Monday, 30 July 2018

Floral Mini-Album Pt 12 Waterfall Inside Front Cover

Trying to catch up with updating the posts about making the Floral Mini-Album! Originally I was doing this on a daily basis but I’m afraid that slipped somewhat… I have now started working on a box for this so thought I’d get back to updating this blog with the album posts.

Recently I made a new mini-album, about my mum who died in December. I was unable to publish anything about this until now because it is a present for her best friend, who sometimes visits my blog, and I wanted it to be a surprise for her. I wrote a series of blog posts as I did each stage of the project, so I didn’t forget what I did, and they will be published in sequence now the project is finished and has been given to our friend.

If you want to see the finished project, please click here.

In this session, I returned to the inside of the front cover and began work on the waterfall mini. I found several very good tutorials for constructing these on Youtube – I needed to refresh my memory because it is a very long time since I did one. The last one I did was a special birthday card for my hubby back in 2010.

These are the pieces I have cut for the construction of the waterfall. If you look carefully, you can see that I have already sored the lines on the long narrow piece, ready to attach the square page pieces.

124 Inside Front Cover Waterfall Pieces

The smaller rectangular piece is the back piece; the rectangular white piece is to reinforce the back piece, and the long strip is the band that goes around the back and holds the waterfall in place. The square pieces are the pages.

The first step was to make the mats for the six pages for each album. In each of the next few photos, you can see the original pink card, and each step beside examples of the previous step, to see how the alteration progresses.

I was keen to achieve a colour scheme to reflect the background paper, co-ordinating the colours, but at the same time giving a bit of contrast in the texture, so I began by smooshing with Barn Door Distress Ink, in order to introduce some splashes of red in the pink.

125 Inside Front Cover Waterfall Mats 1 Barn Door

It’s amazing the transformation of these rather boring papers that can take place with a few layers of different inks.

The second step was to smoosh each one with Wilted Violet Distress Oxide. This gave me the purple splash that I needed. Again, you can see some of the original card underneath, and the previous stage on the right.

126 Inside Front Cover Waterfall Mats 2 Wilted Violet Distress Oxide

I found that this treatment did more or less get rid of the text on the pieces, but I didn’t mind if a bit is still visible as it just added to the texture. Anyway, much of the surface of the squares will be covered with photos.

The final step was the double distressing of each one. The next photo shows phase 1 of this, using Dusty Concord Distress Ink.

127 Inide Front Cover Waterfall Mats Double Distressing 1

Phase 2 – using Black Soot Distress Ink.

128 Inside Front Cover Waterfall Mats Double Distressing 2

The finished mats attached to the pages.

129 Inside Front Cover Waterfall Mats on Pages

I was now ready to begin constructing the waterfall. The next photo shows the addition of double-sided tape between the scored lines on the back piece. I used the red tape because it is stronger than the regular tape. You could use wet glue.

130 Inside Front Cover Waterfall Adding DS Tape

Starting at the bottom, I added the pages one by one, lining them up carefully so that they were even, and removing the backing from the tape as I attached each page.

131 Inside Front Cover Waterfall Adding Pages

Here are both waterfalls with all the pages added.

132 Inside Front Cover Waterfall Pages Added

Propping up the waterfall and photographing it from the side, you can see how the pages overlap and how the scored back piece works – the scored card curves and causes the pages to “roll” over.

133 Inside Front Cover Waterfall Pages from Side

The back piece is reinforced with another piece of card. Here, I have added red double-sided tape and marked the centre, and I have cut the small piece of card for the tab, folded in half and glued at the folded end.

134 Inside Front Cover Waterfall Reinforcing Piece

The folded tab attached. The reinforcing piece is sandwiched between the two open ends of the tab which is attached with Scotch Quick Dry Adhesive. This needs to be strongly attached, because it is by pulling on this tab that the mechanism works. After attaching the tab, I was able o stick the reinforcing piece down onto the back piece, again using the red double-sided tape.

135 Inside Front Cover Waterfall Pull Tab Added

Both waterfalls with their pull tabs attached, top and bottom views.

136 Inside Front Cover Waterfall Pages with Pull Tab

Constructing the mechanism. The long narrow strip is glued under the back and the sides folded around. This is hard to explain and it much easier to understand if you follow a video tutorial on this – plenty to choose from on Youtube.

In this photo, you can see that I have applied Scotch Quick Dry Adhesive, and when I fold that piece down, it will be strong and secure.

137 Inside Front Cover Waterfall Constructing Mechanism

If I do this again, I shall make sure that the long strip is the same colour as the waterfall because in this case, the folded edges of the white card were visible at the sides of the waterfall. I had to paint them with black acrylic paint where they showed, and they miraculously disappeared!

The completed waterfall, ready to install.

138 Inside Front Ccver Waterfall Ready to Install

It was at this point that I realised that when the mechanism was worked, the undersides of the pages would be visible, and would require mats. This photo shows the pieces already cut and waiting to be inked.

139 Inside Front Cover Waterfall Page Back Mat Papers

I began the process by smooshing them with Barn Door Distress Ink. This pink and orange paper seems to resist the ink even more than the other pages I have used with this treatment, and it took me ages doing all this inking because it kept beading up and pooling on the surface of the card and it took a lot of drying with my heat gun.

140 Inide Front Cover Waterfall Inking Page Back Mats

Smooshing again, this time with Dusty Concord Distress Ink.

141 Inside Front Cover Waterfall Inking Page Back Mats

Finally, smooshing with Wilted Violet Distress Oxide to get the effect I wanted.

142 Inside Front Cover Waterfall Inking Page Back Mats

Double-distressing the edges of the mats, using Dusty Concord and Black Soot Distress Inks as before.

143 Inide Front Cover Waterfall Distressing Page Back Mats

The page back mats installed.

144 Inside Front Cover Waterfall Page Back Mats Installed

I am pleased with the subtle stripe which is still visible, and which make a gentle contrast between the page mats on the fronts and on the backs of the cards.

I attached the whole waterfall piece to the inside of the front cover using orange double-sided tape so that it would be firmly adhered.

145 Inide Front Cover Waterfall Installed

Pulling on the tab, the mechanism works perfectly! It has a nice definite feel to it, which I am sure is helped by the addition of the reinforcing piece on the back. To close it again, you just push the tab in an upward direction and the pages roll back into place. It’s very satisfying to play with!

146 Inside Front Cover Waterfall Working

I am pleased with the rich colour scheme of this page.

Sunday, 29 July 2018

A Weekend of Food and Kitties

Meals

I made two nice meals yesterday. For lunch we had a combination of the dishes I cooked last Wednesday.

01 Lunch

I made a bed of bulgur wheat, on top of which I added some green salad, embellished with chopped dried apricots and raisins. I finely sliced one of the fried chicken thighs and coated them in a little of the barbecue sauce in a bowl, before arranging them on top of the salad. I put a bit of the slaw on the side, and dressed it all with some of the light dressing, and finally topped it off with some warmed roasted vegetable, with some sourdough bread on the side. (I found this sourdough loaf in the freezer and can’t remember where it came from – I’m sure I didn’t make it because it’s too good!!)

For supper I made pancakes from some excess sourdough starter. These pancakes are so easy to make and are really delicious and nutritious.

02 Supper

This time I fried some chopped spring onions in coconut oil before pouring in the pancake batter which had some flour in it for extra fluffiness, and some chopped flat leaf parsley. Because the flour made the batter too thick, I thinned it with the addition of a little kefir whey from the last time I made kefir cheese. After flipping the pancake and before folding it in half, I sprinkled some cooked spinach and some grated cheese onto one half of the pancake.

The pancake was topped with a poached egg and garnished with a sprig of flat leaf parsley and some cherry tomatoes, and I served it with a slice of sourdough bread on the side.

Both meals went down a treat, and it was satisfying to know how healthy all the ingredients were!

My first really successful sourdough bread!

I got Esmeralda (my sourdough starter) out of the fridge on Friday evening in preparation for making bread on Saturday, but she got so lively, so quickly, that I put her back in again or she’d have been climbing out of her jar by the morning.

I took her out again for a couple of hours on Saturday morning and she was almost back to room temperature when I started making the next batch of sourdough bread. I had hoped things would move pretty quickly but by lunch time the dough had hardly moved, so I popped it in the airing cupboard to get it going. Esmeralda probably wasn’t quite warm enough when I started. It was only after supper that I was able to knock it back and start to shape it.

This time I adapted the recipe a bit. Rather than producing another large batch of not-so-good bread, I halved the quantity, and I also reduced the hydration a little, in the hope of making the dough slightly easier to handle, but it was still extremely sticky! I spent ages stretching and folding it until I got a satisfactory “window pane” effect – when you stretch the dough out really thinly, it no longer breaks apart, but creates a translucent sheet that you can see your hand through. Next time I shall do the majority of the knocking back in the Kenwood with the dough hook, to develop the gluten molecule chains before final shaping, to save time and energy. Finally I was able to divide the dough into two portions, and with wet hands, fold and shape each portion into a nice round shape with a good skin of gluten on the bottom and the seam on top. This time I used the linings in the bannetons again, and floured them well, and although they did stick a little when turned out, it was nothing like as bad as before.

They turned out beautifully onto the heated baking sheet, and hardly spread at all. The improved shaping I did this time definitely made things a lot better. I managed to slash the tops and get them in the oven without them collapsing, and poured a good amount of boiling water into the heated roasting tin in the bottom of the oven, to create a nice burst of steam to prevent a crust forming too soon, and thus allowing the bread to rise in the oven. This it did beautifully – for the first ten minutes I left the oven at maximum temperature (250 deg. C) and I could actually watch it rising. After this I turned it down to about 210 deg. and left the bread in for another 20 minutes.

Two lovely little loaves came out, beautifully opened out where I’d slashed them.

23 Successful Sourdough 29-7-18

This morning I cut one of them to reveal the crumb.

24 Successful Sourdough Cut 29-7-18

The structure was still a bit dense, without the large holes which characterise sourdough bread. Increasing the hydration would probably help with this, but it does make the dough very difficult to handle. I need lots more practice!

I have made conventional bread most of my life. Making sourdough is a very different process and I’m learning all the time. Eventually I shall make the perfect loaf!

This morning after we got back from church, I went to the fridge to get some stuff out for lunch and found that Esmeralda had been a very messy girl indeed. She had a bit of a binge eating session yesterday after I made the bread and she threw up in the fridge sometime overnight or this morning.

25 Esmeralda Gone Bananas 29-7-18

As soon as I gave her a stir, she subsided to about half – it was all gas! She’s very active indeed – all this activity even though she’d been in the fridge overnight. I transferred the required amount to a bowl in order to make a double quantity of sourdough starter crackers later, and transferred a bit more into the excess starter jar (must keep an eye on that as it will be quite active, even if it is in the fridge). Esmeralda is now a more reasonable size again, in a nice clean jar, and I hope she will behave herself and go back to sleep until next weekend, with no further feeding until then.

Kitties

Up until now we haven’t let the kitties in the sitting room without supervision because they have always been very naughty in there, playing with things they shouldn’t – it’s a strictly “adult” room and has never been kitten proof! However, yesterday evening they snuck in and we found that Lily had discovered the kitty hammock! (We bought a couple of these years ago for an earlier generation of kitties.)

31 Lily has Discovered the Hammock 28-7-18

The last time this was used, it was by Beatrice, probably 18 months ago in the winter. It’s been on the radiator all this time but has been empty of kitties and my hubby often used it to put his books in as it’s beside his chair. He’s going to have to stop doing that from now on, though, if the current activity is anything to go by. In the above photo, Lily doesn’t look too sure about it yet!

Settling down now, though.

32 Lily Settled Down in the Hammock 28-7-18

Ruby has joined her!

33 Ruby has Joined Lily in the Hammock 28-7-18

Lily generally does new things first, and her sister is quick to follow her.

Now Ruby has settled down beside her sister.

13 Both Kitties Settled in Hammock 28-7-18

A bit later in the evening, really settled down and asleep, and as usual Ruby has gone at least one part of her anatomy draped over soft little Lily!

37 Later, Really Settled in Hammock 28-7-18

Is this going to be their new sleeping place? It certainly beats the trolley for comfort!

38 Probably New Sleeping Place

They are going to think they are in heaven when winter comes, and the radiator is nice and warm.

Before I went to bed, the two of them were entwined, and deeply asleep in the hammock.

39 Entwined and Deeply Asleep in Hammock 28-7-18

This is definitely scoring a hit with them. It may become their next favourite place to be, after the garden. I just love how they are always together, and how they love to cuddle up together to sleep. Our precious babies!!

This morning I found them like this.

40 Two Identical Tails in the Hammock 29-7-18

Just look at those two tails!

This morning they both went out into the garden, and quickly came in again, all wet. After all that hot sunny weather, we’ve suddenly got heavy rain. They didn’t like this one bit, although they have been out again since, when it was a bit drier, but came in with very wet muddy paws. They didn’t look very happy about the situation and since coming in for their supper, they have been a lot less tired than usual because they haven’t had enough exercise and excitement during the day! I told them, “Life isn’t all sunshine and butterflies, you know. Into every life, a little rain must fall.” All part of the process of growing up, learning these important life lessons!

Not being able to go out and play, they are likely to get bored and naughty indoors. Lily at least does enjoy watching TV, and she got very excited about a nature programme we were watching over lunch.

I think this programme should really have been viewed by Lily after the 9 o’clock watershed. Note Ruby watching from the equivalent of behind the settee! (Memories of doing the same, watching Dr. Who and the Daleks in my youth!)

More Cooking

Finally, the sourdough starter crackers I made this evening.

26 Sourdough Crackers - Too Thick 29-7-18

Not a great success! I didn’t roll the dough out thin enough and had to cook them for much longer than stated in the recipe and they ended up somewhat overdone and rather tough to eat! I made double the quantity of the recipe and should have ended up with twice as many biscuits. I’ll do it better next time. They do go extremely well with kefir cheese.

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

WOYWW 477 Cooking Again

Still nothing on my desk. This week has been quieter and less busy than of late, and I’ve taken advantage of this in order to rest a bit. It’s been so hot! Up at the top of our garden there is shade from the apple tree and it’s very pleasant, but down in the patio it would be unendurable to sit for even five minutes!

I had a cooking day today, hence my lateness in signing up to WOYWW – I originally didn’t intend to join today but thought you might like to see my efforts even if they are kitchen-related instead of studio-related!

I had a big Tesco delivery first thing, and as usual, washed the fruit and veg and trimmed the latter so it wouldn’t take up so much room in the fridge. I always blanch the trimmings and freeze them, and when there’s enough in the bag, I can make soup, so nothing is wasted. In the bowl are today’s trimmings – quite a lot! I used to throw away the stalks of broccoli and the tough upper leaves of leeks but sliced up and cooked slowly, and then liquidised, they make excellent vegetable soup; they are full of goodness, and there’s no waste.

01 Squash Seeds and Soup Veges

While I was preparing the butternut squash, I suddenly wondered if it was possible to eat the seeds. I checked online, and found that you can – they are related to pumpkins and I regularly buy those to put in the bread. Maybe now I shall use squash seeds instead, and save myself the expense! I separated them from the fibrous pulp (which also went in with the vegetable trimmings!), washed the seeds, and dried them on kitchen paper, ready for roasting later.

Here are most of my ingredients, ready for me to start cooking.

02 Ready to Start Cooking

I recently discovered “Brothers Green Eats” Youtube channel – these two brothers cook amazing stuff in a tiny kitchen, and I’ve got loads of ideas and advice from their channel. This week I watched a video where they cooked several dishes that could be put in portions in the fridge or freezer for an instant ready meal full of goodness. I was keen to try this, and this is what my efforts today were all about.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-2YVb_nPPM

Here is the finished meal, plated up and ready to eat.

03 The Finished Meal

Fridge and freezer fodder! What we didn’t eat for lunch today.

04 Fridge and Freezer Fodder

From top left: slaw made from shredded cabbage, carrot, sliced radishes, spring onions, sliced mango. To prepare the vegetables I used my VeggieBullet (see photo of ingredients, in the background) which shreds and slices in double-quick time – literally seconds! Bag of fried chicken thighs. Before cooking I boned these, and made stock with the bones, which was used to cook the bulgur wheat. The chicken thighs were fried skin-side down (no added fat) until they were crisp, then turned for a few minutes to finish cooking the meat. Two jars of sauce, the first being a light dressing made from lemon juice, white wine vinegar, olive oil, almond butter, a dash of French mustard, fresh coriander, dill, a little honey, chopped spring onions and a little vegetable stock, blitzed in my high-speed blender. This was used to dress the slaw. The second jar contains a quick barbecue sauce made from tomato ketchup cooked with some paprika, vinegar, a little ground cumin and cayenne and a touch of brown sugar.

Second row: Bulgur wheat cooked with some chopped spring onions and peppers, using the stock from the chicken bones.

Third row: Roasted vegetables – butternut squash, sweet potato, carrot, celeriac (par-boiled for a few minutes in the microwave to soften), broccoli and broccoli stalks, onion, leek, courgettes, garlic and peppers roasted in toasted sesame oil with some chilli flakes, cinnamon, ground cumin and paprika, and a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds, chia seeds and brown flax seeds.

Finally, the squash seeds, roasted. I mixed some chilli flakes, ground cumin, ground coriander and cayenne pepper in a little olive oil and tossed the seeds in this before roasting them on parchment paper in the oven. They are super-delicious – really crunchy and with quite a spicy kick! Much better than crisps. The trouble is, each time I walk past the bowl, I have to eat some. They won’t last long!

05 Spiced Roasted Squash Seeds

Next time I am going to roast them plain, and save them to put in the bread. Maybe I’ll never buy pumpkin seeds again!

Talking of break, this is the batch of sourdough I made at the weekend. Marginally better, but still spreading too much. I am going to try with a slightly less hydrated dough, and definitely keep an eye on both the first and second proving so that it doesn’t over-prove.

21 Sourdough 21-7-18

The structure of the bread is good – the holes could be bigger, but they are shiny as they are supposed to be, and the flavour is excellent. I’m getting there, slowly!

22 Sourdough Cut 21-7-18

Esmeralda is behaving magnificently, which is great. She is now in her new routine of being fed twelve hours or so before I make the bread, and allowed to grow at room temperature, and after I’ve made the bread, she’s fed again, and put back in the fridge for another week.

I made a better batch of kefir cheese this week as well, taking longer to strain the kefir through the muslin, and gently agitating it periodically, to encourage some more whey to drain through. I didn’t squeeze the bag because it just makes kefir come through into the whey.

With some of the whey I made some lemonade. I added some basil leaves (this is a fabulous combination for a lovely, cold, refreshing summer drink) and blitzed it in my high-speed blender – which was a mistake! It generated huge quantities of foam which took ages to disperse. I think this was caused by the protein in the whey. Next time I shall make the lemonade and blitz it before gently stirring in the whey. You don’t really taste the whey, but it’s adding that extra layer of goodness and lots of gut-friendly bacteria. Can’t be wrong.

Kitties

Not much activity this week. It’s been too hot for much vigorous play but there has been some big game hunting in the jungle (chasing butterflies in the flowerbeds!) without too much success, fortunately for the butterflies. Lily continues to be a Trolley Dolly all on her own. Ruby has gone right off the trolley and now prefers to sleep right outside the bedroom door where she is in danger of being trodden on, and she she is being vigorously dissuaded from this – we have to remove her 5 or 6 times before she finally settles on my hubby’s box of old clothes. They get their little phases for favourite sleeping places and let’s hope that Ruby’s latest choice is short-lived. I told her I only had to put my big foot right on top of her once, and there’d be no more Ruby. It’s funny, but these kitties are never very impressed with anything I say to them. They just give you that look, and go on doing whatever it is you don’t want them to do.

Here is Lily drinking from the bird bath. So much for my hubby’s efforts, putting a nice bowl of fresh water out each day so they don’t get thirsty.

Butterflies

I keep telling the kitties it’s OK to chase the white butterflies (these tend to lay their eggs on people’s precious vegetables!) but not OK to chase the pretty ones. They don’t see the logic of this at all.

Last week I managed to capture this beautiful butterfly, which I later identified as a comma, on our buddleia bush. Isn’t it handsome?

This year, we have far more butterflies than we’ve ever had before, which is a good sign. Buddleia is always a great attraction for them, of course. I found what I think was a red admiral in the bedroom last week, and scooped him up with a chiffon scarf and shook it out of the window and off he flew.

Hopefully this coming week, I might actually achieve some art. Who knows?

Saturday, 21 July 2018

Outing to Hope Cove

Yesterday we went with our friends from the walking group to Hope Cove on the South Devon coast. In all the years I have lived in Devon (all my life bar the first two years) I have never been there! It is such a pretty place. Judge for yourself.

01 Welcome to Hope Cove

Our friends had been there many times, and took us to their favourite haunt, the Cottage Hotel.

02 Cottage Hotel Entrance

We had hoped to sit on the terrace to drink our coffee but there was a strong sea breeze and in spite of the hot sunshine, it was really too cold, so we sat in the bar and were served with several cafetieres full of the most delicious coffee – I drank 4 cups! We decided to stay put and have our lunch, and explore afterwards. The food was more than excellent, and very reasonable too.

The place was quirky and fun. On the way to the bar we passed several interesting things, the first being a small snug made like a ship’s cabin, with a porthole showing a famous ship that had gone down, all in 3-D so it looked as if you were actually looking out of the porthole.

03 Cabin Snug

04 Cabin Snug Porthole

As is usual in hotels, there were various display cabinets with goods for sale, but here, these objects were a bit more unusual. This cabinet contained a selection of antique silver objects.

05 Antique Silver

In another cabinet housing various vintage objects, I found this lovely Art Deco tea service.

06 Art Deco China

A beautiful specimen of coral.

07 Coral

On a shelf in the corridor was this attractive glass globe vase full of shells.

08 Bowl of Shells

The bar, which was made out of half of a real boat!

09 Boat Bar

Beside the bar was this framed photograph showing the actual boat used to make the bar.

10 The Story of the Boat Bar

In our area of this informal dining area was a lovely laser-cut map of the area, cut from two different types of wood.

11 Map in Dining Room

Before lunch I went for a wander and a little exploration and found the formal dining table laid up for the evening meal. Both this room, and the bar where we ate, had magnificent views out over the sea.

14 Formal Dining Room

As we left the hotel I took this picture looking out over the sea.

15 The Sea from Outside the Hotel

The beach, seen from the hotel terrace.

16 The Beach from the Hotel Terrace

The sea wall.

17 Sea Wall

The most adorable little Methodist chapel.

18 Methodist Chapel Exterior

Just inside the door was this decorative but functional display of hooks! I thought the shapes they made were so attractive.

20 Methodist Chapel Hooks

The chapel.

21 Methodist Chapel Interior

The acoustics were amazing and we all sang a couple of hymns together. I think it is lovely that this little church is called “Hope Methodist Church.” It was so beautifully maintained, and spotlessly clean inside, with fresh flowers.

A gorgeous house with balconies.

24 House with Balconies

Hope Cove is on to levels. The roads between are very steep and narrow.

25 Looking Up the Hill

An intriguing old door.

26 Old Wooden Doors

What looked like a couple of beach huts on the cliff just above the lifeboat station.

27 Beach Huts Above Lifeboat Station

Lovely sandy beach!

28 Beach

The village square, complete with the obligatory seaside shop, selling buckets and spades, flip flops and all the paraphernalia associated with seaside holidays, and bringing back so many memories of childhood spent at the seaside, when it never seemed to rain.

29 Seaside Shop

Now the delights of the village began to reveal themselves. It is a village full of quaint old thatched cottages, some going back many hundreds of years.

30 Thatched Cottages 1

In this square, all the houses seemed to have at least one animal perched on top of the roof, made of straw. Apparently this is how the thatchers sign their work! I love this first one with a mother duck and her babies.

31 Ducks on Thatched Roof

There is even a rabbit!

32 Rabbit on Thatched Roof

A pheasant and an owl. Pheasants are a common motif on thatched windows.

33 Pheasant and Owl on Thatched Roof

An adorable little narrow street, passing between some ancient cottages.

34 Thatched Cottages 2

A more grand residence, but still sporting its thatched roof!

39 Thatched Cottage 2

Roses round the door! What more could you ask?

40 Thatched Cottages 3

I love the rough texture on this ancient piece of thatching.

43 Old Thatch Texture

The tiny village hall. I  love the little picket fence in front.

44 Village Hall

Finally, a group photo. From behind!

47 Group Portrait

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