TV, cravings, and eggplant

OK so a bit of a weird one today – here’s how it started:

I was watching tv and catching up on recorded episodes of Desperate Housewives.  The character, Angie (who is played by Drea de Matteo who was Adriana in the Sopranos, until she got whacked by Bruce Springsteen’s guitar player) is having a flash-forward of what her life would be like if she made a particular decision.  None of that matters.  What DOES matter is the fed who comes in and tosses as foil wrapped tube on the desk and says “Egg Parm”

If, like me, you spent summers on a small island off the Jersey coast, and if your family, like mine, was of Italian descent, and if you had an aunt like my Aunt Helen, the words “egg parm” could make you actually drool.  It translates to Eggplant Parmigiana and will never be “aubergine parmesan”,  just like for me it will never be “courgette” but always zucchini.

It takes a long time. It is def. a labour of love. But when it comes out of the oven, when you cut in to it, when you taste that first melting bite, you know it was all worth it. Vegetarians, take note.  Vegans,  look away now.

This is NOT a photo of my egg parm – I don’t style my food, so it doesn’t look nearly as good on the plate as this one does, but I bet it tastes better.

You need:

2 lbs of eggplant (about 2 BIG ones or 4 small ones)

sea salt

4 cups of passata

garlic (a few cloves, minced or pressed thru a garlic press)

olive oil


1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs (as in stale, dry bread, whizzed up in a blender or food processor, not the yellow crumbs they sell here – and you can mix in a teaspoon of italian seasoning herbs) mixed together

3 large eggs, beaten with a couple of tablespoons of water

1 1/2 lbs of good fresh mozzarella cheese sliced thin (if you MUST, the grated kind will work but it is no-where near as good)

1 cup good grated Parmigiana Reggiano cheese

1 cup of packed fresh basil leaves

Start by salting and draining the eggplant – do NOT be tempted to skip this step.  Slice the eggplant in 1/4 inch slices, and layer them with salt in a colander.  Put some greaseproof paper over the top layer and weight it down (I put a few plates on the top then put the cartons of passata on them) and leave it for a couple of hours.

Mix the passata with the garlic and 1/3 cup olive oil – whisk well, season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside

Dry each slice of eggplant, dusting off the excess salt, if any.  DO NOT RINSE THEM (you want to get rid of the moisture, not add it back in!) and lay them on paper towels/kitchen roll

Put about 1/2 inch of olive oil in a large skillet and heat to shimmering (keep a lid handy,  just in case.  I don’t often fry anything so that much hot oil on the stove makes me nervous and I have an electric stove!)

Put the egg mixture in one shallow bowl, the breadcrumb and flour mix in another. Have it all on the counter, eggplant slices. egg mix, breadcrumb/flour.

Now, like an assembly line, dip the eggplant slices in the egg, then coat in the breadcrumb mix,  then slip them into the oil, a few slices at a time, and fry till golden, turning it once. Take the slices out and drain on paper towels.

Once all the slices are fried, preheat the oven to about 160 to 180 degrees depending on if it is fan assisted or not.

Get a big baking dish (about 10 x 15 and a good 3 inches deep) and put about a cup of the sauce in the bottom.  Layer up 1/3 the eggplant slices,  1/2 the mozzarella,  1/2 the basil leaves and 1/3 the grated cheese, top with 1/2 the remaining sauce then repeat, and end with a layer of eggplant slices topped with the rest of the sauce and parmesan cheese.

Pop into the oven for about 30 minutes till it is all hot and bubbly and the cheese on top is slightly brown and crispy. Let it rest at room temp for 10 minutes or so .

Serve with crusty bread and a nice green salad.  If you can control yourself, you will have enough left to make a “egg parm sub” (hot or cold leftover eggplant parmigiana on a soft torpedo roll)

I can hear it calling to me from the fridge….

THIS is what mine looks like and it was delicious.


Gonzo Stamping

Since my little set of tags have the quotes from Hunter S. Thompson, I wanted a title that reflected that tie in.  Since the whole thing sort of sprang from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and the cover art and title art by Ralph Steadman was a big part of what I remember about the book, I wanted my cover to have that same style.  So first I had to find a font that looked like RSs hand drawn lettering (which I found here) then I wanted to blot it a bit more so I found this dingbat of ink blots as well.

Those together made this

The background is the Cosmic Shimmer-thru-plastic-canvas trick and the image is, of course, Stampotique, and could not fit the title (a total riff on the book title) more perfectly.

It’s a simple folder, made from a kraft coloured file folder, and holds the tags inside.

I enjoyed the heck out of this project from beginning to end, and it was one that was no struggle at all, from conception thru execution to final product, the ideas just flowed. How often doe THAT happen to you?  It sure doesn’t happen to ME very often LO!



Finished the last two tags in my series of six (pop back a day or two to see the other posts and all the tags in the series), and now working on the book that will hold them. It’s no special construction, but I am trying something with fonts that I have high hopes for.  But then I always do start out with HIGH HOPES, it’s just whether or not they are fulfilled that is the question right until the bitter end!

The swirls are Inkadinkadoo, the owl is Tim Holtz, and the little vine is from a set of stamps designed by Debbie70 (I think!) for a class maybe at a ScrapManic crop, maybe 6 or 7 years ago? I have no idea at this point, but they are still in their little CD case holder and I have a layout SOMEWHERE that used them, but the facts are lost in my head someplace.  Anyone reading this have any idea?

My desk looks quite tidy today, but  am still working on my TV tray.  That background is what I substituted for my craft sheet, as that is on the ironing board, with the fabric, for the iPad cover sewing and I really didn’t want to have to keep trotting back and forth and worrying if I had cleaned it completely of ink before I used it to iron fusible web! It’s a cork floor tile in a plastic bag.  It works great for the smearing and misting of the inks, and has great “give” but is still quite firm for stamping, but I do have to take care not to use my heat gun over it – that could be a disaster! I may just make it a permanent fixture on my desk, it works so well.


More Stampotique tags…

Between last night and this morning I’ve managed three more tags. So much fun to make!

Another look at the first one, left here, and the next, right.  I knew I wanted to use the quote If you are going to be crazy you have to get paid for it or else you are going to be locked up but considering an image to use with it I  wasn’t sure that just a generic figure would work.  This one (which I call “skeletons in the wash” in my head) seemed to convey the locked up bit as well as any of them so I went with that. The text is Smargana Wakes printer on light blue card then snipped out and each word edged with black.   With all the text there wasn’t much room for anything else!

More bats and printed word blocks (this one is Stamp Act) and a Paper Artsy text stamp.  I used my Tattered Angels Turquoise glimmer mist for the grid and VERY disappointed with it.  The powder was totally mixed in, none on the bottom at all, and yet the spray shows NO shimmer at all on the tag.  I am going to dump in a spoonful of Pearl-Ex and see if I can boost it a bit.

I am particularly happy with the second one here – using the font 01digit (which is designed to be legible when used very, very small, in this case 6 pt) I printed the quote (Buy the ticket  Take the ride) on the ticket and slipped it into the hand of my creepy little friend.

I still have two I want to do: Call on God, but row away from the rocks and A word to the wise is infuriating although I am not 100% sure which of the remaining images work best with which quote.

It does occur to me these might have made a nice little ATC series, although I am not an ATC maker (Well, I *say* that, but I also always say I’m no stamper and yet ….. ) I have thought of giving them a go. but then I have to give them away and that is so HARD!


Hunter S. Thompson quote tags

It was a close thing as to whether I would manage a blog post today but I am trying to get back to daily (or near daily) posting this week.  The hope was now the holiday was done and dusted that things would free up a bit for me, but stuff keeps getting in the way  (like today when DD had a brace fitting appointment then needed dropping off at school and the shopping needed doing – that pretty much killed the day up till noon!)

But ever since I got my lovely load of Stampotique stamps I have had this project spinning about in my head.  I watched Gonzo recently and it reminded me of how much I enjoyed the writings of Hunter S. Thompson, and the book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas particularly. I have a collection of some of my favourite quotes and I thought I would have a bit of a play with my new stamps and make a set of tags, and eventually a little tag book to hold them.  I wanted to try out some stamping techniques, some things from the Tim Holtz book, some things I had an idea that might work but I wasn’t sure of, and just get sticky, scrappy, and inky. So I did.

First, a technique.  VERY please with this one, love how it looks.  I was going thru my crafty bits when working on the iPad cases and one thing I came across was a bit of plastic canvas.  I liked the mesh effect and thought it would be great used as a mask or stencil for Cosmic Shimmer mist

I’m sure it isn’t as nice on the screen as it is IRL.  I think it makes a great background.  This is Distress ink in Crushed Olive, Old Paper, Brushed Corduroy and Barn Door, swiped on a craft sheet, misted, and cheap Staples luggage tags dragged thru it and pounced on it to soak up the ink then dried and then the mesh over the top and Mango Blaze spritzed thru it.

I added a few more bits, a swirl stamp from Inkadinkadoo, a foam compass stamp from the stencil dept. of a DIY store, one of the Stampotique guys, and a bat or three from a very old Edward Gorey stamp set.  Used a couple of the (very few) Copic markers I have to colour him in . The quote is printed in Cocaine Sans then cut out.

I quite enjoyed it.  Tomorrow, if I can make find the time, I’ll do another couple.

Leave a comment


Still a little off-kilter, trying to catch up with stuff after our holiday, but I will share a great SSE, The Graphics Fairy. Such a great site for interesting vintage images that you can download and print and use on your craft projects. I always find SOMETHING I love there, like this French label

or this gothic ironwork

Well worth a look!


iPad cover, made with love

So we got iPads. And we got two of the “official Apple iPad covers”. Two problems – first, we need three of them and second they are not perfect for using the pad upright. They are marginally better landscape but in portrait they are def. a bit like Weebles except they do fall down (sing it with me now “Weebles wobble and they do fall down….”)

The first iteration was for me, because DS demanded that he get the second of the two covers as he uses his on the go more than I do at the moment. They are pretty utilitarian, if I’m honest, so it wasn’t too hard to say OK and set about making a pretty one.

It is a simple cover, with not really a lot of padding, so fairly thin. I may add a bit of felt to the inside at some point but as it is really meant to protect the screen when I put it in my handbag it works perfectly. Not sure how much protection it would be against a full-on drop from a height but I have no desire to test it to see.

The corner bits were tricky due to the positioning of the buttons on the sides – only the left side is clear of any ports or holes or cooling holes. The elastic works pretty well as it is easily shifted if it covers a bit of the screen I need to see.

So DH like that well enough (maybe not the chaos of roses, but the design) and after listening to him moan about needing a stand of some kind, I set about trying to sort his problem.

The second iteration is a bit more complex and still needs refining but works well, he says.

What he likes best is the tilt adjustment using velcro and felt.

There is an opening behind the base of the triangle formed by the pad-rest and the support flap that will house the little extra support so the pad can be used portrait orientation once I work out the angle and experiment with how best to make that adjustable as well.

I will def. refine this more and the act of making them, much like with my mini-albums, taught me a lot about better ways of construction and design.

1 Comment

WOYWW 21/4/2010

SO happy to have a WOYWW again! I do love holidays but I miss my creative play when I am too busy, even if that is too busy having fun with family, stash shopping, or just chatting with my baby sis.

So, while getting over the jet lag, and back to normal UK sleep patterns and back to the school routine, I have filled the middle-of-the-night waking hours with quiet browsing of YouTube and looking at anything I had bookmarked to try. This video, by RoseS915, shows her technique for creating unique journaling spots. I love it, and while I have made my own journaling spots with stamps I wanted to have a play with her specific methods (I particularly love the reverse-stamp technique to make a bigger spot from a small stamp with a decorative side but don’t really have any appropriate stamps for that)  so today, that is what is on my W.

OK, to be honest, most days whatever I am working on is on a satellite TV tray table beside my W, or on the floor, under my W. USUALLY my W is such a mess I can’t actually WORK on it. Today, it’s not too bad, but I am still using the overflow space.

Here are a couple of the spots I made

The book plate one is, I think, a Hero Arts cling with a Stampology border at the top, the blue one is maybe Autumn Leaves lines (I cut off the bracket that used to frame them) with a TH flourish and the last is a circle from the same AL set, I think, with a different TH flourish.  I think I will next experiment with using the grid paper downloads from my favourite print-your-own paper site mixed with the stamps as I have no grid stamp.

Leave a comment

Making my own….

I have been playing around with some digital paper and the De Louisville font (font of the week this week on UKScrappers), which is the one MME uses on the Quite Contrary stickers (or at least it looks an awful lot like it) I love the stickers and the funky font, but obviously prefer to have the patterns and colours match whatever paper I have, not just the line it is commercially available as. So I experimented. As usual, with my old PS 7, what I do is unlikely to be what someone with a newer PS or PSE would do but it works for me!

Basically I typed the text, then adjusted it to FAUX BOLD using the Character and Paragraph palettes box, just to thicken it up a bit.  I opened the patterned paper (Future Rockstar, from a 2Peas kit by Chris Ford) and dragged it over the letter layer then Grouped with Previous.  Merge Visible and then I can either grab just the letters I want and use them as digital letters for digi layouts OR I can print and cut them out if I prefer or print them on to clear sticker paper and use them that way.  I would cut them on the Craft Robo, or on the Cricut using SCAL if I wanted to use actual paper rather than digital paper (or I could print the digital paper on to cardstock and then cut THAT out) so it’s all dependant on the particular application for the letters as to how I do it.

On of the things I love about scrapping NOW vs scrapping back when I started to do so 10+ years ago is that there are so many tools and techniques out there, most of which I bet I never stumble across, that let me customize my layouts and my minibooks in my own way.  And basically I just like to figure our how to do my own version of stuff, even if I never use it.  It keeps me from looking at the pile of post-holiday laundry just over my shoulder in the kitchen, if nothing else…….


Back to work! and my shopping haul….

Well we are apparently amazingly lucky to have landed just hours before the volcanic ash left 1000s of travellers stranded, and with insurance companies citing “acts of God” as a get-out clause, for paying for … well, anything, really. While I would have been quite happy to stay at my sister’s for another 10 days or so, I think at some point she may have moved us out of my very generous nieces rooms and onto a floor somewhere!

Also a stroke of luck, as I mentioned in a previous post, my sister had something of a coupon windfall so I hade at least 20 50% off coupons between Michael’s and AC Moore to spend. I was able to make use of every one of them, as my sister spoke to the manager at both stores, and told them I was here from England and could we please use all the coupons we had in one transaction (rather than having me, my Sis, my nieces, etc all take one item thru the check out or make multiple trips back to the store – oh, wait, I did that anyway!) and they agreed. So for under £150 I got a ton of stuff. a TON. I have never done a “stash haul” sort of post, but I am really pleased with how much “bang for my buck” I got and I wanted to share some of my shopping “best bits”

My bestest best  purchases were clear stamps. Most fell at about the $5-$9 range – here are the Tim Holtz ones

and AC Moore was having a sale that was 50% off the ticketed sale price for many items, including these Prima pearl sprays that were something like $1.24 each

I got some really lovely little butterflies on wire, lots of stalks of flowers that easily separated into blooms, and these packing tape rolls for $1 – they are clear, really, the white is just a liner so you can see the pattern.

and my single MUST HAVE of the trip, the Martha Stewart Scoring Board.  I am in love with it already!  I have been sorely in need of a scoring board (having kicked the Crafter’s Companion one to the kerb and not finding my very VERY old Aleene’s Boxmaker scoring board a viable solution) for a while now and after reading this blog post I was sold on the MS one, esp. the price.

The final goodie selection was a load of Stampotique stamps.  Not on sale, but I did get free postage so that was a huge savings in itself.  My sister opened the box before I got there and was very curious as to what I might make of them – now I’ll have to do something with them or she will think I’m crazy for buying them.  It would be bliss if they sold them unmounted or as clings.

That should keep me busy for a bit….