Nail Me BAires: MALBA on my Nails!

I’ve never been visually artistic. I can’t draw or paint and I sure as hell can’t make any sort of sculptures. Doodling has always  been a source of shame because my doodles are just straight up ugly. Despite having two artists for grandfathers, none of the visual art genes were passed on to me. Don’t they say that the younger siblings are  the more artistic ones? We’ll that’s 100% the case in my family. Lil’ sissy got it all and I’m only a little bitter. I do get the advantage of some of the paintings, drawings and clothes she designs. And she also has to set the table on special occasions. I’ll take that as a win.

But just because I can’t make art myself doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate it. Which is why when I saw the write up of NailMe Buenos Aires on BA expat blog MyBeautifulAir I couldn’t help myself. I was just about to embark on an incredible week of travel in Colombia (hence the post hiatus!!) with a group of friends from high school (not nearly as weird as it may sound) and crazy nails seemed like the perfect send off, like my version of dying my hair. I am a major nail color wuss and always tend to get basic colors.The big reason I like the bold OPI polish Cajun Shrimp is the name. 

But NailMe’s website was exciting in its inspired take on the basic manicure. So I made my reservation with Kristin G.

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Getting a manicure is often a spur of the moment decision with some sort of element of pampering and relaxation in mind, right? This is a little bit different.

First of all Kristin works in a “studio”. Its obvious that the art comes first (as it so should, just wait and see); just like any artist she needs her own space. She mentioned that the small extra room in her new Las Cañitas apartment was an added bonus when looking around for a new home base.

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I got comfortable on my side of the table while she went off to grab her computer so we could listen to music. Everything was free and easy, as if I had cajoled a friend into painting my nails for me. We chatted about some people we knew in common (BA is so tiny) and our common love of and longing for spicy. Turns out Kristin knows how to make a mean Thai curry! I’ll definitely see about making my own coconut milk in my food-processor now…

We turned to nails and she asked me what color I wanted. I chose purple because, well, why not. She asked what kind of design I was looking for. I hadn’t come particularly prepared, but I blurted out Mexican art. My friend and I had been talking about Mexican skull tattoos recently and it seemed like a solid choice. Her most used color scheme in photos I had seen matched nicely anyway. She seemed relieved that I had chosen a theme, remarking that she had been doing a lot of Andes region fabric inspired nails.

We started off with a full clipping, shaping and beautifying of my nails–salon worthy results I can never achieve myself. Then after googling for a second she painted three nails purple and two yellow on each hand, pulled out her incredible array of nail painting tools and paints and went in for the kill. I asked her how many nail polishes she has because they were practically spilling out of the boxes. She said she didn’t even know! I’d call that a healthy addiction. 

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Kristin does everything free hand. No decals or stencils at all. She makes things up as she goes along, following color palates in a way that a category F artist like myself could never dream of accomplishing. She said she started painting her own nails, then nails of friends just because she enjoyed it. Eventually she realized she could sell it as a skill here in BA. She even had a stint painting faces at Kika’s Hype on Tuesday nights and custom paints sunglasses in cool neon colors. 

We chatted on and on as the paint slowly spread over each one of my nails. Shes been an English teacher for a while, although she is now in a graduate school getting a masters as well. Talking comes easy to her and her studies and experiences colored our conversation, making the hour and a half nail session fly by. At one point she mentioned that a group of girls had contracted her to do a wine and nail night–they provided the wine. Is that not the perfect addition to any grown-up slumber party? 

Finally my nails were done and dried. So naturally we took a little photo shoot. 

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 Is that not just INCREDIBLE? 

Throughout the next two weeks I got compliments all over the place. My roommate (who has been toying with the idea of a skull tattoo and lived in Mexico) almost died on the spot. Two hostesses on the airplane to Colombia couldn’t stop talking about and touching my hands. My friends from high school wanted them for themselves. A vendor in Cartagena stopped me to ask questions about the “artist” who had painted my nails. I even got multiple compliments from male friends. I couldn’t help but be a walking talking advertisement!

Also, this manicure held up! After accidentally melting the design on a nail or two a bit when cooking right when I got home (I take full responsibility for my stupidity…) the paint stayed put. Keep in mind that I was traveling in Colombia for a full week. Almost two weeks later there were only minor chips and my nails stilled looked like a miniature exhibit out of MOMA. Its blurry, but you get the gist more or less…

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And then comes the price tag. All things considered, its a freaking steal for the work done. A full paint job like mine will set you back AR 70, about double the price of a simple color in a salon. It might not be something you get every week, but on special occasions it can and should definitely be justified. Rarely are you going to find something so unique and cool!

If you don’t feel like you can splurge for the full job, Kristen charges only AR 30 to get designs on two nails. That means you can get jazzy nails (mixed mani, whatever you want to call it!) for less than a boring manicure would cost you at a salon. Now you have no excuses. 

Kristin is also running a promo for 2×1 manicures (either with a friend or on your second visit) if you mention the MyBeautifulAir post! Take advantage while you can!

Here’s the full price list from NailMe’s website:

  • 25ARS – MACHO – Plain manicure, no colors
  • 30ARS – SIMPLE – Manicure, 1 color, 2 nail designs (Or add 5ARS per each detailed nail design)
  • 50ARS – SUPER – Simple designs, shatter, glitter, 2-3 colors (Includes all nails)
  • 70ARS – DELUXE –  The works; every nail detailed with full colors and designs, all glitter and gems included

So go head, get your MOMA nails. It will make you feel like an artist for a day.

NailMe Baires

Contact for appointments: nailmeglowme@gmail.com

Country Olive Oil in the Big City

If you have ever once wondered why BA supermarket olive oil is so expensive and, uh, bad unsatisfying to the pallet, I’m with you. But when I found Quetec I knew the days of oddly perfumed food were over. Located in three different areas of Capital Federal, this shrine to all things Mendoza is so so so worth the trip. The quality of their products is wonderful, but the best part is their prices. Or maybe its the olive oil and olive tastings. You can decide for yourself when you get there.

1 liter of olive oil (really good and what I use for cooking and drizzling alike) is something like $35 pesos. A WHOLE liter! Aside from olive oil they have green and black olives, a huge wine selection, jars of jam and other preserved treats and even a cold area where they can serve you up a part of a whole leg of jamon crudo and dried chorizo. They also have massive jugs of table wine which I haven’t been brave enough to ask about (or carry) but which look like they could be a fun party additive.

If you are mesmerized by the wine selection and can’t seem to choose there was one that I thought was delicious, especially for its price: La Íride, Cabernet Savignon. At $33 pesos I felt it was just what my asado needed.

Last time I went to the store on Riobomba they had these deals:

1 bottle of wine + 1 liter of olive oil (mixed olives) = $70 pesos

1 Liter of olive oil (mixed olives) + 1/4 liter of olive oil (single olive) + 1/4 kilo of olives = $55 pesos

So next time you think about buying Cocinero olive oil for $40+ pesos in your local Carrefour, think again.

Quetec

Riobamba 448, Congreso/Balvanera area
Gallo 1640, Barrio Norte/Palermo area
Av. Cabildo 196, Palermo Hollywood/Las Canitas area

Going to the Movies for Cheaper in Buenos Aires

It’s a Sunday or its raining and you feel like a nap movie. You could browse the options on your favorite movie site, but you feel the need to leave the house. An obvious option? The movies, of course! Here are a couple of ways to see movies without using all of your entertainment budget in one go.

CouponStar

 You may have seen the signs for this in the subte. The premise is simple: send a text, recieve a coupon. The great thing is that the coupons are things you would actually spend money on anyway. Couponstar has 2×1 deals at Cinemark, Multiplex, Showcase, and even IMAX Showcase theaters. When I originally saw it I immediately wanted to know just how many spam texts would flood my box after that coupon. Three weeks later I can say that I haven’t gotten any. Each coupon costs AR$ 1.20 + minimal taxes for Movistar, Personal, Nextel and Claro, which is how they make their money. Please, do me a favor and never pay full price again.

Espacio INCAA, Congreso

 If your Spanish is on the rise, and especially if you have already achieved some gold stars in your lunfardo class (please see El Tano Pasman for examples) this is the place for you. This heavily goverment-subsidized theater boasts Argentine films at extremely low prices. A ticket rarely if never goes abouve AR$ 10 and usually floats around AR$ 8. Its also even cheaper for students, averaging a whopping $AR 2 pesos less. So if you can’t wait to see the new Darin movie, this is probably your spot.

Club La Nación

 If you are interested in staying up to date on the news and getting some discounts at the same time then this is your best option. With a subscription to La Nación (can be just the newspaper once a week and a magazine per month) you have unlimited access to the company’s discounts. Many movie theaters throughout the city (the theater in the Abasto Mall, for example) give you a 2×1 price that is rarely available without an Argentine credit card.

Village Cinema

 This is a little chip off the price and good for those who feel the need to buy movie snacks. The movie theater at the mall in Recoleta and Caballito gives students, teachers, and retirees the possibility to apply for a card that gets a bit of a discount. The card costs AR$ 5 for administrative fees but it gets you the Wednesday matinee ticket price (AR$ 32 instead of 42) throughout the week and before 4 PM on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. You also get some sort of discount in popcorn combos (hence why this one is particularly good for you pochoclo fiends). All you need is proof of your status. If you are a retiree or teacher from Argentina I can imagine you know more than I do about this. For students, I know that you can get an offical letter declaring your status at a student (I’ve used this sort of letter to get some really nice dicounts on long distance bus travel) from your Argentine University quite easily, especially the private ones. If you are up for a little bureaucracy maneuvering, try this one out!

Showcase Belgrano 2×1

If you have internet access you can do this. Fillout the form and get 2×1 everyday and 2×1 in 3D movies on Thursdays using your very own scannable code. I saved the image in my iphone, ready for when I need it. Also 2×1 in 1/4 kilos of ice cream at Chungo. Nice. 

Cuevana

 If you really don’t feel like leaving the house afterall and you just want to curl up on your couch/bed/floor with your laptop then this is your best friend. Its self explanatory and entirely free so I’ll let you browse on your own. cuevana.tv

One final tip: If you’ve really gotten into this frugal thing, pop your own instant popcorn at home and buy a box of candy at the kiosko down the street. A good backpack or an over-sized purse will cover your tracks.

Happy Movie-ing!