Saturday, January 11, 2014

LED Gel Polish - Red Carpet Brand

This is not a beauty blog nor am I addicted to beauty. I'm pretty low maintenance, which I'm sure John is thankful for. I can be out the door in a half hour or less if my hair is dry, which is normal for me on work days since I love to sleep. I don't wear a lot of make-up, the bare minimum to get by, and I don't have long beauty routines to interrupt my day with. I'm just way too lazy for anything that takes too much time or money, but there is always something I can't get by without. Having my nails looking nice. Even if I'm looking scroungy, which is more often than not, my nails still need to look nice or I feel like a wreck.

For about 7 years I had acrylic nails, which I loved since it was no effort on my part except for showing up for an appointment, but I was always jealous of the cute colors on other girls hands. I then started having my tech paint my nails and even though the color did last longer because of the acrylic, I still hated the wear on the ends. I then had my nail tech do the unthinkable and got rid of the acrylic to switch to gel colored nails. I loved the result. I was going shorter and shorter with my acrylics anyway since the acrylic trend was passing so having short natural nails was actually nice. I also loved the last of the gel nails, but it meant going in every two weeks instead of three for upkeep. So much for saving money!

In the end I decided to go out on my own in the gel color world since in the long run it was cheaper. So December 2012 I bought the Ulta Red Carpet LED Manicure Set. The price is a little steep to me only because, again, I'm not a beauty addict. I used a bonus I got from work to take down the price so I only spent $20 on it.
I went home and tried it right away with the color that comes with the kit. I loved the results and it lasted for two week. I then bought another color to try it again and that's when the problems started. The color started peeling up around my cuticles in a couple days then I start picking at it because it annoys me and then they just look like a mess. I was only able the keep that color on for like 4 days. I tried again with the same result. I was very disappointed since the polish isn't cheap and I hate wasting good, hard earned money on things I won't use. I came to realize that my overly oily nails just wouldn't hold the color down, also my second job required me to wear latex gloves for 12 hours a week which added more moisture to my nails due to clammy hands.

I still didn't want to go back to acrylics so I tried regular polish hoping for a different result than I usually get. It didn't matter what I did, I still got chipping in less than 24 hours. I bought ph balancing agent, an expensive base and top coat with great reviews, but nothing helped.
I then just went au natural for a long time, just buffing and clear coating my nails. Not a look I loved, but something I could stand.
I went to Ulta (after I no longer worked at my second job) one day to buy more shampoo and they had a display of Red Carpet limited addition colors and one just screamed at me (Meet Me in Mykonos, FYI). I hesitantly bought it since $10 for an item I  might not ever use is something I balk at, but I'm so glad I did and I've never looked back.
I started prepping my nails a little differently than the Red Carpet instructions stated, more like I was when doing regular polish when I was trying to get it to last longer and now the color will stay on for two weeks or longer. I usually take it off before I have to just because I want a change.

In case anyone is interested, this is what I have to do to make Red Carpet stick to my nails.

Because of the LED light size, I start and finish one hand completely before moving on to the other.  I lightly file the whole nail first, not enough to ruin the nail, but enough to give it some tooth for the polish to stick to. I then apply OPI Bond Aid to my nails, twice (I have fully given up on the Prep that comes with the Red Carpet kit, it just doesn't work with my nails).
Then I apply a thin layer of the Base coat. The LED light is only deep enough for four fingers so the instructions say to do the thumb separate. I hate wasting time so I put my hand into a claw shape and hold the light over it with the other hand so I can do my whole hand at once. Stick it to the man I say!!!
I then follow the Red Carpet instructions for the rest of the application. It does take about 30 to 45 minutes to do both hands, but the color is instantly dry so you don't have to worry about smudging or gashing. I usually just do my nails while watching TV on a weekend so it really doesn't change my life around.

I love my Red Carpet now and you can bet that if my phalanges are arted up it's with Red Carpet. I have about 10 different colors now, which doesn't seem like a lot, but remember that they're $10 a pop! I'd recommend it to anyone interested in branching out on their own without signing over your house on a kit.
I will admit, the one thing I hate about the nails is removing the color. I think it takes the longest and I don't like that I have to scrape with an orange stick to remove the color.
 I will leave you with some tips I've learned.

1. Always open that bottle! The color inside is always different than what the bottle shows and if it looks clear it will be sheer no matter how many coats you put on. I made the mistake with a nude once and had to return it because I just wasn't a fan.
2. This is going to sound crazy, but it is something I do. Along with opening the bottle at the store, if I know I'm wanting another RC color I'll look online for swatches before I buy. I've steered away from colors at the store because I already know what they look like on.
2. You can mix colors to make your own, thus saving you money! Layering colors over each other gives very different results and it's like a fun little science experiment to see what you'll get.
3. You don't have to give up on your regular nail polishes. Use Manic Talons tips and tricks for best results!
4. Keeping my nails shorter helped with lifting at the free edge. I've decided I don't like the look of long, painted nails. The 80's called, they want their look back!
5. Buy on sale! If Ulta has a limited addition color rack, you can wait to buy and usually save 50%. This doesn't always work out since the color you love might be sold out unless you stalk Ulta until the sale happens, but I have gotten some colors for a steal. That limited addition I mentioned above, there were only 3 color choices left in the selection and only about 8 bottles in total left, but I got it for $5. I also got a holiday selection called A Touch of Bling where RC mixed a limited color with a normal color. They were regularly $15, but I got it for $7. Two colors for $3.50, I would have been stupid to not walk out with that!
6. I use plain old acetone that you'd buy from a home improvement store to remove the color. This is only because Ulta never has the remover in stock!!! I've also tried acetone nail polish remover and it took forever to get off the color. I'm sure I'm soaking in terribleness from using it and I probably shouldn't recommend it...too late!
7. I haven't figured out how to do this yet, but stay away from water. The water seemed to make the color lift a lot more on my oily nails. I will usually try to paint my nails after a shower and then since I only wash my hair every few days, my morning showers are shorter. The only thing I haven't gotten around is washing my hands after the restroom, before cooking dinner or eating food, etc.. You don't seem to realize how much you wet your hands until you try to avoid it! 

That's all I can think of for now, but I hope I convinced more to branch out on their own. That does hurt your nail tech, so I do apologize to them...I always hated leaving my nail tech, she was my longest lived relationship next to my husband. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

soups and pies

I don't think there is a person on this great planet who doesn't like soup. It's the best comfort food no matter the contents and we've been having our fair share of it in the Voshell household. I've been having a crazy soup craving because of the cold weather and luckily John's not one to complain about dinner.

I love tweaking recipes, it's one of my favorite things. I don't think I follow any recipe to the letter, but I usually still consider it someone else's. It's not until I totally configure it do I consider it mine.

You'll remember this soup from a bit ago, I now consider it mine so go and enjoy it.

This next recipe John has consider one of his favorites now and I just added this and that hoping for the best.

One Pot Potato Hamburger Soup (makes 4 large servings)

1lb. lean hamburger
1 24 oz. Fire Roasted diced tomatoes
3 - 4 cups of water
2 large cloves of garlic
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp basil
2 tsp parsley
salt & pepper
Tabasco sauce
2 large red russet potatoes
2 celery stalks
1 small onion 
1 14 oz cream of chicken soup
3/4 c fresh shredded cheddar cheese (optional) 

In a large pot brown the hamburger with the onion chopped up and the garlic cloves minced. Season with salt and pepper. Add a few dashes of tabasco sauce. Add in the diced tomatoes, water, oregano, basil and parsley.
Chop the potatoes and celery into bite sized chunks and add to pot. Add the can of soup and more water only if needed to thin to soup consistency. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. Test to make sure veggies are tender. Add 1/2 cup of cheese and once melted and stirred in the soup is ready to serve. Garnish with remaining cheese.

I feel like this is a great soup to add anything you have on hand and need to use up veggie wise. I bet carrots and corn would be super yummy in it.

This next soup I can't take any credit for and I actually followed the recipe...for the most part. Lasagna Soup! I think this one is my fav from this list, but I do feel like it needs more liquid to be considered a soup so I added more water to thin it down. I also took her advice and cooked the noodles separate so they didn't get soggy, just coat them in a thin layer of olive oil so they don't stick together while being stored.

If you made this soup then I'm sure you'll have some ricotta cheese left over and you'll need a dessert so here's a pie to consume that cheese! It's another recipe that I hijacked to make my own, it wasn't getting positive reviews so I sweetened it up and it's like a custard.

Ricotta Cheese pie

1/2 - 1 c ricotta cheese (I always use part skim)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c white sugar
1/4 c milk
2 T cornstarch
1 8oz can of sweetened condensed milk (I use fat free)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 9 inch pie crust

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Dissolve cornstarch in milk. Add condensed milk, ricotta cheese, sugar, cinnamon, eggs and vanilla. Mix until well combined and there are no clumps.
Pour into pie crust and bake for an hour or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.