Tuesday, January 26, 2021

how I do my own nails at home

I used to get really bad hangnails all the time up until I started getting professional manicures in 2016. It completely solved the problem and I've been blissfully hangnail-free ever since. That is, until the pandemic started, and I realized I'd have to learn how to do my own nails, post haste! At first I bought a kit to DIY my own acrylics but it was really, really difficult. It took me somewhere between 4-6 hours each time I did them, they were really bumpy, they wouldn't last very long, and to get them off I'd have to file them down with an electric nail file which added even more time onto the process. I gave up on doing my own acrylics in May, just two months after I started lol!

In the mean time I tried just doing gel polish, which would always chip after 1-2 days, the Kiara Sky gelly system, and just plain old regular polish which chipped even faster than the gel and didn't make any difference preventing hangnails. 

Finally I decided to just try glue-on nails with gel polish over them and that has been my go-to method for over six months now. They last about 2-3 weeks and the whole process usually takes me about the length of a movie. It still takes a little longer than it would if I went to a salon and it lasts about one week less than a professional manicure (and it definitely doesn't look as great lol) but I'm so happy that I figured out a way to stay hangnail-free, have pretty manicured nails, and avoid unnecessary outings during the pandemic! These actually feel like real acrylics, they are hard as nails, and perfect for opening cans and scratching itches lol

What I use

- UV Lamp - This is the one that I have, and I really like it.
- Alcohol wipes
- Nail file
- 100% acetone
- Glue-on nails (I like KISS brand)
- Gel polish (I like Beetles and Kiara Sky brands)

My process

1. If I am removing old nails then first I would soak the nail in acetone for 15 minutes and then use a cuticle pusher & nail file to remove any leftover product. If you aren't removing old nails, skip ahead to step 2.
2. Use cuticle softener on the nail beds and then clean up with a cuticle pusher & trimmer before filing and wiping the nails with alcohol wipes. 
3. Apply a small dot of glue to the nail & a small dot to my own nail. Press for 30 seconds.
4. File the nails down to the length & shape that I like, and then file the surface to rough it up a bit so that the gel polish will hold.
5. Apply one coat of base gel to one hand. Put hand under the light for 99 seconds.
6. Apply one coat of color to one hand. Put hand under the light for 99 seconds.
7. Apply second coat of color to one hand. Put hand under the light for 99 seconds.
8. Apply one coat of top gel to one hand. Put hand under the light for 99 seconds.
9. Wipe fingers with alcohol wipes.
10. Repeat the process for your other hand.
11. Apply cuticle oil and massage it into the nail beds.

Some tips

- Don't skip the step where you file your nails and then wipe them with alcohol wipes before applying the glue-on nails. It really helps them to stick better.

- Once you figure out which nail fits perfectly on each finger, make a note of the number (it's either printed on a little removable tab or on the inside of the nail itself, depending on which type of nails you get) and then write it down. Then next time you do your nails you immediately know which ones fit and you don't have to take the time to size each one.

- Hold the nail in place after you glue it for 30 seconds. I know that seems like a lot but I've found they stay on better if I hold them longer than the recommended 10 seconds.

- If you have a hard time holding the nail in place without getting glue on your fingers (speaking from experience lol) buy longer nails and then file them down to the length that you want them. I prefer short-medium length nails but I buy slightly longer fake nails that give me a little lip to hold onto when I'm gluing.

- When the nails have been on for about 2-3 weeks they might start popping off on their own. LET THEM. Just go a few days with some missing nails. It ends up being a gigantic time saver when it comes time to put on a new set. I used to keep gluing mine back on and then when I was ready to remove them I had to soak all of my nails in acetone and slough off the glue and old nails, and it just takes so much longer than letting them pop off on their own. Usually like 9 of my nails will pop off in a 1-2 day span towards the end of my set and I'll be left with one single stubborn nail that will need to be soaked off, but it's way easier than doing all 10. All this being said, if one nail pops off 3 days into a new set I do still glue that one back on :)

- When you're painting with your non-dominant hand, I've found that it helps a lot of I move the hand that I'm painting instead of the hand holding the brush. It helps me have more control and has resulted in much, much neater paint jobs. Sometimes my right hand comes out even better than my left, something that definitely was not the case when I first started this last March lol!

Monday, January 25, 2021


It's officially that time of year when I start wearing pink and red like it's a uniform lol :) Sometimes I think it's kind of funny how much I absolutely LOVE Valentine's Day when I've never had a significant other or even been on a date. But what can I say, hearts and pink and red are my jam. 

The only holiday I enjoy more than Valentine's Day color-wise is Easter. A few years ago I started hosting our family Easter dinners (I wrote a bit about it here) and I went all out on decorations. I had so much fun shopping at Michaels and Target and Pier 1 and stocking up on plates and napkins and wicker bunnies and decorative easter eggs! Each year I've added a few things to the mix because I just simply can't help myself when I see a wall of pastel Easter decor in front of me lol! Last year they had *just* put out Easter decorations before my last trips to stores before the quarantine, so I managed to get a cute pastel egg wreath from Target and a new table runner before we shuttered in for the year. This year I might cruise Target.com when it gets a little closer and keep the tradition going.

I feel like a broken record at this point because I've complained about this so often, but so much decor/clothing/everything these days is neutral and looks so drab to me. So I really treasure these colorful holidays when stores make some space for bright and happy decorations, and the world is allowed to be a little bit more vibrant :)

Thursday, January 21, 2021

happy days are here again

In my last blog post I wrote about how uncomfortable I've felt sharing frivolous posts during such serious times but today I feel like I can unabashedly just scream "YAY!!", put on the happiest, sunniest outfit possible, and sing "happy days are here again" because Joe Biden is officially the President and Kamala Harris is our first female VP! It actually happened, today is really here, things are changing for the better and I could not be more happy about it. I cried so many happy tears yesterday that I had to put ice packs on my eyes before I went to sleep because my eyelids were so sore! I'm THAT happy!! 

I'm happy for so, so many reasons. Obviously I'm happy that the previous president is gone, that's a given. I'm happy that the pandemic will finally be taken seriously and hopefully it'll come to an end much quicker than it would have otherwise. I'm happy that the vaccine rollout will finally be organized and my at-risk parents will get their doses soon. I'm happy that I don't have to wake up each morning wondering if we randomly bombed Switzerland or something. I'm happy that there might actually be a place for frivolity in the world again. And more than anything else I'm happy that Joe Biden, a man I have admired and rooted for for my entire adult life, is sitting in the oval office. I have a button that I purchased at the 2005 NJ Democratic Convention that says 'Biden for President 2008', so this has been something I have wanted for a very, very long time. He is such an incredibly kind and decent man with a giant heart and more empathy than most politicians have put together. I truly believe that he will always do what he really believes is the right thing to do, without any consideration of his own political fortunes. He has our best interest at heart and he is going to be such a great president. Oh, and he's adopting the first White House rescue cat so I mean, does it get any better than that??

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

ye olde juicebox

Here is my second recreation of an outfit I wore exactly ten years ago! On January 13, 2011 I wrote a post about a historic house in my hometown and judging from the photos and the text I'm pretty sure I was in a crabby mood that day lol. I was wearing a plaid dress, black coat, red tights, and black shoes. I am fairly certain I still have that dress but I think it's in my storage unit because I couldn't find it in my closet. I did, however, have this nearly identical plaid printed frock at the ready. 

This ten year project is so surreal because that time period of my life doesn't feel like a decade ago. Not much in my personal life has changed since then. I don't feel like I've progressed at all in my career and I feel like somehow I've regressed when it comes to friendships and connecting with other human beings. I don't keep in touch with many friends (mostly because I don't think anyone likes me, something I'm definitely working on with my therapist) and even before the pandemic I honestly didn't leave the house all that often. Life in 2011 looks a lot like my life in 2021. With one pretty big exception - the world around me.

While my own life has stayed the same and time has passed without much notice, the world I was living in in 2011 is so different from 2021. The other day I said something like "I have so much hope that Biden will get a handle on the pandemic provided this coup doesn't pan out." and I just had to stop myself and consider how insane that sentence was! Looking at my old posts, it's just so hard to believe how much the world has changed in such a short amount of time. My generally frivolous existence was perfectly fine six or seven years ago, but now I feel such enormous guilt when I share unimportant content. I hesitate to post things and I take long social media breaks, but inevitably I still share it because I think there's a place in the world for silly things even during the darkest times, and because I am a firm believer in escapism. But I definitely miss those days when the most pressing concern in life was whether or not my brother was being moody about taking my photo on a cold January day in 2011. 

Monday, January 4, 2021

can't you hear my heartbeat

In 2011 I started blogging every single day - and often more than once a day. I logged a whopping 430 posts on this site in 2011!! I was scrolling through my archives the other night and thought it might be fun to start recreating some of my outfits on the exact tenth anniversary of the day I wore the original ensemble. So here is my first one, a 2021 version of what I wore on January 4th, 2011! You can view my original post here.

In my Jan. 4, 2011 post I wrote about getting my first "you're fat" comment on my blog and how it was water off a duck's back because I was so confident, but I'm sure it really, really hurt me. In 2013 (two whole years after this 2011 post flaunting my unyielding confidence) I deleted my entire instagram account because somebody said I was ugly. I was just soo sensitive and that's never gone away. Several months ago somebody with a Bette Davis avatar on twitter told me I was ugly and while a bunch of friends hopped to my defense and I swiftly blocked the person, it still hurt a lot. And the fact that it appeared to be coming from Bette Davis made it even worse lol! 

I don't think I'm ugly and I don't think I'm fat (not that there would be anything wrong with either thing anyway) but I think it's just the idea that someone out there really doesn't like YOU.  It's like Pam says on The Office, "I hate the idea that someone out there hates me. I even hate thinking that Al-Qaeda hates me." It always hurts, no matter how many years of blogging or social media you have under your belt. The mean comments I used to get in my early days of blogging led me to stop allowing comments on this blog entirely and I rarely check my comments on social media. I probably missed out on a lot of very kind and pleasant responses and definitely lost out on potential friendships I might have formed through mutual commenting, but it caused me so much anxiety that I just feel so much better being completely oblivious. I look at that photo of myself from 2011 and think about what a brave face I was putting on, while I was definitely hurt inside. But then I look at these photos I took today and see a blissfully unaware, confident girl who happily takes pictures of herself because she can't hear the hate anymore.

dress - asos | top - modcloth | collar clips - my shop (coming soon) | tights - uo (old)

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Mini kitchen DIY/tour

As I mentioned two posts back, I had an uncomfortable living situation for most of 2020 and a byproduct of that ordeal was that I did not have access to the kitchen in my house. It's a long story, but suffice to say I spent most of 2020 buying processed foods that you could eat out of a box and ordering way more McDonald's lunches and dinners than I should ever admit lol. By September I just felt so unhealthy that I decided to build a makeshift kitchen in my room so that I could start cooking my own meals, store frozen vegetables, and generally just eat normal again.

I haven't left the house since March so this whole area was constructed by meticulously measuring the space in my room and double-checking online measurements before ordering all of the necessary pieces for delivery. And it all fit and worked absolutely perfectly! In late November I was able to start using the real kitchen in my house again, but I still use this regularly and I'm so glad that for September, October, and November I was able to get healthy again.

I thought I'd share this for two reasons - first of all, I am super proud of how this turned out! I didn't just make the best of a bad situation, I made it cute too! :) And also when I first decided to do this I researched to see if anyone else had done something similar and I couldn't find anything! So I thought, perhaps if someone out there has a little studio apartment or office that could use a cute tiny kitchen, maybe my experience will come in handy for you!

Since I have wall-to-wall (ugly.. ugh!) carpet and didn't want the refrigerator resting on a carpeted floor I built a small tiled floor using a chair mat and peel-and-stick tiles. I actually do not recommend this particular method since the weight of the furniture has warped the floor a bit. If you're doing this I would recommend building a plywood base first, since it would be more sturdy than the chair mat was.

This gives you a little better view of the whole layout. The "wall" behind my kitchen is actually a piece of beadboard that my brother cut to size for me with a circular saw. I have a curtain hanging on the other side that faces my bedroom. The curtain has been there for years but with the kitchen appliances there I didn't want the cords bumping up against fabric so I decided to build my own wall! 

Here's a brief summary of what I did and where I got everything:

1. The refrigerator is a 3.2 cubic foot mini fridge from Home Depot. I picked this because of the color (obviously) but also because it has way more freezer space than most mini fridges, and I really wanted to be able to store a lot of frozen vegetables and smoothie materials.

2. The microwave is from Amazon. Not the best microwave and it usually needs a minute added on to every cook time but it does the job and it's pretty enough :)

3. The microwave shelf is also from Amazon. It comes with thin clear plastic protectors that you can put on the shelves but they weren't sturdy enough so I painted some cork board pink and cut it to size instead.

4. The toaster is from Amazon. I obviously tend to purchase things because they look pretty but this is also a really nice toaster.

5. The ice cream artwork is from Everyday is a Holiday (two of my favorite artists so please check them out even if you aren't in need of an ice cream plaque!) 

6. The white scalloped shelves on my wall are actually these plastic shelves from Amazon that I painted white with chalk paint (it adheres better to plastic) and faced with laser cut scalloped wood that I cut myself. The pink shelves are these narrower plastic shelves from Amazon, painted white and then faced with scalloped wood that I cut and painted pink.

7. I got my electric kettle from Amazon. Unfortunately they don't have the pink one listed anymore there but the brand is ASCOT. I love this kettle so much that even though I have access to the stovetop in my kitchen again I still keep making my tea this way.

8. I got the table from Wayfair. This table turned out to be the most perfect makeshift kitchen I could have hoped for! The side has shelving so I could store snacks and ingredients for cooking, it's the perfect height for a countertop, and the mini fridge fits under the tabletop *perfectly* with a little room to spare for a tray that I use to store cooking utensils. My brother drilled a hole near the back of the tabletop so that I could drop cords down as needed. When I'm not using it, the hole is covered up by the Coca Cola straw dispenser :)

9. The tray on top of the fridge is from Amazon. It fits like a glove and it has handles so it's easy for me to pull it out without looking whenever I need something. It's kind of like a little makeshift utensil drawer!

10. My cute spice jars with the pink lids are no longer available but I'm going to link to them just in case they miraculously come back in stock someday. 

11. My towel rack is from Amazon. I also bought some S-hooks separately so I could hang my measuring cups on the towel bar.

12. All of my canisters are these. I painted them (on the outside only, obviously) and then I designed custom labels and cut them out of vinyl on my Cricut.

13. My kitchen cart is no longer available in mint, it seems, but it's the absolute perfect size to go right next to the fridge and under the table (and at least it still seems to be available in pink!) 

14. I got these containers for the shelving on the side of my table. While I was using the kitchen every day I had these pushed to one side and used the extra space on the side of the container to store rice, pasta, etc. but now I whittled down my supplies and can keep it a little more tidy. It was very difficult finding containers I liked that fit *almost* perfectly into this weird narrow shelf space but these worked great!

15. Some links to various kitchen stuff: my blender, pink daisy trivets, pink kitchen utensils, pink measuring cups, pink knives, scissors and cutting board set I also used a peel-and-stick towel hanger on the front of the table. The one I purchased isn't available anymore but it's just a basic circular hanger. The oven mitts were purchased during my last trip to Hollywood but I can't remember the name of the store, sorry!

16. The peel-and-stick tiles I used for my floor were from Amazon. I liked these because they had four squares per tile so the black-and-white pattern would show up even though I was doing this in such a tiny space. 

17. Finally, my Instant Pot. This thing was a LIFE. SAVER. I was able to cook healthy meals for myself without access to a real kitchen. On the saute function I could make a scrambled egg for breakfast and with the pressure cook function I could make pasta fagioli for dinner. I even bought some pans to make baked goods in the instant pot like cornbread and cake on my birthday! I used this springform pan, this fluted pan, and this sling to lower them and raise them from the pot. 

18. For good measure, here are a few of my favorite recipes that I made with my instant pot - 
Swedish meatballs with noodles (I used turkey meatballs)
Stuffed pepper soup (my favorite! I used ground chicken)

And that's about it! Honestly this worked out for the best because this was an area of my room that I was always unsure what to do with. I've never been happy with it and it didn't show up in my photos all that often because I never felt like it looked right. So this little kitchen is a bit of a glow up for that corner of my room lol! Here's a before/after!

ps. Do you like the pink and brown purses hanging on the back of my door? I sure hope so!! More on those soon!! :D

Friday, January 1, 2021

Happy New Year!

Hey! From my last two posts it would appear that I've somehow turned into an "only blogs on holidays" blogger, lol! But actually the time period between Thanksgiving and today was unexpectedly hectic and weird and I even ended up closing my shop up way earlier than normal because I just needed some time to catch up on sleep and spend time with my family. When I tell you that this is the first time that I put on a dress since Thanksgiving, I am not exaggerating. I've exclusively been donning oversized sweatshirts and leggings while I napped and snacked my way through the last few weeks of 2020. 

I've never felt more hopeful for a new year than I do for this one. Most January Firsts I start making big plans for vacations (usually to Disney World) and dreaming about all the fun adventures I'll have over the next twelve months. But this year honestly I'm just so excited about doing normal things again. Assuming all the vaccinations go according to plan, sometime this year I'll be able to see my friends again, go to Target, eat at my favorite restaurant, go grocery shopping, get my nails done, visit an art museum, go for a walk in the park, go out for ice cream, spend hours in a used bookstore, go to the movies, all these little things I used to take for granted before me and my family decided to spend the pandemic sheltering in place. I am so incredibly happy with our decision, and even if I don't get to leave the house again until November it will still have been worth it to know that my parents, who are both very high risk, are safe. But boy oh boy am I looking forward to hanging out in the Target Dollar Spot again, lol!

I'm not being too outrageous with resolutions this year since this is honestly a difficult time period we're all living through and just getting through it is resolution enough. But I am working on losing a little bit of the weight I put on this year, trying to be slightly more disciplined with my daily routine, and trying to save more than I spend. One thing I do really want to improve on is my communication skills, since I'm absolutely terrible at replying to messages. All of them - emails, texts, tweets, snail mail, you name it. I also have a habit of crafting replies in my head and thinking I actually sent them when I really never did. If anyone knows of some kind of full proof method for tackling this particular problem maybe let me know on twitter? (I'm @kategabrielle) I've tried working on this for probably a decade now but I'm always just so bad at it! Even if you do tweet me a link I probably will forget to reply to thank you. I'm that bad.

As always, if you're still here reading this blog thank you so much!! I hope you have a wonderful 2021 and hopefully I will see you here again before Valentine's Day lol!!