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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving - Sopapilla Cheesecake Pie Recipe



Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!  I hope this day brings you joy and time with your loved ones.

I want to share a recipe with you that I found for Sopapilla Cheesecake Pie.  I saw it in a magazine, but it is also on AllRecipes.com and won rave reviews.  So - guess what one of the desserts I made for the day was...go ahead, guess. :)


Based on the reviewer suggestions I found on AllRecipes.com, I made several revisions to this recipe as the original version had many comments that it was overly sweet and took longer to bake than stated in the recipe.  My revised recipe is below.  Enjoy!

Sopapilla Cheesecake Pie

Ingredients:

Pam Cooking Spray
3- 8 ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon almond extract
2 - 8 ounce cans refrigerated crescent rolls
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup honey

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 C).  Prepare a 9x13 inch baking pan with cooking spray.

2) Unroll a can of crescent roll dough, trying not to pull apart the pieces, and use a rolling pin to shape each into a 9 x13 inch rectangle.  Press one piece into the bottom of the pan, and set the second piece aside. Place pan in the oven and bake for 5-6 minutes.  Remove.

3) Beat the cream cheese with the sugar, egg and extracts.  Evenly spread the cream cheese mixture over the flattened crescent roll dough in the pan.

4) Place the second 9x13 crescent dough rectangle over the cream cheese mixture.  Use a pastry brush to brush the melted butter over the dough.  Mix sugar with cinnamon and sprinkle mixture over the top.

5) Bake in oven for approximately 45 minutes or until dough appears to be fully baked in the center.  remove from oven and drizzle with honey.  Cool completely in pan before cutting into 12 squares.



Friday, September 5, 2014

New Jewelry Items for San Gennaro Festival

It seems like time has flown since I was accepted as a sponsor/vendor for next week's San Gennaro Festival in New York.  I have been working from sun up until the wee hours of the night making jewelry for this event.  It has been a lot of work but I'm not complaining.  Thankfully, I love to make jewelry!

Being the creature of habit that I am, even though I am making tons of jewelry for the festival, I don't have it in me to make several hundred pieces of the exact same item.  So - while I am making several hundred pieces of things like domino pendants featuring San Gennaro, for the most part, the necklaces, charm bracelets, etc. that I am making are all one-of-a-kind in design.  Along that note, I want to show you some variations of necklaces I have made for the festival.  The basic design element is the same between this particular style of necklace, however, I utilized different images, beads and chain to complete the finished product.  So, without further ado - here are some of the bronze cameo necklaces I will be selling at the Festival:

Virgin Mary - made with new and vintage moonstone-style beads.

St. Mary Magdalen - made with Czech glass crystals.

St. Kateri Tekakwitha - Made with Swarovksi crystals.

St. Therese of Lisieux - made with hand-colored metal rose beads and crystals.

Virgin Mary - made with green jadeite milk-glass style crystals.

Virgin Mary - made with bronze metallic and champagne colored crystals.



These are just a few of the necklace variations made for the event.  All have adjustable necklace chains.

If time permits before I leave for NYC in a few days, I will post a tutorial or two on coloring and enameling metal jewelry pieces.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

San Gennaro Festival Poster, Kickstarter and Jewelry Designs in Process

The San Gennaro Festival poster for 2014 was added to the festival website the other day.  Wanda Maria Designs is listed as an official sponsor, right next to Fiat.  Let me tell you, that is one amazing feeling!  I feel like I have to pinch myself to wake up from this dream I am having!



On a related note, my project on Kickstarter is gaining some momentum.  I now have six backers for my project and there are still 21 days to go of my campaign.  Proceeds from this campaign will be used to purchase materials needed for custom orders I anticipate receiving at the San Gennaro Festival next month.  Those who sponsor me can receive an array of rewards from free jewelry to a day with me in my home studio, among other things.  Please stop by and check it out.  No contribution amount is too small, and every little bit helps me towards reaching my goal.

I have been quite busy working on new jewelry designs for the show.  I didn't have a lot of time to prepare as I just received notification of my sponsorship a couple of weeks ago.  Needless to say, I am working on designs from the time I wake up in the morning until I go to bed late at night.  Thankfully, I enjoy creating jewelry, so even though I am "working", it's not the same as having to experience the drudgery of a typical 9 to 5 job (like the one I used to have.)  :)  Pictured below are resin pendants in the process of being made:







Please stay tuned for updates as there are lots more to come!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Introducing Wanda Maria Designs and the San Gennaro Festival in NYC!!!


Life is quite interesting at times - and that is an understatement!

For several months, I have been planning to go to New York in September, 2014 in order to promote my jewelry business, and I ended up receiving the opportunity of a lifetime.   My business will be a sponsor and vendor of the Annual San Gennaro Festival in New York's Little Italy.  This is a big deal as the special sponsor/vendor status is granted to only 12 businesses each year.  The promoter informed me that they have not previously had any businesses which make handmade Catholic and faith-based jewelry participate in the event.   They felt I would be the perfect addition to the festival. Needless to say, they really bent over backwards in working with me to bring me on board.  I can't tell you how very excited I am about being able to participate in this event, which is expected to attract between 1.5 and 1.75 million visitors this year.  This is a huge networking opportunity for me.  I will meet hundreds of thousands of people; in addition, the promoter informed me that one of the large Italian Fashion Houses will be helping with the event.  The Fashion House works strictly with jewelry and clothing designers.  I am very excited about getting to meet them while I am there.  One never knows what could happen.... *fingers crossed*.

San Gennaro - patron saint of Naples, Italy and blood banks.


I have been thinking about rebranding my business name of "Two Crafty Mules" for awhile now.  It was a cute name when we started the business in 2000.  At the time, we were making everything from dolls to quilts to jewelry and other sorts of homey, crafty things.  As the business evolved, it essentially became a business that sells primarily mixed-media and faith-based jewelry designs.  Two Crafty Mules no longer encompasses the type of product designs I make and sell.  In order to better capture the spirit of my handmade jewelry, "Two Crafty Mules" is being rebranded as "Wanda Maria Designs".   The Etsy store name has been changed to accommodate the name change, and a new website is being developed.  The Facebook page - which is currently a work in progress - has been set up here.  This blog will remain as "Two Crafty Mules" and will continue to share craft projects, tutorials, recipes and the like, as will the Two Crafty Mules Facebook page.  The "Wanda Maria Designs" page will focus more on sharing new jewelry designs to accommodate those who are interested in just the fashion aspect of my business without all of the crafting.  Confusing?  I hope not.  My main goal is to keep my customers and blog followers from the past as I garner new ones through "Wanda Maria Designs".


The logo for "Wanda Maria Designs"

Until the new website is set up, I will continue to share new jewelry designs on this blog.

I thank you for your past support, and I appreciate you sticking with me as I go through this exciting transition.

By the way - to help me launch "Wanda Maria Designs" on a nationwide level, I have started a project in Kickstarter.  Please feel free to stop by and check it out.  Any support you can offer will be much appreciated.  Those who support me there will have the opportunity of receiving FREE jewelry pieces from me, including, but not limited to lovely pieces like these:











I hope to "see" you there!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Mini Wall Crosses Are Back - While They Last!

Last year, as the result of several requests from my customers, I made several mini wall crosses featuring Catholic saints.  These proved to be such a hit that they sold out pretty quickly.  The crosses are all made from wood which has been coated with resin.  I just made and posted several of these to my EBay and Etsy shops.  Due to limited supplies available to make these, once they sell, there won't be anymore for quite awhile, so please be sure to get them while you can if you missed out on them the first time around.  Some of the new crosses posted include:

St. Cecilia

St. Joseph
St. Margaret of Antioch 

Some of the newest mini wall crosses.

There are many more which were listed - too many to list here.  Other images include: St. Rita of Cascia, St. Lucy of Syracuse, St. Agnes of Rome, the Infant of Prague and many more!

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Note About Custom Orders

Many years ago, when I began selling my handmade jewelry designs on the internet, I started to get requests from people for special order items.  You name it - they came in - everything from pieces featuring particular saints, to family members to specific themes.  I wasn't sure if handling custom orders was the right thing for me to do at the time, but in hindsight, it ended up being a good move for me, business-wise.  In the 14 years I have been designing and selling  jewelry online, I'd have to estimate that nearly one-third of my retail sales are custom orders.  By accepting custom orders, I found that I was given "free" advertising and new business from people who'd order from me because they couldn't find exactly what they wanted in the marketplace.  Word of mouth spreads, and the next thing I knew, I began receiving orders from friends and family members of customers who wanted their own individually created jewelry pieces.

On EBay and Etsy, where I sell many of my designs, the custom order requests for loaded charm bracelets, domino pendants and wooden cross necklaces came in several times a week.  To accommodate these requests, I set up special "custom" listings for people to order these items through the sites without having to contact me first.  Upon checkout, they let me know the specification for their designs.

Custom loaded Catholic saint charm bracelet

Custom charm bracelet - Graveyard Angels

Custom charm bracelet - Graveyard Angels - detail


Sometimes, I've found that if one person is looking for something in particular, it results in additional sales to others.  For example, a person with the last name of "peacock" asked me to design some peacock-themed resin jewelry pieces for them.  I ended up getting numerous requests for peacock-related designs from others who saw the original design and I had a hard time keeping them in stock.

Custom peacock resin pendant

Custom peacock resin ring

Custom peacock resin earrings


The special orders I initially accepted have expanded into wholesale orders for businesses, as well.  Several years ago, the Director of the Jell-O Museum gift shop in New York purchased a pair of polymer clay Jell-O salad earrings from me on EBay.  This was the start of a regular business relationship for us.  The museum has provided me with specific images they want used in their jewelry designs; I make all of the Jell-O earrings for their gift shop and have been doing so for many years now.  I have expanded this to include novelty polymer clay candy piece earrings for a candy store in Pennsylvania, among other entities.

The Jell-O earrings that started it all for me with the Jell-O Museum gift shop in New York.

Jell-O earrings similar to those being sold at the Jell-O Museum gift shop.


The orders didn't stop there.  When St. Damien of Molokai was canonized as a Catholic saint in 2009, I was commissioned by the Catholic Church in Hawaii to make hundreds of St. Damien pendants for the state's canonization celebrations.  (A little side note about St. Damien - He ministered to the lepers of Hawaii in the late 1800's; he eventually passed away from leprosy himself in 1889.)

Saint Damien of Molokai pendants in process.


St. Kateri Tekawitha pendants in process for a St. Kateri Tekakwitha conference this summer.
St. Kateri Tekawitha wood cross necklaces in process for a St. Kateri Tekakwitha conference this summer.
Our Lady of Guadalupe polymer clay necklaces made for a church group in Texas.


Last week, I designed and made domino pendants and key chains for the Christian band, Third Day.  The dominoes featured images of the crucified Christ with the words of one of Third Day's songs imposed over them - "Cry Out to Jesus."  Needless to say, the band loved the designs.

Domino key chains and necklaces made for the Christian band, Third Day, June, 2014.

Domino necklace detail made for the Christian Band, Third Day, June, 2014.


All in all - if you create things as a part of your business and have pondered about whether to take custom orders - I'd say, "go for it".  Take it from me. You never know what it can do for your business and your sales. 




Monday, May 26, 2014

Polymer Clay Tutorial - How to Make Decorative and Functional Brooch Backs

It's been a while since I've shared any tutorials here. I get quite a few requests pertaining to polymer clay and resin techniques - so, I thought I'd share one for making decorative and functional backing pieces for brooches.

Many years ago, I shared a technique I developed for making polymer clay brooches utilizing postage stamps in Stampington Publications' Belle Armoire Jewelry II.  I did not specifically address how to design the back of the brooches at that time and would like to do so today.  Brooches have never totally gone out of style, but they seem to be re-emerging as decorative pieces for accessories such as scarves and handbags.



That being said - onto the tutorial!

Tools/supplies:

Pre-baked polymer clay brooch
Pasta machine dedicated for clay use (optional)
Rolling pin dedicated for clay use
Texture sheet
Mini cookie cutter
Pin back finding
Polymer clay - 1/4 of a block
Translucent Liquid Sculpey (TLS)


Instructions:

Prepare polymer clay for use by kneading it between your fingers until it is workable.  Insert it through a pasta machine at the thickest setting; fold it in half upon removal from machine.  (If you don't have a pasta machine, roll out the clay with a rolling pin to approximately a 1/8" thickness.  Omit folding the clay in half.)







Place the clay on top of a texture sheet that has been spritzed with water or lightly dusted with baby powder to prevent the clay from sticking.  Use the rolling pin to press the clay into the texture sheet, pressing firmly.




Gently remove the clay from the texture sheet.  It should look something like this:




Lay the clay with embossed side laying face up on a protected work surface.  Make sure the cookie cutter is large enough to just cover the center of the pin backing without interfering with the pin mechanism.





Place the cookie cutter on top of the clay, and press it down firmly, just like you are using it to make real cookies.




Carefully remove the clay from the cookie cutter.



 Place the pre-baked brooch face down on the work surface.  Squeeze the TLS down the center length of the pin back finding.






Place the pin back finding on the back of the brooch, the TLS side facing down.  The pin may want to slide around, so work carefully.





Pick up the piece of clay that was cut with the cookie cutter.  Apply a squeeze of TLS on the wrong side of the clay...




...and set it down on top of the pin backing.  Press gently into place.



Put the brooch in a pre-heated oven and bake according to the manufacturer's instructions as directed based on the thickness of your piece.

OPTIONAL:  If desired, prior to baking in the oven, brush some Pearl-Ex powder onto the pin back for extra effect, as I did in the brooch used in the example.

And there you have it - a functional and decorative pin backing for your handmade brooch.

If there are any specific techniques you would like for me to share with you, please feel free to leave me a comment for me here on this blog, or email me at craftymule@yahoo.com.






Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Crafter's Paradise - SAS Fabrics Store

I realize it has been 3 months (!!!) since my last post.  I honestly had not planned to stay away that long, but - as usual - life got in the way.  In the last 3 months, I have spent time visiting my old stomping grounds (the Phoenix area); I lost my poor dog that I have had for many years due to complications from cancer; my father had a couple of strokes for which he was hospitalized; I've had tons of homework for school and lots of jewelry orders.  It's been crazy, but I am still kicking and living life to the fullest!  I have lots of catching up to do here, so let's get started!

One of my favorite things to do when I visit the Phoenix area is to shop at all of those crafty supply stores I used to frequent when I lived there.  One of those places - SAS Fabrics - really is a crafter's paradise.  I started shopping there many years ago when SAS sold fabrics and trims by the pound.  Over the years, they have changed their pricing on fabrics based on yardage, but in any case, you can still get some great deals shopping there.  SAS used to sell a variety of buttons that you could sort through for 10 cents (then 25 cents) per Dixie Cup; unfortunately, they don't offer this any longer.  The good news is they have great prices on fabric trims, beads, ribbon, lace and all sorts of goodies. They sell thread for 15-25 cents per spool, and lace for as low as 10 cents per yard.  If you cut the lace yourself, you get a free yard for every 4 yards purchased!



Since I am an avid jewelry maker that likes to add bling to my creations, I have been purchasing rhinestone crystal chain by the roll.  SAS recently started carrying rhinestone chain in many colors, including the very-hard-to-find chain with the rose-gold finish.  They charge between $6.99-$8.99 per yard for the chain, but given the fact that the some of the variations are difficult to find, this is a steal of a deal.  Needless to say, I stocked up on all sorts of rhinestone chain while I was there (among other things). ;)

Rhinestone chain for sale by the yard.

Rhinestone chain in many variations - even rose-gold!


If you are in the area and want to visit SAS, be prepared to stay awhile.  You have to dig a bit - especially where the fabric is concerned - but it is well worth the time and the savings are phenomenal when compared to regular craft stores. Also, SAS now takes plastic.  (They used just accept cash and checks) and they have established a website and Facebook fan page.

Tons of fabric for sale!

Flowers, ribbons and trims!

Beads!

Appliques!

Lace for sale by the yard!

More lace!

SAS Fabrics

SAS Fabrics

 SAS Fabrics - 9840 N 19th Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona 85021, telephone 602-943-7777