Monday, 19 February 2018

A bit OTT for me!

Well, I've really gone a bit OTT by my standards today! I make a LOT of CAS cards, and often stray into messy or more complex territory, but seldom go full-on ribbon, lace, pearls, flowers, multiple die cuts and the whole shebang. However, Mother's Day is approaching and needs must......

(The usual disclaimer - in real life that ribbon is NOT bright orange, it's a lovely soft peach like the upper die cut doily)

The design of this card is inspired by the Butterfly Challenge where the wheel segments this time are paper piecing, pearls, patterned paper, peach, pink and purple. I've managed to combine all the segments except paper piecing and frankly last week's venture into it was enough to last me for quite some time!

I've used two pink patterned papers, pink heart gems and pink pearl braid, a purple flower, purple die cut butterfly, sentiment and doily and peach  ribbon and doily.

Incidentally that doily die is one of my oldest dies and yet I hardly ever use it because although the die cut comes out lovely and cleanly, the waste from all those little holes doesn't. It doesn't matter what I do to help them on their way (and that die has single-handedly killed a Tool'n'One) I end up having to pick them all out from the die with a pokey tool. One. By. One. So you can see how much love has gone into this card. I cut TWO of the blighters!

I am sharing it with The Butterfly Challenge and with 

Little Red Wagon - Luuurve

C.R.A.F.T - Mother's Day/Feminine 

Stencilled stag

I'm sure you all know by now how much I love this stencil, I've used it so often. It makes such a tranquil Christmas scene which I think is perfect for a masculine card, especially when done using a dark background.

This time I used texture paste for the stencilling, sprinkling it with white glitter while still wet. The paste doesn't pick up a lot of glitter, just enough to give a gentle sparkle as the light changes. Some matting and layering and a stamped Altenew sentiment and the card was finished.

I am sharing this with

Crafty Hazelnut's Christmas Challenge - anything goes (or green)
Crafty Creations Challenge - anything goes
Winter Wonderland - tribute to Eileen, anything Christmas goes  
The Holly and Ivy - Anything Christmas Goes

Sunday, 18 February 2018


I've used yellow and black snippets with the Dovecraft Bee Happy die set for this card, inlaying the yellow pieces into the black. I ran the whole thing through the Grand Calibur after adding all the die cuts, to give a more even finish and to help the Stick-It adhesive to stick firmly, as it can be a bit temperamental. It looked a bit bare at the top but I thought another bee would be overkill (plus I'd finished the last scrap of yellow), so I stencilled in a little patch of honeycomb instead.

I am sharing this with

CAS on Friday - Dies
Pixies Snippets Playground - Challenge 320
Sparkles Monthly Challenge - Clean and Simple
AAA Cards - die cuts only (hope that bit of stencilling's OK!)

The Tiger Who Came To Tea

 - a birthday tea, that is!

This cute little chap is stamped using a set that was a magazine freebie last year - the sentiment came from the same set and I think the embossing folder I used came with it too. First I embossed the paw prints across the bottom of the card, then embossed a scrap of orange card with the tiger pattern, sponging a little black ink over the raised areas.
Then I coloured and fussy cut the tiger and added him to the "tiger skin" panel.
I am sharing this with
Addicted to Stamps and More - CAS 
Addicted to CAS - CAT  
A Bit More Time To Craft - anything goes 
Less is More - dry embossing  

Up, Up and Away at CD Sundays

It's new challenge day again at CD Sundays and our theme this fortnight is Up, Up and Away.

I've used an image and paper from a fairly old Joanna Sheen CD called Victorian Birthdays and made it into a masculine card with die cuts and Candi. The sentiment and banner dies are both from Dovecraft  - and since I inlaid the stars, I now have enough bits and pieces left to make the banners again but with the colours reversed.

I am sharing this with Watercooler Wednesday - Occasions

Saturday, 17 February 2018

A Brilliant Day of Baking

This week Mark and I went into London to the Bread Ahead Cookery School in Borough
Market  as I had won two places on the Complete Sourdough Workshop class which is held there.

Having stayed overnight in London the night before (and enjoyed a delicious Lebanese meal at one of Maroush's many restaurants on the Edgware Road) we reached the market area early and had a few minutes to wander round and whet our appetites by browsing around all the wonderful food stalls, then headed into the school to meet our instructor, Manuel and his assistant Fran, and our fellow students, who ranged from experienced bakers to absolute novices.

The day was well planned and thoroughly prepared for, so we accomplished lots and learned lots. The morning was spent learning about sourdough starters and starting to make our own, which we brought home to continue nurturing until it is ready to cook with, and then using some of the bakery's own starter to get our various bakes for the day started. We were taught lots about the background of the breads we made and the techniques we were  using and with the hands-on experience and expert tuition we learned far more than we could ever have done from books, television or You Tube.

Our first completed make was also our lunch - a pizza made with a sourdough base.

Probably the best pizza I've ever eaten - and the easiest I've ever made. We were even taught the shaping technique of slapping the dough from arm to arm.

The same basic dough was used for our next completed bake, a baguette.

This has the true baguette texture with a delicious crispy crust and lovely well risen crumb with large holes and a satisfying, slightly chewy texture. So much more like the baguettes we buy when we visit France than anything sold in local supermarkets!

Next we produced a very dark rye bread called Borodinsky, which contains caraway and coriander seeds and has an unusual cracked-flour effect crust.

As usual for a dark rye bread, this has a much denser texture and I can tell you, as I tried it today, is delicious with black cherry conserve for breakfast.

Next we made a Levain bread and were shown how to use a banneton to shape it and a razor blade to score the top - Mark and I made different designs.

And our final bake to be completed - although due to the number of steps in the making, it had been the first we started, was a No-Knead Fennel and Raisin bread, which again we shaped in a banneton and scored with a razor blade before cooking in its own steam in a dutch oven.

I think this is my favourite bread from the whole day. Apart from looking spectacular, the texture and flavour are wonderful. Fennel seeds and raisins aren't a combination I've ever thought of using but they are delicious together. We've just eaten some of this with cheese for lunch.

So we staggered back to the station under the weight of four delicious loaves each  - we've had to put some of it in the freezer as there is far too much for the two of us to eat before it goes stale - plus our recipe packs, our own sourdough starters, bags of rye flour and highly useful scraping tools.

As you can imagine, the smell of freshly baked bread filled the whole carriage on the train. We keep looking at our breads and thinking "Did we really make those?" - so much flavour and so much variety packed into six fascinating hours.

 If you would like to read about Mark's take on the day, and see his photos, you can read his own blog post here.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

L is For..... at Cardz 4 Guyz

Our new challenge is ready at Cardz 4 Guyz and this time we would like to see something beginning with the letter L on your card.

The paper and image I have used were printed out from a CD that was free with Making Cards magazine a while back - in fact Making Cards has really come up trumps for this as the sentiment is stamped with a stamp that came from there too.

I've kept it bold and bright, as befits a card for a boy, with the addition of nothing more than black spotty washi tape and black candi.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Hiding in the jungle

I'm sorry to be deluging you with posts today - I've had a busy few days of crafting and now I have a hectic week ahead and may not get chance to post at all. So I'm having a bit of a blitz today.

This is one of those cards that is just so much easier to make when you have a stamping platform!

First of all I put the CLOSED card in the Misti, using the Creative Corners to position the card, placed the animals ( a set that was a magazine freebie) where I wanted them to be peeping out, drew lightly around their heads to show where I wanted the apertures and closed the platform to pick the stamps up on the clear plate. Then I removed the card, leaving the corners in place to make sure I replaced it in exactly the same spot.

Next I stamped jungle leaves, from a couple of Uniko sets, all over the front of the card. Then I taped circle dies over the pencil markings, so that each head would appear to be peeping through a circle, and cut the apertures.

Now I returned the card to the Misti, positioning it inside the corners, but this time I opened out the card and turned the front panel to the back, so I was stamping on the inside. Then I inked the pre-positioned stamps and stamped the images. I coloured them in with watercolour markers rather than alcohol ones, so the ink wouldn't show on the back of the card, although I could have used the alcohol ones and covered the back panel with a spare piece of card - but I've only just thought of that. Although you can't see them on the photo, I stamped a few more bits inside - some grass for the giraffe  and tiger to stand on and a vine for the monkey to swing on,

Finally I turned the front panel back to the front and re-creased the fold.

Now, please don't point out to me that tigers and giraffes don't live on the same continent - I know that, and had intended using the lion and not the tiger, but he was facing the wrong way and looked all wrong!

I am sharing this with

Make My Monday - Going around in circles

Inkspirational - Aperture card


Yet more hearts

It's Valentine's week so I suppose I'd better make a few romantic  looking cards!

First of all, here are the cards I've made for the latest Twofer challenge.

The stamp I've used is an unmounted one that came in a RAK many years ago.  It says "Third Coast" on the back so I presume that's the manufacturer. For the first card, I used Versamark ink and clear embossing powder to stamp it randomly over the pink card and heat emboss it, then added a sentiment stamped on vellum and held in place with glue dots behind the heart shaped pearls.

For the second I heat embossed in black on red then attached it to a panel of Bazzill embossed card. The finishing touches are some ribbon from an NBUS reel (odd how the stuff with hearts on tends not to get used in this house!) and a peel-off sentiment from La Pashe. 

Now a closer look at the cards on their own

I'm sharing this one with

Sweet Stampin - Girly 

And I'm sharing this with

Allsorts - Love is in the air

AAA - All you need is Love


RECIPE - Quick Pickled Onions

When I was a little girl, my grandma always had a bowl of these delicious pickled onions on the table, at every mealtime. Mum occasionally made  them too, but usually only if we were having chips or a salad. We all loved them so much we used to sneak into the kitchen and steal them from the bowl - every few minutes the metal plate she covered the bowl with could be heard rattling and by the time the meal was ready, there were hardly any left!

They were very popular in fish and chip shops and caf├ęs around the Warrington area where I lived as a child, most places had a large bowl of them on the counter for customers to help themselves from, and although I never went in pubs then, they probably had them there too. Only a few years ago I went in a pub that still had them, although they were probably flouting all kinds of laws made up by the Department of Over-Protecting Us From Ourselves.
After all, they were in a large, uncovered bowl and customers could dip mucky utensils and even fingers in - but I'm sure the vinegar would do a lot to help prevent the spread of germs!

Anyway, since you probably won't find 'em in't pub or't chippy any more, here's how to make them.

For 1 large onion you will need 250ml of vinegar, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 heaped tablespoon of sugar (I use a third of the quantity of Truvia). Whisk the salt and sugar into the vinegar until dissolved. Peel and halve the onion and slice very thinly, and place in a non metallic dish with a lid. Pour over the vinegar mixture and leave to stand for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally.

This keeps well for several days at room temperature - given chance! When the onion is all used up you can slice another into the vinegar - I usually do this 2-3 times, after which the vinegar takes on a cloudy appearance which is unappetising.

Traditionally these are made with malt vinegar but I've made them with all kinds of vinegar, whatever seems to best match what we are eating. I'd stick to malt vinegar if they are going to be eaten with fish and chips though! My current batch, in the photo, was made with red wine vinegar - HOME MADE red wine vinegar, made using the vinegar maker my daughter gave me for my birthday last year.

She said I'd be able to make vinegar using left over wine - honestly, she's known me for thirty odd years, she's my daughter after all, and yet she somehow thinks I might ever have left over wine! So I have to buy wine for it - I treat it to a bottle now and then when there's a good special offer. The vinegar may not be cheap - but oh my word it's wonderful!

What a week!

It's been One Of Those weeks.

First the dishwasher packed up - luckily we managed to get that sorted out - with all the cooking we do, managing without it would be a real struggle.

Then the loo in our en suite got stuck on permanent flush. Fortunately we have a maintenance contract and it was sorted out the next day.

Then the gas boiler started to play up, switching itself off every few minutes and refusing to fire up when the heating first comes on in the morning. Because it's such a busy time of year, the engineer can't come out to it for a few more days so at the moment we have only intermittent heating and hot water.

Anyway by Friday morning all the repairs were either done or booked, so we got on and booked airport parking for our holiday in April, and a hotel for the previous week when we are going to look after my Mum while my brother, her main carer, goes on holiday. We were feeling pretty pleased with ourselves - until the post arrived, bringing with it a summons for me to do two weeks of jury service - for the period of my brother's and our holidays. Now jury service is a great privilege but in order to do it at the time not only would we have to cancel the holiday we have booked and paid for, but so would my brother and his family, and also my daughter and her family as we are holidaying with them. So I've applied to have it deferred to a later date - please all cross your fingers (or hold your thumbs, if that's what you do in your country) that the deferment is granted!

Anyway, I've made a card that sums up my feelings about this week:

The image is a Viva las Vegas stamp, the sentiment from So Suzy and the splodges are from the Gentleman Crafter set.

I am sharing this with

Rubber Dance - I've chosen the colour challenge of Orange, Turquoise and Lime Green

Chinese New Year card

When we lived in Hong Kong, our home was out in the (then) very rural New Territories,  and wherever we went our journeys would take us through miles of farmland. At this time of year, the fields were full of plum and cherry blossom because everyone wanted to have some in their homes for the New Year celebrations. Strings of bright lights over the fields helped to bring the blossom on at exactly the right speed so that it was all perfect just in time for the big shopping frenzy.

This week's photo inspiration at Just Add Ink  reminded me of driving through those fields, so I just HAD to make a Chinese New Year card.

The stamps are all from a set that was a covermount a few years ago - I think the magazine was Creative Stamping or its now-defunct sister publication, Get Stamping.

And here is the lovely photo from Just Add Ink that brought back such lovely memories for me

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Owl in the rain

For this card I've used an NBUS digi that has been in my collection for ages - Hootie, Rain Rain Go Away from Crafty Sentiments.

I've teamed it with an assortment of snippets and this gorgeous little owl button, and tried to use the colouring to bring together the rather diverse elements I wanted to use. Hootie himself has been coloured to match the bigger owl on the button. I even managed to find a tiny heart sticker to add to his tummy. Hand drawn stitching finishes off all the edges - I had planned to distress them then realised it would have looked All Wrong.

I am sharing this with

Use Your Stuff - Weather

Crafty Sentiments - Anything Goes

G is for Galaxy at Sisterhood of the Snarky Stampers

Edna's gone interstellar! Well, for the next two weeks, at least, because she's given us the theme Galaxy for our challenge #103 at the Sisterhood of Snarky Stampers.

So, we'd like to see something connected with the Galaxy - a galaxy/night sky background, space travel, planets.... (I'm thinking of a Galaxy chocolate bar right now, I wonder how that would go down with Edna?)
Here's my card and if you don't get the sentiment I'm not sure how we've managed to become friends!

The background is my first attempt at a galaxy background. I searched You Tube and found several videos about it, but I didn't have the right stuff for any of them so I sort of made it up as I went along.

I used watercolour paper and a very wet light blue wash, and while that was still wet went over it with random splodges of darker blue and purple watercolours with a dash of orange. When it was dry I added the black, this time using a wide, almost-dry brush in roughly diagonal swooshes to give a patchy cloud effect. I let the whole thing dry then painted over it all with Jo Sonja's Opal Dust which has an unfortunate habit of never showing up on photos but leaves tiny reflective pearlescent specks all over the paper.

Once everything was dry and had spent the night under a pile of heavy books to flatten it, I stamped the random dots (an old Anita's stamp) all over in silver and heat embossed with silver powder.

Here's the finished background

It was trimmed and matted and a couple of die cut planets added then I used a Dymo Labelmaker to add the all-important sentiment. Apologies for the lack of apostrophe but there isn't one on my labelmaker.

Now I'm off to sit on my towel and contemplate the meaning of life while slurping on a Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster.

I am sharing this with Country View Crafts - anything but cute

Thursday, 8 February 2018

RECIPE - pressure cooker ham hock terrine

The advent of the "Instant Pot" has meant that pressure cooking has become cool again. Well, not COOL - it's very, very hot - but you know what I mean.

I had one many years ago and I don't think I ever used it - it terrified me so much. But a few months ago I got a new one - not an instant pot, not an electronic one, but a good solid Kuhn Rikon one that would probably withstand a volcanic eruption, so an occasional overheated chicken isn't going to destroy it. So now I'm learning and experimenting.

For this recipe, I used it to dramatically shorten the cooking time of a ham hock.

To make this you will need

One ham hock - mine weighed 1.6 kg
flavourings for the liquid - 1 onion, 2 carrots, 2 bayleaves, 5 cloves and a teaspoon of black peppercorns.

Place all the ingredients in the pressure cooker, add 500 ml water and then cook, according to your pressure cooker's instructions, at high pressure for 1 hour. Reduce pressure using normal pressure reduction. Allow the ham to cool in the liquid.

Now remove the ham from the liquid and strain the liquid into a clean pan.

Line a small terrine mould or small loaf tin with two layers of cling film. If you have neither, you could use a pudding basin.

Remove the skin, bone, fat and gristle from the ham and shred or cut into small pieces. I used a mixture of shreds and slightly chunkier pieces to add interest.

Now put the pan of liquid over a high heat and boil hard to reduce it to about one third of the original volume. Set aside to cool for about 30 minutes - in the meantime pack the ham into the prepared dish, pressing it down firmly. Pour over the cooled liquid, slowly, while occasionally shaking the dish to make sure the liquid fills the gaps.

Cover with more cling film and refrigerate over night. The reduced liquid will set to a highly savoury jelly.

Cut into chunks or slices and serve - I served it with baked potatoes, salads and some of my Northern-style quick pickled onions. Oh, I don't think  I've ever blogged the recipe for those - must do that soon!

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

In the pink

I seem to have accidentally made a one layer card when I didn't have to!!!

The keyboard and treble  clef stamps on this card are from an old Kanban stamp set and the words from a set that I bought years ago from QVC, I can't remember the brand name but it has a rather lovely collage of Beethoven on it and some music related sentiments. I  arranged the words, meant to surround a circle,  like this around the keyboard to give some counterpoint to the movement of the image - it was only after stamping that I realised it is also reminiscent of a sideways treble clef, so there's a lot of subtle music reference going on there.

Once the stamping was complete I masked off the keyboard and most of the card to give a rectangle and sponged it with several shades of pink ink, using deeper ones towards the edges.

I am sharing this with

Cardz 4 Galz - Think Pink

Less is More - Music (and I've also included a birthday greeting as it's their 7th birthday)

Watercooler Wednesday - Feminine Anything Goes 

Butterfly splash

Rummaging through my snippets box I found a piece of card in a lovely iridescent teal blue with a plain lighter coloured reverse, and decided to use the back and front of it for this card. Actually I also found scraps of a plain deep teal and a splash-patterned teal, so I grabbed my First Edition Layered Butterfly die and cut several from each colour of card, then mixed them and matched them and picked my favourite. So my to-be-used tin now contains several teal butterflies.

To make the card, I used Peacock Feather DI  to stamp the large circle pattern from the Gentleman Crafter stamp set and the sentiment, part of a recent Papercraft Essentials cover gift.

I'll just end with a sigh - the white on my photos today looks perfectly white in the original pics but now I've uploaded them to my blog it looks pink.

I am sharing this with

Addicted to CAS - Teal 

CASology - Butterfly

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Paper pieced roses

I don't often stamp onto patterned paper because colouring the images in can be rather hit and miss, with the background changing the colour that you use. However when you "colour" the images by paper piecing, that isn't an issue.

I made this card entirely from snippets of patterned paper, stamping the lovely rose-and-butterfly image onto all except the larger piece of orange, which I used for matting. Uning the text print as the background layer, I then cut out all the elements from the appropriate coloured papers and attached them, the larger pieces with Sticki dots and the more delicate ones with a Quickie glue pen. Incidentally I don't think I'd realised what detailed fussy cutting I'd let myself in for when I chose to paper piece this - some of that greenery was pretty challenging.

I am sharing this with

Pixie's Snippets Playground - week 319 
The Flower Challenge - Paper piecing

Stamping Sensations - Anything with Flowers

Monday, 5 February 2018

A Red Christmas!

Uh-oh, the curse of photographing metallic strikes again! All those snowflake embellishments are actually the same bright red - I don't possess any black snowflakes!

The image on this die is a little elf from one of the Lili of the Valley three-circle sets. I coloured her with Promarkers than used the Promarker Blender to make dots all over the parcel, removing the ink to give a spotty effect. I've framed it with a die cut made with the Gummiapan sketchy circles die. The background papers are from my snippets and the border is a row of self adhesive foam snowflakes topped with pearls.

I am sharing this with

52 Christmas Card Throwdown - sketch

Allsorts - Spots and/or stripes
Crafty Hazelnut's Christmas Challenge - quick and easy or anything goes
Winter Wonderland - All Boxed Up
Christmas Cards All Year round - use mainly red   

Crossword and Car

The current challenge at The Male Room is Inspired by Television  and at The Alphabet Challenge it is Wheels, so as my knowledge of TV is pretty sketchy, and of "blokey" programmes, sketchier still, so I thought I would combine the two and make a car themed card, to represent the programme Top Gear.

However, there was a change of plan.....

I made a background by stamping the tyre marks randomly over blue paper, then stamped the car and coloured and fussy-cut it (both stamps are from a very old Linda Luckin set, no longer available) and then I thought "hang on, that car looks just like Inspector Morse's car"  - so what else could I incorporate to make it represent the programme "Morse"?

Well, Morse was a massive crossword fan. There's a lovely crossword stamp on my wishlist but I've not got around to buying it yet, so I rummaged through the newspaper basket and - YES - there was a crossword magazine with an in-solved crossword that was exactly the right size for this card.

So here we have it - a Morse card which I am sharing with the above challenges.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Vintage Love at CD Sundays

It's tine for our new challenge at CD Sundays, and this time our theme is Vintage Love.

I've used my newest CD for this card, one called Steampunk Beauty from Magik Graphics. 

The floral punched border is made with a folded piece of card, so it is hinged to fold flat when the card is closed (not that a card with this many flowers and pearls ever folds VERY flat!) and that means there is an option to display the card without raising the border.

The image, papers and sentiment are from the CD, all the other elements are bits and bobs from my stash.

I would like to share this with Craft Rocket Challenge - Love