Sunday, 31 August 2014

Autumn leaves

Autumn seems to be starting very early this year here in Hampshire - already the hedgerows are packed with blackberries and sloes and some of the leaves on the trees are starting to change colour. And yet we still have a few hours of August left!

But I'm happy because my favourite colours are the copper-browns and golds of Autumn, and those are what I've used in this, my latest Foil Play DT card.

I decided to try foiling a dry embossed design, so I embossed the leaf design using a Darice folder and then carefully traced over all the raised areas with a Tonertex pen. It was quite time consuming - don't do this if you're in a hurry - and there were times when I wished I'd started with a simpler piece of embossing for my first attempt! But finally it was ready to cover in foil. I used a copper foil for most of it, but deliberately left random patches which I foiled in gold. Then I went over the whole design with both copper and gold once again to fill in any bits I had missed, which helped to create a bit more randomness in the colouring.

I mounted it on a card covered with copper foiled paper from a Kanban kit I've had for years, and added a greeting which is also a Kanban one but I think it came in a different kit. And I went VERY retro, and edged the card with gold peel offs. Goodness knows how long it is since I last did that, but I felt it helped to link the copper background paper with the copper and gold foiling on the card.

As usual with foiled and metallic pieces, the photography (or rather MY photography) really can't do justice to the wonderfully rich metallic finish.

As well as being my latest DT piece, I also made this for the current Clear it Out challenge which is "Your favourite colour combo".

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Foiling can be child's play

I mentioned in my previous post that my granddaughter was crafting with me yesterday. Lara, aged 5, loves all kinds of crafting and likes to try out different techniques when she comes to visit. Yesterday we were crafting side by side - she was working on a project that involved a lot of princess stickers and hearts, while I made a start on my next DT piece for Foil Play (it's still a Work in progress so you'll need to wait a day or two for that!)

Lara's eyes lit up when she saw the effects of rubbing the foil on to the tacky surface and immediately wanted to help me, rubbing away enthusiastically at the foil until between us we had covered the whole piece. Then she asked to do a project of her own, so I found her some bold double sided stickers and let her look through my collection of foils. Being 5 years old, she was naturally attracted to the rainbow and holographic ones, and she made the card below (front and back) with no help from me at all. (Actually she decorated both panels on the inside too, with more foiled flowers, but she got bored with posing for photos before I could capture those)

So there you are - foiling is so easy that even a five year old can do it!

A five minute card

Yesterday my granddaughter and I were having a good rummage through my craft stash when I cane across a part-used sheet of stickers that hadn't seen the light of day for years. I decided to finish them up before they got dog-eared, and put together this pretty little card in less than 5 minutes (and that included clearing a space on the table for my die cutting machine, to cut the green circle).

I'm almost embarrassed to put this into a challenge, but it DOES include butterflies and a sentiment so I'm joining in with Butterfly Challenge #13 - Butterfly and a sentiment.

When inspiration goes off at a tangent!

This week's challenge at Addicted to Stamps and More is this photo inspiration

I knew straight away what I was going to do - probably a dangerous sign - emboss a piece of grey Core-dinations with a woodgrain effect, sand the surface for a little contrast, then stamp a large camellia on vellum, emboss it in white and cut it out then stick it on the background. So I did that.  and it looked - insipid. Wishy washy. So I gave the background more colour by inking the sanded surface with Walnut Stain distress ink. Then I stuck the camellia on - and not only did the ink show through, it completely stained the flower and made it unusable.

The distress ink had made the woodgrain so dark that it really needed a much brighter flower to stand out against it, so I brought a little white back into the equation in the form of a greeting.

So here we are, many miles from the original idea - but this card was most definitely originally inspired by the photo!

Zig Zags and Tags

This week's  challenge at Make my Mondays is "Tags and Toppers". One of my most recent die purchases is a  pair of Spellbinders tag dies, one of which embosses a lovely chevron pattern into the tag. I found a piece of paper in a magazine freebie set that reflected the chevron pattern, and used  a co-ordinating paper from the same set to thread through the slots in the second die.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Stepping (gingerly) into Steampunk

I have to admit to a nervous gulp when I was that this week's challenge at Cards 4 Guys is Steampunk.  I've seen Stampunk cards around, and even once made a card that might vaguely have fitted in to the category, but I really didn't understand it - and I can't craft with concepts I don't understand!

So I did a bit of surfing, a bit of reading and rather a lot of staring at Pinterest, and saw some absolutely wonderful works of art. The first explanation of the whole concept that I read was "The industrial revolution meets science fiction" which gave me a feel for what I was aiming towards, and the second was "Victoriana with cogs" which made me feel, "Yes, I can do that!"

The trouble is, I have very little in the way of suitable STUFF, and what I do have is more suited to a feminine card than a masculine one. All I could really scrape together was a sheet of cog wheel peel offs and a set of stamps that came free with a magazine. However while rummaging, I'd turned up an acetate transparency that was already printed with distressed-looking black edges and pre-coloured  in shades of peach and purple-grey. And I just happened to have a piece of card in the same shades. So I stamped some of the images onto the acetate using a Staz-on pad (even Staz-on can smudge when you're using it on acetate, as I discovered - luckily it was one of the cogs in a corner which doesn't really show).

I used spray adhesive to mount the transparency onto white card to accentuate the colours, then attached it to my base card and added the peel off cogs. A brass key finishes off one corner, although if I'd had some more dimensional cogs I think they would have looked better.

So, a little tame maybe for real Steampunk,  and a little flat, but given my limited resources, here is my first ever deliberately made Steampunk card.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Made in August

I've been having a play with Collage It and put together a collection of some of the cards I made during August - oh, and one keyring.  I didn't realise I'd been quite so busy!

Teriyaki style beef stir fry

This doesn't claim to be any kind of authentic dish - but it tastes good and it's easy to make. And that's what matters, especially midweek! Plus if you've bought a bottle of Teriyaki sauce for a particular recipe you probably have part of it left cluttering up the fridge, so here's a way to finish it up.

Ingredients (to serve 3-4)

300g frying steak

1 tsp cornflour
1 tbs soy sauce (if you have Japanese soy handy, so much the better. I used ordinary  Chinese light soy)
½ tsp meat tenderiser (optional)

1 tbs vegetable oil, or peanut oil from a Chinese supermarket if you can get it
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
a piece of ginger about the size of the top joint of your thumb, peeled and shredded
100 ml bottled Teryaki sauce
2 spring onions, green part, thinly sliced
1 tsp sesame seeds

Cut the beef into very thin slices and mix with the cornflour and soy sauce, rubbing them into the meat well with your hands. If you are using meat tenderiser, add it at the same time. I buy it from the Chinese cash & carry and use it if the meat I am using has come from the supermarket. Leave to stand for at least 10 minutes - an hour would be ideal.

Heat the oil in a wok or deep saucepan over a very high heat. Add the sliced onion and stir fry for 1-2 minutes, then add the beef and stir fry, breaking it up as you fry, until there is no sign of rawness showing  - about 5 minutes. Mix in the garlic and ginger and fry for a few seconds longer, then add the Teryaki sauce and bring to the boil, stirring well.

Dish up into a warm bowl, scatter with the spring onions and sesame seeds and serve.

I served this with fried noodles and bean sprouts - I cooked some noodles then stir fried beansprouts and sliced onions until tender-crisp, mixed in a tablespoon each of Shao Hsing wine and light soy then mixed in the noodles with 4 sliced spring onions (and the leftover white bits from the garnish on the beef)


Get Well Soon

This week's challenge at CD Sundays is "Get Well". This little bear on the Crafters Companion "A Taste of Popcorn" CD (I think this was a Create & Craft freebie) is intended to be used on a new baby card, but seeing him snuggle into his blankie made me think he looked just like I feel when I'm poorly and need to be comforted. I've thrown rather a lot of ribbony lacey trimmings at it because pretty things always cheer me up when I'm feeling poorly - but maybe that's just me!

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Let it Snow


This week's challenge at Less is More is a sketch

I thought after all the un-Christmassy cards I've made recently it was time I got back to the festive fun, so I used a Darice snowflake embossing folder and an X-cut snowflake die (a rather lovely recent magazine freebie) along with words from a Fourth Dimension stamp set I've had for years, embossed with Baby Blue Pearls embossing powder that was once sent to me in a RAK, to produce this card

Then I played around with the sketch a bit, and blinged up the embossed panel with some mirri card matting, glitter glue and liquid pearls to arrive at a completely different card using the same basic ingredients

This second card I am sharing with

Christmas Cards All Year Round - Sparkle and Shine
Winter Wonderland - Anything Goes for Xmas
Crafty Hazelnut's Christmas Challenge Extra - August   

Just because......

I can't believe how long it has taken me to come up with something for the current challenge at Addicted to CAS,  which is Geometric - my scientific and mathematical background means I have a love of all things geometrical and symmetrical, but when it comes to cardmaking my mind went completely blank! 

Eventually, while sorting through bits and pieces for the card in my previous post, I spotted this pretty hexagon-printed paper which really didn't need much added to it to produce a CAS card. But  I added a butterfly because I just couldn't resist!

Lots of odds and ends

Do you have a paper box full of odds and ends that are too small to be of much use but too precious to throw away? And an embellishment box full of "the last one" of things you've had for years and don't want to think they really ARE finished? Phewww, I'm so glad it isn't just me!

All kinds of odds and ends have come into play on this card - a cute little wood-and-felt rabbit given to me by Claire from Ninja Killer Cat ,  a skeleton leaf I've had since just about every card anybody made had a skeleton leaf on it (in fact I believe they were officially compulsory for a while, weren't they?), some hand made paper from about the same time, some card randomly dyed with coffee grounds which was a surprise find in the shop at The Eden Project some years ago, a die cut leaf made for a project that never got off the ground..... in fact I don't think anything new went into this card at all, except the background kraft card and the glue!

Oh, the envelope, that's new, I won it in a giveaway on the wonderful blog  Hope and Chances. But it goes perfectly with this card.

I'm playing along at

Clear It Out Challenge - Anything Goes
Alphabet Challenge - N is for Natural  (skeleton leaf, wooden rabbit, coffee grounds paper)
Crafty Creations Challenges - Dig Deep

Mushroom Yorkies

I'm enjoying cooking and eating again, thanks to my latest course of treatment. Fingers crossed that it stays that way.

Last night I made roast beef with all the slightly-different trimmings. It all started when my husband went foraging (I'm sure you'll be able to read about it soon on Mark's Veg Plot) and came home bearing  a root of wild horseradish. I made a quick, fresh and zingy horseradish sauce simply by whipping up a couple of tablespoons of cream and grating horseradish into it, tasting as I went along until it was hot enough, then adding a touch of salt.

I couldn't do boring two-veg-and-yorkies with that, could I? So as well as runner beans and new potatoes fresh from the garden, I roasted some fresh beetroot and shallots with thyme and balsamic vinegar. To liven up the Yorkshire puddings, I raided the pack of mushrooms I'd bought for tomorrow's quiche.

They are the small, flat, rather dark mushrooms that several supermarkets now sell as "Portabellini" or "Baby Portabello" mushrooms, and I chose half a dozen that would fit neatly in the bottms of my deep non-stick muffin  tin.

Here is the recipe to make 6 Mushroom Yorkies:

6 flat mushrooms, selected as above
75g plain flour
1 medium egg
80 ml milk-and-water mixture (I used about 3 parts skimmed milk to one part water)
a little sunflower oil
non-stick spray or light cooking spray (I like to use the American non-stick spray Pam when I can get hold of it)
a 6-hole deep non-stick muffin tin.

Make the batter by placing the flour in a bowl with a pinch of salt, making a well in the centre and whisking in the egg and milk/water mixture to form a smooth batter. This can be done in advance although standing batter isn't really necessary.

Pre-heat oven to 220C/200 fan/425 F/gas mark 7 (If you already have the oven on to cook a roast, start the mushrooms off at whatever temperature it is on, 10 minutes before the meat is due to come out to rest, then turn the oven up to the higher temperature to cook the batter) and spray the muffin tin with non-stick spray.

Put one mushroom, gill side up, in each hole of the tin, sprinkle with pepper and drizzle over a tiny bit of oil. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

Remove the tin from the oven and pour the batter evenly into the muffin tin holes, then return to the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until risen, crispy and golden.

Remove from the tin and serve with a roast or alone as a snack.

Delighted to have got my mojo back just in time for this week's #CookBlogShare at Supergoldenbakes


Wednesday, 20 August 2014

The cat that walks by himself

I was actually introduced to stamping by my daughter, who took it up when she was about 10 years old. Now she's in her thirties and lives overseas - and when she moved abroad about ten years ago she left a box of her stamping goodies with me for safe keeping. By then I had plenty stamping kit of my own, but her box contains some lovely stamps that I borrow from time to time.

This gorgeous cat is one of her stamps (if you're reading this, Fiona, I've cleaned it thoroughly and put it away carefully!) and is one of those stand alone images that is really so gorgeous that it doesn't need anything done to it, although if you look closely you may be able to spot that I've coloured in the eyes in that gorgeous golden-green that so many cats have in their eyes and finished them with glossy accents to give them that glow-in-the-headlamps gleam of a cat's eyes. I picked out the same golden-green for the matting.

I'm joining in with

Less is More - Animal
Craft Room Challenge - Cats
Addicted to Stamps - CAS
Pinspirational Challenges - this picture

G&T Slush Puppy #bsficrandomrecipes

I didn't think I would be joining in with this month's Random Recipe challenge from Belleau Kitchen , as it is a joint one with Bloggers Scream For Ice Cream at Kavey Eats  and I've not made ice cream since finding out I was diabetic, as I control my blood sugar by avoiding sucrose - and it's pretty hard to make ice cream without sugar. However I looked through all my recipe books to see if there were any recipes that were either savoury or would lend themselves to the use of artificial sweeteners, and came up with a very short list:

Stilton ice cream
Bloody Mary sorbet
Tomato water ice
Gin and Tonic granita

I breathed a sigh of relief when my randomly picked recipe turned out to be the fourth one - I'm a bit off tomato juice after last month's nightmare of a cocktail. The recipe is in a book that I turn to again and again, the BBC Good Food's "Food that does you good" and because of my diabetes I used Slimline tonic instead of the full-lead version in the recipe

So, half a litre of G&T in the kitchen at 8am - sounds like a recipe for disaster!

Instead of just freezing it and stirring occasionally to break up the crystals, I decided to churn it in the ice cream machine. The alcohol content of the gin means that it will never freeze really hard, and after churning the texture is smoother than a granita and softer than a sorbet - I've created a wonderfully boozy slush puppy! Using Slimline tonic water means it's a very low calorie dish - therefore it's good for you - but you could use the full whack stuff if you prefer. And if you aren't avoiding sugar. But even the sugar free version is absolutely gorgeous.

I can see boozy slush puppies appearing on the table more often - I'm now picturing a gin and bitter lemon one, or a whisky and dry ginger version. It's going to be fun experimenting!

A Celtic keyring

Have you ever heard of "Almost Leather"? It was a popular crafting medium about 15 years ago, and sadly doesn't appear to be available any more. I bought a pack of several sheets and have made bookmarks, keyrings and all kinds of card embellishments with it, but unfortunately I'm down to a few scraps in the bottom of a dog eared bag that lurks at the bottom of my "bits too good to part with" drawer now.

However when I saw that the challenge at Oldie But a Goodie is Anything but a card  and at Crafty Creations Challenges it is Dig Deep - Use something old from your stash I thought an Almost Leather keyring would fit the bill perfectly.

The Almost Leather looks and feels very much like Fun Foam. To use it, you cut it to shape then heat it with a heat gun until the texture changes to look leathery and it shrinks very slightly. It can then be stamped or inked, or to give a "tooled leather" effect like this, you work rather like stamping into embossing enamel, inking the stamp, heating the "leather" and then firmly pressing the stamp into place.

I've added a little distress ink around the edges and used black Stazon for the stamping. The stamp is a Clarity Stamps one which gives a lovely clear, deep impression.

Football crazy

I've had this sheet of stripey green card in my stash for a while. I've been put off using it because although it's just nice green stripey card, it is supposed to represent a football pitch and that's put me off using it for anything else! However I also had a topper with a football and a boot image on it, which may well have come with the original sheet of card - I think they were part of a goodie bag - and I found this fun footballing image on the La Pashe CD "Flippin Fanilies".

I'm playing (football) along with

Ooh La La Creations #163 - Fancy Folds
Cards 4 Guyz - a Stepper Card
Make My Monday - Sports 

The germ of an idea

The other night, I dreamed that I made a card, by folding a 12" x 6" strip of card into "steps" and then adding a rectangle twice the size of the step to each forward facing panel to make three layers. I've seen photos of similar cards, but never seen how it was done, but it all seemed clear to me in the dream, so when I woke up I hastily scribbled some notes and set about making the card.

This side-on view shows the effect I was trying to achieve.

Now here's where I was still in dream land and not the real world - I decorated each panel separately, treating it as a stand alone item yet co-ordinated with the other - like a book that has a new chapter of the same story on each page. When attached to the flattened out base card, the panels looked great

But when I stood the card up, I'd not borne in mind that each one would obscure  part of the one behind. So going back to the book analogy, instead of a separate chapter on each page,  I should have been telling a story that flowed from page to page.

I'll be using this technique again, but learning from my mistakes with my first attempt. If you'd like to try to create a card of your own, here are the measurements to use (I usually work in cm but found inches easier for this as they come to whole numbers when you use a single sheet of card)

Take a 12" square of card and cut it into two 12" x 6" strips. Cut one strip at 2" and 6" to give 3 panels, 2" x 6", 4" x 6" and 6"x 6", Take the other strip and score at 1", 2", 4", 6" and 9" then fold mountain-valley-mountain-valley-mountain

I'm going to join in with Fancy Folds at Ooh La la Creations but I'll be back again later with a fancy folded card that DID work the way I'd intended it to!

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Where's all the food gone?

A quick word for those of you who read my blog for the food posts and may have noticed that for the last 2 or 3 weeks there's been nothing but craft: apologies! The fact is, recently I've had quite a nasty flare up of the tummy trouble that put me in hospital this time last year, and I've not really been in the mood for thinking about food. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible!

Butterfly and flowers

I was lucky enough to win this beautiful Penny Black stamp in a recent blogging challenge, and I can see it is one I will use many times. For its first outing, I stamped and embossed it them watercoloured the image, using markers and a waterbrush, then finished the card using papers I had printed out from a CD to make a patchwork style card earlier this week.

I'm joining in with these challenges:

Craft Room Challenge - a Summer Garden
Crafty Creations Challenges - Flower Power
Butterfly Challenge - Summertime Butterflies

Friday, 15 August 2014

Butterfly on black

These days I only ever seem to use clear embossing powder. Which is a great pity as I have a lovely collection of powders, mostly dating back to that buying frenzy a newbie crafter has when they first discover the magic of heat embossing. And it IS magic, isn't it? I still remember the amazement I felt the first time I saw it being done.

But now all my lovely variegated, metallic, pearlised and holographic powders are sitting neglected in favour of clear, with black, gold and silver getting occasional airings.

Well, it's about time I put that right! So today I have stamped a butterfly and greeting with a metallic purple pad and then embossed using a powder called "Pink Pearls". I find the glitter card I've matted it on a real b****r to use - sanding off the glitter in the middle doesn't always work very well  so the image doesn't stick properly, but I had a brainwave today - I cut out the centre of the mat and then mounted the butterfly on very thin foam pads placed in the aperture. Now I need to solve the problem of the glitter falling off the cut edge of the card. Or give up using glitter card.

The photo really doesn't do justice to the lovely pearlescent effect of the powder. I think it's because today is such a grey, wet, gloomy day that I had to use flash - it's made the gems reflect too much light as well.

I'm playing along with

Clear it out challenge - Embossing
CAS on Sunday - Butterfly

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Flash! Bang! Wallop!

I've had the song "What a picture, what a photograph" going through my head ever since I saw that this week's Cards4Guys challenge is Cameras/Photos - but why is the term Flash! Bang! Wallop! connected with photos? Does it refer to the old fashioned flash gun? I remember the one my dad had when I was a child - the bulbs could only be used once, so he saved flash for very special photos as it worked out so expensive.

There's a flash gun a bit like his on one of the cameras in this decoupage, which is from the CD  The Best of La Pashe 2012. The backing card has been in my stash for years and is supposed to represent fired brick, but it reminds me very much of the old tan leather case that my Dad used to keep his photography kit in.

All the photos he took were transparencies, which were mounted into slides. So it seemed natural for me to mount the birthday greeting into a slide mount, covered in a fawny-grey pearlescent paper reminiscent of the plastic his slides were always mounted in.

So without my having planned it that way, this card has turned into something of a tribute to my Dad. My, how he would have loved the DSLRs of today!

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Fur and feathers

This week's challenge at Crafty hazelnut's Christmas Challenge is "Fur and/or Feathers"

At first I was going for fur, using an assortment of bits and pieces out of my Christmas scraps box, but I'm not very pleased with the finished result. There's a reason why all these bits and pieces weren't sold together.... it's because they don't work together. However I'm still sharing this because one aspect of it I AM proud of - it's the first time I've successfully cut a stepper card to my own measurements rather then from a recipe and actually ended with a card that lies flat when folded and has no odd bits sticking out at the top or bottom!

So I decided to move on to Feather and use some of the lovely Joanna Sheen papers that came with last year's Making Cards Christmas Special. I've used the blue tit toppers and some of the backing papers to make two different cards.