May, 2014

now browsing by month


Catch As CaT Scan & A Shoutout

Pin It




First, the shout out! In the midst of all that’s been going on, I forgot to note: Faith has been adopted by the lovely Lois S. of New Hampshire!

She is the same kind woman who gave little Sunny Joy a home. Faith, aka “Little Red Riding Hood,” is winging her way over several forests – I’m sure – as we speak, and therefore far out of reach of any wolves below.

While Faith and Sunny never officially met, I have a very good feeling that they’ll get along splendidly. Thank you for giving them a good home, Lois!


Next, I have been given The Gift of Time. As you may or may not recall, last week I was supposed to have a CT scan. I dutifully stopped eating at the appropriate time, drove down to Fort Dodge, and drank the Foul Liquid. And waited.

And waited.

hyper1Whoops! Turns out, there are two parts of a stomach, and my doctor wanted both! The insurance company was having none of it at the time, so I went home. Now my CT scan has been rescheduled for this very morning.

“And we have your surgery rescheduled too,” the nice nurse said. “It’s for June 13th. Let’s see…that’s a Friday.”

“So, Friday the 13th?” I replied.

“Heh. Yes, I guess so,” she responded.

It’s a good thing I’m not superstitious.

hyperAt first it was hard. I was geared up and ready for the surgery that was going to take place tomorrow. But, now! Now I can do projects that I won’t be able to do later!

The Hideaway, also known as my home, is falling apart a little bit and I’ve misplaced my magic wand. My brother-in-law Scott was power washing my porch, and even as I watched, a section of stucco that had long since been threatening to, fell into my garden!


It’s like playdough for adults – for your garden! And also, your stucco. I hope.

I am going to attempt to repair it my very own self using a wonderful thing called “Hypertufa.”

Both Julie and I are mad to try this stuff ever since stumbling across it on Pinterest. This is a project I will do. Look for it! Imagine all the things you could make! Fairy villages! Planters! Bird baths!

So today, foul liquid. Over the next couple of weeks, TIME. And home improvement. With a few dolls for good measure, if I can.

Pin It


canpin1You know how it is. You’re at your computer, gazing over the hundreds, nay, thousands of nifty projects on Pinterest, pinning and pining away. You have the best of intentions, but deep in the back of your mind, you know:

You will probably never, ever get around to actually doing any of them.

That is, unless you’re Julie! For, BEHOLD! One day she thought to herself, “I need a scarecrow for my garden!”

And she went to her favorite site for such things. And she found:


“Hmm,” she said to herself with her tinkly voice as sweet as any fairy’s. “I need to make this for free! What to do?”

So she put her thinking cap on. ‘Tis a wee, pointy thing, with ear flaps*. It worked. “A-HAH!” she cried! And she went dumpster diving. And LOOK WHAT SHE MADE!


Look at that face!                                                          Complete with curly hair!


And thusly shall Julie’s crops remain safe and free of crows.

As I admired her handiwork, I lamented that I never seemed to get any projects done like she did. Julie pointed out the dolls that I sew for. That made me feel better. Julie is kind.

Speaking of Kind, thank you all for your sweet words regarding the loss of my pet yesterday. They truly helped and were much appreciated.

*One of my favorite quotes from the television show Cheers. You remember Cheers, don’t you…?


An Ode

Elsiefolk1Yesterday my cat Elsie was hit by a car. And I shall miss her.

So yes, this is an ode to her. But it’s also a thank you to my kind neighbors.

You might think it is a not appropriate thing to write about the burial of a cat on Memorial day. I shall segue it thus: My father was a Navy man. My brother wrote a beautiful tribute to his service in the Navy HERE.

One of the few times I ever saw my father cry was when he returned from a business trip back when I was a teenager in Cedar City, Utah.

He’d been seated on the plane next to this woman who had recently lost her cat. And in retelling the story, my father cried. “She really loved that cat!” he said, wiping his eyes of uncharacteristic tears. Granted he was tired. But he understood, even though he was not a pet person. And I think he would understand now.

I have had Elsie for almost seven years. Here in Iowa, we have many riches, one of the chief amongst them being the ability to pluck little kittens right off the street! Hence the constant need to fight becoming the Cat Lady of Rolfe.

That long ago spring, my sister Julie informed me they had a mother and her kittens living in one of their little outbuildings.



We approached the building. The mother cat, seeing us, ran away. We looked at each little kitten one by one, and I picked out Elsie, a pretty black and white “tuxedo” cat. She was far too tiny to take right then, so we said our goodbyes and left.

That was one good cat mother. She moved her kittens away and I wasn’t sure if we would ever find them again. But several days later we did! Or rather, Julie did. They were at the side of an abandoned house. When a week had passed and it was time, Julie bravely made her way through the overgrown bushes, picking out the distinctive cat with the white just so over her eye and the little black dot on her nose, and that was that.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI held her tiny body right here at this desk as I soothed her. She was so scared! As was only natural, as you can imagine. But winters here are very hard for outdoor stray cats, so in a way I rescued her. She rescued me back, many times.

Elsie was affectionate enough, but what I loved most about her was that she would follow me everywhere. She would rarely beg for pettings (although she got them plenty), she would simply lie at my feet wherever I was in the house. It was as if she just happened to be going the same place I was. At the same time. And it was oddly comforting to have her there.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShe was my snacker and beggar of milk. My other cat Lily is as fat as a folk art cat, but Elsie is the one who would beg for milk and treats. Of course she got them! It is Elsie’s tiny green footprints that are on my dining room floor from the time I thought it would be a good idea to paint my kitchen floor (long since stripped and stained).

So, yes. I shall miss her. But at the same time, I am grateful for good neighbors. First for the one who saw it happen and who kindly came and told me, which is not an easy thing to do.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASecond, I am grateful to my other neighbors across the way, a wife, a husband and their toddler son. The husband  went and checked Elsie for me, lying so pristinely in the street as if she were only sleeping but not responding to my calls. He gently picked her up, confirming my fears and took her at my request to my other house behind me. Julie and Scott pulled up as he was getting a spade, I fetched my two shovels and together they dug as I cried and went back and forth trying to find my other cat Lily and tried not to look at Elsie my love.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere was even a funny moment, although I didn’t hear about it until later and didn’t smile about it until then. The young toddler was right by Elsie’s side the entire time preparations were being made. Julie later told me that his mother confided how happy he was. Because he had desperately wanted to pet a cat, but none would ever let him. Elsie did! So he was happy as a clam, and petted to his heart’s content.


You can just see the rocks at the base of this lovely tree.



Well, one takes one’s smiles from wherever one can.


My sketch for the stone.

We found rocks to put on the grave and a plaque from my garden at Julie’s suggestion. I noticed that one of the rocks was not only nice and flat with a base to stand upon, it was shaped like a cat! So I painted it. And there she lays. And I shall miss her. And I’m thankful for so many good people.

Now to search the streets once again.

The Charm

Alien2Remember that bell that tolled yesterday? Turns out it wasn’t for Betty Bell, it was for me! ‘Tis a jingly thing, and not to be avoided!

As suspected, I have yet another hernia. Yesterday I went to the doctor to confirm it, today I’m going in for a CT scan, and a week from tomorrow, whoosh! Another operation! Let’s hope the third time’s the charm.

So Betty Bell will have to wait a little while, and it looks like I temporarily won’t be able to keep my vow of having one doll available at all times.

Worst of all, I won’t get to do some of my favorite hobbies for the foreseeable future, like…

Sword Swallower…


Karate Master…


Belly dancer…


Good. More time to edit! We are doing the final edits for the downloadable book. A select group of folks are reading as we speak. I’ll take their suggestions to make this the best book possible. My brother Dennis who is also a writer told me, “A book is never finished, you simply have to stop.” Excellent point. Because I always want to work, work, work on Hazel Twigg some more and would rewrite forever if given the chance. But after this, we stop.

Until the printed version. Yeah, I’ll probably want to make a few changes for that.

In the meantime, things happen for a reason. I firmly believe that. God’s in His heaven, all is right in the world.

Happy Friday eve day!

Ask Not For Whom The Bells Toll…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA…Because there’s no question! They toll for Betty Bell, the next O.L.D.!

Betty is a very stocky little toddler. Her mold is that of a Horsman JoJo composition doll. I personally have always loved this model, but for some reason they have never been very popular of late. It is therefore my mission to make her as appealing as possible and I am working very hard towards that end.

As you can see by her image, she looks rather scared! I assure you, such is not the case. She was simply manufactured without eyelashes, OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAgiving her a wide-eyed look. She is actually a very brave, determined little girl, despite her short stature.

When I asked her what she would like for her outfit, she wasn’t very specific. All except for one thing: she wanted to look taller.


I shall see what I can do.

‘Til then!

Calling Mr. Woodsman!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFaith is Finished! You can find her adoption page HERE.


Dot has exchanged her bow for ferocious Wolf ears! RUN!

But she will be finished in other ways if she is not rescued soon by the Woodsman! For Dot is threatening with her shiny fangs and claims she has already swallowed Betty whole (which I doubt, because Betty is sitting right here looking at me).

Faith turned out very well! After a few modifications, I made her cape based on the one from the makeit-loveit blog. For the first time ever, I made a “muslin” version first (actually it was an old Shabby Chic sheet that was pink with tiny red flowers that had seen better days). I was cautious for good reason! I love, love, love the red wool I made Faith’s cape out of, but I only had enough to make it ONCE. I wanted a droopier, pointier hood. Mainly, I loved the drape of the cape and the idea of a very frothy slip beneath a full skirt.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIronically, the wonderful old red satin that I lined her cape with was from a vintage sheet! I like old satin best because it doesn’t snag on my easily snaggible fingers.


This is the matching top to the antique underclothes I used for Faith’s dress. It has tiny yellow flowers embroidered on it. Thankfully, the slip that I used was in much better condition. Either way, isn’t it beautiful?

Her “shirt” is really interesting: Remember that old bag of vintage and antique undies I mentioned? Well, Faith’s dress – which doubles as her shirt and it could also be her nightgown – and her pantaloons were made from the oldest piece in that bag. It’s very pretty and somewhat fragile and took a bit of mending for it to be useful.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere’s nothing I like better than a good floral on black! I only had a small scrap of this fabric bought who-knows-where-or-when, waiting for just the right thing. Faith’s red riding hood skirt seemed just the ticket! It’s nice and full. And that fabric is gone now too!

She has a black leather lace up belt and black leather boots.


What’s in them thar’ bundles…?

Red’s – er, FAITH’S basket is filled with fun things for Grandma. To see what’s inside, you can either go to her page on the O.L.D. Registry (link up above), or go to her adoption page. There are plenty of fun things in there for Faith and her grandmother to enjoy…

…that is, IF the Woodsman gets there in time!

Happy Monday!


Have a Little Faith

Meet Faith! She shall be the next O.L.D. at Number 5. She could almost be a twin to O.L.D. Number 2, Emily Grace, but I assure you, she’s not!


Faith needs a lot of help. It’s hard to tell from the photo above, but she’s filthy! Her limbs were loosey-goosey, not unlike Pinky in the book. Also, I think her wig is riding too low on her forehead. At the factory when a lot of dolls are being made at once, it’s bound to happen now and then.

You can see a little more evidence of the dirt on her face after I started to remove her wig for washing. The line of dirt precisely follows her former hairline:


In addition, the composition on her left hand was lifting and had chipped:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter I cleaned and repaired her and washed and curled her wig and reapplied it, I took her into my sewing room and asked her what kind of dress in what color of fabric would she like to wear.

She became instantly overwhelmed.

I understand, Faith. I understand. It happens to me all the time! On an impulse, I asked her what her favorite fairy tale was. She instantly brightened and replied, “Little Red Riding Hood!”


I found instructions for this costume online at, an excellent blog by an excellent woman!


Faith’s costume will be loosly based on it. We’ll see what happens! Yesterday my sister Julie the Mayor found just the right basket to complete Faith’s ensemble and I’m raring to go. Expected adoption availability is Sunday, May 18, 2014.

Happy Friday Eve day!


Hush Love, Hush. Wait…


Angela Lansbury in “Sweeney Todd.” This image is actually from “Nothing’s Going to Harm You (Not While I’m Around), but it looked a lot more expressive of “Wait” than the stills with the knives. Just sayin’.

I cannot let today – and namely, tonight – pass without a mention! Because when the very next midnight in Iowa occurs, the last chapter as well as the prologue of “Hazel Twigg & the Hollyhock Hideaway” will be released.

Secretly, I am hoping you will wait until the entire thing is available to read in your own sweet time. We’ll be releasing in print this fall with two illustrations per chapter. Prior to that we’ll release the book as a download when two things happen: The first is to have at least one illustration per chapter by Nina.

finiseyesThe second is the final edit. I’m going to get help from my brother Kenny’s lovely, lovely wife, Coppelia. She of the fiery hair. She is a writer too and a fresh set of eyes will be a huge blessing.

We’ve come along way since the Town in the Middle of H_T_02_3Nowhere and Hazel’s car ride to the train station!

The last chapter is called, “The Glad, The Sad, & The Very, Very Mad”.

Despite the troubles in the Ukraine, which are drawing closer and closer to Odessa where Genn & Nina live, Nina has been getting art to us as steadily as she can. I should think it would be like trying to create art in the midst of a prolonged 9/11! I am so grateful for her perseverance in the face of such challenges.

I’m just going to show the last few illustrations done in color so far. We’ve also received initial sketches from her, but I’ll save the reveal of those for within the chapters themselves.

Here they are!


“The FIRE!”


“Needle In a Haystack”


“The Swipe”

Beautiful, beautiful work. I think it will all be worth it in the end.

And finally, while it may not appear so, Clementine is doing quite well! She has a lot of prospective adopters watching her. Where will her journey lead…?


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATa-Dah! It took me from 6:00 in the morning to 7:00 at night, but I did it! I put Clementine up for adoption. You can see her page HERE.

It was tricky taking photos on a cloudy, rainy day, but I did my best. Even with the best of weather, my photography skills are not great! In fact, it’s all I can do not to accidentally call it photography to this day, as in FOE-toe-graff-ee, with emphasis on the first syllable. Does anybody else do that? Oh. I see. Just me, then.

You can kind of see the top-stitching here.

You can kind of see the top-stitching here.

And, please! Next time I decide get a doll ready in a short period of time, you have my permission to thump me if I also decide to make a super tricky jacket! A tricky jacket that no one will be able to tell from the less-than-stellar-photos. Only the person who adopts Clementine will ever see all the detail! Top stitching and patch pockets and seams galore…But it’s what she wanted when she saw that fabric that I just purchased along with that bin of buttons at the recent farm sale. I also purchased her dress fabric there.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAClementine’s reversible pinafore is lined with fabric from undergarments from the 1920’s! I have no idea where I got this lot of old “undies,” we shall call them, but they came from various decades and some of them scream “Flapper!”. It was worn, else I wouldn’t have cut it up. Clementine was thankful.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn the meantime, Sunny Joy was adopted by the very nice Lois S. of New Hampshire! She will be headed there tomorrow. Hopefully I can get a photo of her and Clementine together before she goes.

I shall also straighten up my sewing room, which looketh like a bomb hath gone off. Ahem.

‘Til then!

Hair Club for O.L.D.ies

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMeet Clementine! She showed up unexpectedly, and at just the right time, too. I am a firm believer in “Stupor of Thought.” That if you’re having such a thing and nothing you try will fix it, you need to change courses.

I was working in fits and spurts on Molly McGuire, the next doll who was going to be put up for adoption. But we couldn’t agree on anything! I think it’s because it was simply Not Her Time. It was a mutual decision.

There was a knock on the door. I answered, since I am the only one in the house who can reach the knob, and I knew. There she was! The next girl who was actually meant to be next. Molly instantly agreed.

Poor Clementine arrived completely bald, with only a tiny snippet, no larger than a dime, of her previous wig’s netting. But such a winning smile! And so the wig trials began.


The Shirley Temple. Cute! But too acrylic.


The Gidget. Speaking of “Gidget”, this wig is made of Saran, a mostly 50’s era plastic that I suspect also has something to do with the wrap of the same name.












The Little House on the Prairie. Far too big and overwhelming for that sweet face.


Le Blonde. This wig is likely older than Clementine herself, a probably came off of a bisque-headed doll.







The Little Girl Who Cut Her Own Bangs (I’ve done that!)


The ONE. It’s a nice, soft mohair that suits her era.

















You may wonder why I chose the wig that I chose. You’ll see! Clementine has a lot of flaws and needs some work, but She’s The One! My goal is to work faster than I’ve ever done before, and finish her in two days time, putting her up for adoption beginning one day after Sunny Joy (who can still be adopted for a very small fee, and she’s lucky number three!) ends on Saturday. Clementine will be available late Sunday afternoon. That’s actually three days, but I work elsewhere tomorrow, so…


So much to do!











If come Monday you hear not a peep from me, ye shall know the I Have Failed. I’m going to do everything possible not to let that happen!