December 2017

Gel nail removal magic trick

by Suw on December 7, 2017

Earlier in the year, I treated myself to a DIY gel nail system, which I have been enjoying ever since. I rather like having nice nails, it makes me feel like an adult. Traditional nail varnish barely lasts 24 hours on my nails, so the UV-cured gel varnishes are a huge improvement as, on a good run, they can last up to two weeks.

The downside is getting the damn stuff off. I bought an electric nail file, in the hope that I could grind away the top layers before soaking off with acetone, but that didn’t really save any time. And getting impatient and scraping the half-softened gel off just damages the natural nail underneath.

A friend of mine has been raving about Barry M nail varnishes, and whilst I was in the UK I thought I’d take a look and see if they were any good. Maybe, I thought, I could alternate, so that I’m not constantly battling to get gel varnish off my nails. Whilst I was looking at the Barry M selection, (I bought a metallic gold colour in the end), I spotted that they do a base coat call Peel Off, which, well, you peel off. Had to be worth a shot, I thought. And wow, was it ever worth a shot!

Two coats of Barry M Peel Off, well dried, underneath a normal application of gel foundation, colour and top coat works like a dream. You genuinely can just peel the whole lot off in a matter of seconds, instead of it taking two hours and using up all the acetone you can lay your hands on. It is fantastic.

However — and there’s always a however — if your nail surface is already damaged, as mine are, then the Peel Off base coat will also peel off more of your nail. There is, however, a however to that however: if you prise up a corner, you can get under there with normal nail varnish remover and a cotton bud, and ease the whole lot off gently. No need to try to soften up the gel because the Barry M base coat will dissolve in the remover and come clean away.

A few other things I’ve learnt:

  • Two coats is far better than one. One coat doesn’t seem to have enough strength to peel off neatly.
  • It peels best off fresh, undamaged nail.
  • If your nails get quite wet, say you do the washing up or have a long bath, it will peel off sooner rather than later.
  • If one nail peels, and comes off in one piece, you can just put another layer of base coat on, and glue the gel back on as if it’s a false nail!
  • If it peels of a couple of nails, you can always use normal nail varnish over the gel and on the now bare nails until you’re ready to redo them.
  • It only lasts a week, tops.

Although the gel varnish is supposed to last up to three weeks, it never did for me. On average, I got about 10 days wear out of them, so if Peel Off only lasts a week, that’s no skin off my nose. In fact, it means I can switch up my colours a bit more often.

I am so delighted with the Barry M Peel Off base coat, I really am. I’m sure there are equivalents in the US, as Barry M is UK-only, but I will be stocking up when I go home.

Oh, and the normal Barry M nail varnish is just as marvellous!


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Whatever happened to Creative 17?

by Suw on December 6, 2017

Welp, it’s been a while since my last post about my Creative 2017. When I started the year, I had a feeling that I might run aground in the lead up to Ada Lovelace Day, and sure enough, time to blog became scarce. But that didn’t mean that I wasn’t being creative.

Since learning to knit in May, I have become ridiculously addicted. I have been working on a simple ribbed skirt, and have done a pair of wrist-warmers. I had less luck with two hats, one of which was too small, the other too big, and both of which got frogged and are now being turned into a scarf. But it is really lovely to just sit and knit of an evening. Somehow, it’s more soothing than crochet, though I’m not sure why.

There was always an ulterior motive, though, to this whole project, and that was to try to get my authorial juices flowing. In that, the year has been a spectacular success. I started work on my current project in earnest a couple of weeks ago, and am really enjoying myself.

Thanksgiving weekend, we went down to visit friends in Illinois, and on the way stopped off at an antiques mall in Milwaukee to see if a typewriter I’d had my eye on for a while was still there. It was. A Remington Rand Streamliner, well cared for and, along with its case, in beautiful condition. I couldn’t resist.

The serial number tells us that this particular machine was built in May 1941, one of only 21,200 ever made. They were manufactured between February 1941 and May 1942, and cost $49.50. It’s a shame that then didn’t make more, because this is by far and away the most beautiful machine to type on that we own. I now have five typewriters, and Kevin one, and this Streamliner is the easiest and smoothest to use, with the softest action. It’s the most amazing machine to write with, it really is.

I did have to get a new ribbon, which was easily done through Ebay. And I cleaned up the typebars, which were as clogged with ink as you might expect.

The type now is so beautifully crisp and clear. In the photo below, we have example prior to and after cleaning.

Overall, the machine is in great condition, just a little bit of rust on the frame and a bit of dirt underneath that will need removing. I will eventually get the platen recovered, along with the rubber rollers, but it’s ok for now.

I cannot even begin to describe how amazing it is to work on this machine. It feels much more natural than writing on my laptop. My fingers have to move more deliberately, and my brain is slowed down to a much more thoughtful speed. It’s easy for my fingers to get completely carried away with themselves when I’m using modern equipment, and they tend to run off down cul-de-sacs that they can’t get themselves out of. Using a typewriter gives me the time I need to think ahead, to write in a more considered way.

I’ve also got a much better way of organising my notes than I’ve ever had, which I’ll cover in another post. And I realised that I really, really struggle with the whole consecutive numbering of pages thing, so instead of numbering pages, I am giving each scene a serial number (the date, actually, and maybe an alphabetical signifier if I’m writing more than one scene in a day). This means it’s easier for me to move scenes around without triggering whatever part of my brain it is that loathes interrupting logical number sequences.

The cleaner typebars also mean that Google Docs can do a better job of the OCR, although the first 7,000 words contain a lot of OCR errors that I’ll have to sit and fix soon. But overall, my process is working well, I’m enjoying writing, and I’m in no great hurry to have it all done. Which is a much better result than I had ever anticipated when I started this year!

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Who Ate Jessica Rabbit?

by Suw on December 3, 2017

I don’t think I’ve ever seen quite as many rabbits as I have since moving to Sheboygan. Although our garden is surrounded by a 5ft slatted fence, we frequently see young bunnies in our garden, munching down on the American violets (yay) and my flowers (boo). Sometimes we see bigger bunnies too. There was a big ol’ female cottontail, about the size of Grabbity, who pretty much owned the garden. I think she slipped in under the gate, or round the edge of the fence where it fails to meet our neighbour’s house.

Friday, at about 1.15pm, Kevin left for a meeting. He called me on his way, to let me know that there was half a dead rabbit in the garden. It’s not what I was expecting, I must admit, so I went out to check and sure enough, there was the back half of a rabbit I suspect had been the matronly cottontail. The head, shoulders and front legs had been eaten, leaving just the back haunches. It was a pretty neat job, no mess of entrails, just a few vertebrae scattered about.

I find it hard to imagine that this was the work of a domestic cat, and there aren’t many around us anyway. I think I’ve seen a cat outside maybe twice, in the three and a half years I’ve lived here. But whilst I’ve seen cats catching rabbits, this was a sizeable bunny, and I’ve never seen a cat take down a rabbit of this size.

According to the internet, the list of North American predators that won’t start eating a rabbit head first is far shorter than the ones that will. Fox, coyote, cougar, bobcat, coywolf, racoon… I’ve never seen any of those in the middle of Sheboygan, and feel all are rather unlikely candidates for the award of Creature Most Likely To Take A Quick Snack In Our Back Garden.

Also on the list, though, is the Great Horned Owl. We think there might be one living in a pine tree behind our house as we’ve heard it. Now, Kevin found the rabbit at lunchtime, but whilst it looked relatively fresh, there’s no telling when it was killed. I checked on it throughout the afternoon and evening, and it was still there even when we got home from dinner at 9.30pm. By 10.30pm though, the back half had gone.

I really, really wish that I’d some sort of motion-capture camera trained on the garden. I would have loved to have seen which creature decided on rabbit for dinner.

If anyone can identify a Great Horned Owl kill, here’s a photo. Enclicken to enbiggen.


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