, Spanish), but this could be my American bias as I’ve lived a good part of my life in towns with a high population of native Spanish speakers, and I’m used to hearing the language even if I’m not fluent in it. Having native German speakers on the CDs really helps with this issue. I do think it would be nice to have printed accompanying materials since I probably couldn’t write down most of the words and phrases used, though. (You can find limited accompanying printed materials online, but I would probably supplement this with a phrase book if I chose to travel, simply due to the nature of the language.)

This is definitely a bit of an unconventional approach to learning a language, and it is 100% geared toward travelers or those who plan to travel soon and need to learn some conversational basics to get around. It’s a nice building block for me to learn some “traveler’s phrases”, and I can put it together with the other bits of German that I’ve been learning from phrase books. I’ll be using it as a stepping stone toward other language CDs and/or books to expand my vocabulary and grasp of grammar in the future.

You can find the Pimsleur German 1 CD set on Amazon here. I admit, I’m a bit of a glutton for punishment, as my dad would say–I decided to tackle not one but multiple language courses this summer. You can find my Pimsleur Spanish 1 review here; look for two more Pimsleur reviews later this weekend!

(I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.)

Blog every day in July, #22: Things that make me go “hmm”


I’ll be honest, there are a lot of things that make go “hmm”, and a lot of them are probably wading far too deep into controversial waters to post on a fairly light-hearted blog. So I’ll try to keep this list fairly PG.

People who don’t like reading

Do you not like stories? Maybe you just haven’t found the right kind of book. Maybe you need glasses? Maybe you aren’t used to using your imagination? I can’t imagine life without stories, so people who are content to do without puzzle me.

People who think their opinion on kids will change my mind

A lot of people seem to think that it’s their duty to convince me I really, really want kids and just don’t know it yet. Like, I somehow don’t know my own mind. They will take every opportunity to tell me this, even after the umpteenth time of being politely asked to just drop it. When I was 18 I thought this was some sort of child-to-adult rite of passage and would wear off with time, but it hasn’t.

Adding to this, lots of these same people love to tell me about all the ways their kids are ruining their lives. They tell me about their kids pooping on the carpet in front of company or something and seem to think this will add to the appeal. WTF?

Five-day work weeks

A four-day week tacks on only an additional two hours of work per day, yet yields a full extra day off to do as you please–hang out with family, go to school, catch up on sleep, whatever. It should be mandatory for improved worker happiness and productivity. And maybe then we wouldn’t all look like this polar bear on day #5.

Being hyper-awake when I need to sleep, and vice versa

It’s just wrong and unfair and hmmmzzzzzz…

People who say they love animals, but eat meat/wear fur

I know I’m venturing into politically incorrect waters here, but this one baffles me. If you love animals, why would you eat meat, wear fur and/or use cosmetics tested on animals? It makes no sense to me.

What we do and don’t censor on TV

Puzzled here. People are pretty fine with the Victoria’s Secret show airing on primetime TV, but they get freaked out if someone says “fuck”. Smoking a cigarette requires a warning in the movie rating box, but not drinking (some of the time). We also have pretty weird attitudes about violence–like, it’s okay in an animated movie or a superhero flick, because it’s clearly pretend, but if it seems too realistic (like a documentary) we get squeamish. I’m hardly a prude, but I do wonder how the folks at the FCC make their decisions.

Fashion magazines/street style blogs

A lot of the stuff on there is just hideous. Who actually thinks this stuff looks good?

People who claim to love exercise

I don’t know anyone who actually enjoys working out and eating right, and hates watching TV and eating nachos. I mean yeah, I love the feeling of being healthy, but…nachos. I think you’re all liars.

What makes you go “hmmm”? Tell me in the comments!