AJ page – Where you’ll find me…

Another slightly odd one.  I was looking at my watercolour paper pad for some other project, and I was drawn to the little bits leftover on the spiral binding when you tear out a clean sheet.

I carefully tore those scraps out and coloured them with a mixture of drawing ink and acrylic ink – it was interesting the way they interacted when mixed. Spritzing them with water made each run, but at a different pace, and they also sort of separated.  Hard to explain but they looked like this:



I had some other thinner weight graph paper notebooks that also have a tear off strip so I grabbed a few of them as well and used Distress stain and pink Cosmic Shimmer on those.



That scrap paper under it, after the Cosmic Shimmer got sprayed, will appear again later – this whole page is very much made from rubbish.

I journaled on the little area of the watercolour paper strips, under the holes

3tearoffstripsThen I took a pile of Gelli prints on deli paper, all scrappy bits leftover mostly from the canvases I made for DH and DS at Christmas, and some bits from DS’s Flowers for Algernon book – they were all colours that worked, for me.

The trick is to stick the deli paper layers just UNDER the bottom edge of the watercolour paper strips.  The upper layers should all be loose over the watercolour strips so they can be flipped back to reveal the journaling.



An angled shot



and the full page:



Now, remember I mentioned DH was doing an online cook-off, with chilies? It was for the Capsicana Twitter cook-off

It was for a BRUNCH dish and this is his take on a spicy version of a British classic, Toad in the Hole.  It’s called Fire in the Hole.  There were LOTS of entires and quite surprisingly, he won! You can see all the entries by searching for the hashtag #CapsicanaCookoff. And you can see more photos and the process where he VERY infrequently blogs here. There were A LOT of chilies in it…



Sunday-someplace-else (thirty handmade days)

Although the site is a nifty one, I am really focusing on these adorable heart-shaped strawberry cookies.  The recipe is included in the link. I would love to convince DD to make these but not sure if I can.

And as a bonus there are some cute printables on there for Valentines Day as well.

I am also still making printables and have been struggling with one that I would love a opinion on, if you are so inclined.

I’ve added the jpg in such a way so you can see the border of the borderless boxes.  I have the whole week’s worth of days done, but I wonder…. I love the look of the BIG single letter, and feel that a two letter abbreviation will ruin it.  It may be hard to see, but the day is spelled out in the little line of text (and let me tell you getting the curve for Saturday and Sunday right was a challenge!) which I hoped would make the duplicate Ts and Ss ok.  also the fill is much smoother than it looks here, low-res and reduced size (I think it’s particularly noticeable in the T for Tuesday.

I am also dithering about adding a light grid – firstly I think it will interfere with the small text line and secondly that too much pattern will make it annoying.  This way I feel like each letter could be cut as a borderless block (making the rounding of the corners easier) or even cut out around the letter and just outside the text strip.

So, wade in – useful or not?  Worth spending time on or not?  I am also dithering about a set of hours.  Designed as 2×3 blocks, I thought they could be used in a number of ways – say 7 + PM  for a bedtime for baby photo, or maybe 8 + 11 + PM for Prime Crafting Time photos (ie once the kids are in bed, or even 9 + TO + 3 for the same idea – what I do while the kids are in school sort of thing.

Any and all comments will be greatly appreciated.  While I may carry on and do them anyway for myself, I might change some of the sizes or design elements so they are more useful for others if people thought they would use them.


WOYWW 133 – beginnings of a project

Aaahh WOYWW – how I’ve missed your inspiration….

After spending the past week so painfully prone, resting my back, I have been ultra careful in all things.  Moving gingerly, not sitting too long in one position, absolutely NO LIFTING or PULLING of anything,  I really cannot risk re-injury.

Most years, I do the wrapping on the floor, and get up in pain from being all twisted and reaching out for stuff.  This year I sat nicely on the sofa and worked on a proper-height table. At the end of a marathon wrapping session (I mean HOURS) I didn’t hurt at all. Huh.  Maybe I should have done that all among.

The turkey is ordered, other ordered stuff is arriving – like pumpkin puree, and Bordens Egg Nog – and things are in process for the big 3-days (eve, day, and day after) and I am looking forward to a fairly laid-back weekend.  No guests due, no place to be, no pressure over the meal, just our little family unit all together.  Bliss.

And I am dithering over adding a new recipe to the mix.  I so want to make this:

Brownie Peppermint Trifle.  An adapted recipe from one by Martha (and if the comments are true, better than the original) but not 100% sure what to use for Cool Whip.  Whipped Cream may not have the same airiness-that-stays, like Cool Whip, and Angel Delight is just foul.  I’ll dither on.

I am working on the construction of a mini-book – actually a 2 volume book, The A to Z of Me, for…wait for it…. ME!  Yes a book about me, by me, for me.  Shocking during this time of giving, but there you go.

I managed to squeeze out one more photo before the battery totally died.  Must make sure DH sorts that charger or I won’t even have the usual rubbish photos of Christmas this year LOL! An interesting spine, I think, but still some refining.  It’s now probably get shelved till after the first of the year, because there is lots of UKS work to be getting on with next week and in to early January.  Then DS turns 19 (!) and heads back to Uni, DD back to school, DH back to work, and I may just get a little crafting time.  Till then…..

Happy Holidays!


Crop food – Tamale Pie

The crop yesterday was great fun, although not my most productive.  I worked hard on my layouts, shifting things about, adding and subtracting, despite a Cricut being there, had cutting letters…and oh yes, eating.  We do a pot luck (do they call it a pot luck in the UK?  I don’t even know!) and sometimes, if we don’t have Sarah on the task of contacting people and telling them what to bring so we have a well-rounded meal, it might be less meal and more a series of snack all day long.  The ladies who do sweets are truly talented, but that leaves the rest of us to defer to them and do savouries.  Not as easy, I don’t think, as it’s hard to come up with something that everyone at least can tolerate, if not truly LIKE.

I have a store or recipes that I trot out for these sorts of events.  They are tasty, not too spicy but hopefully not totally bland, economical without being cheap, and above all filling. This recipe went down a treat.  A number or people asked for the specifics, so I thought I’d post it on what tends to be a non-craft day, to make it easy for anyone to grab.

The problem is that I cook rather … haphazardly.  I never really take not of things like the package weight of meat.  I figure a bit more or less isn’t going to be a huge issue.  I also am a bit flexible with measurements since I think in cups and most cans are in  grams.  So I kind of look at the can and make a judgement as to whether it looks like enough.  I’ll convert my recipe to fit UK products if I can.  I doubled it, so I could have a large dish for the crop and a small pie-size one for DH to have at home, but I reckon the whole recipe as shown here would fill a standard 9 x 11 baking pan.  More or less.

You see, this is why I don’t write cookbooks LOL!

Oven temp is 180  ( if yours is fan assisted do what it says to adjust – I think that would be about 160)

Make the crust first.  We used to buy Masa Harina at Sainsbury’s in the specialty food aisle but ours doesn’t carry it anymore.  For this I bought a bag of fine corn meal and one of coarse corn meal (sold as Polenta) and used one cup of each. You could probably use all of one, if you want. Add two tbls of sugar.

In a bowl lightly whisk  2/3 cup of milk, two eggs and 4 tbls melted butter.  Add to the cornmeal and sugar. Mix with a fork until it is just combined.  Don’t  over mix it.

To this add two small cans of sweet corn (not creamed corn, but you could use about 1 1/2 cups of frozen corn, defrosted) and 6 oz. of shredded mature cheddar.

Grease your baking tin then press the cornmeal mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the tin.  Try to get a uniform thickness.  Set aside.

Cook the filling:

1 cup finely chopped onions

1 cup chopped bell peppers (I used a mix of red, yellow and green but you can use all one colour)

Saute the peppers and onions in 2 tbls butter over medium heat for a few minutes, until they are soft but not browned

Add two 500 g packs of ground turkey and cook until the meat is no longer pink.

Add two cans of drained and rinsed black beans (these used to be hard to find in the UK but Morrisons has then, as do Sainsbury’s although they tend to be in boxes and organic) and two packets of Old El Paso taco seasoning mix and a 400g can of chopped tomatoes. You will not need any additional salt!  Let it cook for a few minutes.

Spoon the filling into the crust.  Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until the crust is cooked but not too brown on the edges.  Add a good sprinkle of cheddar cheese over the top and pop it back into the oven till it is melted.  Serve with a good dollop of sour cream and salsa, if you like.

I stopped after the crust was cooked and re-heated it at the crop for about 20 minutes, added the cheese then, and put it back in the oven for another 10 minutes or so till the cheese was melted. Hence the photo with no cheese!  Funny but I can never seem to get a photo of mexican food that looks appealing.  And my DH did a back-up of may machine while I was gone and messed up my 2nd monitor’s calibration.  So the photo looks great on the LEFT monitor, but a bit odd on the right.  I have no idea what you will see on your monitor, but I will say every bite was eaten at the crop so it must have been tasty.

You could, I suppose, make it with ground beef, if you wanted.  We had it with a big, freshly prepared salad, which went perfectly with it.

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More of the Thanksgiving journal

My word but this is turning into a project!  No change I will finish it before Thanksgiving this year, but at least I will have it on hand for next year.  I figured I’d better set aside some time to quickly post or it will be WOYWW before I know it and I will have missed out a day!

I did a log sheet for the front.  We have moved around a bit and may not be done yet, so I thought it would be interesting to note WHERE we were when we celebrated. I also included a bit of history about Thanksgiving and on the reverse a visual note of when Thanksgiving falls, as it isn’t a DATE but always the 4th week in November.

Next, I added a divider and will make a modifed paper bag holder for recipies.

The divider only has FOOD on the tab at the moment.  I’m undecided if I want to have photos of this year’s feast on there (I think I do – an overall shot of the whole table) but in any case it will remain blank till the photos are taken.  You can just see the paper bag for the recipes behind it.

The approx. 4 3/4 x 9 inch paper bags are altered a bit:

Hope you can make sense of it – the flap is stuck to the body, the left side pleat is stuck together all along the side of the bag. With this done, the holes for the book rings are punched through the stronger stuck-together pleat on the left, while the right side is still free to open for the recipes.  The front of all of the bags will have paper strips with the menu items.

Anyway, there will be more tomorrow.  The menu titles I made with the UKS font of the week this week – doris day, which I think is so cute – and an old CK font, CK  McCormick, which has little dingbats of kitchenwear (McCormick is a big spice manufacturer in the USA).  I am not good it this sort of thing, but I did give making it a .png a go.  Let’s see if it works – anyone who want it can grab it HERE and then comment for me if you were able too do anything useful with it.  At the very least I am hoping you can delete my title and replace them with your own. doris day is free so just download and install it, or pick one you like better.

I want to include info on where I find the bits I need, what UK substitutes there might be, and maybe have a go at converting my US recipes to UK measurments.  Not sure how well that will work, but I need to do it someday.  Maybe DS will marry a Brit, and then how will he get his twice yearly fix of American stuffing?


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I thought this flower, over at Cut out + Keep, was just so sweet made from musical note paper.  Perhaps a bit dimensional for a scrapbook page or minibook, but it would look lovely adorning my desk, and maybe yours too!

At the bottom of the post are a fair few links to other papercraft items other flowers, etc.  Worth have a bit of a nosy if your day, unlike mine, is due to be a slow one.  Whereas I like to trick the family into celebrating BOTH UK and US Mother’s day, they like to try to convince me on the UK one that we should celebrate the US one, then on the US one they like to try to convince me that we ALREADY celebrated the UK one so should give this one a miss. HA.

Typically, DH planned a big BBQ/Air gun shoot competition for today so I have already got a crockpot full of baked beans on the go (a firm favourite with the whole shooting crowd) and still have to hoovering and kitchen cleaning to do in anticipation of a houseful of people.  Happy Mother’s Day to ME!

Probably does NOT help that I was up till nearly 2 pm playing a Words with Friends match with a friend of DH’s. …


WOYWW on Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is just another excuse for DH to have me make Mexican food (despite it being a SPANISH holiday and not a Mexican one) so I have some cheap pork shoulder on a bed of onions with a jar of salsa dumped over it simmering in the crockpot – if I were more organized it would be enchiladas but it’s more likely to be tacos/ fajita-like roll-ups as that can all be assembled by each diner at the table.

If I may digress for a moment – thinking about Cinco De Mayo and the unlikely defeat of the French by the Spanish, it made me recall a stray comment on QI – check out both Let Me Google that for You (for the helpful passive aggressive in us all)  and the joke embedded in the Google search results.

Anywho, on to my workdesk.  Yes, under the mess (you can just see the Prima flower pack and the punch)  is the project I mentioned yesterday,  still in progress. BUT a more pressing matter needed resolving. After having side one done for MONTHS, side two of a little mini-book project that needs to be shipped off in the next few days HAD to be completed.  It needs mailing to the person who will bind it, assemble it, and deliver it.  I am happy to say I finished it this morning, so can go BACK to the other project and work more on that!

You can also see a lovely bag of flower petals and butterflies – I took DD out for a new pair of shoes to fit over her new foot brace this past weekend and saw a butterfly JUST LIKE the biggest ones from the colourful set (what you can see is the pink and gold ones in the bag) on a thin wire in some home decor shop for £7.50 (!!)  I paid less than $5 for a pack of at least 8, possibly 10 of them, in varying sizes but including at least 3 of the biggest size ones.


Here is the mni-book page.

No binding holes as there will be many different pages to be added and the binding needs to work for all of them.

A big space on the page for a photo and the little stamped on vellum butterflies and below the backs of the tags with journaling spots.

The flowers are sandwiched between the front and back pages and the chipboard.  It’s all quite OTT and side two is even more so, but it’s always a bit fun to go OTT every now and again!

Last week was the first week in all the weeks of doing WOYWW that I actually added it to the Mr Linky thing – I was stunned to get so many comments and must now return the favour this week.  I think I may have missed an integral part of the whole WOYWW thing by not commenting.  Shame on me.  But given my past problems with commenting (which I am suspecting has more to do with my BROWSER than the fact I am WordPress and most people are Blogger, like I once thought) I hope I can manage it. So I am heading off there now to post and hop.


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.


cooking, not scrapping!

So I am working on a quite OTT mini-book, but it is def. taking longer than anticipated, so I thought I would deviate and blog DH’s birthday feast.

Basically it’s slow cooked chicken (I do it in the crock-pot, with a jar of salsa) shredded with fried onions an peppers, wrapped in a softened corn tortilla with sauce and cheese, lined up in a lightly oiled baking tin, smothered in enchilada sauce and cheese, baked for about 45 mins or until hot and bubbling – served with sour cream and guacamole and the hot sauce of your choice.

DH is something of a Hot Sauce fan!  The scary one is Dave’s ULTIMATE Insanity Sauce, as that is not really meant to be eaten as sauce.  It’s what you use when you make your own hot sauce to add the heat, a drop at a time with the warning “for use as an additive, not for direct consumption.” and has been reported as having a Scoville rating of 250,000

And here is a tip for you – no one in my family can stand the guacamole they sell in the supermarket – any brand, any store, it all sucks.  I make my own from avocado, lime juice, chopped cilantro (coriander leaves), finely diced red onions, the fleshy bit from nice tomatoes (no juice, no seeds, no slimy bits) and (non-traditionally) a dollop of sour cream and leave the boys to add what heat they prefer.  If you have ever made guacamole you know that it goes black quickly, so you tend to have to make it very last minute and consume all in one go.  What I do is mix it up then put it in a glass bowl, as nearly matching the volume as I can.  Squeeze a bit of extra lime juice over the top, then lay a piece of cling film directly on the surface.  Press it down, get any air bubbles out, and make sure the film is right up to the edge of the glass on the surface.  You can then store the guac in the fridge and no blackening – I made it on Saturday and last night we at the last of it and if anything it had improved with age!

We will return to crafting with WOYWW tomorrow.


Not scrapping yet!

As is the same every year the last day of the year and the first day of the year are my busiest for sorting sponsorship of UKS.

In anticipation of the chaos, we slipped in to London for a couple of days – a belated birthday meal for me at my fave fun restaurant Inamo,which has good food, if on the pricey side, but the real draw is the interactive tables.  DD spends the whole meal changing the patterns, browsing the menu and has been know to try to call a taxi if we don’t keep a close eye on her!

She loves looking at the food and watching the chef-cam.

It’s always a fun experience and the presentation is very scrap-friendly – check out DS’s dessert ….

We spent a bit at Paperchase, as you do (got myself a very cute tea flask with cup, decorated with owls) and I scored some tiny little mister bottles at Muji, although they are surely not the best price for such things.  Impulse won out over sensible spending, I’m afraid.  We waited outside a magic shop under Charing Cross and were JUST on the verge of leaving when someone rushed up to open the shop about an hour later than advertised.  But managed to get DS a couple of specialty Arcane decks, which aren’t intrinsically magical, just very pretty to look at.  Once DS has scuffed them up a bit and they don’t spread as nicely I may take a few for altering/scrapping.  They are lovely.

DS and I went to see An Inspector Calls, although I was more interested in Rope at the Almedia (we lived just across and down the street a house or two from there once) but I lost that battle.  Great production, but SO uncomfortable in those tiny seats with no leg room at all.  Note to self – NEVER book anything but an aisle seat, ever.  Tried to hit Avatar in 3D at the Imax but it was booked for a week.

Now, home, awaiting a City Link delivery they first sent out on the 17th which still hasn’t even been attempted, just goes on the truck then back to the depo every day.  Why? LOADS of other stuff has been delivered no problem,  but not the main package that has all the best stuff in it!  Still the kids are enjoying the neverending Christmas LOL!

So Happy New Year to anyone who actually sees this and hopefully it will be back to scrapping in the New Year.