February, 2015

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The Mayor Takes A Holiday

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You can see her damaged neck in this picture. Poor thing! Bless her heart, she was determined to go…

“You are the best helper ever!” I exclaimed. And Georgette was. She truly was! Turning her head this way and that so that I could finish the work on her shoulder plate and around her neck. “Oh, no!” I cried. “What’s wrong?” a worried Georgette asked. “I’m sorry, Georgette. Today’s not your day. You’re going to need a lot more repair.” I showed her the large chunk of compo that had just come off the center of her neck. “There’s no way the milliput will dry in time…”

“But I have to go today! You promised!” Georgette insisted.

She is absolutely right. And I’m a chick of my word…

Last week The Mayor, aka my sister Julie, took some time off and we finally did what we’ve been trying to do for a long time: we had a movie date! Except in this case the “movie” was two episodes of the latest season of Downton Abbey.

Downton Abbey HAT1I ignored the fact that it was already Tuesday and I hadn’t yet figured out what type of clothing I was going to make for my next O.L.D. The afternoons when Julie and I are both free are few and far between!

O.L.D. No. 00031 is a Madame Alexander “Special Girl” and her name is Georgette.

So there Julie and I lay in the specially made nest that Julie created for us in her movie room. Pillows and fur blankets with buffalo chicken wraps and Good & Plenty’s a-plenty. And we watched. And I was inspired.

Inspired by the hat of a so far minor character. It was swoopy! It was one-sided! And it had a tassel hanging from that one side, dangling ever so fetchingly! I designed Georgette’s entire outfit based on that hat. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThank you, Downton Abbey! Once again, you’ve come through for me.

Granted, I didn’t get it identical, I only got it similar. Did I mention there were Good & Plenty’s? And gummi peach rings? Oh. Well, there WERE. I got Georgette’s hat the way I remembered it amidst the feasting.

Downton 1920s coatI lay in bed at night thinking of these things. How can I get the swoop I want and what materials to use. I knew I wanted to use chipboard for the brim. But it has a grain, and with the direction of the grain and the length required, I would need more than one sheet. How to make it seamless without a crease? Hmm…TWO layers. Wait! That would be too stiff! All right, a staggered layer then…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHer coat was based on a coat that I’d also seen that seemed the right era. And on one of Mary’s coats that I found in my research, I finally figured out a way to do a buttonhole with little risk: A placket!

Georgette also represents the first in what I am calling “The Ann Series.” Remember how I used the last of my “Handmade by Ruth” tags? Well, I found those other tags I bought at the same time that say, “Specially Hand Made by Ann.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI realize of course that my name isn’t Ann. But these are nifty vintage tags and I was having tag withdrawal and Julie’s middle name is Ann! So, HAH! A connection! Plus, I’m noting it on the tag so that when any of the Ann series appears on “The Antique’s Roadshow” of 2172 or thereabouts, the appraiser will know it’s genuine. There are six “Ann” tags in all…

In the meantime, I still have a little more work to do on Georgette’s shoulder plate. And the next O.L.D. is just a twinkle in my eye. Here’s a hint: there shall be singing.

Rosemary and her baby and her baby’s baby were adopted by…Michelle E. of Colorado! The latest streak continues! Thank you, Michelle. You’re a mysterious angel…

With that, I leave you! Happy Wednesday, this is Ann saying you’re my favorite!


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Mackay-Bennett & The Dumpster Dive

Mackay_BennettThe funeral service is conducted by the Reverent Canon Hind. For nearly an hour the words “For as must as it hath pleased, we therefore commit his body to the deep” are repeated, and at each interval comes ‘splash!’ as the weighted body plunges into the sea, there to sink to a depth of about two miles. Splash, splash, splash.

From the Diary of Frederick Hamilton(Cable Engineer: Mackay Bennett)


The underclothes above Rosemary’s head are what this true tale is about.

The Mackay-Bennett was the ship commissioned by the Titanic to recover bodies after the sinking of the ship. They couldn’t bring all of the bodies back to shore, so many of them were buried at sea. Now, what I’m about to tell you is of course nowhere near as dreadful as that, but it was terrible all the same. This is the story of how I got the fabric for O.L.D. No. 00030 Rosemary’s underclothes. You can see her adoption page HERE.

Two doors down from me is a lovely old house that for the longest time was lived in by a 90+ year-old woman I called “Heloise.” She was very spry for her age and would set corn mackaydeer1out for the deer. Several times I would wake up in the early morning hours in the dead of winter as I frequently do, and I would look out my window and see a magical sight; several deer visible in the warm glow of the light on Heloise’s garage, surrounded by fir trees and freezing snow, quietly eating.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI went into Heloise’s house once. She had a composition doll that needed repairing. Her home was beautiful. All original woodwork and light fixtures. Stunning, is the first word that comes to mind. Crammed would be the second. Crammed with so many things that I could hardly absorb any of what I was seeing. I do remember lots of books, but who knows what else there was?

Then one day Heloise was no longer there. She had gone to a nursing home. Not long after, a dumpster arrived, and Heloise’s sons, “The Boys” as Julie and I referred to them, even though they were probably around 70 years old, got to work. Day after heartbreaking day, all I could hear from my open window (it was summer) was Crash! Crash! Crash!


Once I happened to be outside at just the right time, and one of the boys handed me a box without me even asking! Inside was this very pretty King’s Cross Cranberry Punch Set. Can you imagine all they threw away?!

All manner of glassware, knick-knacks, furniture and books – almost a century’s worth! –  hit the metal base of that dumpster without any ceremony whatsoever. It was HEARTBREAKING. Once Julie and I were driving by as they relentlessly toiled away, and she spotted a pretty vintage floral chair from the 50’s era that she so adores. She asked if she could have it. One son was gruff, “Okay, but that’s IT! We don’t want you dumpster diving!” the other was friendly, “Do you want the ottoman that goes with it?”


One of the five chairs. It looks like a vanity chair from the Victorian era.

Day after day the overflowing dumpster would disappear and then reappear, empty and ready to go all over again, and there would be more heart-breaking crashes. Crash! Crash! Crash! I had to close the window of whichever room I was in.


Here’s another. A simple and sturdy old rocking chair.

In their defense, on more than one occasion, a chair would magically appear on my porch; five in all. The nicer “boy” – at least, I suspect it was him – became my very own Chair Fairy. Why they chose these particular things to give, I have no idea. But I was grateful all the same.

The day finally came when they were done. The house was empty of most of its contents, “The Boys” were gone, and silence reigned once more. Who knows all that was lost?

In the driveway of Heloise’s home stood that dumpster, full for the last time with contents from that beautiful house.

doll-editWith The Mayor with me for company and courage, I finally did what I’d wanted to do for days, I climbed up onto that dumpster to see what I could see. By now all that was left were the nitty-gritty strays. Trash and old vacuums and the like. All except for one thing that I plucked from the center of the pile: five or so yards of the most beautiful white lace fabric in delicate cotton I’d ever seen. It was dirty and needed a washing, but Hallelujah! It made my day.


Here she is, all dressed up.

Our Rosemary is the first doll I’ve used it for – after washing it, of course. Both her slip and her onesie. I made her slip first. Then I trimmed around the flowers to create a second “fringe” of lace for the legs of her onesie.


Rosemary’s baby is a Nancy Ann Storybook doll. Her baby’s baby is a tiny Kewpie under 2″ tall. Not super old, but very sweet. And he can double as a necklace!

I’ve long wanted to do a doll with a doll of her own. When I saw Rosemary (that’s her real name. She was made by the Effanbee doll company), I knew she would be perfect for the role. Because then I could have “Rosemary’s Baby”! See what I did there? The The Mayor (aka Julie) piped in and suggested “Rosemary’s Baby’s Baby” and I obliged. And I finally used some of that beautiful white fabric. Rosemary’s coat sports the VERY LAST “Made Especially For You by Ruth” tag. A sure-fire way to identify them as made by me for the Antiques Roadshow in 2168! I’m going to miss them…

Heloise recently passed away, and with her goes a little bit of magic from my life. I’ve missed those deer feeding at night for quite some time now. But her house once again is lived in by a lovely young woman, who is slowly re-filling it with treasure. And thus ends the tale of the Mackay-Bennett dumpster dive.

Mabel is headed off to Colorado! The lovely and loved Michelle E. strikes again! Thank you, Michelle! I shall be haunting YOU! Eventually…maybe.

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

Return to Shadowlands

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMeet Mabel! O.L.D. No. 29 and future haunted doll. You can see her adoption page HERE.

Now, no worries! Mabel’s not haunted *yet,* but when she is, she shall be haunted by ME. I shall be a friendly ghost, and help you find lost keys and things. But haunt her, I will….


This is the only picture I could find of that afghan. It’s draped around Debra Winger as her character is sick in bed. I was entranced.

I think one of the hardest things to do is to finish a project that you started long ago, experienced a snafu with, and then put away. Such is certainly the case with me.

For example, the movie 1993 movie about C.S. Lewis entitled Shadowlands,  starring Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger. I loved that movie! In it there was a granny square afghan that I simply had to have. So I decided to make it. And as always, I decided to wing it.


I’m beginning to think I’ll never, ever finish this afghan.

Some “wings” work better than others. I didn’t fully study the afghan and although I managed to find all natural yarns, just the way I wanted, they were of different thicknesses. Plus, I only used two colors per square vs. three. So this pretty fruited tin with the half finished granny square afghan has been following me from house to house – in five different states – for over two decades. Some day I’ll finish it! Or not.


This was after I re-sanded my first attempt. Previously, there would have been a dark colored path of the material beneath her “skin” going down the right side of her face.

Such was the case with Mabel! I don’t have any BEFORE/before photos, but she was missing a strip of “skin” from the inner part of her right eye down to her mouth. I loved her face so much I didn’t care! I confidently filled it in, painted it and….oh, dear. Not quite right. Not only that, her leg was badly crushed! So she was put away in a cupboard.


It occurs to me that I should have changed my background color…whoops! The inspiration was the coat on the left from an old 1925-26 catalog.

There’s a reason the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and a reason that some projects are never re-tackled. Not that I regret re-tackling Mabel. But let this be a lesson to me! If you start a project, finish it! At least I did this time! Even in the face of several challenges.


Here’s the paper doll that inspired Mabel’s cute dress.

Her coat was tricky and the fabric that I used for it might very well already be haunted. I purchased it on a recent trip to a thrift store and it behaves very strangely. I’ve sewn and re-sewn it several times! I know I’ve HAND-SEWN that hem four times at least! I’m still not completely happy with it, but it’s cozy all the same. And the hat you see her wearing is her second hat. The first was too big and sat on her head like a pancake.


Detail of flowerpot pocket.

Mabel is the second doll to receive a legolectomy. The replacement legs weren’t bad. Oh, one had a little chipping, but no big deal. NOT! I filled in the leg and set it on a radiator to dry, and in the morning it was chipped even further! I have never had that happen before! If I hadn’t skipped the previous week due to a very unfortunate Super Bowl (unless you were going for the Patriots, which I was not), I would have put Mabel back in her cupboard, sweet face and all.

However! She turned out cute. And she is DONE. Maybe now I”ll move one step closer to heaven….

Also! DOES ANYBODY BUT ME REMEMBER THIS SONG? I can’t even find the version I remember hearing on the radio! Even in this land of internet in which we live! It holds a fond place in my heart (I used to insert a boy’s name that I had a crush on for “Mabel’s” name) and has of course been on my mind all week:


Lastly! Britney and Rochester have long since galloped their way to….Colorado! Michelle E. strikes again! Thank you, Michelle!

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