Wednesday 19 December 2012

Project 57: Christmas brownie bites

Every year the highlight of our social calendar is our own mini university-reunion Christmas party. A core group of  about 12 of us get together and eat and drink our collective body weight in Christmas fare.

It is excellent. It is our way of reliving our college years without the embarassment of outsiders seeing/judging us.

This year I was delegated the "sweet treats" task and as the party is on a Friday night (and thus requires mid-week prep) I needed something that would keep for a few days and travel well on the day.

I found this recipe in Good Housekeeping. Perfect for advance prep and traveling in a tin.  Brownies always keep well as they are so wonderfully sweet and least when I make them from scratch and don't use a horrible pre-made mix they do!

Do mine look as good as their version? Not even close.

I could have carefully spread icing. I could have placed sprinkles more deliberately. I could have generally taken more care. But I think mine are awesome. Sweet treats are brought out no sooner than when everyone is about 3 bottles of wine (each) in and knowing my audience won't care about the precision, I abandoned the effort and let white chocolate clump together and sugar stick to every surface.

I aim to get back on here just before New Years as I anticipate getting a bit of kit over Christmas (ahem last minute shoppers looking for inspiration) and will want to try some new tricks. And if there is no posting before Christmas (it looks unlikely...) then I hope you have a great holiday!

Tuesday 11 December 2012

Project 56: Christmas jam and candles

What a weekend of crafting has passed!

Firstly: spiced fig and plum jam. I love making jam and last year I trialled this one as a Christmas gift for a few family members. It proved a success so I’ve made it again. Largely for the same people. If you are reading this and you are on the Tracy side of the family: apologies. If you don’t want this please let me know and I will find it a good home!

My mother in law gave me this beautiful jam pan for my birthday one year and it has really been a fine friend.  

This year I did a little trick with my craft kit, using a punch to cut my wax discs to size. Clever me! 

And finally, after what felt like 3 days of watching it boil, all potted up. Even though the recipe is from GH, my companion in preserves is neatly on the side there, a handbook on preserving published through River Cottage.  If you’re even curious about preserving this is a great investment.

Next up: candle making.

I have a problem when it comes to hoarding. I’m not a tragic case yet but we have amassed a large collection of useless little things. One collection is little glass ramekins that come free with our favourite pre-made refrigerated desserts. Mmmm Gu puddings…

So with this collection I did some research and realised it would be very easy to turn them into candles. Quick bit of online purchasing and I had myself a beginners’ kit to make some container candles.

This process was a bit more involved but not overly labour intensive. You have to get the wick perfectly straight so you blue-tack it to a pencil lying across the top. (This is the tip in the instructions, not a fun fact from me. I used my clever innovative idea on the punch-cut-discs above.) 

Then you melt the wax in a double-boiler, adding dye and fragrance along the way. Pour it in and wait for it to set.

To dress them up as gifts (going into a gift set with the jam and these wreaths) I added some festive Christmas ribbon.

Wrapping things up: a bit of festive d├ęcor for the office. I decorated stockings for everyone in our office, bought some lights and little decorations and then wrangled the studio design team into carrying a tree home from town for me. Pure delight that I got all of this up with all the bah-humbugging in the office.

American friends – a note on spelling. I’m using my work computer and the spell-check is aggressive. I still think in American though.

Sunday 2 December 2012

Project 55: Owl Chrristmas Cards

I know I haven't written in 2 weeks but I can assure you I have been crafting!

With Thanksgiving and a craft fair it has been manic. But happily we are back on track.

I wanted to do a post around my personal Christmas cards because now they have shipped I'm eager to share them with the world.

I bought the stamp in August at the craft fair I went to with Claire. I then waited about 3 months before trying any designs. I've been busy...don't judge me. All of the cards use a shimmery white card stock and a silver and white banner for the greeting.

Starting with the headline, this was the one I felt was most creative. I used three different blue inks on the stamp (yes, every single design was hand-stamped rather than scanned and printed) and then embellished it with buttons, glitter glue and gem stones.

The next one is the most traditional, using solid black ink and green and blue buttons and gems. I glittered the owl's wings and bellies as well to add some jazz. Claire likes these the most. They should be my faves too as they are the least fussy.

Finally these are the ones that I set out to create. Originally I wanted to do them all with tiny ProMarkers colored in. I did about 12 like this, all with a self-contained theme (70s yellow and red, all blue, girly purple and pink or as above, a mix of fairly neutral ones) and when they were taking me about 20 minutes to color a piece I had to get a grip and change plans. Which is how the other twctuo happened.

Hopefully you'll be receiving your card in the post shortly...

This weekend I will be posting a few more crafts, I have so many things to make as it's my only free weekend before the holiday. Candles, jam and maybe some candy and biscuits so watch this space and keep me honest!

PS Claire and I had a wicked time at the Berko craft fair this weekend. She took some pictures of our stand so I'll post them when they are available.

Friday 16 November 2012

Christmas cards for sale!

Come one, come all, it's time to buy some Christmas cards!

The shop is now open, please form an orderly queue (or stampede your way through) to the Ham N Mule card shop.

All of the cards that I've posted previously are available to buy, plus Claire's lovely designs.

You can buy directly through the site using Pay Pal and major credit cards or you can get in touch with me directly and place an order.

Share this with your friends, family, colleagues...get involved! Visit the site here

Tuesday 13 November 2012

Project 54: Mojo engagement card

Short post - and yes this is two in one day which is a record for me (obviously I need to  get out more).

I saw this week's Mojo sketch and had to play with it so I rushed home this evening to have a go. One of my best friends got engaged this weekend (in addition to my sister which means it was a hugely happy weekend!) and I thought immediately that this card layout would work well.

Here is the sketch I followed:

I tried lots of techniques to give it that special engagement-card luxury. I embossed the card in the middle with one of my favorite folders with leaves and birds and used my dotted scallop punch (<3 Martha Stewart) for the side. I went round the edge with an Almond colored Pro Marker, a practice of inking the sides in a slightly darker shade that I'm kind of obsessed with at the moment.

I used a scallop punch for the sparkly card and then added a paper flower with the button for the feature on the right. I wanted to add the sparkly paper for the bling factor but wanted to keep it rustic and chic so I used the button on the flower.

Turquoise, brown, cream and silver may seem random but the combo spoke to me. I love the background paper with the wheat pattern and I am hoping it'll speak to my friends' style.

The button coordinates with the brown ribbon, the grey flower coordinates with the silver greeting and cream is the non-sparkly version of my Hippie Chic stack of papers.  It came together like a dream.

Julesie - if you are reading this (likely my only non-relative fan!) - it's in the post from Saturday when I land in the US! Love you! xox

Project 53: Card sets

Another playdate with Claire, another armful of bounty to share with the world.

I’m flying out to see my parents and sister in New Orleans for Thanksgiving and we will be seeing some family friends that I haven’t seen for years. My mom encouraged me (coerced feels more appropriate though) to bring some sets of cards for the family friends. So I roped Claire into the fray and we made loads of sets of cards to give away.

I’ll start with my favourite of the session: these embossed, inked and tied heart DL cards on the headline. I did them in reverse of each other, making a little set of four. This card was a major faff, all the techniques going into the stamping and inking and what not. I’m pleased it’s going to a good home.

The next one is one that Claire did – the zebra and yellow combo is super sweet. I said at the time I never think of yellow and black but it’s a stellar combination.

Then we both did a similar card using tags in pink and green. As CG mentions on her blog, we followed completely different inspirations from Pinterest and yet we ended up making very similar things. How funny. I think one of these sets should go to my sister as she’s all about pink and green. (mine are the top, CG's are the bottom, for reference) 

Next we have the quilted pattern I made using Claire’s scallop square punch. These papers really spoke to me and they’re blue and brown which is a combo I can’t get enough of. My mom will probably like these…

Then we have Claire’s black and pink winner. We played a lot with that raffia-style thread. It’s super thin and easy to work with.

Then we made some engagement cards but I won’t post those as I’m going to be hand delivering them this weekend! The best thing about playdate sessions is that you see someone using the kit you have in a different way, or trying a technique with a common tool that you'd never considered. It's much better to craft with a friend than to craft in isolation. 

All in all a super productive Sunday session. I had to dash off for a work dinner but otherwise I think we could have stayed all night making these. Well until Claire’s husband kicked me out for talking nonsense and being a liability for drinking/crafting at the same time. It’s happened….a few times. 

Sunday 4 November 2012

Project 52: Trying new tricks with butterflies and gingham

Every weekend that I can remember having craft time available for the past few months has been dedicated to Christmas craft. This means my stores of non-Christmas cards are seriously down. Claire and I have some more craft fairs this year so I wanted to get the stock back up to scratch so I made some sets of cards that people could buy of the same layout in different colors. 

The headline card is a variation of a butterfly card that Claire alerted me to on Pinterest. I have this great little butterfly punch that my mom gave me and so I did a few versions using pastels, glitter and darker butterflies. Love them. 

Next is a variation of another post from Claire, this one from her blog. The technique to ink the patterned paper is really nice, it gives it a lived-in look that I like. I used the same ink for the “Thinking of You” stamp. I have added some glitter to the flowers since this photo was taken. Claire will like that I am all about the glittler glue now :)

Next I did a basic butterfly birthday card using some sweet gingham papers. I love gingham. Maybe all of my cards will be gingham from now on. 

And then using my gingham paper scraps I made some basic baby cards. Gingham in blue and pink does just look so baby-ish, doesn’t it? And buttons. Who doesn’t love a button on a card? Not one of my followers I should hope! 

All in I made about 30 today, admittedly simple layouts but I’m pleased that I have something to sell. I made another 3 sets of a secret layout that I am giving away as gifts to readers of this blog so I won’t post them here.  Very productive day. 

PS 52 projects and it's only October! Happy days - this is easily one of my best new years' resolutions and I have actually stuck with it. Here's to the next two months full of projects!

Tuesday 30 October 2012

Project 51: Halloween treats

Happy Halloween everyone! 

I’m dead tired (Halloween pun intended) after making all these treats. That’s right two weeknights in a row, two massive craft projects undertaken. 

So I’ll keep the posts short so I can go sit on the couch and watch Suburgatory.

First – the headline craft is my batch of marbled cookies. My dad sent me the recipe this weekend and I thought it would be perfect to sample. I’m really nervous with cut-out cookies because I’ve had so many bad experiences with sticky dough and the inability to roll it repeatedly. But this worked well!

I wish I could tell you where it came from but it was scanned in from a magazine or a newspaper I think. And anyway it was for Christmas cookies because most people don’t think of Halloween as a cookie-oriented holiday. It so is.

The icing  is just powdered sugar and water with food dye. Of course I didn’t make enough and so some of my bats are orange instead of black. Never mind. The marbling was easy. Just a stripe of the opposite color and then I dragged a toothpick through to make the stripy effect.

Second craft is what you would expect if you knew me: an owl-carved pumpkin. I bought a small pumpkin this year and kept the design super simple. I usually go for really complicated designs that don’t always work. Not this year. Sometimes you gotta go for the simple option.

I tried carving the circle on an angle and that gave it the halo effect behind the owl. Really like that!

And now for some Suburgatory. Happy Halloween! :)