Wednesday, 30 September 2015

A step by step of how to Shellac

I am no nail technician, I will admit that. However, I am very good at Shellacking. The thought of a chipped nail repulses me - I have my priorities straight in life. So, I taught myself from scratch and through trial and error I think I have worked out the perfect techniques for the perfect nail. Now all you need to do is read and follow these simple steps and you can have very happy and pretty nails too! I re-do my nails every 2 weeks and they stay on without chipping for all this time. It is very low maintenance and you can easily sit and do them in front of Keeping Up with the Kardashians (again, clear priorities in life). I am also no hand model, so apologies for the pictures and my white is very well loved (grubby) - I wouldn't recommend getting yours into this state! It isn't good for them!

I order a lot of my Shellacking kit from Amazon, it is cheap and always turns up very promptly! I use Bluesky and Gellux, which I have used it for years and always find it has the best results and great colours. Here are the links for you to purchase the above (I find they last for 6+ months so the cost is very low). For the purposes of this blog I am going to do a French manicure, I think it is understated and chic - so me (maybe not). 

1. To start off with make sure that your nails are completely polish free, cut to the length that you want, filed into the shape that you want, your cuticles are pushed back and cut if straggly! Finally here is the difference with Shellac, you need to roughen up the nail surface so that the Shellac bonds with your nail. I use number 2 on this 4 way block

2. Once your nails are prepped and the surface is clean, apply the nail primer as a bonding agent. This also makes sure that any loose nail filings on your nails are removed.

3. You are now ready to start applying the base coat, you should coat the whole surface of your nail so that it is fully protected and make sure to seal the end of your nail with the base coat too.

The next most important part of your Shellac kit is your UV light, these are very cheap but make sure to change the bulbs every 6 months. Here is a link to one that I would recommend: UV Shellac lamp. Again this is available from Amazon and is a really great price.

4. Your base coat now needs to be set, so set the Shellac lamp to the timer settings and pop your hand in for the allotted 2 minutes. If you are doing this on your own nails I tend to paint one hand, pop it into the Shellac lamp straight after and then move onto the next hand, alternating for each layer. 

5. Now you are ready for your colour, as I am doing a French manicure I am applying the soft pink as a base before the white. If you are doing a colour this would be your main coat. I always apply 2 coats, each coat needs to be set under the lamp after it is applied so don't be tempted to miss this step out!

6. My soft pink base coat has set and enough coats have been applied so it is now time to paint on the white tips. After years of doing this, I now have a very steady hand for this but trust me, this takes time! Shellac is different to normal nail varnish and is a lot more "mouldable" for touch ups. If you are going for a French Manicure, I would recommend that you use a cuticle pusher to touch up the lines and make them even, you can wipe over the top of Shellac and not ruin the base coat so don't worry about mistakes! I find with the white tips that it will get on your skin around the nails, don't worry about this, as soon as you wash your hands with warm water it will start to come away.

7. After you have set the white tips you are now ready for your top coat, pop this on and wait for it to set under the lamp. I like to be extra sure that it has set properly and once I have done both hands I put them both under the light and set the timer just one more time!

8. You will probably find that your hands now feel rather sticky. I use Gellux prep and wipe: which you will find on Amazon and a lindt wipe, I go over with this a few times and then wash my hands to make sure that stickiness has completely gone! 

Now your nails will look amazing for the next 2 weeks, alleviating you of all nail anxiety.

If you have any questions on Shellacking, ask away!

Styling Happiness xoxo

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Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Chocolate Chilli Cake Recipe

This morning was a very busy morning baking a Chocolate Chilli Cake which I will go through step by step with you... It is a recipe that I have used for years from an old Great British Bake Off book that I have and it is a firm favourite of mine! 

The ingredients you will need for the cake are:
  • 250ml semi-skimmed or full fat milk
  • 100g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
  • 250g plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda 
  • 150g unsalted butter
  • 300g light brown muscovado sugar
  • 1 tablespoon black treacle
  • 3 large free-range eggs

For the chocolate ganache filling and topping:
  • 200g dark chocolate 
  • 300ml double cream
  • 2 tablespoons of golden caster sugar

1. To start with, preheat the oven to 180°C. Heat the milk in a small pan until scalding hot but make sure that it does not boil.

2. Remove the milk from the heat and add the broken up chocolate, ginger and Tabasco sauce.

3. With an electric mixer combine all of the ingredients until all the chocolate has melted and the liquid is smooth.

4. In a seperate bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking power and bicarbonate of soda. Set aside for the time being.

5. Put the soft butter into a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until creamy.

6. Make sure that the sugar is lump free, I like to put it through a sieve, and gradually add it to the butter beating well after each addition.

7. Now add the black treacle, a handy tip for this is to pour boiling water over the spoon before dipping it in the treacle and it will run right off! Now beat the treacle into the mix.

8. Beat the 3 eggs to combine them and gradually add them to the mix, beating well after each time. I like to do this in 3 steps.

9. Add a 1/3 of the flour into the mix and fold in.

10. Now add a 1/3 of the cooled down milk and chocolate mix. Keep doing this alternately until all is combined in a smooth mix.

11. Now make sure that your tins are well greased, as no matter how good your cake is if the tin is badly greased that is where your cake shall be staying and no one wants that!

12. Separate the mix into 2 tins and give them a gentle shake to even out the mix.

13. Now pop them in the oven and hold tight for 55-60 minutes.

14. Make sure that your cake is baked all the way through by piercing with a knife, if the knife is clean your cake is baked through!

15. Leave the cakes in the tins for around 10 minutes to cool down and then pop them onto a cooling rack to cool down before putting on the chocolate ganache.

16. When the cake has cooled down it is time to make the chocolate ganache. Break up the chocolate and pop into a bowl, put the double cream and golden caster sugar into a pan and heat until you have nearly brought it to the bowl, then pour it over the chocolate and stir until it looks like the above.

17. Now spread the ganache on the bottom cake and sandwich the cakes together, then spread on top of the cake to give it that delicious glossy look. I have added the top of a chilli just to give it that little quirky edge! Now leave for a little while to set and you are good to serve!

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do and if you have any questions ask away!!

Styling Happiness xoxo

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Monday, 28 September 2015

Gullane Beach

Summer is quickly disappearing and the weather is starting to get that hint of a chill which means that Autumn is approaching. I wanted to catch the last of the Summer sun on the beach before the cold set in and what better companions than Alfie and Maggie my Golden Retrievers...

This is Alfie who is 8 years old, he is very lazy and has a very similar personality to Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh and who I suspect is very pessimistic to his outlook in life. To catch him smiling is a very rare occurrence, so as they say a picture really is worth a thousand words.

Alfie and Maggie, our 1 year old Guide Dog puppy Golden Retriever are obsessed with each other or maybe she is slightly more obsessed with him. She barely leaves his side even when asleep, choosing his basket alongside him a little more favourable than her own.

Maggie loves the water, Alfie not so much...

The two of them love digging and rolling around in the sand. I however do not appreciate the sand in the back of the car on the way home, if only they could wear wellies too.

Gullane Beach is only a 40 minute drive from the centre of Edinburgh and a perfect place to catch (grasp on to) that last bit of the Summer sun.

Where are your favourite places to get out of the city in Edinburgh?

Styling Happiness xoxo

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