Lilac Spot Nails

Purple is one of my favourite colours, so I always love to use different shades of purple in my nail art designs.

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For this one I started by painting all my nails in 2 coats of a shimmery lilac shade.

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Next I took a larger dotting tool and a dark shimmery purple shade. I placed random dots in this colour over all nails.

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Next I took a smaller sized dotting tool. I used the first lilac shade and placed a smaller dot in this colour in the middle of the dark purple dots I had just made.

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Lastly, using the same smaller sized dotting tool and the darker purple colour, I placed some smaller dots in random parts of the empty spaces that were remaining on each nail.

Valentine’s Day Strawberry and Chocolate Heart Cakes

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If you’re looking for an extra special treat to make for your special someone this Valentine’s Day, then these cute heart shaped cakes may be just what you need to bake. Especially if they love both chocolate and strawberry.  I wanted to make a layered cake in these flavours for Valentine’s Day, and decided that it would be really fun and fitting for the occasion if I made the whole thing heart shaped. As I have a heart shaped biscuit cutter, the idea of making small separate heart shaped cakes was born. They consist of layers of chocolate sponge and strawberry flavored frosting, that has been encased in a shell of milk chocolate. I used a square 7 x 7 inch baking tin, and was able to make a total of 6 cakes from my recipe. These are actually something that came up with for Valentine’s Day last year, as some of you may have seen in pictures on my Instagram back then.

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Ingredients

For the Cake Sponge:

  • 150g Self Raising Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • Small pinch of Salt
  • 125g Caster or Granulated Sugar
  • 7 tbsp Corn or Sunflower Oil
  • 2 tbsp Milk
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 tbsp Cocoa Powder
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Flavouring

For the Frosting:

  • 125g Unsalted Butter (softened to room temperature)
  • 300g Icing Sugar
  • 50g Cream Cheese
  • 1 – 2 tsp Strawberry Flavouring (adjust amount to suit taste)
  • Red Gel Food Colouring

For the Decoration:

  • 300g Milk Chocolate
  • 3 Fresh Strawberries

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Method

For the Cake Sponges:

1) Preheat the oven to 180°C or Gas Mark 4.

2) Sift the flour into a bowl and add to it the baking powder, salt, cocoa powder and sugar. Fold it together evenly.

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3) In a separate bowl, add the oil, milk, eggs and vanilla. Whisk everything together.

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4) Gradually add the dry mixture to the liquid mixture and beat together until everything is evenly mixed.

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5) Take your baking tin (I used a square 7 x 7 inch baking tin) and gently grease the bottom and sides with butter. Cut a strip of baking paper so that it is the same width as the tin, but a bit longer than it. This is so that you can fold it up and around 2 of the sides of the tin. This will help us when we come to remove the cake from the tin.

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6) Take your cake mixture and evenly spread just a layer of it over the bottom of the tin, making sure you get into the corners. The layer should be no thicker than about 1cm.

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7) Place the tin near the middle-top half of the oven for around 10 minutes. After, turn the tin around and leave it for a further 5 minutes.

8) Remove it from the oven and leave it to cool for a few minutes as the cake will be softer while it is hot. Use a pallet knife along the 2 sides of the tin where the baking paper does not cover the sides to gently make sure the cake is not stuck to the tin. Then using the excess sides of the baking paper as if they were handles, gently lift the cake out of the tin and leave it to cool fully on a wire rack.

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9) Repeat steps 5 – 8 at least 2 more times in order to make a total of 3 very thin square chocolate sponge cakes.

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10) When all the cake is fully cooled, take one of the cake squares and place it down flat on your work surface. Take a heart shaped biscuit/cookie cutter and use it to cut out 6 heart shapes. Gently peel the heart shapes from the baking paper and keep them to one side, but not stacked on top of each other. Any off-cuts of sponge can be put into a tub to enjoy with any left over frosting and melted chocolate that you may have left over at the end.

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11) Repeat step 10 with the other 2 squares of cake sponge. You should end up with a total of 18 heart shaped chocolate cake slices.

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For the Frosting:

1) Sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Add the cream cheese. Cut the butter into smaller pieces and add to the bowl as well.

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2) Cream everything together fully into a paste using a fork.

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3) Add some red gel colouring and the strawberry flavouring. Make sure you mix it in evenly. Repeat this if required until you get a nice deep pink colour that you like. You could also opt for making the frosting red if you prefer.

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4) Take 3 of your cake hearts. Gently spread a layer of the frosting onto just 2 of these so that the top of them are covered fully. Make it a similar thickness to that of the sponge. Then stack the 3 hearts on top of each other so that the one you did not spread frosting on to is at the top. Put this to one side.

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5) Repeat step 4 for the remaining cake hearts. You should be left with a total of 6 cakes made up of 3 layers of sponge and 2 layers of frosting.

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6) Next take one of the cakes and gently go around the sides where you can see the frosting, spreading it with more frosting. The aim is to fill in any gaps that there may be as we need a flat surface for the chocolate to cover. Then gently scrape around the sides of the cake with a palette knife in order to remove any excess and to smooth out the sides.

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7) Repeat step 6 with the remaining cakes. Your cakes are now ready to be coated and decorated.

 

For the Decoration:

1) Wash your strawberries and use a knife to cut a ‘V’ shape in the top at the sides of the stem. Pull on the stem to remove and discard it. You want to then cut the strawberries in half so that you can see the ‘V’ shape still in the top of each half of strawberry. This will make them look a little bit like heart shapes. Keep these to one side.

2) Next, break up the chocolate and put it in a mixing bowl, place the bowl over a saucepan of water on the hob. Make sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Turn on the heat and bring the water to a boil so that the chocolate starts to melt. Once it is boiling, bring it down to a simmer so that the chocolate does not burn. Stir the chocolate to help it melt. Once the chocolate is melted, remove it from the heat.

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3) Meanwhile, take a mixing bowl and rest a wire rack over the top of it. Place one of the cakes on top of the wire rack. Also take a tray big enough to hold all 6 cakes, and place a sheet of baking paper that is the same size on top of it.

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4) Carefully spoon the melted chocolate on top of the cake over the bowl and let it run over and drip down the sides until it is covered fully. You may want to use the back of the spoon to help spread it around.

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5) Place one half of a strawberry on top of the middle of cake so that the ‘V’ we cut is at the top. Let it have a couple of minutes to let any excess melted chocolate drip off into the bowl below.

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6) Then carefully move the cake over to the parchment paper on the tray we set up earlier. I found the easiest way to do this was by putting 2 forks underneath it at either end and lifting it that way. If you find some of the chocolate gets smeared off whilst moving it, you can patch this up by dipping the back of a spoon in the chocolate and smearing it across the problem areas.

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7) Now repeat steps 4 – 6 for the remaining 5 cakes. If the chocolate starts to become too thick, then simply pop it back onto the saucepan on the hob and heat it back up a little bit to melt it again.

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8) Once they have all been covered and decorated with a strawberry, you can move the tray over to the fridge to let the chocolate harden off. Leave them there until it is time to serve them. You may find some of the strawberry juice runs out and down the sides of the cake, but it will not affect the cakes. Due to the fresh fruit, you will want to eat them within a day or so of making them. I hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

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Holo Stars Nails

For this design, I layered a star stamping pattern over a silver holographic nail polish. I took the pictures in bright direct sunlight as this helped the holo show up better on the camera.

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I started by painting all nails in a black polish as it helps to get the best from the holo polish.

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Once this was dry I went over every nail with the holo polish. I needed to use 3 coats in the end to get the coverage I wanted.

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I then used a star type pattern on a stamping plate. I used a black polish to stamp the design over the whole of each nail.

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I then cleaned up any stamping that went onto the areas around my nails, before finishing off the design with a top coat.

Paper Punch Floral Nails

I saw a video on Instagram a few weeks back where someone used one of those craft paper punches that punch out different shaped from paper to make some nail vinyls. I thought it was a great idea and as I have a few of those punches myself in flower shapes I knew I just had to try it out.

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I started by painting a rectangle of nail polish in a dark pink shade on a silicone mat. Once it was dry I carefully peeled this rectangle away from the mat. I then used the craft paper punch in a flower shape to carefully punch out flowers of nail polish from the rectangle. I found that sometimes the shape did not punch out properly, so you will need to account for punching more flowers than you need. I put the successful flowers to one side.

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On all my nails I painted one coat of a light brown shade just to act as a base to help the holo layer come out more opaque. I then painted 2 coats of a silver holo polish over the top of this.

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Then using a clear polish as if it was glue, I painted onto my nail where I wanted to place the flower. I then carefully placed the flower on top. If there was any overhang or areas to clean up, I carefully removed this using a combination of nail scissors and a flat brush dipped in nail polish remover.

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Where the centre of each flower was I placed a single small rhinestone. I then painted over the entire nail with the clear coat to help everything stick. I repeated this same process on the remaining nails until each nail had a flower on it. On the thumbs I decided to use 2. To finish the design I then coated everything in a layer of quick dry top coat. The main picture on my left hand was taken under artificial light as I felt this showed up the effect of the holo background better.

Pink and Vanilla Nails

For this design I wanted something a bit busy that had something different going on for each nail.

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On the index and little finger, I painted 2 coats of a bright pink base. On the remaining nails I painted 2 coats of a nude shade.

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On the little finger, I sponged on a glittery pink to the tips make a gradient. On the middle finger, I sponged on the bright pink shade to the tips to also create a gradient.

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On the ring finger, I painted a stripe of the glittery pink in a line down the centre of the nail. I then outlined this stripe with thin pink striping tape. On the thumb, I places a single stripe of the same striping tape going down the length of the nail.

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On the thumb, I then placed 5 rhinestones in the middle of the nail on top of the stripe. I put a larger one in the middle, a medium sized one on either size, and then a smaller one on either size of this. On the index fingers, I placed a large rhinestone in the top middle of each nail and then a smaller one directly underneath that.

Sultry Tips Nails

For this design I wanted to have the one half of each nail nude and the other half with a stamped design. I went for a deep red shade with gold stamped over the top as I felt these colours would look really good together.

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I started by painting all nails in 2 coats of a very sheer light pink nude shade as a base and just to improve the overall look of the nails.

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I then used normal DIY masking tape once this had dried well to tape off half of each nail. I then used a deep red shade to paint in the tip halves of each nail. I immediately removed the tape, cleaned up any mistakes carefully and let it dry very well.

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I then prepared my stamping tools and used a lace type design on a plate labeled ‘Tian-Xin 19’. I re-taped up half of each nail along the same line as before so that the stamping only lands on the red areas. Working quickly and on one nail at a time I stamped in a gold colour onto each nail and removed the tape.

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I cleaned up any excess around the nails and then used a small dotting tool and the same gold colour to add a line of dots to cover the edge of where the red colour ends. I then finished off the design with a top coat.

Simple Short Nails

So only a few hours into the new year and I managed to break the ring finger nail on my right hand really low down. It was practically just under the line where the nail starts attaching to your finger on the one side. So I figured new year, new nails and cut them all down. I went for a simple design to compliment my nail length.

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I started by painting all nails in one of my favourite shades; ‘Surfboard’ by Barry M from the Coconut Infusions range.

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I can only best describe it as a light lilac shade which is a bit on the pink side, but also feels a bit grey at the same time. I used 2 coats on all fingers except the thumbs on which I used 1 coat.

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On the ring fingers I then applied some black petrol effect rhinestones. I placed a larger one in the top corner, and then used 5 smaller ones in a half circle around it.

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To complete the thumbs, I used 3 coats of a black multi glitter. This one is called ‘Rockstar’ from Barry M’s Glitterati polishes. I chose this shade to compliment the colour of the rhinestones.

Foil Splash Nails

For this design I tried out some nail foil for the first time. I did actually purchase this a while back but always put off trying it out because I wasn’t sure how easy it would be to use. However it was actually pretty easy to do and I wish I had of tried it out sooner.

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I started by painting all my nails in 2 coats of my base colour. I went for a dark blue. Once this was touch dry I used a quick dry top coat over the top.

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Next I selected the foils I wanted to use. I went for a light blue, silver and light pink to go with my base colour. Doing one nail at a time, I took a normal clear polish and removed most of the polish from the brush. Then I randomly dabbed it on parts of the nail. I let this dry for a few seconds and then placed the sheet of foil over the top, pressing it on gently and then removing it. This left random bits of foil in random places on the nail.

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I repeated this on each nail, starting with the blue foil. After I did the same over each nail again but with the silver. After I repeated with the pink foil. Then on some nails, I felt that they needed a little more of the blue in places and so I went back over with the blue as needed.

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Once I was happy with how my design looked, I went over my nails in a dry fast top coat. Unfortunately, this seemed to react a bit with the foils and it flattened out a lot of the ‘depth’ that they gave to the design. Therefore it did actually look a lot better than it does in the pictures. I’ve since looked online and it seems this is a common issue with foils. I think next time I will try a normal top coat first and then try my quick dry top coat over the top to see if it makes any difference.

Dry Marble Xmas Tree Nails

For this year’s Christmas design I decided to go for a simple tree design. The trees themselves were from making a dry/drag marble effect onto a silicone mat and then cutting it into triangles after it had dried.

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So to start I made the drag marble for the trees. I painted a rectangle onto my silicone mat in a light leaf green shade. I then blobbed on drops of different green shades on top of this while it was all still wet. I used a couple of darker shades as well as a pastel green.

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I then used the smallest sized dotting tool I have to swirl around through the blobs of nail polish to make the marbled effect. I think I might have over swirled but I couldn’t help but get a bit carried away with it. I left this to dry for plenty of time due to the layer of polish being quite thick. I repeated this a couple of times onto the mat.

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Meanwhile I prepared my base colour. I simply painted all nails in 2 coats of a nude/light cream shade.

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Once everything was dry I carefully peeled the marble effect from the silicone mat and used scissors to cut out triangle shapes to make the trees. To apply them to the nails, I painted a layer of clear polish to stick them in place. Any large excess overhanging the end of the nail was trimmed down using scissors. I then used a plastic cuticle stick to fold the remaining overhang under the nail.

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To complete the design I attached a single star shaped nail sequin to the tops of the trees using clear polish. I then painted over the top of the entire nail with a clear polish in order to protect the design. I also used clear polish to stick in place any overhang of the green triangle that I had folded under the nail. I repeated this same process for each nail.

Christmas Gingerbread Men Biscuits Recipe

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This is my take on some festive little gingerbread men. I think dressing them in Santa’s boots makes them look so cute. The biscuit isn’t has hard to the bite as traditional gingerbread men are, and the flavour is a little less overpowering. I wanted to make them a bit more like normal biscuits in texture. I did cheat a bit with the decoration though. I purchased ready made writing icing in a tube in the colours I needed, but feel free to make you own icing to pipe onto them.

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Ingredients

  • 200g unsalted butter allowed to reach room temperature
  • 150g light brown sugar
  • 300g self-raising flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 teaspoons ground ginger.
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon.
  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg.
  • 3 tubes of writing/piping icing in red, black and white.

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Method

1. Start by weighing out your sugar and adding it to a bowl.

2. Then weigh out your butter. Cut it into cubes and add to the bowl.

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3. Cream the butter and sugar together fully with a fork so that no lumps of butter remain.

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4. Weigh out the flour and sieve it into the bowl. Add a pinch of salt, the ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg.

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5. Then fold everything together into a dough using your hands. If you find your mixture is too dry, you can add a very small slither or 2 of butter and fold this into the dough.

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6. Put the dough into the fridge to chill for 30 mins.

7. Dust your work surface with flour and remove the dough from the fridge.

8. Start to preheat your oven on gas mark 4 and grease a baking tray with butter.

9. Take a section of the dough and roll it out to just under 1cm thick and use a man shaped cutter to cut out the biscuit shapes.

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10. Remove the excess dough and put it to one side to reuse later.

11. Carefully move the biscuits over to the baking tray, making sure that there is room for any expansion in between.

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12. I placed them in the oven near the higher side of the middle of the oven for 10 mins.

13. After I turned the tray around and left them for a further 5 mins.

14. Once cooked, I removed them from the oven and let them cool for a few minutes. Once the tray was cool enough to be touched, I carefully removed them from the tray and left them to cool fully. Don’t worry if they seem a bit soft as they will harden as they cool.

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15. Repeat steps 9 – 14 in order to use up the remaining dough.

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16. Afterwards it is time to decorate your gingerbread men. Prepare your black icing with a small round nozzle. Use this in order to pipe 2 eyes and a mouth for the faces on each biscuit.

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17. Next get your red icing ready in the same way. Use this to cover all of the gingerbread men’s feet with red boots.

18. Lastly, do exactly the same with the white icing in order to add the fluffy white trim to the tops of each boot.

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19. Repeat steps 16 – 18 for the remainder of your biscuits. The decorating steps are optional however, or you could use your own ideas for decorating them.

20. Gently move your biscuits into the fridge and leave them until the icing has hardened off before serving.

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