Monday, 31 August 2015

Stripe me green!

One layer cards aren't always clean and simple. And clean and simple - in appearance- cards aren't always quick to make. But this card was very quick - I selected the stamps and ink, made the card, cleaned up and put everything away again in the time it took my husband to have his shower. And he's not a man who spends ages primping!

The border stamp an old one that I think came from Graphicus. I believe they've been taken over by another company and the designs reissued, but I'm not sure which company it is. I stamped it with Versamark and embossed it with clear powder. Then I masked off the rest of the card just leaving the stamped area clear, and used a blending tool to apply Adirondack Lettuce ink over the whole unmasked area. The more ink you apply, the more the embossing stands out! Once the ink was applied, I polished the surface with a tissue to remove any ink clinging to the embossing. Finally  I removed the masks and stamped the sentiment with the same ink.

Job done.

I'm sharing this card with

AAA Cards - Spectacular Embossing

Inkspirational - One Layer

Getting Christmas Buttoned Up

Before I start, I'd just like to tell you of a competition over at the new challenge Twofers. We are giving away two lovely stamps - the task is to comment (comments aren't going to be published until after the competition closes) telling us all the different ways you can think of using stamps and inks. It's open internationally - but you need to be quick as it closes on September 3rd!

Right, back to the post.....

Some time ago I bought a bargain bag of big beautiful buttons (oh my, aren't we alliterative this afternoon?) which included just ONE gorgeous poinsettia button. The other buttons were equally gorgeous but there was nothing the least bit Christmassy about them - and what do you do with ONE gorgeous button?

Well this morning I was rummaging through my button box, looking for some shirt buttons for a future Cardz 4 Guyz DT project, when I happened to drop a few on the table and when I looked down at them, I thought, "Hold on, that looks a bit like a Christmas tree...."  - light bulb moment!

A little rearranging and swapping of colours (dayglow pink and black just didn't hit the spot) and I'd produced a Christmas tree that featured my beautiful button. I arranged it on snippets from my snippets box, but the size it sort of naturally evolved to wasn't really compatible with any standard card size.

Rather than cut a custom blank and then find I had no suitable envelope, I thought I would try giving my card a " flat spine". To do this, I took a 15cm square card blank and scored 2cm in from the fold on both the front and back. Then I stuck the two layers together from the fold to the score line, and creased the new folds so that the card opens at that point. To decorate and reinforce the spine, I used Christmas washi tape that picks up the poinsettia flowers, wrapping it completely around the spine with the join at the back.

Here's a little aerial photo in case it isn't too clear what I mean.

I'm sharing this festive make with

Glitter and Sparkle - add buttons
Christmas Card Challenges - anything goes
Pixies Snippet Playground - week 192  

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Never throw anything away!

Last Christmas I got some rather nice crisp white cotton napkins to use when we were eating Christmas dinner. They had embroidered Christmas pudding motifs on one corner and looked great on the table. However, it turned out that they were not actually embroidered onto the napkins - they were machine-made embroidered motifs that had been GLUED on. And not with water resistant glue, either - when I came to wash the napkins, all the motifs came off, and all but one of them got mangled up - I rescued the sole survivor and since than we've used the plain white table napkins as everyday ones.

After I'd finished ranting about "Who on earth makes table napkins that aren't washable?" (especially with a mucky eater like me around!) I realised that one rescued motif might come in useful one day and slipped it into my Christmas stash. And today I decided to make a card with it.

What would you present a Christmas pudding on but a pretty doily? And what would you present a recycled Christmas pudding on? Well, a recycled doily, of course. This doily has been cut with a doily die using paper that was actually the inside of an envelope from yesterday's junk mail. Do keep an eye on your junk mail - some of it comes in envelopes with very pretty patterns on the inside! I think the die is a docrafts / Xcut one because it has its own brown magnetic sheet which I always associate with the brand.

All it needed than was some festive-coloured snippets from my snippets box and a  clear adhesive greeting, and I have another Christmas card to add to my slowly-growing pile - and it cost practically nothing to make!

So here is my second visit for the week to Pixie's Snippets Playground as well as my second visit to Allsorts Challenge Blog - Recycle/upcycle

It's that Christmas tree die again!

My Christmas tree die just HAS to be the most useful magazine cover gift I've ever had! It's big enough to be a main focal point, yet small enough to be cut with snippets, it comes cleanly out of the die every time and most importantly of all, it looks great. In fact I use it more often than many of my full price bought dies.

This time I've combined it with snippets of silver and white card, a length of ribbon that came around a gift box of smellies and a  doodled background made using a Tonertex pen and silver foil from FoilPlay . I also foiled the edges of the background card and the tree topper. The stars on the background actually cover the whole of the background but I couldn't get the lighting right to show it!

I'm sharing this with

Allsorts Challenge - Recycle/upcycle (the ribbon)
Suzy Bee's Blooming Challenge - Make your own background
Crafty Hazelnut's Christmas Challenge - Use Some Silver
Pixie's Snippets Playground - week 192  
Just us Girls - Wild card week - sketch

Little Boy Blue

The new code word at Addicted to CAS is Blue

With having just become a grandma for the fourth time,  to my first grandson, baby cards are foremost in my mind at the moment, so Blue immediately made me think of blue for a boy.

I've used a Woodware stamp set to stamp all the images, coloured in with shades of baby blue, all atop a die cut circle and a little pre-printed die cut sentiment from Craftwork Cards.

As it's Clean and Simple week at ATCAS's sister challenge  Addicted to Stamps and More this week I'm popping over there to share too.

And while we're on the subject of baby cards, I'd like to share with you the gorgeous card sent to me by the lovely and very talented Monika from Creative with Monika  - isn't it adorable?

Dragonfly dreams

As you know, I love dragonflies and can't resist a craft item that has a dragonfly on it. So of course I have several dragonfly themed dies in my collection, and as I was rummaging through my box of card I happened on this sheet of iridescent card and thought it would look good as a background to the Tattered Lace dragonfly panel die.

By cutting the panel three times and butting them up next to each other on the card, I made a panel just the right size for a 6" square card. The topper is made with the Sizzix dragonfly set, using the colours reversed.

I've photographed it at two different angles to try to properly capture the iridescent sheen of the card, but it was determined to catch the light more at the bottom than the top, however I did it! .The colour blend on the card is actually the same all over.

I'm sharing this with Fab'n'Funky challenge - Things With Wings

Saturday, 29 August 2015

The Skaters' waltz

This snow bauble stamp and the snow scene stamps I have used with it are NBUS that I've had for several years. They originally came from Dimension Fourth sets - I'm not sure now whether they are all from one set or from two different ones, but the selection I have include some buildings, more trees and a deer, so they will work together beautifully for building up scenes - now I've remembered that I have them!!!

First I stamped the bauble and masked it off, including the foliage at the top, then stamped and masked the skaters - these are separate stamps and there is a third skater too,  so they can be used in various combinations. I masked them too and stamped the trees. I used Versafine ink for all the stamping, so that I could watercolour the scene. Leaving all the masks in place, I used water-based markers scribbled onto acetate scraps and a water brush to paint in the ice and sky, then with the grey marker I had used for the ice,  added a few strokes from the pen to give shadows below the skaters, blending the shadows out into the ice with the waterbrush.

Then I removed the masks from the skaters and coloured them in with markers and waterbrush as before.

I used a product called Opal Dust to give the snow sparkle, adding a little to the trees as well. This is a product I've had for many years, a viscous liquid with opalescent flakes suspended in it that you squeeze out onto a pallette (or in my case a scrap of acetate) and apply with a paintbrush. The effect tends not to show up on photos, which is a pity as it looks great in real life, especially on snow scenes, so here is a photo taken at an angle to show the effect. I don't know whether Opal Dust is still available, and I was originally sent it in a RAK so I don't know where it came from!
EDIT - a quick Google shows me that Opal Dust, by Jo Sonja, IS still available from many retailers all over the world!

When everything was dry, and with the bauble mask still in place, I sprayed everything with a thick coating of Crafters Companion Spray & Shine which was supposed to give it a glassy bauble-like finish. Unfortunately it seemed to just seep into the card and didn't leave any gloss at all. That's the third time I've used it now and I don't know whether I'm doing something wrong or have a faulty can, as I've had no success at all with it. However, any LIM-ettes reading this, please take now I DID spray it!!!!

After removing the masking, I coloured in the foliage using the markers in the normal way, to make the colours stronger than the watercoloured ones on the bauble.

I am playing along with:

Shopping Our Stash - Splish Splash
Winter Wonderland - Create a Scene  
Less is More - Sprays/Mists (even though the spray didn't actually work!)
Addicted to Stamps and More - Clean and Simple  

Friday, 28 August 2015

Flying butterfly

The card I'm sharing this morning is very simple on the outside - in fact it is deliberately so simple that the recipient will look at it and think "Oh my goodness what a boring card!"

But I'm hoping that will make it even more of a surprise when they open it and see this:

The outside of the card needs no explanation. The patterned papers I have used, both outside and inside, are from a DCWV 12x12 stack simply called "Stack 9".

For the inside, I took a piece of the green paper cut to 1cm smaller than A4 in each direction, then cut it in half and trimmed about 1mm off the inside edges before covering the inside panels of the A5 white card. The cut up the middle serves two purposes - it helps to keep the crease of the card sharp (it would bulge if the paper continued over the fold) and it also forms a background so that when you view the card from front on, the thread holding the butterfly vanishes and it appears to float in space.

Next I took A4 card, trimmed 2cm off one long edge and folded it into four, concertina style. I then trimmed 1cm off each short edge and used a Martha Stewart punch to make the borders.

I didn't have an archway die (shame! must go shopping.....) but I did have a very old stencil, so I used that to draw and cut the  central arch. Then I covered all the panels with the patterned paper, covering up the arch and re-cutting it afterwards. This gave a neater finish than trying to cut the arch first and then line up the paper.

To stick the pop out into the card, I put adhesive on one side panel, worked out by eye where it would need to sit in the card for the central fold not to stick out when the card was closed, and then stuck it down. Then I folded it closed, applied adhesive to the other panel and closed the main card over it. This way, I knew the panels were lined up exactly opposite each other.

The two butterflies (the side you can't see is pink, like the second one on the outside of the card) were cut with my old favourite Cuttlebug butterfly die, then stuck together with a very fine, strong thread in between. The pink butterfly is actually "back to front" as the die is very slightly asymmetrical, so if you have the side that faced the die, always the better cut side, facing out on both back and front, a little of each one shows on the edges of the other.

The cord is held behind the top of the arch with very strong adhesive tape.

Phew! After all that waffling, on to the challenges:

Clear it Out - Fancy folds/die cuts and punches
Butterfly challenge - A is for archway
Sparkles monthly challenge - More than one fold
Crafty Gals Corner - Lots of Layers   

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Monarch of the Glen

The stag's head die I've used on this card is part of an X-cut Build-a-Scene set and for some reason I'd never thought about using it apart from the set - I do get a bit like that with die sets, do you? But it suddenly occurred to me that it might work quite well  in other places, such as a reindeer on a Christmas card (given a red gem nose of course) or a stag's head wall ornament.

And that's what led me to make this card, using red and blue snippets chosen to match the snippet of plaid paper from the Docrafts Heritage press collection. A bit of punching, a bit of layering and a stamped border, plus my stag's head, and the card was done. I don't think anything like this would ever appear in a Scottish castle though!

I'm sharing this with:

CAS-ology - Plaid
Addicted to Stamps and More - CAS
Pixie's Snippets Playground - week 191

Autumn leaves

It's nearly Autumn, my favourite season, so when I saw the beautiful photo inspiration at Just Us Girls this week I thought I'd be in my element.

But do you know, I'm not really happy with this card. Something about it just doesn't work for me - do you think perhaps I've concentrated so much on texture I've lost sight of the overall appearance of the card?

For the background I stamped two different leaves, a maple and a horse chestnut, over kraft card using Versamark ink. I do love the combination of kraft and Versamark! I brushed a very tiny amount of green mica pearl powder (an old discontinued brand) over some areas to give "lowlights" and set it with a spritz of water.

The large leaf panel was stamped with a large background stamp, in Versamark on dark green card, then brushed more generously with copper and gold mica pearl powders and set as before, then edged with copper foil using a Tonertext pen and foils from Foil Play. This was layered onto cream textured card that had also had the edges foiled, using gold foil this time.

The next layer up is cut with a Sizzix labels die then, without removing the die, stamped with a text stamp and the edges lightly sponged with ink.

The leaf on top was stamped onto dark green card using a glue pad, which allowed me to be even more generous with the pearl powder, then cut our and added with 3-D adhesive. Finally I added a few peel offs left over from a sheet that's been hanging around for many years.

I think maybe any one of the elements used separately on a simpler card would have looked good, but combined like this it's All Too Much for me! However it has fitted in nicely with my current penchant for resurrecting old stash and ideas that I haven't used for years.

Making Carbonnades Flamandes for F1 Foods

Last weekend it was the Belgian Grand Prix, so the F1 Foods challenge at Caroline Makes is for Belgian food.

Now I've visited Antwerp a couple of times and enjoyed lots of lovely meals, but not had anything I could say was particularly Belgian. There were lots of street stalls selling waffles, and chips, and of course a lot of chocolate shops, but nowhere that I could identify as a Belgian restaurant.

So I dug out an old recipe book from 1977, by Sonia Allison, simply called "European Cooking". It is divided into countries, and a look through the Belgian section reminded me of lots of possible things to make - Chicken Waterzooi, Oiseaux sans tetes, waffles and of course Carbonnades Flamandes.

As the weather's been cold, wet and miserable, I decided a beef and ale stew was just what we needed, so that was my choice. I've made it before, many times, from other recipes and was surprised to find that this recipe wasn't finished with croutes of mustard-spread French bread, served as a topping, like every other recipe I've seen. Instead, the mustard is incorporated into the sauce and then at the end of cooking, breadcrumbs are stirred into it.

I'm not going to give the recipe here, for copyright reasons, but it is a standard beef-and-ale casserole, with Dijon mustard, white wine vinegar and brown sugar (being diabetic, I substituted dark Sweet Freedom) added and a handful of breadcrumbs stirred in at the end.

The recipe said to use pale ale, but I thought that maybe that was because it was the nearest thing to Belgian Blonde beer that would have been available in the UK back in 1977. I happened to have a bottle of Blonde beer but no pale ale in the house, so I used that instead.

The blonde beer made the casserole very pale, compared to the look of it when I use brown ale or stout as I usually do in a beef and ale casserole. It might have looked more appetising if I'd added a dash of gravy browning. As for the breadcrumbs, we both agreed that they spoiled the lovely rich, smooth gravy texture that is one of the delights of a beef casserole and makes it such a comfort food.

The pallor and the crumby texture also contribute to these being probably the worst two food photos I have ever taken - but at least I joined in!

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

It's Rudolph Day!

Today's the 25th of the month - and that means it's Rudolph Day at Scrappymo's. Merry Christmas, everybody! And I don't want to scare you, but it's exactly four months today until Christmas. I still need to make at least 50 cards, and I have two holidays coming up in the next few months, so I'd better roll my sleeves up and get on with it.

Here is my card for this month's challenge. The topper is made from a Kanban die cut decoupage sheet, part of a Christmas bargain bundle from Foil Play . The packs have 10 sheets for £3.99 and are a varied selection but great value. I often use them with the grandchildren, as they can just punch the images out, stick them to a card and have instant results, but if you are prepared to take your time, cutting the images with a knife to avoid paper tags at the edge and adding other elements and a bit of creativity, you can produce some great results and quick, easy and yet original cards - something I'm going to have to do if I'm going to get all my cards made in time!

For this card I added lots of layering to give it an opulent feel, and some really gorgeous ribbon that's been sitting in my "too pretty to part with" box for more years than I care to admit - but it goes so perfectly with the image that I had to steel myself and use it.

So, having decided yesterday to only make Christmas cards from now on that would go through that infernal Post Office slot, I've already broken my resolution! I think this one will have to be one of my hand-delivered cards.

I am also sharing this with
Christmas Card Challenges - Anything Goes 
Crafty Hazelnut's Christmas Challenge - Use Some Gold  
Now I'm going to end this with a plea for help at Challenges For Days. Challenges for days is a blog challenge listing service - I have been a member of the team for about a year, and we post daily lists of craft challenges that have been updated each day. Each member of the team looks after a particular day's list and updates the post on that day of the week.
Sadly one of our members is leaving the team due to family commitments and we are looking for a replacement. You would need to be able to spare around an hour a week (perhaps a little more while you learn the ropes!) and have a Blogger account. There's no reward for this, except the knowledge that you are helping all the crafters who rely on the regular lists for inspiration, and the blogs who rely on them for publicity - so there's a lot of satisfaction in doing it! And as an added bonus, you will often spot new blogs that you hadn't known about and will enjoy taking part in.
For further information, and how to apply, see the Help Needed  post that Zoe has added to Challenges For Days.
- See more at:

Myth and Magic at Cardz 4 Guyz

There's a super challenge this week at Cardz 4 Guyz - Myth and Magic. Think legends, King Arthur, Robin Hood, Merlin, Harry Potter,  Dragons, Sorcerers, Magic Potions or even magicians pulling rabbits from hats!

I decided to use this fantasy creature stamp - is it a dragon or a winged sea-serpent, do you think? - which is a Linda Luckin stamp from many years ago and no longer available. It's a stamp I come back to over and over again, I love the fact that it's not just magical but also slightly cute, in a monster-ish kind of way.

I stamped it on glossy card using Stazon ink and then got out my encaustic painting kit. I chose the "mystical" colours of purple, turquoise and blue to create my dragon's grotto. First I put a band of clear wax up the centre of the iron sole plate, then narrow bands of purple and turquoise each side and swept the iron up the card. Then I used the wax remaining on the card to create suction patterns around it, by gently dabbing the card against the sole of the iron and pulling it smartly away. For the lower third of the card, I added a little blue wax to the wax left on the sole plate. When I was happy with the suction pattern, I used the very edge of the iron to draw lines of blue wax up the card to create "plants".

I trimmed and mounted the image and buffed it to a shine with a soft tissue. A design like this really needs no more embellishment!

I would like to join in with the following challenges:
Alphabet Challenge - N for No Patterned Paper  
Crafty Gals Corner - Anything Goes 
Glitter and Sparkle - Happy Birthday 
Craft Your Passion - Anything Goes  
Now I'm going to end this with a plea for help at Challenges For Days. Challenges for days is a blog challenge listing service - I have been a member of the team for about a year, and we post daily lists of craft challenges that have been updated each day. Each member of the team looks after a particular day's list and updates the post on that day of the week.
Sadly one of our members is leaving the team due to family commitments and we are looking for a replacement. You would need to be able to spare around an hour a week (perhaps a little more while you learn the ropes!) and have a Blogger account. There's no reward for this, except the knowledge that you are helping all the crafters who rely on the regular lists for inspiration, and the blogs who rely on them for publicity - so there's a lot of satisfaction in doing it! And as an added bonus, you will often spot new blogs that you hadn't known about and will enjoy taking part in.
For further information, and how to apply, see the Help Needed  post that Zoe has added to Challenges For Days.


Monday, 24 August 2015

Sketch challenge at Less is More

The other day I was browsing Pinterest and spotted this beautiful pin - I was really struck with how well the punched border and die cut dragonflies worked together. The link on the pin went to the KT Hom Designs blog where I got lots more inspiration!

And when I saw the sketch which is this week's challenge at Less is More I thought it would be a great chance to CASE the card in the pin.

So here, rearranged slightly to fit in with the sketch, is my take on it - sorry about the lousy lighting, it's such a gloomy day that even with every light on and my daylight lamp at the side, I can't get enough light for the white to look white!

It's what's on the inside that counts......

This week the Sisterhood of Snarky Stampers want to see images only, no sentiments, on the outside of our cards. Now I very often make cards with no sentiment - probably more often than not - but being an awkward bu$$er as soon as I'm told not to use something I want to use it. So I had to discard about a dozen ideas until I stopped and thought - no sentiment on the outside doesn't stop there from being one on the INSIDE, does it?

For the outside of the card, I used a Paper Artsy stamp for the background, lining it up with a stamp positioner and filling the whole surface. It's not a stamp that's intended to join up to form a repeat image, so it doesn't line up 100% but as I knew I was going to add more stamping over it that didn't worry me too much. Then I used old unmounted stamps from my stash to add the stars and champagne bottles. I think the overall effect looks very much like the way your head feels after a few too many drinks. or is that just me?

The image is from the same Paper Artsy set. I think it used to say Movie Star along the bottom but I didn't like that bit so I chopped it off and threw it away.

Then I moved on to the inside - I knew what I wanted to say but I didn't have the stamp to say it, so I made a computer generated message, fiddling about with the RGB settings until I got the shade of green I wanted:

I know *exactly* who I'm going to send this to.....

Penny Farthing

For my birthday a couple of weeks ago, my husband bought me a selection of stamps and dies, including the Marianne Creatables penny farthing die which I had been tempted to get having seen Liz use it in some lovely designs and the Viva Décor "Old fashioned! stamp set which also includes a penny farthing. And I have a bag of large printed buttons, which includes some with a penny farthing design. Putting them all together, I had the basis for a very masculine vintage card. And adding some vintage French newsprint-style backing paper from the Dovecraft Curiousity Corner range and a deckle edged backing card gave it an even more vintage feel.

I stamped the penny farthing and corners on the newsprint, then mounted it on a snippet of purple card. The die cut was made from another snippet of the same card, and mounted on a scrap of cream edged with purple ink.

I am sharing this with

The Male Room - Newsprint
Pixie's Snippets Playground - week 191

Edit - I've edited this in to explain the term "Penny Farthing" in response to a comment from MaryH below. I had no idea that the bicycle in the picture wasn't called a Penny Farthing all over the world, and it's only this comment that has made me realise that it isn't! But now I stop and think of it, why WOULD it be called that in countries where pennies and farthings weren't part of the currency? Even a British person less than 50 years old might not understand it.
In Victorian times, the British pound was made up of 240 pennies, not 100 as it is now. Each penny was a very large copper coin. The farthing was worth a quarter of a penny, and was a very small copper coin. So when this bicycle was invented, people thought it looked like a penny and a farthing side by side - hence the name Penny Farthing. I don't know whether it has an official name, or what it is called in other countries - if you know, I'd love to see a comment letting me in on it!

A Beary Merry Christmas

Because of my holiday, I had to miss the last challenge at CD Sundays but I'm back up to speed now and delighted to be able to join in again. The new challenge is "Bear with me" and I've used an image, backing paper and border from the Crafters Companion "Popcorn the Bear" CD - actually a mini-CD that was a Create and craft member freebie.

The image is supposed to be the base layer of a decoupage design, but I'm trying to make more of my Christmas cards fit through that magic slot at the Post Office that means you pay the small letter rate rather than the large letter one - last year almost all my cards had to be sent at the higher rate and the cost was crippling! So to add interest to the image, I brushed all the pine sprigs in the garland with clear Wink of Stella. I don't think it shows on the photo, but it looks lovely in real life!

The sentiment was a free download from a blog last year - I wish I'd kept a note of the name of the blogger so I could credit her. If you are reading this and happen to be - or know- her, can you please let me know so I can link to her blog and say thank you?

I am also sharing this with

Crafty Hazelnut's Christmas Challenge - Add Some Gold
Christmas Card Challenges - Anything Goes

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Dinosaur Days

When this month's new stamp releases came out at Clearly Besotted, I knew I had to get the dinosaur ones as they reminded me so much of the favourite cuddly toys that my grown up daughters had when they were children. And as one of them celebrates a birthday very soon, I've used them to make a card for her. I'm sure it will bring back some happy memories!

As all the elements are separate stamps, there was a LOT of masking involved. I always have to stop and think before starting, to remind myself it's necessary to start at the very front and work back to the background!

I coloured it in using Promarkers, sticking to the bold, bright colours that remind me of those special toys. Maybe not authentic dinosaur colours, but then, these are no ordinary dinosaurs!

I'm entering this into the following challenges:

Alphabet Challenge - No Design Papers
AAA Cards - Mask (I used masking - lots and lots and LOTS of masking!)

Hunkydory Revisited

Regular visitors will know of the struggle I have to use Hunkydory products - they always feel as if there's too much already done, and looking at them gives me brain freeze making it hard to get properly creative with them. However I do have a lot of Hunkydory stash - not only did I buy a few kits in my early crafting days, but in recent times I have won three huge kits in competitions on their Facebook page and website - I used to enter every weekly competition until I realised the kits were simply not getting used.

So, I'm determined to actually USE some of the stuff, and this weekend I have made a couple of card from one of the kits.

The first was a very difficult topper to use, as it fills almost the entire front of an A5 card. but I added a little interest by raising the inner oval on 1mm foam pads and the centre image on 3mm ones, sticking the rest of the components directly onto the background card. I finished it off with "buttons" from the sheet of die cuts, miniature roses and some leaves I cut and embossed.

I'm sharing this card with Allsorts Challenge Blog where the current theme is Roses.

For my next card, I used a smaller image that enabled me to be more creative. The image itself was cut from one of the A4 background sheets rather than being a ready made topper.  I made an easel card, adding ribbon and lace to the front folded panel and making the "stopper" for the base from the border of the sheet I'd cut the image from, also trimmed with lace.

I'm sharing this second card with

Creative Card Crew - Lace
Mod Squad - Lavender and Lace
Suzy Bee's Blooming Challenge - Add a Border

Summer Houses

The latest theme at Uniko Studios Challenge is Summer, along with this sweet photo

Isn't that house cute? I can just imagine the look on my granddaughters' faces if they had a chance to visit it!

I've used the photo as my inspiration for today's first card (sorry, I'm going to bombard you with cards today, I've been on a post-holiday crafting blitz while I waited for the umpteen loads of clothes to wash!). I die cut the "Colchester Houses" die and set it behind a green "lawn" dotted with die cut flowers. The sentiment was stamped with a freebie stamp that was the cover mounted gift on a magazine a month or two ago. Sorry, Uniko people, no Uniko stamp this month!

Every scrap of card I've used is from my snippets box, so I'm also playing along at Pixie's Snippets Playground  and as I've used no designer paper, I'm also joining in with the Alphabet Challenge, where I haven't played for months, as the current challenge is exactly that, No Designer Paper.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Book Review - The Temporary Bride by Jennifer Klinec

A book review on Onions and Paper? Yes indeed  and when I tell you that the full title of this book is "The Temporary Bride - a memoir of love and food in Iran" you will understand why!

The book, by Jennifer Klinec, is to be published by Virago on September 3rd, and you can order and advance copy from Amazon if you are eager to be one of the first to read it. And as you will see, I think it is well worth reading!

I received a review copy from Netgalley - I just couldn't resist the title!

The book is an autobiography of Jennifer Klinec, who was born and raised in Canada to parents from Eastern Europe. A fierce streak of independence, combined with a passion for travel and food, dominated her early life but eventually she settled down to a corporate job in London. However she soon became restless and started to travel extensively at weekends, until she could no longer face the corporate life and opened a cookery school.

From then on her travels were research trips for the exciting and authentic dishes she taught in her classes. One of these trips took her to Iran, where she met a young man called Vahid, whose mother taught her much about local cooking while he showed her around local places of foodie interest, and gradually Jennifer and Vahid fell in love. A love so totally alien to his culture, so defiant of local laws and traditions, that a - to us in the UK - very unorthodox solution was the only way forward.

Where the book fits in with the remit of this blog is the total passion for food that fills every page - as I read, I was salivating, picturing the colours, the smells, the tastes and the textures. Much of the story, much of the emotion, much of the landscape, is communicated through the medium of food and eating. I kept wanting to put the book down and head into the kitchen to cook - and yet at the same time I didn't want to stop reading.

The writing is beautiful, the story enthralling, and I learned a huge amount from the book - not just about Iranian food but also about the culture, customs, laws and people. But never for one minute did all that learning feel like a chore. I loved reading this book and would thoroughly recommend it to anybody who is interested in food, culture or just a great love story.

Although this isn't a recipe book, Jennifer has shared some of the recipes described in it on her blog - you can find the all-important Persian rice here and a selection of other dishes here.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

I'm a gran again!

This morning my fourth grandchild, and first grandson, was born to my daughter, who lives in France, and her husband. As you can imagine, I've spent a lot of the morning on the phone but I've still managed to squeeze in time to make a card for them. Well, actually I had most of the card already made, because we knew the baby was going to be a boy, but I somehow felt a bit superstitious about finishing it off completely and adding the embellishments in advance, so it was waiting for "D-day" for me to add the finishing touches.

I got the idea of making a chest of drawers out of a stepper card made from kraft from the Docrafts magazine. Knowing the baby would be a boy, I used blue papers from the Graphic 45 Precious Memories range to create the drawers. The die cuts are made with an X-cut set (the name escapes me and doesn't seem to be on the backing sheet!)

I'm joining in with the following challenges:

Craft Your Passion - Anything Goes
Sparkles - More than one fold
Shopping Our Stash - Layer it on me
The Crafters Café - Shaped cards
Ooh La La Creations - One for the boys  
Glitter n Sparkle - Stepper cards  

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Sydney Sunset

Actually I'm not sure whether this is sunrise or sunset - apart from not being able to picture which direction I'd be facing if this was all one view, the different hemispheres and time zones throw my brain into a total funk. So maybe I should have just called this "Sydney with an orange sky" but that's not very snappy, is it?

Anyway, whichever  way I am facing, this stamp from the Tim Holtz "Cityscapes" set reminds me of a wonderful holiday some years ago which included a few days visiting friends in Sydney, who showed us all the famous sights, so I decided to use it for my entry to the current challenge at The Male Room which is Vacation/On the Beach

Since I attended the Make It Show in Farnborough earlier this year, I've become very keen on Encaustic Painting again  - you can read about my reintroduction to it here - it is the art of "painting" using wax melted onto the sole plate of a hot iron, and I thought this would work perfectly for this scene AND make an unusual entry for the current Inkspirational challenge, with the word prompt  Melt 
I stamped the scene on to glossy card using Stazon ink, then loaded the iron sole plate with clear wax on the lower half and yellow, orange and red at random on the upper half, then swept the iron randomly across the card a couple of times. Then I cleaned the iron, added a narrow band of blue wax with a little white to the edge of the sole plate and ironed a band of blue at the bottom to represent the sea. (Note- only use white pigmented waxes in areas where you don't want stamping to show through, as it is opaque, whereas most of the coloured waxes are transparent).  
When the wax was cool, I polished it with a soft tissue and trimmed and mounted it to fit a DL card.

Jolie Laide

Have you ever heard the term "Jolie laide"? It's a French expression that literally means "Pretty ugly" but is used to refer to something so ugly it is beautiful, like the babies of some animals for instance. And that's the look I was aiming for with this card.

Now, the problem with getting paper stacks is that there's always going to be something you don't like among the lovely papers. Somebody else must think it's gorgeous - otherwise it wouldn't be part of the stack in the first place - but personally you'd rather line the kitty litter tray with it than be forced to look at something you've created with it.

Well, that's how I feel about the paper I've used for this card. It reminds me of the wallpaper that was on the wall of our first house when we moved in - a room that always made me feel I was sitting in the middle of a downmarket 1970s Indian restaurant. Well, until we decorated, that is.

To break the pattern up a bit, I cut the square of paper in two with a curved diagonal and separated them with a little black peel off. The tag I used as a topper came in a RAK some time ago, and makes me smile because "Domestic Diva" is a term you could NEVER use to describe me!

The heart tattoo is a Kanban stamp, stamped onto snippets of grey, red and white card, with "Hello" stamped onto the white image, then the heart and banner cut out and layered on to the grey image.

I would like to share this with

Sisterhood of Snarky Stampers - U is for Ugly
Pixie's Snippets Playground - week 190

It's About Time at Cardz 4 Guyz

Today at Cardz 4 Guyz our challenge is It's about Time!  - think clocks, watches and so on.

I've used a piece of backing paper from my stash for this card, showing the workings of a deconstructed watch. I have absolutely no idea where this paper came from! I think it must have been from a welcome pack from one of the now-defunct postal craft clubs I joined in the days before I got internet access.

The band across the card is stamped using an unmounted stamp that came in a grab bag many years ago. I've used a stamp positioner to stamp it three times across the width of the band.

The watch is made with a much newer stamp, one of Studio G's mini sets. The hands are separate stamps, so you can choose the time on your watch dial. I've set them at 10 to 2, which is the one most watches and clocks on display for sale are set to. Did you know there's a theory that it makes them look more attractive and therefore makes us more likely to buy? To make it, I stamped the watch twice, once on white card and once on gold. I used Staz-on on the gold card - even then, it needs very careful stamping to make sure it doesn't smudge. (Oh, all right then, I'll confess, this was my fourth attempt!). Then I cut it out and found a circle die of the right size to remove the centre dial, and stuck a scrap of acetate behind the opening, before sticking the whole thing onto the white card watch. A piece of gold peel-off chain completes the pocket-watch effect.

I am sharing this with

Craft Your Passion - Anything Goes
Ooh La La Challenge Blog - One for the Boys
A Bit More Time To Craft - Anything Goes