Using PVA Glue as a Nail Polish Base Coat

Did you know you can use PVA glue as a base coat before applying your regular nail polish?  No?  Well you do now!  I tried this out as one of my New Thing A Day challenges back in 2015 and I was really impressed with the results!

So why would you want to coat your nails in a layer of glue before you paint on your polish?  The answer is simple: to enable you to remove your nail polish without the need of any sort of nail polish remover.  The PVA glue dries to form a thin layer between your nail and your nail polish, which means when you want to remove your polish you can simply peel it off!

For this experiment, you will need a bottle of PVA glue (I had some Hobbycraft tacky glue which is the same thing as far as I can tell), a paintbrush with which to apply the glue, and a nail polish of your choice.

I began by painting on a thin layer of the PVA glue, and then let it dry.  It dried really quickly and became clear but left my nails oddly matte.

Next I applied a coat of nail polish and let that dry.

Once the nail polish had completely dried I picked at an edge of my nail and much to my surprise I was able to pull off the nail polish in pretty much one piece, leaving behind very little evidence of the nail polish, really only where I had painted with no glue underneath (I painted my nails very quickly and a little carelessly).

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I did not have the glue on my nails for more than 15 minutes in total but my nails felt absolutely fine and I could see no damage at all.

So if you know in advance you only want to wear nail polish for a short time and want to be able to remove it quickly and without the use of acetone or any other form of nail polish remover, then here’s something to try.  It certainly worked for me!

 

 

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Trying Out Hair Chalks for the First Time!

Back in 2015 I made a New Year’s resolution to try/learn a new thing each day.  I had received some hair chalks as Christmas gifts from my husband, Tim, and had run a couple through a small section of my hair on Christmas Day just to show my nieces and nephew what they looked like, and on 30 January 2015 I decided to try them out on a whole head of hair as my “something new” challenge.

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Before I applied the hair chalks I brushed and straightened my hair to make sure it was smooth and tangle free.  I filled a spray bottle with some warm water to spritz onto my hair in sections before applying the hair chalks to bring out the vibrancy of the colours.  The shades I selected were pinks, blues and purples.  Tim gave me a hand spritzing my hair with water and rubbing the hair chalks onto my hair.

The chalks pulled at my hair and the more we applied, the drier and more knotted my hair became.  I was in complete agony and getting more and more fed up by the second.  My gut instinct after the initial 30 seconds was that this was a terrible idea and I should stop right away, but I didn’t… because I am stubborn like that and I don’t like to give up.  So we kept going, and it just got more and more painful, and my usual good mood was utterly destroyed.

Halfway through I had the genius idea of using a leave-in spray hair conditioner (Aussie Colour Protection) instead of water to dampen my hair, and this did seem to help quite a bit, though not as much as I had hoped.  Regardless, I persevered, having rejected Tim’s offer to continue helping, for fear I would completely lose my temper if he inadvertently injured my now highly sensitised scalp just one more time!

Eventually, I had coloured most of my hair using a combination of purples, blues and pinks, and could stomach no more of this nightmare.  My hair now felt more parched than if I had doused it in a gallon of peroxide, and it was all completely matted.  I desperately tried to comb through it but it was agonising (and I have a super high pain tolerance when it comes to brushing out my hair).  Gritting my teeth, I continued to furiously struggle through the millions of knots and tangles in my haystack hair until I was able to slowly section it, ready to curl with my Babyliss Curling Wand Pro.

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The end result was hair big enough to have travelled through space and time from the 1980s and it felt like dusty sun-bleached straw; but you know what? The colours were soooo pretty!

So was it worth it?  Hell no, I will never ever put myself through that again.

In the future, I may apply hair chalks just to the ends of my hair for a pop of colour in the style of that dip-dye look that was so popular back then, but that’s it.

After a couple of hours I could not stand it any longer and washed it all out.  The beauty of hair chalks is of course that it is just temporary colour and should completely wash out within a wash or two.

My hair is very light blonde so I was half expecting to come out of the shower with some sort of hideous muddy grey discolouration but much to my relief most of the colour washed out, with just a hint of blue remaining, and a few sections of bright pink still visible though now a soft pastel hue.

I saturated my hair with conditioner and my hair felt almost normal again, though it was still feeling a little dry.  Nothing a hair mask of coconut oil couldn’t fix!

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Rice Pudding with Coconut Milk / Fruit Sushi

On Day 18 of my New Thing  A Day challenge back in 2015, I really fancied something sweet and warming so I decided to make some rice pudding in the slow cooker.  I did not have any milk in the house but I had plenty of tins of coconut milk so I quickly Googled some recipes and found one which basically said something along the lines of “put some pudding rice in the pan and add enough coconut milk to just cover the rice.  Cook in slow cooker until ready.”

So I figured I had nothing to lose and threw in a whole bag of pudding rice and a tin of coconut milk.  Well, that was very silly of me because I had forgotten just how little rice you need in comparison to the milk… I had to keep adding more and more coconut milk and gave up after I had put in three tins… the rice pudding was so dry and Tim decidedly did not like the coconut flavour so it was considered a flop.

The next day, on Day 19, I decided to try using the sticky clumps of very dry and chewy coconut rice to make fruit sushi.  We added sliced strawberries and kiwis.  Using cling film and a bamboo rolling mat, it took just a couple of minutes to roll it together, and then we sliced it.

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Our fruit sushi looked so pretty!

Sadly, however, it tasted horrible.  That is most definitely not a reflection on the recipe at all but rather on my disgusting coconut milk rice.

On the upside, our twin Alaskan Malamutes absolutely adore all things coconut so they very enthusiastically ate the whole lot and we had very happy pupsters 🙂

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Turning Old CDs into Art

My husband, Tim, and I decided to work as a team on a rather ambitious project for this day’s “try something new” challenge: to refurbish a mirror unit using old CDs.

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The idea had come from a friend who had tagged me in a post on Facebook showing various projects and artwork made using CDs, which I thought looked pretty impressive.

First of all we painted the wood of the mirror unit, having removed the mirror and all the fixings.  Whilst that was drying we cut up a selection of old and unwanted CDs.  We found that the re-recordable CDs and DVDs we had burned at home worked a lot better than the thicker and sturdier official album CDs.

Cutting CDs is easy enough but then you have to separate the thin metal layer from the plastic, and discard the plastic.  This was a little tricky and really quite time consuming.

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Once the acrylic paint had dried on the wood it was time to start gluing on the pieces of CDs in a mosaic pattern.  We used super glue and tweezers to do this.

This project took four hours in total from start to finish and I was sick to death of it after the first two hours but once I start a project I like to see it through… Tim is a real perfectionist and the bits he was doing looked about a hundred times better than the bits I was doing so we decided to combine our efforts so he cut and placed the pieces of CD and I glued them down…

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The unit looks really pretty on the two sides Tim was in charge of (and a horrible mess on the side I was originally in charge of ha ha)… One of our friends fell in love with the finished piece and asked us to give it to her, so we did, and it has been lovingly displayed in her home ever since 🙂

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Brownies in a Jar – Edible Gifts!

Following on from discovering the benefits of making salads in a jar, I decided that (in the name of balanced eating lol) I should try making some brownies in a jar…

These were also inspired by The Domestic Geek – I am definitely a big fan!

I decided to attempt slight variations on the original recipes, and prepared three different brownie mixes (one plain, one with chocolate chunks and pecans, and one with walnuts), and it took just a few minutes to prepare each one.

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The idea is that when you want to bake your brownies, just tip the contents of the jar into a mixing bowl with some oil, vanilla extract and eggs, and pop into the oven.  So simple!

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The jars looked and smelled amazing, but of course the real test was how tasty the brownies would be once baked.  We were not sure how long the jars of brownie mix could be stored for so we baked one batch two days later, the second batch twelve days later (for ourselves) and the third batch nearly three weeks later (in another “something new” challenge).  Each batch was DELICIOUS!!!

These brownies in a jar are brilliant, and would make an ideal gift for a loved one with a sweet tooth!

BROWNIES WITH CHOCOLATE CHUNKS AND PECANS

Ingredients:

  • 1¼ cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • ½ cup dark cooking chocolate broken into pieces
  • ½ cup chopped pecans

Method:

Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F or Gas Mark 4) and lightly oil a 9×9 inch baking dish.

Pour contents of jar into a large mixing bowl and stir to combine.

Add the following:

  • ½ cup of melted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 Tsps of vanilla extract.

Mix well.

Bake for 20 – 25 minutes.

Serve hot… ideally with vanilla ice cream!

Honey, Apple and Carrot Dog Treats

Do you have a pet that is a super fussy eater?  We sure do!  In fact, we have TWO… Lila and Rumo are our beautiful Alaskan Malamute twins… and they can be ridiculously picky about what they will eat, especially when it comes to dog treats.

One of our dogs’ favourite New Thing A Day challenges I did back in 2015 was learning how to make them some homebaked dog biscuits.  I have tried a number of different recipes since then but this one remains their absolute favourite.

We had received a very thoughtful Christmas gift from our family: an adorable set of dog biscuit recipes together with the cutest cookie cutters.

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So, on Day 3 of keeping my 2015 New Year’s resolution to try a new thing a day, I was keen to try my hand at baking some dog biscuits for the very first time. I selected an apple and honey biscuit recipe because our dogs definitely like sweet treats, plus we already had all of the necessary ingredients.  I decided to add carrots to the ingredients because our dogs are especially fond of carrots.

From the moment I started grating the apples and carrots, the pupsters knew I was up to something interesting and shadowed my every move as I mixed and rolled out the dough, cut out the shapes and placed them onto baking sheets.

Once the biscuits had been baked to perfection, I took out the freshly baked biscuits from the oven, and even to me they smelled gooooood!  Lila and Rumo frantically went through a whole repertoire of tricks in an attempt to persuade us they deserved a cookie: offering paws, high fives, sitting, lying down, wooing…you name it!

When the treats had sufficiently cooled down, and Lila and Rumo had calmly sat down and waited politely, they were each rewarded with a biscuit.

THEY LOVED THEM!!! 

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So much so, that in fact, a little later on, when we had left the kitchen, Lila snuck back in and decided to do a little countersurfing, helping herself from the cooling rack – very, very naughty behaviour indeed!  But from a fluffy princess who turns up her nose at almost every dog treat in existence, it just goes to show what a big hit these were!

The recipe states that these treats will keep for 3 weeks in an airtight container but I cannot say for certain because our dogs make sure they never last that long 🙂

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HONEY, APPLE AND CARROT DOG TREATS RECIPE

Ingredients:

  • 1 (Sweet) apple – grated
  • 1 Large carrot – grated
  • 250g Seed and grain wholemeal flour
  • 1 Tbsp Honey
  • 2 Tsp Sunflower oil
  • 1 Egg

Method:

Line baking sheets with greaseproof paper and preheat oven to 180 C (350 F / Gas Mark 4).

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and mix until it becomes a smooth dough.

Place dough onto a well floured surface and roll out to 5mm thickness.  Cut into shapes using cookie cutters and place on baking sheets.

Bake for 30 – 40 minutes until lightly golden brown on top.  (30 minutes for a softer, chewier biscuit or 40 minutes for a crunchier texture)

Allow to cool completely on cooling rack before transferring to airtight container.

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You can follow our dogs’ adventures on Instagram 🙂

Learning to Paint with Watercolour Pencils

As one of the very first of my New Thing A Day challenges in 2015, I decided to try out a set of 24 of the Faber-Castell Albrecht Dürer artists’ watercolour pencils which I had bought on a whim from Amazon. As a schoolgirl I had always preferred drawing and sketching to painting, so the idea of using pencils to paint really appealed to me, but I didn’t know how to use them or what to expect.

When I was younger, I had loved art: I was the Art Coordinator for my school house, I did Art & Design A Level, and by the age of sixteen I was lucky enough to secure an unconditional offer to study Fine Art at Art School.  But here’s the thing: once I finished school at eighteen, I chose to pursue an academic degree over Art School and I never again so much as picked up a pencil or paintbrush.

By 2015 it had been many, many years since I had done any painting or drawing.  I was nervous.

I sketched out a very simple drawing inspired by a photo I found on Google, lightly shading with a few different colours, and then went over it all with a clean wet paintbrush… all in all I think I only spent about five minutes on it but I was already hooked – these watercolour pencils were lots of fun to play with!

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So while this painting was drying I decided to do a quick sketch from a photo I had recently taken of Lila, one of our gorgeous Alaskan Malamutes… and watched my little sketch come to life as the colours spread and blended, becoming increasingly vibrant, as I went over the pencil strokes with a wet brush…

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At the time, I had no idea of the significance of this little personal challenge of mine.  I had not sketched or painted for so long, but when I picked up those watercolour pencils and finally put pencil to paper, that creativity that I had forgotten existed somewhere deep inside me was suddenly reignited, and my long dormant passion for arts and crafts reawakened.

That was 02 January 2015.  Two years later, my love and desire to express my creativity has not wavered or diminished since that day.  Watercolour pencils remain one of my favourite mediums to work in, and now I have upgraded to the full set of 120 shades.

So back to the day in question – I snapped photos on my phone of my two watercolour pencil paintings and posted them to my Facebook page right after I had done them.  The number of likes and comments I received from my friends and family was totally unexpected, but so encouraging…

Within hours I was approached by a dog charity I was involved with at the time, asking to use my painting of Lila as a design on products they were selling to raise funds to help dogs.  They asked if I could do more paintings for them.  Later, I was approached by a local card shop asking if I could produce a series of cards for them to sell.  Friends started messaging me, requesting paintings of their dogs!

At first I didn’t take any of it seriously, and then I got nervous and scared, and I wanted to say no to everything; but my husband told me to stop being so silly and to say yes – after all, wasn’t my New Year’s resolution to try out new things?  So I did.  I said yes to everything.  And it was amazing.

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More recently, I have been lucky enough to have the support and encouragement of some wonderful people on Instagram who have allowed me to paint their dogs to use as card designs. In the not too distant future, I would love to put together some designs for print on demand sites and perhaps even an Etsy store.

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This particular “something new” challenge actually helped me rediscover something I didn’t even realise I had lost…