Make your own totally* free rubber stamps

18.5.12 - 23:15

*Okay, not totally free but almost.

I had this idea the other day, it's probably been done before (for the net is vast and infinite) but I was hit by a flash of inspiration and had to try it out. Graphic patterns like chevrons are really in at the moment in various crafts and certain kinds of design. I wanted to be able to use them in paper crafts without a) printing them out or b) forking out a lot of cash. See, I like rubber stamps, but they can be pretty pricey and sometimes I don't want to use the same shapes again.

Basically, I made simple stamps from rubber bands. I cut up some Amazon packaging and taped it together to make a sturdy base then used some strong double-sided tape to stick bits of rubber in place. Now I did say almost free. Obviously we paid for the stuff that was delivered in that cardboard, but corrugated card is easy to pick up at the supermarket. Free. The elastic bands? The postman regularly leaves them on our porch when delivering said merchandise. Free. The tape though, I did pay for.

These are just pages from my sketch book (and I only have black ink) but I think they work quite well. For free. The flags are my favourites. I could have cut all the little pennants out of paper, but this was fast and has a nice hand made feel. Maybe that's why I didn't want to just print them out? I do that kind of work all day, when I get home it's nice to play with more tactile art forms.

Obviously these are not sturdy pieces of kit. Yes, some areas are still sticky where the tape is not covered. Yes, that meant they stuck to the sleeve of my jumper whilst I was reaching for the cmd button just now. But, who cares? I enjoyed making them and it's a super fun way to recycle.



Recent triumphs and disasters in the kitchen

7.5.12 - 19:05
Well, hello there. Today I want to talk to you about some of my recent culinary adventures. In the main my savoury endeavours have been triumphant and my baking more on the disastrous side.

My baking inspirations have been about being a bit more calorie conscious. I've found a couple of recipes that sounded ... viable whilst not being insanely calorific. Not that I'm against a calorific piece of cake. Chocolate fudge cake is one of my favourites, but if its 550 calories, its obviously got to be an occasional treat (or else I've really got to step up the exercise!).

First up - Chocolate chip blondies that are supposed to be 75 calories a slice. I pinned the recipe from Chocolate-covered Katie. They are made from chickpeas. I found them just about edible, Marc said they were horrid. Before I even told him what they were made of. Fail.

After that, I thought I'd go a slightly different route. There are lots of recipes around that use bananas to sweeten cakes. So I had a go at Banana/oat breakfast muffins. These were also not nice and actually give me a terrible stomach ache. Epic fail.

You'd think I'd learn after these escapades that cake is calories. If you remove the sugar/butter/flour there is no tasty cake left ... but I felt like one more go. So I went with 'World's Healthiest Chocolate Chip Cookies?' I can tell you right now that they are not. They did actually taste quite nice, which is good compared to the previous two. But they are not even low in calories. They are about the same as a Bourbon biscuit. And technically you get two in each of those.

My savoury inspirations have been about upping the variety in the cuts of meat I use. My interest in this is twofold. Firstly I want to eat more of the less popular bits of animals. I'm not squeamish about handling raw meat and I know where it comes from. But I do think we should eat as much of the animal as we can. Someone who is really into this is my friend Di (who blogs at Veg Box Chronicles) she is an awesome cook and uses odd bits all the time. WIth delicious consequences. The other factor is cost. These are also usually cheaper cuts, and saving cash is always good right?

In the last couple of weeks I've cooked a ham hock and pulled pork (pork shoulder). Both are dishes which are full of flavour but need low and slow cooking. Using the slow cooker is great for this. It takes 6-10 hours to cook things, but you don't have to do anything. Just chuck it in and then its ready at tea time.

I really enjoyed the ham and Marc loved the pulled pork. Both are going in 'the book'. This is where recipes go that we want to use again. The last recipe to make it in there was Chicken Fajita Lasagne, but that's a tale for another day ...