Wednesday 31 August 2011


After yesterday afternoon's shenanigans  shopping with Abi for clothes for Marcel the monkey, I think I left my mojo (and dignity) somewhere in town! Dumbo here hadn't really thought about the ramifications (today's big word) of a teenager using crutches plus Marcel the monkey to carry. Yup, I got the job! Despite some amused looks, and one lady shopper even pointing us in the direction of newly born baby shoes (whilst suppressing snorts of laughter) it was successful mission all round really. Four new tops, a pair of shoes and a watch for Marcel - which apparently is going to be set to French time :)) He's gonna look 'tres chic' - although the mission to find him some PJs continues. Hank and Marvin also got a couple of additions to their wardrobe - so at least they're all happy!

So, with a missing mojo not much going on here today craft-wise. After yesterday's try at doing distress inked clouds (see post below for an idea of how it's done and a link to a good video tutorial by Bev Rochester) I've just been generally playing around this morning with distress ink pads etc. looking to see what other backgrounds are possible. Sheesh though, those ink pads do dry out quickly - some have never even been used! Grump, grump.

This is what my desk looks like right now - not very exciting at all, just ink pads, brushes, a mini mister and that pair of scissors still waiting to be cleaned with sticky stuff remover:
Drat, I just leant right onto the patch of damp ink on the right hand side of the mat! One mucky elbow - definitely not a good day! I'm gonna sweep it all to one side, change my top, set the washing machine away , make a cup of coffee (that's the problem, it's been only teas so far today!) and hop around everyone else's desk for inspiration. Why not join me over at Julia's - it's bound to be more fun than it is here right now :)


Tuesday 30 August 2011

Up, up, and away!

I finally bit the bullet and had a go at making a cloud background using these little babies:
A cloud template, cut from plain old white card, an Inkylicious Duster Brush and Tim Holtz Distress Ink pad in Tumbled Glass.

I had a whale of a time, 'pounce' on the stamp with the brush and dab, dab, dab. It certainly isn't my own idea and if you want to see a really good video tutorial hop over to Bev Rochester's blog here. She shows how to mask an image and then stamp clouds, my next step!

It was really just a play as I know that Sarn has been squeaking in delight since she got her little paws on some brushes and I had to see, finally, what it was all about. I'm ashamed to say I'd had the brushes for ages :(

So, I pounced and dabbed like crazy yesterday afternoon - not that it flattened the 'humpy' mat on my desk. Ha, if I hadn't got sensible I'd have pounced and dabbed right the way down the side of my desk, across the floor and down the stairs - it's addictive!!  Having created the clouds background I just knew what to use next - for once. About a week ago I was lucky enough to come across a second hand 'pre-loved' set of Stamping Up butterfly and sentiments stamps, plus the accompanying butterfly shaped stamp - being sold by a fellow blogger! Whoop, whoop - I've secretly hankered after these for eons (not really today's big word but still a grown up one). They arrived in double quick time too.

So, the card which started out as a DL card was trimmed to A6 size and this was the result, I do need more practice but it was fun anyhow:
I love the sentiment - so you don't get dizzy it says 'One person can make such a difference and that person is you' - it could apply to all of you lovely bloggers who hop in here! Then I stamped two butterflies onto some iridescent (now THAT is today's big word!) pinkish paper that I found in my snippets folder, punched them out and layered one on the card flat and the second one on top with its wings all aflutter.

So quick and easy - compared to the marathon it took to make the card I posted on here yesterday :)

As I used snippets I'm entering this into Jules Crafty Snippets Challenge Week 34.

That's my offering for today. Abi and I are taking Marcel shopping for some PJs this afternoon. Yup, Marcel is coming too so we're sure we get the correct fit :)) Hank and Marvin are staying at home with the money to bail us out in case you hear on the news that two females have been evicted from stores, along with a nude monkey, in North Hampshire - Marcel might just whip off his shoes, jeans and little top without going into a changing room first! Oh, and the older of the females will have been wearing a hoodie and large sunglasses for fear of bumping into any of her friends. Oh dear, I think this afternoon is gonna be fun and games!


Monday 29 August 2011

Anyone for tea?

A couple of young ladies living in Germany have birthdays coming up in the next few weeks - Mia and Olivia, our grand daughters. Rather than be caught 'on the hop', I'm making their cards with plenty of time in hand - just so long as I remember to post them in time! Mia will be 4, she's very 'girlie' and just loves to play at tea parties and baking so this is for her. These photos are rubbish, light here isn't playing ball! The background paper on the front piece of the card is pale pink with little roses on, and pale pink with little white spots on (to match her scarf) on the base piece of the card.

This has just reminded me - my Grandma used to wear a headscarf tied just like that when she was about to take the mats/carpets up, hang them over the washing line and beat the living daylights out of them :)) And she paddled my rear end more than once with the rattan carpet beater thingy if I got under her feet while she was doing it!!
Front view

From the side
And a close up of the flower
It's another easel card using papers from Pink Petticoat's Vintage Rose Collection (free with Quick Cards Made Easy a while ago) and one of LOTV's pre-coloured Cute Squares for the image. I emphasise (today's big word) that the image was pre-coloured so I had to work round that - also I can't take any credit for the colouring. Shame LOTV don't produce these sets any longer, although they do something similar.

I made the flower earlier last week (thanks Bernie for the inspiration!) using some luscious ribbon sent to me by Lavinia. The flowers are such fun to make and I've been working on some more too. Both these girls have blogs that are really worth a look - some gorgeous work going on there!

Umm, what else did I throw at the card - ah, pleated lace following inspiration and a great tutorial from Bev Rochester, a filigree corner from my stash (bought from eBay ages ago but now stocked by Wild Orchid Crafts), velvet ribbon, pearl slider (which I'm sure came from Dee who hops in here now and then), pearls, charms and baker's twine all from my stash. Lavinia sent me some great baker's twine in stronger colours so I'll be playing with that soon!

The Birthday sentiment and cupcake stamps came in a set called 'Time for Tea' - again free with Quick Cards Made Easy. I coloured the cupcakes with Pro Markers and those Ultra Fine nibs came in handy when it came to colouring the plate stand :)

So, that's one card all done. My beloved OH then asked what I was going to make for Olivia (Livi) when it's her 2nd birthday on the horizon. That's one of the next things to tackle - a bit more tricky as she's more interested in how things work rather than dainty tea parties. He suggested something with lots of buttons to press (I don't think he's forgotten a toddler here in May walking straight to the main PC tower unit with one finger sticking out and then a quick press followed by the sound of a PC dying!). I think perhaps an interactive card is a good idea (Grandad does have some good ideas I must admit!) - maybe a slider card. What's the betting little Livi will have it apart in minutes to see how it works?!! Watch this space :))

I haven't entered many challenges for a while, apart from the MUST which is Jules' Crafty Snippets Challenge (OK, Jules, that card is next on my 'to-do' list!!). But, I've spotted a few challenges which this card fits so here goes:

Creative Card Crew - Handmade Flowers

Crafts and Me Challenge - Lace

Speedy the Cat's Friends Challenge - Lace

Phindy's Place - Make your own embellishment

That's me for now - the sun is actually shining here right now, What? Surely not, it's an English Summer and a Bank Holiday for goodness sakes!!


Sunday 28 August 2011

Fickle Phoebe!

During the week, my beloved rescued a plant from one of his sporting clubs. It was growing where there is due to be some ground clearing work done and, being soft hearted, he couldn't bear to think that such a beautiful plant, growing stubbornly in a little patch of chalky soil, would be destroyed. By the time he managed to bring it home the bloom on it had sadly dropped off but I knew from his enthusiasm that Fickle Phoebe was worth trying to save. We potted her in some chalky soil and tucked her into a quiet spot in the garden with fingers tightly crossed. Despite careful watering, not too much and not too little while she settles in, the leaves and buds have been up and down more often than I could keep track of - one minute wilted and then suddenly perking up again - with no real rhyme nor reason. Hence the name Fickle Phoebe!

This morning our patience was spectacularly rewarded:
The light here is grim, it's a dull day and the colour is much more vibrant in real life - but I just nipped out and caught one ecstatic bumble bee - having a whale of a time now that Phoebe has opened one flower to show how gorgeous she can be if she tries!

I'm almost sure she's a peony poppy and truly beautiful with it!

Happy, happy Sunday!


Saturday 27 August 2011

Silver Wedding Anniversary card

This card came about after I'd inked some embossing folders with the brayer and made a few backgrounds. I was gawping at the pile whilst writing an email to Sandra of Stamping For Pleasure, wondering what to do with one embossed using silver ink, and she replied with the idea of a Silver Wedding Anniversary card - great ideas girl is our Sarn!! This is what I came up with:

And a closer look at the flowers:

This week Mr Postie arrived with a lovely card from Sandra, plus some Cuttlebug Die Cut Numbers to let me see the sizes and to help me to spend more pennies! I'd already made the sentiment so I went ahead and used it (although the die cut numbers would have been perfect) 'cos in the process of embossing I managed to damage the Rotary Cutting mat on my desk with the heat gun and felt I had to at least use the culprit. The mat now has 'humps' in it :( Serves me right for being impatient really.

I hold my hands up to blatantly pinching Sandra's great idea on the card she sent to me of using a lacy punch down one edge of a card and then backing it with contrasting card. Thanks hun!!

I used a plain square 6" x 6" white card, punched the right hand edge with  MS punch, and added a strip of silver card behind the lacy holes. The silver embossed card was layered onto more silver card, the sentiment is a Craftwork cards one, turned over, stamped with 25, embossed in silver (thereby ruining my desk mat - thank goodness the desk is fine though!!) and then edged with silver Stickles. The silver Josy Rose heart shaped nail heads had to get in on the act of course :))

I didn't have a nice enough single white flower so I raided my old stash and made up a little posy - little ribbon roses with diamantes in the centre, silky lace flowers with pearl stamens, and a fluffy white feather tucked in behind - tied with silver edged white organza ribbon.

The 'humpy mat' is driving me nuts, I've tried gently reheating it, sitting on it and even jumped up and down on it in a 'reet paddy' but to no avail :( Time to go and search on line for a replacement, maybe a glass one although I'm going to use something heatproof in future when embossing!!

Hope your Bank Holiday weekend is going well, whatever you're doing!


Friday 26 August 2011

Friday Feast - Roasted Roots with Gammon

This is a good dish for a Winter supper - so I made it on Tuesday evening after a day of torrential rain when it seemed that Summer had fled. Yesterday I found myself eyeing up some planters in the garden and thinking about how soon I could take out the battered petunias and plant some Spring bulbs! What?! It's still August for goodness sakes!!! Grump, grump!

Onto the recipe:

Roasted Roots with Gammon

Serves 4

  • 250g (8oz) turnips
  • 250g (8oz) swede
  • 250g (8oz) potatoes
  • 2 small onions, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 3tbsp olive oil
  • 1tbsp grated fresh root ginger
  • 6 sage leaves
  • 2 smoked gammon steaks, about 400g (14oz) total weight, trimmed of fat
  • 100g (3½oz) frozen peas


  1. Set the oven to gas mark 6 or 200°C. Peel the vegetables and cut the turnips in half or in quarters,  depending on size and the swede and potato into dice and the onion into thinnish wedges.
  2. Put all the vegetables in a large, shallow roasting tin, drizzle with oil and coat evenly. Add the ginger and sage leaves.
  3. Cook for 40 mins, stirring a couple of times. Add small chunks of gammon and cook for another 30 mins.
  4. Stir in the peas and cook for another 5-10 mins. (Not suitable for freezing).

It does look a bit like a 'mix-up in a dixie' I agree - but it's absolutely yummy. And the recipe says it can't be frozen - err, hello, who's gonna have any leftovers of this one to freeze anyhow?!

One thing to bear in mind - swede takes longer to cook than potatoes so cut it into slightly smaller pieces.

Hey, ho - it's raining cats and dogs again today as I type this, happy days!!


Thursday 25 August 2011

There's monkey business going on in deepest Hampshire!

Two lovely parcels arrived here this morning from Monkey and Darrell :) One parcel was for us. Big drumroll - Hank on the left arrived complete with his own teeny little drum kit!, along with his mate Marvin on the right who was already here:
Marvin has already lost his slightly pensive and bewildered look - reunited with Hank again!

The second parcel contained Marcel - a little friend for our neighbour Abigail. She's laid up right now recovering from a dislocated knee and needed a bit of a lift. So I nipped round earlier with Marcel and his certificate of adoption plus letter of introduction for her.

I think the smiles here say it all!

Daren't tell Len that we're already planning when the boys can have sleepovers :))

OK, and I haven't yet decided what I'm going to do when I grow up!


25th of the month - it's Rudolph Day!

Crumbs, it only seems five minutes since it was the last 25th of the month!
The star stamp has been languishing, un-inked for years! It's called 'Wire Star' by Stampendous dated 2002 - and I wouldn't be surprised if that's as long as I've had it! The sentiment and star were stamped in silver ink and then embossed using Platinum Silver embossing powder onto a background of white card which has the slightest tracings of a silvery crackle pattern. Then layered onto silver linen effect card - I was amazed at how many different tones of silver card I tried before finding this one in my stash - and just popped onto an A6 white card.

My 'in-house' critic saw the card and said 'It's got a wonky leg'!!! Men, they have little or no understanding of such things do they?! Mind you, he's currently nursing a wonky leg as well - from a swift kick on the shin :))

It's busy here today - I have a little surprise to take round to my young friend Abigail in a minute. Her very own Marcel the Monkey :) Secretly adopted after she fell in love with Marvin recently. She's currently on crutches after dislocating her knee, yet again - so hopefully Marcel will cheer her up.

So, for once this is short and sweet! 


Wednesday 24 August 2011


Ahem - a very clear desk here today....and a blurred photo I fear, it's making me feel a bit woozy looking at it:
The desk is pretty clear, apart from umpteen cables in the background that is! My mobile phone (pink of course) began shouting during the night to be charged - now, can anyone tell me why it's ALWAYS in the middle of the night huh?!

Usual cup of black coffee to hand, some beautiful cards from friends in the background - Sandra of Stamping for Pleasure is still on a roll with her duster brushes - doing clouds now on the super chicken card, they came bearing chocolate truffles too! Yummy!

And the lovely pink card on my baby pink notebook/laptop is from Lavinia who enclosed it with some great stash this week - thank you both so much :) Amongst the stash from Lavinia was some gorgeous wired organza pink and silver ribbon which will match a card I've got half done just perfectly! Brilliant timing. This is a close up of what I've been doing with it:
I made a flower kind of following Bernie's tutorial here. I kept the ribbon single rather than doubling it, removed one side of the wiring but kept the outside edge wiring in and then followed what Bernie had posted on her blog. I think it's important to cut your lengths of ribbon to twice the width of the ribbon if you make a single layer flower like this one, I didn't realise that trick but it's still passable for a first attempt. The glue gun is poised ready to stick the flower onto a small circle of card so that it's all ready for when I finally finish making the main card. 

To the right on the glue gun mat is one of the silver brayered and embossed backgrounds I showed last WOYWW. Sandra suggested a 25th Anniversary card and, not having a nice single white rose, I made up a little posy and had just stuck it down with hot glue onto the background when I took the photo.

As I said, such a tidy desk for me....and here's the reason why:
Gotcha!!! I couldn't see the wood for the trees so decanted a whole heap of stuff this morning onto our bed in order to work! I made the beehive shaped card and posted it on here ages ago - the little white flowers need to be glued on properly while the glue gun is out and then I'm honestly going to sort the piles of stuff out.

One question, which I've been reminded of by the external hard drive lying there also waiting to be put away after doing some backing up the other day. My in-house IT chap berated me for not being more conscious of the importance of back ups. How do you folk back up your blogs? Online or what? I know there are options and would be very grateful for any opinions please - the thought of losing a whole blog doesn't bear thinking about.

That's me for WOYWW - to join in do go to Julia's here - her desk is remarkable this week :) It's a sort of 'use your imagination' one!

Time to do some blog hopping then sort out the stuff piled on the bed so we can actually get in it tonight!

Happy WOYWW!!


Tuesday 23 August 2011

A lovely award from Wipso

The terrific Wipso has just passed this award onto me:
I'm really touched (not in the head!!!) and grateful that Wipso chose to pass this onto me. Thank you so much A!!

The trickiest bit though is passing it onto three other people who regularly follow and support me by leaving comments. Sheesh, what a hard call....only three people?!!!! I don't want to hurt anyone by missing them out so this goes to ALL of you lovely people who call by - especially some real regulars who are very special people. You know who you are girls!

If any or all of you lovely bloggers would like to pick up the award for yourself (and pass it onto your own top three) then please feel free to do so, with my love and thanks for all your support.


Sunny side up!

EDIT! If you're reading this thinking it's WOYWW I apologise! I added a wrong link to Julia's Mr Linky thingy wotsit. WOYWW is further up - hit Home at the top of the page and the right posting should be there. It's definitely another Mrs Potato Head day here today :(

What a wet morning - sorry ladies, all our fault as there's some work going on outside here. Mind you, rain has stopped play for now so my prayer mat is out for better weather too!

It's our DIL's birthday and, rain or no rain, I have to go and post this today so that it arrives in Germany on time:

The image was sent to me by Sarn of Stamping for Pleasure (thanks again hun!), it's a House Mouse one called 'Sunny Side Up'. Coloured with Pro Markers then trimmed right round the image - does everyone else sort of stick their tongue between their teeth when snipping carefully?!

The orange background card is 'Core'dinations, the yellow papers are from my snippets with the plain one embossed using a small free embossing folder that came with a magazine a little while back - perfect for snippets!

I couldn't find any matching green card so used the little trick of cutting a piece of white card to size and then ran one of the greens I'd used (chisel end) right round the edge. The yellow card was left from the embossed card and the brown card came from my snippets too. The sentiment is from Craftwork cards.

Josy Rose Nail Heads added the finishing touch. I love these Jules and, although you might not participate in 'awards' there is a button on my sidebar which I'd like you to snag - it came to me from The Crafty Elf and is a kind of 'it's all your fault' button! It says' Way to go! You're To Blame And That's A Good Thing!'
Every now and then Frequently we crafters find something just brilliant out from other blogs and Josy Rose Nail Heads are one of those things for me! Plus, I actually read the instructions properly this morning and discovered that the nail heads can get scratched as you apply them if you aren't careful. The solution? A little piece of material between the nail head and the Hot Fix Wand (I pinched one of Len's white handkerchiefs and snipped it up - hope he doesn't read this or I'm in deep doggy do do's!). Result, perfect! Happy bunny hops here :)

I chose the HM image as I love sunflowers and am sure that Kai, our DIL, does too. Right now in Germany I expect the fields are full of them - and you can pick your own, along with all sorts of gorgeous flowers. There would be an honesty box beside the pathway of the field for you to pay - huh, I wonder if that would work over here? The honesty box would probably be pinched!

I'm entering this into Jules Crafty Snippets Challenge Week 33. So not only does Jules have brilliant ideas, and wonderful cards - she also encourages us to use up our snippets. Previously I would have just searched through whole sheets of card and paper - now I always check out my snippets first and it's amazing what you find!

Thanks so much for calling by - I hope the sun is shining where you are, if so please send some here!


Monday 22 August 2011

Bird Call

Last Wednesday I posted about a few embossed pieces of card that I'd made whilst using the brayer, ink pads and embossing folders.

The card pieces are lying on my desk waiting for inspiration to strike so I can do something with them - I just rustled this one up:

The image was made using a brayer with a couple of different ink pads (one of shades of green and the sky is TH Tumbled Glass) over the folder (it's a Cuttlebug folder called Bird Call), then inserting the card inside the folder and embossing it. More details are on the posting I mentioned, which can be found here. It was a bit hit and miss really more of a happy accident that the result turned out reasonably OK. Hmmm, the blue streak on the bird wasn't deliberate but maybe he just has an exotic streak down his back :)

Just a few embossed lines on a 6" x 6" card, image layered onto green Core'dinations card and some baby blue and green organza ribbon tied down the side.

I said on Wednesday that my hands were an inky mess - it took a few days to fully wear off so maybe next time I'll raid the box of latex gloves before getting my paws thoroughly coloured, but it was fun at the time!

I've always kinda liked messy and, despite my Mum's best efforts, when I was small I was a bit of a tomboy :) As a three year old I threw my doll out of its little pram, filled it with rubble and then used it as a battering ram against every outside wall I could find - mud pies were even better fun!!!

This photo is me, aged three when we lived in Malta, all ready for a party and I look quite cute - I could even be praying. In fact, I was bawling my eyes out at being put into a party dress with a humiliatingly (today's big word!) gigantic bow in my hair and was praying I put my dirty dungarees back on!!

Wherever did my Mum find a ribbon THAT huge - was she having a laugh or what?!


Saturday 20 August 2011

A card for a special friend

I made this card yesterday, at the last minute, for a friend's birthday which is tomorrow! Then, I lined the box I made with paper which matches another card, so this one will go into my box of ready made cards instead. Trust me - Mrs Potato Head strikes again!
The backing papers came from QVC ages ago, sentiment from Craftwork Cards (mounted onto a small die cut scalloped oval with two silver Josy Rose heart shaped nail heads) and the turquoise rose was a Boots Bargain. I found some half price hair clips in their sale last week :) After removing the clip with wire cutters the rose was going to stand too proud so on came the thinking cap. I made a ribbon ruffle from some wired ribbon I've had for ages (and forgotten about!) and removed one edge of the wiring but left the other one in to be able to gather the ribbon. With the aid of the trusty glue gun it fixed perfectly together - so, only one mistake today :))

Ahem, I've just looked at the reel of ribbon - which is luscious shades of bronze and turquoise organza. What was I thinking of - there's 50 yards of ribbon there! Phew, quite a few ruffles I think - better nip to Boots and buy up all their hair clips!

That's it for me today! Thank you for calling by :))


Friday 19 August 2011

Friday Feast - Sausage Beanbake

More years ago than I care to remember, newly married and so proud of our little Ford Anglia (the oldies like me might remember that the back windscreen slanted inwards!), we decided to go on a trip to London. The dinky little car did its best and we got there without breaking down but it was a very long journey. From Newcastle down into Central London (300 miles or so?) took us over eight hours. Things were complicated by the fact that we were meeting up with a cousin (Alex) at his studio in the heart of London and then going onto his place in Putney to stay for a long weekend. No Google maps, no online directions to print out, no mobile phones - and certainly no Sat Nav. We were doomed really. The eight hours got us to London (sheesh, I could have walked faster!) and then the fun began. We got to know the one way streets really well and the third time I squeaked in excitement 'Oooer, Wimpole Street, did you know the Barratts of Wimpole Street lived here?', as we went down that street yet again I was swiftly shut up by the anguished exclamation from my husband of 'B*gger the Barratts of Wimpole Street - it just means we're lost!!'. Of course, being a man, would he ask for directions? Not on your life! Eventually we did find the studio, collected Cousin Alex and off we went to his place in Putney.

While we were settling in, Alex whipped up a supper that I've never forgotten, a real cheats meal but to us it tasted like the food of the gods after that epic journey. I made this the other evening and it brought back a lot of memories:

Sausage Beanbake

Serves 2

6 or 8 sausages (I use Richmond Thick Pork sausages)
1 medium sized onion, chopped
1 teaspoon dried mustard powder
1 tablespoon soft brown sugar
2 tablespoons malt vinegar
One or one and a half cans baked beans
Branston Pickle

Set the oven to about 180 degrees.
Mix the mustard powder, sugar and vinegar together in the base of a shallow oven proof dish.
Add the chopped onion and the baked beans and mix well together with the other ingredients.
Cut a slit along one side of each sausage, not right to the ends though, and open out using a teaspoon to make a pouch.
Fill the pouch of each sausage with Branston Pickle.
Sit the sausages, pickle side up, on the bed of beans etc.
Ready to go into the oven

Bake for about 30 minutes until cooked.
Cooked and ready to eat

Serve with mashed potato. Tee, hee - I seem to recall that Alex used 'Smash' (de-hydrated potato)  which was very new on the market and seemed so clever at the time!

Things you can vary, ordinary ready made mustard would do instead of the powder but you might need a bit more depending on the variety, Len isn't too keen on sugar and as baked beans are quite sweet I usually leave that out (unless he isn't looking - ssshh!!) and any other pickle could be OK but I've never tried. I think the right amount is a teaspoon of pickle per sausage but we love Branston Pickle here!!

The cooking time I've given is a bit hit and miss - just check and leave a bit longer if necessary. The sausages obviously should be cooked and browning on top but don't worry if the onion still has a little bit of crunch to it.


PS There's a cute little button on my sidebar from The Crafty Elf - given to me 'cos that little elf won some Pro Marker nibs and has just HAD to invest in some Pro Markers now :) Isn't it fun helping folk to spend their money on new stash!
It's well worth hopping over to her blog - Christmas is coming (well almost) and she has some great ideas for Christmas wrapping etc. and I predict that more are to come :))


Thursday 18 August 2011

A newly qualified driver on the road!

Our friends' son, Matt, passed his driving test today - in all the rain that's currently being thrown down. I made this card as soon as I knew he was learning to drive and then kept it to one side. Big celebrations here!

I promise it isn't oval shaped either - must be the angle I took the photo. It's a 6" square white card, topped with red card and then a cut down a page from a 'freebie' little road atlas that came with a Sunday newspaper. The car is decoupaged (can't recall where I got it from, but possibly Hobbycraft) and I just printed the L plate from the internet onto glossy photo paper and tore it in half.

A simple card for a very happy young chappy!!!


Wednesday 17 August 2011


I was just going to show the beginnings of a birthday card on my desk this week:

The mother of pearl earrings were on half price sale in Boots the Chemist - I have plans for those (and a pair of wire cutters) that aren't connected with the pink card though:) The card is for a friends birthday in a few days time - I'm going to try Bev Rochester's way of pleating lace - wish me luck!

But, I'm easily sidetracked and I got to thinking about emails that Sandra (Sarn) and I have been exchanging about Inkylicious Duster Brushes - she's produced some gorgeous cards, one of which has arrived here today. Do go and see here - this is the one she sent to me!
Even the envelope had the 'treatment'!! It's so classy and delicate.

Whoop, whoop - I accidentally discovered how to use 'captions' under piccies!!! Anyhow, I began thinking about other uses for a brayer when you don't need the softness of a duster brush and want to roll right over something. Ha, the pink card 'bits' were swiftly pushed aside out of harm's way and out came the brayer, ink pads, non-stick mat, embossing folders and the trusty Cuttlebug. I was shown this technique ages ago on a craft day at Art of Craft - so the brayer does still have a place in my heart after all:

Ink up your brayer with your chosen ink, best to use one that will clean off easily unless you want to stain your embossing folders! Coat the flat side of the opened out folder (ie. the side with the indented pattern on) thoroughly with the ink. Pop a piece of card inside and run through the Cuttlebug or your machine of choice in the usual way and this is the result:

The background picks up the ink but the embossed pattern remains untouched and stands out beautifully. It doesn't show up too well in the photo but the silver one above is my favourite. Here are the other ones I tried out, for a closer snoop click on the photo:

I only tried using white card stock today but the possibilities are endless, given enough ink pads - black card with white ink for example. 

Other things on my desk are the usual cup of black coffee (my caffeine fix for the day), that pair of scissors still awaiting attention with Sticky Stuff Remover, and ink pads.

To see what everyone else is up to today - hop over to Julia's for a good old nosy around!

Hey, ho - despite using ink pads which do clean off plastic etc. very easily with baby wipes, my hands and nails are lovely shades of red and blue! Time to go and get the scrubbing brush out I think!  I look like I've been blackberrying :)

Happy WOYWW everyone.


Monday 15 August 2011

Shoes and handbags

After a swift trip to our local chemist my feet just happened to carry me into the shop next door (now how did THAT happen?). It's mostly a soft furnishings store but they do have some great deals on lace and ribbon bundles if you don't mind turning dizzy from scrabbling round in big plastic boxes lined up on the floor. They also have a small selection of card making goodies and, as the grey mist cleared and I could focus again, I spotted one lonely little pack of shoes and handbags embellishments that just struck a chord. They have a patent leather feel about them - with sparkle too - and I knew exactly what I had in mind, for once:

The light here is horrendous (today's big word) today and I had to resort to using the flash. So, the handbags and shoes embossed round the edge of the card kinda disappear unless you press your nose against the screen (cooooe, I can see you). The cards were bought ages ago from The Range ready embossed, I've no idea though why they couldn't have centred the embossing down each side. I'm a bit OCD about things being precisely done you might have guessed :(

The black and the pink sparkly card came from my snippets, my silly very true sentiment was printed on white card and cut to size (some snippets used, others created!) and then the shoes and handbag were added. And, of course, I added some Josy Rose nail heads. I really am loving these right now!

On a roll, I used the other part of the set of embellies to make this, same but different colours: 
Done and dusted - and this week I'm making sure I link this to Jules Craft Snippets Challenge - Week 32 in really good time. I beat the end of playtime bell by a whisker last week and, having had to write out an enormous chunk of of Morte D'Arthur in detention at school, there's no way I want to risk having to that ever again:)) And yup, you guessed, it was for chattering in class :(

Quick hedgehog update: The past two evenings I've chanced upon Spike (or friend) 'mid-dinner'. He's coming to visit earlier and earlier (or are the nights already drawing in?!). On both occasions he froze and peered anxiously at me over the feeding bowl for a while, even though I stood absolutely still.......then he upped and ran off behind the shed as fast as his little legs could carry him!


Saturday 13 August 2011

A snippets card - quick and easy

I almost missed this week's Jules' Crafty Snippets Challenge - so much else going on, including getting 600+ envelopes ready to send out the 4-monthly 'old school' magazine. Not finished yet but the end is in sight, once the magazines are ready to be collected from the printers next week they just (just?!) need to be packed, sealed and posted.

So, this was a very swift rummage through my snippets and a really quick card to make:

It's a medium sized square card, topped with a leftover piece of rainbow paper that dates back to the year 'dot' and some more recent criss-cross paper. A strip of pre-punched border, flowers and sentiment from my stash - and the sentiment was backed with a little strip of a snippet - I saved the other half for another time. Waste not, want not!

The Josy Rose nail heads are my latest addition to Pixies Workshop - and the inspiration came mainly from Jules. She uses them so well on her cards and they are more understated and elegant  for certain cards (go and see!!!)  and, after I'd picked her brains, I plumped for a selection of err, quite a few, colours along with the hot wand to fix them with. Thanks Jules, both for the inspiration and the advice. So, with a new toy to play with I just had to use it :) I did learn that you don't need to hold the wand onto the nail head for very long else the surface of the nail head will suffer - but by the last nail head I'd cracked it - don't press too hard and count to 10 basically! I'm hooked!

So, by the skin of my teeth, screeching in last minute (story of my life really) I'm entering this into:

Jules Crafty Snippet Challenge - Week 31

Hope you're having a great weekend!


Friday 12 August 2011

Friday Feast - Conchiglioni Pasta with Mushroom Ragu

Friday and time for another recipe. My 'big word for today' has to be conchiglioni I think? Those big pasta shells are great for chunky sauces, or you could use another chunky pasta shape if preferred.

It's another favourite and I made it last night - in between screaming for the return of my laptop from my in-house IT chappie (who is installing Ubuntu for me as Microsoft is driving me crazy) and feeding Misty and Penny, our neighbours' cats. Misty, the 'peeping Thomasina' is becoming very friendly - next thing she'll be perched on the garden table waiting for a little glass of wine as evening approaches!

Anyhow, I digress, so back to the recipe:

Serves 4 

350g (12oz) conchiglioni shells
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
30ml (2 tablespoons) olive oil
250g (8 oz) mushrooms, sliced
300g (10 oz) lean minced beef
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
150ml (5 fl oz) red wine
2 tablespoons tomato puree
45ml (3 tablespoons) chopped fresh oregano or 2 tsp dried oregano
50ml (5fl oz) single cream, or half fat cream for a slimmer option
1 x 125g pack light mozzarella, chopped

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Cook the pasta shells in boiling salted water for 15 mins or according to packet instructions. Drain, then tip into a 1.4 lt (2.5 pint) ovenproof dish. 
  2. Meanwhile, heat half the oil in a large frying pan, add the mushrooms and sauté over high heat for 6-8 mins, stirring until nicely browned. Set aside.
  3. Add the remaining oil to the pan, add the mince, onion and garlic and cook over a high heat for 5 mins until browned. Add the red wine, tomato puree, oregano and plenty of seasoning then bring to the boil, stirring well. Simmer for 4 mins or until reduced. Add cream and mushrooms and simmer for a further 5 mins until nicely reduced. 
  4. Spoon over the pasta shells, then stir well so that it fills the pasta. Scatter over the cheeses and pop under a hot grill. Cook for 3 mins or until the top is golden brown. Serve straight away.
    Little things I do differently - if you're going for cream, why ever go for the slimmer option huh? I also buy the supermarket's own brand of Mozzarella - which might not always be 'light', usually in those sealed bags of liquid that are such fun to squidge! 
    Another thing I do is to make the sauce runnier by adding some more wine (yay!) - my excuse is that it's easier to pop the assembled dish into the oven at 180 degrees for about 20 minutes, leaving time to clear up the chaos of pans before we eat. It doesn't dry out in the oven with more wine in (double yay!).
    I often wonder why our supermarket stores things like Mozzarella right on the top shelf of the cheese chiller cabinet - many a time I have to ask for a taller person to reach up for one. OK, I'm not a midget but I wasn't at the front of the queue when they were handing out height either.

    And, I certainly don't take any risks since I ended up in their accident book after a can of baked beans slipped from my grasp after I'd managed to stretch to the limit and tried to get it from a top shelf. Soooooo embarrassing, it bounced straight onto the bridge of my nose and left me with a split beak and a nosebleed. They insisted that a report went into their accident book ('Elf an' Safety madam' they said). Once they knew I was fine though I could see the supervisor's shoulders shaking with suppressed laughter as the circumstances were solemnly recorded.

    Sometimes I really shouldn't be allowed out to play!

Thursday 11 August 2011

Get well card - and an exploding egg!

Bet the egg's got you thinking :) But firstly - I finished the get well card - you were all so right, walking away and leaving it was a very good idea:

The image is 'Little Nurse' - one of LOTV's cuties - coloured with Pro Markers. I made my first mistake here - cut the image using a Labels 8 Nestie and then realised I hadn't coloured her hair 'cos I'd been undecided whether she should be a blonde or a brunette. And, of course I went over the outline at the top of her head - no amount of using the blender pen worked so I tried edging the outline right round with a PM as contrast. Humph, it looked awful so out came the little scissors and the whole edging was trimmed off.

The background papers were much too heavy a pattern so I changed track on those - these ones came from a freebie set with Cardmaking and Papercraft magazine ages ago.

Then the ribbon wasn't playing - originally it was turquoise narrower ribbon layered over the red. Looked much too heavy so off that came. The white lacy ribbon seemed much better but then a bit of sticky could be felt so out came the brads. By this point the desk was like a bombsite with all the options that had been discarded and not put away.

It's an easel card and I'd cut a piece of white backing card to hide the wrapped around ribbons and the back of the brads. You know what's coming dontcha?! Yup, I forgot to add that before assembling the card -that was the point at which I gave up and ran away.

However, yesterday I returned to the fray and just added said piece of card to the back - already scored so it folds fine. The charms behaved beautifully, picking up cherries and strawberries in the backing paper. Whoopee - on a roll here - until it was time to add the already stamped (LOTV again) sentiment and the scalloped circle as the final touch. Cries here of 'I don't belieeeeeve it' - just like Victor Meldrew. I miscalculated where it was to go and it ended up off centre! I know that could look deliberate but it just wasn't right at all. Funny enough though, the sticky pads I normally use (from Wilkinsons) are impossible to remove, but yesterday I wanted more height and had used some thicker little square one. Phew - it came of without too much of a murmur and this time I double checked before it was stuck back down. SUCCESS!!!

The card is for a super lady who was one of my Mum's best friends. She's currently in hospital and loves bright and cheerful. If Moira looks in - you know Mary too of course!

We first met in Singapore when I was about 10 years old - and she and Mum were like chalk and cheese. Mum was quite reserved and Mary was - well - madcap! They made a great pair in fact.

If there was something fun to try out - Mary was first in the queue. One day she arrived with her latest scheme - if you pickle an egg in vinegar then the shell softens after a while and you can squeeze it into the neck of a bottle, then the shell hardens once it's dried out. Hey presto - one egg magically inside a bottle.

Mum was sceptical (today's big word) and left us to it in the kitchen - returning to her dressmaking. The egg was left uncooked and popped into a bowl of vinegar - I think that was possibly the first mistake. We couldn't find distilled vinegar so we drained a jar of pickled onions to raid the vinegar. In Singapore the pickled onions came in huge jars and the vinegar was coloured pink - very pretty and I haven't come across them since.

A couple of weeks elapsed and eventually the day for the 'deed' arrived. Mary arrived with an empty wine bottle - are you getting the picture here - this was all taking place in OUR house, she was quite cute. The egg was removed from the vinegar and squeezing began. It was going quite well at first but suddenly, one squeeze too far and the whole egg exploded - showering us and the kitchen with the most revolting pink and green mess. Yup, in that heat the egg had gone rotten. Mum had been watching from the sidelines and her reaction was to smartly close the kitchen door and lock it, with us captured on the inside. 'And you can both stay in there until you clean it all up' came the order from the safety of the opposite side of the door. We were both gasping for breath but also almost doubled up in hysterics. And you know the stupid thing - we meekly did clean everything up and not once did we think to open the back door to either escape or let the smell out!!!

Happy days!


Wednesday 10 August 2011


I took this photo yesterday afternoon - is that cheating? Perhaps not as Julia, like me, prefers the afternoon light - she said so this morning on her blog so if it's good enough for our Head Girl then it's good enough for me :)

It was taken at the point that I threw the towel in! On my desk are a few Pro Markers, the scoring blade from the Woodware Trimmer, assorted ribbons, buttons (none of which were right), sticky scissors that needed cleaning and other general detritus (my big word for today). And, in the background, like a little row of soldiers on parade some Inkylicious Ink Dusters awaiting despatch to Sarn - plus some LOTV stamps waiting for me to also stamp some promised images.

Yesterday had been not a good day from the word 'go' - the dreadful scenes of rioting shown on TV were appalling and my heart went out out to those innocently caught up in it all - and I just despair over what our country is spiralling down into.One heart lifting item on TV this morning showed a whole community turning out to do a big clean-up - we might be down, but we won't be broken even though the looting and violence has spread elsewhere.

Yesterday I also did my own little battle with our insurance company (a semi-victory - the premium has been drastically reduced and some M&S vouchers to the tune of £70 are on their way). Trust me, once I get my sticky paws on those vouchers we'll still be leaving them........hey, why couldn't they have been craft supplies vouchers?!

I was also making one of those cards that just seems to be jinxed - if it could go wrong, then it did. But, I'm a stubborn mule sometimes and it's a get well card for someone special so I kept sorting and fixing it. But, eventually I got to the point where I had to leave it alone and toddle off to do other things - at this rate the recipient will be fully recovered by the time it's finished!

That's my lot for today - but at least it's a messier desk than usual. Now I have to return to that 'tricky-woo-woo' card and see if I can finish it off :(

To see happier crafters do hop over to Julia's to see what they're up to on WOYWW.


Tuesday 9 August 2011

Some of us are bristling with indignation - big time!

Me first - having spent ALL yesterday afternoon checking out our combined house and travel insurance policy out and doing comparisons with other providers, we're leaking money here! Our insurers are about to have a severe talking to today (once I put my big girl's pants on) and we'll be taking our business elsewhere. We seem to be paying enough to cover the gold bullion in Fort Knox and white water rafting holidays at the very least! Humpfffff, not funny - especially as I had no time at all to work on a get well card I'm be honest that irks me more than the ridiculous insurance rip-off!!

But worse than that, on Sunday evening we forgot to take off the upturned pot that we cover Spike's dinner with in the daytime . Well, I remembered it at about 11pm and the cameras showed him pacing round it, also truly bristling with indignation at 10pm - it's a shame the images are a bit grainy else I could show you! If only he'd come in on stilts at 'burglar's face level' than we'd get some really good 'mug shots' for your entertainment. Thankfully he realised that 'you just can't get the staff' and returned along with a pal later on, so we're forgiven.

Why do we cover his dinner pot during the day? Well, the food is dry food and one Walter Pigeon (a semi-tame wood pigeon) has discovered it as a great source of sustenance (today's big word). My first job of the day is to nip out as early as possible once it's daylight to cover the pot otherwise he's like a pig in a trough gobbling it down like a bird possessed. Even when I cover the wretched bowl he then sits and sulks on a nearby roof!

But, things aren't all bad, today I'm ordering this stamp from Quixotic Paperie - as a follow on from yesterday's post about Misty the Curious Cat and our fence:

 The lovely Bernie sent me a link yesterday morning and I've tracked the stamp down on this side of the pond. So cute, thanks Bernie for the laugh!!!

Thanks so much for all your lovely comments - I appreciate them very much! With luck I should have a card of my own to post on here shortly :)


Monday 8 August 2011

Is there a spy around here?

No picture so if you like those please just hop to another blog and come back tomorrow - although there's a link to an older post which you probably haven't seen :(

But, we are I am currently cat sitting Penny and Misty, our friends and neighbours' two cats. Not sure where the apostrophe (today's big word) should go back there but you get my drift huh?! Those cats crack me up and this is a little tail, oops tale, to share. I posted a Christmas card I made showing them both here last Christmas Eve if you do need some visual aid -it's worth a peek as you'll get more understanding of what I'm chuntering on about :)

Every evening, when it isn't p*ssing down damp my OH and I have a quiet half hour sitting in the garden mulling over the day and partaking of a pre-dinner glass of wine. We began doing this when we were both on the 'working life treadmill' as a way of clearing our minds of the day's happenings and just having some quiet time together - it's a lovely little ritual that has continued.

A couple of weeks ago as the 'ritual' was in full swing Len put his finger to his lips and crept across the garden. I sat gawping thinking he'd lost the plot/had too much grape juice as he then put his eye to a crack in the fence. Then when he came back rocking with laughter I was truly worried - until the truth was revealed. He'd seen a flash of white moving about through the fence panel and upon investigating had only seen an eye peering at him through the crack! Hey, ho - only Misty, the shyest but most curious from a distance, of our friends' cats - sitting on the top of their compost bin and keeping one beady eye on us through the only chink in the fence!!

We've seen her doing this several times since, and trust me, it's only ever in the evening when we're sitting chatting in the garden. I've also done the 'creep up to the the fence' routine (dontcha feel an idiot!)and it's most unnerving to see one beady, unblinking eye staring back at you! I nipped round the other evening to wish them a happy holiday and to check on the final cat sitting timetable - we were already ensconced in the garden 'avec le vin' when I remembered. And sure enough, there she was - perched on the compost bin peering through the fence! I have to say she did look a tad embarrassed :))

If she wasn't a female then we'd have our very own Peeping Tom!!!

Happy Monday everyone!


Sunday 7 August 2011

A new member of the household

Marvin arrived here on Friday. Here's the little fellow:

Relaxing in the garden after his journey.

Having a little liquid refreshment.

Emailing Monkey and Darrell to report his safe arrival!

He arrived with his own toys, sweeties (which I suspect he'd opened, had a few and then resealed en route - he smelt so sweet. How do I know, well I had to hug him 'hello' didn't I), adoption certificate, list of likes and dislikes and of course his very own holey stone hanging round his neck. Also beautifully dressed complete with the cutest pair of little shoes.

For anyone who thinks I've totally lost me marbles - hop over to Monkey and Darrell's brilliant blog. It's my first hop of the day and is sooooo funny, you might be hooked! Marvin will be looking in, but no way do I intend to post much here about Marvin - no-one can emulate (my big word for today) Monkey and Darrell's blog - but I had to at least introduce Marvin. If you don't already look into their Mum's blog 'It's All Fiddle Fart' - I do recommend it - Helen has so many bright ideas I often wonder what she'll come up with next!

I popped into our local charity shop yesterday for a mooch around and asked a friend who works there where the baby sized clothes were. When she asked why and I replied 'For clothes, for a monkey' she just gazed at me, shook her head sadly and said 'Whatever Di. Over on the left, towards the back of the shop'.  And success, I found a teeny little denim baseball cap from NEXT for Marvin :) 'Would you like to come round for coffee and some crafting next week?' she said as I triumphantly paid for the cap. 'Great' said I, to which she added 'I think you need to get out a bit more'!!!

Happy Sunday!


Saturday 6 August 2011

The bear stamp!

I've just got to share this with you:

Just a quick post! Having failed miserably in my quest to find the teddy bear stamp that Sandra had so kindly sent me a stamped image of (I used it here) - Tammy stepped in and sent me a different, but just as adorable stamp of my very own! That's him above - I've stamped him in in Versafine Vintage Sepia - isn't he terrific and aren't crafters such kind people - thank you soooo much Tammy. We're going through a bit of a stressful time right now and this has cheered me up no end!

Hope you're having a sooper-dooper weekend!! :))


Friday 5 August 2011

Friday Feast - Chicken Baked with Shallots, Olives and Thyme

In my large file of recipes, this one begins 'Sundays don't have to be about being stuck in the kitchen all day. This delicious family chicken bake is ready in just 40 minutes, leaving plenty of time to chill out.....' That was enough incentive for me to try it out and it's now a favourite :)

Chicken Baked with Shallots, Olives and Thyme

Serves 4.
(Prep time 10 minutes. Cooking time 30 minutes)

4 skinless chicken breast fillets
12 shallots, peeled
4 garlic cloves, peeled
16 good-quality pitted green olives
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp sherry vinegar

Pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees C/Gas 5.

Arrange the chicken breasts in a shallow roasting tin or baking dish. Tuck the shallots, garlic cloves and olives in around the chicken and place the thyme sprigs on top

Drizzle over the oil and season with salt and pepper

Bake for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven and drizzle over the sherry vinegar

Cook for a further 10 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through

Serve with veg. or a green salad

As is often the case, I just use two chicken breasts for the two of us with the full amount of other ingredients - and then multiply up when there are more of us.

I did once buy Queen Olives - ha, ha, I thought the can said Green 'cos I wasn't wearing my specs. Hey, ho - Queen Olives are stuffed with Jalapeno chillies and I only discovered this when actually preparing the dish. My OH loves chillies so once he spotted them there was no way I could change direction :) The chillies mellowed down during the cooking process and didn't spoil the dish so that's an option I guess - I still prefer normal olives though. 

The beauty of recipe is that it truly is 'sling it all in' cooking (hear that Sandra?) - no need to brown the chicken or anything. It looks a bit insipid in the photos but, trust me, it's always so moist and tender....despite needing a bit of sunshine to get a suntan!