Swatch: Disney’s Villain Varnish in Queen of Hearts

Welcome back! This year I want to get back to posting on a schedule like I used to, but before I can do that, I have so many unposted swatches I have to get up first. Today’s post is about a polish I love and received as a Christmas gift several years ago. This is Disney’s Villain Varnish in Queen of Hearts; I’m wearing three coats with one coat of Seche Vite.

Queen of Hearts is a burnished shimmery gold polish with some holo flakies. Application was good; the polish has a smooth and workable consistency, and dries with a glossy finish. Because of the frosty shimmer, it leaves some brush-strokes if one doesn’t apply carefully; they aren’t too bad, but they do happen. The polish dries quickly to a smooth finish.

As large as my polish collection is, I don’t have a polish like this one. I love how it reminds me of something in a thrift store, something tarnished but has endured. I’m a little disappointed that the one they called Queen of Hearts wasn’t red — that one’s Cruella de Vil — but I like it very much.

Disney no longer sells this set, but they do have nail wraps and other beauty items in stores and online.

This polish was a Christmas gift.

A Look Back at 2016

Hello reader! Now that 2016 is behind us, I wanted to look back on some of my blog highlights and share my favorite nail art looks, and maybe share some of my 2017 blogging goals with you. I guess I could have waited to do this on my blog-versary in March, but it feels more appropriate to do it now.

January: Elevated Gradient

February: Neon Satisfaction

You’ll notice these photos are tiny. Why? Because in March, The Great Server Crash of 2016 happened! My webhost had a hardware failure, and for whatever reason, several months of posts were lost and had to be pieced back together with images and text cached by Google. It was an extremely frustrating and embarrassing time for me.

March: Spring Hibiscus

I miss these long nails.

This is probably my favorite look of the year.

Third Anniversary Do-Over

I mentioned earlier that my blog’s anniversary is in March. For last year’s anniversary, I recreated the first-ever mani I posted on my blog. I don’t know yet what I’ll do for my fourth year, but it’ll probably be awesome.

April: Dusty Watermarble

May: Neon Splatter

I went to Hawaii in May. As a result, this is my least active month on the blog for the year.

June: Orange Jello Sandwich

My first Empties Roundup post was also in June.

July: Beyond

August: Ombre Hearts

September: Popples

October: Stripey Blue Frosting

This was a look I did to celebrate my birthday.

November: Ruby Opal

December: White Snow Blue Lava

So there’s my year! This was probably the busiest year for the blog, since I broadened my sujects quite a lot. I did tons of swatches and nail art, but I also ventured into product reviews and makeup talk. I don’t think this will ever become a full lifestyle or beauty blog, but I’m definitely having fun with it in this format. I’m kind of excited to see what it’ll evolve into in 2017. Here are a few beauty goals I have in mind, though.

1. Write more
I wrote 175 posts in 2016, averaging about 14 per month. It doesn’t sound like much to me, like I did way more work than that, especially when it started to feel stressful. That said, I’d like to do at least one more post every week.

1b. Write on my other blog more
I have a second blog that I want to start posting to more. It’s been so long since I’ve bothered with it that I don’t even remember the login credentials. I still want a place to talk about myself and my life, a place to seem like I have a life away from my nails.

2. Build a real skincare routine
I still feel insecure about my skin. I’m frustrated that I’m 31 and I still get acne. I want to take every preventative measure I can against wrinkles and anti-aging. I also want to try a 10-step Asian beauty routine. If you’re over 30 with oily skin and hormonal acne, I want your recommendations.

3. Stop competing
I know one of the big rules of blogging is not to compare your success with others’, but I feel so competitive about it. At the risk of sounding whiny, I always look at other bloggers who’ve been working on their blogs for about as long as I have, and watching their blogs grow faster than mine is kind of frustrating. I don’t want to feel like that anymore.

4. Do more real nail art
I love glitter toppers and I think I use at least one every week, but sometimes it feels lazy. I want to go back to the basics: watermarbling, gradients, dotting. I love my glitters, but it’s starting to feel like a cop-out.

I think that’s it! Anyway, I think 2017 is going to be an exciting year, and I’m looking forward to the good times, the challenges, and the time we spend together. Thanks for reading! Third Year Anniversary Post!

Happy Friday, reader! I don’t typically post on Fridays, but today is a special day: it’s the third anniversary of! This is a huge day for us, and I couldn’t be more excited to bring you this post. It’s been quite a ride, and I’m so glad you’ve been a part of it.

On March 11, 2013, I posted my first-ever Manicure Monday post. I think I’d posted a few posts before that, but as became more nail-oriented, I took them down and began to focus on nails exclusively. I’d been experimenting with nail art for a couple of years by the time I started the blog, and actually starting the blog helped me get better at it. My nails look and feel healthier, my application skills have gotten better, and I think the quality of the blog has improved, too. Three years is a lot of time for improvement, after all.


In honor of the anniversary, I’ve decided to recreate the first manicure I ever posted. Just like last time, here’s a gradient done with Disney Villains’s Cruella de Vil with a Maybelline mystery red, along with a coat of Seche Vite top coat and Ciaté’s Mattenificent matte top coat.



When I go back and read about the early version of this manicure, it sounds like I had a hard time with it; my mystery red was thick as molasses and cleanup was a challenge. I had just as much trouble with it this go-around. I’d thinned the mystery polish — polish thinner is something I’ve discovered since I did that manicure — but I still had trouble sponging it on. I didn’t get the contrast I got last time. I ran out of foam eyeshadow sponges I usually use for gradients and had to use the foundation blending sponges, which not only made my hands look like I’d committed a horrible crime, but made cleanup a huge ordeal. On top of that, because I did the mani from memory before I looked at the old post, I see I got the colors in the wrong order. I’m not even mad about that, because meh, close enough.



What really gets me is that the matte coat left those white spots on my nails again. The manicure looked great — exactly like the first time should have looked — until I applied the matte top coat. I was so frustrated and upset that I just threw it away. I hate tossing a nearly-full product, but I just can’t let it ruin any more manicures. I thought about redoing them, but decided I’d just leave it, as a sort of humble reminder of where I came from as a blogger. No matter how long I keep this blog, I’ll always have room to improve. Maybe on my fourth anniversary, I’ll finally get it right.



Here are some sunlight photos; it rained the last time I did this mani. In the sun, the glitter is a bit invisible, but still manages to sparkle a bit.





On my past anniversaries, I’ve posted graphs and little data tidbits about the blog and what I’ve covered. I’m not going to do that this year, but I will share a few figures:
I’ve done 216 swatches.
Between swatches and Manicure Monday looks, I’ve worn Blue-Eyed Girl Lacquers 108 times. Essie is my most used mainsteam polish brand at 42.
Blue is my most used color.
I now own more than 1,400 bottles of polish.

Thank you so much for making it this far with me. Thank you so much for making this blog more than a hobby, but a means to cultivate friendships, foster creativity, and strengthen a community where we all can grow together. Thank you so much for being a part of the last three years.

One polish was purchased myself. The other was a gift, not sent for consideration or review.

Swatch Sunday: Disney Villains Varnish in Cruella de Vil

For Swatch Sunday this week, I got to do something I rarely get to do: wear a red creme polish. I know I’ve talked lot about how red cremes are my favorite, but I don’t wear them often. I’m glad one turned up in the queue. This is Cruella de Vil from the Disney Villains Varnish set. I’m wearing three coats plus one coat of Ciate’s Speed Coat Pro.



Cruella de Vil is a pretty run-of-the-mill red creme. What you see is what you get with it. The consistency was just right; it was wet enough that it was easy to apply, but not enough to flood into cuticles. It dries quickly to a glossy finish; I added top coat to make it super-glassy and to protect the color. The one thing that sucks about this polish, though, is how smudgy it gets. You’ll notice the stained cuticles; it also stained my cleanup brush. It also would have turned my top coat red if I didn’t wipe the brush off between applications. My cuticles actually look worse in photos than they do in real life, but it’s still frustrating to look at. I spent ages trying to get all the red off and it just wouldn’t come off. That’s a pretty big issue for me, but other than that, this is a lovely red creme.



Cruella de Vil is no stranger to the blog; it was part of the first-ever mani I posted, and has been featured in a few others since. I love the polish, but to tell the truth, it’s not really any different from any other red creme. There are probably others that aren’t as smudgy, but considering price (this came in a set that was pretty pricy, if I recall correctly), quality, and availability, this one isn’t worth seeking out unless you really love the Disney Villains motif.



The Disney Villains Varnish set has been discontinued, unfortunately, so this polish and its sisters are no longer for sale. I bet you can find them if you look hard enough, though.

This polish was a gift, but was not sent for review or critique.

Manicure Monday: Pottery-Inspired Gradient

For today’s Manicure Monday, I got my sponges out and did a gradient for the first time in months! This particular mani was inspired by a piece of pottery I saw in a museum. This is Sally Hansen’s Hard to Get with Disney’s Villain Varnish in Cruella de Vil, topped with one coat each of Ciate’s Speed Coat Pro top coat and Hard Candy’s Mattely in Love matte coat.



Hard to Get is a white creme. It’s my favorite of the white cremes I’ve tried so far, and I use it so often I’m on like my fourth bottle. I actually emptied my current bottle on this manicure, so maybe I’ll pour a little of something out for it. Or maybe I’ll just another bottle. My feelings on Cruella de Vil aren’t so firm. I love the way this polish looks, but I don’t like the formula. It smears when top coat touches it (exhibit A: the thumb smudge), and it stains cuticles (exhibit B: pinky). It is an absolutely gorgeous polish, but sometimes I hate using it.



As I mentioned, the gradient was inspired by a piece of pottery. I was in the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia on my birthday a couple of years ago, and I saw this lovely vase that was a deep red at its curved bottom, then faded to white at its fluted tip. I immediately “I am going to do this on my nails” and took a surreptitious photo with my phone for reference. I’d planned to keep it around and show it on the blog once I finally did the mani, but then I lost my phone in Philadelphia (long story) and the photo is gone. I guess that means I have to go back and take another photo.



This is not my best gradient, not by a long shot. It’s pretty tough doing a gradient with a bright color and white, and when you use a smudgy red like this one, it’s even tougher. I was really looking forward to this mani, and I’m disappointed it didn’t turn out so well. I will definitely try this again.

Swatch Sunday: Deborah Lippmann’s Happy Birthday

It’s time for another Swatch Saturday. For this edition, I’m wearing one dabbed coat of Deborah Lippmann’s Happy Birthday over two coats each of Disney Villains Cruella de Vil, Color Club’s Almost Famous, and Ciate’s Offshore, along with one coat of Ciate’s Speed Coat Pro top coat.





Happy Birthday is a clear-based glitter topper with a rainbow mix of metallic glitters. The glitters didn’t spread well just brushing them on, but dabbing gave me much more coverage. There’s a ton of glitter on each nail, but you can still see the undies. The glitters are very shiny, and very much so with top coat. Drying times were very fast. I’m pretty happy with it.



I am still a huge fan of these rainbow glitter polishes. Remember when OPI had that Muppets collection with Rainbow Connection? Would you believe I don’t have it? Would you believe that I had gone to Ulta, picked it up, held it in my hands, and then PUT IT BACK because I “didn’t need it”? That was the biggest mistake of my life. Somewhat luckily, the rainbow glitter fad caught on, and every brand had their own version of it. Deborah Lippmann’s take on it is pretty nice. It’s a good consolation prize.



I got my mini bottle of Happy Birthday in a set with She-Bop. I don’t think this set is around anymore, but you can buy full sized bottles at Sephora, Ulta, and (I think) Nordstrom. The good news is, as I mentioned, every brand has their version of this polish now, so you don’t have to drop twenty dollars on this particular one.

Also, quick apology for my cuticles. Every undies polish I used for this mani stained the crap out of my cuticles, and I didn’t notice just how bad it was until I was processing photos. I do apologize. I’m quite embarrassed by them.