The Land of Everyday Adventure

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Once upon a time (this morning), in a land far, far away (my front porch), Julie and I were sitting and having our morning visit, which we do as much as we can, because winter’s coming!

The delicate music of our voices and gentle tinkling of our laughter paused for just a moment. A very brief moment. Just enough time to hear a teeny meow. We looked at each other and jumped into action.

It was so odd! We could hear the kitten – we were pretty sure it was a kitten – but we couldn’t see where it was. We finally came to the conclusion that it was in the downspout. We dismantled it as much as we could, put a tempting can of food out, got chairs from the porch, and waited.

It was Fancy Feast, for we are A Fancy People

Nothing. We even got the ladder out, to see if we could take off more of the pipe from the top! But try as we might, the kitten wasn’t budging.

Maybe it was under the porch! Bless Julie’s heart, she crawled under there. She snapped a picture, but nope! It wasn’t there!

After several trials and errors with the drainpipe and no success, we came to the same conclusion: it HAD to be under the porch. Neighbor Robby came and removed the lower wooden panel of a pillar. When he saw what was behind it, he said, “Whoa!”

It was a kitten. The teeniest, sweetest, whitest little kitten you ever did see.

So stinking cute! Now we just need to find it a good home…

It wasn’t until later that Julie realized she HAD snapped a picture of the kitten. Can you see it?

I guess we were expecting something darker!

And with that, I leave you! Happy Sunday, you’re my favorite.

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(Attempted) Murder on the Des Moines River

Look at us. Me, so innocent, and Julie, that sweet, cherubic face hiding her sinister intent.

“Come to the creek!” she said, “It’ll be fun!” she said…

And it WAS. In the beginning.

Julie had invited me to come tubing on the river with her. Really, “river” is too grand a name for it, because we haven’t had much rain lately so it’s more like a creek. Julie likes to float from one bridge to the next. She had done it a few times before, and it sounded fun! Especially if you’ve barely been outside this summer.

No matter we were under a heat advisory with expected heat index values hovering around the 120 degrees mark. We’d be in the creek, so we’d be cool! There are trees here and there, so not in the sun the whole time. And for what little we were going to be in the sun, I decided I didn’t need any stinkin’ sunscreen. It had been years since I’d had a sunburn. I wanted to feel ALIVE.

So off we went. It was both our first times getting into tubes (Julie had used a raft before) and we howled with laughter when we were trying to figure out how to get into them with the current going and having to hoist ourselves up and backwards. We fell out several times and tried, tried again.

Finally, we were on our way. We didn’t have paddles, but Julie had thoughtfully provided a stick for each of us, so that’s what we were using instead. It was such a beautiful day! I couldn’t even tell it was hot. We had the place completely to ourselves, we were surrounded by trees on either side, and the scenery was breathtaking. We even saw a bald eagle!

After awhile I got thirsty and asked Julie to toss me a water. One bad throw and one bad catch later, and we were laughing and paddling after the water with our sticks, trying to catch the bottle as it floated away. Alas, we failed. It got tangled in one of the many, many clumps of dead and fallen trees that dotted both sides down the creek.

I was pleasantly surprised when Julie announced that we were at the halfway point. This hadn’t been hard at all! Scott was going to pick us up at the next bridge about four hours after we started. Time was flying by!

The creek started getting shallower, and more and more often I was finding myself having to hoist myself out and get to my feet and wade through the creek, trying to find a spot deep enough to float again in.


I noticed my knees were starting to burn. Biting flies seem to really love my burnt flesh. I couldn’t swat them away because I was too busy trying to paddle with a stick while also trying to avoid those deadly dead trees that were trying to pop my tube. I looked overhead, hoping to distract myself with another view of a majestic bald eagle, but nope. This time there were buzzards flying overhead.

More than once I found myself staring at this thing or that, trying to figure out HOW I was going to get out of this situation alive. It was getting harder and harder to hoist myself out of my tube to walk to deeper water, and to get to my feet I need to kneel. By the fiftieth time, and especially with sunburnt, insect bite-ridden knees, kneeling on the gravel floor of the creek was nigh on becoming impossible. I said more than one prayer, I confess.

My prayers were answered! In a way. My tube popped. Glass half full, at least now I could use it to kneel upon to protect my raw, burnt and bloody knees from the vicious gravel.

Walking was too hard with the uneven surface and the current. I crawled in the water on my hands but then it would get shallow and I was pretty much just dragging and scraping my whole body along the creek bed, wondering how much longer this sheer hell was going to last.

Julie told me the bridge was just around the next curve. Finally! I gritted my teeth. I could do this!

Now my tube was a cushion for my shredded knees

Julie told me the bridge was just around the next curve….WAIT. Did I say that already? Why, YES I DID. You know why? Because Julie did too! Not once, not twice, but at least three times and the bridge STILL wasn’t there.

On a previous solo floating Julie had her raft pop so finally had to walk through what she called “the Terrible Field of Weeds.” I didn’t care!! There was no way I could drag my corpse around who knows how many more curves trying to get to that !@#$%%! bridge. We decided to climb the bank and risk those “terrible weeds,” which at this point sounded rather heavenly to me after all the jagged rocks.

Turns out, we were more than two hours late. Scott had called the entire Calvary. Secretly, I was thankful.

By now I had to stop every ten steps to take a rest. Julie and I became somewhat separated as she tried to find a path. I could see why she called this field terrible. It was chokingly hot, and there were nettles and all manner of scratchy weeds that not only tore at my already bloody and burnt flesh, but also entangled my legs, making those hard fought “ten steps at a time” almost impossible. It didn’t seem like Julie was going in the right direction, but I figured she knew what she was doing, so I doggedly followed her.

Finally I could see the bridge. And there was Scott, waiting. There was also a couple of police cars, a vehicle from the county conservation office, and a sheriff. I saw a man in black standing next to Scott. In my bleary brain I wondered if it was a *priest, here to give last rites. I shouted to Julie, who had gotten ahead of me by now, that she was going the wrong way. It occurred to me that she was too short to see over the weeds. And apparently too far away to hear me.

I didn’t think I could make it. Not another step. I looked at the weeds encircling my ankles and wondered if I could maybe just take a quick nap. Maybe I’d get lucky and an animal would come eat me and put my out of my misery.

Suddenly, the sheriff’s truck was moving! It was making its way down the embankment and towards me! My feet developed wings! They were really small wings, that only enabled me to walk a few more feet to the less tall weeds, but wings nonetheless!

It took me several minutes before I could even summon the energy to climb into that truck. I finally did.

“Where’s Julie?” the hero sheriff asked.

I’m several inches taller than Julie. It turns out, they couldn’t see us until we got closer, and even then they could only see me. Thank goodness I was wearing a red cap. TO MY CREDIT I revealed Julie’s whereabouts in the field of weeds and didn’t just beg him to leave without her and get me to some water and a bath as I dearly wanted to do. It was BOILING that day. One of officers had brought a drone to help in the search for us but it was too hot for the drone to fly.

I don’t much remember the trip home. I remember finally walking into my house and heading straight for the shower, half the creek bed falling out of every crevice of my body and clothes as I stripped down to finally step beneath that cool, clean water.

Reader, there are two kinds of people: those who walk around naked when they’re home alone, and those who don’t. I am one of those who don’t, not even when I was young and everything was in the right place. I just don’t. But I got out of that shower and stared at those clothes and knew there was no way I had enough energy to dress myself or do anything at all. I stumbled out stark naked into my living room, threw myself down on my leather sofa, and passed out.

“It’ll be fun!” she had said, that vicious little minx! Conveniently forgetting that she’s been walking every day for weeks and the only walking I’ve done lately is from my sewing machine to my comfy chair. Conveniently forgetting that there is nearly a decade-long gap in our ages!

The next day – which was mostly lost to sleeping – I reminded her of how we surprised our dad for his big 60th birthday, with all seven of us kids showing up and singing happy birthday to him as he was waking up that morning, and how we were having a hard time not crying while we sang because our dad was so old and this was probably going to be his last birthday…

“”Remember that?” I asked.

“Um, yes…” she said sheepishly.


Or I would have shouted, but I was still too weak. Which is just as well. After all, Julie and I both have to live here and she’ll be taking care of me when I’m completely decrepit two or three years from now.

And thus ends the tale of the attempted murder, and how I once again cheated death.

And with that, I leave you! As long as I’m **alive, you’re my favorite!

*It turned out to be a police officer.

**No thanks to Julie.

Busman’s Holiday

My Trusty(ish) 1956 Singer 223

As some of may know, my sewing machine recently stopped working, I was between monies, so I put out a plea on Facebook. Sweet Terri K. responded, and she gave me her mother’s machine! Sometimes the gift of something takes a different form than what you expected. While I was unable to get the machine to work for an extended period of time, the main gift came from getting to know Terri herself! We spent a wonderful afternoon together, discovering we have a lot in common, and it made me feel all normal, talking at length to a friend that wasn’t my sister. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything!

But I still needed a machine. I discovered a place that repaired sewing machines, and decided to take the gamble.

Here’s the “Before” top and bottom stitches.

The town was about an hour and fifteen minutes away. It was a beautiful day, I was in my car all by myself going to a place unknown…it felt like a vacation! An adventure – I LOVE those! I somehow got the GPS on my phone to work – even though I’d printed up a map, old school – so I didn’t have to worry about finding my way.

I got to my destination and lugged my machine in. The guy said to give him about an hour. I didn’t want to get in my car and drive again and then have to find my way back, so I decided to walk around the area. I saw an old fashioned sign that said, “Zenith Color Televisions” in snazzy, colorful writing.

It was a sign just like this one!

“Ooh!! Color TV!” I laughed to myself, because (gulp!) I’m old enough to remember when having a color TV was a big deal.

When I got closer I saw there were cookie jars and salt and pepper shakers in the front windows. I went in, and the place was full of old school radios and TVs. How do these places make it? A sewing machine repair shop, and a store that sells old TVs and radios…how did they survive Covid? It was CHARMING. And I found some treasures.

My favorite find was a very familiar cookie jar. It’s a family staple, it’s where our cookies were kept while we were growing up! It was hard to steal a cookie because of the pottery sound the lid would make. We didn’t know it was a McCoy. My mother broke the original years after we were grown when it was on top of the fridge and she opened the freezer door and it fell. We were all glad it was her and not one of us! Most of us now have one in our own homes. It was this cookie jar here:

I GOT IT FOR $5!! That’s a bargain!

I still had some time to spare so I decided to treat myself to some lunch at a Chinese restaurant. This WAS my summer vacation, after all…I don’t mind eating alone, although it might feel a teensy bit awkward…

I walked in, and there were three other people there, each at their own table, eating alone and all looking very lonely. I briefly wondered what would happen if I sat with one of them and said, “Mind if I join you?” and struck up a conversation. It probably would have been fun for both of us! Or awkward, especially if they barked they wanted to be alone and you were shown instead to a table right within view…but still! It would have been SOMETHING! SOME kind of excitement, and sometimes even awkwardness is better than dullness, don’t you think?

Soon after I started lunch I got a call – which made me feel all popular. I rarely get calls and have a hard time getting the phone to answer, is it a swipe or a tap? So I paw at my phone like an orangutan, which is hard to do elegantly when you’re trying to be all cool like you get calls all the time but you also want to answer the phone before whoever it is hangs up. It was the sewing machine guy. He was finished!

I was excited to see my machine so I daintily asked for a to go container for the rest of my General Tso’s chicken, paid, and off I went.

“Is it fixed?” I eagerly asked as the guy hoisted my machine up to the counter…

“Well….” he said.


“I’m not very impressed with the tension. There’s something wonky about it.”

Here’s the new “Before” and “After,” top stitch on left, bottom stitch on right. Better, right?

Mm-hmm. Yes, I know, that’s why I brought it in, I thought to myself. But I was on vacation! I wanted no unpleasantness.

“See?” he said, showing me a piece of fabric he’d sewn.

It wasn’t perfect, but it looked better! I can live with this…I thought to myself. 

“It’s also one of the heaviest machines I’ve ever handled!” he grumbled.

“Do you also do *bats?” I wanted to ask, because HMPF! You can say what you want about me, but don’t dis my machine!

In the end, it doesn’t matter. I have my machine back and it sews well enough! And I got some new treasures and a new friend in Terri that I got to know better along the way. It was a WONDERFUL summer vacation. Now it’s time to get back into that room and SEW.

You know what else is wonderful? YOU! Because you’re my favorite.

*Reference to a previous post with a less than gracious bat man.

A Twigg By Any Other Name

This is an “SFBJ Paris” antique bisque head doll with glass sleep eyes.

“Why isn’t this a Hazel Twigg doll?” my sister Carol asked during our usual Sunday evening chat.

She was asking about the doll I’d just put up for adoption on ebay. You can see her page HERE.

“Um…” Really, I had ZERO idea.

Maybe it’s because my bisque head dolls are supposed to be more simple and just done to keep the bill collectors from banging on my frequently banged upon door. Bisque head dolls generally go for more and are simpler for me to do.

She’s dressed in a Pierrot/Jester, French-type fashion.

Still, I worried that I’d made a mistake. This girl and her little friend were pretty Hazel Twigg-like. But that’s just one person! I comforted myself.

“Why isn’t she a Hazel Twigg doll?” my sister Julie asked.

Curses. That makes two, and really, I don’t talk to that many people.

This is a marotte. Children used to twirl them and their bells would make noise, or sometimes they had little music makers within them. I made this one with a little German head I found when I cleaned my sewing room. There was drilling, dowels and glue involved with making the base. Practically wheel-inventing level.

“Because Hazel Twigg is only for composition dolls,” I responded confidently.

“What about Schoenhuts? Those aren’t composition!” she shot back.

Curse her steel-trap mind, and the wealth of unwanted knowledge she’s gained from me over the years!

“Did I say composition? I meant American-made dolls! This current girl’s a foreigner.”

That’s it! I inwardly exulted. Magic Elizabeth is for foreign made dolls, Hazel Twigg is for American!

Here are some real marottes.

With my Hazel Twigg dolls, there’s usually some wheel inventing going on as I create this contraption or that to go with them. With my bisque heads I’m usually just making basic dresses and coats and I can do that in my sleep. Plus, I was having mouth pain with a tooth that needed to come out and a dentist appointment that was weeks away, so wheel inventing was out of the question regardless.

I don’t usually show my dolls completely naked, but this doll’s unusual pelvis is part of her French construction. I’ve been growing a little obsessed with these “Pierrot-type” costumes, and I doubt this is the last one I’ll do.

I’ve been pretty much in zombie mode. Now the tooth has finally been pulled! But I got the Dreaded Dry Socket. I thought it was an old wives tale! I’ve never heard of anyone actually even having it! I laughed in the face of danger and drank through a straw after only one day. YOUCH. Turns out it’s real. Turns out, my sister January has had it. Twice. Who knew having so many sisters could be so very useful? Apparently, the trick is to use them BEFORE something happens.

Now I’m in extreme zombie mode. Drinking straight from a glass like a peasant and gargling with salt water it is!

This leaning towards bisque heads isn’t forever. It’s just while I try to keep up until social security kicks in WHICH I’m getting at the youngest age possible because I don’t need much. Then I can go back to doing what I love, and I love them all! I have two Hazel Twigg dolls in progress. Someday they’ll see the light of day.

With that I say Au revoir! You’re my préférée!

Rough & Ready, Ready or Not!

O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 131, Williams the Rough Rider

I finally get to go back to what I love doing: creating clothes and characters for dolls. And it being summer, what better way to start than with one of my favorite things, a patriotic doll? I wanted to do a soldier that was completely different from ones I did in the past. A Rough Rider from the Spanish American war! Secretly, because they had those cool hats…

For my first doll back in nearly three years and it being summer, I knew I wanted to do a soldier, because it’s summer especially when we celebrate our heroes and our country most of all. I went back and forth between the first and second world wars, but wanted to go further back still. Something really different. Then I remembered Robin Williams character in “Night at the Museum” when he played the most famous Rough Rider of all, Teddy Roosevelt. It’s in honor of Mr. Williams that I named this doll.

Thus begins the description for Hazel Twigg No. 131, Williams the Rough Rider soldier. He’s a 19″ early Schoenhut doll. You can see his adoption page HERE. Please note, eBay’s having some glitches, so it may take two or three tries.

Robin Williams, left, “Night at the Museum”, Theodore Roosevelt, the original Rough Rider, and our very own Williams.

I had an old pillowcase that was the perfect shade of khaki for the job. The problem is, I only had HALF the pillow case to work with. Luckily, the uniform only has upper pockets, not upper and lower. It was that close. I probably previously used the other half of the pillowcase for this girl HERE.

Wee Julie gave me the nifty tiny vintage screw back pins spelling “USA” and “RR” for “Rough Riders.” The beads on his leggings are functional, and they’re not hard to get on and off, they just take a little extra time. They’re worth it! Wish they were in style today, I’d TOTALLY wear them!

I didn’t know much about Rough Rider soldiers when I began, but I’ve learned a lot since! They fought in the Spanish American war in 1898, and were the first volunteer cavalry, recruited by Theodore Roosevelt and made up of cowboys, miners, law enforcement officials, and college athletes, among others. Their colorful and often unorthodox exploits received extensive publicity in the American press.

There are also a lot of Rough Rider reenactors, which made figuring out what Williams would wear pretty easy.

The rifle you see in the picture on the right, drying on the window sill, cost me an extra 4 days. “Rifle” is a trigger word (Har! See what I did there?) so eBay was suppressing him while they checked it out and for his first 24 hours I was the only one who could see him. The rifle was made with a chopstick and dowel so I think we’re safe, but eBay didn’t know that! Wanting to keep to my tradition of Wednesdays or Sundays, and not wanting to lose a day, I rescheduled for Sunday to give eBay plenty of time.

This Julie and my’s favorite picture:


You know what else is my favorite? YOU! Because, you know…

Starting on my next doll…I can’t WAIT for you to see! You’ll never guess!

Hell Must Be Chilly

As far as miracles or odd happenings go, this isn’t the parting of the Red Sea or anything like that…but it’s pretty big for me!

I am not a naturally tidy person. Add to that making small clothes with lots of bits and pieces for small dolls, and you have a sewing room that becomes a NIGHTMARE. In fact, it was such a nightmare that I don’t have any true “before” pictures. It was too embarrassing! But I do have “during” pictures, and they are quite bad enough. Because this isn’t “just put a few pieces of fabric away, and all will be well.” We’re talking pins, needles, buttons and beads, tiny threads, long threads from some hidden, unwinding spool, snips of fabric and fabric fibers, to the point where I hadn’t seen the carpet in my sewing room for YEARS.

The picture on the left is after WEEKS of work. Stuff was knee high everywhere, and you wouldn’t have been able to see the counter before, or even get close to it for all the stuff on the floor that had over time been kicked into a solid mass.

In the past when I’ve done a doll, I would say I spend about 45 – 55 percent of the time trying to find things. Even things I had in my hand only seconds before. If I dropped it, POOF! That was it! It would disappear into what I call The Rubble, never to be seen again. In fact, I still have never found that other skate.

Anyone who has ever seen my sewing room in person – and I can count them on less that one hand, because YIKES – will be amazed. It’s a very small room, but I used to get a workout going from point A to point B because of all the leaping, hopping and balancing involved. Now I’ve had to take up walking outside. Here is a tour so you can get somewhat of an idea:

Not only is it tidy on the outside, inside the drawers and cupboards is tidy too!

The closet is organized too with bins of velvet, wigs, leather, yarn, hair fixings, construction and so on. It’s kind of boring, but here it is:

There’s also stuff in other rooms. More cabinets and drawers of fabric, doll props, florals, etc. But it’s MANAGEABLE. I got rid of a LOT of stuff, which was kind of hard, but outweighed by the weight that was lifted off my shoulders.

So there you have it, my own special miracle! Now to keep it clean. I vow here and now to straighten up and put away between each doll. I just finished my first in a long time! I’ll be introducing him soon.

And so we swim. And we just keep swimming, swimming, swimming…I’m so glad that I’m swimming with you. Know why? Because you’re my favorite!


Here they are coming into town.

A.k.a. The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa.

FROM THE WEBSITE: RAGBRAI is an annual seven-day bicycle ride across the state.  Heading into its 48th year, RAGBRAI is the oldest, largest and longest multi-day recreational bicycle touring event in the world.  Des Moines Register Media has been the title sponsor of RAGBRAI since 1973.

Every year, the route is slightly different. This year, RAGBRAI came through Rolfe!

Someone put a lot of work into these.

This is only the second time they’ve come directly through my little town in the 15 years since I’ve lived here. The first time was 15 years ago. In a way, yesterday was possibly a last in a lifetime event for me. Who’s to say I’ll still be alive for the next one?

This kind of bike is called a Penny-farthing.

It takes months of preparation, and the closer it gets, the louder the buzz of excitement in the air. Giant bicycles someone made appeared throughout downtown to mark the event. I went out in the calm of the day before to get photos.

The seats of the bikes were made from old tractor seats.

Picture it: You have a town of about 500, give or take. Suddenly, a crowd of 20,000+ people on bikes comes riding through. It was WONDERFUL. To watch, that is. My bum hurts just thinking of doing it myself. I would have been content just sitting on the curb, conspicuously eating ice cream and shouting, “Buuurrrrn!!” as the skinny little munchkins went whizzing by. This is what will contribute to my early demise, I suspect.

This here’s Carl. He’s 6’1″. He was kind enough to stand in front of the bicycle to give a perspective on size. Thank, Carl!

But I didn’t sit on the curb (there isn’t one), or eat ice cream (I don’t have any). Like a proud citizen, I mowed and weed-whacked my lawn the night before so it would look its best. In the early morning, Julie came over and we sat on my porch to wave and wish the riders a hearty “Good morning!” and “Welcome to Iowa!” because people come from all over the world for this ride. Insane people, but people nonetheless!

Julie went home to wake Scott. I went inside to put on a bra (wouldn’t want to excite the masses) so I could venture out into public and take a few pictures.

Riders galore!
In all shapes and sizes!

It’s one thing to see 10 or 20 bikes at a time go zipping by from the narrow vantage point of your porch steps. When I went to the corner of my street and looked toward downtown, my jaw DROPPED. I’d never seen anything like it! MASSES!! Masses of humanity! There was music playing and tents set up and delicious smells of various foods. Totally worth putting my bra on for! I traipsed downtown to get more photos.

It was hard for me to capture the magnitude of visitors...
…so I took this photo to give you somewhat of an inkling.

The race always takes place in the last week of July, which is frequently boiling hot. This time, the weather was GLORIOUS. A high of 81, with lows in the 60’s and a beautiful, sunny day.

You can imagine what a boost it is for a small town like ours to have that many people coming through. Besides all the vendors, several enterprising folks and small organizations set up shop. A ladies organization – and I speak from personal knowledge when I say they do wonderful things – baked dozens of pies. They sold all 750 slices by 9:30 in the morning!

“Brownies for sale!”
View from the top of the water slide.

My enterprising neighbor Nikole raised money by selling brownies. She’s also fortunate enough to have the best and only hill in Rolfe, and she wisely used this to her advantage, laying down a huge white tarp complete with a hose to water it down. The words “Brownies!” and “Water Slide!” were ringing out through the morning. There were a LOT of happy customers! Even in nice weather, biking an average 67 miles a day, one would tend to get hot!

Perfect spot.
View from a bridge in the distance, courtesy of wee Julie.

It was a circus! It was a carnival! It was a mini-Olympics, all rolled it to one. And then, POOF! It was over. Julie and Scott drove through town in the aftermath. I expected to hear reports of lots of trash and water bottles left behind. Nope! Everything was clean, everything was gone, as if nothing had happened at all. But it did. I saw it! And it was WONDERFUL. A huge thank you to all those who made this event go so smoothly.

And with that, I leave you! May you find a bike with a comfy seat. May we all! Because you’re my favorite.

We’re Going on a TREASURE HUNT!

Every now and then you need an adventure. Last Friday was our latest.

The front.

My wee sister Julie and I are very similar, but with a little twist on each similarity. I like crunchy peanut butter, she likes creamy, I like Crest, she likes Colgate, I like estate sales where I know the price and can “hem” and “haw” to my heart’s content. Julie likes the fast moving thrill of an auction.

Also the front. This store takes up several storefronts and there’s more stuff around the side.

At a recent auction – and the auctions in Iowa are huge and every bit as wonderful as you could imagine – she didn’t see a dollhouse until it had already sold. Later, when she told me about it, I asked her if she could contact the guy that bought it to see if he would sell it to me. He has a store, and that’s what he does. We offered $30, and he accepted!

So last Friday we set out to the little town of Peterson, Iowa, a scant hour away, to pick up the dollhouse and see what other treasures we could find at the man’s store. It’s called “ThriftnPick.” Here’s the WEBSITE, and here’s the FACEBOOK page.

We had SO MUCH FUN. The store was endless, with row after row, and cranny after cranny filled with treasures, many of which were .25! Wanna see some of the treasures I found?

Linens. A quarter a piece! Good, crisp cotton, or some are 100% linen, all with beautiful embroidery. I use them to make petticoats and underclothes for dolls.

<<<Speaking of embroidery, I got this stand because Julie and I have decided to take up needlepoint as a hobby. True to form, she’s picked crewel embroidery, I’ve chosen cross stitch. This one’s mine from Ebay. I love it! So Steampunk-y. >>>

Speaking of Steampunk, not many would get excited about a bag full of zippers, but this girl would! They have so many uses!

I also found this piece of metal. Another .25! I didn’t know what I would do with it, but it was something you don’t see everyday, so I had to have it. Dollhouse patio furniture, perhaps?

Some more odds and ends:

And now for the piece de la resistance, the dollhouse! It needs some work before I can actually start decorating it.

The front. I can work with this! There were extra pieces of wood inside, including tall, carved wood spindles that would be good for a porch that wraps towards the right. I think I’m going to channel the house in Mary Poppins, complete with a gated square on top.

The back. Here’s where it goes all wonky. There are some rooms only accessible from the inside. I’d like to have the whole back open with two pieces of wood, like a book. But this is good wood, and with a little modification, this will be a great dollhouse.

I also found this beautiful sign.

All in all, it was a glorious day! Including the $30 for the dollhouse, I spent just under $45. Not shown are the kitchen stool, the wooden dollhouse window, a jar of wood findings and a few other odds and ends. THIS STORE HAS NOT SEEN THE LAST OF US! It was like Disneyland. You couldn’t do the whole thing in one day. We’re going back for Julie’s birthday in a week and a half!

If you’re in the area, and love a good treasure hunt, you should go!

And with that, I leave you! Know what? Even with all these fun finds, you’re my favorite treasure!

Next up: RAGBRAI. What is Ragbrai, you may ask? You’ll soon find out!

My Own Personal Waterloo

My new plan is to work one more year at school and then next summer (if not before) hit the ground running and go back to doing what I love best: creating. Before I get too old! To that end, I am moving heaven and earth to get the house around me organized and in good working order which involves many, many tasks. This is the tale of one of those tasks.

It all started with my garbage disposal. I wish I had a better picture, because it was spectacular. COMPLETELY rusted away from the sink above, and was only held up by a few old plastic bottles of cleaner. Just look at it! For that reason, I avoided “under the sink” forever, and just used the one side. When I got a home improvement loan, I was finally able to have the whole thing removed and turned back into regular plumbing.

Now that that was fixed, I really wanted a Reverse Osmosis drinking water system. Reverse osmosis turns your tap water into something akin to bottled water. No messing with five-gallon containers or endless little plastic bottles! It’s a little expensive to begin with. $700 to $1000 to have it installed, but I discovered I could buy a system and do it myself for $300. Score!

Once the scary disposal was gone, I gritted my teeth, put on some rubber gloves, and emptied everything out from under the sink, including an old mouse trap. Gulp! I channeled my mom, who faced this sort of task with grim determination.

After I bleached and scrubbed and bleached again, I put some linoleum tiles down. Much better! The plumber accidentally left that cord in the upper right behind. Even plumbers make mistakes!

My new system finally arrived. I have zero knowledge of plumbing so I studied the instructions backwards and forwards and bought the required tools, a 1/4″ and a 1/2″ drill bit, and I skimmed through a video or two. Finally, I was ready to go. I would install the system, have lunch, and take a nap.

The first thing I had to do was drill a new hole in my kitchen sink for the faucet that would dispense my water. It turns out, old stainless steel sinks are really tough, and the faster you drill, the harder the steel gets. The sink was smoking, the drill was smoking, I burned my fingers.

I finally found out I needed a special drill bit, one I’ve never heard of or seen before. It’s called a Step drill bit. It’s gold, because it costs a lot of money. And I’ll only use it once! But needs must, as they say in jolly olde England.

Surely that would be the hardest part, and it would be smooth sailing from there. Wrong! There were so many other stops and starts. Throughout installation there were equal parts swearing and praying, one loud and the other soft. More than once I decided to give up and call a plumber in the morning. But then morning came and I would try, try again.

Finally, I finished. It was time to turn the spigot. I now know what they mean by, “Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink!”

It was leaking all over the place! I almost cried and probably would have, if I hadn’t already sweated all the moisture out of my body. I finally figured out I hadn’t pushed the tubes into the “quick connect” joists firmly enough. One last trial. I redid the joints and held my breath.


The installed system. How it works is, the one thingy goes into the other thingy…never mind. It’s something only us plumbers would understand.
The bare wood cabinet on the right is where I had my dishwasher removed. The new one doesn’t quite match, but I’m going to paint all the lower cabinets dark blue. Close enough!

This little project ended up taking THREE DAYS. But I learned a lot. And it’s done! I did it! I didn’t give up! And less the $100 I spent on tools, I still saved $300. That’s $100 bucks a day! Would I call a plumber if I had it to do over again? I’LL NEVER TELL.

My next major project – after a complete overhaul of my downstairs bathroom – is my sewing room. You think my disposal looked bad? Wait until you see the room where all the magic happens! I’ve filmed the “before” and am going to make a video post. VERY FEW have ever been in there. Few would dare! COMING SOON.

With that, I leave you! Need a hole drilled in your sink? I’m your girl! You know why? Because I’ve got the bit, and You’re My Favorite!

Breaking a Thumb – and a Sweat

It was August, and it was HOT. Hard to imagine on a wintry day like today. My brother Kenny had come from Utah to torture help me with my yard. I thought he was going to maybe whack down the little sucker trees that had overtaken my garden, mow the lawn…Nope! He went full monty yard-wise, digging out those sucker trees by the roots, adding a weed barrier against future miscreants, adding mulch, fairy lights and fairies…My dream garden! He put in hours and hours. I tell you, this guy has the strength of an ox half his age!

I wish I had more pictures. For the before, I didn’t know the extent of the transformation to come. This was mid-finishing, when I could still somewhat raise my arms to snap a quick shot. Kenny went on to add beautiful lights and whimsical fairy statues and gorgeous flowers. This coming summer I’m going to mend that stucco.

Alas, I do not. I wanted to get back to my sewing room. I was having a slight breakdown when my cell phone rang. It was a job. Starting the very next day. Just a temporary one – at the time. It has since become permanent and that’s where I dwell to this very day.

Luckily for me it’s at an elementary school and we get out in the summer. Therefore, come June I’ll be back to doing what I love best. O.L.D.S. (Once-Loved Dolls, in case you didn’t know). I’ll start with the girl that I was working on mid brother’s visit and before that phone call.

Her name is Woodstock, and here are a few peeks at her. She won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but sometimes you just have to get a little groovy with it. She’s a 14″ Anne Shirley and like most Annes she had some broken fingers. Two, to be exact. Her pinky and ring finger on her right hand. That’s what gave me the idea in the first place. She already almost looked as if she was flashing the “PEACE” sign. But to make it convincing, she really needed to have her thumb bending inward too. Gulp.

Yep, I did it! I broke off her thumb. Anne’s fingers are actually kinda stubby. I didn’t want to make them disproportionate to the rest of her fingers, so what you see is what I ended up with. I’m happy with them!

I’ve already made her day of the week underwear and her cork wedge shoes. The bell bottoms I’m going to remake because I’m not happy with the fit. There’s also going to be fringe and flowers and leather in her ensemble too. She’ll finally get her turn and then it will be onto the next. And the next, and the next after that. Can I get more than three dolls out in the summer? I hope so!

In the meantime, I love my job! I work with kids who need a little extra help. Don’t we all sometimes? Plus, we get snow days. Like today.

I hope you’ve all been well. I miss you and can’t wait to see you again on a more regular basis! This job keeps me young. Challenging and rewarding and then summers off to play and do as I please! THANK YOU, KENNY. I face this coming summer with a beautiful garden that’s full of potential that I could never have achieved otherwise and an appreciation for all that you are, even though at the time I wanted to smack you a little bit if I’d been able to lift my arms…

Until June, and now and then in the meantime…You’re My Favorite!