Sunday, 17 December 2017

Christmas Flowers and/or foliage at CD Sundays

It's time for our final challenge before Christmas at CD Sundays. The last posting date is very close and I'm sure you need a last burst of pre-Christmas card making, and of course using a CD can speed up the process no end! So our theme this time is Christmas Flowers and/or Foliage.

I've used Joanna Sheen's lovely Vintage Christmas CD set (it's a set of three CDs packed with gorgeous images and papers).

A vintage image like that really cries out for ribbon, lace and pearls, the result being a very quick but luxuriant looking card with the pearls echoing the mistletoe berries and pulling everything together.

I would like to share this with

C.R.A.F.T - Christmas
Crafty Hazelnut's Christmas Challenge  - Anything goes (or glitter)
Winter Wonderland - Anything Christmas Goes
Christmas Cards All Year Round - Anything Christmas Goes
The Holly and the Ivy - Anything Christmas Goes  

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Quick makes with a kit

I'm afraid my shoulder is STILL not better so I'm not crafting much at the moment (however I do have three scheduled posts coming up over the next week, thank goodness I was ahead with all my DT projects before I hurt myself).

It's very frustrating wanting to craft and not being able to - luckily a kit that I won came to the rescue. I've won a couple of lovely prizes from Quick Cards Made Easy in the last few days - one for my letter being the letter of the month in the latest issue, and the other for winning one of the monthly challenges on their website, and part of one of the prizes was a Hunkydory kit to make four each of bags, shadowbox cards and mini trinket boxes.

If my arm was more mobile I would customise them, adding my own bits of ribbon, lace, pearls and gems, I think they would lend themselves perfectly to it, but for now it was just a joy to be able to make something without having to use a knife or die cutter and with the minimum of scissor work!

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Chicken and sweetclems with couscous

I'm still having problems with my shoulder and not really doing any crafting, so here's another recipe for you. It's  loosely based one I adapted from a 20 year old copy of Good Food magazine (yes, I do have rather a lot of dog eared old magazines that I couldn't bear to part with).

Start preparing this well in advance as it takes about an hour to cook and also needs at least an hour of marination.

For two people you will need

2 chicken joints, I used leg and thigh quarters
juice of 1 lemon
1 large clove of garlic
1 finely chopped onion
salt and pepper
2 tbs olive oil
1 tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
a splash of sunflower or rapeseed oil for frying
800 ml chicken stock
3 sweetclems, each cut into 6 sections, skin on (you can use any small citrus as long as it doesn't have a loose skin that could fall off during cooking)
30g flaked almonds
12 Kalamata olives
2 tbs chopped fresh parsley

Coucous, rice or pasta to serve

Slash the skin on the chicken joints a few times and place them in a non metallic dish. Mix together the lemon juice, oil, garlic, onion, ginger, cinnamon and seasoning and pour over the chicken, turning nd rubbing so each piece is well coated. Cover and allow to stand for at least an hour.

Heat a large sauté pan that has a well fitting lid over a high heat, adding a smear of oil. Remove the chicken from the marinade, scraping any clinging bits back into the bowl, and fry it on both sides until browned. Tip in all of the remaining marinade, mix well then add the stock. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove the lid and add the sweetclem sections. Continue cooking for another 20 minutes, leaving the lid off until the liquid has reduced to a thick sauce, about a quarter of its initial volume - pop the lid back on if it seems to be reducing too fast.

When the chicken is cooked through, the sweetclems are soft but not disintegrating and the liquid reduced to a sauce, remove from the heat and scatter over the olives, almonds and parsley. (You could add the olives when you add the sweetclems, but I don't like hot cooked olives, so I prefer them added at the end. It keeps them nice and shiny too!)

Serve over cous cous, rice or pasta

Sunday, 10 December 2017

No sh**, Sherlock!

I've been very quiet on the crafting front recently, only posting my pre-scheduled DT pots, that's because last weekend I injured my shoulder and haven't been able to do any crafting for a whole week. Luckily it's starting to get better but I'm still a few days away from being able to wield a craft knife or crank the handle of my Grand Calibur.

So I'm taking this opportunity to share with you the card I made from my friend Claire's birthday - actually I made it a couple of weeks ago but didn't want to share it until she'd received it as she reads this blog. She's a Sherlock Holmes fan so the Graphic 45 Master Detective papers are ideal for making a card for her.

And while I had the papers out, I couldn't resist making a second card with them

I am sharing with
Crafty Creations Challenge - Anything Goes
Crafty Hazelnut's Patterned Paper Challenge - December
Love to Craft - Anything Goes  

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Sisterhood of Snarky Stampers challenge 99 - Vegan

It's new challenge time at the Sisterhood of Snarky Stampers and this time Edna has chosen V is for Vegan which simply means we want to see an animal on your card rather than on your plate!

I've never knowingly eaten elephant, and don't plan to, nevertheless I decided to feature an elephant on my card. Because lurking in my Very Old Stamps I have an unmounted stamp of an elephant's bottom, and I get far too little reason to stamp elephant's bottoms. It's an unmounted stamp and I'm guessing from the colour of the rubber that it came in a grab bag from Viva Las Vegas.

I started by sizing and printing the sentiment and pile of poo - these were a free download which I think came from Bugaboo stamps - and then cut the paper to shape. I stamped the elephant in dark grey then coloured it in with various grey pencils, then used a deckle edged ruler to draw a skyline and stamped the lone tree (a Debbi Moore stamp which I lost about 10 minutes after making this card, I hope it turns up again soon!). I added just a hint of distant savannah and sky with watercolours and used a pencil to doodle in the footprints. I coloured the egret on the elephant's back with a white gel pen to make it stand out, and finished the pile of poo with glossy accents.

And they say an elephant never forgets......

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Recipe - Carrot and lentil soup with sourdough croutons

Yes, you read it right - a recipe! Well this is supposed to be a "food and craft" blog, but in recent months the food seems to have slipped into oblivion for various reasons. However I've just made some really delicious soup that I couldn't resist sharing.

Sorry it's such a rubbish photo but I was in a hurry to tuck in!

The inspiration for this soup was the last few rather limp carrots in a bag, a stub of stale sourdough bread and a half litre tub of frozen chicken stock that fell on the floor when I was getting something else out and the container shattered so it needed to be used. A rummage in the cupboard produced the tail end of a bag of lentils - I didn't weigh them but it looked like about 80g.

So, to make 4 hearty servings you will need

1 medium onion
4 medium to large carrots
80g red lentils
½ litre stock - vegetable or chicken, plus the same amount of water
a knob of butter
your choice of spice (optional) - see recipe

and for the croutons

stale sourdough bread (the equivalent of about 2 slices of bread)
1 tbs light olive oil

First start the soup. Peel the onion and carrots and cut into large chunks, then whizz in a food processor until very finely chopped. (If you don't have a food processor, chop them roughly and use a stick blender on the soup when it is cooked.)

Melt the butter in a large saucepan and stir in the carrot and onion mixture, and cook gently, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes. Then add the spice if you want - I like to add just one spice and ring the changes between cardamom, cumin, ground coriander, ground ginger and chilli - just a generous pinch, to bring out the flavour of the carrots, rather than to add a spicy flavour. Carrots go well with all these spices - or you could omit the spice completely, or stir in some chopped fresh coriander or parsley when serving the soup. Today I used two drops of cardamom scented Spice Drops. Mix in the spice than add the stock and water. Bring to the boil, add the lentils, cover and simmer gently for around 30 minutes until the lentils have completely broken down into the liquid. Don't add seasoning (or use salty stock cubes) until the end, or they may not fall properly.

While the soup is cooking, make the croutons. Heat the oven to 180c (fan) 400F, gas mark 7.
Cut the bread into small dice,  about 1cm cubes,  toss in the oil and spread on a baking tray. Bake for 7-10 minutes until crisp and golden, then tip onto kitchen paper to absorb any left over oil.

When the soup is cooked, taste it and add seasoning. Serve with a scattering of the crispy croutons on top.

By varying the spices this soup can taste different every time - you can travel all around the world in a bowl of carrot soup, adding whatever flavour or spice blend takes your fancy. Or make it taste fresher in the summer by replacing the spice with orange or lime zest and juice. It only costs pennies to make, especially if you get a huge bag of carrots at half price as I did, and buy your lentils and spices in an Asian store or the World Foods section of your supermarket. (Have you ever noticed how much cheaper spices and pulses are in that area than they are in the rest of the store?)

I am sharing this with Kitchen Clear Out at Madhouse Family Reviews

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Jingle Bells

It's getting closer to Christmas, and time to start writing cards, so the ones I'm making now need to be pretty quick and easy.

For this card  I've used a pyramage and papers printed from Ooh la la's CD The Shawn Jenkins Collection, layered with green and a green bow.

I am sharing this with
Christmas Cards All Year Round - Anything Goes
Crafty Hazelnut's Christmas Challenge Extra - December
A Bit More Time To Craft Extra - Anything Goes