Friday, 22 September 2017

That wine bottle die again

I have a feeling, based on what I'm seeing around blogland,  that the wine bottle die given away with a recent issue of Die Cutting Essentials is going to become as iconic as the now-famous "That Embossing Folder" of a couple of years ago.

Here I've cut it in green, made a centre stepper card from embossed Hunkydory card and cut the embellishment for the bottle from a smooth version of the same card, then added labels made using the stamp and die set from one of their sister magazines.

I am sharing this with
Crafty Gals Corner - Fancy Folds
Crafting by Designs  - Drink Up!

Little doggies

Some time ago I got this doggie stamp from Little Claire in two sizes, and have used the larger one many times but never inked the smaller one. Until today.

I've teamed it with a selection of masculine papers from the docrafts Heritage press range. I don't know why but I always think of dogs when making pet themed cats for men, and cats when making them for women. Goodness knows why - I know lots of dog loving women and cat loving men.

I am sharing this with
Use Your Stuff - Pets 
Watercooler Wednesday - masculine anything goes

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Recipe - Pheasant and wild mushroom casserole

NOTE - do not used foraged mushrooms in this dish unless you are ABSOLUTELY certain that you know exactly what you are picking, that the ones you are choosing are both safe and good to eat, and that you are picking them from somewhere where you are allowed to do so. My thanks to Mark for his expertise and photographs.

I was having a rummage around the freezer, as you do, when I spotted a pack of pheasant thighs - skinned and boned ones. I have no idea where I bought them - the label has a brand name, "Wild", rather than a supermarket name, but it seems very much like game casserole weather so that's what I decided to make.

Mark had managed to find a lovely mixture of wild mushrooms for this, but supermarket ones would work too - use the ones that are like small flat chestnut mushrooms that every supermarket gives a different name to, if you can find them.

To serve two people you need:

1 pack (4 thighs) skinned and boned pheasant thighs
about 150g wild mushrooms (or see above)
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tbs sunflower or rapeseed oil
25g butter
1 tbs seasoned flour
200ml beef, game or strong chicken stock
1 tbs chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 tbs dry sherry.

Heat oven to 160C (fan 140)/325 F/gas 3

Put the flour in a shallow bowl. Unroll the thighs ( they may be divided into two pieces each) and roll each piece in the flour.

Heat half each of the oil and butter over medium heat in a wide, shallow lidded flameproof casserole  dish and fry the onions for 3-4 minutes until starting to soften and then push them out to the sides of the pan and add the pheasant to the middle in a single layer. Cook for 3 minutes on each side (the onions around the edge might need a little bit of a stir but you want them to start browning).

Give everything a stir, stand back and chuck in the sherry. (If you have some brandy, it would be even better but you may want to shut any doors between the hob and the smoke detector before adding it).

When you've swabbed your singed eyebrows (see, I told you to stand back!) stir in the stock and thyme, cover and place in the oven for 1½ hours, stirring every half hour or so. Add a little hot water if the sauce seems to be getting too thick.

Half an hour before it is due to be ready, clean the mushrooms and break them into bite sized pieces. Heat the remaining oil and butter in a frying pan over a high heat and toss in the mushrooms. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes. At first a lot of juice will come out of them - keep on cooking until the juice has evaporated and they start to fry again.

Stir them into the casserole and return to the oven until the cooking time is up.

I can assure you it tastes a lot nicer than it looks - the pheasant is meltingly tender but not falling apart and the rich, gamey flavour goes beautifully with the mushrooms. We had it with mashed potato to soak up all the rich juices and some steamed leeks for a fresh green contrast.

Big blue flower

I've discovered a serious flaw in my stash - I do not possess a light blue inkpad. However for this card I got round it by sponging blending ink onto my stamp.

The delicate result made it perfect to use as a background for the BIG BOLD sentiment which is from a stamp set I won in the Playground. I used the Misti to stamp it several times to make sure it was really REALLY bold. The flower, leaf and butterfly embellishments were just stamped once so that they don't fight the sentiment for attention.

I am sharing this with

The Flower Challenge - Tic Tac Toe - I have used the right hand column, sentiment/CAS/blue

CASology - BIG

Fab 'n ' funky - Floral Embellishments

Addicted to CAS - Florals

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

pink for a girl

There are no babies on the way in the family, but I've just started making cards for the local hospice to sell so I'm trying to give them a good variety to cover all occasions.

I've used a stork die from the Xcut "Baby Icons" set and a word from a Spellbinders set, and used the Gummiapan "Stitched squares" for the layering. The pink is a snippet - such a small one that I had to cut the stork and word out from the area behind where the white layer would go. For some reason I can never remember the name of this technique - is it "guttering"?

Although I wanted to give an impression of sky, I also wanted to keep things very CAS, so I used a small cloud stamp and a few strokes of blue pencil to create just a suggestion of sky behind the stork.

I am sharing this with
Less is More - take flight
Cardz 4 Galz - Welcome little baby
Pixie's Crafty Workshop - Weeks 299 and 300  

Now that's the end of today's crafty posts, but read on if you want to see a follow up to Saturday's Pasta making Class....

Yesterday we went into London to attend another class, this time a bread making one, but it was cancelled so we came home and spent the rest of the day cooking at home instead. We retrieved our pasta machine from its new home in our daughter's kitchen and made ravioli,  using a wild mushroom filling that Mark had made on Monday after a successful foraging expedition. The sauce we served with it was a rich ragu which included pancetta, sausage and lots of red wine.

We were delighted with the results!

Horse Chestnut

Autumn seems to be coming early this year and some of the leaves started to turn before the end of August. So I'm sure it won't be very long before parks and footpaths are scattered with conkers, the nuts from the Horse Chestnut tree.

I love the colours of chestnut trees, both Horse and Sweet, in the autumn, although sadly in recent years some kind of disease means that many leaves go brown and withered without taking on their beautiful seasonal colours.

One of my favourite stamps, and one of the oldest in my collection, is this single Horse Chestnut leaf. It is so versatile, being a single leaf rather than a large stamp, and looks great in summer or autumn colours. It is so old that the lettering has worn off the side of the wood block, eroded away from hundreds of uses, so I can't tell you who originally made it.

Here I have made a background stripe of assorted inks, sponged and blended, then stamped the leaf over it in brown ink, adding a sentiment that I won last year in the Playground. I've stamped it again with Versamark ink on orange card and embossed it with a variegated brown embossing powder.

I am sharing this with
Allsorts challenge - Feels Like Autumn
Always Fun - Fall colours
Sweet Stampin - Your Favourite Stamp
Make My Monday - Autumn Colours
AAA  - Autumn Colours
Rubber Dance - Use your fave stamp

Creative with Stamps - leaves

Monday, 18 September 2017

Bird on a branch

While sorting out some papers the other day I came across a pack of mulberry paper that I've had ever since it was fashionable - still unopened! It must be donkeys years old, so I thought I'd get it out and have a play.

I completely covered my card front with a slightly larger piece of mulberry paper then used a damp paintbrush to go around the edges to make the mulberry paper wet, enabling me to easily tear it close to the edge. Once the water had dried, I inked around the edge with distress ink.

The square of newsprint effect paper is stencilled with a woodgrain stencil using DI, then the edges inked with the same ink and distressed with an edging tool.

The sentiment is one from an old sheet of copper embellishments which I seldom use as they seem too bright and shiny for their style and until now my attempts to colour them have failed. However this time I coloured the whole surface with a brown Promarker then left it to dry overnight - success! I sanded the surface lightly to make the letters stand out then attached it with brads to the strip of cream textured card.

Finally I added a die cut sprig of foliage and a vintage bird sticker.

I am sharing this with

House of Cards - Text and/or colours
More Mixed Media - Anything goes/Brown
Little Red Wagon - distress it  
Country View Challenges - Metal

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Our Ruby Wedding

Today Mark and I have been married for 40 years - our Ruby anniversary. Here is the card I made for him.

The card is completely made with die cutting and embossing - the background uses That Folder and the heart and numbers are Spellbinders dies.

I am sharing this card with
Glitter and Sparkle - Embossing 
Sparkles Monthly Challenge - Die cuts/punches

Now, if you are only here for the card, you don't need to scroll any further but if you'd like to read about our slightly unusual celebration (and FOOD)  carry on reading...

Because we both love cooking, we decided that instead of having a party or buying each other presents, we would instead spend the money on going to a pasta making class taught by Carmela Serrano-Hayes, the author of "A Passion for Pasta", at La Cucina Caldesi in London. Very conveniently, one of the available dates was yesterday, just the day before our anniversary, so that's when we decided to go.

We had a lovely time, learning to make many different shapes and types of pasta from the simple

to the complex

and even one made out of bread and cheese!

The dishes we made were really delicious  - there were about 6 in total which we ate as a meal at the end of the day, sitting Italian style at a large communal table.

Ravioli filled with a rich meat mixture

Seafood with assorted hand-shaped pastas

And finally, here is our "official" anniversary photo

Christmas Cat

I made this card using a decoupage design from a Dutch booklet that I've had for several years - I love the designs in it but although I can enjoy making a card that uses detailed decoupage but not much other skill occasionally, I'd get awfully bored making all the cards in the book in one go, so I tend to just make one and then set it aside for next year. So it's going to take a l-o-n-g time to finish them all!

and slightly angled to show the layers

I am sharing  this with

Crafty Hazelnut's Christmas Challenge - Anything Goes
C.R.A.F.T - Christmas
Show us your pussies - Furrything Goes

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Sisterhood of Snarky Stampers challenge #93 - Lost and Found

Our new challenge at The Sisterhood of Snarky Stampers is Lost and Found - in other words Edna would like you to rediscover an old stamp, stash item or technique that you'd forgotten all about. She's come over all Sherlock Holmes for this one!

I had a rummage through my stamps and found a completely NBUS stamp set that I've had for years and years - it was a free subscription gift with a magazine and none of the stamps has ever seen ink. I've been adding up on my fingers and it must be at least 15 years old.

The snag is, it is really too pretty to work any snark into, so today my card is a snark free zone. I used DI to make the background, die cutting a square and randomly stamping flowers from the set over it, then used some of the waste to stamp the butterfly. The background card was stamped all over with the paisley style stamp from the set and the sentiment is stamped with a mag freebie stamp.

Friday, 15 September 2017


I love this set of dinosaur stamps from Clearly Besotted - I bought them a couple of years ago to make a card for my grown up daughter and have used them many times since.

This time I used lots of masking to build up a scene then coloured it with Promarkers, cut it out with a stitched rectangle die and matted onto brown card. I kept the colouring bold and simple rather than adding shade, as I thought this would make it appeal to a younger child.

I am sharing this with

The Male Room - Masking 
Always Fun Challenges - Make a Scene
Crafty Creations Challenge - Anything Goes
Watercooler Wednesday - All about birthdays

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

That fuchsia again

I do love this fuchsia stamp, which I got from Clearly Besotted about 3 years ago. I chose it because fuchsias are favourite plants of my mother and one of my oldest friends, little realising how much I would come to love using it. The sheet also has an apple blossom stamp and some very useful sentiments, so it gets used a lot.

The friend's birthday is approaching (it's OK, she doesn't read blogs) and this is the card I have made for her.

I embossed the bottom third of the card front using a Sizzix ef and Brilliance ink in Pearlescent Orchid for a faux letterpress effect, then stamped the flower and sentiment and coloured the image with pencils. I generally prefer to colour with Promarkers but I wanted this to be a one layer card and I don't like the way they show on the inside if not layered up.

I am sharing this with
Less is More - one layer, colouring in
CAS on Friday - Colour me Pretty
Addicted to stamps and more - Clean and Simple
Retro Rubber - Anything Goes
Fab 'n' Funky - For a Friend    

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Nature at Cardz 4 Guyz

It's new challenge day at Cardz 4 Guyz  and today our theme is Nature.

I've used an image printed out from the Joanna Sheen CD "Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady" teamed with papers from my stash and a sentiment stamped with a free stamp set that was in Making Cards magazine earlier this year.

I am sharing this with
Crafty Hazelnut's Patterned Paper Challenge - September
Allsorts Challenge - Use at least two DPs
Use Your Stuff - Fall is in the air  
Craft Rocket Challenge - Something beginning with F  (Fungi)

Little Christmas Teddy

The image is stamped with a magazine freebie stamp and coloured with Promarkers and a white gel pen. The papers are from a pack I won at Crafty hazelnut's Christmas Challenge and the sentiment strip made up of elements from an old Craftwork Cards sheet of die cuts.

I am sharing this with
Love to Craft - Anything Goes
Allsorts Challenge - at least two DPs
Crafty Hazelnut's Patterned Paper Challenge - September  
Addicted to Stamps and More - Holiday
Winter Wonderland - Dots and/or Stripes
Crafty Hazelnut's Christmas Challenge Extra - Anything Goes  

Monday, 11 September 2017

Spot the Washi tape

I made this card in order to showcase a cute new roll of Hello Kitty washi tape I recently added to my collection.

Can you see the washi tape anywhere?  It, erm, appears to have done a vanishing act doesn't it?

It was like this, your honour.....

I wanted to make a "naughty" card for Naughty or Nice  where the current challenge is to use a frame. I'd stamped the Grumpy Cat image from Katzelkraft, had a photo mount frame ready to decorate, chosen my sentiment and got my washi tape ready. Then I wanted some papers to use with it.

I have a big folder of odds and ends of patterned papers left over from very old Hot Off The Press kits, and I thought that would be a good place to look so I opened the folder and started my trip down memory lane...... by the time I'd gone through the whole thing, my mind had gone right back to the 1990s and the traditional HOTP styles and techniques that were fashionable then, and the washi tape was long forgotten. In fact the papers I chose would have clashed horribly with it. On the other hand, the twine I've used (do you envy me the painstaking time it took to get that chunky twine through the tiny buttonholes? Why didn't I just tie a knot and glue it on?) looks as if it could have been made to match the papers, although it's about 20 years newer. And not from HOTP. You win some, you lose some.

Now I've uploaded the photo I see I have STILL not got Grumpy Cat to sit up straight. He looks a bit like one of my cats did after chomping his way through a rich fruit cake that I had liberally fed with brandy and then left unattended.

So the washi tape is still NBUS. But the good news is I have now found some other Hello Kitty bits and bobs in my stash so it will get an outing soon..... I hope.

O Tannenbaum

O Tannenbaum O Tannenbaum

Oh Christmas Tree Oh Christmas Tree

and even The Red Flag

all are sung to the same tune, which is the one that inspired this card.

I made the background by stamping a Kanban music stamp over cream card (the Misti made lining it up to fill the card a doddle!) and lightly distressing the edges, then stamping the silhouette Christmas Tree over it. The sentiment came from an old Anna griffin kit.

I am sharing this with
Crafty Hazelnut's Christmas Challenge  (I'm taking the Anything Goes route this time)
Glitter and Sparkle - Anything Goes
Jingle Belles - Inspired by any holiday song
Inkspirational - Photo inspiration

Happily Ever After at Ooh la la Creations

Our new challenge is just starting at Ooh La La Creations where the theme is Happily Ever After.

I've used a photo, backing paper and printed ribbon from the CD "Yesterday's Memories", available here and added some distressing and die cuts

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Dragonfly Blues

I've done a lot of playing around with backgrounds this weekend - for this card I used a wash of watercolour done with several shades of water soluble pastel and a very wet water brush, which I blotted randomly with tissue before it dried.

When dry, I stamped the silhouette meadow border (a magazine freebie - I think it is an Indigo Blu stamp) then cut the panel to size and added a die cut frame. The sentiment is stamped with a sentiment from the Dovecraft Curiosity Corner range.

I cut the dragonflies from the same blue card using Gummiapan dies,  then carefully coated the die cuts with glossy accents and left them to dry, but when they were almost set I used fine tweezers to bend up the wings and tails slightly to give them some dimension. When they had dried hard I attached them with Pinflair glue.

I am sharing this with

Butterfly challenge - Silhouette/Indigo
Just add ink - Just add D (dragonflies)
AAA Cards - Creatures great or small

CAS Mix Up - stamping, watercolour wash and die cutting

CAS Watercolour - Silhouette

Vintage car

Or veteran car - I know there are definitions of veteran, vintage and classic among car enthusiasts, but not being a petrol head they are all vintage to me!

I made the background using red and black brushos, sprinkled over the paper and spritzed with water, then stamped the image and "tyre marks" on it using a very old Linda Luckin set (no longer available) and coloured it with Promarkers and a silver gel pen.
I used Gummiapan stitched squares dies to cut the layers and added tiny brads to the corners of the red and black layers.

I am sharing this with

The Male Room - school/college colours (I did my degree at Somerville College, Oxford, where the colours are red and black. But I can be allowed the yellow because my husband was across the road at St Johns College where the colours were red, black and yellow - and we swapped scarves!).
Little Red Wagon - Give us your background
Alphabet Challenge - Make Your Mark
A Bit More Time To Craft Extra - Anything Goes

CAS at CD Sundays

This time at CD Sundays our theme is CAS - Clean and Simple. I know that lots of crafters find CAS cards pretty challenging, and making sure you include something from a CD on them is even more challenging, so  the team are all excited to see what you come up with.

Once again, I've turned to the Rachelle Anne Miller Collection CD, where some of the images are quite bold and uncluttered.

I used a square card blank with cut-out corners, layered the image onto it leaving plenty white space, and stamped a simple sentiment. I added a strip of the matting card to the inside, with a dot of Candi in each corner, to show through when the card is closed.

I am sharing this with Make my Monday - for a child