Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Are You Book Enough Challenge 2020, November Theme - Recycled

Mad Cat Lady’s Notebook.

 My response for this month is a Coptic bound notebook made with recycled cards, off cuts of paper and envelopes.

I have a small case of cat related cards, gifts from friends and family,  saved and collected over many years. These are from the one designer and form a set within the collection. 

 Each card is the cover of a signature.

Each signature has a collection of pages to write on and an enveloped to use as a pocket to house little bits and pieces.

My cat Winnie approves

Saturday, 14 November 2020

A Few Cat Prints

These are the prints that I made for a cat postcard swap. There are three of us, all ‘cat tragics’ and each with a different style of work. One rarely gets mail these days so this exchange is something to look forward to finding in the letterbox.

The one is a multiplate linocut print that was the cut out and glued to a piece of recycled print.
I often use machine stitch to outline the cat and add details such as the grasses and whiskers in the print below.

Cat print on eco dyed damask.

A series of black cats for Halloween, perfect for the October swap. 

I often use altered papers and print over them

Another attempt at a multiplate print.

These are two that I reprinted from old copperplate etchings.

Tuesday, 3 November 2020


 Koshary, an Egyptian street food that ticks all the boxes. Economical, satisfying and incredibly tasty comfort food. It is easily prepared, can be made in advance, in bulk and frozen. The basics of rice, macaroni and lentils can be varied and chickpeas added. The tomato sauce is essential, I like it quite spicy so will often add a little more chopped chilli to my meal.  The coriander sauce really needs to be fresh, it will keep in the fridge for a day or two. Opinion is divided in my house, I like a scattering of fresh red onion but other family members do not.

It is not pretty but I love to smoosh it all up and scoop it up with flatbread.

I often add another vegetable dish, this miso glazed baked pumpkin  and some wilted chard makes for a more interesting dinner.

For a vegetarian version add a fried egg added, it is delicious.



1 cup cooked puy lentils/ black lentils or use a can of lentils 

1 cup cooked small pasta eg macaroni

1 cup cooked brown rice


I cook 1 cup of each, mix and then divide them up for another two meals. This is also a good way to use up leftover rice and pasta from other meals.


Spicy Tomato Sauce

2 onions finely diced

4 – 6 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tablespoon Baharat or other Middle Eastern Spice mix

2 teaspoons cumin

Red chilli flakes, a pinch or  to taste

2 large tins tomatoes, chopped

Salt and black pepper

Olive oil 



Cook grains until just cooked and tender. Do not overcook. I cook them in separate pots; however, they could be cooked together. Drain. If making a large amount, drain rinse well under running water and allow them to cool thoroughly.  

Put pasta, rice and lentils in a bowl and mix well. Divide into meal sized portions. Freeze excess portions. The mixture reheats very well in the microwave so can be made in advance.

Place a serving of the pasta mixture on each plate, top with the spicy tomato sauce



Spicy Tomato Sauce

Heat oil in a saucepan, add a little oil and cook over low heat until onions soften, add garlic and spices and cook for a minute until fragrant

Add tinned tomatoes and simmer until mixture becomes a thick sauce, Add chilli flakes and season generously with salt and pepper

Fresh Coriander Sauce

1 cup coriander leaves ( 1 bunch)

1 clove garlic

1 tablespoon Tahini


Generous pinch of salt

1/4 cup Olive oil or more,  I prefer mild or light.  Start with 1/4 cup and add more as necessary.




Wash and drain coriander. Place coriander in the food processor, add garlic and salt and blitz until the coriander is finely chopped.

Add tahina and blitz again.

Add a little oil to start with, blitz and scrape down the sides to make sure it is all evenly mixed. Continue to add the oil until you have a sauce consistency, you need to be able to drizzle it over the dish.

Store any leftover sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for a day or two. It is best fresh.



Friday, 30 October 2020

Are You Book Enough Challenge 2020, October Theme - Child

Two responses for this theme. The first, Go Outside and PLAY. 

Coming from a large family and growing up in the sixties this was a common refrain in our house.

Made from a repurposed children’s board book, covered with vintage Enid Gilchrist sewing patterns and Paton knitting patterns for children.

These patterns were widely used in the 50’s and 60’s. The additional collage elements of children at play were photocopied from reproduction fabric. I have been collecting/ storing these for many years and decided it was time to use them.

A few of the pages

The second, Nappy Bag. Every parent would be familiar with this essential item. This little book is a small scale representation of book that unfolds to make a change mat, complete with a nappy pocket containing wipes, cream,  and a stack of nappies.

The elastic fastening slips off  and the book opens out.

The pocket folds down and the strap holding the nappies in can be folded back and nappies removed.

A stack of nappies of folded nappies. 

Papers used in the project were repurposed wrappers from toilet rolls made by Who Gives a Crap.

Monday, 26 October 2020


This recipe is a type of flatbread or pancake that is made with chickpea flour. It is gluten free and suitable for vegans. My favourite version has shredded chard and garlic mixed into the batter. I serve it as a gluten free alternative to flatbreads. The Socca can be cut into wedges or served whole with a topping as a type of simple fresh pizza. 

My favourite version with chard and garlic.

Smaller portion, left whole with a fresh salsa topping.

The batter can also be poured over leftover vegetables to make a big veggie pancake, this also has a little turmeric and spices added. The Socca can also be finished in the oven, this is good to do if the Socca is thick and needs a little more time to cook through.


½ cup chickpea flour

½ cup water

½ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon olive oil


Extra oil for cooking


½ cup finely shredded silverbeet /chard

1 clove garlic, crushed

½ teaspoon baking powder


Combine the chickpea flour, salt, oil and water in a bowl. Whisk thoroughly and then leave to stand for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer so that the flour is thoroughly hydrated.

Preheat oven and a large cast iron frypan /skillet on the highest temperature you can, it needs to be really hot.

Carefully remove the pan from the oven and swirl a little oil around the pan. Pour the Socca batter into the pan, swirl to cover the base of the pan. Put it back into the oven and bake until set and the surface is golden brown and hopefully with crispy edges.

Remove from the oven. Use a large spatula to assist and slide the Socca onto a cutting board or plate. Cut into wedges as you would flatbreads.


Cooking the first side.

Turned over and cooking the second side.

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Some Arty Stuff

Usually I undertake a variety of textile and art related classes and symposiums, I love to bond with my tribe and really look forward to being immersed in an intensive class. Unfortunately Covid restrictions have meant that none of these have gone ahead, however, there have been many online options to explore, these have been great and certainly provided plenty of stimulation and new ideas and information. One of the great things about the classes I opted for is that they are self paced modules and that I can revisit them. The down side is that I haven’t worked as consistently or intensively as I would in a real time class but am really enjoying the leisurely pace and the ability to jump in as the whim takes me. This is a taster... there will be more.

Inspired by Nature , Exploring Mixed Media. I had already completed a class with the tutor, Tara Axford and enjoyed it so much that I thought it would  good fun. I was not disappointed. The class was set up by Fibre Arts Take Two and very professionally presented. There are many techniques covered, this a sample of work from the earlier modules. 

One of the modules involved collecting, arranging and photographing found objects. There are many modules and techniques covered. This is so much fun and addictive.

Gelli Plate Printing to create collage papers that we would use to create an image that conveyed a sense of place.

Taking photos as reference points for the collage 

Trying to capture the essence of the place with collage

Another offering from Fibre Arts Take Two. Perfectly Imperfect with Lorna Crane and only just started. First up was to construct our own set of mark making tools / brushes.

A large set and as all set.

Work station set up, ready to begin to get to know my tools and the marks that I can make with them. An hour or so later and I had a pile of papers ready to use for collage and book projects. 

I have also been making a few coloured pages for some other projects.