Category Archives: Beauty

In Honor of Gwennie

Tomorrow would have been my loving, faithful little shih tzu’s 13th birthday. It was always easy to remember how old she was turning because she was born in 2000. While I always took comfort in the fact that little dogs live much longer than big dogs, we ended up having to put her down a few months shy of her 13th birthday. I know there are so many people going through immense heartache in losing family members, and I don’t want to take away from the very real loss of human relationships. It almost seems trivial to mourn the loss of a pet when others are saying goodbye to parents, siblings, children. . . But, as [I hope] any dog owner will testify to, there is absolutely a spot in each of our hearts reserved for our canine companions.

On her last trip – Fall 2012

Thanks to the kindness and generosity of friends, I got to anticipate Gwennie’s birth and excitedly met her the day she was born. After picking her out early on as “mine”, I continued to visit her and her siblings as they grew and finally took her home at 8 weeks. As a full-grown 10 pound dog, there was little she didn’t do alongside me and my family for the next 12 years. Sleeping on her choice of human beds, going shopping, flying to family vacations, getting matching dye-jobs with me (usually pink, though she would have preferred red), camping, roadtripping for a month across the country (including sneaking into a Lewis & Clark IMAX movie with the fam and barking at a bear), summer camp, church retreats, you name it. Queen Quinevere (as she was registered—apparently someone at the AKC can’t decipher between a ‘G’ and a ‘Q’), or Gwen for short, was part of the family in ways the big dogs could only dream of.
Some of my favorite pictures of Gwen

While it has been a sad transition getting used to dropping food on the floor and still seeing it there 5 minutes later, and not having her “growl” and bark asking to be picked up when I come home, I take comfort in knowing she had a pretty great life. Understanding dogs can’t live forever, I think this had the best possible outcome. We kept each other company and were there for each other until her end. I grew up with her and am blessed to have done so. I won’t soon forget her unusual “talking” to her precious beanie babies, or that famed look when we took away her scavenged root beer barrel. So many memories, so many smiles. There will be more dogs in my life, undoubtedly, but Gwennie will always have a special place in my heart. 


The last picture I took of Gwennie: one-take, with genuine emotion from both of us—me knowing what was to come, and her licking her lips after I gave her a gave her a tasty morsel of bread and milk

P.S. I did my nails today in honor of Gwennie; black and white, of course. She would’ve approved!





Filed under Beauty, Grab Bag

Essie Sleek Stick Nail Strips Review

One of my extremely photographic friends, who has a beauty supply hookup, recently gave me a set of Essie’s new Sleek Stick nail strips to try out. I’ve only used nail strips one other time and was eager to see if this experience would be more pleasant. Read on to find out!


I received the pretty design Over The Moon, which has slightly raised silver circles that go on the moons of your nails. 


The base color is a pretty, taupey mauve. I love the festive bling, and think it’s neutral and classic enough to be worn for a nice occasion {I saved these to wear to my boyfriend’s annual company dinner}.


Onto application. There are several shapes and sizes included, but I had a pretty hard time finding something for each nail. Some worked better than others, but none were perfect. The main problem was the cuticle shape and the width of the decal {being to narrow/not covering the whole nail or too wide/overlapping to skin}.


Next: the hunt to find the closest shape for each nail, and trying to apply them straight. I had to take them off and realign several times. It gets a tiny bit easier the more you do, but still hard as every shape is different.


Once you line up and firmly press down the strip to your nail, bend the excess over the nail tip to ensure the nail is fully covered.


Then you use the enclosed nail file to remove the extra part of the strip by filing straight down, perpendicular to the nail.



This part can be a bit jarring, but the end comes off fairly quickly.  The straighter up and down you hold the file, the smoother the end of the strip/your nail will be.


Here is my final result. There were still some slight ridges around the ends and the cuticle areas were far from perfect. From a distance, though, they looked great! I’m a texture person and loved feeling the 3D bumps.


The edges were slightly jaggedy and uneven, but much better than my previous nail strips.


These definitely had the wow factor that I wanted for the evening I wore them.


These strips claim to be “UV Cured”, so I had high hopes for long wear. I was worried about the ends snagging on things {hair, clothes, etc.} and peeling off, but thankfully that never happened! The longevity, however, was disappointing.  These below pictures were after one day of wear {I didn’t even do dishes!}.


Though they didn’t peel, they wore off completely at the tips. You can see in the photo above how poorly the thumb fit, too.


I took them off the next day because of the unsightly tips. I just peeled them off, which as I recall {don’t quote me!} is what the instructions said to do. Sadly, they were pretty destructive to my nails. Lots of peeling.


To summarize, I enjoyed the nail strips for the small time they lasted. The design {color + decoration} was great, but the difficulty in application and quick wear mean I will not be purchasing these in the future. I’m thankful to my friend for gifting me these to try {I would have been really disappointed if I paid $10 for these}. Maybe the rest of you will have better luck!


Filed under Beauty

Nails Nails Nails

Here’s my recent manicure roundup courtesy of my Instagram account. 🙂

Confetti Glitter

Copper Micro French Tips + Dotted Accent Nail

Aqua + Glitter Accent Nail

Subtle Pearl + Copper Plaid

Ombre Ingredients {+ Breakfast}

Pink Ombre + Ring Pops!

Ring pop power. #bachelorette #ringpops #candy #jewelry

A post shared by Jessica {Leigh} Efthyvoulos (@sparkleigh) on

Nude + Gold Polka Dots

Black & White Checkered French Tips + Gold Glitter

Ballet Pink  + Silver Glitter Accent Nails

Metallic Foil Purple + Silver + Black Scalloped Tips

                            Technique via

I still can’t believe how huge and popular nail art has gotten! Such a fun and creative outlet for me.  I wonder what my Thanksgiving nails will be! Ooh . . .

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Mani Time

Lately I’ve been slacking in the nail art department! I’ve been lucky enough to find time to let regular coats dry, let alone do additional fun stuff. Here’s what I’ve done over the last couple of months. Life is so much more fun with nail art though, so I’m determined to get back into it. 🙂 Enjoy!

It looks white, but the base color was actually a pale blue. After it started chipping, I threw on a crackle coat for camouflage.

And then when that started chipping, I added yet another camouflage of turquoise tips. haha.

I loved these screaming, neon, watercolor-esque blended nails

Before taking off the polish, I played with a feather look that I will definitely experiment with again

Sparkle french tips

And my current nails, hot pink glitter with bow lace trim

Hope your week gets off to a great start!


Filed under Beauty

Nail Time!

Contrasting sparkles 

Neon lace

Shimmering Nude

Some of my first rose attempts . . . lots of practice still to do!

Played around with turning the polish into a decal of sorts. Why not match my mug of tea?

Polish is coming off tomorrow, I wonder what to plan for the next manicure!

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Mani Mani Bonani

Nail time! Here are some from months past:

Testing out new Zoya glitter in Twila over my old polish . . .

. . . And Kissy

For an Italian dinner/game night

Okay, not nail polish, but I was so stoked at how matchy matchy my lip balm was with my cotton candy ice cream! haha

Seems I really am a sucker for all things pink and glitter. 🙂

Tomorrow morning I’m seeing Avengers in IMAX 3D! Never seen an IMAX 3D before — should be an experience. Hope you have a great weekend!


Filed under Beauty

First Fishtail Braid Attempt

Bonjour! I’m still on the mend (and still on my no carb diet!) but doing SO much better than before. Nearly back to normal.

Blog business: I want to get into the habit of doing more frequent, smaller posts, as opposed to cumulative bigger ones. It’ll put less pressure on me to come up with “grand” ideas, and help me get into better blogging habits.

To start it off, here is how I wore my hair yesterday. haha. Yes, soooo exciting (not), but it was my first-ever attempt at fishtail braiding. My camera is never far from me, so it got documented. 🙂

So . . . they look like messy regular braids. They’re more interesting than normal, so I was okay with it.

I decided to wrap the top of the side pony with unbraided hair then secure the tails together at the bottom.

It is just carb-craving me, or does it somewhat resemble an apple fritter? haha. The end result was a wide, wavy-looking, messy braid. (The braid is on the other side now because the first pics were mirror reflections.)

 I’m pretty untalented when it comes to braiding, but I think I could master this with lots more practice. Do you have a favorite type of braid?


Filed under Beauty