Saturday, 30 November 2013

Saturday Supper - Beef and Pepper Chilli

This recipe has become one of our favourites - perfect for a Winter supper:


Serves 6 - WHAT?! No way, I only just spotted that on the recipe :) I'd say it's very filling for 2 people with good appetites (and/or a two-legged mouse) and probably OK for 4 people with a dessert to follow if you're being posh. Certainly a great dish for having friends round if you do all the chopping etc. in advance.

2 x 15ml spoons olive oil
1 x onion, finely chopped
1 x red and 1 yellow pepper, deseeded and cut into strips
20g pack coriander, stalks roughly chopped and leaves reserved
15ml spoon Cool Chile Company mole powder (optional - I didn't use this)
Approx 500g good quality frying beef, or less, cut into strips
1 x 400g can tomato soup
1 x 400g can mixed beans - in water not salad dressing (the slightly smaller size will do fine)
(NB. If you can find 'tomato soup with three types of beans' in then just use two of those - Sainsburys used to sell them but I couldn't find any so I improvised with one can of soup and one of mixed beans)
2 x plum tomatoes, each cut into quarters
150g nacho cheese tortilla chips
25g Mexican-style cheese, freshly grated

To serve:
130g tub fresh guacamole
142ml pot soured cream
60g bag herb salad or whatever salad mix you fancy

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the onion and peppers and cook for 3-4 minutes or until softened. Remove and put to one side on a plate.

Place the coriander stalks, mole powder and the beef into the same pan and stir fry for 1 minute. Add the soup and the drained beans and heat through for 5 minutes. Return the onion and peppers to the pan, then add the tomatoes and coriander leaves and combine.

Preheat the grill to a moderate heat.

Place the chilli into an ovenproof dish. Top with the nacho cheese tortilla chips and scatter with the cheese. Place under the grill and cook until golden brown. Keep an eye on it as those tortilla chips will burn easily.

Serve with the guacamole, soured cream and herb salad.

Things I do: I did buy really good frying beef the first time but the second time I counted out me pennies and bought fillet steak - well worth the extra money! No way can I find the mole powder stuff so that was omitted. Plus, I actually just used good ole grated Cheddar cheese as the deli counter never seems to have Mexican-style cheese which has little bits of chilli in.

The two-legged mouse thought my version was fine, and he's a chilli fiend usually!

Enjoy!

AND, we passed not just 60 but 70 Playground entries already! Remember the Playground is open until 11am tomorrow, UK time, this week - but we achieved 60 plus so, if you wanna little rest, please do have a lie down. WELL DONE! Mwah :)

Di
x

Friday, 29 November 2013

Friends

.....have a wonderful way of reminding us what really matters.

I LOVE this sentiment stamp, and over the past weeks it's been so very true. So many supportive comments when I felt like throwing the towel in :( Thank you ALL from the bottom of my heart! What lovely friends I have, comments, emails and phone calls - I can't ever thank you enough!

I used the sentiment on this card as a thank you note for one very special act of kindness - my lovely bouquet of flowers which arrived from Elizabeth when almost at the lowest point:
I used:

- a shaped card (Craftwork Cards?), with the edges stamped with SU's little leaves stamp from their 'Bloomin' Marvellous' set and 'Certainly Celery' ink - snigger, as it was for a lady who does beautiful work on the insides of her cards I did do some rather pathetic stamping inside too :)

- the flowers are stamped with SU 'Smokey Slate' onto assorted pieces of pink snippets, die cut (all with SU stamps and die cuts from the ' Secret Garden' matching set' ) - edges and other bits tweeked with different sparkly Stickles and also some Liquid Pearl Drops in the centres

- the SU 'Certainly Celery' leaves were die cut using the same set plus even more Stickles

- the sentiment is by Penny Black and is called 'Friends Matter', stamped in SU 'Smokey Slate'

Then I made a box, with help from Len who climbed up to where I keep the box of un-assembled boxes - bless :)

And then what did I do - crept into my car, went and posted the card and also did a supermarket shop - YAY!! Not there yet and I do ache but it felt do good to be more mobile after two  weeks plus! Len is quietly proud as he sort of pushed me but is still watching like a protective Daddy Bear!

OMG!! I just spotted we reached 60 entries into the Playground  - the BEST medicine ever! Thank you soooo much! I will catch up on commenting ASAP, don't want to get too cheeky and let this back bite back at me!! It's 9pm here and am off to bed to rest. Love you all!! xx

Di
x

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Lady in red

One of my favourite songs is 'Lady in red' by Chris DeBurgh. I love it when Len plays it on guitar and it also reminds me of a magical moment on holiday a few years ago.

We walked into the hotel restaurant for dinner on our first evening (Cape Panwa, Phuket, Thailand) and the resident group, who we knew well from many previous visits, spotted us. I was wearing red - albeit not with long black gloves, snort - and they immediately stood up, grinned a welcoming 'Hello again' across at us and began to play that very song. Heads turned and I think my face also turned ....... the same shade of red as my outfit ......  as we practically danced across to our table :)
This card was made toot sweet the other day for Len's SIL - it had to be quick and easy so I turned to some Kanban images for a rummage.

I used:

- delicious ready embossed and gilded card stock which was a free gift with an order a while back, can't remember where though, just very slightly trimmed and folded to fit into an A5 envelope. That's a trick I've learnt the hard way, always check that the ready made envelope you want to use isn't a smidgen smaller than the card - unless of course you have the time to make an envelope

- topper is by Kanban as is the sentiment

Told you - it was made toot sweet :)

And this is for all of you lovely folks who are celebrating Thanksgiving:
http://www.hdwallpapersinn.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/fallclings2-300x229.jpg
Why are you here - shouldn't you be tending that turkey?!

Di
x

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

The last Rudolph Day of 2013

and so it had to be a reindeer on my card for the challenge over at the lovely Sarn's. Grin, but I gave Rudolph a 'Lady Friend' too :)
This was my third attempt at a card using the Clarity Stamps 'Birch Trees' stamp - the first two doing resist embossing and then adding a moon and sky went in the bin so in the end I resorted to a technique I haven't used for ages - gilding flakes.

I used:

- A6 gold card blank, already with the 'Happy Christmas' wording embossed in gold. Had them ages and in the end they were the best background card I could find here - funny how old goodies can come to the rescue

- the 'trees' image (Clarity Stamps - Birch Trees) was stamped using black Archival ink onto one peeled off side of a piece of double sided adhesive sheet

 - then, the stamped image was covered with a piece of acetate - over the already exposed sticky 

 - the backing was peeled off the self adhesive sheet on the reverse side of the image, and then I covered all that sticky sheet behind the image with 'Winter Dawn' gilding flakes,  by Indigo Blue, rubbed in first with finger and then with an Indigo Blue scoochy sponge 

 - next, the flakes were covered with more sticky sheet and stuck onto card then trimmed to size before being mounted onto a snippet of SU 'Early Espresso' card

- the deer were die cut, also using a snippet of 'Early Espresso' and popped on with Crafter's Pick Incredibly Tacky Glue. I didn't give 'Rudolph' a red nose though :)

- the whole little scene was popped onto the card blank using thin sticky pads  

Progress is slow but getting better - although yesterday Mrs A and I (like two old crocks) sadly cancelled our trip to Bath's Christmas market this coming Saturday. We just discovered that the whole day is scheduled to be 14 hours long and that really was going to be too much, sigh. A tough decision but common sense prevailed in the end. What made it even worse is that we were due to meet up with our buddy Sam there :( So, despite feeling a bit relieved that the decision had been made, I felt a bit low here.

THEN, the door bell rang and Mr Interflora handed over these fabulous flowers:
They came complete with vase so I didn't have to go hunting for one - thank you SO much Elizabeth! And yes, the splash of pink did perk me up no end! Mwah!

I'd also like to enter the card into Craftyhazelnut's Christmas Challenge Extra for November. 

Di
x

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Have a fun filled Christmas

The current challenge over at Craftyhazelnut's Christmas Challenge is 'For a child' - and this is also for Craftyhazelnut's Christmas Challenge Extra for November where it's always 'Anything Goes'.

Here's my offering:
When my in-house critic saw it, his reaction was 'Hmmmm, you say it's for a child? Looks like the sentiment was written by a child 'cos it's wonky'.

And he's right, although that's the way the stamp is - looks as if it's been handwritten without the aid of a ruler 'cos I did line the bottom up perfectly - but I think it adds a certain child-like charm :)

I used:

- A6 white card blank

- a rub-on by Forever Friends from their 'Christmas Wishes' set, popped onto white card. Then I went hunting for backing papers and came across a Christmas paper I doubted I'd ever use 'cos it was a landscape scene with a very unexciting image on - and bingo, when I measured, by trimming the Santa Bear carefully round the edges, he would just cover said unexciting image

- the paper I used is from Fizzy Moon 'Festive Fun' pack, popped onto SU's 'Real Red' card stock backing - all the snowflakes were already printed on the paper

- the sentiment is by Pink Gem Designs, stamped in SU 'Real Red'. Now I look at the piece of acetate the clear stamp comes on it most definitely is meant to look 'wonky'

- and just for fun I added a teeny little 'rub-on robin' (try saying THAT one after your third sherry on Christmas Day) from the same Forever Friends set

Remember it's Rudolph Day right now over at Sarn's - but this card isn't for RD, I have more plans a buzzin' for another card!

I can't believe it - we have 25 entries in the Playground already as I type this on Monday afternoon. My fingers are crossed for that elusive 60 :)

Di
x

Monday, 25 November 2013

So here's the 'bumper' prize to celebrate 100 weeks of the Snippet Playground

Very kindly donated by Joanna Sheen:

Joanna Sheen Ltd - Stokeinteignhead, United Kingdom
And this is what you'd get:

Speedball Brayer
Cuttlebug embossing folder – 'Thanks'
Crafts-Too embossing folder ' Daisy Delight'
Joanna Sheen 'Wordy' rubber stamps set
Joanna Sheen 'Up the Garden Path' rubber stamps set (Wendy Cotterill)
Joanna Sheen 'Meet the Gleanies - Cuddle Up' rubber stamps set
Joanna Sheen 'House Mouse - Silly Summer' decoupage sheets
Joanna Sheen 'Ink Jet Textile Transfer Paper'
Joanna Sheen 'Cup Kitties' decoupage sheets
Pack of Magenta thin cork sheets
Pack of Prima Flowers 'Petal Pins'
Pack of clear rhinestone gem trim – three rows wide

A lovely variety of goodies to play with and try out new things. And all you have to do is to enter a total three snippets makes into the Playground across this week and next - of course you can enter three per week if you like but I'm only looking for three altogether!

The tale behind this prize is that, although I love the Playground to be independent and want us to remain that way, I did ask if the lovely peeps at Joanna Sheen's would be interested in helping us to celebrate 100 weeks in the Playground as a 'one'off'. Despite, like many companies, them having to refrain from taking on more regular sponsorships (which wasn't what I hoped for anyhow) - this lovely selection arrived just a few days later. Quite a few items aren't available any longer in Joanna's shop - and I think that's what makes it all the more fun.

I'm not sure if it's 'cos they remembered Mrs A and I have a slapping fight over both of us wanting to pay for our joint goodies at the NEC or not :) But how kind!!

And I finally added the Playground 'rools' to the top of the blog. Number Seven is the most important one remember!

Di
x

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Pixies Snippets Playground - Week 100

YAY - it's Week 100 since I took over the Playground from Jules - so let the party begin!

First, here's my snippets card for this week:

I used:

- 6" x 6" square white card blank

- snippets of card in SU 'Real Red', silver, Centura pearlised white and mirri blue already sprinkled with silver stars

- Memory Box 'Winter Cabin Landscape' die, cut from Centura pearlised white card and tickled with 'Icicle' Stickles

-  the blue starry background card was a little bit tricky-woo as I had to make sure there were no stars peeking through the windows or the door :). I glued the cabin landscape down using some Crafter's Pick Incredibly tacky glue - the stuff I was banging on about here - and it worked a treat! Oooer though, that there cabin is leaning a bit to one side, sigh :(

- the snowy foreground was cut in two sections, the top one by using the edge of the MB die to get the correct curve and trimming off the little bit of outline that had been die cut, then they were both run through the Cuttlebug using Cuttlebug's 'Snowflakes' embossing folder before being stuck in place and the ridges also tickled with 'Icicle' Stickles. I've said previously that as am so clumsy, to apply small amounts or narrow lines of Stickles I squeeze a small amount onto a scrap of paper and pick it up with a very fine stiff brush

- Poppystamps 'Santa's Magic Sleigh' die cut from SU 'Real Red' with silver trim cut using the same die then a few small clear sparkly gems added. Tip, keep the other pieces as you will then end up with two sleighs in reversed colours

- the sentiment is by Craftwork cards, popped onto a SU punched 'Large Oval' snippet of 'Real Red' and one teensy clear gem above the letter 'i'

- both the sleigh and the sentiment were added with thin sticky pads

When my in-house critic saw this he immediately said - 'But the red frame at the back doesn't go right round' so I told him it was deliberate to offset the red at the bottom of the card. Snort, he didn't buy that one of course - rightly so as I didn't want to cut into a larger piece of red card - but I like it for a change anyhow - so there Mister Hawk Eyes :)

Right, moving smartly onto this week's picks - and we still didn't reach the elusive 60 entries - but what smashers you all brought!

First is our very own 'Elf on a shelf' - made by Mrs A. Oh I adore this, and so much nicer than the commercially made ones, just look at that expression!

Darnell made this really fun snow-people card, from scratch! Brilliant :)

How about this beautiful Christmas village, made by Brenda B - love the copper embossing and such great use of Frantage, which still gives me the quivers for fear of spoiling a card right at the end! This is perfectly done don't you think?

Jenny L brought us this divine baby boy's card - and I know it's already been shown over at Joanna Sheen's Daily Talent Spot - and quite rightly so!

AND, later on in the week this beautiful baby card made by Kate P was linked in - so, so pretty!

I truly think these are two of the loveliest baby cards I've ever seen - well done girls!

Pat joined in with this beautiful scenic card, and I immediately loved it. Made me want to reach out and touch those ripples - and it's even more amazing that Pat works from a choice of about eleven Pro Markers. It just shows that you're such a talented bunch of Playmates :)

Our Sam, aka one of the 'Playground scallywags', made this totally fabulous tag which blew me away. Glorious colours and so much detail, including the Scrabble letters - I love it!

I just had to include this stunning card made by Cornelia - not only is it absolutely gorgeous but just go and see how Cornelia makes her own embossing paste!

I could go on and on with loads more picks but it's time to welcome three new Playmates into the Playground!
Kanda brought us a lovely Santa card - just perfect for a little one and I love the use of the snippets.

Festive flurry for ChristmasGill came to play for the first time with this really elegant Christmas card- love the design and such a pretty blue.

And Julie C brought such a happy Christmas card - I love it! The combined bright colours all work so well together.

A HUGE welcome to you girls, we do hope you had fun using up your snippets and come back to play again.

OK, so now it's time for the draw for the lovely traditional Santa stamp and packet of charms I showed you last Sunday - and the winner is:
Tamara
 
Oh well done Tamara! Can you please drop me a little email (di_wray@hotmail.com) just to confirm your address and the stamp will be in the post ASAP.

And as you might guess, this week's prize is connected to my snippets card, it's two dies the same as the ones I used:
I think you'd love these, if you don't already have them. So sweet the way the sleigh looks almost quilted and the runners and the top trim are cut separately so you could (say) make it all white or do as I did for my own offering.

A slight change to our closing time this coming week girls! Mrs A and I are heading to Bath for the Christmas Market, and will also be meeting another little Playground scallywag there - so I'll be missing in action all day next Saturday.

Therefore, the Playground gates will close at 11am UK time on Sunday 1st December and will open again at midnight UK time on the Sunday as well. Maximum of three entries and please say 'No thank you' in a comment if you wish to still play but not be the winner of the prize this week, as shown above. In fact, you might want to play for only one part of the prize - do say in a comment and I'd just draw again for the second item as well.

Mr Linky is below - please let me know if you have any problems linking, I can sort it out for you quite quickly and am always happy to do so.

AND, if you hop back tomorrow I'll have news of our bumper prize which is in addition to the normal weekly draw. There's so much to it I need to write about that separately as I've done my allocated time at the desk for today. All you have to do to be included for a chance to win that is to enter a total of three snippets makes over this week and next (100 and 101) - not three per week, unless you want to - just three spread over the two weeks. You might want to start sorting out your snippets in readiness for what's coming!

PLUS, on Monday (tomorrow) it's the final Rudolph Day of this year, over at the lovely Sarn's blog - so remember that you can combine a Christmas snippets card with the one entry Sarn allows into Rudolph Day too.

Almost forgot in the excitement, I'm entering this card into the following challenges:

Allsorts Challenge - 'Bring on the bling'

Craftyhazelnut's Christmas Challenge Extra for November ' Anything goes'


Have a lovely week, stay warm and cosy and keep those snippets coming :)

Di ( and Parsnip - who is currently rifling through the bumper prize. I'm gonna have to frisk him!)
x

Saturday, 23 November 2013

When the boat comes in

One of my favourite little songs as a child is from my beloved Northumberland:

Dance ti' thy daddy, sing ti' thy mammy,
Dance ti' thy daddy, ti' thy mammy sing;
Thou shall hev a fishy on a little dishy,
Thou shall hev a fishy when the boat comes in.

 

This leads nicely into a little incident which happened yesterday morning. I'm still not driving while this back keeps seizing up - I dread to think what would happen if I was tootling along the road and it happened, screeeeeeech, crunch - but we need to eat of course. So, off trotted Len with a list of fresh meat, vegetables, fruit and fish to the supermarket - covering things which I don't trust unless I (or Len in this case) get to choose them myself. And I sat here doing an online order for the rest to be delivered today.

When Len came home he was still red-faced. He'd gone to the fish counter as I wanted 300 grammes or so of smoked haddock to add to other white fish and prawns we already have here in the freezer for our favourite fish pie.  The fact I'm thinking about proper cooking is a step forward - yay!

Only, he asked for 300 kilo grammes!! Without even cracking a slight smile the fishmonger said 'Are you sure Sir?'. Quick as a flash Len said 'Ooops, wrong amount, should be 300 grammes - I don't really need a boat load'. And you know what, still not the whisper of a smile from the guy behind the counter as he solemnly weighed out the correct quantity! But it gave us both a good laugh anyhow :)

Never send a man to do a woman's work eh?

Annie might like this tale for her Friday Smiles.

Snippets write-up day today as well as the launch of our 100th Week celebrations tomorrow :) See you then!

Di
x

Friday, 22 November 2013

Christmas - indoors

Well, Hazel over at Craftyhazelnut's Christmas Challenge set us a really tricky one this week. INDOORS!! I know that my lovely pal Brenda B cracked it perfectly but others really did stretch the 'indoors' theme somewhat, it's amazing how many were based on door wreaths, sort of general designs and also being outdoors :( It took me ages to find this stamp and make this and I realised that many Christmas themes are based outside of the house - but at least it's right within Hazel's remit:
I used:

- 6" x 6" square white card blank

 - SU 'Real Red' for the backing and also the mat behind the image, hand cut to keep it narrow, as is my way

- the backing papers are from the BARGAIN of the day at the NEC,  Dovecrafts 'Back to Basics Christmas' - 72 sheets for £1 ........ found by my 'Super-shopper' Buddy Mrs A :) In fact, these papers would be great for a lot of other occasions too, so a real steal!

- image is the LOTV 'Make it Festive' stamp, coloured with Pro Markers

- corners die cut with Whimsy corner dies from 'Real Red'

- the Christmas tree is a Marianne die, cut from a snippet of Core'dinations card, embossed using Cuttlebug's 'Snowflake' EF and topped with a red star from another Marianne tree die - I like to mix and match:) 

- sentiment is Craftwork Cards, popped onto a punched circle of 'Real Red'

- oh, and a gold coloured few gems, one on the top of the tree in the middle of the star and one in each corner

The little kitten is sooooo like Sammy, our little Grand daughters' new kitty. Sadly their lovely cat Lucy was killed on the road a while back and broke everyone's hearts (it's a rural but quite fast road) but the final introduction of a new kitty after a few months of sadness is bringing them so much joy. I have some gorgeous photos to share sometime! I think Sammy will be into everything this Christmas! :)

Oh, and it's also for Craftyhazelnut's Christmas Challenge Extra for November as well.

Edit: I thought you might like to see the real life Sammy too :)


Di
x

Thursday, 21 November 2013

NOEL

I desperately longed for the Clarity 'Noel Frame' stamp for absolutely ages and finally bought it at the NEC when Mrs A and I had our day out.

Couldn't wait to use it of course:
I used:

- A6 black card blank, with a sliver cut from the bottom edge

- silver and blue (SU's 'Marina Mist') backing card from the snippets folder

- used the Noel Frame stamp by Clarity, and also Clarity Silk finish white card stock. First of all I followed Barbara Gray's advice and  cleaned off the blue 'inking' which defines the stamp, using nail polish remover, thereby keeping my Versamark Embossing ink pad nice and clean - err, and in the process removing half my nail polish, duh :(. Carefully dusted over with an anti-static bag (a light brushing of talcum powder would do just as well) and then I stamped the NOEL in Versamark and embossed it with 'Sterling Silver' powder. Heat embossing and your truly have never really gotten on but I followed Barb's way and heated from underneath - bingo, success!

- phew, after a lie down to recover from that it was time to tackle the image. I'd been watching one of Barbara's DVDs and had all the tips if not the talent. To do the image within the frame you just stamp the Noel onto a post-it and carefully, and slightly generously, trim out the centre of the letter 'O' and dispose of it. The resulting template then covers the embossed Noel leaving the centre of the 'O' exposed and protects the rest of the card stock while you play with the image, still with me?

- for the background tore a hill template from some spare paper and used Tim Holtz 'Faded Jeans' distress ink and a small duster brush for the sky plus a teensy touch where the deer would go

- then stamped the trees using a Black Archival ink pad and a little set of  trees, double stamped from the 'Northern Pine' set by Inkylicious, also from the NEC trip

- next the little deer was also stamped in Black Archival ink - have had this for years and finally discovered it's by 'Stampscapes', called 'Doe - 229A'

- finally just added some dots with a white Signo pen for the snow flakes

For a first try, I ended up with two successful cards the same - err, and two spoiled images in the bin. But, there's nothing like having a play and learning from mistakes :)

Di
x

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Have yourself a happy little Christmas tree!

The current challenge over at Less is More is to use designer paper on your card - so I set to and made a couple of these, both the same:
I used:

- 6" x 6" white card blank with the top right hand corner rounded

- a silver gel pen for the cords and little bows - I did those first and worked out the positions so that the fir tree bough and the baubles would be lined up properly when they were added

- a plain green snippet for the tree bough, die cut using a Marianne Creatables die 'LR0181'

- baubles die cut from a purple patterned snippet suing SU's 'Holiday Ornaments' framelits dies, and small snippets of silver card die cut with the same dies for the 'caps'

- sentiment was stamped using Memento 'Elderberry' and a sentiment stamp from the Woodware 'Tipsy Tree' set

Two more for the box and they were quick and easy too.

Of course I'm also linking this card into Craftyhazelnut's Christmas Challenge Extra for November, where it's always 'Anything Goes'.

I'm gonna whisper this, today (Tuesday as I type) is the best I've felt in a week - no trampolining for me just yet but I think this ole gal's back might finally be improving - fingers crossed! Thank you all so much for your lovely comments, the best medicine possible!

Di
x

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Our lovely Rainbow Horse and Peacock Princess Grand Daughters

Livi
 Mia

Birthday party face painting done by their lovely Mama, Kai.  I think she should go into business, that's one talented lady!

No card from me today - but it's great to see the Snippets Playground so busy. I'm hopping around and trying to keep up with you.

Di
x

Monday, 18 November 2013

Pixies Snippets Playground - Week 99 - Part 2

As promised, here are the picks of the week, our new Playmates and the winner of the Memory Box 'Deer Trio' die and the Whimsy 'Layered Snowflake Die Set'.

Picks of the week first I think - and it truly gets more and more difficult as time goes by - you girls are coming up with some amazing makes using snippets! We reached 58 entries this week - almost at 60.

I think my very top choice, only my opinion I know, but I'm so  sure that you'll agree:
I've chosen this for two reasons, the first is that it's obviously a fabulous snippets Christmas wreath with so much lovely detail - wouldn't it look great on the Playground tree house door? :) And secondly, because it was made by our Karen P - who is such a fighter against ill health and a lot of pain. Her DH did the die cutting to order and then settled her on the sofa with all the goodies so she could make it - I reckon he qualifies as part of our top pick of the week too, so please step forward and take a bow Mr P! Fancy being in our Nativity Play?

I had more than one card earmarked from Sue J this week, but this one was top of my list in the end. LOADS of gorgeous snippety layers and so cleverly put together. See those teeny dots around the edges of the patterned papers? I can't decide if they're little touches of liquid 'Perfect Pearls' or not - if so then I may as well throw mine away here and not bother, they really are so tiny and perfect!
Do hop over to Brenda B's blog to see how she made these adorable House Mouse treat bags for Christmas - already featured on Joanna Sheen's Daily Talent Spot.

Sorry girls, Blogger spacing is playing up here - even fiddling with HTML ain't working so please bear with me!

Loll made this totally brilliant Christmas card, breathtaking isn't it. I know it's already won at least one challenge, and rightly so! Perfect Less is More/CAS.

I picked this card, made by Elizabeth, as it shows a technique that's new to me - 'Bokeh' - plus Elizabeth has a link to the technique in her blog post. Last week was a special one to as Elizabeth and her DH finally moved into their new home - wishing you lots of happiness, and also hoping you found the kettle straight away chick!

I could go on and on with picks of the week, BUT we also had FIVE new Playmates arrive to play with us - and as is tradition let's give a big round of applause to:
 
Susanna - who brought this really clever 'Thank you card'.

KatheD, making sure of a warm welcome with what Mrs A hopes we hope is mulled wine! :)

 
Greta and this adorable little boy - just look how the paper piecing is perfectly matched to the background! 

Jean brought a beautiful set of Christmas cards - all using the same main image but each one with a little different twist. I almost sure I hadn't cottoned on previously that Jean is our Kate's sister - talent obviously runs in the family.

And Carol (cm) also came to play for the first time with this lovely card, I love the design and the faux stitching! Carol did mention geese along the way, nope, we can't fatten one up for Christmas in the Playground, before anyone even thinks of it!

Now, this is last but never least - I want you to see another amazing card made by Jules - look at the perfect design and paper piecing - beautiful!
I loved this stamp so much I did run out and buy one for me and one for the Playground so that's waiting in the toy box here for a future draw. Remember we have our 100 posts coming up next week and then in January our 2nd Birthday since I took over from Jules. So there are some lovely prizes on the way, including more Christmas dies, stamps, embossing folders - and a marvellous surprise donation for our 100th - so start thinking about how to use those snippets!

Aaaaaah, almost forgot the draw for those dies from last week - and the winner is: 
 - who literally just squeezed in as our last entry of the week! I'm so pleased for Karen, am sure this will be a good pick-you-up (both pick of the week and also the winner of those fabby dies) - I just found your address Karen and will post the dies to you just as soon as I'm more mobile!

And I'll also post yours Irene from the previous week - it's only early evening here, no commenting today as yet (sorry) but I need to lie flat for a while. Am being good and trying to move about as well as rest - time, some strong pain killers and heat stuff - I'll get there, promise!

Have a super week girls! I hope to be doing hand-stands again with you soon :)

Di
x

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Pixies Snippets Playground - Week 99 - Part 1

Bet that's got you going - Part 1 of the Playground. That's because I've been forbidden to sit too long in the craft room by Len, so Part 2 should follow tomorrow with luck. He's out right now (Saturday) so while the cat's away I want to at least kick-start this coming week's Mr Linky and show you the prize. Plus I did manage to make a snippets card and this is wot I did:
I used:

- 6" x 6" square cream card blank

- a snippet of cream card stock, onto which I stamped such a jolly Santa, called 'Noel 1' - made by PaperArtsy, and I used Versafine 'Vintage Sepia'. I rounded off opposite corners on the image. I'm afraid the photo is rubbish BTW as right now I can't easily raise both arms at once :(

- the very dark brown card backing, both behind the DP and the image, is from the snippets folder - then I popped the image on using sticky pads to raise it - the bulky bow has already taken this card into large letter thickness so what the heck

- the patterned paper was cut from a fresh sheet (slap my wrists) from the LOTV 'Krafty Christmas' paper pad

- the ribbons are from the ribbon box, plain brown satin and brown organza with a striped edge, layered and tied together in a bow

- then I just added a snowflake charm (from a packet made/sold by Inky Doodles), originally silver but 'vintaged' using my darkest brown Pro Marker and some black too, tied on in 'Jules style' with brown shiny cord

This coming week's prize is, as so often, connected to today's card:
It's a stamp exactly the same as I used - the detail is lovely plus it does come with an additional sentiment. And there's also a packet of the Inky Doodles charms - I've plonked mine above the winner's sealed packet to give an idea of what there is, snowflakes, stockings, bells, trees, a snowman and a sweet little deer.

The Playground gates will close at 11am UK time on Saturday 23rd November and the gates will open again at midnight UK time on the Saturday as usual. Maximum of three entries and please say 'No thank you' in a comment if you wish to still play but not be the winner of the prize this week, as shown above. In fact, you might want to play for only one part of the prize - both items do constitute one prize but if there's only one thing you'd use please do say in a comment and I'd just draw again for the second item as well.

Mr Linky is below - do please let me know if you have any problems linking, I can sort it out for you quite quickly and am always happy to do so.

So, I 'm sorry this is only half a snippets Playground post - I'll be back (no pun intended!) tomorrow with the results of last week's draw (it takes me time to double check that potential winners haven't already commented 'no thanks', I normally note this down during the week but my brain was elsewhere I suspect!), picks of the week and of course our usual welcome to our new playmates.

See you then I hope!

I'm entering this card into the following challenges:

Chocolate, Coffee & Cards where the theme is 'monochromatic'

Craftyhazelnut's Christmas Challenge Extra for November ' Anything goes'

Di
x

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Saturday Supper - Kale and Chorizo Stew

I know, before I even begin typing this recipe, that Kath will run away screaming, and there may even be some who think that kale is only something you'd give to cattle :( But, I tried this recipe for the first time the other week and it's delicious, nourishing and a great 'one pot' main dish:

Kale and Chorizo Stew

Serves four - more like three at most!


2 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, peeled and sliced
150g chorizo, diced
200g kale, shredded
½ litre vegetable or chicken stock, made from 1 stock cube
1 x 420g can butter beans in water
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
1 tbsp dried mixed herbs
1 tsp paprika
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes

Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onion and chorizo for a few minutes until the onion has softened. Toss in the kale, stock, butter beans, squash, mixed herbs, paprika and tomatoes. Season to taste.

Bring the mixture to the boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, until the squash and kale are tender.

Things I do: nothing much really, I bought the chorizo ready diced in a small packet from the deli chiller at our local supermarket rather than buy a big 500g whole one. Served with mashed potato to soak up the lovely juices.

Yummy - enjoy!

Di
x

Friday, 15 November 2013

A Birthday card and some extras about yesterday's card

Whilst piling Len's recent Birthday cards up I was looking for upcycling potential - here's the result of one card I cannibalised:
I used:

- 7" x 5" white card blank

- image from shop bought card, trimmed down then mounted onto SU 'Smoky Slate' grey and then Wedgwood Blue card stock (yay, I found a few more snippets of that lovely blue!). What I loved about the image is the way it was divided up on the original card with faint chevrons behind

- the white backgrounds are one plain white card and then one embossed white panel, using SU's 'Chevron' folder - and then strips of blue and grey ribbon popped across . ...... to hide the join in the embossed panel :)

- the Birthday sentiment is also SU, stamped onto a strip of the faint chevron pattern from the original card using 'Smoky Slate' and mounted onto grey and blue card

I wish I could say this was quick and easy to make. It certainly should have been but every movement was painful here despite sitting with huge cushions to support me back :( And taking the photo from a half bent position was a nightmare.

So, back to yesterday's card - which if you remember was like this:
A few folk asked questions so here goes:

First of all, for Darnell, the blue background was die cut using a solid die which matches the swirly Memory Box 'Winterland' tree - I think it's a fairly recent release:
Here are the two dies together - with the solid one on the left. Now, although the solid die is a bit cheaper, it does almost double the cost of the original die - plus it's specifically for the 'Winterland' tree so can't be used to back other MB tree dies, clever move huh?! BUT, to be able to use a die I was shying away from I think it was worthwhile - imagine gold on green, gold on red - the list goes on.

Of course, you could trace around the outline of the swirly die and trim just inside the pencil lines if you have patience and a very steady hand - and you don't really need to include the swirly top bit at the very top of the tree on the backing.

So, that's the die cutting secret.

Then, Carol says she has the swirly tree die and it doesn't cut well. I might not have the solution but here are some thoughts anyhow. If the die truly isn't cutting through the card properly, leaving the die in place, run it through the machine again. You might have to move the die carefully across the cutting plate or perhaps add a shim of paper - one sheet at a time though 'cos you don't wanna overstress the die cutting machine. Taping the die in place to the card before you start can help to hold it firm. But, occasionally some dies, even from reputable companies, just aren't good cutters and it's worth checking back with the manufacturer or retailer. When you think how finely die cutting machines are calibrated I guess now and then there can be a bad apple or die in the barrel.

Another issue might be removing the cut out card from the die - and this die is a really tricky one - probably the trickiest one I have. Some people advocate candle wax rubbed onto the die or even a tumble dryer sheet rubbed over supposedly helps. I now swear by waxed paper between the die and the card - huh, although then you do have to carefully peel the waxed paper from the front of the beautifully and easily released die cut of course, most folk don't tell you that part! The swirls do take a bit of of poking out anyway, a pokey tool plus a teeny pair of scissors are what I use. The teeny scissors are because the swirls you want to release and discard can get tangled around the actual die cut image so careful snipping sometimes helps to release them from their determined cuddles!!

Another thing I learned the hard way - originally this card was going to be the pearlised white on the silver metallic backing card I used. Nope - not such a good idea. To adhere the swirly tree to a die cut or even plain background you need just little touches of glue/adhesive - I use a Quickie Glue pen here. And glue pens do not like shiny surfaces, they just won't stick, full stop :( Any thoughts of using the Xyron were also discarded - that machine does have limitations and this swirly die would mean far too many bits of excess adhesive to remove, and from metallic card you will actually get smears. Trust me, I've been down that road before. Hence the switch to the blue matt card background where it worked like a dream.

So do be aware that perhaps matt backgrounds and shiny swirly toppings are best for this tree die. Even adding double sided self-adhesive sheet before you cut would probably mean a nightmare when you try to remove all those excess pieces from the cut out die.

Pfffft, I bet you wish you hadn't asked now :)

Have a nice day - I hope I wake up feeling easier, getting fed up of being bent over looking at my feet for the first hour of the day!

Di
x