Creative ideas come "out of the wild" growing like yeast. Enjoy a meander around my creative pursuits - art printing with stamps, sketching, photography, baking, gardening...

23 February, 2011

WOYWW No. 90 In a Jam ;-)

Busy week without much crafting really. On my desk this week, is the practical project of making labels for last week's jars of plum preserve. As I mentioned before, this year's plum jam is under-cooked and I've been making labels for the batch. "Runny Plum" doesn't have an epicurean ring to it, does it! So I've called it Plum Preserve!  The labels are simple really but they look quite swanky.

Left to right: acrylic block, labels on trimmer, DIs, calligraphy, punch.

I stamped the labels using a stamp that I bought from a cheap as chips kind of shop. I've just stamped rows of the labels using the long clear stamp block on the left hand side of the work area as a guide to make more-or-less straight lines. I guillotined them using the good old photograph trimmer, then inked them using DI milled lavender and aged mahogany. I rounded the corners with a Zutter half inch corner punch. Last, I went hunting for my old calligraphy fountain pen set to write the label details. I slapped them onto the jars with clear packing tape. 

If you'd like to hop over to Julia Dunnit's blog, you can join the many folk who enjoy sharing their work by showing a view of the crafting bench. And the acronym is most singular in appearance, impossible to pronounce, fun to be part of - What's On Your Workdesk Wednesday.

Happy days,

Post Script: I've picked up a couple of things from your comments - thanks for all the messages.

Firstly, I don't why the photo wasn't clickable. Bless the vagaries of Blogger, but I hope it is now.

The second question from you was "Where's the jam?" Well, that's a fair question and here's an answer...

Plum Preserve - preserved for posterity.
Isn't this a hoot? I'm sure there are so many wonderful jam makers amongst you, but I'm very happy with the lovely comments - thanks a million.

Miles of smiles,

21 February, 2011

Glamour Garlic

I ordered a box of garlic from Patrice Newell who is a farmer in the Hunter Valley in NSW. She produces Extra Virgin Olive Oil which we refer to as EVOO with the Australian penchant for shortening things. ;-) She also produces garlic, honey, soap made from the last two ingredients, and beef. I really love her story of commitment and excellence. If you feel inclined, have a little trip to her web site about Elmswood Farm.

The garlic arrived in a lovely lavender box with the purple garlic corms nestled into wood shavings.

Glamour Garlic
She says in the accompanying note, "Glamour Garlic might sound funny but it's an old-time hardneck variety. You'll find the flavour is more than just 'hot'." Well it's great. I roasted a boned leg of lamb last night with a great sprig of rosemary threaded through the middle. I cut the top off a whole corm of garlic, drizzled some EVOO over it, and let it roast beside the lamb for 45 minutes. It was all soft and caramelised and delicious. Oh yum! Mind you, gotta love garlic!

Oh, and I bought some soap too, and one her books that I haven't read. Hope you find this little jaunt interesting. I'm so thrilled with this beautiful produce that hasn't been bleached or refined or vacuum-packed for my protection. I'm keen on the farm gate to table idea and farmers' markets.

Yours as ever,

My First Ever Blog Award

My award from Elizabeth over at Silver Scrapper's Craft Space is a huge surprise! I'm very chuffed and have enjoyed our connection through WOYWW. Thank you so much Elizabeth.

This is a first for me so I'm thankful for your pointers, Elizabeth. Next thing is to publish some random things about moi-meme, here the top of my head.
  • I loved diving when I was younger and fitter, and it's one of my most cherished memories. The world under the sea is beautiful and it concerns me quite often that we think we can pour nasty stuff into it with impunity.
  • Photography is my life-long fasciation and I've had a camera since I was about eight. My Dad loved photography and took a little Kodak Retina with him to to the Middle East. I loved his black and white photos of ancient places and interesting people. I have little camera in a cabinet.
  • I like gardening and have a vegetable patch and a herb garden. There is also a plum tree, a lemon tree and bay tree. I would love to put in a couple of olives and some raspberry canes.
  • I like designing things - when I was in business, I created all my stationery and course booklets.
  • I'm a collector of books that tell me things or delight the eye, rather than a reader of fiction.
  • I love to travel - have seen a bit of the world and lived in gorgeous Vancouver for three years. In 1997, I drove 22,500 Km around central and norther parts of this country with a tent and a 4WD. It took six months with a rough plan but no time-table. Time without clocks, living under the moon is the best lunacy, five million star accommodation.
  • I love making bread - but you already know that, and I love cooking on the Weber barbecue summer or winter. The only difference that winter makes is I need a mug of mulled wine while I get it going. :-)
  • I live in a mud brick house on half an acre ten minutes from the sea. The garden is in flower somewhere all the year round.
  • Music fuels me and I sing in the local choir which then gives me entre to many music events in Melbourne and surrounding countryside. I used to play the guitar but gave that away when the joints played up. I now have an autoharp, and sundry other things that go toot, whistle, plunk and boom.
My next task is to pass this award to some other Stylish Bloggers which I will do in the next day or so, but for now, I'm eager to acknowledge Elizabeth's interest in my blog.

Thanks again,

20 February, 2011

The Real Dragonfly

I was pruning the trees along the drive which is quite long - about 60 metres - and spied this lovely creature resting on a leafless twig. I love the beauty of the finely veined wings. I've discovered that dragonflies eat mosquitoes and other insects but how wonderful is this balance of nature. We have so much surface water lying around at the moment that the mosquitoes are breeding a lot and there have been increased instances of Ross River fever. Everything has its checks and balances and we do well to be open to noticing and taking note.

Resting high above me, dragonfly waited for me to get the camera.

I admire too, the technology that allows me to capture this image in such wonderful detail. My small Ricoh camera has a zoom lens that is equivalent to 300mm focal length at full stretch. I love working with the digital SLR but the little 'point & shoot' is very portable and I take it everywhere with me.

16 February, 2011

WOYWW swings around for No 89.

On the way to choir practice last night there were more dragon flies than I ever recall seeing at once. They were just beautiful, hovering and zooming, large and small.  I wonder whether the good rains have meant that many more dragonflies have hatched and survived.  And I must mention that the sunset over the sea was rivetingly colourful with wonderous clouds creating gorgeous patterns.

Dragonflies design. Label stamp for the plum jam. :-)

Well the image of dragonflies and their lovely flitting and fleeting lives hasn't left me alone. I went scouting around my stash for the right foliage stamps and also picked up a lovely stamp at Bellbird Paper Arts on my trip to town this week.  I also purchased the embossing folder of dragonflies but haven't tried it yet. Putting the imagined idea onto my scrap paper pad was today's activity and with the composition frames around it, I'm happy with the start. I'm really looking forward to deciding on which techniques to play with.

You may notice the stamp "Made in my Kitchen" for The Plum Jam which is delicious, and lovely to give away to a couple of friends.

If you'd like to join the desk-hoppers who hover around Julia Dunnit's Stamping Ground, just follow the link.

Tonight the night air is gentle and warm, the garden is full of crickets and the banjo frogs in the neighbour's pond are plonking away to their hearts' content. It rained a little and made the earth smell delicious so we had a drink on the terrace before dinner to take it all in. How beautiful is this blue planet that we travel upon.

Miles of smiles,

Thanks for the Comments

Lovely comments for the Bread and Jam post. Thanks so much. Great image of the Mixer and the Toddler turning on a merry show. And Carole, I like to have fresh frozen fruit for breakfast, too. Ros what takes your fancy in Craft Stamper? Have you got a gmail address so we can chat?


15 February, 2011

Just in Time for Valentine

Well, I've been playing with the whole idea of no hearts and using birds for St Valentine's Day. Started with the baby wrens stamp which was on the desk last Wednesday, however I decided against that because two's company but three's a crowd. Can't have crowds on St V's Day! It's a lovely stamp and I'll play with it some more, later. The other thing was the alcohol inks just didn't work for this project so, whilst I love the colours, that background is destined for something else. The new background is some hammered white card that I found in the scrap box, swiped with pale blue and waiting to be used.

Valentine's Blue bird.
I have a cling stamp called "Chickadee" by Stampendous which looks like a scruffy kookaburra chick to me. I embossed the design with Judikins Rustique Bronze and painted the chick blue to make it a bluebird of happiness. I inked a rather Japanese style Artee "Blossom"  stamp with Marvy Markers, and it's all come together with the help of masking, Twinkling H2O water colour, and some DI edging for the card stock. The last thing was to matt the piece on burgundy metallic card and placed it on white hammered card stock.

Just made it in time and quite pleased with the result - no hearts and lots of Heart. :-)

13 February, 2011

Bread and Jam

What a busy culinary day. Made jam in the morning and bread in the afternoon. The jam is gorgeous plum jam made with the fruit from our tree. It's a bit runny - last years was cooked too long and was rather too gelatinous so this lot is under-cooked, of course. It's still lovely stuff, a good colour, and soaks into fresh bread very satisfactorily. Next year's batch will be just right.
Here a picture that tells the story.

The bread, the tin, the jam, and the dough hook.

The bread is the loaf that I often do - wholemeal with half a cup of soft seed mix through it. I put the tin and the dough hook in the picture because I reckon they are the two best inventions for making bread. The tin is a black heavy steel French one that has never been washed, only oiled and the release is perfect each time. The dough hook belongs to my Kitchen Aid mixer and it does the work perfectly to the point where I take over the kneading. Can't stand bread machines because I need to feel the dough to be sure it's right. It's one of the most blissful things I do in the household, and naturally, I'm fussy about the ingredients with Elizabeth David as my Goddess of Bread-making. Yum!

If I could put the smell of the bread in a PDF file I'd put it right here.

Happy days,

10 February, 2011

WOYWW No. 88.

Hello again everyone. Late as blazes again. One day I'll be in the top ten!!!
On the workdesk again and thinking about St Valentine's Day cards. Well that means pink, and I'm having a revolt against hearts, but sticking with pink just to see how it might work. Maybe I'll put hearts inside the card with the message. Queen of Desks Julia Dunnit, has a long list of desks for you to travel around so drop over there to see what adventures you might share.

I've put three pics up today showing different views and different focus...

The desk is an island in a sea of things needed instantly
This is my general creative melee! You can see sundry drawers of Marvy Matchables and pens of many  sorts. Under the desk is the Scor-It which is a favourite tool. The desk drawer has no access to its contents, but it has plenty of stuff sitting on top of it! Craft Stamper magazine, folder of unmounted stamps, journal and so forth.

A closer look at the desk activities

I've been playing with alcohol inks to create pink and gold background using watermelon, cranberry, and currant inks with blending solution and some gold mixitive. In the centre you can see the next step using a sweet stamp called 'Baby Wrens' with Staz-On blue. I added some colour with Copic pens and the blender but its not very pronounced. I used a mask (sitting at the top right of my work pad) to stamp Blossoms as a simple background for the wrens. As an experiment, I used Copic 'Garnet' to ink the stamp. Was not sure whether it would stay damp enough but it worked quite well. More to do with this design I think but so far it's quite pretty.

A slightly wider view of tools and work

On the iPad is a wonderful mind mapping app called iThought. I use it for brain-storning ideas or recording ideas from magazines and so forth. It's the first computer based mind mapping program I've found to be as efficient as pen and paper. Hope you enjoy this peep as much as I enjoy visiting as many of you as I can.

Warm wishes to those who are snowed in and disaffected by the weather as well as everyone flooded and floundering in mud.

02 February, 2011

WOYWW No 87.

Greetings all, on this first Wednesday in Feb. I've been looking forward to another round of popping in on as many folk as I can, but mind you, not as many as I'd like.

I'm sitting to write this in front of the TV with scary red weather patterns lurching across the screen while they report on Cyclone Yasi. Really and truly, I think the Queenslanders have had enough!! My friend Jez is battening down with her elderly Mother tonight in Cairns. All the patients have been evacuated from the hospital where she works, and most of the staff are either in Brisbane or hunkering down like Jez. She's now having a glass of champagne, love her.

Well here's the desk today. There are lots of dragonflies in my garden at the moment so I've decided to use a couple of stamps to celebrate their lives dancing in the sunlight. If you'd like to see lots of interesting desks, pop over to Mrs Dunnit's Stamping Ground.

Cyclone Yasi shares the desk today.
 I've used Distress Inks with some matt card, layering yellows and blues to create some greens as well. I used chipped sapphire to stamp parts of the large 'garden' stamp on the left of the desk. In one, I spritzed until it ran a far bit, then dried it with the heat gun. The clear stamp at the bottom of the photo is a useful stylised pine branch. It makes great edges. I used Judikins EP for the additional dragonflies - Denim for one, Aegean silver for the other. 

A couple of other things: I find my Scrubber Pad really useful, and at 2 o'clock from that, there is a hospital nail brush with black, very, very fine bristles. It's brilliant for clearing stuff out of the tiny spaces in some stamps without damaging them. (It escaped from somewhere to pursue a useful career on my desk.) I love using my stamp positioning tool and the stamping buddy for keeping the EP tidy on my projects. There's an assortment of stamp pads and EPs which haven't moved for a while.

On the right is my iPad with the cyclone info showing. By the time many of you read this we'll know whether Jez and every other Queenslander is okay. We have to change how we treat Mother Earth. The flood waters are just sitting around still in north west Victoria and the stench is dreadful. And the storms in North America sound pretty horrific. We've been ripping the life out of the planet for so long, it's no wonder she's going to dish out some major responses. Our species deserves a bite in the bum!!!

I wish the women would take it over - Mother Earth needs good house-keepers. Now I'll get off my soap-box. :-)

Tread lightly,