Sunday, December 23, 2012

A heart shaped challenge

So JT pointed me in the direction of this weeks's Mojo Sketch (Mojo 272) as she thought it would be a great use of my Woodware Scalloped heart punch.

She was totally right! So yesterday, despite being full of cold and prepping for a house full of guests today, I made the card that is today's main photo.

I am really happy with it and will use it for one of my January birthday's.

It's a great use of the punch and some rather fussy papers I had kicking around and I got to use the spotty paper tape - always need a reason to use paper tape. I like the addition of the bow (gift from JT) and think it's a good match to the sketch. Here's a close-up..

I also managed to have a little play with some of the new toys I bought (naughty, naughty, but it is gift for you and 2 gifts for me...).

So one of the new toys is a set of Spellbinders dress dies and I used them to make a set of gorgeous cards, using Papermania London Line papers, ribbons and bows - the bows were a gift from JT. I like the ribbon waistband, I might have to try this with paper tape..

The best bit about these cards is the sentiment..I made it using my 'new' Dymo label printer. I mentioned to Hubby that I was planning on buying a Dymo with my Christmas vouchers and he casually mentioned that there was one in the loft already, with a load of!

Joy! free tools that are already in the house, no need to wait for them to arrive.

I am looking forward to using this die in lots of different ways.

Merry Christmas (again)


Friday, December 21, 2012

Merry Christmas..

Well, it's the last working day of 2012 for me today! Whoo Hoo!

It's been a pretty epic year for Hubby and I - not all good, but we have rolled with it and all is well.

It is with great joy that I officially anounce to you all that the long awaited move to NYC is finally happening in early Feb 2013. I can't believe it, we have visas and now my Project Manager skills are being tested to the max - getting us and the furchildren to NYC in 7 weeks is no mean feat...

I'm pleased with all that I have achieved with Ham'n'Mule in 2012 - 60 posts (22 up on last year!), new look and feel for the blog, new website and a partner (JT). I've had a great deal of craft fun this year, not least because of my amazing craft buddy JT. She's been a friend, a colleague and a craft inspiration this year - so thanks for that JT.

Our playdates have been hilarious and get especially funny around 9pm after 7 solid hours of crafting!! This is when we start to make really weird crap and one of our husbands has to kick the 'guest crafter' out! Let's hope the Skype playdates I am envisaging will be as much fun.

Thanks to everyone that has read my blog and JT's throughout 2012 and supported Ham'n'Mule.

Have a wonderful Christmas everyone.


ps. Today's main photo is courtesy of 79 ideas, via Pinterest

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Alternative Christmas?

I have been out waaay too much during the festive season and tonight is my 2nd to last outing. It is totally time to sit down, eat some Turkey and relax for a few days.

Today's main photo is from Country Living, I think this is a great idea and I've noticed this year that there are lots of alternatives to the 'normal' Christmas tree.

The idea of not having a Christmas tree saddens me, but unfortunately that is where we are at due to furchild no.2 being unable to not scale the tree, pee on the tree (real or plastic), chew the Christmas decorations, strangle herself on the tinsel and shock herself by chewing lights...

So once again I have no tree. Seeing all these great ideas have inspired me, so next year I will have a tree of sorts!

Here are some of my favourite alternative Christmas Trees (most of them came from this great blog)

It's wooden, so I'll paint it with silver glitter paint and add a fabric star!

OMG, if only I was allowed to do this...

I'm not convinced this would fare any better than a regular tree..

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

WOYWW 19th Dec 2012

I have just found this great blog and Julia who runs it does 'What's on your workdesk Wednesday' Genius idea! So I decided I'd play and took these pics before I left for work today.

I am quite pleased at the minimal amount of Christmas stuff on my desk! As this is my first WOYWW, I am going to take you through the key features of my desk, some that you'll see every time (until we move..).

This week my desk looked very tidy, but to be fair I do try and tidy up a bit after my craft exploits. You can see my little stack of finished Butterfly Thank You cards, that I talked about in my last post. You can also see a new pack of Butterflies...yes I bought more of them. In the background are the Hero Art's Basic Tree digital stamp, I am making Thank You cards with these, I think...I'll write about them soon.

I always have a random stack of small pieces of paper on my desk. I can't bear waste and so I keep the smaller things to hand so I use them up. I chuckled at the 2 pairs of glasses, I have so many pairs of readers (from Poundland or Primark) that I acquire them from all over the house and they often congregate on my desk!

The little stack of really useful boxes are full of buttons, Candi's, Stampin' Up Owl, Bird and bunting pieces and mini fabric bows. I love my corner rounder and that is always on my desk. There is also the great photo of Hubby and I on our wedding day, the frame is really ornate and beautiful and one that I bought for 99p years and years ago. My new favourite heart stamp for use with Candi's is out, as I am making anniversary cards with it.

I laughed at the fact that one of the glitter glues was on it's side...Bos in the night no doubt nosying around on my desk - this photo was taken on a Weds morning, following a Tues night craft session, as I can't craft during the day :(

It's fun to take a photo of your desk, it kind of shows you what's going on!


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Butterfly Thank You

I mentioned the other day that I had already made my Christmas Thank You cards.

I am over the moon about these, as they were so easy to make.

When JT and I did the last craft fair in Berkhamsted, we both popped to the craft shop in our 'lunch break' I came across these beautiful butterflies by Grace Taylor and inspiration hit!

The night before the last craft fair, JT and I had made 40 Christmas Cards to fulfil an order, we'd embossed tons of glossy photo paper using our fave Sizzix mini dots folder. I had embossed a few more for my own personal use - I was actually going to use the idea below from Pinterest for my Thank You cards - replacing the hearts with butterflies.

As you can see from the main photo today, I modified it slightly, I think it works better, as the butterflies are quite big and it's also a great way to use Candi's - I also varied the embossing folder just because I wanted to see how they came out. All in all I think they are quite pretty.

Large rose folder and giant Butterflies - this is my fave!
Large spots and a small butterfly, this one gives me a wedding vibe.
The most overused mini dots folder and medium butterfly.
One schoolgirl error of the cards opens the wrong way..I seem to be doing this a lot lately :)

Yep, JT you are getting the card with the error....


Monday, December 17, 2012

All wrapped up

I have been a very efficient bunny!

I have bought all of the Christmas presents and wrapped them all. They all look very beautiful thanks to Panduro Hobby.

I saw an idea on their site (shown below) and thought with a bit of modifying it would be really nice and easy for Christmas. I liked it because you could mix and match your papers and ribbons and even though I like a bit of uniformity in my wrapping I get bored every year when I choose a theme and then have to stick with it.

The main photo today is of a little stack of presents for various people, I think they look gorgeous and I have started distributing some of the gifts already and everyone has said how much they love the wrapping. Which is nice and makes the effort worth while.

So what did I use...

Plain brown paper - available everywhere
Block colour and patterned bright wrapping paper - from Hema in Amsterdam
Various patterned ribbons - from Ikea
Gift tags - handmade by me, using x3 Woodware punches - super dupa circle, scalloped circle and snowflake.

I tackled the extensive wrapping task in x3 phases..
Phase 1 - wrap everything in brown paper, write the recipients name in pencil on the paper (in a spot where it will be covered)
Phase 2 - add the brightly coloured paper and 1st stage of ribbon
Phase 3 - make gift-tags to co-ordinate with the coloured paper and add to gift, finish the ribbon tying

Sounds like a lot of work, but honestly it was easy peasy. Here are a few more photos.

Close-up on Ma's tag...present it a bit Carrot shaped!

I tried a different technique with the ribbon here

Close-up of the tags and you can see all the beautiful ribbon in detail
Now that JT and I are post HamnMule Christmas and craft fairs, I have been enjoying all these little projects and I've taken loads of photos of what I have been up to so should have a few more posts before Christmas. One of my favourite projects was making my Christmas Thank You's - as you know I love a Thank You set and I think this years ones are the best yet!


Friday, December 14, 2012


As you know JT and I are slightly obsessed by Candies! So imagine my delight when this month's edition of cardmaking and papercraft had free Candies and stamps for using with Candies.

I wanted to use them immediately and came up with a really good use for them. Lots of people on my Christmas gift list wanted vouchers and I like to liven up the gift card with a nice card. Today's main photo is of the gift card I made for my Ma.

I used one of the free stamps and stamped it in silver onto the pretty purple paper, added Candies and added a glittery sentiment. I decided to use glitter glue on the stamp outline to lift it a bit and I am very pleased with the results.

Below is a detail shot of the stamp and the candies.

I've now made x5 of these cards in various colours and I think this stamp is going to become a staple!

I bought JT the magazine too, as I didn't want her pinching my stamps!


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Let there be light

Since the flat got a makeover, I have been looking for the perfect lampshades for the bedroom and the hallway.

Everything I liked was too expensive - £45 upwards - eek! So I decided that I'd make my own. After trawling the internet I came up with a couple of options of how to do this, my favourite one came from BHG.

I made my parents take me to Ikea to buy inexpensive plain lampshades and I got the fabric there too, I like Ikea fabric, as it's a bit funky and not too expensive.

2 lampshades and 2 metres of fabric cost me £31, which I think is pretty good.

To make both lampshades it took about an hour and I only made 2 mistakes!!

Essentially, all you are doing is recovering a lampshade, so you could buy a second hand lampshade or recover an existing one. Just make sure that the lampshade doesn't have a strong pattern that will show through.

Birdie Lampshade for the Hallway
My 2 mistakes were actually really dumb ones to make, but you live and learn right? Mistake number one - I didn't check how the lampshades would hang from the light fitting I just assumed, so the birdie lampshade for the hallway has the pattern upside down! Hubby assures me that only I will notice this. Not convinced, but it's a sweet thing to say. Mistake number two - I didn't place my pattern to the edge of the fabric when I was cutting the grey flowered one (today's main photo) for the bedroom, so had to use ribbon to hide the joins. I actually think that this mistake has enhanced the lampshade.

I decided not to put a trim round the edges of the lampshades and if you decide to do it this way, you have to trim the edges really neatly, fortunately I have the most lethal dressmaking scissors, which help keep things neat.

I want to make lots of them now, as it was a super easy and fun project. My Dad thinks I am mad and must have better things to do with my time. Ha ha, that's crafters for you.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Feeling Christmassy

As you know JT and I did a craft fair yesterday in Berkhamsted, it was a much better experience and we didn't fare too badly!

Today's main photo is of our wonderful stall - thank you to JT for her layout skills. The best things about the fair were hanging out with JT, encountering some odd characters and drinking 3 white wine spritzers at the end of the day!

Now that the last fair is out of the way, it's time to focus on 'our' Christmas, so today was spent writing Christmas cards and making gifts. Finally I feel like it's nearly Christmas!

Today I was sent this lovely photo of my Nephew Otis and the advent calendar I made him last year, it was the first thing I blogged about this year. I am pleased at how lovely it looks and at how happy he looks!

He's so cute! I love seeing the things I've made for people in use. Very satisfying.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Gift or Sell?

This is a common dilemma with me. HamnMule is a teeny tiny little business now, but it started as my hobby and still remains a hobby. I have to remind myself that sometimes..

I have been making some random things recently and I think the move to NYC and the possibility that thrifty, crafty me might have to flex some muscle (as we won't have much money) is pushing me to try new things.

Today's main photo is one of the calendar cards I made. Last year I made all different versions of these as my Christmas'Thank You' cards and as small gifts. This year I wanted to make them a bit more uniform, but struggled with a good idea of how to do it it well.

There were lots of offcuts from my new clear stamp filing system (which I should blog about) and so I had a play and the result is this lovely blue flowered calendar card. The blue backing paper is one of the offcuts, the flowery paper was free and I've always been a bit worried about how best to use it. You can buy the calendar tabs anywhere. Dead easy to make and they look lovely on desks. I think they are much better than last years versions, so I now want to give some as gifts...

To distract myself from my 'gift or sell dilemma', I decided to have a little play with my new bunting die's by Xcut - they are amazing and really easy to use in the Epic Six.

Here is a photo of the bunting I made, using the dies and the Stampin' Up Pennant punch -

I also made 'Birthday' in matching colours. I've packaged them for sale with green outdoor twine in a cellophane bag with instructions. Sounds like a great idea right? Well, the trouble is they are so pretty, I want to give them to friends with kids and then go to parties and see the bunting up!

Basically I know I am going to end up selling half of the calendar cards and paper bunting and giving half as gifts.

I guess that is the point of having a 'crafty' style hobby :)

Only 2 days until the final Craft Fair of the year for JT and I - we are off to Berkhamsted Town Hall on Sat 1st December, if you want to come and visit us!


p.s apologies for my photo quality, I've had to take my photos at night recently!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

She's HOW OLD?!

So, my beloved Goddaughter Amy-Jo turned 17 last week, it made me feel really old. But I am very proud of her and happy at how lovely and clever she is.

Today's main photo is of the card I made her. I wanted it to be a bit girly, but still have a bit of a tough urban teenagery type edge. Er? What?!

Anyway, I just bought these lovely sheets of kraft card and wanted to try them out. So I embossed half of it using my fave giant spot folder, out came the remaining piece of cherry paper to be used as a border between the spotty and plain areas of the card. Then I decided that I wanted some sort of flower and thought that the buttons I bought in Amsterdam would work as the centre of the flower. I punched a scalloped circle of heavy red paper and crumpled it up, rubbed it with one of my new Tim Holz Distress Inks in Festive Berries. Finally I added a giant 'Happy Birthday' peel-off in red.

I love this card, it just captures Amy-Jo perfectly.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Stocking Fillers

So JT and I have been talking and blogging about things we can make for the craft fair that would make nice inexpensive Christmas Gifts. JT has already written about hers and I showed you some of my ideas for card sets which I made during my inspiration session.

Basically following the rules of the inspiration session, I wanted to try new ideas and use new things. This post is about the other card sets I made. I was so spurred on by trying out new things, that I went a bit card set crazy...there are a few other things I made too, but I'll post about those later in the week.

Today's main photo is of one of my favourite sets. Once again I used papers from the DCWV All About Girls mini stack. I've been wondering how to use the cherries paper and this worked well. The paper flower and button, feel like a nice touch (and UHU and I didn't fall out).

Here are a few more examples -

1, 4, 7 & 8 are all made using the foam hearts from Amsterdam, the giant heart punch and the scallop punch. I like the mix of hearts.

2 is a bit fun I think and is a good way of using my DCWV Hippie Chick 8x8 papers. I like the contrast of colours.

3 & 5 also use the DCWV Hippie Chick papers, but I added a contrasting candi for fun. I don't usually stamp in orange, but it really worked here.

Then I put them in cellophane bags and tie them up with twine, which gives them that 'gift edge' -

Sorry the photo isn't the greatest, it was taken at night! It does show you a bit more detail of the hearts and cherries sets.

I'm really pleased with these and busy conjuring up sets for us to give as gifts. What fun!


Monday, November 19, 2012

Leafy Birthday

Well not quite, but you can see what I mean if you study the main photo today.

This card was made a few weeks ago during my inspiration session, when I popped over to Pinterest and hunted around for some ideas.

Here is the card I used for inspiration -

I liked this, as it was really simple to do - the petals / leaves are made using a 1inch square punch and rounding opposite corners - very clever.

I am happy with my card and it went to a friend for his birthday. I do feel that I might need to plan how to use the petals / leaves better, as it does look a bit random and I think I should have made it on a white background and then mounted it onto a coloured card, like the example.

I'll try a few more and see how they work out.

There are a few more new techniques and ideas to share over the next week or so, as I have been being most productive!


p.s I miss craft buddy...she's in New Orleans!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Hearts Everywhere!

I now have 2 heart punches, a heart embossing folder and a box full of foam and felt hearts...

I am starting to think I might have a bit of a thing for hearts!

This comes as a surprise to me, as I have always found hearts a bit twee, but I am starting to find more and more non-love ways to use them.

Today's main photo is of an anniversary card that I made (well I made 5). I have been dying to use the heart paper for ages, but it wasn't cheap and so I wanted to maximise it as it only came in 4 x 6 sheets, it's'All About Girls' by DCWV. I like the contrast of the green scalloped heart (Woodware Punch).

However I think it's only fair that I point out that the idea stemmed from the card set I made for the next craft fair - photos below are of the original idea -

I finally bought 'Happy Anniversary' peel-offs and it came to me that they would work really well with this card - so out came the green permanent marker and voila! an Anniversary card (or 2..)


Friday, November 16, 2012

Birthday Balloons

I wanted to make a special card for a the 1st birthday of my friend's Son.

I saw this idea on Pinterest -

You can see how I modified it slightly in today's main photo - I didn't think hearts were appropriate, but loved the balloon idea for a 1 year old. I think the bakers twine worked really well as string for the balloons. It's really easy to make and the hardest part was choosing the colours for the balloons and ensuring I used scraps!

Here's a close-up of the balloons -

I'm really pleased with the end result and hope my friends love it too.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Shiny New Website

Yes that's right folks!

It's finally live and it's beautiful.

Check out the new improved Ham 'n' Mule Designs website - complete with new our logo and lots of wonderful cards. It's much easier to use than the version that we bashed together last year! We have spruced the blog so we are now all lovely and matching!

It's taken a couple of months to sort out, but JT and I are very pleased.

A big thank you to Maggie at LittleDotDesigns.

Now spread the word and let's get on the map!!


Monday, November 12, 2012

Playdate Fun..

I love Playdates with JT.

Basically we go to each other's homes and sit around crafting with the other one's stash - the guest brings a few things, but not too much as craft gear is heavy! And we all know it's way better fun to play with someone else's stash!

Last Sunday we had a playdate at my house, JT brought the snacks and the idea for the session (remember the joyfold tryouts happened during a playdate). JT is off to visit her family for Thanksgiving and has been asked to bring some card sets, so we thought we'd make them together.

It was really nice to do something that isn't CHRISTMAS (sigh) also it was lots of fun, we made 3 sets each and a few individual cards. Today's main photo is of my favourite set that I made - love the contrast of the zebra print paper and the yellows, think the flower softens it all.

Here is the rest of our output -

Hello Hearts by JT
Love this lilac card, utilizing one of our favourite embossing folders and the ink braying technique. The red foam hearts are from my recent trip to Amsterdam.

Flowery Wall by Me
I am currently in love with this brick embossing folder, I am also a big fan of this lazy string tying thing, so rewarding for so little effort!

Thank You Labels by Me

Thank You Labels by JT
Even though JT and I used different ideas from Pinterest, I think these 2 sets are very similar. I like the soft muted colours in both of them.

Mini Thank You Squares by JT
This was the first set JT made and I am very jealous that she finally found a way to use these beautiful V&A papers. I've had them forever and always found them really hard to work with. I love this card...can you make me some JT?

Personal Stash Thank You by JT
Whilst it's fun making for other people, there is nothing sweeter than topping up your own personal card supply! This card is so much fun and it uses the random Martha Stewart Halloween cupcake thingys (orange circle) that I got for 10c in TJMaxx in NYC!! I forgot to take a photo of my personal stash cards and they have been posted now...

Last but not least JT's sister got engaged - yay! And so we found time to make here these totally awesome cards...

Pink Hearts by JT
 JT went all out on the pink theme! Love it! I was a bit more reserved, as I have never actually met JT's sister, I thought low key might be best. Like the grey and yellow colour combo.

Grey and Yellow Hearts by Me

I need another playdate soon..please?