Sunday, 31 May 2020

Golden Buddha

As many of you know, I lived in the Far East for some years and used to love visiting the temples there. Especially the ones off the tourist trail - there was one I loved despite it being at the top of several hundred (!) steps - it was always quiet and peaceful and of course never overrrun with coach parties as all those steps put people off! The temple cafĂ© was at the top of the steps, where you could enjoy the beancurd dish of the day and a pot of tea for a ridiculously  low price before strolling through the frangipani and oleander trees to admire the beautiful golden effigies and their surroundings.

Back in the hearts of the cities, temples  were usually packed with more tourists than worshippers, and I often wondered what those tranquil looking gods and Buddhas were thinking, looking benignly down on the jostling tourists shouting to each other in every language under the sun. Which is what inspired this card.

The Buddha, a stamp I picked up at a craft show a few years ago but can't remember which stand,  is stamped and heat embossed in black on gold mirri - when stamping and embossing on mirri, an antistatic pad and a stamping platform are your very best friends -  then carefully cut him out.

I used a sunray stencil and distress inks for the background. I chose shades of green to give an aura of peace, calm and tranquillity. And then I put the kibosh on all that calmness by adding a snarky sentiment that expresses what I reckon that Buddha is REALLY thinking.

I am sharing this with

Little Red Wagon - Line it up! 

Inkspirational - Funny Sentiments 

Sisterhood of Snarky Stampers - I is for inks 

Addicted to Stamps and More- Anything Goes  

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

A Yo Yo Spinner Card

I'd never heard of a Yo Yo Spinner Card until it appeared on the Butterfly Challenge this time. And Mrs A has kindly given us full and clear instructions for making the spinner.

and when you pull down the butterfly attached to the twine,  the number spins and the rest of the sentiment is revealed!

This technique came at the perfect time for me as I was looking around  for an idea for my granddaughter's 11th birthday card. She's at that awkward age where she's too old for children's things and too young for teenage ones, but she's a keen crafter with a love of trying different techniques and she's also fascinated by engineering, so she's going to love the spinner element. 

It took me a lot of rummaging to approximately match the colours of this time's Butterfly Challenge but i think these are pretty close, although I'm very low on shades of blue card at the moment, I can never find one that's neither too light nor too dark.  I've used lots of die cuts, running the largest circle through an embossing folder, edging it with blue ink and then adding tiny liquid pearls dots to the flower centres. The butterflies are finished off with enamel dots. 

So, with apologies for the shade of blue, I am sharing this with the Butterfly Challenge where I am claiming all 7 elements (my choice being embossing/enamel dots) 

I am also sharing this with Crafty Cardmakers where the theme is Butterflies

RECIPE: Simple corn fritters

There are lots of corn fritter recipes out there but few are as simple as this one. I'm a big fan of tinned creamed sweetcorn as an ingredient, as you may have already realised, and the only other ingredients these need are self raising flour and eggs,  plus oil for frying, so as long as the shopping's going smoothly (not always the case at the moment) I can whip these up from the store cupboard in next to no time.

Ingredients (to serve 4, approx 2 fritters each) 

1 tin (approx 400g) creamed sweetcorn 
2 eggs
self raising flour - about 100g but see below
oil for frying

Tip the sweetcorn into a mixing bowl and beat in the eggs. Stir in enough flour to form what old-fashioned cookbooks call a "dropping" consistency. When you drop a spoonful into the  pan, it should spread out a bit but not run all over the pan, rather like a Scotch pancake. I haven't given an exact quantity because the sizes of corn tins vary a lot, I've had them from 350g to 450g, and egg sizes vary too, especially at the moment when you can't rely on being able to buy a particular size. 

Heat some oil in a frying pan and drop in tablespoonfuls of the mixture. Fry  on a high heat for 2-3 minutes until bubbles start to appear on the surface and the underside is golden, then carefully flip them, lower the heat  to medium-low, and cook for about 5 minutes until cooked through. 

You may need to cook them in batches.  Because there are only two of us, I made 4 fritters from half the batter, and served them with salad and some pepperoni that was lurking in the fridge. I have a couple of spring onions left over from last night's stir fry, so tomorrow I will chop those and stir them into the remaining batter to make corn and onion fritters to serve with sweet chilli sauce. 

I'm sharing this with Kitchen Clearout at Madhouse Family Reviews -  the perfect place to find  and share ideas for making lockdown cooking more interesting! 


Monday, 25 May 2020

Like an overloaded Christmas tree...

What is a Christmas tree if it isn't overloaded? And I've been rummaging around in my festive Box of Bits to produce a card that is a real homage to the overloaded tree.

I distressed the edges of a couple of papers and used them to cover a kraft card base. Then I went overboard - a die cut doiley,  several buttons, a tag topped with some bling, a strip of cork,  twine and pre-printed sentiments. For the topper, I used a very old embossing folder to dry emboss green card, swiped the upper surface with a clear pad, sprinkled gold powder on and heat embossed, then die cut an oval shape from it, then added a sentiment and bow.

Pretty OTT by my standards but a lot of fun to make - and it's made a smidgeon of space in the BOB.

I am sharing this with

52 Christmas Card Throwdown - Embossing 

Crafty Hazelnut's Christmas Challenge - Anything Goes 

Jingle Belles - Bling on the holidays 

Scrappy Mo's - May Rudolph Day  

Alphabet Challenge - Dry Embossing 

Sparkles Christmas - Add ribbon, lace or twine

Sunday, 24 May 2020

Little Miss Daydream

This cute little girl is lost in a daydream - perhaps she's thinking about her birthday party (which is probably going to be a Zoom one!)  and wondering if it will work?

I've had this Whoopsi Daisy digi for about 5 years and this is the first time I have used it. Every time I look at it, I get the feeling something isn't quite right about it. And while I was colouring it yesterday I realised what it is - the girl has SIX fingers on her right hand. A descendant of Ann Boleyn perhaps?

Anyway, I coloured her with Promarkers and cut her out, leaving out the cats that were part of the image,  then took a selection of papers to make the layers. The check, stripe and floral papers are all snippets left over from a previous project, that had been printed out from the Funky Hands CD "V. Funky" and the dotty paper is just a scrap from my snippets box that happened to co-ordinate. I used a selection of stitched border dies to cut out the papers and the sentiment - another old digi from my collection, which I think was a freebie on a blog many years ago.  The tiny dotty pre-made bow was a serendipitous find in my embellishment box.

I am sharing this with

Allsorts Challenge - Ginghams, Stripes and Dots 

The CD Sunday Challenge Blog - Anything goes CD/Digi 

Use Your Stuff - Patterns 

Passion for Promarkers - Spots and/or Stripes 

Saturday, 23 May 2020

Encore Paris

I can't seem to stop making Paris themed cards - it must be a result of my trip to France being cancelled, even though I was going to my daughter's place, many miles from Paris. And now my other daughter's trip to France has been cancelled too - they were supposed to be going to the Cote d'Azur for half term. So.... more Paris it is then...

To make the sky, I painted watercolour card with a very wet dark blue then added some streaks of purple while it was still wet, allowing them to blend here and there. Then I blotted off some of the excess water and finished drying with my heat gun, Finally I painted over the whole thing with Jo Sonja's Opal Dust. I don't know whether you can still get that, I've had my bottle for many years.  That needed to be left overnight to dry. I then cut it into a circle and added the die cut skyline, trimmed off the bottom of the circle and stuck it to the card then finished with a sentiment stamped with words from a Clearly Besotted city skyline set.

Here's the obligatory schparkle close up:

I am sharing this with

Shopping Our Stash - The Places You'll Go

CAS Watercolour - The Night Sky  

Thursday, 21 May 2020

When life brings you lemons...

... make lemonade. So the saying goes, but I much prefer the snarkier version on this stamp from Rubberdance.

And for an extra shot of snark, I made a card that would have worked perfectly with the more traditional version of the saying. 

I used a Crafters Companion stamp set that Santa brought me and hadn't seen ink yet. I stamped  the lemons, masked them then stamped splodges and bubbles all around. Then I stamped a block of tiny bubbles around the edge with clear ink to form a wide border and heat embossed with holographic powder. You can't see the sparkly shine very well in the photo but in real life it does add a lemonade sparkle to the card.  After all the stampy embossy stuff was done, I removed the masking and coloured the lemons. Then I went and had a much deserved refreshing beverage. 

I used a lemon pearl embossing powder to stamp the sentiment onto black card - I'm going through a bit of a phase of embossing sentiments in white on black and this is a nice variation on the theme. 

Naturally I am sharing this with the Sistahs over at the Sisterhood of Snarky Stampers - Y is for yellow - and isn't Edna looking glamorous today? 

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Bright and Bold

I've used stamps from an old issue of Creative Stamping for this card. The border is stamped on orange card and cut out, the rest coloured with Promarkers.

I am sharing this with Just Us Girls  

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

In the veg plot

Well, we haven't actually got any carrots ready to harvest yet, just a few radishes....

The carrot and sentiment are from the Hero Arts "Stamp your own salad" set, I added a ground line by using a marker along the edge of a deckle-edged ruler. The watering can, which despite looking black is actually green,  is cut with a First Edition die.

I am sharing this with
CAS-ology - Plant 

The Male Room - In the Garden 

Monday, 18 May 2020

Green thank you

Here's another card to add to my stash of "post-lockdown-thanks" cards I'm going to need!  The floral frame stamp is from Katzelkraft - they don't just make quirky animal stamps! I used Crushed Olive distress ink to stamp it onto heavy duty watercolour paper - this needed a LOT of impressions so it wouldn't work without a platform -  then stamped the sentiment inside the frame, this time using Versafine ink because I didn't want the ink on the sentiment to run.

Next I coloured in the stalks, leaves and flower centres by drawing out the ink from the stamping using a fine water brush. I made the beads stand out by adding a touch of watercolour pencil in a darker green before wetting them.  To highlight the sentiment, I painted on more of the Crushed Olive  by using the water brush to pick up ink directly from the pad.

When it was all dry I fussy cut around the frame and added it to a cream card edged with the green ink.

I am sharing this with

Sweet Stampin - Thank You 

The Flower Challenge - Monochrome 

RECIPE: Summery salads

I hope you are all managing to get hold of food supplies regularly now - whether you are going to the shops or staying at home, supplies still seem to be unpredictable. However one thing we're now doing really well for is fruit and veg, thanks to a local supplier who is delivering boxes to the Fleet, Farnham and Hook area (If you are in that area and want details, drop me an email for details) so that every week we can get something like this delivered: 

Of course unlike a bigger box scheme, we can't choose the contents or quantities, which means  that by the end of the week there are bits and pieces to use up, so I decided to make some home-made burgers and, instead of chips and buns, make a selection of side salads using a mixture of store cupboard items and veg box odds and ends. 

The first salad was a simple tomato salad with lots of chopped chives from the garden - I'm not going to tell you how to do that!  Here is how I made the others - I have not given exact quantities for most of them as it really depends what you have to hand: 

Potato and Hazelnut salad 

I halved about 300g small potatoes and boiled them until cooked, then drained them and while still hot, stirred in 2 tablespoons of hazelnut oil and 1 tablespoon of sherry vinegar, then set aside to cool. Meanwhile I roughly chopped 60g of hazelnuts and roasted them in a hot oven for about 7 minutes, then sprinkled them with salt. I mixed the potatoes and nuts together just before serving. 
Walnuts and walnut oil would work well too, or any nut with a light olive oil. And the sherry vinegar could be any vinegar from your cupboard. 

Avocado, corn and bean salad

Toss together 1 sliced avocado, ½ tin red kidney beans, rinsed and drained, ½ small tin sweetcorn,  drained, and a few leaves of coarsely shredded lettuce. Drizzle with lime juice just before serving.  I added a few black olives too but they really didn't add anything to the dish so I wouldn't bother with them next time. 
This is delicious as a side for chilli con carne. 

Fruity slaw 

Finely shred white cabbage (I used about ¼ of a cabbage), grated or julienned carrot (I used half of a huge one) and enough mayonnaise to moisten,  then stir in a handful of  sultanas or raisins and a small tin of mandarin oranges in juice, drained. 

I made the burgers by mixing minced beef,  very finely chopped onions,  half a teaspoon each of dried oregano, ground mace and ground cumin with enough breadcrumbs to hold the mixture together, shaped into patties and cooked in a griddle pan. 

I am sharing this with Kitchen Clearout at Madhouse Family Reviews. 

Sunday, 17 May 2020

Dragonflies and texture

It feels like far too long since a dragonfly has appeared on my blog, it's time to put that right!

I was having a rummage through my embossing powders and spotted this cream distress embossing powder that I've had for donkey's years and never opened because I wasn't sure what to so with it. So I thought, the best way to find out would be to actually play with it.

I  sponged clear embossing ink through a stencil I bought at the Farnborough show in February and still hadn't even opened the pack,  then added the embossing powder and heat-embossed. Once it is cooled, some of the powder can be brushed off to leave a textured effect a bit like coarse sandpaper. Variations in the colours of the powder add an even more distressed look to it.

The dragonflies are two NBUS dies from a Tonic Studios set I bought about a year ago. I really thought I would be using it all the time, but the main die from the set, a large strip of flowers and butterflies, has been used just once, the rest not at  all.  Anyway, I used snippets of white and cream card to cut them and Pinflair 3-D adhesive to assemble them. I also use Pinflair to attach them to the card as I feared the  rough texture of the embossing might make it as hard to stick anything to as glitter does.

I am sharing this with

Less is More - White and cream 

Pixie's Snippets Playground - Challenge 378 

CAS on Friday - Use a Die 

NBUS - challenge 14   - the dies, stencil and embossing powder were all NBUS

Saturday, 16 May 2020

A nice cup of tea

Those who know me well know that I have three favourite liquids - tea, water and wine, and this card is a tribute to the first of those.

To make it, I printed a template on one side of a piece of card and printed a patterned paper from the Creative Crafting World CD "Mix & Match Papercrafting Collection" on the other side. I cut everything out and edged all the pices with blue ink, then added the front of the cup using 3D adhesive, thinly around the edges and very thickly in the middle to give a bit of curvature.

I stamped the sentiment on the "teabag" then folded that and the tag in half and sandwiched twine between the halves.  The teabag is inserted into a slot in the card front. It could be made removable  but once I had it positioned how I wanted, I stuck it in place on the inside.

I finished it off with die cut flowers and leaves to match the printed design, with pearls for centres.

I am sharing this with

CD Sunday Plus - anything goes using something from a CD, USB or digi  (I've mentioned the CD  above - the template was a download too but so long ago I can't remember the source)

Little Red Wagon - Shape Up! 

Country View Crafts - Tea Party   (OK, it's a tea party for one - perfect for these times of Social Isolation)

Craft Rocket - Shaped Card 

Sunflowers two ways

This month's Twofer challenge is Flowers - as usual, two different cards for two different occasions,  using the same stamp, stencil or die. I've chosen a sunflower stamp from a magazine covermount for my cards this time.

Naturally, I am sharing this at Twofer challenge - Flowers


Now for a closer look at each card.

I stamped  the flower and sentiment in Versafine ink and heat embossed with clear powder then coloured the sunflower with water based markers. For a touch of contrast I added some tiny stamped butterflies.

I am sharing this with
Addicted to CAS - Flower 

Addicted to Stamps and More - CAS 

For this card I used my Misti to position the sunflower stamp evenly  in the four quarters of the card and stamped in Memento ink then coloured with Promarkers. 

I am sharing this with

Watercooler Wednesday - All about occasions  

Sparkles Monthly Challenge - use a real stamp

Friday, 15 May 2020

Recipe - Lemon and Oregano chicken with simple Tabbouleh

Although we've had a few chilly nights recently, here in Hampshire we've also has a lot of sunny, summery days and our thoughts are turning towards more summery meals.

So here's a very simple  meal with a Mediterranean feel about it. Marinating the chicken means you can cook it in a griddle pan (or on a barbecue, but be careful, it does fall apart and you might lose some into the flames!) without it drying out and it becomes falling-apart tender.

I've made 2 servings of everything but it's very easy to multiply or divide as needed.  You'll need to start preparing things a couple of hours in advance.

For the chicken:

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 lemon, grated rind and juice
2 tablespoons light olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano

You'll also need a large shallow non metallic dish, with a lid or cling film/beeswax wrap/ hotel shower cap cover.

Beat the chicken as thinly as you can - I find the best way is to put each piece into a large plastic bag and hammer it with a meat mallet or heavy rolling pin.

Mix together all the other ingredients and pour into the shallow dish. Add the chicken and turn several times to coat with the marinade. Cover and chill for at least an hour.

Heat a griddle pan (you could use a lightly oiled frying pan, or cook them under the grill) until very hot and then place the chicken pieces in the pan. Don't try to stir them or move them around - the sign that they are cooked on one side is that they will lift from the pan fairly easily. If they stick, they aren't ready.  This will take 2-3 minutes. Turn them and do the same on the other side. Test to see if the chicken is cooked through - just cut into one of the thicker areas and make sure there is no pink remaining. The cooking time will depend on how thinly you have beaten them but if the searing time it has already had isn't enough, turn down the heat on the pan ad cook them gently, turning once or twice more, until cooked through.

The chicken WILL fall apart, because the marinade has tenderised it so much,  but that all adds to the rustic charm of the dish and also helps if you want to be really rustic and scoop it up with flatbreads!

I serve it with flatbreads simply made with self raising flour, salt, natural yoghurt and water - I learned the recipe on a visit to the Waitrose Cookery School a few years ago. I also made a yoghurt dressing by grating up some cucumber, salting it and leaving it to drain in a sieve for an hour, rinsing it and squeezing out the water and mixing it into natural yoghurt.

Finally the tabbouleh - a quick, easy version that makes no pretence to be  at all authentic! For two people, I  put around 70g of bulghur (cracked wheat) into a bowl with half a teaspoon of salt,   cover it well with hot water and leave it to stand for 15 minutes. Then I tip everything into a sieve and press out as much of the water as possible. Return the wheat to the bowl and stir in the juice of half a lemon and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. (I use a good oil for this, not the light version I use for cooking, but if you don't like the stronger taste, the light version is fine)  and set aside to cool. 

Meanwhile chop parsley and mint - as much as you like. A real tabbouleh is basically a herb salad speckled with flecks of wheat,  but I tend to use a much smaller proportion of herbs or we'd run out of them in the garden! When the wheat is completely cold, stir in the herbs immediately before serving. There are lots of variations of this - you could include spring onions, coriander leaves, even cucumber and tomatoes. I've even seen it flecked with pomegranate seeds although not yet tried that myself.

Thursday, 14 May 2020

Wreathed in Joy

Have you ever tried using a stamping platform to build up a circle from small images? It's great for producing a wreath like this.

First of all you need a template for the size of card you are planning to stamp on. I like to make 14cm x 14cm toppers for 14.5cm square cards, so that's  the size of my template. Rule lines from corner to corner diagonally, and across the middle horizontally and vertically, all crossing in the centre.

Now choose a stamp -  I started with the holly stamp, which came from a set I won in one of the first challenges at Christmas Kickstart.  Place your template in the platform with one corner butted right into a corner for accurate positioning -if you have a set of Creative Corners you can use them to ensure accuracy.

Choose a stamp and place it  in one of the segments so that it almost touches the lines on both sides. Close the platform to pick it up, then remove the template and replace it with your piece of 14cm square card in exactly the same position.

Stamp one image, then, leaving the stamp in place, remove your card, turn it through 90 degrees  and replace it. Do this until you have stamped 4 images.

Now remove the stamp from the platform, clean it and dry it well then position it between two of the already-stamped images so that it lines up between the two. I find it better to do this on the stamped piece rather than going back to the template,  so you can make sure the alignment is just how you want it. Repeat the stamping process rotating as before. 

I then  stamped the sentiment using the platform and the pine sprigs by hand, to give a less rigid look to the wreath. Then I coloured the holly with Promarkers and added the topper to the base card. 

I am sharing this with 

Crafty Hazelnut's Christmas Challenge - Anything goes/ trees  

CAS Christmas - Winter Berries 

Fezziwig's Festive Frolics - Anything Festive Goes  

Christmas Kickstart - Wreathed in Christmas Smiles