Monday, 30 April 2012

Apple, cinnamon and maple cookies

Apple, cinnamon and maple cookies. This might seem like too much to you, or it might be right up your street. Trust me, they are divine!

I'm going to get a recipe up here soon- I'll be honest I made these for the first time the other day and just kind of winged it, so I'll need to get some proper measurements before I can make a recipe.

But if you're looking for inspiration-try this. Add cinnamon, a little mixed spice, chopped apple and a dollop of maple syrup into your cookie mix. You won't regret it ;)

Favourite polishes

This will be a post that I update from time to time as I acquire new things :)

My first favourite polish is Stargazer's Chrome Polish 232.
Stargazer Chrome

It comes in other 'chrome' colours too, but this is definitely my favourite so far. I can't tell you how shiny this polish is. It's so reflective it just looks like actual metal on your fingers! it has a really nice consistency too, so is easy to apply, and for a few quid how can you go wrong?!

I also love the Asda George polishes. Not the short stubby round ones in bags, but the long curvy pots. I have yet to find a polish that dries as quick as these. All the colours are awesome and they're less than £2! Perfect for touch ups and keeping in your handbag :)

Up until last week this was by far my most favourite glitter
Rimmel Disco Ball

I still love it don't get me wrong- it matches any base colour or can be used on its own. With base it only needs one layer, and without base just 2 or 3. It's so sparkly and looks particularly great over black.

Last week I purchased this:
L.A Colours Sparkling Diamonds

Usually I think polish names are a bit pants, but this one really does look like sparkling diamonds! It's soooooo glittery! Even my fiance kept looking at my nails and going 'wow' and he doesn't normally care that much!
Only 99p in your local Beauty Base :D
If you ever find yourself with a spare pound I thoroughly recommend spending it on this!

Nail stamping

Nail stamping (once you get the hang of it) is just about the most quick and easy way to get fabulous nails that will get you loads of compliments.

You'll need to purchase a stamping kit, something like this:
Stamping Kit

(Always finding the good bargains!)

The concept is pretty simple- you paint polish over your chosen design on the stamping plate.
Scrape away the excess with the scraper
Push the stamper down onto the design firmly
Push the stamper down on to your nail.

It can be tricky to get it right straight away- polish consistency will change things a lot, and you have to be quick between each stamp as it will dry out. It can also be difficult to get the placement of the stamp quite right aswell, but it'll come with time!

Here's some examples of my nail stamping:

And if you're interested in what polish that is, check out my favourite polishes post :)

Cupcake nails!

These could've come out a lot better. I'll be honest, I was looking for something quick and simple to do but then found myself doing these. These are not quick- if you're not in it for the long haul then this is your chance to leave.
If you've resigned yourself to a couple of hours doing your nails then continue reading my friend :)

You will need:

Polishes in at least 4 different colours
Thin nail art brush (preferable- will make life easier, but not essential)
Dotting tool (preferable, and much easier, but again not essential)
Rhinestones (not essential)

First things first- paint your nails in your chosen base colour. I originally painted all of my nails in one colour, but the fiance said different pastel colours would look better. I'm not sure :/
Either way, it's your choice so paint them how you want.
Leave to dry.
This is the problem with this sort of nail- it's not terribly difficult to do but it takes a long time between each coat since you need to wait for it to dry....

Ok, drying time's up- paint the tip of your nail and up to about 1/4 of the way in in your chosen cupcake case colour. Don't worry if the top isn't even or straight as we'll be covering it later.

Leave to dry.

Paint vertical stripes in your chosen cupcake case accent colour over the 'cupcake case' you just painted.

Leave to dry.

Grab your chosen icing (or frosting) colour and create a semi-circle over the top of the cupcake case. Fluff round the edges a little bit, you don't want it too perfect- it is icing after all!

Leave to dry.

Get your dotting tool and make random dots in the icing in whichever colours you please. This part is so fun!
If you're not using rhinestones then also create the 'cherry' with your dotting tool at this point.

Cover with a layer of top coat.
If you are using rhinestones this is the place to put them on, followed by at least one more layer of top coat.

And there you have it! Cute cupcake nails!
I'll definitely be doing these again some time- some day when I have some more patience!

Water marbling

I don't know if you've heard of water marbling your nails before, but if you haven't you'll definitely be wanting to try it out after this!

It's a little bit tricky to master, and quite messy but totally worth it!

You will need:

Cocktail stick or similar
Different polishes (2-5)

First things first make sure you tape up round the edges of your nails. This will help to reduce cleaning up time later on.

Then fill a regular bowl with room temperature water. The size of the bowl will actually make a difference here- if you have a really small one the polish doesn't have room to spread out so is too thick, if you use a big one then it will be less concentrated and will have a more transparent effect- which is ok actually if that's the look you're going for.

Most people recommend you paint you nails white before you start.
If you're using a normal cereal/pudding/eating bowl then I actually haven't found this to be completely necessary, although it will depend on the colours you're using.
For argument's sake just go ahead and paint your nails white, or even a base colour that matches the colours you'll be marbling with.

Now comes the fun part!

Open all of your polishes and line them up in the order you want to mix them. You have to be quite quick with this so it really helps to have them ready.
Once your nails have dried add a drop of your first polish in the middle of the bowl. It should rest on the surface of the water and dissipate- spreading out across the surface. 
Drop your next polish in the middle of that polish, your third in the middle of that etc and keep layering them until you feel happy. Use each colour at least twice. I usually do not use more than 5 colours- I tried to do a rainbow but 
a) your nail is not big enough to fit all of the colours on anyway 
b) by the time you've added each colour twice it starts drying out and doesn't stick properly.

Grab your cocktail stick (or equivalent- I started out with a pen!) and draw lines across the polish in the water to swirl it together a bit. When you're happy with your pattern simply rest your nail in the polish on the surface of the water and blow on your nail. This part is important!
Keep it there for 10-20 seconds (this time will vary with different polishes etc so it will be trial and error, but you'll figure it out!)
Remove your nail and it should be marbled!
Twirl your cocktail stick in the polish and it should all gather up in a little ball. Take it out of the water ready for your next nail!
If you get really good you can try doing a couple of nails at once to save time, but once you get the hang of it it really doesn't take as long as you think.

Once you're done just seal them with a top coat like regular polish and remove the tape. If it still managed to get past the tape then clean it up with a cotton bud and some polish remover.

I spent about 2 hours doing it the first time I tried water marbling. I tried to go for a peacock colour scheme:

Minnie Mouse cupcakes!

So these were actually a few months ago, but I feel the need to share them since they're cute :)

I made these for my sister's birthday:

If I made them again I'd definitely cut the ears out a couple of days before hand to give them time to dry out and be stiffer so they'd hold up better. They did flop over a little bit (especially since they had to travel in the car for 2 hours!) But they did alright, and added to her collection of many birthday cakes- I think she ended up with 3 + my cupcakes!

Cookie Recipe :)

Well, it's certainly been a long time since I posted. A ton of things happened, including moving house (twice!) and a degree.... so you could say I've been kind of busy!

What I've come here to share with you is the best cookie recipe ever.

It's my own recipe, adapted and modified from various other recipes to find one that works every.single.time. It's not too fussy either and doesn't require an exact amount of ingredients or something difficult to source.

I'm not bragging- it's just an indication of how long I spend working on these things!

What you need is:

250g self raising flour
170g butter
150g brown sugar (I'd recommend dark brown soft, but realistically I've made these when I'd run out of that and used demerara or muscovado sugar)
150g caster sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 egg
Chocolate chopped into rough pieces. You can use literally as much as you want here depending on how chocolatey you want them. I usually use 300-400g


1.Melt the butter either in a pan over the hob or the microwave. Either works fine, just try not to boil it in the microwave! Give it quick blasts (10-15 seconds) with stirs in between.

2. Add the sugars and mix into a paste.

3. Add the egg and vanilla extract.

4. Sift the flour in gradually, giving it a good mix in between so all the ingredients come together.

5. Let to sit for 10-15 minutes. I do not recommend putting it in the fridge as this can make the melted butter congeal and go, quite frankly, a bit gross.
After it's been left to sit the consistency should be thicker than cake mixture but not as stiff as roll-out cookies. If this is the case proceed to step 6, if not add water or flour depending on the consistency and leave to sit again.

6. Fold in (that is to lightly mix) your roughly chopped pieces of chocolate.

7. Line your baking tray with greaseproof paper and place one heaped tablespoon of mixture on the tray per cookie. Do not pat down! This will make the cookie go flat and squishy- not the nice chewy cookies we're after!
Allow plenty of space between the cookies- they are going to spread a lot. On an average sized baking tray you'll probably fit 3-4 cookies.

8. Place in the middle of the oven for 15-20 minutes. Usually everyone says to pre-heat the oven, which you are welcome to do, but I've never found completely necessary
Your cookies will feel soft and squidgy even when they're cooked. Take them out after 20 minutes even if they still feel squidgy (unless they're particularly monstrous!) because as they cool they'll harden up. If they're hard when they're warm they'll be rocks when they're cool!
If they still don't seem cooked to you once they've cooled then feel free to pop them back in the oven, but I've never had to leave them in for longer than 20 minutes.

The great thing about these cookies is they're great when they're warm, fantastic once they've cooled and just perfect the following morning. They'll usually last up to 3 days- you can still eat them after that but they tend to lose that brilliant texture and just taste a bit 'off'

Hopefully I can get some photos up soon, but if you do use this recipe feel free to send pictures of your cookies in!