Redding, CA Photographer | Amy McMaster Photography - Life. Right Now.

about my nails + me

August 23, 2015


My name is Amy. I’ve been married 19 years to my high school sweetheart.  I’m a 30 something mom of 4 kids. Age 13 and down. I homeschool all of them. I’m active in my church. I have 2 hyper dogs, 4 cats, a bearded dragon, 2 sheep and approximately 60 chickens, ducks and geese that I oversee care of.  When I am not kissing booboos, assigning math work, helping my daughter strengthen her reading skills…I am also being wife and helpmate to my best friend. In addition to all that, I can also be found butchering some of the birds we raise for meat, doing emergency care on sick birds or sheep…I am on call in my life and wear many hats. Painting my nails became a relaxing outlet for me. I’m no nail artist, just a painting enthusiast. Why am I saying all this? Because I want to keep in the forefront of everyone’s mind that we all have lives outside of the nail world.  We have kids that depend on us, husbands that worry about us, friendships that need nurture and pets that demand our attention.

So that is my preface. A few months ago, as many of you know, I began to experience some problems with my nails. During the exact same time I was also having a lot health issues. I was seeing the doctor(s) a lot, being moved from medication to medication- trying to feel better. Trying to get back to a normal that I may never know again. My health issues are my business, so I won’t be sharing them with the world at large but please suffice it to say – my nails were only a small portion of what was going on.

What WAS wrong with my nails? I assumed I was overusing chemicals like acetone.  Or having skin reactions to foods. Really I began to suspect nearly everything except my nail polish. When this was going on, I could find NO one else having the same issues with their nails. I started wearing disposable gloves when I was touching food. I stayed up until 3am some nights with burning eyes trying to look for pictures or articles that could help me. I found nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nothing. I was very alone in this and eventually stopped posting about it on my IG. I was concentrating on healing, getting better and dealing with new-to-me food allergies. As the sole cook in my home feeding 6 people and me not able to eat a lot of different foods suddenly- my stress levels were off the charts trying to manage just everyday life. Plus homeschool? Plus a lame duck or a sick chicken or the coyotes that gutted one of my sheep…these things take first place every time for me.

Then one day I encountered another person who had a reaction like mine. We eventually were able to trace it back to Mentality Nail Polish. I was really frustrated at myself for taking SO long to figure out what was causing my nails to lift and hurt and burn. But just as I do with laundry soaps that cause rashes, or foods that never used to make me sick but now give me hives so bad that the rash goes all the way in to my ear canal and nostrils…I avoid them. I went back to mostly wearing mainstream polishes. My nails began to heal. As soon as I could confirm this finding for sure (in my mind), I took it to Mentality. They reacted swiftly. (ETA: it seemed swift to me at the time) I am not treated to a lot of ‘insider’ information so I am not really sure what all they had to do to make it happen but they switched bases. During that time, I used my old, olllld formula MNP- back before the formula switch. No reactions to those.

Why didn’t I say something before? Honestly? I truly had NO idea how many people were being affected. I knew there was myself and eventually 2 other people just before they made the announcement. Because I am NOT a blogger (I don’t blog, this is an old blog that I used for my photography so thought it would be a good spot to share this update), I do not have a FB nail account….really I only have my IG account and even then…usually I only have time to post a mani I did, maybe skim my feed briefly, like a few pics and I’m off to feed a sheep, potty one of my dogs, apply a bandaide to a skinned knee, make lunch for my kids, swap laundry, run errands, make sure my older kids are doing their chores…my day is endless. So, again, I didn’t realize that I wasn’t a loner super freak (that’s how I thought of myself because I couldn’t find anyone else suffering until near the end just before the announcement) until people this past week started DMing me, tagging me, texting me like crazy….that so many others had legit issues too. I know a lot of people have used MNP throughout all the changes and have never once had an issue. I simply thought it was yet another reaction I had to some unnamable ingredient. Story of my life.

For that oversight, I am so sorry for not speaking up sooner. I truly was largely oblivious until very recently because I don’t get to participate as deeply in the nail world as I would like to, to know what all is going on. I have a few friends that do keep up and they are where I have been able to glean much of what I have so far. My little nail world bubble is growing so fast now, people are reaching out and this is me responding the best I know.

Yes, I am now sure I had issues with some of the MNP polishes. No, I do not know which ones- that’s what made it so hard. It wasn’t ALL the polish. It wasn’t every polish in a collection. I was using multiple brands in a mani. It made it SO hard at first to pinpoint what was going on once I was able to address some of my other health issues.

What is going on with me now? My nails are now completely healed up. Nearly fully attached just as they should be. No tenderness, itching, etc all gone. I am using the brand new MNP formula and am having zero reactions. No itching, no burning, no lifting and despite my heavy use…they are still growing out fantastically. It is entirely up to you, should you want to try out the new formula. But I did figure I owed it to my friends, to update.

What is going on with Mentality now? I don’t know. As far as I know, they are working on replacements of purchases from those affected. I really don’t know much more than that.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I appreciate all of my friends who have been kind enough to tag me, message me and text me to keep as ‘in-the-know’ as I am right now. I appreciate that kindness!

IF you are suffering from burning, itching, nail lifting from using MNP – please please PLEASE contact Mentality directly. EVEN those of you who bought from their (now former) stockists.  Don’t just talk about this issue in private groups- talk about it in the open.  And definitely also take your issues to Mentality personally.


Amy McMaster aka spilledmilknails aka mom aka duck lady aka wife aka pitbull lover aka gluten free foodie aka…well…the list goes on.

update: 8/23/2015 9:25PM I just now read on the MNP instagram/facebook that they are no longer able to replace polishes. I am unsure if this means simply at this time…or period. I’m sorry! I would still continue to contact them if you suffered from any bad reactions to using their product.

update: 8/24/2015 I guess I’m fired now. :/ There was an announcement on Facebook. But I actually didn’t first see it there. I saw it on someone else’s blog from a screenshot. No personal email or anything.

update: 8/28/2015 I want to clarify something I keep reading in comments- although I was a swatcher for Mentality, I seldom, if at all, received collections/polish before a release date. Usually up to a couple weeks after it had been released. So I did not get to test collections before they were released.


about my nails + me · August 23, 2015 · 3:06 pm · everything nails

Write a Comment



it's supposed to be spring

April 7, 2013

so it’s supposed to be spring. but it’s been raining and raining. it’s been cold too. next week it’s supposed to be in the 80s. oh how i dislike redding’s weird weather. it can never seem to make up it’s mind except in summer.

100 degrees? nope that’s not hot enough. 110…now that’s more like it says, Redding. can always count on hot dry summers.

but today we had a break in the rain. it was still cold. it was still wet. my girls wanted to dress like princesses and go outside like cinderella and snow white. so we did. my oldest wanted pictures holding her umbrella. i was able to get a couple frames off before they were ALL. done. in minutes.

it was fun while it lasted.

and then my oldest was ALL done.

it was a fun few minutes anyway. at least we got some fresh air.

One Comment

  • Kim Peterson · Posted April 7, 2013 at 2:09 pm · Link · Reply

    Beautiful images and processing! Trying to decide my faves, but I just love them all! Last one made me smile…

Write a Comment



why ducks? | daily dose of duck | life. right now.

January 15, 2013

i have a few birds. i’m a bit of nerd when it comes to them. i read books. and google. a lot. i know all the breeds i have and carefully selected each one. thinking about getting a few birds? let’s dish!

please note that i am not a vegetarian and we sometimes eat our livestock. i respect that some people are vegetarian and even vegan so if you are sensitive to that- please read no further.

why ducks? this is one of THE most asked questions i get. no one ever asks why we got chickens. eggs right? well that’s why we got ducks. we chose ducks first. and why?

some books i have and find very useful: storeys guide to raising ducks and storeys illustrated guide to poultry breeds

why we said yes to ducks:

1. they are funny. they waddle and quack. it’s really entertaining. they do not bite or attack small children.
2. they are extremely generous layers of large to jumbo eggs.
3. they are easy to care for. extremely hardy in both heat and cold. not prone to diseases or illness.
4. clean up ponds – they love eating the grasses and pond weeds, mosquitos and their eggs, frogs and fish.
5. their soiled bedding makes a wonderfully rich compost fertilizer. unlike chicken poop, it does not need to be composted before use in your garden.
6. we have a small pond. but you do not need one.
7. provide a kiddie pool even if you have a pond. why? the ducks will still stop by and use it sometimes. bathing and pooping in it. as gross as this may seem, it is wonderful fertilizer. pour it directly into the soil of your garden.

a few drawbacks:

1. they need water. lots of water to be truly healthy and happy. you do not need a pond but you will need a kiddie pool at the least and you will need to dump and refill that sucker daily.
2. they can destroy your yard if it is a small one. their webbed feet mash everything down. the kiddie pool will too. you will likely want to move the pool daily to avoid absolute destruction or designate a scenic area that you may want to scoop out for your ducks.
3. you need make sure you have a proper duck hen to drake ratio. 3 boys and 4 girls? not ok. your females will get raped mercilessly and it can kill them. so buy sexed ducks or quickly re-home (or butcher) any excess males to preserve the safety and health of the females in your flock.
4. rearing them (aka brooding them) from ducklings is a lot of work. they are extremely messy. but after a few weeks you can move them outside to their coop and they become pretty darn easy to care. baby chickens are not as wet messy to care for sure!

we started with 18 ducks last year. we ended up with way too many males. we found good homes for them. not yet ready to butcher those silly quacking ducks. that left us with 3 males and 11 females. they all began laying in september and october. the last few kicked in at the start of november. in september we were getting about 4-5 eggs a day. october about 5-7 eggs a day and by november we get 8-11 eggs a day. no lights, no forced molting. we do it all natural here. we respect that when the birds pause for the natural seasons change or for molting. we don’t interfere. what we did do was make sure we get another batch of ducks several months later so that when the first batch pauses laying to molt, the new batch will still be laying- so we should usually not be without eggs. :)

ducks get their own coop. their lay boxes are tupperware tubs stuffed with clean pine shavings. they lay their eggs and we let them all out of the coop for the day around 10am. at nightfall they all head back up to the coop for some supper and to go to bed. ducks have no defense against predators so we protect them with a fully enclosed coop. it’s not fancy but it serves it’s purpose and they are healthy and cared for. and free ranged. that was important to us. before they were old enough to go on the pond we used kiddie pools. we loved to drag the pools over to the orchard trees and dump the water around the base of the trees. liquid gold i tell ya!

we clean the coops out monthly or so give and take. we use horse stall bedding on the floor (pellets) and pine shavings in their lay boxes. we feed them mazuri waterfowl maintenance and oyster shell offered freely. pretty straightforward.

if you want to check out our daily duck and goose life- i have a hashtag on IG: #dailydoseofduck. i dont post every single day but pretty often. i try.

we have several breeds of duck over here on our little farm…or as we call it…as the egg turns ranch. bwahaha!

but these gorgeous ducks are called silver appleyards. big ducks that lay big eggs. over the years we are thinking to eventually only have appleyard ducks. these ducklings are all less than 10 weeks old, so very much big babies. :)

Write a Comment



the moody bw | wintered over | life. right now.

January 15, 2013

another long pause before i blog. we went through thanksgiving. then christmas. then new years. no posts from me. in my defense i am living life, just not enough time to share it. i lied. sometimes i do have time but choose to snuggle with my husband or fall asleep with the remote resting on chin. whoops. maybe this whole getting older thing is catching up to me? i am in my 30s…but not yet all that close to 40. yet my sweet little almost 9 year old son did boldly proclaim that i did know what i am talking about because ‘mom is almost 40!’ a backhanded compliment if i ever heard one. haha! i figured at least he thinks i know stuff right? i went with it.

i’ve decided rather than writing about what i think people want to read, i am going to write about what i want to and hope people sometimes want to read it. i can live with that. writing about i want will appeal to me so much more. this backyard bird farmer needs an outlet.

i thought i would introduce myself a little bit. it’s the start of 2013, might as well start with my intro right? i’m a mom of 4. i have a pet bearded dragon. i have a pitbull puppy. i have 18 or so chickens, 21 ducks and 2 geese. we raise them mostly for eggs but i have recently learned how to butcher my extra roosters for the table. it’s not fun, but it’s rewarding and delicious. i love food. self taught to cook and bake. still learning. i am not a vegetarian. but i adore vegetables. i love organic and clean floods. but i can make a mean tater tot casserole and will occasionally indulge in completely health challenged comfort foods. i live…but in moderation moderation moderation. i live in jeans. and birkenstocks . and slip on fuzzy boots. i collect fun socks. and old cookbooks. i like to make lists and yet struggle to stick to them. love coffee and chocolate. sometimes together.

i am an avid instagrammer. look me up at amymcmaster…see there i am! with almost 2,000 images of my everyday.

i’ve not had a lot of opportunity to use my big girl camera. but this weekend i go to. for 20 or so wonderful minutes. i thought the light and surroundings would lend to some beautiful color but once i moved into lightroom…i saw black and white. *sigh* black and white has my heart.

here are a few shares from there. i hope to blog more often. but watch out. the topics will be about me. what i am doing. a chicken drama, a favorite dish, a picture share…just what’s really going on. probably a lot of food. my latest thing is grinding my own grains and playing.

ok so back to the pics…

Write a Comment



lost | fall frenzy | life. right now.

October 26, 2012

my blog has been long neglected. i cringe when i look at the date of my last post. in my defense…i have been busy. i have 4 kids 11 and under. so here is the skinny…

i homeschool. i have my own small photography business. i network with photographers i adore and belong to a couple forums. spring 2012 saw me begin growing our own backyard farm. ducks first. then chickens. then geese. we are good with those birds for now. we’ve had a lot of chicken drama throughout all of this and i have learned and done things i never thought i was capable of doing. then my long time friend, my rottie lost his battle with cancer right before my birthday. a birthday we shared. my heart was so broken. a little time passes and we searched to fill the void my friend had left behind and we added a puppy to our family. it had been 9 years since i had done the puppy thing…so wow. that has been pure crazy. we love our little pit bull. yes, pit bull. i have a thing for tough, smart working dogs. what can i say. my rottie was 110 pounds when he was in top shape. my little pittie might break 50 pounds. that’s a huge size downgrade for us. but definitely more manageable around the kids inside the house. my rott and his bog ole booty was constantly and accidentally knocking kids over. poor sweet guy. i miss him.

so now fall. my most favorite season is upon me. the smells. the sights. the sounds. the reminder for being grateful for what i DO have, not what i do not have. i love the colors. the rain. the foilage. the smell. the chill in the air. pumpkin flavored everything. and it’s my 2 month excuse to bake sugar, sugar and more sugar. seriously? ahhh! love it! and this year i have my OWN farm fresh eggs to use. amazing!

and through all this…i suddenly remember…the very thing that got me started in photography has been laid aside. forgotten getting dusty from disuse. the thing I love the most. photographing the real, everyday moments that make up my life as a mom. documenting the messy hair days, the tantrums, sniffles and coughs, joys, quiet moments, snack time, learning to make cookies…just all of that. not the moments we create and pass of as authentic but the truly honest moments that just unfold everyday. november is my favorite month of the year. thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. i am kicking off november on my blog (which has long been neglected) with a daily project that I once did and it fell by the wayside by a busy life…life. right now.

some of you that know me remember this project. if you do and remember- i would love to have you re-join me. if you do not- i would STILL love to have you join me for the first time! or just follow along- whatever your schedule allows. it is a 365 of sorts…but I don’t like to call it that. since life is crazy…sometimes i can post daily…sometimes i might be lucky to post a couple times in a week. the point is not to put pressure on me on yet another project i have to do but rather inspire me to to pick up my camera for myself…for my family. to capture the very things i see everyday. that are not perfect. that are not staged. that are not tidy. that are not fashionably dressed. but that are perfectly imperfect and completely real.

with the new crazy that is now facebook and the fact that only like 15% of my likers (even on our personal pages now) now see my posts…i am going to be working on using facebook less. my blogs more. emails more. possibly even a newsletter. i want to stay connected to people who want to stay connected with me. 😀

my life. right now. project will be what i make of it. since it is my life. my story. my real. then it will sometimes have chickens or ducks or geese. or lizards. or snotty preschooler noses. or spills. or messy laundry piles. hey…i am talking real life here people. my house is not a better homes and garden museum. it’s a real place where i really live with 5 other people and feed 7 at night (my mil joins us for supper nearly every day). since i homeschool, be a mom to my rad kids, keep my home, run a business, care for 30+ farm birds, training a puppy and trying to maintain my super hot relationship with my fantastic husband of 15+ years…my home gets messy. dusty. sometimes…gasp…downright dirty. my life is for my family and i am not trying to impress anyone with my matching pillows, fancy drapes (which i do not have) and sweet winding staircases…it’s not me, it’s not who my family is right now and i love this life so darn much that i refuse to be a slave to a perfect house or ideal the magazines impress upon us.

god first and my family next. the laundry, the messes, the dishes will be there as long as i have children in my home and one day those messes will be gone. so will the children. the laughter. the fighting. the yelling. i will be sad. i will wait patiently for at least one of my kids to have kids. then i will stalk my grand kids. lord help them now. i will bake cookies, i will help my children anyway i can. grandkid sleepovers, making dinner and drop it off to my kids so that the parents can have a break…run errands, clean a toilet, take the kids to the park. i will try hard not to boss…i will probably fail but above all i want to be involved in anyway my kids will let me in their lives and their children’s lives. i. love. my. family.

so november…life. right now. begins.

want to see what’s going on with me now without waiting? follow me on instagram… amymcmaster. it’s pretty darn real there too. but with my project i am going to push myself to pick up my big girl camera and PRINT what i love. less digital hoarding and more printing. this project is less about me as a photographer and more about me as a mom wanting to capture my kids lives so that i have this wonderful gift of their childhood to share with them later. and so that one day…when i start to forget- i can be reminded with the images.

anyway…yeah. so that’s me now. :) i would love to hear from you. as a mom (or dad! there is usually at least 1 main picture taker in the family) have you let this go by the wayside too? photographer or not…capturing the every day we can all get wrapped up in everything going on. with decent cameras on our genius phones we have no excuse. let’s shoot and print!

a few images taken throughout october.

Write a Comment