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1  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Mother's Day / Mother's Day cards x2 on: May 21, 2015 04:13:50 AM
These were the cards I made for our mothers this year.  I made the rose bouquets last year, but did not order the jumbo crepe paper in time to make the jumbo ones this year.  Also, because I went out and bought my mother new carbon monoxide detectors earlier this year and would not let her or Dad pay me back for them - they demanded that I not get them anything further for Mothers/Fathers day (they are not big on gifts).  Still, they got flowers and a card...

This one is for Jim's mom - she likes pinks and purples more...

and this one for my mom...

I made A2 sized cards, and used water colour paper, and washes of metallic water colour paint to make the pastel skies, and a cherry blossom/branch die to cut the flower detail out.  I added some more pics and details in the links above for each card.

I really do have to try to order that jumbo crepe to make the roses for next year.  I know my mom would get a kick out of them.
2  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Gluten Free Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies... on: May 21, 2015 03:46:23 AM
Peanut butter and chocolate is Jim's favourite flavour combination, and traditionally I made bags and bags of cookies for him to take away with him to the hunt camp in the Fall as a treat to share with his friends and family up there, so when he found out he had Celiacs disease, I had to revamp how I cook/bake.  He already said that no matter what, even if he doesn't eat them, I still had to make cookies for his trip because they were loved by a number of guys at the camp.  But I know him - if the others are eating them, he would just not think about it one day and grab a few to munch on - and regret it later on...

That's not to say it won't happen anyways - with the dinner rolls, the bread, the treats the other wives send up, someone handing him a beer, whatever....

But I was determined to try to find some GF stuff that I could make either just for him, or that he could share and others would like too.

I made these the other day, when two of our friends were here.  They are both very familiar with my normal baking and regular cookies I make, and on having these, they gave full approval. 

The texture is a bit grainier, but tender, with nice light peanut butter flavour, and good chocolate flavour.  The grainy texture will also depend on the type/brand of GF flour you use, and how finely it is milled.  I used a commercial blend by Robin Hood (a Canadian brand), for convenience.

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 2 dozen cookies.

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup gluten free flour blend (Robin Hood was used)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg (optional)

Preheat oven to 375F

Combine gluten free flour blend, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg if using in a bowl until blended well, and set aside.

Cream sugar, butter and peanut butter together in a bowl with a mixer, until well blended, and creamy.

Add egg and vanilla, and mix until well blended.

Add flour mixture and mix on low speed until combined well.  Mix in chocolate chips.

Roll into 1 inch balls and place on parchment paper lined baking sheet, about 2 inches apart.  Flatten with fork slightly.

Bake in center of oven for 8-11 minutes, or until lightly browned on the edges. 

Remove baking sheet, let cool on baking sheet for a couple of minutes, then remove with spatula and cool fully on rack.

The nutmeg is optional - sometimes I just like that little bit of spice flavour with my PB or chocolate recipes.

Here they are on a dessert tray I made with the flourless brownies I made the other day.

A bit more about it on my blog if anyone is interested...
3  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Blueberry Boyfriend Bait - gluten free blueberry coffee cake on: May 20, 2015 03:28:33 AM
A friend loaned me an allergen free cookbook by Cybele Pascale that had a blueberry cake recipe in it.  Since I am now trying to bake gluten free for Jim, I made this to see how it would turn out.  We had friends over for dinner one night and I wanted to see if there was a gluten free dessert they would like as well.  I made this and the flourless brownies I just posted about, and they all stated they quite liked it, so at least there are two desserts I can make that Jim can have with friends!

The gluten free flour blend is not as fine as the wheat flour, but the cake is quite buttery and moist, so that helps to disguise it.  Next time I may not use as much of the sugar blend myself, on top of the cake, as we do not have as much of a sweet tooth. 

Also, we are not lactose/dairy, or egg-free, so I adapted the recipe to add back in the butter, egg, etc.  But I also liked this and am interested in enough of the other recipes to pick up a copy of the book myself to see what else we can make at home that Jim will be able to eat and like.

Blueberry Boyfriend Bait
(modified from Cybele Pascal's The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook)

makes 16 servings

2 C Gluten Free flour blend (I used Robin Hood Gluten Free)
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs at room temp
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup milk
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen, tossed with 1 tbsp flour blend
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, combined with 2 tbsp granulated sugar.

<note - I found this a bit sweet so maybe next time I will leave out 1/4 cup of the sugar>

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Prepare a 9x9 inch pan by greasing, and dusting with gluten free flour, tapping out excess <don't skip this step, the cake will still more without both steps, or lining with parchment paper>

Whisk together flour blend, xanthan gum, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

In mixer bowl, combine butters and sugars, and mix on medium high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix on medium to blend well, scraping down the sides as needed. Add vanilla and mix well.

Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and beat on medium for about 15 seconds.

Add half of the milk and mix for 20 seconds.

Add half of the remaining flour and mix, then the remaining milk, mix, then the remaining flour, and mix, scraping down the sides as needed.

Add half of the batter to the pan, using a spatula to spread the batter evenly across the bottom of the pan.  Sprinkle with half the blueberries.  Top with the remaining batter, and spread as evenly as possible.  Top with remaining blueberries and sprinkle with the cinnamon mixture.

Bake in the center of the oven for 1 hour, or until the cinnamon mixture caramelizes, and the top is golden.  Cool in pan for 30 minutes before turning out.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  Make the day before, as it gets better the next day!

More about it on my blog if you're interested

Here is the original recipe from the book/her site if someone is interested in the more allergen-free and vegan version, and she has many other allergen-free recipes on her site too.
4  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Flourless brownies - exploring potentially gluten free recipes... on: May 20, 2015 03:16:35 AM
Jim was recently diagnosed as having Celiacs Disease and has been trying to maintain a gluten free diet - hard for a man who starts his day with a bagel, has a white bread sandwich for lunch, loves his beer, etc...

A bit hard for me too, as I love baking, and now it's like starting from scratch learning to bake again.

Anyways, I had a go to flour brownie recipe for years that is much loved by him, friends, and family, which is now tossed out the window, and I found a flourless brownie recipe to try.  I have made it twice now, and we both love it - it is dense and very chocolaty - very truffle like to me.  Even our friends like it, so I thought I would share...

Flourless Double Chocolate Brownies

Makes 16

6 tbsp butter
6 oz semi sweet chocolate chips
2 large eggs at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tbsp corn starch
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350F.  Prepare 8x8 baking pan by lining it with a sheet of foil, allowing a few inches of overhang on each side.  Grease the foil and set aside.

Add the butter and chocolate chips to a small saucepan and melt, stirring frequently, on low heat.  Stir will to combine, and set aside to cool slightly.

In a small bowl, whisk together cocoa, cornstarch, and salt, until well combined and lumps broken down, set aside.

In a medium bowl and a mixer with a whisk attachment, beat eggs, sugar, and vanilla until smooth and pale, about 2 minutes.  Add the chocolate mixture and mix until well combined.

Reduce speed to low and mix in cocoa mixture until batter is smooth, scraping down the sides as needed.

Pour batter into prepared pan spreading it out evening.  Placed in center of the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the center is set.  Remove, and let cool in pan for 15 minutes before removing, in the foil, and cooling completely on rack.  Cut into 16 squares.

A bit more about it on my blog if interested...
5  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Completed Projects / Mad as a Hatter.... on: April 17, 2015 03:53:56 AM
I love making Alice in Wonderland crafts - some of you may already know that, so I made up an excuse to do more this year by having an OTT Alice swap - the gallery is still ongoing if anyone wants to see some of the other wonderful crafts.

Anyways, for this swap, I decided to make a pincushion or a needlebook... I was wiffle waffling on how and the theme, when I remembered I had done a mad hatter matchbox awhile back and maybe I could take that and convert it into a pin cushion.

So I did - I made the hat out of a TP roll and some some thicker card stock for the brim, with some tape, and many many layers of tissue so that it would be pretty stiff and firm.  I mean MANY layers.  I bent and formed it as I went along.  I left the top off for the pin cushion part of it. 

After I was happy with the shaping, I painted and decorated it.  I went for a purply/black distressed look with some stampings for a bit of texture and interest.  I was thinking of flocking or molding paste with a damask print, but it was not working out when I tried - too much curvature, too small a space.

After the outer layers of paint and ink dried, I added a felt top.  I added some paint to make it match the sides more.  Inside, I stuffed a layer of steel wool and batting.  The steel wool to help sharpen the pins as they are used.  I then added cardboard and tissue to the bottom to seal it in, and painted it to match.  But I was not happy with how it looked then - it just didn't look right to me for some reason. 

So in the end, I did add a matching matchbox to the base - it looks better with the hat on  platform anyways, and now there is a small bit of storage beneath for pins, or bobbins, or what not.  I thought about adding a bit of a pedestal or feet, but then thought that it may not stand up to having pins poked in and out regularly without being squished too much or toppling over.  I decorated the hat with a bit of satin ribbon, a decorative brad, die cut leather feathers, and a bit of card decorated to look like the Mad Hatter's sale sign.

Oh yes, and I made a set of pins with the card suits to go with the hat.

I posted a bit more about it on my blog if you want to see a few more pictures, etc

I also don't think I ever posted my original Hatter matchbox.  This one was similar, except I did add top to the hat, and decoupaged it with purple tissue - I liked how the tissue looked, so left it like that, with a glossy topcoat, and added black flocking detail to fancy it up.  I was thinking of it as a hat displayed for sale, so I added wood veneer to the matchbox, and flocking too to make it look like a stand. I used a commercial matchbox, so I think that this one was about 2/3rds the size of the above hat pin cushion

6  PAPER CRAFTS, SCRAPBOOKING & ATCs (ARTIST TRADING CARDS) / Paper Crafts: Completed Projects: General / Have an apple or two... on: April 09, 2015 05:57:56 AM
I made this set of apple cards lately for gala_apples for the Use What You Have swap.  I carved an apple stamp for her,which I posted about here, and decided that I had to make something with it an a bonus, before including them all in the package I sent her.  I really liked how the apple stamp turned out and thought it would great with some water colours.

I cut out squares of water colour paper, and stamped the images on with black Versafine ink.

When the black ink dried, it was waterproof, and perfect for painting on with pearlescent water colour paint.  I am kind of in love with pearlescent paint lately.  You can't really see in the pictures, but they do have a nice little bit of shimmer to them.

I did a set of green and red apples.  I think I made a dozen cards in total.  They were really fun to do and it was quite therapeutic painting them.

I made them as a tall thin card, or a long horizontal card.  They are about 3x6".  I also inked the edges of the water colour paper after painting the apples, to add a bit more dimension to them.

A bit more about the green apples on my blog.

and about the red apples too.
7  IMAGE REPRODUCTION TECHNIQUES / Other Image Reproduction Techniques: Completed Projects / The apples of my eye... on: April 09, 2015 05:43:59 AM
I made one of these for the recent Use What You Have swap for gala_apples.  I wanted to send her an apple stamp for her own paper crafting, to make personalized note cards or whatever she wanted.  It ended up that I liked it so much that I made one for myself to keep too - just because I had so much fun making cards with them and colouring them in.  

Blog post here with some more pics if you are interested, on the first one,  and on the second one here.

I carved them out of a thin stamp carving material - I like this much more than the soft Speedball stamp carving material because I find that I can get nicer crisper lines with it.

As an extra, I used the stamps to make a couple of sets of note cards too.  
8  JEWELRY AND TRINKETS / Trinkets and Jewelry: Completed Projects: General / A wee hint o' argyle... on: April 09, 2015 04:29:55 AM

I made this set for the use what you have, stash busting swap, for gala_apples.  We have swapped a few times in the past and I remembered that she liked plaid and argyle patterns.  I was sitting on the bus one night listening to my ipod, and the thought came to my head about making an etched argyle pattern.  I jotted how I would try to do it onto a napkin or a receipt, since I was on my way to work, and when I got home the next morning, started to work on it.

I made the etched band out of copper after drawing it out in Sharpie marker.  I did a relatively long band so I could cut it out afterwards to the length I need, and maybe have a bit more to make something else with.  I think it was about an inch or an inch and a half wide.

I made a leather cuff base from tanning leather that I textured with hammer, and coloured with leather dye and acrylics.  I used an acrylic leather seal on it, and buffed it.  Then I cut the etched piece down, curved it, and riveted it onto the leather piece.  I used a simple snap closure on the leather cuff.  I am very happy how it turned out - though my argyle is a little wonky.

A bit more from a post on my blog about the bracelet for those who are interested.

I had some leftover leather and a decent sized piece of scrap argyle, so I turned it into a small pendent to match.
9  ORGANIZED CRAFT SWAPS / The Swap Gallery / A Little Alice Swap (OTT) Gallery - Send Outs - Apr 07/15 on: March 21, 2015 07:39:54 PM
Original discussion thread here....

Post them as you get them!

Please don't forget to PM myself and your partner when you send and receive!


1.  Arachnea -03/31<---> rockingbearranch - 04/02
2.  Ludi- 04/02 <---> mousee23 - 04/06
3.  pinkmichK - 04/02 <---> Quantumphysica - 04/03
4.  Averia - 04/07 <---> StainedMushroom - 04/06
5.  torimiko - 04/19 <---> legatostroke - 03/31
6.  Audania1- 03/25 <---> puzzled-penguin - 03/21
7.  mariak - 03/24 <---> Samsara 03/31
8.  Blasphemy the Blasphemer - o4/07 <---> frankibean - 04/07
9.  amc-04/02 <---> Onyxnox - 04/04
10.  luckdragon - 04/07 <--->  WeeFreeRhie ?sent 04/11

***** Audania1 to angel for luckdragon

late with communication
feedback given
contact organizer immediately
10  ORGANIZED CRAFT SWAPS / New Swap Theme Ideas / a Terry Pratchett tribute? (RIP, Sir Terry Pratchett) on: March 13, 2015 09:37:15 AM
I just found out that Terry Pratchett passed away yesterday.  I knew it was inevitable - especially as he had stated that as his Alzheimers advances that he may choose to end his life rather than suffer the latter stages.  But he apparently passed from natural causes at home. 

I am deeply saddened - his Discworld series, and Good Omens could always make me laugh and I could (and do!) read them over and over again.  They can always lift my spirits when I feel down.

I was wondering if anyone is interested in participating in/organizing a swap tribute to the late, great Terry Pratchett.

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