Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Ribbon, Lace or Twine at Sparkles Christmas Challenge

Today's the first of the month and that means a new challenge at Sparkles Christmas Challenge, where we'd like you to incorporate some ribbon, lace or twine.

Our sponsor this month is Fantastic Ribbons and the winner will be able to choose £10 worth of goodies from their store with free postage.

My card was inspired by my first ever etsy purchase - until a few weeks ago, I didn't realise you could buy craft supplies there, I thought it was only for finished crafted articles. I must be a bit slow on the uptake! Anyway, I bought a roll of beautiful candy-coloured twine and just had to use it for my DT challenge, despite the colours being about as un-Christmassy as could be.

A rummage through my Christmas bits box produced some background papers that picked up colours from the twine, and I had some card suitable for matting, and this stamp, which was a magazine cover gift a year or two back, gave me the opportunity to colour the decoration and Santa-hat to match the twine.

I'd normally have started with the image and then chosen papers and trimmings to go with it, so starting with the twine, especially in such non-festive colours, was an interesting way to go about it and gave me a chance to think more creatively - I must try doing that more often!

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Something beginning with B at Cardz 4 Guyz

This week at Cardz 4 Guyz we'd like to see something beginning with the letter B on your card.

I've stamped a background using a set of stamps that was free on the final issue of Get Stamping magazine last year - such a useful set, I've used it many times. The fence and grass had to be stamped several times to cover the width of the card, and I stamped the grass twice, once in a lighter green and once in a darker, moving the stamp half-way to the left for the darker grass so it didn't line up unnaturally.

The bicycle is a Diesire die and the button from a super bargain bag I picked up on Amazon.

So here we have B for Bicycle, Bird, Branch and Button.

I am sharing this with
Crafty Gals Corner - Anything Goes
Use Your Stuff - Anything Goes
Clear It Out Challenge - Your style (stamping) and Your Favourite Craft Product (stamps, especially the set I used for the background)

Monday, 29 June 2015

Inspired by an English Country Garden #7

On our recent trip to West Green House, one particularly striking display was a row of alliums (or should that be allia?) that were really over, but rather than being cut down, had been left to turn brown so their spiky brown spheres contrasted strikingly against the lush green lawns beyond them.

I wanted to try to recreate this with a diecut, but didn't have an allium die - so I've used the Memory Box Chloe die to give a similar effect, adding a sprig of foliage cut with a Spellbinders Sprigs die. The diecuts are a pearlescent dark brown in real life, but I think the reflection from the pearlescence has made them look almost black in the photo. The background is made by covering an acrylic block with green ink and spraying it with water.

I'm sharing this with
Suzy Bee's Blooming Challenge - use two colours
Pixie's Snippets Playground (as the brown card was from my snippets box) - week 183
Less is More - sketch challenge

Ship ahoy!

I seem to have created quite a few nautical themed cards recently, which is probably why I keep finding myself humming songs from "HMS Pinafore" (I've always nursed a secret urge to play the part of Little Buttercup). Today's card was made for the "Blue as the Ocean" challenge at Allsorts Challenge Blog.

All the stamps are from a Kanban set that came as part of a QVC kit, and in fact the die cut circles are from the same kit..... I know I'm perfectly capable of cutting my own, but I'm really trying hard to use up some of my older stash!

I used Broken China distress ink to stamp the main image, then with a water brush drew out some of the colour in the sea and sky areas to blend them slightly. Then I picked up a little more of the ink from the pad with the water brush and strengthened the colour on the ship and the bands of the lighthouse.

The backing paper is from Graphic 45, stamped with the compass design from the stamp set, and the anchor from the stamp set was stamped and embossed in silver.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Inspired by an English Country Garden #6

I thought I'd finished this series of makes - and then at the weekend, Mark and I visited West Green House, near Hartley Wintney in Hampshire. The house isn't open to the public, but the gardens are, and National Trust members can go in without charge. As it's only a few miles from home, it's a very easy outing for us, and one we don't have to plan ahead for, instead taking advantage of any fine days when we're both at home.

Mark, of course, is in his element taking photographs whenever we visit a garden. And the gardens of West Green are a photographer's paradise - so many different styles, so many interesting features, and of course so many beautiful flowers, all crammed into a relatively small area.

Mark has written about the gardens in general here and about the flowers here. If you look at the first photo on the first of the two posts, you'll know immediately what inspired me to create this card:

The brickwork paper was printed out from the CD "The Best of La Pashe 2012" and the garden scene from Debbie Moore's "Shabby Chic Enchanted Garden" CD. I covered the front of an A5 card with the brickwork paper then die cut a circle in it. I sanded all the edges and then inked them lightly with Ancient Mahogany distress ink. I added adhesive to the back of the image  and lined it up behind the aperture to make sure exactly the part I wanted showed through, then closed the back of the card over it to stick it in place.

The front was simply decorated with trimmings from the Debbie Moore design sheet and leafy sprigs cut with Spellbinders "Sprigs". If I'd had a trailing ivy die, I'd have used that instead.

Feelin' hot, hot, hot!

Here in the UK, we are threatened with a serious heatwave later this week, with temperatures up in the mid 30s. Of course we are - it's the start of Wimbledon fortnight and that always brings with it torrential rain or abnormally hot weather. Or indeed both, in the form of a classic British summer, three fine days and a thunderstorm.

Anyway, this little chap looks set to make the most of it! The stamp I used for him is an old one I've had for years - I hardly ever use it as I'm a bit of a wimp about colouring, especially when it comes to skin and hair. I can't remember the brand - I think it's a French name - but the rubber is bright blue rather than the more usual red or grey. The sunshine is the cover stamp from an old issue of Craft Stamper. All the papers are from my snippets box and the "foam" at the edge of the sea is made with liquid pearls.

I really wanted to give him a bucket and spade, but had nothing suitable, so I turned a punched circle into a beach ball and used some embellishments from a RAK to make him indulge in that other great seaside tradition, stuffing one's face with junk food. Chips in one hand, candyfloss in the other, and hopefully a sick bag in the back of Mum's car for on the way home.....

I'm playing along with:

Sweet Stampin' Challenge - Red Hot Summer
Make my Monday - Beach  
Pixie's Snippets Playground - week 183

From my cook book shelf - The Bestway Cookery Book

I'm sure you know how much I love old and interesting cookery books, and this is one that I picked up for a few pounds in an antique shop. Unfortunately it is undated, but the illustrations put it firmly in the first half of the 20th century. The style of labelling on the colour plates suggests maybe the 1930s.

The full title of the book is "Bestway Cookery Gift Book which tells you all the important details other cookery books leave out!" although there doesn't seem to be very much detail included that wouldn't be found in any other recipe book of the time.

Much of the book is devoted to cakes and puddings, with the first chapter entirely devoted to cakes and further ones covering hot puddings and pies, cold desserts, chocolate dishes and jams and preserves. Although every dish is photographed, very little attention has been paid to presentation, with wonky candles on a birthday cake and carelessly piped cream on desserts. The dishes and plates used for presentation seem to be a very limited range and some photos are used to illustrate more than one dish. For instance macaroni cheese, cheese souffle and rice pudding all seem to be exactly the same photo!


Some of the recipe names would raise a few eyebrows these days. I was quite worried about the idea of Jelly Mange..... It sounds like something you might take your pet to the vet to be treated for, but actually it is a packet jelly made up with half water and half milk, presumably a play on the word blancmange. And as for the cooking times for veg.......25 minutes of boiling for asparagus! Surely it would disintegrate to a mush. Or, as Mark suggested, maybe water boiled at a lower temperature in those days. It's inflation, you know, everything's gone up since then.

Something I really love about old recipe books is the fact that previous owners of them have often tucked in clippings from newspapers and magazines. This book contains a lovely selection, including recipes for cold beef and for apricots, as well as suggested menus for entertaining your mother in law for the day. And two real gems: one is one of Elizabeth David's original newspaper columns, all about "baby marrows" or courgettes. These columns were the basis for her earliest recipe books, so now I can quite honestly say I own a first edition Elizabeth David! The other appeals to me not just as a food lover, but as a comper. It is a column from the Daily Telegraph dated Friday May 30th 1947 and gives the results of a competition they had run to find new recipes for salad cream. And the recipes sound lovely, too. In fact I may well give the first prize winner a try.

The first prize, of a patterned coffee set, was won by a Mrs C C Stevens of Chorley Wood, the second of a cream making machine by a Miss M N Spencer of Clifton and the third, of £1 cash, to Mrs J Hamilton of Tiverton. Wouldn't it be wonderful if they, or one of their descendants, were reading this?

And finally - don't you just love the frock? "Does my bum look big in this?"