Monday, 12 November 2018

REVIEW: making masculine cards with Hunkydory

You can't have failed to notice how often, over the years, I have used Hunkydory products in my creations. They produce a huge range of papercraft supplies, and their pre-printed and pre-diecut toppers with co-ordinating paper and card are great because they are perfect for beginners to use in simple cardmaking and yet versatile enough for more experienced crafters to make more complicated designs. I often use them for fancy-fold cards, so I can concentrate on the card shape and have the artwork all ready to add.

So I was delighted when Hunkydory asked me to review some of their products and allowed me to choose some items to review. All my current Hunkydory supplies are very feminine and floral so I decided to try some of their masculine products for a complete change. Many crafters find it hard to make cards for men, and Hunkydory have a lot of products to help with that.

The items I chose were the A4 pad and topper deck from the Planes, Trains and Automobiles collection  and, to use for matting alongside them,  the Colour Families Paper Pack in brown.

All I've needed to add, apart from adhesive and card blanks, is a few brads and some candi.

For me the topper pack is the real star attraction - it contains 54 heavyweight card toppers featuring various cars, planes, ships and planes, all in a vintage style with details of each one. There are several of each design (I didn't stop to count, and being a patience player my first action was to shuffle the cards as if they were a deck of playing cards!). The artwork is stunning and the cards themselves good, sturdy, high quality cards that give a luxury feel to the finished card. And an extra touch that I love - on the car cards, it tells us the original price of the car. How times - and prices - have changed.

The A4 pad is designed to compliment the toppers, with double sided papers to work with the land, sea and air themes. It's unusual to find papers that are A4 rather than square, and as a cardmaker rather than a scrapbooker I often find 12 x 12 papers don't cut into convenient sizes without a lot of waste. I really love the designs, especially the collage ones which remind me of the cigarette cards that my Dad used to collect as a boy in the 1930s. However the semi-gloss papers are shinier than I am used to and, having had issues stamping on glossy paper in the past, I'm reluctant to try stamping on them. I got around the stamping issue on the card I wanted to add a sentiment to, by digging out my old peel-off greetings. I notice that Hunkydory sell a book of die cut sentiments which I think would be useful with this glossy paper.

Each theme section of the papers includes a scene - rail tracks, mountain roads, sky or sea, and this scene is a full A4 sheet. While it can be cut up into smaller sections and still look beautiful, few crafters regularly make A4 sized cards and it seems a pity not to have the chance to use the whole scene, so I'd have liked to see one or two sheets in the pad show a pair of A5 scenes side-by-side as well.

Finally the Colour Families paper - this too is semi glossy, so presents the same challenge to stamping, but it die cuts absolutely beautifully! Being thinner than cardstock, you need to add a piece of scrap paper between the die and your cutting plate, otherwise the die can get embedded in the cutting plate (don't ask me how I know that) but you can see from the tiny teeth on my die cut cogs that the paper comes out of the die cleanly and easily without bending or tearing.

Disclaimer - I was sent these products to review but all opinions are my own, and with lots of paper sand toppers left you are going to be seeing a lot more makes using them over the next few months!

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Bleached Geisha

This Oriental Lady stamp is at least 20 years old, she came in a grab bag I bought so I don't know what brand she is. I stamped her onto pink card and then used a waterbrush filled with bleach to remove the colour from the skin areas - oooh that naughty lady isn't wearing anything under that scarf!

The background also uses bleach, it's a scrap left over from a previous project. The dark blue card has been sprayed and splattered with bleach, and where the bleach has landed, it has produced an aqua colour. It's always a good idea to test a scrap of your card before using bleach - sometimes it makes no difference at all, sometimes it goes completely white and sometimes you get a surprise. I've seen one green card that turned red when bleached!

I've added some candi, a silk butterfly and a piece of origami paper that picks up the pink of the topper, the blue of the background, the red of the butterfly and the ochre of the matting paper.

I am sharing this with the Butterfly Challenge, where my original idea had been just to use the colour rose, but it sort of evolved as I went along when I realised I only had one silk butterfly left and it wasn't the pink one I'd thought it was, and I appear to have used all three of the challenge colours. My candi is round, I have repeated the row of three dots at the top and bottom of the card and the blue layer is recycled from a previous project, so I think, possibly rather tenuously, I have snuck into the "all seven elements" category, quite by accident!

I am also sharing with Just Us Girls where I've been able to use my bleach in two different ways.

Going up the walls!

You know when you are feeling stressed or angry, people sometimes say you are "going up the walls"? Well, I reckon this kitty is doing exactly that!

And look where it's got him - he's torn the wallpaper, and now he's hanging on by his claws! I won this stamp set in the Snippets Playground so it seems highly appropriate that I should use them for a snippets make. I chose scraps that resembled wallpaper and floorboards, and stamped the cat and claw marks on the wallpaper so I knew where to tear, then stamped the cat again on a snippet of white and fussy cut it to stick it over the one on the wallpaper. As well as positioning the claw marks, it also meant I didn't need to try to fussy cut the whiskers!

As well as sharing this in the Snippets Playground, I am sharing it at Shopping Our Stash where the challenge is It's Raining Cats and Dogs.

Winter Wonderland at CD Sundays

Our latest challenge at CD Sundays is "Winter Wonderland" so it could be a Christmas card or one suitable for a winter birthday. I think my card would work well for either.

I used a paper and topper from the Joanna Sheen "Victorian Christmas Cards" CD set, and stamped a sentiment using a recent magazine covermount stamp. I offset the sentiment to display more of that beautifully atmospheric silhouette tree.

Saturday, 10 November 2018

REVIEW: Lavender & Lovage: A culinary notebook of memories & recipes from home & abroad

If you've ever searched the internet for recipes, you may well have visited the blog Lavender and Lovage, where Karen Burns-Booth  who writes beautifully about food, travel and food-related travel, as well as producing regular recipes.

Karen has now written a book, a collection of recipes and writings about her food and travels. It will be available in Kindle format  and print version on November 13th, and her publisher kindly sent me an ARC so I could review it.

This is a book to sit down and savour - the writing is beautiful, reminding me of Nigel Slater or Elizabeth David, the kind of writing that makes you undecided as to whether you want to grab your pinny or your passport. Recipes are interspersed with anecdotes, memories, photographs and menus reproduced from places she has visited.
The recipes themselves are from all around the world, from the many places that Karen has lived or visited, and they all have one thing in common - they are uncomplicated yet delicious, the kind of foods that people eat every day somewhere in the world. Yes, this is a book for reading, but it is also very much a book for cooking from and even a beginner cook can tackle most, probably all, of the dishes. There are no cheffy, showy, inaccessible recipes here, just lots and lots of good, wholesome food.  Many of Karen's travels mirror my own experiences, for instance she too has lived in Hong Kong and  the book includes a recipe for Chow Fan, a comfort food I turn to time and time again. Recipes also come from France, USA, Spain, South Africa and Southern American countries, yet none of them requires exotic or hard to find ingredients.
Karen's world includes Britain - the book includes some of our traditional regional recipes that are in danger of dying out. I was particularly pleased to see the recipe for Yorkshire Corned Beef Pie. Although I am from Lancashire myself, it brought back memories of the delicious "Meyt'n'tater" pies of my childhood. Nowadays when I go back home to visit, I sometimes buy a pie to try to recapture that taste, but the mashed potato has been replaced by mechanically sliced potato, the potatoes and onions have not been pre-cooked and the corned beef has been replaced by grisly cheap mince, and not much of it. So that really HAD to be the first recipe  I tried from the book.
I knew I'd picked a winner when I smelled it cooking - it smelled just like the bakehouse that my grandmother worked in in the late 1950s, where we would go to meet her from work at lunchtime and she would bring out piping hot pies for us to eat in her house, just across the street.

Just look at that crust! And at the well-packed filling, just crying out to be served with some beetroot and quick-pickled onions (which it was, immediately after this photo).
The recipe was very generous too - I halved the 6 person quantity and used a smaller pie plate, but there was still plenty to serve two of us twice over, and that was without the traditional accompaniment of chips. (We were big carb fans ooop north in my childhood, we'd have had bread and butter as well, and washed it down with sugary tea. Remind me again why I'm diabetic?)

I couldn't judge the book by just one recipe, though, could I?  Another that caught my eye was Turkish Lentil Soup. I've been on the lookout for the perfect Turkish Lentil Soup ever since my first trip to Turkey, about 10 years ago. I was going away  for a girly break with a friend. The flight was delayed by several hours so we arrived very late at the hotel but they'd kept some dinner back for us and welcomed us with a steaming bowl of delicious lentil soup. If I'd been less exhausted I'd have asked for the recipe there and then, but now I've got it! This is exactly the soup I've been looking for.

Do excuse my photo, I'm not the kind of skilled food stylist that Karen is! But I know what's good - and this soup is very, very good and one I will make many times more. The final touches of chilli and lemon are absolute genius and turn a very, very simple to make soup into a special but sustaining treat that is guaranteed to warm up the coldest, dreariest day.

I'm really enjoying this book and will be cooking many more recipes from it. Now, having apologised for my own photography skills, here by contrast are a couple of examples of Karen's own work, and if they don't leave you craving for breakfast or Welsh Rarebit I don't know  what will!

RECIPE: Spicy peanuts

These nuts are a delicious and easy alternative to offering salted peanuts as a nibble with drinks, but a warning - don't make more than you need, thinking you will keep some for another day, they are so moreish you'll just keep eating them until they are gone!

Use the red or pink skinned peanuts for this, or at this time of year you could even buy peanuts in their shells and have fun shelling your own. Note that if you are buying them in a supermarket, they are often MUCH cheaper in the Asian foods section, and if you are lucky enough to have an Asian shop (Chinese or Indian, they both tend to stock them) nearby they will be cheaper still.

For each 100g of nuts you will need:
a little oil - I like to use Chinese peanut oil but any mildly flavoured oil will do
1 clove of garlic, finely crushed
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp chilli powder (or to taste, we like them quite hot and buy very hot chilli powder)
salt to taste

Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the nuts over medium heat until the skins start to split and slightly brown. Toss in the cumin seeds and garlic and fry for a further 1-2 minutes, then the chilli powder and fry for one minute longer.

Allow to cool and add salt to taste.

That's all you need to do!

More encaustic painting

Do you remember a few days ago I shared two cards made using the encaustic painting technique, that I had made for the Sisterhood of Snarky Stampers?

Well, I mentioned in my post that once I get hold of my waxes and iron, I tend to get a bit carried away, and here is another fairy card I made using the same technique.

This time I kept to purple and turquoise, the colours I think of as "fantasy colours" and finished the fairy off with a little glitter and a simple stamped sentiment. You can read more about the encaustic wax technique on my original post .

I am sharing this with
Fab 'n' Funky - Fantasy Figures
Watercooler Wednesday - anything goes feminine