Monday, June 5, 2017

One Love Manchester

Yesterday I, like many people, tuned in to watch the One Love Manchester benefit concert organized by Ariana Grande after a terrorist attack occurred in connection with her Dangerous Woman tour performance two weeks ago in Manchester, England. I posted these nails to my Instagram today as a show of support to Ariana, her fans, and everyone else who came together to show "One Love"
If you had not heard, a bomb went off as concert goers were leaving the concert...leaving innocent concertgoers dead and many more injured. My heart dropped when I heard the news because my sister and I went to see this tour when it was at Madison Square Garden in New York in February. It's a little too close to home and it's a shame we live in a world where this behavior actually happens. I send my thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families. We all deserve better.

Friday, May 12, 2017

My Birthday!

Alright everyone, it's time to celebrate a birthday here on The Files....mine! Unfortunately, I had a host of job duties and responsibilities to tend to before I could celebrate yesterday. But in a serendipitous twist one of those job duties took me into the city. The fiance works in the city so we planned to meet up for dinner. The fiance surprised me by taking me a sushi restaurant that was SO GOOD. I mean really, so good.
We ordered so much because I wanted to try it all. For appetizers, we ordered dumplings and vegetable tempura. Then I ordered a rainbow roll and the bronzizzle roll. Have to say, I'm not sure I like bronzino...but the rest was delicious.
And of course we had to order dessert. Luckily, the restaurant's desserts were small, and we were able to try a bunch of treats to test out. We settled on the fluffernutter dumplings (Andrew ate all of those though), a delicious Japanese dessert called moshi, and, naturally, creme brulee (because...yum),
The moshi was a strawberry ice cream wrapped in rice paper so it was chewy on the outside. As if I haven't said this enough during this post....everything was delicious!
All in all I had a great birthday. And my handsome fiance gave me a great gift! He gave me a new camera lens! So I'll be going out and taking some photos ASAP to try it out!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Happy Wedding Day! Wedding Recap

You may remember my buddies Sarah and Alysia from when they got engaged, or when Sarah asked me to be her Maid of Honor, or maybe Sarah's bridal shower, or maybe even her bachelorette party. Either way, there has been a lot of Sarah's wedding on this blog recently! I am so psyched to say that they are officially MARRIED as of May 6, 2017!!

The ceremony took place at 4:30 PM on May 6, 2017, and it was outside in a park. It rained a bit during the morning while we were getting ready BUT the weather was perfect for the ceremony. They had a guitarist/instrumentalist play music while all of the guests were waiting and then also to play the processional for the bridal party.

The reception was at a local Moose Lodge that Alysia's father belongs to. The brides and their families decorated the whole venue themselves, including hanging tulle and twinkling lights from the ceiling, perfecting the table settings, and putting out all the lawn games, favors, and activities.
The day began at 8:20 AM when I had to run a last minute Maid of Honor errand. The girls had written each other letters to read while they were getting ready but Sarah forgot hers. I had to fetch it from Alysia. Then I met up with Sarah and her bridesmaids to head to the salon to get our hair and makeup done. Sarah had the cutest little wine glass tumblers for us as a thank you surprise.
This is a sneak peak I took after my hair and makeup was done (and the tumblers Sarah gave us):
Then we ran back to the hotel to get ready for the wedding. I helped Sarah into her dress, tied the corset (which is no walk in the park let me just tell you), put on her jewelry and off we went. The girls got ready at separate locations but we were all taking the same limo so we had to blindfold both brides so they wouldn't ruin the surprise. Obviously I took the time to sneak another selfie.
Then we did the whole walk-in-and-go-to-your-place thing. They took their blindfolds off shortly before walking down the aisle. How pretty are both of these girls?
By the way, LOL at Andrew photobombing two of these photos. Crackin' me up!
Also, not gonna lie...it's not the most attractive photo of me that I've seen.

The ceremony was absolutely beautiful. I held the rings, Sarah's bouquet, her vows, tissues, my Maid of Honor speech, and who knows what else. Thank goodness for being able to stow them in my cleavage. 
Oh my god, originally Sarah and Alysia were on opposite sides (Sarah being closer to our side) but during the opening wine toast between the brides and their parents...Sarah's dad may have spilled some red wine ON ALYSIA'S DRESS! They switched sides so you wouldn't see it in the photos. Finally they made it through their vows (some tears were shed) and were pronounced Mrs. and Mrs.!
Then off they went to the reception!
The reception decorations looked like this:
These were some of the decor items: card/gift table, centerpiece, and they even decorated the hanging moose head (lol)...
As Maid of Honor I gave a toast. It talked about Sarah, when I met Alysia, and a quote that perfectly summed up their relationship. I won't give away too much but it ended with me saying this:
I am so honored to have stood by your side today. 
I wish you all the best, every happiness you can imagine,
and I can't wait to see where your life journey takes you together. 
I hope everyone will join me as I raise my glass and toast...to Mrs. and Mrs. (last name)!
Later in the night, the girls cut the cake, which ended up in Alysia's face....
But seriously, how gorgeous is this cake? A friend of theirs made it!
And finally here's a shot of Andrew and I:

And the rest is history! We had so much fun at their wedding and I am so honored to have served twice now as a Maid of Honor.


Andrew and I have another wedding in June for one of Andrew's best friend's brothers. Obviously I'm not Maid of Honor for that wedding! But for real, being in a wedding and being Maid of Honor can be quite stressful (but fun!). It will be nice to just be a guest for the next wedding who gets to sit and enjoy the show!

Then after the June wedding it looks like mine is next! And then who knows, maybe my next friend who gets married will make me a Matron of Honor and three time MOH!

Phew time to sleep now! This was such a long post!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Swatch: Red Carpet Manicure Simply Adorable

Oh my gosh Sarah gets married tomorrow! Naturally, I have to do a bit of pampering and getting ready for the wedding, which includes doing my nails! I was lucky to find the perfect light pink polish for the wedding. Where did I find it? Red Carpet Manicure from Ulta makes a gel polish called Simply Adorable, which is a subtle light pink. Here are some swatches of the polish:
I can't wait to celebrate Sarah's wedding tomorrow! But until then, I have to shower, look over the speech, and get my clothes and accessories ready for tomorrow! Ahhhh so excited!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Swatch: Gelish Mini Passion

My sweetheart and I will celebrate our SEVEN YEAR anniversary on April 24th! I'll put a detailed post up about it later but if you've been reading this blog for a while you probably know exactly what we're going to do. When it comes to our anniversary we are very traditional and try not to stray too far. I can't believe this will be our last time celebrating an April anniversary since we're getting married in September. Anyway, let's get back to the reason for this post....a swatch of one of my new gel polishes! You know I've been looking for the perfect light pink polish for my friend's wedding and let's just say I couldn't resist buying some gel polishes in some other colors too! This one is by Gelish Mini and is the color "Passion," which is a really fun bright pink that is perfect for the warmer weather in spring and summertime.
Gelish Mini; Gel polish; Passionl nail blog
I cannot tell you how much I love gel polish. It is SO convenient because it has NO dry time. Seriously, you can have a complete manicure in about 15 minutes and you don't have any drying/hardening time. You can't beat it!
The only thing that drove me nuts about this polish was that you could still see some darn visible nail line, despite doing two coats. It wasn't visible ALL the time but in certain light you could definitely see it.
This is a photo that I took without any light source.  Notice how I forgot to cap my index finger? oops! 
See what I'm saying about the visible nail line? It's not so bad but still, very annoying.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

My Gel Lamp: Abody UVLED Nail Lamp 9C

If you're interested in DIY-at-home gel manicures (and not the "no-light" sorts of gel) then you probably already know that you MUST use an appropriate light in order to complete the manicure. My brother gifted me this Abody UVLED Nail Lamp 9C this past Christmas and I'm downright giddy to post about it here on the blog because I love it! Here's what it's packaging looks like:
The packaging is really nice and simple. It's easy to read and let's you know all of the important deets: the left bottom corner has little icons and says "sunshine, non-harmful, non-blacken UV/LED, 24W Power." Some lamps out there are either UV or LED but this one is both, if you're into that sort of thing. The lamp itself is so light--I doubt it's even one pound--and shaped in a half circle/dome. From straight on it looks like this:
The top is a glossy clean white with a power button (the only button on the light) and two LED lights. There are actually three ways to use this lamp. First, you can simply put your hand in the dome to activate the lights for however long you want. Second, you can tap the power button once for 30 seconds of light. Third, you can tap the power button twice for 60 seconds of light. If you press the button to activate the light, then the light will turn off after it hits your desired 30 or 60 seconds.
The underbelly of the lamp is where all of the lights are, obviously. My lamp has 15 lights in a U formation and is tinted pink. Abody sells these lamps in green and blue though too, in case you're not into pink. My brought gave me the pink one and I really like it.
That's a lot of lights! In order to make the lights actually work though (i.e. light up) you need to plug in the power cord. There's a spot on the side of the lamp where you can plug in the cord. It's the little boxy area in this photo:
It's a pretty standard power cord. I saw online that Abody also sells lamps with a USB option that would plug into your computer. I don't have the USB so I don't know how well that works.
All in all, I am SO pleased with this lamp. It's lightweight and easy to transport. It's not clunky and doesn't take up much space at all. And it works! Plus, it's big enough that you can fit your toes in there if you want to do a gel pedicure. Abody also sells a version with a digital timer on the top instead of the power button. I think that version is called the "9S" lamp. If you need some more info on gel polish, check out my Gel Q&A post.

ULTA HAUL

Ever have a day that you just wish would end? I totally have, except it was a whole week that I was just struggling to get through. Seriously, it's only Tuesday. Anyway, I stopped into Ulta on my way home from work to pick up a gel polish system. My buddy Sarah is getting married May 6th as you know and she asked me to do the bridal party's nails! Plus, doing some nail polish shopping always lifts my spirits and I was happy to be getting more acquainted with gel polish in general. I needed a gel system (I already had the light) and off to Ulta I went. Here's my haul!
So what did I get?
Carol's Daughter; Sacred Tiare; Shampoo; conditioner; shampoo and conditioner; mario badescu; enzyme facial cleanser; Red Carpet Manicure; Must Haves kit; Red Carpet Manicure gel polish; gel manicure; gel polish; nail polish
  1. Carol's Daughter Sacred Tiare Shampoo and Conditioner
  2. Mario Badescu Enzyme Cleansing Gel
  3. Red Carpet Manicure Must Haves kit
  4. Red Carpet Manicure Nail Wipes
  5. Red Carpet Manicure LED Gel Polish
  6. Nail buffer
  7. Nail Files (.99 cents for a set of 6!)
I'll do a more in-depth review of some of the products later after I've had time to try them out!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

What the gel, bro? A Quick Gel Polish Q&A

What is gel polish?  Good question. Let's get the basics out of the way so we all know what we're talking about. Gel polish is basically nail polish that needs to be "cured" with either a UV or LED light. Each layer has to be cured for a period of time but once the final layer is cured your nails are hardened and good to go. You can go from curing your nails to doing dishes in 2 minutes!

How do you apply gel polish? It's really easy and not too different from the way you (should) do any standard polish manicure. The main difference is that you need to cure gel polish after every coat. You start with a base coat and then you cure it under the lamp. Then you follow with a THIN layer of gel polish in the color you want and cure that. You can repeat the color coat and cure 2-3 times depending on the polish (if it's really sheer you may even need more coats). Then you apply a layer of top coat and cure that. Then you have to wipe off the sticky top layer with a lint-free nail wipe and isopropyl alcohol to finish your manicure. TIP: You can buy specialized "finisher" liquid for this last step but you can also by any old rubbing alcohol for a fraction of the cost. Then you're done! You nails are completely dried, hardened, and ready to go!

What is the difference between acrylic and gel polish? Both gel and acrylic look very similar because they're both thick, shiny, and super hard. However, acrylic is a liquid and powder mix that is applied to your nails with a brush that hardens without use of any UV/LED lamp. Gel, on the other hand, is a polish and is basically useless unless you have a UV/LED lamp.

How long does gel polish last? The gel polish that requires a lamp can stay on your nails for 3-4 weeks. This means that you won't be taking it off because it chipped, you'll be taking it off because you want a different color! Other non-lamp gel polish will last anywhere from 7-14 days. Be sure to check the gel polish bottle to see their wear time since wear time can vary from brand to brand.

Is there gel polish that doesn't require use of a UV/LED lamp? Technically, yes, there are gel polishes on the market that don't require use of a lamp. For example, the Sally Hansen two step Miracle Gel gives you a gel manicure without use of any lamp. However, the gel-without-a-lamp options DO NOT last as long as the gel-with-a-lamp options. I have used both types and can attest to the different in wear times. I used Sally Hansen for gel polish before I tried out my first REAL gel polish.

I read online you have to use a base and top coat. Is that really required? You know, I'm not sure. I have never tried a gel manicure without a base and top coat. I read online that if you don't use a base coat the gel polish won't stick to your finger....but I've never tried it so I don't know! If you have had success with gel polish without using a base coat, leave a comment!

Can I use regular nail polish in between the base and top coat? Yes. You can use regular nail polish in between the base and top coats. However, you can't force the regular polish to dry quickly by curing it under the lamp (it won't work). You will have to wait for the regular polish to dry COMPLETELY before putting the top coat. Also, your manicure will not last as long as it would have if you used all gel products.

Where can I buy gel polish? Depending on the brand you want, pretty much anywhere! There are good gel options at Target, Sally's Beauty Supply, and Ulta. Although, to be honest, I was a little disappointed in Ulta's selection. You can also find them online at Amazon. I like the Red Carpet Manicure gel polish I bought at Ulta and they're only $10.00. A typical gel polish will cost between $10-$15.

How do I remove gel polish? Unfortunately, removal of gel polish is sort of a huge pain, not gonna lie. I guess when you have a beautiful manicure that lasts 3 weeks we can handle a bit of a nuisance in removal. Gel polish is considered "soak off" which means you essentially have to apply acetone to your nails and let them soak in it for about 10-15 minutes. You can soak your nails in a bowl of acetone, use one of these manicure clip sets and clip an acetone-drenched cotton ball to your nails, or use a DIY foil wrap to keep the cotton ball on your nails. My only word of caution is DON'T PICK at gel nails. Picking is no bueno and can lead to damaged nail plates!

UV or LED lamp? What's the difference? The main difference is the length of time you have to cure your nails. UV lamps have longer cure times (between 2-3 minutes typically). LED lamps have shorter (30-60 second) cure times. Again, be sure to consult the brand of polish your using to determine the appropriate cure times.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Swatch: Sally Hansen Hello Pretty

Today's post is a swatch of a vibrant almost-neon pink and, honestly, professionalism be damned when it comes to this color. I mean, hot pink in the courtroom? Hmm. But luckily I didn't have anything scheduled so I was just wearing these nails around the office. I should confess, I love vibrant nails. Maybe it's because we're finally over with winter and we're starting to get some spring weather. So it's time to bust out the colors! Plus, I wear a lot of black...so colorful nails do a lot to keep me from seeming like I'm in mourning all of the time.  Here are the nails:
This color will make you smile. And will definitely get noticed!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Let's Netflix and Chill

It's Friday (hooray!) and after a looooong week this post is literally the most perfect post to do. Recently I was contacted by Adore Me and asked to describe my perfect "Netflix & Chill" night here on The Files. You probably recognize that company name from their television commercial -- a matching bra and panty set for $25?! Yes, that one. Anyway, they pose a good question....what is my perfect Netflix & Chill night?

For me, it's not truly Netflix and Chill unless I'm wearing something comfy.  I'm all about that tee shirt bra! Throw a soft set of pajamas on top and I'm ready to chill. But if you're Netflix and chill night is a bit more oh la la they have a great line of lingerie for you to try.

My favorite part comes next -- the food! Depending on the time, I'd either be noshing on some Chinese food (chicken chow mein, anyone?) OR a delicious bowl of popcorn. Yes, I can be pretty traditional when I netflix and chill!

And what am I watching on TV? Hmmm, that's difficult to answer. If I'm by myself I'm watching the new E! series The Arrangement or The Royals. It's seriously addictive! Or perhaps Outlander on Starz. But if I'm watching with my fiance it's likely Billions on Showtime or Mr. Robot on USA.

So, we've got our chill clothes, food, and shows. There's only one last thing.....the blanket!
Image result for animal fur blanket
I loooove these luxurious blankets. They're so soft and cuddly. I'd definitely wrap myself up in one of those! We'll have to register for one on our wedding registry! But seriously, they can be SO expensive. Definitely a luxe treat.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Stop and Smell the Flowers....on my nails!

Ugh, I woke up not feeling well this morning. It started out with a sore throat but now I'm pretty sure it's a sinus infection. I'm going through tissues like CRAZY. Anyway, hopefully I feel better quickly because it's my future husband's birthday this Sunday and I don't want to be a buzzkill because I'm sick! The nails I painted today make me feel a little better because they're just fun and simple. I also love the oversized flower on the middle finger.
purple manicure with flowers
purple manicure with flowers

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

*Tap tap* Is this thing on?

When I first started blogging it was an exciting time. It was back before the indie nail polish craze. Before gel (okay maybe not entirely before gel). And it was back when the biggest nail blogs were those like The Daily Nail and All Lacquered Up. Well, in case you haven't noticed...times have changed. A LOT of people have ditched blogging. Some have replaced blogging with Instagram and snapchat but others have vanished entirely.

I was going through my blogger feed today (which I am so behind on it's not even funny) and I noticed one thing. Almost every blog I follow is no longer active. And I don't mean no longer active like moi where they've disappeared for about a month or two. I mean no longer active like last post was a year ago or longer. For reals. A year ago. Or longer. That's a long time for no update! If I weren't so behind on blogging I might have been curious where everybody went to!

It's so disappointing when blogs get abandoned but I understand people's lives and priorities change and sometimes people just lose the joi de vivre that blogging used to bring. I experienced that myself for a little where I questioned whether or not I would even continue. You know that feeling? I think that's why I only post once (if that) per week (I'm working on it though--I have some pretty blog-worthy events coming up so all will be well).

But seriously, ever feel like you just don't have any content that you want to share? Or that you just don't have the inspiration or motivation to keep at it? I swear. The struggle is real my friends.

I have now gone through the blogs I follow and have bid adieu to those no longer with us. The silver lining? Now I can follow some NEW blogs! So....if you're just stumbling upon this blog and you're looking for a new blog buddy or follower, drop me a comment below! I'd enjoy reading some new blogs!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Philadelphia Flower Show

Andrew and I were bored this weekend and decided we would do something we've never done before: we went to the Philadelphia Flower Show. I've heard about it for years but we never actually went so we figured why not try something new. Plus, we have to decide what flowers to have at the wedding so it was good to see some options. We probably won't be returning next year (once is enough) but it was good fun for the day. Plus we had an early dinner at one of Andrew's favorite go-to's in the city that we don't get to very often.

One of my favorite things was the competition for best orchid IN A TEACUP. Haha. How cute are these beautiful orchids in tiny teacups?
Philadelphia Flower Show; Orchids; Orchids in tea cups
The theme of the flower show was Norway. So that means there were bikes:
Philadelphia Flower Show
And windmills:
And plenty of tulips:
Philadelphia Flower Show; tulips
There was also this really cool "Butterfly Experience" thing where you got to walk around in a room with over 1000 butterflies. They gave you a Qtip with some sort of butterfly-food solution so that you could entice a butterfly to come to you. Needless to say, I was terrified. I'm not a fan of flying insects even if they're pretty, but Andrew enjoyed it. He would catch the butterfly for me and then give me his Q-tip with the butterfly on it.
butterfly; butterfly on hand
How pretty was this monarch butterfly? It reminds me of my monarch butterfly nails from here and here. And before you say, "oh Nikki, your nails are lovely" that is my fiancee's hand not mine!

Next year's theme is Wonders of Water and it will take place between March 3, 2018 and March 11, 2018. If you want to see some pretty flowers you should definitely go!

Friday, March 17, 2017