My Favorite Winter Nail Colors from OPI

Now that I live somewhere that’s relatively warm most of the time, I find I change my wardrobe less when seasons change. Sure I pull out the boots, the leggings, the long sleeve dressed, but long gone are the heavy down coats and scarves. Well, I do have one scarf, but I haven’t worn it yet. Part of me misses winter, but l don’t miss being freezing cold or running to my car because I might get frostbite.

Instead of changing up my wardrobe dramatically, I change the colors on my nails. This little change gives me the chance to sit back and say, “Ah . . . winter is here indeed.”

Lately I’ve been really into OPI Nail Lacquer. And by “into,” I mean borderline obsessed. I can’t help myself, they just go on so beautifully and last awhile without chipping. Add in their cute and quirky (though kind of annoying) names, and I’m sold. SOLD. All I can say is I hope this doesn’t get out of hand like my Essie obsession a few years back. They’re both great brands, but if Essie is Kate Middleton, OPI is Ginger Spice circa 1997. Looooooove.

OPI Holiday Nail Polish | Courtney Mirenzi

Onto my current favorites! I finally bought Lincoln Park After Dark after years of pining for it. A few weeks ago while at Target, I found myself standing in front of the OPI section and thought, “Fine, I’ll just buy it already!” No regrets whatsoever. This black polish has unique undertones of red and purple. It’s literally unlike any color I’ve ever seen. Since it’s part of the permanent collection, you shouldn’t have much trouble finding it except if it’s sold out because it’s everyone’s favorite black. It goes on opaque and needs about two coats to make it look good.

Care to Danse is a very sheer lilac color that comes off nude on my nails. It’s my go-to polish for when I want to take a break from wearing the darker colors I typically favor in the winter. This color is part of the New York Ballet Soft Shades Collection, which is limited edition so you may not find it everywhere. It’s fairly sheer and needs an application of two or three coats.

Viking in a Vinter Vonderland is your classic so-dark-it-might-be-black-but-it’s-purple color. Not sure if that’s actually a classic color, but hey, it is to me. This shade is part of the limited edition Nordic Collection, which also features many beautiful shades. It takes two coats to completely opaque.

The final shade is Got the Blues for Red, which is, you guessed it, a traditional red polish with blue undertones. The winter is just about the only time of year that I actually wear red polish. The rest of the year, I’m like, “Oh . . . red.” To me there’s just something about the cold weather that makes it fitting. This one takes two or three coats to opaque.

(Originally posted to Reposted here because I’m sure a lot of people didn’t see it. At least according to analytics.)

Let’s Start Again

I don’t know where to start with this post. Since shutting down this blog in September, I struggled to find a way to replace the void the closure left in my life. Frankly, I found it impossible, which is why I’m back.

I spent four years posting here, in the good times and the bad and when it was gone, I struggled with moving away from seeing myself as a blogger. Prior to this blog, I had a LiveJournal. I’ve been writing online since I was 13, that’s fifteen years. Not doing it felt weird. Starting over felt weird.

A lot of people might think, “Goddammit, girl, make up your mind!” And that’s fine, but guess what? There’s no rules to blogging. No one can tell anyone what to do or what not to do. Sometimes things just need to metaphorically be burnt to the ground to rise again.

The reason I decided to come back to Those Graces was one I considered for more than a month. I tried to write on my portfolio site. I also channeled a lot of energy into my Overdressed Me, my eBay shop. Last month was my most successful month since starting it in August. I also accidentally got obsessed with Reddit. Nothing filled the void I felt.

I thought about starting other blogs, but invariably found myself wanting to come back here. It just felt like home. Oh god, that sounds so cheesy. BUT it’s true.

So, I’m back in 2015. What does that hold for Those Graces? Well. A lot has changed in the past four years. I’m a very different person than who I was when I started this blog, and that’s OK. I mostly want to use this as a space to share about the random things I’m interested in. Some of this site will be a bit wonky until I can rebuild some of the pages, which I accidentally deleted. Woops.

Stay tuned!

Almay One Coat Mascara: My Holy Grail Drugstore Mascara

Almay One Coat Masacara |

I’ve done it! After trying about 20 drugstore mascaras, I’ve finally found one that works for me. Hallelujah! I’ve been using the Almay One Coat Lengthening Mascara for the past two months, and I can safely say that this is my new holy grail drugstore mascara. And, of course, I wanted to share my new discovery.

Why I don’t wear high-end mascara

Before I dive into my review, let’s talk about high-end or department store brand mascaras. I typically don’t wear them. I’ve tried samples, but other than that, I have no interest. And here’s why: No matter how nice Chanel or Tom Ford mascara might be, I’m just going to throw it away in three months. That’s what you have to do to prevent bacteria from developing in your mascara. Why would I spent $20 or $30 on something I’m just going to toss out?

Friends have pointed out that I could just wear high-end mascara for special occasions, but it will eventually dry out and my money will also be wasted. And that’s exactly why I stick to drugstore mascara, which only sets me back $6-$12 per tube.

Ok, onto Almay’s One Coat Lengthening Mascara

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about the Almay mascara. I bought because it was on sale and I paid about $6. I had pretty low expectations since nothing by Almay has ever wowed me. I’ve tried products from Almay over the years, and they’ve all been, “Meh.”

When I took this mascara home, I immediately fell in love. Almost all of my previous drugstore mascaras flaked or smudged within an hour or two. The worst culprit of flaking was CoverGirl LashBlast, which is a shame because I really love the brush on this mascara. But I digress.

The Almay One Coat Mascara stays put all day. It doesn’t flake and only smudges when it’s really hot out or when I accidentally leave it on when working out. (Bad, Courtney!) And I didn’t even have to choose the waterproof formula to get all those benefits! I’ve also been using the same tube of mascara for about 2 1/2 months and it has yet to show any signs of drying up. I’ve never had clumpy lashes either. Swoon, swoon, swoon!

The only negative thing I could potentially say about this product is that the name is bit of a misnomer. Realistically, you will need more than one coat. If you’re going for a very natural look, you might prefer only one coat, but to get nice and lengthened lashes, I definitely needed about three coats.

The Almay One Coat Lengthening Mascara retails at Ulta for $8.49. It also comes in four other formulations.

Help Jillian Raise Money for Past is Present Designs

My Little Sis |

Two years ago, I wrote about my sister Jillian launching her business, Past is Present Designs on Etsy. She’s since expanded to a second Etsy shop, where she sells hand designed mugs. She’s also quickly becoming a cosplay superstar. To be honest, I don’t really know what it takes to become a cosplay superstar, but I think when people are photoshopping your images to make you look like a badass superhero, that that’s probably what it is. I don’t know, I grew up playing the Sims and all I know is that my little sister is really cool. And she’s raising money to expand her business!

Here’s a little bit from her Indiegogo campaign:

I pour months of hard work into my cosplays and have gotten a good amount of social media attention, including some from the creator of one of the characters. While this is helpful, it’s a little slow moving. I would like to build my reputation as a costumer and network with other cosplayers/artisans/companies, which will lead me to be able to offer more custom costumes in my Etsy shop and take on more commissions. The best way I see going about this is to get more exposure by going to more well-known conventions. Nothing like a little bit of guerrilla marketing to light the fire! (more)

My Sister Super Hero |

Turns out expanding in the cosplay arena is quite expensive. I had no clue how costly Comic-Cons are until recently. Events can cost hundreds of dollars. Like most people in my family, Jillian is a self-made person and when she’s not working on her business, she’s teaching as a costume director at a high school. Needless to say, it’s easy to see how growing a business can be difficult. But that doesn’t mean it is impossible.

My Sister Super Hero |

There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for my sisters, which is why I’m sharing this campaign with you all. You can contribute anywhere from $1 to $200. There’s about a week left for Jillian to reach her goals. I know it would mean the world to her if she could get as close to $1,000 as possible. You can also share this post and her campaign as a way to help out.

You can also like Jillian’s business on Facebook, follow her on Tumblr and Twitter. You can also read this interview on the Word of the Nerd. And of course, you can contribute here

Update 9/12/2014
Jillian has reached $709 and let me know she had someone anonymous donate after reading this post (!!!). Thank you so very much for supporting my sister! I know it means to world to her. And to me, too.

How Not to Go Crazy Redesigning Your Blog

If you get in any group of bloggers together and bring up the topic of layouts and design, chances are you’ll hear a chorus of groans followed by, “I hate changing my blog’s layout!”  As a result, many keep their blog the same for years or pay someone else to design it. That doesn’t have to be the case! I wanted to share a few tips and tricks I’ve learned over the past 10+ years of creating websites and tinkering with blogs.  It doesn’t have to be a frustrating process, I promise!

Tip 1: Don’t Practice on Your Live Site

Whether your based on Blogspot, WordPress or Tumblr (or some other service), don’t practice on your blog. If you’re just learning, setup a test blog on your platform and play around with possible layouts there. You’ll want to have a place where you can flex your muscles and learn the ropes. Once you’re confident in your skills,  then work on your blog.

Tip 2: Estimate How Much Time You’ll Need

Once you have a grasp of the basics, estimate how much time you’ll need to make the changes. Do you want to make easy edits like the color of your links or are you looking to overhaul your whole layout? The former is a quick fix but the latter can take days. Don’t embark on your edits without having an idea of how long it will take. Once you have that figured out, set aside that time whether it’s after work or on the weekend.

Tip 3: Shut Your Website Down or Use a Remote Site When Editing

This is especially important if you have a fair amount of visitors who might get confused when they see changes happening live. Plus, you want to be able to unveil your site once you’ve put the finishing touches on the design. For those on Blogspot, this might mean making a practice blog and then copying the code or temporarily making your blog password only. On WordPress, I recommend setting up a sandbox site on your local machine where you can see your edits. Here’s a good tutorial on how to do that.

Tip 4: Know When to Go to Bed

The worst thing is feeling cranky and miserable after working on your blog. Web design can be a fun and invigorating experience and the last thing you want to do is drive yourself crazy. If you hit the wall in your web design, walk away from the computer and finish it tomorrow.

Tip 5: Have Fun and Keep an Open Mind

There’s no reason to feel dread when it comes to web design! The way I look at it is every layout I work on is a learning experience. Not only do I come away with new knowledge every time, but I can usually edit faster next time around. Remember everyone is always learning when it comes to design. After all no one was born knowing HTML and CSS. It’s a learning experience that can be incredibly empowering. There’s nothing better than answering, “Me!” when someone asks you who designed your site.

If you have any questions, please let me know! I just redsigned my site after not doing a major overhaul for about seven months and I wanted to share what I learned (again) from the experience. Let me know what you think of my new design!