Gel manicure knock-off: A follow up

So I promised a follow-up on the gel manicure knock-off and I am sad to report that it started chipping when I came back to work on January 2. Therefore, it lasted all of two full days. 😦 I will admit, I am really hard on my nails and have a tendency to bite and pick at my fingers. I think if someone who does not have these bad habits were to try the manicure it could last for probably about 5 days.

I think I am going to try the manicure again tonight and see how it lasts as we have a company meeting at the end of the week.

As I mentioned in my other manicure post, I LOVE LOVE LOVE Essie nail color. I am starting to like OPI too, but I have always been a huge fan of Essie. Each season I probably buy at least 1 new color that has come out. What are your favorite or go to nail colors? They don’t have to be Essie or OPI – I am always looking for other alternatives (less expensive would be amazing!).

Next time I drag out my collection I will share a couple of my favorites. 🙂

NYE nails: An at home gel manicure knock-off!

Can you believe it is already 2014?? I can’t believe 2013 is over…it was a huge and exciting year in my life and I am sort of sad to see it go. J and I got engaged, married, bought a house and got a dog all in 2013. For us, that is a whole lot of change and exciting stuff for one year!

Since I was off work yesterday, I decided to end the year with one of my favorite activities…an at home manicure! I pay for maybe 2 manicures a year – I love getting a manicure, but I feel like I do a pretty good job myself and I get so frustrated when I screw up a manicure within 24 hours that I paid $30+ for.

One day while browsing on Pinterest, I found directions for an at home gel manicure so I thought I would give it a try. I modified the directions a little based on some other tips I’ve found.

Here is what you will need:

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-coconut oil
-white vinegar
-Sally Hansen Hard as Wraps
-Your favorite nail color
-Sally Hansen acrylic top coat
-cotton balls/Q-tips

All items except the coconut oil and vinegar were purchased at ULTA. I have an obsession with ULTA and try to buy all of my beauty products there because they have a really good member rewards programs that gives you money off future purchases. They didn’t pay me to say all this, but if they did I’d probably be plotting my future purchases from them. I am a dangerous girl in that store!

Ok, let’s do this!

1. Start by prepping your nails. I push back the cuticles, trim them, and then file my nails. Here is the before picture, nails already prepped and ready to go:

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2. Next, moisturize! The best thing about a manicure to me is the hand massage with lotion. Since you can’t really give yourself a hand massage, this is the next best thing! Grab a little dab of coconut oil and rub into your hands. It melts really quickly and will become easy to rub into your skin. I think I used a little too much so I lighted rinsed my hands in the kitchen sink and then patted my palms dry so I could open the polish bottles. This is also a great treatment to do before bed to maintain good moisture, plus it smells like dessert…yum! Here are some pics:

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3. Now we will need to make sure the nails aren’t greasy from the oil and are residue free. Take a cotton ball and dab it into some vinegar. Wipe each nail with the vinegar to clean off the coconut oil.

4. Apply 1 coat of the Hard as Wraps to each nail. It can be used as a base coat or on its own to help strengthen nails. I think clear shiny nails look pretty!

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5. Now is the fun part! Make sure the Hard as Wraps is completely dry before adding two coats of your favorite color. Since J and I were going to a wedding and my toes were already painted red I thought I would use one of my favorite standby colors: “Bubble Bath” by OPI. (My ultimate favorite go-to color is “Sugar Daddy” by Essie.) Apply two coats making sure each coat is dry before applying the next.

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6. Wait for the OPI coats to dry and then apply a layer of the Acrylic top coat.

7. Since I had to start working on my hair and makeup for the wedding I let the top coat dry for about 2 minutes and then used the salon drying spray. I’m sure it isn’t good for you, so I am not planning on using for every manicure, but when you’re in a pinch it is nice to have around. I went out into the garage and sprayed it on my nails about 8-10 inches from my hands.

Ta-da! They’re dry and ready to party on New Year’s Eve! I’ll follow up with how they hold up, but even after 24 hours they still look perfect.

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Do you have any nail tips or tricks that help you create the perfect mani at home?

H A P P Y N E W Y E A R ! I wish you the best for a cheerful 2014!

xo SM

Love your food, love your wine

If you’re like me on any given Monday you’re either loathing the thought of a glass of wine or in desperate need of a glass (or bottle). Depending on the prior weekend’s activities, I am usually in desperate need with the thought of 4 work days ahead of me until the next weekend!

Since today is Monday and I’m off work, I thought I would honor this feeling that usually hits me on a Monday with a review of one of my new favorite wines. Before I begin the review I’ll give you a short description of the kinds of wines I drink and the favors I like. I am definitely a dry wine kind of girl – I like both red and white wines but tend to skew toward drinking more red in the winter. I never really spend more than $15 on a bottle and it is rare if I am spending over $10 for a bottle. I am a firm believer that wine doesn’t have to be expensive to be enjoyable. Favorite reds: Cab Sav and Malbec. Favorite whites: Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio. I will not claim or pretend to be an expert, but I will give you my opinion about wines that I try…hopefully you will enjoy the wines I like, too! Now on to the good stuff!!

As I mentioned, the wine I am about to share is a new favorite of mine. It is a Cabernet Sauvignon that I picked up on a whim from Kroger. It is called Entwine and it is from Wente Vineyards in California. It is very smooth and has a nice finish that I usually just drink it on its own. The description on the back of the bottle reads “Rich, fruity, and herbaceous – like eating raspberry jam off a sprig of thyme.”. I can definitely taste the raspberry flavor that is a little closer to blackberry to me, but not the thyme.

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Back label:

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The last time I went to Jungle Jim’s (a local grocery store in Cincinnati – the place is seriously a jungle…it is enormous and has foods from all over the world! I could devote 5 posts to that place!) I picked up another two bottles and noticed that there are other entwine varieties. You can learn more about the wine on their site. I love to watch Food Network or browse on their site for recipes, so I think it is really cool that Food Network and Wente Vineyards have paired together to produce this wine.

Finally, I am all about little details…check out this cork from the entwine. I can’t wait to add it to our collection!

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Have you ever tried entwine? Which variety is your favorite?

**I am looking for more wines to try and post more reviews! Please tell me about your favorite new find and I’ll give it a try!

What did Santa bring you?

Wow! Was your Christmas a blur like mine was? Since my husband (I’ll start calling him “J”) and I got married in October, this is our first Christmas together. In 24 hours we celebrated 3 different Christmases in 2 cities…boy are we tired! It was AWESOME spending time with our new families, but we are going to have to figure out a way to split the holidays in the coming years. I’ll start worrying about that in 11 months…ha! 🙂

So now the big question is what did Santa bring you? I’m hoping he treated you all really well – I’m sure you were all good girls and boys all year…or at least most of the time.

I got a really nice gift that I wanted to share on my blog because I think it is so practical and just plain cute! This gift came from my mom who has a great eye for really good finds. She is constantly finding really nice things for the seasons/holidays.

Drumroll please….here is one of my favorite gifts that I received this year!

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It is a platter by Nora Fleming that my mom purchased from the cutest shop in Cincinnati called Anne Rice Limited. What is so cute about the platter is that the boot charm can be interchanged with other charms to update it for various holidays/occasions.

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I can’t wait for a football party or a cookout to use these other charms. J looooves to grill so this platter would be perfect for kabobs or burgers.

I should have taken a picture of the wrapping, but of course was too eager to see what was in the box that I forgot too. Anne has fantastic gift wrapping…isn’t this bow just beautiful and cheerful? I love it!

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And now…the finished product! I made a beer cheese dip from a mix J’s mom gave us for Christmas and served it with Granny Smith apples and baguette pieces. So yummy!

I have never seen these platters at parties or friends’ houses. Do you have any Nora Fleming pieces? If so, what are your favorite charms (is “charm” even the right word? Someone please correct me!)? I am dying to add some to my new collection!

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My first post – a beginning of all things that make a girl’s life cheerful!

Welcome!  Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog – I’m so glad you are here!  This is my first post toward a blog full of things that make a girl’s life cheerful, happy, and fun!  Okay, that sounds a little cheesy, but I always find myself finding little things in life that are practical and might just put a smile on your face, too!  This blog will not be about lavish or expensive things – ok…maybe occasionally because we have to indulge every once in a while!  I plan to share reviews on beauty products, new fashion ideas, food/recipe and wine reviews, home decor inspirations, and everything in between.

So here is a little about me.  I live in suburban Cincinnati, OH with my husband and new dog, Jack!  We adopted Jack this past weekend so he is a very new addition to our family.  I can already tell you I will have posts starring this cutie!  My husband and I got engaged in February 2013, bought our first house in April and got married in October, so we have had a VERY busy year.  I am in my mid (okay, okay, mid-to-late 20’s) and I work at a marketing research firm.  We run focus groups and do product tests so I get to be in the know when it comes to new products and initiatives that are in the works from companies from all around the world.  It is a pretty cool job!

In my free time I am interested in cooking, baking, wine (basically anything that I can eat or drink), decorating our house, keeping up with fashion on a lower budget, crafting/diy, and now, taking care of our new doggie!  

Now that you know a little bit more about me it is time to get into the good stuff!  WINE! 

Last evening we hosted our first family gathering at our house.  Now that me and my cousin Melissa have gotten married, our family time is split with our husband’s families, which is great, but the tradition of all 5 cousins getting together with our parents and grandparents on Christmas Day is becoming more and more difficult.  This year we started a new tradition: Cousin Christmas!  Apparently other families do this too so I guess we weren’t as original as I thought.

My husband and I asked that everyone in the family bring over an  appetizer and a beverage to drink.  Since we were the hosts I made a signature cocktail to welcome everyone into our new home.  I made a white wine Christmas Sangria and it was so delicious!  Of course, I found the recipe here on Pinterest (another thing I do in my spare time). 

It was so easy and really so yummy – it really didn’t even taste like wine and it was so refreshing.  I think it had a really nice presentation too…it looked festive and cheerful!

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Recipe:

1 Granny Smith Apple, cubed

1 Braeburn Apple, cubed

1 cup fresh cranberries

1 large spring of rosemary (I had more than one sprig so I put a sprig in each glass)

1 Bottle Pinot Grigio (I used Barefoot because it is always good and it was pretty inexpensive)

1/2 cup white grape juice

1/4 cup of sugar

1 can of club soda 

Mix all ingredients, except the club soda, in a pitcher and let it chill for a few hours.  Right before serving, add in the club soda so it is fresh and bubbly and then serve. 

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I served ours with a cute straws cut in half that I got from Target ($3) the straw wasn’t really meant for drinking, but just something fun to look at and stir your fruit with.    

Do you have any special holiday/festive cocktails that your family makes?  If so, I’d love to have the recipe!