Saturday 31 August 2019

Its magic...

Cosmic Shimmer Opal paints, have an interference element to them, which means they show as different colours on different backgrounds, in particular black and white cardstock:

The top part of the top snaps off, revealing its applicator sponge. Although I only did one light sweep of each colour, the colour deepens as you apply more. You can see the colour in the bottle more or less matches on the white cardstock at the bottom.

In the middle is kraft cardstock, a slight difference but the most striking difference is the black cardstock. I hope to have a good play with these.

Back to my acetate trial, where each ink failed dismally as I didn't have the correct acetate, my write on cheap stuff does indeed allow for embossing, which I did very carefully, so as not to buckle it with the heat:

Thursday 29 August 2019


Vellum cardstock and vellum paper (aka tracing paper) are not the same thing. Today, I have been experimenting with acetate and tracing paper as I currently don't have any vellum.

The acetate is the write on stuff as I didn't have what was required but thought I would experiment anyway. See my cardmaking tab above.

Wednesday 28 August 2019


Yesterday was our hottest day at 32.8C. I couldn't stay outside for longer than about 10 minutes before needing to come inside. Ruby didn't seem to mind but after another 10 minutes or so, was brought in by DB. The bedroom was 25C at bedtime and the same this morning despite windows being open. I did hear a light shower of rain though:)

For godness sake woman, stop using this cheap crappy card to practise on!

It bleeds, swells, curls. Even when dry it still bleeds with new colours put on top. This was a lovely image until I went to colour in the collar, it bled into its surroundings. I then tried to correct it by going over the smudge in white and touching other areas to match. The result is a blue grey spaniel.

Mind you, overall I love the stamp and the image it creates, but not the card or corrections. I was using an Aquabrush pen for the first time and quite liked using that.

At least I know this will work, with colour applied using an alcohol marker (I haven't got any yet) and on better cardstock:
I trialled a layered stamp. It didn't help with the same nasty cardstock, plus the base stamp had a mark in it which transferred to the base image. The top stamp colour hardly registered, nor did the clear embossing powder (top image).

Trying again on a slightly different version, I added gold embossing powder. Again, not quite right as the top stamp is too fine for embossing. I also didn't use my stamp positioner tool which would have helped:

Yesterday, I bought a small batch of heavier white and black cardstock so shall see how that goes. Onwards and upwards!

Tuesday 27 August 2019

No more apples and pears

I hope the weather now starts to cool, it has been way too hot for me. Our shade temperature reached 31.9C yesterday. Nothing compared to some countries I know, but we aren’t used to it.

Even though the bugs and birds have taken their toll on our fruit this year, we will still have enough to not buy any for weeks. Once the bad bits are cut out, everything left is edible and they taste superb. The little trained Comice pear has loads but they are not ready yet:
Laxtons Superb are bug ridden but ready, loads to eat once processed:
The red williams pear is also plentiful, not quite ready:

We also have an Egremont Russell apple but its fruits are very small and probably won't come to much.

Any fruits that are unblemished will be stored in the fridge to slow down their ripening. We began eating our own fruit this week and should have enough for at least 2 months.

Monday 26 August 2019


I made enough crumble topping for 3 but stretched it to four. I used 400g Plain Flour, 250g cubed cold butter, 100g of sugar (reduced for our taste), 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ground ginger. To stretch it I also added 80g oats and a sprinkling of chopped walnuts.

All the fruit was from our garden, finely chopped and raw. Left bramble and apple, top and bottom right, rhubarb:
This one is rhubarb and pear:
They were cooked at 200C for 40 minutes. I put a little sliver of fruit on the top of most so I could label them properly afterwards.

Sunday 25 August 2019


One of the main ways that I enjoyed working, on my Fine Art degree course, was the world of the liminal, a subject barely seen, glanced out of the corner of your eye.

I bought a lovely winter scene embossing folder over the weekend and had a practice with it. You can see the trial results on my Cardmaking tab above. Some worked better than others.

At the other end of the scale, a more ‘in your face’ approach. Having bought a very cheap set of watercolour brushes from Lidl a while ago, I stamped an image onto paper and attempted colouring it it. I don't like it. Colouring in, in full, is not my way of doing things at all, just doesn't rock my boat:

This is also a red rubber unmounted stamp, found it quite difficult to work with as I usually use clear stamps.

Saturday 24 August 2019

New bird on the block

DB has finished his hummingbird for the fence outside our kitchen window:
We only had one pearl paint, the pink, but if he makes another one sometime, we shall use all pearl paint as the pink has a lovely shimmer to it.

It isn't based on real colours, just as close he could get with what he had.

Friday 23 August 2019

How disappointing...

Despite lots of research, it seems there is no substitute for practise, trial, error and disappointment.

I  received an embossing pad that was bone dry. I was given my money back and used it to buy another make, Tsukineko, far better. My dew drop water dye ink pads are also on the dry side but I am trying to persevere with those and believe again, they were a tad on the old side when they arrived, too late to send them back now.

Today I have been using a Colorbox pigment ink pad. Way too soft and spongy and possibly a bit on the dry side. I couldn't even get it to emboss properly as the ink was drying before I got the chance. Now these pads are normally quite expensive, I got mine in the sale (should have known). Due to the effort required to stamp with them, I don't feel they are worth it and won’t buy them again.

I think most people use the dye ink pads for speed rather than the pigment ink pads, some of which, Hero for example, takes hours and hours to dry. The new Tsukineko Versaclair are pigment based but quicker drying. I only have the black and it is great. Along with my one Hero pad, I hardly have to touch my stamp to ink either of them.

If I use pigment ink pads rather than dye ink pads, the colour may be richer but drying time will be longer. Any ideas anyone, on dye ink pads that have exceptional colour and have a light touch to ink a stamp with?

Thursday 22 August 2019

Guess what

After my stamp failed to arrive we put in our claim. The company accepted this (12 emails) and arranged a replacement to be delivered.

When we got up this morning our lost stamp had been put through our letterbox. Who delivered it, we have no idea but I am glad to see it! Proves at least it was delivered elsewhere.

The company has been informed.

Wednesday 21 August 2019

Oops - spot the mistake

Another day, and learning session.

This large stamp seemed reluctant to adhere to my acrylic square. I gave it a quick squirt with soapy water, dried it and it adhered. Unfortunately, the greetings part I had put on back to front so I was about to ink the back of it when I realised and switched it around:
Yep, I then put it on upside down making the greeting read backwards - ah well.

Today, I used a small snowflake stamp and just my embossing ink (a glue type ink) and water marked the card:
I like this effect and as I photographed it freshly done, don't know whether or not the shine will remain, no it didn’t.

This red card is far too thin to use as a card base but ideal for practising on.

Tuesday 20 August 2019

Rubbish delivery service

I have waited nearly 9 days for a small clear lovely Christmas stamp, which was selling quickly. It was delivered today according to Hermes! Nope!

They say they delivered it just after 11am, and took a picture of it being delivered. Problem is, the walls and windowsill in the picture are different to what we have.

There is some sort of black wood/plastic behind the parcel, we don’t have anything like that on the outside of our house.

Our letterbox is in our upvc conservatory door and we had been sitting in there for at least half an hour either side of their supposed time, doing a jigsaw. No one came except the postman at 11:30.

Obviously gone to the wrong place. None of our neighbours have it nor anything black on their houses!

11 emails in, watch this space.

Monday 19 August 2019

Hydrangea and Ruby

My hydrangea, Vanille Frais, is now turning from pure white to its pink and white final stage:

Its pink colour will get deeper as it ages.

Ruby has her ears combed every morning to rid her of cots, usually in the fine ultra soft fur under them:

She hunkers into DB and loves having it done as you can tell by her face.

I have added a few more stamping trials to my page on the tab above.

Sunday 18 August 2019

Two small meals in one...

Welcome to several new followers via here and Bloglovin. I am sorry I can't greet you by name from here as blogger no longer shows them.

DB and I can no longer eat large plates of food so we eat the amount that suits us. To others, this may only be a snack.


1 good sized carrot, beetroot, courgette and pepper and dice into large chunks. If you wish add 1 onion, we didn't have one!

Divide in two and toss each with 1 tablespoon oil. Season how you wish. I used black pepper and celery salt. Keep bowls you tossed them in, to one side:

Roast at 200C for about 40 - 50 minutes, tossing halfway through. Put two tablespoons of cream garlic cheese into one of the bowls and add a spoonful or two from the pasta water and mix to a sauce. Empty one tray into this bowl and stir. Toss the pasta in, stir and serve. Allow the other to cool in the other bowl then freeze for later use.

Another seasoning option if you like heat, is mayonnaise with some hot sauce stirred through. A different option is sour cream and grain mustard. Don't add pasta water to either of these though.

Serve on top of 6oz of cooked pasta shapes and top with a little strong grated cheese. Two meals, one oven use, one spare meal:

To use the spare, thaw the vegetables and either microwave or stir fry gently. You can also cook a second batch of pasta fresh or cook two batches originally. Stir a little oil into one drained pan of pasta whilst hot, then allow to go cold. Freeze then thaw. Warm this pasta with a kettle of boiling water.

Or, you could the roasted vegetables on top of a pizza or in a soup.

Saturday 17 August 2019

A new hobby....

I think I have been a little below par in myself for the past year or so and couldn't be bothered with much at all. Now I feel better and willing to tackle something new. My DDiL said I should look around for something to do, look into it and if its for me, to just go for it. She and I are very creative people and she is learning not only a craft but a trade, and has a very natural aptitude for her chosen subject.

I wanted, no needed, to be creative again. I gave 4 years of my life to a pre-degree and a Fine Art degree course between 2006 - 2010. I know I don't want to do anything that intensive again, nor join any clubs or do small home study courses. That side of me has been fulfilled!

So, looking at what was out there and hoping I wouldn't go too mad with what I chose, I have decided to have a go at stamping. I have researched each bit of it, watched oodles of videos (some great others not so). I have set up a tab above called Cardmaking to plot my progress.

There was enough money in my bank account, which I rarely spend, so I got ordering. Things are slowly getting delivered, its like every day is Christmas at the moment!

Here is my working area, tucked into a large alcove in the spare bedroom. Easy to put away if necessary when we have visitors:
Some things have been bought, others we already had, some from my degree course. The little light is temporary until I find something else (we have other things in the attic but I will need a daylight bulb).

The table would have been better in front of the patio door window but I don't want to keep moving it so here it will stay. Time will tell.

I don't know enough people to create lots of cards for, but will use cards to practise with. From there, I hope to use my learnt skills as a springboard into other things. Watch this space:)

Thursday 15 August 2019

The past three mornings.....

Have been cool enough for me to wear my summer dressing gown! The ground has that dewy autumnal look and feel to it. At bedtime, the cotton sheets feel very cold but are still able to become pleasantly warm shortly after getting into bed. The season is moving on.

Although it has been 17C most of the morning today, there has been a very cool wind blowing. This coolness both inside and outside the house, has resulted in cool or warmer tops being put on and taken off.

It was still so cool at lunchtime that I made us a pot of soup!

Tuesday 13 August 2019

An interesting watch...

For the most part, I enjoyed watching Andy's comeback singles match. Yes he lost but there were many touches of the old Andy, particularly in set 2.

He was so nervous at the start of set 1, very tight, awful serve and got broken. He broke back before being broken again when Gasquet did loads of drop shots. Andy admitted afterwards he could have gone for them but when previously playing in pain, he had gotten into the habit of letting them go.

In set 2 he was better despite losing his opening game and not being able to break back. Some wonderful shots, a few aces, some unreturnable serves. Clearly though, he was getting tired, particularly in his legs after some long rallies, one of which was 27 shots!

I am glad he is sticking with doubles for now as well, they will help with his stamina and match readiness. Hope he can find someone to partner him. Also glad he has chosen not to play singles in the US Open, I think 5 sets would be pushing it for now.

Jamie and Neil were completely off their game and went out in the opening match. Dan and Cameron didn't qualify. Joanna yet again, fell at the first hurdle.

Sunday 11 August 2019

Dinner is off!

Just opened up a package of stewing steak to get dinner ready. Horrible smell and grey looking. It was okay when we bought it so fear the wrapping must have been damaged on the way home.

Ah well, we shall treat ourselves to a Chinese takeaway. It will be a treat as we don’t often have them.

I have been busy making Ruby some vegetable and fruit foot shapes. They consisted of cabbage, carrot, apple, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, egg shells and an egg. Also made her some liver and kidney bone shapes. Should keep her going for a month or so.

Saturday 10 August 2019

Utilizing what we have...

DB has revamped the net tops for my raised beds, I have yet to paint them to finish the job. However, every year, our apples and pears fall on the gravel below them and get seriously damaged. Now, no matter whether we use an organic pest control or not, the apples nearly always get attacked by bugs and occasionally the birds.

The winds of late are making them drop off the tree before they are ready. So many of the pest damaged but still edible ones have fallen and in the end, we did this:
We laid all the raised bed net toppers underneath. Hopefully the fruit will land on them first, before rolling off. So far we have found 2 apples on the gravel near them so assume that has happened.

Friday 9 August 2019

Not bad...

We have been trialling a natural tick treatment as opposed to using chemicals, which we don’t use. Aniforte brewers yeast was recommended and for the past 5 weeks, Ruby has been having her dose mixed into her meal. She doesn’t seem to mind, still licks her bowl clean. It took about 10 days before she was completely tick free.

Before we started her on it, she had a couple of weeks where we removed 5 each week and some each week all the time before that. Since being on the yeast, she had her first tick the other day. Unfortunately none of the gadgets we had were small enough to deal with it and the head was left in but the tick was dead before we attempted to remove it. We killed it by applying one drop, close to but not covering it, with the liquid mentioned below.

A secondary back up, used just occasionally, is 10 drops of Rose Geranium essential oil, mixed with 100 drops of almond oil. We put just one drop on our finger, and dab it on the back of her neck and base of her tail. It smells gorgeous, like rose Turkish delight.

Some dogs can’t tolerate yeast and others react to the rose geranium but I think people were using it neat, so be careful.

Wednesday 7 August 2019

Tuesday 6 August 2019

Saving a little bit on a brand price

Ruby loves dried tripe. She has a piece every other day as a midday treat. Her other two meals are reduced to take this 'treat' into account. We have tried a few makers and not all tripe is equal. Some absolutely stinks to high heaven. She likes this brand and it smells but not too much:
By buying a 2.5kg box, we estimate we have saved about between £5 and £8, depending on the smaller bags as a comparison. Not a huge amount but enough to make it worthwhile scouting the internet for the cheapest price. Other brands are available and some cheaper still, but they are usually the ones that stink!

Monday 5 August 2019

New cupboard/kennel - UPDATED

We wanted a piece of furniture that can double up. Firstly as an indoor kennel for Ruby. When she is no longer around and providing it is in good condition, it can revert to a cupboard. We would fit a shelf and maybe use baskets in that phase of its life.

We hadn't put the front wire bits in yet and the handles were removed to get it indoors but you can see the jist of it here:
The maker was willing to fit whatever we chose to use into the cupboard doors but we declined, mainly because we hadn't made our minds up yet. We will use something we already have lying around.

We drove over to an oak and pine parlour in a village called Pott Row, outside King's Lynn to explain what we wanted doing. We have used them before for cupboards and tables. They were a bit non-plussed to begin with. We could have had drawers above the doors but wanted just doors. It is a little taller than I expected but other than that, it is perfect.

Anyway, it is about 1/3rd to half the price of top quality ready made version and we are very pleased with it.

We put her normal crate in front of it last evening and opened the other door into it - for security. She hated it, despite nibbles being put into it. Anyhow, come bedtime, she went to bed, stood in her crate and sniffed into the cupboard then went in. She padded around and lay down. This morning, she was still in the cupboard - success!

The doors are now finished and she has a better matching cushion cover:

When she came home as a puppy, we had 4 parts of a 6 sided cage as a toileting area, attached to her crate. One of these sides was utilised for the doors. Two chrome handles, in a tin in the garage, have been put on, as has her water bowl.

Sunday 4 August 2019

A new meal for us....

We eat a slimming version mushroom risotto every now and then. My runners beans needed picking (about 8 of them) so I decided to make runner bean, fresh tomato and sundried tomato risotto:
I didn't have any parmesan cheese so put a little grated cheddar in it. Also finely chopped sage and lots of black pepper went in at the last minute. It was yummy!

Saturday 3 August 2019

Nice hydrangeas outside the dining room

The view from outside our dining room window is of 6' high fence panels, actually they are 6' 6" as the panels sit on concrete gravel boards!

We planted this long thin garden area (about 5' wide including the path) with various bushes. The normal pink mophead hydrangea always flowers well and needs cutting back and holding up each year:
We also have a hydrangea paniculata - vanille fraise:
It is in its vanille phase at the moment. As it ages, it takes on a gorgeous raspberry hue. The rest of the area to the left of these plants houses our household and recycling bins. The garden bin is elsewhere in use, plus two log stores:
To the right of the window are a physcocarpus, a small lavender and a red and lime green dogwood, plus one wood stores containing all the wood we need for kindling:
In spring, summer and autumn, the plants help soften the fences. In winter, they have a nice skelton appearance.

Friday 2 August 2019

Plums galore

I didn't think either of my small plum trees would give much fruit this year. The Czar in particular has been hit by something or the other. Only these few fruit - picked early before the wasps got them:
However, the equally small trained Victoria has done better. Again the wasps and birds are attacking so they have been picked earlier than normal:
Once they have swelled, and the rain came just in time, they ripen fine on a windowsill:
We have already eaten a bowlful like this one above, either as they are or in smoothies. I think I might also make some fresh plum jam with 1lb of them, and some crumbles to freeze.

Thursday 1 August 2019

A triple chocolate 'jaffa' style cake

I fancied baking us something a little different. Chocolate sponge with chocolate drops, to the weight of 3 medium eggs - ready to bake:
Baked and cooled:
A whole packet of normal orange jelly made up with 3/4 pint rather than one pint of water. It was a little too wide so I had to trim some off:

The other half of the sponge on top and topped with sour cream chocolate topping:

It looks like this close up:
Some of the liquid from the jelly is oozing into the bottom sponge. The sour cream chocolate topping will do the same to the top sponge, keeping it moist.

It has to live in the fridge. Slices will be cut off and left out for a short while to come to room temperature.