Saturday, 31 August 2013

Simply a dragonfly

Anyone who knows me well will know about my love of dragonflies. I can't pass a rubberstamp of one, a t-shirt with a picture of one, or a piece of dragonfly themed jewellery without buying it - or at least coveting it.

One of my daughters bought me this large dragonfly stamp a couple of years ago, and  for my birthday she bought me a set of water soluble wax pastels - something I'd never heard of before - so it seemed natural to put the two together!

This week's challenge at Less is More is #135 is Use a Rubberstamp and I'm playing along with this card.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

I've got a little list.....

I love making lists. Lists of what I plan to cook, lists of competitions I am looking for in the shops, lists for Christmas, birthdays and holidays, even lists of housew**k! So I get through a lot of notebooks. My life is far from paperless (well, as a crafter that goes without saying).

Now, I've had a Smash book sitting in my stash for about a year. I keep meaning to do something with it but not being a scrapbooker, it's just never really appealed to me. So when I saw that the latest Make My Monday challenge was "Anything But a Card" I thought, why not get that smash book and make it into a notebook? Those pages will be far more use to me filled with lists than with photos!

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Ruby Tuesday

Well, it's Tuesday today and this card was made for the Ruby Wedding of my friend Pam and her husband Dave, so putting the two thoughts together means I'm humming the song.

It was made using the Bookatrix embossing board, and I made a matching box, except that I wasn't feeling well at the time and managed to decorate the box base instead of the lid - and with the last of the patterned paper too, so I couldn't make a new box. Luckily Pam knows me well enough to understand and wasn't at all puzzled when the package arrived with a note saying "Please open box upside down"

I'm submitting this to Creative Craft Challenges2  - Challenge 17 -  Not a Square

Monday, 26 August 2013

The leaves that are green......

The other day I spotted this pin on Pinterest (look out world, I'm going to try to be clever and embed the pin here....)

... and since that doesn't seem to have worked, the link to the pin is here

I loved the idea, and gave it a shot using an embossing folder I had had sitting around for months and never used. I brayered the embossed piece with white pigment ink, as in the video, then with a Kaleidacolour Autumn Leaves pad. This pad is amazing - it was one of the first ink pads I ever bought when I started stamping about 15 years ago. It's been very heavily used and is still going strong. Instead of chalks, I highlighted some areas with mica powders.

The maple leaf is  stamped in green then heat embossed with a dark green ultra thick embossing powder in three layers, with more mica powders sprinkled over before heating the final layer. Skeleton leaves that have been in my stash for so long they were in fashion when I bought them and some ribbon and paper leaves from my bits box complete the design.

As Simon and Garfunkel sang.....

"And the leaves that are green
Turn to brown."

Two different kinds of embossing means I'm playing along with the current Oldie But Goodie challenge which is Embossing.

And being inspired by the song  I quoted, I'm joining in at OLLCB where the challenge is Inspired by a song.

Finally, since the embossing and brayering technique is completely new to me, I'm making my second entry to the current Something New challenge at Craft-room

Pork in sweetcorn and beaten egg sauce

Many years ago, we lived in Hong Kong, and our local "cheap and cheerful" restaurant, the kind of place you could drop in to whenever you didn't fancy cooking, had a section of the menu that listed "English dishes". But they were the kind of English dishes you'd never find in England - sizzling pepper steak on a bed of stir fried onions, beef in tomato sauce with rice and pork in sweetcorn and beaten egg sauce served with rice were our favourites.

I found a recipe for the pork dish in one of the bilingual Chopsticks cookery books, and adapted it to suit our tastes and the ingredients we can easily get in the UK, so here is my version of it which I have been cooking regularly for around 30 years. This time I served it with a stir fry of mixed vegetables in sweet and sour sauce. Here are some of the ingredients

Yes, you CAN see a sachet of ready made sweet and sour sauce in the photo. Although I often make my own, I like to keep sachets of that and of black bean sauce in for when I just want a small quantity.

Pork in sweetcorn and beaten egg sauce (serves 4)

250g pork steaks
1 large tin (abut 400g) cream style corn
1 egg
1 tbs peanut or sunflower oil
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tsp Shao Sing wine or dry sherry
1 tsp cornflour
a few drops of sesame oil
3 finely sliced spring onions

¼ tsp salt
1 tsp Shao Sing wine or dry sherry
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp cornflour
1 tbs peanut or sunflower oil
3 tbs water

Dice the pork into small cubes, no more than 1cm across.
Whisk together all the marinade ingredients and stir in the pork. Leave to marinate for at least 10 minutes - a couple of hours is better if you have time.

Heat the oil in a wok and lift the pork out of the marinade with a slotted spoon and stir fry it for 3-5 minutes until cooked. Splash in the wine and soy sauce and mix well, then stir in the contents of the can of corn and the sesame oil.

Now blend the cornflour with a little water and add it to the pan, stirring well, until it boils and thickens.

Break the egg into a small  cup, beat it well with a fork and then pour it over the prongs of the fork into the fast-boiling pan, while stirring briskly with your other hand - see photo below.

The egg will form strands and set immediately. Remove from heat and scatter over the sliced spring onions.

Serve with steamed  rice and your choice of vegetables - here's my stir fry of odds and ends out of the fridge in sweet and sour sauce.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Tapas style treats

It really ought to have been a lazy evening eating in the garden if it hadn't been for the weather - a selection of Spanish cheeses, olives, smoked almonds, garlic mayo (OK, Hellmann's with a couple of cloves of garlic squished into it), baked chorizo, home made bread and patatas bravas made the Ainsley Harriott way - bung the potatoes in a plastic bag, bash them about with a hammer until they break up, add oil and spices to the bag, mix them all well together then tip onto a tray and roast. Job done.
Easy, delicious and great washed down with chilled manzanilla. And since it was too gloomy to sit outside, we contented ourselves with eating in front of the TV, yelling advice and abuse at "Celebrity Masterchef" where  all the food seemed like awfully hard work compared to ours!
Oh, and I have no idea how those blueberries snuck into the photo. I've been photobombed by a bowl of blueberries!!!

On the beach

This week's challenge at CD Sundays is "On the beach".

I was surprised to find, on searching through my CDs, that the only beach related images I had were on the Viva La Divas CD which I used last week, so didn't want to use again so soon, and on The Best of La Pashe 2012 - and one of the DT had already made a great card with that one.

So I searched through the images on the Hot Off The Press CD "5,400 Tags & Art" and found quite a few beach-y ones, but rather than print out all the tiny tags and images and try to assemble them into something, I took the sunbathing ladies image and blew it up to the size of a topper before printing out that and a complementary smaller image.

Then I picked out a piece of kraft paper I'd been avoiding because the colour wasn't quite right for most things.... too "sandy"...... and made a 6" square card blank out of it. I stamped the shells down one edge in Versamark then matted my images onto black card and added them along with a few pieces of black Candi.

We were in Cornwall the week before last and we didn't get any sitting on the beach weather - so I'll just have to look at this and daydream!

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Use it Tuesday - an uninked stamp

I was invited to be a guest designer for this challenge at Use it Tuesday but sadly I ended up in hospital and didn't have time to get my project ready in time.  I do hope I'll be invited back for a future challenge, especially as I have a rather scary number of stamps that have never seen ink!

Anyway, I'm well now, and have had a lovely holiday to help me to recuperate, and have just had time to make a quick card for the current challenge. The stamps are from a Woodware set of Clarice Cliff inspired designs. I bought the set when I thought I might get back into glass painting, as they would be perfect stamped on acetate then painted with glass paints, but I found that all my glass paints had dried up so the stamps got pushed in a box  and forgotten.

However I thought I'd try using the cottage design for a faux-marquetry effect, stamping it onto wood grain effect paper then colouring it in in different shades of brown to simulate different wood veneers.

With hindsight, a lighter colour of wood grain paper would have been better (if I'd had one) and maybe stamping and embossing the image in black rather than gold. I covered the image in clear plastic, to look as if the wood had been varnished. This looks fine in real life, but the flash from the camera has made the adhesive sparkle in places. Oh, and we won't mention the wonky corner, will we?

Overall, "more work needed" but it's wonderful to be crafting again after my enforced break!

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Random Recipes #31 - I grabbed and ran!

This month's Random Recipe challenge asks us what recipe book we would grab and rescue if our house was burning down - well, there's no question for me, it has to be The Pauper's Cookbook by Jocasta Innes.  Apart from anything else, there are so many grease stains on my copy that it would probably fuel the flames  if I left it in the house.

I  bought my first copy of this book  (I've worn out two and my third is looking very sorry for itself) when I was a student in the early 1970s and the book was newly published. It saw me through my years of impoverished studenthood and then came into its own again in the 1980s when mortgage rates were soaring and we had two small children, and then my daughters used it as their culinary bible when they too became students. Many of the dishes in it are long term family favourites now - curried lentil soup, Alsatian Onion Tart, stuffed marrow, pigeon pie... I really didn't think I would be able to find anything in it that I hadn't cooked before.

So I was surprised when I opened it at random and found a recipe for Tapenade. I honestly don't recall ever seeing it in the book before, or I'm sure I'd have tried it! Anyway, I noted that one of the ingredients was a hard boiled egg yolk. All the others were store cupboard standards, so I put my egg on to boil and set about assembling everything else.

¼ lb each of black and green olives. I pulled out the Kalamata olive jar from the cupboard  - and found it empty apart from a trickle of oil and a sprig of oregano. Never mind, there are plenty green ones.... aren't there? I found the unopened pack, and it was just a 70g pack of chilli flavoured ones. Oh well, I couldn't go out to buy more as there was a workman digging up the drive. We'd just have to have green tapenade.

Next up, capers. Where are the capers? WHERE ARE THE BLOOMING CAPERS? I dragged everything out of the cupboard. Not a caper to be seen. Never mind, I'd add extra salt. Then anchovies. I can't use anchovies as Mark can't eat them...... more salt then! Oh well, at least we're never short of thyme or olive oil, the only other ingredients.

The recipe suggests making the tapenade in a pestle and mortar. I suppose when the book was first published, food processors were a luxury. As my mixture was so meagre it wouldn't cover the blades of even the tiny goblet, I decided to do it the authentic way.

Have you any idea how long olives take to mash? By this stage......

..... I was starting to lose the will to live. But once I'd added the egg yolk and oil, everything started to come together very nicely

I packed it into a ramekin where it looked like a pathetic amount, barely half filling the ramekin.

So there you have it, my random recipe for this month which bears almost no resemblance to the original.  And do you know what?


It is so far from the original that there is no copyright issue with me giving you the recipe here - do try it if you have patience!

one 70g pack pitted green olives with chilli (the sort in a soft pack that are vacuum packed without liquid)
large pinch of salt
1 hard boiled egg yolk
1 tbs light olive oil
large pinch dried thyme

Coarsely chop the olives then bash them in a mortar and pestle  with the salt until starting to form a paste. Then add the egg yolk, olive oil and thyme and continue to bash until you have an almost-smooth mixture. That's all there is to it!

Something new - A mini tag book

The latest Craft Room Challenge asks us to use something new, either new stash, new ideas or a technique that is new to us.

Well, my newest lot of stash is a little kit that I bought from the lovely Hope and Chances, who sometimes puts together kits to help to raise funds for charity (check out her latest, which has just gone on sale). And I've never made a mini tag book either, so it's a double whammy!

The kit contains lots of die cut shapes and papers, plus the ribbon for finishing the book with, and I added some  inking and stamping and photos of my lovely granddaughters, taken on our recent holiday to Cornwall. I've never made anything quite like this before, not being a scrapbooker, and I have to say I am very pleased with the result.

Add a number.....

This week's challenge at CD Sundays is "Add a number" and as a close friend is about to turn 60, the number that sprang to mind is 60. And as I'm not 60 yet, not for AGES (well, a couple of years) I chose this cheeky image and background from Joanna Sheen's Viva La Divas CD to make her card with.

I've made the flaps with the number on fold back, so that if she wants to hide her age when she displays the card it will be easy to turn them back!

Less is More 133 - Round and Round

I'm back from health issues and holidays, and blogging again! What a lot of catching up I need to do now!

This week's challenge at Less is More is things that go round and round. By the time I had chance to look at the challenge, all the ideas I might have had had already been used, and used beautifully too. So it really left me scratching my head. I have a stamp of the Earth, which I thought I might use,  stamped and embossed in green on pale blue card with a dark blue background. But I found that my green inkpad had dried up, my green embossing powder was a heavy tinsel one and I'd run out of dark blue card. Not a good start.

Then I remembered that old-fashioned gramophone records go round and round too, or at least they used to! And I have a sheet of Kanban die cuts in my stash that I bought in a fit of madness and have never been able to think of a use for.

So here we have it - a very quick and easy card on the theme of "Round and Round"

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

All aboard!

I must be getting better - I've done some crafting today! This week's challenge at CD Sundays is "Transportation"  so I decided to use this cute train image from The Rachel Anne Miller Collection CD. All the patterned papers, borders and toppers came from the CD .

Thursday, 1 August 2013

I'm home from hospital - thank you everyone

As most of you know, I have spent the last week in hospital after being taken so ill on the way home from visiting my mother that I had to check in to a motel overnight on Thursday, being unable to drive any further. I got home early on Friday but my GP sent me straight to hospital, where I was diagnosed with two different infections, which were fighting each other and causing very high fevers and wildly fluctuating temperatures. I was also severely dehydrated, and being diabetic and having been unable to eat, also had to have insulin.

It's been a pretty rotten few days, and I couldn't have got through it without the wonderful support of my husband Mark. As well as his regular hospital visits, he has kept as many people as possible informed of the situation, which has resulted in an absolute torrent of get well wishes, every single one of which has helped to boost my strength and make me look forward even more to getting home and being in touch with you all again.

Now the problem I face is thanking you all. I've had literally hundreds of cards, emails, blog comments, tweets, LCC messages, Chatterbox messages and Facebook posts. It would take me weeks on end to reply individually to each one, so I'm going to post this message everywhere I can and also use it as a generic reply to all the lovely emails. I'm sorry not to send something more personal and home that this time you will forgive me! I'm very glad to be home, but still weak and recovering, and of course a long way behind with things.

My current hope, as long as I have no relapses, is to get Grape Vine in the post next Tuesday, so it will be less than a week late. Thanks to all the subscribers for their patience

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible

Jane XXX

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