How-To: At Home Gel Manicures

I am a devout gel mani enthusiast and regularly do them at home. People are always asking me where I get my nails done and are surprised to learn that I do them myself. It is SO much easier than you’d think. Those contemplating buying a kit for home, I would highly suggest it. I wanted to share just how easy it is with my step by step tutorial:

(Just a heads up- I use a combination of OPI Axxium and Gelish products. Gel manicures consist of a base coat, nail color, and top coat. Mixing products is not totally taboo)

(My friend Stephanie sent this to me! ^ I died when I saw it, I had to share :))

Okay, so here are my nails at the start. I had experimented with tips the week before so they were looking pretty rough to begin with…

1) Using a buffing cube and nail file- buff and shape your nails until they are smooth on top and have your desired shape/look.

2) There is a clear, liquid solution that is applied to your nails before you begin applying any polish- it helps dry out the nail so the gel will adhere (I apologize, I forgot to photograph it-nothing too exciting lol).

3) Base coat. This is a Gelish Mini Foundation base coat- apply a thin layer to all nails on your first hand without touching the surrounding skin or cuticles.

4) Cure nails in the UV light for about a minute.

*TIP* Don’t touch your nails with anything but the polish brushes throughout the manicure until they are completely done, beacuse they will be tacky each time they come out of the UV light.

5) Paint your first coat of color onto all five nails, again making sure to refrain from touching the edges of your nails or cuticles. I chose to use “Exhale” a Gelish Mini color.

6) Cure under UV lamp for another minute.

7) Apply second coat of color.

8) Cure under UV lamp for another minute.

9) Apply a thin layer of clear gel top coat. I use the OPI Axxium top coat.

10) Cure for 2 minutes.

11) Spray all 5 nails with the nail cleansing solution to help remove any tacky-sticky residue. I use the NAS-99 nail cleanser that comes with the OPI Axxium starter kit.

12) Rub each nail with a cotton ball to remove the solution and tackiness.

13) Repeat steps 1-12 on your second hand.

And there you have it! Your nails are 100% dry, super shiny, and should last for about 2 weeks!

If you have a steady hand and like to do your own manicures, I would highly suggest investing in your own gel manicure system, it is definitely affordable and worth every penny! 🙂

Does anyone else do their own nails at home?

**UPDATE**

I wrote this post last Friday and waited a week to share so I would have an updated picture. Here are my nails this morning… 8 days later 🙂

They are still flawless, but I’m so tempted to paint them a new color! Decisions, decisions 🙂

One of the yummiest desserts I’ve ever tried…

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen me tweet that my office building had a pot luck lunch this afternoon. We love doing this once a month or so. This time around, we tried to all bring something healthy. Unfortunately, the office downstairs didn’t get the memo, and one of the women made the most incredibly, sinful desserts I have ever tasted.

She brought these amazing home made oatmeal/apple cheesecake bites; I asked her for the recipe and she gave me a quick step by step of how she created this masterpiece….

Mix a batch of oatmeal cookie batter

Lay it in the bottom of a baking tray

Mix together 2 packages of Philadelphia Cream Cheese, some cinnamon, and powdered sugar

Lay mixture over oatmeal cookie batter

Thinly slice apples (or pears, peaches…any fruit) and sautee in butter/cinnamon for a few minutes until soft

Lay apple sizes on top of cream cheese

Refrigerate & slice

I totally ignored my effort to eat healthy during the week by having one of these this afternoon, but it was so worth it; and I learned a great new recipe!

Do you have any easy dessert recipes to share?

Do You Have a “Want List”?

So as you know, I’m making a huge effort to spend less money this year, I’m really proud of myself because so far I’ve broken a number of bad spending habits that I had developed. I’ll do a full post on ways to save money in the near future, but today I just wanted to share one of the things I’ve been doing to keep myself and my wallet in check.

Create your want list….

Every time I have the urge to buy something, I add it to my “want list” instead of impulsively purchasing it (which I would have normally done). The best thing about doing this is that it creates some structure for my purchases. While in reality, I could go ahead and buy most of the things on here right now-I don’t need to. I’d rather wait until I needed certain items or until I found a really good sale before buying them.

Some things currently on my want list: a cute new day planner, more gel nail polish colors, a new barrel hairbrush, blue suede pumps, a healthy cookbook, the new iphone, new vanilla candles, and some colorful tights.

It’s smart to wait to buy things that you want; it wont leave you as strapped for cash when unexpected, but important things come up (a spontaneous girls night out, a birthday gift for someone, an oil change, a new bronzer after yours falls and cracks all over the bathroom floor (ugh!)etc.) and it gives you something to look forward to!

You may be surprised to find that sometimes the things you thought you really wanted make their way off of your list…you may change your mind and set your heart on something completely different! It’s definitely helped me resist the urge to impulsively spend.

What’s on your want list?

Quick & Healthy Dinner

I needed to whip up a quick dinner the other night, but wanted something simple and fairly healthy. I pulled ingredients from my fridge and pantry and made a primavera-esque dish that was actually really good!

I gathered as many veggies as I could find- broccoli, carrots, onions, and mushrooms.

I sliced my onion and immediately put it into the frying pan with some olive oil to caramelize. After the onion slices started loosing their shape I added the rest of the veggies, a tad more olive oil and some salt and pepper to season.

Cook until all veggies are soft

While the vegetables were on the stove, I cooked and drain some wheat spaghetti in a separate pot…

Wheat pasta takes just a bit longer to cook.

Once the veggies were done, I mixed them into the pasta and added a bit more olive oil to substitute as a sauce.

Sprinkle with grated parmesan, salt and pepper to taste

That’s it!

The dish was actually pretty filling and I had plenty of leftovers to bring for lunch the next day.

I love to cook, but not so much on weeknights. I’m always looking for simple and healthy dinner recipes- please feel free share your favorites below!

A No-Diet Weekend!

So I’ve been doing a great job (in my opinion) of eating healthy and increasing my exercise the past few weeks. However, one cannot live on fruits, veggies and low carbs alone. I decided that this weekend I would indulge a bit and satisfy some of the major cravings I’d been having.

Friday night I usually come home from work, throw on some sweats, order a stuffed crust pepperoni pizza from Pizza Hut (my weakness), watch a movie and paint my nails. It is honestly the highlight of my week- it’s my time to vegg, relax and unwind. My boyfriend is usually at the studio (he sings in an incredible group- check them out), and my roommate is far more ambitious at maintaining her social life than I am (LOL) so it’s nice me-time 🙂

In my conscious effort to spend less money and eat healthier I decided against ordering a pizza (because I knew I would eventually eat the whole thing) so I made a small personal pizza I had in the back of the freezer- which hit the spot. I helped myself to some other junk foods that I still had in the house, but all in moderation! I was proud of myself for not eating TOO much garbage.

I had been craving nacho cheese for the longest time!

Even though I didn’t completely pig out I still felt SO guilty, so first thing Saturday morning I spent some time exercising (think lots of crunches, squats, and jumping jacks) it was enough to get me feeling good again and ready to continue my weekend of indulging…

My boyfriend and I had to take a trip to the Manchester mall on Saturday afternoon; whenever we’re in that area we can’t help but stop at Texas Roadhouse. We went for lunch and got a baby blossom to share, he ordered potato skins as a meal (I tried to stop him lol) and I got a country fried chicken steak (? I never know what the heck it’s called…but it’s chicken) I got a side salad and a sweet potato as my sides.

The fact that eating all of this food is generally normal for me, was a wake up call. After eating so well, I couldn’t bring myself to completely fill up on garbage. I ended up eating some of the onion, my side salad and sweet potato. I barely touched my chicken- so I packed it up to bring home.

Baby Blossom's are amazing...

That trip was enough to kill my fried food cravings for a while. The late lunch served as an early dinner, so I spend the rest of the evening detoxing with tons of water. Later that night the sweet tooth kicked in, a half a snickers bar and a small cup of ice cream was the perfect treat.

Sunday I spent the day at my parents house, my sister and I made a buffalo chicken dip (we tried to substitute all of the creams and cheeses for low-fat, low-sodium options) of course we didn’t end up following the recipe properly…but it turned out yummy!

And of course my Mom made an amazing dinner…I’m so glad I was able to end the weekend on a healthy note 🙂

Mashed sweet potatoes, gorgonzola salad, roasted chicken with veggies (and the most amazing caramelized onions I’ve ever had!) She had a couple other sides that I wasn’t able to get pictures of, but it was all so delicious and started to get me back on track.

I won’t be eating as much junk this coming weekend, because I do feel like it threw me off track a bit. But I will treat myself here and there. For now, it’s back to a week of healthy eating!

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