A Burgeoning Bevy of Bathing Beauties…

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Several years ago I came across a photo from the 1920’s or thereabouts that so entranced me that I not only purchased it, which is unusual for me as I am a thrifty soul, I also became a fan of the photographer. His name was Mack Sennett, and he was an actor and director of silent films. He also rounded up various beautiful women and they became “Mack Sennett’s Bathing Beauties.”

So when it came the season to do a bathing beauty, I knew just who to use for my inspiration. 

Thus begins the description for O.L.D. No. 91, Macie. You can see her adoption page HERE.

The eye-catching image of which I speak hangs in my bedroom. I love it as much now as when I first saw it. Here it is:

I bet you can guess which girl and outfit mesmerized me the most. She has a GIFT, and I don’t think it’s just the outfit. It’s the angle of her! Also, you know how I like pointy hats…

These women wore boots or shoes with knee-high socks. And almost always, they wore some kind of hat. I picked and chose among them to get different aspects of Macie’s outfit…

Mack Sennett was born in Canada in 1880 and eventually moved to California, where he became a producer and director. He discovered Charlie Chaplin, and directed him in 35 films. He also worked with W.C. Fields, Bing Crosby and Buster Keaton, to name a few. And sprinkled throughout many of his films was a bevy of attractive girls.

Though many of the Beauties did eventually go on to have thriving careers in Hollywood, most of them remained anonymous and came and went throughout the years. I studied Mr. Sennett’s photos of these “curious beauties” for inspiration for a swimming outfit from 1918 – to the early 20’s or so.

…but this girl’s swimsuit was my main inspiration.

And to portray my bathing beauty, I was looking for a cheerful, happy girl who could come from that era. In this composition Arranbee Nancy doll, I found her! But there was a problem. Gulp. It was with her eyes…

A nice woman had contacted me via my YouTube channel with questions about her own doll. At the time, I had just begun working on Macie. I’ll let an excerpt from one of my responses to her in an email do the talking for me…

Funny your doll should have an eye problem! My current doll I’m working on had badly shattered eyes. Usually it doesn’t bother me because I’m super laid back with my dolls, but I’m trying to find a new home for this girl, so…. Anyway, I was going to try and just do an iris replacement. I have some eyes from other old dolls that have “passed on.” 
 

Here’s our pretty Macie before. Her hair turned noticeably lighter when her wig was washed.

What a NIGHTMARE. It took me FOREVER to dig the irises out of the spare pair, and then when it came time to remove the ones I wanted to replace, there was a steel post in the way! I tried in vain to sand the post down – like THAT would work – and instead spent half an hour on the floor with a flashlight trying to find the crumbled bits of original eye. I only found 2/3’s. I glued the pieces in as best I could with clear glue and fortified the rest with tiny bits of leather and clear plastic, having gone mildly insane with panic by then….Sounds scary, huh?

Macie is wearing an inexplicable pink brooch with her orange coat. It’s ‘splicable to me, based on a costumer and a Shakespeare play, but that’s a tale for another time.

I always say, “With doll repair you can have NO FEAR.” But I confess, that can sometimes lead to great panic. Ah, well! There was no way I could tell that sweet, cheerful girl she would have to wait for months or years until I got my nerve again, so onward we went!

I of course had to make another outfit for her for when she’s not frolicking on the beach. This includes a dress, coat and hat. The coat and hat are from some delicious old upholstery fabric with wonderful huge orange flowers sprinkled about. Our Macie is one of the few who could actually pull this fabric off!

Macie is O.L.D. No. NINETY-ONE. Just think! Only eight more before we’re in triple digits! I’m feverishly at work on number 92, who has GOT to be finished by this Sunday, otherwise she won’t be timely! Also, there’s my mortgage guy to think about. Let us not forget HIM…

Our sweet Safari Sahara was adopted by the even SWEETER Janey J. of Oakland, California! That makes FIVE O.L.D.’s for her! Janey, you know how much I adore you!

And with that, I leave you! As of today, the days are getting shorter. This gives me joy. Do not hate me, because you’re my favorite!
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Call of the Wild

There was a knock at the door. Hazel rushed to answer it, and I was a step behind her. 

“Come in! Come in!” Hazel cried. She loves the arrival of new lost dolls. “You’re an Anne Shirley!” (she’s also getting quite expert at identifying them). “But what’s your name?” she continued.

The little girl’s pretty brown eyes looked up at us from her somewhat dirty face. “Sahara,” she said proudly.

“Goodness, Sara! Have you got the hiccups?” I asked.

Suddenly, “BOO!” 

Dot had jumped out from nowhere. For being such a small doll herself, it was a very loud “boo.”

“Dot!” I exclaimed. “You scared the new girl!”

“That was the idea!” Dot said. “I was trying to get rid of her hiccups for her. I been waiting my whole life to do that…” she muttered to herself, a satisfied grin on her face.

The new little girl laughed. “I don’t have the hiccups, my name is SaHARa! You know, like the desert.”

She hadn’t even stepped out of the entryway, and I knew EXACTLY how she would be dressed…

My mom was able to find this picture from that night.

Thus begins the description for O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 90, Sahara! You can see her adoption page HERE.

I have a soft spot for Safari girls. One of my favorite things about my childhood was how much my parents loved each other. There truly is no greater gift to give your children.

I remember one night in particular, It must have been around Halloween. My dad dressed up as a Sheik, and my mom dressed up as a Safari girl. I remember how beautiful my mother looked with her glamorous false eyelashes, and how funny my dad was as he really got into character to capture this gorgeous maiden. He took her in his arms and dipped her just before they swept out the door. It was pure joy to see them this way.

So of course I JUMPED at the chance to do my own Safari girl!

Reader, I swear to you: I’m doing my very best to try and get one girl up for adoption a week. After all, there are so many O.L.D.’s clamoring for their turn, in addition to me needing to keep a roof over their poor heads in the meantime! But try as I might, I lost two days on this one girl.

The first lost day was with the helmet. When you think of it, there are few dome-shaped things that exist that one might use. There are round things aplenty! Domed things, not so much. No matter, I had WIRE HANGERS! I could make my own! I spent all day grunting swearing and forming and shaping, trying to get the right angle. Trying to get them secure so that I might pull fabric tautly over them. I’m nothing if not stubborn.

I used the red one from a set just like this. If you ever have a colander emergency and Sahara is your girl, you’ll know just what to do!

But try as I might, it just wasn’t going to work. So what could I use? A-hah! Kitchen gadget drawer to the rescue! I used the largest of three small strainers. While I’m still not 100% happy with her helmet, at least she has one! And with that sturdy metal, she can go into any construction site without fear. Bonus!

The second day was lost over a monkey. I always have such visions of what my dolls will look like, imagining their “gallery” picture on eBay. In my mind, Sahara was surrounded by animals; a giraffe’s neck soaring out of sight. A colorful macaw on her shoulder. A monkey doing a photo bomb in front. I TRIED SO HARD.

I started with the monkey. It would have been absolutely worth it to me if it had worked! But even with all that toil, what I was getting was not one bit cute. In fact, he was a little scary looking. And just how was I to do the giraffe? It’s not as if I have “mini giraffe-pattern” fabric laying about. I swear, I contemplated appliqueing each little misshapen brown spot onto some pale yellow fabric if I could find some in the right shade. The macaw’s hooked beak was another matter…reality finally kicked in, and my sister Julie The Mayor got to say, “I told you so!”

Once I figured out an alternative so I could finish Sahara sometime this year, it was Julie that provided me with the styrofoam ball. She already given me the vintage animal cake toppers in the past, which is how I got the idea for this unusual accessory in the first place. I was contemplating using the somewhat dented styrofoam ball I had on hand because I dislike leaving my house. It was Julie that convinced me to use hers, as it was more dense than most and therefore took paint more easily so I could make a planet for these animals to march around.

I was so pleased when I finally figured out what to use to make Sahara’s binoculars: if you guessed chess pieces, you guessed right!

“You’d better not pooh-pooh it!” she implored when I told her I was on my way over.

HMPF. Apparently, I “pooh-pooh” things a lot! Well, I’m aware now. How ungracious of me to pooh-pooh a gift horse! I kindly thank you, sweet Julie, and I shall attempt to pooh-pooh as little as possible in the future.

And I’d like to thank the Box Fairy that has been leaving boxes on my porch, answering my plea! No pooh-poohing here!

Vivian the Vivandiere was adopted by…..Michelle E.! She of Hudson, Colorado! I swear, it warmed my heart to see her again, because I take comfort in familiar things. Thank you, Michelle! And a thank you to all those that are familiar, and those that will be familiar in the future…

With that, I leave you! Happy next adventure, you’re my favorite!

Forgotten No More!

If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know that I love to do a Patriotic doll. I was looking for inspiration and coming across images I’ve seen dozens of times before. But then I discovered something I’ve never heard of in all my days: Vivandiere. 

vi·van·dière

[vee-vahn-dyair; French vee-vahn-dyer]

This girl was kind of my main inspiration. If you look closely, you can see the gold embroidery on her jacket.

NOUN 1. a woman who formerly followed an army or maintained a store on an army post to sell provisions to the soldiers.

American women adopted this French term mainly during the Civil War, where both the Confederate and Union sides had Vivandieres in service. And no, these weren’t hussies! They were wives and daughters of soldiers who wanted to do what they could to help. So without further ado…

Thus begins the description page for Vivian the Vivandiere, O.L.D. No. 89. You can see her adoption page HERE.

…I liked this girl’s hat and blue satchel.

I learn so much researching “What To Do Next” when coming up with inspiration for dolls! For example, did you know that the slouchy hat worn by both the Confederate and Union soldiers in the Civil War is called a “Kepi” hat? Me neither!

Unfortunately, as much as I learn there’s no way I can become an expert at something and complete an outfit in any reasonable length of time. I’m sure I’ve got some French things in there as well as Civil War. But sometimes I just have to go with what appeals to me and what I have on hand!

For example, months ago I purchased a bag of red, white, and blue fabric. It was mostly polyester, but there were a few other pieces that appealed to me as well, so for $2 I snatched it up. One of the things that appealed to me was two cut off legs from pair of bell bottoms. Somebody must’ve wanted some shorts in the 70’s…PERFECT for what would later become this girl’s skirt!

A lot of my inspiration photos came from a surprisingly lively and active site. It’s called “Civil War Talk” and they have several threads posted with more photos about Vivandieres. I was pleased to read on one of the threads a comment from a poster that said, ‘I’ve been on this site for two years, and I’d never heard of a Vivandiere!” Phew. So not just me then.

Even the official U.S. Army website has a page entitled, “Vivandieres: Forgotten Women of the Civil War.”

I can’t show all of the inspiration photos here, but the majority of them show the women carrying these wooden casks, so of course I wanted to make one for Vivian too.

As always, I used what I have on hand. In this case, a wooden spool, napkin rings, popsicle sticks, the metal shaft from a paintbrush, a bead, a toothpick, and another metal thingy I found in the road.

I find a lot of little treasures in the road! Including the rusty ol’ bolt I found the other day when taking my new cat Piper in for spaying. In the gravel of the vet’s office, there was a just visible hexagon. I dug it out, pocketed it, took it home, cleaned it, and voila! Nice heavy stand for Vivian’s flag – which I also made!

I shall close with a refrain from a military ballad called, “The Pride of the Regiment” (or the Jolly Vivandiere) by Geo. Maywood:

For she’s a wonder!
The boys all ponder
To whom she’ll give her heart and hand,
This dearest girl in all the land!
She is the neatest, completest, sweetest,
A girl without a peer, the jolly vivandiere!

…Now YOU know about Vivandiere’s too!

Sweet Cinnamon Drop was adopted by…Hillary of New York! I also thoughtfully sent her some scissors accidentally left in the box. Honestly, I’m surprised that doesn’t happen more often. Luckily, I am rich in scissors…thank you, Hillary!

And with that, I leave you! Happy upcoming Memorial Day! You’re my favorite. 

 

Apocalyptic Home

In my defense, when I picked this little girl along with her name and fabrics, it was still very un-Springlike outside. I was still clomping along in my house wearing my trusty Mukluks and infinity scarfs! I confess to be one of those very few who actually prefers winter and who has a hard time saying goodbye to it and longs for the day when it will come again.

“Hurry up leaves!” I cry to the trees with the fresh green sprouts. “Hurry up and GROW so you can TURN YELLOW AND DIE!”

To make up for it, I made O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 88 a previously unplanned “Springy” dress. Now she’s ready for ANY season…

Thus begins the description for Cinnamon Drop. You can see her adoption page HERE.

The instant I picked Cinnamon up, I knew her name and exactly what she would wear. I LOVE when that happens! At first I was just going to use her for my video on restringing, but in that time when I was feeling like a fish in unfamiliar water, I needed to do something that felt warmly familiar. So even though spring was upon us and cinnamon is a decidedly fall spice, I decided to go with her now.

“Okay, but DO NOT make that spring dress!” my sister The Mayor cried, waving her tiny fists. “Make her strictly a cold weather girl!”

The spring dress. I have ribbon that matches better, but this one brought the dress to LIFE.

Julie only wants the best for me. It was Sunday morning and I was rushing to get Cinnamon ready to put up for adoption that night.

I’d gone back and forth. There are practical considerations! For example, her cold weather outfit called for brown shoes and what kind of spring dress goes with those? I was already struggling to regain my footing, and I already take so long on these girls…

WELL. Never tell me what not to do! Ha-hah! THAT SEALED IT. I made a spring dress for her because I found some old fabric I adore that I thought would work.

I was able to get her done in time but was exhausted when I finished. Even though it was 5:30 I decided to take a nap. There have to be some perks working for yourself! The ability to take naps at odd hours! When I woke up that evening at 10:30, it was as if there had been an apocalypse, and me and Teddy and my new cat Piper were the only ones alive on the planet. I’d completely missed Julie, who I talk to several times in the evening.

It was a little bit magical standing there outside in a silent Rolfe in the moonlight with the stars twinkling overhead and Teddy on a leash sniffing about and Piper in my arms because she isn’t fixed yet.

When I checked to see how Cinnamon was doing and saw that many people wanted her, I almost cried. I definitely said a prayer of thanksgiving. Because it’s hard to feel so lost for awhile and to wonder what it is you should be doing. So I would like to thank all who follow and who look and who bid. YOU and THIS are where I belong.

SPRING & LILLY were adopted by our dear Hillary P. of New York. THANK YOU, Hillary! More than you know.

And with that, I leave you! It’s nice to re-meet you. You’re my favorite!

Hazel Twigg NOT DEAD!

Honestly, Reader. It’s not you, it’s ME.

As I mentioned in my last post, “Hazel Twigg LIVE!” I was going to do a series of videos and post them on Facebook and YouTube, and I did! I did my level best. This was all very new to me and really rather tricky. My brothers had grown somewhat impatient, wondering why I wasn’t also on Instagram and Snapchat, and why I wasn’t posting things several times a day. They had nothing but great and loving intentions. Nevertheless, I have since had an ever-so-genteel meltdown, with tears flowing down my face like the sparkliest of diamonds and hardly any snot at all.

I think of it as sort of a Stockholm syndrome thing going on here.

When I first moved to this small town of a scant square mile in the middle of nowhere ten and a half years ago, I had a hard time not going insane if I didn’t get out of town at least – at least – once a week.

Can you tell the deer guard is bent? It goes with my garage! I bought the car back when I was able.

Enter the winters. Sometimes there’s no traveling, even if you have the will. I learned this lesson my first winter here, where I had the worst case of cabin fever ever known to this woman. I HAD TO GET OUT OF TOWN. So I called a friend with a truck, and bless his heart, he hooked up my Durango, and he drrraaaagggggged me out of that last deep bank of snow in my driveway, bending my deer guard. I didn’t care! I was free! I WAS FREE!

When I finally got to Target an hour or so later by the skin of my teeth I was tempted to kiss the ground. Not because I was glad to see civilization in the form of retail, but because I was still alive. And desperately dreading the drive back home. I vowed never to drive when the weather was bad again.

Soon I was working from home on the dolls that I love so much, although my income was not a guarantee. If I was able to make it out of town once a month during the times when the weather was good I was grateful. Then came the year of operations with months of recovery time, which prompted me to give up my car altogether. For two years I bummed rides when I could. If I got a wild hair, which I frequently did, and longed to go somewhere, anywhere! I walked to the cemetery or grocery store instead.

To keep from going insane, I embraced the trap. I embraced it hard. A Stockholm vacuum as it were. A cozy cave were I could write and create and not comb my hair or wear a bra and I go for days where the only face I see is my dog Teddy’s. I often don’t set foot outside my own yard, let alone this little town in the middle of nowhere.

So going from that to opening myself up to the world just wasn’t going to happen. I love you madly and you ARE my favorite, we’re just going to have to take this thing a little bit slow.

But Hazel Twigg is NOT dead. Far from it! I’ve gone back to working on dolls in my cozy cave alone with no one watching and I’m feverishly working on the rewrite every chance I get. I’m excited about the book’s whole new direction and still believe in its upcoming success.  And 20 years from now I shall be the token old lady celebrity on season 57 of “Dancing With The Stars.” People shall watch in dreadful anticipation to see a legend author/doll restorer prance, and I shall surprise and amaze them with my nimble fluidity and my ability to kick high, for an old lady…

I’ll be doing a post on my current O.L.D. 88 Cinnamon Drop in a day or two.

And with that, I leave you! Never, ever forget YOU ARE MY FAVORITE and I adore you!

Hazel Twigg LIVE!

It’s a common household item you may already have on hand.

Coming to you this morning at 10:00 Central, ready or not! I’m going to go Live via Facebook, hopefully from the Hazel Twigg page. Whether 0 people watch or one (Hi Mom!), I have to start somewhere.

I’m going to reveal the first and best tip I ever received for vintage composition doll repair and introduce the next O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll), as well as reveal what’s to come in the future. ANYONE can restore these lovely old girls, you just have to be willing to try. As I am.

In my head, it always goes great. I shall evolve to make it come true in reality. Cheers!

When You Shampoo Your Hair Twice…

THIS IS WHERE THE MAGIC HAPPENS.

…it’s time to WRITE.

I bet my brothers think I’m sitting around eating bonbons, taking them for granted. I am not! The proof shall be in the pudding. Because writing is not what I’m supposed to be doing! Well, not entirely. I’m supposed to also work on Facebook Live! chats and demonstrations and clean the rubble out of my sewing room to get it ready for prime time.

But the day before yesterday I had a mini meltdown. I forgot to record a check which almost had disastrous consequences, and I had a delayed reaction to the death of my cat where I finally had a good cry. Still, I gamely forged on, attempting to do my first Facebook Live! broadcast as I had promised the day before because I had promised it, only to discover when I played it back that there was no sound. And I’d been so flawless, too! I bet the person watching was disappointed. Har.

Well, Rome wasn’t built in a day! This “sound not working” is a common problem apparently, and you need some sort of knowledge about computers to fix it. My brain is already fried from all the learning I’ve done recently as I get myself up to speed. Believe it or not, I’m not gifted in that regard and can only take in so much technical knowledge at a time. I took a day away from it yesterday to write. I felt guilty the whole time, knowing there was so much more I was supposed to be doing.

I took the draft copy of the book and tore out all the chapters that are going to go. Believe it or not, it was very satisfying. Plus, it’s easier to work with if I can hold the current product before some somewhat major tweaks in my hands.

Then this morning as I was in the shower (twice a week whether I like it or not. Don’t judge me! I bet if you worked from your home where you went days without seeing a soul you’d morph the same way. And it’s not like I’m breaking a sweat going from one comfy chair to the next, plying a needle this way and that. Feel the burn!) my mind was so preoccupied with new chapters and plot twists that I washed my hair twice and was reaching for the shampoo bottle for a third time before I realized what I was doing.

I think it’s because ever since I got that rejection letter I’ve been re-writing and re-plotting in my mind, and I finally have the chance to actually DO it. I AM INSPIRED. I am writing like a FIEND and the story’s coming together so well that I cannot stop.

So there will be a slight delay in the other outlets, but they are still coming soon. Do not fret, dear brothers.

Send bonbons!

LISTEN! Do You Want To Know The Secrets…?

Here’s what’s going on with Hazel Twigg: in a nutshell, a LOT.

Last July I received the following rejection letter:

July 20, 2016 

Dear Ruth,

Thank you for submitting your manuscript, Hazel Twigg & the Hollyhock Hideaway, to __________ Publishing.

Unfortunately, this submission isn’t quite what we’re looking for. However, we enjoyed your story so much that we’d like to offer some feedback.

I’ll begin with the positives. First, I adored your well-developed characters. Every character I met (save for Hazel at times—see below) had a distinct personality, a memorable appearance, an interesting backstory, and clear goal. Your cast was so well-developed, in fact, that I can remember each member by name. Excellent work.

Second, I loved your whimsical voice. Your long, thoughtful sentences and cheeky tone remind me of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I found myself smiling every few sentences. Beautifully done. We very rarely find authors with such strong voices.

As for the negatives, there are three major reasons why __________ can’t accept your novel.

The first involves your point-of-view characters. __________ prefers stories told mainly from the perspective of a single character—in your case, Hazel. Your story is told from the perspectives of many characters. We (your readers) are often in the heads of characters we’re interested in but don’t necessarily want to spend a lot of time with, e.g. the mad toymakers, the batty real-estate agent, the handsome bad guy. We’re much more interested in Hazel’s thoughts and actions.

Second, __________ prefers main characters who are active decision makers. We like characters with clear goals and a strong drive to meet those goals. While Hazel does make some decisions in the first half of the book, she often feels like she’s being dragged through her adventure against her will. Try making her a more active participant in the story.

Finally, the whole thing was a bit slow. I suggest reading Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat to learn how many successful authors and screenplay writers pace their books and movies.

Again, I’d like to stress how much I enjoyed your book. It has great publication potential. Should you choose to submit another manuscript to us in the future, we look forward to reading it.

All the best,

K.W.
Acquisitions Editor

*****

I agree with her criticisms (I bet you do too) and while the letter is brutally honest, being compared to Harry Potter is nothing to sneeze at! My thought is that if I can make these changes, and do them well, there’s an excellent chance this company will publish my book. I desperately wanted to tackle this rewrite, but real life abounds. There were bills to pay; if I could just catch up first…

Tom Hanks in Castaway

I’ve been living by the skin of my teeth for quite some time. Taking rather common old dolls and fixing them and dressing them and putting them up for adoption starting at $9.99 for a living isn’t for sissies; you miss a week here for a family reunion, a few days there for the flu, a doll or two or three don’t do as well as you’d hoped, and…how do you stop bailing long enough to reach out for a lifeline that could save everything? That lifeline being the possibility of future success and a much better boat if you just have the faith? I’m here to tell you, it’s very hard to do.

Enter my brothers! They’ve temporarily plugged the ship and put the lifeline within reach. All I have to do is learn to swim. Fast. They sent me a smart phone so that I could do live things via Facebook and Instagram and YouTube and the like. THIS is my chance for that final push to make Hazel Twigg all that it can be.

Jennifer is the BEST. And her hands are really quite pretty. Ahem.

The struggle is it’s as if I’ve been on a deserted island and have no idea how to do any of these things. Until two weeks ago, I’d never even texted! My dear friend, Jennifer Trenary, sat down with me and my new phone for nearly THREE HOURS to get me up to speed. Thank you, Jennifer!

The Rewrite

The premise of the book Save the Cat the publisher mentions in her letter is this: If your heroine does something in the beginning of the book such as saving a cat, your reader will like and trust her and want to spend time in her head. I promptly ordered the book and read it.

Over the months as I contemplated changes while still clinging stubbornly to my barely floating boat, I’ve giggled madly to myself with different scenarios for “cat saving”:

Hazel: “Hey mom, your tag is out. Let me fix that for you…”

Or here’s my sister Julie’s helpful suggestion: “Mithter! Mithter! You dropped your wallet!”

We cackled together over that one. I’m still working on it, of course…

That is just ONE of the challenges. I’ve removed all the non-Hazel-centric chapters and they totaled 26,500 words in all. Maxwell has been reduced to a car driving by. Smith and Jones have completely disappeared. POOF! It’s daunting, to say the least, but it needed to be done and I’m grateful to actually have the chance to sit down and DO IT.

The Future

Here is the plan: I’ll be doing one or two dolls a month, and I’ll be taking doll people and anyone else who wants to watch on the journey with me step-by-step, as a doll person, a writer, and a liver of life in the middle of nowhere in Iowa. I’ll be doing so via several new fronts that I’m just now learning, and I’ll be letting people into my sewing room, a place that I can count on one hand the number of people I’ve allowed in since I turned it into a sewing room a decade ago. I’ll be showing everyone how to do what I do. It’s a gamble. At the same time I’m going to do a complete overhaul of my book. AND there’s a deadline.

No pressure. No pressure at all…

But, hey! One of the perks of that is if I’m successful, it’ll make the current copies of the book as it is, 300 copies in all, worth MORE in the future!

You wouldn’t think it to look at it, but for some reason when my garage door is closed, there’s an eight inch gap on one side. Hmm…

I was all set to go starting today, but over the weekend there was a cat I couldn’t save: my own. Lilly was absolutely fine, then Saturday morning I could tell she wasn’t feeling well. I made her as comfortable as I could, checked on and fretted over her throughout the day, hoping it was something that would pass. By Saturday evening she was gone, just like that. It was very sudden.

I’m going to miss you, Lilly.

My sweet neighbor Tom M. was kind enough to gather her for me and put her in my neighbor Brandi’s garage for the night as my garage is not sound. On Sunday morning Julie and my brother-in-law Scott and I had a burial after much digging in slightly frozen ground. We put Lilly next to Elsie. We are down to two heartbeats in this house and it’s an adjustment, that’s all there is to it.

So starting tomorrow! Live, live, live! Swim, swim, SWIM.

Wish me luck and send me your prayers, please.

With that, I leave you! Happy Monday, you’re my favorite.

Honeymoon in WHOville

You never forget that long poem or story you had to memorize for a recital in elementary school. Mine was, “The Owl and the Pussycat” (went to sea, in a beautiful pea green boat…).

So when I stumbled across this little old tea set I thought, “Hey! Why not?”

Thus begins the description for Kitty and Owl, O.L.D.’s (Once-Loved Dolls) No. 86 and 86 1/2. You can see their adoption page HERE. They are the Owl and the Kitty who went to TEA.

My sister will back me up on this: I have been a fan of owls since before they were cool again decades after being cool in the 70’s.

Here’s my largest concentration of owls. The turquoise one is my favorite, given to me by my dear friend Jennifer.

I’ve picked them up at garage sales, thrift stores, clearance aisles…some were given to me by dear friends. They’re sprinkled throughout my house. At last, here was a chance to MAKE an owl! I looked for ideas online, picked out some wools and tweeds, nine different fabrics in all! And made up a pattern.

Owl also comes with a green wool scarf for winter and a flowery hat for when he has tea. It’s not a tea party if there is no bonnet!

“Okay, I see the owl, which would account for the “Whoville” in this post’s title, but where does the “Honeymoon” part come in?” you might ask, for you are canny and wise, and notice such things.

The newly minted Dennis and Jane Agle.

I’ll tell you: My parents were married for 60 wonderful and fruitful years before my father’s passing in 2013. The year they were married (I’ll save you the math) was 1953. My mother’s mom, aka, “Grandma,” made a going away outfit, a Honeymoon outfit one might say.

It was an unusual, striking shade, neither blue nor gray. The fabric itself was something new, my mother recalls her mother saying. How she marveled as she worked on it, for it was said to be non-wrinkling, and was actually living up to its claims.

Not so easy to see the waistband here.

The outfit itself was a classic, exquisite style. The skirt was fitted, almost pencil-style in the front with deep pleats in the back. There was a matching bolero jacket with a large covered button. But my favorite feature of this most exquisite ensemble was the waist-line of the skirt. It was super, super high and the front of the waistband curved gently upward and back down, like the single hump of a camel. My mother has this outfit still.

This skirt is gathered, and this fabric is far from wrinkle-free, but there’s no mistaking that camel-hump, high waistband.

I wore it myself, many a time. I remember longingly looking forward to “Spirit Week” in high school. Longing even more for there to be a 50’s day so that I could proudly wear that flattering, stunning outfit with its glowing bluey-gray. Other’s would walk around in poodle skirts. Not me! I LOVED that thing, and am so grateful – and slightly shocked – that my mother let me borrow it.

So as I worked on Kitty’s skirt, I kept having flashbacks: “I’ve seen this before…” It only took a nano second. That skirt will never be forgot! Over the years in a person’s life they’ll have a favorite piece of clothing. Maybe two or three. One of my son’s, for example, was his Blue’s Clues green on green striped Rugby-style shirt. For me, surely one of them was my mother’s Honeymoon outfit. Hey! I bet it was one of her favorites as well! What do you think…?

Marie Antoinette was adopted by Megan P. of Myton, Utah! A new face! Thank you so much Megan, I hope you enjoy Marie!

I love my parents so very much. I’ve been thinking of them even more than usual this past week as I catch glimpses of the waistband and shade of this skirt that I know so well. For now my parents have had to say goodbye to each other and it hasn’t been easy. After 60 happy years, how could it possibly be? But I know that one day they’ll be together again. I know it with all my heart.

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

 

OFF WITH HER CAKE!!

“What should I do next??” I asked my sister The Mayor.

“Ooh, I know! I’ve been watching ‘Outlander,’ and there’s this really pretty dress…”

“But I’ve already DONE two ‘Outlander’ dolls!”

Then my eyes lit onto the remaining silvery fun fur I had left over from my last O.L.D., America. I knew JUST want to do….

Thus begins the description for O.L.D. No. 85, our very own Marie Antoinette. You can see her adoption page HERE.

I really, really wanted to make a cake for her as an accessory. I looked up how-to’s on Pinterest and everything. But things came down to the wire. I decided that “cake time” would be better spent on a second outfit of “street clothes” for her to wear, and a hat stand for her wig.

The “Outlander” orginal. Pretty hard to compete with that…

…I did my very best.

There would have been plenty of time for everything were this outfit not so labor intensive. I call this costume the “Bow” dress because of the series of bows that go down the front of the bodice.

My dear friend Janey had sent me some metallic trims from an old lamp factory. I spray painted different laces for the rest.

 

Here are some of the inspirations for the Outlander dress. And the beat goes on…

The swatch upholstery fabric I had on hand had the palest of slate blues in its pattern; I wanted to emphasis that. So I found some Wedgwood blue organdy and made a bunch of tiny little flowers, then beaded them with tiny gold glass beads.

One of the trims originally came with peach velvet ribbon. I exchanged it for blue to trim the sleeves, and wove blue silk ribbon for the trim for Marie’s skirt. And then all the trims had to be sewn on by hand. Not to mention the tiny slippers that most likely won’t be seen. But we can’t have our queen go barefoot!

It’s kind of hard to see, but there are hundreds and hundreds of hand stitches on this dress. That is NOT an exaggeration.

What a difference a wig makes! Here is Marie in the blonde mohair wig she arrived in, along with her “street wear” dress for when she’s not in the mood to prance around in her wig.

Speaking of her “powdered” wig, thank you Julie for giving me the fun fur! It was indeed fun.

Marie in her blonde mohair wig and street clothes.

So there you have it! Our Marie Antoinette in her “Bow” dress! And now I am off to my sewing room to pick my next victim…

Our previous “powdered wig drummer, America, was adopted by Kathleen Z. of Alameda, California! She also happens to have adopted Liberty, who was also a drummer. I daresay she must have a very noisy – and happy –  household. Thank you, Kathleen!

Until then, happy last days of February! You are very much my favorite.