The Lacquer Legion: After Dark - Too-Dark Halloween Nail Art

I was running very short on time for nail art this weekend (frantically working on my Halloween costume, of course!), but I couldn't let this month's Lacquer Legion day pass me by.




 The theme this month was "After Dark," so I decided to go with a fairly typical October-y, Halloween-y scene: a moon, a tree silhouette, a spooky cat, etc. Unfortunately, I think I went a bit too literal on the "after dark" aspect—my base color is so dark, you can hardly see the art on top! I didn't have the time to take a second shot at it, so I decided to just overexpose my photos a little and go with what I had. Hopefully you get the idea, at least!


The base here is piCture pOlish Cosmos, and the moon is OPI My Boyfriend Scales Walls with some Julep Casper on top for some sparkle & glow. Everything else is black acrylic paint with some ILNP Funshine Smoothie for the gold accents.


In addition to my background contrast fail, my husband said that my moon/tree situation looks like brains, not a tree, and... he's probably right, sigh. But brains are still Halloween-y, yes? Maybe? I don't know, I give up on this one, honestly. :)


Be sure to check out the #LLAfterDark tag on your social media platform(s) of choice to check out other folks' interpretation of this month's Lacquer Legion theme—I'm sure there are going to be some amazing manis out there today!

Thanks for looking!

Chicken 65

Chicken 65 1
Ingredients (Serves 2 - 3):
Chicken                      --   1½ lb
Turmeric powder  --   ½ tsp
Kashmiri Chilly powder         --   4 tsp
Coriander powder --  3 tsp
Garam masala         --   ½ tsp
Pepper                       --    ½ tsp
Fennel powder       --   ½ tsp
Ginger                        --    1 tsp, crushed & 1 tsp finely chopped
Garlic                         --   1 tsp, crushed & 1 tsp finely chopped
Corn Flour               --   2 tbsp 
Egg                              --   1
Lemon Juice           --   1 tbsp
Salt                              --   To taste
Red Colour               --   a pinch, optional - I have never used this
Oil                                --   to deep fry
Curry leaves            --   2  - 3 sprigs
Green Chillies          --   3 – 4
Chicken 65 2
Preparation:
Clean and cut the chicken into small bite size pieces.Preferably use boneless thigh pieces.
Marinate it with all the ingredients except oil, chopped ginger, chopped garlic, green chillies and curry leaves. Keep it for at least 2 - 3 hours or overnight. I always marinate it over night.
Heat oil in a pan. Add the marinated chicken pieces in batches and deep fry it on medium heat. Roughly tear 3 - 4 curry leaves and add it along with each batch. Once done, drain it and place it on kitchen towel for further draining.
Chicken 65
The oil level should be above the chicken pieces. Make sure that the chicken is browned well, but not over cooked. Keep in mind that the colour changes / darkens slightly once it is out of the oil. If over cooked, the chicken will turn rubbery. It took around 10 - 15 minutes on the electric stove, but this can change on the type of the pan and the level of oil. Check the doneness in-between, so that you can judge your cooking time.
When the last batch is almost done, add the slit green chillies, finely chopped ginger and garlic and the remaining whole curry leaves to the pan. Let it fry along with the chicken and drain it together.
Finally give a good mix with remaining fried chicken and serve hot.
Chicken 65 3

Black and Grey Half-Diamond Nail Art

As I mentioned in my Louboutin polish review post, I couldn't resist adding a little nail art to the lovely grey base of Daffodile. I decided to go with some relatively simple diamond half-moons (half-diamonds?), and the end result was probably one of my favorite manicures that I've done so far.



There's really not much to this one, but I find the look to be really striking and very "me": black/white/grey with a small pop of color fits perfectly with what I usually wear and how I like to accessorize. Understated, but chic! Or maybe that's giving myself too much credit...


Starting with my Louboutin Daffodile base, I used right-angle Nail Vinyls to apply a-England Camelot in a half-diamond shapes at my cuticles. Once that was dry, I used a small nail art brush to add the thin lines of Nails Inc Gel Effect Polish in Covent Garden Place. As usual, everything is topped with Glisten & Glow HK Girl Top Coat.




I'd love to hear what you think of this one—a little too simple? Or just right?

Thanks for looking!

Christian Louboutin Daffodile Swatches and Review

At the urging of my nail polish enabler husband (he's the best!), I recently picked up a bottle of the Christian Louboutin nail polish I've been seeing all over the Internet lately. It felt a little reckless to spend THAT MUCH on a single bottle of polish, but after trying it out, I have to say: I really do think it's worth the splurge if you're in the market for a special treat.


This polish is a dream from start to finish. There's just no other way to put it. From the amazing showpiece bottle to the excellent formula of the polish itself, this was nail heaven for me. I'm a little strange and tend to gravitate toward grey shades when I'm spending a lot on nail polishes (I have no good explanation for why I do this, either—maybe because I know I'll never get sick of grey?), so even though all the colors available are gorgeous, I ended up choosing Daffodile when it came time to make a final decision.


Daffodile is a rich, opaque grey that I think has a little taupe and maybe even green in it. (Sorry—I'm pretty terrible at picking out the undertones of a color, guys.) As I mentioned, it applied absolutely perfectly: these photos are two very easy coats that stayed right where I put them. I barely had to do any cuticle cleanup at all!


The wear time on this polish was also excellent. I wore it plain for a couple of days, and then I used it as the base for some nail art (post coming soon!) and wore it for several more days with no issues.

My only minor quibble with the entire Louboutin polish experience was that the extra-long cap was a little awkward for me when I was actually applying the polish. I think some people may actually prefer the additional handling options that the extra length affords, but I think I just have a particular way of polishing that was somewhat disrupted by working around the unusual shape.

All in all, though, I was very pleasantly surprised by this polish. I expected to feel a little silly for spending so much once I actually tried it, but I ended up liking it so well that I'm already starting to think about what color I might pick up next.

What do you think—are you tempted by these polishes?

Thanks for reading!

Perfect Pound Cake

Perfect Pound Cake 3

Ingredients:

All Purpose flour  --   200g
Baking powder       --   ¼ tsp
Salt                              --   ¼ tsp                   
Unsalted butter     --   227g/2 sticks(softened)
Granulated sugar  --   250g
Eggs                            --   4 Large, at room temperature
Lemon zest              --   1 tsp
Vanilla extract      --   1 tsp
Heavy cream         --   80ml

Perfect Pound Cake 1

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare a 4 x 8 inch pan - Grease and line it with parchment paper.

Sift flour with baking powder and salt and set aside.

Cream the softened butter in a mixer at medium high speed until creamy (about 2 mins). Add sugar and continue beating for about 4 mins until light and fluffy.

Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs one at a time, until well blended.

Perfect Pound Cake 0

Add the lemon zest and vanilla extract.

Add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating it with heavy cream.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 60-70 mins (It took 68 mins for me) , until the cake turns brown and a skewer comes out clean.

Perfect Pound Cake 2

Recipe Courtesy: Shirley

Cauliflower–Egg Thoran

Cauliflower   Mutta Thoran 3

Ingredients:

Cauliflower                --    250 gms
Turmeric powder    --   ½ tsp
Cumin seeds              --   ¼ tsp
Green chillies            --    2
Shallots                        --    2 small ones
Shredded coconut   --   ¼ cup
Eggs                               --   1 or 2 or optional
Black Pepper              --   ½ tsp
Mustard seeds           --    ½ tsp
Red chillies                 --    2
Curry Leaves             --   few
Oil                                   --   2 tbsp
Salt                                 --   to taste

Cauliflower   Mutta Thoran 5

Preparation:

Chop the cauliflower into required size. Mix the turmeric powder, cumin seeds, slit green chillies, chopped shallots,salt and shredded coconut into chopped cauliflower. 
 
Heat the oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds and let it splutter. Add the red chillies broken into small pieces and the curry leaves. Then add the cauliflower mixture and sauté for 1 - 2 mins.  Close the pan and let it cook for another 5 -6 min. Open the lid and sauté it at every 1 minute interval and make sure that it doesn’t burn. When the cauliflower is almost done, break the eggs into the pan and mix well. Let the egg cook. Keep sautéing at intervals to make sure that it doesn't stick on to the bottom. Do a taste check and add more salt if required. sprinkle the pepper and give a good mix.

Cauliflower   Mutta Thoran 1
 
If adding one egg, the cauliflower bit will just have a slight coating to give a different flavor. If adding 2 eggs, you can see small bits of scrambled egg along with the cauliflower bits. I have added 2 eggs in this one.

Cauliflower   Mutta Thoran 2

Serve hot with rice or chapathi.

Rosy Ruffian Nail Art

While swatching polishes recently, I decided it was the perfect time to try a technique I see a lot but hadn't gotten around to trying myself yet: the ruffian. I was always intimidated by this look for some reason—getting clean lines between the two colors just seemed so difficult! But once I got started with this, I was relieved to find that it wasn't nearly as hard as I thought.

There are a couple of different ways you can do a ruffian, but I decided to just use a nail art brush and paint it on freehand. My base here is Adorn Vive Le Coquette and the darker color at the edge is Zoya Marney. The brush I used to apply Marney was super small, so I was able to start with a very thin line and build it up slowly into the shape I wanted.



The ruffian by itself was nice, but I wanted to add a little something extra, so I decided on some small round studs from the Born Pretty Store. I couldn't choose between silver or gold, however, so I turned to my Instagram followers for some help. They chose gold, and I think it was the perfect choice! It's a bit hard to tell in the pictures, but the warmer gold tone really complemented these polish shades well.




Thanks for looking!

Chicken Puffs

Chicken Puffs 3
Ingredients (Makes 9):
Puff pastry sheets  --   1
Egg white                   --   1 large
Chicken                      --   ½ lb
Onion                          --   1 small
Ginger                         --    1 inch piece
Garlic                          --   3 - 4 pods
Turmeric powder  --   ½ tsp
Chilly powder         --   1½ tsp
Coriander powder --  2 tsp
Garam masala         --   ½ tsp
Pepper                       --    ½ tsp
Fennel powder       --   ½ tsp
Coriander leaves   --   2 - 3 stalks
Oil                                --   1 tbsp
Salt                              --   To taste
Chicken Puffs 4
Preparation:
Clean and cut the chicken into small pieces.Preferable use boneless pieces. Marinate it with half of the turmeric powder,  chilly powder and required amount of salt. Keep if for couple of hours and cook it until done. Add water only if required. We can also cook in a pressure cooker for easy cooking.If in a pressure cooker, add ¼ cup of water.
Let it cool and then shred it. Save the stock, if you have any.
Heat oil in a pan. Add the finely chopped onions, ginger and garlic and saute until golden brown.  Add the remaining turmeric powder and chilly powder,coriander powder, garam masala, pepper and fennel powder. Saute until the masalas are well blended and the raw smell goes off. Add the cooked chicken and mix well. Add the saved stock or ¼ cup of water and mix well. Saute until the mixture is dry enough.
Keep it aside and let it cool.
Chicken Puffs 1               Chicken Puffs 2
Follow the instructions on the puff pastry to thaw. Most brands come with 2 sheets. The sheets will be folded in three, so it is always easy to divide it into multiples of 3. Depending on the thickness of the puffs required, we can make 6 or 9 from one sheet. I usually roll it a bit and make out 9 from one sheet. Cut and roll, if required, into required shape.
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Divide the masala into equal number of portions. Make sure that each portion is not more than 2 tbsp. If you have excess, then save it for later use.
Fill the masala in each portion of the pastry and fold it.Brush the edges with a little water and seal it. Line a cookie sheet with foil or parchment paper and grease it slightly. Arrange the prepared puffs on the sheet. Beat the egg white and brush it on the top of each puffs.
Keep the sheet on the middle rack and bake for 15 - 20 minutes or until the top turns golden brown.
Chicken Puffs 5

Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright Nail Art

As I've let slip on this blog a few times, I'm actually pretty geeky in my everyday life. I love comic books, board games, video games, and... well, really just a whole lot of geeky things. These loves don't find their way into my nail art too terribly often for a variety of reasons, but today is an exception: this manicure honors something I anticipated for years and have been happily immersed in for the last few weeks.



The Ace Attorney games, if you're not familiar with them, are a series of courtroom drama/investigation games originally released for the Nintendo DS. They started in Japan more than a decade ago and began making their way into other markets a few years later, and I've been hooked on them ever since I picked up that first installment. Between the engrossing, "visual novel" style of gameplay and super endearing characters, I've just always loved everything Ace Attorney chooses to be.

The Professor Layton games are another DS series I really love. Chances are, you've probably heard of these! They're extremely popular story-driven puzzle games that people of all ages and even self-described non-gamers enjoy.

So, given my feelings about these two series, I'm sure it's no surprise that I was EXTREMELY EXCITED when Level-5 and Capcom announced way back in 2010 that they'd be doing a crossover game combining the Ace Attorney and Layton worlds. The wait for the US version was excruciating (Japan got the game in 2012!), but a few weeks ago, the day finally arrived: Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright released in North America and I promptly devoted all my free moments to playing this game.


As the end of the game drew near, I started feeling like I wanted to commemorate the event somehow. I just enjoyed the story and puzzles so much, and I'm going to miss these characters SO MUCH, that it felt right to do something for them, weird as that may sound. And that's how this manicure was born!


I've always had a lot of insecurity about my freehand painting skills, but I knew there was no way around it with this look. This dual-finger-point pose for Phoenix and the Professor is easily the most iconic image in the game, so that's absolutely what I had to paint. I was convinced going into it (and most of the way through the process, to be honest) that I'd never be able to pull it off, but my sister cheered me on and wouldn't let me give up. I'm so grateful for that now, because I'm absolutely thrilled with how this turned out! I feel like I learned a lot about my own abilities while working on it.




I used a England Camelot for my base and then painted everything else freehand with acrylic paints and my Stylish Nail Art Shop detail brush. The large white areas went on first, and then I added the silhouettes on top, leaving an area of white for the outline.


I officially completed the game yesterday, so it's pretty perfect that this post is going up today. I'd love to hear from people about this one: are you a fan of either series? Have you played this latest installment, or are you planning to?

Farewell, Phoenix and Professor—I already can't wait for your next games!

Tan Flannel Stamped Nail Art

I wasn't planning on posting this manicure originally, but after some kind comments from my Instagram followers when I posted a preview over there, I decided to go ahead and go for it. I also found that the right camera angles can actually hide a LOT of flaws!



My big issue with this look is that a lot of the stamping turned out super crooked. Thankfully, through the magic of... I don't know what, camera gnomes or something, it looks pretty decent in the pictures, but this pattern was a real bear when it came to getting everything straight and even. I think my treasured ultra-soft stamper heads were probably working against me, to be honest: when they smooshed down on my nails, the design just couldn't help but warp.

But anyway! All my whining aside, I really do like how this turned out and I can see myself tackling something like this again before the fall/winter is over. Who can resist a cozy flannel print, after all!


Base: LVX Cashmere
Stamping: MoYou London Hipster Plate 05 stamped with Zoya Spencer 
Accent line: China Glaze History of the World applied with a striping brush


Thanks for looking!

Rose Ombre Cake

Rose Ombre Cake 1
White Cake :
Ingredients:
All purpose Flour --   2 cups + 2 tbsp (you can also use 2 cups + 4 tbsp of cake flour and eliminate corn flour)
Corn Flour               --   2 tbsp
Whole milk              --   1 cup
Egg whites               --   6 large
Vanilla extract      --   1 tsp
Granulated sugar --   1¾ cups
Baking powder      --   4 tsp
Salt                             --   1 tsp
Unsalted butter    --   1½ sticks / ¾ cup
Rose Ombre Cake 3
Preparation:
Heat oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit.Grease and prepare four 6 inch pans.
In a small bowl, add the milk, egg whites and vanilla extract and mix with a fork until well blended.
In the bowl of the electric mixer, add the flours, baking powder and salt. Mix it at very low speed for about a minute.Add butter (at room temperature) and continue beating for about 2 minutes until the mixture resembles moist crumbs.
Add all but ½ cup of milk mixture to the mixture and beat at medium speed for 1½ minutes. Add remaining ½ cup of milk mixture
and beat for a minute or until the entire mixture is mixed well.
Divide the batter into 4 cups and colour as per your wish. If not coloring, pour directly into the cake pans.
Pour each portion into the prepared cake pans. Place it in the oven with even spacing.
Bake until a toothpick / skewer inserted comes out clean. It took about 20 - 22 minutes.
Let it cool to room temperature and then prepare it to get frosted - level it if required.
Rose Ombre Cake 0

Buttercream:
Ingredients:
Confectioners sugar --   2 lbs or more
Butter                             --   1 cup
Vanilla extract           --   1 tsp
Heavy Cream              --   ½ cup or more as required
Rose Ombre Cake 4
Preparation:
Cream softened butter and vanilla in a stand mixer for 2-4 minutes. Add in the sugar, one cup at a time.Add the cream as required to reach desired consistency. You can also add the cream in-between the sugar, if the mixture is too thick for the mixer at some point.
Optionally you can also add couple of tbsp corn syrup for a smoother consistency - I haven't used this here.
Rose Ombre Cake 3
Recipe Courtesy: I am the baker
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