Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Things don't always work....

A few months ago, I won a cover-your-own-notebook kit. Now I love notebooks, so was looking forward to having a go with this. The cover could be stitched or sewn, and as I seldom use my sewing machine these days (the eye of the needle seems to have got smaller..... in order to thread it, I have to take my glasses off and rest my head on the table with my nose practically touching the needle... nothing to do with my age, of course...) I decided to use the sticking method.

The first drawback I encountered was that the outside of the box didn't tell me I would need to buy a tin of spray starch. So I had everything out and ready to start, then came to the instruction "Now spray your fabric all over with spray starch". Packed everything up again and went shopping. The supermarket had none.

Have you any idea how many times it is possible to go shopping and either forget to look for a tin of starch or remember it and find that there was none in stock? Yes, it took me several months to be equipped to make a fresh start on my notebook.

And do you know, once I'd starched the blooming fabric, it didn't feel any different! I'm sure in the days when we all used starch on shirts, it was, well, starchier.

Anyway, fabric starched and cut, I started to make my book, and encountered problem number one. The book provided in the kit had an elastic closure attached to one of the covers. It wasn't possible to stick the fabric down over the cover without removing it, and it took some very careful cutting to try not to leave a bump in the surface where it had been.

Fabric stuck to outside of cover, I moved on to turning over the edges to stick down inside the covers. Here I met problem numbers two and three...... the book had an inside pocket in the back cover, and sticking the fabric edges down rendered this unusable. And the book also had very rounded corners, so the instructions to "Mitre the corners" left unsightly empty fabric points at each corner.

Also the instructions didn't mention anything about covering the raw edges of fabric to hide them. I thought they looked pretty unsightly so I cut pieces of card to fit slightly smaller than the pages and stuck them over the offending edges. This also hid the fact that there was an unusable pocket at the back, although it left it feeling rather bulky.

Next I turned back to the outside to admire the covered book, and realised the fourth and worst problem. The fabric provided was a cream floral design (there were others to choose from, but all were either pale or had large pale areas). The notebook was very dark brown. So the entire book looked grey and dingy with the brown showing through the cream. And the plae fabric also allows the adhesive to show through, although the flash on the photo makes it look worse than in real life.

Now was the time to decorate the cover, but I'm afraid by now my heart wasn't in it and I just stuck a bit of washi tape and a few die cuts on it. I'd been planning to make the book as a gift, but there's no way I would give anyone a hand made gift that I wasn't proud of, and to say I'm not proud of this is an understatement. I'll use it for my own card sketches and ideas, but it may well make me feel grumpy every time I use it!

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Rye Bread - the easy way

You probably know by now that while Mark loves to make bread by hand, I like to make it the lazy way, in the bread machine, even if I'm going to shape and bake the dough conventionally. So here we have what must surely be the easiest rye bread ever!

Since our local farm shop started to stock the lovely range of Wessex Mill bread flours, I can easily get hold of their delicious Sour Rye Flour and this has become our favourite loaf - it is light, evenly textured and has just the right amount of caraway flavour - definitely "there" but not enough to overwhelm anything you eat with it. Mark loves it with jam for breakfast: I love it with smoked trout paté from the Farmer's Market. And we both love it with soups and stews - the other day I made a loaf to eat with Goulash Soup.

My recipe came from a little booklet called "Allinsons Continental Bread" which I bought several years ago, one of those little booklets like the Be-Ro book that you often find perched on the top of the baking ingredients shelves. However I've found the recipe on the Baking Mad website - identical apart from the fact the online version includes honey and there's no sweetening added to the one in the booklet.  I don't think it needs the honey, it's absolutely delicious without it! Or simply use the basic loaf recipe that comes with your machine, replacing half of the flour with rye flour and adding 1 tablespoon of caraway seeds.

To make it in a bread machine, add all the ingredients to the pan in the order recommended for your machine and then use the DOUGH setting. When the cycle finishes, remove from the machine, knead lightly and shape into a rounded-ended oblong on your greased baking tray, make slits along the top and cover loosely with oiled cling film. Leave to prove until doubled in size - nowadays I tend not to actively seek out a warm place for bread to rise, but this really does benefit from half an hour or so in the airing cupboard. The oven can be heating while the bread is rising. Make sure there is plenty space above the shelf in the oven, as the bread will continue to rise quite a lot in the oven.

Bake for 30 minutes at 190 C (170 fan), 375 F, Gas Mark 6.

I'm sharing this with Bready Steady Go at Jen's Food and Utterly Scrummy Food 4 Families


Announcement - Giveaway Winner

My Bloggy Birhday Giveaway closed at midnight on Sunday and I used to pick the lucky winner who is Jenna Oksanen from Finland. Well done Jenna, your prize is winging its way to you right now.

Here is the card I popped in with her prize, made using the Dovecraft Curiosity Corner range of papers and embellishments

There is a special message stamped inside:

It's the first time I've ever used that stamp - I bought it just before the illness that forced me to close down Grape Vine - I'd planned to use it every time I ran a competition, but before I'd had chance to use it, I had to close the business and stop running them. I'm glad it's been able so see ink for the first time in its life!

Football Crazy at Cardz 4 Guyz

This week we're going football crazy at Cardz 4 Guyz  and we'd love to see YOUR football themed cards too. Why not pop over there and take a look at the ideas from the rest of the design team? And if you are somebody who struggles to make cards for the males in your life, take a look through some of our previous challenges, you'll find loads of inspiration!

I've made an easel-style card because it makes the image look as if he's standing in the mouth of a goal. The image and backing paper are taken from the CD The Best Of La Pashe 2014 and the beer glasses and matching border are from an old Kanban die cut sheet.

I'm sharing this as a second entry to Layer it up! at CD Sundays - I think you'll agree it's very diferent to my first entry!
Also with
OLLCB - at least 5 layers
Fab'nFunky - Masculine  

Monday, 20 April 2015

Lots and lots and lots of layers!

This fortnight's CD Sundays challenge is "Layer it up" and my card has lots and lots and LOTS of layers! In fact I think when it is closed, the centre area has over 20 layers.....

I used toppers and background paper from the My Craft Studio "Flawless Florals" Click, Print, Go CD. I didn't like the image on the large topper very much, so I covered it up with a different one!

Now, can any of you spot the printing error on the background paper? If you look at the blue flowers to the top left of each spray, it will show you the "right" way up for the motif, but on just a few of them the spray is inverted and the flowers are on the bottom left! If you have the entire sheet of paper in front of you, it is far too infrequent to be deliberate. I'm never again going to be able to look at that sheet without my eye being drawn to the "odd man out"!

Chicken Machboos

This weekend's Formula 1 Grand Prix was in Barhain, which means the F1 Foods challenge at Caroline Makes is to cook a dish from Bahrain.

I searched high and low  - I found lots of cake recipes but only one savoury dish, Chicken Machboos, which is apparently the national dish. Recipes for it vary - I expect there as many variations as there are kitchens in Bahrain - but I liked the look of this version at Daring Gourmet so I decided to follow their recipe. It is a kind of chicken pilaff, with the chicken cooked in with spicey, tomatoey rice.   If you want to cook it too, follow the link - the post is long and has step-by-step illustrations, but the recipe itself is printable so you can take one handy page into the kitchen.
The first thing I noticed was what a long list of ingredients there are! But this is partly because it includes the recipe for a home made baharat, the fragrant Middle Eastern spice blend. You can easily buy this in supermarkets but as I love making spice blends and have a coffee grinder dedicated to spices only,  I decided to follow the recipe and make my own, and I'm very glad I did. It is a wonderfully fragrant blend, and as a bonus the house now has a beautiful toasted cardamom scent. I'll be making my own baharat from now on.
Apart from the baharat, the other "exotic" ingredient is dried limes. I couldn't get hold of these locally so I used the rind and juice of a fresh lime instead. And I omitted the fresh coriander/cilantro because my husband is violently allergic to it.

Although there looked as if there were a lot of ingredients, the dish was simple to make. Too time consuming for a weekday, perhaps, but great for a weekend. And it was wonderful! We eat a vary varied diet and seldom find anything completely new to us, but although the pilaff style is familiar, the combination of spices, parsley, lime and rosewater gave it a completely different flavour, which we loved. It may have been the first time I made this, but it certainly won't be the last!

GIVEAWAY - Bloggy Birthday

Onions and Paper is three years old today! So I thought I'd celebrate with a little giveaway. And to make it relevant to the blog, it's a two-part prize. That is, one prize with two parts, not two separate prizes.... so whether you're here for food or craft, the prize will have something to suit you.

The first part is a copy of The Great British Pepper Cookbook.

This is a soft-backed book packed with recipes which all include peppers - and yes, there ARE one or two desserts! I'd love to hear from the winner if they try making a pepper-based pud! The word "British" refers to the peppers, not the recipes, which are from all over the world.
Part 2 is a clear stamp set. This is a Kanban design - the sheet measures 15cm by 10cm to give you an idea of the size of the images.
I'll keep the giveaway open for a week, so it will close on Sunday April 19th. To enter, just click on the blue Inlinkz button and enter your name and email address. If the form asks you for a website URL, just leave it blank (I've tried to tell it not to ask for one..... but you never know.....) . Please only enter once! I'll contact the winner by email on April 20th and get the details of where to post the prize to - if the winner is outside the UK, I may have to use surface mail as our postage rates are shocking! I'll keep this post pinned to the top of the blog until the giveaway closes.