Sunday, 22 April 2012

I'm a crafter, not an artist!

I've seen a lot of crafters pouring great scorn on kits, saying that cards made from them are "hand assembled" rather than "hand made" - well, sometimes a kit is just what I need to spark my imagination and rekindle my enthusiasm for craft. I can't draw, I can't design, I'm not great at thinking up new ideas, and I sometimes find it hard to decide whether things really go together. But I can make things and a kit, or a set of great instructions in a book or a magazine, is often exactly what I need. (When it comes to cooking, I'm quite the opposite way around, making everything from scratch and seldom using recipes. Next time you see me dissing ready meals and cooking kits, remind me of this post!)

One of the simplest kits I've seen for a long time appeared on the shopping channel QVC this week, the Anna Griffin Engraved Botanica kit . At first I thought it looked far too easy for me, but I was hooked by the beautiful designs and the way everything worked together. I'd been having a stressful week and decided the kits was just what I needed to help me relax. The kit arrived on Friday. On Saturday afternoon I made all these......

Yes, thirteen cards all in one sitting! I know, it's cheating really - everything is ready cut out and ready layered, and most of it is even self adhesive - but what wonderful therapy it was!!! I started off by copying some of the ideas on the design sheet

then did several more things along the same lines
See how I've added a green mat to make the inner layer of paper pop out? I think that was the only idea that could have improved the original kit.

Apart from the bottom card, where the rosette took a few minutes to make (thank goodness for a Hougie Board! ) none of the cards took more than 5 minutes to assemble. This would be a brilliant first kit for a new crafter, but even for an experienced crafter it was a joy to work with. And  I still have lots of materials left to use when I feel relaxed enough to attempt something more creative.

Note this isn't a sponsored post, I just loved the kit so much I wanted to write about it, and have indluded a link to QVC because it's the only place I've found it on sale.

Friday, 13 April 2012

A springtime lamb dinner for two

Here is a dish I created for a recipe competition - it won me a cookery day for two at the Waitrose cookery school.

one 6-bone rack of lamb, bones trimmed but with a layer of fat left on
250g tomatoes, skinned, seeded and chopped
25g raisins
300g potatoes
1 egg
1tbs capers, chopped
oil for greasing
200g French beans
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 tbs olive oil
2 tbs red wine
1 tbs red wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
15 g toasted flaked almonds

Set oven to 200C and grease 4 compartments of a muffin tin.

Peel, boil and mash the potato.

Trim the bones of the lamb, leaving a layer of fat over the meat, and cut it  into two 3-bone portions.

Score the lamb fat finely and sear in a very hot pan, then transfer to the oven and roast for 10 mins at 200 C then 30 mins at 160C. Allow to rest for 10 mins.

Put tomato and raisins in a pan and cook together very gently until tomato is pulpy

Separate the egg and beat the yolk into the mash, with the capers and plenty seasoning. Whisk the white and beat one spoonful of it into the potato to slacken, then fold the potato mixture into the egg white and spoon into muffin tins. Bake at 160C for 20-25 minutes until risen and golden.

Cook the beans according to preference (I like mine more well done than is fashionable!) then drain. Gently fry the shallot in olive oil until soft, then add wine and reduce until almost evaporated. Stir in vinegar and mustard and season well, then heat through, then toss drained beans in the mixture.

Serve beans topped with flaked almonds, with one potato pattie, a spoonful of tomato relish and the roast lamb.

I chose these ingredients because at the time we had potatoes, tomatoes and French beans in the garden and I knew I could buy lovely locally sourced lamb and free range eggs at a local farm shop – once I had those, the other ingredients were all in my storecupboard and went naturally with those I had chosen.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Handmade Thursday - Warren the Rabbit

Most of the elements in today's card came from some super bargain goody bags I bought last year from Craftwork Cards and today I decided to base my card on a picture of their cute character Warren the Rabbit.

I made the base card by sticking two of their "On the edge - top notch" cards together and folding the free side of each in half.

I wanted to make the most of the papers by taking them right to the edge of the card, but as I like things to have a "frame" I outlined everythng with silver peel-offs.

I am joining in with Handmade Thursday over at White Lily Green

Inspire Me Beautiful

A new beginning

The Grape Vine blog is now well established - so well established, in fact, that I have a backlog of things to write about. And somehow the occasional posts I pop in about my other interests of cooking and craft no longer seem to fit in among the posts about competitions and Twitter.

I'd like to write more about the things I make - in the kitchen  (hence the onions) and the dining room  craft room (hence the paper). I'd like to join in recipe link ups and competitions, and take part in craft challenges.

So here we are - Onions and Paper. Still in its infancy but over the next few weeks I hope to build it up into a proper blog on which to share some of the things I do apart from competitions and Twitter.