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Monday, December 6, 2010

12 Days of Christmas Giveaways at The Hive Starting Today!

Hey, everyone, if you have not yet already checked out the social networking site for artists and crafters known as "The Hive", now is a great time to do so.  Beginning today, The Hive is having it's 12 Days of Christmas giveaway.  Several vendors have donated cool prizes for the giveaway, including gift certificates, handmade ornaments, jewelry and more!  I've donated 2 gift certificates from my Two Crafty Mules EBay store, an Our Lady of Mount Carmel pendant and a retro glass bauble Christmas bracelet for the big event. 

 
 

Be sure to stop by and enter each day to win that day's prize(s).   Good luck and have a very Happy 12 Days of Christmas!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Crazy Quilting with Vintage Hankies


I absolutely adore quilt making.   I remember the days when I used to quilt for hours at a time.  Since my jewelry designs have taken off at the boutiques and on the internet, I don't get to quilt as often as I'd like to.  However, I recently had some vacation time from work which I used to work on some mini crazy quilts.  All 10 of them (yes, 10!)  were made from vintage hankies.  These quilts were inspired by Cindy Brick, who came up with the concept of "Hanky Panky Quilts".  I became hooked on this concept ever since I bought her book years ago.  It is still one of my all-time favorite quilt books. 

Here are some of my latest mini quilts which I recently posted on Etsy and on EBay:

Nativity Quilt


Nativity Quilt (Detail)

Nativity Quilt (Detail)




Pretty in Pink Quilt


Pretty in Pink (Detail)  


Pretty in Pink (Detail)  


Virgin Mary Blue Quilt


Virgin Mary Blue Quilt (Detail)



 And still more:















Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Felted Christmas Tree by Denise Toepel - How Cool is This?

Recently, I featured one of Denise Toepel's (ChaChingCk on ETSY) felted Christmas trees in this ETSY Treasury, "Recycled Christmas Goodies", and look what she sent me!  My own felted tree!  It came in this adorable little box.  Denise - thank you so much - I LOVE IT!!!

Denise's clever little creations are made from wool sweaters which she washed, dried, cut up and repurposed into adorable trees!  I absolutely love these!   When you go to ETSY, be sure to check out Denise's line of felted Christmas trees.  She makes them in several color palettes - everything from off white to cheery red - along with felted garland and other holiday decorations.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Easy Apple Pie Tarts - Perfect for Thanksgiving (or Anytime)

Happy Thanksgiving!


I love to make extra special baked treats for the ones I love on the holidays.  However, I'm not one to make pie crusts or dough from scratch.  I admit it - I just don't have the patience to do it.  Instead, I like to come up with recipes that taste like they are made from scratch, but involve less hassle.

For breakfast this morning, I made Apple Pie Tarts and Cherry Tarts for my family.  The great thing about this recipe is you can use whatever pie filling you'd like.  These are also really good served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and caramel ice cream topping.  I hope you enjoy making - and sharing - these tarts as much as I do.

APPLE PIE TARTS

Ingredients:

1 can apple pie filling
2 cans biscuits (I use Pillsbury Grands, but anything will work)
1 stick melted, salted butter
1/2 cup sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon cinnamon



Directions:

Sprinkle a pinch of sugar-cinnamon mixture onto the work surface.  Place one biscuit onto the mixture and roll it out with a rolling pin.  Place one tablespoon of pie filling onto the center of the biscuit.


Fold the left side of the biscuit over to the right side so edges meet and filling is covered.  Crimp edges with a fork.






Brush melted butter over both sides of the biscuit; roll entire biscuit into cinnamon-sugar mixture.
Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.  Allow to cool on pan for a couple of minutes and place on serving plate.  Enjoy!

Monday, November 15, 2010

NW Arkansas Fall Craft Fairs - Shop 'Till You Drop!

The second weekend in October, Northwest Arkansas bustles with thousands of visitors from all over the United States and this year was no exception.  The reason, you ask?  It's craft fair weekend...and not just any craft fair, but a myriad of fairs all over this side of the state.   It all started in 1954, when the ever-popular War Eagle Fair held it's first show.  Since that time, there's been an increase in the number of shows, fairs and festivals which feature something for everyone.  News sources say these festivals draw in hundreds of thousands of visitors each fall; last month, visitors topped over 600,000.  That's a pretty substantial number when you consider the fact that my little town of Springdale has a population of just over 66,000 people and our neighboring Fayetteville has a reported population of 73,000.  


As always, I love to put on my comfortable walking shoes and visit the shows.  I never have the time to visit all of shows in any given weekend, but I do have my favorites that enjoy visiting each year.  One of my favorites is a smaller show which is held at the Jones Center.   I always find unique handmade items at reasonable prices there, and although it's busy, it's never jam-packed full of people, making it easier to browse the displays.   

One of my favorite vendors there is Prim by Design.  This vendor never fails to disappoint.  They sell all sorts of homemade potpourri, scented wax dipped dough ornies and all the fixins'.  I love to buy a little bit of everything from them, mix it all together and display it in an old muffin tin during the holidays.  The "snowmen and bells" wax dipped salt dough sells out quickly every year and is one of my favorites.   They also sell handmade prim dolls, hand-painted candles, and the like.


Claudia Steele was a new vendor to the Jones Center this year and her table was absolutely hopping with customers.  Her clever jewelry creations featured quilled paper designs coated with a lightweight, non-yellowing shellac.  I couldn't resist purchasing several of her necklaces and earrings for gifts.   These are absolutely perfect for friends and coworkers from the office.  (OK, I admit it, I did buy a butterfly necklace and earring set for myself, too.  ;)  )  Claudia doesn't have a website yet, but is working on putting one together.




Mary Ellen Watson is another talented vendor that caught my eye this year.  She paints gorgeous Russian Orthodox/Byzantine style icons with traditional egg tempera.  She offered numerous original paintings, prints, postcards and greeting cards at the fair this year.  I ended up purchasing several greeting cards featuring her work.  Mary Ellen can be contacted at iconsmew@gmail.com for custom orders; she is also available for speaking engagements.



Another favorite craft fair I enjoy visiting is the one held at the Springdale Holiday Inn Convention Center.  This fair is huge and is contained within 2 large buildings.  It is always packed and people are shoulder-to-shoulder, but there are some great finds here.    Being a cradle-Catholic girl who loves lots of bling, I absolutely couldn't resist perusing PJ's Boutique.  PJ's carries lots of rhinestone-covered and bejeweled crucifix (and other shaped) jewelry pieces, handbags and clothing.  OK, none of what they carry is handmade, but it's a fun place to shop if you are looking for something a little different.  PJ's Boutique is a part of the Feathered Nest Market on Facebook.

Pleasant Memories is another vendor I absolutely had to check out while there.  They featured tons of beads, dichroic glass pendants, charms and other items for the jewelry artist at very reasonable prices.  One very large table featured long strands of pearls, cloisonne beads in every possible shape, stone crucifix and peace sign beads and much, much more for as low as $2.00 a strand.  As much as I tried to resist the temptation, I did purchase several strands of beads to use in my jewelry creations. 



If you ever want to plan a trip to the Ozarks and you enjoy craft fairs, you definitely want to come to Northwest Arkansas in the fall.  Bring lots of money and comfortable shoes with you.  Trust me, you will need both. :)  

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Publishing News! PolymerCAFE Magazine and Cloth, Paper, Scissors

I'm thrilled to tell you that PolymerCAFE magazine will be featuring my "Victorian Elegance" necklace and earrings set in the near future.  This set features vintage filigree stampings embellished by clay roses, crystals and glass beads.  I'm in the process of writing the article and taking the "how to" photographs at this time. The actual issue where it will be featured will be decided by the magazine after they receive my completed article.  Being an avid polymer-clay artist for over 15 years, I have been a reader of this terrific publication for a long, long time, so I've got to tell you, this is WAY cool.  As soon as I have more information about which issue will feature this project, I'll let you know.  Please stay tuned... 









Also, if you get a chance to check out the latest edition of Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazine (the November-December 2010 issue) be sure to check out a little blurb about my "Winter Frost" assemblage necklace.  It's a repurposed necklace I made from vintage enamel brooches and earrings.  Cloth, Paper, Scissors normally does not feature jewelry-related items, so I was pretty psyched when they asked if they could include it in their "Muse Flash" section of the magazine.  How COOL is that?!


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Jewelry From Found Objects Book - My Statement Jewelry is Featured!

Hey, Everyone:

I'm thrilled to let you know that one of my statement necklaces is being featured in Heather Skowood's new book, Jewelry From Found ObjectsAmazon.com is taking pre-orders on this fabulous book right now.  It will be released in Spring, 2011.

Be sure to stop by Heather's blog when you get a chance to check out her amazing repurposed jewelry designs.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Repurposed and Recycled - Christmas Charm Bracelets

For the past several years, I've been making and selling my repurposed Christmas bracelets on EBay and Etsy.  These have proven to be wildly popular with buyers.  Not only are they unique, one-of-a-kind creations, they are recycled!  How cool is that?  My latest holiday creations are made from an assortment of wooden game pieces, vintage Christmas cards, postcards and gift wrap, mini Christmas ornaments and deconstructed Christmas garland which has been refashioned into bead charm dangles.  Also, for good measure, some of the bracelets feature polymer clay charms in various themes.  Here's a sampling of a few of my little creations which have just been posted to EBay and/or Etsy:




So...before you go and throw away those old game pieces or Christmas garland you don't need anymore, see if you can "deconstruct" it for another project.   It's perfect for Christmas jewelry, as you can see here. :)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Healthy AND Tasty Recipe - Spicy Cheese Popcorn

This past January, I turned over a new leaf as part of my New Year's resolution and began eating healthier.    As of my last weigh in a couple of months ago, I lost 86 pounds by doing this and feel like a new person.  It's no secret that I love food.  I was born into a Polish-German family that eats heavy, starchy, rich foods and uses food both to celebrate and to comfort. Even though I've changed my eating habits, I still enjoy having snacks as a daily part of my routine.   This is one of those recipes that's great to snack on; occasionally, when I'm not majorly hungry and/or don't feel like cooking after a long day at work, I will sometimes eat this for dinner - no kidding.



Recipe:

*6 cups popcorn popped the old fashioned way - in the pot on the stove or in an air popper.  (NOTE:  I  pop a big pot of popcorn at one time using one tablespoon of oil; this way, you have some to share with others or you have extra that will last you for the next couple of days.)
*2/3 cup shredded low moisture, part skim milk mozzarella cheese or sharp cheddar cheese for extra flavor;
*hot sauce, to taste (I use Tapatio sauce);
*popcorn salt, to taste

Put popcorn in a large bowl; add the rest of the ingredients.  Mix and eat.  Yummy!

By the way, the calorie count for this recipe is just under 300 calories.  Not bad for a satisfying - yet healthy - snack.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

TWO ATC SWAPS - Retro Housewife and Christmas Music - Sign Up Here!

It's been a long time since I've hosted any swaps here on my blog and I'm itching to do it again.  So, I've decided to host not just one, but TWO ATC swaps to make it more interesting.   The themes are:

RETRO HOUSEWIFE:  Think Mrs. Cleaver, mom in the kitchen showing off her appliances, making baked goods, spoiling the hubby and the kids, etc.  This is a 3 for 3 swap.  Card designs may be the same or different and sized 2.5" by 3.5";



AND

CHRISTMAS MUSIC:  Capture the words of a Christmas song in your creations, for example, "Walking in a Winter Wonderland", "Jingle all the Way", etc.  This is a 3 for 3 swap.  Card designs may be the same or different and sized 2.5" by 3.5".




RULES:

1) Sign-up's will be taken until midnight 10/6/10.  If you are are interested in participating, please leave a comment under this post;
2) Please make sure I have your name, address and email address so I can contact you.  You may send this information to me at: craftymule@yahoo.com.  I will email you with my address information when I acknowledge receipt of your email;
3) ATC's must be post-marked no later than 11/1/10 (Monday) and received by me no later than 11/11/10 (Thursday). I will swap out all of the ATC's on the weekend of 11/13/10;
4) Please enclose a self-addressed envelope in your package and $2.00 (USA), $2.50 (international) to cover the cost of return postage.  International participants are welcome, too; you may remit your shipping fees to me by Paypal.  I will give you my Paypal payment address when you sign up;
5) I will update this post with the names of participants as I receive them, so please check back.  I want to make sure I don't accidentally leave anyone out;
6) Invite your friends to participate and please feel free to use the swap badge(s) above to help promote the swaps.  The more, the merrier!

YOU CAN SIGN UP FOR ONE OR BOTH SWAPS.  JUST LET ME KNOW WHEN YOU RESPOND WHICH ONES YOU'D LIKE TO PARTICIPATE IN.  THANKS.

If you'd like, please post your creations to the Two Crafty Mules altered art swap gallery page.

SWAP PARTICIPANT LIST:
Wanda Eash (both)
Claudia Sullins (Christmas only)
Hope Griffin (both)
Lisa Kettell (both)
Gwen (both)
Jeannette Faber (both)
Sandra Caldwell (Christmas only)
Sunny Christensen (Housewife only)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Adventures in Wet Felting and New ATC's

I am on vacation for 2 weeks which gives me lots of time to work on projects I've been wanting to try.   I've been hoarding felting supplies in my craft studio for quite some time now.  I decided to give wet felting a try today and put some of those supplies to good use. 

Laying out the wool roving.


Soaping the roving.

Giving it a good scrub on my handy dandy washboard.

The finished piece laying out to dry.

The finished piece isn't perfect.  Notice those little holes in the finished product?  Next time I will have to lay out the roving a little thicker.  I will probably cut this up and use it to embellish an art quilt or brooch after it dries. 

I also participated in another ATC swap held by the Creative Souls NING group.  This month's theme is "Wonderful Words".  Here are my creations:







I received these beautiful ATC's from my swap partner, Corinne Marie, complete with their own little handmade ATC book and envelope:


We were only required to make one ATC for the swap, but like potato chips, you can't stop at just one. :)