Prepping your nails for polish

I’ve talked about how to remove your polish, and compared different polish removers, but equally as important, is prepping your nails for polish.

Before you put any kind of polish on your nails (dry polish strips like Color Street, or liquid polish), you need to make sure your nails are in the best shape they can be.

In addition to taking care of your nails, you also need to take care of your cuticles. Find a good cuticle oil – most that I’ve seen are apricot oil or coconut oil based. Put some cuticle oil along the base of your nail, and massage it into your cuticles. Then, take a wooden or rubber cuticle pusher, and gently push your cuticles back. If needed, you can trim them a little bit too.

It’s not a bad idea to occasionally let them sit unpolished for a while, to just kind of let them air out. If you do that for multiple days, you can use the cuticle oil a couple of times during that period of time to keep them healthy and soft. I often let my nails sit for 12-24 hours between removing my polish, and putting my next set of Color Street on.

Once you have taken care of your cuticles, you might need to buff your nails. I tend to have pretty deep ridges, so I usually buff them at least every other time I’m doing my nails. My buffing block is 4 sided. I usually use the #1 (roughest) side to buff down the deepest ridges, or anywhere I have any peeling happening. I use the smoother sides to smooth my nails down just a little bit, but not too much! You don’t want your nails to get too thin, especially if they are already prone to breaking or peeling. At this step, you also want to shape your nails. I try to keep them close to the same length, but I seem to always have at least one that’s quite a bit shorter than the others. Oh well.

After you have pushed back your cuticles, and filed/buffed your nails, use an alcohol prep pad to clean any oils or residue off them.

The final step to prepare your nails for applying your polish, is a completely optional one. If you choose, you can apply a clear nail strengthening base coat such as OPI’s Nail Envy. Color Street (and other polishes) can be applied to bare nails, but I like to have that extra layer to help strengthen and protect my nails; it also helps fill in the ridges somewhat. Using a nail strengthening base coat can also help your nails grow longer if you have a hard time growing them out, or if they break easily. If you use a base coat, let it dry completely before applying Color Street or whatever other polish you choose. Use another alcohol prep pad to clean off anything that might have settled on your nails (or oils that can naturally be found on and around your nails).

Enjoy your beautiful nails for 10-12 days, and then start the process over again!

Bonus tip: If you use dry polish, wait at least a half an hour to an hour to let it cure before using any lotion, or going in any water. As you are probably already aware, if you are using liquid polish, let it dry completely before doing any of the above either.

Comparing Nail Polish Removers

Before I started as a Stylist for Color Street, my stylist friends would all talk about how much they loved Mineral Fusion Nail Polish Remover. I have always just used whatever generic brand polish remover was out there, so spending ~$11 on a bottle of nail polish remover seemed like a lot! On the other hand, I know several people who use it, and don’t have a lot of damage to their nails like I used to experience.

After watching my nails get more brittle with time when I used generic polish remover, I decided to try a couple different ones. Here’s how they all compared.

  1. Up & Up Acetone Free Polish Remover from Target

The generic acetone free nail polish remover I used to use was ok. Using the technique that I talked about in a previous post, where I put polish remover on a cotton ball, and used nail clips to hold it on my nail, each nail had to soak for about 5 minutes minimum. Once I removed the the clip, especially if I was wearing glitters, I’d sometimes still have to wipe my nail with a clean cotton ball (with fresh polish remover on it). I sometimes could use a different part of the same cotton ball. It was effective, but took a while, especially since I only did one hand at a time. My finger tips often felt a bit dry afterwards.

  • After double checking what I had in my cabinet, the most recent bottle I used was actually NOT acetone free! I must have grabbed the wrong one at the store. I really had been trying to stick with acetone free. haha The results were very similar. The acetone remover may have worked a bit quicker than acetone free, I don’t really remember, because it’s been a long time since I’ve used it.

2. Mineral Fusion Nail Polish Remover

Mineral Fusion is an acetone free nail polish remover. It doesn’t smell as bad (or as strong) as most other polish removers. It is gentle on nails, and your skin. It doesn’t dry them out, or leave any kind of residue. I have used Mineral Fusion with cotton balls with clips, and in the baggie trick (see previous post referenced above). It works faster than the Up & Up brand, and can be used often, without damage to your nails.

3. Olive & June Acetone Free Dip-style Nail Polish Remover

I saw a video of another stylist using the jar style polish remover, and it worked really fast. In the video, she used one that was from Target. I wanted to try it, but two different Targets were out of their brand on several different attempts to find it. I thought I would try the Olive & June brand. It was very small, and cost about $11. I was hopeful that it would work quickly to remove my manicure.

The insert was a foam sponge. It started breaking apart almost as soon as I start twisting my finger in it to remove the polish. I kept getting little chunks of foam, and it was smudging the polish, leaving a weird residue on my finger nails. I tried it on two different occasions, and did not like it at all. I actually threw the tub out. I definitely would not buy this again.

4. Up & Up 100% acetone nail polish remover dip-it

I searched everywhere for this magical little jar, and finally got lucky! In the video I had seen, the Stylist said she dumped out the polish remover that was in it, and poured Mineral Fusion in. Since I knew I was going to be writing a post comparing polish removers, I thought I’d try it with the existing remover first.

When I opened it, I was impressed to find that it was not a sponge or foam inside, as I had expected, but was a plastic bristle style brush inside. That explains how she could just dump out the existing polish, and put in her preferred brand without cross contamination in the sponge. Note: it is REALLY full, and spills easily! Have something handy to wipe up spills when you open it.

The jar says it “removes glitter and gel polish from natural nails” and “removes artificial nails”. It is 100% acetone, so it’s going to be stronger. It definitely smelled like nail polish remover! Blech! That said, OMG, did it work amazingly well! It was quick and easy. The polish came off, and no residue! My hand and nails did feel more dry than when I use Mineral Fusion, but the result was equivalent.

In the end, out of the several I compared, I still choose Mineral Fusion. I really liked the jar technique, especially with the plastic bristles. I am going to reuse the Target dip it jar for sure, but will replace the remover inside.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on nail polish removers you’ve tried!

How to Remove Color Street Nail Polish

  1. DO NOT PEEL THEM OFF YOUR NAILS!!!

Yes, I shouted that! 🙂 If you peel your polish off your nails, you WILL do damage to your nails. Period. That is true if you use dry polish strips like Color Street, or regular polish. It will also be true if you are using other nail products.

I previously posted about how another brand of nail wraps I used to use did damage to my nails. While some of that may be due to the product itself, I think more of the issue was that you peeled them off if they didn’t come off on their own. Usually, I would have to peel off at least 2-3 each time, but even when the other ones fell off, they were bringing a layer of nail with them…

Simply using the traditional way of using a cotton ball with a little polish remover and wiping your nails clean doesn’t work as well with Color Street. The main reason, is that they are technically 3 layers in each strip (base, color, and top coat). If you are like me, and like to do mixed manis, where you have multiple layers of sets, or use lots of glitters, you will need to let them “soak” a while longer. The easiest way to do this is to use nail clips to hold the cotton balls on for about 3-5 minutes. Then, the polish will come right off.

Another way to remove your polish is to use the jar-style removers where you put your finger in, move it around, and the polish comes off. This works well too with most polish types, including Color Street.

A third way to remove your polish, is something I just learned about. It’s called “The baggy trick”. I tried it with a non-acetone polish remover called Mineral Fusion, and was pleasantly surprised with how quick and easy it was. All you need is your nail polish remover, a baggie, and a bowl of warm/hot water (I’m not sure why it needs to be warm, or what would happen if it wasn’t warm). I used a gallon size baggie, because we were out of sandwich bags. You definitely can use a much smaller one. Pour some Mineral Fusion Nail Polish Remover into a baggie. Put your hand into the baggie, and put the baggie into the bowl of hot/warm water. Using your thumb and forefinger, rub your fingertips until all the polish comes off. When I tried this, it was only a couple minutes before all the polish was gone. I couldn’t believe how easy it was! All the mess was left in the baggie, and I just threw it away. I used the water in the bowl to rinse my fingers off.

No matter what kind of polish remover you use, there are different techniques you can use to remove your Color Street nails, just like any other regular polish.

A final note about removing your nail polish: I’ve always been told it’s best to use acetone-free nail polish remover, as that is gentler on your nails. Acetone can dry your nails, cuticles, and skin around your nails. One article I read, says acetone removers are more effective, and that your skin will replenish the lost moisture after about a half an hour. If this is the case, acetone isn’t really a bad thing. I’ve also read that because acetone-free are not as effective, they actually may have more of a drying effect because you need to use more of it, and may have to soak your nails longer. Here’s an article from Self.com that lays out which remover is better for which type of nail (or type of polish; ie. dark vs light, glitter vs non). Either way, it seems washing your hands, and then moisturizing after you remove your polish, is a good idea.

You decide which type works best for you. So far, I prefer to use Mineral Fusion. It is gentle on my nails, and works great to remove my nail polish! I’ll be posting a comparison of several different types of removers I have tried, and give you my thoughts on each soon.

The most important thing is this: Don’t peel off your polish!!!

Strate Up Gorgeous Nails

I have been using Color Street nail polish strips for quite a while now. Between my many friends who have had parties, and several other friends who are stylists, I have had a lot of opportunities to purchase different sets. I’ve gotten them every chance I’ve had, and have completely fallen in love with them! They are easy to apply, and I don’t have to wait for them to dry.

I have had so much fun creating mix and match manicures, and creating fun looks that my preschoolers (and I) have really enjoyed. Since I’ve started using Color Street regularly, I have gotten compliments on my nails all the time!

Because I have several friends who were already Stylists, I wasn’t going to sign up to be a Stylist. Then, in March, Color Street offered a deal that was too good to pass up! For only $129, I was able to get the Starter Kit that already had 13 nail sets, but then, they threw in 5 more sets for joining that month! I couldn’t NOT get all those sets!!! I figured I would buy the kit, and that’s it. When I was talking to my husband about it, he said “Why not go for it? Make a run at it, and see what happens.” The rest, has been history!

I have been learning so much about branding myself on social media, creating graphics, setting up a Linktree, etc. The nice thing, is that I do have my Partylite background to draw from (I was a consultant for about 10 years). That makes some aspects of this new business easier than if I was brand new to the Direct Sales industry. I am working on booking parties, and building my facebook VIP group right now. At some point, I hope to start building a team too. I still have a lot to learn, but I have been having so much fun, I only see it going up from here!!

So far, I have accomplished my first 2 months of Jump Start, which is a program for new Stylists to earn product credit. That earned me $125 in product in addition to my commission. I’ve also earned an Enhanced Bonus my first 2 months as well!

Feel free to join my VIP page, place an order, or request a sample (request form can be found on my Linktree link above)! If you haven’t tried Color Street before, I highly recommend you do – I’m pretty sure you will become as addicted as I am! 🙂

Jamberry vs Color Street Revisited

A while back, I did a direct comparison of Color Street vs Jamberry nail wraps/nail strips. I discovered that most likely, the Jamberry nail wrap I used was old, so my results weren’t completely accurate. I also discovered that Jamberry now has lacquer strips that are solid color, and more comparable to Color Street nail strips. I ordered a set, and did a fresh comparison.

The solid color on my pinky nail is from Jamberry, the hombre glitter ones are from Color Street.

What I noticed when I got the new lacquer strips, was that the package was almost identical to Color Street’s. They now even came with an alcohol wipe to clean your nails. The application process has changed too. You don’t need to use heat to apply the new Jamberry lacquer strips, like you do with the old ones. I’m not sure, but maybe the thicker nail wraps still do require heat to apply – I assume so.

By not having to use any heat, this whole manicure was done in less than half an hour. It was really easy to apply both brands.

  1. Peel the clear top plastic layer off, then the backing.
  2. Set the strip on the nail; you can either center it on your nail, or put one edge against the edge of your nail. Both brands have a slight bit of stretch to them, in case you don’t quite choose the right size. You do want to be careful not to overstretch them, as I had a couple tear when I stretched too much.
  3. Use the rubber end of a rubber cuticle pusher to smooth the strip over the whole nail. The other end of the cuticle pusher works great to cut off extra along the side of the nail, if it’s a little too big.
  4. Fold the strip over the tip of the nail, and use a finger nail, or the opposite end of the cuticle pusher to cut off the extra.
  5. File over the edge from the nail edge down towards your finger. Doing it this way assures you file as little off the tip of the strip as possible.

Note: I was told that starting at the pinkies, and working your way to the thumb is the easiest way to do it. That way, your thumb nail is available to help perforate the nail strip without ruining one you’ve already applied. After trying both ways, I agree.

I really liked this mixed manicure (pictured above), but I should have put the solid Jamberry nail on in two layers. You can see in the picture above, that the lacquer strip was pretty thin. You could see the white of my pinkie nail right through it.

Both lasted between 10-14 days. I don’t remember exactly how long I left them on. Both started rubbing off at the tips. Because it was a bit thicker due to the glitter, the Color Street nails started catching down by the cuticles, and I ended up tearing them a bit. This is the only time they have actually torn, though I have had it start catching at the cuticles after about 10 days of growth in the past (with both brands). The Color Street nail strips come off easily with nail polish remover. I’ve been told soaking them for about 5 minutes (with finger clips holding cotton balls of remover) helps them come off even easier. The Jamberry did not come off as easily. I had to try to peel them off. Doing that caused some peeling of the top layer of my nail as well.

Here are a few final thoughts comparing the two brands….

Color Street has limited options on designs and colors. They have a lot of great colors, just not as many choices as Jamberry. Designs/colors are often out of stock with Color Street, but they do seem to restock them pretty often. Jamberry has many more options in colors and designs, though not nearly as many glitter options. Given the damage to my nails from Jamberry, and the ease of removing Color Street, I think I will still continue to wear Color Street going forward.

I talked to my friend Amanda who is a Color Street stylist. She recommended using Color Street’s Clear as Day (a clear nail strip) under my old Jamberry wraps to protect my nails. I have a lot of cute Jamberry ones that I’ve had for a couple years. Some have Disney/Star Wars themes, and I’d love to be able to wear them, but don’t want my nails damaged. I’ve spent a lot of money on Jamberry wraps over the years, so I’d hate to throw them away. I was hoping that using the clear strip underneath would make for easy removal as well. I tried it, and it did not. I still had to peel it off. The damage was less than it would have been, but the peeling was still pretty hard on my nail. I haven’t fully decided what to do with my old nail wraps.

Shout out to Color Street for having Glow-in-the-dark sets during Halloween. They glowed quite a bit; my preschoolers thought they were super cool! 🙂

I was still learning how to apply them at this point, so no judging how they fit by the cuticles. 😉 The bottom one is a bit fuzzy, but you get the idea of how well they glowed!

Jamberry vs Color Street Nail Wraps

I used to buy a lot of Jamberry nail wraps. They have a ton of super cute colors and patterns. I bought the whole application bundle for applying them, which included a small heater, pouch to hold them all, cuticle pusher, scissors, etc. For a while, I was applying them all the time, until my nails started getting brittle from the adhesive (I have sensitive skin, and apparently, nails). I would take a break to let them heal (or use polish for a bit instead). Once they were stronger again, I would reapply, and adore my cute nails. I also love their lacquers (aka polish). It lasts longer than most polishes I have tried, and have coordinating colors with most of their wraps.

Jamberry wraps and lacquer mixed for a fun manicure.

In the past year, I guess I’ve gotten fairly lazy about my nails, and haven’t done much of anything with them…

I was given a gift of Color Street nail wraps a while back. I didn’t know what to expect. It took me a while to try them. I decided to do a little comparison of the two different kinds of nail wraps. I found some cute chevron Jamberry wraps I had that happened to match a light purple glittery Color Street one I had been gifted. I need to practice a bit more with the Color Street to make it fit better on my nails, but I think my manicure turned out super cute (the pic is a bit fuzzy, but you get the idea)!

Chevron by Jamberry, Glitter by Color Street

After about four days, I lost the chevron nail off my ring finger. Previously, I’ve never lost a Jamberry nail wrap that soon after putting them on. I contacted my friend who used to sell them, and she said the adhesive might wear out after time. I really don’t know how long ago I got the Jamberry nail wraps – it’s possible that they were super old.

The Color Street nail wraps come in a sealed package, so they were more fresh. My friend who sells Color Street told me that anything left over after I put them on should be put in a zip lock baggie so they don’t dry out.

By 10 days after I put them on, I had no Jamberry nail wraps left on either hand, and both of the Color Street ones were still there. Several of the nails that had the Jamberry nail wraps were peeling layers off, and were breaking. I have never had them get so brittle the first time I wore the nail wraps! Usually if I had wraps on for a month or so without taking a break (a month was usually 2-3 sets), then I would start to notice damage. I’m so bummed, I went from nice long nails, to very short, damaged nails. I have a new set of Color Street nails that I want to put on for Halloween, but my nails are short now, and much of the design will likely be lost. 😦

Nail damage from using a Jamberry nail wrap … possibly because it’s old?

After doing a little research, I have discovered that Jamberry now has nail wraps and lacquer strips. I wondered what the difference was. Apparently, the nail wraps require heating to put them on, and are thicker. They cannot be stretched hardly at all. The lacquer strips do not require heat to apply, are a bit stretchier, and can be filed off. Application of the lacquer strips sounds more like the Color Street ones. I may need to order some to do a better comparison.

Now that I know they have another product that is closer to Color Street, I can’t make a fair claim yet as to which brand of nail wraps I like better. I think I will order a set of the lacquer wraps from Jamberry to do a direct comparison of fresh products from each.

From what I know so far, here are my observations about each brand:

Jamberry

  • Jamberry has many more options in designs and colors.
  • Jamberry has more variety of products available – nail wraps, lacquer strips, lacquer, gel polish, etc.
  • Jamberry’s process of using heat to apply the nail wraps originally took me a while to master, but there were nail wrap sizes that fit all my fingers, and the results were always great.
  • Jamberry wraps are thicker, with only a little stretch.
  • Jamberry typically lasted about 10 days before falling off (when fresh).
  • Jamberry damaged my nails over time. The adhesive stripped off layers of my nail, and made them brittle.
  • If I broke a nail with Jamberry on, the entire wrap would fall off with the broken part.
  • Jamberry comes with enough wraps for 2 full manicures, plus a few extra for accent nails or toes.

Color Street

  • Color Street wraps are thinner, and have more stretch.
  • Color Street has a simple application process – just peel the front, peel the back, stretch to fit your nails, file them off at the end. At first glance, it seemed they didn’t quite fit, but with a little stretch, I could make them fit, and then use the edge of a nail stick to cut off any excess on the sides.
  • Color Street lasted a full two weeks before I removed them. There was no damage to the nails underneath.
  • When I broke a nail with the Color Street wrap on it, the wrap tore off at the same point as my nail. The rest of the nail still had the wrap on it.
  • Color Street wraps come with enough wraps for two whole manicures, or several accent nails, a nail prep pad (alcohol wipe), and a nail file. I originally thought there was only one set of nails in the package, but when I opened it, there were two inside.
  • Color Street comes off easily with nail polish remover.
Here’s what comes in your order from each company. The set on the left is from Jamberry, the set on the right, is from Color Street.

Both

  • Both brands are similarly priced .
  • Both offer Buy 3, Get 1 Free on their wraps.

Update: I wrote an additional post on the subject comparing Jamberry’s new lacquer strips to Color Street. I also gave additional thoughts on both brands. Find the post at: Jamberry vs Color Street Revisited

It’s been a busy year so far!

I started this post back in February, before the Pandemic hit the US, before quarantines, and before “new normals”. Rather than talk about that aspect of life in this post, I’m going to complete this post, as I have too many incomplete posts that I started, but never finished in my queue… this post was pretty much done, all I had to do was add pictures…

“Without dance occupying so much of my time, I thought I’d have a lot of extra time. Boy, was I wrong!

Since the beginning of the school year, much of my time has been full with other activities. Some of them include:

The Bear Water Run starts early with on site registration and bib pick up.

 

 

 

 

Michaels 1st Homecoming dance. He has been friends with most of these girls since early elementary school.

  • Watching Michael go to his very first Homecoming dance with a group of friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Besides the ones we paid for, there were photo ops everywhere at Galaxycon!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grace and the other performers did a lot of dancing, but they also sang at the tree lighting ceremony at Keg and Case.

  • Watching Grace perform in her first show and several promotional performances at the Mall of America, Keg and Case, and the Southern Theater, with the Minnesota Dance Collaborative

 

 

 

 

 

Rumble on the Red is a HUGE tournament in Fargo, ND every year.

  • Watching my step son, Dysin, wrestle Varsity for the White Bear Lake Bears (he’s a Senior this year). Wrestling took us to Fargo, ND for the Rumble on the Red, and to Rochester, as well as all the local schools.

    The first tournament of the year, Dysin got 2nd place. It was pretty awesome!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My brother and his wife joined us on the Halloween Pub Crawl.

  • We went on a Halloween Pub Crawl with a bunch of my friends.

 

 

 

 

Michael has had a few Jiu Jitzsu lessons with Grand Master Pat Worley.

 

 

 

 

We had so much fun playing Nerdettes in the 2020 show!

 

 

 

 

 

  • We finished our karaoke room, and had several karaoke parties, including an 80’s themed one, a Tropical Themed one, and a great New Years Eve party with neighbors and friends.

 

 

 

 

 

We saw the Chainsmokers with some of our neighborhood friends.

 

  • Jason and I have been to see a few concerts, including seeing The Chainsmokers and Deadmau5. We actually saw Deadmau5 twice, once here in the Twin Cities, and once in Chicago.

    We saw Deadmau5 in the Twin Cities with some of Jason’s friends.

We saw Deadmau5 in Chicago with our friend Tasha.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In between all of this, I have been sick with stomach issues, and cold after cold (perks of being a preschool teacher where I’m being coughed and sneezed on all day, every day). I have been hoping to do more blogging, but my energy has been lacking this whole school year. Illness, and being busy have eaten up a lot of my time.”

 

Well, here’s hoping that being quarantined gets us all healthy, and helps me find my energy. I am hoping to take more time to do the things I enjoy, while also learning to do things like work at home. As you can see, I love being around people. It’s great being with our family, but looking forward to being able to hang out with our friends again. Happy 2020!

Making a playlist from mp3 songs on a Samsung Galaxy

I will be in the upcoming Lion’s Club Show. We were given the cuts of all the songs we are singing as mp3 files in a shared Google folder. I wanted to be able to make a playlist of all the songs, so that I could listen to them and practice in the car (or while I am doing things around the house) and not have to click on each song to play them. I googled how to do that, and couldn’t figure it out. After talking it through with our Dance Captain, Jen Finger, I was able to get it to work.

Here’s what I did on My Samsung Galaxy 10 (these are not the same steps you would take on an iphone, or with itunes):

1. Go to the list of mp3 tracks, in this case, the ones I wanted to add were in Google Drive.
2. Click on the 3 dots on the right of the track you want to put in your playlist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Check the button that says “Available Offline” and “Download”. I’m not sure if it would still work if you didn’t click “Available Offline” or not, but it was suggested, and overall, it worked, so I included it in the steps I did. I would recommend downloading all the songs you want in your playlist before moving on to the next step.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Open the Play Music app. This was an app that was already on my phone when I got it. It is a google-based app, so it may be found with those, or in your app list. The app asked me to subscribe when I first opened it. I clicked “no thanks.”

 

5. Click on the word “Songs”. You may need to scroll to the right a bit. The songs you just downloaded should show up on your song list.

6. Click on the 3 dots to the right of the song you want to put in your playlist.

 

7. Click on “Add to playlist”

 

8. Another pop up box will let you choose the playlist you want to put the song in.

9. Click on New Playlist at the bottom of the window.

 

10. Add the title you want for your new playlist. Then click “Create Playlist.”

 

11. Go back to the song list, and click on the 3 dots again.

12. Click add to playlist, and choose the one you just created.

Once you are done adding all the songs, your playlist should be built, and you should be able to listen to them like any other playlist. Scroll back over to Playlist to the far left at the top of the Home screen, and click on the playlist.

I hope this helps! Good luck making your own playlist from mp3 files. Please let me know in the comments if you have any other questions.

GalaxyCon 2019

The weekend of November 8-10, 2019, we went to GalaxyCon in Minneapolis. The weekend had so many highlights, it will be hard to put them all in one post.

GalaxyCon is described as a “celebration of fandoms”. We saw lots of people dressed in cosplay for many different “fandoms.” We saw people dressed in Star Trek, Doctor Who, Marvel MCU (including Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, X-Men, and Deadpool), DC, Pokemon, Sailor Moon, My Hero Academia, Disney Princesses, Ghostbusters, Scooby Doo, Back to the Future, Steven Universe, many video game characters, and Jay and Silent Bob cosplays. There were too many to list them all.

In addition to cosplayers, there were aisles and aisles of booths, selling everything from Fan Art, to comic books, to jewelry, to clothing items for everyday use, or for cosplay. I got some Incredibles earrings to wear when my preschool team dresses as the Incredibles for Super Hero Day. My son got a Battle Ax from the game “Gods of War”. All of us bought art.

There were booths with celebrities, comic book writers and illustrators, voice actors, wrestlers, cosplayers, even nerdlesque performers. There were several stage areas set up for different panels, classes, and shows. There was a video game area where people could play video games for hours, tabletop games area where people could check out and play (or learn) hundreds of table top games, and a wrestling mat set up for wrestling matches and panels.

Skeletor vs Deadpool

Many events that can be found at other cons for an additional fee were included in the price of admission for all attendees. Among some of the free events were the FSCW (Fantasy Super Cosplay Wrestling) that took place each evening, Costume contests, celebrity panels, shows (such as the cosplay tap shows by Noise Complaint, and the Nerdlesque show by The Vigilantease Collective), karaoke, dance parties, sing-a-longs, and more! I even got to take a tap class with Noise Complaint on Friday night.

Selfie with Catherine Tate. She was so much fun to hang with for our 5 minutes or so!

Many celebrities were at this event, and available for Photo Ops, Autographs, and Selfies. These were available for an extra charge. Since this was only the second Con we had ever been to as a family, we took advantage of the fact that so many people we wanted to meet were there. We were most looking forward to meeting David Tennant, but he canceled the week before the event. We still met many cool celebrities from Guardians of the Galaxy, Star Trek (original and TNG), Doctor Who, Karate Kid/Cobra Kai, Clerks and Mallrats, and more. Highlights for me, were Michael Rooker (Yondu from Guardians of the Galaxy), Catherine Tate (Donna from Doctor Who), Alex Kingston (River Song on Doctor Who and Dr. Elizabeth Corday on ER), and Jonathan Frakes (Will Riker on Star Trek TNG). A highlight for my daughter, was meeting one of the creators of Spider-Gwen, Robbi Rodriguez. She was cosplaying as Spider-Gwen, and he signed some of the art that she bought.

Photo Op with Sean Gunn.

Photo op with some of the Guardians of the Galaxy cast.

We bought VIP tickets for me and Jason, so we wouldn’t have to wait in the long lines for Photo Ops. It was well worth the money! If this had been my first ever Con, I’d have been hooked from Day 1! I will definitely go again when GalaxyCon comes back next Fall!

Michael went into our photo op with Michael Rooker with an untied shoe. Rooker stopped the photographer, and tied the shoe, much to my embarrassment. We all had a good laugh in the end.

Grad Party

Earlier this summer, we had Grace’s graduation party. It was a lot of work, but oh so worth it! We were grateful for everyone that came, and had a wonderful time!

We had settled on the date several months before. Grace wanted to wait until after Nationals, so we did it the weekend after. Unfortunately, that meant many of the dance families were unable to come, as they had vacations planned for that time. Another one of the graduating dancers had hers the same day, and we missed being able to go to hers too.

Once we had the date chosen, it was time to create the facebook invite, and later, physical invitations. We used Walgreens to print our invitations to mail out, as well as the photos we printed for photo boards. I had several formatting issues with the website this time around, and was frustrated to find that close to 200 invitations went out with her school’s name cut off in the middle. Of course, I didn’t realize this until after most of them were mailed out. Oh well. We also had issues with some of the photos being cropped by their system, unbeknownst to me.  Walgreens did let us reprint them at no cost to us, I just had to turn in all the ones that were cut off. I have used this site many times in the past with no issues, and probably will continue to, now that I know what to watch for.

Leading up to Grace’s grad party, I spent a lot of time working on her scrapbooks. They were only previously completed up to about age 3, so I had a long ways to go. I decided I would start with her dance years, get as much of those done as I could, get her graduation day done, and then work backwards as much as I had time for. I knew there was no way I could do it all on time, but was ok with doing as much as I could, and calling it good. I didn’t make nearly as much progress as I had hoped, but it was ok.  I knew we’d have photo boards too. While I spent hours picking out photos for those, Grace did all the work of putting the photos on the boards. It was fun to watch people looking at the pictures, scrapbooks, etc.

Food

Deciding on food was tricky. Grace originally wanted her party to be held for a shorter time span, in the morning/early afternoon, and to serve brunch foods. She wanted a coffee bar, too. She had been to a grad party like that the year before, and really liked it.  For various reasons, including other people’s schedules, cost and effort to make all that happen, we settled for 11-4 as the time span. It seemed like it would be too long, but with the number of people we had come, I’m glad we ended up spreading it over most of the day. As it was, I was not able to spend time talking to most of the people here, other than a quick hello.

After realizing we couldn’t quite make her original food plan work, she said,  “How about a taco bar?” I was thrilled, because that would be relatively easy to pull together. Then, she changed her mind to a pasta bar. After talking to a friend who had done that for her daughter’s party, about the logistics, I said no. In the end, we settled on pasta, but not a “build-your-own”. We had all pasta dishes that were pre-mixed. I made spaghetti, a chicken pasta salad, tortellini alfredo, homemade mac and cheese, and we had meatballs with and without sauce. I asked the grandmas who would be willing to help with food, and they all offered to bring a pasta hotdish, or pasta salad. My mother-in-law also brought pickle roll-ups, a staple at our family gatherings. 🙂 Needless to say, we had plenty of food!

We did have coffee, but not where we paid a barista to come make espressos, cappuccinos, etc. That was way to expensive for my budget. We borrowed a large coffee carafe from the White Bear Lake Lions’ Club, ordered flavor syrups, stir sticks, and marshmallows from Amazon, and disposable cups from Costco. We got several flavors of Coffee Mate Creamers, and set up our own coffee bar. It turned out really cute – wish I’d have gotten a picture of it!

Another thing we did a bit different, is that Grace did not want a cake. She didn’t really care for cupcakes either. She asked if we could just have bars. I ordered three trays from Cub Foods. My mother-in-law also brought brownies. Her grandma on her dad’s side had special cookies made at Cub Foods with the theater masks on them, since Grace wants a future in the performing arts. They were so cute! My friend makes amazing Oreo Balls, and Grace had asked if she would be willing to make some of those for the party as well. She wasn’t sure she’d be at the party, since she was about to have a baby, and I felt bad even asking her. That said, Jenny was very willing to make them, and dropped them off a couple days before. Another friend brought chocolate covered strawberries. We had a great spread of desserts!

Set Up

We just built our house this past year, so we didn’t have grass yet. Our driveway was recently put in, so couldn’t have chairs or anything on the driveway. We knew the party would mostly be held in the garage, and decided to have the food in the house due to the heat of the day, and space. We ended up also having some of the pictures, scrapbooks, and other memorabilia inside too.

We borrowed several tables and plenty of chairs from Grace’s dance studio (Lake Area Dance Center). We also borrowed a couple of tables and chairs from a friend of ours. Most of the table covers, centerpieces, etc. came from Party City or Walmart.

Planning Your Own

When planning an event like a grad party, it’s smart to start early. I had good intentions of working on scrapbooks, organizing photos on my computer, etc. over the past year, but life kept me busy, and I was scrambling towards the end. We did pick up supplies over time, so as not to spend so much all at once. I watched for sales, and picked things up as I saw them. Even at the last minute, we ended up spending quite a bit on food, last minute items, plates, etc. Having some of the details such as color scheme (her school doesn’t really have a specific color), food, etc. picked out ahead of time could have helped us watch for sales on things like pasta, table coverings, etc.

Borrow where you can. We saved a lot of money by borrowing tables, chairs, and the coffee pot.

We also reused a few of the decorations from our past graduates. We had more decorations for Grace’s, but are saving the new items we got, for the two future graduates in our house. Getting generic graduation items, and not year or school specific can be a way to save money, so they can be used again if you have multiple children. We did have a couple things that said “Class of 2019”, but most just said “Graduate”, or “Congratulations”.

 

 

 

Have help! Our friend was in town from Michigan. She was amazingly helpful during the entire party. Every time I came to check on the plates of bars or cookies, she would have just refilled them. We had plain meatballs, and meatballs in sauce. As the ones in sauce went, she would move some of the plain over. She monitored the pastas in crock pots, stirring them as needed, etc. Though I was still very busy through the day – giving tours, attempting to chat with people, etc, I would have been much more so, had it not been for all her help. She also helped me the next morning, as I took everything down in the garage.

In the end, we could have done without some of the things we did, because it’s really all about the graduate. As long as they feel loved, and feel special, that’s what really matters. I can say for certain that Grace did! 🙂

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