Monday, September 30, 2013

Ask a linguist: To creak or not to creak?

I got this question the other day from P.D. (who may or may not be related to me): "What do you think of the 'creaky voice' syndrome that seems to be so pervasive among young females in the U.S.?"

I had to do a bit of research before I could respond to this, and it turns out creaky voice is kind of a fraught issue that isn't completely understood. But I'll do my best!

First of all, what exactly is creaky voice (aka vocal fry)? This video gives an exaggerated example so you can hear it clearly--you'll probably recognize it once you hear it (but you can ignore the rest of her rant):

To produce creaky voice, you compress your vocal cords, which makes them slacken and vibrate slowly and irregularly. This is why creaky voice sounds low-pitched and, well, creaky. Here's a visualization of my voice saying "alphabet":

The dark vertical bars each represent a single vibration of my vocal cords. In the first "a" sound, the bars are regularly spaced and close together; this is normal voicing. During the "e" sound, you can see that the bars are more spread out and irregularly spaced--this is creaky voice. (The blue line shows my pitch; the program I used to make this image gets easily confused about the pitch of creaky vowels, which is why I apparently have no pitch there.)

It turns out that everyone uses creaky voice sometimes, especially at the end of a sentence. It's often correlated with low pitch (also frequent at the end of a sentence). I didn't really try to say "alphabet" with creaky voice; it just happened naturally, and I'm not a particularly creaky talker. And this is true of people of all ages, not just young people.

Researchers have also discovered that creaky voice in English and other languages can have a paralinguistic function: that is, it doesn't directly affect the meaning of what you say, but it does aid in communication in some way. For example, it can be used to signal the end of your "turn" in a conversation. In Australian English, creak can signify that you have low solidarity with the person you're talking to. And if you say "yeah" with creaky voice during a conversation, it can mean that you're allowing the other person to take their turn talking, or that you want them to change the subject.

So creaky voice is not restricted to teenage girls. But it hasn't been fully established who actually uses it the most. (For a longer discussion, see this post at Language Log.) This is what I've been able to glean:
  • Creaky voice has to some extent been associated with men in the past (it sounds kind of tough and growly, I guess).
  • There is some evidence that extensive creaky voice is used by young women on the West Coast, and possibly spread from there. But older women might use it more than men too.
  • Creaky voice is perceived by many young people as informal, urban and upwardly-mobile.
  • Unexpectedly, NPR interviewers apparently use a lot of creaky voice! Maybe it makes them sound calmer and more disinterested?
I also found this video of a young man using tons of creaky voice. Interesting that it doesn't strike me as annoying or exaggerated--maybe because extensive creak originated as a masculine characteristic?

So, bottom line, creaky voice has been around forever and has several conversational and social functions. So try not to let it bother you!

P.S. There are some languages (including several native Mexican languages) that use creak contrastively; that is, a word with a creaky vowel will have a different meaning than the same word with a normal vowel. Creak is a pretty versatile thing!

31-Day Challenge #30: inspired by a tutorial

Second to last challenge! Can't believe I'm almost done! It was hard to choose what to do for today's prompt, since there are so many awesome tutorials out there. I settled on this "one stroke abstract petals" tutorial at Lucy's Stash--she is really talented!

This is my first successful attempt at the one-stroke technique! The background color is Sephora by OPI Merry Me, and the flowers are all acrylic paint.

And here's your cute Trudy pic of the day:

Is everyone else pumped for the final challenge tomorrow?? Here are the rest of today's manis:

Sunday, September 29, 2013

31-Day Challenge #29: inspired by the supernatural

I didn't have to think too hard about today's challenge. I've been into dragons since I was a tween--I used to draw dragons on people's folders in middle school. I even have a collection of dragon figurines, one of which appears in today's pic:

The base color is Julep Hailee with Color Club Wild Cactus and more Hailee sponged on. I made a darker shade of green by mixing Wild Cactus with Revlon Stiletto, and did the scales and area around the eyes with that (it's unfortunately hard to see in this pic, but quite obvious in real life). I defined the edges with Revlon Stiletto. The eye is Sally Hansen Lightening with a dot of Sinful Colors Snow Me White for the "reflection".

And here's a bonus dragon I found buried in my pictures folder--I drew this in 2002, which means I was probably 16 (don't ask me why he's holding a banner)...

Finally, don't forget to check out today's other supernatural manis!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

31-Day Challenge #28: inspired by a flag

Does anyone else find today's prompt oddly specific? Why a flag of all things?

Anyway, I picked the flag of Slovakia, because I have a bit of Slovak ancestry, and I also think it's a nicely designed flag:

The double cross comes originally from the Byzantine Empire, since the Slavs were converted to Orthodox Christianity by Byzantine missionaries Cyril and Methodius (who also invented the ancestor of the Cyrillic alphabet). The blue hills represent three mountain ranges in the region.

My mani isn't very exciting, but I wasn't sure how to spice it up! I used Sinful Colors Snow Me White, Revlon Red Carpet, and China Glaze Hanging in the Balance.

Here are today's other patriotic manis!

Friday, September 27, 2013

31-Day Challenge #27: inspired by artwork

I was initially nervous about this challenge, because I didn't think I had the talent to reproduce any works of art (except for maybe some really minimalist abstract art). I hope you like the inspiration I eventually came up with...

It's Lascaux Cave art--the original artwork (over 17,000 years old)! I love the style of the animals. Here are the pictures I used for inspiration:

 Here are the polishes I used:
  • Julep Otte
  • L'Oreal Creme Puffs
  • Sephora by OPI Thyme for a Mani
  • Revlon Stormy Night
  • Revlon Timeless
  • Sinful Colors Snow Me White
  • OPI My Vampire is Buff
  • Revlon Stiletto
  • L'Oreal Spice Things Up
  • L'Oreal L'Orange
I sponged several colors on the background to get a "rocky" look. At the end I used Revlon's matte topcoat.

Don't forget to admire today's other artsy manis!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

31-Day Challenge #26: inspired by a pattern

I took the easy way out for today's challenge and based my mani on a pattern I see every day: the one on my bedspread (which looks like this). I just switched the color scheme because I feel like I've used a lot of blue lately (even though I adore blue!).

I think this looks pretty cool! I used Julep Abbie and Brit and did the pattern with my smallest dotting tool.

Only five more challenges to go! I'm trying not to get burned out. :-P

Check out today's other challenge manis:

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

31-Day Challenge #25: inspired by fashion

I had been avoiding thinking about this prompt for a long time, because I had no idea what I was going to do. I've never been interested in fashion in the slightest; 90% of my wardrobe is from GAP, and the rest is mostly funny t-shirts. Eventually it occurred to me that I should just go with what I know. And one thing I have a lot of (from GAP, of course) is argyle.

This mani made me very grouchy. First, I used striping tape to make the diamond shapes, but of course once I removed the tape I had white lines that needed to be filled in, or it wouldn't look right. Since I had to fill in the gaps by hand, it doesn't look as neat as I would like. Then, I used a Sally Hansen nail art pen for the dotted lines--I started with dots, like you see on my socks, but it didn't look good, so I connected some of the dots to make dashes. But I think this pen was too thick for this design. (Do they make super thin nail art pens? Like the size of thin mechanical pencils?) And the pen also stained my skin! Boo.

ANYWAY the colors I used were Essie Lapiz of Luxury, Revlon Timeless and Sinful Colors Snow Me White (plus the turquoise art pen).

I didn't put a topcoat over the turquoise, and it washed off almost completely in the shower, so I took a quick picture of just the diamond pattern:

Here's hoping tomorrow's mani turns out better (even though I have no idea what I'm going to do yet...).

And don't forget to check out everyone else's fashionable manis!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

31-Day Challenge #24: inspired by a book

For this challenge I chose one of my favorite books, Tolkien's The Silmarillion. The book covers the history of Middle-Earth before the events of The Lord of the Rings, and is basically full of elves being badass.

I attempted to paint the Two Trees of Valinor, which shone silver and gold. They were killed by a giant spider but before they died, their last flower and fruit were taken and became the sun and moon.

For the silver tree I used Zoya Storm, Julep Harley, L'Oreal Eiffel for You, and Color Club Wild Cactus (unfortunately the picture doesn't show that the trunk and branches are a slightly different color than the silver leaves--I mixed silver with brown); for the gold tree I used L'Oreal Not a Cloud in Sight, Maybelline Bold Gold, Revlon Stormy Night and Revlon Sassy.

Here are today's other literary manis!

Monday, September 23, 2013

31-Day Challenge #23: inspired by a movie

I don't know about you, but my favorite Disney movie of all time is The Lion King. I've watched it probably at least a hundred times, and I've seen the musical twice. I gave myself a very ambitious (for me) goal for this challenge, which was to recreate this scene from "Hakuna Matata":

I was terrified the whole time that I was going to do something horribly wrong and have to start the whole thing over, but miraculously that didn't happen!

OK, Simba's expression looks more doofy than carefree. But all things considered I'm pretty darn pleased with myself. :-D

I used a zillion polishes for this (in many cases I mixed two or more colors together):
  • Sinful Colors Snow Me White
  • Revlon Stiletto
  • Julep Otte
  • L'Oreal L'Orange
  • L'Oreal Spice Things Up
  • L'Oreal Caught Red-Handed
  • OPI My Vampire is Buff
  • L'Oreal Not a Cloud in Sight
  • Essie Sand Tropez
  • Julep Parker
  • Sally Hansen Blue Me Away!

Don't forget to check out today's other movie-themed manis, and remember...ya gotta put your behind in your past!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

31-Day Challenge #22: inspired by a song

OK, can you guess what song I was thinking of?

(The answer is Here Comes the Sun by the Beatles!) For this mani I was experimenting with "drawing" using dots. I do like the way the sun came out, but I can't decide if I should have used a base color or not. I used Sally Hansen Lightening, Revlon Sunshine Sparkle and Sinful Colors Snow Me White for the sun and L'Oreal Not a Cloud in Sight for the sky.

Here are today's other musical manis!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Where do you sound like?

Today I filled out a survey that asks you questions about how you talk, then shows you how similar your dialect is to other people's in the U.S. Here's my map:

I grew up in southeast Michigan, so I'm glad I still sound like it, even though I've been away for nine years. I was more surprised to see that I also talk a lot like Californians! (Although I know my vowels don't sound very Californian, but the survey didn't pick up on that.)

If you grew up in the U.S., you should give it a try and see where you sound like! There's a short survey here and a 140-question one here (which is probably more accurate). I noticed that the website is a bit slow, so if it doesn't load for you, just try again later.

Last night I also got to play the manicurist a little--we had dinner with my husband's cousin and her family, and I got to do her daughter's nails! She was very patient while I worked, and let me take a picture afterwards! (I did make a bit of a mess on her cuticles, oops...)

Happy Saturday!

31-Day Challenge #21: inspired by a color

I wasn't totally sure what "inspired by a color" means, so for today's mani I just picked a color I love and went crazy with it. :-P Teal is my favorite color besides purple, so I gathered a bunch of blue-green polishes and did a waterfall mani a la The Nailasaurus. Mine is not as neat as hers, because I used a bigger brush, but I like how it looks (it's quite waterfall-ish, don't you think?).

I started with a base of OPI My Vampire Is Buff, and did stripes of Essie Naughty Nautical, Color Club Age of Aquarius, Color Club Wild Cactus and Julep Lena, and accented it with OPI Goldeneye. I like how the off-white base looks like foam at the bottom of a waterfall!

And here's a bonus Trudy for your enjoyment:

Don't forget to check out today's other inspired manis!

Friday, September 20, 2013

31-Day Challenge #20: water marble

I have to confess, when I saw today's prompt I was pretty scared. I'd never done a water marble before, and everyone said it was the hardest thing EVER, so I was pretty sure I'd screw it up. But somehow it turned out pretty decent!

This is an all-Revlon mani: my base color is Provence (which you can just barely see peeking through in some spots) and I did the marble in Enrapture, Impulsive and Blue Slate. The one thing I would do differently next time is to use a lighter color along with the darker ones to get more of a contrast. But on the whole I'm kind of amazed I pulled this off!

Oh and we're now done with the second chunk of prompts for the challenge, so I made another collage! Only eleven more to go!!

Image Map

Now go admire all of today's other water marble manis!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

31-Day Challenge #19: girly galaxy

I was looking forward to this challenge because I'd only done galaxy nails once before, and they turned out kinda meh. So I wanted a chance to improve! I stole the concept for this version of galaxy nails from Rachel at Royal Milk Tea, who created an adorable pastel "magical cupcake galaxy, with flying unicorns and kittens"! What other kind of galaxy could you want??

"It's a galaxy for girls," quoth my husband. I started with a white base and sponged on Zoya Ali, Essie DJ Play That Song, Color Club Age of Aquarius, and Essie Play Date. Then I added a coat of Revlon Celestial FX (had to fish for the big glitters unfortunately).

I'm definitely happier with my second attempt at galaxy nails, and I also feel like I'm living in Lisa Frank's acid trip.

Now go explore the galaxy with the rest of today's challenge participants!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Liebster Award!

I'm so honored--my pal Kirby at The Mercurial Magpie has nominated me for a Liebster Award! This award is designed to promote blogs with under 200 GFC followers. We can't all be superstar bloggers, but it makes me feel good to know that people out there enjoy what I write. I'm so grateful to everyone who follows and comments on my like me, you really like me!

Here are the questions Kirby asked me!

1. What inspired your blog name? 
Hmm, well, I wanted a nice Latin word because Latin is close to my heart (and also I'm bad at coming up with punny names in English!). "Aliquid" is snappy, has a meaning to go along with the somewhat random collection of topics I blog about (it means 'something, anything'), and it's similar to my name!
2. What nail polish color can you not resist buying? 
Purple and blue, definitely. I just checked, and those two colors make up almost a third of my entire stash!
3. You're rushing out the door and have 10 minutes to do your nails, what polish do you grab?
Oh god I would never do this, I would be too anxious about making a mistake and not having time to finish. I always give myself plenty of time to do my nails.
4. Your house is burning down/you're on a deserted island/you're being abducted by aliens, etc....which 5 polishes would you take with you?
Tough question! Out the Door would have to be one of them. As for the others, I just can't decide...I would probably take a holo with me though, just because they're so amazingly pretty. :-D
5. What inspired you to get into nail polish in the first place?
It was very random. I was on a little break from work after passing my qualifying exam, and I was browsing the health and beauty subforum at I found the nail care thread and saw the amazing manicures people were doing in there...and I knew I had to be a part of it! It's a little funny because I'm not at all a makeup/beauty person otherwise.
6. What technique have you struggled with in the past and now mastered? 
I guess the techniques I can do well every time would be gradients and dotticures. I.e. the easy stuff. :-)
7. What technique do you still struggle with?
Freehanding! Still working on getting thin, even lines!
8. What is your favorite type of manicure to do? 
There are so many that I'm just doing now for the first time, thanks to the 31-Day Challenge, so get back to me at the end of the month! (I am a fan of dots and geometric patterns though.)
9. How do you organize/keep track of your polishes? 
Everything is swatched on wheels and numbered, then catalogued in a spreadsheet that lists brand, finish, and color(s), with as accurate color-coding as possible so I can see the exact colors I have at a glance. My polishes are sorted by brand and stored in my Helmer. (I loooove organizing things!)
10. What commercial brand is your favorite? 
Tough, but probably Zoya because they have a good variety of finishes!
11. What indie brand is your favorite? 
Well, I hope you enjoyed learning all those tidbits about me! Now I'm passing along the fun by nominating eleven other blogs:
  1. What are your favorite color, brand and finish?
  2. And what about your single favorite polish?
  3. What base coat, top coat and cuticle products do you like most?
  4. What made you decide to start blogging?
  5. Do you have any other hobbies besides nails?
  6. What's your favorite type of nail art to do? 
  7. What nail art technique would you most like to be really good at?
  8. What mani are you most proud of?
  9. What's your biggest "nail fail"?
  10. What's your #1 goal for your blog in the future?
  11. Textured polish: yea or nay?
Don't feel obligated to participate if you don't want to, but I hope you do! And don't forget to send on the award to more blogs! ;-)

31-Day Challenge #18: half moons

This was another mani that I barely had to think about. I already knew what color scheme I wanted to use--I borrowed it from this outfit in Dragon Age II:

I like the way the coral contrasts with the blue-grey! So this is what I came up with:

The coral is Julep Gloria, the grey is Essie Maximillian Strasse-Her, and the gold is Maybelline Bold Gold. To make the half-moon shape, I used Orly French tip guides, but they didn't give me enough curve so I touched up the half moons by hand.

Now go admire today's other half moons!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

31-Day Challenge #17: glitter

For today's prompt I barely had to think at all before I knew what I wanted to do. I love the look of full-coverage glitter with solid-color accents; I've seen the idea on several blogs (I think on Accio Lacquer most recently).

This is two coats of Deborah Lippmann Superstar with Revlon Stiletto on the tips. I mattified the accent nail, then I decided to make the whole mani matte:

I think both versions are pretty classy! Which do you like better?

Don't forget to admire all of today's sparkly nails!

Monday, September 16, 2013

31-Day Challenge #16: Peruvian patterns

Well folks, today I'm officially more than halfway done with the 31-Day Challenge!! Just gotta keep that momentum going!

Today's prompt is "tribal". Can I just say first that I really hate the term "tribal"? It's often incorrect and just kind of racist. :-(

*gets off high horse* Anyway, I'm assuming "tribal" means "a pattern used by non-white people". I chose to reproduce some Peruvian textile patterns I found--I love the bright colors they use!

I picked four patterns from this lovely picture to attempt (hopefully you can tell which ones):

I'm pretty impressed with myself, I must say! I'm especially proud of the pattern on my ring finger.

I used a ton of polishes for this one:
  • Revlon Impulsive
  • Sinful Colors Snow Me White
  • Deborah Lippmann On the Beach
  • Revlon Plum Seduction
  • Sally Hansen Lightening
  • Essie Play Date
  • Essie DJ Play That Song
  • Essie The More the Merrier
  • Wet 'n' Wild On a Trip
  • Julep Meryl
  • Julep Nan
  • L'Oreal L'Orange
Whew, I think that's all! Oh, and I mattified everything because, you know, it's fabric! :-D

Don't forget to look at everyone else's "tribal" nails!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

31-Day Challenge #15: delicate print

When I saw the word "delicate" in today's prompt, I knew I'd be stamping. I ended up choosing this really intricate labyrinthine stamp from Winstonia plate W112.

I wanted some interest in the background, but not so much that it would distract from the stamp. I ended up using a white background (Sinful Colors Snow Me White) and sponged two colors per finger on top:
  • index finger: Zoya Sweet and China Glaze Peachy Keen
  • middle finger: China Glaze Peachy Keen and Sally Hansen Lightening
  • ring finger: Sally Hansen Lightening and Essie First Timer
  • pinky: Essie First Timer and Essie Lapiz of Luxury
I used Revlon Stiletto for the stamp.

Check out today's other contributions!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

31-Day Challenge #14: pansies

Today's challenge theme is flowers. I knew I could pull off a really easy look using dots, but I decided instead to challenge myself by freehanding a type of flower in more detail. I typed in "flowers" in Google image search and my eyes landed on pansies. I think because they look like they have faces, and also because of these creepy guys from Alice in Wonderland:

They're kind of terrifying actually. Real pansies are very pretty though! So I looked up pictures of four different-colored pansies and attempted to reproduce them on my nails.

I'm pretty happy with them! I just need to work on getting smoother lines (I probably need to invest in some polish thinner). I think the one on my index finger is my favorite!

I used five polishes for the main colors, and mixed each of them with black or white to get the darker and lighter shades:
  • Zoya Carmen
  • Revlon Impulsive
  • Essie Lapiz of Luxury
  • Revlon Plum Seduction
  • Sally Hansen Lightening

Check out today's other floral manis!

Friday, September 13, 2013

31-Day Challenge #13: leopard print

For today's animal print prompt I went with the classic leopard print, since I'd never done it before. It's so easy! To make it a little more exciting I inverted the colors on my accent nail.

I started with a base of Julep Otte (really pretty on its own too!) and added the spots with a dotting tool using Revlon Stormy Night and Revlon Stiletto.

In other news, there was a turkey wandering around the neighborhood yesterday! Wonder where he came from...

Don't forget to check out everyone's wild manis!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

31-Day Challenge #12: stripes

For today's prompt I made an attempt at freehanding rather than reaching for the striping tape. I need practice!

For the base color I used Essie First Timer (Love this color, but holy lobster hands Batman!) and I used acrylic paint for the stripes.

Next time doing stripes by hand (which will be coming up soon!) my goal is to use a lighter touch with the brush. Easier said than done, but practice makes perfect!

Oh and don't forget to admire all the other stripey manis today!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Swatch: I Love Nail Polish Mutagen

 The polish in this post was purchased by me. All opinions are my own.

I got this polish in the mail today and had to try it on immediately. I said "oooooh" out loud as soon as I opened the package! Mutagen is from I Love Nail Polish's new Ultra Chrome collection; it's a metallic multichrome that -- well, I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

(I apologize in advance for some weird angles in these pictures; some of the colors only show up when the main light source is hitting the nail from the side. I really need to make a new lightbox!)

The bottle shot shows almost every color in this polish...

I tried to capture as many nuances of the color shift as I could (I don't think I succeeded 100%). Prepare yourself for a wall of photos!

Uh. May. Zing. And you don't need a special lightbulb or anything to get these color shifts; I could see them all just by holding my hands at various angles in plain indoor lighting. (As you can tell by the bottle in the last pic, there's a red-orange shift that I wasn't even able to photograph.)

Just to make things even better, the formula was pretty much perfect. It didn't drag at all like I was expecting, and it was just the right thickness. You can see some brushstrokes and ridges just a little bit, but for a metallic polish that's not surprising. I only needed two coats with no base color.

Obviously I can't wear Mutagen very long on my left hand, thanks to the 31-Day Challenge, but I'm going to keep it on my right hand as long as I can!

Mutagen is currently available at I Love Nail Polish ($12.50 for 12 ml), but the collection has been very popular so it might go away quickly! ILNP is 3-free.

 The polish in this post was purchased by me. All opinions are my own.

31-Day Challenge #11: dotted spirals redux

You may remember that a little while ago, I attempted to do a dotted spiral mani but didn't quite pull it off because the dots were too far apart. I knew today's 31DC prompt would be my big chance to redeem myself.

Definitely better. From a distance this mani looked like a mosaic, which was pretty cool! The base color is Indigo Bananas Halcyon (has a nice shimmer which is just barely peeking through) and the dots are L'Oreal Creme Puffs and OPI You're Such a Budapest.

Look at all these dotty manis!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

I made food: enchiladas

Yay, it's Mexican food time again! It's been a while...I've missed you. Tonight I made enchiladas with homemade sauce. Like so many Mexican dishes, enchiladas are versatile because you can put just about anything you want inside them. As long as you use cheese, of course.

I started by making the sauce (recipe here). It's very easy--basically just tomato paste with seasonings. This sauce has a little heat, but it gets diluted enough once in the enchiladas that it doesn't bother sensitive people like me.

Once the sauce is done, you assemble the enchiladas in a baking dish. I used brown rice, black beans, cheese, and of course the sauce.

When you've filled the tortilla, fold over the sides and flip it over--it should stay closed that way. Then spread some more enchilada sauce on top and sprinkle with more cheese. Bake them at 350 for 20-30 minutes, basically until the cheese is melted and the tortillas get a little crispy on the edges. (I've seen some recipes tell you to add more sauce halfway through, and you can do that if you like your enchiladas extra saucy.)

Enchiladas are one of those foods that look kind of gross and yet delicious at the same time, aren't they?