Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Too Much Stuff- Autumn catch-up

Earlier this year I set myself a personal challenge - not to buy any more craft goodies, apart from restocking basics, until I have created some space in my cluttered mountains of stash.

It's been about 7 months now since I bought anything new, apart from restocking on adhesives, and despite having made dozens of cards and sent four large bundles of them to charity, I don't seem to have cleared any space yet...... everything just seems to spread out a little bit more instead.

So my next step is to tackle all the part-used kits I have amassed. I keep telling myself to stop buying kits. They look so good demonstrated on the TV, yet when you get them home they are uninspiring and lack challenge. I find myself just slavishly copying the things that were demoed on TV - if I can remember them.  About a third of the kit gets used and the rest sits in boxes getting gradually more and more dog eared, or I decide to break down the kits and use them with the rest of my stash, only to decide that none of it really works with anything else I own. In fact I find myself completely incapable of "thinking outside the box".

Some of my part used kits must be 15 years old or more, so it really is "use it or lose it" time, and I've had  a bit of a blitz on a few of the oldest ones, the result of which you can see here. Now I have four fewer boxes cluttering the place up, I'd better get back to the Christmas cards or I'll still be making this year's next year!

Monday, 29 October 2012

Less is More week 91

Week 91's challenge at Less is More is a sketch. This is the sketch

I've not had much experience with sketches, but I was sorting out some old part-used kits as part of my self-imposed "Too Much Stuff" challenge(there will be an update later this week) and came across some Oriental bits and bobs which looked as if they would lend themselves to the sketch. I used an embossing board to make parallel lines each side of the band, to make it stand out a bit more, but as I had my usual "photographing metallics" issue they have been a bit overshadowed by the glare from the flash. Pity the weather is so gloomy there's nowhere bright enough for me to switch the flash off!

The Chinese characters say "Peace", "Love" and  "Happiness"

Friday, 26 October 2012

The World's Easiet Tomato Tart

If you read my husband's blog, Marks Veg Plot, you will know that we've had a fine crop of tomatoes this year, and we ALWAYS have a fine crop of basil. We make batches of pesto with the basil, freezing it in ice cube trays, so we can defrost one or two cubes as needed. This tart needs two or three of those cubes from the freezer, but pesto from a jar would work if you have no home made, a sheet of ready-rolled bought puff pastry (also from the freezer, in my case), a little Parmesan or any other hard cheese and as many tomatoes as you happen to have lying around.

Heat the oven to about 200 degrees Celsius (or  whatever it recommends on your pack of pastry). Line  a baking tray with non-stick paper, then unroll  the defrosted pastry directly onto it. Cut into it to a depth of about halfway down all around, about 3cm from the edge, to form an inner rectangle. Prick the inner area all over with a fork and then spread with the pesto, making sure none goes onto the border.

Slice your tomatoes, guesstimating how thick they need to be in order to cover the inner area with them - the more you have, the thicker you can afford to have them, and arrange them on top of the pesto, again not going over the border. Then grate a little cheese over the whole thing.

At this point you can get all fancy with the border, scoring fancy patterns into it, egg washing it, whatever floats your boat, only then it isn't the World's easiest any more, is it? And even the keenest cooks have lazy days.

Finally stick it in the oven until the border is puffed up and golden, by which time the tomatoes will be cooked.

And there you are - minimum effort,  maximum taste. This really ought to serve 4, but there are only two of us and there has never yet been anything left for next day's lunch, although I would imagine it is perfectly delicious  cold if it is ever given the chance.

I'm linking this to Food on Friday where this week's challenge is tomatoes

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Going Buggy: WIN a complete set of PROMARKERS

Going Buggy: WIN a complete set of PROMARKERS

Crafters - win a set of Promarkers!

Having only a few days ago decided I'd been neglecting the "Onions" side of the blog in favour of the "Paper" and promising myself to redress the balance, I find that I jusy HAVE to tell you about the wonderful crafty giveaway you can find over at Going Buggy

Enfys has got together with Letraset to give away a whole set of promarkers, one of every colour in the range. That's 148 pens! .......... sorry, I had to stop there for a moment to wipe the drool off my keyboard!

To find out how to enter this giveaway, which is open worldwide and closes on November 18th, pop over to Going Buggy  and follow the instructions.

My new Tagine and how I used it.

I've always wanted to own a tagine. I know I can make fragrant, spicy stews without one, and frequently do (I'm typing this with great wafts of the aroma of a chickpea and butternut squash curry floating in from the kitchen), but I love my kitchen bits and pieces and really, really wanted a tagine!

A few years ago I bought an electric tagine, but is was MASSIVE. Not only was it too big to fit in any of my kitchen cupboards, so it ended up living out its short life on the bedroom floor, but it was far too big to cook a meal for just the two of us or even four or six when we had visitors. To fill it enough to stop things drying out would have needed at least eight generous portions. Within a few short weeks it was rehomed - I hope the new owners were happier with it.

Then last month I won a £30 Groupon voucher. I went to the website, planning to treat myself to a facial, and the first thing I spotted was a special offer on tagines. They had a nice small 1-litre one, suitable to use on an open gas flame, for just under £30. Perfect! So now I am the owner of a rather lovely tagine.

For its first airing, I made use of part of another prize, a tin of Bart Spices Ras-el-Hanout and made the recipe off the side of the tin, a lamb tagine with baby plum tomatoes. It seemed rather strange using a shallow ceramic dish on the hob, rather like cooking on a plate, but once the high pointed lid was in place to trap and condense the steam, the dish needed very little stirring which meant the tomatoes kept their shape and the finished dish looked really attractive because of this.

Because we like loads of veg with our meals, I also made a seven-vegetable stew, as taught to me by a Senegalese friend at university many years ago

And finally I served the whole thing with couscous.

I'm delighted with my new toy and I'm sure you'll be seeing a lot more of it on Onions and Paper in the future.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Beetroot Tarte Tatin

Maybe you've noticed that despite being a blog about cooking and crafting, I've not written much about cooking recently. In fact the blog's becoming all Paper and no Onions.

I think that's because I'm so bad at food photography. It takes me so long to produce a half-decent photo that food has gone cold and spoiled, or we've got too hungry and eaten it, before I have anything worth sharing. However, I made this dish using home grown beetroot, which meant that my husband also wanted to write about it over at Mark's Veg Plot. So he was taking photos anyway which meant I could scrounge some!

We  never watch reality shows, which leaves us with very little to watch on TV at weekends. We usually end up channel hopping to find a decent cookery show or leaving the TV off  completely. So last weekend I flicked the remote until I landed on a rerun of one of Hugh Fearney-Whittingstall's River Cottage programmes.

We've watched them  all many times before, and have all the accompanying recipe books (Note to family - his latest book "Three Ingredients is top of my current wishlist). The two books "Everyday" and "Veg Everyday" are my most well-thumbed books of recent years, with several dished from them having become firm favourites.

But as we watched this particular programme, one dish we'd never noticed before caught our attention - Beetroot Tarte Tatin. Mark had just harvested a huge crop of tiny beetroot and there was half a pack of ready made (low fat, alas, I'm on a permanent diet) puff pastry in the fridge. So I was delighted to thumb through Veg Everyday and find the recipe on page 48, and even more delighted that I had all the ingredients to hand.

The beetroot is put into a small frying pan with oil, butter, sugar (as I'm diabetic, I substituted agave nectar) and vinegar. Hugh uses cider vinegar but I didn't have any so I used balsamic instead. With hindsight, maybe a splash of the damson vinegar that's hanging round the back of the cupboard would have worked really well in this. Tightly covered in foil, it goes in the oven until the beetroot is cooked.

A bit of careful-ish rearranging  of the beetroot is needed (at this point I wished I'd used a few more as they shrank a bit during cooking) then the pan is topped with the puff pastry and put back in the oven to cook. The cooked tatin is inverted onto a plate and served with a vinagrette made with shallots and parsley. Again, I replaced the cider vinegar with balsamic and it made a delicious dressing.

It would have made a lovely starter, especially topped  with feta cheese as suggested in the book, but we had it as a side dish with some good pork sausages, potatoes and runner beans fresh from the garden 

A delicious dish we'll definitely be repeating - and I think my version looks  every bit as tasty as the one in the book

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Less is More #90 - Autumn

This week it's a Theme challenge at Less is  More - one of my favourite themes, Autumn. I love Autumn colours - I wear them, decorate my house in them and love crafting  with them. Here is my Autumn themed card.

The embossing powder I used for the leaves is a blended one called "Tiger" -  it's a mixture of russety browns and deep olive greens that is perfect for Autumn leaves. However I think if I ever met a tiger that colour I would be terrified! (Disclaimer - If I ever met a tiger of any colour I would be terrified, unless there was a tiger-proof barrier between me and it. But if it was this colour I would be *more* terrified.)

It doesn't really show on the photo but I curled the leaves to give them a more natural Autumn look and attached them with different amounts of gel glue to conserve the curl.

Unusually for me and CAS cards, I got the effect I wanted first time, so I'm afraid I have no bloopers to share with you this week!

Sunday, 14 October 2012

A rainbow of butterflies

I always find the "One layer" challenges at Less is More particularly, well, challenging. You have no idea just how full my waste paper basket is now with failed designs and abandoned ideas. Or maybe yours is the same?

This week it's Challenge #89, One Layer, with the theme WINGS which is also this month's theme at The Cupboard Trilogy.

First of all I did a Christmas card with an angel design, but it ended up TOO CAS, really just plain boring. so I added a bit of bling and it wasn't CAS any more yet still had something lacking so I did a bit of inking and got a huge smudge in the wrong place..... well. you know the story.

Next I stamped some Chinese characters then embossed a gold dragonfly over them. In  my head, it looked simple and striking. In real life it looked a mess. I've cannibalised the image and will use it on a future card.

Next up, a bit of reverse masking, a butterfly cut out inked through then stamped through. Which would have been fine if I hadn't completely messed up the stamping.

I usually like to share my failures but I'm afraid I lost my temper a bit with these particular ones and all I would be able to share is a photo of an overflowing waste paper basket.

So that was yesterday afternoon wasted. I started again this morning with a butterfly, from a Paper Artsy set, which I stamped in rainbow colours up the side of the card

Then I decided it looked insipid, so I filled in some of the outlines on the butterfly design (I really should have chosen a stamp with more solid areas)

Better, but still not quite there, so finally I cut around the edge of the butterflies

At last! A card  I am happy with. I am submitting this to

Do you know, when I fill in craft magazine surveys and they ask about your level of skill, I usually tick "intermediate". But when it comes to making things Clean and Simple, especially when you only have one layer and no chance to hide your mistakes, I think I'll always be in the "absolute beginner" category. But it's fun learning!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

It's Autumn

.. at least it is here in the Northern Hemisphere, and here in Fleet, not far from London, it is already cold, wet and miserable (OK, my UK friends will remind me that it has been cold, wet and miserable for most of the year) and the leaves  on the trees are starting to change colour.

On a dry, crisp day, Autumn canbe my favourite time of year. I love kicking up piles of fallen leaves, searching for sweet chestnuts and starting to plan the Christmas baking. But on a day like today, I'd rather stay indoors crafting!

My Autumn themed card today is my entry to two challenges:

CAS-ology #14 - Leaf

 Addicted to Stamps and More! CAS challenge #3

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Less is More week 88 - Silver

This week over at Less is More it is a colour challenge, and this week's colour is Silver.

I remember when the challenge was Gold, I had no end of difficulty getting a decent photo and this time it's been just as hard. In the end, I asked my husband, a FAR better photographer than I am,  and with a much better camera, to have a go, and I'm going to put both our photos up for you to see. I really don't think either shows the silver as  silver, because the mirri card is so very highly reflective.

Anyway, I used a simple stamped and embossed Christmas tree on white and silver die cuts, then mounted it on a white card with punched out corners. You can't see it but I put a strip of silver mirri inside the card so that when it is closed it echoes the silver of the design.

A splash of plum

Yes, this really is my third post of the day - there may well be another later on! I've had a lovely weekend of crafting when I really ought to be working, so I'm catching up on some challenges as it seems like ages since I took part in any.

So now I'm playing along with the Play Date Café Challenge PDCC152

This week is a "Colour Splash" week - Black and White with a splash of Plum. I used a Debbie Moore CD to print out the black and white papers and toppers,  then added my "splashes" with plum card, glitter and flowers and finished both cards off with some black gems.

One for the girls

This week I'm playing along with CAS-ual Fridays #73. October is breast cancer awareness month and this week's challenge is "For the girls"

So I've used pink, the colour of Breast Cancer Awareness, and concentrated on shoes, as so many of us do at times of emotional turmoil!

I've been Pinspired! #27

Here is the picture that is to be used for inspiration for this week's challenge over at {PIN}spirational Challenges

While the Oldie But A Goodie challenge theme is Inspired by a Song.

I decided to combine the two challenges,  because the picture reminded me of a cute deer stamp I won from a craft magazine about three years ago and have never used. And because I tend to get "ear-worms" - songs stuck in my head - and for the last few days it has been the old English folk song

The Keeper did a-shooting go,
And under his cloak he carried a bow,
All for to shoot at a merry little doe,
Among the leaves so green-o.

Well, my leaves aren't green, as I used the Kaleidacolour Autumn Leaves pad for them. But my merry little doe is well and truly among them! The stamps I used for the leaves are two of my old favourites, bought from Just For Fun in the States a few years back. Each stamp is double sided - the solid side stamps the main leaf, then you use a stamp positioner along with the other side of the stamp to add the veins. This time I embossed the veins in gold to make them stand out.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Oooh you Cheeky Monkey! CASology #13

I'm playing along with CASology this week and the cue card is ZOO

Now I'm a gran, I have plenty animal themed stamps around, and one of my favourite sets is a cute set designed by Francoise Read for Woodware. Here is how I used it this week:

Blog Candy at Bearly Mine

There is a really fabulous blog candy giveaway over at Bearly Mine. Look at all the wonderful goodies you can win!

Just look at all that gorgeous stash! Those of you who have been with me since Onions and Paper was born will know that I'm on a craft spending ban - yes, I'm still sticking to it (sticking being the operative word..... I did say at the outset that I would replace basic consumables like black, white and gold card and adhesives, and I've had to buy a LOT of adhesives recently as everything ran out at once). So winning a bumper bundle like this would give me and my crafting mojo a humungous boost!

To see the full range of goodies in this mahoosive bundle, and to read  about how you can enter too, head on over to Bearly Mine .... and if you are in the UK, see how you could also win a brilliant Epson printer.

Just reading about the stash has got my creative juices flowing. Excuse me, I'm off to wander through a few challenge blogs and decide what to make next!

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

A plethora of penguins

If you read the lovely blog Brink of Bedlam you can't have failed to hear about the "Penguin Amnesty" which blogger Kay is running to help the charity Post Pals who send cards. letters and gifts to seriously ill children and their siblings. Kay is collecting penguin themed cards, toys and gifts to donate to the charity, and to encourage you to join in she has written and  performed a story for you.

I've made a batch of Christmas cards to send to her. I didn't have any penguin themed stamps so instead I used some fun downloads from Crafts U Print. Here are my cards - why don't you visit Kay's blog and join in?