Wednesday, 23 May 2018

RECIPE - Roast Tomato Salad

Apparently this week is British Tomato Week - if you grow your own tomatoes this might be puzzling, as your plants are probably still just a few inches high and months away from fruiting, but the commercial hothouses are way ahead of domestic gardens and we are already seeing British tomatoes in the shops.

I find even the best bought tomatoes have a lot less flavour than home grown, unless you are lucky enough to be able to buy never-refrigerated ones straight from the producer, but roasting them seems to reawaken the flavour that refrigeration put to sleep.

A word of caution - this recipe creates a lot of smoke! I seriously thought my oven was on fire at one point. Definitely not one to make the day after cleaning the oven!

To roast your tomatoes:
Pre-heat oven to 220 C (200 fan), 425 F, gas mark 7.
Take your tomatoes - I used 4 fairly large ones - quarter them and lay them, skin side down and not touching each other, on an oven tray. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with black pepper, sea salt flakes and a generous sprinkling of dried oregano.
Place in the oven and cook for 20 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 140 C (120 fan), 275 F, gas mark 1 and cook until softened and shrunken but not collapsing - 15 to 30 minutes depending on the size of your tomatoes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool, then remove to a serving plate.
Now you can add other ingredients - I scattered them with Kalamata olives and flaked Parmesan but other cheeses such as mozzarella, torn into shreds, and crumbled feta are equally delicious. A few slices of red onion and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar would be lovely too, or maybe some slices of Parma ham.
The tomatoes have a lovely rich, smokey sweetness that goes beautifully with summer dishes of all kinds.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Privacy Policy - PLEASE READ

On May 25th, the new GDPR rules come into effect which mean that everyone has to be even more careful about how we use and handle our own and our associates' data. Because many of you, not only within Europe where the new rules have been established, but all over the world, come to visit my blog, read it, comment on it and follow it, I have added a page detailing my privacy policy and how your data is handled.  Please check this page now  - this is particularly important if you follow by email  because (as far as I know!) pages aren't included in the emails that are sent out.

It will remain on the pages tabs at the top of my blog.

Many thanks to Marianne of Marianne's Craft Room who has very kindly said that we may use her own privacy policy as a guideline for what to include - I would have been lost without it!

Science Fiction or Steampunk at Cardz 4 Guyz

It's new challenge day at Cardz 4 Guyz and this time our theme is Science Fiction,  or if you don't fancy that, Steampunk. And of course you could combine the two - there is some great sci-fi themed steampunky stuff out there if you are lucky to own any of it!

Having barely recovered from the recent Steampunk challenge over at the Sisterhood of Snarky Stampers, I'm all steampunked out at the moment so I decided to stick to science fiction, and to make it sweet for a change as I'm sure you are all getting tired of me heaving out the Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy every time anything at all space-y comes along.

I've used decoupage, a background and a border printed out from the Rachel Anne Miller Collection  CD, and added die cut stars and a planet.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Birthday Bear

For this card I have used a sweet little bear and sentiment from a stamp set that came free with Making Cards magazine about a year ago.

I used masking to position the balloons and bunting and then coloured him in with Promarkers, then added die cut panels and candi.

I am sharing this with

Sweet Stampin - Bunnies or Bears
Just us Girls - Aqua, Navy and Grey

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Dashing through the stars

Red and brown is a slightly unusual colour combo for a Christmas card but thanks to a lovely Tonic Studios paper pad it's one I come back to time and time again.

As for that Gummiapan reindeer stamp, it's a real favourite and looks wonderful stamped in a deep red. I really ought to get the matching die, it's pretty easy to fussy cut but a die would give a neater finish.

I decorated the card with some jute mesh - this was a right bar steward to stick down! It was so twisted and distorted it wouldn't lie flat enough to stay on the paper for long enough to stick. In the end I had to pipe dots of Glossy Accents here and there all over, hold it down with removable sticky tape and then weigh it down with acrylic blocks before it would stick.

Over the top of that I added some self-adhesive felt snowflake border and on top of that some twine. A simple stamped sentiment finishes it off - and now I've blown up the photo I can see that I'm going to have to go and remove that and put it back straight!

I am sharing this with

52 Christmas Card Throwdown - Stars
Crafty Hazelnut's Christmas Challenge - Anything goes (or candy canes)
C.R.A.F.T. Challenge - Christmas
Jingle Belles - ribbon (or twine or ric rac or braid or...)

Dashing dolphins

Here is another card made using the stamps and dies from this month's issue of Papercraft Essentials.

The seascape, dolphins and sentiment are stamped using the set, and the dolphins cut out with the matching dies. The background is made with scallop shell stamps from Rubber dance and a shell border stamp which is a very old unmounted one.

I am sharing this with

Little Red Wagon - Waterworlds
Addicted to stamps and more - Make your Mark
Sparkles Monthly Challenge - Sea Shells
Watercooler Wednesday - Masculine

The Roaring Twenties

This week's challenge at Fab'n'Funky is Retro Chic, and what could be more fitting than this super 1920s fashion stamp which I think came from the monthly stamp club that Dimension 4th ran some years ago.

It's the perfect stamp for paper piecing, so that's what I did with the dresses. colouring in the accessories to match. I gave it a "tailoring" theme by using pinking shears on the paper offcuts and background paper and adding a selection of buttons.

Just look at those prices! For those of you too young to remember pre-decimal currency, 1/- was 5p, 2/- was 10p, 2/6 was 12½p and 7/6 was 37½p - so a glamorous dress in the 1920s cost about half of what a small chocolate bar does now!

I am sharing this with
Fab'n'Funky - Retro Chic
Cardz 4 Galz - all dressed up
Crafty Hazelnut's Patterned Paper challenge - May
Crafty Sentiments - Pastel Colours

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Peel-Offs revisited

If you've been crafting for as many years as I have, you probably have a stash of peel offs somewhere - ones that you never use any more apart from the occasional border or sentiment. Yet you can't bear to throw them away. Or is that just me?

Today I dug out one of my ancient albums of peel offs and had a play with some long-forgotten friends.

I cut  an aperture in my card, slightly larger than the peel off flower I planned to use (the sheet it came on is called "Magnolia style" - I don't know whether that has anything to do with Magnolia stamps) and backed the aperture with acetate, then applied my peel off to the acetate to make the flower look as if it is suspended in mid air. I edged the aperture with border and corner peel offs and added a simple stamped sentiment.

I am sharing this with

CASology - Copper
Allsorts Challenge - Happy Birthday  (they are celebrating their 9th birthday this week!)
CAS on Friday - Birthday Card

Sisterhood of Snarky Stampers - I is for Inky

Today's new challenge at the Sisterhood of Snarky Stampers is I is for Inky.

I decided to try for inky AND pretty, so a long step out of my comfort zone!

For the background I smooshed distress inks in green, blue and pink, allowing each to dry before adding the next and then spraying the whole thing with water to allow the inks to blend. When it was all dry, I spritzed with some gold mica powder in a spray bottle of water.

I die cut the stitched square and then ran a pen along the "stitching" lines to make it look like real sewing, then matted the square on black.

Next I used some very old stamps - probably all around 20 years old  and random unmounted ones of unknown origin - to stamp a selection of leaves and flowers onto watercolour paper and coloured them in using the same inks I had used for the background. To do this, I daubed each inkpad onto an acrylic block then picked up the colour with a water brush, diluting it as needed. I finished them off with touches of gold gel pen.

Then I cut them out with a narrow white border and attached them with Pinflair glue to give lots of dimension.

Finally I  used my computer to generate the sentiment and added it, tucking it slightly under one of the leaves to link it to the floral corner.

We'd love you to come along and get inky with us, and who knows, you may be crowned Queen or Princess of Snark.

I would like to share this with
Stamping Sensations - Close to Nature
Crafty Creations Challenge - Anything Goes
A Bit More Time To Craft - Anything Goes
Make my Monday - Hint of Summer to Come
More Mixed Media - Anything goes - optional pink  

Friday, 18 May 2018

Sparkle like you-know-who

OK, this is NOT a post about weddings, Royal or otherwise, but whoever is getting married, or celebrating anything else tomorrow, I wish you the most sparklingly happy day.

and because the sparkle doesn't show up in the main pic, here's a close up

The background is one of several made using the same technique that I found lurking in my UFO box. It's a couple of years since I made it and I can't remember exactly how I did it (although I'm sure one of you will be able to remind me) but it involved waxed paper, an embossing folder and a hot iron. At the time I tried stamping on it with very limited success, but thanks to the Misti I was able to stamp everything several times over  to get decent ink coverage.

The border is an Indigo Blu stamp and everything else from a magazine freebie set - I think it was with the now-defunct Quick Cards Made Easy. Obviously a sentiment like that needs added sparkle, which I added with Stickles.

I think this would be a perfect card for a little girl.

I am sharing it with

Allsorts Challenge - In the pink
Sweet Stampin' - Magic/Myth/Fantasy
Shopping Our Stash - For the kids  

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Pastel daisy

I've had my honeycomb stencil for a while now and always used it on bee-themed cards, but today I decided to play with it as a general background stencil.

I stencilled with pink and green Brilliance inks then stamped the daisy (from Just For Fun) and leaf (old unmounted stamps whose origins I've forgotten) onto vellum and heat embossed them with white opaque detail powder.

I coloured them from the back to keep the colours pale then fussy cut them and attached them with micro-dots behind the densest parts of the stamping. A stamped sentiment and some tiny pearlescent butterflies completed the summery design.

I am sharing this with
The Flower Challenge- Acetate/vellum

Just Us Girls - Stencils

Crafty Sentiments - Pastel Colours

One Sheet Wonder at Back to Basics

It's already time for our third challenge at Back to Basics and this time we would like to see a One Sheet Wonder. In other words, take a single sheet of 12 x 12 paper and use it all up, or as much as you can, to make as many cards as you can from it.

I found an excellent tutorial with a cutting  guide on the Craftsy Paper Crafts Blog  and followed the cutting guide and most of the suggested layouts to give me a total of 14 cards. I was worried that I would get bored with the "sameyness" of it so I chose a double sided paper and reversed some of the pieces. I also picked two plain colours for matting and layering and added black for the stamping and much of the die cutting.

The most difficult part was getting all 14 cards onto one photo!

Here is a closer look at the cards - still in groups as I'm sure you don't want to scroll through 14 individual photos.


To keep them looking like a set, I restricted myself to the dragonfly dies (a Gummiapan set) and the butterfly and flower dies (each being the upper layer from a Dovecraft Layering Die duo), plus a couple of others for the sentiments, and to preserve the CAS look I didn't add any pearls or gems.

A tip that I wish I'd known before I chose my paper is that cutting the paper in a way that uses it all up means there is no opportunity for matching repeating patterns, so papers like mine with a very regular repeated pattern on both sides can cause some slightly jarring looks when you are using 2 or more pieces of the same side of it one on card. I think I'd go for an all-over floral design next time.

Overall, I really hadn't expected to enjoy making these cards but I absolutely LOVED doing it, and it's given a huge boost to the charity card box. It would be a wonderful way to batch-bake Christmas cards too. I'll certainly be revisiting One Sheet Wonderland!

I hope you will head over to our challenge and share your One Sheet Wonders too.


Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Snowman and sparkle

I've been playing with that  lovely sparkly washi tape again!

I've added some snowflakes cut with a Uniko snowflake die and a snowman image stamped with a stamp from the Lilli of the Valley Snowman trio set. The stars are the snowflake centres and the sentiment is a very old unmounted stamp whose origin is lost in the depths of time. I think it may come from around the date of the invention of the wheel - that's probably when that font was last fashionable but it's so perfect for cute cards I think it's about time it was revived.

I am sharing this with
Crafty Hazelnut's Christmas Challenge - Anything Goes (or trees)
Winter Wonderland - Christmas in the snow
The Holly and The Ivy - Anything Christmas Goes
Christmas at Sweet Stampin - Anything Christmas
Christmas Crafts All Year round - Anything Goes
CAS Christmas - Snowman 

Monday, 14 May 2018

A whale of a time

One of my best holidays ever was a whale watching trip to the San Ignacio Lagoon in Mexico, so as you can imagine I immediately feel in love with the cover gift on the latest issue of Papercraft Essentials and was inking the stamps almost as soon as I'd ripped off the cellophane!

I used a scrap of card cut to the same size as the one I was using for the card front and ruled diagonally both ways to mark the centre, to position the stamp in the Misti so that I could then stamp dead centre on the card front - a mistake, with hindsight. as now the sentiment is added it looks a little "bottom heavy" and the image could have done with being a whisper above the centre.

Then I stamped the wave potion again onto a snippet of white card, coloured it and cut away the top band of water, to give me a foreground area to tuck the tail behind.

I die cut the "porthole" using two circle dies, from a snippet of grey card, then used the centre portion to stamp the tail. The tail stamp has a matching die - if I'd stamped it on white card and then coloured it grey, that would have been OK but I didn't want a grey border so I cut it out by hand - hardly an arduous task! I don't think it really really needs a die.

I am sharing this with

Pixie's Snippets Playground - week 326
Less is More - Yellow, Blue, Grey
and a second, last-minute entry to CASology - Marine   

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Art Deco at CD Sundays

Today we  have a beautiful challenge for you at CD Sundays - our theme is Art Deco.

I've used paper and an image from the lovely Joanna Sheen CD "The Age of Elegance" which is based on works of art  from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In order not to detract from the artwork, I've kept everything else very simple with black, gold and two-tone black/gold peel offs.

I am sharing this with Cardz 4 Galz - All Dressed Up.

Saturday, 12 May 2018

A Tasting Tour of Borough Market

Yesterday Mark and I spent the day in London on a Tasting Tour of Borough Market, guided by food writer and tour guide Celia Brooks.

Borough Market is close to London Bridge, once the only crossing point of the River Thames, so there has been a market in the area for at least 2,000 years but it is only about 20 years since work began to convert the old Victorian market hall into the food lovers' destination, crammed with artisan delicacies and interesting eateries, that it is today.

We started the day in a private room above Hotel Chocolat's Rabot 1745 restaurant, meeting our guide and the other 10 people on the tour while enjoying croissants with cocoa bean butter, chocolate brownies and glasses of iced 100% cocoa chocolate milk. Then we set off around the market to see what was on offer - tastings had been arranged for us at many of the stalls.

Interesting spelling of Heirloom! But a stunning display of tomatoes.

Our first taster came from a juice stall

The green is wheat grass juice (quite probably the most disgusting thing I have ever had in my mouth. Stop that smutty sniggering!). Luckily the one on the right, fresh ginger juice with pink peppercorns, took the nasty taste away.

Next we sampled some ostrich meat, followed by a very generous glass of scrumpy (strong cider) - not what I'm used to drinking at 11 o'clock in the morning.
Feeling slightly woozy, we staggered into Brindisa, one of the most interesting shops around the market to us, having recently got back from a trip to Spain. We have a copy of Brindisa's beautiful recipe book too. They had a wonderful selection of Spanish ingredients and we tasted cheese, Romesco sauce and two kinds of wonderful hand carved ham.

Next we moved on to an oyster stall. I declined the chance to taste one - I've tried many times  in the past to learn to love them but they remain the one kind of shellfish I just can't stand. They did look pretty though.

(You can tell by the fuzziness that the glass of scrumpy had kicked in by that stage). 
Next we moved, via several tastings of cheeses and cooked meats, fudge and liquorice, to a stall specialising in Kent Cob Nuts.

Here we tasted the roasted nuts and oil and had a test of the facial serum.
Our next stop was a cheese stall with a difference - we sampled some very unusual cheeses including one called "Brain cheese"

You can see that uncut it really would look like a blue-green brain. The colour on the outside is mould like that you get in blue cheese and the result, with the tangy inside and blue outside is quite delicious and very different from eating a cheese veined with blue.

I had to recharge my phone so the next few stalls didn't get photographed, but we had tastings of several kinds of delicious olive, a very generous visit to a meat stall where we had freshly grilled beef steak, pork and lamb with seasoned fries followed by "real" corned beef (as opposed to the supermarket stuff) with mustard and pickles,  and a visit to a seafood stall where we sampled beetroot-cured Gravadlax and some wonderful freshly-cooked scallops, still with the coral attached.

Finally we settled down in a private room in Bedales restaurant to fill up any tiny spaces left in our tummies with a platter of cheese and charcuterie, baskets of bread and two kinds of rare Italian wine. By then my phone was partly recharged:

No, the wine tutor wasn't moving very fast - it was dark so a long exposure!

It was a fascinating day, we got to meet the stallholders who were happy to tell us all about how they got into their businesses as well as giving us all kinds of interesting facts about the foods we were tasking. And many of the things we sampled were the kind of expensive item that you wouldn't buy on a whim just to see if you liked it, in case you were wasting your money, but now we've tried them we  would definitely go back and buy them when shopping for a special occasion.

As for shopping yesterday, by the time the tour was over we were so full and so squiffy that we couldn't really think ab out food, so we just picked up some olives and a bunch of asparagus to have when we got home. But we'll be back - and when we are, we'll shop until we drop!

Butterfly duo

Where is this year going? It's already challenge number 5 at Twofers, I could swear it only started with the first one about five minutes ago!

There will, as always, be a brief pause here while I go and take a photo of my two cards together - something I forget to do Every Single Month.

The die I have used on both cards is the First Edition Layering Butterfly die, which I seem to be using on half the cards I make at the moment.

On the first card I cut it in light turquoise plain and dark turquoise patterned papers, and added a scrap of self-adhesive hessian, a stamped sentiment and some tiny paper flowers that have been in my stash for years. I knew they would come in handy some time!

I am sharing this card with

C.R.A.F.T. - Birthday
Watercooler Wednesday - All About Occasions

For the second card I cut the die in yellow and black and teamed it with two patterned papers from my stash and some pretty ribbon as well as a sentiment cut with an old Cuttlebug die. I thought the name of the die would be stamped on the metal, but unless it's called "Made in China" I must be wrong.

I used my Hougie Board to score those pleats - I'm far too messy to do that freehand!
I'm popping into the Butterfly Challenge with this card, for a second visit, this time using Harvest Gold and Hearts.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Veggie Good Friends

What, three posts in a day?
Make the most of it because you won't be getting one from me tomorrow, I'm waltzing off into London for a guided tour of Borough Market.

For this card I have used the Hero Arts "Stamp your own salad" set. The ground line is drawn with a fine liner along the edge of a deckle-edged tearing ruler. The watering can is cut with a die from the First Edition Garden set and I've used a clear sparkle gel pen to draw in a little water sprinkling from the spout.

I am sharing this with
Fab and Funky - Garden or Outdoors 
Country View Challenges - Be Humorous
Time Out Challenges - Quote

Yo! Ho! Ho!

I love the Clearly Besotted "Pirate Party" stamp set. I didn't get the matching dies as I quite enjoy the fussy cutting part of proceedings.

I coloured the images with Promarkers and used a scrap from an old SU pad for the "treasure map".

I am sharing this with

Addicted to Stamps and more - Anything Goes
CASology - Marine (well, you wouldn't have pirates without the sea, would you?)
CAS on Friday - Cute