Showing posts with label gift. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gift. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Merry Christmas Sale - 3 Days Only!

As a way of saying thank you to all of my customers - new and not so new - I am offering a 3 day sale of 25% off everything site-wide at my Etsy* and EBay shops.  This is a great way to purchase something for yourself or your loved ones for Christmas.  Hurry!  The sale ends on December 18, 2015 at 11:59 p.m.  Offer is good at Wanda Maria Designs on Etsy* and Two Crafty Mules on EBay.  Thank you and happy shopping!!!

* On Etsy, please use coupon code Christmas25

Saturday, December 12, 2015

DIY Waterproof Photo Tile Coasters Tutorial

I have been wanting to post this tutorial for awhile now.  Handmade coasters make great gifts for Christmas or any time of the year.  I will be the first to tell you that you can find other photo coaster tutorials on the internet and on Pinterest, but many of them are not waterproof.  This means that your efforts to create a beautiful DIY project are essentially ruined the first time someone places a glass on your coaster.   That is how this tutorial is different than the others out there.  Not only will I tell you how to make your coasters waterproof, I will also let you know about my product preferences based upon my own tried-and-true personal experiences.  (Why reinvent the wheel twice, right?)

I made this set of coasters for my parents, who celebrated 51 years of marriage this year.  They have everything they need so it makes it difficult to buy gifts for them.  I figured the coasters would be something they would not only  use, but also enjoy since they capture moments from their many years together.



Four 4x4 ceramic white tiles
Four 4x4 pictures printed from ink jet or laser printer (do not use developed photos)
Pencil or pen
White glue (I used Aleene's Tacky Glue)
Gold leafing pen or gold marker (I used Pilot gold marker)
Resin (I used Annie Howe's for this project)
Felt pads, round (about 3/4" inch in diameter)

Important Note:  Please make sure your work surface is covered with waxed paper, a plastic sheet or garbage bag, or something similar so you don't ruin your table!


1)  Select 4 white ceramic tiles that will serve as the base of the coasters.  Set aside.

2) On an inkjet or laser printer, select four photos for the coasters and print them out.  Make sure they are at least 4x4.  It's okay if they are a little bigger than 4x4, as they will be trimmed, just don't make them smaller than this size.   The ones I selected are memories of my parents over the years.

3) Using one of the coasters as a guide, turn the coaster upside and center it over the photo.   Trace around it with a pen or pencil.  Use scissors to cut out images.  Repeat this process for the remaining photos.

4) Use your desired type of glue for adhering the images to the coasters.  I prefer to use Aleene's Tacky glue on most of my projects.   First, it's tried and true - but it also works well for adhering paper-based crafts.

5) Squeeze the glue randomly over the coasters.  Don't go crazy - the idea with this is that you will have enough glue to spread over the coaster, but not so much that you have a dripping mess. 

6) Using your finger, spread the glue evenly over the coaster from edge to edge.

7) Carefully lay the photo on top of the coaster.  Run your finger over the image, ensuring that all wrinkles and bubbles are gone.  Let the coaster dry at least an hour.  (Tip: If you don't allow the coaster to dry before beginning the next step, you will cause your image to wrinkle and pucker. Trust me on this one. :)  )

8) Use the same technique as described in Step 5.  (Note:  Some people swear by using Mod Podge for this process.  I don't recommend it.  I have found that when using Mod Podge to decoupage images I print from my ink jet printer, the Mod Podge lifts the colors off of the image, making them faded and barely visible.  I have destroyed many a project by using Mod Podge for this purpose.  So - I just avoid using it all together.)

9) Use the same technique as described in Step 6.  Make sure that all edges of the photo are coated with glue.  Failing to do this will result in the photo becoming damaged by the resin and/or liquids.

10) When all of the glue has been spread over the photo, it will appear white.  (This will turn transparent as the glue dries, so don't worry.)

11)  Allow the coasters to dry thoroughly.  They are considered to be dry when there is no white showing.

Images after glue has been applied and allowed to dry.

12) Use the gold marker or leafing pen to apply a gold edging around the outside of the photos.  I like to use this technique because it gives the coasters a more finished look than when left plain.

13) Once completed, your coaster will look like this.  Allow the gold to dry for several minutes.

14) Use your resin of choice to coat the top of the coasters.  For this project, I used Annie Howe's Luxe jewelry grade resin.  I have had very good results with this resin.  It looks crystal clear when dried, and it does not turn yellow over time.  Follow the manufacturer's instructions for mixing the resin.  Use a Popsicle stick to apply the resin evenly over the entire top of the coaster.  Make sure resin is applied evenly from edge to edge.  You don't need to put a heavy coat on top of the coaster.  A thin one will do.  To cover 4 coasters, you will use approximately 4 ounces of resin (one medicine cup full.)  If you see any bubbles form after the resin has been poured, hold a heat gun several inches above the coaster.  This will help to dissipate the bubbles.  Let coasters harden thoroughly.  Depending on which resin you use, this can be anywhere from 24 to 72 hours.

15) Once the resin has thoroughly hardened, turn over coasters and stick one felt pad in each corner.     This will help to ensure you don't scratch your table top.

16)  And there you have it!!!  Your beautiful, handmade, one-of-a-kind coasters!!!

I hope you have enjoyed making this project as much as I have enjoyed sharing it with you.  Please don't hesitate to drop me a message if you have any questions about anything within this process.  Happy coaster-making!

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:


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)


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!

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