31 Week Nail Art Challenge - Week 22: Inspired by a Song

Now that we're back on track with the 31 Week Nail Art Challenge and I am posting the one specific week per week (rather than 4 weeks in one post!), I am so excited to be posting these nails. . . because honestly I just think they're incredibly awesome. Is it tacky to think your own nails are awesome?! Hmm. Anyway, for this week of the 31 Week Nail Art Challenge we have Week 22, a manicure Inspired by a Song. 

You guys know that I am awful with making decisions -- so choosing one song to inspire a manicure was pretty much impossible for me. Not surprising, right? I listen to a ton of different styles and bands because my music taste swings with my mood BUT I decided to create nails inspired by one of my newest obsessions. Have you ever heard of the band Halestorm? I saw them on September 27, 2014 with my little brother at a music festival in Baltimore. He was supposed to go with a buddy but then the friend wasn't able to make it, so natch I did my big sister duty of standing in when my brother has no one to go somewhere with. Apparently my broski has some good taste in music because I really enjoyed the Halestorm set and I decided to give their music a go when I got back home. Needless to say, I became a fan...hence Halestorm nails for this week! The band is also originally from PA (like I am) and their style is interesting to me because it's rock but it could also be classified as alternative metal (which I'm not really into so much). Moving on, the manicure I painted is in fact inspired by one song in particular: Love Bites (So Do I) from Halestorm's "The Strange Case Of..." record, which I've linked to below the photos. It's the first song on the record so it's the first song on the video if you watch it. I used the whole feel of the record for my inspiration but I added the hearts to the middle finger as a nod to the specific song, Love Bites (So Do I).

Not sure this is copyright legal but whatevs we're gonna roll with it. Their record was kind of all over the place so you will probably find at least one song you like on it! And who knows, you might  just become a super fan--or at least one who paints their nails a la Halestorm, like me! Also, they have a new record dropping in April!
I think I'll tweet these to the band's twitter account . . . see what happens! I'll keep you updated.

Up Next: "Inspired by a Film." Hmmm....comment below if you have any ideas?

31 Week Nail Art Challenge: Week 21 - Inspired by A Color

Welcome to another episode of QUICK-POST-THIS-WEEK'S-CHALLENGE! For this week, we have "Inspired by a Color Nails" which was honestly a somewhat unhelpful prompt to work with. Where do you go with "inspired by a color"?? I checked around on other people's blogs to try and figure out how other people attacked this week's prompt. It turns out that I am not alone here in Question mark Town. Chalkboard Nails called it a tricky prompt and said "cmon, what does that even really mean?" Nails and Noms said it was a vague theme and that the whole first week was basically inspired by a color. I have to agree with both of them! However, there was at least one person, Manicurator, that actually liked this prompt (and did a STUNNING Caribbean colors inspired manicure to boot!)! Anyway, I looked around my apartment to see what color was lacking and I decided on pink. This manicure is what I came up with that is "inspired by pink."
 I used OPI I Eat Maine-ly Lobster for the base and then stamped Butter London La Moss (which I got in an Ipsy bag one month last year) with BundleMonster plate BM-207. I always forget how beautiful and simple stamping can be. Might have to start working in more stamping on this blog!
If you're doing this challenge, leave a link below so I can check your nails out!

Next up: Inspired by A Song

Friday Favorites

It's Friday and I know I don't need any particular reason to be excited for that (being finished with school and work and having a nice weekend is quite enough) BUT I'm doubly thrilled for today to be Friday because Andrew is returning home tomorrow! Yes, he's finally coming home from Colorado and, although we are not living together, we'll be spending MOST of the weeks together. I'm so excited my heart is nearly bursting at the thought of having him home. Anyway, as I posted about previously, and even did a few posts last year or the year before, I want to restart my "Friday Favorites" posts. No, it won't be every Friday but it will be whenever I have new favorites that I want to share! Here are five things that I am favorite-ing right now:

Godiva Truffles
In particular, my favorites are these Ultimate Dessert Truffles. I have a serious sweet tooth and truffles (and ice cream) are my sweet of choice. I love truffles so much that Andrew always gives me a box for Valentine's Day! I mentioned how I was really craving a truffle the other day and Andrew had a set of these truffles delivered to my apartment as a surprise! I love him and these truffles....and I won't tell which/who I love more! Jk. Truffles can't love you back. The Ultimate Dessert Truffle box comes with such amazing flavors, too. Think about your favorite dessert. It's probably in this box. Tiramisu, Birthday Cake, Chocolate Lava Cake, Cookie Dough, Creme Brulee, Strawberry Creme Tarte, Red Velvet Cake, Pineapple Hummingbird Cake, Chocolate Souffle, Chocolate Eclair, Cheesecake, Butterscotch Walnut, do I need to say more?! Mmmmm, sooooo good. Just don't look at the calorie count for any of them!!

Pretty much monogram anything is fantastic. For Christmas 2014 one of my presents from my parents Santa was a set of four appetizer plates with my initial. How cute are these?
I just love the mix of colors and designs. Polka dots? Me? Match made in heaven. And the chevron is so cute, too. I also got matching coasters.

Homemade Humus

I don't know about you guys but I am obsessed with chick peas. It started with me just putting them on my salads but then I realized I could make my own humus and that was the end. I whipped up a batch of homemade humus to go with some crackers and veggies today. So delicioussss!

PJ Sets
Call me lame or whatever but I actually think that matching PJ sets are just so girly and cute. Don't they make you think of childhood sleepovers?? I totally want this adorable Peter Alexander 50's Barbie pajama set because it takes me right back to when I was a little girl playing with barbies with my sister. We would play for HOURS. I would buy these pajamas but $99 is a tad ridiculous. Would they not be perfect though for when/if I stay overnight at Steph and Matt's new house? They could also function as my "comfy clothes" that I wear just to lounge around, watching movies, making dinner, and sipping wine. They look so comfy and chic to me. Am I alone in this?? I should hope not, I found a PJ as one of Lauren Conrad's friday favorites from a few weeks ago!

Congratulations to a couple of new homeowners!

Big news in the world of Nikki! My sister and her fiance (as you may recognize from various posts here on the blog) have officially become HOMEOWNERS! They closed on their first house yesterday and I got to visit later Friday night for the grand tour! Here is a shot of the happy homeowners:

They decided on an absolutely beautiful house two seconds from my parents' home (whoa, spread those wings guys!) which will be really convenient for when I visit home for holidays. They lived at home until they were 27 and 29 so they don't have much furniture but I believe they have moved all their miscellaneous belongings into the house by now. Ha, notice the lack of furniture in this photo I took:
Congratulations Steph and Matt on your new house! I can't wait to see it once you're all settled in!

31 Week Nail Art Challenge: Weeks 17 through 20

Today's post catches me up to where I'm supposed to be in my 31 Week Nail Art Challenge so that I can do Week 21 on tomorrow! I decided to do one nail for each week's challenge manicure and then just have one shot (the previous post was picture heavy!). So for today's challenge I have Weeks 17-20: Glitter, Half Moon, Galaxies, and Water Marbled:

31 Week Nail Art Challenge: Weeks 11 through 16

Phew, now that I was able to restart my blogging after quite a long  hiatus....it's time to catch up on my 31 Week Nail Art Challenge!! As you may remember, I had left off my 31 Week Nail Art Challenge back on Week 10 (Gradient). That means I have to catch all the way up to where I'm supposed to be....which is Week 21 Inspired by a Color. Yikes! That's 12 manicures but I'm going to include a bunch in each post for a bit in order to catch up ASAP. Starting us off with this post, which includes Weeks 11 through 16.
First is Week 11: Polka Dot. You know how often I do polka dots in my designs. They're quick and easy and they always look nice. I decided to do a minimalist polka dot design and it turned out like this. Yes, because I'm obsessed with the Sally Hansen Miracle Gel line I used both of the new polishes, B Girl and Hydro Electric. They go together really well and I had them on my desk. Easy peasy!
Next, is Week 12: Stripes. Not a huge fan of this because I kind of feel like it's boring. Again, I used Sally Hansen Miracle Gel in B Girl and Hydro Electric. What can I say? They were on my desk and I'm lazy! I also used a few stripers that I had from Color Club Art Club to add just a tiny but more blue. Obviously the manicure needed more blue right?
For Week 13: Animal Print, I'm not quite sure if I really pulled it off. I wanted to try to recreate one of my favorite designs from last year where I used a pale purple base with a purple holo animal print but this one just kind of came out BLEH. Does is look animal print-y to you?
Week 14: Flowers gave me a run for my money.  Who knew flowers could be hard. I wanted to use a bunch of different colors because I hadn't used many colors for my previous manicures and flowers are typically not monochromatic....at least not usually. This is what I came up with for Flowers week:
Week 15: Delicate. I had no idea what exactly "delicate" means for a manicure. Lace? French? Pale colors? Pastels? I'm going to go with this manicure that I found in my files from November.
Week 16: Tribal. I'm also reusing a manicure from the vault that fit this too perfectly. I don't think I could have topped this tribal manicure even if I tried!

Swatch: Sally Hansen Miracle Gel B Girl - Colorado Surprise Part 2

As promised, today's post is the second polish that I snatched up in Colorado to save a dreadfully chipping manicure: Sally Hansen Miracle Gel in B Girl. I know I was uber-pleased with the first polish and so excited to share it with you but this one is leaving a little to be desired. The polish is a tad streaky as you will see in the photos and it definitely didn't go on as nicely as the other. I know that streakiness is a common problem for any lighter colored shade but it's always annoying to have to keep putting layer after layer just to get good coverage. Anyway, here is the powder blue B Girl. Please excuse the streakiness....this was after 2 or 3 coats and I was running out of time!

Is there a polish you love but that has a huge streakiness problem? 
Comment below to let me know!

Swatch: Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Hydro Electric - A Colorado Surprise! Part 1

While I was spending my week in Colorado after finals my nails were becoming increasingly chipped and I was becoming increasingly annoyed at their appearance. Enter target run with my boyfriend for emergency supplies. We were strolling along the nail polish choices and suddenly I located the Sally Hansen display. I had heard of her new "no light" Miracle Gel polish line but I had never stopped to pick any polishes up to try. This was partially due to my lack of funds and partially due to my lack of time. They're a bit steeply priced at about $8 USD per bottle but I was desperate for my nails to come back to their glorious nicely-polished-sans-chips condition and these polishes claimed a manicure that lasted "up to 14 days*" so I mustered up the mental energy and bought three -- er, two because I bought the top coat, too, and that doesn't count. I am so glad I purchased these babies! I bought two polishes and the gel top coat, which comes in a black bottle and is the super magnificient magic in a bottle that made this polish stay on my nails for a whopping 8 days without any major chipping! I know that's not the "up to 14 days" that the advertising claims but for me 8 days is UNHEARD OF. For real, it's a big deal. I'm sure you can relate (unless you have acrylic nails in which case you'd be sitting there like girrrrl I get my nails done and they last for WEEKS).

So anyway, I bought 340 Hydroelectric and 240 B Girl:
Both are absolutely stunning shades of blue. In the picture to the right Hydroelectric is on the right and B Girl is on the left. Also, loving my new camera....check out that photo quality! Finally my photos don't look like I caught my nails as they were running by a train window in the middle of the night.

I seriously am obsessed with this product line right now. Seriously. I might just have to buy them all. I will say that one minor thing was that it was a little difficult to get even coverage but with enough coats (and this dries shockingly quickly by the way) then you get a nice smooth even surface. Also, be SURE to hold off putting the top coat on for a little bit just because otherwise you could get some color transfer from your nails to the top coat brush....and we wouldn't want that to happen! I will swatch B Girl tomorrow or the next day when I have a moment but for now, feast your eyes on Hydro Electric:
 This photo is not photoshopped at all. It's literally that glassy and beautiful.

Gorgeous! Have any of you guys tried out the Miracle Gel polishes? Could you get it to last 14 days? Let me know which ones you have and how long they stayed chip-free in the comments below!

Trip Recap: Colorado * VERY PIC HEAVY *

As I mentioned in my last post, it's been quite busy over here. I visited my boyfriend in Colorado (remember from this post he moved there for 6 months for work) and we had such a great time! We crammed so much into my 7 days there and I am so pleased with all the memories we were able to create from our adventures. I wanted to share a couple of them here on The Files so grab some popcorn and have a seat...this post will take a while!

First, I am one of those airplane passengers who ADORES cloud photography. I take a photo of the clouds in almost every daylight flight I take. I saw the beautiful pinks in the sky and the formation of the clouds and knew I wanted to take a photo.

The flight out wasn't so bad -- there were no turbulence or scary oxygen mask dropping -- but I was unlucky enough to have a rather large man sit in the middle between me and the other man in our row. I'm not joking when I say his elbows were basically touching my ribcage the whole time. Good thing I was able to scooch over toward the window to give him some more room.

Anyway, the flight was about 4 hours and I spent it watching movies and shows I had loaded on my tablet (remember my Nexus 10 tablet nails). I also brought my cross stitch stocking to work on. You are allowed to bring sewing needles on a plane, who knew??

Once I arrived, Andrew started to show me around for the first couple of days. This was his view from his office:
Not a bad view am I right? I could get used to that!

We hiked through the Rocky Mountain National Park, which was neat because it was during its 100th Anniversary. The views were fantastic. I have never been up on a mountain side with such an incredible view. It was truly breathtaking and sharing it with Andrew made it doubly special.
We even saw an elk! He was just chillin and was unimpressed by all of us gawking at it. He eventually got up and walked away, but not before I could snap a few photos!
I apologize for the poor quality photo -- I had to zoom in a lot and it was on my camera phone! Funny story, while we were in the park I managed to crack the screen on my phone. Okay, not so funny. Then as we were leaving the park we saw even more elk! A whole group of them!

We also spent some time touring the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. You know from my Olympic nails (2012 and 2014) that I am obsessed with the Olympic Games so I was almost literally jumping up and down when we were able to fit this in. It was only $5 for the tour and they give you swag when you leave. Our group was given super cute Olympic scarves and beanies. They have the Olympic rings on them and everything so I definitely will be wearing them ASAP and pretending I went to the Olympics. Sorry not sorry. It was really spectacular to see where many of the olympians train. Andrew also bought me a Team USA water bottle that I will be using when I watch the Olympic. EVERY.single.time.

Next, we walked around the Denver Botanical Gardens and the Denver Zoo. Unfortunately, I do not have any pics of the Denver Zoo which is disappointing because it was Lights at the Zoo... all decorated for Christmas! Anyway, back to the Denver Botanical Gardens. The exhibit featured while we were there was glass work by artist Dale Chihuly. So on top of the gardens being beautiful in general, they were even more beautiful because they had all these stunning and vibrant glass designs placed throughout. How amazing are these photos? They are all colored and handmade glass:
Fun trivia fact: The last picture reminded me that I have seen work by Dale Chihuly before. He has a couple pieces at the Borgata in Atlantic City, which Andrew took me to for the weekend to celebrate my 21st birthday.

We also spent some time in downtown Denver walking around the Denver Art Museum. Although the DAM had 7 floors of mindblowing art, artifacts, and pottery from all different places (Asia, Middle East, Americas, etc), I was most blown away by the Cartier exhibit! It was called Brilliant: Cartier in the 20th Century and it was STUNNING. There were original pieces from Maharajahs, Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor, and Maria Felix.

For a short clip about the exhibit check out this CBS Sunday Morning clip (once you get past the engagement part it is really fascinating):

We also spent some time walking around downtown Denver because there was an open air market/festival going on. We walked our way to the Colorado State Capitol building with the gold dome and decided to self-guide a little tour of the building. Luckily, it is open to the public! The building was so ornate both inside and out and we overheard an interesting story about some of the building material used in the Capitol. The Capitol includes an extremely rare material, Colorado Rose Onyx (Beulah Red Marble). Story went that the builders used all the known marble in the building and therefore it cannot ever be replaced. The Capitol building took six years to install and polish the marble. It was completed in the year 1900. So there you go, a little bit of history!
While walking through downtown we came upon these lovely little gigantic cows. It had rained recently so the grass was too muddy for me to walk on -- otherwise the photo would have had me climbing on them!

We also ate at the Buckhorn Exchange....which doesn't sound overly interesting. However, what if I told you that the inside of the place looked like this: 
Yep, the walls were COVERED in taxidermy animals. I ordered the buffalo Prime Rib and Andre I think got the Elk or Bison rib eye. Both were so delicious but I couldn't get over all the animals watching us eat. Talk about feeling guilty for eating meet!!

Okay, back to Rocky Mountain National Park for a sec! If you've been there you know that you will likely pass the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, on your way to the Rocky Mountain National Park. Does that hotel ring a bell for you by any chance? Does this photo remind you of something?
Yes, that is the hotel that inspired Stephen King's The Shining and the movie starring Jack Nicholson. You know, "HEEEEEERE'S JOHNNY" and all that creepy *isht. The hotel is for guests only (or so they want you to believe) but we went in anyway to investigate the place. Downstairs they had a bunch of photos and items from the movie, including this:
The plaque on the post to the right of the dollhouse states, "This Doll House was featured in Stephen King's The Shining -- an ABC miniseries that aired in 1997. This was filmed on location at the Stanley Hotel. It was located in the front of the Overlook Hotel and was part of the playground that was surrounded by the hedge bushes that come to life.

We also stopped by Room 217, the room that Stephen King stayed in when he was inspired to write The Shining. The hotel televisions have The Shining playing nonstop on one channel. Creepy.

Enough of that. Our last adventure was to Pike's Peak, one of the 14,000 foot elevation mountains in Colorado. No I wasn't out there schlepping myself and Andrew up the side of a mountain. Pike's Peak uses a Cog train to ascend and descend the mountain. You can drive if you want but that road looked like DEATH so I'm glad we chose the train option. Plus, how cute are these little train cars?
The train is the highest train in the United States and climbs an impressive 14,115 feet in about an hour or so. On the way there you are told all kinds of neat facts. For example, the panoramic view from Pike's Peak inspired the song America the Beautiful. The views at the summit were breathtaking but so were the various views you get while you're on the Cog. They keep you posted on your elevation with signs like this:
Once you get to the summit they have a restaurant and gift shop...where they made doughnuts! Yes, I've eaten doughnuts at 14,115 feet elevation and they were pretty damn tasty. We took a quick shot at the summit:
And then took in the incredible views.
You only get to stay up there for about 30-45 minutes since the temperature drops so much. We were bundled up because we knew that was going to happen but some people didn't and they were freezing by the time we boarded the train. Two neat things happened while we were up there: (1) we watched a couple get engaged and (2) it started hailing! We stopped in the store for a bit and I saw this hilarious bumper sticker:
 No, I didn't get it but it's worth a laugh or two!

I think that sums up the trip! I'm impressed if you read this whole thing! If you did, you earned a cookie!

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