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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Gift Certificate Winner!!!


Thank you to everyone who entered the Two Crafty Mules $25.00 gift certificate giveaway here on our blog and also on Facebook!  A winner was selected by random number generator, and the winner is...

FIONA HOLLOWAY!!!

Congrats, Fiona!  I look forward to seeing what you buy with your certificate!  :)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Buttery Caramel Recipe & Tutorial


 
I love making homemade candy every Christmas.  I also enjoy giving candy away to friends and neighbors as little gifts.

The first couple of years that I made caramel from scratch, it was not a positive experience.  I followed other suggestions I'd found to a "T" for the preparation, but it just didn't work for me.  For example, many recipes suggest using foil to line the caramel pan.  This was a disaster.  The foil, even though it was buttered, stuck to the caramel and it was quite a chore having to pick off the little pieces from the candy.  Ugh.  Then - trying to cut the caramel with a sharp knife was difficult and my hand was really sore by the time I finished.  Through trial and error, I found that when making this type of candy, it is best to ALWAYS use parchment paper to line the pan.  It never sticks to the candy and it can be easily removed in one sheet.  Second, I use a dough scraper (like this one) to cut the caramel into pieces.  It is MUCH easier to cut the caramel, and the little handle on the scraper is easy to grip onto.  Now, caramel making is a more pleasant experience - that's for sure!

Anyway, this is the recipe I use for my caramel.  It is buttery and yummy, and people love it.  Enjoy!

Homemade Buttery Caramel Recipe:

Ingredients:

1 pound of butter (4 sticks)
2 pounds of brown sugar (1 bag)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups light corn syrup
2 cans sweetened condensed milk
1 Tablespoon vanilla
Optional: Chopped walnuts (1-2 cups, as desired)

Directions:

1) Melt butter in a heavy deep pan.


2) Add sugar and salt; stir thoroughly.


3) Stir in corn syrup and mix well.


4) Gradually add milk, stirring constantly.


5) Cook and stir over medium heat to firm ball stage (245-250 degrees). This will take approximately 12-15 minutes. I strongly recommend using a candy thermometer to measure the temperature.  The candy stages are usually clearly marked on the thermometer, making the candy "goof-proof" to make.


6) Keep on stirring.  The mixture will be quite bubbly.  When the firm ball temperature is reached, remove pan from heat and stir in vanilla.


7) If desired, nuts may be stirred into candy at this point.  Otherwise, skip this step and go onto step number 8.

8) Pour caramel into a large parchment paper lined pan. (The pan I used was 18" by 13").  Let cool.



9)  Lift the cooled caramel out of pan, picking it up by the parchment paper.  Use the dough cutter to score the candy and cut into squares.  I make all of the cuts in one direction first, then turn the pan 1/4 of a turn and cut the other direction.





10) Separate the caramels and wrap them with cellophane candy wrappers.  I use a 4 1/4" by 4 1/4" size, which seems to be a perfect fit.  I purchased my wrappers from here.




Yield:  Makes 5 pounds of candy, or approximately 135 1-1/2" pieces.

Happy candy making!





Saturday, November 30, 2013

$25.00 Gift Certificate Giveaway - and Published in Altered Arts Magazine!



It's so hard to believe today is the last day of November.  It's been such a whirlwind of a year for me between beginning college this past spring (for the first time ever), remodeling my craft studio, working on orders for my jewelry customers and the like.

I have the best customers and blog/Facebook followers.  I really do.  I have met some of the nicest people through my jewelry projects and want to say "thanks" by having a giveaway - just in time for Christmas.

I will be giving away a $25.00 gift certificate to my Etsy shop, Two Crafty Mules.  The gift certificate may be used for any ready-made item in the shop.  It may not be used on custom orders.   You can enter the giveaway by leaving a comment on this blog post, and/or by leaving a comment on the Two Crafty Mules Facebook page under the giveaway post.  Leave one comment on each site, and you will have TWO chances to win!  The deadline to leave comments is Sunday, December 15 at 11:59 p.m.  One lucky winner will be selected on Monday, December 16.  Just in time to shop for Christmas!  WOOT!  Please spread the word - tell your friends, post the giveaway on Pinterest, etc.  An additional prize will be added if we reach comments from 200 people, with additional prizes added for each 100 comments thereafter!  How awesome is that?

So - what are you waiting for?  Let the commenting begin!  :)  Good luck, everyone!

P.S.  While we are talking about freebies - who doesn't love a freebie, especially at this time of year?  One of my Christmas art doll projects is currently featured in the Altered Arts Bonus Christmas 2013 project issue.  The magazine is available for purchase - and - for a limited time only - available for FREE digital download.  Be sure to check it out and get some free Christmas project inspiration while you are at it.




Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving! Vintage Images for Your Artwork

I just want to take a moment to wish everyone in blog-land a wonderful and peaceful Thanksgiving. 

Here are some copyright-free Thanksgiving images to use in your artwork.  Enjoy!











Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Thanksgiving Bracelets

I've been a busy little beaver lately between going to school full-time, working and creating new designs.  Creating new designs has to be my favorite thing to do, though.  I can work on projects for 12 hours a day and it never feels like work to me.  Now - if I can only do it full-time for a living, that would be GREAT!  :)

In any case, here are some Thanksgiving bracelets I made for this season.  They feature wooden pieces which were decoupaged with vintage Thanksgiving images on one side, and painted on the other.  Beads which complement the painted sides surround the portrait charms.  The best part about these bracelets is that they are very lightweight and don't weigh down the arm.

Bracelet with red and orange beads.

Back of bracelet portrait charms.  Definitely not boring.

Detail pic.

Thanksgiving bracelet with green and brown color theme.

Detail pic.

Image of the back of the portrait charms.  They perfectly complement the beads.

In any case, if you want to see all of the new Thanksgiving bracelets I made for this season, you can check them out on my EBay or Etsy pages.

Also - if you've been following my craft room remodel project - I'm happy to tell you there will be more pics to come shortly.  The room is just about done. Thank goodness!  Stay tuned....

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Catholic Saints "Bling" Rings

I have been a real collector of rhinestone chain these days.  I absolutely love the stuff.  I've seen the chain used in bracelets and necklaces, but I've never seen anyone use it in rings.  Until now.  I made some Catholic saint portrait rings with glass domes and some beautiful bronze bezels I'd found.  The rings were nice, but they appeared to be missing something.  So - I framed the images with rhinestone chain - and they really seem to pop.  Here's some of the rings I created:

Saint "bling" rings made with rhinestone chain.

Saint "bling" rings made with rhinestone chain.

Saint "bling" rings made with rhinestone chain.

St. Dymphna ring - side view.

St. Dymphna ring - front view.

St. Edith Stein ring.

St. Edith Stein ring - side view.
I really love how the rhinestone chain makes the rings sparkle.  Perfect for the holidays!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Triple-Layered Crucifix Crystal Necklace

A dear friend of mine, Kama, had a birthday last week.  Kama has a really vibrant personality - and wouldn't you know it?  Her favorite color is red - such a fitting color for her.  I wanted to make Kama something special for her birthday - so I made her a triple-layered crucifix necklace which features bright red AB Swarovski crystals and rhinestone chain (with earrings to match).  I'm happy to say - Kama loved it!

Here are some pics of the necklace and matching earrings:







I had a great time making the necklace and I'm tempted to make similar designs in different colors.  I've been collecting rhinestone chain and rivoli stones like there's no tomorrow and I have a ton of beads.  Looks like I've got some creating to do.....

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Candyland Gingerbread Loaded Charm Bracelets for 2013

Ever since I designed my first Candyland bracelet in 2006, they have been a favorite of my customers.   They are - without a doubt - my most popular item during the Christmas season.  In fact, I received several requests from customers this summer who were waiting for the new ones to be posted.  Good news!  They are here - but for a limited time only.  Here are some pics of the completed bracelets:










The bracelets are posted to both EBay and Etsy (in case you only shop at one or the other.)

Sweet dreams!