Thursday, December 11, 2014

Gift Guide: Charitable Donations

This holiday season, some of you may have the desire to extend your giving past your circle of friends and relatives. With that in mind, I thought it pertinent to remind my readers that there are many reputable charities you could donate to this holiday season. And remember, if there's someone in your life who isn't into gift-getting, making a donation in their name is always a nice option.

Whether you choose to give to a humanitarian organization, animal welfare group, medical research institute, or any other non-profit, it's important to do your research and make sure that your dollars will provide the greatest possible benefit. It can be overwhelming, as many organizations have overlapping goals, so start with a cause near and dear to your heart, perhaps. In addition to national organizations, I'm sure many local charities in your area do beneficial work for the community, so check into that, too! If monetary donations aren't your thing, perhaps look into donating some clothes or food.

Many donations to charitable organizations are tax-deductible, so don't forget to keep track of your giving this holiday season. If you'd like to get started on your research, here are a few links to the websites of non-profits accepting donations:

I hope you're all enjoying this holiday season. There are plenty of ways to make sure everyone else enjoys it, too!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Gift Guide: Holiday Gift Sets

Holiday Gift Sets

Hello again, friends! Is there someone in your life you feel like needs something a little extra special this holiday season? Or you just really, really like them? Or you have a lot of disposable income? Well, here are some nice sets for this holiday season!

Jo Malone Travel Candle Collection $110 at Jo Malone As someone who loves home fragrance, and candles in particular, I think this set from Jo Malone is just the bee's knees. It contains travel candles in Pomegranate Noir, Pine & Eucalyptus, and Incense & Embers. Jo Malone's scents tend to fill the air in a way that makes an impression on the room without being cloying or overwhelming at all. Certainly on the pricey side, but sometimes it's nice to throw some luxury into someone's life.

Sephora Favorites Perfume Sampler $60 at Sephora Everyone has a friend who's looking for a signature scent. Is this friend one of your best? Then get her this set of perfume samples. It contains fourteen of the most popular fragrances Sephora carries, plus a voucher for a full size of one of the perfumes. Since perfume is one of those things you simply must try before you buy, this set provides the whole nine yards for a friend in need.

The Art of Shaving Kit - Sandalwood $120 at department stores Do you know a fancy man? Are you yourself a fancy man? If yes to either of the former, do you shave? If so, snag this kit, comprised of a pre-shave oil, shaving cream, and an aftershave balm, all with a luxe sandalwood scent, plus a shaving brush. The men deserve a bit of a pamper, too.

Le Creuset Cherry Mini Cocottes $75 at Sur La Table We all know someone who adores their time in the kitchen and cooking delicious meals for others. Make that person's job just that much easier with this assuredly awesome little combination cookware-serveware pieces from Le Creuset. The cherry color makes this set of three perfectly cheery. I guarantee they'll light up the home cook in your life like an ornament.

Spode Christmas Tree Candy Cane Handle Mugs $48 at Bed, Bath and Beyond What to give the host of all the Christmas festivities? In my family, we go with Spode Christmas serveware, and these mugs are totally adorable. Just imagine how perfect they'd be with some marshmallows floating on top of a piping hot chocolate! Anyone (who celebrates Christmas) would be glad to have them.

So there you go! Hope this gets you brainstorming, and I'll pop in with another addition soon :)

Monday, December 8, 2014

Gift Guide: Beauty Stocking Stuffers

Beauty Stocking Stuffers for Holiday 2014

Hey everyone! After taking a week off from my iPad, my migraines have definitely gotten less severe, so I'm feeling much better today than the last time I wrote. I also turned 26 on the 2nd! I am not at all sure where the last three years of my life went, but I finally cleaned my room yesterday, so I've accomplished something.  ANYWAY, this week, I thought I would take a break from my normally scheduled NOTHINGbecauseI'mtheworstbloggerever and bring you some gift guides! These are all gonna be pretty reasonably priced, since I'm barely an adult with money and most of the gift guides in the magazines are geared toward functional adults with high credit limits.  Onward and upward!

Bioré Self-Heating One Minute Mask $6.99 at drugstores Who doesn't like a little pamper at the holidays? If you're anything like me, you've been hitting the makeup game pretty hard for the holiday season, so getting a little extra cleaning in can't hurt!

Color Me Essie Mini Polish Set Walgreens I'm sorry I don't remember how much this costs, and it doesn't appear to be for sale online anywhere, but I remember it seeming really reasonable for such lovely colors from the range. It's got four classic Essie colors, plus a glitter topper from their Luxe Effects collection.

Revlon Colorburst Lacquer Balm $9.49 at drugstores A quick pop of color for the lips that feels absolutely lovely while you're wearing it, plus it's that fun twist-up crayon thing that pretty much every brand is doing these days. I think it'd look nice and cheery peeking up over the top of a stocking.

Sephora Sheet Masks $6 at Sephora I haven't tried these, but they just look like fun! Again, a pamper is always necessary around the holidays, and during the winter in general, and these single use sheet masks make it awfully easy. I almost bought one not too long ago, but I had just had an MRI that left me feeling claustrophobic and the thought of putting something over my face made me feel a bit panicky :/

L'Oreal Paris Infallible Silkissime Eyeliner $8.99 at drugstores Smooth application plus a wide range of colors make these eyeliners perfect for some makeup fun this winter. Check out the full range in drugstores and pick one for a friend that you think will compliment her eye color perfectly.

L'Oreal Miss Manga Voluminous Mascara $7.99 at drugstores This has been my favorite mascara release of the year for the long, fanned out lash look it gives. I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a bit of a dramatic eye!

Real Techniques Duo Fiber Collection $19.99 at Ulta and Kohl's Real Techniques brushes have been an excellent addition to my makeup tool collection. Created by Sam and Nic Chapman of Pixiwoo on YouTube, they're so reasonably priced, they wash beautifully, and they're all synthetic for those who prefer to avoid animal hair brushes. This collection features duo fibers, so they're great for the friend who's just getting into makeup application or suffers from a bit of a heavy hand with the blush.

I hope this gives you all a few ideas for your holiday shopping. The drugstore is a great place in general for little gifts all year round, and most brands have stepped up the quality of their offerings a lot in the last two years. Happy holidays!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thanksgiving: Brought to You by A Beautiful Mess

If you read my blog, you DEFINITELY already read A Beautiful Mess. C'mon, we can all admit that those ladies are running one of the finest lifestyle reads the wide internet has to offer. However, if on the off chance you haven't checked it out, I wanted to share a few of my favorite posts from their lead up to Thanksgiving. As much as I love the site the rest of the year, their game is particularly strong in the late fall and winter months. Obviously, this Thursday is a lot about eating, so that's what I'm going to focus on. Without further ado...

Prosecco and Cranberry Mimosa

Let's not pretend this doesn't look like the perfect Thanksgiving aperitif. My dearest wish is to consume this as soon as possible, isn't yours?

Roasted Grape and Honey Goat Cheese Crostini

Things I love include fruit, bread, and cheese. I guess there's a few others, but none so masterfully addressed in this appetizer. Have I ever mentioned that appetizers are one of my favorite things? It's because I like eating as many different things during the course of a meal as possible. Ipso facto, tapas is my jam. I digress.

Pie Crust Cookies

DOES THAT NOT LOOK PERFECTLY DELICIOUS? Go, get thee to the site, and be happy.

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope everyone has something for which to be thankful this year.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Just Another Mani Monday #4

Hey, hey, hey, how are you doing? I'm doing pretty medium myself. Been having some mighty awful migraines lately, which sure doesn't make me feel like staring at a computer screen to write posts. You know, though, that I've always got my nails all lacquered up. Look good, feel good, right?

I'm trying, anyway.

Julep Winnie came in the Fa La La Trio from Julep for Holiday 2015. Since I love the shit out of Christmas and shiny things, this set begged me to get it. Seriously, it would have been wrong to leave it. So I got it. Winnie is described on the site as a "rose gold metallic" and I think that pretty much hits the nail on the head. Application was totally cool, good opacity in two coats. The only reason my pointer finger looks janky is because It's gonna be great as an accessory for the holiday season, and even better than a piece of jewelry since it's much harder to lose your nails than you bling when you've had a bit too much champagne (not impossible, though, I would say). On that note, enjoy your Monday.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Totally Missed Mani Monday

Frankly, this will probably have to be it's own series, I can never seem to get my shit together over the weekend. Honestly, though, I was in New Jersey all last week working, so I had to focus on things like commuting and helping my mom pick Christmas decorations. 

Sorry I'm not sorry that I'm not sorry.

Julep Fazia is the only color I was excited about for the Novemver Maven box, so I went ahead and got a core collection box and just added this sucker on. I'm glad I did, although I expected it too be more red and less brown than it turned out. Still, I think it's a really lovely fall color, just a hint of shimmer, and it generally agrees with my color palette for the season. It actually reminds me of one of my favorite fall/winter colors from a few years ago, Essie Sassy Satchel, but with more red and a significantly better formula.

So that's that. Here's a picture of a puppy I saw yesterday.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Original Lush Bath Bomb

I get stressed out. Do you get stressed out? Of course you do, you're a human. Unless you're also a psychopath, in which case you probably don't get stressed out. Good for you. Just try to remember that you can be a psychopath and still not break any laws. Not that you care.

That got weird.

Back to those of us who get stressed out. Do you like baths? I used to think I hated baths, but then I learned that when you're an adult, you can draw the bath as hot as you want and tell everyone to leave you the fuck alone until you unwind from whatever fresh hell you've just experienced. And then you can take a shower afterwards to get actual clean.

Great, so now that we've gotten rid of the psychopaths and people who don't like baths/have a bathtub, I'm gonna tell you a secret that most of you already know so it's not actually a secret:

LUSH bath bombs are the shit.

I'm specifically thinking of the first one they created, Blackberry, which allegedly smells of blackberry, bergamot oil, and frankincense. As far as I'm concerned, it actually smells like a double bird to the haters and feels like GD silk sheets, not to mention it turns your bath purple. This isn't a sponsored post, but I'm gonna go ahead and tell you to just spend the $6.35 plus tax and give yourself a bath time treat once a month. If it makes you half as happy as it makes me, it'll be totally worth it.

N.B. Goes great with a nice cold glass of wine.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Just Another Mani Monday #3

Please excuse the terrible, terrible quality of this photo, but sometimes ye olde iPhone 4s just really hates the shit out of me. How long until my next upgrade? Sigh. Someday I'll be able to invest in a real camera.

Revlon Nail Enamel in Confident (Limited Edition for Fall/Winter 2014) It took so long for this to show up in the stores near me that I totally forgot about this collection, no joke. It's the Boho Chic Collection by Gucci Westman for Revlon. Whenever I hear the name Gucci, naturally I first think of Gucci Mane, but they are obviously very different people. But back to the matter at hand, I decided to go with this instead of the LE purple shade because I'm gearing up to go as Morticia for Halloween. I know now that this was a mistake and I should have just gotten both #REGRET. Anyway, this picture doesn't do justice to HOW AWESOME THIS COLOR IS. It's a red jelly base with red hex glitter in the exact same shade and it makes your nails look like the ruby slippers and I am in love. I'm gonna wear the shit out of this for Christmas, you better believe it.

Gonna have to go back for that purple, though.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Just Another Mani Monday #2

OPIxPeanuts Good Grief! As nice a yellow polish as I've ever seen, not to mention I'm a big fan of Charlie Brown and the whole gang. I picked this up in the miniatures collection they produced, but I'd love to pick up a full size of this truly enjoyable yellow. I used three coats, which is a bit much, but as far as yellow polish goes, I found this to be the easiest apply of any I've tried in recent memory. Now if only I could figure out where this is on sale! Good Grief!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Winter is Coming

It's getting cold here. I'll admit that I'm a fall girl, but I'll also admit that my style devolves with every degree below 40. In an effort to keep it up as long as possible, here are some slammin' fall options, for however much longer fall decides to last. People still say slammin', right? If not, then I choose lustable. I know that's not a word.
Winter is Coming

Winter is Coming by strandedinchi featuring leather boots

Feel free to click on my little username there if you want to follow me on Polyvore! I find it very diverting.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Just Another Mani Monday

Hey hey hey everyone.  I have had a really crazy few months, if I'm being perfectly honest. But I'm starting to pull myself back together, and I have a lot of little bits and bobs I've collected over the past few months to share with you! To start off, I'm going to be featuring a recent manicure every Monday. If I don't do a regular post, I'll never get through my whole collection, and if I can't do that, I probably shouldn't be adding to it :/ Here we go!

Top: Julep Avni, Sinful Colors Cauldron Couture Cauldron strikes me as an odd word. Yeah. But I'm digging this green and black irregular glitter topper over Julep's Northwestern purple with a slight pink duochrome. Go 'Cats. No, I do not want to talk about this weekend's game.

Middle: Kiss Nail Dress 62179/HKDS14 Great name, right? Seriously, though, I could never do this to my own nails and for $2, I don't feel bad only wearing these for two days crap out on me. Perfect for this month! Snagged mine at Walgreens about a week ago, but I haven't seen them in any other Walgreens, so if you see 'em, get 'em. They're real fun.

Bottom: OPI WHO ARE YOU CALLING BOSSY?!?, random glitter from Michael's So that's  name I can totally get behind. The black is from the OPIxPeanuts collection for Halloween, and it's a good solid black. I was having a hard time finding the exact right Halloween colored glitter, so obviously I just went and bought a bunch of glitter. Obviously.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Where the Hell Did August Go?

Konichiwa, bitches.

I just felt like saying that. Big apologies for my absence, my parents and little sister visited the first weekend of August to see my show, then I finished up at one job the next week, and started another the week after that. Here we are a week later, and I am rather unpleasantly ill. Curse my affinity for working in childcare. Those babies are just so stinkin' cute!

I was wondering, though, if you, beloved readers, might have any suggestions as to what you'd like to see here on Stranded in Chicago as we move inexorably toward fall? Any thoughts you have would be greatly appreciated, and I'll compose some posts based on whatever y'all's awesome ideas might be. In the meantime, I'll try to be better about posting, but I tell ya, the sick does tend to get you down.

Peace, love, and Thursday.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Albeit Nourishing Rose Lip Balm

I will probably never buy By Terry Baume de Rose, if I'm being perfectly honest with myself. I love the idea of it, but the reality is that I can easily become overpowered by rose scents and if I have that much money to spend, I'm gonna go for something a little more fun.

That being said, I am always looking for something soothing for my poor, chapped lips, so when I stumbled upon Albeit's Nourishing Rose Lip Balm in Anthropologie, I decided to give it a whirl.

I don't regret it one bit. In case you're not familiar, Albeit is Anthro's in-house cosmetics line. I quite like their nail polish and matte lipstick offerings, so I don't suppose it's any surprise this is a hit with me, as well. The balm has an almost gel-like texture that leaves a lovely shine on the lips and lasts a good couple of hours on me. The very subtle rose scent dissipates quickly, which is a plus for me, and I've definitely noticed my lips looking healthier lately.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

We're All Supposed to Be Wearing Kimonos

Or, at least, that's what it seems like this year, right? Not that I have a problem with it. As a proponent of the maxi dress (looks fancy, feels like you're wearing a blanket in public), obviously I can get behind the idea of the kimono. Loose fitting summer wear with cool patterns that are secretly just glorified bathrobes? Yes, please.

Now, what is generally being referred to as a "kimono" in the fashion world is not, in the strictest sense (or any sense, really), a kimono. That moniker belongs to a specific garment originating from Japan. That's all I'm going to say about that, because this is not a history blog. (This is a history blog.)

At any rate, I've been perusing the internetz, and I found some of these trendy garments that would make an interesting addition to a late summer outfit. I say go full-on print crazy! Go big or go home, amiright? What thinks you?

Summer Kimonos

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Orly Neon Heat

Wearing loud as hell nail colors probably ranks as my favorite thing about summer. My all-time favorite, Essie Punchy Pink, having finally bitten the dust and proving GD impossible to get a hold of, I'm always looking for another neon pink to add to my collection.

Here we have Orly Neon Heat. Orly has some strong contenders in the neon department, and I am loving their redesigned bottles. When I spotted this sucker on sale at Sally Beauty Supply, I knew I had to give it a go.

This is a nearly neon magenta pink creme with great opacity that dries down to a satin finish. Application was a breeze, it was nearly opaque in one coat, though I did two for good measure. This may sound odd, but as soon as it hit the nail, I knew it wasn't going to be quite what I was looking for. The telltale problem of a true neon is that the formulas tend to be streaky mofos that are near impossible to level out and dry down to a totally matte finish. It came out much darker than I expected it to, and though I do like it for its own sake, it won't fill Punchy Pink's place in my heart.

I can't call it a failure, that's for sure. This is a really excellent summer pink. If this is the kind pink you've been looking for, look no further, it's pretty awesome. You can usually find Orly on sale at any of its typical locations, if not, just give it a week and check back. And Punchy Pink? I know you're out there, I'll find you, baby.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Numbers 29, 33, and 34: The Maddaddam Trilogy by Margaret Atwood

One, Two, Three
I have read A LOT of Margaret Atwood's work, starting (of course) with The Handmaid's Tale as some of my required reading in high school. Still, I resisted reading her 2003 novel Oryx and Crake for the past eleven years. One of the things I like best about her writing is how beautifully she narrates from a female character's perspective. Oryx and Crake was her first novel written from the viewpoint of a male character and, without knowing anything else about the book, I avoided it.

I know now that this was wrong of me.

Oryx and Crake is awesome. Atwood limits the reader not only to the main character's knowledge, but to his stream of consciousness. She reveals the background of this world through his fragmented mind, a mind tortured by both his past and his present. I don't want to give anything away, so all I'll say is I'll be damned, if this isn't one of the finest stories I've read in the past decade. Just fucking read it.

The Year of the Flood makes a powerful case for itself as the strongest book of this trio. Rather than a true sequel in the sense that most people have of the word, the events run concurrently with those in the previous book. Here, Atwood splits the narrative duties between two women whose connection becomes clearer as the reader moves through the tale. The prose, as always, rings with clarity and precision as it fills gaps in knowledge from the previous book, giving a lush impression of a world gone horribly awry and yet, somehow, still full of hope. You don't have to read Oryx and Crake to understand what's happening in this book, such a rarity in most trilogies, and it stands on its own as another excellent addition to Atwood's canon.

In Maddaddam, however, some important nuances and connections might go unnoticed had the previous two novels gone unread. It serves the purpose of joining the first two and forming a cohesive whole. While not quite as stylistically and emotionally captivating as Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood, it provides a welcome sense of closure to the world created in those novels. Though sad to see it end, I did not feel unsatisfied in any way other than my typical sadness at having reached the end of a great story.

Honestly, I think if you start this trilogy at any point, you won't want to leave it behind until you've read all it has to say. Of all the books I've read so far this year, none has been so fascinating or touching as these three (and I have already re-read a book this year that makes me cry EVERY SINGLE TIME). I suggest you get your ass on over to the library, or if you're not feeling patient, buy 'em up. These are worth adding to any collection.

N.B. Do yourself a favor and don't read any little breakdowns or copy for these. Discovering what's between the covers is part of the magic.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Getting Into DIY (I Hope)

You know, I was talking to my mother, who is in the midst of decorating her new house, and we were discussing curtains for the master bedroom. Having decided not to spend a fortune on something in a room hardly anyone would see (and window treatments do tend to run up the bottom line quite a lot!), she admitted that she's just going to have someone else hem the less expensive panels she's chosen. This inspired me to reveal a truth about my family.

"Mom, we're just not crafty people. We just aren't."

And that's okay. As a creative person, it's long bothered me that I get sucked into projects and then find I lack meaningful follow through and the ability to plan in a way that prevents me from making mistakes, but I've mostly made my peace with it.


We are people who love a good deal. And pretty things. And DIY is a great way to get both those things in one fell swoop. With that in mind, I've been bookmarking some clothing DIYs that I'd like to complete before the end of the year. You know, nothing with a sewing machine, since I don't have one (and have entirely forgotten how to use one anyway), just little projects to give a stab. I love personal little touches, and I think it'll be a fun way to end up with something unique.

On my list:

A Beautiful Mess - Bleach Painting on Textiles D.I.Y.

I really like the idea of being able to pick up a simple, cheap shirt, and turning it into something whimsical. Since it doesn't have to be precise, I think it'll suit me nicely.

I love A Beautiful Mess, for the record. Just an all-around wonderful lifestyle blog with some really lovely photography. As the fall approaches, I like to use lightweight scarves to accessorize my outfits since the weather can be a little changeable, and you never know when you're gonna get a warm or cold burst of air. I'm secretly in love with the starts, so this idea appeals to me greatly. A little more time intensive, we'll see if I have the wherewithal for it.

I will never stop loving glitter, it seems. I think I'd like to do this on a cardigan, and I'll definitely be going the thrift shop route to find that. On an oversized men's cardigan, like grandpa-style, the glittery goodness will have a delightful contrast of mood. Like the rest of Chicago, I'm all about layering once we start the slide back into the colder months, and I certainly won't regret adding a sweater to that collection.

So I think that's a manageable list to accomplish in the next few months, and not too difficult of one. I'm also toying with the idea of knitting a large gauge blanket, but that may be more of a financial and time investment than I feel like making at the moment.

Are there any projects you're considering? Do share, I love collecting ideas!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Drugstore Favorites

I love makeup, as if that weren't already abundantly clear. In the past two years, I have truly come to embrace it all, from high to low. In that spirit, I thought I'd share some of my favorite items from the drugstore.

L'Oreal Voluminous Miss Manga Mascara first appeared on my radar after it's UK release. The volume I saw from this product instantly captivated me. My lashes, generally speaking, are quite full and long, so if I'm going to wear mascara, it had better make it look like I'm wearing fakes there's so much volume. This hits the nail right on the head. It's a really wet formula, which I love, though after it's been open a couple of months and dries out a bit it can be easier to layer. Since I'm usually a one-and-done girl when it comes to mascara, I prefer it brand spanking new, but I still love love love it. You're looking at my next tube of it up there, as I've used it so much in the past three months that I'm almost out. Unheard of for me!

L'Oreal Lineur Intense Eyeliner in Black Mica is the best liquid eyeliner I've ever used. I've had this since longer than you're supposed to use eyeliner for and it's still not done! A totally awesome amount of product. The felt tip is super easy to work with, and I love that the formula dries down so quickly. This is the first liner I've tried that let's me do a true, clean cat-eye. The color is also pretty damn perfect, as black as I could ask for from the drugstore and dries down to a nearly-matte finish.

Milani Baked Powder Blush in 05 Luminoso is a cult favorite. I know everyone talks about this shade, but it really blows most other blushes out of the water. It has a beautiful, buildable texture with just a slight hint of shimmer in a peachy pink that instantly brightens up my face. On the occasions when I've stopped sweating long enough to actually wear makeup this summer, I reach for this over all others.

Maybelline Color Tattoo in 25 Bad to the Bronze fills that essential nook in my collection when I just want to sweep on some eyeshadow and take off (and when I say "want," I mean when I have slept so late that I barely have time to do that, let alone a full face). It's a true bronze that you can just blend out with your finger to give the illusion of carefully done eye makeup, and it lasts all damn day. I. Love. It.

NYX Butter Gloss in 05 Crème Brûlée and 07 Tiramisu take turns on my lips, with the former taking the warmer months and the slightly darker latter shade owning the cooler climes of winter. They just have the most lovely texture, and a pleasant vanilla scent that avoids being cloying in any way. I always have one of the two of these in my bag for the moments when I need some natural-looking oomph.

It's Been A While! and July 2014 Julep Maven Box

I'm sure you know that I've been absent since 'round about the time of my little sister's graduation.  It's been absolute madness for me in the last six weeks as I've been rehearsing a show! We just opened on July 6th, it's an adaptation of Alice in Wonderland during which we travel throughout Lincoln Park here in Chicago. For more information on the show (which is free, btdubs!), visit Nothing Without a Company. </end plug>

On to the beauty bits!

I haven't taken a Julep Maven Box in aaaaaaaaages. Probably not since December or January. I just hadn't been too intrigued by the offerings, and the formulas can be so hit or miss, and I figured that I could use the $20 on something more useful, like food. #realtalk But I had enough Maven Jules (their fancy term for points), so I figured I'd check out July's offerings. I selected the It Girl Box from July's The Poolside Collection, and added on a glittery America-tastic topcoat. 'Tis the season, ya feel?

The box included the colors Dawn, a "citron creme," Linden, a "pool blue creme," and Braiden, described as "graphite stardust," which is Julep's textured glittery finish a lá OPI's Liquid Sand and Zoya's PixieDust.  It also had some Tootsie Rolls in American flag wrappers, but I ate them before I took pictures. Duh. So far I've only had the chance to give Dawn and Linden a try, here are some of my thoughts.

Dawn is as true a yellow as I've seen yet among polish offerings. This leaves me a little disappointed, as I was kind of hoping it would lean a bit to the green side of the spectrum, but I don't mean it as an actual criticism. Application was a bit annoying, streaky and a little gloopy on the first coat, but things leveled out with the second coat into a wholly opaque finish. Above is two coats with a topcoat. Wear was good, but not exceptional, lasting two days on me without chipping (that's normal for me though, I'm doing a very physical show and my hands get banged around quite a bit).

Linden is a dusty true blue that's fully opaque in one coat.  I did two for good measure, and there was no staining with a base coat, so that was nice. I don't know what kind of cracked out pools Julep checked out when it decided to name this, but "pool blue" it is not.  Wear was good, not great, again two days without chipping. Liked it, didn't love it, but the good opacity will make it a nice addition for nail art, I think.

Overall, a good batch, I think. I'll report back on the other two, when I get around to it, but with the 4th having already come and gone, not sure when I'll get around to that glitter topper (thanks UPS, for pretending my house doesn't exist). If you feel moved to become a Julep Maven, you can use my referral link HERE.

Hope you all enjoyed!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Local Spotlight: RedAva Designs

This past weekend was the Square Roots Festival in Lincoln Square. I didn't have too terribly much time to see everything, but while I was wandering about, I came across some really beautiful handmade jewelry by RedAva Designs. This Chicago based jewelry company has some of the niftiest pieces I've seen recently. The clean lines of the designs were perfectly balanced by the interest of the materials, and I really found almost every piece captivating in some way. Click through the links below to check out a few of my favorites!

One, Two, Three

I just find the pieces utterly charming, and they could be dressed up or down depending upon the occasion, and isn't that the best kind of jewelry? We here at Stranded in Chicago are all about versatility. And nail polish. As if that isn't clear enough. I DIGRESS.

But seriously, I'm super pleased to have discovered these lovely little accessories, and I can't wait to add some to my collection.

*This is not a sponsored post. I just really like this stuff. Kthxbye.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Giveaway Winner!

I hope you all are looking forward to the weekend as much as I am! I just wanted to pop in quickly to announce the winner of my first ever giveaway so, without further ado, the winner is...

Kelsey (no last initial provided)

Please get in touch with me at in the next 24 hours so I can get your lovely prize to you.

Thank you so much to everyone who entered, I hope you enjoyed it, and hopefully there will be more in the future. Have a great weekend!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Summer Weekend in Chicago

Summer Weekend in Chicago

Strap flat

Accessorize vegan bag

Hinged bangle

Quay acetate sunglasses

Nail polish
$4.18 -

Hey y'all! After this burning hot weekend in Chicago, I got to thinking about ways to stay cool and stylish. Nothing like fooling around on Polyvore to brighten up your day! I've been loving pastels lately, which are words I absolutely never thought I would say. What are you digging for the upcoming summer months?

Friday, May 30, 2014

Essie Spring 2014: Fashion Playground + Baby's First Giveaway!

Sometimes you write an entire blog post and then accidentally delete it.

Anyway, one of the things I love most about Essie's spring collection every year is how well many of the shades transition into early summer.  It just helps keep your nails looking fresh and appropriate whether it's 80 degrees and sunny in March or 45 and raining in May. Such is the plight of the Chicago denizen.  But hey, that's why it's called "Stranded" in Chicago, not "Super Happy I Chose This" in Chicago, you feel.

Essie Spring 2014's standout in this respect for me is Fashion Playground, a gorgeous blue-green pastel. It's greener than cult classic Mint Candy Apple and brighter and bluer than the Braziliant collection's Absolutely Shore.  Honestly, this shade comes that closest to knocking Absolutely Shore off it's pedestal as my all time favorite Essie pastel, and I think this shade is a little punchier for the coming summer months.  I can't wait to wear this in the next few weeks as summer hits it's stride.  N.B. this color, like the aforementioned shades and many other pastels, can be a bit tricky to apply, so I recommend multiple thin coats to avoid any persistent streakiness.  It's totally worth it though, I assure you.

My new found love for this color brings me to an important milestone for my blog, which is now (shockingly) more than three years old.  I hope you'll be excited, as well! In celebration of the glorious summer, I'm going to give away a full size bottle of Fashion Playground to one lucky reader.  This giveaway is open to continental US readers only, sadly, which is something I hope to change for future giveaways. Scroll on down and follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter.  As always, thanks for reading, and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Restaurantin': Zinc - New Haven, CT

While I do promise that I'll post about my little sister's actual graduation, I would be remiss if I failed to mention the outrageously delicious meal we ate the night before all the ceremonies began. (The Chinese food we had at Basil the night before the night before the festivities began also hit next level deliciousness, but after five hours on the road, I wasn't havin' no camera come between me and my dinner.)

After much anxiety and planning, my wonderful mother managed to score a reservation at Zinc, a farm-to-table restaurant that opened right around the dawn of this millennium (doesn't that sound cooler than just a number? Let's all get into it.) I'm not saying that so you'll think that we're all high and mighty and important and got a coveted reservation, just that we had major struggs what with having to be in approximately a bajillion places and everyone else graduating in New Haven also going out to dinner that night.

First off, the space's aesthetic hit all the marks for me. Semi-dark lighting, classic stemware, clean lines with modern touches? Yes, please, all of the above.  Since we had a 5:30 reservation on account of needing to finish in time for my sister's concert, I had the opportunity to capture the pleasingly empty table you see above. What can I say?  I love simple stemware.

Let me say that this day already had quite a bit of food in it, so I looked toward the menu's lighter options.  For a starter, I selected the soup of the day, a Asparagus Tarragon Soup that delighted me to no end.  It tasted vibrantly of fresh asparagus with just a hint of tarragon to add interest, and I'm pleased to tell you not a drop remained when I finished with it.

For my main, I decided on another of the small plates, House Made Salmon Gravlax, accompanied by puffed rices, tamarind vinaigrette, Madras yogurt, and pickled kumquats.  Can we get a round of applause for pickled kumquats, y'all?  'Cause that shit goes PERFECTLY with cured salmon.  Cuts really nicely through the fattiness of the salmon, yo. Speaking of the salmon, the delicate flavor hit the spot for me, though I must admit I rarely object to salmon in any form. If I have one complaint, it's that the amount of yogurt overwhelmed the finessed flavor of the salmon. In my opinion, the dish needed about half as much as was present. I can't lie, though, the yogurt was just as scrumptious as all the other components.

I couldn't bear to leave out a shot of my father's entrée, the Smoked Pork Chop, which surely would have found it's way to my stomach had I not already been full from the day's earlier culinary exploits. Isn't that just gorgeous? I was informed that it was cooked to perfection, as well.

All in all, a really bang up meal, and a lovely evening to boot. Price was as to be expected, always nice not facing surprises on that front (be real, though, you think I paid for this? I was eating with my parents...).  I would absolutely give this place another go 'round and try some of the well-curated menu's heavier offerings, but it seems my family's time in New Haven has come to an end with my darling little sister's graduation.  C'est la vie.

I leave you with this reeeeeeeeally cool piece visible from the alley next to the restaurant.  Apparently it lines up perfectly if you stand in precisely the right spot, which I think it is reasonably clear I did not manage to do. Still. Really cool.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Let's Ruffle Some Feathers

My apologies for the posting delay! Last week was crazy, what with my little sister's graduation. I'll have some pictures from that up this week, but for today, I've got a great color for this summer...

This is Essie's Ruffles & Feathers from the Summer 2014 collection. Of the six shades released, this struck me the most. It's a beautiful teal with strong green undertones that's just perfect for the summer. It's slightly bluer than it appears above, evocative of the ocean (or Lake Michigan) on a perfect ten day. The best part? We've got a bona fide one coat wonder here. The above picture shows a single coat with top coat after two days of wear.

Verdict: Expect my feathers to ruffle repeatedly with this shade in the coming weeks.