I hate taking photos with my phone, I really do… especially when I’ve been doing so much creative research culling ideas and putting together new posts, purchasing and playing with new varnishes, tools and techniques, discovering admirable and inspiring worldwide talent and trying to avoid the massive wave of despair that overwhelms me every time I look at my shelf filled with summertime swatch lineups that I must tend to before fall equinox here in the U.S. …

So much inspiration, effort and disappointment all rolled into the past two weeks I’ve been absent from the café.

Purchased my first indie varnishes from two different makers, waited patiently for them to arrive from Mei Mei in Singapore, and waited even more patiently for my very ambitious manicure with them to level out and cure (neither ever really happened properly). After a few hours of labor, I removed them after 24 hours without photos. And recurred to an old standby combo, which looked very different when I first did it on short, short nails (sans SH Ice Pop and Big Shiny Top Coat) back in 2011-2012, before I had access to Estessimo TiNS and wanted to create that Japanese fairy nail look with what was on hand at the drugstore:

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One coat Sally Hansen CSM Strike A Pose

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Two-thirds coat Essie Luxeffects Pure Pearlfaction

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One-third coat Sally Hansen Ice Pop

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One-half coat or so Revlon Stunning

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One coat Sally Hansen Big Shiny Top Coat, et voila… fail-safe fairy sparkle nails that take 30 minutes max, not 300.

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Speaking of drugstores, I’ve been hitting upon some rewarding specials and sales of late.  But each locale has a widely varying selection, so I try to visit different locations, often in dodgy neighbourhoods.  For some strange reason, the more upmarket the neighbourhood, the worse the nail varnish selection.  In the dodgier locales, however, some have OPI, a full-length MUA USA display (no nail varnish), hard-to-find Essie, and other random collections from a few seasons ago.  Great if you missed out and have some time to browse and fill gaps in your own collection.  I found my missing gal from SH Electric Summer collection, Peach Babe, but got scared off just looking at her, as she reminded me of all the backed up summer colours I still haven’t covered for you here at the café…

Just today, there was this.  A lone salon bottle Essie in the Essie full-length retail display, with no bottom name tag and a sticker on the brush handle bearing the number 768:

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Well, some quick in-store Internet research on my stupid phone for Essie 768 brought up Cocktail Bling, a varnish I’ve been lemming forever but don’t want to buy cos she looks too similar to a few Zoyas I own.  Heaven knows I love to buy colours that are only one Pantone swatch off from each other, and then some… this Essie looks like Revlon Calla Lily, probably my favourite varnish ever, especially with a nice top coat of flakies to do her right.  A sheer white with a predominantly gold dusting of microshimmer.

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I opened her up in the drugstore just to make sure that some yahoo didn’t take the brush from her Cocktail Bling and affix it to this beauty, then return it to the shop as such, since the SKU was attached to the peeling 768 sticker.  This is clearly a salon bottle that is missing the bottom label, as well as a chunk of one of the bottom corners of the bottle, but no matter.  All the juice inside is good, full and shimmerin’.

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After cashing out and reviewing my receipt, I noticed this varnish rang up as Lapis of Luxury.  Hmm…

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So I brought her home, cleaned her up, and began my Internet research for real, which took all of a minute.  Thing is, I got waylaid by all of the terrific blogs I found that helped me to identify this varnish!  Methinks this is *drumroll, please* Show Me the Ring, from Wedding 2010.  I have Pillow Talk, BBF Best Boyfriend or Boy Best Friend depending on which one you got, and Main Squeeze from this same collection.  I also inadvertently found swatches of Jackie Oh My, a black label Essie.  Now I must go a-dustying for *her*…

The Sherlock Holmes in me deduces that somebody went to a discount retailer, picked this varnish up for about $5USD, then took the sticker off her Essie 768 and affixed it to this, returning it to the drugstore for the price I paid for her, $8.50USD.  But I actually got her free due to coupons!

Elementary, my dear Watson(s).

xx blueberry milk tea

P.S. Dear patrons of the café, please be as patient with me as I’ve been with all of the stuff (theory and practice) I’ve yet to show you 🙂

EDIT: The plot thickens… This mystery Essie might actually be Tennis Corset, even better! I will need to investigate further (swatch) and let you know.