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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?!