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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Homemade Turkey/Chicken Noodle Soup

One of my favorite things to eat when the weather gets cold is hot homemade soup or stew. It's the perfect comfort food when chilly weather strikes. I tossed a bunch of ingredients together when I initially made this soup in an effort to use up the leftover turkey from Thanksgiving. It was easy to make and my family loved it. The beauty of this recipe is you don't have to be exact on the measurements or ingredients. For the vegetables, use whatever you have in the refrigerator, or use chicken in place of turkey. The margarine adds a richness and flavor to the broth which is out of this world. Here is my recipe, but remember, you can tailor it to fit whatever you have at home:

Ingredients:
1 chopped yellow onion
3-4 stalks celery, cut into thick slices
A couple of handfuls of baby carrots (I used one half of a 16 ounce bag)
5-14 ounce cans chicken broth
1/2 stick margarine
2-3 cups cooked chicken or turkey, cut into small pieces
1-12 ounce package extra wide egg noodles
1 tablespoon powdered chicken bouillon

Directions:
In a large pot, combine vegetables, broth and margarine. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat, cover pot and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes.
Add meat and continue to simmer for another 15 minutes.
Stir in noodles and boil, according to recommended time on package, stirring occasionally. For best results, do not overcook. Mix in bouillon.

Yield: One big pot of soup - about 5 quarts. Dig in!

Pin It

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Christmas Ornament Swap Partners

Ho, ho, ho! Swap partners have been assigned for the ornament swap. The swap groups are as follows:

1. Donna Bell
Crosses by Claudia
Not Yet the Dodo

2.Stephiblu
Nathalie Julien
Penguins Plunder

3. Susan Hickam
Leslie (Junk Girl Studio)
Lisa Kettell

4. Jan Williams
Melissa Ustik
Wanda Eash

Please make sure you send one handmade ornament to each of your partners by 12/5/08. And don't forget to post your swap creations and trades on our FLICKR site:
http://www.flickr.com/groups/twocraftymulesalteredartgallery/

I will be in touch with everyone today to provide you with your partners' mailing addresses.

Happy creating!!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Christmas Ornament Swap

I'm getting ready to contact everyone with the names and addresses of their swap partners. NATHALIE, please contact me with your mailing address. I have been unable to rach you. I'll be in touch with everyone soon with your swap partner information. This is going to be fun!!!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Meatballs for a Crowd





This is one of my family's favorite recipes. These meatballs are perfect for potlucks, parties and for when you need some stick-to-your-ribs comfort food. They make great leftovers when you don't have time to cook. Serve these over pasta or in meatball subs with crusty bread and mozzarella cheese. Enjoy!


Ingredients:

5 pounds raw hamburger meat
4 envelopes onion soup mix
1/2 of a 15 ounce can of Italian bread crumbs
3 eggs
A couple of squirts of ketchup
1 tablespoon black pepper
Your favorite tomato sauce. (I use 4 jars of Ragu or Prego sauce.)

Directions:
In a very large bowl, use hands to thoroughly mix first 6 ingredients together well. Form into desired size meatballs and put into 2 large, deep baking pans. Bake at 375 degrees for one hour. Pour meatballs into large colander, draining grease. Pour two jars of tomato sauce into bottom of each pan (one for each). Place meatballs on top of sauce. Pour remaining tomato sauce over meatballs. Cover pans with foil and bake at 375 degrees until sauce is hot, about 45 minutes. Depending on how large you make these, you will get about 40 large meatballs from this recipe.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

New Swaps for November and December!

You asked for it - you got it. Two more swaps to finish up 2008. Whoo hoo!

SWAP #1:

The first swap will be Thanksgiving themed inchies. (If you haven't made inchies before, please check out the tutorial for them shown just below this post.) Think: turkeys, harvest, autumn, oranges, reds, and yellows, pilgrims, indians, things you are thankful for, etc. when decorating your inchies.

Details:
Make 20 inchies, get 20 in return.
Sign up deadline is November 3. Sign up by leaving a comment on this post or on the Two Crafty Mules Altered Swap Gallery.
Inchies must be received by me, Wanda, no later than 11/14/08, so I can swap them out and have them to everyone before Thanksgiving.
Important: Please make sure I can contact you through your blog, FLICKRmail or email address. I will need to give you my mailing address so you can mail your completed inchies to me.

SWAP #2:

The second swap will be a handmade Christmas ornament exchange. It doesn't matter what type of ornament you use, as long as it is handmade or significantly altered so it is a one-of-a-kind creation.

Details:
Make 2 ornaments, get 2 in return.
Sign up deadline is 11/8/08. Sign up by leaving a comment on this post or on the Two Crafty Mules Altered Swap Gallery.
Partners will be assigned the week of 11/9/08.
Ornaments must be mailed to your partners no later than 12/5/08.
Important: Please make sure I can contact you through your blog, FLICKRmail or email address. Please provide me with your name and address so I can give this information to your trading partners at the time partners are assigned.

Inchies Tutorial - Miniature Works of Art














In the altered art world, inchies are all the rage these days. What's an inchie, you ask? It's a 1" by 1" canvas made of sturdy watercolor paper which is collaged, rubber-stamped, painted or embellished with tiny photos, trims, words and anything else one can think of. If you haven't tried to make these yet, you are in for a treat.

Directions:

Cut a sheet of sturdy watercolor paper into the desired number of 1" squares.
Color the squares with paint or pencils, or use a tiny scrap of decorative paper as your background.
Select several small images and text (if desired) from clip art, magazines, books, etc. and cut them out.
Use a quality glue stick to adhere your images.
Highlight the edges of your inchies with embossing powder, ink,
or glitter. (I decorated the ones shown here with Stickles glitter
glue. One of my absolute favorite craft supplies.)
If desired, add tiny embellishments like mini flowers, trim, rhinestones, buttons and anything else you can think of.

Don't forget to sign the back of your inchie artwork.

Have fun!



Resources:

Artchix is a fantastic source of pre-cut 1" watercolor paper squares, mini embellishments and images designed especially for use in making inchies. Would you believe, they even have mini frames to individually frame your inchie artwork?

I belong to a wonderful Inchies group on FLICKR. Please feel free to come check out the group for project ideas and inspiration.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Cabinet Card Beauties Brooches


The cabinet card was first introduced in 1863 in London. It consisted of a photograph printed on cardstock and could often be found on display in parlors – usually in cabinets. These were all the rage for family photos back then and remained extremely popular until around 1895.


In today’s day and age, it is not uncommon to see cabinet cards of lovely young women, children and families gracing the bins of antique stores. They are also readily available for purchase on EBay and other internet sites. They are relatively inexpensive and fun items to collect, but instead of stashing them away in a box somewhere, how about making these forgotten treasures into little pieces of wearable art? Be warned, though – these are fun to make and extremely addicting. Before you know it, you will have a whole collection of these little beauties!


Tools and Materials:

Photocopy of cabinet card (head and shoulder portraits work best for this project)

Illustration board – slightly larger than the cabinet card

Decorative scrapbook paper

White glue (I used Modge Podge)

Scissors

Light to medium duty utility knife

Pen or pencil for tracing

Colored pencils

Decorative chalk

Ink pad for shading edges (I used ColorBox Cat’s Eye in Yellow Citrus)

Krylon Workable Fixatif

Gel pen (white)

Dimensional adhesive (I used Diamond Glaze)

Small paintbrush

Small embellishments, such as buttons, rhinestones, narrow lace, charms, etc.

Pin finding

Strong glue, such as E-6000


Directions:

Cut out image from photocopy with scissors. Using index finger spread white glue evenly on the back of the image. Place the image right side up on the illustration board. Gently smooth the image down with fingers. Allow this to dry for several minutes to an hour before taking the next step. (Failure to allow sufficient drying time may result in the image tearing when color is applied.)


With one hand, firmly hold the photo in place while using the utility knife to cut out the image with the other hand. The board is extremely stiff and it will be necessary to make several small cuts in an area before cutting all the way through the board. Once the cutting is completed, use scissors to trim around the photo to clean up the edges, if necessary.


Place the scrapbook paper right side down on a flat surface. Place the prepared photo right-side up on top of the paper. Trace around the photo with a pen or pencil. Cut the traced image out with scissors. Use index finger to apply white glue to the back of the scrapbook paper; glue the paper onto the back of the photo.


Now the fun begins! Use colored pencils and chalk to color the hair, skin, eyes, lips and clothing. Add “blush” to the cheeks, if desired. Place the colored photo on a piece of newspaper, and in a well-ventilated area, spray the Krylon Fixatif over the photo in a sweeping motion. Allow to dry.


Hold the photo in one hand and press the edges of it into the inkpad. The purpose of the inkpad is to conceal the outside rough edges of the photo while shading the front edges of the image. Use the white gel pen to add details to the photo.


Apply dimensional adhesive over the top of the photo with a small paintbrush. Let dry.

Use the dimensional adhesive to glue on charms, lace and other embellishments to the photo. Let dry.

Glue the pin finding on the back with strong glue, such as E-6000. Your beautiful cabinet card photo is ready to wear!


Tips and Resources:


For added dimension, color the photos with the pencils first, then repeat with chalk. This will significantly intensify the color.


Homesew.com is a great resource for hard-to-find narrow doll lace and mini buttons.


Use small pieces of broken vintage jewelry to embellish the pins. Mini Christmas tree trims, such as beaded garland make great “pearl” necklaces.


These make great Christmas tree ornaments, gift tags and embellishments for other projects. Use your imagination! The possibilities are endless!


NOTE: This is from my original article and project which was featured in the Spring, 2008 Belle Armoire Jewelry issue. Enjoy! :)


This article and accompanying pictures are ©Wanda Eash, 2007. Please do not reuse without permission.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Wine and Sausage Galore in Hermann


When my parents were in town a couple of weeks ago, one of the places we took them to was Hermann, Missouri. This sleepy little German town comes alive when it hosts big events, such as the Beer and Bratwurst Fest which occurred the weekend we visited.

There are several wineries located in town where you can wine taste until your heart's content. It's not uncommon to see large, juicy grapes dangling from the vineyards around town. I'm not really a wine lover, but you don't have to be to have a good time in this town. The downtown area hosts several shops full of gift items and antiques, in addition to the German School Museum. And, if you are a sausage lover, you'll feel right at home here.

One of my favorite sausage shops to visit is the Swiss Meat and Sausage Company. When you walk into the building, the smell of delicious meat envelopes you. It is reminiscent of the Polish butcher shops in Chicago we used to frequent when I was a little girl. Ah, the memories.... Anyway, this company makes 48 different kinds of sausage. There is something for everyone, even equipment and supplies (such as casings) for people who want to attempt to make their own sausage. We stocked up on all different flavors of sausage. Luckily, the shop also sells bags of ice and Styrofoam coolers for tourists like us. We traveled home with three coolers full of meat. (Check out the photo on the right of my mom and daughter with their shopping carts. )

Friday, October 3, 2008

Dick Clark's American Bandstand '57 Heaven Museum



The past couple of weeks were such a whirlwind with my parents visiting from the Phoenix area. So much to catch up on, so much to do and so little time. I know you can probably relate to this. Life is just too short, isn't it?

My parents were kids back in the 50's; it was definitely my dad's favorite era. One room in their home is like a mini museum of 50's toys, collectibles and memorabilia--kind of like a mini museum. Needless to say, they were the inspiration for one of our destinations while they were in town - Dick Clark's American Bandstand Theater and '57 Heaven Museum in Branson, Missouri. This unique tourist destination houses a restaurant decorated with huge 45 records attached to the ceiling, collectibles from Rock-N-Roll legends encased in glass displays and signed photographs and memorabilia hang on the walls throughout the entire restaurant. The displays include a real surfboard signed by Frankie Avalon and Carl Perkins' signed guitar and appearance contract from 1958, when he was paid a mere $155.00 to perform for an American Bandstand-related event. Video screens throughout the restaurant played vintage clips of American Bandstand from different decades.

After we ate lunch there, we headed into the '57 Heaven Museum, which is located downstairs. This was definitely a blast from the past. Hundreds of classic vehicles from 1957 can be found there, among an environment reminiscent of the 50's. The vehicles were displayed in different settings, such as at a faux drive-in movie theatre, repair shop, hotel and gas station (complete with the retro gas pumps.) In addition, there were also exhibits of the inside and outside of a 1957 home, complete with authentic decor, pink kitchen and the "family" gathered in the living room. Music from the era played throughout the museum and helped set the tone. I'm not a person who will normally attend car shows, but this was a whole different ballgame. We all had a great time at the museum and my parents really were in "heaven" during our visit there.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Halloween ATC Swap Mail Date Reminder

Please don't forget the deadline to mail your Halloween ATC's to me was yesterday, September 30. I have updated the list of names to show which ones I have received to date. (Please see the post below or the FLICKR Two Crafty Mules group for details.) I can't wait to see everyone's designs!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Getting Ready for Out of Town Visitors

My parents are coming into town from Arizona tomorrow. I'm so psyched. I haven't seen them since the summer of 2007. I started my vacation today so I can bake lots of goodies and start cooking up German food for tomorrow's dinner. My mom's family came to the U.S. from Germany in the 1950s', so I was raised with lots of stick-to-your-ribs German food. These days, I make it on special occasions mainly because it's so time consuming to make everything from scratch.

While they are here, I want to spoil my parents rotten. I'm going to take them to the popular tourist haunts here in Northwest Arkansas. We're also going to the Beer and Bratwurst fest in the little town of Hermann, Missouri. Hermann is an awesome little town that was established by German settlers way back when. If you haven't been there before and you enjoy homemade food, hundreds of flavors of handmade sausage (after all, this IS a German town), wine tasting, antiques and shopping, you'll want to check out this little town. The small-town ambiance and activities make it the perfect trip for little weekend getaways.

The photos here were taken during my last trip to Hermann this past March. Check out all of the homemade cheese and sausage in the photo on the right. When it comes to good food, these people don't mess around.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Polishing Resin for High Shine

When resin is cast and taken out of its mold, the surface is somewhat dull. In addition, the resin has a tendency to pick up lines and other little flaws from the mold.

I have tested many different methods for polishing resin, and some are definitely better than others. I like my resin to shine like glass; if it doesn't, it looks inferior to me. Now, this is just my personal preference. If you are going for a dull finish because you want your resin to emulate granite or stone, that is a whole different issue.

First, let me tell you about a couple of the other methods I have tried for polishing my resin that just didn't work for me. As I mentioned above, I have experimented with several different techniques, but the ones I am listing here are the most common:

Castin' Craft Resin Spray:

I have had mixed results with this product. It tends to be unpredictable and may/may not work depending on several factors including the level of humidity in the air and the temperature outside. (Note: This product really should not be sprayed indoors. The fumes are noxious and good ventilation is needed. I strongly recommend spraying your projects outside.) On mild days when the humidity is low and the temperature is mild (between the 70's and 80's), the product works fine when used as directed. Unfortunately, if the elements don't all fall in line, it can spell disaster for your projects. I found this out the hard way - more than once. In this situation, the spray will come out a cloudy white color, instead of clear. The cloudiness does not go away when the spray dries and the project is ruined at this point. I was able to rescue a couple of pieces by quickly wiping my finger over the sprayed item. (I know - this is a big no-no. Do as I say and not as I do.) Given the fact that I make hundreds of pieces of resin jewelry at any given time, the unreliability of this product is not something I wish to chance. I don't know about you, but the thought of tossing out several pieces of resin that took days to make does not appeal to me in the least.

Carnauba Wax:

Carnauba wax is an item used to polish automobiles. I read that this item was recommended for polishing resin as it helps to fill in the lines left by the molds, and it leaves a soft shine. When I tried polishing my resin pieces with this product, I really couldn't tell the difference between the coated and uncoated pieces. The lines still showed as clear as day and the resin surface was still dull. Since I like very glossy resin surfaces, this product didn't work for me. It did not give me the end result I was looking for.

Brush-on Resin:

By far, the best results I have encountered is by using resin as a coating for the finished pieces. This takes a little longer as you have to wait for the resin to harden, but the results are well worth it. The finished product is shiny and new, and it's virtually resistant to scratches and wet weather. Hands-down, this is my favorite technique to coat resin pieces.

Technique:

Cut a strip of duck tape (and before anyone emails me about my spelling - the brand I use is called DUCK tape - seriously) and lay it on the work surface, sticky side up. Place the resin piece on top of the tape, face up.

Press the back of the tape firmly against the resin piece, using your fingers to ensure there is a tight seal. This step is important. You don't want the resin leaking underneath the tape.
In a small container, mix up a batch of resin according to the manufacturer's directions. With a flux brush or other disposable brush, lightly brush a coat of resin over the top and sides of the resin pieces. Use a light hand when doing this; only a light coat is needed to get the glossy shine. Any excess resin will form a pool around the completed pieces and will have to be sanded off after it has hardened.Allow the freshly glazed pieces to dry. Remove from tape. Sand edges as desired and wa-la - you have gorgeous and shiny resin pieces to use in your craft and jewelry projects.

CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR WINNERS!!!

A big congratulations to the winners of the random drawing for handmade resin jewelry featuring candy:

Two Pixie Dolls
and
Peace Schuyler

Thank you to everyone who entered! I LOVED reading all of your comments about why you love the autumn season.

Ladies, I will have your pendants in the mail to you ASAP. Enjoy! :)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

New FLICKR Group to Show Off Your Art From This Blog!

What fun is it to make and swap art if you have no place to show it off? I have started a brand-spanking new FLICKR group just for that purpose. It is called the Two Crafty Mules Altered Art Swap Gallery. This is THE place to post pictures of your art creations made for this group's swaps; you can also post pictures of any artwork you received.

I would love for this group to be interactive and to have a great time. If you have any swap ideas, please let us know about it.

Here is the link:
http://www.flickr.com/groups/twocraftymulesalteredartgallery/


Two Crafty Mules Logo
Myspace Glitter Graphics



I hope to "see" you there!!!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Vintage Halloween ATC Swap Update & List

So far, we have 16 people who have signed up to participate in this swap - whoo hoo! If you have signed up, please be sure to email me at craftymule@yahoo.com with your name, email address and mailing address (if you have not already done so.) Once I hear from you, I will send you my mailing address. I tried to respond to everyone who signed up by leaving a comment on this blog, but the reply email address shown for many people was "noreply@blogger.com". Please accept my apologies if you did not get a response from me due to this. I tried - I promise. :)

And way to go, Krista - I received your ATC's today and they are sooooo adorable!!!

So far, here's our list of participants:

1) Wanda Eash AKA Craftymule (Completed)
2) CindyisCrafty (Received)
3) SuperMommy
4) HellesBelles
5) Whim & Fancy Designs AKA Ann-Denise Anderson (Received)
6) Steph Tichenor (Received)
7) Leslie Patton AKA Junkgirl (Received)
8) Susan Hickam
9) Two Pixie Dolls - Krista Komis (Received)
10) Wendy Robrecht (Received)
11) Simply Kris
12) Angela Dasner
13) Seeking Simplicity
14) Awtemnymf (Received)
15) Peace Schuyler (Received)
16) Suzee Que AKA Susan Criser (Received)

Sign-ups close on September 6, so if you know of anyone else who would like to participate, please send them over. The more, the merrier!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

This Month's Giveaway - Jewelry Featuring Candy!


Halloween will be upon us before you know it. In order to help celebrate the coming change in season, the beautiful fall colors and the fun of Halloween, this giveaway features "2" handmade resin jewelry pendants which feature candy! The first contains 2 pieces of candy corn - something you will no doubt see a lot of within the next few weeks. The second features a single M&M set in a candy sprinkles background in fall colors.

To win one of these cool items, all you have to do is leave me a comment telling me your favorite thing about the autumn season. That's it. On September 15, the names of all who left comments will be entered into a random drawing and "2" lucky winners will be selected. Please be sure I have a way of contacting you in case you win, so I can obtain your mailing address. This will help ensure you can have your jewelry to wear in plenty of time for Halloween and the fall season. Oh, and did I tell you, the 15th happens to be a FULL moon.....

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Itty Bitty Book Swaps - You Can't Stop At Just One

I've been actively involved on Flickr since early 2007. I initially thought I'd be sharing photos of my designs with other people who have similar interests, but it turned out to be so much more than I'd ever anticipated. I have made many new friends on the site; in addition, I have discovered the "Itty Bitty Book Swaps" through FLICKR and boy, am I hooked.

Basically, the swap is limited to 25 or 30 people. A theme is decided, and participants contribute one small page (front and back) for each book. Some participants opted to make all 30 pages from scratch; others, like me, made one original copy of the page, photocopied it, then decorated it with embellishments, glitter and anything else to accentuate the designs. On my page, I used tulle and glitter glue for the dress, and added a little acrylic star to the sky.

After the pages are completed, they are sent to the swap hostess, who binds each book, then mails one to each participant. The book pages are small in size but the books themselves end up being really chunky because of all of the embellishments added to the pages.

I joined the group when it hosted it's second swap, "Vintage Prom Dress." I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my book which which should be here any day now. I have also signed up for 3 more swaps through the group - "Sweet Marie" (which is Marie Antoinette/French-themed); "Halloween" and "Vintage Christmas".

I invite you to come check out the group and participate in one (or more) of the swaps if you dare. But - consider yourself warned - this is EXTREMELY addicting. :)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Vintage Halloween ATC Swap - Taking Sign-Ups Now


Halloween is such a fun time of year and I thought it would be a great time to host our first blog swap with a vintage Halloween theme. This swap is a 3 for 3 ATC (Altered Trading Card) swap. What is an ATC, you ask? An ATC is a miniature work of art (the size of a playing card) which people swap with one another. The size of the ATC is always 2 1/2" by 3 1/2". It can be decorated in any form or fashion, including painting, decoupage, collage and the like. If you have not made an ATC yet, I warn you - it's really addicting. Thankfully, they are inexpensive to make, so you can craft your heart out and not break the bank.

Here are the rules for this swap:

1) This is a 3 for 3 swap. This means you will make 3 ATC's and get 3 ATC's in return. The theme is Vintage Halloween - think witches, ghosts, pumpkins, black cats and anything else that conjures up thoughts of Halloween from days past.
2) Swap sign-ups close on September 6th. If you'd like to participate, please comment here or email me at: craftymule@yahoo.com and I will add you to the list.
3) ATC packages must be in the mail to me by September 30. After all, this is a Halloween swap and it would not be fun if we swapped afterwards. Once I get everyone's packages, I will swap out the ATC's and mail them out to you ASAP.
4) Please include a self-addressed return envelope for your ATC's and include enough money or stamps (if you are in the United States) to cover the cost of shipping. (This shouldn't be too much - $1.50 or so.) Please don't send postage meter strips. The post office doesn't accept these if they are being used to mail a package from a different state. If you live outside of the United States, you can still participate, but instead of sending me stamps, you can send me a payment through Paypal to cover the cost of shipping.
5) That's it! Let the sign-ups begin and have fun! Whoo hoo! I will keep a running list of participates on this post, so please be sure to check back for updates.

(Pictured are ATC's I designed and traded in a Halloween swap last year. Just a little something to help you get your creative juices flowing.)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Resin Troubleshooting Tips - Preventing "Wet Out"


People often contact me for tips on the resin making process. In this resin making series, I hope to touch on some of the common problems that occur with the process and offer solutions on how to correct them. Much of what I will share with you is based on my own trial and error in making my own projects.

One of the most common issues which occurs is something called "wet out." "Wet out" occurs when the resin makes contact with images. It can make your image look like it got wet, and in severe cases, it can make your whole image turn transparent. The photo to the right shows "wet out" where the angel's wings meet her dress. As you can see, it ruins the whole design.

The chemicals in resin break down delicate items such as paper. In order to preserve your images, you have to protect them by coating them with sealant before you place them in resin. Coating both the back and the front of the design with white glue is usually a popular method given in books to prevent "wet out" from occurring. I was not satisfied with this method. I experimented with several different brands of white glue to seal my images and still encountered problems. The first problem was that "wet out" still occurred; the second was that I had applied the glue too thickly to the image, which resulted in it appearing as though a milky substance was floating over it.

Another method that was recommended in a book I read is to cover both sides of the image with clear packing tape. Trust me when I tell you that this suggestion definitely does not work, as the resin still seeps into the tape and damages the image at hand.

My favorite method to prevent "wet out" is to use glossy (not matte) gel medium. I have used both Golden's and Liquitex gel medium brands and they work equally well for this process.

Here's the step-by-step process I use to protect my images:





STEP ONE: Wit
h sharp scissors, cut out the images you will be embedding in resin.






STEP TWO: Tear off a sheet of wax paper.
Lay it on a flat working surface. Place your
images face down on top of the wax paper. Brush a thin coat of glossy gel medium on the back of each image. Let dry.






STEP THREE: Turn
over the images so they face right side up. Brush a thin coat of the gel medium on the image. Let dry. Note: The gel will look milky white when it is wet, but it will dry clear.


STEP FOUR: Carefully peel the images off of the wax paper. You will have dried medium that extends past the image. With scissors, carefully trim off the excess medium but do not trim the image itself. If you accidentally cut into the image, you will need to reapply gel medium to the cut area. The cut area is susceptible to "wet out" damage from the resin. (Trust me on this one, I learned this the hard way.)

And there you have it. Please be sure to check back for additional resin making tips and projects (among other cool crafty things). Happy creating! :)


Friday, August 8, 2008

Tontitown Grape Festival

Tontitown, Arkansas is just a stone's throw away from where I live in Northwest Arkansas. Every year, they hold a Grape Festival which features craft vendors, amusement rides, carnival-style food, used book sale, grape flavored ice cream, homemade spaghetti dinners (made from scratch--no boxed spaghetti, here), grape stomping and live entertainment. Catholic Mass is also held for those who wish to attend. This year, the 110th annual celebration was no different.

History:

Beginning in 1895, Italian settlers established a colony in Tontitown. They established farms, their first general store and a post office. They successfully grew strawberries, apples and grapes. In 1900, the men of the town worked together to build a church. Each August, the settlers would celebrate their harvest with a Mass of
Thanksgiving in the little church. They'd sing and dance, and the women served the tastiest meals that their provisions would allow. These little celebrations continued to blossom and every August, without fail, the Grape Festival is held on the grounds of St. Joseph's Catholic Church. With something for everyone, this celebration is one that the locals look forward to attending year after year.


Homemade Spaghetti Dinner:


My husband and I attended last night's celebration. We started the night off with the delicious homemade spaghetti dinner. Women work for weeks before the celebration making the pasta from scratch and hanging it on racks to dry. Their efforts are very much enjoyed by the locals, and we were no different. Fresh pasta has a taste all it's own. Our dinner came with homemade fried chicken, tossed salad, rolls, butter and a beverage. It was absolutely delicious. Thank goodness I wore my shorts with the stretchy waistband!

Oh, and did I mention? Packages of the dried spaghetti were also for sale for those who wanted to make it at home. I picked up a couple of pounds so my entire family can enjoy it for a yummy dinner to come.






Used Book Sale:


While my husband set up our chairs outside the entertainment stage, I checked out the used book sale. The sale boasts all kinds of books, music (in the form of LP's, CD's) and even some puzzles and games. The items cost anywhere from 25 cents to 50 cents so you can stock up on all sorts of goodies and not break the bank. I walked out with 2 bags of books and LP's. Now, in all honesty, the LP's really aren't anything I would listen to, but the kitschy album artwork was just screaming at me. In the near future, I am going to transform them into something cool, like tote bags or clocks.

Live Entertainment:

The live entertainment for the night was provided by a local band, Whit Landers and the Hillbilly Connection, and country music singer Bryan White. The stage consists of a large trailer from the back of a semi truck. There's nothing quite like listening to live music under the stars in such a homey atmosphere. The first time I saw Bryan White in concert was in 1998 in Arizona, when he toured with LeAnn Rimes. The one thing that struck me both times - then and now - is that Bryan really is a nice guy. He's very down-to-earth and just one of the boys.



After the show ended, Bryan chatted with fans, posed for pictures and signed autographs. I took the opportunity of slipping him my business card and he promised he would check out my original jewelry designs. I would love the opportunity of making him and/or his wife some personalized jewelry with their little boys images on it. Now, I don't know if I will actually be hearing from Bryan or his wife, but if you don't ask, it's a definite "no", right?