Polish Like a Pro

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I’m going to spend a few weeks writing about self care. I want to go beyond the basics and talk about things that I do that make me feel fancy. I’m on week two as a stay at home mom, and I am focusing on ways to keep our budget on lock down without losing the luxury. One of the things that makes me feel fancy is having fancy nails. I do love going to get my nails done, but it’s also nice to know how to paint my own nails and have it look professional. Going out to get my nails done runs me about $40 every time. A bottle of good quality polish is around $9. For me, it’s a no brainier way to save money. There are a few tricks and tips I’ve picked up and discovered, so this week I’m going to share them.

Step one: take off your old polish. I am definitely guilty of doing a lazy cover up on old polish. I would pick a darker color and just paint over my old polish. Don’t do it! We are going for luxury here, so just take it all off. Wash your hands with yummy soap after to get the acetone off of your skin.

Step two: trim, file and buff. A lot of the time it’s not the polish that chips off, it’s the actual nail. I make sure to trim my nails down if they are feeling weak or too long. File them into the shape you want, then buff the whole nail to make sure it’s smooth. I like to use a four way buffer block.

Step three: push down your cuticles. I don’t mess around with trying to trim my cuticles or use any of those “miracle” cuticle removing products. Mostly because it freaks me out. I just use a simple stick that is flat on the end and give those suckers a little scoot down. It’s not a huge deal if you get some polish on your cuticles, but it’s a pain in the butt to get the polish off when your ready to switch colors. It also looks a lot better, and makes it easier to paint your nails when the cuticles are pushed back.

Step four: go potty! Seriously. It super sucks to be ready to relax and let your nails dry only to realize that you have to pee. Save yourself the effort of trying to get your pants down without smudging your thumb nails. Even if you do manage to get them down, you still have to get them back up. Not happening! You will smear at least one nail in the process. While you’re at it, say bye to your coffee. No more until your nails are dry.  

Step five: apply a base coat. Think you don’t need it? Well, maybe you don’t, but it makes it a lot easier to get your color on smooth and even. It also keeps your nails from stained or chipped, and makes it easier to get your polish off when you are ready to switch colors. The base coat I use right now is Sally Hansen Base Coat. I like it because it is inexpensive and doesn’t smell too strong.

Step six: time to paint. Now it’s time for the fun stuff. First, pick your color. My favorite brands of nail polish are OPI and Essie. OPI is easy to apply, super shiny, and their forumla is pretty consistent from color to color. Essie has my favorite colors and they are always coming out with more. You want to try to get a nice even color with two coats of paint. I find that the milky pink and pearlescent colors can be a bit of a pain in the butt. I leave them for when I’m up for a challenge. My favorite OPI color is First Date at the Golden Gate. It goes on nice and smooth and I think it’s the perfect red. Butler Please is my favorite Essie polish. It is a very striking and unique color blue. It is a wonderful example of why Essie is my favorite brand of nail polish. They have the basics down and are always coming out with wonderfully unique visual treats.

You’re going to have to get a feel for how much polish is needed on the brush based on the formula’s consistency. Lighter, translucent colors are typically more runny and darker colors can get pretty thick. Put a drop of color in the middle of your nail and try to cover the entire nail with that drop for your first coat. The less you go back for more paint per coat, the less likely you are to get a globby mess on your nails that never dries. I try not to worry if the first coat looks a little bit streaky. I go for even strokes and coverage. The second coat usually evens everything out.

Step seven: apply a top coat. A good top coat is the key to a professional looking manicure. If your polish says it’s a color and top coat in one, it’s lying. A good top coat is super shiny and a barrier between your nail color and sharp evil things in the world trying to ruin your hard work. I’ve found two top coats that I like. The first is Seche Vite. You can paint it on top of wet nails and it dries really fast. It’s beautifully shiny and doesn’t chip very easily. My problem with it is that it smells really strong. It can be overwhelming. I also like Sally Hansen Top Coat. It is also very shiny and it always makes my polish last of at least a week. The smell isn’t too strong and the formula is like butter. My one gripe with Sally Hansen’s top coat is that you have to wait for your color polish to dry before you can apply it, otherwise your nails will never dry. It is in the instructions, and it is not joking. So, that adds a bit of extra drying time to your manicure.

Step eight: don’t smudge your nails! This is where gel polish wins for me when I go get my nails done. After an hour at the nail salon I am usually ready to bolt home, and I end up ruining at least one nail (usually my thumb nail on the left hand) in the process. At home, as long as I followed step four, it’s a different story. This is when I relax and watch a show or binge on social media without any guilt. Enjoy your drying time! A good way to test if your nails are all the way dry is to touch your thumb nails together. If they are still a little gummy they will stick together a little bit. Wait until they don’t stick at all.

Well, that’s how I do it. I hope I had some helpful, or at least amusing information in there. I think it’s important to take time that is just for you and your own fancy-ness. If your polish gets chipped and you are too busy to deal with it, who cares? I call chipped nails rockstar nails because you are too busy rocking your life to re-do your nails. When you do have the time, it can be therapeutic to go through the steps and give yourself a bit of pampering.

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Mom Guilt

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I was SUCH a better mom before my son was born. I had it all planned out. My son was never going to cry. I was going to carry him around just like the African tribal women I saw on “Babies.” I would breastfeed anytime he started getting fussy. No binkies, no formula, no artificial fabrics. We wouldn’t need them. My birth plan was beautiful. It would be all natural and unmedicated. I would embrace each contraction and labor would be quick and miraculous.

Labor was not quick or beautiful. I got an epidural, and that was beautiful! I swaddled my baby in cozy, warm, artificial fabrics to keep him snug and warm through the winter. I supplemented breastfeeding with bottles of formula to make sure he stayed at a healthy weight. I begged him to take a binkie after hours of inconsolable crying. I flip-flopped between my baby sleeping in bed with me and sleeping in his crib. It felt like I couldn’t get anything right. Compromise became my middle name.

I really wanted my boy to sleep in his own bed, but I didn’t want him to cry. I would rock him to sleep and ever so gently lay him down in his crib. Sometimes it would work, but more often than not he would wake back up as soon as I laid him down. I ended up nursing him to sleep in my bed, then sneeking away once he was in deep sleep. This worked pretty well until he started rolling over and rolled himself right off the bed. It was a terrible feeling knowing that the pain my son was in could have been entirely avoided if he was in his crib.

My husband and I decided that it was time to transition our son to his crib for all naps and bedtime. I didn’t want bedtime to be a big, stressful ordeal. We decided on a bedtime routine. Dinner, a bath, a baby massage , pj’s, teeth brushing, book reading, rocking and nursing, then going to bed with a binkie and a stuffed animal. The routine went great.

Our sweet boy loved all the personalized attention of his bedtime routine. I tucked him in bed and he gave me a little giggle. This was new, and maybe fun. I walked out of the room and he started crying. He cried for 5 minutes and I went back in to try and comfort him. This went on for many more tries. I was attempting the Ferber Method. The intervals between checks got gradually longer and longer. The hope is that baby will fall asleep without feeling abandoned. We found that the frequent checks were making it hard for him to settle down. He seemed irritated and increasingly more tired. 

There was no going back. We went for full extinction. Some people call this method Cry it Out. Some people say this method causes emotional damage. Some people say that children don’t learn to self soothe, they simply learn that nobody will respond to their needs and give up. There are as many articles for sleep training as there are against it. I found this article especially helpful and read it over and over: Helping Babies Cope With Stress and Learn to Sleep.

My son cried for 40 minutes, then he fell asleep. The guilt was overwhelming. I was sure the next morning my son would hate me. That night my son slept for 13 hours straight. The next morning, he woke up happy and well rested. He greeted me with coos and smiles. He still loved me! That night we did bedtime routine again, and I laid my son down with his binkie and stuffed animal. This time he cried for 20 minutes. He woke up at 2am, nursed, and fell right back to sleep in his crib. Soon when I laid him down after bedtime routine he smiled at me, rolled over and fell asleep. Some nights he sleeps through the night. Some nights he wakes up for a bottle and a snuggle.

Mom guilt is a very real thing. We have all the best intentions for our children. Life happens and plans change. I want my son to be happy, feel loved, be safe, healthy, and well rested. I’m sure all moms want that for their children. The was we achieve that looks different from family to family. My son sleeps in his own bed, he doesn’t get carried around in a pappoos very often, and he wears synthetic fabrics. My son is SO loved.

A Little Miracle

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Isn’t crazy how quickly things can change? Two days ago I was having one of the roughest days I’ve had in a long time. I was feeling hopeless, helpless and like maybe moving was a mistake. Then, as I was about to turn in for the night, I got one of the happiest calls ever. My sister-in-law was in labor and my nephew was coming over to stay with us for a while! I was nervous and excited. My nephew is a bit older than my son, so we made sure the house was as ready as possible for the two boys. My brother pulled up to my house, and then I was in charge of a soon-to-be big brother. He grinned at me and I couldn’t possibly feel sorry for myself anymore. My nephew knows me! He loves me. He’s not scared to be away from his mom and dad because we are his family too.

I don’t necessarily believe in God, but I don’t think that life is a random series of events. I think that my husband and I are learning a valuable lesson, and knowing us, that lesson has to be hard or we won’t take it seriously. But just as it started feeling too hard, and I started to crumble, a miracle showed up. A perfect little baby boy was born and I had the privilege to help everything go smoothly. That makes me feel really good.

My son and his cousin spent their time together pushing chairs around the kitchen, rolling a ball around and crawling after it, and making me pretty nervous as they cruised around the furniture. I had a blast watching them learn together. It’s hard not to smile when a baby party is going down!

I’m still not sure what is ahead for me. My husband and I have a lot of hard work to do, but we are going to be okay. I am so thankful for my family, and even though I miss my Oregon family terribly, I know that my husband, son and I are where we need to be to thrive.

My Scrapbook Obsession 


My grandma and my mom scrapbooked, so I guess it’s in my blood. Every year for our anniversary, my gift to my husband is a scrapbook filled with the memories we made that year. I love looking through pictures, stacking them up by date, then going crazy decorating each page. I re-live the best parts of the year while I create my scrapbook.

As much as I love those photo albums that you just slide pictures into, I adore the look and feel of a scrapbook. I feel like I am creating a time capsule for myself and my family to flip through for generations to come. I am telling a story about our life that can be enjoyed and understood long after we have forgotten all the little details.

I only do this once a year. It takes me about a week of intense focus and creativity. During that time my kitchen table is filled with paper, acid free adhesive, stickers, stamps, and stencils, Nobody is allowed to clean it up until my book is completely finished. Once I’m done everything gets packed up and stored in the closet for next year.

I plan making a scrapbook every year until I physically can’t anymore. I also want to make a book for each of my children. The book my mom made about me was probably my very favorite thing when I was little.

I am most definitely a bit old school. I think pictures and memories should exist somewhere besides my phone and Facebook. I feel like I am creating little treasures to be discovered by my great grandchildren. I picture their sly grins as they look at pictures of their parents as children. Scrapbooking helps keep me grateful for my simple, yet amazing life.