Thursday, 30 April 2020

Late arrival to the Rudolph Day party

I'm late! I'm late! For a very important date! Somehow after April having been about 5 years long, the last few days of the month have whizzed by and I almost missed my chance to join in this month's Rudolph Days challenge, but here I am by the skin of my teeth....

I've based it on the sketch over at Jingle Belles this fortnight,  which really could have been made with this classic Darice embossing folder in mind,  adding a die cut snowflake border - I think this was a magazine freebie last year some time and has been NBUS until now. I've added silver ribbon and a silver tag, and highlighted some of the embossed swirls with a silver sparkle gel pen.

I am also sharing this at Crafty Hazelnut's Christmas Challenge. 

RECIPE: Sweetcorn and beaten egg soup.

Last weekend we had a roast chicken. Not a supermarket chicken - a really fine one delivered to our door by our lovely local butcher, who has started a delivery service. It cost a lot more than we usually pay for a chicken - but oh, the succulent, juicy meat and the crisp, flavourful skin! And it's kept us well fed for several days. As well as the roast, we had a chicken and mushroom risotto and a dish of chicken baked in cheese sauce, before making the carcass into stock and using it in two soups - here is the first. Home made chicken stock makes it really special but you could use bottled stock and it can be chicken or vegetable stock. If you use bought stock, though, don't add any salt because with the salt in the stock and the soy sauce the soup will end up too salty.

It's a good thing it tastes nicer than it looks! 

This quantity makes two main course size portions or 4 portions as part of a Chinese meal. If serving it with other dishes,  you may wish to only use one egg to make it less filling. 

1 can cream-style sweetcorn
400 ml chicken stock
2 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon light soy sauce plus extra for drizzling
½ teaspoon salt
1 rounded teaspoon cornflour, blended with a little water
Garnish: a few finely chopped chives, spring onion tops or garlic chives - or you could use wild garlic. 

Put the sweetcorn, stock, soy sauce and salt into a pan, mix and bring to the boil. Add the cornflour paste and stir until thickened. With the mixture boiling quite hard, pour the beaten egg in over the prongs of a fork to make threads, stirring the pan with a whisk at the same time. The egg will immediately cook into thin threads. 

Garnish with the chopped onions/chives and a drizzle of soy sauce. 

If you can't get hold of creamed sweetcorn, I'm told that blitzing normal tinned corn in the blender for a few seconds will do the job. I would use water-packed corn, or vacuum packed with a few splashes of water added, not  the type with sugar and salt or your soup will be too salty. 

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Using a brusho background

I've been going through my Box of Bits to see what i could use up, and I found a handful of brusho backgrounds so I decided to try diecutting one to use against a plain dark background.

I tried it against several colours of background and liked this dark blue best - and it put me in mind of the flowers-against-the-sky photo over at Just Us Girls this week, so to really take inspiration from the photo I added a white heat embossed sentiment  because of the white clouds in the photo.

Expect to see more die cut brusho shapes from me as I work through the B.O.B. 

Monday, 27 April 2020

RECIPE: Cheddar and Marmite Oatcakes

Having just bought some really special cheeses (more about them at the end of this post)  for a lockdown treat, I realised that we had no special crackers to eat them with. Now I've been meaning to have a go at making oatcakes for several months, and had even bought a bag of fine oatmeal to use, so it seemed like the perfect time to dig it out and give it a try.

I added Cheddar and Marmite for extra "umami" - here is my recipe.

150g fine oatmeal
75g self raising flour
50g very finely grated cheddar cheese
25g butter or margarine
2 teaspoons of Marmite
50ml water

If you are a Marmite hater leave it out and add half a teaspoon of salt instead. Or you could add some dried herbs or smoked paprika for variety.

Mix the oatmeal, flour and cheese together. Place the fat, Marmite and water in a small saucepan and heat gently until melted, then  pour over the flour etc and mix well. The dough will be VERY firm and crumbly.

Cover and chill for half an hour.
Heat the oven to 180C (160 fan), 350F, Gas Mark 4.
Line 2 baking trays with non-stick/greaseproof paper.

Roll the dough out thinly (about 3mm is ideal).  Because it is so dry and brittle, I kept a bowl of water to hand and occasionally sprinkled a few drops off the tips of my fingers on to it, especially when re-rolling the trimmings. Use a plain cutter to cut into circles of your chosen size. I couldn't find my plain cutters so I used one with very tiny fluted edges, which left the edges a bit crumbly but didn't do any harm. (Maybe I should have raised my Spellbinders dies!). My cutter was about 8 cm and I made 14 oatcakes from this amount of dough.

Place on the trays and bake for around 15 minutes until dry and firm. Cool on racks, making sure they are completely cool before storing in an airtight container - any warmth left in them will make them go soft.

These don't keep as well as bought oatcakes; the cheese in them will make them go soft after a few days but ours didn't hang around for long enough for that to be a problem!

Here they are on one of my much loved 1970s Palissy plates with a selection of cheeses. We've LOVED these cheeses, which we ordered from the Bath Soft Cheese Company. They have a cheese board pack of 5 assorted organic cheeses for £25 including delivery - a great selection and beautiful cheeses. Such great cheese served with fresh, delicious oatcakes has certainly brightened up our lockdown eating!

Just before I go, I thought I'd share a snippet of cheese related chat with you. This time last year,  Mark and I needed to go somewhere in Mayfair, London (for those unfamiliar with Britain's capital,  that's a very posh area.) As we were heading back to the tube station to come home, we passed a cheese shop and being total cheese monsters, just HAD to go in. The sights and smells were too good to resist, so we decided to treat ourselves to a tiny slice of an ultra strong blue cheese to enjoy when we got home. Foolishly, we didn't ask the price of it before it was cut. That tiny sliver of cheese, less than 70g and no more than a couple of mouthfuls each, cost us a whopping great £14.95! Mind you the smell was so strong it guaranteed we were given plenty of space on the train home.

Distressed Rose

I had a LOT of messy fun making this card - not to mention cleaning up afterwards!

It's a first outing for this lovely rose stamp and sentiment from the Craftascope bundle I won earlier in the year.

I started with the image because I knew it would need a LOT of drying time. (I still resorted to the heat gun in the end because I'm so impatient.). I stamped it onto watercolour card and then, one section at a time, roughly filled in the flower or leaf with a water brush and sprinkled Brushos over, lightly blending the crystals and drawing them out towards the edges with a damp brush. The lighter red crystals blended a little too easily, the darker ones I used for the rose on the left  gave the look I was really aiming for.  Each section had to dry completely before moving on to the next, so that I could tap the stray crystals of pigment off the dry areas.Once it was all dry, I re-wet the brush I'd used for blending the red paint and flicked it randomly over the whole image to add some spatters, then tore the image roughly to shape and set it aside.

For the background layers, I used three different embossing folders and red, pink and purple distress inks, roughly smoothing the ink pads over the debossed side of the folder and lightly spritzing with water before embossing white card.  Again, I tore each piece to the shape and size I wanted to use.

I lightly blended red ink around the edge of my card and stamped the sentiment onto white card, finishing the edges with a distressing tool, then assembled the whole thing finishing with a bow made from two layers of organza ribbon.

I am sharing this with

Allsorts Challenge - Add a Bow 

Fab'n'Funky - Roses

Sweet Stampin - Distressed 

Sunday, 26 April 2020

Ursa Minor

No, I'm not posting about  constellations - Ursa Minor means "little bear" and every time I use this set of stamps I seem to call the post Little Bear so I fancied a change.

The stamps and papers came with Making Cards magazine in March 2017 (no, I've not suddenly got good at record keeping, it's just that I haven't quite got around to recycling the magazine yet). I stamped the bear then masked him before stamping the balloons, to make it look as if he's sitting in front of a bunch of them,  then coloured the image with Promarkers and cut it out with dies. The textured purple card is some NBUS that I've had for years and I was pleased to find these two spotty buttons in just the right shade of purple among my stash.

I am sharing this with

Alphabet Challenge - B for Boys Card 

Pearly Sparkles - Bunnies, Bears and/or Birds 

Saturday, 25 April 2020

RECIPE: Full English Breakfast Pie

Pie for breakfast? Well, I'm not advocating that! But breakfast for dinner, aka dinner, is a popular thing, especially among those of us who aren't ready to face the faff of cooking all that food at the crack of dawn, and because baking seems to be such a lockdown obsession (when we can get flour) with so many of us, I had the urge to turn a breakfast into a pie.

Recipe (serves 4)

1 tin baked beans (450g size)
1 medium onion
6 rashers streaky bacon
4 sausages
2 large tomatoes
2 eggs
puff pastry (bought or home made - read to the end of the recipe for details)
a little vegetable oil
milk for brushing

Boil the eggs until just hard (I used extra large eggs which are just right after 8 minutes). Crack the shells all over under running cold water, leave in a bowl of water until completely cold, and peel them - I find this way of cooling them makes them easier to peel.

Roll out the pastry to fit the top of your pie dish, cover and set aside to chill.

Empty the beans into a bowl. Peel and thinly slice the onion and fry until well browned in a little oil. Add to the beans. Chop the bacon and add to the pan the onions were cooked in, and fry over medium heat until fat has run out and pieces are turning crispy. Lift the pieces out with a slotted spoon and add to the beans and onions. Add the sausages to the pan and cook slowly until well browned and cooked through.

While the sausages are cooking, heat the oven to 230C (210 fan),  450F, gas mark 8. Mix the bacon, onion and beans together.

Place a ceramic pie funnel, if you have one, in the middle of your dish then spoon the bean mixture evenly around it. Arrange the halved tomatoes and eggs around it. When the sausages are cooked, add them too.

Place the chilled pastry over the top, cutting a hole in the centre and, if you are using a funnel, making sure it pokes through the hole.

Decorate the edges if you wish  then brush all over with milk and bake for 20-25 minutes in the preheated oven until golden.

I would have glazed it with egg rather than milk in normal circumstances but eggs are pretty precious at the moment and with two already used in the pie I didn't feel I was justified in using a third. 

We loved this pie - served with peas for a touch of green, although I wouldn't have peas on a cooked breakfast. If we'd had any mushrooms,  they would have gone into the pie, either sliced, fried and added to the bean mixture or halved, poached and arranged with the sausages, eggs and tomatoes.

Now on to the pastry. Despite being a keen cook and always making my own shortcrust pastry, I've only attempted making puff pastry once,  when I was expecting my first baby. That "baby" turned 40 last year - and making the pastry had seemed like such a faff that I've never done it again since. However lockdown means it's no longer easy to simply pop out and buy a pack of ready made, so I decided to have a go at making rough puff pastry. 

Here is what I used: 

200g plain flour
½ teaspoon salt
125g butter
Cold water to mix - about 100ml

I mixed the flour and salt then diced the butter into small cubes, about 4mm each, and stirred them in with a knife, gradually adding the water to make a soft dough. 

I rolled it our on a well floured surface into a long narrow rectangle, then folded the bottom third up and the top third down and gave it a quarter turn so the folds were at the sides. Then I repeated the rolling and folding process 4 more times. After the final fold I wrapped it tightly and placed it in the fridge to rest before rolling out to make my piecrust - it needs at least half an hour but longer won't hurt it.  

This amount made plenty to cover my largest Le Creuset pie dish with enough left over to make a batch of cheese straws or tapenade or pesto nibbles. (Must have a look in the fridge to see what I can use it with today! ) 

I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to make, and would probably have been even easier if I'd used hard baking margarine instead of butter. However the butter gave the pastry a lovely buttery taste and in any case I'd finished up the margarine baking some oatcakes which will appear on here in a few days' time. 

So that's rough puff pastry mastered - now I might push the boat out even further and try proper flaky pastry next time! 

Going round in circles

I'm back again visiting Cardz 4 Guyz with my "civilian" hat on to join in the current challenge, Use Dies as a Main Feature.

I've made this ultra-CAS card using papers from the SU Going Places 6 x 6 pad - one of the best paper collections EVER for masculine cards! I used a set of stitched edge circle dies, choosing each one to be about two thirds the diameter of the one above it, cut the two larger circles in half and then arranged them on the card to form a stylised spiral - it reminds me a bit of a seashell. Finally I stamped  a sentiment that exactly fitted the space above the larger semicircle. I considered adding a few gems or splatters, but when I positioned some on the card they seemed to mar the clean lines so I decided this was the perfect point to stop.

Friday, 24 April 2020


It's like a honeycomb, but filled with cats!

I recently  took advantage of a real bargain when a website called Cat Mad Gifts decided to stop selling stamps and dies and reduced their entire stock to 1p an item - with free postage! I got 2 sheets of stamps and 3 sets of dies, and here I've used one of the die sets and a sentiment from one of the stamp sets. Everything came unlabelled so I've no idea what brand they are. I've made a background of hexagonal die cut shapes from all the snippets of pink patterned paper in my snippets basket, and used another snippet of plain pink to stamp the sentiment and black to cut the cats. 

I wish I'd had a die a teensy bit smaller so the entire patchwork panel would have fitted on the card - the next size down was slightly too small for some of the cats, but if I put the patchwork panel on a bigger card it looked a bit lost. There's a big difference between a CAS card with loads of white space and a card that has white space that isn't needed! 
I'm sharing this with

Cardz 4 Galz - Black and Pink 

Pixie's Crafty Workshop - Challenge 376 

By the way, if you take a look at my Awards page you'll see that all my badges, blinkies and banners that I've earned so far this year have  vanished - for some obscure reason Blogger had removed them all and repopulated the page with the entire text of a recent post. And also removed the page from my navigation bar. I've set up a brand new page to replace it, but my apologies to any of you visiting from blogs where I've been recognised in the past - I DID display your badges until this calamity happen! 

Talking of calamities, I hope you are staying safe and well. My Mum has been feeling very sad this week - one day she saw a funeral pass the house, and since none of her usual visitors are dropping in at the moment didn't know until a few days later that it was one of her friends, who had been in a home due to dementia and caught Coronavirus while she was in there. Sad times when people are unable to mourn those they have known for so long - almost 90 years in this case. 

Thursday, 23 April 2020

Butterfly and roses

I think this is only the second outing for the butterfly cut-and-emboss folder with matching stamps that came with a craft magazine last year.

I'd been a bit stumped by the Butterfly Challenge this time, nothing in the choices seemed to tickle my mojo. Then I was rummaging through an old box of papers for materials for a different project and realised I still had a few sheets of Black Magic Core-dinations  card left - one of which had the backing colour  matching "Wheat" on the butterfly wheel. So out came the folder, I embossed the black magic card then sanded it away so the butterflies and roses showed through. 

I flipped the die cut butterfly and stamped the matching image on the reverse side, then stuck the embossed card over the background paper and stamped the sentiment through the aperture. The paper was chosen to co-ordinate with a new trio of markers which i used to colour the butterfly, before attaching it with foam pads. 

I am sharing this with 

The Butterfly Challenge - I've just chosen the one element, Wheat

Addicted to Stamps and More - Anything goes 

Party like it's 1999

Odd to think, isn't it, that most people under the age of 40 may have never seen a cassette tape, and even the 40-somethings only knew them as something their parents had! Do you remember how hedgerows at the sides of busy roads were often festooned with tape that irate drivers had yanked out of the car stereo and thrown out of the window after yet another tangle? Happy days!!!

For this card I used a Darice music embossing folder and stamps from a set  that was sent to me to test a couple of years ago by a magazine that was thinking of having it as a potential cover mount, so I don't know the brand. I never saw the set appear on a magazine - perhaps other testers gave the same feedback as I did, that it was fun but not very versatile because of only being likely to appeal to an older audience. But nonetheless, it IS fun for the right person and occasion. I've even coloured my cassette to match the ones I used to use in my teens.

I am sharing this with

Retro Rubber - Anything goes 
RRCB 133

The Male Room - Music 

Tuesday, 21 April 2020

Spring blossoms and sparkle

We've had a few days of gusty wind recently and all the spring blossoms are looking a bit battered and bruised now, so I had to make something to remember them by before they vanish completely.

Compulsory sparkle close up! 

First I used Cosmic Shimmer Ultra Sparkle Paste in Rose Copper  to stencil the background - I'm sure they are meant to be just random flowers but they remind me of apple blossom. Then I stamped the flower spray and sentiment, using stamps from a recent magazine cover mount, and used partial die cutting to make the flowers into an oval panel, then coloured them with Promarkers using fresh spring colours. Again they are just random stylised flowers but in my mind as I was colouring them they became apple blossom, cherry blossom and camellias. Some fresh green matting and candi to finish it all off. 

I am sharing this with

Allsorts Challenge - Flowers and/or showers  

Make my Monday - Spring Flowers  

Sweet Stampin - Blooming Wonderful  

Passion for Promarkers - add a sentiment 

Getting hold of food during lockdown #3

This week  my post is about the Marks and Spencers food box. I have been unable to try it because there are several sweet things in it which would be wasted, so Valery-Ann, aka Mrs A of Valery Ann Designs and the Butterfly Challenge has sent me her thoughts on it.

The box was well packaged and delivered several days earlier than expected - not a problem as it is all non-perishable items. The contents were 

toilet rolls 4pkt
Pasta sauce large jar
Italian tomato sauce small jar
Tomato soup
Vegetable soup
English tea bags 50 pkt
Jar of gold Coffee
2 pkts of shortbread biscuits.
1 pkt salted peanuts
Can chunky chicken
can chunky beef
small tin of corned beef
tin of red salmon
pkt spaghetti
pkt long grain rice
1pkt big chocolate buttons
Percy pig sweets   
2 large bars of chocolate
tin of baked beans

Mrs A was very pleased to find both tea and coffee included, something the other boxes seem to lack. The only thing she isn't likely to use was the Percy pig sweets which she gave to a neighbour with young children. 

There is a vegetarian box with vegetarian products replacing the meat and fish ones, and there are also fruit, vegetable and meat boxes. Mrs A also tried the fruit box which arrived separately (sorry, no photo) and contained

1 large pineapple
1 large mango
2 little paper carrier bags containing bunches of black grapes.
6 large plums
5 pears
6 red apples
6 clementines
A hand of bananas (8)

The food box costs £35 and the fruit box £20. Both look to be good value and good quality contents.

I'd love to hear whether you have tried any of the boxes I have written about. Mrs A has tried the Morrisons Box which I reviewed here and was pleased to find that when she clicked through to the meat-eaters box to place her order, there was a link to a selection of recipes based on the contents of the box. She's tried several of the recipes and been pleased with them, especially the Hunters Chicken. Morrisons has extended their range of boxes and even has a special Ramadan box.

I hope that by now most of you have either got yourselves a supermarket delivery slot, somebody in the family who can shop for you if you can't get out or are able to shop for yourselves, but if you are still struggling my food box reviews may be helpful. They've certainly helped us through the last few weeks!

Now I have managed to get onto the Ocado delivery list again but am only allowed one delivery a fortnight, so I think we'll try the Marks and Spencer fruit and veg boxes to top up on fresh food in the intervening weeks. We've found a local butcher who is making deliveries and can get bread and milk from the corner shop, so after an initial shaky start I think we have everything covered.

Many thanks to Valery-Ann for her help with this post. 

Monday, 20 April 2020

All geared up

I'm never quite sure where the borderline between vintage and steampunk lies (nor that between vintage and shabby chic on the more feminine end of the spectrum) but I tend to work on the theory that if you throw enough cogs and gears at something, it makes it into steampunk. I'm sure devotees of the genre, complete with top hats, owls and goggles, would disagree, but we'll just have to agree to disagree!

As usual, my camera hasn't coped well with the dark coloured card. The bits that look black are actually dark blue. I keep fiddling around with lighting and settings but the camera always seems to get its own way in the end!

I am sharing this with

Just us Girls - Brown, Navy and Rust 

Watercooler Wednesday - masculine anything goes 

Creative Crafting Uncles - Steampunk 

Sunday, 19 April 2020

Bonjour Paris

Right about now I should be busy unpacking and washing the clothes we wore on a French countryside holiday with our daughter and her family, and recovering from an exhausting week of fun with the grandchildren, but all we can do is daydream about what might have been - which has inspired me to make a card with a French theme. I've designed it with my Mum's upcoming 94th birthday in mind, partly because one of her few remaining memories of anything more recent than her childhood is of a short break she and my Dad took to Paris just after he retired, and partly because here surname - and hence my maiden name - is France.

The papers, decoupage  rose and Eiffel tower topper are all from Debbi Moore's "Shabby Chic Paris" DS, one of my favourite crafting CDs (although I'm very fickle with CDs, I must have at least 6 favourites). I matted all the panels with black and finished with some black Candi and some clear Liquid Pearls to emphasise the dewdrops on the rose leaves. 

I am sharing this at CD Sunday Plus   - my first time for several years as an entrant rather than a DT member. 

Friday, 17 April 2020

A tale of a cat

My Mum is almost 94 and lives alone, except for a cat who, in cat years, is probably about as old as she is. On the back of her house is an old conservatory and she keeps the door propped open so the cat can come and go easily, and the feeding station and cat bed are in there too. 

One day a few weeks ago, she phoned me to say there was a strange ginger cat  asleep in her cat's bed, having eaten all the food she'd put out for her own cat. As I live 250 miles away, there wasn't much I could do about it, but when it was still there two days later I asked on the Facebook group for Mum's town whether anyone had lost a ginger cat,  and within a few hours had found somebody who had moved from near Mum's house to somewhere a mile or so away the previous week, but the cat had disappeared after slipping out through the door. She thought it might have tried to head back to its old home and, spotting food and comfort at Mum's house, decided to stay. 

The lady went to Mum's and yes, it was her cat,  so she took it to its new home, but still it refused to settle and kept appearing back at Mum's house.  Then once lockdown started,  there must have been fewer opportunities for it to slip out as it went several weeks without visiting mum - until it appeared again earlier this week. At least the owner knows where to find it when it runs away! 

Which leads me to the thinking behind this card, which I'm going to send to Mum next time it appears. 

The cheeky cat stamp is one I got in a bargain bundle from a closing-down sale, coloured with Promarkers to match mum's new friend, and the sentiment a Dylusions one coloured to match. 

I am sharing this with 

AAA Cards - Sketch (not using the optional "it flies" element)  

Passion For Promarkers - Clean and simple  

Show us your pussycats - Furrything Goes 

Addicted to CAS - Animal  

Recipe: Not-quite-Cobb-or-Caesar salad (and a home made Milk Bread bonus)

In the lockdown food delivery box I described on Wednesday there were a couple of perfectly ripe avocados, making me want to have a Cobb Salad. The snag is,  we had no blue cheese and no cooked chicken.

But it was a lovely sunny evening and there had been lots of salad veg in the box so I put together my own version of an American style chopped salad. I used Parmesan instead of blue cheese in the dressing which, along with the eggs,  gave the whole dish a taste similar to a Caesar salad.

To serve two: 

2 eggs, hard boiled and sliced
4 rashers streaky bacon, chopped, fried until crispy and cooled on kitchen paper
1 avocado, diced
1 large tomato, diced
5 cm length of cucumber, diced
1 wedge of iceberg lettuce, shredded
½ bag of baby spinach leaves, washed and dried

¼ cup red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
salt to taste
a third of a cup of light olive oil 
30g finely grated Parmesan cheese

Make the dressing by  whisking together the vinegar, mustard, Worcestershire Sauce and salt. Gradually whisk in the olive oil then the cheese. 

Mix together the lettuce and spinach, scatter the avocado, tomato and cucumber over the top and top with the sliced egg and bacon. Serve the dressing on the side to mix in as required. 

I served this with home made Milk Bread, which is a lovely light, soft bread quite unlike most home made or artisan breads - it's more like brioche than normal bread, but a lot  easier to make - as long as you have an electric mixer! Don't attempt to make it by hand, your arms will ache for days (don't ask how I know... but after my first attempt at making it I asked Santa for a Kenwood that Christmas) 

I made it using this recipe although because of the egg situation I glazed it with milk instead of using a whole second egg, so it doesn't look as dark and shiny as usual. It uses ordinary plain flour, which is getting a little easier to find, instead of bread flour, but it does still need yeast. A tip, if you are finding yeast scarce - try asking in your corner shop.  Yesterday there was none on display in our little Nisa store and mark asked when they were getting some in. The reply was "We do have some but we're keeping it out of sight because whenever we put it out on the shelves, somebody comes in and buys up the whole lot in one go!" So we managed to get a packet - hope you have some luck too!

Thursday, 16 April 2020

Butterfly Square

Some stamps just seem to last forever - naturally the good quality red rubber ones do, but their style also lasts forever. This beautiful butterfly quartet stamp from Crafty Individuals has been in my collection for at least 15 years and I see it's still available - and probably still as popular as ever.

I started with a piece of the Master Background I made a couple of weeks ago and stamped the butterflies onto it,  stamping the sentiment onto one of the small snippets I'd saved.  Then I cut the butterflies apart and rearranged them until I was happy with how the colours of the backgrounds looked, as if they had all been stamped onto separate backgrounds, and stuck them down onto a white square. Then I added a couple of layers of matting and layering.

I had prepared a music themed background card to place them on, because of the music in the background of the images,  but once everything was stuck in place I felt the background detracted from the images so I removed them and went for a plain white card instead to really make them stand out.

I am sharing this with

Retro Rubber - Be Squared! 
RRCB 132

Just Us Girls - Squares

Alphabet Challenge - Anything Goes

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

Getting hold of food during lockdown #2

Last week I posted about the Morrisons food box I bought because we have been struggling to get hold of food recently. I was very pleased with it, but for keen cooks like us, and lovers of fruit and veg, it was rather unambitious, so I decided to try another box from somewhere new to me, KBK, that a friend had mentioned to me.

At £60 including delivery, this is almost twice the price of the Morrisons box - but  works out to be even better value and a perfect box for keen cooks. My only reservation is that although you are given a predicted delivery date, you can't choose a date and with carriers being rather overstretched at the moment you can't be sure to within a couple of days when it will actually arrive. If, like us, you can't go out to top up supplies it can make meal planning rather difficult.

Now a look at what we got - so much that it wouldn't all fit on one photo.

We received:

4 pints of semi skimmed milk
a large sliced loaf
1 tin each of baked beans, chopped tomatoes and sweetcorn
A pack of Chinese noodles (coincidentally my favourite brand that we usually get from the Chinese cash & carry, but going there isn't an option for us right now)
1 bag of pasta
2 bags of rice
1 pack chicken thighs (4)
1 pack chicken breasts (4)
1 pack beefburgers (4)
1 pack sausages (4)
1 pack minced beef (450g)
2 packs back bacon (it looks like 2 slices in each, but I've not opened them yet)
2 massive potatoes - each one plenty for a meal for two
one onion - the biggest onion I have ever seen, weighing in at around 850g (yes, almost 2lb!)
a bag of baby leaf spinach
one leek
one courgette
one large aubergine
2 avocados
a head of broccoli
an Iceberg lettuce
a cucumber
4 apples
4 easy peelers
4 pears
4 large chillies
a head of garlic

They say that contents will vary but the balance of meat, fruit, veg and basics will stay the same.  There is no butter, cheese or eggs included but it's definitely more suited to our way of life than the Morrisons box. Our fridge is now crammed to the gills with lovely stuff and we're both bursting with ideas for things to cook.

I do wish these boxes included other staples though, like a small bottle of cooking oil and some tea or coffee, but despite that I think they are a great service to us at a difficult time.

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Every picture tells a story...

... and the story behind this is:

Once upon a time there was a moose called Christopher Thomas Moose, but all his friends called him Chris.T.Moose. One snowy day he wanted to go out into the forest to play, but his friend Frosty the Snowman said "How can I come with you? I can't walk, I have no legs!"
"That's easy," replied Chris, grabbing a spade. He dug Frosty out of the snow and lifted him onto his sledge. Now we can BOTH go and have fun in the Magic Christmas Tree Forest!

The stamps I used are Clearly Besotted ones that were a magazine covermount last year, coloured with Promarkers and Stickles and fussy cut then arranged to create the scene. The papers, too, came from magazines from a few years ago. 

I am sharing this with 

Crafty Hazelnut's Christmas Challenge - Anything goes/ Snowman   

Christmas Crafts All Year Round - Snow buddies/Anything goes

Fezziwig's Festive Frolics - Festive animals 

Sunday, 12 April 2020

All at sea

Happy Easter to those who celebrate (or Passover or almost-Ramadan or whatever else this season brings you!). I hope you are all able to celebrate at home and not missing your family get-togethers too much.

I'm here today with my first non-DT make for Cardz 4 Guyz for many years now I'm playing as a "civilian". The theme is on, in or by the sea, and I dug out this unmounted stamp of a luxury yacht that must be about 20 years old and has never seen ink before.

I folded and cut an A4 sheet of card to make a square card, and stamped the image and sentiment on the trimmings using Versafine ink. I had selected the black, cream and aqua papers from an old SU pad and wanted to colour the sea to match the paper with a watercolour pen. But alas, I found that my watercolour pens had been "grandchilded" and the tip of the one I wanted to use was bent and splayed. However a few minutes of trimming with the craft knife made it usable again - worth remembering in case of future problems!

I finished everything with black matting and an anchor. I wouldn't normally use such a fancy die on a masculine card but I thought the scrolls around the edge gave it a nice wave-like look.

It's got me wondering whether cruise holidays are going to get popular again after this pandemic is over. I've never been tempted to try one, probably because a few years ago I went on a river cruise and it was a nightmare from beginning to when the cruise was abandoned a week early and without the boat ever having moved!!!

Friday, 10 April 2020

A card for our times

If you have friends who are struggling with having to stay at home during these testing times (obviously not crafters, we can relish the extra crafting time!) how about a card to make them smile?  I've seen this sentiment used on several Facebook memes and it always makes me laugh, as well as reminding me of an important task.  And I thought it would work perfectly with this retro image, one of a set I bought in an etsy download many years ago.

I produced the sentiment on the computer,  cut it out very roughly and drew in a border.  I added a retro backing paper from a pad that came with a magazine about 10 years ago - almost a retro piece in itself! 

Now I'm going to head over to the Sisterhood of Snarky Stampers where for the first time in several years i'm going to be joining in as a player rather than a DT member.  The theme is R is for Retro

Recipe: Sausage and Cider Hotpot

In my recent post about getting hold of food during lockdown, I promised to report back on how we got on with the Morrisons food box. It's gone pretty well so far: Main meals have been Chilli Con Carne,  Chicken Satay with a salad made from the cabbage, cucumber and carrots, and Sausage and Cider Hotpot. Tonight Mark is making pizzas, using the ham and some of the cheese. We could have reduced the pasts sauce to make a topping but the one they sent includes red peppers, which upset Mark's stomach very badly,  so we'll have to use some of our own from the freezer. We've also had lunches of bacon sandwiches and leftovers from the main meals, and toast for breakfast, and the rice, potatoes, tinned soups and some of the cheese are still left to use. Not luxury eating but ideal for the situation. And I've managed to secure a supermarket delivery slot for this weekend so we'll be able to top up on fruit and veg at last!

Anyway, on with the recipe.

The box contained a pack of 6 premium sausages. I had a half-bottle of cider hanging around in the fridge - it had been open for a week but had a bottle stopper in it and was still perfectly fine when I opened it, so I decided to use that as the liquid for a hotpot. Rather than the Charlotte potatoes that had come in the box, I used some baking potatoes we already had, and onions from the box.

Recipe (serves 3, or a main meal plus a leftovers lunch for two)

6 pork sausages
a little lard, butter or oil
3 large potatoes
2 large onions
300ml dry cider (or apple juice)

Set the oven to 160 C, 325 F, gas mark 3.
Fry the sausages briskly in a little fat until browned all over.
Slice the potatoes and onions fairly thinly.

Put about half the potatoes in a casserole dish, then scatter half the onions over. Place the sausages evenly on top of them and season. Layer on the rest of the onions and then the potatoes. Pour over the cider and top with a few scraps of lard. Cover, place in the oven and cook for 1½ hours, then remove the lid, turn up the oven to 200 C, 425 F, gas mark 6 and cook for a further 20-25 minutes until the top layer of potatoes is crispy.

I served this with a mixture of all the odds and ends of veg left in the fridge - a leek, a few sprigs of cauliflower and a couple of carrots -  cooked together and coated with onion sauce that I made from a packet mix that was lurking at the back of a cupboard (the packet was only a year out of date, that's pretty good going by my standards when it comes to convenience foods!)

I am adding this to the special #KitchenClearout lockdown linky at Madhouse Family Reviews