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...

29 June, 2012

Pearl Couscous with Dukkah

Pearl Couscous with Dukkah (Neet asked for this 29th June, 2012)


1 large brown onion, finely sliced
1 or 2 cloves of garlic
1 to 2 Tabsp dukkah (to taste)
1 cup Pearl couscous (erring on the side of less than a full cup)
Boiling water, about two cups. You can use stock but it can be too salty with the dukkah.


In a non-stick pan, heat some olive oil and brown the onion and garlic, and cook the dukkah spices. Add the couscous and stir until it is golden brown.

Add boiling water, cover and let simmer for 8-10 minutes. Add more water if necessary. I tend to watch and stir, add more boiling water on the way if need be. It will take two cups of water, give or take.

If you want to add vegetables, do this in keeping with their cooking time - thinly sliced potato when first adding water, green beans or peas with 4 minutes to go, julienne zucchini and spring onions towards the end.

Pearl couscous is sometimes referred to as Israeli couscous. It's larger than traditional couscous as the name suggests, about 3mm in diameter. You can just boil it if you want but this recipe is my favourite.

This is one of two or three brands of the couscous I buy here and what it looks like.
Hope you enjoy playing with this in combo with the dukkah.
Miles of smiles,

27 June, 2012

WOYWW No.160... not much creativity!

What's on my desk this week is Discipline! Yesterday I went up to town to my favourite paper art shop where they were having a sale. I bought quite a bit of stash and now I'm recording what I bought which takes a lot of Discipline. Hard to resist getting right into it - new stamp sets, additional Dylusion sprays, some Memory Box dies.

The desk at large, a slightly different view from usual.

Up close, the Book of Stash. Stamp set to the left, dies to the right, liquid pearls ahead.

Why would anyone be interested in desks? Well, quite a lot of us are very interested, and visit lots of desks each Wednesday as we launch from the Stamping Ground for What's On Your Workdesk Wednesday. Have a peek and then you'll appreciate how much we learn from each other.

Thanks to all my wonderful visitors last week. I learned heaps from you about the die-cutting connundrum not to mention lovely ideas from your blogs. Thanks for your generosity.

It's quite late and I've just put up two sourdough loaves to prove overnight - I'm done in after a busy day.

See you round the Stamping Ground,


This is for you Jo (at Jozart) from your viewing my post last weekend. I'm delighted you asked about one of my favourite culinary delights. Dukkah is a traditional Egyptian spice mix which can be used in many ways. There are as many variations as there are people who make it, however the basic nuts and spices are included in this recipe. Hope you like it.

Ingredients for your Dukkah:

50g hazelnuts
50g pistachios (or almonds)
20g sesame seeds
13g coriander seeds
13g cumin seeds
13g sweet paprika (optional)
8-10g turmeric
5g cinnamon stick ground
1g salt or less to taste.

8-10g fennel seeds (optional).
Experiment with all the ‘optionals’.


Roast hazelnuts and remove skins by rubbing. Roast pistachios/almonds also. Lightly toast the sesame seeds, set aside. Gently toast the coriander, cumin and fennel seeds until aromatic.

In a coffee or spice grinder reduce the spices until finely crushed but not powdery. In a food processor (or grinder) grind the nuts coarsely. Mix with the sesame seeds, all the spices and salt.

Store in an airtight container.

Serve with fresh bread dipped in EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) and then dukkah. It makes a lovely nibble before dinner with a fresh white wine or a good red before dinner. Also very good cooked in oil with onions before adding couscous... oh yum! If you would like the recipe for that, let me know.  Applause…     ;-)

Here is the French Island Olive Grove stall at the Farmers Market. Notice that the oil is a little cloudy. It's certified organic, pressed on the farm, not filtered and full of goodies. Oh, YUM. Alison is very pleased with the new press.

Let me know if you try the recipe and I do hope you like it.
Great gustatory grinning,

22 June, 2012

Raining and Raining, Staying Indoors

In all, we had about 40mm of rain yesterday which was constant over about eighteen hours. Oh what a great day for being indoors and warm.

I had a crack at die-cutting using the technique shown in the video clip I posted on Wednesday. It worked a treat. The photo below shows the doyley cut out but still stuck to the die. Notice how many of the little bits have detached already. Most importantly, they are ALL cut well enough to prick out with no trouble. On the right is the alumnium sheet I used as an improvised metal plate. Of course it's cactus now so I will speedily invest in the proper plate.

Looking good after a number of passes with turns between each one.

Lummy, look at that. Very pretty. Here it is all clear of the debris.

And here is the reward at the end of the day. The fire is alight and I have fresh-from-the-oven sourdough bread, home made dukkah and locally grown organic extra virgin olive oil. Two women over on French Island have an olive grove and the oil is sooooooo good, as are the olives. I'll get some more on Sunday at the Farmers Market (if they are there this month).

 Did lots of arty organising but this post is just to get your taste buds going as well.

Cheers dears,

Sunny yesterday, raining today...

Went walking on our beach yesterday before meeting friends for coffee at the local coffee shop called :The Boyz for Brekky". It's a favourite spot, and with a strong wind blowing, the best place to blow in for the regular weekly chat.

Looking across the yacht club and The Rocks restaurant towards Mills Beach
It was very windy up on the cliffs so maintaining a horizontal horizon was challenging. You can see lots of little bathing sheds lined up along Mills Beach in the distance. We walked to the far end of the bathing boxes and then came back on the cliff track.

Looking back to the Yacht Club, you can see how choppy it was.
I do like being out in the wind being blown around a bit, and the waves creating exotic dance moves on the shore. I was not the only thing with a mop of hair blown about. The sheokes were bowing and flowing with their tresses shaped like big dish mops.

The drooping sheokes (cassuarina stricta) were not drooping today!
Many of them are in flower. You might just discern a gold tinge on the tree - the flowers are very small and grow all the way down the long leaves. I'll add a close-up of the flowers very soon.

Happy days,

20 June, 2012

WOYWW No 159

What's on the desk this week? Why would I pose such a question? Well the answer lies over at Julia Dunnit's Stmaping Ground where an international cluster of artists share views and comments about their work and their workdesks each Wednesday.

Thank you to the many people who came to call last week. I really do enjoy your comments and so many of them were very helpful and well as appreciative. I made a list and hope I managed to make a return visit so if I missed you, I do apologise.

Here is my first ever series of ATCs one of which has gone to my PIF person this very blustery morning.

ATCs and Prismacolour pencils.
 Here is some detail: using black heavy weight card, the floral design is stamped using Versamagic chalk in white. This is the best, most contrasty white I've found for stamping on black matt card.
The colouring is with Prismacolour pencils applied in layers with white pencil under lying the colours and for shading. The colour is smoothed and dispersed using a paper stub moistened with Gamsol.
These little cards are so appealing to me so I'm certain there are more to come. So pleased I decided to participate in this exchange, albeit a tad late ....but that's me. Always busy and a bit behind looking around.

Now with respect to the detailed die-cut business from last week, first of all, I had so many helpful hints from my callers to whom I say a big thank you.
Next, I have looked around and found a really helpful video clip on Joan's Gardens blog. If you're interested, follow the link to this post entitled "Video by Memory Box".

Finally, I just want to welcome my new followers. Thank you for this compliment, and I hope you continue to enjoy coming along. Do say hello when you visit.

Enough!  Warmest regards,

18 June, 2012


I've enjoyed making a series of cards using this lovely stamp of butterflies. As some prints were sitting on the desk, the artist in my family spied it. What a lovely compliment that she should want me to make a card for her to send to some friends.

Butterflies flying to the light
The stamp is clear embossed on gloss card and then Colorbox chalks applied with Judikins colour dusters. It's matted on gold and then purple metallic card. I added a butterfly die-cut from card coloured with alcohol inks and tinted with Krylon gold leaf pen. In the context of last Wednesday, I have loved my small dies which cut such pretty items.

Hope you're travelling well.

13 June, 2012

WOYWW No 158

Time for the weekly Workdesk Wander where we link with Julia Dunnit's blog and share what's on the desk today, Wednesday. Follow the link from her name to see what it's all about.

I must say that I have really enjoyed my new desk arrangements. Everything is so much more accessible and the work space remains clear enough without shrinking to minute size until I can't think let alone do anything. Bliss on a stick!!!

This week, my desk is experimental with some pulling out of hair for one trial run, and a happy surprise with the other. Here is the worst first...

I bought this doily die and struggled with getting it to cut evenly. I added shims and then sticky tape to the back until the whole thing was half a millimetre thicker, going round and round.
Not much point in that, I mutters to meself, and I peels it all orf and I starts again.... with a few unprintable interjections.

Can I be bothered with pricking out all the bits even when it works? Probably not!
Next is the mandala brass stencil that I bought at Picture to Page recently. Had a little play with the Copic pens and airbrush with very appealing results I think and plenty more to do with this.

Copic markers and stencil.
And here are some Winter flowers that add grace to the room and my grumpy mood from endless nit-picking with die-cuts. The thryptomene is flowering like mad and goes so well with the camelias and lavender.

Gracing the breakfast table.
Travel well everyone.

04 June, 2012

Orchids and another farewell

We have had a weekend of sunshine, and rain all day today, Monday. Not a good washing day (to dry on the clothes line traditionally, that is). I lit the fire tonight and enjoyed its comfort whilst my socks dried and the lamb shanks made the place smell delicious.

My long time friend lost her Mum the other day so I sat down to think about her and make a card. The gold and copper tones are her colours, and the simple embellishment is enough for the occasion.

Fly-away butterflies seem to match this occasion.

I clear embossed matt cardstock, then worked the background with Distress Inks - wild honey, spiced marmalade, and rusty hinge. I used a die-cut for the circles and used the bow-maker for the little bow which would otherwise have been much too fiddly to manage.

I did experiment with other background using Copic pens with the airbrush then stamping with StazOn black. It worked reasonably well but the subtle colouring was harder to achieve. I'll post a few on Wednesday.

Now here's something gorgeous. The orchids are out so the pots have pride of place under cover on the terrace and they growing a treat. They give lots of pleasure.

Not sure what these cold weather orchids are called.

Have been enjoying the Diamond Jubilee reports - what a spectacular river pageant, and what stamina Herself has! Crikey, I'll be pleased to do the same when I'm still younger than she, not to mention Phillip, also a stalwart! Found myself musing about whether they have a small gym at Buck House.

Bless 'em all,