Friday, 22 September 2017

A Miscellany

The Art Neko blog and website are still down for a revamp, so instead of posting on the blog, I thought I'd add another card here this week, although I can't provide any links.  The metallic tissue background was created for this week's TLC challenge on Splitcoast.  I used two different stamps from Art Neko, the still life with grapes and wine, and I stamped and cut a couple more leaves from the grapes and leaves with tendrils stamp.

A long-empty site near the bus stop has been opened up for work, and in the process has acquired a new hoarding.

And another utility box - very suitable for our climate, this one.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Utility Box Art

This barrister dog appeared outside the Law Society some day last week, unless I have been very unobservant.

The Viking invasion has taken place at the corner of Ellis Quay, but it's not an easy place to take photos with all the traffic.

And a couple of matchbox projects which I didn't include with my favourite cards last week. The Sizzix matchbox die creates a box about 3 1/2" by 2 1/2" by 3/4".  I'd like to try making a suitcase again with a couple of modifications to this prototype, but it was fun to make.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Birds and a Birdhouse

I took a few photos of a heron on the way to work the other morning. It was low tide, and the particular place the heron was standing meant that I could take photos where it didn't look as much as if I was in the centre of the city.

And here is my card for this week using images (and paper) from Art Neko.  It's a shaker card, using what I imagine to be a birdhouse from the Flowers and Whimsy sheet, along with butterflies from the same sheet, a vertical birthday sentiment and some ATC collage paper.  The base has some coarse mesh stitched to it, and I added some leaf ribbon trim with lots of Liquid Pearls to suggest flowers. I can't remember what die I was using, but the shaker element was all the little pieces popped out from it, they've been sitting in a little pot on my desk ever since.

Friday, 1 September 2017

August Favourites...

August appears to have been a creative month even though it didn't feel like it, lots of cards I was very happy with...

This next one was for the mixed media challenge on SCS; we were to be inspired by the artwork on the cover of a favourite book. That required some thought - not all my favourite books have very inspiring covers (To Kill a Mockingbird, for example). And while I love Terry Pratchett's Discworld books, the covers are a mile away from my own style. As I thought about books, my mind went back to Paul Gallico's The Man who was Magic, one of my favourite of his books. My copy has long ago lost its dust-jacket, but I had memories of it, and was able to confirm them by checking the book out online.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Juvenile goldfinches

I always think they look so different before that vivid red comes in. We seem to have several young ones around this summer.

Thursday, 17 August 2017


A couple of cards featuring Art Neko stamps - both were made for the recent Dare To Get Dirty challenge on Splitcoast.

One will be a birthday card for my brother, since I bought the cog dies, along with a few other things, using the Amazon voucher he gave me for my birthday. I used the Steampunk Clock with Bird for this one, along with a discarded Brusho background from my scrap box.

The second one uses a flower from the Flowers and Whimsy sheet, and a very different colour palette to my normal.

The last card isn't really a card - it's in memory of my father. The last time he was well enough to visit the hens and not-hens (ducks) in the community garden was back in March, before he fell and broke his hip. On Tuesday I went to pay them one last visit and to say thank you to the hospital staff for their great care and kindness over the last year of my dad's life. "Amazing" was one of the few words left in his vocabulary as it diminished over the last months.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Birds of a feather...

A few bird photos... a rare sighting of a bullfinch making the most of the rowan berries - on a rare sunny morning. And since the buses are all arriving early these days with school still off, I'd missed one bus and knew I had plenty of time to get the camera out.

Just the day before we had seen such a fat and red-breasted chaffinch on the niger seed feeder ( a first to see one there, they're normally ground-feeders) that we spent a long time looking at him to make sure he was a chaffinch.

We went for a walk in St. Catherine's Park on Friday afternoon for some time out, and spotted these little ducklings still growing into their adult plumage. I thought their tails looked so funny too, all fanned out. They swam over to us obviously hoping for some treats, but we had nothing to give them.

And lastly a very scruffy moulting robin I spotted this evening; he looked a little piratical with that black patch under his eye.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

July Favourites

Where did July go?  I have a few favourite cards, but it was a really busy month so I didn't have a lot of stamping time.  First up are a couple I made for the Dare To Get Dirty challenge currently running on Splitcoaststampers.

I used stamping with bubble-wrap as the technique challenge last week and ended up with a lot of backgrounds using various mediums - some still waiting to be turned into cards. Here I used paint, and the ladybird one is Brusho powders.

And for a challenge to use heat - my first card has Tyvek painted with acrylic medium and Perfect Pearls, and the second also uses Perfect Pearls for the "heated pearls" technique.

I had very few photos from last August in my files, but I did find several of a little bluetit perching on one of the feeders.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Recipe Time

...and a card.
Last week's mixed media challenge on Splitcoast required us to choose three different types of tutorial from the resources section, bingo-style. I was short on time so selected scraps from my scrap box which covered various tutorials and put them together to create a little scene - and searching for a sentiment to finish it off with, this one from Art Neko seemed to work well.

The embossing-folder-stamped background was originally intended for a sea scene, that's one of the folders you gave me, Lorraine!

Blue birds on my card, and here a couple of photos not of the baby bluetits still very much in evidence in the garden but of a young robin, moulting into his adult plumage. I always feel they almost look as if they had some sort of disease at this stage!

And I promised a recipe. I had some sweet potatoes sitting in the cupboard since before we went away, and it was high time to use them. I often make soup, but wanted some different today, so I looked online for some recipes and found several which I bookmarked into my Recipes folder.

The one I tried came from the BBC Good Food website, Moroccan chicken with sweet potato mash.

I chose this recipe because I always have ras-el-hanout in my cupboard, and was able to take chicken out of the freezer so it was a meal I didn't need to go shopping for. I have been buying my ras-el-hanout from Seasoned Pioneers for about twenty years now, going back to the days of dial-up internet and long before it was trendy. In fact, I first read of it back in the days when I used to buy the BBC Good Food magazine.

Moroccan chicken with sweet potato mash: serves 4

1kg sweet potatoes, cubed
2 tsp ras-el-hanout, or a mix of ground cinnamon and cumin
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 fat garlic clove, crushed
200ml chicken stock
2 tsp clear honey
juice ½ lemon
handful green olives, pitted or whole
20g pack coriander (cilantro) leaves chopped.

Cook the potatoes for about fifteen minutes, till tender.
Meanwhile rub the seasoning into the chicken breast fillets and fry them for about 3 minutes a side, till browned, in 1 tblsp of the olive oil. Remove the chicken, lower the heat and cook the onions and garlic till soft.
Add the stock, honey, lemon juice and olives, return the chicken to the pan and cook till the sauce is reduced and thick, and the chicken done. Stir in the coriander.

Mash the potatoes, season, add a spoonful of olive oil or butter. Slice the chicken breasts into thick slices, and serve on top of a bed of sweet potato mash with the sauce poured over.

I left out the olives, as C is not a fan of them and they are not something I tend to keep in the house. I did mean to substitute dates, but forgot - I've made a note on the recipe to include them next time. Because we both enjoyed it, there will definitely be a next time - perhaps with couscous rather than the mash.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017


I had a piece of faux leather background left after making my card for the Art Neko blog last week - so I used it to make a card to share here this week. This sweet bird and nest are from the Flowers and Whimsy sheet of stamps. Next up will  be a card using that lovely birdhouse image, I think.

This one is stamped on watercolour paper and coloured with distress inks. My first background, whatever brand of masking tape I used curled when I heated it, so I had to gently heat it, take it all off and start again with a different brand. Hmm, I think most of what I have left is the one that curled.

A couple of garden birds - a very wet and presumably very hungry goldfinch this morning, and a little baby blue. We seem to have a lot of birds around since we came back from holidays - maybe because all the feeders are topped up again.

We got to see a lot of birds while we were away, first of all visiting the ornithological park in the Marais Poitevin - walking distance from the campsite, and then going back to the bird park in the Camargue. We weren't lucky enough to see bee eaters this year, but did get to see avocets and were also highly entertained by these bareback riders....