Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Silhouette tag

The inspiration for the current Tag You're It challenge inspired not only this tag but the lace background for the card in my previous post.

I've just treated myself  to a Dymo label making machine, the old fashioned hand held type, so this tag gave me a chance to play with it. I stamped and embossed the flowers in white on white card and then sponged all over with distress inks, using darker shades and heavier application towards the bottom and right of the tag. The flower silhouette stamp is an unmounted rubber one a friend gave me when I first started stamping. I don't know the brand or name, but it's one of my most often-used stamps.

The die cut words were made with a Cuttlebug die (an ancient one, it came with an embossing folder of dandelion clocks or allium heads, I can't remember the name) in the Grand Calibur.  I've noticed  since changing from the Cuttlebug to the Grand Calibur that some of my Cuttlebug dies are looking bowed in the middle, it must be the higher pressure of the newer machine. I know it probably doesn't make any difference to their effectiveness, but it's not very aesthetically pleasing - do any of you know a way of flattening them?

As well as Tag You're It I am sharing this with
Mod Squad - Emboss resist 
Cuttlebug Mania - We Love to Stamp
Addicted to Stamps - Make Your Mark

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Butterflies and Lace

The current Butterfly challenge is Butterflies and L is for Lace, and I decided to use stamped lace instead of real, because I wanted to break open a couple of packs of never-used clear Kanban stamps that I bought in a QVC kit some time around the date of the invention of the wheel and was feeling guilty that they had lain unused for so long.

I stamped small butterflies at random and the scalloped lace border down the side of my card, then added a band of ribbon-trimmed card to cover up where the border didn't match up for a bit of extra interest. The lace panel was stamped and embossed in white ink on white card, then I sponged a selection of distress inks over it, rubbing hard with a tissue to make sure no ink clung to the raised areas. Then it just needed a couple of butterflies to finish it off.

Flight at Cardz 4 Guyz

This week at Cardz 4 Guyz the theme is Flight. There are lots of ways this could be interpreted - aircraft, birds, space flight or even the flight of darts or arrows! I chose to base my card around vintage aircraft to give me an opportunity to use my lovely Crafty Individuals tag stamp. I just cut out the flight (and air mail) related tags and have saved the remainder for a future project.

The rest of the card is all made from snippets - a few pieces of background card from an old HunkyDory kit, cog wheels cut out of the remainder of one of the pieces of card, and an image and postcard from the remains of a sheet of 12 x 12 K&Co paper.

While making this card I had An Episode. I've been using my Crop-a-Dile to insert eyelets regularly ever since it was first introduced to the UK market, many years ago. And I still store eyelets in the compartments in the case, just as it came when new. And every time I open the case, I think "One day I'm going to make a mistake and open the case upside down, and then there will be eyelets everywhere."

Well, today was the day........

I'm playing along with
Make my Monday - Vintage
Fan-tastic Tuesday - Use some twine or string
Pixies Snippets Playground - week 174

Monday, 27 April 2015

Did you miss me?

Sorry I've been quiet for a few days, I've been away to France to visit my daughter, son in law and my gorgeous little 16 month old granddaughter. I really wish airports had craft rooms where we could go to play while we wait - after all they have children's play areas and bars, so why not craft rooms?

Anyway I'm back and trying to pick up on a few challenges I've missed out on while I was away, so I'm bundling a couple of cards together in a one-size-fits-all post.

First up, a card I made with odds and ends of leftover card. I really wish I'd remembered to back the card for that delicate die cut border with adhesive sheet before I cut it! But a cocktail stick and some PVA glue (and a great deal of swearing) worked as an alternative.......

I'm entering this card into
Less is More week 221 - Use a Tag
Addicted to CAS - #62 Black, white and gold
Pixie's Snippets Playground -   week 174

My second card is also one for the Playground - in fact it used up more snippets than it appears to, because my first attempt used different wording, cut from individual letters, but I lost some and had to re-cut them (I think I may have a B and an S somewhere inside my bra right now) and then even with the help of my trusty post it notes I made such a pig's ear of lining them up that I had to go right back to the drawing board.

I'm also entering it into AAA Challenge #38 - There's a Hole in my card

Anyway, it worked the second time around and has the added bonus of leaving me with the die cut leaf  swirl shape to use on another project.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Things don't always work....

A few months ago, I won a cover-your-own-notebook kit. Now I love notebooks, so was looking forward to having a go with this. The cover could be stitched or sewn, and as I seldom use my sewing machine these days (the eye of the needle seems to have got smaller..... in order to thread it, I have to take my glasses off and rest my head on the table with my nose practically touching the needle... nothing to do with my age, of course...) I decided to use the sticking method.

The first drawback I encountered was that the outside of the box didn't tell me I would need to buy a tin of spray starch. So I had everything out and ready to start, then came to the instruction "Now spray your fabric all over with spray starch". Packed everything up again and went shopping. The supermarket had none.

Have you any idea how many times it is possible to go shopping and either forget to look for a tin of starch or remember it and find that there was none in stock? Yes, it took me several months to be equipped to make a fresh start on my notebook.

And do you know, once I'd starched the blooming fabric, it didn't feel any different! I'm sure in the days when we all used starch on shirts, it was, well, starchier.

Anyway, fabric starched and cut, I started to make my book, and encountered problem number one. The book provided in the kit had an elastic closure attached to one of the covers. It wasn't possible to stick the fabric down over the cover without removing it, and it took some very careful cutting to try not to leave a bump in the surface where it had been.

Fabric stuck to outside of cover, I moved on to turning over the edges to stick down inside the covers. Here I met problem numbers two and three...... the book had an inside pocket in the back cover, and sticking the fabric edges down rendered this unusable. And the book also had very rounded corners, so the instructions to "Mitre the corners" left unsightly empty fabric points at each corner.

Also the instructions didn't mention anything about covering the raw edges of fabric to hide them. I thought they looked pretty unsightly so I cut pieces of card to fit slightly smaller than the pages and stuck them over the offending edges. This also hid the fact that there was an unusable pocket at the back, although it left it feeling rather bulky.

Next I turned back to the outside to admire the covered book, and realised the fourth and worst problem. The fabric provided was a cream floral design (there were others to choose from, but all were either pale or had large pale areas). The notebook was very dark brown. So the entire book looked grey and dingy with the brown showing through the cream. And the plae fabric also allows the adhesive to show through, although the flash on the photo makes it look worse than in real life.

Now was the time to decorate the cover, but I'm afraid by now my heart wasn't in it and I just stuck a bit of washi tape and a few die cuts on it. I'd been planning to make the book as a gift, but there's no way I would give anyone a hand made gift that I wasn't proud of, and to say I'm not proud of this is an understatement. I'll use it for my own card sketches and ideas, but it may well make me feel grumpy every time I use it!

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Rye Bread - the easy way

You probably know by now that while Mark loves to make bread by hand, I like to make it the lazy way, in the bread machine, even if I'm going to shape and bake the dough conventionally. So here we have what must surely be the easiest rye bread ever!

Since our local farm shop started to stock the lovely range of Wessex Mill bread flours, I can easily get hold of their delicious Sour Rye Flour and this has become our favourite loaf - it is light, evenly textured and has just the right amount of caraway flavour - definitely "there" but not enough to overwhelm anything you eat with it. Mark loves it with jam for breakfast: I love it with smoked trout paté from the Farmer's Market. And we both love it with soups and stews - the other day I made a loaf to eat with Goulash Soup.

My recipe came from a little booklet called "Allinsons Continental Bread" which I bought several years ago, one of those little booklets like the Be-Ro book that you often find perched on the top of the baking ingredients shelves. However I've found the recipe on the Baking Mad website - identical apart from the fact the online version includes honey and there's no sweetening added to the one in the booklet.  I don't think it needs the honey, it's absolutely delicious without it! Or simply use the basic loaf recipe that comes with your machine, replacing half of the flour with rye flour and adding 1 tablespoon of caraway seeds.

To make it in a bread machine, add all the ingredients to the pan in the order recommended for your machine and then use the DOUGH setting. When the cycle finishes, remove from the machine, knead lightly and shape into a rounded-ended oblong on your greased baking tray, make slits along the top and cover loosely with oiled cling film. Leave to prove until doubled in size - nowadays I tend not to actively seek out a warm place for bread to rise, but this really does benefit from half an hour or so in the airing cupboard. The oven can be heating while the bread is rising. Make sure there is plenty space above the shelf in the oven, as the bread will continue to rise quite a lot in the oven.

Bake for 30 minutes at 190 C (170 fan), 375 F, Gas Mark 6.

I'm sharing this with Bready Steady Go at Jen's Food and Utterly Scrummy Food 4 Families


Announcement - Giveaway Winner

My Bloggy Birhday Giveaway closed at midnight on Sunday and I used to pick the lucky winner who is Jenna Oksanen from Finland. Well done Jenna, your prize is winging its way to you right now.

Here is the card I popped in with her prize, made using the Dovecraft Curiosity Corner range of papers and embellishments

There is a special message stamped inside:

It's the first time I've ever used that stamp - I bought it just before the illness that forced me to close down Grape Vine - I'd planned to use it every time I ran a competition, but before I'd had chance to use it, I had to close the business and stop running them. I'm glad it's been able so see ink for the first time in its life!

Football Crazy at Cardz 4 Guyz

This week we're going football crazy at Cardz 4 Guyz  and we'd love to see YOUR football themed cards too. Why not pop over there and take a look at the ideas from the rest of the design team? And if you are somebody who struggles to make cards for the males in your life, take a look through some of our previous challenges, you'll find loads of inspiration!

I've made an easel-style card because it makes the image look as if he's standing in the mouth of a goal. The image and backing paper are taken from the CD The Best Of La Pashe 2014 and the beer glasses and matching border are from an old Kanban die cut sheet.

I'm sharing this as a second entry to Layer it up! at CD Sundays - I think you'll agree it's very diferent to my first entry!
Also with
OLLCB - at least 5 layers
Fab'nFunky - Masculine  

Monday, 20 April 2015

Lots and lots and lots of layers!

This fortnight's CD Sundays challenge is "Layer it up" and my card has lots and lots and LOTS of layers! In fact I think when it is closed, the centre area has over 20 layers.....

I used toppers and background paper from the My Craft Studio "Flawless Florals" Click, Print, Go CD. I didn't like the image on the large topper very much, so I covered it up with a different one!

Now, can any of you spot the printing error on the background paper? If you look at the blue flowers to the top left of each spray, it will show you the "right" way up for the motif, but on just a few of them the spray is inverted and the flowers are on the bottom left! If you have the entire sheet of paper in front of you, it is far too infrequent to be deliberate. I'm never again going to be able to look at that sheet without my eye being drawn to the "odd man out"!

Chicken Machboos

This weekend's Formula 1 Grand Prix was in Barhain, which means the F1 Foods challenge at Caroline Makes is to cook a dish from Bahrain.

I searched high and low  - I found lots of cake recipes but only one savoury dish, Chicken Machboos, which is apparently the national dish. Recipes for it vary - I expect there as many variations as there are kitchens in Bahrain - but I liked the look of this version at Daring Gourmet so I decided to follow their recipe. It is a kind of chicken pilaff, with the chicken cooked in with spicey, tomatoey rice.   If you want to cook it too, follow the link - the post is long and has step-by-step illustrations, but the recipe itself is printable so you can take one handy page into the kitchen.
The first thing I noticed was what a long list of ingredients there are! But this is partly because it includes the recipe for a home made baharat, the fragrant Middle Eastern spice blend. You can easily buy this in supermarkets but as I love making spice blends and have a coffee grinder dedicated to spices only,  I decided to follow the recipe and make my own, and I'm very glad I did. It is a wonderfully fragrant blend, and as a bonus the house now has a beautiful toasted cardamom scent. I'll be making my own baharat from now on.
Apart from the baharat, the other "exotic" ingredient is dried limes. I couldn't get hold of these locally so I used the rind and juice of a fresh lime instead. And I omitted the fresh coriander/cilantro because my husband is violently allergic to it.

Although there looked as if there were a lot of ingredients, the dish was simple to make. Too time consuming for a weekday, perhaps, but great for a weekend. And it was wonderful! We eat a vary varied diet and seldom find anything completely new to us, but although the pilaff style is familiar, the combination of spices, parsley, lime and rosewater gave it a completely different flavour, which we loved. It may have been the first time I made this, but it certainly won't be the last!

GIVEAWAY - Bloggy Birthday

Onions and Paper is three years old today! So I thought I'd celebrate with a little giveaway. And to make it relevant to the blog, it's a two-part prize. That is, one prize with two parts, not two separate prizes.... so whether you're here for food or craft, the prize will have something to suit you.

The first part is a copy of The Great British Pepper Cookbook.

This is a soft-backed book packed with recipes which all include peppers - and yes, there ARE one or two desserts! I'd love to hear from the winner if they try making a pepper-based pud! The word "British" refers to the peppers, not the recipes, which are from all over the world.
Part 2 is a clear stamp set. This is a Kanban design - the sheet measures 15cm by 10cm to give you an idea of the size of the images.
I'll keep the giveaway open for a week, so it will close on Sunday April 19th. To enter, just click on the blue Inlinkz button and enter your name and email address. If the form asks you for a website URL, just leave it blank (I've tried to tell it not to ask for one..... but you never know.....) . Please only enter once! I'll contact the winner by email on April 20th and get the details of where to post the prize to - if the winner is outside the UK, I may have to use surface mail as our postage rates are shocking! I'll keep this post pinned to the top of the blog until the giveaway closes.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Purple Crazy

The CD Sunday Challenge Blog is having an extra challenge this month, in memory of talented and well known crafter Wendy, also known as Purple Crazy, who passed away a short while ago. And the title of the challenge is, of course, Purple Crazy.

Here is the card I have made for the challenge. I used a very old CD - the very first craft CD I ever owned - called Fantasy Floral from Artylicious. I printed the background paper and a sheet of panels and labels in co-ordinating shades of purple. Then I stamped a sentiment on the square panel, and cut out some of the flowers and leaves from the leftover backing paper after covering my card base, layering them with some die cut swirls to create a focal point.


About twenty years ago, I went through a spell of being a very keen Scrabble player - I knew all the allowable two letter words and all the words that contained a Q but no U, I reckoned it was a poor game if I didn't get at least 3 seven letter "bingos" and I even played in a few championships. But it reached a point where I had to decide whether to take it further, travelling all around the country to tournaments every weekend, and at the time my daughters were going through the stressful GCSE years and I figured they needed weekends to relax with their family - impossible if the family isn't there! So now I don't play at all but still have fond memories of the challenge of playing to such a high level (not to mention an impressive knowledge of two letter words).

I was pleased when a recent magazine freebie was a pack of Scrabble tiles for crafting - although not quite as keen when I found that many of the letter tiles had the wrong score on them! I don't know whether that's deliberate, to avoid infringing copyright, but I'm having a quiet seethe about the letter F only being worth one point! And that's despite the fact that I have quite deliberately arranged the premium squared on my "board" to look pleasing rather than accurate. There's just no pleasing me today.

To make the board, I worked in inches for a change and cut a 5" square of green card, then scored it at 1" intervals in both directions. I then covered the score lines with black peel off borders - I'd have liked to use straight lines but I ran out. The premium squares - red, pink, dark blue and light blue - are cut from snippets.

I'm sharing this with
The Male Room - Using letters and/or numbers
Allsorts Challenge Blog - Quick and Simple Does It
Pixie's Snippets Playground - Week 173

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Bookmarked Recipe - Carrot and Cucumber Ribboned Salad

When I spotted this recipe on Simply Food recently I just had to bookmark it - Carrot and Cucumber Ribboned Salad with a spicy peanut dressing.

It's a very simple salad - carrots and cucumber cut into ribbons (I used a y-shaped potato peeler but a mandolin would be perfect for it) mixed with finely sliced red onion and then dressed with a citrusy, chilli-laced dressing based on crush dry roasted peanuts.

The only tweaks I made to the original recipe were to omit the garlic - despite being a garlic lover, I don't like raw garlic in salad dressings - and use a blood orange instead of a normal one simply because that was what was in the fruit bowl. I think the reddish tint it gives to the dressing works well with the chilli.

We absolutely loved the salad and will be making it many times more - and next time I make my beloved gado-gado, I may well use this dressing as a change from my usual creamy peanut sauce.

I'm sharing this post with Bookmarked Recipes at Tinned Tomatoes.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Recipe: Slow Cooker Goulash Soup

Sometimes the slow cooker is indispensable! Yesterday my husband  had a drive home of several hours after work, and would welcome a hot meal when he got in - but these days road works and traffic jams can lengthen a journey very unpredictably, so a slow cooked meal was perfect as an extra hour or two of cooking wouldn't spoil it. So I decided to make a goulash, a complete one-pot meal.

I've called it a soup, but it's actually something in between a soup and a stew. Cutting the meat and veg small makes it spoonable, but it's still good to have something to mop up those yummy juices. I served it with home made caraway rye bread.

The goulash itself was a bit of a fridge clearing exercise - I wouldn't normally have used celeriac in a goulash, but it was just reaching "use it or lose it" point, and in fact it added a lovely savouriness to the goulash and I'll make a point of always adding it in future! And of course it means it contains even more veg, and makes an already cheap cut of meat go further.

This goulash reheats beautifully (we've just eaten the leftovers for lunch) and would probably freeze well too, although I wouldn't keep it for too long in the freezer as I find anything with garlic in it can develop a musty taste after a couple of months.

Goulash Soup in the slow cooker

ingredients (to serve 4)

500g lean stewing beef – buy it in a single piece if possible (I used skirt)
2 tablespoons plain flour
1 tablespoon paprika – hot or sweet, as you prefer, but NOT smoked
½ tsp salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
750ml beef stock
4 tablespoons tomato purée
1 bayleaf
2 onions
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 large carrots
½ a small celeriac
2 large potatoes

Mix together the flour, thyme and seasoning in a large plastic bag. Cut the meat into small pieces, about 2 cm square, and toss with the seasoned flour.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and brown a few pieces of meat at a time, taking care not to overcrowd the pan. Transfer to the slow cooker pot as done.


Peel and dice all the vegetables into roughly 1cm cubes, and add to the pot along with the bay leaf. Blend the tomato purée into the stock and pour over the meat and veg, then mix together.

If your slow cooker has an auto function, cook on auto for 10 hours. Otherwise cook for either 4-6 hours on High, or 1 hour on High followed by 8-10 hours on Low. Serve in soup bowls with crusty bread. I added a dollop of sour cream - not essential but rather yummy!

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Mark suggested I should have garnished it with chopped parsley, but as there's no parsley in the recipe, to me that counts as an "irrelevant garnish" (one of my pet hates). However I've just thought - it DOES contain thyme, so a few leaves of fresh thyme would have prettied it up!

Since this is so cheap, easy and nourishing I'm going to spread the word by entering it into:

Extra Veg  at Jo's Kitchen  with Fuss Free Flavours and Utterly Scrummy Food For Friends

The Slow Cooked Challenge at Farmersgirl Kitchen

Credit Crunch Munch at Utterly Scrummy Food For Friends with Fuss Free Flavours and Fab Food 4 All

Super Soup at Jo's Kitchen
Jo's Kitchen

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

The flowers that bloom in the spring tra-la!

Any G&S fans out there singing along with me?

Right, after that little musical interlude (well, I had one anyway, I don't know about the rest of you) on with the card. For this, I have used my old faithful Hero Arts tulip stamp and used the Grand Calibur to cut the sentiment and the green border. The large scallops were actually cut using one of the wavy sea dies from the X-cut pirate ship set (did you spot that, Di? ) used the opposite way round from what was intended. The green and yellow card came from my snippets box.

The buttons are from a mixed jar that I've had since forever, or possibly longer. They are supposed to be a set, but one of them was ever so slightly different in both shade and size from the others so I put it in the middle so it would be balanced out by the other two.

I'm sharing this with
Pixie's Snippets Playground week 172
Clear it out challenge - Yellow things (the old things are the buttons and the yellow card)
Cuttlebug Mania - Button It
AAA Cards - It's Springtime

Simply Gold

I love this fern stamp - it's one from a sheet that I think came from Artylicious, which is now Chocolate Baroque, and I can see it's on their Wild Flower Meadow stamp sheet. This time I have stamped it twice and embossed it in gold, added a birthday greeting and a very thin mat of gold.

I'm sharing this with CAS on Sunday - Gold.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

For my Crazy Cat Lady Mother!

In a few weeks' time, my mother will be 89 years old. She's housebound and disabled and doesn't really have much interest in anything but her cats any more, so I thought this cute kitty decoupage sheet from Kanban was perfect for her. I teamed it with papers from my stash and pretty pearl embellishments from The Handcrafted Card Company to make an easel card which will be easy for her unsteady hands to display and difficult for the cats to knock over!

The Kanban die cut sheets are perfect for making quick cards, which makes them ideal for beginners and children, as well as crafters-in-a-hurry. My five year old granddaughter loves them! You can get great value lucky dip packs of them from Foil Play with prices starting from just £2.99 for 10 sheets. The sheet I used had the cat images, borders and sentiments on it - some of the sheets have several different toppers, and some include a background or even a pre-scored card to use.

I'm sharing this with:
OLLCB - Lots  of Layers (the image area of the easel has 9 layers!)

RECIPE: Chilli Prawns

As you probably know, for most of the first part of our married life, Mark and I lived in the Far East. We loved eating in Chinese restaurants, and one of my favourite dishes was Chilli Prawns. I tried many times to reproduce the dish at home, and although it was slightly different everywhere we ate, it always had a "certain something" that I couldn't quite capture at home.

Until, that is, I found a shop that sold bilingual English and Chinese recipe books. I bought several and although they all included different recipes for it, they had one ingredient in common....... TOMATO KETCHUP! Yes, that ordinary bottle of red gloopy stuff that lives in practically every kitchen (at least, here in the UK, but I suspect in many other places too).

Over the years I've tried many variations of this until I've distilled it down to my own, personal, very favourite version - and today I'm sharing it with you.  Incidentally although this recipe serves two, I only make it when I'm alone as Mark cannot eat any fish or seafood and he also hates green peppers, so as he was working away from home yesterday I treated myself and made my supper for two nights!

If your chilli isn't a very hot one, or you like to have the heat distributed evenly through the sauce, you could add a little hot chilli sauce when you add the ketchup mixture.

Chilli Prawns (serves 2)

1 pack (150-200g) large peeled prawns
1 dessertspoon light soy sauce
1 dessertspoon Chinese cooking wine (or dry sherry)

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
4 spring onions, sliced
1 large red chilli, seeded and sliced
1 green pepper, seeds and membrane removed, cut into 2-3cm squares
1 tbs sunflower, vegetable or groundnut oil

3 tablespoons tomato ketchup
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon Chinese Cooking wine (or dry sherry)

First of all, mix the prawns with the dessertspoons of wine and soy and set aside while you prepare the other ingredients. This can be done in advance, but you don't have to give them a good long marinating time as they shouldn't need any tenderising!

Mix together the tomato ketchup and the tablespoons of wine and soy.

Prepare  the ginger, chilli, spring onion and peppers.

all good to go......

Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan and stir-fry the veg for 2-3 minutes. Add the prawns and mix well, then stir fry for 2 more minutes. Stir in the sauce mixture, mix well and bring to the boil.

That's all there is to it - easy, isn't it? And probably quicker than phoning out for a takeaway.

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I'm sharing this with F1 Foods at Caroline Makes in honour of last weekend's Chinese Grand Prix

and with Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum  
Tasty Tuesdays on